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Posted at 10:23 AM ET, 01/10/2011

Story pick: Arizona's political climate

By Ian Shapira

This weekend's shooting in Tucson reminded me of two great stories about Arizona that appeared in Harper's magazine last year and in The New Yorker in 2009. Both stories provide detailed context to anyone unfamiliar with Arizona, its politics, and the atmosphere surrounding gun laws and illegal immigration issues.

Ken Silverstein's Harper piece in July 2010 is a highly opinionated but deeply reported take on Republican control of Arizona's state legislature
. He describes the state's anti-government, anti-illegal immigrant climate and highlights some of the legislature's priorities:

In January, Senator Jack Harper, an immaculately combed zealot who speaks in the patter of an infomercial voiceover, submitted a bill that would allow faculty members to carry guns on university campuses, saying it was “one very small step in trying to eliminate gun-free zones, where there’s absolutely no one who could defend themselves if a terrorist incident happened.” The house passed a measure that would force President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate to state officials if he runs for re-election, as well as a bill that bars Arizona from entering into any program to regulate greenhouse gases without approval from the legislature. “There are only two ways to vote on this,” said Representative Ray Barnes of the latter initiative. “Yes, or face the east in the morning and worship the EPA because they own you.” 

The other piece, by William Finnegan in The New Yorker, is one of the most definitive profiles of the infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known as "America's Toughest Sheriff." (A subscription to The New Yorker is required to read the full text.) This is the sheriff who has appointed himself the nation's No. 1 enforcer of illegal immigration restrictions. He also prides himself on his strict prison rules: at one point, he decreed that all inmates must wear pink underwear.

As we comb through all the great journalism surrounding this weekend's tragedy, these two pieces are must-reads for understanding Arizona's recent political history.

By Ian Shapira  | January 10, 2011; 10:23 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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There is so far nothing, zero, nada, to tie Jared Loughner to the issue of illegal immigration, period. His rants on youtube were about "good grammar," currency, and "government mind control." His alleged association with American Renaissance has not been proved.

Shame on you WaPo for trying to make political hay for one of your pet causes out of this sad situation, without a single shred of evidence to back it up with.

Posted by: MaryJessel | January 10, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The Illinois Lottery drew 666 the day of Obama's victory. Check out the Illinois State Lottery's official website's "Past Winning Numbers"­=yC_roE4SNzw
Click on the links in the video by Googling these exact words:
Pass this on to everyone, everywhere, in all ways, as if hell was chasing close behind you.

Posted by: GeirSmith | January 10, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Amazing. The Federal Government has opened the borders of Arizona to the Mexican Mafia, the illegal aliens and the dope transporters and nobody thinks Arizona should do a thing about it. That one is so stupid it is unbelievable.

The dope transporters for the Mexican Mafia come north and deliver back pack, after back pack of narcotics to the Urban High Schools of Arizona, then stole a car and headed back to Mexico sos he could sell it and pick up a little money. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is criticized for being a tough sheriff as he fought the illegal aliens, doper deliveries and car jacking just about by himself for years, and years, and years. Congress wiggled its little fingers and said ooooh dearrrr. Yer kidding.

I am very sorry what happened happened. He has been exposed to the narcotics of his high school, and that shouldn't have happened to him. It wasn't the NRA that is at fault here.. NOT Sara Palin.. it was a poor kid wacked out on Mexican Dope to the point of extreme mental illness.

Build the fence, secure the border. Stop the narcotics the illegal aliens bring north to make a little money, and all of this nightmare goes away.

The Immigration Law has not been enforced for over 20 years. Enforce the Immigration Law and don't let the administration jigger the figures on what has been done.

Posted by: joelwisch | January 10, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

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