Archive for the 'Primaries' Category

On the Imminent Danger of Anybody-But-a-Republican(ism)

December 16, 2011

Does anybody remember “Anybody but Bush” (or “Anyone-but-Bush)? As we ramp up into the next election cycle, many are beginning to rally around the “Anybody-but-a Republican” flag, and as we do so amidst an epic mix of multiple and intertwined and uncharted crises, some of us are asking ‘What did Anybody-but-Bushism get us?’

A quick review reveals that it got us such “progressive victories” as 3 wars, the deportation of 1 million migrants, the secret transfer of $7.7 TRILLION in loans to failed banks, the shredding of the US Constitution, a sharp acceleration of the police state-militarization within the US borders,not to mention a continuation of many of the worst policies of the Bush era.

War, militarism, anti-immigrant policies, enabling corporate greed and corporate domination of our lives, destroying basic rights,building a police state-this is the essence of Bushism, Republicanism and other isms that constitute the worst of our time. Obama did not just “inherit” these failed Bush policies; He’s expanding and perfecting them to protect the citizens that selected Bush and “elected” Obama, corporate citizens.

There’s no better foreshadowing of the perceived need of the 1% minority to close ranks and “protect” their interests from the 99% majority than Obama’s shocking reversal of his stated intention to veto the  defense bill authorizing for the first time in US history, the possibility and likelihood of the secret and indefinite detention of US citizens on US soil.

Already, recent developments in England may preview the ways in which the same federal and local authorities trying to destroy Occupy Wall Street will start the process of morphing an Occupy rally or action into a “belligerent act” of “terrorism” resulting in the swift arrest and disappearance of US citizens by the Pentagon.

In the face of the “disaster” and drastic crisis of civil liberties we face, it’s important to consider how, in our desperation to defeat Bush, we may have created the very conditions for the distortion or even the destruction of the enterprise of “Hope.” Beware: the election year siren’s song of “Anybody-but-a Republican”ism is beginning anew, and ringing louder than the sound cannons at an Occupy rally.

Before the breathtakingly “dangerous” announcement of measures that will, in the words of Human Rights Watch (HRW) President Ken Roth, turn Obama into “the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” (Roth and HRW also called Obama’s decision a “A Historic Tragedy for Rights“), we should interrogate and undertand the imminent danger posed by Anybody-but-a-Republican(ism); Doing so is urgent, especially when consider that constitutional law professor Obama’s savaging of the Constitution reflects how national and global elites are feverishly preparing for the serious possibility of the Great Depression signalled by International Monetary Fund President Christine Lagarde’s rather stunning statement that our current global economic situation resembles “exactly the description of what happened in the 1930s, and what followed is not something we are looking forward to.”

As should be obvious to all but the “party faithful”, Obama, the”leader of the free world” and the 1%er interests that define him are doing in the US what more nakedly repressive “leaders” and 1%ers across the planet are doing:  preparing,arming themselves legally, politically (i.e. the Obama deception) and militarily (as in arming against your own citizenry ala Egypt, Greece, Chile, India, China, Mexico, Russia, ad infinitum) for the crisis that looms, the crisis that Obama and other global corporate and military elite know is coming much better and far deeper than the rest of us do.

Given this situation, we must look soberly at whatever value is left in our degraded vote, our increasingly hollowed-out citizenship after the  unholy alliance of corporations, the Supreme Court, the corporate media and other powers ate them. For what little it’s worth (i.e. the vote of corporate citizens matters billion$ more than yours) your vote should be backed up by a moral force greater, a justification smarter than the new Anybody-but-Bushism: “voting for the lesser of two evils.”

If that’s all you’re basing your vote on, then maybe you need a break from living in that 1%er-ruled electoral sewer  and should instead try climbing up and marching onto the dignity of the streets, meeting people, organizing people, Occupying, and, most importantly, looking for less polluted political horizons as if your , our future depends on it-because it does.

Those horizons are there if you allow yourself to end the  indignity of forcing your wild mind and big heart into the solitary political confinement controlled by corporate overseers; the indignity of a mental dungeon that tortures you by making you lie to yourself, forcing you to repeat mantra-like the words “the second term will be better,”; the indignity that reduces you to creating fantastic, mythological excuses for why Obama is not heralding a newer, friendlier-faced equivalent-or worsening- of the very policy evils you fear and loath in Republicans.

Hope is still there-if you put your mind and heart to work without ceasing to find them beyond your current political horizons. Seek and ye shall find…

Obama on Latin America: “Small Change”, If Any

May 29, 2008


(this article first appeared in the Black Agenda Report)

by Roberto Lovato

Many of us had great “hope” for the much-vaunted “change” in U.S. policy towards Latin America. But listening to Barack Obama’s “substantive” speech on U.S. Latin America policy last week and reading his “New Partnership with the Americas” policy proposal, it’s pretty clear that Obama will do nothing to alter the basic structure of George W. Bush’s Latin America policy: trade backed by militarism.

