Thursday, February 28, 2008

Karen Bass elected as California Assembly speaker

L.A.'s Bass to become new Assembly leader

The Democrat triumphed in crowded field, will be state's first black woman speaker.

By Jim Sanders and Shane Goldmacher -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, February 28, 2008

Assemblywoman Karen Bass secured the votes to become the next speaker of the California Assembly late Wednesday, elevating an African American woman to the post for the first time in California history.

Bass, a 54-year-old Los Angeles Democrat, was the top lieutenant of outgoing Speaker Fabian Núñez, who pitched in behind the scenes Wednesday to help Bass win a feverish, 10-person battle for the top job.

Steve Maviglio, Núñez's spokesman, said the 48-member Democratic caucus will meet privately early today. Immediately afterward, the entire Assembly will vote on Bass' selection.

Bass is expected to work alongside Núñez in the coming months, then transition into the Assembly's top spot.

Bass, Núñez and Democratic colleagues sipped wine in the speaker's office late Wednesday to celebrate her ascension, assured by events that came together in rapid-fire fashion.

Bass, considered the front-runner for weeks, will assume a political job considered by many to be second only to the governor in power and prestige in California government.

"She's a fantastic person, she's a great candidate and I think she's going to be a wonderful speaker," said Assemblyman Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who also fought for the job.

Núñez will be forced from office at the end of 2008 by term limits. The end of his reign as speaker – the longest of the term limits era – was sealed after voters defeated a Feb. 5 ballot measure that would have extended his time in office.

Neither Bass nor Núñez was available for comment late Wednesday.

Besides De Leon, Bass beat a field of Democratic speakership candidates consisting of Alberto Torrico of Newark, Hector De La Torre of South Gate, Joe Coto of San Jose, Fiona Ma of San Francisco, Charles Calderon of Whittier, Mike Feuer of Los Angeles, Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge, and Ed Hernandez of West Covina.

Torrico, also considered a prime contender, applauded Bass' leadership.
From the Sacramento Bee.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Si Se Puede: Obama

Sólo los obreros y loscampesinos Irán hasta el final.

Pemex and Mexico


- For the Sovereignty of the Nations of the Continent!
- The Natural Resources Belong to the People!
- PEMEX Belongs to the Mexican People!
- The Oil Belongs to Venezuela, not to Exxon-Mobil!
All Out for the General Assembly of Sunday, February 24, at 11 a.m., Marina Nacional 329, in front of the PEMEX building, Called by the National Democratic Convention and Andrés Manuel López Obrador!

During these past days, two measures demonstrate the acceleration of the offensive of the U.S. government and corporations against the peoples of the continent:

In Mexico, Felipe Calderon, with the support of the PRI and the PAN political parties, announced his plan to privatize PEMEX, in the framework of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and ASPAN. In Venezuela, the Exxon-Mobil company and the U.S. government have declared "economic war" against the Venezuelan people.

Mexico: Calderon aims to hand over Pemex to the U.S. multinationals
In Mexico, the illegitimate government of Calderon has announced its plan to give the shares of PEMEX to the multinational corporations. He has pledged to hand over the exploration, exploitation, refining, transport, and stocking of the oil. Calderon went to the United States precisely to work out the details of the draft law that he aims to present to Mexico's Congress.

This is a measure that aims to liquidate the expropriation decree of 1938, which states in its Article One: "The machines, installations, buildings, oil-ducts, refineries, tanks storage, routes transportation, tankers, service stations, boats and other assets (of the oil companies) are expropriated for the benefit of the Mexican nation."

The offensive to destroy nationalized PEMEX property is contained in the NAFTA agreement and in the ASPAN agreement. These are the political and legal instruments of the U.S. government and corporations to destroy the Mexican nation, its natural resources, and its labor and social rights.
Exxon-Mobil declares "economic war" against Venezuela
Exxon-Mobil, the U.S. multinational oil corporation, supported by the U.S. government, declared "economic war" against the people and government of Venezuela. The Venezuelan government took the sovereign decision to nationalize the Cerro Negro project on the banks of the Orinoco river through Decree 5200. Exxon-Mobil, which is making profits unprecedented in the history of U.S. corporations, refuses to accept this sovereign decision -- the equivalent of the act taken by the government of Lazaro Cardenas in 1938.

It began legal proceedings in London and New York to have judges freeze US$12 billion in financial assets of the PDVSA Venezuelan company, which is more than 17 times the losses they took! On Tuesday, February 12, the Venezuelan government decided sovereignly to suspend the sale of oil to this company.

