Mel Martinez To Exit the GOP Train Wreck

The Miami Herald reports today that U.S. Senator Mel Martinez will step down from the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee as early as next February.

It's a vote of no confidence in the GOP by its own chairman.

Clearly, Martinez does not want to be associated with a GOP presidential campaign likely to go down in flames in part due to its anti-Latino, anti-immigrant and anti-African American baggage.

There's a GOP train wreck in the making--and Martinez is leaving before it crushes him, too.

However, it's not as though Martinez hasn't tried to redirect the GOP--he has. It's just that the nativists in his party never cared much for his selection as chairman--and they don't much respect his views on the political future of "their" party.

To make it real clear that the racists are in charge--and that Martinez is making the right move, here are a few of the less toxic send-off messages posted on the anti-Latino immigrant website FreeRepublic:


- Maybe the traitorous SOB’s have finally heard us?

- Bye Mel..now would be fine, AND????? Don't let the door hit you in the
bum on the way out.

It seems to me that the time has come for Latino and African American Republicans, as well as all Republicans of conscience, to either boycott next year's GOP primaries and the general election, or vote independent.

What do you think?

Article: Mel Martinez may quit GOP post

The GOP's Bitter Harvest to Come

Linda Chavez asks "Will immigration sink Republicans?" in 2008 and beyond. It's a hunch a number of us have expressed here, here and here.

But now comes a new report “Border Wars: The Impact of Immigration on the Latino Vote,” released by the conservative group Americas Majority Foundation, which Chavez writes "demonstrates that congressional Republicans' ham-handed approach to immigration will cost them dearly at the polls."

The lesson is simple: You reap what you sow.

Related Posts:

A Xenophobic Zeitgeist - Erasing GOP Latino Gains
WSJ -- The GOP's Anti-Latino Tone is a Loser
California's Booming Latinos: 52% by 2042
New York farmers confront feds on migrants
Linda Chavez: GOP's Self-Inflicted Wound
Republican Presidential Hopefuls Diss 1,000 Latino Leaders
Experts: Economies grow in Hispanic-heavy areas
The Coming Latino Voter Response to the Failure of Immigration Reform
The Radical Right Claims Victory
Republicans: nativism is a proven loser
Clint Bolick: The GOP Must Now Prove Itself to Latinos
Linda Chavez' The Company You Keep: In Search of anti-Hispanic hostility
GOP Risks Losing Latino Voters


The Obama Army Takes NYC's Washington Square Park

All of the pundits, including Newt Gingrich--and even George W. Bush, have Hillary as the nominee of the Democrats in next years national elections--and today's polls do support their views.

However, while Hillary may very well be winning the votes of the establishment, Obama continues to inspire a new generation of voters.

Check it out! The Obama Army has now grown to an unheard of 345,973. These are not just people that say they support Obama, but folks that have demonstrated it by making a record 492,033 donations.

Incredibly, Obama has received more individual donations totaling more money than any of his Democratic or Republican competitors. (Hillary is 2nd and Rudy 3rd.) What does that say about America's desire for change from the status quo?

What's awesome is that the Obama folks are running what has to be the most sophisticated and interesting online and grassroots campaign ever. For example, Obama yesterday spoke to 25,000 voters packed into Manhattan's Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. But check out the pre- and post-event videos. They're informative, inspiring, even humorous, and stunningly effective.

Love it!

Related: NYC Rally Trailer
Obama08 Video of NYC Rally
Obama Distances Himself From Clinton, on Her Turf (includes video of Obama's speech)


Who Won the PBS-Tavis Smiley Republican Presidential Forum? Mike Huckabee, Tavis and the 1st African American Female Combat Pilot

First, this forum was so much better than that travesty in Washington DC last August--even without the big leaguers. The speeches were somewhat contained, the questions were quite good and Tavis kept the whole thing flowing nicely.

However, the set is still somewhat amateurish and the acoustics were not great--which probably is why a number of the candidates had to ask for repeats on questions. And it's pathetic that it took almost a half hour before the panel of journalists were introduced.

The fact that the four leading GOP candidates were no shows was the theme for the first third of the forum. Not only was the dissing mentioned repeatedly by the speakers, but the podiums of the missing were purposely left vacant. Additionally, the first question had to go with why some chose to skip the event.

Huckabee--who received 48% of the African American in his race for governor of Arkansas--actually said that he was embarrassed by the GOPers dissing of the forum.

Brownback said that he's disgusted by the dissing and said, "I'm sorry."

Alan Keyes--who thinks the world revolves around him--said that the leading GOPers aren't necessarily dissing all African Americans--it's just that they're afraid of debating him. Sorry Keyes, but I don't think so.

But who helped their cause and who didn't? Who won and who got burned?

Clearly, the biggest losers, at least with African Americans--and maybe PBS watchers in general, were the no shows. Writing off African Americans may seem like the expedient thing to do but it's wrong, as well as dumb. Huckabee, Brownback, Hunter, et al, should be commended for respecting African Americans enough to show up.

