Archive for October, 2008

Infomercials, Hatemercials and the Multi-mediagenic Presidency: GRITtv Panel Analyzes Elections & Media

October 31, 2008

This was a fun and informative panel. Always-thoghtful host Laura Flanders gets her guests -the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg, Chris Rabb of Afronetizen and mois- to spill the media beans on this breathtaking political moment. Don’t miss a minute!


Fast for Our Future: Massive Fast Seeks Justice for Immigrants

October 29, 2008

In what organizers say is one of the largest single fasts in U.S. history, over 100 people are engaging in a hunger strike to mobilize 1,000,000 people to sign their Pledge to vote and take action for immigrant rights. Seeking to “reignite” the somewhat slowed movement that brought us the largest mass mobilizations in U.S. history, fasters are currently engaged in locations across the country, with Los Angeles’ historic Plaza Olvera serving as its spiritual center.

Several friends of mine are participating and I encourage you to visit their website and sign the pledge. Though I think there need to be more such actions when the glare of the election lights dims, taking action now really is critical. Having recently interviewed some of the main movers and shakers on immigration policy, I can tell you that nobody, not the corporate-funded, DC-based Latino and immigrant rights groups, not the pols and, yes, not even Barack Obama are signalling anything except the possibility for legalization
(and recent statements by Pelosi put even that in serious question.)

None of these powerful interest are saying anything that will fundamentally alter the devastating immigration policies -and their tragic effects: thousands of raids terrorizing families and entire communities, hundreds of thousands (including families and children) jailed, thousands dead in the desert, detainees killed and dying in detention. Our silence this time around means that we too will be complicit with the Democrats and their allies. So, please do visit the Fast for Our Future site and sign the petition.

“Post-Racial” Tu Madre: U.S. Hate Crimes Down- Except Against Latinos

October 28, 2008

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Today’s Washington Post (WAPO) has this story about the good news of a decline in overall hate crimes in the U.S., according to FBI Director Robert F. Mueller. Good news, that is, for almost every racial, ethnic, religious and other group except one: Latinos. The WAPO story also tells us that, for the 4th straight year, hate crimes against Latinos continue their upward tick in the downward spiral of hate in our “post-racial” society. 4 years; 4 years in the face of an overall decline in hate crimes means that anti-Latino hatred is becoming dangerously normalized, even institutionalized when we consider who profits economically and politically from hate.

According to the WAPO piece,

“Crimes against Hispanics also increased for the fourth year in a row, the ADL said, with 595 incidents reported in 2007, compared with 475 in 2004.”

And the FBI statistics are but a small -and inaccurate-measure of the size of this monster in our midst.

I was the President of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission (LACHRC) , one of the largest, most sophisticated government human relations agencies in the country, and can tell you that these statistics hardly begin to map what can only be the tragic topography of anti-immigrant hate. During my tenure at the LACHRC, we documented the obvious: most immigrants do not report crimes against them. For numerous reasons – fear, lack of institutional resources and outreach, ignorance about hate crime laws, etc.- immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, are not apt to report these incidents, even in places like L.A., where some human relations resources and sophistication about hate crimes exists.

Now, imagine what the situation in places where no such institutional resources or sophistication exists; The FBI is likely only able to report on what happens in big cities and the occasional killing or beating that is so blatant that it cannot be ignored in rural and suburban areas like Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, where 3 white men killed Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez (pictured above) in what his family and other witnesses believe was a hate crime (police declared the murder not a hate crime). And let’s remember that these are pre-economic meltdown statistics. Common sense and the statistical record tell us that spikes in hate crimes are inversely proportional to declines in key economic indicators. I fear we are entering a new, more institutionalized stage in which hating Latinos, especially immigrants, has become “OK”, “normal” and even “patriotic.”” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

What this means beyond the tragedy of it all is that there HAS to be a concerted effort to break the political back of at least some (it only takes the decimation of 1 to discourage the others) of the key think tanks, media outlets and pols whose bottom lines depend on cranking out hate against immigrants. Expensive “Stop the Hate” campaigns are important at the level of counteracting their messages in the general populace, but do nothing to get at the powerful interests that profit from keeping the hate alive. Somebody has to find it expensive to keep up the hate that cheapens life.

What to do Before and (If Necessary) After the Election is Stolen

October 27, 2008

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When I hear the fear of first-time voters like 21-year-old Bertha Barrios, I hear the voice of a generation raised beneath the specter of questions about our last two elections.

“This is my first presidential vote,” says Bertha, a Salvadoran American college student who was holding her 2-year-old son, Joshua, while we spoke. “But, sometimes, I don’t feel like voting. Last time, a lot of people voted and it was for nothing. Bush wasn’t supposed to win [in 2000]. I remember the whole Florida vote scandal … They stole that election and the news reports make it seem like they want to do it again.”

Harkening back to the stories she’s heard about elections held under the military dictatorship that ruled El Salvador in the 1980s, she said: “In El Salvador, the right wing somehow would miraculously always win, and that seems like what they want to do here.

“So, what’s the point of voting if it really doesn’t count at the end?” she asks, her voice taking on the tough tones of her Salvadoran-Watts accent.

I was at once startled and pleased at the healthy and unhealthy dose of cynical wisdom I heard coming from someone I’d known since she was an 11 year-old soccer dynamo. Her pointed question and comparison turned what was supposed to be my reported piece about youth fears of fraud and suppression into an opinion piece about something many of us are feeling increasing urgency about: the serious possibility that the presidential election may be stolen – and what to do before and (if necessary) after the election is stolen.

Recent polls showing a possible Obama landslide give Bertha and other voters some confidence. Me too. According to New York University media studies scholar Mark Crispin Miller – who is teaching a course this semester called “How to Steal an Election” – it’s harder to steal elections if there’s not a tight race.

But the flurry of reports coming out about numerous irregularities already seen in and around voting booths across the country leave open the possibility that millions of votes may not be counted in this presidential election. And John McCain and the GOP’s repeated attacks on voter-registration organization ACORN as a group that is “destroying the fabric of democracy,” seem to indicate that the diversionary BIG LIE required to cover-up and legitimate the illegitimate is in place.

A report in the New York Times found that in some states, including battleground states, for every new voter registered two other voters have been removed. Colorado, a state experiencing rapid and huge population increases, has seen more than 100,000 voters erased from its rolls. Reports from other states of suppression and fraud involving computerized voting systems, voter purges, unreasonable demands for voter documentation and other methods mean one thing: all of us must prepare to prevent and fight this.