The situation is delicate. Several Republican members of the U.S. Congress want to characterize Venezuela as a state that "supports terrorism," as was done concerning Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba. At the same time, the U.S. government has pushed the Colombian government toward war against the people of Venezuela.

As one state-worker in Venezuela said: "This is not a commercial quarrel; it is a political quarrel against a government that exercises its sovereignty and reclaims the oil riches for the benefit of its people."

Solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela! The oil of the Orinoco belongs to Venezuela, not Exxon Mobil!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama, Texas and the Latino Vote



Battle for Texas Latino vote challenges conventional wisdom

Some analysts say Clinton is the front-runner, but a new report shows Obama has erased her advantage among Latinos.

By Juan Castillo
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Political strategists trying to size up the race between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are talking a lot about former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk these days.

When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002, Kirk — an African American originally from East Austin — was virtually unknown in predominantly Mexican American South Texas. So, he blitzed the region, appearing there 15 times during his campaign.

It was a reliable strategy thatpaid off in one of the poorest regions in the nation but historically one of the richest sources of Democratic votes in Texas.

"It was a love affair, if you will," Kirk recalled. "They fell in love with me, and I did fall in love with them."

In fact, Kirk beat a Hispanic candidate in the primary with strong support among Latinos statewide.

Though he ultimately lost to Republican John Cornyn, Kirk's success with Hispanics undermines the oft-quoted idea that antipathy between blacks and Latinos will hinder Obama's own pursuit of Hispanic votes.

That and other traditional theories about political strategy are under scrutiny as Obama and Clinton aggressively court Latino voters in Texas. With both locked in a razor-close battle for the Democratic nomination for president, and with Clinton badly needing to reverse Obama's momentum, the Latino vote could be pivotal in the March 4 primary.

Hispanics represent about 20 percent — 2.6 million — of Texas' registered voters, and after flirting with the Republican Party during the Bush years, they are back in the Democrats' fold, according to a Pew Hispanic Center national survey in December.

Analysts say Hispanics make up about 35 percent to 40 percent of Democratic primary voters but might account for considerably more on March 4 if Texas mirrors the record turnouts in other states.

Those numbers, combined with the sheer star power of two popular candidates, are creating a buzz that has some feeling almost giddy about the importance of Latino voters this year.

"We're at the driver's seat," said Lydia Camarillo, vice president of the nonpartisan Southwest Voter Registration Education Project in San Antonio, which seeks to build Latino voter participation. "There's a sense that this is a big moment for Hispanics politically."

Bread-and-butter issues

Though Clinton is widely considered the front-runner in Texas, a national poll released Tuesday showed her and Obama in a near tie here. Another nationwide survey showed Obama has erased Clinton's 2-1 advantage among Hispanics.

As they compete for Texas' 228 Democratic delegates, both Obama and Clinton count endorsements from prominent, local, state and national Latino leaders.

Camarillo said both have staked similar positions on key issues such as education, jobs, the economy and "bringing the troops home."

Such "bread-and-butter issues" are paramount in South Texas, said Jerry Polinard, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Pan American in Edinburg.

Last Friday, the Clinton campaign flashed South Texas credentials, releasing a list of more than 100 Hispanic elected officials there who endorsed her. Clinton made campaign stops last week in traditional Hispanic voter strongholds — San Antonio, El Paso and the Valley — reminding audiences that her first job in politics was registering Hispanic voters in South Texas in 1972.

She was scheduled to speak at a rally in Hidalgo tonight, her second in the Valley in eight days.

"The Clintons are well-known, and they're well-connected" in the Valley, said Polinard, citing voters' belief that Bill Clinton's presidency brought economic growth to the region. "It's hard to see (Obama) cutting dramatically into her hold down here."

Luis Fraga, a political scientist at the University of Washington who has tracked Latino votes in presidential elections since 1980, said Clinton also benefits from a South Texas tradition in which the candidate with the best name recognition and ties to party leadership locks in support early from local elected party leaders, who are then expected to deliver votes.

Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, acknowledged that Obama is the underdog in the Valley and in Texas but said there is still time to introduce him to voters in Hispanic communities.

Federico Peña, a Texan who served in President Clinton's Cabinet and now is a national co-chairman for the Obama campaign, predicted Latinos will line up behind Obama once they get to know him.

