Saturday, February 28, 2009

Race and History: Bill Fletcher Jr.

Race, History and Eric Holder's Remarks

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Last week's comments by Attorney General Eric Holder to
the effect that when it comes to race, the USA is a
nation of cowards brought forth immediate condemnation
by right-wing talk radio. This was to be expected.

The more mainstream media also reacted, albeit more
mildly. Nevertheless, they have tended to focus on
Holder's wording, suggesting that he would be more
likely to be heard if he used other language, such as
that the people of the USA need to be more sensitive to

The problem that Holder encountered was not simply the
attitude of the people of the USA toward race, but more
fundamentally, the prevailing attitude toward history.
The USA has the distinction of being one of the few
countries on the planet that has little interest in
history as such, and when it is forced to address
history, it tends to view history in terms of myth(s).
As such, there are few useful lessons, often making
history a boring subject in school, not to mention
something that is ignored when it is time to develop

Let's take the example of the American Revolution. Most
of what passes for the history of the War of
Independence either falls into the realm of myth or the
selective use of facts. Rarely are we presented with
the significant fact that the colonies probably would
not have won had it not been for the intervention of
the French and Spanish (not to mention Haitian
volunteers who are often completely overlooked).
Ignoring these facts, except perhaps to acknowledge the
Marquis de Lafayette, gives one a completely inaccurate
sense of what it took to win independence from Britain,
not to mention the impact the American Revolution had
on bringing a revolution to France.

We also fail to acknowledge in most histories of the
Revolution the mighty contradiction in the middle of
the entire process: all men are created equal. vs.

In the USA, the prevailing approach toward history,
then, is to set it aside and assume that we can march
forward, ignoring the past and any lessons it has to
offer. In a recent speech, I suggested that in other
spheres, such an approach would be ridiculed. Consider
the horrible bridge collapse in Minneapolis last year.
Could anyone ever imagine the Minneapolis-St. Paul
authorities proposing to ignore the causes of the
collapse; failing to investigate anyone or anything
responsible, and not taking appropriate action PRIOR to
building a new bridge? Such an approach would defy

Holder's comments were attempting to highlight just
that point, specifically in the realm of history and
race relations. With all the excitement in connection
with the election of the first African American
president, there have been too many mainstream white
Americans who believe that we have now entered a post-
racial era where we can all march forward, hand in
hand, with the past behind us.

Holder's comments, much more than Obama's March 2008
speech on race, acknowledge that race and racism
remains a problems deeply embedded in the fabric of the
USA, a problem that must be understood in order for it
to be fully eradicated. Although Holder did not
indicate specifically how this should happen, he should
be loudly applauded for calling the attention of the
USA to the necessity for this dialogue.

If we are to build on Holder's comments, what could it
mean to confront the `cowardice' when it comes to race?
Here are a few ideas:

* The Bill Clinton "Race Initiative" was poorly
focused. A real dialogue would need to happen at
several levels simultaneously. A "Truth and
Reconciliation Commission" model might be a good
framework. There would need to be, in other words, a
commission that directs the work of a multi-year
study and dialogue.

* The Commission would sponsor studies on different
aspects of race and racism in US history, going back
to the colonial era and running through the present.
Such studies would be published and be the basis for
local discussions, available to all, but also
targeted at key opinion-makers and political

* A curriculum would be developed that would be
introduced in the public school system and that
would be made available for private schools, as well
as colleges and universities. The US Department of
Education would sponsor a special training program
for teachers to use the curriculum.

* Hearings would be held across the USA, looking at
different aspects of race. This would not simply
focus on what is happening to people of color, but
would also look at the impact of race and racism on
the lives of white Americans.

* Through vehicles established at the time of the 2001
United Nations World Conference Against Racism,
further hemispheric discussions would be encouraged,
with the full and constructive participation of the
USA, examining race in the Western Hemisphere.

