Category: Politics & Governance

Marisa Treviño

More Young Voters Have No Party Preference

By Marisa Treviño, Jan 12, 2013 8:49 AM

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As the nation prepares to swear in Barack Obama as the 45th U.S. president, he will have the distinction of being the 15th Democrat (of those presidents specifically identified as Democrats) to hold the highest office in the country.

But a new study on young voters in California highlights a possible change when it comes to future elections — it will be less about Democrats and Republicans and more about the candidates.

Mark Trahant

A Context for the Budget Fights Ahead

By Mark Trahant, Jan 3, 2013 1:22 PM

It's important to remember that austerity is a global trend, not a national one. Countries across the globe are spending less on government, laying off public workers, and, generally, shrinking economies.

Mark Trahant

The Deal, The Mess, And a Look Ahead

By Mark Trahant, Jan 2, 2013 2:11 PM

President Barack Obama said his priority was keeping the current income tax rates in place for most Americans. The deal that passed Congress yesterday did just that. It raised taxes on people making more than $400,000 and pushed the fight over spending back to another day.

Walter Ewing

Colorado Digs Itself Into a Fiscal Hole in the Name of Immigration Enforcement

By Walter Ewing, Dec 17, 2012 10:30 AM

Immigration Impact

At a time when state budget deficits are growing larger, you might think that state governments would avoid imposing costly, unfunded mandates on themselves. Yet that is exactly what states are doing when they pass laws that transform their police officers into proxy immigration agents. As officers spend more of their scarce resources and time rounding up people whom they suspect of being unauthorized immigrants, costs mount not only for the police force, but for jails and courts as well. More often than not, these costs are being needlessly incurred in order to lock up people who are in no way a threat to public safety.

Ben Winograd

Guidance on ICE Detainers Sends Ripples Through California

By Ben Winograd, Dec 13, 2012 2:47 PM

Immigration Impact

Every year, local law enforcement agencies receive thousands of requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep individuals in custody—even after they are entitled to release—while federal officers determine whether to initiate removal proceedings. Last Tuesday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris issued simple but groundbreaking guidance to all law enforcement agencies in the state, clarifying that they have no legal obligation to honor so-called immigration “detainers.” Although Harris’ guidance was consistent with existing policies in numerous California counties, it has prompted other state law enforcement officials to publicly reconsider their willingness to cooperate with ICE.

Andrew Lam

Welcome to San Francisco, the Asian City by the Bay

By Andrew Lam, Dec 7, 2012 10:10 AM

 On a cable car over Nob Hill one morning, I overheard a blonde, middle-age tourist whisper this confidence to her companion: "It sure ain't Texas, I can tell you that much."

"No kidding," mumbled the burly man in a Hawaiian shirt as he continued filming the city with his camcorder.

The Texan couple's sense of displacement stems, at least in part, from San Francisco's unmistakable Oriental twang. For the tourist's camcorder is sure to capture, amid the city's Victorians and scenic hills, images that confirm San Francisco's central place in the Pacific Century: Young Asian students spilling out of grammar schools, video stores displaying the latest Hong Kong and Korean dramas, karaoke bars and sidewalk stalls filled with string beans, bokchoy, ginger and bitter melons.

San Francisco is now part of a statewide trend that has resulted in majority becoming minority, with minority continuing to surge and multiply. The latest census showed that whites have slowly shrunk to 48 percent of the population in San Francisco, becoming another minority in a city that has no majority. The city's Asian population, on the other hand, has risen above the 33 percent mark. That is, one in three San Francisco residents has an Asian face. For the population under 18, the number for Asian closer to 40 percent.

Politically and culturally, the result is something of a rumbling mid-Richter scale earthquake.

So much so that the current San Francisco Magazine has an unflattering picture of Rose Pak, a political activist with strong advocacy for Chinatown, on its cover, smoking a cigar. The headline: Who Runs San Francisco?

