Wednesday, July 30, 2008

McCain: The Next Faux Cowboy

Markos asks in today's DKos Midday Open Thread:
Was McCain really trying to pretend he has a ranch?
The answer is: Yes. He has been pretending for a long time now

Exhibit A, from a February 2007 Vanity Fair Article when his campaign was in the crapper:

Photo Credit: Jonas Karlsson, Vanity Fair

My favorite part of the article:

And still McCain pushes himself, as if to combat any hint of diminished capacity. Last summer, he hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim with his son, Jack, 20, now in his second year at Annapolis. He says the descent was torture on his knees, until a park ranger offered him some pills partway down.

It was—am I saying this right?—I.V. Propen. The stuff’s a fucking miracle drug!” It doesn’t seem fair to tell him the drug is nothing more miraculous than Advil. McCain will repeat the ibuprofen story a time or two over the course of 48 hours, and he brings it up again when I see him about a month later.

I.V. Propen...what a 'regular guy'

Midweek Open Thread

It may not be the bubonic plague, but I feel like crap.

Here's what's shaking in the news:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Talking Point Bites The Dust

So much for Barack Obama's "latino problem" that the talking heads love to pretend exists, when really, like much of their reporting, little of it is based in reality. Ratings are what drive the narrative.

Hispanic registered voters support Democrat Barack Obama for president over Republican John McCain by 66% to 23%, according to a nationwide survey of 2,015 Latinos conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, from June 9 through July 13, 2008.

The presumptive Democratic nominee's strong showing in this survey represents a sharp reversal in his fortunes from the primaries, when Obama lost the Latino vote to Hillary Rodham Clinton by a nearly two-to-one ratio, giving rise to speculation in some quarters that Hispanics were disinclined to vote for a black candidate.

But in this new survey, three times as many respondents said being black would help Obama (32%) with Latino voters than said it would hurt him (11%); the majority (53%) said his race would make no difference to Latino voters.

Pew Hispanic Center Report

That being said, Obama's campaign still needs to do more to strategize and converse with latino media and bloggers. A good start would be to answer the questionnaire.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Piñata Pr0n Extraordinaire Jon Justice

There is no greater promoter of human rights and advocate for migrant families in Baja Arizona than Isabel Garcia. She was a recipient of the 2006 Premio Naciónal de Derechos Humanos, presented by the Mexican government for the first time to someone who wasn't born there, in order to get an idea of the scope of work she's done. Rather than accept the award, however, she took the opportunity to call a press conference and demand that the affluent and elite south of border do more to promote economic justice among the working classes. It was a perfect example of Isabel's work to keep the focus on the underlying roots of human migration and exploitation, rather than on herself.

Isabel is one of the major driving forces behind the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, headquartered in Tucson, and that's just when she's wearing her organizer hat. She also serves as one of Pima County's leading Legal Defenders, which has Sheriff Joe Arpaio's pink underwear in a snit since apparently the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America does not apply to those who serve in government.

You see, Sheriff Joe came to town recently to sign copies of his new book that blames all the ills of society on "illegals". Well, that type of thing isn't received the same way in Tucson as it is north of the Gila, so a protest was organized in conjunction with Sheriff Joe's appearance. A piñata created in Arpaio's likeness, wearing his trademark pink boxers, was...well, it was a piñata, so you can imagine.

In response to the whole thing, Arpaio and his friends in the racist right's media empire took to the airwaves in the ironically named radio station 104.1 The Truth in an effort to get Isabel fired from Pima County. The station's radio personalities spend a majority of their time and advertising money on equating undocumented workers with terrorists, drug dealers, disease carriers, and invaders of the Homeland™ - pretty standard fare for a radio channel that also features Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, etc etc etc.

One of the local gasbags on 104.1, Jon Justice, filmed a "webisode" of his show where he carressed and fondled a piñata intended to be the likeness of Isabel Garcia. Members of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos released the following statement:
Since last Friday, our office has received numerous hate calls, and Jon Justice has posted a YouTube video of himself with a piñata with Isabel's likeness, caressing it and making comments about "wanting to take it home with me," among a few other comments about "chorizo" and "viva la raza." You can see this video at the following link:

We ask you, as community allies, to step up with us in defending Isabel Garcia, demand accountability from 104.1FM and KGUN 9, and that hate speech not be given a platform in our communities.

It is our First Amendment Right, and our duty as members of this society, to denounce anything that goes against the basic human and civil rights that ALL posess. To try to silence those that would condemn torture and raciscm is contrary to the rights of us all!
The YouTube video has since been removed of Jon Justice's sexual escapades with the piñata, the message says that "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Journal Broadcast Group" - pretty ridiculous when you consider that it was filmed and distributed as a "webisode" from Jon Justice and his staff. Apparently they realized that they crossed the line where their money flow could be endangered.