Vernice Amour was a winner. She's the first African American female combat pilot who has done two tours in Iraq. She was in the audience and was acknowledged by panelist Juan Williams. A+

Mike Huckabee - I thought Gov. Mike Huckabee did the best job of conveying a command of the issues, demonstrating experience and competence and in establishing a rapport with the forum's target audience. The only awkward moment was when he tried to explain the weightiness of sending death row convicts to their deaths. A

Sam Brownback - The senator from Kansas was also impressive in his knowledge, legislative leadership and commitment to issues such as integration. He also said he's for an official U.S. government apology for slavery. B

Ron Paul - Congressman and leading libertarian Ron Paul hammered two issues: opposition to the Iraq War and his strong support for freedom as the best hope for eliminating racial and economic disparities. Paul received some of the most enthusiatic audience responses. To his credit, Paul reversed himself based on the evidence and now opposes a federal death penalty. B-

Duncan Hunter - Hunter made his three points repeatedly: He wants to leave Iraqi with "honor", he's for a long border wall, and he did legal work in the "barrio". Hunter is for the death penalty only, he says, because it's a deterrent. Say what? C-

Tank - Tank-credo may have gained a small amount of ground with African American voters by blaming Latino immigrants for depressing wages. But he lost it all when he said he's for the death penalty. D

Alan Keyes - Keyes ran hard for the social conservative vote by talking alot about moral values, life, marriage, the Iraq War, etc. It was odd to watch that the single African American candidate seemed to leave the mostly black audience cold. D

Related: GOP hopefuls assailed for debate absence
First African American Female Combat Pilot
GOP Debate a Black Comedy
Liveblog! GOP Black Voter Forum: Half The Candidates, Double The Fun!
Yepsen: Huckabee stands out in GOP forum

GOP candidates rip four who skipped race-issues debate

A U.S. Latino Press Since 1808

The 150 Spanish language newspapers published in the United States today are the most ever, right?


According to Jose de la Isla in A tradition written in Spanish, Latino newspapers are as old as the U.S. itself. Not only did the first printing press in Spanish predate the first in English by 100 years in the Americas, but Latino newspapers have been published in the U.S. since 1808.

Furthermore, records show that between 1813 and 1937 some 431 Latino newspapers were published in communities across the U.S., nearly all in Spanish.

Of course, the presence of Latinos and a whole Latino press are inconvenient truths to the preferred myth of anti-Latino bigots that we are latecomers.

Welcome to America!

A Coalition in Defense of the Khalil Gibran International Academy Calls for An Investigation

The Khalil Gibran International Academy controversy in New York City will not go away--and no should it! The dismissal of the small themed high school's founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, largely because a group of hysterical bigots wanted her head, was shameful.

A pro-KGIA coalition of individuals and organizations has formed. It's Communities in Support of KGIA and today it issued these two statements:

1) an expression of support for the KGIA and Ms Almontaser; and 2) a demand that the New York City Council investigate the sequence of events leading up to Ms Almontaser’s forced resignation and to make public the results by October 15, 2007.

The Coalition is broad, and it includes many prominent New Yorkers. Here's what a few of the group's members have to say:

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz called the attacks and insinuations against her "disgraceful, xenophobic, and racist."

Rabbi Michael Paley said, "If Debbie Almontaser is painted in that way, then no one is safe."

NYC Councilman Robert Jackson was emphatic: "What happened to her is wrong. What's happening to the school is wrong. And we're standing up and saying that we must correct that injustice.
The outrage is best expressed by the words of Dr. Michelle Fine, a professor at City University of New York, and her mother, Rose:

"Given her long history as a peace educator in New York City, and her vital role in coalition building post 9/11, the loss of Almontaser as Principal of KGIA throws a shadow of shame on us all: what my mother, Rose Fine, a Jewish immigrant from Poland would call a "shande"—a deep, penetrating shame that
saturates the soul of our civic community."
Shande, indeed!

Blogging Tonight's PBS Republican Forum at Morgan State U.

Speaking of debates...

Republican presidential hopefuls are scheduled to do their own PBS-Tavis Smiley forum tonight from Baltimore's Morgan State University.

The controversy heading into this event is that a number of the leading candidates are not attending. That is, Republicans are continuing their cross-country campaign of dissing any and all presidential forums targeting African American and Latino audiences.

As I did the Democratic PBS-Tavis Smiley forum in Washington DC, I'll join a group of bloggers from across the country in blogging this one as well. Credit to Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association and the folks at PBS/Tavis Smiley for encouraging bloggers--especially bloggers of color--to participate in these events.

While the audience for this forum will be miniscule, I suspect it'll offer some very interesting and, possibly, newsworthy moments.

Until later.

See Who Won the PBS-Tavis Smiley Republican Presidential Forum? Mike Huckabee, Tavis and the 1st African American Female Combat Pilot. (American Taíno - 9.27.07) for the rest of my comments.

Related: GOP's snub of minorities isn't smart strategy

Who Won the MSNBC Democratic Presidential Debate? Tim Russert, Ken Burns and the Yankees

While most television watchers were watching their team fail to make the MLB post-season, the black and white flicker of yet another WWII documentary , fading actors Paso Dobleing, or another endless and senseless telenovela, Democratic presidential hopefuls were on stage in Hanover, New Hampshire for yet another talkfest.

The debate was moderated by famed TV inquisitor Tim Russert, so it sounded a lot like an expanded version Meet the Press. As is his trademark, Russert's questions were designed to make candidates squirm a bit. Most interesting to watch was how Russert--on a number of occasions--succeeded in setting Hillary up.

Her response? She let go of one of those scary laughs Byron York of National Review calls a cackle.

The one question I most enjoyed watching the candidates answer was on Sanctuary Cities.

Candidates were asked if they opposed or supported cities breaking federal laws by declaring themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Richardson was asked first because--well--he's Latino and nonLatinos seem to think that immigration is simply a Latino issue.

Richardson--along with Dodd, Kucinich and Gravel--believes that sanctuaries are important in light of a federal system which is wrong and counter-productive. Obama and Hillary had more nuanced responses, but they, too, ended up on the side of sanctuary cities. Biden and Edwards also blamed Bush for failed leadership on immigration reform but are against cities opposing federal immigration enforcement.

