Archive for the 'McCain' Category

Death, Detention and the Dream of Legalization: GritTV Panel on Immigration Reform

July 3, 2009

This show about the possibilities of immigration reform this year was deftly done by the folks at GriTV. Host Laura Flanders steered panelists in what I think is one of the better discussions on this topic I’ve seen. Check out show which includes Mallika Dutt, Executive Director of Breakthrough, Ravi Ragbir who spent two years in immigration detention and is a member of Families for Freedom, Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice and yours truly. Issues hidden away in the shadows of the debate are brought to light and the results are really infromative. So, check it out the clip below! And if you like it, then check out the full episode here.

Immigration Reform Trapped in Political Dualism

December 2, 2008

New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Dec 02, 2008 Review it on NewsTrust

Recent talk about “immigration reform” coming from Washington inspires some hope, some fear and lots of reminders about what I call “political-dualism”: the ability of a President or political party to simultaneously communicate opposing policies while delivering either no new policies or exceptionally bad ones.

As the Obama Administration prepares to take the reins of the massive and massively inefficient and broken immigration system, it is important to have clarity about the incontrovertible need to overcome the political dualism that created our immigration mess in the first place.

My first practical experience of lobbying and of political dualism came during the Clinton years. At that time, in the mid-‘90s, I was head of Central American Resource Center ( CARECEN), then the country’s largest immigrant rights organization. Like many immigrant rights activists today, my colleagues at CARECEN and around the country and I marched and protested and sued and lobbied to end the undocumented status of immigrants.

In one case, for example, we sought to secure legal status for the hundreds of thousands of Central American refugees denied political asylum and other forms of legalization by both the Reagan and Bush I Administrations due to the Republican’s politicization of the immigration process. In the end, our many efforts yielded only partial success in the form of what is known as Temporary Protective Status (TPS) granted by the first Bush Administration.

Much like the rising tide of expectations today, the triumphal return of the Democrats to the White House in 1992 brought with it expectations –and official promises- of an immigration reform, one that would legalize Salvadorans and Guatemalans living under TPS. TPS allows immigrants to work temporarily in the country, but does nothing to remove the specter of vulnerability before employers, landlords and others who exploit immigrants’ temporary status for economic and personal gain.
Images of my cousin, Maria, crying alone in her room because of oppressive hotel bosses and because of her inability to see her son, who she left and had not seen since he was 3 years old, remain with me as a reminder of the perils and pain of temporary and undocumented status.

I remember how Clinton Administration officials with impressive credentials like Alex Aleinikoff and others charged with immigration matters, told us in un-Republican and friendly terms, that “We definitely want to resolve the TPS issue- but right now is not the right time.” Eight years after the Clinton Administration led the Democrats return to power, Maria and other immigrants with TPS saw no change in their legal status. And, now, nearly 20 years since TPS was first instituted, as I watch how Republican rejection and the Democrats’ political dualism have left many TPS holders and more than 12 million other immigrants living under the tyranny of “temporary” and undocumented status, I find myself struggling with my own dualism: believing in the possibility of “real change” inspired by Obama’s presidential campaign while also hearing distant echoes of the Democrats’ immigration siren song.

Consider the conflicted and conflicting recent statements about immigration reform made by Congressional Democratic leaders. Asked last month what she thought about the possibility for immigration reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, “Maybe there never is a path to citizenship if you came here illegally,” adding “I would hope that there could be, but maybe there isn’t.” Asked the same question last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded in no uncertain terms, “We’ve got McCain and we’ve got a few others. I don’t expect much of a fight at all.” That such mixed messages would come from the Democrats is much more than another expression of the contradictory views often held by members of the same party. Viewed from the vantage point of the recent and not-so-recent and rather twisted history of non-reform has been immigration policy, these conflicting messages sent by the Democratic leadership should be viewed as a more recent variation on the theme of the political dualism that lead us nowhere.

