Archive for February, 2008

Time Magazine Declares “Immigration: No Correlation With Crime”

February 29, 2008

 A Los Angeles Police Department leads a man suspected of kidnapping to a patrol car.

This one just in from the Pathetically Obvious Truths Department: Time magazine has, in its most recent issue, discovered that, as far as immigrants go, there is no “No Correlation With Crime”.

I know: “Hey Lovato, chill out; We need these kinds of victories however small and obvious they may be.” And those of you who’d tell me this would be right. But it is, I believe, a measure of how deep the swamp of immigration politics is that we -and our adversaries- define the parameters of what constitutes a “victory”. It’s like those of us on the immigrant rights front have been so beaten down by the anti-migrant political moment that we adopt a Pavlovian approach to happiness: the absence or minimization of sadness and pain.

OK. Thanks for hearing the rant.

This piece from Time is actually a very important article, one we should be use as we push the anti-migrant boulder up the mountain of fear. And, despite it all, I really am ready and looking forward to looking down that mountain towards the verdant (verde que te quiero verde) Valley of Hope, a valley that was there long before the well-meaning gentrifyers from Obamamania showed up and tried to buy up land that predates and runs deeper than their suburbs and dorms.

I spent a lot of time walking through a Noreaster today and could hear the sprinkles of spring in the air.

Stronger Latin Currencies Signal Declining U.S. Hegemon(e)y

February 25, 2008

This article from Bloomberg talks about another indicator of the decline of U.S. power in the hemisphere: rising Latin currencies.

Good news for an América Latina preparing, like the rest of the world, for the noxious effects of the U.S. recession. Historically, the continent of América has contracted economic flu and typhoid when the U.S. economy gets a case of a recessionary cold. Stronger pesos, reales and other currencies mean that the countries of the hemisphere are better-able to deal with the trickle down effects of failed U.S. economic policy. According to the Bllomberg article,

“A slowdown in the U.S. will have an effect,” said Silvia Marengo, who manages $130 million of bonds at Clariden Bank in London. “What’s different now is that these countries find themselves in better financial positions. In the past, we would be talking about which Latin American country would be the next to default.”

Oddly enough, Latin America (yes) is home to three of the four best-performing currencies against the dollar this year among emerging markets.

So, buy pesos!

Obama, Clinton Dump Border Wall in Debate

February 22, 2008

art.2015.debate.cnn.jpg

Most interesting thing in tonight’s debate?

I thought that the most interesting development was the discussion around the border fence, better known as “El Muro de La Muerte” (The Wall of Death).

Asked about their previous votes for the infamous wall, both Obama and Clinton backed away from their votes.

For her part, Clinton was the most creative in terms of the grace and intelligence with which she danced the Border Wall Flip-Flop; She used a recent border visit to launch her epiphany,

CLINTON: And having been along the border for the last week or so — in fact, last night I was at the University of Texas at Brownsville — and this is how absurd this has become under the Bush administration. Because, you know, there is a smart way to protect our borders, and there is a dumb way to protect our borders.

(APPLAUSE)

And what I learned last night when I was there with Congressman Ortiz is that the University of Texas at Brownsville would have part of its campus cut off.

This is the kind of absurdity that we’re getting from this administration. I know it because I’ve been fighting with them about the northern border. Their imposition of passports and other kinds of burdens are separating people from families, interfering with business and commerce, the movement of goods and people.

So what I’ve said is that I would say, wait a minute, we need to review this. There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate.

I think when both of us voted for this, we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense, it would be considered. But as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive.

So, when all else fails, blame Bush was Clinton’s approach as well as Obama’s:

OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree. I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it’s on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier.

And the Bush administration is not real good at listening. That’s not what they do well.

(LAUGHTER)

And so I will reverse that policy. As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having border patrolled, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that’s going to be the better approach.

Their change of vote and mind says much about the rapid rise of Latino electoral power this year. No one, not even most Latino pundits, had any idea of the force with which Latinos entered this election. And, unless he wants to further push the Republican party into the desert of Latino voter backlash, John McCain will not be able to exploit the Democrat’s Border Flip-Flop. The Arizona Senator who supported and then rejected legalization already has some immigration flip-flopping of his own to deal with.

