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Joe Arpaio Announces Sweep October 16, Helping Phoenix Become the Capital of Hate

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Sheriff Joe's just announced the when, if not the where, of his next anti-Hispanic dragnet in Maricopa County, despite the limitations of his new Memorandum of Agreement with the feds. You know, the one he's already in violation of. The one that's so far signed only by him and some flunky at the County Attorney's office. The one the Board of Supervisors won't sign until ICE signs off on it. The one that leaves him with 287(g) in the jails (potentially) and snatches from him the street enforcement, which gave the sweeps their patina of federal legitimacy.

And yet, the sweeps will roll on, according to the MCSO's latest press release, which reads, in part,

"Sheriff Arpaio stated that he plans to conduct another crime suppression operation in the Valley on October 16."

Guess this means the activists who dog his deputies' moves, and videotape 'em too, will get a weekend off to rest up.

Later today on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show The Situation Room, Arpaio crowed incoherently that he had "fooled" ICE and its number two guy, Alonzo Pena, formerly chief of Arizona ICE.

Blitzer, puzzled, wondered how he'd fooled them. Arpaio said it was because they didn't think he would sign both the 287(g) jails agreement and the street enforcement part of it, but he did, just to spite them. Then they deprived him of his field ops.

Ha-ha! Brilliant, Joe. You really showed them. It's just too bad they didn't ask you to sign a resignation letter. Maybe next time. Throughout the show, Arpaio did his Captain Queeg impersonation: Sullen, dyspeptic, bitter, with a W.C. Fields nose so red it could serve as a night light, and phrases right out of a mobster's playbook.

"I don't need the feds," said Joe, and, a little later, "It doesn't mean nothin'," referring to the loss of his 287(g) street team. (According to ICE, Joe has about 60 287(g)-men for the jails, and around a hundred for the street.)

The performance would be absurd, comical even if greater Phoenix were not on the verge of becoming a roiling lava-pit of hate (I know what you're thinking, "Becoming?"), what with the neo-Nazi Oi Fest music festival in Tonopah to take place October 24, an anti-immigration National Socialist Movement rally taking place at the capitol on November 7, along with what seems like a new bias incident or hate crime in this county every time you turn around.

One day, it's an African-American family in Chandler being left an anonymous note, telling them to "Go back to Africa." The next day, it's a white woman being shotgunned to death in a Phoenix park, apparently because she was walking with a black man. Or it could be a Mexican-American family that returns home from vacation to find their home ransacked, and spraypainted with swastikas.

In the context of Maricopa County in the year 2009, Sheriff Arpaio's vow to continue his round-ups of suspected illegals in defiance of the feds -- even if it means busing undocumented brown folk down to the border -- is like pouring gasoline on dry brush while smoking a cigar.

Given these circumstances, why there is any question in the minds of the Obama wonks over whether or not Arpaio should be denied 287(g) in his jails is puzzling. It's like they're offering to buy Bull Connor another water hose, or P.W. Botha a shipload of whips. Granted, such comparisons are imperfect, but they are close enough for discomfort.

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