Speaking of money, here is the list of advertisers for 104.1 The Truth. There is a massive letter-writing and phone call campaign underway to call these businesses to withdraw their support to these racist and xenophobic messages being broadcast on the airwaves of Baja Arizona:
So far, the following previously listed sponsors have informed us of their intention to immediately withdraw their support of 104.1 FM:
  • Main Gate Square
  • Patio Pools & Spa
  • The Auto Body Shop
  • Advanced Recon
  • Aung Foot Health Clinics
  • Sol Cars
Interestingly, many of them were not even aware that their "package" deal with Journal Broadcasting Group meant advertising on 104.1 FM, and most were not aware of what they were supporting, and would not choose to support intolerance.

In addition, the following companies have expressed concern about this issue, and have assured us that they will be looking into the matter immediately:
  • El Parador
  • Allstate Insurance
  • State Farm Insurance
  • The Wildcat House
  • Maloney's Tavern
  • Progressive Plumbing
  • Axiom Drafting and Design
  • Integrity Automotive
More information at Derechos Humanos, including sample letters.
Enough is Enough. Please take the time to contact local Pima County officials in support of Isabel Garcia, as well as call on the advertisers of 104.1 "The Truth" to end their support for racism and hate. Gracias.

[UPDATE] The Wildcat House has pulled their ad sponsorship

[UPDATE the 2nd] Here's the infamous Piñata Pr0n Webisode:

Extreme Blog Makeover: Unapologetic Mexican Edition

Nezua has been busy conjuring up the next chapter of The Unapologetic Mexican - El Machete. Make sure you update your bookmarks to reflect the new site. The linkage is below the screen-cap.

Felicidades, Nez. Looks great and I'm looking forward to continuing to read tus palabras at the new digs.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Liveblogging the "Dos Centavos" Latino Blogger Panel

Live from Austin, Texas in Room 19 at Netroots Nation. This post will be updated as the session goes. I'll finalize it afterwards with all kinds of linky goodness.

Matt Ortega, Moderator:

Two questions he gets the most 1) who are the latino bloggers and 2) what are they writing about?

The perspective you'll get is on a more human level. Don't cover polls or horserace politics so much, but rather on the people and how many communities are affected. Many wear the cultura on their sleeve in the writing and design of sites.

Regarding immigration, we are trying to point out that it is more than a "latino issue" - it affects many different communities.

Panelists are giving introductions. Information for all of them is here.

Discussing how our communities care about many issues, like education, healthcare, the war in Iraq, immigration, etc. just like the greater community, but it affects us in a specific way. Drop out rates, lack of latinos in college, women and the abuse seen in ICE detentions, are some examples.

Question: What brought you to blogging?

Mynor Rodriguez: ironically, it had nothing to do with being a latino, but rather speaking out to bigger civil rights issues that affect many communities. "sometimes you have punch a bully in the face" - in 2003 budgets for prevention were cut and it affected communities.

Edmundo Rocha: researcher by heart, noticed that alot of blogs would post snippets of articles and comment. Interested in seeing what was behind a story, what caused certain things. Got more involved with ePluribusMedia, doing some background research on various stories. People were talking about healthcare, but not about how bad it was in the sense of the hispanic community. "I am one of the statistics" - of people who don't have coverage. Trying to get role models out there. We got sucked in to the immigration debate with the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR4437). Nonprofits in the barrios were being targeted in his area.

Marisa Treviño: wanted to get a Latina perspective out there. After the immigration bills came out, we got sucked in. Question: do you see gender barriers? Answer: very elitist attitude when it comes to Op/Ed boards. Thankful for the blogosphere, because we are able to write in our voice, and not something that may be expected from a mainstream sources. There are some big blogs out there that could probably use more diversity. As far as writing, doors are opening more in the blogosphere than in the traditional media.

Question: do you believe the internet is colorblind?

Edmundo Rocha: it depends on your blog name. If you go by XicanoPwr, then that's not being blind. It depends on how you approach stuff. Follow-up question: do you think it should be colorblind? Progressive movement is inclusive.

Mynor Rodriguez: it's difficult when you're typecasted. You are limited by the greater blogosphere on your credibility when you want to talk about different topics.

Matt Ortega: human nature feature going on here, where people are organizing and being attracted to others who have similar interests and backgrounds.

Marisa Treviño: we are reaching a point in the latino blogosphere where we are asking "do we want to be bloggers who are latino or latino bloggers". It's something I ran in to in mainstream journalist. Wanted to just be a family columnist, but the editor said that he didn't have a 'latina columnist' - at first it put me in a corner, only comment like that, but you end up learning that all issues have an impact on the latino community. not represented very much in traditional media or the blogosphere.

Edmundo Rocha: I started out general. Wanted to use research skills on the inside stories, background. Asks why links were always sent out to the same people.

Matt Ortega: Perceptions of latinos as homogenous group. If you just listen to the panelists today, you see that we are very diverse within our own community. Mexicans and Cubans, etc. Thinks a lot about backgrounds. We have black latinos, asian latinos, etc. When the 2008 Election gets talked about, it's like we are talked about as one big group. Will we all vote one way or the other? Never gets talked about how anti-war we are, often patriotic, many serve in the military. Many come from disadvantaged communities, and one way to get an education is to join the military.