The Browning of (In)Justice. Majority of LAPD Cops are Latino

February 21, 2008
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This little story in L.A.’s Daily Breeze community newspaper previews a big trend: the Latinization of the criminal justice system. According to the piece by the Breeze’s Rachel Uranga, a majority of L.A.’s infamous LAPD – those inovative guys who brought you SWAT, the Rodney King incident (L.A. Riots too) and Rampart, the greatest police scandal in U.S. history-has taken another historic lead by having force that’s majority Latino.

The news will, no doubt, give rise to some of the sad triumphalism and misplaced pride of some from the “Our-time-is-now” set in the Latino community. This same will to replace whites will also give rise to calls for race and ethnicity-based promotion heard, unfortunately, in Uranga’s piece:

“Latino officers now outnumber whites in the Los Angeles Police Department, but the LAPD still doesn’t promote enough Latinos, blacks, Asians and women to high-ranking positions as required by a federal consent decree, according to a report released Tuesday. As of January, there were 3,787 Latino officers in the LAPD and 3,770 white officers,………..”

Another stunning reflection of the demographic momento? Yes. But good for justice……..probablemente no.

For reasons like those outlined here, this browning of (in)justice means that the work of protecting the property and interests of the corporate and individual elites will now be carried out by brown men in bloody blue uniforms; it means that the hand gracefully swinging the baton atop the head of a poor or young person will be browner; it means that a new class of Latino paramilitary elites will oversee a system that is jailing blacks and, now, Latinos with Soviet-like ferocity.

So save your “Si se puede” and other tired cliches for the presidential candidates who refuse to talk about why an exponentially-growing number of our kids ride the express train from cradle to prison.

Para Ganar Obama! (Or How to La Bamba to Victory!)

February 19, 2008

Though not an endorsement (I’m still working through whether these elections are some sort of grand political theater designed to makes us magically forget Bush broke the still-broken system), this music video from Mo Rocca is muy chistoso. Enjoy (and sorry for those of you who need translation – but get with it, homes!)

Vodpod videos no longer available. video source posted with vodpod

“Post-Racial” Society? Report Says U.S.Treatment of African Americans, Immigrants “Abysmal”

February 18, 2008

A new report to the to a United Nations human rights committee criticizes the U.S. government for its “abysmal” treatment of African Americans, immigrants and other racial and ethnic groups.

The report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was delivered to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in response to a ” flawed U.S. government report that underreported the state of racial discrimination in the United States.” CERD is a U.N.-sanctioned group of internationally recognized human rights experts that oversees compliance with a 2004 treaty on the elimination of racial discrimination. Since the Clinton Administration ratified the treaty in 1994, the U.S. government has used CERD to denounce racism and other discrimination in other countries.

Among the many”shortcomings” in the Bush Adminstration’s more positive report to CERD are the ACLU says, “the minor mention of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the outright omission of issues including the dramatic increase in anti-immigrant acts and practices, exploitation of migrant workers, the escalating problem of police brutality and racial profiling, and the “school to prison pipeline,” whereby the criminal justice system overzealously funnels students of color out of classrooms and on a path toward prison.”

Witnesses joining the ACLU for testimony before CERD in Geneva will include Akif Rahman, a native-born United States citizen who was detained, questioned and abused by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on five separate occasions as he re-entered the country after business or personal trips abroad.

The importance of such reports cannot be underestimated. One of the largely unwritten chapters of civil rights history is about how more internationalist and left-leaning African Americans like WEB Dubois and Paul Robeson used international forums to shame the U.S. government before its peers about Jim Crow. Declassified documents from numerous national security archives reveal that officials at the highest levels of government were, in fact, concerned about the international embarrassment brought on them by such acts of outing.

The ACLU report also provides a healthy antidote to the dangerous absurdity of the “post-racial” talk on the left and right side the Obamamania wave. For these and other reasons, it’s important for social movements to pressure Obama to use his abundant rhetorical gifts to speak about things in the report.

Fetishizing for Fun and Profit: Kayak.com Promotes Racist, Anti-immigrant Blogging

February 15, 2008

Kayak.com

runfuzz4.gif

The screenshot above documents another example of how immigration “humor” gets used to sell things. The Kayak.com post promotes what it calls a “semi-illegal vacation” designed to “push travel boundaries just enough to cause a little commotion” by having travelers pose as undocumented immigrants.