York watched the debate, too, and he wasn't much impressed. (Here's his write-up.) For him, there were no winners. The TV pundits disagree. They gave the win to Hillary, but for odd reasons. They believe she won because 1) she didn't mess up too badly, or 2) some other candidate--such as Obama--underperformed.

They're all wrong. There was indeed a winner--or winners, and none were on the stage at Dartmouth. They were Tim Russert, Ken Burns and the Yankees!

Related: Democrats start with Iraq - Manchester Union Leader
Democrats Debate - MSNBC


Bolivian President Evo Morales: The Daily Show Video

We need to come together to save lives and to save humankind.

Evo Morales stopped by Comedy Central's The Daily Show and spoke about his actions, views and concerns as Bolivia's 1st president of Indian heritage. Very interesting.

Related: Is Latin America Preparing to Settle Accounts with its Elites?
Presidente Rigoberta Menchú?


Cane: 1st All Latino Primetime Dramatic TV Series

The much anticipated drama Cane, starring Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo and Rita Moreno, premier's tomorrow as part of CBS's new fall line-up.

Set in Miami, Cane is about a wealthy Cuban-American family torn by rivalries as its sugar and rum businesses are passed down to the next generation.

Cane has generated a great deal of Buzz within the Latino community. It's also generating some controversy. Miami Cuban bloggers are not happy that the cast is largely Puerto Rican. And others are rightly worried that the program will stereotype Miami Cubans as a people obsessed with money, race and social class.

However, ensuring the authenticity of the series is creator Cynthia Cidre, a writer of Cuban American heritage. Cidre and the series producers have gone to great lengths to make the settings, language, food, music, family structure, etc., convincingly Cuban Latino with a South Florida flair.

Following on the heels of Ugly Betty, George Lopez, The Mind of Mencia--and adding to America's established appetite for Shakira, Mojitos, Latin resorts and Latin Ballroom, a successful Cane could help American coach potatoes find their inner Latino, too.

Stay tuned, America!

Related article:

Is American TV ready to tune in Latino culture?


Home For Sale in Puerto Rico

Purchase your piece of paradise in Palmas Baja on Puerto Rico's south side.

The tropical home has 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a living room, dining room and kitchen, and a bonus room.

Also featured is a water tank, carport, shed, gated driveway, porch and lush tropical plants.

On a quiet dead end street w/mountain views, the home is near the Guamani River, routes 179 and 15, and just 1 mile North of Guayama's famous Plaza Cristóbal Colón, Bellas Arte and Casa Cautiño Museum.

Situated close to everything, it's just minutes to Route 52 (Ponce to San Juan), coastal Route 3 and aqua green Caribbean beaches (Arroyo, Patillas, Salinas). For example, EL Legado Golf Resort 3 mi, Jobos Bay Reserve 5mi, Port of Arroyo 5mi, Lake Carite 8mi, Lake Patillas 10mi, Guavate Forest 15mi, Cayey 12mi, Carite Forest Reserve-Blue Water Pool 20mi, Ponce 38mi, City of Humacao 35mi, Tibes 'Taino' Ceremonial Center 40 mi, San Juan 50mi, El Yunque Rainforest 53mi, Fajardo 58mi (and the ferry to Vieques and Culebra), La Parguera EcoTourism Center 60 mi.

Offered at $80,000 (U.S.)

Gerry Vazquez

About Guayama:
Bewitched In Guayama (by J.A. del Rosario, Puerto Rico Herald - 3.19.04)
Guayama, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Area (a listing of local camping, hiking, backpacking, lakes and beaches by Hikercentral.com)
Casa Cautiño Museum
Interamerican University - Guayama Campus"
Centro de Bellas Artes
Plaza Cristóbal Colón


A Xenophobic Zeitgeist - Erasing GOP Latino Gains

A Xenophobic Zeitgeist (by Arian Campo-Flores - September 24th Issue of Newsweek) is yet the latest installment about the quickly fading Latino support for the GOP as a result of the party's association with anti-immigrant/Latino bigots.

Illustrating Campo-Flores' point is the fact that Latino marketing guru and former consultant to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Lionel Sosa, is now campaigning for Democrat Bill Richardson for president. Additionally, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the evangelical National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a group representing the most conservative portion of the Latino population has this to say about today's Republican Party:

"Right now, the nativist and xenophobic constituency is in charge of the Republican Party. That's a party the Hispanic-American voter cannot support."
Even Karl Rove is quoted as saying: "I am worried. You cannot ignore the aspirations of the fastest-growing minority in America."

Can the GOP save itself from its headlong plunge into political darkness? Campo-Flores cites outreach by Romney and McCain as a hopeful sign. But counting on the likes of Romney is nonsensical given his unabashed pandering to the nativists. McCain offers more hope but last I looked he was still a decided long shot.

In my view, it's too late for the GOP to repair the damage--at least in time for next year's national elections.

2012? Only if Republicans such as Jeb Bush and Rick Perry oust the bigots.

Matt Sanchez - A Latino with a Different View of the Iraq War

Journalist and blogger Matt Sanchez wrote in to say that he offers a different perspective on the Iraq War than offered by Camilo Mejias (and, I guess, Omar Mora and his buddies).

Try a different Hispanic point of view here in Iraq. We wouldn't want to stereotype.
Fair enough.

With so many men and women serving honorably in the U.S. Military, including many Latinos on the front lines of the Iraq War, it's important for Americans (as well as the citizens of other nations) to see the war from different perspectives. Especially--as Mejias, Sanchez and Mora rightly insist--from the perspectives of those on the front lines. Amen!

With this objective in mind, please read Awakening' musters Iraqi courage against al-Qaida -- Sanchez' recently article published in WorldNetDaily.

