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Friday, December 7, 2007

Bush Slow to React to Housing Crisis

President George W. Bush has consistently demonstrated that he is slow to understand even the most black-and-white issues of our day.
This week he announced a five-year freeze on certain subprime mortgage rates in a long-awaited effort to help vulnerable homeowners from losing their homes.
As with the Iraq War, as with Katrina’s victim, as with the horrific state of public education for people of color, Bush continues to display that he is dangerously stupid.
The Mortgage Bankers Association issued a report this week stating record home foreclosures numbers in the July through September period. That translates into hundreds of thousands of people who cannot afford to pay for their mortgages anymore.
This is not news, however. For the past year, the whistle on the looming danger has been sounding from coast to coast. Originally, Bush said there was nothing the government would do to assist vulnerable homeowners. This, despite that the government he heads has approved all kinds of trick pony policies to entice people to buy homes far above their pay grade.
You can’t lure someone to reach for the shiny object and then change the price tag at whim. It’s not only morally corrupt, it is economically dangerous.
The housing crisis is the sole factor that taking the nation to the brink of a recession. The very same housing crisis that Bush did not see a need to manage.
No, instead what we have gotten from this president is two wars, a city more aptly described as belonging to Katrina than the United States, a protracted all-consuming White House chatter on steroids in professional sports and another stupid attempt at closing down Social Security so we would all become Wall Street investors, even those among us who do not understand the first thing about the cornerstone of our economy.
But the slowest wait of all belongs to those of us counting down to January 2008, when Bush finally has to move off the world stage. Those of us who knew from the get-go that this man wasn’t presidential, that he was propped up caricature of moral righteousness to offset the nation’s fury at the previous president, Bill Clinton, who had consistently shown a lack of understanding that the White House is not a bordello, are counting the days.
But at least American soldiers weren’t dying in wars, overt or covert, nor people losing their homes, either as the result of government negligence after a hurricane, or government negligence because of political storms caused by stupidity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pat Buchanan Sounds Like a White Supremacist

"The fastest growing television stations and radio stations are Hispanic. There's a huge number of folks contiguous to Mexico. Our ancestors came across the seas. And look they've got their own language, their own culture. They don't want to be Americans!”

These words come from former Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, who was on Fox on Nov. 26  promoting his latest hate book, "Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology and Greed are Tearing America Apart."

“You've got a wholesale invasion, the greatest invasion in human history, coming across your southern border,” he told the hosts of Hannity (the bigot) and  Colmes (the apologist)"and their misinformed listeners. In the interview, Buchanan presents the clearest image of what he is. No, he is not a conservative pundit. He is a white supremacist in a business suit.

“The melting pot worked with the Irish, the Jews, the Germans, the Scotch-Irish, and we were all melded, but that doesn't mean you can bring the whole world in here in numbers we have never known before, no nation has never known before and it's going to work again,” Buchanan said.

Whether you watch the interview or read it, the context is unmistakable: Buchanan and Hannity spout racism as if they weren’t really saying anything offensive at all. A brief example:

BUCHANAN: I do believe we're going to lose the American Southwest. I think it is almost inevitable. If we do not put a fence on that border .

HANNITY: I agree with you.

BUCHANAN: You're going to have 100 million Hispanics in the country, most of them new immigrants from Mexico which believes that belongs to them. What's going to happen to us, Sean, in my judgment, is what is happening right now. We are Balkanizing.

Not one mainstream media pundit reacted to the blatant racism. Not the token Latinos on any of the alphabet networks such as ABC, CBS or NBC, not my colleagues at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. It is official, we are living in a time when attacking Mexicans is absolutely OK.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ken Burns Corrects History, Finally

An edit made, a history restored
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns agreed to re-edit his took his seven-part series for PBS opus on World War ll titled "The War" after months of refusing to give it a second thought. It appears that generous corporate sponsors of PBS were approached by the Latino organization Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility, which warned the public television network that if nothing was done to correct history, it would teach PBS a lesson in economics.
It worked and Burns is back at the editing table to, at the very least, mention that half a million Latinos fought in the war.
Most were Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, which made their omission - and now, their introduction - a poignant reminder of how hard certain people must fight for something as basic as recognition of their very existence.
A link at spotlights one such young WWII soldier in the Navy.
Unlike any other group, the Puerto Ricans from the island who were drafted to the war had not even voted for the U.S. president even as he commandeered them to put their lives on the line. This has been so since 1917, when Puerto Ricans became American citizens by birth right. The same perplexing situation exists even today; Puerto Ricans have an elected representative in Congress who cannot vote on the House floor. It’s another instance of vertiginous injustice in the very seat of democracy. And also today, many Mexicans and other Central Americans cross the border on foot to have a go at a better quality of life in the U.S., and of these, there are thousands who have become soldiers in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to win U.S. citizenship the hard way.
Some are born with it, some fight for it, others never get it. Some get it after they have been killed in battle.
One hopes that the families of those young Latino soldiers who fought and died in WWII received some consolation for their loss, something along the lines of President Lincoln’s eloquent letter in 1864 to a Massachusetts mother who lost her son in the Civil War.
He wrote, in part, "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the alter of freedom. -Abraham Lincoln."
One hopes that in the future, PBS’s point man on documentaries, Ken Burns, will not make a documentary about our contemporary wars in the Middle East and again omit the contributions of Latinos. It may be as close to a consolation that the fallen soldiers’ families will ever receive.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Immigration fears fuel politics

