The Pilgrims were undocumented immigrants

22 Nov

Published at 12h30


It’s that day. It’s the time for several generations of families to get together to laugh, love, eat too much, and — if they’re like most families — argue at least a little bit about something or other. In other words, it’s like the weekly gatherings that most Hispanic families have, except this time we eat turkey.

Thanksgiving is for everyone in the United States. It may have started with the Pilgrims, long before the United States were united, but it’s a truly American tradition that belongs to all of us who call this country home — citizens, residents, and non-.

Some might disagree with that. They might feel that Thanksgiving belongs only to that first category, the ones who were born here or who took the oath and can now carry a U. S. Passport.

They’re wrong.

The Pilgrims weren’t citizens. They were people who came to escape oppression. They were people who came to look for better lives for themselves and for their families. They were people who were willing to work hard, and work together, to make their homes, their communities, and their country, a better place.

They were immigrants. And they were no different from the immigrants of today — perhaps most especially like the undocumented immigrants. They came without papers. They came without the permission of the people who lived here. They came without jobs. They came without homes.

What they did come with was a desire to succeed, and hope.

That’s why Thanksgiving belongs to all of us here. Because we all have that in common – the hope that today will be better than yesterday, and tomorrow better still, for all of us.

It’s also why those who used their coded language on Election Day, and since, to suggest that the reelection of the country’s first black president was because this was no longer a “traditional America” and that it showed a “moral failure” in the country, are wrong. Dead wrong.

In fact, it’s proof of just the opposite.

But on election night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly summed up the highly charged undercurrent running throughout the election as he gave his interpretation of why Mitt Romney was losing.

“Because it’s a changing country, the demographics are changing,” O’Reilly said. “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

Just for good measure, he made sure everyone understood what he meant by “traditional.”

“The white establishment is now the minority.”

Translation: there are too many Hispanics, blacks, and Asians in the United States. And he considers them “moocher voters.”

“There are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things, and who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it. . . . You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming for President Obama, and women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”

All right, O’Reilly is a TV version of a radio shock jock. His whole shtick is to berate, denigrate, and agitate.

But it wasn’t just him. Other commentators echoed similar sentiments. Even the losing candidate himself reprised his “47 percent” philosophy in a phone call to donors the day after the election. This time, Romney used the term “gifts.”

“The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” he said.

“With regards to African American voters, Obamacare was a huge plus,” he explained. “You can imagine for somebody making $25- or $30- or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care — particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 a family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus.”

The problem with this kind of view is that separates us into an “us and them” mentality. It forgets that, from the Pilgrims forward, this is a nation of immigrants. And it forgets that that is one of this country’s great strengths. We evolve. We adapt. And we open our doors to the world’s tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to be free.

So, on top of all the other things we give thanks for on this Thanksgiving, we should all also give thanks that we are continuing to honor that great American tradition. And hope that we always will.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

President Marco Rubio in 2016?

20 Nov

Published at 15h43


Arizona hasn’t even finished counting votes from this year’s election, but that’s not stopping Marco Rubio. He’s off and running – for 2016!

Naturally, he says he’s not. Of course not. Why would anybody think that? Why, it’s perfectly normal for a Latino senator from Florida to go bouncing around Iowa talking to voters about national politics.

Of course it is … not!

The occasion was innocent enough (Not!). He was the featured guest at Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s 66th birthday party and fundraiser Saturday night.

Some 700 Republican voters and donors together in a single room, in the state that holds the first primary election in the nation – Gee, who could think he’s testing the waters?

In fact, Rubio made it a point to dismiss the possibility, with a joke.

“Look, let’s just address right up front the elephant in the room,” Rubio said, “because anytime someone makes a trip to Iowa, people start speculating about what you’re going to do in the future and all of that.

“I am not now, nor will I ever be,” he said, “a candidate for offensive coordinator of Iowa.”

You can almost hear the knee-slapping all the way back to his home in South Florida.

Another clue: Rubio nearly did a full split trying to straddle the gap between creationists and evolutionists.

His claims that he’s not making a run for Barack Obama’s seat in the White House would have been a lot more credible if he had come down flatly on either side of the debate. He didn’t. He did a tap dance that would have won on “Dancing with the Stars.” He should keep his career options open. He could be a shoe-in (no pun intended) for the part of Billy Flynn in the musical “Chicago” – “Give ‘em the old razzle-dazzle. Razzle-dazzle ‘em!”