Sanchez' writes about how change has started to root in Ramadi and Anbar when the courageous Sunni cleric, Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, sided with the U.S. in the battle against alQaeda. It was reported by General Patraeus, and others in recent weeks, that deaths were down and that the U.S. troop surge was working in part because of the alliance between the U.S. and Iraqis such as Sheik Sattar.

As evidence by his weblog postings, Sanchez was clearly impressed by the Sheik--even likening him to Abraham Lincoln:

Charismatic, determined and very ambitious we may see a lot more of Sheik Sattar in the near future, his role in the Awakening could make Ramadi the next Gettysburg.
However, making it clear that the success of the U.S. "Surge" rests on a very weak political foundation, Sheik Sattar was assassinated last week (9/13/07).

Not coincidently, September 13th was the first day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. It was the 3rd day of General Patraeus' report before the U.S. Senate on the success of the "Surge". It was 10 days after President Bush's visit with the Sheik in Iraq. And it was just seven days after President Bush boasted to Australia Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile that "We're kicking ass".

I'm not a U.S. Soldier serving in Iraq, embedded journalist, or Washington insider, but it seems to me, Sanchez' views not withstanding, that good people have been put in a bad place by the poor policies of weak leaders.

Am I wrong?

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejias is Out of Iraq

U.S. soldier and Iraq War critic, Omar Mora, continued serving in Iraq until his untimely death last week. Mora and a fellow war critic, Yance T. Gray, died when their U.S. Military vehicle overturned outside Baghdad.

Gray and Mora were part of a group of seven soldiers that wrote The War as We Saw It, a letter critical of the war published by the NYTimes in August.

Camilo Mejias--another soldier turned war critic--took a different path: He refused to return to the Iraqi war theatre. For that, Staff Sergeant Camilo was court-martialed and spent 9 months in a military prison.

In a war, the bad is often measured against what’s even worse, and that, in turn, makes a lot of deplorable things seem permissible.
Camilo, a Nicaraguan immigrant (Omar Mora was from Ecuador), has written Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejía (New Press), a book highly critical of the U.S. Iraq War, its prosecution and the appalling behavior of some soldiers.

The latest issue of Colorlines includes My Road Out Of Iraq--a piece from Camilo Mejias' Road from Ar Ramadi.


WSJ -- The GOP's Anti-Latino Tone is a Loser

The WSJ joins a small but growing list cautioning the GOP to stop marching to the beat (or the screeches) of its anti-immigrant/Latino racists. I've posted the full article. Whether you're Republican, Democrat or Independent, conservative, liberal, Latino or other, read it. It's a wise piece.

Hispanics and the GOP
How to lose elections in one Lou Dobbs lesson.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Between 1996 and 2004, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote doubled to more than 40%, only to fall in last year's midterm election to less than 30%. The most recent polls show Hispanics breaking for Democrats over Republicans by 51% to 21%. What gives?

To understand this remarkable erosion of Latino support for Republicans, look no further than the most recent Presidential debates. While GOP candidates debated the urgency of erecting a fence from California to Texas along the Mexican border, Democrats debated in Spanish on Univision.

To reverse current trends, the GOP need not resort to ethnic pandering, which is the left's métier. But Republicans would help their cause tremendously if the party at the very least adopted a welcoming stance toward Latino newcomers. People aren't going to listen to your message unless they believe you care about them. Ronald Reagan didn't regularly receive a third of the Hispanic vote by sounding like Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson on immigration.

Tone matters in politics, and getting people to vote for you is easier when you're not likening them to Islamic terrorists, or implying that Latino men are hard-wired for gang-banging. Unlike blacks, who have hewed to Democrats in large majorities for decades, Latinos are proven swing voters, and Republican energies would be better employed trying to win them over instead of trying to capitalize on ethnic polarization to win GOP primaries.

There's precedent here. In the mid-1990s after California Governor Pete Wilson embraced Proposition 187, which denied education and health-care benefits to the children of illegal aliens, Latino support for Republicans fell to 25% from 53%, and GOP support among Asians and women declined as well.

Some conservatives insist that it's only the illegal aliens who have earned their wrath, but when the target of scorn is the mother or brother or cousin of someone here lawfully, that becomes a difference without much of a distinction politically. Moreover, Tom Tancredo, the pied piper of restrictionists in Congress, wants a "time out" on all legal immigration, and Hispanic voters are wise to the fact that it's not because he thinks there are too many Italians in the U.S. Republican pols may decide to follow Mr. Tancredo, Lou Dobbs, Fox News populists and obsessive bloggers down this path, but it's likely to lead to political defeat.

Hispanics are now about 8% of the electorate, but they're projected to become 20% by 2020 and one-quarter of the total U.S. population by 2050. The political reality is that going forward Hispanics will have to play a bigger and bigger role in keeping the GOP competitive nationally. It's hard to see how Republicans have any hope of building a permanent majority if Hispanics start voting for Democrats in the percentages that blacks already do.

Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona all boast heavy Latino populations and are states that a GOP Presidential candidate probably has to carry unless he can pick up states on the West coast or in the Northeast that Republicans haven't won since the 1980s. President Bush won Nevada, Colorado and Arizona twice. Al Gore won New Mexico in 2000, but it switched to Mr. Bush in 2004 in part because the President did well among the state's large Hispanic population.

Which brings us to a final, somewhat ironic, point about these political and demographic trends. Republican strategists, led by Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and Matthew Dowd, took note of what was happening long before their Democratic counterparts. As recently as 2004, Democrats still viewed Latinos as voters they could take for granted. The assumption was that, as with blacks, perfunctory appeals to past discrimination would suffice to win them over. John Kerry ran no significant campaign in Hispanic communities and rarely traveled to the Southwest.

