Jose 'EL Nino' Temprana a Citizen at 105

MIAMI - (AP - 6.30.07) A 105-year-old Cuban-born man who had at least one pending wish finally had it fulfilled — he became a U.S. citizen.

"I feel different," said Jose Temprana, who served 30 years in Cuban jails. "Satisfied, very happy. It was worth the wait."

Temprana has the vitality of a younger man. Nicknamed "El Nino" (The Boy), he rides his scooter to the store to play the lottery, rolls his own cigars, drinks whiskey with neighbors and has a girlfriend.

"He's just got a great spirit," said his neighbor Patti Hernandez. "Everybody's going, `Come on, he can't really be that old.'"

Temprana was born in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio on Sept. 26, 1901. He worked as a sponge diver and lobster fisherman and had eight children with his first wife, who died giving birth to the youngest. He remarried, and his second wife died in 2002.

In 1964, he was imprisoned in Cuba for smuggling weapons from the United States into the island. Temprana got out at age 93, applied for a humanitarian visa and flew to Miami.

Once here, he worked to get his citizenship but fell short twice.

"I've wanted ... it since I was 8 or 10 years old," Temprana said.

Why The Right May Prefer a Hillary Victory in '08

In response to Hillary's Strategy: Winning While Being Disliked, a reader wrote:

Hillary can win the nomination, but NOT the general election. As bad as the GOP is right now, she's the only candidate who will unite the GOP, and bring both Republicans & Independents out in full force against her.

Obama will not unite the GOP the same way Hillary will, which is why he is the best candidate right now to win the nomination, and he's polling better head to head against all the Republicans.

Below is my response:

What I wrote in Hillary's Strategy: Winning While Being Disliked is that in defiance of conventional wisdom, Hillary and her camp are seeking to win despite that fact that an unprecedented number of people don't like her. And not what I'd like to see happen.

I too believe Obama would make the less polarizing Democratic nominee and would even be in a position to take a chunk of moderate Republicans fed-up with the heavy-handiness and stridency of the rightwingers.

However, I'm not sure that it's a guarantee that the GOP can get itself together in the face of a possible Hillary presidency. That's the CW right now, but where will Republicans, Independents and conservatives be a year from now? I think there's a good chance for them to be irretrievably split. Already the radical right has threatened no support to McCain, Rudy, Hagel and now Brownback.

It seems to me that the stage is set for archconservatives to throw a tantrum and walk out-or sit out--'08. That crowd is so full of themselves these days that I wouldn't be surprised if privately they wouldn't prefer 4 years of Hillary (which they'd assume would be disastrous). They'd regroup and strike back hard with a bonafide true believer in 2012.

The model for that strategy?

The rightwing refused to support moderate Gerald Ford's campaign after beating Ronald Reagan for the '76 nomination. Ford and liberal Nelson Rockefeller was the aided in his defeat to a little known peanut farmer from Georgia. Carter's presidency (as opposed to a moderate Republican administration) was the perfect set-up for the rightwing's blowout victories of '80 and '84.

My point? While Republicans would hate a Hillary (or any Democratic) victory, archconservatives may very well prefer it if one of their own fails to become the Republican nomination next year.

Preparing for Hillary, The Conservative Voice - 5.11.06

Rupert and Hillary, Accuracy in Media - 6.6.06

Conservatives for Hillary?Bruce Bartlett, Townhall - 5.1.07

McCain is Finished, Head of Conservative Union Says, Ronald Kessler, Newsmax - 5.6.07

Dobson and Viguerie Won't Vote For Giuliani, Either, Stranger In A Foreign Land - 5.21.07

Conservatives would bolt GOP over Rudy, The Politico - 6.12.07

Hillary's Strategy: Winning While Being Disliked

Tim Grieve of the WAR ROOM wants to know "Why This Isn't a Problem?"

That is, why MSM dismiss findings such as those of the recent Mason-Dixon Poll which found 52% of Americans would never consider voting for Hillary Clinton for president? It's a good question--especially since that little fact isn't stopping the Clintons from winning anyway.

Fully 60% of American voters in that poll would vote for Obama, Rudy, Thompson or Bloomberg; 59% would consider Edwards; 58% would consider McCain; 57% Biden or Richardson; 56% could vote for Huckabee; and 54% could live with Romney. But only 48% will even consider Hillary.

She also has little support among key subgroups, for example:

- 60% of Independents don't support her
- 56% of men won't vote her
- 47% of women don't want her
- and an astounding 88% of Republicans say they wouldn't even consider her

The result is that Hillary is the only candidate with a negative approval rating. That is, her negatives are higher than her positives by 3 percentage points. The net rating for the others is in the plus double digits. More people dislike her than like her.

However, Hillary can still win. How?

She can win the Democratic nomination with a simply plurality--she doesn't need more than 34% of the votes in a crowded field. And then she can win a plurality in the fall election against a badly splintered GOP that results in a third party bid by a Republican/Conservative.

Sound familiar? It's the way Bill Clinton won in 1992 and 1996.

However, the truth is that Bill was never as disliked as is Hillary. Even during all of his troubles--personal and political--Bill always maintained a healthy level of support among the voters. Not true for Hillary.

Hillary's real model? Believe it or not--Nixon of 1968 and 1972.

Never much loved, Nixon won twice against a badly divided Democratic party. His first victory was aided by Democrat George Wallace's strong 3rd party bid and the unpopularity of LBJ's Vietnam War. Nixon won a 2nd term by tagging ultra liberal George McGovern as being too radical. It appears that the Clinton's see striking parallels that can be used to their advantage in their '08 quest.

Using so-called "dirty tricks" and running an effort to mobilize the quiet majority, Nixon found a formulate to win. Team Clinton invented today's version of "dirty tricks" which they call the War Room. And, I understand that they're preparing an unprecedented effort to turnout the Democratic version of the silent majority.

(BTW: What splintered the Democratic Party in 1968-72? A hugely expensive war against brown-skinned foreigners--that is, the Viet Cong. What's splintering the Republicans in 2008? A hugely expensive war against brown-skinned foreigners--that is, Iraqi nationalists and Mexican day laborers. Am I wrong?)

Voters don't care for Clinton.
Hillary 'Milhous' Clinton on Track to Win?
Iraq is like Vietnam!
If '68 is like '08, then who's Nixon?

Phil Ramos: Fighting the Good Fight on L.I.

The NYTimes did a nice write-up on Phil Ramos, Suffolk County's minority member of the NYS Assembly.

A single father of twin girls and former police officer, Ramos is the only politician willing to stand-up to Steve Levy and his nativist politics.

“It’s about trying to do the right thing even if it is unpopular at first,” says Mr. Ramos, who keeps a crucifix and a rosary on his desk to remind him of his grandfather’s words.
True leaders are not defined by the number of photo ops and press releases they churn out, but what they do when times are tough or the issue is unpopular.

Ramos taking on Suffolk's leading bully, Ramos is demonstrating that he is a true leader.

Read: A L.I. Assemblyman Learns to Work the System (by Robin Finn, NYTimes - 6.29.07)
Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance? series on American Taíno.

Now We're All Responsible for Fixing Immigration

GOP Chairman Mel Martinez blasted Democrats and Republicans who helped kill the so-called comprehensive immigration reform proposal. Calling them the "voices of negativity", Martinez said they now have a responsibility to come up with a solution beyond "just build a fence along the border."

How will you fix the situation to make peoples' lives better? How will you continue to grow the economy? How will we bring people out of the shadows for our national security and for the sake of being a country that is just?
At a meeting of latino elected officials in Orlando, Martinez warned local and state offocials that the immigration issue will now land in their laps through local ordinances.

We're going to have a hodgepodge of local laws. We will have cities that will declare themselves sanctuary cities. And then we will have others that will make it a felony simply to rent to illegal immigrants.
What's clear is that nobody's off the hook with the defeat of immigration reform. If anything, defeat of the President's gives neither party a pass on the issue. Candidates for federal office--Congress and the White House--will not be able to duck the issue or hide the anti-immigrant lobby.

Clearly, it takes a coalition building, political management and bold political leadership to get something as important and potentially transformative as immigration reform done. Given this week's immigration reform fiasco, the pro-immigration needs to up it's game both at the local as well as at the national levels.

Chairman slams immigration bill opponents, challenges them to act (by Laura Wides-Munoz - 6.29.07)
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials


Why Lower Tier Candidates Run for President

A colleague asked why people running hopeless campaigns continue taking people's money and clogging venues such as last night's Democratic debate?