Given the painful failure and generalized destruction wrought by the last century of U.S. policy in the hemisphere, the basic outline of “substantive” policy towards America Latina should look something like this

  • Immediate de-escalation of tensions between Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and US ally/surrogate Colombia. One would hope that, in the face of the atrocities in Colombia, Ubama would add a condemnation as loud as those Democrats wield at Cuba, whose violation of sovereignty (condemned by OAS) and human rights record-death squad killings, disappearances, torture of thousands-pales before that of Colombia;

  • Holding up Colombia’s multi-billion dollar military aid package would also indicate some substance;

  • Dismantling NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade and economic policies (ie some IMF and World Bank programs) that destroy livelihoods and communities (nay regions), bust government budgets and further enrich the elites in these countries;

  • Ending the embargo on Cuba. Will Obama stop beating the tattered political pinata of Cuba or simply spin it a little differently, hit it more gently?

  • Ending the low intensity destabilization programs in Venezuela and Bolivia;

  • Re-negotiating Bush’s crop-killing ethanol program;

  • Aborting Plan Mexico, which is already Colombianzing (ie; drug wars, anti-insurgent war, repression against opposition under cover of national security, etc.) a country that, for more than 80 years, has lived without the imposition of military rule. U.S. Presidents from Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan and Carter have paid for the arming of death squads who kidnap and torture jurists, journalists, union members and ordinary citizens as our “Latin American policy”;

  • Placing migration policy within the hemispheric context in which it originates;

  • Closing the School of the Americas and the ILEA training facility in El Salvador, both of which are factories for barbarism under the guise of national security.

With some important exceptions – engaging Venezuela, reconfiguring the World Bank and IMF, environmental agreements- his current approach to Latin America veers only slightly to the left of Bushismo. There is little in his speeches and proposals that is “liberal”, “progressive” or very enlightened in terms of easing the crush of poverty and repression in the region. In fact, Obama’s proposals for continuing and expanding the drug war in the hemisphere will only complete the efforts of the Bush Administration to re-militarize the region under cover of fighting drug wars.

In the search for post-Cold War enemies, the Bush Administration found its new excuse to militarize the region in the drug cartels, who, must be dealt with, but not in the Bush way.

Obama should know better.

The full text of Obama’s Miami speech can be found here.

Barack Obama’s “New Partnership For Latin America” also outlines his Latin America policies, and is located here.

Below are quotes from and brief analyses of these documents.

On the brutal 46 year embargo of Cuba I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice…” Traveling to, or doing business in or with Cuba will remain illegal under US law. Academics and artists from Cuba will be denied visas, no cultural exchange permitted.
On US responsibility for deposing President Aristide and imposing the current regime poverty and terror upon Haiti Nothing The policy will not change
On US funding of the brutal war and death squad regime of Colombia 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. ” The policy will not change. The Colombian government has a blank check and a green light to murder and engage in cross-border provocations at will.
On the US continuing low-intensity war against Venezuela In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader. But we also know that he does not govern democratically. He talks of the people, but his actions just serve his own power. Yet the Bush Administration’s blustery condemnations and clumsy attempts to undermine Chavez have only strengthened his hand.” Destabilization attempts under an Obama administration may be less blustery and clumsy.

Still They March: Nationwide Rallies Highlight Failure of War on Immigrants

May 2, 2008

The battle for immigrant rights rages daily in the heart, mind and lanky 10 year-old frame of Chelsea resident and May Day marcher, Norma Canela. Norma’s mother Olivia illegally crossed the borders of Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S. almost eleven years ago from Honduras. Born shortly after her mom came to the U.S., Norma says attending one of the over 200 May Day marches for immigrant rights made her feel “good, like we could help people get their papers!”

Chanting, singing and marching alongside so many others in the Chelsea march, also provided the energetic 4th grader a counterbalance to the crush of loneliness (“I feel like nobody wants to help us”), fear (I’m scared they might take my mom”) and isolation (“Sometimes I feel alone”). If, it achieved nothing else, march organizers say, the May Day mobilizations gave Norma, Olivia and the 12 million undocumented immigrants and their families living in United States a dose of hope in the face of an escalating war on the undocumented.

Yelling “Alto a las redadas! Alto a las deportaciones!”(Stop the Raids! Stop the Deportations!) the tens of thousands of immigrants and their supporters marching throughout the country on May Day believe they took crucial steps for a movement trying to defend families like Norma’s from a multibillion dollar war being waged on immigrants. On May Day they hoped they helped align the movement’s agenda, animate its base and flex its power.