* Specific policy recommendations would be put before
the President of the United States with the
intention of translating them into legislative
action items. Such proposals would aim to repair the
damage which resulted from the hundreds of years of
racist oppression we have experienced in North

The question remains as to whether there is the
political will - what Holder described as `courage' -
for the USA to come to grips with its history. After
all, that history is not as Pollyanna-ish as the myth
we have been taught, but it is nevertheless more
exciting, challenging and true. Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher,
Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy
Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica
Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis
in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice
(University of California Press), which examines the
crisis of organized labor in the USA.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mixtec' harvest your strawberries

SANTA MARIA, CA - 16FEBRUARY09 - Guillermina Arzola, a Mixtec immigrant from San Sebastian del Monte in Oaxaca, works in a crew of indigenous Mixtec and Zapotec farm workers from Oaxaca and Guerrero picking strawberries. The crew foreman is Eugenio Cardenas of the Central Coast company, and the berries will be marketed by Green Giant. It is the beginning of the strawberry season in Santa Maria. Workers stand in line to bring the berries they've picked to the checker. He inspects them and then punches a ticket that keeps track of the number of boxes each worker has picked. Three Zapotec farmworkers from Santa Maria Sola in Oaxaca walk out of the field, after having asked if there was any work.

In Santa Maria many Mixtec and Zapotec families live in an apartment complex, and children play in the yard in front. Most are new migrants with very low lncome, and haven't yet found much work. In the apartment of Samuel Ramirez, his wife Juana Lopez, and their children Adela and Maria there is little furniture besides mattresses, a table and a couple of chairs, and a TV. Leobarda Hernandez is the oldest, most respected woman in the Hernandez family next door.

For more articles and images on immigration, see

Just out from Beacon Press:
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

Another World is possible

Report from Belem.

That Other World
By Diego González

Between January 27 and February 1, the ninth World Social Forum (WSF) took place in Belém do Pará, Brazil. The northeastern port city, which sits on the banks of the Amazon, hosted 133,000 representatives of various organizations, social movements, left-wing parties, nongovernmental organizations, as well as other alterglobalists from 142 countries, for a debate that had become an inevitability. For some, the WSF had to carry on being a "non decision-making" space for "civil society" which should limit itself to a space for meeting and exchanging experiences. But the issues raised by many others veered in the opposite direction. By understanding the Forum not as a solution in itself, but rather as a tool to build an "other world" that so many years ago was said to be possible, the crux of this new debate had to center on providing a moderately-structured response to the current financial collapse and the various wars taking place.

Eight years on from the first WSF, the world has changed. Capitalism has again shot itself in the foot, devouring itself, demonstrating, this time around, a lack of capacity for reinvention. As such, the World Economic Forum in Davos lives on but this time it is without the significance traditionally attached to the event. Only desperate proclamations and nervous faces emerged from the Forum. The neoliberal crisis, the silence of the Left, and the ascent of progressive governments in the region demanded another type of debate. Raised fists and eloquent slogans didn't go far enough when faced with this battle.

See full article at:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama on immigration reform

Report: Over 100,000 deportees had children in US

By SUZANNE GAMBOA – 3 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 100,000 parents whose children are U.S. citizens were deported over the decade that ended in 2007, a Department of Homeland Security's investigation has found.

The parents were removed from the country on immigration violations or because they had committed crimes. The removals of the 108,434 parents were among the approximately 2.2 million carried out by immigration officials between 1998 and 2007, Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner said in a report made public Friday.

Skinner warned the numbers were incomplete because Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't fully document such cases. The agency also does not keep track of how many children each parent has. He recommended immigration officials start collecting more data on removed parents and their children.

In response to the findings, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said it would study whether it can gather better information. Its study is due in about two months.

"I am saddened, but not surprised to learn that our government, in its harsh anti-immigrant stance, has split hundreds of thousands of families apart over the past decade," said Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y.

Serrano serves on the House Appropriations Committee's panel that helps decide how much money is provided to the Homeland Security Department each year. He has filed a bill, the Child Citizen Protection Act, that would allow immigration judges to consider whether immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens when making deportation decisions.

"If, in fact, some (children) were left behind here, then you have the sad tragedy of breaking up families," Serrano said. "If they were taken back, I would argue the direct result of our actions is the deportation of our citizens. How do you deport a U.S. citizen?"

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzales said the agency was reviewing the report and was unable to comment immediately.

Children of immigrant families who are U.S. citizens have long created a dilemma for Congress as it has tried to control immigration. People born in the U.S. automatically become U.S. citizens. But American children cannot petition for their parents to become legal U.S. residents until they are at least 21.