In upcoming appearances in Texas, Peña said, Obama will seek to highlight his own immigrant experience, the struggles of his single mother, his support for legislation giving undocumented immigrant students opportunities to attend college and his work before entering politics with unemployed Latino and African American steel mill workers in Chicago.

Last week, Obama released Spanish-language radio ads in eight markets and a Spanish TV ad running in Houston, San Antonio, Harlingen, McAllen, Corpus Christi and Laredo.

The TV ad touts Obama's plans to bring about universal health care and to provide tax relief for working families, "issues that matter to Hispanics in Texas and across America," said state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, an Obama supporter.

The Clinton campaign also aired a Spanish-language TV ad highlighting her understanding of the problems Latinos face.

Obama made stops in San Antonio and Houston on Tuesday and planned a visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area today, before Thursday's nationally televised debate with Clinton in Austin. He was reportedly set to visit McAllen on Friday.

Kirk, an Obama supporter, said his 2002 Senate campaign showed that a relatively unknown African American candidate can build rapport with Latinos.

"But understand, I had 18 months. We've got three weeks," Kirk said.

An Obama upset?

Some political analysts question another conventional argument: that Clinton's name recognition, organizational strength and presumed advantage in South Texas will translate to victory in the primary.

Because the state's Hispanic population is far-flung and increasingly urban, analysts saythe Rio Grande Valley and South Texas are no longer the electoral prizes they once were. Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are now home to far more Hispanic voters than South Texas and in a tight race, every region will count, some analysts say.

One Democratic insider, a former Clinton administration appointee who is privy to the Obama campaign, said Clinton's emphasis on visiting the Valley, El Paso and San Antonio was a mistake because she stands to win those regions anyway.

"It was a waste of time and a waste of money," said the strategist, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak for either campaign.

If recent results in other states are a barometer, Clinton will win among Latinos in Texas. (Exit polls in 16 states on Super Tuesday earlier this month showed Hispanic voters favoring Clinton by about 63 percent to 35 percent.)

Obama's campaign asserted, however, that it is making inroads with Hispanics, pointing to wins among Latinos in Iowa, Virginia, Connecticut and in his home state, Illinois.

Such talk might be seen as little more than campaign spin were it not for the gains Obama has been making across the board.

"With Obama, there's much more potential," said Fraga, the Latino voting expert. "He's polling better among every demographic, including white males and white women."

Still, to win in Texas, Obama needs to achieve what would have seemed unthinkable early in his campaign.

Fraga said Obama must replicate his previous success with white and young voters while claiming a clear majority of the white female vote — a Clinton strength. Finally, Obama must increase his current share of the Latino vote considerably, to 40 or 45 percent, as well as garner massive black voter turnout and support.

Primary results in other states and Gallup poll findings released Tuesday show Obama further building his dominance among black Democrats. Analysts expect the trend to continue in Texas, with Obama winning perhaps 80 percent of votes from African Americans.

In fact, despite all the focus on the Latino vote, it is the black vote that may do as much or more to shape the outcome March 4.

Texas awards 55 percent of its delegates by Senate districts. The number of so-called pledged delegates a district gets depends on Democratic turnout there in 2004 and 2006.

That means that heavily African American districts in Houston and Dallas, which had good voter turnouts — and where Obama is likely to have overwhelming support — will get more delegates than heavily Hispanic districts that had poor turnouts.

Fraga said he agreed with assessments that Clinton is the front-runner withTexas Latinos.

"The question is how many more inroads can (Obama) make between now and the fourth."; 445-3635

What they're saying about

A Hispanic/African American divide: "That's kind of like old-school Latino mentality, like when Latinos or Mexican Americans of my parents' generation couldn't even marry a black (because) it would be taboo. I don't think that exists in my generation." — Mary González, a 24-year-old graduate student at St. Edward's University, on the idea that a divide between Latinos and African Americans hampers Sen. Obama's bid for Latino votes. González said she was undecided but leaning toward Sen. Clinton.

Clinton: "I think it is important that we have somebody who has experience, who has also been a model for women, and being a Mexican American woman and an ordained clergywoman, I want to also support models that break out of the pattern of male domination in terms of politics, government and institutions." — Lydia Hernández, 67, former executive director of the Manos de Cristo mission in Austin.