Relieved, yet still animated after organizing the largest (30,000 +) of the hundreds of May Day marches in towns and cities throughout the country, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera in Wisconsin, a low-wage and immigrant workers center, said that the day’s primary objective had been accomplished. “Almost all immigrant rights groups are now on same page as far as opposing measures that criminalize immigrants and demanding legalization in the first 100 days of the next [President’s] administration” said Ortiz adding “I think across the board most groups are calling on Bush Administration put an immediate end to raids and deportation.”

Prior to today’s marches, the fissures and differences around strategy for immigration reform had split the movement. Some groups supported ‘tradeoffs’ -legalization for even heavier enforcement- like those contained in the now defunct McCain-Kennedy bill while other groups didn’t. May Day march organizers also found themselves on the defensive against what Ortiz calls ” a kind of low-intensity conflict” unleashed on immigrants shortly after the historic May Day marches of 2006: thousands of raids on homes and workplaces conducted by heavily-armed immigration agents, deployment of 6,000 national guard troops to the border, billions of dollars in government contracts to military-industrial companies like Halliburton, Blackwater and Boeing to build the infrastructure to surveill, trail and jail immigrants.

Against the backdrop of the intense escalation of attacks and the fear these attacks engendered after 2006, Ortiz and other organizers like Gladys Vega of the Chelsea Collaborative believe they also succeeded in injecting some “animo” into their movement. “On a daily basis, we have to deal with community members terrorized by raids, facing increased problems in the workplace because of the tighter (employment) regulations” said Vega adding “Here in Chelsea, a city that is 63% immigrant, 350, mostly Latino families had their houses foreclosed on and we can’t just sit by and watch.”

In response to what she considers the very predictable mainstream media stories focused on the decreased size of the May Day marches, Vega said, “When your community and you have to do so much and when there is so much repression against immigrants and their families, the real story is how so many people overcame their fear and marched in 200 cities.”

Now Ortiz is ready to pull out a defensive posture and launch an offensive. “Marching is one critical piece but not the only one” said Ortiz. “Most of us are also involved in the massive push for voter registration, citizenship drives and getting people to vote. May Day was also about sending a message to the Republicans and Democrats, about holding their feet to the fire.”

Norma and Olivia can’t cast a vote this election season. One is too young, the other doesn’t have the papers. But they are still involved in the electoral process. How? “I talk to our family and friends who can vote; I make phone calls, distribute flyers, attend events anything I can do I do it” said Olivia. For her part, future voter Norma, who sometimes joins her mother’s electoral activities, offers up some immigrant rights strategy of her own, “We’re going to march until they (the government/immigration authorities) get bored. Then we can all be safe.”

Are You Listening, ABC? New Poll Identifies #1 Issue in ’08 Elections: Bu*#^hit

April 20, 2008

With many of us still reeling and wondering about ABC’s unprecedented and simply devastating display of dumbed down politics during last week’s Democratic debate, this hilarious video from last year says it better than anything , anyone else. Thanks to the Onion for peeling back the layers covering over the Truth about our political system.

Racial Idealism vs Racial Realism: Obama and the DLC

March 19, 2008

Racial Idealism vs Racial Realism: OBama’s Effort To Bridge the Divide and the DLC

New America Media, News Analysis, Roberto Lovato, Posted: Mar 19, 2008

Editor’s note: Obama’s electrifying speech in Philadelphia on race and race relations points to the realism-idealism gap between his camp and Hillary Clinton’s, writes NAM editor Robert Lovato. Lovato is a writer based in New York.

Barack Obama’s speech in Philadelphia eloquently displayed how the Obama and Clinton campaigns are divided by race idealism versus race realism.

Combining the statesman’s calm cadences with the reverend’s passion, Obama delivered what was arguably the crispest, most important delineation of U.S. race relations by a presidential candidate since Abraham Lincoln gave his House Divided speech.

In response to the ongoing racial pyrotechnics seen most recently in the controversies surrounding Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor whose racial denunciations from his Chicago pulpit have drawn criticism, and Clinton-backer Geraldine Ferraro who sparked controversy after saying, “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” Obama used his abundant rhetorical gifts to advance the cause of race idealism. His speech tried to weaken the relentless pull of our racial past on our electoral present by pointing to a post-racial future.

“This nation is more than the sum of its parts,” he declared before a very racially mixed crowd of supporters sitting and swooning in Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center. “We may have different stories, but we hold common hopes.” The elevated responses in the Constitution Center seemed to simulate the paintings of children and adults of various ethnicities dancing in a circle as they rise from the ground.

In stark contrast to Obama’s strive-for-higher-ground idealism is the boots-on-the-ground march of the pre-eminent practitioners of racial realpolitik: the Clinton backers of Washington’s Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

Caught between the current reality of an electorate that’s still mostly white and a primary process that reflects stunning demographic shifts, the racial politics of the Clinton supporters in the DLC reflect a strategic decision to consolidate their white base. Viewed from this vantage point, the DLC’s re-engineered appeals to white racial solidarity preview the new politics of the white minority era that looms on the racial horizon.