Failure to fight voter suppression and fraud means more than just another lost election; it means that Bertha’s and other future generations may give in to the political resignation that the Salvadorization of our political system portends. And, so, given that the third strike of a questionable election will essentially institutionalize suppression and fraud, given that our inaction will communicate that we as a people are willing to accept whatever powerful interests impose on us, here are some things we must start planning—and doing—immediately:

1. Push for Major Turnout and Deliver a Historic Blowout: Experts say that large turnouts and a wide margin between candidates make fraud and suppression more difficult because of the number of votes that must be manipulated and erased. Large turnout and overwhelming victories also communicate to big political and economic interests our passionate desire to change our political system, including our maligned electoral process.

2. Monitoring on the Day of the Elections: Don’t just take your vote to the polls, take your cameras, notepads and cell phones so that you can document and report any irregularities you experience or see. Local and national election monitoring groups like Election Protection (1-866-OUR-VOTE), the country’s largest election monitoring operation, have set up systems for anyone to report irregularities.

3. Study Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004: Studying the irregularities of and responses to these two elections provide us with the best case studies of what to look for and, if necessary, how not to respond (i.e., just sit back and watch the election get stolen your TV set).

While we must work unceasingly to make sure that as many people as possible vote and that these votes are counted, we must also prepare for the possibility that irregularities seen in 2000 and 2004 (and already this year) will rear their ugly heads. Failure among all but a few of us to contest and protest the questionable results in 2000 communicated our willingness to accept not just stolen elections, but also anti-democratic behavior in the Executive Branch: the legitimation of torture, corporate and government secrecy coupled with decreased privacy and rights among the citizenry, the militarism in Iraq and, increasingly, within the borders of the country.

Given that we live in an era fraught with threats to democracy, we must, unfortunately, also prepare for the worst by responding with:

1. General Strike: History teaches us that nothing strikes fear into the hearts – and pocketbooks – of the powerful like people stopping business as usual. In the event of a stolen election, local and national work stoppages, school walkouts, protests, and other actions communicate to the government, to corporate interests, to Bertha and to the world that we will fight the decimation of democracy. If they haven’t already, labor unions, political organizers, bloggers and individuals should coordinate a global effort so that business stops, not just in the U.S., but also around the world. Even without a strong labor movement, the immigrant rights mobilization of 2006 – the largest simultaneous marches in U.S. history – proved that you can make a powerful statement simply by not showing up to work and marching instead.

2. Study the Florida Experience and Learn: We should study how, with a few notable exceptions, the Democrats allowed themselves – and our political future – to be dragged into the abyss of illegitimacy.

3. Foment Any and All Non-Violent Action: – As our country starts taking on the economic and political characteristics of El Salvador and other “Third World” countries that protested U.S. policy, our colossal crisis means we may have to start emulating their methods of protesting electoral and malfeasance: vigils, protests, hunger strikes, office takeovers (ie; government buildings), boycotts and other non-violent means.

Viewed from the historical perspective running from 2000 to the present – the view of Bertha Barrios’ generation – this election may, indeed, actually fit that clichéd slogan about this being the “most important election of our lives” not because we may elect Barack Obama, but because we must restore some semblance of integrity to our political process- and to ourselves.

Waaaaassup! Then & Now: Tragicomic TV Ad Adds Political Riff to Old Budweiser Ad (Funny)

October 24, 2008

For full effect, check out this “classic” Budweiser ad and and then the one that follows:

After taking a moment to wipe the halcyon from your mental screen as you reminisce about them Good Ole days when down-to-earth multinational corporations simply exploited popular culture for profit, check out this video from the age of supra-national corporations exploiting EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE for SUPERPROFITS:

And, if you cannot access via youtube you can go to huffpost here to find it.

The Immigrant Vote & the Need to Denounce Nancy Pelosi

October 24, 2008

On the heels of Nancy Pelosi’s statement reversing the Democrats commitment to push immigration reform in the first 100 days of the next political year, this interview with the Bay Area’s Your Call show with Rose Aguilar was pitch perfect in its timing. Rose, her guests and I got to explore and discuss the historic role of the immigrant and Latino vote in this year’s Presidential election. And it was quite a good omen to be able to discuss Pelosi’s controversial statement – “maybe there never is a path to citizenship if you came here illegally”- on one of the most widely-heard public radio stations in her district. As I did during the show I will do now: If you live in the Bay Area and are incensed, concerned or angered at this naked betrayal by Pelosi and the Democrats, then go and give her office an earful; Those of you that can might even consider going and sitting in at her office until she retracts these statements (some of Pelosi’s DC-based friends in the nonprofit world are saying it was a “slip”). So, check out the show here!

Overwhelming Majority of Latino Newspapers-and Their Readers- Back Obama

October 22, 2008

Hispanic Newspapers and Magazines network

In another blow to the racial-myth-making machine that brought us the Latinos-won’t-vote-for-a-black-candidate farce, the country’s Latino media have come out overwhelmingly in favor of Democrat Barack Obama. Research conducted by the Latino Print Network, a trade association of magazines and newspapers, found that

“89% of the Hispanic publications that have announced who they will be supporting in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election have come out for Obama. 68 of the publications surveyed have come out for Obama – and their combined circulation is 3.3 million. Only 8 Hispanic publications have announced for McCain, and their combined circulation is 95,854 – a mere 3% of the circulation of the publications endorsing Obama.”

Further burying the myths perpetrated by an unholy alliance – the Clinton’s, their surrogates, the GOP, academics like Duke University’s Paula D. McClain, the New Yorker, CNN and dozens of other institutional interests- is the research about the readers of these Latino papers. According to the LPN report,

“Preliminary results from the 2008 National Hispanic Readership Study have found that 57% of the readers of Hispanic newspapers who will be voting this November will be voting for Barack Obama, 7% for John McCain and 36% are still undecided or declines to state.”

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And, the report also confirms suspicions that the same immigrants who chanted “Ahorra Marchamos, Manana Votamos!” are leading us into the Era of Latino Blowback against the GOP (hopefully, they’ll get to racist Dems soon). According to the report, “Research found that only 19% of the readers surveyed were born in the U.S.”