Mynor Rodriguez: The first casualty of the Iraq War was a latino. Many of our values are the same, religion has a lot to do with it. But we are a very diverse people. We've been lumped in, for better or worse. Cubans are going to be different because they have a very different American experience. Mexicans who have been here and had the border cross them have a different view of this country. Salvadorans in New York, etc. Perhaps that's what we need to do with our blogs, to give that perspective.

Marisa Treviño: That's a good point, but there is some type of pride involved when we see a latino/latina from any group win an Olympic event, for example. We'll take credit!

Edmundo Rocha: taking credit can also being dangerous. Alberto Gonzales is an example. How far do we take credit? We have to ask hard questions like do we have to censor our voices in order to be able to get on the media. How do we bring in the community as a whole.

Matt Ortega: focus of a lot of the latino blogosphere is on detention centers, the marches, many things that fell through the cracks of the greater media. Many latino bloggers worked to get the information out. What are your thoughts in getting the content out to pick up steam?

Marisa Treviño: The reason that many of our blogs exist is out of frustration. It is often a response to what we see is not receiving notice from the mainstream press. When first started, would write the post, email the person she wrote about it. Linking is important, people who have empathy on what we're writing about. Most of the blogs I read, deal with issues that are frustrating us all. That common bond, if you will.

Mynor Rodriguez: Mentions Markos being a latino. Mixed-race American. Platforms where we have such an audience like DailyKos. Opinion-makers, politicians, etc. finally gotten to the point where people are paying attention. Traditional media has failed us the seven years. We've taken it upon ourselves to get the news out.

Edmundo Rocha: Detention centers were picked up. But conditions have not changed. Out at the Hutto facility, protests have been covered by us. We can put a human face on what's happening. Trad/media doesn't want to hear about immigrants being detained in vans without airconditioning, or 13 people sharing one bottle of water, women being stripsearched in front of men, having to use the bathroom with the door open. When I blog, I blog for them. No one is listening to them. The traditional media just writes their little thing. Goes back to balance, spoke to one gentleman who was afraid of talking because of fear of ICE. Didn't want his wife deported. Stories like these that need to be told. But what's the shelf life?

Matt Ortega: problems with disgusting comments at some of the progressive blogosphere when it comes to immigration/pro-migrant threads. Can't believe they call themselves progressives, broader implications. This issue has been tied to latinos, we don't grasp why these things happen. Many want to just put a stop-gap instead of solving issues. When we go out to the greater progressive blogosphere, it becomes difficult. "Illegals" get blamed for everything.

Mynor Rodriguez: Tactic of divide and conquer has been done for ages. Many Texas laws have been proposed to blame migrant and latino communities for all the ills. Stopped making arguments to them on a moral basis, they're not listening, but rather make pragmatic arguments at them. "How are you going to deport 12 million people when the government couldn't even evacuate New Orleans."

Edmundo Rocha: It's not just policy reform, it's about media reform. Nightly news has a narrative about crime that is racist. Names are Ortega, Rodriguez, etc. We are lumped in by the greater media. Public opinion is based on what people see, so we need reform our media.

Marisa Treviño and Mynor Rodriguez: Think it's a lost cause to get the traditional media to reform, but there are goals we can set to accomplish something. Push them on identifyiers: don't use "illegal". because they are not saying "people without papers", they are saying something far different.

Matt Ortega: New topic - Sees more latino faces getting involved in campaigns. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns are training many more community organizes. Hopes to see a new generation of latinos running for office and getting involved. Examples of City Councilman who won a race at age 22.

Before Q&A, want to let everyone know about which is a good aggregator. Other site is The Sanctuary. It's a pro-migrant site that was started by a group of latino bloggers. A place for people to come together and support one another without fear of racist and nativist comments.

Comment from the crowd: I'm Half Persian/Half Mexican - Two of the most forceful advocates in San Antonio for latinos is a white guy and another is a black guy. Looking around the room, there are many different people here, important that we have a seat at the table, a presence. We shouldn't be typecasted to talking about immigration, baseball and Catholicism. Hutto Facility is no different than Guantanamo.

Lisa from Mothertalkers: how close are latino pundits and public voices to the Democrats? We should have a presence in the way GOP puts latino faces on TV. It would solidify latinos as a constituency when someone like us is able to speak. We need to get Leslie Sanchez, other CHC members to be more presence.

Michael Signorile: we have to inter-connect. We have to work together on campaigns. An example regarding a coordinated attack on the word "illegal"

From the crowd: what are your thoughts on Bill Richardson's campaign and the fact that he may possibly be a vice presidential selection for Barack Obama?

Mynor Rodriguez: I believe he is one of the most qualified Americans to be President.

Matt Ortega: he is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in politics. Thinks he is qualified for any number of posts.

Comment from crowd: Regarding Bill Richardson, he has had problems in the past regarding the Wen Ho Lee. Same problems that migrants face.

Regarding Alberto Gonzales, we have to hold each other accountable, too.