In August 2007, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party, predicted that immigration would be the next weapon of mass polarization that the Bush White House would arm to distract voters from the rising scandals that today plague all the president’s men.

US Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales appears to be this newest sacrificial lamb. Questions about why he fired eight assistant US attorneys hover over whether the motivation was political. If these attorneys, all of whom had received high marks from supervisors and colleagues, were dismissed for not pursuing cases against Democrats or for pursuing cases against Republicans, the man from Humble, Texas, may have a lot of to be ashamed about.

The Gonzales saga plays out against the backdrop of immigration enforcement. Recently, federal officials arrested more than 350 women, mostly mothers, all undocumented, all working for a leather company in Massachusetts that supplies boots to the US Armed Forces. Hundreds of children were left motherless while the state and federal governments sorted out the disaster.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says it warned the Massachusetts Department of Social Services that arrests were impending. DSS says it did not know. What is certain is that the mothers did not know that they would be arrested despite working for a company that manufactures goods for the very same federal government that temporarily orphaned children.

There are ways for undocumented working people -- whose children are American citizens by virtue of having been born here – can live in peace without fear of being arrested. All that’s needed are courageous politicians. That’s the hard part. Far easier is finding politicians courting ethnocentric fears.

Maybe now the White House will deflect attention from immigration to the Iraq War. Or Gonzales.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Politicians and the art of lying

Incredibly, the hottest issue for the media this past week wasn't health care, the Iraq War, the deficit or jobs going overseas, but instead the diss by a Hollywood billionaire who was once a FOB and was rewarded for his money by having a sleepover in the maligned Lincoln Bedroom.

David Geffen, who made his millions producing music in the 1970s and 1980s before making more in Hollywood, basically said that he was gathering celebrity support for Sen. Barack Obama because he was uncomfortable with how comfortable the Clintons are at that political cornerstone -- the lie.

It is an especially exquisite criticism from a Hollywood bigshot who lives quite nicely on a house built by the world of magical realism. Yet, for me, the bottom line is, who cares what Geffen thinks about lying?

I care that the media take its role seriously instead of air-reporting a la Enquire. As usual, instead of focusing on real issues that affect the middle class, for example, the media goes into hysteria mode because someone from their ilk said something about somebody they know well.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country is treated as if we were part of a peanut gallery. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, one of the Democratic Party presidential hopefuls, promised he would run a clean campaign, which means he won't stoop to fighting over insipid things. That's good news.

In the meantime, Clinton and Obama should direct their respective spokespeople to follow Richardon's example. After all, this is a presidential election to become the leader of the world, not a sandbox duel between children.

Monday, March 5, 2007


The rules governing immigration are quite clear. Just go to the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services and read for yourself how to go about living here legally.

Yet, an estimated 12 million people, mostly from Latin America but from everywhere else as well, can't follow those rules.

The rules, many of them say, make exceptions out of them, and so even if they filled out all the paperwork, the U.S. would not let them in. Most are either too poor and unskilled to be considered by the U.S. government as welcome newcomers.

Even so, many bonafide American businesses hire them to work in construction, factory and service industries. Obviously, American businesses welcomes them.

President Bush offered a curious solution to transform some of the workers into legal employees. Basically, his proposal would allow immigrants to work here for a specific period, then return to their homelands.

This country was built on the premise that hard work leads to a measure of success. In Bush's view, all the hard work in the world cannot even help guarantee a green card.

This country is home is millions of people who have no legal right to be here. While many may have the moral right to be here, thanks to their contributions as workers and even taxpayers -- the IRS accepts money from anyone -- all must suffer as if each one were a wanted murderer.

It's as if parking meter violators became hit-and-run killers in the eyes of the law.

The solution to the plight of law-abiding undocumented immigrants and their children isn't easy but it can be summed up fairly quickly: Give them a chance to call our home their home as well.