Hearing recently that Obama had appointed Aleinikoff, the former Clinton operative, as one of the two people leading the immigration policy transition team did little to inspire hope among those of us with a political memory. But Obama’s announcement that Stanford scholar, Tino Cuellar, a young, outside-the-Beltway academic whom I’ve spoken with and who friends in the legal community consider fair, decent and smart, tilted my spirits towards believing change might be possible. But then news of Obama’s likely appointment of Arizona Governor and former Clinton-U.S. Attorney appointee, Janet Napolitano, to lead the Department of Homeland Security only reinforced the belief that political dualism may define the Obama legacy on immigration; Napolitano has enthusiastically supported “emergency measures” like militarizing the border to “fight” the “threat” posed by immigrant gardeners, meatpackers and maids like my cousin, Maria; But she has also vetoed at least a few of the more than 75 anti-immigrant measures introduced in Arizona home to the infamous Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio, who is responsible for introducing highly controversial policies like deploying deputies in immigration sweeps of entire Latino neighborhoods, enjoyed the tacit political and financial support for these practices from Napolitano for several years. Napolitano did nothing to curtail the alarming number of deaths in Arpaio’s immigrant jails and only decided to yank funding for his immigration program in the middle of the Democratic primary earlier this year.

If anything, the immigrant deaths, racial tensions, incessant raids and other indicators of the failure to improve immigration policy in Arizona provide immigrant advocates like Alexis Mazon of the Tucson-based Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, little inspiration and lots of concern. According to Mazon, Napolitano’s record of previous support for Arpaio and for “some of the most dangerous immigration practices of any state in the country” give one no cause for joining the chorus of Democrats, media pundits and Beltway (as opposed to outside-the-Beltway groups like Mazon’s) immigration groups gushing over Napolitano’s “tough and smart” approach to immigration.

And as the Obama Administration and the rest of us prepare for the possibility of a renewed discussion and debate around immigration reform, those of us outside the Beltway must put terminating political dualism alongside developing and advocating for a real reform agenda at the top of our strategies and actions.

Such a mobilizing approach revived what I remember was a moribund immigration debate of 2006, and nothing less is required now. In addition to mobilizing as they did in 2006, outside-the-Beltway advocates will also have to find new and creative ways to move the debate and discussion around immigration beyond the growing Washington consensus: combining the politically dualistic “tough and smart” policies that legalize immigrants while increasing the number and types of punitive policies that took up 700 of the 800 pages of the failed McCain-Kennedy “liberal” reform proposal.

Transcending the “tough and smart” political dualism of immigration reform means replacing the so-called “tradeoffs” of the McCain-Kennedy bill with “safe and sane” policies that combine legalization with fundamental and necessary changes to our broken immigration system.

The first consideration in any serious reform should be removing the immigration processing functions from the anti-terrorist bureaucracy of the Homeland Security Department and placing them in the Commerce or Justice Departments or some other less national security-focused part of government as has been the case throughout the history of immigration policy.

In addition to a less-punitive approach to legalization than the get tough approach of the McCain-Kennedy bill, out-of-the-Beltway advocates are also advocating for immigration reform policies that consider fair trade and economic development, human rights, U.S. foreign policy and other hemispheric issues that directly influence the flow of migration. Such a firm and steady, yet flexible and inclusive approach to immigration policy fits well Obama’s promise of change while also freeing Maria and millions of undocumented immigrants from the perils and pain of political dualism.

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

October 31, 2008

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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!

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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.

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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 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.

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!

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.

On MOYERS ONLINE

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.

McCain Campaign Palling Around With Terrorists in Miami?

October 9, 2008

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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.

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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.

Crisis Special: Speaker Pelosi, Yglesias and Lovato Discuss Economic & Political Threat – & How to Deal

September 25, 2008

Meet the Bloggers

Check out this special edition of Meet the Bloggers (MTB), which focused on the politics and economics or, as some of us call it, the “political economy” of the $700 billion dollar bailout and the larger fiscal and economic crisis it portends. Join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Atlantic Monthly’s Mathew Yglesias and yours truly as we discuss and (indirectly) disagree about what the “problem” really is and how to “fix” it. This clip will give you some sense of the threat and opportunity some of us see in this morass:

I think this was one of our best shows and hope you agree. To see the full show go to the MTB website here.