Marisa Treviño: We are still at the point where we are very independent. We have to learn how to come together and support when we have a qualified candidate.

Matt Ortega: thankful to everyone for attending. Genuinely showing interest in what we are doing.

Mynor Rodriguez - wants to give a plug to Juan Garcia down in Corpus Cristi who has been able to build coalitions. Keep an eye on him.

[UPDATE] Matt Ortega has the video feed from the panel up at his blog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Netroots Nation - Jueves Update

This morning after registering, I and my roommate made our way to the Scholarship Caucus with the peeps at Democracy for America. It was a basic chair circle meet and greet type thing with some amazing work being done. You can check out everyone's profiles and their affiliate organizations and blogs here.
Right outside of our gathering space in the hallway was this amazingly powerful display:

kossack kainah created this display with the handwritten names of all the fallen service men and women in Iraq. Powerful stuff, especially when you think about how much longer of a hallway they would need if all the casualties from this war-of-choice were able to be quantified.

After I spent a few minutes there, I walked outside where chaos was ensuing Texas-style. A live country artist was performing for a growing crowd of people, awaiting the arrival of Gov. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic Party. I joked earlier that today is Howard Dean Appreciate Day at Netroots Nation, and really, that's the truth. He's like the pied piper for many of these bloggers, they'd follow him straight out to sea.

Dean is a great speaker, and I think he's doing worthy work to transform the Democratic Party; but I also see the need for party bosses to do more to craft their message in a way that doesn't make White America the default mode of operation. His comment that they have different sets of pictures available in case an activist is walking a neighborhood that doesn't quite look like the photos they were given, made me bust out in laughter at the ridiculousness of the way it sounded to my ears.

Lordy, lots of work to do!

Coming up: Blogs United Caucus and the Latino Caucus (which, incidentally, is scheduled for the same time as the Black Caucus; we may have to do some political jujitsu and combine the groups to show some solidarity)
More Later...

Checking In From Netroots Nation

I arrived about 11pm last night at the hotel in downtown Austin. Right outside the main lobby was this bus, which was begging to be defiled. We managed to control ourselves and behave. All bets are off for the rest of the week, though. jejeje
For those of you in Twitterdom, I'm trying to put up regular tweets here. Also, you can see all the posts coming from participants by checking out the #NN08 tag.
The good thing about conferences like this is when you meet people who say things like "I hate politics," followed by announcing that they are the field director for a presidential campaign for overseas voters in Asia. Terri has asked that if we know overseas voters, send them to so they can get information on how to register and get more involved in the civics of this country from beyond its borders.
Alright, will be checking in later. Hasta tarde, blogamig@s

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On the Eve of Netroots Nation

I'm almost done packing for my trip to Austin, Texas for the Netroots Nation convention, which was made possible by a scholarship through Democracy for America (the obligatory commercial, heh). I've already talked about three sessions that I'm looking forward to, outlined in this post, but I wanted to take a moment to discuss some thoughts that have been stewing in my head and heart the past couple of weeks.

The greater progressive blogosphere still has a lot of work to do in order to reach out and respect bloggers of color and so-called "single-issue bloggers". I've already heard some language touting how scholarship recipients are diverse and intended to add brown voices and faces to the crowd in Austin. While I think that's a worthy goal, and I'm certainly greatful for the selection and opportunity to attend, comments like that send an immediate shiver down my spine.

We need to get to a point where our voices and viewpoints are not just incorporated but given trust and responsibility for portions of the program at events like Netroots Nation - given input and leadership roles, you know, as colleagues. It still feels more like a handout, like we're just being asked to assist and assimilate instead of being seen as an integral part of what progressive blogging is all about.

I understand that a big part of it is the differences in mission. Netroots Nation, which has a different name this year, is still organized like Yearly Kos was in the past, just with a different title. DailyKos' mission is partisan in nature and while our goals largely overlap, they don't always do so due to many Democrats who hold offensive positions to many people of color and "single-issue bloggers". As someone who has written extensively on immigration issues over the past few years, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to crosspost entries at DKos, but hold off because I don't want to deal with the onslaught of comments from posters that don't understand where I, or many people that I deal with everyday in my community, come from.

That being said, it is a two-way street. I consider it my responsibility to build coalitions and relationships with groups and people that will ultimately bring about a more just and humane society. If anyone or any group is willing to listen and embrace what I have to say on these things, then I consider it a blessing to be there. As a Xicano, when I write about immigration issues, I do so with a family and community background that has a complicated relationship with border policy, often hostile, in addition to receiving the same flack from nativists who forget that Mexicans are indigenous to "their" country. I can no more ignore that part of my thinking when I write than I can bleach my skin. Not that I'd ever want to, being morenito is a blessing. jejeje.

So I go to a conference this week where I will be meeting up with quite a few people who I've interacted with online over the years. A mixing of worlds of sort between longtime friends in the Kos-centric world as well as a few of my fellow blogmig@s from the Sanctuarysphere. My fear is that I will be just another token brown face in a crowd of bloggers rather than someone who may be able to teach them a few things about how political policies affect people like me. Sort of sounds like a contradiction, eh? I like to think of it more as a conundrum. There is hope, however, that the discussions in the various caucuses, workshops and keynotes will be more resonant to that diverse world that I think we are all seeking in the end. The people who are responsible for this gathering are passionate and have made an effort to reach out, and I see an opening for future forward-movement in dialog.