Mary Giovagnoli

This Week's Immigration Proposals: Old News, Old Ideas

By Mary Giovagnoli, Nov 29, 2012 12:10 PM

Immigration Impact

If you follow immigration, but are returning from a month-long, news-free vacation, there’s only one conclusion you would draw from the legislation Republicans offered up this week in Congress: Mitt Romney must have won the presidential election. After all, the ACHIEVE Act, introduced Tuesday by retiring Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), which offers temporary legal status but no path to citizenship to DREAMers, is surely the bill they were preparing to offer in the event that a Romney Administration was in the wings. And on the House side, a slightly revised version of the STEM Jobs Act—which failed on the suspension calendar before the election—is back on the floor at the end of this week without changing any of the problems that led to its defeat before. Surely, this suggests that the predictions that immigration would play a decisive role in the presidential election didn’t pan out and that self-deportation as an immigration reform strategy worked. Except, none of this is true.

Jenny Rejeske

DACA Recipients Shut Out of Affordable Health Care

By Jenny Rejeske, Nov 16, 2012 11:00 AM

National Immigration Law Center

The Obama administration’s decision to cut access to affordable health care for young people granted relief from deportation hurts everyone. This decision came weeks after the administration initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which lifts the cloud of deportation for immigrant youth who have grown up here. At the same time, the administration quietly issued policy changes excluding DACA recipients from federal health insurance programs, effectively shutting their door to affordable health care.

Jessica González-Rojas

Women of Color Won the Election for Obama-- And They Protected Reproductive Health

By Jessica González-Rojas, Nov 9, 2012 10:30 AM

Jessica González-Rojas is the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

On election night, Latinas and other women of color played an historic role in deciding the future of our country by helping President Obama secure the White House and blocking state-level attempts to curb rights, including reproductive rights. Over and over again, in state after state, Latina and women of color voters provided the winning margin: 76 percent of Latinas and 96 of black women voted for Obama, and Asian voters chose Obama at even higher rates than Latino/as. It’s no accident that women of color chose a president that has taken strong positions in support of health care access, support for a woman’s reproductive decision-making, and equal pay, key issues for this constituency.

Andrew Lam

The Post-Colonial Presidency: Our Man Obama

By Andrew Lam, Nov 7, 2012 1:26 AM


As a refugee from Vietnam, a country colonized by the French and then fought over by the Americans and the Soviet Union, I see the Obama presidency as spelling the end of a five-hundred-year-old colonial curse.

Decades ago, English still unruly on my tongue, I read a spin-off of Daniel Defoe’s The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, but I read it not as most of my American peers did. I saw myself, on one level or another, as Friday, his servant.

A British sailor participating in the slave trade, Crusoe was shipwrecked off the coast of Venezuela. He was alone for some years but managed with his guns to rescue a native prisoner who was about to be eaten by his captors. He named him Man Friday, taught him English, and converted him to Christianity. He taught Friday to call him “master.”

James Joyce once noted that Defoe’s sailor is the symbol of the imperial conquest, that “he is the true prototype of the British colonist. . . . The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit is in Crusoe: the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the sexual apathy, the calculating taciturnity.”

Likewise, all those who have been colonized and oppressed in the age of European expansionism are embodied in Friday. Indentured and “saved” by Crusoe, Friday becomes, over the centuries, a political symbol of racial injustice, of victims of colonization and imperialist expansion, of slavery. Friday was African, Native American, Asian, Latin American. And Friday was all the children born from miscegenation.

Viji Sundaram

Astrologer Says Obama's Planetary Alignment Makes Him a Shoo-In

By Viji Sundaram, Nov 6, 2012 3:10 PM

President Obama can sit back and relax today. It ain’t gonna be a nail-biter. The White House is his until 2016. 

According to one Hindu astrologer from India, “Obama has Capricorn ascendant with Saturn in Capricorn, giving rise to Sasa Yoga (yoga in astrology means planetary configuration), one of the Mahapurusha (great man) Yogas, which confer high status and position, kingship, etcetera,” asserts Prasannan, a Jyotish astrologer from India, in a letter to India-West, a weekly newspaper based in San Leandro, Calif.

Obama could have kept himself from going gray had he consulted this astrologer before he began his re-election bid. He should have taken a leaf out of former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s book. Nancy peeked at the stars before she made important decisions. Obviously, she was not very discreet about it, and poor Ronald became guilty by association, resulting in his catching some heat from a delegation from the Federation of American Scientists.