More than any other political machine in this very tense political moment, politicians affiliated with the DLC have developed policies and made statements that reconfigure racial politics beyond the Southern Strategy – appeals to white voter fear and anxieties with anti-black policy proposals that successfully transformed the once Democratic-leaning South into a Republican stronghold – that still defines much of the Republican racial realpolitik. DLC affiliates have more or less formed a beeline to make racial comments appealing to white voters as an unprecedented racial reality has come upon America: white minority status.

DLC operatives seem to recognize how quickly the political process is moving past the black-white racial politics towards a Sunbelt strategy targeting a more diverse and demographically different country, increasingly concentrated in the sunny southern states stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Like Obama, the DLC recognizes and anticipates the inevitable domination of the electoral college by Texas, Florida, California and other states heavily populated by Latinos and Asians.

Among the most recent comments and policy proposals by DLC affiliates reflecting the Sunbelt strategy are: the Geraldine Ferraro statement; the strong support for the anti-immigrant policies of the very punitive, anti-immigrant STRIVE Act by Rahm Emmanuel and James Carville, an enforcement-heavy immigration reform proposal which many Congressional Hispanic Caucus members have said will increase racial profiling; the anti-immigrant ads used by DLC Chair Harold Ford during his Senatorial bid in Tennessee; DLC stalwart Bob Kerrey’s claim that Obama attended a “secular madrassa”; the numerous racially-charged comments made by former DLC leader Bill Clinton, and, of course, Hillary Clinton in the course of her own campaign.

These most recent statements and policy proposals by DLC affiliates reflect the DLC’s insights into the post-Southern Strategy, post-Dixiecrat moment. This vision was developed by several of the mostly southern founders of the DLC who, in their zeal to combat the GOP successes with white voters through the Southern Strategy, rejected the affirmative action and other “identity politics” in the Democratic party to return to the old white identity politics.

Asked about the statements by Ferraro and other DLC affiliates, DLC’s press secretary, Alice McKeon, declined to make a statement. Asked if Ferraro was affiliated with her organization, McKeon answered, “I’m not prepared to say anything about that right now.”

Longtime DLC critic and editor of the Black Agenda Report, Bruce Dixon, sees in the ratcheting up of racial politics in this primary season the DLC’s aspirations to make Democrats more competitive against the GOP. “The historic position of the DLC is that they want to compete for Republican voters and corporate dollars,” said Dixon. “Their support for the SAVE Act, the racial attacks on Obama are rooted in this desire.”

Dixon has for many years also questioned the relationship between the racial statements and policy proposals of DLC members and the major funding it receives from corporations and from foundations like the Bradley Foundation, a philanthropic organization which gave the Progressive Policy Institute, the DLC’s think tank, over $200,000. Bradley Foundation also has a long history of giving money to organizations and individuals dedicated to decimating civil rights like Charles Murray, author or the controversial Bell Curve who still supports thoroughly baseless racial ideas like the belief that there’s a correlation between race and intellectual capabilities. “The Clintons, Rahm Emanuel and the DLC have to say these (racial) things because their corporate sponsors need a segmented and divided workforce,” said Dixon. “They can’t possibly do anything else.”

Yet, given the chronic inflexibility of politicians of all stripes to articulate the real problems of race in the United States, Obama’s race idealism may, in fact, mark the beginning of, as he promised, real change. Charles Murray himself noted this on the National Review website after Obama’s speech. “As far as I’m concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America,” he wrote. “It is so far above the standard we’re used to from our politicians.”

Race idealism, who knows, may very well carry the day beyond the primaries and the general election.

Obama’s Success: A Symbol to End Affirmative Action?

March 19, 2008

Today’s Boston Globe had a good piece on how the right is using Obama’s success to illustrate the success and, hence, the obsolescence of Affirmative Action.

Seems anti-Affirmative Action ghoul Ward Connerly has found in the Obama phenom another creative yet cynical way to advance his own political fortunes. The article describes how he and some of the major right wing hate factories – the Manhattan Institute, the Goldwater Institute and Project 21 to name a few- are sapping blood from the youthful Obama movement to energize themselves before trying to completely drain affirmative action of whatever blood it still has. Connerly is about to swoop down on the very vulnerable remnants of the civil rights legacy this election season, according to this piece in Ms. Magazine.

Turn on the sunlights, break out your crosses and garlic cuz it’s time to defend ourselves against the living dead-again.

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

February 13, 2008

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

No We Can’t: Tragifunny McCain Music Video by

February 12, 2008

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

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

February 6, 2008

Democracy Now!

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

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

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

February 6, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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