“I’m not a scientist, man,” Rubio said in a just released interview in GQ magazine. “… Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

Smooth operator!

The whole answer is even better. He not only did the Artful Dodger routine between the Bible and fifth-grade science, he slipped in a “politician’s pivot.” That’s the political equivalent of a basketball player’s crossover. You fake in one direction, and when your opponent moves that way, you reverse the ball back between your legs and cut in the other direction. Done right, they’ll never know what hit them.

Rubio’s move wasn’t as good as Amare Stoudemier’s (let’s face it, Amare actually blew past Michael Jordan with that move), but that’s OK, this was just a pre-season game.

Here’s his full answer:

“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

Did you catch it? Head fake – “I’m not a scientist,” then toe the line between the two positions. Then – Wham! – cut back to the economy (It’s the economy stupid!). Then drive for the goal.

Whether he admits it or not, Rubio is a likely contender. Latino. A Tea Party fave, who was so loved by the far right he forced Florida Gov. Charlie Crist right out of the GOP for not being conservative enough.

Mitt Romney reportedly vetted Rubio as a potential running mate. Marco made 60 appearances singing the praises of Romney and so many interviews his staff lost count. He was the one who stepped up with the smackdown that pretty much ended the bitter, shrill and massively offensive immigration rhetoric the Republican candidates were flinging around.


Rubio won’t say he’s running. And he won’t say he’s not, either. (Refer to his “offensive coordinator” quip, above.)

But here’s the deal: Rubio is certainly familiar with the saying, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

The same is true in politics.

“If you act like a presidential candidate, talk like a presidential candidate and follow the well-worn path of past presidential candidates, then you’re a presidential candidate.”

So Rubio should stop ducking around.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Are these the death throes of the GOP?

19 Nov

Published at 20h37


Is this the end of the Republican Party? Is the Grand Old Party about to splinter?

Everybody knows the GOP faces a demographic problem. Namely, Hispanics are an increasingly large and influential group of voters, and they tend to vote Democratic — and in larger and larger percentages.

But in the wake of Mitt Romney’s devastating defeat, and his even more damaging “gifts” excuses for the defeat, the Republican factions are lashing out at him, and one another.

And it’s escalating.

Much of it, naturally is directed at Romney.

It’s understandable that party members want to distance themselves from the failed candidate. Nobody likes a loser. Politicians especially. They view losers like lead weights, ready to drag them down with them. Even more so when the loser is mouthing off that blacks, Latinos, and the young, were for sale. That they could be bought with government handouts, “gifts” as Romney called them. The implication being that we’re all so lazy, don’t want to work, and are so dependent on government “gifts” that will give our vote to the first person holding a welfare check with our name on it.

Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez shilled for Romney throughout the campaign. It was hard to find a gathering of more than three Latinos were Gutierrez wouldn’t show up singing the praises of the former Massachusetts governor with the pseudo-Mexican past.

Now, of course, it’s a different story. Sunday, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gutierrez laid into the guy he was loving up so much just two weeks ago.

“I don’t know if he understood that he was saying something that was insulting,” he said.

Nice defense for his former pal — “bless his heart, he doesn’t mean to be a racist. He just doesn’t know any better.”

But that’s just Mitt bashing. Where it gets interesting is in the other stuff Gutierrez had to say. Because his criticism there went far beyond dissing a candidate in a dunce cap. What he added was evidence of the widening schism within the party, threatening to rend it apart.

“I was shocked. And frankly I don’t think that’s why Republicans lost the election,” Gutierrez said. “I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong.”

Well, heck. If only those folks on the far right were a bunch of yahoos that the rest of the GOP could dismiss easily. But they’re not. They are party stalwarts, leaders, and shining stars.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a staunch conservative Republicans like to trot out as the face of party inclusiveness because he’s a minority of Indian descent, took his turn bashing Romney over the gifts comment.

He called Romney’s comments “absolutely wrong.”

“We have got to stop dividing the American voters,” Jindal, who is taking over as the Republican Governors Association’s chairman, told reporters at the groups gathering in Las Vegas. “If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage, and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly. One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes. And second, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period.”

That was just for starters.

In an opinion piece he penned for CNN, Jindal wrote:

“In the aftermath of the presidential election, Republicans have been inundated with advice to moderate, equivocate, and even abandon their core principles as a necessary prerequisite for winning future elections.