Who would’ve figured even 6 months ago that Latinos, the racist people most of our black and white pundits told us were unwilling to vote for a black candidate, would now be poised to deliver the death blow to the Republican party in key swing states by voting for Barack Obama, the black son of an immigrant? Either somebody’s gone through a mass change of racial attitudes or some smaller group inhabiting the country’s editorial rooms needs to go through just such a turn of mind and heart.

“The Dramatic Equivalent of the Collapse of the Soviet Union”: Historian Hobsbawm Predicts New Age of Mixed Economies

October 22, 2008

Looking for some wisdom in the funk-filled mist of the Democrat’s fog and the smog of the Republicans? If so, then please do listen to this scintillating BBC interview with one of the pre-eminent cartographers of our global past, Eric Hobsbawm.

Even when he delivers bad news (ie; , “ the 1930’s the net political effect of the Great Depression was to strengthen the right” ..but there’s much potential good too!), 91 year-old Hobsbawm makes you feel that urgent need to dust off your history books. His often startling thoughts about such issues as the possibility of a new era of mixed economies, the “rediscovery of Marx,” and other quite relevant matters are worth the 14 minutes of your consciousness. The return on mental investment is a safer, more profitable use of your time than devaluing your mind with the inanities of many public and corporate media outlets here in the U.S., many of whom are largely concerned with reproducing the excruciatingly strained apologies for the bankrupt economic and ideological system we inhabit. So, please do check it out here.

The Saints Have Spoken: San Martin de Obama Will Win By a Divine Landslide

October 21, 2008

This just in from the Great Beyond: Barack Obama has been hiding secretly in the heart and soul of Latino, African and Afro-Latino América all along. This most recent Good News bodes badly for the purveyors of the media’s urban legend about Latino’s near-genetic predisposition not to vote for a black person ; Speaking of our spiritual and genetic DNA, the Good News also reminds us that Latinos, millions of whom have more than a few drops of black blood, have black skin, dance to African-infused music, eat African foods, etc. have, after all, only been praying to black saints for centuries. In my childhood house, San Martin and San Judas were, from earliest times, there protecting us in almost every room of the house – and now they’re protecting the house of our planet from destruction.

Look, yee unbelievers, look with your own faithless eyes, for it is so

Though it may provide but another weak weapon to the army of fear and hate that is the McCain-Palin progrom, this breaking news from on high also portends bad things for those who look into the Big Blue Eyes of Jesus before bashing immigrants, black people, gays & lesbianas, Latinas and a host of other infidels. In the minds of the Saints and Gods that guide us, the hateful among us have already been defeated. Unfortunately for that other rotting temple of false and falling idols, el Partido Democrata, the divine winds will also smash the statue of that other False God, San Obama de Corporate America, whose other manifestation sometimes takes the form of ex-Clinton Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin. You need only believe. For it is written in the book of Eleggua; You can hear it in the coming thunder of Shango; It is done. Aché to my good friend Carlos Cordova for giving us the Good News from the Gods.

Bretton Woods II? Time to (Re-) Interrogate -& Challenge- Big Capitalism

October 20, 2008

Pyramid of Capitalist System

We have entered an era in which 60, 70 and even 85 year-olds are coming out of retirement to find the work they need simply to survive.

Such reports will sadly and surely multiply as the disintegration of economic, political and social life as we know it proceeds. Without a doubt, the root of such sad reports is to be found in the depths of this most recent crisis of capitalism we find ourselves in. For the Lead Political Cheerleaders of Big Capitalism like French President Nicolas Sarkozy to find themselves forced to defend not just deadly economic policies, but capitalism itself, should give us pause; Pause so we think about how we may insert human values into this most vulnerable moment in political and economic history; Just listen to the loud thump of the ideological sandbags “Sarko the American” has to put up to before the abysmal pressures facing capitalism itself:

“Le laissez-faire, c’est fini,” Sarkozy said. “The financial crisis is not the crisis of capitalism. It is the crisis of a system that has distanced itself from the most fundamental values of capitalism, which betrayed the spirit of capitalism.”

Doesn’t that first phrase –“Le laissez-faire, c’est finii”- roll off the tongue in a wonderfully sublime way? It graces the palate with much more good taste and reality than those vomit-inducing war chants like the pathetic calls to “Eat Freedom Fries instead of French Fries!”, no? Sarkozy, who doesn’t much like poor, migrant and colored folks in la Belle France or in greater Europe, has also moved to organize a top-down global response through what some are calling a Bretton Woods Conference II, one that includes leaders of G-8 and other industrialized countries whose mission is nothing less than to salvage and reconfigure capitalism. Such a crisis-laden meeting carries with it great danger and opportunity if we consider that the first Bretton Woods conference established the International Monetary Fund and many of the primary instruments of the global economic domination that forced 60-70 and 80 year-olds throughout the post-war “Third World” to seek work to simply survive.

Time to do what we did during the battle of Seattle: confront big capital and confront them frontally, forcefully and globally through as many means as possible. I myself am not at this time advocating violent means, however. But looking at elderly people like my parents coming out of retirement and gazing at the babies coming out of the dark womb of their tender past must drive us to consider and exercise any and all non-violent means to alter the course of current history.

Every student knows that Roosevelt only agreed to the New Deal after looking at and listening to the loud calls coming from the radical below So, let us meditate deeply on the opportunity, while being vigilant of the dangers “our leaders” are preparing to foist on us in their own efforts to survive. We forget their fear and vulnerability at our own risk; Doing so will keep us on the path of the same sheepish lot that allowed elites to steal not 1, but 2 elections. So, let us also join the armies of the planet that are, according to this piece from the Times UK, re-arming themselves with Das Capital & other writings of Karl Marx as well as other tools with which to analyze and influence the New Direction from the bottom-up. And don’t let the Pavlovian, anti-Marxist conditioning of our decadent system close you off to what are still thought-provoking and critically important resources that can help us give shape to whatever the new era portends. Our ability to analyze and critique capitalism must inform our own policies and political actions if we are not to move beyond the economic, environmental and spiritual devastation wrought by Big Capital and its political cheerleaders.

Move Over Tina Fey & SNL: It’s La Pequeña Sarah Palin!

October 19, 2008

Seems that Barack Obama’s not the only U.S.political figure to move the global imagination or tickle the foreign funny bone. Check out how Sarah Palin and Tina Fey have met their match in the race to realize the comic potential of our political process. Ladies, gentlemen and all you freaks and sinners booted out of Sarah Palin’s Pentecostal church, Of América is honored to introduce you to Chile’s proud contribution to the fast-growing and exciting field of Palintology: La Pequeña Sarah Palin!