But it turns out that 50% of Hispanic voters are foreign-born and grew up speaking Spanish, not nursing racial grievances. That's an increase from 20% in 1988, and most of Mr. Bush's gains among Hispanics in 2004 came from this cohort. The point is that Republican principles--economic or cultural--are not lost on Hispanics, who are hardly wedded to one party, even if some conservatives insist this vote is lost to them. And it's no coincidence the 2008 Democratic convention will be in Colorado, where Hispanics are 19% of the population.

President Bush proved that the GOP could make significant inroads with Latinos, and smart Governors like Rick Perry in Texas and Jeb Bush in Florida have also shown the political wisdom of avoiding anti-immigration appeals. It's unfortunate that other Republicans, including most of Mr. Bush's would-be successors, seem so eager to help the Democrats make up lost ground.

Copyright © 2007 Dow


Who Won the Yahoo! Democratic Candidate Mashup?

9/17 Update: Obama now leads Clinton by just 3 points in the Mashup online poll - 35% to 32%. Edwards trails at 12%.

I just completed watching the full 2+ hours of the 2008 Yahoo! Democratic Mashup--YAHOO!news' entry into the growing list of novel presidential forums.

The difference is that the "Mashup" is an online series of pre-recorded video snippets taken from interviews of the 8 Democratic candidates conducted by PBS's Charlie Rose. Topics were limited to Iraq, Education and Health Care. Additionally, funny man Bill Maher throws each candidate a question designed to make things more interesting.

Because it's prerecorded and broken into bits of viewable video, viewers can access the Mashup anytime between now and September 21st, and they can chose to view only those pieces they prefer, and in which ever order best suits them.


It's a Mashup because viewers can select candidates and compare their responses against each other --and it's done online.

Co-sponsored by The Huffington Post and Slate, the Yahoo! Mashup is billed as a ground-breaking innovation in terms of campaign dialogue. I'm not so sure.

The good thing is that each candidate gets a chunk of time to respond to questions from each topic--and they mostly tried to give full and thoughtful answers. The negative is that too often the candidates fell back to scripts--except, of course, in response to Bill Maher's queries.

Also, since each candidate was interviewed separately, missing are the atmospherics of a live forum or debate. There is something to be said for being able to witness the interplay--verbal and nonverbal--between the contestants.

Who won?

According to the online Yahoo! poll, Barack Obama was leading with 37% to Hillary Clinton's 32%.

Here's my take:

Barack Obama - I agree that Obama does very well because the format really works to his strengths. As in a typical Charlie Rose interview, the guests are allowed to give lengthier answers to important questions--and Obama does exactly that. Obama did well with all of the questions, but I thought he did especially well in response to Iraq and education. He gave a very sensible answer to how to extract the U.S. from Iraq while ensuring the stability of the region. I also liked his commitment fixing urban public schools. Grade A

John Edwards - I thought the format also worked for John Edwards. For the first time in my experience watching him, Edwards seemed really comfortable--and even genuine. Edwards' strongest responses were in Health Care where he promised to keep the drug lobbyists from vetoing real change, and Education where he promoted universl pre-k and free public higher education. Grade B

Dennis Kucinich - I thought Kucinich did well, too. He hit all of his key points--out of Iraq, dump No Child Left Behind and it's obsession with testing, and do universal health care through a nonprofit system. Grade B

Mike Gravel - Gravel was a hoot. Not only does he just let it rip, but I find myself actually agreeing with a number of his points. He's always admonishing voters to follow the money, but his point really struck a cord when he talked about health care. His point is that real change is not likely as long as the drug company lobbyists keep buying off the politicians--including those he's competing against. Grade B

Bill Richardson - Richardson's performance was OK--not brilliant but not bad. What I don't understand, though, is why Rose felt the need to ask only Richardson--not once, but twice--about immigration. I also found it offensive that Rose asked only Richardson about him settling for a VP slot. Grade C+

Hillary Clinton - I don't think that the format (nor the lighting) was as friendly to Hillary. It also seems that she's more interesting as the center of a network--a network that includes a lot of interesting, passionate and committed people. But on her own, one-on-one in a straight-up interview with Charlie Rose, she's seems diminished. Hurting her were her cautious and uninspiring responses on education, health care and Iraq. Grade C+

Chris Dodd/Joe Biden - Dodd and Biden loved the extra time to talk, which is what these two men seem most skilled in doing. It's hard for me to take either of these two guys seriously, since they talk with so much urgency but say so little and have done even less in their long congressional careers. Grade C-
Click here view the Yahoo! Mashup.

Soldiers Omar Mora & Yance Gray killed in Iraq -- yet their truth lives on

Two of the active-duty U.S. soldiers who wrote a controversial Op-Ed (The war as we saw it) in the New York Times questioning the direction of the Iraq war--Sgt. Omar Mora and Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray--died Monday in Baghdad.

Mora, 28, hailed from Texas City, Texas, and was a native of Ecuador, who had just become a U.S. citizen. He was due to leave Iraq in November and leaves behind a wife and daughter. Gray, 26, had lived in Ismay, Montana, and is also survived by a wife and infant daughter.

Jeremy Murphy, another of the seven authors, was shot in the head in Iraq on Aug. 12, before the Op-Ed was even published. He is recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

Tonight, President Bush is scheduled to tell the nation that the "surge" is working, Iraq is being pacified, and that we should stay the course. He follows General Petraeus' report to the U.S. Senate in which he honestly could not answer the question: Is America safer as a result of the U.S.-Iraqi War.