Good question.

The truth is that there are probably a number of reasons why lower tier candidates continue plodding along. Here are a few:

The Stroke of Luck Candidate

Some genuinely believe it's their time, the frontrunners will fade, circumstances shift, and fate propels them to glory.

e.g., Dennis Kucinich, Newt Gringrich (although he's unannounced but active), Steve Bloomberg, Michael Forbes

The VP Candidate

Some run with a realization that the presidency is not in the cards--at least not right away. What they're really trying to do build their brand and donor base so they can leverage it into a VP slot or Cabinet Secretary.

e.g., Jim Gilmore, Chris Dodd, Tom Vilsak, Duncan Hunter, Wesley Clark

The Training Candidate

Every election cycle there are a few candidates that wade into national presidential politics as part of a plan to run and win in a later cycle. Most have their best plans subverted by developments out of their control and never win the brass ring; while others find themselves as the nominee--or even as president-elect.

e.g., Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore

The Advocacy Candidate

Some are use a presidential run to make a point, raise and supporters to do more of the same.

e.g., Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, Al Sharpton, Ralph Nader

The Clueless Candidate

Some people run for reasons only they understand.

e.g., Mike Gravel, James Bond Stockdale

The June 28 Democratic Debate Scorecard

Mark Halperin of TIME has produced a nifty scorecard for the candidates in yesterday's Democratic debate. It's a nice card, but here's the real deal:

Barack Obama: A

In my opinion, Obama won because he seemed comfortable, didn't yell, didn't insult anybody, looked in command, knew what he was talking about, mentioned his wife Michelle and offered a much needed moment of levity.

Bill Richardson: B

Richardson also seemed comfortable in his own skin (which was nicely tanned), spoke calmly and with knowledge--and spoke respectfully to the mostly African American audience. Oddly, that didn't seem to go down well with the ultra-verbose Tavis Smiley who harshly cut-off the Latino guv.

Hillary Clinton: C+

She yelled, slipped in and out of a semi-black accent, and shamelessly pandered--especially with that harangue about how America doesn't care about AIDS because it's victims are disproportionately African American women. But worst was when she turned maniacal and proposed bombing the Sudan. But she didn't say or do anything that would dislodge her from her role as queen of the Clintonites, so she passes.

John Edwards: C+

Edwards shouts "lightweight"--and he's such an unrelenting panderer. I mean, what self-respecting person of color believes that this man is the poor black man's best advocate? And if that's what he is, we're in deep trouble. Like Hillary, Edwards didn't do and say anything to disqualify him from being viewed as a "serious" candidate by liberal Democratic groups, so he passes, too.

Dennis Kucinich: C+

All the pundits discount Kucinich, but he's feisty, energetic, focused and a pretty good debater. I'd love to see Kucinich in a real debate go toe-to-toe with some of the "scripted" types and see who comes out looking "serious".

Chris Dodd: C

Dodd was seemed steady, knowledgeable and quick with proposed solutions. However, failed again to convince anybody that he's presidential material.

Joe Biden: E

Biden was his usual erratic, patronizing and loud self. Very unpresidential.

Mike Gravel: I

What's to say?


Obama, Memphis Students Win; Tavis, PBS Lose


The pacing of the debate was all off. It started way too leisurely--hugging, posing for photos, mentioning your horoscope sign--and became strangely frenetic.

I liked that the forum lacked the stiff formality typical of most televised debates/forums. Warmth and friendliness are good things. But the pacing was all wrong. Very unfortunate.

In terms of the questions or issues discussed, that was somewhat disappointing as well. I felt that the question were too general--prompting very general responses.

However, most inexcusable was that the questioners failed to ask about the major issues of the day: the War in Iraq, immigration reform and climate change. Why?

In terms of the candidates, we learned very little new about them and their positions--other than that Gravel is a bit of a loony tune. Probably a nice guy, but a loony tune.

The winners?

I don't think anybody won because the format was so bad. Actually, Obama is the winner because he seemed comfortable, didn't yell, didn't insult anybody, looked in command, knew what he was talking about, mentioned his wife and offered a moment of levity.

The children from Memphis.

And Governor Deval Patrick.

The Losers?

The debate format.

Mentioning your horoscope sign.

Tavis Smiley and whomever was directing the debate coverage for failing to properly manage the flow of the forum.

Dem Hopefuls React to Today's Court Decision

What timing. Just hours before this evening's Democratic debate at Howard University, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 against programs aimed at achieving diversity in public school enrollment.

The Democratic presidential hopefuls were quick to react. Here are some of their comments as reported by AP:

- Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would "fight to restore Brown's promise."
- Barack Obama said it was "wrong-headed."
- Chris Dodd said the decision "will add to the resegregation...in our nation's schools."
- John Edwards said that "[t]he Supreme Court is on the ballot in this next election."
- Joe Biden said that "[t]he personal liberties of every American would be threatened even more if another conservative is allowed to serve on the Robert's court."

Look for all of tonight's debaters to denounce today's court decision--as well as the senate vote to kill immigration reform.

The Radical Right Claims Victory

Just in case some of you think I'm nuts when I write about the radical right, consider the message leading rightwinger Richard A.Viguerie blasted immediately upon the defeat of the president's immigration proposal:

[C]onservatives using blogs, e-mail messages, websites, radio talk shows, cable TV, and direct mail were able to rally the American people to beat the Bush Administration and the business establishment.
Translation: The radical right once again ran circles around and beat the leadership of the GOP.

OK, you say, there's a vocal group of conservative screechers but in the end they're just talkers. They can't really threaten anybody, right? I say, yes they can--and from Viguerie's own press release, they did.

Viguerie warned that Senators who have voted for cloture on the Bush Amnesty Bill, on any of the three votes so far, will face the wrath of conservatives--and he even named three certain individuals to make sure there isn't any confusion.

“Presidential aspirants John McCain, Sam Brownback, and Chuck Hagel have permanently burned their bridges with the base of the Republican Party and destroyed any chance they might have had of being nominated for President of Vice President.”
But I claimed here that the radical right operates as its own party--rewarding Republican politicians when they carry their water, and slashing and burning whenever anyone goes off message.

Where's the evidence?

Well, if it's not evident in this week's series of votes, I suspect you'll never see it. But here's what Viguerie--again, a leading rightwinger--has to say about George Bush, the political leader of the GOP:

As it is, the GOP and many members of Congress will see a significant loss of financial support because of President Bush’s betrayal of Republican Party principles (Read: the radical right's agenda).
Conservatives are supposed to be one element within the GOP's big tent, but they certainly don't act like it. They have an "our way or the highway" mentality--and, of course, many already operate outside of the Republican Party for this reason. It's a trait, btw, that is evident among reactionaries of the left and the right everywhere and almost always leads to their eventual defeat.

Immigration Reform in '07 is Dead

C-SPAN is showing that the senate's immigration proposal was defeated 46-53. It's quite a devastating defeat for the proposal's proponents: President Bush, Majority Leader Harry Reid and senators John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Lindsey Graham. This vote pretty much ensures that immigration will not happen this year.

The outcome is not unexpected since the compromise proposal had just enough to antagonize just about every interest group: labor, nativists, minority groups, businesses, etc. Also, last year's proposal died a similar death.

What's interesting about this vote is how many senators broke ranks with their parties. Twelve Republicans voted yea; while 13 Democrats voted nay. See the list below.

It appears that of the 12 Republicans in favor of cloture, as many as 11 of them have done so at some political risk. On-the-other hand, I count only one Democrat (Harkin) who may get some flack for his vote.

As a political matter, it was incumbent on the Republican side to deliver more than just 12 votes--especially since it was pitched as something the leader of their party--President Bush--said it was important to his legacy. They failed.

At the end of the day, this vote clarifies two things:

1) That when Democrats put up conservatives in order to win, they'll get people who'll join ranks with their ideological brethren in the GOP in voting down certain progressive measures.

2) And Republicans have made it amply clear that they have little respect for President Bush's professed priorities.

Republican Yeas:

Bennett (R-UT)
Craig (R-ID)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)

Democrat Nays:

Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Byrd (D-WV)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Harkin (D-IA)
Landrieu (D-LA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Sanders (I-VT)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Webb (D-VA)

Obama's Army Surges to 250,000

Barack Obama may have set a new record for the number of people contributing to a presidential campaign. In an email message to supporters, the Obama campaign announced that it has secured support from nearly 250,000 people in the first six months of the year. And those supporters have made over 330,000 separate contributions.