Obama: "Senator Obama is a once-in-a lifetime candidate. I really think people feel that about him, and I think he is as well." — Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez

Obama: "Obama is a candidate who's attracting the respect of people of all races, ethnicities, religions and color. It's a message of hope and inspiration, and I think it'll resonate with people all over Texas." — Ron Kirk, former mayor of Dallas

Clinton: "I think I would be remiss if I was going to go against the guy I supported for president." — Former Austin Mayor Gus Garcia, 74, a delegate for President Clinton in 1992. Garcia decided to support Sen. Clinton after former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew from the race.

Clinton: "It's an opportunity for us to have someone who is extremely qualified and be a player with any man that comes in the room. ... It's been a tough road for women in politics." — Sylvia Camarillo-Brittain, former aide to ex-Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos who has been involved in politics for 25 years.

Find this article at:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Community Organizing

I think that Community Organizing can only be effectively done and conveyed, to / with grassroots people or formal students, if the organizer is a genuinely experienced -- experienced -- individual.

Virtually anyone can call himself / herself a "community organizer." There are not, in this particular field, any formal certification requirements or issued licenses. And it also takes a Real One [of which there are fortunately many] to effectively teach and write about it.

To me, a bona fide community organizer is someone who is actively and effectively involved over a substantial period of time in the hard, tedious, and sometimes genuinely dangerous work of getting people together and keeping people together -- for meaningful action. And, as I certainly see it, of course, this has to be within the context of the pursuit of social justice.

This has to involve much more than, simply, a few here-and-there, hit-and-miss local endeavors -- or limited "support" activities from a safe and cloistered setting. It has to involve vastly more than simply being a participant in, say, a march.

I'm talking about someone who plays a signal role in initiating constructive fires [figuratively] and who, systematically, works to carry that through to relative success as yet another stretch of the trail in the Save the World Business. Sometimes it's a pitchy-pine hot and flaring fire, more likely it's the long oak wood burn with an occasional flare.

An organizer can be an altruistic someone who starts as a neophyte and who works with an experienced organizer -- and it can also be someone who arises spontaneously in a social justice crisis and feathers out with dispatch. In both instances, the organizer "learns by doing" and keeps going.

And a genuinely good and effective organizer never stops learning from the grassroots people with whom he / she works.

Without wasting time on false modesty, I've sometimes referred to an "organizing credential" of mine as my graduate degree in militant organizing. Awarded me in 1963 in the heat of our massive Jackson [Mississippi] Movement was a sheaf of papers with myself as the lead name: City of Jackson vs. John R. Salter, Jr et al. Prepared by Mississippi's top anti-civil rights lawyer [Thomas Watkins] who consulted with a bevy of others including the then state AG, it's considered the most sweeping anti-civil rights "order" issued during the general period. It sought to prohibit us from engaging in any kind of demonstration and boycott, "conspiring" to do such, and doing anything to "consummate conspiracies" to demonstrate and boycott. And, to forestall any legal complications from the state's perspective, it set the first hearing date 90 days hence. It was copied by other jurisdictions in the South. The bevy of heavily armed wide-brim hatted Mississippi deputy sheriffs who coldly and formally delivered my copy obviously viewed it as pure Holy Writ. For our part, we simply defied it and kept going. [It's on our website, not hard to find. -- along with a great many accounts and details of my own personal organizing projects.]

But my greatest satisfactions are always based on the positive appraisals of those on whose behalf I'm involved -- in actual social justice campaigns. Those are priceless.

Academia? Taking a class or two? That can offer some valuable approaches and insights -- but only if the teacher is an organizer with substantial experience who can talk in solid fashion, not only about the work of others but, primarily, what he / she has actually done. Organizing is a living art, not simply an erector-set craft and, if it's taught as art, the recipient -- formal student or grassroots person -- will learn some very solid things.

There was a time, briefly, at the end of the 1960s, when several schools of social work issued MSW degrees with a specialization in community organizing. Apparently that proved too difficult for the schools which shifted, fairly quickly, into social policy [ mostly agency administration.] In our organizing work on the South/Southwest side of Chicago, we were fortunate in hiring and retaining two MSW persons, each of whom had their degree with a formal and specific organizing focus -- via University of Michigan and University of Illinois [Circle.] They did, as was the case of our entire staff of two dozen or so, very fine work. But they readily conceded that they were learning far more in the field than they ever had in classrooms.

For my part, I have taught community organizing [while continuing my own organizing on the side] in every one of the far-flung colleges and universities at which I've sojourned. While on some occasions, it's been an added dimension to a course formally on another topic, it's also been, in the main, as its very own course. These have carried both undergraduate and graduate credit depending on the specific student. And, of course, I've also taught it, as a working organizer, to grassroots people and other organizers as well -- in all sorts of workshops and conferences.