The short gist of this post? It will be a great opportunity for some plática.

A Nugget of Hope

Well, this is certainly a good sign. Every hardliner that sees the light is a win for human rights.
MORRISTOWN -- The former Mount Olive resident who organized an anti-illegal immigration rally headlined by Mayor Donald Cresitello in 2007 now says he regrets holding the event and no longer supports a crackdown.

Robb Pearson, who previously endorsed Cresitello's call to deputize local police for federal immigration enforcement, said he underwent a personal evolution after a "rapid financial decline" and other hardships led him to relocate to Muhlenberg, Pa.

"If I had the mindset as I have now, I never would have had the rally," Pearson said, explaining that his own challenges had given him greater empathy.

"I was caught up in the ultra-conservative fervor that surrounds the illegal immigration camp," Pearson said.

"I think we should let them stay," Pearson added of those in the U.S. illegally.

Daily Record - Morristown, NJ
"Greater empathy" - something that U.S. society could use a lot more of, in my opinion.

Video of Kety's CNN Appearance

She did a fantastic job.

CHETRY: Well, joining me here in New York this morning is Kety Esquivel. She is a Christian progressive blogger and the founder of the blog

Thanks for being with us today.


CHETRY: Good to see you. You know, a lot of people talk about getting out the Latino vote. A lot of people associate Latino votes with immigration. But you have a chance in your blog to communicate daily with Latinos around the country.

What are some of the biggest concerns, if you can boil it down?

ESQUIVEL: Of course. Well, the Latino community is definitely interested in the immigration issue that the candidates are speaking to. But there are many other issues that are also important to our community.

There are issues that are important to the American population as a whole. Issues of the economy, issues of education, health care, et cetera. We, at the sanctuary, a group of Latino bloggers came together to put together a survey speaking to all of these different issues of interest to our community.

CHETRY: You're listening very closely to what the candidates have to say about these issues. You have not taken a position yet? You're not supporting or endorsing either one of the candidate so far, correct?

ESQUIVEL: Exactly. Right.

CHETRY: I understand that you guys did send in a questionnaire, though, with a lot of questions about issues that are important to Latino voters. You're still waiting to hear back.

ESQUIVEL: Exactly, yes. We are waiting and we are a little bit frustrated because with all of the energy that both campaigns have been putting into trying to garner the Latino vote, for them not to respond, creates a pause for us, you know. We are wondering why aren't they responding. Why the silence?

CHETRY: So you sent this out at the end of June. You're still waiting for a respond. So, it hasn't been a month yet. So you're going to give them a little bit more time to get back to you about some of those issues.

ESQUIVEL: That's correct. And we're hopeful that -- you know, we were reported actually in "The Wall Street Journal" blog, through here, this conversation on CNN, that the candidates will be looking and listening and that they will respond so that we actually have specific policies as well as the lip service that they've been paying to us today.

CHETRY: All right. Well, they certainly been at least trying to get out there and get the Latino vote. They spoke to the National Council of La Raza. It's one of the country's largest Hispanic organizations.

And Senator Obama actually accused Senator McCain of backing down on immigration reform for political reasons. Let's hear what McCain's response was to that.


MCCAIN: At a moment of great difficulty in my campaign, when my critics said it would be political suicide for me to do so, I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform and fought for its package, not once but twice.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: It really did almost cost him supporting this, which included some pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. It almost cost him the Republican nomination. Is that resonating with Latino voters that he tried?

ESQUIVEL: I think that our community is very interested in what both of these candidates have to say as it relates to the undocumented workers. And specifically, John McCain is a candidate that we're watching very interestingly because there's been some differences in so far as what he stated as it relates to immigration, as it relates to things such as the Dream Act.

And so, for us, it's very important to see consistency. So, what he says to us we're hoping that he will also say to the general electorate. Therefore, when he's in office, hopefully he will be having the positive stances that he stated in such conferences such as the National Council of La Raza, which has just happened.

CHETRY: Yes. On paper it seems that he and Barack Obama actually have a quite similar plan. They talk about border security first. They talk about some pathway to citizenship. They talk about many things as it relates to immigration.

Yet, Barack Obama is, at least in the latest polling, he's got 60 percent of the Hispanic vote to McCain's 30 percent in a recent poll. Why is he seeming to have a much more Latino support?

ESQUIVEL: Well, I think one of the things that has given us pause as a community has been the flip-flopping, has been him going back and forth on different issues that are important to our community. So if, for example, he says to our community in a closed- door room meeting --

CHETRY: You're talking about McCain here?

ESQUIVEL: Correct. If he says to us one thing, we want to be able to see that that's the same thing that he thinks the American populace as a whole. Unfortunately, we haven't seen that consistency. And that's I think what's giving a lot of people pause.