Actual results for all of the campaigns will be made public shortly after June 30th deadline.

The previous record was set by Howard Dean in 2004 when his internet-based campaign effort received contributions from 70,000 supporters. Of course, while the numbers were impressive, Dean didn't raise the most money in that primary cycle nor did he win the nomination.

With today's big news, combined with the friendly surroundings of Howard University, Obama enters tonight's PBS Democratic Presidential Forum with what odds makers would tag as a favorite to win--the debate, that is.

Click here for the blogging of tonight's forum.

Read Nearly 250,000 open wallets for Obama.

Critical Test for Senate Immigration Plan

The senate immigration reform proposal has already survived numerous attempts by opponents to kill it.

A few weeks ago it appeared to be dead after Republicans were sacred off by an intensely harsh and coordinated campaign led by conservative radio. It was rescued by the personal lobbying efforts of President Bush and the proposal's bi-partisan senate sponsors.

And then just this week it survived a procedural vote by a margin of 64 to 35--a major defeat to the anti-immigration side. The radio screechers were, well, screeching their heads off afterwards. (BTW: All 6 senate Democrats and Republican John McCain running for president nomination voted yes.)

Yesterday, the proposal survived a series of attempts to pack the bill with even more restrictions. Additionally, efforts to make the proposal more palatable to the pro-immigration reform side were rebuffed.

Today's vote to close the debate, allowing for a vote as early as tomorrow, is the proposal's biggest test yet. Proponents need 60 votes. But conservative radio, cable and lobbying groups are putting tremendous pressure--including issuing threats--to a handful of senators an effort to whittle to pro cloture vote to 59 or less.

If the pro-reform majority wins today's battle, then tomorrow's vote in the full senate requires a simple majority, or 51 votes, a somewhat simpler task--but also an opportunity for some very harsh rhetoric on the part of those leading the radical right's effort.

Similar legislation would then have to pass in the House of Representatives. But that's where congressmen Tancredo (R-CO), King (R-NY) and the anti-immigrant caucus lurk. These are people lacking in any sense of humanity for Latin American poor and immigrants of color. Some are outright kooks.

What is interesting about the debate thus far is that many on the pro-immigration side are very unhappy with the senate proposal, believing it to be too harsh, impractical and even counterproductive. While the anti-immigration side has been breathing fire for weeks, the pro side has been relatively quiet. However, expect to hear alot more from them--as well as from the loony right--if and when action moves to the House.

Stay tuned.

Read Immigration bill faces crucial vote.


Blogging The PBS All-American Presidential Forum

I'm honored to join a distinguished and diverse panel of bloggers in covering tomorrow night's presidential debate at Howard University.

Not only do I get a front row seat to history in the making, but I also get to blog about it onsite.


I'm hoping that all of America tunes in for the All-American Presidential Forum on PBS moderated by Tavis Smiley.

The blogger coverage of the debate is coordinated by Media Bloggers Association. Click here for a listing of the invited bloggers--and for an aggregation of their commentaries.

The Opening

Very nice of Smiley to recognize the young people from Memphis who paid for their trip to DC by washing cars. Governor Deval Patrick got a bit of face time for his future run for national office. He's one Massachusetts politician that can go places.

Slow start

We're 26 minutes into the debate and we've only had one question--and that question illicited what sounded like bits from the standard stump speeches.


Such an important topic--education, but it's too broad a question. The candidates are saying they for education and for all sorts of programs. Although I do like that Gravel and Kucinch drew the linkage between the squandering of billions on a bad war and the need to invest in quality education for the nation's children.

I also think that Obama's point that we need to see the country's poor children as our children as a necessary ingredient towards improving educational results is a good one.

I honestly don't know what Hillary offered because she seemed to scream her response.


They're all for health care for everybody, but it was the question on HIV that got the most attention--and laughter.

Biden just said that he spent last summer in the Blaaaack sections of town educating Blaaaack men that it's OK to wear condoms. Really?

Then Biden further embarrassed himself by saying that he and Obama got checked for AIDS.

That revelation prompted Obama to interject that it was he and Michelle (and, I guess, not Obama and Biden) and that they did so as part of a mission to Africa. Very funny.

Does Biden know how silly he sounds?

Economy Disparity

Hillary: Those with the most must contribute to this country. OK.

Biden: blah, blah, blah

Richardson: Give incentives to those companies that invest in the inner city.

Ouch! Smiley just cut-off Richardson and told him he was finished.

That's it! Next question.

Smiley is trying to speed things up and these already over hyped candidates now seem like they're on speed.

Criminal Justice

Dodd wants to end the disparity between between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Hmmm. Hey, Hillary is for that, too. Biden wrote the drug court legislation and he's introduced legislation to also deal with crack and powder. Richardson somehow squeezed having people join unions.

New Orleans

The question has to do with whether the candidates support a federal law guaranteeing the return of displaced residents? Yes.

This is a hugely important topic: what to do about the people displaced by Katrina? But the candidates just do not have time to give thoughtful answers. Edwards and Obama are for giving the people of New Orleans a role in the rebuilding of the City--as opposed to giving fat contracts to the Bechtel and Haliburtons. OK, interesting idea.


Hillary just mentioned her initiative in NY to create jobs--especially in Upstate NY. She didn't however mention that that initiative has done zippo. Upstate has fewer jobs now than it had before she ran for senate. I'm not trying to pick on he. It's just that I happen to know the facts in this specific instance. Lost of promise, no results.

Edwards: Eliminate tax breaks for companies that export jobs abroad.

Obama: Reinvesting in communities burdened by globalization.

Kucinch: Cancel NAFTA and the WTO.

We're at the last question?


Dodd: US ought to act.

Hillary: No fly zone over the Sudan. Shoot down their planes.

Biden: Stop talking, start acting. Send in American soldiers.

Richardson: Fighting genocide is more important than sports. Don't forget Africa.

Edwards: Make primary education available to 100MM children around the world.

Obama: Trade and invest in Africa.

Kucinch: Make companies stop exploiting Africa.

Gravel: Need moral judgement. And most of the people on this stage don't have moral judgement because of what they've done. Say what?

Obama, Memphis Students Win; Tavis, PBS Lose

Wow, the pacing of the debate was all off.

It started way too leisurely--hugging, posing for photos, mentioning your horoscope sign--and became strangely frenetic.

I liked that the forum lacked the stiff formality typical of most televised debates/forums. Warmth and friendliness are good things. But the pacing was all wrong. Very unfortunate.

In terms of the questions or issues discussed, that was somewhat disappointing as well. I felt that the question were too general--prompting very general responses.

However, most inexcusable was that the questioners failed to ask about the major issues of the day: the War in Iraq, immigration reform and climate change. Why?

In terms of the candidates, we learned very little new about them and their positions--other than that Gravel is a bit of a loony tune. Probably a nice guy, but a loony tune.

The winners?

I don't think anybody won because the format was so bad. Actually, Obama is the winner because he seemed comfortable, didn't yell, didn't insult anybody, looked in command, knew what he was talking about, mentioned his wife and offered a moment of levity.

The children from Memphis.

And Governor Deval Patrick.

The Losers?

The debate format.

Mentioning your horoscope sign.

Tavis Smiley and whomever was directing the debate coverage for failing to properly manage the flow of the forum.

Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance? Part 4: The No Deal Deal

All the major players--Steve Levy, Speaker Sheldon Silver, the minority caucus and now, Governor Spitzer--are all on board with the deal.

The Deal?

Levy shuts up and allows the state to establish a hiring hall for day laborers somewhere in Suffolk County, and the minority caucus gives its OK to the re-authorization of a Suffolk County sales tax.

That's the deal.

Oh, Levy was in Albany for "personal" business. I take that to mean that he was being enlightened beyond the tool shed kept by state Democrats just for such instances.

Apparently, also part of the deal is that Levy is allowed to continue claiming that there's no deal.
Call it the "No Deal Deal" Wink, wink. Hey, it's New York politics.

I'd love to know if laying off of Assemblyman Phil Ramos was part of the No Deal Deal?

Read Levy will lay low on issues to ease standoff and Spitzer Weighs In on Suffolk Dispute — and Aqueduct’s Future.


The Daughters of Juarez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border by Teresa Rodriguez

Univision journalist puzzles over deaths of 400 Mexican women (by Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald - 6.23.07)

For almost a decade, the faces and families of the murdered women have haunted Teresa Rodriguez.

