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State of Embarrassment — Arizona

• August 18, 2010 • 4:51 AM

How immigration laws, a state boycott and a “worst sheriff” honor affect the citizen embarrassment level in Arizona.

You’ve Probably Heard About: The border controversy. Gov. Jan Brewer has championed a tough new immigration law that requires police to ask people they stop about their citizenship if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” they are in the U.S. illegally. Meanwhile, Arizona’s economic woes trail only California’s, with the state’s foreclosure rates almost five times the national average.

But Did You Know: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and has appeared on the FOX reality show Smile … You’re Under Arrest! The New York Times editorial board calls Arpaio “America’s Worst Sheriff,” saying he is “a genuine public menace with a long and well-documented trail of inmate abuses, unjustified arrests, racial profiling, brutal and inept policing and wasteful spending.” You make the call.

They Said It: “It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents, have to wear full body armor, and they didn’t commit any crimes, so shut your mouths.” — Arpaio, defending his “Tent City,” a compound of Korean War-era military tents erected and inhabited by jail inmates in brutal summer temperatures.

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The Silver Lining: As part of the general boycott against the state’s immigration law, music semi-superstars Hall & Oates canceled a July appearance at an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game. So Arizona will probably cave in any day now.

Citizen Embarrassment Level: Slim to none. What’s there to be embarrassed about? Unless you’re one of them illegals …

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Matt Palmquist
A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Matt Palmquist, a former Miller-McCune staff writer, began his career at daily newspapers such as The Oregonian and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In 2001, he became a staff writer at the SF Weekly in San Francisco, where he won several local and national awards. He also wrote a humorous current affairs column called "The Apologist," which he continued upon leaving the Weekly and beginning a freelance career.

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