Also, Obama has been stating that he's very interested in the Latino vote and we're very interested in hearing back from his campaign with specifics as it relates to policies. That's really what we're going to gauge -- what our response will be when it comes to the '08 election.

CHETRY: All right. Very interesting. Kety Esquivel, the Christian progressive blogger of Thanks for being with us this morning.

ESQUIVEL: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wall Street Journal Covers Our Questionnaire

The Wall Street Journal has provided some traditional media coverage to The Sanctuary's candidate questionnaire that we sent out to the various presidential campaigns.
Latino bloggers covering the presidential campaign reacted this week to recent efforts by both candidates with their usual spotting of simplistic stereotypes in the candidates' outreach efforts, and with a new joint initiative that raises some tough questions - 38 to be precise.

A group of bloggers responded to Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama's speeches to the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council of la Raza, with coordinated posts about a 38-point questionnaire that The Sanctuary, a pro-immigrant group, sent to the presidential candidates last month demanding answers on immigration policy issues. Neither McCain nor Obama has responded to the questionnaire.

Wall Street Journal's Washington Weave

The post I wrote here at Latino Político on Friday was also referenced, but really, it's not about me or any of the other Sanctuary editors. It's about human rights, it's about humane treatment of our fellow human beings, and hopefully the candidates will understand that we are asking for answers in order to discern what to expect in our communities beyond the Bush regime.

Those issues and others that we are highlighting will be discussed tomorrow, July 15th, on CNN at 8:24AM with a scheduled appearance of Sanctuary editor KetyE. We are also in talks with the network to have another editor speak in the afternoon about these vitally important issues. As I wrote on Friday, enough with the soundbites - it's time for the presidential candidates to give us some substance.

Shackled Like An Animal During Labor

What is it going to take, America™, for you to snap out of your complacency to see that in your furvor to deport and criminalize people in your midst, the goon-squad deigned to carry out the mission are serial human rights abusers? Quit thinking that this is about Mexicans or Central Americans or any other unwanted hordes of brown menaced invaders. As long as that mindset continues to fester, stories like this will continue to be a blight upon the pure and spotless homeland you are so want to protect, yet only exists like a deceiving mirage.

Police in Berry Hill, Tennessee decided that Juana Villegas DeLaPaz needed to be arrested after a routine traffic stop even though she produced proof of insurance and her consulate card to the officer that stopped her. Since local officials have decided that federal immigration law enforcement is the new hip, and she didn't have the necessary paperwork to prove citizenship, Juana was detained like an animal.

Nine months pregnant and in labor, she was shackled until two hours prior to the birth of her child and then re-shackled afterwards. Following the birth of the baby, authorities denied her the ability to breast feed the newborn, who was at a high risk of jaundice as a result of it.

So far, this story has been confined to NewsChannel 5 out of Nashville (their story was the sanitized version) and pro-migrant blogs. Tim Chávez of Political Salsa has been doing yeoman's work to cover this horrific tale of torture and human rights abuse in Tennessee.
Every mother in Middle Tennessee knows the difficulty in giving birth. Now multiply the pain and discomfort by being handcuffed by your wrist and ankle to a hospital bed through hours of labor. And you are not allowed to call your husband or family to tell them to come and be with you.

Then consider being shackled at your feet when you try and go to bathroom to simply clean yourself after all the mess of childbirth. This hygiene is necessary to prevent infection and more pain.

Finally, imagine the mental and physical pain of having your newborn taken from you, before you have the all the necessary time to breast feed your child to ensure he or she receives all the early nutrients to build a body's immune system to full capacity. The sheriff department officer overseeing your every move -- and wanting to return you to your jail cell -- prevents your nurse from giving you a breast pump to drain your milk.

Nurses caring for Mrs. Villegas DeLaPaz were reduced to tears.

So you are returned to your jail cell with your breasts swollen and hurting, the pain preventing you from sleeping after one of life's most draining ordeals.

While on one hand, the sheriff's department tonight defended itself to NewsChannel 5 by saying it followed procedure and the law in the terrible treatment of Mrs. Villages DeLaPaz, its spokesperson then noted that it let her go after seven days of illegal holding when it should have deported her.

Political Salsa
Clearly they were being lenient.


Here is the contact information for officials who should be called upon to immediately investigate and halt these inhumane procedures.
Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) - Democrat
Nashville Office: Phone: 615-736-5295, Fax: 615-736-7479
DC Office: Phone: 202-225-4311, Fax: 202-226-1035

Chairman, Rep. Christopher Carney (PA-10) - Democrat
House Subcommittee on Management, Investigations & Oversight of Department of Homeland Security
DC Office: Ph: (202) 225-3731, Fx: (202) 225-9594

Berry Hill Police Department
Chief Robert Bennett, Email:
Phone: (615) 297-324, Fax: (615) 269-9819
"I was just doing my job." ¡Madre Santa!

Crossposted at Booman Tribune

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Netroots Nation Workshops I'm Anticipating

Some workshops I'm looking forward to liveblogging later this week at Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas.