The Emmy-winning Univision journalist went on to cover hundreds of other stories after her first trip to the Mexican border town of Juarez, scene of heinous crimes, but her thoughts -- and her interest -- always returned to those hundreds who were tortured, raped, their bodies abandoned in the desert.

''I couldn't get them out of my head,'' Rodriguez says. ``The story, the women, became part of my life. There was one moment that I realized I had become obsessed with it and also obsessed with the reality that I did not have all the answers.''

Audio: Teresa Rodriguez discusses her book ‘The Daughters of Juarez’ and her decade-long investigation of the murders of 400 young women in that Mexican border town
It is easy to understand that obsession if you read Rodriguez's chillingly graphic new book, The Daughters of Juarez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border. About 400 girls and women have been viciously attacked and killed in this area of Mexico, and the authorities are no closer to solving the crimes than they were in 1993 when the murders began. Nonetheless, Rodriguez hopes her book will help foster change.

''I want this to serve as a catalyst. I want it to be a denuncia,'' an accusation, she says.

Chapter One: A Corpse in the Sand

Richard Lugar and the Turning Point in the Iraq War

Noting there's little reason to wait until September 1 to re-evaluate the Bush surge strategy for Iraq, two Republican members of the U.S. Senate this week publicly came out for moving U.S. troops out of a direct combat role in Iraq.

Richard Lugar (R-IN): "The longer we delay the planning for a edeployment, the less likely it is to be successful."

George Voinovich R-OH): "We must not abandon our mission, but we must begin a transition where the Iraqi government and its neighbors play a larger role in stabilizing Iraq."
However, it's Lugar's change of mind that is most noteworthy. He's a highly regarded conservative Republican who has supported the Bush war effort from the beginning. His defection makes it much more likely that others will soon follow suit and that the Democrats with Republican defectors will pass troop withdrawal legislation.

How significant is what Lugar said? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), called it "brilliant" and "courageous." Reid went on to say that Lugar's words would be noted in the history books as a turning point in the war.

Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance? Part 3: The Outline of a Deal

The battle between the State Legislature’s black and Hispanic caucus and the Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, who has crusaded against illegal immigration, intensified on Monday when he warned of mass layoffs, tax increases and cuts in county programs unless they can resolve an impasse over immigration and sales taxes.

The flare-up erupted when the caucus successfully pushed to table the continuation of a sales tax for Suffolk County. Accusing Levy of raising racial tensions in Suffolk County through his harsh treatment of undocumented Latino workers, the caucus insists on trading the sales tax for a state-sponsored hiring hall to be opened in Suffolk County. The caucus believed it had a deal, but Levy denies that he would ever entertain such a thing.

But just as quickly, it appeared that both sides are looking for a way out of their unprecedented predicament.

Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns, chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus: “It was never our intention to cause the citizens of Suffolk a hardship.”

County Executive Levy: “We don’t have the authority” to ban hiring halls that do not involve county land or money. “A county level of government cannot dictate what happens at another level. Reasonable minds can differ on the issue of hiring halls and immigration.”
So it looks as though both sides my be getting what they really want: Levy gets his sales tax and the opportunity to say that he beat back the minority legislators, and the caucus gets Levy to say that it stood-up to Levy and got him to agree not to disrupt the establishment of a state-sponsored hiring hall.

Question. But who has Phil Ramos' back?

Also read LEVY VS. CAUCUS A $300M MESS? and Immigration Dispute May Force Tax Increase in Suffolk.


Harvinder S. Anand: Long Island's 1st Indian American Mayor

In recent village elections, Harvinder S. Anand was elected as Mayor Laurel Hollow. An immigrant, Anand is Long Island's first elected official of Indian birth.

Laurel Hollow is a water front community and home to the 107-acre Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an internationally recognized genetic and cancer research center. Three researchers at the center have won Nobel prizes for their genetic work.

Anand was appointed to the position of Trustee in December, 2002 to fill a vacancy. He won a full term in hotly contested election in 2003. Anand has served as the village Police Commissioner.

Anand is a graduate of Nassau County Civilian Police Academy and an active member of the Nassau County Police Reserves. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Nassau County Law Enforcement Explorers.

A Chemical Engineer from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Anand also attended Hofstra University for MBA. He is the President of Royce International; a multi-national corporation involved in manufacture of industrial chemicals for textile, aerospace, electrical, automotive, marine and construction industries. Anand is married to Dr Chandni Anand, a practicing Internist. They have two children, Nikita K. Anand (15) and Angad S. Anand (14).

The Terrible, Horrible, Urgent National Disaster That Immigration Isn't

If you want to understand what's really going on with the whole immigration reform issue, you must read The Terrible, Horrible, Urgent National Disaster That Immigration Isn't by Lawrence Downes, NYTimes -6.20.07). It's as smart, clear and informative a piece as I've come across in my study of this debate.

The 9 page article is divided into two parts:

- What's Wrong With 'Getting Tough on Immigration'
- The Harder but Better Way

Each part is broken into myths and arguments. Downes examines these makes arrives at the following conclusion:

It's not only because the costs of security are so high, or because the contributions that legal and illegal immigrants make to this country are so positive. Those who have been working as hard as the hard-liners have been to close this country off to people who came here to seek work and a future have a radically astringent vision of what this country should be. To militarize the border, to turn illegal immigrants into felons, means trying to reverse the polarity on the American magnet, to repel the people who have struggled, dreamed and died to get here.

It means turning this singular country into just another industrial power with a declining birthrate and a self-defeating antagonism to the foreign born. It means defining down what America stands for, no matter what the cost to the American economy, its traditions and values and moral standing.

It's dangerous. It's not rational. But the argument on the restrictionist side isn't about being rational. It's about being afraid.
However, please read the whole article. Doing so will make you a lot smarter about one of today's most confusing and emotionally charged issues facing America.

W: You're No Teddy Roosevelt

Timothy Egan's piece on the Bush administration's abuse of the nation's public lands (This Land Was My Land, NYTimes - 6.23.07) is utterly depressing.

Allowing our national parks to fall into disrepair, promoting the commercialization of pristine environmental habitats, while proposing to yet again under fund the Forest Service and selling off thousands of acres to the highest bidder, is simply pathetic.

Describing his own recent experience, Egan wrote:

"...I drove through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on my way to climb Mount Hood, and found the place in tatters. Roads are closed, or in disrepair. Trails are washed out. The campgrounds, those that are open, are frayed and unkempt. It looks like the forestry equivalent of a neighborhood crack house."
You would think that the preservation and upkeep of the country's national parks, wild life refuges and public lands would be something the left and the right would hold as sacred trust. Afterall, Democrats talk alot about environmental preservation, and it was Republican Teddy Roosevelt who established the U.S. Forest Service. Apparently, not anymore.

W: You're No Teddy Roosevelt.

W's 1st Disaster: The Slow Death of Ground Zero Workers

The Iraq War, Katrina and immigration reform are but a few of the items on the Bush administration's long record of failures. However, among its most horrific mistake was its handling of the debris pile at ground zero.

The collapse of the towers triggered a Chernobyl-like explosion of toxins, including: thousands of tons of asbestos, lead, chromium, benzene, PCBs, dioxins, highly-caustic cement dust and hundreds of other dangerous substances. And the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency allowed rescue workers, downtown employees and residents to be exposed to the lethal soup.

Christie Whitman, former head of the EPA, assured New Yorkers at the time that "their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink." Since then thousands have become ill. Some have died and the prognosis for many is not good.

Actually, anyone in the region exposed to the plume of toxins is in jeopardy. Consider the early data from the Mount Sinai Medical Center's World Trade Center health study (see Stephen Smith's 9/11's Lingering Cloud, CBSNews - 6.20.07): Of the 70,000 people taking part in the Center's study, 85 percent are suffering some kind of respiratory problem.

Sadly, that's probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Six years later, the US Congress takes up the environmental management of the pile.

Christie Whitman and the Bush administration will be asked to account for what is perhaps the administration's first (and unaided) example of deadly incompetence.

Read Damning questions Whitman must be made to answer (by Juan Gonzalez, NYDailyNews - 6.25.07)

Update: Christy Whitman is still before the congressional panel answering questions, but she's already made it clear that the bulk of the fault for workers not using respirators lies with Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration. She claims that EPA or the feds simply didn't have direct control over the clean-up site. She did add that in the Pentagon clean-up workers were mandated to wear protection. However, in a telling bit of video-footage at ground zero Christy Whitman herself is seen not using a respirator.