Immigration officials reported 319,382 deportations in 2007, compared to 174,813 in 1998. Skinner said the number of parents removed over that period generally increased, with 13,081 individual parents removed in 1998.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chavez claims victory in election

Chavez calls Venezuela vote mandate for socialism
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez says a referendum victory that removed limits on his re-election is a mandate to intensify his socialist agenda for decades to come. Opponents warn of an impending dictatorship.
Both sides had called the outcome of Sunday's vote key to the future of this South American country, split down the middle between those who worship the president for redistributing Venezuela's oil riches and those who see him as a power-hungry autocrat.
"Those who voted "yes" today voted for socialism, for revolution," Chavez thundered to thousands of ecstatic supporters jamming the streets around the presidential palace. Fireworks lit up the Caracas skyline, and one man walked though the crowd carrying a painting of Chavez that read: "Forever."
Josefa Dugarte stared at the crowd from the stoop of her apartment building with look of dismay.
"These people don't realize what they have done," she muttered.
With 94 percent of the vote counted, official results showed the amendment passing 54 percent to 46 percent, an irreversible trend, and opposition leaders accepted the results. Tibisay Lucena, president of National Electoral Council, said turnout was 67 percent.
The constitutional overhaul allows all public officials to run for re-election as many times as they want, removing barriers to a Chavez candidacy in the next presidential elections in 2012 and beyond.
"In 2012 there will be presidential elections, and unless God decides otherwise, unless the people decide otherwise, this soldier is already a candidate," Chavez said to applause. First elected in 1998, he has said he might stay in power until 2049, when he'll be 95.
But analysts said Chavez shouldn't count on getting re-elected just yet.
"Chavez's intention is clear: He aspires to be president for life," said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. "He is convinced he embodies the popular will and is indispensable to the country's progress. But his capacity to pull this off is far from assured."
He said the global financial crisis and the plunging price of oil, which accounts for 94 percent of Venezuela's exports and nearly half its federal budget, will limit Chavez's ability to maintain the level of public spending that has fueled his popularity.
"The greatest challenge the government now faces is governing in the face of crisis and not falling into triumphalism," said Miguel Tinker Salas, a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
At their campaign headquarters, Chavez opponents hugged one another, and some cried. They said the results were skewed by Chavez's broad use of state resources to get out the vote, through a battery of state-run news media, pressure on 2 million public employees and frequent presidential speeches which all television stations were required to air.
With the courts, the legislature and the election council all under his influence, and now with no limits on his re-election, officials say Chavez is virtually unstoppable.
"Effectively this will become a dictatorship," opposition leader Omar Barboza told The Associated Press. "It's control of all the powers, lack of separation of powers, unscrupulous use of state resources, persecution of adversaries."
Associated Press writers Ian James and Fabiola Sanchez contributed to this story.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hugo Chavez wins election in Venezuela

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Aprueban referendo 54% de los electores en Venezuela
La enmienda permite a Hugo Chávez y a los representantes populares reelegirse de forma ilimitada. "Es una gran victoria del pueblo", afirma el presidente

Publicado: 15/02/2009 08:52

Caracas. El Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) anunció esta noche que los votantes de Venezuela aprobaron la enmienda constitucional que permite la reelección ilimitada del presidente Hugo Chávez y de todos los cargos de elección popular.

De acuerdo con las cifras oficiales divulgadas por la presidenta del CNE, Tibisay Lucena, las cuales contienen el escrutinio de 94.20 por ciento las actas de votación, el "Sí" a la enmienda obtuvo 54.36 por ciento de los sufragios contra 45.63 puntos para el "No".

De acuerdo a las cifras de la Comisión de Totalización de la autoridad electoral, el "Sí" obtuvo seis millones 3 mil 594 votos y el "No" cinco millones 40 mil 82.

La abstención llegó a 32.95 por ciento de los votantes registrados y los votos nulos sumaron 199 mil 41, según el primer boletín oficial con los resultados del referendo sobre la enmienda para la reelección indefinida en los cargos de elección popular.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama, Race and U.S. Politics

Obama, Race and the Future of U.S. Politics

By Bob Wing

Bob Wing is a writer and organizer in South Los Angeles, and former editor of ColorLines magazine and War Times newspaper.

Barack Obama’s victory is indeed an historic breakthrough for U.S. politics. In a country that enforced a system of legalized racism until just 40 years ago, and that was founded on white supremacy, black slavery and Native genocide, the election of the first black president is cause for jubilation.

The significance of Obama’s victory is accentuated by the fact that not only is he an outstanding individual with liberal politics and a community organizer’s instincts, but he is also leading a potentially historic realignment of U.S. politics.

Such realignment could not come at a better time. Beset by a deep economic crisis, now is the time for progressive structural changes to the international and national socio-economic landscape. But such changes will be impossible without enormous political strength.

Whether President Obama can help orchestrate a turnaround of the economic crisis now facing the country, indeed the world, will be revealed in the coming years. But he has already made a major contribution to changing the pattern of U.S. politics, a pattern that was set by slavery and enabled conservative Republicans to dominate the presidency for the last forty years.

However, the development of a mass progressive movement with its own agenda will be critical to consolidating that realignment, and to winning systemic change in the years to come.

The Color of Election 2008

The magnitude of Obama’s victory has led to much hyperbole about the end of racism and the advent of a colorblind society. This notion deserves closer examination lest Obama’s victory become an obstacle, rather than an opening, to future racial progress.

Much of the press has focused on celebrating the willingness of many whites to elect a black president. But just how colorblind is the U.S. electorate?

Despite the fact that the Republicans had failed miserably, even on their own terms, and run the country virtually into the ground, whites still voted for McCain by 55 to 43. In stark contrast, blacks voted for Obama by 95 to 4, Latinos went for Obama by 66 to 32 and Asians backed Obama by 61 to 35. (1)

In 2008, the white vote was virtually identical to election 2000 and continued to exert a strong conservative pull on the electorate while the votes of peoples of color and young people of all races headed powerfully in a more progressive direction.

The color lines, in life and politics, are alive and well.

Indeed, peoples of color made the biggest shifts in their voting between 2004 and 2008. It was they who proved decisive in Obama’s victory. Left to white voters, John McCain would have won a landslide twelve-point victory.

African Americans voted for Obama by an astonishing 95 to 4, a fourteen-point swing for the Democrats compared to 2004. (2) Many a pundit has dismissed this result as a knee-jerk racial solidarity vote for Obama. How soon they forget that the majority of black voters favored Hillary Clinton for the many months leading up to the Iowa primary.

Much of the mainstream media declared that Latinos were too racist to vote for Obama. They pointed to the large Latino primary vote for Clinton as “proof.”

Latinos resoundingly put the lie to these cynics by voting for Obama by 66 to 32, a huge sixteen-point swing to the Democrats compared to 2004. Even a 58 percent majority of Cubans in Florida, traditionally solidly Republican, went for Obama.

Latinas led the way toward Obama, casting 68 percent of their votes for him and only 30 percent for McCain. Latino voters under 30 went for Obama by 76 to 24, perhaps indicating the direction of future Latino voting patterns.

Asians swung Democratic by fourteen points over 2004, voting for Obama 61 to 35. The political trajectory of Asian voters has been striking. In 1992, Bill Clinton received only 31 percent of the Asian vote. Since then Asians have steadily moved Democratic, reaching a highpoint this year.

So much for the pundits who believed that Latinos and Asians would never unite behind black leadership. These results amount to a massive progressive motion by peoples of color.

Meanwhile the white vote swung toward Obama and the Democrats by five points compared to 2004. White voters under 30 were the only age group among whites to favor Obama. They voted for him by 54 to 44. All other whites voted for McCain by about 57 to 41.

The most anemic swing was made by white women, who voted for McCain by 53 to 46, moving a mere four points toward the Democrats, This was particularly disappointing in light of their ten point swing to Bush from 2000 to 2004, a change that accounted for Bush’s victory in that year.

White men favored McCain by a bigger margin, 57 to 41, but this represented a sizable nine-point swing to the Democrats compared to 2004 when they voted for Bush overwhelmingly, 62 to 37.

Overall, Obama carried the white vote in only 18 states, mostly in the Northeast and the West Coast.

The Changing Color of the Electorate

From a long-range point of view, the change in the racial composition of the electorate as a whole is perhaps even more important than the recent shifts towards the Democrats. In 1976 whites constituted 90 percent of the vote; in 2000 they still accounted for 81 percent. This year the white share of the vote fell to 74 percent, quite a dramatic change in a short time.