Moyers Journal Segment & Full Text Available

October 18, 2008

Chavez and Lovato


And the Full text is below. If you read and have something to add comment, please do post, especially those of you whose marrow does not dry up before the incontrovertible and irreversible fact of rising Latino Power. Tu amigo, R

October 17, 2008

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL.

We’ll be hearing in this hour some voices that have been missing in the larger conversation of the campaign. As you listen, keep in mind, as if anyone could forget, America’s economic nosedive. Here’s how Jon Stewart describes our predicament.

JON STEWART: This is a rudderless ship. The pilot just ejected and we’re all still on the plane. It’s “Lord of the Flies” down here. You know what, somebody give me the conch. Where’s the… alright, listen up everybody. I’ve got the conch. Listen up.

BILL MOYERS: The one opportunity all of us have to put our collective hand on the rudder of the ship of state comes two weeks from Tuesday, Election Day.

Latino Americans are considered by many experts to be a decisive swing vote. Once solidly Democratic, they switched to Ronald Reagan in the early 80s, his proclamation of “Morning in America” appealed to hard working, family oriented, Latino voters. The dawn of that alliance is captured in a documentary produced by Phillip Rodriguez which just aired the other day on PBS. It’s called “Latinos 08.”

LIONEL SOSA:Ronald Reagan was the first presidential candidate to hire the staff that was needed, and to put the money forward that was needed in order to court the Latino vote. When I met him, I said Governor, we have been hired to help you get the Hispanic vote – and he’d just smiled and say, well that’s going to be, easy. And I said, why? Because… Hispanics are Republicans, they just don’t know it.

BILL MOYERS: This year, according to a Pew study, which we posted on our Web site at, Latinos are moving back to the Democrats. But it’s not a sure thing in the swing states, so Obama and McCain are still trying to close the deal.

Joining me to talk about this year’s campaign are two people who have followed, or participated, in politics for a while now. Both are also influential voices in the Latino community.

Roberto Lovato once directed the largest immigration rights organization in the country, known as Carecen. He’s now an editor at “New America Media.” That’s an association of more than 700 ethnic media groups. He’s also a frequent contributor to THE NATION magazine.

Also with me is Linda Chavez who chairs the Center for Equal Opportunity, a non-profit public policy research organization. She served on Ronald Reagan’s White House team and as staff director of the U.S. commission on civil rights. She writes a column and contributes to Fox News. Her books include OUT OF THE BARRIO: TOWARD A NEW POLITICS OF HISPANIC ASSIMILATION and most recently, AN UNLIKELY CONSERVATIVE: THE TRANSFORMATION OF AN EX-LIBERAL.

Welcome to the JOURNAL.

Let’s look at the last two weeks of this campaign. What do you think is the central dynamic that will be driving it?

LINDA CHAVEZ: Well, I think it’s going to be outside events, and it’s obviously going to be the economy. The kind of wild swings that we’ve experienced over the last few weeks on Wall Street have had a dramatic impact. Obviously, the meltdown in the financial sector has been a great detriment to the McCain campaign.

Three weeks ago, John McCain, if the election had been held then, probably would have won the election. I don’t think we’re really going to know what’s going to happen in the next two, two weeks or so. But I think it’s all going to be driven by things outside the actual campaigns themselves.

BILL MOYERS: Do you see a possible game changer, something that could come in and really alter the landscape as we get close to the vote?

ROBERTO LOVATO: I think in this day and age, where the unexpected become normal anything’s possible. But, that aside it comes down to strategy, resources, financial, technological, human resources. And at that level, I think the Obama campaign has pretty much defined the strategic game, especially since they defeated the Clintons. And the way they defeated the Clintons is now defeating the Bush, I mean, I’m sorry the McCain campaign.

And for all that he knows about war and everything, and strategy comes from war, John McCain hasn’t shown himself to be much of a strategist. And I think that’s ultimately what’s going to defeat him.

BILL MOYERS: I was intrigued by the column you wrote earlier this week or last week, in which, you know, with the economy tanking and the government coming in with lots of taxpayer funds to bail out the banking system, and more and more commentators joking that they never dreamed a Republican administration would usher in socialism. You wrote a column saying, “let us celebrate the true and definite death of the Reagan revolution.” What is it you’re celebrating?

ROBERTO LOVATO: I think I’m celebrating and doing a call to really, really be clear that we need to move away from market fundamentalism. I mean, Joseph Stiglitz said that.

BILL MOYERS: The economist?

ROBERTO LOVATO: The economist, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said that the fall of Wall Street is to market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was to Communism. And if there was a statue to be dropped, it would be the statue of Ronald Reagan.

BILL MOYERS: You’re sitting by someone who was a charter member of the Reagan administration. Is it over?

LINDA CHAVEZ: I think actually, politically, I mean, I think the great failure of the Republican Party right now is that there is no successor to Ronald Reagan, and we have not seen Republicans acting like Reaganites. Boy, they certainly didn’t act like it when they were in control of Congress. They became big spenders and big pork barrel advocates. And I think that’s one of the reasons they lost control of Congress.

And I think the Bush administration has not acted in the Reaganite trend. John McCain has some aspects that remind me of Ronald Reagan, but he certainly is not ideological in the same way that Ronald Reagan was. And I see differently from Roberto. I think this is a problem. I am concerned about this intervention into the market. And only time will tell. Well, probably I, at least, will be probably too old to be able to come back and talk about this when we get away from it far enough to be able to really analyze it.

But frankly, I think this intervention into the market, instead of allowing the market to work as it is intended to work I mean, the great advantage of capitalism is the creative destruction of capitalism. There are winners, but there are also losers. And that kind of market discipline is what makes the market work. We have intervened now. And only time will tell whether or not that intervention was a good or a very bad idea.

BILL MOYERS: I was very skeptical about the bailout. Everyone kept saying, of course, that you have to intervene to save the system. Because if the system goes down, there’s no hope for anything. But who’s not benefiting from the bailout?

ROBERTO LOVATO: If you look at the way that the politicians and the treasury, people in the treasury, and some of the, even the media are talking about it, they’re talking about Main Street. And that seems to me to be code for middle class and up.

