Transcript #168-1

Busting More Right-Wing Lies About The Arizona Immigration Statute


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Your sources for this segment include: the Associated Press,, the New York Times,,, and


Last podcast we discussed the new Arizona immigration law, largely in the context of nearly a half century of GOP right-wing racism. You heard about the Southern Strategy, vote caging,  and bigoted, ugly comments and behavior by prominent present and past right-wingers such as Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh.


In kind of a grab bag, I want to expand on a point or two, and bring up a few new issues. 


To start off with, defenders of the Arizona statute never tire of repeating that immigration status can only be checked when an otherwise lawful stop is made.  This is really no restriction at all:


David Salgado, a Phoenix police office…said the fact that officers can check immigration status only after a stop for another reason is essentially meaningless because “you drive two or three blocks down the street I will find something to pull you over for — going over the double line, forgetting to signal for a lane change, it’s not hard.”

As an Arizona judge of Hispanic origin put it, “This has been lifelong, these stops."


Lawsuits in Arizona have been successful in the past against just such de facto racial profiling.


Next: last time we pointed out while the right was screaming about all the crime by immigrants, that was factually just plain wrong.  Now even more data on this has been gathered by the Associated Press. 


You can tell any right-winger who starts going on and on about crime, that statistically, the US-Mexico border is one of the safest parts of the country, and getting safer.


Which four big cities in America have the lowest rates of violent crime?  All in border states: San Diego, Phoenix --- Phoenix -- El Paso and Austin.


In 2009, violent crime in all of Arizona declined.


What is a legitimate concern, which Democratic Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has brought up, is the possibility of the horrific drug violence in Mexico spilling over the border.  In the border areas that are the exception to the decreased violence trend, the violence is indeed from drug smuggling, not people smuggling.  So, as any rational person would understand -- does that exclude all right-wingers?  at least most of them -- as any rational person would understand, solving the drug violence problem has nothing to do with stopping and deporting your gardener or the dishwasher who works in your restaurant, because they rolled through a stop sign.


Ok, here's a biggie:  not only will the Arizona law not reduce crime, as the right-wing would have you believe, but in the opinion of those who should  know, it will lead to an increase in crime.


Who are those who should know?  The Chiefs of Police from several cities, including those in Arizona.


The reason is, that undocumented workers will not report crimes, for fear of being deported.  And, scarce police resources will be diverted from fighting crimes against people and property, to performing immigration enforcement. 


The Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck point blank said:


We will be unable to do our jobs. Laws like this will actually increase crime, not decrease crime.

In fact, there are reports from the field in Arizona that already, even before the law has taken effect, crimes like robbery and domestic violence are going unreported by victims.


Just think about it -- this law creates a class of defenseless victims.  If you were a criminal, wouldn't you prefer to target those whom you know will be afraid to report your criminal action to the police?  This could get very ugly.


As usual, in accordance with one of Blast The Right's mantras, right-wing policies increase human misery, suffering, pain and death.


Here's a wrinkle.   While police chiefs don't like the law, many Arizona organizations which represent rank-and-file police offers, do support the statute.


I asked listeners in my monthly email to suggest reasons why. 


Dale from North Carolina nailed it, I think:


[O]ne must consider the different tasks and goals. Cops on the beat are more short term, day to day, focused on apprehension and punishment. Therefore they see the law as a tool to allow them to make arrests. The top management sees a bigger picture and takes a longer term view because they are focused on crime statistics. They…are considering…the side effects on the whole population.

Kathie from Montana echoed what Dale wrote, and also suggested this  psychological factor :


Most [police officers] that I things to be black and white -- no gray areas…The people they encounter on a daily basis in their work are either "good" or "bad".  Undocumented persons have committed a "crime" and are therefore "bad"…Anything that gives them additional tools to get rid of the "bad" people…is just fine by them.

Now I want to expand on the right-wing, GOP racism angle.  Many people think, "I don't see any racism, that was in the past, so criticisms of the law for being racist have to be bogus."


Well, Tea Party darling Ron Paul recently said he thought restaurant owners and other businesses should be allowed to refuse service to African-Americans and other minorities.  No racism?  How pathetic.  Even William F. Buckley admitted before he died that the federal Civil Rights Act had been a necessary federal intervention.


Beyond that, there's hidden racism, that has very harmful economic and other impacts.


For example, one study showed that all other things being equal,


applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.

Many black job applicants avoid specifying race on an application, or use initials or nicknames to hide black-sounding names.


And how about this:  a recent study showed that better jobs are often not publicly posted, but filled through word-of-mouth and informal networks.  Minorities received far fewer of these types of job leads.


Racism also exists in the criminal justice system, adversely affecting minority criminal defendants.  A recent study found that African-Americans are still routinely excluded from southern juries, thus denying black defendants a jury of their peers.  Just like during  the days of Jim Crow.


You may well be aware of other examples of present-day racism


Here's a point I want to clarify:  if someone snuck across the border last week, I have no problem finding and deporting that person.  Maybe the Arizona law will randomly find a few such people.


