Monday, February 28, 2011

Wearing His Tea Party Hat

The Tea Party was in Phoenix this weekend for the 1st Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit. They expected about 2,000 people but the times I was there the venue was only about 1/4 full, so I don’t know if they ever reached their attendance goal. 
They talked about the ballooning federal deficit and the constitution, about illegal immigration and unions. Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senator who authored SB1070 and most of Arizona’s other anti-immigrant laws was the first speaker on Saturday. He got a rock star’s welcome. Other speakers included former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. 
There are more photos from the Tea Party in my archive and available from ZUMA Press. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arguing About Immigration

An opponent of undocumented immigration, right, argues with a supporter of immigrants’ rights at the Arizona State Capitol Tuesday before an Arizona Senate committee started discussion of several bills that would further reduce the rights of undocumented immigrants in Arizona. 
One of the bills would turn school officials into ICE agents because it would require schools to verify the residency status of their students,  including home schooled children. Another would result in arrest and impoundment of the car for undocumented drivers in Arizona even if they have a driver’s licence from another state. (Arizona does not issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but some states, like New Mexico, do.) Hospitals would be required to check the immigration status of patients checking in for elective care. (Federal law prohibits such intrusions for emergency care.) 
These bills, and others (like the abolishment of the Arizona’s Medicaid agency) brought hundreds of people to the Capitol. Most were opposed to the immigration bills but there were also Tea Partiers, who support almost all of the legislation; medical professionals, who oppose the hospital bill and dissolution of Medicaid; educators, who oppose the education portion of the immigration bill; bikers, who were coincidently at the Capitol for a picnic scheduled weeks ago but ended up supporting the bills to limit undocumented immigrants; and unionized state workers who showed up to support workers’ rights that under attack in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
It was a cornucopia of people and competing interests and ideas. It was democracy. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let the Games Begin

Congressman Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, looks at his wife while announcing he would seek the Republican nomination for the US Senate. 
Flake made his announcement at a Phoenix hotel Monday morning. The same hotel incumbent Republican US Senator Jon Kyl used Thursday of last week to announce he was retiring from the Senate. Flake’s announcement surprised almost no one. Kyl had barely finished his retirement announcement last week before people were mentioning Flake as a possible successor. Flake is a social and fiscal conservative with a something of an independent streak. He wants to loosen the trade and travel restrictions against Cuba and he voted against most of his party colleagues on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” when he voted to end the discriminatory practice that prohibits gays from serving openly in the Armed Forces. 
At this point Congressman Flake has to be considered the GOP front runner. None of the likely Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring yet. 
There are more photos from Congressman Flake’s announcement in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Supporting the Constitution

About 200 people, many of them children, who support the US Constitution came to the Arizona State Capitol earlier today to show their opposition to some Arizona lawmakers’ efforts to strip out the Constitution’s 14th Amendment
Some Republicans in State Senate want to pass a state law that would prohibit citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants born in the US. In spite of the wording of the 14th Amendment, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The State Senate held hearings this afternoon to discuss the proposed law. In a rare bit of Republican disharmony, the Republican sponsor of bill withheld it from a vote because he couldn’t get enough GOP votes to pass it out of committee. That doesn’t mean the bill is dead - he could shop it around to a more receptive committee - but it does put the bill on legislative life support. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Arizona StandDown

A homeless vet gets a haircut and a shave during the Arizona StandDown, an event that brings needed services to homeless and at risk veterans in the Phoenix area.
The Arizona StandDown is an annual three day event that brings together the Valley's homeless and at-risk military veterans, connecting them with services ranging from VA HealthCare, mental health services, clothing, meals, emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, ID/ drivers licenses, court services and Legal Aide, showers, haircuts and myriad other services and resources. Arizona StandDown is held annually at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix on Super Bowl weekend. 
Most times we just drive by the homeless without really seeing them. We forget that as many as one quarter of the homeless are military veterans, men and women who have served our country. Many are dealing with post traumatic stress issues and other problems associated with their service.
There are more photos from the StandDown in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Revolution Will Be Televised

About 200 people from all walks of life came to central Tempe last night to show support for pro-democracy protestors in Egypt (and Tunisia, Palestine, Jordan etc). 
People who watch international news have known for a long time that Hosni Mubarek is, at best, an unpopular leader in Egypt. But it seems to have been widely accepted that he was our best friend in the Middle East, a dangerous part of the world. How quickly the mighty have fallen. He’s still in charge, at least nominally, in Egypt but he’s the leader in name only. His departure is a question of when not if. 
This reminds me of the “People Power” movement in the Philippines in 1986 when a petite widow wearing yellow unseated one of Asia’s worst tyrants. No one thought Marcos would give up but faced with overwhelming public opposition, a few brave generals who wouldn’t fire on civilians and Corazon Aquino’s steadfast determination Marcos relented and went into exile. Egypt seems to lack a Corazon Aquino like figure, but otherwise there are many similarities. 
Watching this unfold on BBC (whose coverage is much better than CNN’s) is mesmerizing. I wish our local cable provider carried Al-Jazeera in English. Their website’s coverage is outstanding.