We’re not talking about the poor, the people that live on Cesar Chavez Boulevard or Martin Luther King Way, as Nancy Pelosi quoted me in her recent speech on the bailout that was so controversial. And we’re not talking about issues that affect poor people that are renters, people that are holding two jobs, people that are having kids and wondering what’s going to happen to their kids’ schools, to their kids’ future.

BILL MOYERS: Linda, does the market, as you were talking about a moment ago, serve those people that Roberto’s talking about?

LINDA CHAVEZ: I think it serves them far better than the kind of government programs that in the past have been aimed at helping them. I do think that a rising tide lifts all boats. And in fact, certainly, that’s one of the things that the Clintons talked about, in fact. The expansion of jobs, the expansion of the economy in the 1990s. It also happened in the 1980s. We saw that kind of expansion. And I think that did help move poor people.

My concern, particularly with what a President Obama would do, is to try to get government involved in trying to lift these boats, in trying to, you know, reach the people, Roberto, that you’re talking about. He has lots of programs in his tax policy that would be refundable tax credits, that would really be Uncle Sam writing a check to people who don’t pay any taxes. These are not tax cuts, because it’s being given money being given to people who don’t pay taxes.

BILL MOYERS: The earned income tax credit?

LINDA CHAVEZ: The earned income tax, the expansion of that. All of that, I think if it dampens the free market, if it dampens the ability of those with money to invest in creating jobs will, I think, in the ultimately not work to the benefit of the poor and will, in fact, make the economy what we had in the 1970s, which was high inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment.

ROBERTO LOVATO: I can’t really say that my interpretation of history is the same. This started in the 1970s, with Carter, in fact. And that Carter, Reagan, Clinton there’s been a consistent line to, that brought us to the present. You can’t just lay this on George Bush or Ronald Reagan. Because if you look at say, Robert Rubin, who’s one of Obama’s advisors right now, he’s putting up the same free marketeering fundamentalism that the Reagan people put out.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote a couple of weeks ago that you have some real, you’re really skeptical about Obama on key progressive issues. What worries you about him?

ROBERTO LOVATO: What worries me about him, first and foremost, is the move to Afghanistan as a replacement for Iraq. I think that was a way to communicate to big military-industrial interests that make trillions of dollars. That, hey, your interests are going be okay. I think he’s not talking about the true depths of the economic problems of the country, and what the effects are. Like that telling silence when they’re both asked, “What are you going to cut?”

They don’t really want to tell us, because they know how devastating it’s going to be. They know what was on those balance sheets before we did. We still don’t know. And if they’re not talking about the prison gulag that we have developing in the United States, and they’re surely not talking about the immigration part of that gulag, which is of great concern to a lot of Latinos.

LINDA CHAVEZ: I think no one has really looked at the impact of the crackdown on the illegal immigration and what role it has played, both in the housing bust, and in the turn in the economy.

You know, immigrants are, in many respects, including illegal aliens, they’re like the canaries in the mine shaft. They tell us, they give us early warning signals that there are problems. You know, most people in this country, I think, would believe that illegal immigration right now is at an all time high.

In fact, it’s not. It’s about half what it was at the peak period, which was in 1995 to 2000. So, you know, I actually believe that what you’re seeing in terms of the illegal immigration issue, a lot of the people who were here, working hard, very productive folks, were trying to get a foothold, trying to get a slice of the American dream. And many of them actually did try to buy houses, and some of them did succeed in buying houses. When you had this crackdown, that’s sort of they were many of the people in these sub-prime loans. That was the beginning.

BILL MOYERS: But you’re thinking about why immigration never came up in any of the debates. There was one small reference to it this week. But before that, neither McCain nor Obama were discussing immigration in the debates. Why do you think that’s so?

ROBERTO LOVATO: Well, I think this is an area where Linda and I have some agreement. I wouldn’t call people illegal aliens, because I think that term’s loaded and very ideological. And problematic and dehumanizing to boot. But I think there’s a, there’s an unstated consensus between the two candidates not to talk about an issue that they don’t see any political benefit in.

And, in fact, they have very similar positions that, prior to the latter part of the campaign, they both had similar positions. They both supported some form of the McCain-Kennedy bill, which, for a lot of people, is a good bill. But for some of us, it’s not. Because I’ve read that law. And the McCain-Kennedy bill had, it was 800 pages, 700 pages of which were primarily about putting more children in jail, more families in jail, more stuff that’s going to facilitate more raids, stuff that’s going to kill more people in the desert.

LINDA CHAVEZ: We could end illegal immigration, basically, tomorrow, if we enacted policies, immigration policies that were market-based, Roberto, that did take a look at our need for labor in this country, that allowed enough people to come in to fill jobs that Americans will not take, or even if they take them, will not stay in.

I mean, we’ve seen all these raids in some of the meat processing plants. When those companies have gone out and actually hired the American-born, what they find is, yes, they show up for work the first day. Many don’t the second day, and by the end of the week, they’re gone.

And so, these are jobs that we need doing in this society. Not all jobs can, in fact, be shipped overseas. And other people who want to do them. And we ought to have a policy that is attuned to what’s going on in the economy. When you have high unemployment, you’re not going to bring in a lot of new people. But when you have low unemployment, you should.

BILL MOYERS: This puts you at odds with the conservative base of the Republican Party. And, of course, this has been a dilemma for John McCain, who was for the kind of reform policy you’re talking about until he got the nomination. And then, rather than alienate that base, he’s been quiet about it. How’s this going to cut in the election?

LINDA CHAVEZ: I think the whole debate on illegal immigration was largely manufactured. I mean, I wrote columns about this. I think talk radio had a lot to do with it, cable news had a lot to do with it. Lou Dobbs inveighing every night against illegal aliens had a lot to do with it.

So I think that if you look at public opinion polls in 2002, not that long ago. We’re not talking about ancient history. Immigration didn’t even rate as one of the top issues among Americans. So I think it was largely manufactured. Illegal immigration is down. I think it will largely disappear.

The biggest challenge is going to be, I don’t think you’re going to see a push for increasing the number of people brought in legally if you’ve got high unemployment. So I think we’re going to probably see that forestalled.

ROBERTO LOVATO: I would agree. I think that it is manufactured. But I think it’s manufactured in a way to disguise the real problems in our life right now, which is the death of sovereignty. Right? Who is the real sovereign? It used to be the king. Then it was the citizen. Now it’s the corporate citizen. And so, who better to blame for the end of our sovereignty than a border crossing, illegal alien?