Alaska Sounds like Aztlan — Palin Leading the Secessionist Reconquista?

September 5, 2008

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New America Media, Commentary, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Sep 04, 2008

NEW YORK — Sarah Palin’s repetition (5 times) of the word “Alaska,” her home state, during her acceptance speech last night may actually have sounded to some Latinos like “Aztlan,” the mythical homeland of the Aztecs. If Lou Dobbs and other political prognosticators are right, Latinos’ interpretation of the Republican vice presidential nominee’s references to her home state were not simply the product of bad English-to-Spanish translation (Spanish language media’s payback for years of garbled, sometimes horrific, Spanish-to-English translations in mainstream media, perhaps?), but something else, something much more nefarious: the mainstreaming of secessionist sentiments.

Palin’s personal connections to the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), which has, since 1978 sought the Last Frontier states’ separation from these United States, have brought state secessionist sentiments onto the national political stage like no candidate since Alexander Stephens and his Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ did in the lead up to the civil war. Palin and her husband, Todd, the “First Dude,” may well have their greatest appeal among Latinos in the south-western United States if we are to believe Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Pat Buchannan and many other conservative commentators and politicians who rail daily against what they believe is the upcoming conflict sparked by Latinos’ lust to reclaim their former land.

Just a week before Palin’s speech, for example, a videotape was released in which New York Congressional candidate Jack Davis decried how “in the latter part of this century or the next, Mexicans will be a majority in many of the states, and could therefore take control of the state government using the democratic process.” And, he added: “They could then secede from the United States, and then we might have another civil war.”

For almost a decade now, the careful research, in-depth investigations and the almost daily denunciations of the commentators have detailed a Southwestern Latino, especially “illegal” Mexican, plot to secede from the United States in what has become popularly known as the “reconquista,” or reconquest.

According to Malkin, “Aztlan is a long-held notion among Mexico’s intellectual elite and political class, which asserts that the American southwest rightly belongs to Mexico. Advocates believe the reclamation (or reconquista) of Aztlan will occur through sheer demographic force.” Like most of the commentators and pundits, Malkin has the uncanny ability to divine the workings of the Latino immigrant mind, without speaking Spanish. And after years of careful study of the Latino Fifth Column, Malkin and other Latino experts will surely be alarmed by how Palin’s speech shortened the distance from cold Alaska to sunny Aztlan.

Meanwhile, the major and minor Latino organizations and Latino leaders allegedly spearheading this invisible demographic empire, (all of whom are more careful and surreptitious than Palin and the First Dude about any statements or ties to secessionist groups), may be inspired to go public by the Palin’s links (ie; Todd was a card carrying AIP member in 1995 and 2002) to an organization with 13,681 registered members whose political platform calls for securing the “complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska.”

Sarah Palin’s mantra-like repetitions of the Aztlan-sounding “Alaska” may finally provide the conservative commentators their most definitive lead in their relentless hunt for the secessionist menace. The big difference is that the more dangerous secessionist movement will not be led by white people belonging openly to an actual political party whose candidates (including a former governor) and initiatives are included on state voting ballots, a secessionist party ignored by the media and lauded loudly by politicians like Palin for their “inspiring convention,” and encouraged by her to “keep up the good work.”

Instead, the imminent and potentially catastrophic urge to unmerge will be realized by poor, brown-skinned secessionistas, especially those “illegal” Latinos that syndicated multimedia stars like Glenn Back regularly tell us are silently, secretly waiting to come out of their closet of illegality by taking back the Southwest. “You’ve got people coming here that have no intention of being Americans. They say, you know, ‘Hey, this is our land. We deserve it back.'”

Though they have spared us the pain of focusing on the lesser, whiter of the secessionist threats, Dobbs, Malkin, Beck and their peers must be credited for their pre-emptive strikes against a threat that has yet to come out of its separatist cave — but which may finally do so in no small part thanks to the secessionist leanings of a candidate who promises to “put America first” when she starts working the White House.