But as Mora and Gray understood, "pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities" is wrong--as well as deadly. May they rest in peace.

Here is an excerpt of their letter:

BAGHDAD -- Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counter insurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space" remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers' expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.
Click here for the full letter.

Honor Mora and Gray by demanding that President Bush and the U.S. Congress end the foreign war in Iraq and the homeland war on immigrants.

Photo: Sgt. Omar Mora

Related The unsettling deaths of Omar Mora and Yance Gray.


Bill Richardson -- American and U.S. Citizen

Some countrymen believe the U.S. is a European nation--and that immigration policy should preserve it as such. That belief may explain why, for example, they demand a wall against Mexico but not Canada. But the truth is that the U.S. is an American nation. It's American in the same way that Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, et al, are all part of the hemispheric American family.

Walls nor armies can make disappear the realities of geography and blood lines. The future of the U.S. is woven into the expanding narrative of the Americans from Tierra del Fuego to Baffin Island.

Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and a 2008 Presidential Candidate, embodies this reality.

Richardson (whose given name is William Blaine Richardson III) was born in Pasadena, California. His mother, María Luisa López-Collada Márquez, is Mexican. His father, William Blaine Richardson Jr., was a naturalized American (being the son of an American father and Mexican mother) banker who grew up in Nicaragua.

The following is a video of Richardson telling the story of his parents immigration to the United States for his birth.

New Latino Immigrants on the Gulf Coast

According to New Latino Immigrants on the Gulf Coast, a photo essay by Peter Holderness, half of New Orleans's workforce is now Latino.

However, these newest residents helping raise a post-Katrina New Orleans work under difficult circumstances. They are subject to abuse by unscrupulous employers, work under extremely dangerous conditions and denied basic health services. Now a growing number suffer from respiratory ailments from Katrina-related contamination.

Worst perhaps is the unwillingness of NO leaders to stand up for an essential workforce. Here's how Dr. Betsy Sells, a sociologist doing work with Tulane's School of Public Health, sees the situation:

I think the leaders of New Orleans recognize that we wouldn't be anywhere as far along with the recovery if it weren't immigrants. But they don't want to step into the quagmire of the immigration debate, so they just keep quite.
Sadly, it appears that real leaders are rare in American politics today.

Click here for more of Peter Holderness's wonderful work.

It's 9/11--6 years Later

In honor of the people killed on 9/11 or fighting in the Iraqi theatre, I've posted Paul Mulshine's The neocons are losing their war (The Star Ledger - 9.11.07).

Those deep thinkers known as the neoconservatives like to make comparisons between the so-called "war on terror" and World War II.

Very well then, here's a comparison.

Six years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Adolf Hitler had already been dead and gone for 2 1/2 years. By that time, the United States had raised and trained a military of 16 million. By Dec. 7, 1947, much of that force had been disbanded because the enemy had been so thoroughly defeated.

"Democracy is like terrorism," says retired Gen. William Odom. "It's a sort of propaganda word that leads you into stupid policies."

But today, six years after the incident that began the war on terror, Osama bin Laden is alive and kicking. As for al Qaeda, it is no longer hiding in the hills of Afghanistan but instead is on the verge of taking over Iraq -- at least in the fevered minds of some neocons. Meanwhile, a commission reported the other day that it will take an additional 12 to 18 months to complete the training of an Iraqi security force that is one-50th the size of the forces the U.S. trained in World War II.

That highlights the true comparison between the war on terror and World War II. In World War II, we fought a total war against specific enemies. But in the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush embarked on war against one abstraction, terror, in favor of another abstraction, democracy.



Brown is the New Green

Latinos are not only this nation's largest and fastest-growing ethnic group, they are also big business.

Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream is a fresh, provocative film examining how media and marketers are shaping America's perceptions of Latinos.

The striking new documentary from filmmaker Phillip Rodriquez features the extraordinary insight and observations of Latino icon and advocate George Lopez through rare behind-the-scenes access to the actor/comedian's remarkable life and career.
Brown is the New Green makes its national PBS broadcast premiere Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 8pm. (Check local listings)

PBS Station Finder

Click here for the Brown is the New Green website.

Latino Bloggers on the Univision Democratic Presidential Forum

A number of Latino bloggers tuned in for last night's "first-of-a kind" Univision presidential forum. Below are links to their insightful, sometimes irreverent, but always unique posts on what they saw and heard. Check them out.

Also, Latino Netroots has a compilation of blogs and a podcast of the debate--and Latino Pundit has his list, too.

Univision Debate: Latino Blogger Reactions (Man Eegee)

Underdog Gravel shines as star candidates gives Latinos more of the same (VivirLatino)

Candidates Debate in Spanglish on Univision: LIVE (La bloguera)

Destino 2008 : Univision's Democratic Presidential Forum (culturekitchen)

Univision Debate Proves Refreshing (LatinaLista)

Thoughts on the Spanish-Language Debate (Matt Ortega)

Post Univision Debate Hang over (La bloguera)

Photo credit: AP


Who Won the Univison Democratic Presidential Forum?

Univision just completed its first ever Foro Presidencial Democrata (Democratic Presidential Forum) and my quick assessment is that it was a huge success. (Click here for Univision's Destino 2008 containing video from tonight's debate.)

Here's why:

1) Finally, candidates for president of the United States were asked to respond to questions of major concern to Latinos. Candidates were asked about immigration reform, the US Wall against Mexico, the US-Iraq War, the mortgage crisis, Latin American relations, universal health care, anti-Latino racism, etc. Bravo!!