Well, they appear to have succeeded. Not long after this post went up, groups like the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition (BAIRC), the Center for American Progress (CAP) and other groups and individuals gave Kayak several gigs and earfuls of complaints, forcing them to remove the post because of what representatives called “complaints”, according to folks at CAP.

This type of exoticism marks but another in the long line of insipid and goofy gimmicks that fetishize non-white Others for fun and profit, as mentioned here & here previously.

My advice to the racial thrillride seekers? Go ride the empty kayak of your suburban self.

Thanks to folks at BAIRC & CAP for bringing this to our attention.

President Calderon’s Message of Unity Brings Together Minutemen and Mexican Opposition

February 15, 2008

This story in La Opinion is bizarre in a uniquely L.A. way.

It describes how, “for a moment” anti-immigrant Minutemen joined pro-immigrant Mexican opposition groups (as in opposed to Calderon and Minutemen they consider racist) to loudly protest the visit of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

According to the story written (translated por mi) by La Opinion’s Isaías Alvarado,

The Los Angeles visit of Mexican President Felipe Calderon has, paradoxically, united groups traditionally antagonistic to each other.
As if in unison, protesters marching in front of the Omni Hotel shouted slogans like “¡Sin maíz, no hay país!” (“Without corn, there
is no country”) slogan of the sympathizers of the Party of the Democratic Revolution and ” ¡Pre-si-den-t Cal-de-rón go fix
.Mé-xi-co!” slogan of members of the Minuteman project. There were no violent incidents, including between people who engaged in previous disputes.”

In light of this bilingually bi-national bizarre moment, let me say that I actually believe that, at some point (not yet), those of us defending immigrants ravaged by globalization must make at least some peace with those other victims of globalization, white racists. Yes, I do believe that we need to build a big, unprecedented tent that allows us all to burn down the bigger tent of the corporate interests that unite Calderon, Bush and most other heads of state. Of course, we have to find a way to delete the racism before that happens and that’s a lot of work.

Or are we supposed to support that other election-stealer, Calderon, because he’s Mexican?

Para Nada. Despite his flowery calls to defend Mexican and other immigrants, he, his devastating policies are what turns a Mexicana(o) into an “inmigrante”.

Beware of the nation-state and the false consciousness of nationalism.

Suspect Spokespeople: New NCLR Video Outs Immigrant Hatermongers

February 14, 2008

As part of its “Stop the Hate” campaign, the National Council of La Raza recently led production of the video below, which talks about the links between organized hate groups and anti-immigrant spokespeople -Minutemen Jim Gilchrist & Chris Simcox, FAIR’s Dan Stein and others – featured on mainstream newscasts.

The video and campaign come as welcome news from NCLR, which lost much credibility for its enthusiastic support of the nomination (and then silence about the numerous scandals) of disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

But another video in the “Stop the Hate” series is not as welcome. Prominently featured in the “Code Words of Hate” video is a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group that has a history of aiding and abetting police spying on African American, progressive, Latino and other groups. Some of us, for example, recall how the ADL presented “human rights” awards to such questionable figures as former Salvadoran President Calderon Sol, who had to wipe the blood from his hands before receiving the ADL award and giving a grandiloquent speech about the ethereal beauty of human rights.

Still, the NCLR campaign is an important one that takes on issues -racial code words, media, hate groups, language, etc.-we’ve discussed here at great length. So, we should support the campaign.

R

CNN Exit Poll: Obama Sweeps Potomac Primary, Wins Majority of Latino Votes in Virginia

February 13, 2008

Exit polls taken by CNN appear to indicate that Illinois Senator Barack Obama swept primaries in Delaware, Washington D.C. and Virginia with by winning the votes of a broad majority of voters, including Latino voters in Virginia. Hillary Clinton appears to have won the majority of Latino votes in Maryland. According to the CNN polls, Obama won the majority of the Latino vote in Virginia a margin of 53% to 47% .

No We Can’t: Tragifunny McCain Music Video by john.he.is

February 12, 2008

Why what straight talkin’ John McCain expresses makes this election year fun:

Speech: National Security and the Birth of the Anti-Immigrant State or Immigrants and the Birth of the National Security State?