The Birth of the US-Al Qaeda War in Iraq (or Wag the Dog Part 3)

With the public turning decidely against the US-Iraq War and gargantuan profits at stake, the MIC (and its media propagandists and political lackeys) appear to be involved in a massive change the topic/change the reality operation.

The strategies?

1) Promote immigration "brown menace" hysteria (See here and here.)
2) Redefine the Iraq occupation into the US-Al Qaeda War

Salon writer Glenn Greenwald exposes a strategy to redefine the Iraq War and the US-Al Qaeda War.

Americans know that the bad guys are Osama Bin Laden and his posse of Al Qaeda fighters--the folks that drove the Russians from Afghanistan, blow a hole in the USS Cole and toppled the WTC towers, but the administration was stuck having to explain a war which even they acknowledged had only at best a tangential relationship to Osama's Al Qaeda.

The solution? Make all Iraqi fighters members of Al Qaeda.

But now, support for the war is at an all-time low and war supporters are truly desperate to find a way to stay in Iraq. So the administration has thrown any remnants of rhetorical caution to the wind, overtly calling everyone we are fighting "Al Qaeda."
Greenwood and other bloggers have meticulously documented the change in strategy. But this strategy only works if the media play along--and guess what? The media have swallowed the cool-aide and are reporting the administration's newly concocted reality whole cloth.

So, we have a border war against the menacing brown tide for nativists to concern themselves with--and we're now fighting a straight up war against the evil Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Everyone we fight in Iraq is now "al-Qaida" (Glenn Greenwood, Salon - 6.23.07)

Military Industrial Complex, Propagandists and Immigration Hysteria (or Wage the Dog Part 2)

Is the rightwing Wagging the Dog by fanning immigration hysteria?

Bring Akiko Home!

After a brief courtship in her native country of Japan, Akiko and Keith decided to marry. U.S. officials told them the fiancée visa Akiko needed to come to the United States would take 3 to 4 months to process. To be safe, when they set a date for their Hawaiian wedding, they allowed an extra month for it to arrive.

The visa never came.

Faced with disrupting the lives of guests in two countries, a huge financial loss, they asked the government what to do. Following the govt's advice, Keith and Akiko got married as planned. Then Akiko left her new husband and returned to Japan to await her visa.

Two months later, with fiancée visa finally in hand, Akiko came to America. Once reunited with Keith, she applied for a status change. Now the U.S. government claims the Campbells broke the law and has accused them of deception and fraud.

Keith and Akiko have spent the last nine years and thousands of dollars trying to rectify the mess. Last year, they finally got good news. They received a letter from the Department of Justice saying Akiko’s visa petition had been approved. All she had to do was to go the U.S. embassy in Tokyo pick up the new married visa and re-immigrate and all would be OK.

Akiko headed to Japan, taking her children along to visit their relatives. She believed the issue would soon be resolved forever. At her appointment, not only was her visa denied but Akiko was told there was never any chance she’d get it. Later the U.S. Embassy in Japan told Keith that people with visa problems are often deliberately misled so they leave the country.

Now Akiko has been stripped of her passport and cannot go anywhere. Unless a hardship waiver is granted, she and the boys are trapped in Japan for at least 10 years.

Click here to learn what you can do to help bring Akiko and her children home!


Military Industrial Complex, Propagandists and Immigration Hysteria (or Wage the Dog Part 2)

Charles Babington (Talk shows influence immigration debate , AP-6.23.07) writes that immigration has supplanted Iraq as the leading issue on television and radio talk shows.

Here's a thought: Maybe that's the whole point!

Babington goes on to say that the anti-immigration radio screechers are "complicating the prospects of a Senate bill desperately wanted by President Bush."

Well, that's true if W is genuinely committed to his immigration reform proposal--which I believe he is. But how, you ask, could W be for immigration reform, while a campaign is unleashed to distract the country from a costly and questionable war effort?

Good question.

Here's a question back: Who most wanted the Vietnam War? LBJ? Or the Military Industrial Complex (MIC)? Remember, LBJ inherited the war--and it ultimately doomed him politically. No, LBJ--and I believe it's true with W today--are the front people.

MIC has the motivation, resources, capacity and political allies (or stooges) necessary to both promote the war effort (and its billions in spending), while running campaigns to distract the people--and their politicians.

Think of the Red Scare, Falling Dominoes, Tonkin Gulf and the crackdown on the civil rights movement--all which, surprisingly enough, ensured the flow of billions into MIC. Meanwhile, scared and/or angry Americans saluted as they sent their sons to war.

What are Dick Cheney's views on immigration reform? And which is most important to him: immigration reform or MIC?

See Is the rightwing Wagging the Dog by fanning immigration hysteria?

Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance? Part 2

The tabling by State Assembly Democrats of a Suffolk County sales tax hike is being viewed as a stinging rebuke to Steve Levy, who has made combating illegal immigration a central theme of his administration.

Here's what county legislator, former Assemblyman and Levy ally, Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip), said about the Assembly's unprecedented move: "It has to be very embarrassing for the county executive."

Well, I'm not sure it's all that embarrassing to Steve Levy. As a former wrestler with a napoleanic complex, it seems to me that Levy loves the contact. His instinct? To pin the opponent--and without an actual challenger to his county crown, the opponent is now local Assemblyman Phil Ramos. And he's called Ramos out.

Threatening "draconian cuts," and laying the blame squarely on Ramos, Levy jabs that "[i]t won't be pretty--and it's all going to be on Ramos".

To make clear that Levy relies on stroking the nativist chord, his ally county legislator Joseph Carracappa (R-Selden) threw this low blow to the Assembly's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat:

"There is no room for compromise. You don't negotiate with terrorists and that's basically what this guy is."

Espaillat's response: "Those are very strong words. I'm very discouraged that that kind of rhetoric is happening in Suffolk. It doesn't lead to healing, and it doesn't lead to the solution of any problems."

The good news is that Levy the Bully now has to deal with people his own size--politically speaking. And that should bode well for all New Yorkers.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

See Levy battles, but Suffolk may pay in taxes and Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance?

Indian Tribes to get Katrina Trailer Homes

There were endless rows of trailer homes purchased to temporarily house the victims of Katrina and Rita.
Who can forget them?

They were left empty while New Orleanians were squeezed into far away shelters.

The white trailers--like the yellow buses--sat as monuments to the sheer incompetence, wastefulness and, given the recent actions of the blackboots at ICE, inhumanity of the federal government.

Those idle trailers are a legacy of the current crop of Democrat and Republican politicians more interested in scoring cheap political points than in solving real problems.

Well, not all politicians.

Consider U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota).

While South Dakota has a small population, it's home to sizable Indian nations. Contrary to current mythology, many of America's first people are desperately poor--and many are homeless. Shameful.

Last year, Johnson urged the donation of the trailers to Indian tribes, but FEMA bulked saying federal law limited their use only for disaster victims. (They must define disaster differently than I do.) So in September, Johnson pushed through a bill to get FEMA to sell or donate the trailers.

Yesterday, Johnson announced that 2,000 of the trailers will finally be distributed to Indian tribes throughout the U.S.

Perhaps what's most instructive about this surprising bit of common-sense government, is that Johnson achieved this important victory while home recovering from a December brain hemorrhage.

See Reservations to receive FEMA trailers.


Mohegans restore ancient burial ground

Mohegans restore ancient burial ground (by John Christoffersen, AP - 6.22.07)

The Mohegans were wiped out long ago in the novel "The Last of the Mohicans," but today the real American Indian tribe is flush with casino cash and using it to restore its proud past.

The Connecticut tribe has reclaimed the Mohegan Royal Burial Ground and is restoring it to pay homage to its famed Chief Uncas and his descendants, who were mythologized in James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 work.

The project has been dubbed "The Lasting of the Mohegans."

"Writing somebody out of history is another form of genocide," tribal historian Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel said. "We certainly can't allow Uncas to be forgotten."

The Mohegans operate one of the world's most successful casinos and are among about 50 tribes in the U.S. that have managed to reclaim burial grounds or other sacred sites, said Suzan Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, an Indian rights organization in Washington.

In recent years, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes have preserved a massacre site in Colorado, while the Nez Perce have taken control of worship sites in Idaho, Harjo said. Several tribes in California who operate casinos also have reclaimed burial grounds, she said.

"More and more, the native people are using newfound wealth to purchase what should be theirs anyway," Harjo said. But several hundred burial grounds and other sacred sites remain threatened by development, according to Harjo.

In Connecticut, the Mohegans tried for centuries to protect and reclaim their burial ground. But with few resources, the tribe had little leverage.