2) The moderators--journalists Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas--were excellent. Not only did they set and enforce clear rules but they asked tough questions. For example: Do you support making Spanish the America's 2nd national language? Why a wall between the US and Mexico and not one on the US-Canada border? Is Hugo Chavez a dictator? And would you have relations with Venezuela? etc. The format was brisk but fair. And the moderators operated like a well-oiled team.

3) The debate set-up--that is, the production quality, stage set-up, graphics, sound and the use of the University of Miami--was terrific.

4) The simultaneous translations worked. I was a bit distracted by hearing both the candidate and the translators speak at the same time, but the translations were immediate and dead-on.

What I didn't care for was the use of separate translators: Obama was translated by one male, Gravel by another, Hillary by a female, etc. There's probably a reason for doing it that way but I found it problematic. Not only were the accents different for each translator--causing me to adjust repeatedly, but it seems unfair. Why? Because one candidate's translator may speak in a more common accent and/or may have a more appealing speaking voice. For example, I found the translator for Obama to have a difficult accent and an imperial tone to his voice. Whereas, the translator for Clinton had common accent and a nice tone.

In terms of the candidates themselves, it seemed that the unfamiliar format required a bit of adjustment at first. Richardson and Kucinich were the most comfortable. Clinton was her usual steady self. But Obama was surprisingly stiff and uncomfortable. Aided by a cold translator, Obama's performance may have been the most disappointing.

Here is my quick assessment of the candidate performances:

Richardson was among family and his demeanor showed it. He scored points by insisting on speaking a bit of Spanish--even though it was against the rules, and when he mentioned brave Latinos fighting for America, while at home the government seeks to dehumanize immigrant workers. A-

Kucinich's ability to speak with passion and to hit the right buttons was on display. However, railing against NAFTA--open trade with Mexico--didn't get the response Kucinch is used to from audiences packed with White liberals and unionists. B+

Obama answered all of the questions forthrightly and in the manner we've come to know--serious wonkyness. However, he missed an opportunity to align his historical quest with the plight of a beleaguered Latino population. I did though like that he mentioned working with Chicago's Luis Gutierrez on immigration reform. B (Upon reflection, I revised Obama's score up a bit because the transcript--without the filter of that atrocious translator--was much better than I thought.)

Edwards was Mr. Populist--the son of a mill worker fighting the fight on behalf of the little guy. I do appreciate his view that Latinos--citizens as well as noncitizens--have enriched America. B

Hillary was self-assured and steady. It's easy to believe that she has the Latino vote sewen up when so many establishment Latinos are queued up at her cart. Although I'm not sure that her vote for the Mexico wall and her insistence that we need more US-Mexico border security was appreciated--especially since she ignored the question which had to do with why a wall against Mexico but not Canada. C+ (Note: Upon reflection, I adjusted Hillary's score down for trying to create a "Sista Souljah" moment by trying to out rightwing the Republicans on "border security". Shameful.)
Dodd made the strongest case for re-establishing constructive relations with Latin America. He noted that the U.S. invests some $6 billion in aid in Latin America, while spending over $400 Billion in a questionable war in Iraq. C+

Gravel was Gravel. Although I found his story about being a French-speaking immigrant child from Quebec compelling. C-

The Debate Photos (48 photos)

Demócratas apoyan construcción de muro entre EEUU y México ("Democrats Support Constructing Wall between the U.S. and Mexico," AP)

Dems agree on Iraq, immigration (AP)

2008 Democrats woo Hispanics on immigration (Reuters)

Immigration top issue at debate on Spanish-language TV (CNN)

In a First, a Candidate Forum in Translation (Washington Post)

Democrats Reach Out to Hispanic Voters (NYTimes)

Democrats try to speak to Hispanics (Miami Herald)


Fight for Immigrants: A Long Island Update

Dr. Luis Valenzuela, leading immigrant advocate and executive director of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, spoke recently at a Babylon Green Party Forum on Immigration. He gave a seminar on the local and national battle for immigrant justice.

Click here for a video of the the 29 minute presentation.

Among Dr. Valenzuela's successes is the defeat last spring of a proposed Suffolk County ordinance dubbed the "Standing While Latino" code.

An especially vile and discriminatory proposal, the bill sought to make illegal the gathering of two or more persons on public walkways. Enforcement of the ban would be targeted at Latino men.

Click here for Dr. Valenzuela's compelling testimony against the offensive bill.

BTW: Of all the local political parties, the Babylon Green Party stands alone in its commitment to ending racism and anti-immigrant bigotry on Long Island.

Thanks to the Wilders for their vision, commitment and leadership.


Rudy Giuliani: Unauthorized Immigration is NOT a Crime

Rudy Giuliani has just deep-sixed his presidential bid as a Republican, demonstrated yet again that he's a genuine leader, added much needed expertise to the national discussion around "illegal" immigration--or, all of the above.

Check out this ground-breaking exchange between radio/cable personality Glenn Beck and Rudy:

GIULIANI: The context of that was for people to come forward to report crimes because we needed their help and we didn't want them to be afraid of coming forward. The context of that was we wanted them to put their children in school not to be afraid to do that. Even with the policy that I pointed, I continued it was probably seven, eight years old, there were still people, illegal immigrants, who would not report crimes. But we wanted them to.

GLENN: Right. But isn't illegal immigration a crime in and of itself?


GLENN: Aren't you saying --

GIULIANI: Glenn --

GLENN: You're protecting criminals by saying that being treated as a criminal is unfair.

GIULIANI: Glenn, it's not a crime. I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime.

GLENN: It's a misdemeanor but if you've been nailed, it is a crime. If you've been nailed, ship back and come back, it is a crime.