And, wherever I've taught community organizing, academic or grassroots or whatever, every single person -- bar none -- has wanted a practical, down to earth approach with as many personally experiential case histories of campaigns that I can provide. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. [This also includes the personal histories of various protagonists.] And I do have a great many of these personal accounts -- and there are others who do as well. At this juncture, I have several rich decades of them.

But faithfully remember: a really first-rate organizer / teacher always -- always -- learns much from his / her grassroots colleagues and classroom students.

And, although I have my own somewhat eclectic Vision and am not oblivious to theory [I got along nicely and profitably in Sociological Theory]. I've never found theory by itself -- and certainly not heavy ideology -- to be especially interesting to those to and with whom I talk. [That poses no problem for me. The genuinely radical Southern poet, the late John Beecher, an old friend over many decades, commented approvingly and publicly of me that "he wears no man's collar."

Whenever or wherever I've taught community organizing, I've always used many of my personal case histories. If particular occasion permits, I lace these with much use of primary documents -- everything from field reports to leaflets, media clippings, legal briefs, much more. We do a heavy focus on tactics and strategies, building democracy, ethical questions. [In formal courses, I've often given a key issue and its setting as an essay test question.]

Field practicums aren't offered vis-a-vis a single class. But, for especially interested students, I early on did separate, follow-up Independent Studies -- de facto practicums, complete with appropriate field placements [and for full academic credit, of course.]

I avoid overly detailed, tight syllabi. And I consistently encourage a hell of a lot of discussion. Many people have had, in their own right, grassroots organizing experiences of one kind or another. Workshops [and conferences] always have people who are actually doing good things in the field.

And all of that is super-enriching.

Certain films can be extremely helpful -- e.g., Salt of the Earth, Norma Rae, Shane. And there are many others.

And music, too: well-done civil rights songs; and labor and related stuff from, among others, Pete Seeger and Tom Glazer.

Outside speakers? Certainly an occasional one, very preferably another organizer / grassroots activist -- directly from, as the old Wobblies used to put it, "the point of production."

Written scholarly or quasi-scholarly works on community organizing? Be careful -- very careful. Most of that, at best, has only very limited use. Usually dry and lifeless, this stuff is almost always written or compiled by ivory-towered academics using comparable works by comparable others and offers very little in the way of technique and insight. I place high priority on the accounts of folks who have actually Organized. [This can include people such as the late Saul Alinsky with whose "top down" organizing strategy, I -- with my grassroots-up focus -- strongly disagree. I've used Alinsky's Rules for Radicals on several occasions as a support text.] Occasionally, I've used my own very detailed book -- Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism, 1979 and 1987]. It's been long out of print but is sometimes findable on the Net [under my former name, John R Salter, Jr].

I should also add that there are corollary works from related fields that can be helpful. A faithful member of some of our discussion lists, Sam Friedman, produced -- after long and very careful study, much of it quite direct, Teamster Rank and File: Power, Bureaucracy, and Rebellion at Work and in a Union [1982]. This is first-rate and very readable sociology in the best sense. And there are certainly all kinds of other good works in this genre. Autobiographies and oral histories by organizers and participants can be quite valuable.

But, again, on written works dealing specifically with Community Organizing, Be Very Careful.

My own course in Community Organizing is here, in mini-form:

And this has much on our organizing in Chicago during a long, sanguinary epoch. It contains, among other things, our practical critique of Alinsky]:

Hunter Gray

Monday, February 18, 2008

A new face for Free Trade

From NAFTA to the SPP
Here Comes The Security And Prosperity Partnership,
But What Security? Whose Prosperity?
Katherine Sciacchitano
This article is from the January/February 2008 issue of
Dollars & Sense: The Magazine of Economic Justice

Which is closer to your vision of North America?

Vision A: Three interdependent countries with vibrant
social movements, respect for labor rights, and
environmentally sustainable economies anchored in
provision of social needs and respect for cultural

Or Vision B: An unequal alliance dominated by the United
States, complete with pumped up oil and gas production,
increasing militarization, corporate transnational
planning groups, and guest worker programs to ensure
cheap, vulnerable labor?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bill Fletcher on Obama now

By Bill Fletcher, JR

Black Commentator, Feb. 14

The withdrawal of the candidacy of former Senator John Edwards, coupled with the outcome of the Super Tuesday primaries, established that within the Democratic Party, there is a two person race for the nomination. The Super Tuesday results, more than anything, demonstrated that Senator Obama was clearly competitive with Senator Clinton. While Senator Clinton won the states she was expected to win, Senator Obama captured thirteen states, including locations where one would never have expected a victory, e.g., North Dakota.