February 11, 2008

Law and Disorder Radio

And now for something that deviates from but is directly related to the election mania gripping the country.

This speech given at the Brecht Forum captures well some recent thoughts about the relationship between immigrants and the national security state. Basic idea is that immigrants provide the state with another excuse to put more people with guns in our midst, especially in times of crisis.

The speech goes against the traditional logic around immigration, which tells us that raids, repressive laws, etc. are solely about elections or about controlling low wage undocumented workers needed for corporate and private profits.

While winning elections and keeping a surplus of low wage labor are a part of the immigration equation, these explanations hardly capture the cavernous motives beneath the current immigrant zeitgeist. Stuff in the speech also runs contrary to the rather tired argument that what’s happening around immigration is just about immigrants. It’s also about controlling people like many of you and me, citizens.

To vary on a theme that defined the Clinton era, “It’s the national security state, stupid.”

Lurking beneath the stale arguments of pro and anti-immigrant forces is a nation state, an elite that’s preparing for the social unrest due to the death of the American Dream (if it ever actually existed).

I shared a 2 minute clip of the speech previously, but this link features the speech in its entirety (14 minutes).Hope you like it. I actually think it’s one of the better talks I’ve given in some time. Please do email me or comment if you listen to this as these ideas are a work in progress and I value your thoughts and opinions about it.

And thanks to the Brecht Forum and the folks at Law and Disorder Radio for the opportunity to share these thoughts.

New Poll: Latinos Showed Great Diversity, Not Clintonmania in Vote

February 8, 2008

New exit polls conducted by the nonpartisan William C. Velazquez Institute (WCVI) in Los Angeles reveal that, contrary to media reports of overwhelming support Hillary Clinton, Latinos exhibited great diversity in last Tuesday’s primary.

“Upon examination, while Latinos nationally supported Senator Clinton in the Democratic Presidential Primary, their support varied from state to state,” said Antonio Gonzalez, President of the Los Angeles-based William C. Velazquez Institute. “Latinos in California, New York and New Jersey showed stronger support for Senator Clinton, compared to other states like Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico and Connecticut.

Clinton appears to have done better in the larger, more urbanized states with the exception of Obama’s home state of Illinois. Obama , meanwhile, did better in smaller states.

Another interesting finding of the WCVI analysis is that, while Hillary Clinton did in fact win a majority of Latino votes, Barack Obama made significant inroads in the final days of the campaign. Even in California, where he suffered major defeats in the Latino electorate, polls show Obama decreasing Clinton’s lead in the final days of the campaign. As recently as January 26th, Field and other polls show Clinton maintaining a 3 to 1 (59%-19%) advantage among Latinos. Polls taken in California Tuesday show Obama reducing her lead by 10% (69%-29%).

Super Duper Discussion on Democracy Now: Race, Empire and the Primaries

February 6, 2008

Democracy Now!

After burning the 3am oil trying to get a grasp on the ultimately ineffable workings of the body politic, I got up at 5:30 am (can you hear the roosters?) to join Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman and guests Bill Fletcher and Frances Fox for an out-of-the-corporate-media box discussion about race, empire and the primaries. Thanks to Amy and fellow panelists, this really turned out to be as probing a discussion about the elections as I’ve had the pleasure of participating in. Check it out!

Those of you without audio setup can read the transcript here (just delete the “Uh”‘s)

Clinton’s Latino Advantage Decreases, Obama Surges as Latinos Vote Beyond Black and White

February 6, 2008

Asked on Super Duper Tuesday to choose between a black candidate, Barack Obama, and a white candidate, Hillary Clinton, Latinos chose both -and neither.

In a Democratic race in which the issue of race has played a definitive role, racially fluid and ambiguous Latinos delivered a loud and historic message to the candidates and pundits and to the country as a whole: the black-white electorate of yesteryear is dead.

Preliminary results of the most intense primary in recent memory indicate that predictions of a monolithic Latino “firewall” for Clinton have fallen short. The candidates split key Latino states in different parts of the country. Clinton won states like New York and New Jersey while Obama won states like Colorado and Illinois. Exit poll results also demolished widely-held notions that Latinos are unwilling to support a black candidate. Obama succeeded in dropping Clinton’s Latino advantage from 4-1 (68% to 17% according to a CNN poll conducted last week) to 3-2 last night. And in almost every Latino-heavy state that voted Super Tuesday, Obama received more than the 26 percent of the Latino vote he got in Nevada just 2 weeks ago.