But what I'm concerned about, and opponents of the law are worried about, is the legislation's effect on law-abiding residents of 10, 20 years or more.  You and I know, and even the right knows, that eventually the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country will be offered a path to legality, if not outright citizenship.


So does it make sense to arrest and deport a resident of 20 years who rolled through a stop sign, when in the not too distant future this person will be offered a path to legal status?


It just seems mean-spirited at best, and it has nothing to do with catching drug smugglers and the like.


Remember, this is critical: police officers already have the power to check the immigration status of those suspected of a crime, so when they catch a drug smuggler, they already have the power to deport that person if he or she is here illegally.


On a lighter note, I was amused by how President Obama and Arizona Governor, Republican Jan Brewer had a make nice-nice meeting in the Oval Office.  It was apparently very cordial, and Gov. Brewer came out expressing hope for a "much better dialogue between the government and Arizona."


Photo-ops don't cut it with me.


What I'm really impressed by, is the new generation of Hispanic student activists who are putting it all on the line to fight for legal status. 


The federal DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship to undocumented students through college enrollment or military service.  Illinois Democrat Dick Durban and Indiana Republican Richard Lugar are sponsors.


The student activists are studying the Civil Rights era, training in non-violent civil disobedience, and conducting sit-ins and class walk-outs in protest.


They publicly announce their undocumented status, and thus risk being deported.  Putting it all on the line.


This really moved me:  on a study trip to the U.S. South, some of the student activists met a member of the Little Rock Nine.  One of the students related:


I went up to her…and told her my story and tried not to cry.  She listened. Then, she hugged me.

If the students can have hope, so can all progressives.  Not least because, right-wingers and their corporate media mouthpieces are only telling you and me half the story from poll results on this issue.


Sure, the American public supports the Arizona law.  That's all you hear about.  But the polls also show that at least as large percentages of the public, continue to support as well, a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, either citizenship or a permanent green card situation.


So if the spirit moves you, do go out and advocate for the DREAM Act and for comprehensive immigration reform.  Both morality, and public opinion, are on your side.



Transcript #168-2

The Struggle Continues For Economic Justice


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Your sources for this segment include: the New York Times,,, the website of the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, In These Times, and


We'll start off by discussing two efforts in New York to achieve some economic justice.  The battle continues on, often beneath the radar.  As you'll see, there's a racial angle not just in the Arizona immigration law issue, but here as well.


First up:  In New York City, many development projects like shopping malls receive government subsidies.  Legislation before the City Council would set wages for retail workers and others at these completed projects at a minimum of $10 an hour, with health benefits. 


Sounds good to me, how about you?


But the right is raising holy hell about this.  They argue that most  retail workers are part-time teenagers.  Wrong.  The vast majority are older, work full-time, and support families.


The right also argues-- this is their all-purpose argument -- that the bill would stifle development, it makes things too expensive.


Baloney.  Studies show businesses adjust and everyone does fine.


Some progressive arguments in favor of this type of statute:


Projects receiving public benefits should benefit the public.  Higher wages mean the government subsidy is being shared with the community.  On the other hand, paying sub-poverty-level wages means workers will get public assistance, and taxpayers will foot the bill.


Frankly, I just think it's absurd that right-wingers claim that the richest country in the world can't afford to pay workers enough so they don't starve.


There's a racial angle: the retail work force is mostly made up of people of color, many of them immigrants. 


And get this: $10 an hour isn't even a living wage.  As a single adult, you'd need to make nearly $12 an hour in New York City to barely get by.  A family of four would need $30 hour.  So how pathetic is this entire discussion of should we mandate pay of $10 an hour.


About 140 cities have similar laws.  Let's hope this minimal-type measure passes.


The second bill, in the New York State legislature, would apply to 200,000 nannies, housekeepers, and other domestic workers.  It would grant them the rights to overtime pay and collective bargaining, as well as guaranteed vacation days, paid holidays and sick days.


This bill would be the first of its type in the nation, and would apply to undocumented workers.


Right-wingers in the New York GOP have blocked the bill for six years, because -- surprise, surprise -- it would supposedly be too costly for employers, and, again no surprise, because it affords the workplace protections to undocumented workers.


Here's an interesting racial angle, beyond the fact that most of these domestic workers are members of minority groups.


Do you know why these workers aren't already enjoying these protections?


Because when labor legislation was passed during the New Deal under FDR, domestic workers and farm workers were deliberately excluded.  This was to appease racist right-wing southern Dixiecrats, because most of these workers were then African-American.


As one supporter of the present-day domestic workers bill lamented:


The same prejudices that applied to them in 1935 have continued to apply to them both in federal law and state laws.

This has to change.


Look for similar efforts to aid domestic workers in California and Colorado. 


And a victory now in New York would be sorely needed, since there have been defeats on related fronts.  For example, home health care aides were thwarted in their efforts to gain minimum wage and overtime protections.


Don't you think it's a shame that it's so hard for simple morality to take effect?