GIULIANI: Glenn, being an illegal immigrant, the 400,000 were not prosecuted for crimes by the federal government, nor could they be. I was U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York. So believe me, I know this. In fact, when you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding.
GLENN: Is it --

GIULIANI: One of the things that congress wanted to do a year ago is to make it a crime, which indicates that it isn't.

GLENN: Should it be?

GIULIANI: Should it be? No, it shouldn't be because the government wouldn't be able to prosecute it. We couldn't prosecute 12 million people. We have only 2 million people in jail right now for all the crimes that are committed in the country, 2.5 million. If you were to make it a crime, you would have to take the resources of the criminal justice system and increase it by about 6. In other words, you'd have to take all the 800,000 police, and who knows how many police we would have to have.

Rudy is a former federal prosecutor and a Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan. It seems to me that Rudy probably knows what he's talking about. But if his view stands up, doesn't that blow the cover off of all of those closeted racists hiding behind the it's "illegal" banner?


Click here for the full transcript.
Click here for Glenn Beck's website.

New York City's Oldest Spanish Bookstore to Close

Librería Lectorum, New York City's oldest and largest Spanish-language bookstore, will close its W. 14th St. storefront on September 30, 2007.

They say it's due to gentrification. Too bad.

How many times did I walk by Librería when I lived in the neighborhood at 15th and 6th? No doubt it was hundreds of times as I walked to the A Train, or to Hudson and my job in the West Village, or to countless other destinations.

I never tired of checking out the latest titles in the store's window displays--even if my book purchases were in English and at Barnes & Nobles on Fifth Avenue.

While certainly not the same experience, the good news is that fans can still visit Librería Lectorum online.

Related Last page for Hispanic bookstore on 14th St.

Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Honored by National Endowment for the Arts

Dear Friends,

We would like to share this very exciting news with all our friends who have believed in us and watched us grow over the last 10 years!

PUERTO RICAN FOLKLORIC DANCE is very proud and honored to announce that we have received a 2007 CHAIRMAN'S AWARD from the National Endowment for the Arts!

This award will support a new phase of conservative and steady growth that will take PRFDance to the next evolution, and expand our cultural outreach that is serving the State of Texas and creating a cultural anchor in the Southwest United States for Puerto Rican folk and traditional arts.

In 1997 PRFDance began as a mother's wish to bring her culture alive for her baby son and her community. This award is a wonderful testament to all we have accomplished over the last 10 years!

Come celebrate this big news and our last 10 years of accomplishments with us THIS SUNDAY at our 10th ANNIVERSARY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION & BOMBAZO, Sept. 9th, 2-5pm.

Share this flyer with friends.

Dr. Ana Maria Tekina-eiru' Maynard
Founding Director
Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance & Cultural Center
701 Tillery Street
Austin TX 78702

Who Won the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate?

The contest for the Republican nomination may have finally kicked into high gear this week as the 8 official candidates sparred Wednesday night at the University of New Hampshire--and Fred Thompson stopped playing coy and made it official.

Here's a my quick take on the debate performances:

McCain is back to being John McCain--and for proof, he rabbit punched Mitt for his cautious assessment of the surge. Popeye is back! (Also, the Fox focus group rated McCain as the winner.) Grade: B+

Sounding a bit like Reagan with a Gomer Pyle accent, Mike Huckabee earned points for standing against anti-immigrant hatemongering, but lost points for defending the Iraq War at any cost. Grade: B

More third party candidate (or college professor) than corporate Republican, Ron Paul illicited the biggest audience response along with the greatest level of distain from his competitors. (To the utter dismay of Fox' Hannity, the post-debate online survey gave the win to Paul by a margin of 2:1.) Grade: B

Rudy Giuliani boasted that he turned around a crime-invested NYC in response to just about every question. Rudy is an author, consultant to foreign leaders and a former deputy attorney general, but all he talks about is NYC. For a party whose base hates NYC, I'm not sure why Rudy doesn't speak more from his other experiences. Grade: C+

Sam Brownback may be the only true conservative running for president. But in a field lacking in bonafide social and economic conservatives, Brownback doesn't stand out. Perhaps it's a Kansas thing. Grade: C

Mitt Romney still thinks he can win by impersonating George Hamilton playing Patrick Buchanan. Surprisingly, polls show Romney leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Weird. Grade: C-

Duncan Hunter promises to complete 800 miles of the anti-Mexico wall in just 6 months. Grade: D-

Tom Tank-credo seemed to wonder why he's getting no love from his party's base of ultras. After all, it's his dark vision of an anti-immigrant America that the suits are mimicking. Grade: F

Fred Thompson chose not to debate. Instead, he aired a boring commercial and then announced the obvious on Jay Leno. Grade: Incomplete
Transcript: Republican Presidential Primary Debate

Off to the Races (by WSJ's Peggy Noonan)
What you missed while watching "Rescue Me" (by Salon's Michael Scherer)


New Orleans' Latino Boom

In case you missed it, PEOPLE published an interesting article (A Hispanic Renaissance in New Orleans) on the Latino transformation of New Orleans in its August 2007 issue.

In the aftermath of Katrina thousands of Hispanics arrived in this devastated city to pick up the pieces and help rebuild it. Two years later, their newborn babies–and many more to come–are changing the city to its core.
Here are the numbers:

According to the 2005 U.S. Census, before the storm there were 50,099 Hispanics in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.

Martín Gutiérrez, executive director of the Archdiocese of New Orlean’s Hispanic Apostolate, estimates that the number of Hispanics now living in the area is between 120,000 and 150,000.
Marbella (in the photo) is just one of New Orleans' newest residents. Appropriately, her name means Beautiful Sea in Spanish.