"The Royal Mohegan Burial Ground has been a source of anguish for the tribe since the 18th century," Tantaquidgeon Zobel said. "We hope that we have lived up to their expectations and given them some peace."


Also see Mohegan Tribe Takes Historic Step to Permanently Preserve Royal Burial Grounds.

Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance?

Is Levy Getting His Comeuppance?

They say that what goes around comes around--and it appears to be true in the case of Suffolk County's lead Latino immigrant antagonizer Steve Levy.

It's well established that Steve Levy uses the power of his office to harass his county's most vulnerable residents: non citizen Latino immigrants. He's gotten away with his tactics thus far because none of the mostly white suburban--Republican and Democratic--politicians have had the courage or conviction to stand up to the populist bully.

That's why it was welcomed news when state legislators from his own party, appalled by his cheap nativistic tactics, sent Levy a message to back off or else.

A group of 30 state Assembly members joined in an effort to denounce Levy for inciting anti-immigrant sentiment. Recognizing yet another opportunity to stroke the local Knownothing chord, Levy basically told group of African American and Latino urban representatives to take a hike.

But Levy is counting on the state's legislature--among other favors--to renew a hike in the local sales tax. Apparently, that'll ensure an additional $500 million in funds to spend from a nearly $3 billion county spending budget.

The problem for Levy is that nativism in a state like New York doesn't go over very well with most Democrats--especially those representing districts of color. Additionally, Democrats control the statehouse and the legislature's lower chamber--and the minority caucus has a great deal of influence at both levels.

So Levy the bully needs the votes of the very legislators who are most opposed to his tactics against vulnerable immigrants of color.

The way New York operates permission to raise a local (or any) tax will happen. However, it'll be interesting to see how things play out between Levy and the group of minority state legislators. Levy has told the legislators this week to shove it.

In time we'll see exactly who ends up shoving it.

In the interim, one specific place to watch for a local response to the stand-off is in the re-election bid of Assemblyman Phil Ramos-- Suffolk's only minority state representative and a member of the group of 30. With the backing of the local Democrat, Republican, Conservative and the Independence parties, Levy could seek to toppled Ramos.

My guess is that Levy will find some way to appease the legislators, get his sales tax increase and continue stoking the chord.

Stay tuned.

Levy livid as Albany stalls tax (Newsday - 6.22.07) and
NY State Democrats Denounce Steve Levy's Anti-Immigrant Policies (American Taino - 5.08.07)

Latinos Die for a Shameless America Part II

According to press reports, the wife of a U.S. soldier missing in Iraq no longer faces deportation.

We should owe a debt of gratitude to all of those outraged enough to act against such evil and inhumanity.

But think about it: U.S. federal authorities were taking steps to deport Yaderlin Jimenez, a young immigrant wife while her U.S. Army Specialist Alex Jimenez was risking his life--and possinly dying--in the hell that is the US-Iraq War.

Now they've agreed to stop--at least for now.


Alex Jimenez, 25, is the brave American soldier who has been missing since his unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on May 12. All that has been found are his dog tags.

He's one of the countless Latinos that have volunteered to fight our wars abroad--while domestic reactionary forces shamefully harass, jail and deport loved ones back home.

Is the federal government's shift in this unfortunate case a a change in the current cruel policies against Latino immigrants lacking proper immigration documentation? No!

Is it a change in regards to the undocumented wives of
U.S. soliders? No!

Is it a change in regards to how we treat the undocumented wives of fallen U.S. soldiers? No!

The feds have agreed to stand down only in this instance and for an uncertain period of time. And this change in tactics came only in response to a firestorm of criticism from across the nation did federal authorities agree to desist from executing their dastardly plans.

As her lawyer Matthew Kolken is quoted saying, "I can't imagine a bigger injustice than that, to be deporting someone's wife who is fighting and possibly dying for our country."


Also read Latinos Die for America (1.15.07).

Photo: NYDailyNews photo of Yaderline and Alex


Latino immigrant students pursuing their American dreams (and the teachers that help them)

American Taíno readers know that Suffolk County New York is known for its ugly strain of anti-Latino immigrants. Suffolk is where an immigrant family was burned out of their home; where Steve Levy ordered troopers to evict immigrant workers from their homes in the dead of winter; and the legislature considered making it illegal for Latinos to stand on public sidewalks.

However, in the midst of this harassment life goes on. The truth is that Latino immigrants are truly a hardy bunch. There's not much that xenophobic suburbanites can do to dissuade them from pursuing their dreams. Consider this story by Kate Maier entitled Learning English and Much More: Non-native speakers discover a family atmosphere in the E.S.L. classroom (The East Hampton Star - 6.21.07).

At first glance it's a story about students and their teachers in a tony part of Long Island. But it's really about Latino immigrants leaping over barriers, grabbing hold of their American dreams, and the teachers who guide them.

There's Jorge Gomez who arrived 4 years ago from Ecuador, mastered English and earned a Regents diploma. He's now set to begin classes at the Island Drafting and Technical Institute in Amityville.

Priscila Benenaula, a junior also from Ecuador, didn’t know a word of English when she enrolled at East Hampton High School in May of 2005. A month later, she took Regents exams in global studies and math — and passed them both. She's now editor of the bilingual student magazine and earned a trip to Albany to learn about government.

Johana Carmona arrived from Colombia when she was 15 years old. She's now a graduate of Suffolk Community College, works as an office assistant at her former high school and is taking courses at SUNY Stony Brook.

Ms Carmona husband, whom she met in high school and is also from Colombia, completed high school and is now a graphic designer. She admits that it wasn't easy for him but he persevered and completed his program.

And then there's biology teacher Dr. Lilian Ramzy who was a medical doctor in El Salvador before immigrating to the United States. Her first year at the East Hampton High School, the bilingual biology class had a 100-percent passing rate on the Regents.

And then there are the nonLatino teachers who are examples of our better selves. Billy Dickson teaches mathematics but his other job is building the immigrant students' sense of belonging. Connie Randolph, head of the school's ESL program, expresses admiration for her teachers and fondness for the students. And there's Eva Iacono whose classroom is a haven for immigrant students as they prepare for American lives beyond high school.

Republicans: nativism is a proven loser

Listening to conservative radio screechers, you'd think it's a political winner to be for sealing up our southern border and giving the boot to all of the country's undocumented workers--especially those of the Latino variety.

But that theory has already been tested--and it is a loser!

Clint Bolick--who lives in the border state of Arizona--saw first hand what became of his state's leading conservative republican congressmen: they lost their reelection bids because of their virulently anti-immigrant positions!

To his credit, Mr. Bolick in his letter (GOP runs a big risk of losing Hispanics, Arizona Republic -6.19.07) tried to warn the Republicans. My bet is that it's largely fallen on deaf ears--and certainly the radio screechers are not interested in Bolick upsetting their narrow but lucrative trade fear and hate mongering.

Timothy Egan has picked up Bolick's theme in Republicans Losing the West (NYTimes - 6.21.07) in which he makes the case that western states are shifting Democratic in large measure due to the harsh and nonconstructive views of many Republicans. Here's his take on the two Arizona losers:

He was loud, he was blustery and he was clear: our country is being overrun by Mexicans. To back his bark, he wrote, “Whatever It Takes,” as subtle as a cactus poke. He had money, and he had the power of office, a 12-year incumbency.

In the end, J. D. Hayworth, a Republican, was kicked out of his Congressional seat here last year. In the glossy white suburbs of Phoenix, immigrant-bashing backfired.

Farther south, in a district that is ground zero in the border wars — the seared-over patch of Arizona desert where the Minutemen patrol, more Mayberry than Concord — another Republican took an even harsher stance. The anti-immigration extremist, Randy Graf, was crushed.

Western Democrats can't believe their good fortune.

Here's what the Arizona Democratic Party Chairman (and a fellow graduate school alum of mine), David Waid, told Egan about his good fortune: “Arizona is in play like never before, and the Republicans are literally handing it to us.”

Just as in the days of Jim Crow America, a band of conservative politicians--and their fellow propagandists and followers--can't seem to help themselves in their rush to push for harsh, morally bankrupt, unAmerican as well as economically and politically dumb policies.

Nonetheless, none of that has ever stopped people from campaigning to become the next leaders of the stupid party.


The Hankster Says Read 'The Bloomberg Story' 1st

In response to Bloomberg the Independent, Nancy from The Hankster writes...