Palin’s rapid and apparently non-vetted rise to political prominence may, however, also reveal contradictions in some of these same pundits who’ve denounced those carrying the “reconquista” gene.

Though he has for many years made regular statements and written many books and articles about how Latinos are bringing about “the complete Balkanization of America,” MSNBC commentator Pat Buchannan himself has ties to the secessionista-friendly GOP vice presidential candidate and her hombre. Just last week Buchanan confessed to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that Palin “was a brigadeer in 1996 as was her husband … They were at a fundraiser for me. She’s a terrific gal, she’s a rebel reformer.”

Unfortunately for Buchannan and his conservative commentator peers, Palin may turn out to be more rebel than reformer as rural and big city Latinos in the Southwest start hearing calls to create the Aztlan Confederacy in her stump speeches about small town Alaska.

Whatever the outcome, we are fortunate to have political observers and politicians that are so committed to the cause of racial and political unity.

Immigration: Too Hot for DNC?

August 26, 2008

New America Media, News report, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Aug 26, 2008 Share/Save/Bookmark

DENVER, Colo. – On the eve of the official nomination of presidential candidate Barack Obama, the son of an immigrant, some of the leading voices shaping the Democratic Party’s immigration reform platform reveal a mix of reserved optimism and pragmatism.

While the Blue Dog Democrats – a group of 47 moderate and conservative Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives – support a position on immigration that bears more than a passing resemblance to the “enforcement only” approach of many Republicans, other Democrats support a combination of legalization and major reforms as alternatives to the raids and detentions that defined the Bush era of immigration.

In between these two positions are a significant number of Democrats and their supporters, who want to focus primarily on legalization without including any significant changes to the policies that enable raids and massive detention like this week’s raid in Mississippi.

Outside of the Pepsi Convention Center are hundreds of immigrant rights groups planning a major mobilization this Thursday – the day of Obama’s acceptance speech. They will protest what they believe is the unwillingness of Democrats and their Washington-based immigrant rights allies to seriously support what the press release of the March 25th Coalition calls “human legalization and a moratorium on raids and deportations.”

As she anxiously awaits the end of Bush era, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, says she sees real change on the immigration horizon. “I’m confident that with an Obama presidency we will have comprehensive immigration reform in the first term – but it’s not going to be easy.”

Lofgren, a former immigration attorney, and other panelists speaking at one of the few events on immigration among the hundreds at the convention, were cautiously optimistic. But they also expressed a number of different interpretations of what the types of policies define “comprehensive immigration reform.

For her part, Lofgren, who did not support the McCain-Kennedy bill – which combined policies legalizing the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States with policies increasing the number of ways to persecute, prosecute, jail and deport future undocumented immigrants – believes that “an important part of the answer is not to have so many people who do not have legal status.” But at the same time, she believes that something must be done to bring an end to a “whole (detention) system that is wrong and causing lots of suffering.” Lofgren and a number of other Democrats in Congress cite the recent case of the Chinese immigrant Hui Lui Ng, who died in immigration detention just two weeks before the DNC.

Though he, too, decries the raids, detention and deportation cited by Lofgren and others as the “least humane part of the broken immigration system,” Simon Rosenberg, President and Founder of the New Democrat Network (NDN), which sponsored the panel, is not optimistic that these issues will be included in whatever reform package gets introduced next.

“Although desirable, I think it would be difficult to include fixing the detention and (immigration) judicial system in comprehensive immigration reform, because it really wasn’t a critical part of what came about last time,” said Rosenberg. “It doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t get done. I’m just not sure if that’s the best vehicle for it. If the goal is to include these issues in comprehensive immigration reform, then we have lots of work to do to make them front and center in this debate.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a Washington-based immigration reform group, admitted that he and other supporters of the McCain-Kennedy legislation failed because they “made concessions” on detention, enforcement and other issues in order to woo Republicans, who, Sharry said, “failed to bring any votes.”

“We knew the Senate bill was deeply flawed, but we believed the legalization component for the 12 million immigrants was decent, and the family reunification provisions could be fixed before the final passage,” Sharry said.

