I've never cottoned to the The Arizona Republic 's schoolmarmish scribe E.J. Montini, who if offered a butcher knife and the dotted line indicating a corrupt politician's jugular, would opt for inflicting a pinprick to the pol's shin. Once every 20 columns or so, Montini hits the mark. Otherwise, he seems afflicted with an annoying middlebrow habit of beating around the mulberry bush as if the act of doing so indicated some sort of cleverness on his part.
Hey, Yahweh love him. I'm sure he's paid a buttload to hack (and I do mean hack) up the pabulum for the Republic's crustified readership. The guy's the Perry Como of local columnists, putting you right to sleep as if he had dictated his copy from comfort of his Barcalounger.
But occasionally he says something so asinine that I can't help but feel the need to jump in and bitchslap the mook. Metaphorically speaking, of course. And with the love of Jesus guiding my hand.
Take his putzy, finger-wagging admonition to The New York Times to shut its cake-hole when it comes to our less-than-beloved Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who seems dead-set on inciting a race riot with these nefarious immigration sweeps of his. These sweeps are empowered in part by the 287g agreement that the Sheriff's Office has with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Sheriff is using this federal authority to hunt for illegals, garner TV-time for himself, and harass whole cities and neighborhoods at a go.
Yesterday, the Times blasted the Sheriff and the feds for allowing Joe to run rampant. The opinion piece demanded Congress hold hearings on the abuse of these 287g agreements, and subpoena Joe in the process. For the Times, Arpaio's grandstanding, with its potential for violence, is a symptom of the federal government's paralysis on the issue of immigration. Hence the title of the NYT piece: "Immigration, Outsourced."
Montini conceded that "I may agree with the gist of what the Times had to say," but he still wants the Times' editorial board to butt out of Sand Land's bidness.
"The sheriff is our problem (or our solution, depending on one's point of view)," opined AZ's king of equivocation. "The complexities and difficulties and overwhelming pleasures of living in the desert Southwest are best understood, and best resolved, by those of us living in the desert Southwest."
Never mind that it's a federal program that Arpaio's misusing, or that the NYT was indicting the feds for allowing Arpaio's flower of evil to blossom under its watch. Montini's far more perturbed that some tenderfoot from New Yawk City is trying to tell us what to do here in Cactus Country. The Gray Lady of Journalism offended Montini's provincial sensibilities by daring to criticize a situation here in Maricopa County that has implications both nationally and internationally.
Montini insists Zonies can deal with the Sheriff Joe just fine without any help from these here cityslickers. If that's the case, E.J., why has Arpaio been AZ's version of Idi Amin for going on 16 years? Those of us opposed to Arpaio's brutal, corrupt rule should welcome the scrutiny of the federal government and the national and international media. You might argue that such attention plays into Joe's hand, but you might as well argue that if we do nothing, Joe will go away. And we all know that's not the case.
Joe is assisted by a mealy-mouthed, neutral Fourth Estate. But media that takes a stand and reveals Joe for what he is -- a tyrant and a dangerous megalomaniac, is welcome. I don't care where it hails from.
Then there's Montini's failed attempt at sarcasm here:
"It's nice to see a major eastern media outlet expressing some interest in events west of the Mississippi, but until you want our advice on how to deal with a carousing governor you might let us deal with an overzealous sheriff."
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That might be amusing if it weren't so freakin' hypocritical. The Republic's writers forever delight in taking on subjects beyond their purview, including the Eliot Spitzer call-girl controversy, which Montini refers to above. The Republic's editorial board weighed in on the Spitzer saga with an unsigned opinion on March 11, decrying the way political wives are used by their straying spouses. On March 15, the Rep's Richard de Uriarte bemoaned the impact of such scandals on political families. Erstwhile Rep columnist Richard Ruelas, now relegated to the ladies' section of the Republic (otherwise known as the "Arizona Living" section), double dipped, penning one piece on marital infidelity pegged to Spitzer's wandering ("Standing by Their Man," March 13), and a humor piece on "Other Ways Spitzer could Spend $4,300" (March 15).
Naturally, Montini himself couldn't resist the topic, burping out a small blog post regarding Spitzer titled, "Should Prostitution Be Legalized?"
Thing is, no one cares if Montini or his colleagues at the Rep while away their copious free time commenting on subjects they have no influence over -- like Eliot Spitzer. They're just filling the news hole any way they can. But when the NYT, which is basically America's newspaper -- like it or not, turns its attentions to the evil underway in AZ, politicians outside Sand Land and others of influence take note. By golly, they might actually do something!
Now, E.J., please explain why that's a bad thing again?