It's always a lovely day down at the Arizona state Capitol, when you run into state Senator Russell Pearce's chief toady, state Rep. Carl Seel and ask him what it's like to smooch up to a racist bonehead like Pearce 24-7.
Actually, I was there to attend the press conference of Sal Reza's Puente Movement, which was kicking off its caravan to D.C. to participate in the big pro-immigration rally coming up on March 21 in the nation's capital.
Reza talked about how the Puente caravan would stop in various cities, like El Paso, Houston, and elsewhere, and how his group planned to make Pearce and the apartheid-like legislation that the Mesa muttonhead sponsors the target of their vitriol. The idea is to demonize Pearce, and hold him accountable in the same way they've done Arpaio.
And they should. Anyone who gives money to Pearce or does business with him or supports him in anyway should be tainted by the association.
"We want to send a message to Mr. Russell Pearce," said Reza, "that this is the beginning of the end. We're going to concentrate on him the way we concentrate on Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And we're going to do actions, all the way from civil disobedience to electoral politics, until he gets out of there."
Granted, Puente's press conference didn't draw a lot of Dems out of hiding. Oddly, the only one I saw nearby was state House candidate Ruben Gallego. Maybe he was trying to make up for taking a contribution from the nativist police union PLEA, which happens to be one of the groups supporting Pearce's SB 1070/HB 2632.
That's the bill that would make it a "trespassing" offense to be in Arizona sans papers. Among other things, it would grant cops broad power to arrest anyone they believe is in the country illegally, and make local police agencies subject to civilian lawsuits if they don't enforce federal immigration law.
As far as I can tell, Gallego hasn't given back the campaign contribution. But he should. He skedaddled before the presser was over, so I didn't get a chance to buttonhole him.
Nearby, on the state House lawn some lobbyist group was having a cookout, handing burgers and hot dogs out to representatives. Two of those chowing down were state Reps Steve Montenegro and Carl Seel. Seel's a minuteman who once took his marching orders from Chris Simcox, so you know what his views on immigration are. During a recent committee hearing for HB 2632, Seel told Russell Pearce, during the latter's presentation, that Pearce was his "hero."
Pearce told Seel he'd campaign for him in his district anytime. My advice: These two nativists should really take advantage of a local Best Western, and keep the PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) to a minimum.
Montenegro, on the other hand, is nominally Hispanic in the way that Alan Keyes is nominally black. Montenegro's fellow GOP representatives delight in Montenegro's presence because he votes their way and thereby gives them cover for their bigoted legislation.
Not so much his fellow Hispanics, some of whom had encircled Montenegro and Seel as another reporter was asking Montenegro about HB 2632. Montenegro was obviously nervous, his voice quavering.
"This [bill] isn't telling [local cops] to go after [illegals]," Montenegro asserted. "It's not saying, `Police officers go and do the job.' It's preventing anybody from preventing police officers from doing their job."
That's as disingenuous as Dick Nixon with a day old beard, and Montenegro knows it. Either that or he hasn't read the bill.
The bill allows any right wing twit to sue a law enforcement agency that does not pursue the undocumented "to the full extent permitted by federal law."
So if a law enforcement agency doesn't have their gendarmes running around after brown folk every sec of the day, they are subject to a civil claim.
When I started to point this out to Montenegro and make the point that the bill is unconstitutional because the federal government has plenary power over immigration, Montenegro took off like a scared rabbit.
The goofy, jug-eared Seel lagged behind gnawing on his burger. I asked him how it compared with the taste of his hero's metaphorical backside.
"I don't appreciate your dis-characterization [sic] of a man who has served out country well," Seel shot back, adding, "I don't appreciate your character assassination."
It ain't character assassination to point out the obvious: Pearce's white supremacist links; Seel's membership in Chris Simcox's disgraced minuteman org; and their mutual legislative war on the brown.
These are, alas, facts, Carl, as is your sickening sycophancy.
I let Seel go at the House elevator after pointing out the unconstitutionality of Pearce's legislation, legislation Seel supports. He had no argument there, as there is no argument to make. He just denied -- incorrectly -- that my point was true.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Outside, I ran into House Minority Leader and candidate for state AG David Lujan, who expressed the opinion -- one I accept -- that Pearce and his allies are jamming racist laws through because they know this is their last chance before Terry Goddard (eventually) takes the governor's seat, leaving such legislation subject to a veto. (Whereas, on the other hand, Jan Brewer will sign it.)
So what can the Dems do, I wondered? What will they do to bar the door when HB 2632 is being debated on the House floor? Can they filibuster?
He admitted it was a possibility, and that he would talk to his caucus about it. He conceded it would not stay the bill's passage, but at least it would be a symbolic effort of resistance.
It's more than symbolic. It gives people hope, and it creates an example others will follow: Stand against what is obviously wrong; do not let racists enact such legislation without a fight; hit them hard with the nefariousness of their own deeds; in other words, make them pay, and leave a mark in history that someone rose against this unjustness and said, "No."