Sharry also stated that he and others were “hopeful” they could change some of the more than 700 pages of enforcement language in the McCain-Kennedy legislation.

For his part, Congressman Raul M. Grijalva, whose district in McCain’s home state of Arizona was referred to during hallway talk at the DNC as “ground zero” for the immigration reform debate, said he has been pushing for his colleagues to place a priority not just on legalization, but on detention and raids as well. “We can’t wait any more when it comes to demilitarizing and improving enforcement and detention,” Grijalva said, as he received word of the ICE raid in Mississippi. “It’s what I hear in my district all the time; all the time. And things have gotten better for us (Democrats) in the past five years. Our side has to get tougher. We can’t afford to be as muted this time.”

Of América’s Lovato Bashes Militarism on Meet the Bloggers

August 2, 2008

Please be charitable as you watch this clip from the very exciting show I’ve been asked to be a part of, Meet the Bloggers. Despite lighting that makes me look like a Miami Drug dealer wearing dapper summer duds, the clip does capture some of the alternative thinking you’ll find on this important new show from the folks at Brave New Films.

Stopping Military Build-up In Afghanistan Key to Real “Change” and “Hope”

July 31, 2008

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Recent debates around a possible and likely military build-up in Afghanistan have created some divisions and tensions within the movement to stop the war in Iraq. Though it is urgent and necessary to debate the pros and cons of exposing the Afghan people to more U.S. militarism, we should, with increasing urgency, worry about exposing ourselves to the effects of continued and increased militarism: budgets broken by war, spikes in global hatred of the U.S. and the possibility of raising children in a future dominated by the anti-democratic dual dictates of perpetual war and “national security.”

A recent report on how to best combat “terrorism”, “How Terrorist Groups End – Lessons for Countering al Qaida,” by the hardly-peace-loving Rand Corporation concluded that, “In most cases, military force isn’t the best instrument.” This report and the common sense conclusion that the current approach -sending hundreds of thousands of troops, deploying massive numbers of ships and conducting thousands of air strikes- make obvious that big money military-industrial interests have failed to deal with what some national security specialists call “asymmetric threats” (groups organized to conduct decentralized, networked and unconventional military operations). And this failure raises a critical question: why another clunky build-up in Afghanistan to fight another nimble threat?

In addition to the axiomatic great game answer that says having a military presence in a region makes it better for securing oil and other “national interests”, another answer seems equally legitimate: that continued big-money militarism in Afghanistan continues to guarantee the that global corporations will rule the economic, political and personal lives of people across the world-including the people in the United States.

By reaching what appears to be another Washington Consensus around a buildup in Afghanistan, candidates Obama and McCain appear to be sending signals not to the voters, but to the Pentagon and Haliburton, Boeing, Blackwater and other military-industrial companies whose stock values depend on the extension and expansion of what Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls a “3 Trillion Dollar War.” Viewed from this perspective, changing military focus from Iraq to Afghanistan is a form of coded communication between those who would govern us politically and the de facto interests that govern us from behind the Oval Office – global corporations and military industrial interests that “protect” their investments in the name of “the national interest.”

Without stopping those who profit handsomely by killing both people and peace in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we will not have the economic resources required to build a more just society; we will not have a political system in which the sovereignty of real citizens overrules the sovereignty of the inhuman and non-human corporate citizens that now define the meaning of “democracy”; We will not rid ourselves and the world of the interests behind the US’s 737 military bases located in 130 countries and inhabiting all the continents where Gallup and other polls tell us we are hated at unprecedented levels. We will not achieve the peace and stability needed to save the planet itself. Any talk of “change” or “hope” must place priority on fighting and defeating the militarism that sucks our economy, polity and culture dry.

For these and many other reasons, we must strike out in powerful opposition to the next excuse for continued militarism, Afghanistan. Whether the face of the next president is black or white matters less than ending the sovereignty of the militarism that paints the world in the black and white, us-versus-them logic that’s starving people and democracy.

For more on the discussion about Afghanistan and militarism, check out tommorrow’s Meet the Bloggers show at 1 pm EST!

Further reading: