Posts Tagged ‘politics’

There is a lot of misinformation out there. I actually teach this stuff and know what the facts are. You can google my points below:
1. The flow of undocumented workers has been from and not to the U.S. since 2005. Thus, building or making the border more ‘secure,’ something that is impossible anyway, would actually keep the undocumented from leaving the U.S.
2. Obama has deported more undocumented than any other president. That is why Latinos call him the “Deporter in Chief”
3. Yes undocumented get some health benefits. But this happens because of actions at the local level rather than by federal policy. See the article below.
4. Why do cities and counties provide such services? First, because it is cheaper to do preventive care than pay for undocumented using hospital emergency rooms. Second, because the undocumented provide essential cheap labor for many local industries, from restaurants to crop harvesting to house cleaning to construction. Local economies need their labor. Trump has used undocumented Polish labor at some of his construction projects. And documented labor will not do those jobs at those wages. Third, undocumented labor contribute enormous amounts of tax revenue, often using other people’s Social Security numbers, but do not collect any unemployment, housing, disability, public housing, or retirement benefits. In fact, the revenue they contribute to social security has kept that program afloat financially and makes possible the retirement of documented Americans. This is a fact. Finally, the U.S. Offers very few immigration opportunities to Latin American countries as opposed to European countries. Thus, the economic demand for cheap labor, the destruction of economies in Latin America by American companies investing there, produce pressures which result in people having to come here without papers. It is a complex process where the U.S. is just as responsible for what is happening as the people sneaking in. http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/personalfinance/illegal-immigrants-get-public-health-care-despite-federal-policy/ar-BBqT8Xo?ocid=fbmsnmoney

Trump’s victory is the end of liberalism and the rise of progressivism. Neo-liberalism, in particular, is dead. Trump has not and will not kill it. But he will help mobilize an opposition that will. He will prove to his supporters that he is not the answer.

Destroying Obamacare without a single payer system to replace it, is not the answer. Bombing ISIS families will just create more terrorism. Killing NAFTA will not bring jobs back. Lowering taxes on the rich will not reverse growing inequality. He will not build a wall across the southern border and not just because Mexico won’t pay for it. He may yet surprise us all and not even try to do any of those things. He could have been just blowing hot smoke after all. But his Republicans in Congress will push him towards those goals. And the country will suffer.

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Trump’s victory is a sign that half-measures, like Obamacare don’t work. It is a sign that we want radical solutions to our growing problems, like inequality. It is a sign that people don’t trust our political leaders. And Trump will show that his measures go in the entirely wrong direction. And that is how the country will turn back towards a truly progressive agenda. Many of his supporters will turn against him and his Republican policies. Frustration will increase. People will wonder what went wrong. It will be the responsibility of progressives to deliver the ideas and the organization to point till a true solution.

Get ready Bernie…your time will come…maybe before 4 years are up!

How much are we worth? I am not referring to monetary value. Those kinds of calculations are best left to actuaries and class action lawyers. I am referring to the impression we make on others. Do people look our way when we enter a room or just ignore us? Do people listen to us? Do people take us seriously? Are we respected?

We all have moments when we believe, correctly or not, that we are being ignored. Sometimes we just feel invisible. Some would argue that being ignored, shunned, or given the silent treatment is one of the worst things one can experience.

Sometimes we want to be invisible. But what if feeling invisible happens too often? And what if being invisible is true not just of us as individuals but as a group, as Ellison’s Invisible Man understood? Latinos often feel like we, as a community, are not often noticed. That feeling is often not easy to document. It’s almost impossible to prove the lack of something, what does not exist.

We do know, however, that the media ignores our accomplishments, culture, concerns, needs, and leadership. We know that we complain about garbage, crime, dilapidated housing, and poor schools all the time. We know that nothing happens until hipsters move into our community to ignite our displacement. We know that we are not only ignored in life…but also in death. We know this especially when others point to whom they give worth and attention… and leave us out.

On December 23, 2015, the New York Times again published a list of notable dead in 2015 and, again, barely mentioned Latinos. Out of the 34 dead featured in long and short obituaries, only one was a Latino. That was A$ap Yams, a producer/promoter of rap music. Yams’ main contribution was making the newcomer A$ap Rocky into “New York’s most exciting rapper in a generation” (NY Times, Magazine December 23, 2015). The Times admitted Asap Rockythat A$ap Yams was a “20-something nobody” who made “another 20-something nobody into a star.” So why did they include Yams in their compilation? Because, they write, he was a “cultural polyglot” who used the internet to figure out what “15-year olds were into.”

A$ap Yams, born Steven Rodriguez, was an interesting young man. He had great creative potential. He would have certainly made a bigger splash in the music business had he lived beyond his 26 years. But his insertion in this Times compilation happened because a white audience was impressed by his ability to get young people to like the violent and explicit lyrics of the music he produced. He titillated white music listeners.

A$ap was Dominican and Puerto Rican. But he did not get into this Times death issue because he represented Latino culture.  Nor was his presence in this issue likely to encourage others to pay more attention to Latino culture and music. Latinos have been involved in Hip Hop music from the very beginning and continue to make contributions to this music style. But it is not perceived to be a significant part of Latino culture.

Yes, the Times had to make choices. They only published 34 death stories in the magazine. Thus, who they left out is as important as who they included. There was limited space, after all. Their choices reflected priorities and vision. But it is absurd to think that there were few notable Latino deaths in 2015 that compared to those the Times included.

Just looking at the 2015 deaths in January alone, I found several significant Latino deaths in that one month. This included the radical Chicano preacher Reies Lopez Tijerina who helped lead a group that tried to take over a small New Mexico courthouse in 1967. This Chicano raiding party tried to liberate Chicano prisoners who had been arrested in a land grant dispute as well as to place the district attorney under citizen’s arrest. The land had been taken from their ancestors by Spain and Mexico, then legalized by the U.S. after acquiring the territory.

Tijerina became known as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Chicano rights movement, along with Cesar Chavez,, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales and Jose Angel Gutierrez.” Tijerina died on January 19, 2015. Certainly his story is worth reporting and remembering?

Nipón Sevilla, the Cuban born, but Mexican based, movie actress and dancer died on January 1, 2015. Sevilla, whose real name was Emelia Pérez Castellans, had a long and stellar career performing in scores of Mexican movies from the 1940s till the 1990s. She was highly regarded and received the “Silver Goddess Award “Dolores del Río” in 2009, for her film career, and in 2014 she received a homage by the MeNinon Sevillaxican Academy of Art and Cinema-tographic Sciences and the National Film Archives, for her career and influence in cinema.”

 

Mexican movies made vital cultural contributions to almost every Latin American country during a time, from the 1930s to 1960s, when Hollywood provided little that resonated with Latino culture and history. This Golden Age of Mexican cinema brought Latino sensibilities to the screen. Latinos from Bogota to Buenos Aires to the South Bronx and Brooklyn sat in dark theaters watching Mexican films starring Cantinflas as well as Sevilla and others. A vezes una de mi tias me llevaba a ver peliculas Mexicana en un teatro en el Bronx cuando yo era un nino. So, Sevilla definitely had a lasting impact on Latinos from all over the world.

Corrupt politicians in Mexico must have also been pleased to see that journalist Julio Scherer García died on January 7, 2015. García helped to expose some of the most important scandals in Mexican history. This included

probing a secret army unit set up to combat guerrillas, a multimillion-dollar Swiss bank account of a president’s brother, and official involvement in the assassination of a journalist.”

Scherer Garcia riled corrupt presidents, wrote more than 20 books about Mexican politics, won Columbia University’s prestigious Maria Moors Cabot in 1971, and was so respected by most Mexicans that, in 1994, “the Zapatista rebels invited Mr. Scherer to participate with a Catholic bishop and the Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu as intermediaries in a dialogue with the Mexican government.” Certainly the paper that prints the news that is “fit to print” should have recognized the importance of the journalistic work done by Julio Sherer Garcia.

The reason we should be concerned about the Times omitting worthy Latino deaths is not just that we may want to satisfy our own vanity or cultural and nationalistic pride. The Times sends out messages by these lists and who is in it. They devote an entire issue of their Magazine because they think it is important for their audience to know who these people were.  They are, thus, telling their readers who they consider worthy.

There are many more notable Latino deaths in 2015. The three individuals above were only a few of the hundreds of notable Latinos who died in 2015. The Times is also not the only paper that ignores Latinos in life and death. Both analog and digital media and news sources have done a very poor job of reporting on the Latino and minority communities of the U.S. The Times, however, possesses a special prestige, top recognition, and authority in the U.S.

The Times’ “The Lives They Lived” issue sends subtle but devastating messages to teachers, journalists, researchers, students, politicians, and especially to our Latino community about who to admire and respect. The Times’ omissions will have a negative impact on the Latino public image. Their exclusion from the list of notables reinforces discriminatory beliefs and practices, weakens social mobility, limits economic opportunities as well as political participation, and, ultimately, dampens Latino social and political power.

Is the Times aware of the negative impact of their choices? Can’t tell from their short intro. They wrote only about “Remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year“. There is no discussion of how they deliberated and made their choices. It likely that the omission of Latinos reflects the linguistic and cultural limits of current Times management and reporting.

The Times is simply not connected to Latino leaders, institutions, and community.  Latinos do not appear in their existing corporate leadership, networks, college alumni groups, or neighborhoods. And that reflects the extremely limited presence of Latinos on the Times editorial, reporting, and governing boards. There are no Latinos, for instance, among their ten top executives. Out of the 14 members on their Board of Directors, only one is Latino, an Argentinian corporate mogul, Raul E. Cesar, who has directed U.S. corporations since 1977.

The news staff at the Times is also lacking.  They were sued in 2015 for racial discrimination. That lawsuit, claiming that over 30 minority journalists were fired because of their race and age, is not yet settled. However, the overall numbers do not look good. As of 2015, only 19% of their newsroom employees are minority. This compares unfavorably to other newspapers like The Washington Post which has 31% and Newsday which has 26.5%.

The reality is that even these numbers are suspect since they do not address the lack of support, opportunities, and respect that minority journalists often experience on the job. Diversity programs, like the one the Times has, are often used to mask discrimination and a real lack of diversity.

Why do Latinos get ignored? Much of it is due to class, race, policy decisions, as well as the segregation of Latinos from the mainstreams of American life. The New York Times takes note of A$ap Jams because he appeared on their radar. He produced Hip Hop and not Latin Music.  He was interviewed in English-dominant journals, newspapers, and media. The Times actually wrote an obituary of Yams when he died in January 2015. He was in their networks and memory banks.

Interestingly, even A$apYams thought he and his crew had been ignored and dismissed by the music business. In a 2014 interview, he stated “We still don’t get the props that we deserve as a legitimate record label, despite us releasing two debut albums from two new artists in a six months time span that were both top five albums on Billboard, which is a crying shame.” The shame continues for Latinos in general…the shame that we continue to accept being ignored, shunned, and disrespected… in life and in death.

All of the opponents to the Iran deal are confused and delusional.

Is Iran a dangerous state and not to be trusted? Yes. But they are trustworthy on some things. They are, in fact, our allies in the fight against ISIS. Without them, we could not keep ISIS in check.

iran20a  Is it possible that Iran will use some of the funds released by the agreement to fund terrorism? Yes. But no one knows how much and it is already funding terrorism now. And our allies, the Saudis, also fund terrorism. 9/11 being the most glaring example. We do know that this agreement is something that will support the rising population of young Iranians who are looking towards the west for inspiration. This group can serve as a bulwark against the Iranian right wing and the Ayatollah.

Is the inspection process something that provides Iran with some ability to hide what they are doing? Possibly. But right now we have no inspection process and they can do whatever they want. With this agreement we have some way of monitoring what they are doing.

Will our not signing tDiplomacy-NIAC-infographiche agreement stop the deal? Nope. Other nations have signed on and will no longer punish the Iranians. So, Iran will be able to do whatever the opponents say they will do even if we do not sign. Is there a possible better deal out there that we can get if we persist? Possible, but not likely. This deal took years to make and faced opposition in our country and Iran. This is the best possible deal we can make at this moment.

How do we get Iran not to build nuclear weapons?  If you know anything about selling, we have already won by getting them to sign the deal. What we all want is for Iran to join the fraternity of nations who abide by international law and decency (something the U.S. has not always done, btw). By getting them to say YES to this deal, this deal has created a situation where they will likely say yes to those larger goals. That is what salesmanship is all about.

In a recent Hugh Eakin New York Books interview, Mark Danner does a masterful job of dissecting the voids, contradictions, and failures of the recent Senate report on the CIA’s torture program.  This interview article, “Our New Politics of Torture,” includes many observations and gems. One comment by Danner, in particular, stuck out because it points to a wider and more profound flaw in modern state sovereignty.  Danner concludes that the major problem with the U.S. torture, or “enhanced interrogation,” program was that it was mostly about our fears and, more exactly, the fears of our officials and leaders in the U.S. state. He states that,

“It’s an epistemological paradox: How do you prove what you don’t know? And from this open question comes this anxiety-ridden conviction that he must know, he must know, he must know. So even though the interrogators are saying he’s compliant, he’s telling us everything he knows—even though the waterboarding is nearly killing him, rendering him “completely non-responsive,” as the report says—officials at headquarters was saying he has to be waterboarded again, and again, because he still hadn’t given up information about the attacks they were convinced had to be coming. They kept pushing from the other side of the world for more suffering and more torture.”

Thus, we tortured because we were so afraid of another attack, of being surprised, of being embarrassed and shamed, of the terrorists! Aside from the idea that our fear is exactly what the terrorists wanted… and achieved, there is another very grave conclusion that we can make. It was not just the CIA that was afraid. The American people were very afraid too. And our state leaders, from Bush to Cheney to Rumsfeld to Congress, were very afraid indeed. Why? Primarily, I think, because terrorism strikes at the achilles heal of modern states, especially Super Powers like the U.S.  All of our weapons systems and armed forces are geared to repel and preempt attacks against us by other nation-states. But this is precisely what terrorism is not.