  • Examining the Maze of Injustice: Our Nation's Failure to Protect Indigenous Women From Violence

    Native American women are subject to much higher levels of sexual and domestic violence than any other women in the United States. Due to a confusing maze of tribal, state, local and federal laws, rapists and batters rarely face prosecution, regardless of the evidence against them. Perpetrators are aware that they can rape and brutalize, then often walk away with no consequences. This panel will explore what can be done to ensure equal protection under the law for Native American women and the role the Netroots can play in combating these injustices.

  • Our "Dos Centavos": Strategies For Latino Bloggers

    Since 2006, the Latino blogosphere in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds--often spurred on by hateful anti-immigrant ordinances and laws considered by states and communities across the nation. Several of Texas' most prominent Latino bloggers will discuss strategies for communicating both with their Latino and non-Latino audiences and developing a blog that is a resource for progressive Latino activists.

  • How to Win the Immigration Debate and Beat Back ICE's Emerging Police State

    Immigrants built this country and remain a vital part of our communities. Yet immigration has become a political hot potato in recent years. With Congress held hostage to a vocal minority of hard-line immigration restrictionists stirred up by right-wing websites and talk-radio, the Bush administration has launched a series of showy "crack-downs" that have divided working families and transferred billions into the hands of well-connected DHS contractors, but done nothing to reform a deeply dysfunctional immigration system. We can do better.

    Come by for a lively discussion of this vitally important issue with activists speaking from a variety of perspectives.

Oh yeah, and I heard Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and some congressional candidates will be lurking around the complex. Should be interesting!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

G. Gordon Liddy Speaks Illegal Alien

Another zombie on the radio turns your brains to mush
On the July 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, while discussing a July 8 speech in which Sen. Barack Obama discussed the importance of learning a second language, G. Gordon Liddy claimed that Obama "wants you to be sure your child can speak fluent illegal alien." He added: "Sadly, with every legal and cultural step we take to make our life more immediately convenient for non-English-speaking illegal aliens, we merely feed the beast." Liddy later stated: " 'Round here, let's see, I speak some French, some German as well as English. Franklin [Liddy's producer] speaks fluent French, fluent Italian, as well as English. But none of us here, so far as I know, speak illegal alien."

Media Matters
Liddy, Liddy, Liddy. Vous êtes une pomme de terre avec le visage d'un cochon d'inde

Thanks for the heads up that we should all remain vigilant and be on the lookout for those illegal Irish who only speak gælɪk

More Bodies Found Along La Frontera

David Teibel of the Tucson Citizen has done southern Arizona and the global community a great service by providing an update on the growing body count of border crossers along la frontera. 109 by their count, 128 by Derechos Humanos for the current fiscal year. While heads explode among the trolls in the comments sections ("they asked for it" and "good riddance" is common), these types of news items should be featured regularly in traditional and non-traditional media sources.

Teibel's article today deserves mentioning because he did not do the journalistic lazy move by juxtaposing drug bust incidents with this separate facet of border news. It is solely about the human rights crisis that unfolds and grows year after year in the Sonoran Desert. The fact is, the vast majority of crossers are economic refugees; but due to fork-tongued pundits like Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo, the Minutemen vigilantes, and lazy journalists, the perception of border crossers usually involves shading their identities with drug runners and terrorists.

It's all part of the cycle of dehumanization that makes it convenient for government personnel to treat human beings with less dignity than animals. This does not just pertain to border crossers, but rather any person in the United States who finds themselves lacking the paperwork necessary to earn money for their families. A recent example is the workplace raid that occurred at a meat-packing plant in Postville, Iowa. Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas who was one of the federally certified interpreters assigned to assist the workers has shared his story with The Sanctuary and it will be posted following a New York Times article that is slated for Friday. The link to the entry will be here.

The human aspect of the broken immigration system is an inconvenience to those who salivate at the continued practice of Operation Wetback 2008, where any undocumented worker is deported without a blink of an eye. Never mind children or spouses who may be citizens, they are merely collateral damage to a populace that is so fixated on war that they see enemies even among those who have the audacity to simply work. Even lower on the "why should I be bothered" list, are the walkers who head to El Norte from all across the world.
Increasingly alarming are the high number of unidentified human remains recovered. Of the 35 female remains recovered, 21 are still unidentified, and 51 of the 86 males have yet to be identified. All in all, 72 of the 128 remains recovered are unidentified, and not enough of the remains of six of these individuals were recovered to even determine gender; this speaks to the anguish that family members suffer as they wait to hear of their loved ones, and the reality that some might never know what became of them.

While the Border Patrol continues to applaud their efforts to control the border, men, women and children are pushed into more harsh, isolated areas, where humanitarian aid and detection is less likely. This is, in fact, an intentional strategy that has proven deadly as more than 5,000 men, women and children have died on the U.S.-México border. And through this, there is no evidence that these militarization efforts have done anything to affect the numbers of people crossing the border.

Coalición de Derechos Humanos (.pdf warning)
Imagine the outrage if numbers like this were stacked up among U.S.-born Americans.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

McCain Didn't Vote on FISA

I feel as though I've written this post before.

Oh wait! I have! Twice!

Talk about a conundrum.

What's worse? A Senator who doesn't vote? Or a Senator who votes the wrong way?

What a sad day for the United States.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What Would You Ask Speaker Pelosi?

Next week, I will have the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to attend the Netroots Nation conference, thanks to a scholarship from Democracy for America.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will be attending and doing an "Ask the Speaker" session with participants. I just submitted the following question for consideration by the moderators:
Madame Speaker:

Thirty miles to the north of Austin, in Taylor, Texas, is the T. Don Hutto prison facility that is serving as one of many holding tanks for migrant worker families in the U.S., including children. Is Congress preparing any action that would immediately halt the violation of human rights of the children and other prisoners at these sites, such as blocking of habeas corpus protections, access to medical care, and family unification? Will the Democrats on a national-party level be endorsing the recently passed resolution by the Texas Democratic Party, calling on the end to family detentions at sites like T. Don Hutto?

The text of the resolution is listed below:


WHEREAS border protection is important to the security of the nation as a whole;

WHEREAS immigration affects the economic and social well-being of both the United States and Mexico;

WHEREAS a private firm re-opened the T. Don Hutto Residential Facility in Taylor, Texas, for the purpose of detaining immigrant and asylum-seeking families who are awaiting immigration proceedings,

WHEREAS it is not appropriate to convert a medium-security prison and rename it as a family detention center where children are detained with their families and some children are separated from their families;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Texas Democratic Party add to its platform that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should consider all alternatives to the detention of immigrant and asylum-seeking families with children, and must reunite children with their families; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a child who is brought into this country by a family member shall not be subject to criminal sanctions, and the child's presence in the U.S. shall not be defined as unlawful.

linkage to vote for the topic
What would you ask the Speaker of the House if you had the opportunity?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy 3rd Blogiversary to Latino Político

Well, well, well. Another July 1st has arrived and with it, the third blogiversary/birthday for Latino Político.

Things have been quiet here lately due to a confluence of events in my 3D World but with Netroots Nation on the horizon, I see a near future that has a larger reserve of motivation and commitment to what I've been trying to do here over the past three years. In the beginning, it read something like this:
I started this site to get my voice down on "paper". I don't really care if I get five or 500 hits in a day. I'm doing this because I care about my country. I yearn for the days when we can again proudly live up to this inscription that can be found on the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Since the last blogiversary post, a lot has happened in the world, real and virtual. Those of us who tend to blog more on ideological discussions rather than partisan have seen a different party take over Congress only to find little change or improvement. A piece of it is that the Democrats only have a bare majority of influence in the Senate with Junior Caligula still doing his Decider thing in the White House, but I would be lying if I didn't confess that I have felt more disappointment than accomplishment lately. Call me a purity troll, if you must, but I'm being honest. jejeje

The background to all of this, of course, has been the primaries and the recently-started general election to elect the next Decider. It seems like it has all succeeded in flipping on the crazy-gene switch online, and it gets exhausting when you're someone like me who doesn't care for it in any reality. So there's the monsoon cloud in a nutshell, but I can also happily report that silver linings abound.

The pro-migrant blogosphere is growing stronger everyday thanks to the passion and unshakeable commitment to human rights by emerging voices to this medium. After all that's happened (and perhaps more important, not happened) in the political realm with regards to the lives and livelihood of undocumented workers, activists need to know that we're not alone nor crazy. Well, some of us might be crazy, but that's a different post altogether ;-)

With the recentish launch of The Sanctuary, an avenue has opened up for many of us to come together. We're coordinating in ways that makes the efforts of grassroots activists more potent through sharing information with netroots activists. Blogging by itself does very little, but when we are able to translate our words into political power, it makes it worth it to do this, in my humble opinion. There's still a long way to go, but I have noticed forward-movement over the past year.

Some opportunities that I'm thankful for include the Blogger Summit that I attended in March in Washington, DC thanks to the crew at the New Organizing Institute; also really looking forward to going to Netroots Nation thanks to a scholarship through Democracy for America where finally, after three years of interacting online, I'll get to meet blog compadres XP and Duke1676. Watch out, world!

I say that, because this big ball of tierra is always going to improve as long as human beings gather together and remember things like this:
It is not enough to teach our young people to be they can realize their ambitions, so they can earn good livings, so they can accumulate the material things that this society bestows. Those are worthwhile goals. But it is not enough to progress as individuals while our friends and neighbors are left behind." - César E. Chávez
And not just remember, but strengthen each other in a way that we live the ideals that declares that our hermanos y hermanas are our shared responsibility. There will always be low and high tides in energy, but sitting at this keyboard today, knowing that there are friends and allies across the world who recognize the humanity in everyone gives me hope. This may be a political blog, but I've found that the true power lies in each of us willing to engage and empower those around us to bring about a better life.

To all that visit this humble casita in the barrio, either through clicking on a link or via RSS, thanks for being you.