So, let’s look at the scorecard and see where we are. No, not the delegate count, but the political scorecard. On the major issues, there is no significant difference between Obama and Clinton. Yes, there is some nuance, and, yes, Obama opposed the Iraq war. But as readers of my commentaries know, I have not discovered particularly fundamental differences.

Despite this, there is a clear Obama-mania underway and there are two aspects to this that we must address head-on. On the one hand, Obama is inspiring millions with the notion of “change.” Now, the “change” that is mentioned in speech after speech is very vague. When Obama speaks in concretes, e.g., attacking Al Qaeda bases in Pakistan unilaterally, there is nothing new and different about that approach. Yet what seems to be happening is that the disgust with the Bush years, combined with a reassessment of the Clinton years, is leading many people to look for something very different. This is in part generational, but actually much deeper than that. I emphasize this point because it is easy to write off the excitement as being naiveté. There is an unfocused desire to break with what the USA has been experiencing, both domestically and internationally, and it has come to be personified in Senator Obama, almost despite himself.

The other aspect, however, is more complicated and a bit unsettling. There has been a tendency, including among some progressives, to attempt to fashion Senator Obama as something other than what he is. Over the months, I have heard progressive commentators describe Senator Obama as if he were the second coming of the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his ’88 campaign. Surprisingly, Senator Obama is rarely challenged by credible progressives for the weakness of his platform and the lack of depth of his call for “change.” It’s as if we close our eyes, click our heels together, and repeat something to the effect of, the “change” will be progressive…the “change” will be progressive…

So, we are faced with this enigma. Some people, including some writers for The Black Commentator, are adamant that Senator Obama should not be supported and that he is a fraud. Others, including some writers for The Black Commentator, argue exactly the opposite. I am not going to argue the position of Solomon and suggest splitting the baby, but I will argue that critical support of the Obama campaign is an appropriate approach to take. Let me suggest why.

*First, and not in order of importance, the reality of the US electoral system and the state of progressive movements, is that we are a ways off from having a candidacy that is anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-empire - at least a candidacy who can win. Unfortunately, we are in a period where we are compelled to address the lesser of two evils. In that sense, while I do believe that we could have had a winning candidate who was better on the issues than is Senator Obama, no such candidate prevailed in the primaries.
Second, there is little question but that Senator Obama has helped to ignite excitement and an electoral upsurge, though I would not describe it as a movement, at least not at the moment. This becomes a space in which progressive-minded people can and should be pushing the content of progressive change, rather than relying on mere rhetoric.
Third, the color line. While I adamantly object to those who yell - in support of Senator Obama - that “race does not matter,” the reality is that a successful Black nominee, not to mention an elected Black president of the United States, lays the foundation for a different discussion on matters including, but not limited to, race. This does not mean that a Black person automatically makes the environment more progressive (does anyone remember the name Clarence Thomas?) but it does mean that an individual who is liberal-to-progressive can open a door for discussion. We should not expect that he will walk through that door, but others of us may very well be able to.

My conclusion, and I offer this with great caution, is that critical support for Obama is the correct approach to take. Yet this really does mean critical support. It means, among other things, that Senator Obama needs to be challenged on his views regarding the Middle East; he must be pushed beyond his relatively pale position on Cuba to denounce the blockade; he must be pushed to advance a genuinely progressive view on the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast and the right of return for the Katrina evacuees; and he must be pushed to support single payer healthcare.

As I emphasized in an earlier commentary, it is up to the grassroots to keep the candidates honest. Silence, in the name of unity, is a recipe for betrayal. What we have to keep in mind is something very simple: the other side, i.e., the political Right, always keeps the pressure on. If we do not pressure, in fact, if we do not demand, the reality is that the Right will come out on top.

To do the right thing, we must assess and appreciate Senator Obama for who he is and what he is - politically - rather than engage in wishful thinking. To do anything else is to be disingenuous to our friends and our base. Senator Obama, if elected President, will be unlikely to reveal himself to have been a closeted progressive. Yet, with pressure from the base, he may be compelled to do some of what is needed, despite himself and despite pressures to the contrary.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is Executive Editor of The Black Commentator. He is also a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Anti immigrant hate speech

"Indecent Proposals: Top 10 Most Offensive Quotes from Anti-Immigrant Leaders"

1.) "We need the National Guard to clean out all our cities and
round them up...They have no problem slitting your throat and taking
your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughters,
and they are evil people."[1]
Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and president of
the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. As quoted in the Southern
Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report magazine, Summer 2005.

2.) "Mexican men have a reputation for leering and worse at little
girls, which shouldn't surprise us, since sex with children is
socially acceptable in Mexico."[2]
Brenda Walker, California anti-immigrant leader and publisher. From article titled "Top Ten Reasons Why the US Should Not
Marry Mexico," January 1, 2007.

3.) "My message to them is, not in two weeks, not in two months, not
in two years, never! We must be clear that we will not surrender
America and we will not turn the United States over to the invaders
from south of the border."[3]
Rep. Virgil Goode (R- VA), at the March for America, Washington, DC,
June 18, 2007.

4.) "I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence ... just
run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line..."[4]
Neal Boortz, anti-immigrant talk radio host on WSB-AM in Atlanta on
June 18, 2007.

5.) "Terrorists are also walking in unopposed; our southwestern
border is littered with Arabic papers and Islamic prayer rugs."[5]
Jim Gilchrist, founder of Minutemen Project. From a press release
announcing the forthcoming publication of a new book co-authored
with Jerome R. Corsi, February 2006.

6.) "The brown toxic cloud strangling Los Angeles never lifts and
grows thicker with every immigrant added. One can't help appreciate
the streets of Paris will soon become the streets of LA. However,
Paris' streets erupted while LA's shall sink into a Third World
quagmire much like Bombay or Calcutta, India. When you import that
much crime, illiteracy, multiple languages and disease-Americans
pick up stakes and move away."[6]
Frosty Wooldridge, anti-immigrant author and activist. Summarizing
an address by a KABC-AM talk radio host to the Federation for
American Immigration Reform director's meeting, Fall 2005.

7.) "What we'll do is randomly pick one night every week where we
will kill whoever crosses the border...step over there and you die.
You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that
would be more fun."[7]
Brian James, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KFYI-AM in Phoenix.
Suggesting a solution to the immigration problem in Arizona while
filling in for the regular host, March 2006.

8.) "Shoot him."[8]
Phil Valentine, anti-immigration talk radio host, WWTN in Nashville.
Advising Border Patrol agents to shoot undocumented immigrants
during an anti-immigrant rally in Franklin, Tennessee, April 27,

9.) "We've got to make it in this country so (immigrants) can't
exist here...We've got to rattle their teeth and put their feet to
the fire!"[9]
Terry Anderson, anti-immigrant talk radio host with KRLA in Los
Angeles. Speaking at a "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" anti-immigrant
rally organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform,
April 22, 2007.

10.) "Our enemies are bloodied and beaten. We cannot relent. Our
boot is on their throat and we must have the willingness to crush
their 'throat' so that we can put our enemy down for good. The
sovereignty of our nation and the future of our culture and
civilization is at stake. The United States is a beacon of
salvation unto the rest of the world. Our freedoms, our culture is
mans salvation. If we perish, man perishes."[10]
Joseph Turner, Save Our State (S.O.S), now a staff member with the
Federation for American Immigration Reform. Message sent to Save Our
State supporters on October 7, 2006.

Gabriel Alejandro Cortez
Educational Policy Studies/Ph.D. Candidate
History of American Education

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Clinton replaces Latina campaign manager

Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle is out
She will be replaced by longtime Clinton aide Maggie Williams.
From the Associated Press

4:57 PM PST, February 10, 2008

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton replaced campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle with longtime aide Maggie Williams today, engineering a shake-up in a presidential campaign struggling to overcome rival Sen. Barack Obama's financial and political strengths.

The surprise announcement came hours after Obama's sweep of three contests Saturday and shortly before the Illinois senator won caucuses in Maine today.

Determined to stem the tide, Clinton turned to a longtime confidante to manage her operations while the campaign acknowledged that she made a private visit to North Carolina this week to seek the endorsement of former rival John Edwards. Her rival Barack Obama was planning his own meeting Monday with Edwards, who confidants said was torn over which candidate to back.

Campaign aides said Solis Doyle made the decision to leave on her own and was not urged to do so by the former first lady or any other senior member of the team. But it comes as Clinton struggles to catch Obama in fundraising and momentum and faces the prospect of losing every voting contest yet to come in February.

Solis Doyle announced the shift in an e-mail to the staff today.

"I have been proud to manage this campaign and prouder still to call Hillary my friend for more than 16 years," Solis Doyle wrote. "Maggie is a remarkable person and I am confident that she will do a fabulous job."

Solis Doyle said she will serve as a senior adviser to Clinton and the campaign, and travel with Clinton from time to time.

Williams, who served as Clinton's White House chief of staff, joined the campaign after the New York senator narrowly won the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8. She will begin assuming the duties of campaign manager this week.
Well, she won the Latino vote in California. I guess now she is expendable.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Large Latino Vote gives Clinton the win

In spite of the campaign by many groups to outreach, the turn out was impressive.

Clinton Win in California Larger Than Polls Predicted Because of Huge Latino Turnout

By Frank D. Russo
The California Field Poll released on Super Bowl Sunday before Super Tuesday’s presidential primary had a 2 point spread between Hillary Clinton at 38% of the vote and Barack Obama at 36%, with a pretty large 18% of likely voters being undecided. The actual results being tabulated right now, with 96.7% of the precinct votes counted and perhaps as many as 2 million vote by mail votes and other not yet tabulated, have a 9.5% spread with Clinton getting 51.9% of the vote and 42.4% voting for Barack Obama.
...The single biggest difference in the makeup of the electorate was the 20% share of voters Field expected to be Latino and the 29% share reflected in exit polls. Major news organizations use the same data in these exit polls on California and you can read them on CNN’s site.
Latinos in California voted overwhelmingly for Clinton and accounted for a greater segment of the vote. Also, if you look at the exit poll data and compare it with the Field Poll, blacks which were expected to be 12% of the vote in the Democratic primary (a reasonable assumption since although they are 6% of the state’s population, they are mostly Democrat) only turned out at a 6% share of the vote.
Read the entire report at California Progress Report

Friday, February 01, 2008

Black -Latino Divide?

Barack Obama addresses black-Latino 'divide'
The Democratic candidate for president says at an L.A. trade college that bringing people together is 'the cause of my life.' He and his main rival, Hillary Clinton, are targeting Latino voters.
By Maria L. La Ganga
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

February 1, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama told a Los Angeles audience Thursday that he helped Mexican Americans as well as blacks and whites during his days as a community organizer, and that the nation must continue working to bridge its ongoing "black-brown divide."

"Over the past few weeks, we've heard some cynical talk about how black folks, white folks and Latinos cannot come together," Obama told a town-hall meeting at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. "Whenever I hear this, I take it seriously, because I'm reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters that I worked alongside on the streets of Chicago over two decades ago."

African American voters have coalesced around the Illinois senator's candidacy in recent weeks, but there are questions about his ability to draw Latino voters.

Both he and his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, are running television ads targeting Latino voters.

Obama's L.A. appearance was his only public event Thursday. Clinton held no public events. The candidates met Thursday evening for a debate at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, their first one-on-one debate of the campaign.

At the technical college, Obama said the nation's ills affected Latinos and African Americans equally and could only be solved by working together. From higher dropout rates to a greater incidence of diabetes and infant mortality, Obama said, the two groups suffer more than any others in the country.

"Those disparities are wrong," he said.

Obama regularly talks about his years as a community organizer, bringing people together on Chicago's South Side after steel mill closures.

But, landing in diverse Los Angeles just five days before Tuesday's primary, he expanded on his story, painting it in racial tones.

The steel plants, he said, had been the source of jobs, benefits and healthcare for Mexican Americans, blacks and whites alike. When they closed, the pain did not discriminate.

In the face of such dislocation, he said, "people were divided. Because people were divided, they felt disempowered. Sometimes they turned on each other."

The focus of his church-based organizing, he said, was to bring the disempowered together, help them "recognize themselves in each other" and work toward the common goals of full employment, equal education and access to healthcare.

"This is not the rhetoric of a campaign," he said. "This is the cause of my life."

In a nod to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination the day before, Obama said it was important to address the issue of poverty and not turn a blind eye on "the forgotten Americans."

On Thursday Obama was joined by prominent state Latino supporters, including labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), state Sens. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) and Dean Florez (D-Shafter), and U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).

Obama was scheduled to raise money in Hollywood on Thursday night after the debate, then head to New Mexico and Idaho today. Clinton is scheduled to campaign today in San Diego.