LINDA CHAVEZ: You know, the right wing gets rightfully blamed for a lot of the nasty rhetoric. But the whole population control movement is at the heart of the immigration control movement in this country. Groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, The Center for Immigration Studies, all of these groups grew out of anti-population groups, zero population groups, negative population growth, all of these groups. So there is a segment on the left that is also deeply anti-immigrant.

ROBERTO LOVATO: The irrationality that Linda’s talking about, I think is rooted in the irrationality of the market, the irrationality of the political moment right now. Irrationality has taken hold of our lives.

If you look at the market, the people that are running our economy don’t know what they’re doing. It’s obvious. They let one company die, like Lehman Brothers. And they let another survive, like AIG. What is the logic behind it? There is none. There’s no logic. And it’s naked to all of us. And so, why not embrace the fact that this stuff that’s failed. And let’s start with a new rationale, a new kind of citizenship that’s more global.

LINDA CHAVEZ: Well, I do think part of the problem is, you know, you kept hearing during the AIG issue that it was too big to fail. Well, you know, while I am generally not against regulation, I do think that, you know, our anti-trust laws have been part of the success of capitalism. You don’t want to have too much concentration. One of the things I worry about when I look at the financial sector now is that we’re having more and more concentration. These banks are going to be too big to fail.

BILL MOYERS: Two big banks, two big auto…


BILL MOYERS: Maybe one auto company, right?


BILL MOYERS: But speaking of irrationality, how do you think race is playing out in this campaign? You wrote a column a couple of weeks ago in which you said that Obama has tried to have it both ways on the race issue, and that race has actually been more of a plus factor for him than a negative one.

LINDA CHAVEZ: I think it is a plus factor for, I think there are a whole lot of Americans, myself included, by the way, apart from my political differences with him, that would love to see a black president. I think it will, you know, I think help move us away from the stain of slavery and the stain of Jim Crow. I think many Americans really want to get to that point. And so, I think that it isn’t just that he’s getting over 95, 96, 97 percent of blacks supporting him. I think there is a large segment of white America who also finds it very appealing that a black man is running, and that he has a good chance of becoming president.

ROBERTO LOVATO: I think that race is, we’re going through a structural adjustment of our economy, but we’re also going through a structural adjustment of our ideas about race. We’re not in a post-racial society by any means. I think the idea of a post-racial society is dangerous. I think we’re in flux, like a chrysalis, in the sense that the black-white paradigm, the black-white dichotomy that defined freedom, that defined democracy in the United States, is over. Clearly, I think Latinos, 45 million of us, are the embodiment of that, if you will. And I think whites in some parts of the United States, especially in the southwest, are having to adjust to the fact that they’re minorities.

LINDA CHAVEZ: I disagree with you, Roberto, on what’s happened in terms of race. I do think we are in a post-racial era. I think that Barack Obama, who is a biracial man, is more indicative of the future. One of the things about Hispanics is we come in all shades and varieties and colors and races. And in fact, the intermarriage rate is so high, both among Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, and among Asians and non-Hispanic whites. And so, you’ve got a kind of truly melting, I mean, I look at my family. I’ve got everything from, you know, a little redheaded, green eyed grandson, to some very traditionally looking Latino grandchildren. I mean, this is the way America’s going. We are intermarrying, working together, living together. And I think that is our future. And I see that as positive.

ROBERTO LOVATO: I look to a positive future, and I have a mixed family, as well. But, and I look at the marriage rates. But I also have to look at imprisonment rates in the United States, something Barack Obama will not talk about. In black America, in Latino America, and in poor white America, there are increasing levels of imprisonment. We’re the greatest prison nation on earth now. This happened from the late ’70s to the present.

And so, when we talk about a post-racial society, I’ll believe it when we have very, a lot fewer people in prison, when the definition of poverty does not have a racial component that’s anchoring it.

BILL MOYERS: I was taken with what you said about the great complexity of the Hispanic population of this country. But if you can generalize, what’s at stake in this election for what is now called America’s majority minority? What’s at stake for Hispanics?

LINDA CHAVEZ: Well, I think there are a lot of things at stake. I think immigration is one of the issues, although I think that Roberto and I would agree that there isn’t a huge difference between the McCain and Obama’s support. I think the economy is far more important. And yes, you’re absolutely right, that most Hispanics are registered Democrats and will vote for the Democratic nominee.

But in fact, there is a very patriotic, pro-national defense, conservative on social values segment within the Hispanic community that I think does find voice in the Republican Party. I think that the Republicans have really done themselves great damage by alienating the Hispanic vote. Without that vote, they will not be a majority party in the future.

ROBERTO LOVATO: The Latino party for the GOP is over for perhaps a decade or more. And I think, going back to your question about what’s at stake for Latinos, I think you’re going to see Latinos increasingly rise up to the call of history in the United States. Latinos will have a fundamental and definitive role in shaping what becomes the United States. And I think we’re going to give birth to a more global citizenship.

BILL MOYERS: Linda Chavez and Roberto Lovato, thank you for joining me on the Journal. And we’ll see what happens two weeks from now.


LINDA CHAVEZ: Thank you.

Lovato to Appear on Bill Moyers Journal

October 16, 2008

We just got confirmation that I will be appearing on the Bill Moyers Journal Show this coming Friday at 9pm (check your local listings). I’ll be looking at a number of issues including the Latino vote, recent debates and other issues that will also be addressed by Fox Political commentator and former Reagan staffer, Linda Chavez.

Tune in and let us know what you think!

This week on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL (check local listings)

  • As the election nears and accusations of voter fraud run rampant from party to party, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a close look at the charges and what you can do to protect your vote. Bill Moyers sits down with Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media Ecology in the Department of Culture and Communication at NYU, who has been following voter fraud allegations in his blog News from the Underground.
  • It’s been a busy week for US politics. Bill Moyers sits down with chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and FOX NEWS political analyst Linda Chavez and NATION contributor and writer with New American Media Roberto Lovato to review the news of the week and talk about what’s missing from political conversation.
  • How will the middle class fare in this economic turmoil? Bill Moyers speaks with Michael Zweig, director of the Center for Working Class Life at SUNY Stony Brook.


Debate Wrap- Up: Obama Signals Slight – But Important- Shift on Support for Colombia

October 16, 2008

Besides the fact that the “domestic” debate yielded some of the only discussion about Latin America, one of the most interesting developments was a slight shift in Barack Obama’s position towards Colombia. During a question about free trade, Obama responded to McCain’s support for Bush’s free trade proposal with Colombia by saying,

Obama: Let me respond. Actually, I understand it pretty well. The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions.