“That is absurd. America already has one liberal political party; there is no need for another one.”

There it is. This is more than a tug-of-war. These are the opening salvos of something far more serious.

Gutierrez is a businessman, and a champion of their interests. And Romney certainly made defending businessmen, a.k.a. the wealthy, a fundamental, inviolable tenet of his campaign.

Which is why some of the other comments Jindal made in his CNN piece are further evidence that the GOP is not only soul-searching, but may be looking to toss some of the old flotsam overboard.

“Quit ‘big,’” he wrote. “We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.”

So where are we going with this? And how far will it go?

In many ways this is just the obvious extension of what the Tea Party began four years ago. Their ultraconservative, take no prisoners, make no concessions political style empowered the Michele Bachmanns, Allen Wests and Rick Santorums at the extreme right wing of the party. It even emboldened and elevated the fiscal conservatives like Paul
Ryan, and encouraged Republican members of the House and the Senate to confuse obstructionism with governing.

But this is going farther. This is a recognition that the divisions within the party are growing irreconcilable.

And if things continue this way, there may not be room for both of them in the party.

The old guard represents the old way. The new faces, Jindal, West, Bachmann and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (Yes, he won his seat because he was a tea party favorite, who just happens to be Hispanic.), represent a new direction. But even there there is division.

The conservative wing, the “far right” Gutierrez was complaining about, takes a strict hard line on immigration. It was their influence, led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, that forced Republicans at the national convention to adopt anti-sanctuary, anti-amnesty, tougher border enforcement, and self-deportation as part of the party’s official

Rubio, for all his small government, fiscal conservativeness, has tried to get his fellows in the GOP to tone it down. And now, following the Election Day drubbing that denied the Republicans their much-coveted and highly anticipated control of the Senate, he’s not alone.

Fox News post Sean Hannity and House Speaker John Boehner are among a growing cadre within the party, who are suddenly saying — and without a hint of irony — immigration reform is an idea whose time has come.

How they’re going to get people like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum or Iowa Republican Steve King, who has likened immigrants to dogs, to go along is hard to imagine.

So, the GOP faces what is easily the greatest challenge of its history, figuring out if a bad marriage is better than none at all. And, with the political reality of the United States changing around them, whether either way will save them.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Hey, Mitt! Here’s a “gift” for you

16 Nov

Published at 15h24


Delusional? Maybe. Rationalizing? Probably. In denial? Definitely.

Mitt Romney needs a mirror.

He’s looking for answers to how he lost – and how he lost so badly.

But instead of looking in the mirror for answers, he has a new theory. Naturally, he doesn’t think he’s to blame. No. He says President Barack Obama bought the election, with “gifts” for Latinos, blacks, and the young.

Apparently he doesn’t remember how he flip-flopped more than a freshly landed fish. Or how he insulted people’s intelligence by trying to “Etch-A-Sketch” his way into the White House. Or how he tried to use his “magic math” and “just trust me” non-explanations on Medicare and taxes.

Instead, he said Obama used the “old playbook” of targeting policy plums as handouts for specific groups, “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

Just like his infamous “47 percent” gaffe, his comments came to a group of fund-raisers and donors. This time, though, it was on a conference call with them, and with two reporters, from the New York Times and L.A. Times, invited to listen in.

“What the president, president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said.

Then, over the course of the 20-minute call, he gave examples:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

Obamacare also helped boost turnout of blacks and Hispanics for the president, Romney said.

So, in other words, Romney still doesn’t get that health insurance for everyone might be a good thing. That the plan he

gave to the people of Massachusetts when he was governor, which was – and is – immensely popular there and served as the blueprint for the president’s federal health care act, might be something people in other places want too.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to
Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

You caught that, right?


Not “undocumented immigrants.” Not even “illegal immigrants.”


Gee, Mitt, why didn’t Latinos vote for you?

Now here’s a surprise: Mitt’s catching hell for his comments. OK, it’s not a surprise that he’s catching hell. It’s who he’s catching hell from that is. It’s his own party.

Some of the most stinging rebukes have come from prominent rising stars in the GOP, who also happen to be minorities.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at the Republican Governors Association conference in Las Vegas. “I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

This, from a guy who was a surrogate for Romney during the campaign.