Just as surprising, the main group increasing its share of the electorate is not Latinos, but African Americans. Blacks constituted thirty percent of all new voters in 2004, and an even greater mobilization this year brought them to 13 percent of the overall vote, a thirty percent increase over 2000.

The sheer numbers of Latino and Asian voters have risen significantly over the same period, but their percentage share of the overall vote is virtually unchanged since 2000: nine percent for Latinos and two percent for Asians. (3)

Surprisingly, the percentage of the electorate that is under thirty years of age, regardless of color, also remained stable, at 17-18 percent. However, these voters increased their Democratic vote by 12 points compared to 2004, voting for Obama by 66 to 32. Young voters were also the main corps of Obama field organizers and their energy gave the campaign much of its movement-like quality.

Historic Realignment?

The true maverick in the 2008 campaign was not McCain who pursued the same old reactionary Republican Southern Strategy, but Obama whose bold strategy of fighting for the South and the Southwest, indeed all fifty states, ran counter to all previous electoral “common sense.”

His success was both astonishing and history making. He won the southwestern states of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, and the former Confederate slave states of Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, as well as former slave states Maryland and Delaware. The Latino vote was decisive for Obama in Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Colorado.

In all, nine states switched from red to blue from 2004 to 2008: Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa. Obama lost Missouri by the narrowest of margins.

The historic nature of these victories is brought into sharp relief by the accompanying maps.

The first is the map of slave versus free states and territories just prior to the Civil War. The other is the electoral map of the 2004 election. Depressingly, they are almost identical: the former slave areas are almost universally Republican and the former free areas, with a couple of exceptions, are Democratic.

Almost 150 years after the abolition of slavery, the political patterns wrought by the “peculiar institution” still shape U.S. politics. Barack Obama’s campaign may mark the beginning of the end of this historic pattern, with tremendous implications for the future of U.S. politics. The main window into this change is the Electoral College.

Electoral College: a Pillar of Racism

It is not so surprising that slavery set the pattern of U.S. politics if one knows that the Electoral College itself was a product of slavery.

The Founding Fathers, led by slaveholders such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, invented the Electoral College out of thin air to serve their interests.

They codified the notorious idea that slaves were non-humans, and thus deserving of no constitutional or human rights. The one exception to this rule was the stipulation that slaves were to be counted as three-fifths of a person, solely for the purpose of determining how many congressional representatives each state would be allotted. The three-fifths rule vastly increased the slave power in the House of Representatives and therefore the Congress.

The Electoral College, in which each state receives a number of Electors equal to their congressional delegation, was invented as the institutional means to transfer that same pro-slavery congressional allocation to determining the presidency. Slaveholders held the presidency for 50 of the 72 years before Abraham Lincoln, who was elected in 1860, became the first U.S. president to oppose the expansion of slavery. The South, used to wielding political power through the selective enumeration of slaves, promptly seceded.

Since the end of slavery the Electoral College has remained a racist and conservative instrument. It has given the Republicans a running head start to win the presidency ever since reactionary Southerners switched en masse from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in protest of the 1960s civil rights legislation.

As then-Republican strategist Kevin Phillips put it in 1970, “The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are.”

Based on that switch, the Republicans adopted the notorious Southern Strategy that has enabled them to dominate the presidency for the last forty years. The Republicans learned to skillfully fashion a winning combination of the solidly Republican white southern voters with conservative and moderate whites in the Midwest and Southwest, through barely coded racist appeals.

The Southern Strategy has been the glue with which the Republican Party has united powerful corporate capitalists to conservative white workers, farmers, gun aficionados, small business owners and suburban homeowners.

Negating the Southern Black Vote

The racial bias embedded in the Electoral College system is the structural basis of the Republican’s Southern Strategy. The winner-take-all Electoral College system ensures, even requires, that about half of all voters of color be marginalized or totally ignored. (4)

About 53 percent of all blacks live in the southern states, and in 2000 and 2004 they voted about 90 percent Democratic. However, in those elections white Republicans out-voted them in every Southern state and every border state except Maryland.