And what I have said, because the free trade — the trade agreement itself does have labor and environmental protections, but we have to stand for human rights and we have to make sure that violence isn’t being perpetrated against workers who are just trying to organize for their rights, which is why, for example, I supported the Peruvian Free Trade Agreement which was a well-structured agreement.

This is a small but important development and likely reflects the thinking of may of us who have tried to jam the campaign up about its Bush-like approach to Latin America. Compare this statement with Obama’s previous statements about Colombia, statements like this one made just prior to the political theater surrounding the hostage rescue there,

When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program, and update it to meet evolving challenges. We will fully support Colombia’s fight against the FARC. We’ll work with the government to end the reign of terror from right wing paramilitaries. We will support Colombia’s right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders. And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. ”

Though rhetoric hardly rises to the level merited by Uribe government, hands down the bloodiest government in the Latin America, this shift is a noteworthy one that will surely be lost in the after-debate wrap ups. Good job to all of you who’ve voiced criticism of Obama’s Latin America policy. Please do keep it up.

America Inc. is Dead (and so is Reagan), Long Live América

October 15, 2008

You know things are truly unprecedented when History forecloses on the Subprime Loan of Big Ideas: “the end of history” thesis, the idea that the U.S. model of political and economic domination has made “the West” invincible before the forces of history.

Whatever your read on it, this article from Newsweek should be bookmarked “must read”-and then actually read. In it the author, Francis Fukuyama, explores how the current economic implosion has made a fact of U.S. life tragicomically obvious to the rest of the recession-racked planet: the intellectual bankruptcy of the United States. Fukuyama declares that the crumbling of the twin towers of Ronald Reagan’s brand of neoliberalism – economic neoliberalism and liberal democracy- has taken a devastating toll not just on the economy , but on “brand America”, which the conservative Fukuyama tells us is dropping in value in quotes like this one

“Yet even as Americans ask why they’re having to pay such mind-bending sums to prevent the economy from imploding, few are discussing a more intangible, yet potentially much greater cost to the United States—the damage that the financial meltdown is doing to America’s “brand.


Coming from a dyed-in-the-Marxist wool lefty or even from an ever-limp liberal, these statements would not generally garner much attention; But, coming from Fukuyama, the author of the infamous and now absolutely disredited “The End of History” thesis, such statements startle. Not long after the fall of the Soviet Union and the “Reagan revolution” (sic) (sick??), Fukuyama was the darling of the neo-liberalati who dazzled many (not me) with his talk in 1992 of “an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism”; So did the Valhalla-like oratorical heights of his pronouncements of how Reaganism brought about “The triumph of the West, of the Western idea,” that is, in his words, “evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism.” (That is, before President George W. Bush ushered in a new era of socialism, top-down socialism.)

In the, for some, halcyon days of the 1990s, “New Democrat” Bill Clinton seemed to put himself and us to sleep by reading Ayn Rand and then swallowing the Blue Pill of neoliberalism as he re-fashioned his party in Reagan’s image. The beauty of the moment shines against the ashen glare of the Gipper; But the threat of the current political and economic moment is that Obama may continue the Clinton tradition of praising -and emulating- Reagan and his policies as he (Obama) says he’ll do in this clip:

Before we start feeling the crush of new Democratic Party “Hope” come down on our Dreams, let us celebrate the true and definite death of Reaganism and America, Inc. all the while celebrating the rise of the a country that’s now part of the insurgent continent Of América, a land where the future has to be defined. As I’ve said and will continue saying for as long as I breathe, regardless of who wins, the true measure of future political and economic change-and social justice- will be how deeply we bury the core components of the Reagan legacy. And, along the way, we may also want to excavate the stinking, abysmal wells of lies, the countless skeletons of nefariousness that lie therein.

So, looks like it’s finally time to set freedom and imagination free from the fetters of false idols and crumbling gods dressed up as “Historic Leaders” and Big Ideas.

McCain Campaign Palling Around With Terrorists in Miami?

October 9, 2008

Governor Sara Palin’s denunciations of Senator Barack Obama’s alleged links to former Weather Underground member and self- identified -but never convicted- bomber, William Ayers, make Cuban-American exile Max Lesnik’s 76 year-old body shiver in anger. Palin’s claim that Obama “pals around with terrorists” reminds him, he says, of the many bombings, drive-by shootings and other terrorist acts perpetrated against him and his family in Miami over the course of many years. “Her (Palin’s) declarations make me think about how very contradictory it is that a Presidential candidate and his political party have direct links to known terrorists and terrorist supporters” said Lesnik, a commentator on the popular Radio Miami morning show. “I don’t understand how Mr. McCain and the Republicans can talk about Obama and “terrorism” when they themselves embrace terrorists here in Little Havana.”

Lesnik and other Miami residents hear a double standard in the renewed attacks against Obama for his affiliation with Ayers. As the home to a constellation of GOP-linked, anti-Castro Cuban American organizations and individuals known to advocate and use violence to advance their cause like the Ayers and the Weathermen did, South Florida is not, Lesnik and other critics say, the best place for Republicans to talk tough on terrorism. “It’s interesting to see how Governor Palin avoided Miami during her visit to Florida on Tuesday” said Lesnik whose experience of domestic terrorism began after he criticized the U.S. embargo against the island where he fought alongside Fidel Castro, who he has also criticized. “She was probably asked by some South Florida Republicans like the Diaz-Balart’s (two brothers in very tight Congressional re-election bids this year) not to come here because it might cause them -and Mr. McCain- problems. They don’t want Palin to come here screaming about ‘terrorism’ right now”

Lesnik and other observers point, for example, to McCain and his supporter’s affiliations with long-time anti-Castro activists like Roberto Martin Perez. Perez, a member of numerous Cuban exile groups who appears in a recent McCain campaign ad, is one of the chief sponsors of a campaign to free Eduardo Arocena, the Cuban exile leader of the alleged terrorist group, Omega 7. Arocena was convicted on 25 counts and is serving a mandatory life sentence for his role in several terrorist incidents including 32 bombings and 2 politically-motivated murders. In his summary of the Omega 7 case, New York Appeals Court Judge Lombard declared, “From 1975 to 1982, Omega 7 conducted a series of bombings in the New York metropolitan area that injured bystanders and damaged homes, businesses, and a church. The bombsites included Avery Fisher Hall, Madison Square Garden, JFK Airport, the ticket office of Aeroflot (the Soviet airline), and the Cuban Mission to the United Nations.” Arocena supporter Perez was recently seen hugging the GOP presidential candidate at a recent campaign event. In addition to Perez, supporters of Arocena, whose victims include Eulalio José Negrin, a New Jersey man who died in his 13 year-old son’s arms, include one of John McCain’s closest allies, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. As recently as last July, Lieberman promised Arocena’s wife that “I will carry it [the pardon request] back. I will carry it back. Yeah. I feel…I think of you like you were my family.”