As a long-time independent, I applaud Mayor Bloomberg's nonpartisanship, and we'll see whether it's more than a political ploy... And no one should automatically get our votes without seeking our support.

About the Bloomberg story: I recommend reading Jackie Salit's "The Bloomberg Story" posted on my blog The Hankster for an inside take on the Mayor's independence:

Actually, the record shows that Mike has become more conservative and less willing to go to bat for independents, the longer he has been in the political game. But, in the early days he took stands on behalf of independents in numerous situations.

Bloomberg won 47% of the African American vote! That's incredible for a billionaire Republican in a staunchly Democratic town. I remember that race because Latinos were furious at the Democrats for failing to back the frontrunner Fernando Ferrer. Bloomberg's Latino vote that year must have been huge as well.

Nancy, Thanks for the word of caution and for the link to Salit's article.


Bloomberg the Independent

Michael Bloomberg has cancelled his membership as a Republican.

He is now unaffiliated (or what pollsters call an independent) which he says is in alignment with the way he has ruled New York City.

True enough.

But the real deal is that Bloomberg--a life-long democrat turned republican turned independent--has been testing the waters for a possible independent run for the presidency of the U.S., and it's the judgement of a growing chorus of disaffacted voters and smart political strategists that the time may be right for an independent to take the presidency--and that Michael Bloomberg may be the man.

While the system is stacked bigtime against third party candidates, a self-funded Bloomberg candidacy has the potential to change everything. His proven stewardship of a NYC, his huge success in business, his commitment to nonpartisan approach to governance and his sensible positions on the issues (including immigration, education reform, national security and environmental protection) make him a serious contender.

Bloomberg claims that he's only interested in completing his term as mayor and then taking on the challenge of donating much of his wealth to charitable causes. However, Bloomberg at age 65 could do both: respond to a lost nation's call to lead and then spend his remaining years giving away his money.

Why not?

The racial price of merit-based immigration

In Salvatore Labaro's response toIs the rightwing Wagging the Dog by fanning immigration hysteria?, he recommends Professor Alba's letter in today's LATimes entitled The racial price of merit-based immigration.

It's an excellent recommendation because Dr. Alba raises a hugely important issue: the negative impact on U.S. born minorities from the proposed preference for higher status immigrants.

Dr. Alba argues that changing generational demographics has begun allowing minorities to capture a growing percentage of the country's top jobs. For example, while U.S. born minorities over 50 years hold just 6% of top jobs, for the under 40 cohort that figure more than doubles to 13%. And the percentage would continue to rise as young U.S. born minorities replace aging white boomers in the job market. But all of that is imperiled under the new proposal.

If enacted, preferences for higher status immigrants would be especially devastating to innercity children of color. Gone would be any pressure to fix the nation's innercity schools and effort's to ensure equal opportunity for all.

Is the rightwing Wagging the Dog by fanning immigration hysteria?

If the economy is as great as conservatives would have us believe, why is it that 7 in 10 Americans say the economy is getting worse?

If you listen to conservative talkers and bloggers, you would think that Americans everywhere would be joyous with their share of the expanding economic pie--and they'd be demanding more and more conservative economic policies.

Southern California conservative blogger Kevin Korenthal (aka SoCalPundit) is representative when in The Big Economy That Could he wrote:

It would seem that the American economy is stronger today than it has ever been. That has got to be a supreme disappointment for Osama bin Laden whose 9/11 attack was partly directed at derailing America’s thriving capitalist economy. Now, despite prognostications that gas prices and a housing market slow down would depress the economy, we seem to be in better shape then ever.
But in a new Gallup Poll issued today, 70% of Americans believe the economy is getting worse -- the most negative reading in nearly six years.

How could it be? Are most Americans simply wrong?

What's clear is that the conservative talking heads endlessly bragging about the great economy simply aren't typical Americans. Simply put: they're rich--very rich, and all of their friends are very rich, too. These are the very lot--and a relatively small one at that--which have been the primary beneficiaries of current economic policies.

On the other hand, most Americans (70% according to the survey) are deeply concerned about their current and future financial circumstances.

So while large businesses report record profits, average Americans find themselves paying more for everything. And to make matters worse, while jobs are being produced at record levels, Americans increasingly find it difficult to find jobs with decent salaries.

Under the current policies, the rich are getting richer without any extra effort, risk or investment, while most Americans pay for that accumulation of wealth through runaway prices and reduced salaries and benefits.

This new reality probably explains why conservatives and their propaganda pieces are using every device possible to keep people in-line. You have to wonder why, for example, the free-market right has all of a sudden gone loony on immigration? Maybe they're not as loony as they seem?

Could the trumped up hysteria over immigration be yet another example of Wag the Dog?


Clint Bolick: The GOP Must Now Prove Itself to Latinos

In GOP runs a big risk of losing Hispanics (The Arizona Republic - 6.17.07), Clint Bolick of the conservative Goldwater Insititute writes that the Republican risk losing Latinos over the immigration issue.

No kidding!

I've met Mr Bolick and I admire the work that he has done across the country as a lawyer in the fight to give innercity African American and Latino parents the right to choose better schools for their children. Mr. Bolick believes that giving poor parents the same right to choose their children's school is civil right--and I agree.

Mr. Bolick is also right that the GOP is squandering whatever gains they've made with Latino voters by associating the party with the extremism of the likes of Tom Tancredo, Patrick Buchanan and the radical and xenophobic rightwing.

However, Mr. Bolick seems to expect large scale conversions of Latinos simply because of their alignment on social issues. While certainly some of that is ture, but the reality is that Latinos--as is the case with all other Americans--weigh a variety of factors in deciding which party to support.

While the GOP was gaining a steady stream of Latino supporters, the hysteria and bigotry surrounding the immigration issue has been especially demoralizing to Latinos which lean moderate-to-conservative. Many of these people believed they had found a philosophical home within the GOP and that principles and ideas were to always trump any notion of racial or group membership. But the immigration issue-- more so than any other issue in recent memory--has exposed many rightwingers as being deeply hostile to the growing presence of Latinos in American life.

Agitation against people of color crossing the Southern border without official permission, it turns out, is simply a thinly veiled--and politically acceptable--tack for racial/cultural supremacists to demonstrate their hostility towards all Latinos--regardless of immigration status.

Perhaps if the GOP immediately adopts the suggestions Bolick proposes the party could salvage some Latino good will, but I'm not so sure. Below are Bolick's recommendations and my responses:

• Get the immigration issue behind.

How? The conservative radio talkshow alarmists are totally committed to defeating any sensible reform. However, it seems that even if a reform measure could be adopted this year and signed into law, the rightwingers seem hell-bent in continuing the fight against the measure's supporters.

• Get religion.

Again, religion will only go so far. Actually, the loss of Latino support for the GOP in this last cycle came largely from Latino evangelicals--many which are deeped troubled by a form of political conservatism that to them appears to be mean-spirited and unchristian. The same can be said for conservative Latino Catholics.

• Aggressively promote school choice.

This is an issue that has resonated with poor innercity Latinos, but even here it's not clear how Republicans can capitalize on it going forward. The truth is that many urban Democrats now support some form of school choice. Additionally, a party who's most vocal members oppose allowing the Latino children of the undocumented to receive their constitutionally protected right to an education can hardly be trusted on education matters.

• Reach out for real.

Good idea. However, the GOP has been talking about getting serious about Latinos since master strategist Lee Atwater strolled the earth. It's Bolick and all sensible conservatives (yes, I believe that there are such people) that need to get real. Some Latinos embraced the GOP only to find themselves lumped in as undesirable foreigners and trashed. The GOP must now prove that it truly values Latino Americans.

For the good of the country and the political process, I hope the GOP can correct itself and begin building national majorities for constructive reforms. But I'm not holding my breath. As long as the party is infected with Tancredoism, it can only find its way to minority status and defeat.

The Hispanic Era

The Hispanic Era (by columnist Ruben Navarette, San Diego Union-Tribune - 6.17.07)

For U.S.-born Hispanics, this is the Dickensian era. You know, the best of times and the worst of times.

The nation's 42 million Hispanics are coming into their own and leaving their mark on everything from food, sports and fashion to entertainment, business and politics. They're fawned over by Fortune 500 companies anxious to tap into $800 billion in annual spending. And they're one of the newest obsessions of big media companies -- Time Warner, Viacom, Gannett, et al -- eager to stay relevant amid rapidly changing demographics.

A few weeks ago, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates if they supported making English the country's official language. Now the question on the table is whether any of the candidates will accept Univision's invitation to debate in Spanish.

