Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2010

JUKEBOX JOHN KEEPS CHANGING HIS TUNE.... The state Senate in Arizona approved an odious immigration measure yesterday, which, among other things, makes it a crime to lack proper immigration paperwork in the state, and "requires police officers, if they form a 'reasonable suspicion' that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status." Arizonans would be eligible for arrest if an officer thinks they might be an illegal immigrant and can't prove otherwise.

The measure was strongly opposed by the state police chiefs' association and immigrant-rights groups, but was embraced by Arizona Republicans. It was championed by a right-wing state lawmaker who used to be considered an embarrassment to the GOP, but has become increasingly influential as the party has shifted to the far-right.

It's exactly the kind of effort Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has long opposed. That is, previous versions of John McCain. The McCain now facing a right-wing primary challenger thinks this awful proposal is a fine idea.

Sen. John McCain praised a tough Arizona anti-immigration bill that will let police arrest people who aren't carrying identification, the latest move in McCain's rightward shift in advance of a tough Republican Senate primary this summer. [...]

It's a dramatic switch for a senator who supported comprehensive immigration reform with Democratic lion Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) just four years ago. McCain is facing a primary challenge from the right in former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

"He risked his political career for immigration reform, and now he is compromising his principles to fight for his political life," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice and a longtime immigration reform advocate.

Keep in mind, McCain wasn't just a passive observer on this issue -- he's actually been a strong advocate of immigration reform, and has consistently been to his party's left. He was, for example, a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants' kids who graduate from high school. McCain also championed a 2007 effort on comprehensive reform, which included a path to citizenship that the far-right labeled "amnesty."

And now look at him.

The politics of this are transparent. McCain is worried about losing to a right-wing primary challenger, so he's abandoning his principles and previous positions. But the irony is, in his bid to look more appealing, McCain actually looks more ridiculous -- the right knows his dramatic shifts on issues like immigration aren't sincere, while those who've respected McCain's willingness to break from the party line no longer recognize the political hack before them.

By trying to impress everyone, McCain is failing to persuade anyone.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Only John McCain could take the phrase "revolving door" and change it to "revolving unflushed toilet bowl...."

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 20, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

If he loses, John McCain will have more time to spend on Sunday morning talk shows...

Posted by: RepubAnon on April 20, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I hear that Arizona is full of illegal immigrants from just across our border in....Canada. All of you pasty looking white folks better carry your ID at all times.

Posted by: exfl on April 20, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Hipocracy you know no bounds. Let me get this straight. You have no papers so now you can be detained...sounds awfully Fascist or Communist to me. Talk about an authoritarian state. Oh those crazy right wingers

Posted by: john R on April 20, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

So really, this law is an excuse to send people to Mexico (without papers) for looking Hispanic then? McCain has looked ridiculous for a long while now I'm not sure why it's considered news anymore.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on April 20, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Rumor has it that Arizona will form a Task Force to 'check papers'. They will be easy to spot: wearing jackboots and swastika armbands. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

The politics of this are transparent. McCain is worried about losing to a right-wing primary challenger, so he's abandoning his principles and previous positions.

And just why do you assume he has principles to abandon?

Posted by: martin on April 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Someone explain to me again this concept of small-government conservatism? Officers of the state will now examine your papers whenever they please and they'll also tell you when to pray.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on April 20, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Rats, Martin! You beat me to it. The only principle Panderin' John's ever adhered to is getting elected at whatever cost he considers necessary.

Posted by: azportsider on April 20, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

has anybody in Arizona given a thought to the politics implicit in the new stop and detain law? What percentage of Arizona is Hispanic anyway? It has to be very high. A lot of Arizonans are libertarians. The new law can't be very popular outside a very limited demographic. It would seem to me that the Democrats could use the new law very effectively against the right wing. Any reports of a backlash against the new stop and detain law. Of course, the backlash might only come into being if some local politician tries to enforce it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

So it is now a crime to lose your wallet in AZ.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on April 20, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

I want to apologize to everyone who once thought Az was a great state... now we are an embarassment. This just shows you that for all their "law and order" talk the republicans don't believe in rule of law, but in creating laws that are only enforced at the whim of any given police officer, and create the oportunity for more frivolous lawsuits. As I said before, Az was better off the state legislature was owned by the copper, cotton and insurance companies...

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 20, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Contra Ron Byers, Arizona libertarians are ideological birdbrains. I think their preferred polity is a combo plate of Woodstock and East Germany. The real contest here involves the bag men of the GOP and the Joe Sixpack types who vote as they're told. At some point, the McCain fig leaf falls off and exposes what is the core reality of Republican values: corporate wealth. The bag men are fine with illegal immigration and open borders (as long as Pedro and Juanita live in west Phoenix). Growth is their god. McCain is merely their servant.