Let's expand the frame, and move from specific bills, to some national-level stats.


The wealth gap between blacks and whites has long been recognized.  A lot of that is due to the fact that African-American GI's were deliberately excluded from the home ownership benefits of the GI Bill after World War II.  See podcast 116 on that.  This racial gap widened during the Bush presidency. 


What's new is, a recent study has shown that not only is there a racial gap, but a terrible gender gap that exacerbates it.  And it exists even after factoring out the single mother factor.


And of course, who are these minority women, other than the very health care aides, domestic workers and retail workers we've been speaking of.


You know, things aren't getting any better.  In April of last year I saved an article about how 1 in 10 Americans were on food stamps.  By November, there was another article about how 1 in 8 Americans were on food stamps. One in 4 kids!  Half of all Americans have received food stamps by the time they turn 20.


I'd be remiss not to repeat here some overall stats that are almost unbelievable:


Since 1980, the richest 1% of Americans have nearly tripled their share of the national income pie.  They went from about 8 ½% when Reagan took office, to 23 ½ in 2007.


While those at the bottom have, as one writer put it, "barely moved an inch."


What about wealth?  The 400 richest American families in 2006 had as much wealth, as the entire bottom half of the nation.


So as you can imagine, the solution to this rampant economic injustice has to go beyond just raising the wages of low income workers.  It has to involve bringing back the far more progressive tax code we had for several decades, until Ronald Reagan got his hands on it.


If you took the richest point one percent of Americans -- the richest 1 out of a thousand Americans -- and taxed them at 1960 rates, that would produce an additional $281 billion a year in revenue.


Am I just offering pipe dreams here?


Well, just like with the immigration issue, where the vast majority of the public still supports a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants, the public supports progressive economic measures as well.


As far as raising the pay of full-time workers living in poverty, Americans were asked if they agreed with the following:


As a country, we should make sure that people who work full-time should be able to earn enough to keep their families out of poverty.

Can you guess how many supported this bottom-line moral concept? 94%, with 80% agreeing strongly.


And as far as raising taxes on the wealthy, again, progressive thought is mainstream thought.


A recent Quinnipiac poll asked:


Do you think raising income taxes on households making more than $250,000 should or should not be a main part of any government approach to the deficit?

Six out of ten Americans supported this tax.  If you raise the threshold to $1 million, that percentage increases, and includes a majority of Republicans.  Republicans!  A majority of  Republicans want to raise taxes on those making over $1 million a year.


What are we waiting for?!


I remember the first time I heard a right-winger tell me that he didn't think a person who worked full-time, should earn enough to feed himself.  I just couldn't believe it.  How could anyone think like that in the late 20th century?  Easy, I now realize, if they're trying to restore 12th century feudalism economics.


The key is, the social contract.  We as a society promise, that if you work hard and play by the rules and keep your nose clean, you'll earn enough to provide a decent life for your family.  We as a society will set the rules of the game, so this will be the case for you.


Right-wingers don't believe in such a social contract.


That's why they go to sometimes absurd lengths to trash that concept.


You reach the goal of the social contract, through what is called, in shorthand, social justice, sometimes economic justice.


So just listen to Glenn Beck recently:


audio: Glenn Beck

I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.

…These are the Marxist code words for the new global order.

This is some of the dumbest, most ignorant talk I've ever heard.  Beck is apparently unaware, that the Catholic Church, the Conservative and Reform movements of Judaism, the National Association of Evangelicals, all explicitly call for social justice.  So did Martin Luther King, Jr.


Unfortunately, right-wingers want to dismantle all society-wide efforts to achieve social justice:


audio:  Rush Limbaugh

Roosevelt is dead.  His policies may live on, but we're in the process of doing something about that as well.

Beck and Limbaugh have firmly put themselves in the category of what I call right-wing pseudo-Christians.  These are people who purport to follow Jesus Christ's teachings, but in reality, do everything in their power to thwart the implementation of what Jesus taught.  See podcast 160 for a lot more on this.


Let me close by linking together, or more accurately, letting some wise union officials link together, the two segments of today's show.  Undocumented immigrants are forced to accept low pay and poor job conditions because they're afraid to stand up for their rights.  That worsens things for the entire workforce.  So unions want these undocumented workers to get legal status.  This is how the union officials put it:


Workers don’t depress wages. Unscrupulous employers do.  Your standard of living is not going to improve, and you’re not going to be in a stronger position to solve your problems as long as you have all of these people out there without any rights — without any ability to contribute. Things will only get worse, not better.

You may not want to do this because you like José Rodríguez, but this affects you. If we can free them so they can come out of the shadows, we can not only improve their lives, but all workers’ lives.

So a path to legality is not only the moral thing to advocate, but it would help reduce the vast income and wealth inequality that threatens to destroy the American social contract and our very nation.


The path to legality is something progressives support and right-wingers oppose, and in this and all things that help the average person, it seems, t'will ever be thus.


You and I had better dig in for the long haul.



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