Analysis of Latino voting patterns indicates that Latinos did not, as predicted, march monolithically into the voting booths to vote racially black or white. Instead, the Latino vote segmented along other vectors, the most interesting of which is the regional vector.

In what appears to be the development of a Latino voter regionalism, the vote varied depending on what part of the country (and in some cases what part of a state) the vote was cast. For example, while Clinton secured 74% of the Latino vote in her home state of New York, available data also indicates that Obama won 59% of the 30-44 year olds, the largest age bloc, in his home state of Illinois’ Latino electorate.

Obama won important Latino votes – and delegates- in Colorado, Arizona and other states where Clinton was expected to overwhelm him. With the support of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and other members of the Latino political machine nurtured by her husband, the former President, Clinton won more than 60% of the Latino electorate in states like New Jersey and New York. And regardless of the final tallies in California, the Latino electorate has already proven to be a powerful, new and greatly misunderstood segment of the no longer solely black and white electorate of the United States.

“Candidates are spending tens of millions of dollars trying to capture the attention of Latino voters, mostly in the Spanish language media” said Maria Teresa Petersen, the Executive Director of Voto Latino, a nonpartisan voter registration organization that also uses technology and pop culture to promote the political participation of new Latino voters. “But what the campaigns haven’t figured out is that 79% of the 18 million eligible Latino voters consume media in English” said Petersen adding, “So, it’s terrific that they’re targeting 21% of the voters with Latino messages, but when will they learn to target us with Latino ads in English?”

Analysts like Petersen, whose organization registered more than 7,500 young voters this past January, agree that the youthfulness of the Latino vote guarantees that this vote will both continue to see great flux. “Exactly 50% of the 18 million voters eligible to vote are under 50 years old. And this is a generation growing up in the era of anti-immigrant politics. This is why they marched and this is why they are voting. Immigration is more than an issue. It’s a great catalyst. The candidate who understands this will win the Latino vote in the future, including the near future.”

As the highly contested Democratic primary rages beyond Super Duper Tuesday states, Latinos will continue to play critical roles, especially in tight races, according to Antonio Gonzalez, the President of the California-based William C. Velasquez Institute.

“The big enchilada will be Texas, followed by mid-sized states where Latinos are about 5% of the vote, states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Washington” said Gonzalez. “It’s going to continue to be very interesting” said a smiling Gonzalez. “On the one hand,” he added, “Latinos are clearly trending towards Obama who overcame a 27 point difference nationally. But, on the other hand, Clinton still won several states with (Latino) margins of more than 50%.” If estimates of a 61 to 38 percent Latino advantage for Clinton hold and if the trend, especially the youthful Latino trend, favoring Obama continues, understanding the fluidity of the very racially and ethnically diverse Latino electorate will be mission critical to success well into November’s general election.

Standing outside Public School 24 in Brooklyn’s diverse working class neighborhood of Sunset Park, one sees and hears the political future in the opinions – and votes- of Latino voters like 31 year-old Smithe Celestrin. She and millions of other Latinos made clear to the country how far it has moved beyond the black-white electorate of yesteryear. “The candidates need to understand where Latinos stand” says Celestrin, a dark-skinned Puerto Rican-French-Chinese digital advertising manager whose main issues are the war, the economy and immigration. “This is our country and we will have our say in it.”

NPR Interview: Is There Really a Black/Latino Divide?

February 5, 2008

NPR Home Page

Handshake

Would that we lived in a world with more journalists like Farai Chideya, the consequential host of NPR’s News and Notes. Guest Earl Ofari Hutchison, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and yours truly joined Farai in this brief, but quite cool deconstruction of the categories “Latino” and “Black/Latino divide”.

Something to think about while we await the results of the most racialized election in U.S. history, an election in which historic Latino participation heralds the beginning of the end of the “Black/white electorate”.

Super Duper Surg(e)imiento: How Obama Is Cutting Into Clinton’s Latino Advantage

February 4, 2008

Alicia Perez, center, called potential Hispanic voters Jan. 29 from the Barack Obama headquarters in Oakland, Calif.