As a result, every single southern Electoral College vote was awarded to Bush. While whites voted 54-42 for Bush nationally in 2000, southern whites gave him over 70 percent of their votes in both 2000 and 2004. They thus completely erased the massive Southern black vote for the Democrats in that region.

The Electoral College result was the same as if blacks, and other Democrats, in the South had not voted at all.

Similarly negated were the votes of millions of Native American and Latino voters who live in overwhelmingly white Republican states like Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, the Dakotas, Montana and Texas. Further, the peoples of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam, territories ruled by the U.S., get no Electoral College votes at all. The tyranny of the white, conservative majority prevailed.

Compounding the reactionary and pro-Republican bias of the Electoral College, the system gives as much as three times as much weight to the mainly conservative and white Republicans in the rural states compared to states with large, racially diverse and majority Democratic populations.

For example, Wyoming has a little more than 240,000 voters and has three Electoral College votes: one for every 80,000 or so voters. By comparison large population states like California have about one Electoral College vote for every 220,000 voters.

Thus, the Electoral College system violates the principle of one person, one vote, drastically undermines the impact of the black vote and gives the Republicans a major advantage in presidential contests. Its abolition should be a key part of the progressive agenda.

Final Thoughts

Although the political dynamics of each of the nine states that turned from red to blue in 2008 need to be examined closely in their own right, it is likely that a minimum of three or four will move decisively into the Democratic column. A number of others that swung Democratic in 2008 have moved from being solidly red states to battleground states.

The solid Republican South and Southwest may be a thing of the past. In the wake of Obama’s hard-won victories, the Democrats have no excuse for essentially conceding these regions, as they have done for decades.

This will qualitatively shift the Electoral College math. Since 1968 the Electoral College has clearly favored the Republicans and the Democrats had to pull off an upset to win. Indeed, Bill Clinton won only because of the third party candidacy of Ross Perot. In the future, it may be that the Electoral College math will favor the Democrats, and that the Republicans can only win by staging an upset.

Just as important, for the first time in U.S. history the two political parties clearly represent the two broad wings of U.S. politics. At the national level, the southern reactionaries no longer hold the Democratic Party hostage.

This augurs well for the possibility that an Obama presidency may be able to gather the political strength to undertake a major restructuring of the economy in favor of working people and peoples of color in general, and to reorganize our foreign policy in a positive direction.

However, there is still a major political element missing from the political equation: a powerful independent peoples’ movement. In the 1930s the union movement, and especially the newly formed, radical CIO, was key to the New Deal. In the 1960s the civil rights movement was the driving force of the War on Poverty.

Herein lies the principal task of progressives in the coming period: to forge powerful independent, mass movements and organizations that can help shape the Obama coalition in a positive way. Our relative success or failure at this task may determine the future of the U.S. and the world every bit as much as President Obama himself.


1. Unless otherwise noted all voting figures are drawn from the National Exit Polls for 2000, 2004 and 2008, as reported by CNN.

2. I calculate the “swing” or “change” in the vote in the traditional but rather confusing manner as the change in the vote differential. For example, in 2004 blacks voted Democratic by 88 to 11, a 77 point differential. In 2008, they voted Democratic by 95 to 4, a 91 point differential. The vote differential thus changed from 77 points to 91 points, so I report a 14-point “swing” or “change.”

3. No national exit poll numbers are available about Arab or Native American voters for any year.

4. Only Nebraska and Maine allocate their electoral votes more or less proportionate to the vote rather than on a statewide winner-

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Declaration: World Social Forum

World Social Forum: We Won't Pay for the Crisis. The
Rich Must Pay!

Climate and Capitalism February 4, 2009

Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements at the
World Social Forum 2009, Belem, Brazil.

We the social movements from all over the world came
together on the occasion of the 8th World Social Forum
in Belém, Amazonia, where the peoples have been
resisting attempts to usurp Nature, their lands and
their cultures. We are here in Latin America, where
over the last decade the social movements and the
indigenous movements have joined forces and radically
question the capitalist system from their cosmovision.
Over the last few years, in Latin America highly
radical social struggles have resulted in the overthrow
of neoliberal governments and the empowerment of
governments that have carried out many positive reforms
such as the nationalisation of core sectors of the
economy and democratic constitutional reforms.