“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” Jindal added. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”

For good measure, Jindal also made what seemed to be a swipe at Romney’s “47 percent” comment. For the GOP to be “competitive,” Jindal said, it has to “go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Jindal wasn’t alone.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez also blasted Romney for his “gifts” comment.

“That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party—our comments that are not thought through carefully,” she told Politico and Yahoo, outside the governor’s conference.

So Mitt lost the election. Now he’s losing the love. Important members of his party are telling him to get lost.

But here’s a parting gift for you, Mitt. A thought. Something to remember.

Giving the American people what they ask for is not a “gift.” It’s their right.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Julian’s Big Day

4 Sep

Published at 11h00


Eight years ago, a little-known Illinois senator took the stage at the Democratic National Convention and electrified the audience. Four years later, he became president. Tonight, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the Latino that the Wall Street Journal dubbed the “Hispanic Obama,” steps up to deliver the keynote address at the party’s convention in Charlotte.

For Castro, it’s a step onto the stage and onto the national scene.

Political wonks, Hispanic leaders and Democratic Party officials have had their eye on this guy for a long time. He’s a stellar personality, with nearly unlimited potential. But the ones who’ve been watching him are the political world’s equivalent of the basketball scouts, high school coaches, and statistics aficionados who were talking about the Miami Heat’s Shane Battier when he was just a junior at Detroit Country Day School. (Yeah, why shouldn’t we slip in a little ”inside basketball” in the middle of a political story?)

In short, outside of the insiders and the people of San Antonio, Castro is a virtual unknown that just about everyone who does know expects to be sitting in Obama’s seat someday.

At 37, Castro is the youngest mayor of a major US city. He is, as I’ve called him before, the Dem’s Marco Rubio – charismatic, smart, young and handsome. (There’s also two of him — his identical twin, Joaquin, a Texas congressman running for the Senate, will introduce him tonight.)

As the Daily Beast’s. Andrew Romano put it:

“Like Obama, Castro is bright, polished, cool, calm, and collected: a Stanford and Harvard Law graduate who immerses himself in policy details (such as his current campaign to increase the sales tax to fund full-day prekindergarten for thousands of low-income San Antonians) while avoiding the emotional identity politics that often consumed his minority predecessors (he doesn’t even speak fluent Spanish).” As Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, an associate professor of Chicano and global studies at UCLA, told the imes, he’s “one of us, but … also comes out of a broader American experience.”

That last part is important. Castro is not just a Latino, he’s a true U.S. Hispanic. He’s part of the generation of Latinos born here, steeped in his parent’s culture but truly a new American.  ”He doesn’t even speak fluent Spanish.”

The fact that the Democrats would put him in such a prominent position says a lot about what the party thinks of him.

It also says a lot about what the party thinks of Latinos.

He’s the first Hispanic ever to keynote the Democratic National Convention. That didn’t happen by accident. The party has high hopes for Julian Castro, and equally high expectations of cementing its relationship with the nation’s Latinos.

The Democrats have always done well with Hispanics in this country. At least with the non-Cuban ones outside of Miami. (And even they were Democrats until they blamed Kennedy, and the Democrats, for the tragic failure of the Bay of Pigs.) Four out of every five Hispanics, or more, identifies his- or herself as a Democrat, or Democrat-leaning. Polls consistently show Obama trouncing Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters by a two to one margin. The Republicans are still talking about the 40 percent of the Hispanic vote that George W. Bush brought in as the magical standard, an almost inconceivably high percentage to be attained.

The Democrats want to make sure that Bush’s percentage remains an all-time high for the Republicans and only sinks from there. If somehow you’ve missed hearing it before, it’s true: Hispanics are the fastest-growing demographic in the nation. There are now more than 50 million of us, about16 percent of the population. That’s expected to be almost 30 percent by 2050.

Both parties know that if they lose the Latinos, they can’t win. Not now. Not ever.

So to put Julian Castro in the role of keynote speaker puts a lot of pressure on him. By giving him that part — right when the television networks begin their primetime coverage of the convention, and immediately before First Lady Michelle Obama steps up to speak — means the party expects him to speak for the party and for Latinos, as well as to Latinos, and to the nation.

Don’t blow it!

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Carlos Harrison

Carlos Harrison is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer of 14 books in English and Spanish. Born in Panama, he has covered national and international events for more than 20 years.

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