After hearing about Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama, my father, Ramon, says it made him think twice about his support for Hillary Clinton. “That (endorsement) matters” he said as he watched Spanish language Obama ads squeezed in between Univision news reports of the Kennedy endorsement, “They (the Kennedy’s) have a lot of history with us”.

That Ramon, who was defensive the last time I asked him about who he’d vote for, is now rethinking his previous support for Clinton previews what may be a big Super Duper Tuesday surprise: Obama cutting into Clinton’s lead among the more than 10 million Latinos eligible to vote this week.

National polls like the recent USA Today poll show Obama either drastically or completely reducing Clinton’s lead across the country. But other developments indicate that what pundits and media outlets have been calling Clinton’s Latino “firewall” may also be falling. A case in point is Arizona, where Obama actually leads Clinton among Latinos by 53-37 percent, according to a recent poll conducted by McClatchy newspapers.

Conventional wisdom tells us that history, political patronage and the much-coveted endorsements from members of most the Latino politirati are driving Latinos voters like Ramon towards Clinton. But Arizona tells us that history may still be in the making-and remaking. While the Kennedy endorsements do bring a new glow to the hallowed velvet pictures of JFK adorning homes and apartments of many older Latinos, Obama’s Arizona advantage can hardly be explained solely in terms of the spirits of our Latino political past.

Obama is also speaking to the present and to the future. Whether or not Obama can cut Clinton’s Latino advantage by Tuesday, his gains in Arizona provide valuable object lessons with regard to Latino politics, object lessons that take us far beyond the now ridiculous ideas about Latinos’ racist refusal to vote for a black person. Principal among the lessons of Arizona is the strategic priority placed on new Latino voters.

“It’s not rocket science” says Cuauhtémoc “Temo” Figueroa, the former union organizer who is the Obama campaign’s National Field Director. “We can’t win without new voters. We need young people, immigrants and other voters traditionally left out of the elections” said Figueroa from the very loud Obama campaign office in Fresno, California adding “New voters were key to victory in Iowa and new voters are key to winning the Latino vote.”

Central to dropping Clinton’s advantage are Obama’s appeals to the more than 2 million immigrants and first and second generation Latinos added to the rolls of eligible voters since 2004. In Arizona, unions like the SEIU and nonprofits like the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project have undertaken massive voter registration campaigns. Such intense focus on new Latino voters comes atop political soil prepared by what huge majorities of these Latinos consider the fertilizer of anti-immigrant politics.

Obama’s efforts in Arizona and across the Latino U.S. are yielding fruit in no small part because he, more than Hillary Clinton, has intensified his organizing around and his stands on immigration, the definitive issue of Latino politics. Though many polls show the economy, education the Iraq war are the top issues for Latino and other voters this election year, massive marches, polls and common sense tell us that immigration is shaping the political consciousness of an entire generation of new voters. Clinton, who has both avoided or flip-flopped around the issue, is counting on history, name recognition and the endorsements she received from the majority of old-line Latino political leaders like Raul Yzaguirre, the former head of the National Council of La Raza or United Farmworkers leader, Dolores Huerta.

To counterbalance pull of the Latino political past, Obama has started more aggressively deploying a browner, more pro-immigrant variant of the future-oriented message that fueled his victories in the largely black and white states of Iowa and South Carolina. Obama’s unswerving support for driver’s licenses for the undocumented and his commitment to deal with immigration reform early in his tenure are being noticed in Latino voter’s homes as well as in editorial offices of newspapers like of the Los Angeles-based La Opinion, which recently endorsed him. Editors at the country’s largest Spanish language newspaper said they were “disappointed with her (Clinton’s) calculated opposition to driver’s licenses for the undocumented, which contrasts markedly from the forceful argument in support made by Obama.”

Endorsements from Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Congressman Raul Grijalva have, no doubt, helped the Illinois senator as well. But Obama’s lead in Latino Arizona, one of the centers of anti-immigrant movement in the United States, comes in no small part because his message is accompanied by more serious organizing and investments in the Latino electorate. At the same time, a more nuanced understanding of the Latino electorate as a segmented electorate makes targeted messaging more effective, especially in the younger and newly naturalized segments of the electorate. Many of these voters either don’t know or could care less that my friends Dolores Huerta and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros are backing Hillary Clinton.