In this context the social movements in Latin America
have responded appropriately, deciding to support the
positive measures adopted by these governments while
keeping a critical distance. These experiences will be
of help in order to strengthen the peoples' staunch
resistance against the policies of governments,
corporations and banks who shift the burden of the
crisis onto the oppressed. We the social movements of
the globe are currently facing a historic challenge.
The international capitalist crisis manifests itself as
detrimental to humankind in various ways: it affects
food, finance, the economy, climate, energy, population
migration  and civilisation itself, as there is also a
crisis in international order and political structures.

We are facing a global crisis which is a direct
consequence of the capitalist system and therefore
cannot find a solution within the system. All the
measures that have been taken so far to overcome the
crisis merely aim at socialising losses so as to ensure
the survival of a system based on privatising strategic
economic sectors, public services, natural and energy
resources and on the commoditisation of life and the
exploitation of labour and of nature as well as on the
transfer of resources from the Periphery to the Centre
and from workers to the capitalist class.

The present system is based on exploitation,
competition, promotion of individual private interests
to the detriment of the collective interest, and the
frenzied accumulation of wealth by a handful of rich
people. It results in bloody wars, fuels xenophobia,
racism and religious fundamentalisms; it intensifies
the exploitation of women and the criminalisation of
social movements. In the context of the present crisis
the rights of peoples are systematically denied. The
Israeli government's savage aggression against the
Palestinian people is a violation of International Law
and amounts to a war crime, a crime against humanity,
and a symbol of the denial of a people's rights that
can be observed in other parts of the world. The
shameful impunity must be stopped. The social movements
reassert their active support of the struggle of the
Palestinian people as well as of all actions against
oppression by peoples worldwide.

In order to overcome the crisis we have to grapple with
the root of the problem and progress as fast as
possible towards the construction of a radical
alternative that would do away with the capitalist
system and patriarchal domination. We must work towards
a society that meets social needs and respects nature's
rights as well as supporting democratic participation
in a context of full political freedom. We must see to
it that all international treaties on our indivisible
civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights,
both individual and collective, are implemented.

In this perspective we must contribute to the largest
possible popular mobilisation to enforce a number of
urgent measures such as:

* Nationalising the banking sector without
compensations and with full social monitoring,

* Reducing working time without any wage cut,

* Taking measures to ensure food and energy

* Stopping wars, withdraw occupation troops and
dismantle military foreign bases,

* Acknowledging the peoples' sovereignty and autonomy
ensuring their right to self-determination,

* Guaranteeing rights to land, territory, work,
education and health for all,

* Democratize access to means of communication and

The social emancipation process carried by the
feminist, environmentalist and socialist movements in
the 21st century aims at liberating society from
capitalist domination of the means of production,
communication and services, achieved by supporting
forms of ownership that favour the social interest:
small family freehold, public, cooperative, communal
and collective property.

Such an alternative will necessarily be feminist since
it is impossible to build a society based on social
justice and equality of rights when half of humankind
is oppressed and exploited.

Lastly, we commit ourselves to enriching the
construction of a society based on a life lived in
harmony with oneself, others and the world around ("el
buen vivir") by acknowledging the active participation
and contribution of the native peoples.

We, the social movements, are faced with a historic
opportunity to develop emancipatory initiatives on a
global scale. Only through the social struggle of the
masses can populations overcome the crisis. In order to
promote this struggle, it is essential to work on
consciousness-raising and mobilisation from the
grassroots. The challenge for the social movements is
to achieve a convergence of global mobilisation. It is
also to strengthen our ability to act by supporting the
convergence of all movements striving to withstand
oppression and exploitation.

We thus commit ourselves to:

* Launch a Global Week of Action against Capitalism and
War from March 28 to April 4, 2009 with: anti-G20
mobilisation on March 28, mobilisation against war and
crisis on March 30, a Day of Solidarity with the
Palestinian People to promote boycott, disinvestment
and sanctions against Israel on March 30, mobilisation
for the 60th Anniversary of NATO on April 4, etc.

* Increase occasions for mobilisation through the year:
March 8, International Women Day; April 17,
International Day for Food Sovereignty; May 1,
International Workers' Day; October 12, Global
Mobilisation of Struggle for Mother Earth, against
colonisation and commodification of life.

* Schedule an agenda of acts of resistance against the
G8 Summit in Sardinia, the Climate Summit in
Copenhagen, the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and
Tobago, etc.