Posted by: walt on April 20, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Well, what did you expect? It gets hot in Arizona. I mean, who doesn't own a pair of flip flops there?

Posted by: Victory on April 20, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

So how does this work, then?

The police stop you and you have to show....what? The article says "immigration papers." What's that? A work permit? A green card? A student visa? If you're a citizen what are you supposed to show - does a driver's license do the trick, or do you need something else?

What if you're a tourist?

What about people who are going through the process of getting a green card? I have a friend whose husband did this legally, with an immigration lawyer, and it took them over a year. The only "papers" he had during that ten months was a file full of letters.

Posted by: g on April 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

I do not understand how this law can ever withstand a 4th Amendment challenge, or why I have seen no discussion of the 4th Amendment implications of the Arizona law. How far of a leap are we to police officers "reasonably" determining a person is holding drugs, or is a tax evader, or a thief, or a scofflaw, or a...

Posted by: Perspecticus on April 20, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Much of this reminds me of a practice used in Nevada a few years back. Local cops would stop any single man walking, outside of the casino areas, and demand to see their "identification Number". What they meant was the person's social security number. This was used to move the homeless "problem" to other jurisdictions. The cops and local governments took the view that if one had the time and the money to take this to court and have a court decide the constitutional merits of the case, so be it. However, until that time, the practice went on. Finally, an advocates group did take this to the Supremes of Nevada, where it was found to be un-constitutional.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 20, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

I hear this McCain guy is Panamanian; somebody better check his papers.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on April 20, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone in Arizona should manufacture a bogus ID card with their picture---and the name John McCain---on it. Can't you see the headlines now?

"In today's news, John McCain was arrested 537 times for showing improper* identification to immigration authorities."

*evil laughter ensues....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 20, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK
Paul Dirks@9:00: So it is now a crime to lose your wallet in AZ.

Well, now that's just silly, Paul. It's only a crime to lose your wallet if your skin is dark.

Posted by: JTK on April 20, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, this law will get Hispanics into the GOP's AZ Big Tent. UFB.

Posted by: Ken on April 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

A. L. Webber put it well....

One has no rules

Is not precise

One rarely acts

The same way twice

One shifts

Left to right

Politics, the art

Of the possible

Posted by: sceptic on April 20, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the Navajo Nation Police will be arresting people whom they consider to be illegal immigrants...

Posted by: josef on April 20, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Between this and the new tax, there goes the tanning bed industry in AZ.

Posted by: * on April 20, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

What IS it about politics that causes its practicioners and players to whore shamelessly for whatever principle, or lack of principle, that will keep them in power? Oh, I know the pay and benefits are pretty sweet, but a reasonably intelligent man or woman should be able to make a decent living without having to be such a hypocritical gasbag. Is it a lust for relevance? Is it because you can stay on in a paying job long after any public-sector employer would have fired you for incompetence, or let you go for simply being too old?

There has to be more to it than appearances would suggest, because it doesn't look like the kind of job you'd accept endless humiliation and discredit in return for keeping.

Posted by: Mark on April 20, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Fourth Amendment, the 4th Amendment applies to the FBI and the IRS. It doesn't apply to the State of Arizona. We down here in Arizona never heard of the 14th Amendment. We gotta send them stinking Mexicans back where they belong.

Posted by: Arizona Minutemen Point of View on April 20, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
Between this and the new tax, there goes the tanning bed industry in AZ.

I think you need to take this one back to the drawing board for troubleshooting. ;o)

Posted by: JTK on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

This is Excellent News for John McCain.

Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan on April 20, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Having lived in Arizona 52 years, 39 of them in Tucson, I can attest that we have a lot of Latino/a-looking people. Many were born here. Others are legal immigrants. Some are from Middle East countries.

Tucson's economy also benefits from reasonably well-to-do Sonorans who come here for the day or for a weekend to shop for things they can't get as easily in Sonora.

All of these folks are going to have a legitimate beef if they are stopped due to not having "immigration papers", whatever those might be.

Picture Congressman Raul Grijalva, or Ed Pastor, for instance, being stopped and asked to show their papers. (Or, following up on the tanning bed snark above, Congressman Boehner, hah!)

This idiotic law will go to court and will NOT survive a court challenge.

I happen to live in a district with state lege representatives who would not have voted for this, but I can urge friends living in other districts to actively campaign against bozos who did vote for it.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on April 20, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like "Born in East LA" really should have been "Born in South AZ"

Posted by: Sarah Palin IS the ANTIchrist on April 20, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"he's actually been a strong advocate of immigration reform, and has consistently been to his party's left. " This is true and it's unfortunate that people are beginning to place labels on McCain, when all his record has done, is made decisions with the voice of the people in his ear.

Posted by: christina on April 20, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK



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