A Shiite pilrim w flag of martyr Iman HusseinTerrorists have no specific land to call their own. They have no military bases. They have no standing army. They operate without a specific chain of command. They operate like independent cells. There is no easy way to destroy its head, no matter how many drone strikes we deliver to eliminate terrorist leaders. Our missiles sit impotently in their silos. Our ships and planes circle “problem areas” but cannot encounter the enemy. We can spend billions and billions more on Defense, without a noticeable impact on our security.

Global travel, communications, and capital flows makes terrorist location, actions, and intentions so much more difficult to trace and block. The U.S. State is reduced to relying on information, and the CIA, in a much more profound and, ultimately incomprehensible way. The information we need is complicated, dense, unreliable, and often complicated by pesky things like human and constitutional rights. One can sense the exasperation of state leaders. Complaints about constitutionality of the bulk screening of U.S. civilian phone calls and emails are rendered irrelevant by the realization that intelligence officials have no other way of knowing what terrorists are up to. Thus, a recent government report lamented that

“From a technological standpoint, curtailing bulk data collection means analysts will be deprived of some information,” said Robert F. Sproull, the chairman of the committee that examined the problem and a former director of Oracle’s Sun Labs.”

That scares the hell out of state leaders. And thus, like a parent, who cannot get a child to behave with mere words and nagging, state leaders feel compelled to resort to violence. Their hope is that it will deliver the cooperation and information they need to not be embarrassed and shamed… by terrorists. But, ultimately, torture does not work.  It just inflames and expands the terrorism.

Recently, some commentators have mused about whether the U.S. would be better off with a queen or king.  These nostalgic murmurs were inspired by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth in England this week.  The Queen and her subjects are celebrating 60 years of rule.  Most of the talk has been about whether “Yanks” are “missing out royally without a queen“.

May 12, 1937.  Queen Elizabeth, second from left, and King George VI, second from right, are seen on the balcony of London’s Buckingham Palace following the coronation of King George VI.

What exactly does a queen or king do for a society besides rule?  In most cases, modern royalty don’t make many decisions.  They leave the day-to-day running of the state to elected government officials.  That is the case in England too.  The prime minister makes domestic and foreign policy.  And yet the Queen is still the head of state.

Her contribution goes beyond having her face and name on the nation’s currency, armed forces, and on the taxes levied and the laws written and passed by Parliament.  These are important symbols of her authority but they do not account for the most important function of royalty.  While many believe that the Queen’s most important role is to serve as a unifying force in England, I think it has to do with gathering power for the state.

While unifying the nation is an important role, most seem to forget  that queens and kings serve as heads of state.  What this means goes beyond holding a title.  A head of state has the awesome power to rightfully take life, liberty, and property.  That power has to come from somewhere.  Why would people willingly give the state that right to rule them?  Modern humans lived the majority of time on this earth (35-40,000 years) without needing a state.  It has only been in the last 5-6,000 years that humans began to accept the idea of Leviathan.  Traditionally, many have argued that royalty’s right to power and rule was granted to queens and kings by God.  The people needed to be ruled and God created royalty to do so.  Later, political theorists, like Locke and Hobbes, made the argument that states were created by a contract with the people in exchange for peace or property protection.  These make for a good stories and each story has been historically persuasive for many.  But these stories are also just not true.

What is true is that it is the people being ruled who give a queen or a king or a president the power to rule.  The state is a Leviathan as Thomas Hobbs once said, an artificial monster with enormous powers over its subjects.  And yet that power comes to the state from the subjects themselves.  We do so not through a contract.  We give the monster life.  Every minute and every single day, people give the state it’s power.  They do so by BELIEVING in this abstract body, by RESPECTING it, by giving it CREDIBILITY, and by OBEYING it.  This is, for the most part, not a conscious process.  In fact, it is better if it is not conscious.  Power flows a lot easier to the queen if subjects don’t have to plan or think about how they give the queen power.  The power to take their life, their liberty, or their property is easier to accept and to give to the queen when subjects do so because of habit, faith, or love.

The British continue to support the institution of the Royal Family because it serves the vital function of siphoning power from the people in a way that does not create waves or jeopardize the continuity of state power.  Unlike our president, who has to try to siphon power form the people while also governing them, the Queen’s job is much simpler.  She can simply draw upon the adoration and love the people have for her.  She never has to reject their pleas for help, impose burdensome new taxes, or pit one group against another.

As long as the people love the Queen, the British state can maintain a stable source of power for the Parliament and the Prime Minister to use in governing.  This is what makes the Queen so important to British politics and to the British people.  She represents a unique institution that solves in a gracious and effective manner the modern problem of how to gather power from the people into the state.  If that siphoning of power does not occur, the state cannot embody the power necessary to permit government to rule.