Through such demands and initiatives we thus respond to
the crisis with radical and emancipatory solutions.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Otra Mundo es Posible : Lula

The world economic crisis.
Foro Social Mundial.

Create a national safety net

The National Safety Net (NSN)-- Five Point Agenda

The proposal is twofold: The first part of the proposal is to bring together people who want to create a National Safety Net (NSN) in America. Presently, America has a weak safety-net, and in a Capitalist society in which there are losers and winners, many people fall through our weak and tattered safety-net to a hard landing. America needs a strong public safety-net, not only under the poor, but also under the middle class.

The NSN could be woven together by 5 essential elements: Universal Health Care, a Living Wage, Fair Unemployment Benefits, Affordable Housing, and a Healthy Natural Environment. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or complete, and clearly Organic Food For Everyone, Nuclear Disarmament, Free Higher Education, Life Long Pensions, would add to the strength and comfort of America’s social fabric.

In most European countries, if you lose your job, then you don’t lose your housing and health care. In Germany, for example, if you lose your job, then you don’t get 6 months unemployment benefits, with perhaps an extension or two, as in America. Rather, you receive two thirds of your salary for one year, and then everyone gets an equal income plus the cost of their housing and health care for as long as needed, provided they are looking for a job. This doesn’t provide an affluent lifestyle, but it does keep people from sleeping in their cars or in the streets.

It’s past time in America to weave together these basic rights (not privileges) into a strong public safety-net that will catch, and soften the blows, of everyone that fails/falls in time of personal and/or socio-economic crisis.

Five Point Agenda:

Universal Health Care that legally guarantees the same, state of the art, medical treatment and care to all, regardless of income or wealth.

A Living Wage , for everyone over the age of 18, regardless of the nature of the work performed.

Fair unemployment benefits with a guaranteed basic income for as long as necessary because everyone has a right to a good job and the government has a duty to see to it that these jobs exist. Until those job opportunities exist, and an individual is fortunate enough to fill one, then s/he has a right to a decent survival.

Affordable Housing that ends homelessness in America, and there are no evictions or foreclosures for nonpayment of rents, mortgages, or utility bills.

A Diverse and Healthy natural environment in which no one lives in a dirty, poisoned, overheated, or dying place/world.


The second part of the proposal is to bring together people who also agree on an “inside/outside strategy“, with regard to the Democratic Party, for achieving a National Safety Net (NSN). We are not a political “Party”, but rather, a free association of individuals (defined by our Five Point Agenda) who work primarily, not entirely, through the Democratic Party to advance our goal. We recognize that the Democratic Party is the best available vehicle for defeating/overruling the Republican Party, thereby moving society in the right direction, however slowly, so we usually support Democratic candidates for office, especially progressives, but we are not inextricably bound to Capitalism, as are both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

The Capitalist economy is unsustainable in the long run, so we refrain from the convoluted, and ultimately futile, dialogue and attempts (by both Parties) to fix it or save it, and we focus, instead, on the political solution of a National Safety Net. Call this creeping Socialism if you like, but there is a growing sense of entitlement among Americans that all of us deserve a safe and respectable lifestyle, and insofar as Capitalism will not/cannot provide it, or afford it, or pay for it, then the people deserve a new economic order that satisfies basic needs for everyone, unconditionally, independently of one‘s success or failure in the marketplace.

America, like other modern nations, can afford (pay for) the satisfaction of public needs, an unconditional minimum threshold of quality living for all, by ending the gross inequality of wealth through a strict progressive tax and a reorganization of national priorities, including major defense cuts. The present economic crisis requires that we put a strong public safety-net under an entire population at-risk, given the failures of the private safety-nets such as the house, the 401k, credit cards, and the uncertainty of the future.

America is full of fear,: fear of getting sick, fear of not earning enough money, fear of losing one’s job, fear of homelessness, fear of natural blowback, etc. For more than two hundred years the old economy has failed to deliver on its promises of freedom from want and freedom from fear for all. We need courageous leaders, educators, and candidates who will champion the cause of the NSN, leading everyone to a better world. If we build political consensus (to a progressive majority) for the NSN, then the economy will transform itself in accordance with the Will Of The People.

Glenn Parton