Beyond the simplistic storyline of Latino unwillingness to support a black candidate, explanations of Obama’s recent Latino surge must include the former failures of the black and white leaders of the Obama campaign. Sources close to the Obama camp tell me that the campaign has started shortening a Latino learning curve made steeper by, for example, an operation in which key Obama staffers charged with securing the Latino vote did not, until recently, have direct access to campaign leaders like David Axelrod.

Whether or not the Obama campaign is successful in dropping the Clinton tally among Latinos like my father, Ramon, Super Duper Tuesday will provide more than a few of the object lessons that political strategists and pundits will study long after the general election in November.

Of América Appears in Wall Street Journal

February 1, 2008

The Wall Street Journal Home Page

Despite (or perhaps because of) the economic meltdown, Of América’s stocks appear to be rising. At least that’s what our 2nd (count 2, segundo) appearance in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) , official voice of big capital, would indicate. This WSJ story about Latino bloggers and Super Tuesday mentions our esteemed site’s recent post about the double-talking bilingual antics of Mitt Romney and the now politically defunct Rotting Rudy Giuliani (Gracias a Nuestra Senora de la Justicia Social).

Given that we’re entering awards season, I’d like to take this opportunity thank the Academy and all of you who visit this barbarian haven for reading, commenting and passing the gas……….uhhh hot air…..I mean .. passing the word that makes such recognition possible.

Actually, mention in the WSJ would not have been possible without the increasingly irrefutable fact of Latino power in the life of América, a fact we try to mirror here. So see yourselves and smile:)

Gracias,

R

Beyond the Mama’s Chi-chi Theory: Latino Vote Lust Previews Growing National Sophistication

February 1, 2008

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It’s both scary and exciting to watch the media and political frenzy building around the Latino vote next Super Duper Tuesday and beyond. Scary because never have so many known so little about so large a population as Latinos. Yet, this hasn’t hastened the exponential growth of the cottage porn industry of Latino vote expertise being displayed in all its perverse glory this election year. It’s also exciting to watch the new Latino watchers because we as a society will only benefit from the growth in genuine information and knowledge mixed in with the dross of many news reports and campaign statements.

My favorite from among the numerous and stunningly simplistic explanations for why, for example, Latino voters appear to be heavily inclined towards Border Wall supporter and driver’s license flip-flopper, Hillary Clinton, actually comes from an elected official – a Latino elected official no less.

As the world watched and waited to see how Latinos would vote in Nevada last week, widely-quoted Nevada Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen used the global spotlight to unveil for the first time his Mama’s Chi-chi Theory of Latino Political Participation, and he did so in no less a venue than the New York Times, the nation’s newspaper of record:

“The Hispanic community is very family oriented, and we respect our mothers,” said Ruben Kihuen, an influential Democratic assemblyman from Las Vegas who supported Mrs. Clinton. “A lot of middle-aged women see her as a mother, a head of the household, and they can identify with this. Especially when they see her daughter, Chelsea, with her.”

Though not as pernicious as the now thoroughly discredited “anti-black-Latinos-are-the- rearguard-of-white-racism” theory of the Clinton vote, Kihuen’s Chi-chi theory does reflect the unprecedented -and often prurient- interest in Latino politics.

Despite being left out of the mainstream discussion of the Latino vote, many, more thoughtful Latinos in the blogosphere, alternative and other media and in the body politic generally have seized the political moment to offer insights that anticipate the eventual demise of the Mama’s Chi-chi Theory and other, less-absurd media constructs.

And the collective and relatively new interest of news organizations, pollsters, bloggers, politicos and other interested parties from across the political and geographic spectrum also previews the future sophistication about things Latino. Over the past several months, I have, for example, spoken with and become aware of numerous national and international (and not just Latin American) media outlets planning or actually doing more in-depth reporting on the U.S. Latino vote.

For all its frustrating simplicity, the coverage of and interest in the Latino electorate may well be remembered as one of the most important new developments of this year in media and politics.

We will, for the time being, have to suffer the flatulence and bad taste of the burrito logic informing Kihuen’s Chi-chi Theory. Still, some of the current attention and reporting found in some Spanish language and English language media and other outlets does give one cause for optimism about the new national conversation around Latino and U.S. politics.