Other McCain supporters in South Florida have also drawn fire for their connections to persons critics say are not designated as terrorists precisely because they are connected to powerful Republicans. “The GOP is the same party that is giving safe harbor to terrorists living on our midst, but these terrorists have powerful friends” says Silvia Wilhelm, Executive Director of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights, a non-partisan not-for-profit organization that advocates for looser travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba. “What moral authority do they (Republicans) have to denounce links to terrorists? None.” states Wilhelm, who has had to call the FBI after receiving bomb threats for her work around the travel restrictions. “Many of McCain’s main supporters here in Miami – Lincoln and Mario Diaz Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- back Luis Posada Carriles, a known, convicted terrorist, who is walking around here with complete impunity.”

Though they have been silent about the Posada case since the election campaign started, the Diaz Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen lobbied the Panamanian government to pardon Posada and three other exiles caught with explosives in Panama during an assassination attempt targeting Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2000. In a signed letter to the Panamanian written in 2003 on Congressional stationary the 3 Cuban American Congress members from South Florida stated, “We ask respectfully that you pardon Luis Posada Carriles, Guillermo Novo Sampol, Pedro Crispin Remon and Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo”. Posada was convicted by civilian courts in Panama for his involvement in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people, most of whom were teenage and twenty-something members of the Cuban fencing team. A declassified FBI report states that “[a confidential source] all but admitted that Posada and [Orlando] Bosch had engineered the bombing of the airline.” McCain appointed Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart as his campaign’s chief adviser and spokesman Latin American issues.

For his part, Lesnik hopes that the Ayers controversy will lead to a wider definition of who is a domestic terrorist in the United States. “He (Ayers) didn’t kill or injure anyone, but these Cuban terrorists have killed many -and killed them inside the borders of the United States” said Lesnik, his voice screeching with decades of anger. “The Cuban terrorists were convicted and still get support from McCain’s backers. It’s unjust not to designate people who commit terrorist acts as “terrorists”” he lamented, adding “It shouldn’t matter that they’re friends of some politicians.”

Historic Black Latino Summit Previews Power of Solidarity- & Intimacy

October 8, 2008

I had the privilege and pleasure to attend this week’s Black-Latino Summit (BLS) held in Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday. Organized by Policy Link and the William C. Velazquez Institute, the BLS brought together more than 500 black and Latino leaders and activists who spent 2 days debating and discussing the history and future and concerns and shared agenda of our respective communities.

To their credit, BLS organizers opted not to include the media in their event, which , I think, says much about the commitment to go beyond much of the foto op opportunism that usually passes for “Black-brown unity.” I believe they are sincerely trying to develop an agenda. While I’m not at liberty to provide details of the intense planning that took place, I can say that they distributed and discussed position papers (see the Summit web page) around a number of critical issues including criminal justice, education and jobs, immigration and several other issues. And issues of the spirit and heart were also at the center of discussions.

One preliminary learning I bring back with me has to do with the enormous challenge we have before us in terms of moving the ripples of such momentous events beyond the local discussion of the 500 attendees. More specifically, I realized that one of, perhaps the, primary antidotes to the mediation of black-Latino relations by the MSM is obvious, fundamental, yet elusive: intimacy. Listening to the attendees articulate and struggle with feelings, thoughts and plans, it became clear to me that we need to short circuit the electric organization of our senses and thoughts by our increasingly noxious media system, especially around race. The struggle to allow ourselves to be vulnerable within our selves and with others, is the best way I know to dispel and decimate the racial workings that really do divide us. More on this later. For now, stay tuned for the next, more public events of the BLS beginning with a followup meeting in Washington DC in the Spring, when the new President will be greeted with a well-thought out and defined agenda for the Blacks, Latinos and the entire country. Stay tuned to the BLS website.

Of América Featured in PBS Documentary: Latinos ’08

October 6, 2008

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Not sure what we say or how we say it, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t fit harmoniously with the Insider Latino electoral politic we’ve all come to know and loathe. Scheduled to run this Weds at 9pm on PBS stations across the country, Latinos 08 looks like it has a lot of the top members of the Latinopolitic-industrial-complex as you will note from the clip below. The 1 hour doc directed by L.A.-based filmmaker, Phillip Rodriguez, looks like it will analyze the workings of one of the most important developments of this electoral cycle: the rise of Latino political power and how it marks the beginning of the end of the black-white politic that has long defined U.S. politics. During my interview, I tried to emphasize a lot of the themes you know form this blog. Hopefully, I didn’t embarrass my family, friends and community. Though it hardly begins to undo the damage done by the Ken Burns episode, Check it out Latinos ’08 and let us know what you think.

“Folksy” Palin Channels Cheney in Pursuit of More Vice Presidential Power

October 3, 2008

Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin debate the issues Thursday night.

Wow. In what other country can you go from being a political pinata that spills out embarrassment at every turn to being someone a CNN commentator says “will definitely be in the running for President next time around”? All I can add to the chatterati’s comments about the debate is this: tonight’s debate provides but another measure of how dangerous and tragicomic our crisis-ridden times are. As I’ve said previously, we have reached unambiguously infantile levels of political discourse in the United States. The candidates, especially Palin, gave us ample proof of this, as did the pundits who uncritically allow much of this deadly drivel to enter the media system.


For me, the most interesting- and scary part- of the debate was the exchange about the role of the vice president. To his credit, militarist VP candidate Biden did at least call a gargoyle a gargoyle:

“Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history.”

Biden then went on to outline the Constitutional limits on the vice presidency that Cheney has demolished

Asked what she thought, Palin deployed her “folksy” shtick to argue that the VP position needed even more power:

“Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that’s not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I’m thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president’s policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.”

And one more thing: shame on Gwen Ifill for allowing right-wing criticism to cow her questioning.