All this concern about open borders, when what we could really use are more open minds.

But Hispanics are also in the crosshairs. All of this attention is having some unintended and negative side effects. For starters, it is causing resentment from non-Hispanics who feel as if they're being overlooked. They claim that Hispanics are receiving cultural accommodations that aren't offered to others. Why do we have to press 1 for English when making a phone call, they ask. One reader put it this way: "My first language is not English and no one caters to me.

I miss my maternal tongue. I would love to be able to 'press 2 for French' ... but, oddly, it's not something that is offered to me."

Why do you suppose that is? Follow the dinero. Hispanics aren't asking to be pitched soft drinks or credit cards or cell phone service in Spanish. It is the companies that are asking Hispanics to buy their products, and entrepreneurs think it'll help their chances if they make the pitch in what they assume is the population's native language. But these decisions aren't being made at the behest of Hispanics any more than the fish gets to choose the bait.

Also, the extra attention is stoking rivalries over the silliest of things, such as -- catch this one -- whether Hispanic baseball players are pushing African-Americans out of the big leagues. That was the claim by Gary Sheffield of the Detroit Tigers, who asserted that Hispanic players are more compliant than black players and thus more desirable to management. It wasn't long ago that it was whites who argued that all the good jobs went to African-Americans because of affirmative action. That template -- like the one offered up by Sheffield -- is nothing more than a glorified excuse, the sort that you cling to when you fail or fall short. Or in the case of black athletes, simply make other career choices such as football or basketball.

Lastly, the extra attention is causing some to assume that Hispanics are demanding "special treatment" when really all they're asking for is fair treatment. That's what happened when Hispanics protested a planned World War II documentary on the Public Broadcasting Service that initially ignored the contributions of Latinos to the war effort. When I wrote about the controversy, I got angry mail from Americans who sarcastically demanded equal time for other groups. They all seemed to be asking the same question: Why are Hispanics so special? They're not special. That's the point. They're Americans like everyone else. No better and no worse.

That itself represents a radical departure from where our society was a generation ago, when Hispanics were subjected to their own rendition of Jim Crow a couple of generations ago, including segregated schools, restricted swimming pools and signs in restaurants in the Southwest that read "No Dogs or Mexicans Allowed."

Today, it's a new world. Most U.S.-born Hispanics work hard, pay their taxes, try to raise good kids and strive for whatever they consider their version of the American Dream. They're not perfect, but neither is any other ethnic group.

But here's the important part: They're also not going away. The sooner other Americans accept that and recognize the benefit in a rich and diverse and vibrant society such as ours, the better off we'll all be -- and the more civil our interactions.

One person who gets that is George W. Bush. The president told McClatchy Newspapers that he has "seen firsthand the beautiful stories of people being able to take advantage of opportunity and make solid contributions to our society." The key, Bush said, is living in diverse surroundings where "if you're open-minded, you get a great sense of how (diversity) invigorates the society."

There you have it. All this concern about open borders, when what we could really use are more open minds.


Roman Empire: gold standard of immigration

Roman Empire: gold standard of immigrationBy Cullen Murphy, LATimes - 6.16.07)

The ancient superpower could teach the U.S. a thing or two about a strong multicultural society.

YOU'VE SEEN the phrase a hundred times: "the world's longest boundary between a First World and Third World country." But hearing those words the other day, as the immigration bill seemed to be falling apart in the Senate, my thoughts turned not to the 2,000-mile border of the United States and Mexico but to ancient Rome's 6,000-mile border with … well, its border with everywhere.

There's a widespread view that the Roman Empire was swept away mainly by a relentless tide of hostile outsiders; we've all heard ugly references to the "barbarian hordes" in today's immigration debates. But the truth is that Rome was the world's most successful multiethnic state until our own — and history's longest lasting one, bar none.

So it's natural to wonder if the Romans might have anything to teach Americans. I'd argue that they do. One lesson is that the notion of "taking control of the borders" is overrated; borders were pliable then, and are even harder to define (or police) now. A second lesson is the importance of nurturing a national culture. It was the source of Rome's power, just as it is the source of ours.



Hurting the Children Through Father Absence

In Father absence "decimates" black community in U.S. (Reuters - 6.14.07), Joyce Kelly writes about the tragedy of so many children growing up in America without fathers.

More than 19 million children -- about one in four -- were living in households where no father, biological or other, was present, according to a Census Bureau report in 2005.
But the burden falls more heavily on African American children, while a huge number of Latino and White children are also deprived.

Some 56 percent of black children lived in single-parent families in 2004, with most of those families headed by mothers. That figure compared with 22 percent of white children and 31 percent of Hispanic children.

Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Chicago-based Black Star Project, which helps children in mainly minority schools, is quoted as saying:

"Father absence...has hit those communities with the force of 100 hurricane Katrinas."
Some will argue that in some cases the children are better off without their biological fathers in their lives--and that's probably true. But the point is that there are so many men--African American, Latino and White--that care so little for their offspring to do the right thing in the first, second and third places.

The level of selfishness and disregard for the lives of their children (and often for the children's mothers) is of truly horrific dimensions. And worse is that we're just letting it happen to more and more children.

"It is literally decimating our communities and we have no adequate response to it."

Salvatore Labaro: Shameless America

Here's Salvatore Labaro's comments in response to Latinos Die for America; while America turns her back on Latinos (1.15.07). Professor Salvatore makes an interesting point, no?

Shameless America

It is unlikely that the American Collective can or will feel any national shame for the way today’s immigrants are being treated. Evidence for this statement can be found by looking at yesteryear’s era of Immigration: Where is the shame for the ways that Irish and Italian immigrants were treated? These groups also died in disproportional numbers in WWI and WWII.

The American Collective has a very strong history of ignoring shame, or plain not feeling it. For example, where is the national shame that we should feel regarding 1) the genocide of Native Americans; 2) the enslavement of African Americans; 3) the travesty of the Jim Crow South; 4) the continued discrimination of women, queer-peoples, the fat, the ugly and the poor?

As for the first 3 examples, America has shown that it can quickly develop a “color blind” society in which the racial injustice that is directed at groups is coupled with an ideology of individualism – where the solutions for injustices remain wholly located at the individual level: After all, “Condi Rice made it, Clarence Thomas made it, Oprah Winfrey… If you just try hard (like they did), you can make it too!.”

To the extent that an individual fails to “make it” we can be sure they didn’t try hard enough or chose to fail. Ultimately, the American Collective entertains “Culture of Poverty” arguments: These immigrants have a culture of “breaking the law” (They illegally came here). These illegals have a culture of “poor education” (they drop out of high school and continue to speak Spanish), these poorly educated underachievers have “High fertility” (they have way too many kids, way to early), these people have a culture of dependency once they get here (They use our welfare, education, and medical services).

This is the mentality that permeates the models of reality that most native Blacks and Whites have in their minds for themselves and for Hispanic-Latino immigrants. This mentality makes it entirely justifiable not to feel shame; shame for the social inequities experienced in education, healthcare, the criminal “justice”-system and the IRAQ-related mortality rates.

For those that are expecting an apology or admission of guilt, that would only ever come long after everyone currently alive is dead. Only long after the grandchildren of those treated unjustly have had the repercussions of the injustices reverberate throughout their family history. Only after its potential to heal is long expired.

Americans don’t feel shame; instead, they feel angry at victims who cause their own suffering for having made “poor personal choices.” The sooner we can realize this is a major and dominant feature of American culture, the sooner we can all stop being shocked as to the inhumanness of the National Spirit.

I would like to suggest a book for anyone interested seriously in understanding Today’s Mexican Immigration “Fiasco.” “SMOKE AND MIRRORS” By Douglass S. Massey.

To read more of Salvatore Labaro's views visit www.myspace.com/salvatore_Labaro .


Making The Case for Long Island's Latino Immigrants

While Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's Archie Bunker-styled politics have made him wildly popular among white working class voters, a small but growing number of Long Islanders believe we can reach higher.

One such individual is Amy Hagedorn, a life-long area resident and philanthropist. She has funded Long Island Wins, a campaign making the case--economically and culturally--for the island's immigrants.

As part of this unprecedented campaign, Long Island Wins has begun airing pro-immigrant commercials on local television. The first commercial "Salida Del Sol" makes the case that America is enriched as a result of immigrants and their pursuit of the American Dream.

The second commercial "Pupusas" uses lighthearted humor to celebrate the economic and cultural contributions of Long Island's Latino immigrants.