“In our opinion,” they wrote to him, “no person whose decisions are based, even in part, on such evident fantasies can be trusted to make the many serious—and even life-and-death—decisions required of American Presidents."

To which The Gipper cordially responded, "Let me assure you that while Nancy and I enjoy glancing at the daily astrology charts in our morning paper, we do not plan our daily activities or our lives around them."

But rumor had it that Nancy changed the time and date of scheduled events, canceled trips and severely restricted activities outside the White House.

Be that as it may, but what of Mitt?

“Mitt Romney has Taurus ascendant, with Moon in Scorpio and Sun in Aquarius. His ascendant plus 7 of the 9 planets are in fixed signs; this provides power and stability, but also gives rigidity, and inflexibility,” said Prasannan.

Sadly, “no Mahapurusha Yoga is seen in his chart,” he added.

The astrologer also weighed in on the candidates’ performance in the debates in their race to the White House.

The planet Mercury, he said, was so well positioned last March that it gave Mitt a clear victory in the first debate in the Republican primaries against Rick Santorum.

And what of his victory against Obama in their first debate?

“From October 2 to 20,” Prasannan said, “he was in Sun-Mercury-Mars period, the same 3 planets which contribute to the strong Yoga in his chart. This gave him a clear victory in the first debate, and caused the gap to close between challenger and incumbent.”

Mercifully, the stars were in Obama’s favor in the next two debates.

So those of you who are planning to vote for Mitt Romney today should save your energy for better things or, as Jane Austen would have put it: “Keep your breath to cool your porridge.”

I hate to say it, but for those who have already voted for him, it was an exercise in futility.

Michael K. Frisby

The Transformation of Barack Obama

By Michael K. Frisby, Nov 6, 2012 10:00 AM

Editor's Note: President Obama's speech on the eve of Election Day reflected the president's transformation, writes commentator Michael K. Frisby. As a journalist, Frisby covered every presidential campaign from 1976 to 1996, and is the former White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Lam

Vietnam, Afghanistan: War, Karma, and Peace

By Andrew Lam, Oct 30, 2012 3:59 PM

 Trying to Google news of my homeland, Vietnam, over the last few weeks has not been easy. The headlines that often showed up were about another country, not Vietnam.

Here are a few headlines from major news organizations:

- Afghanistan haunted by ghost of Vietnam
-Barack Obama must stop dithering - or Afghanistan will be his Vietnam
-The Vietnam War Guide to Afghanistan
-Afghanistan is Obama's Vietnam
-Which is America's longest war, Afghanistan or Vietnam?
-Vietnam and why we lost Afghanistan

Often times, indeed, when we mention the word Vietnam in the United States, we don't mean Vietnam as a country. Vietnam is unfortunately not like Thailand or Malaysia or Singapore to America's collective imagination. Its relationship to us is special: It is a vault filled with tragic metaphors for every pundit to use.

After the Vietnam War, Americans were caught in the past, haunted by unanswerable questions, confronted with an unhappy ending. So much so that my uncle who fought in the Vietnam War as a pilot for the South Vietnamese army, once observed that, "When Americans talk about Vietnam they really are talking about America." "Americans don't take defeat and bad memories very well. They try to escape them," he said in his funny but bitter way. "They make a habit of blaming small countries for things that happen to the United States. AIDS from Haiti, flu from Hong Kong or Mexico, drugs from Columbia, hurricanes from the Caribbean."

Marisa Treviño

Conservative Pundit Says Immigrants' Rights Are Not Civil Rights. Who Is She Kidding?

By Marisa Treviño, Sep 25, 2012 12:06 PM


No Sunday TV viewing is complete without watching the Sunday morning pundit roundtables. It was a nice surprise to see Jorge Ramos as one of this week with George Stephanopoulos‘ panelists. Of course, it was to recognize the new ABC/Univision partnership and Ramos’ recent interviews with Romney and Obama, but it was nice to have someone there who was speaking from firsthand knowledge rather than making assumptions.

Andrew Lam

Occupy: A Movement that Didn't Satisfy

By Andrew Lam, Sep 18, 2012 1:34 PM

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York last September and quickly spread around the country -- then, inevitably, in the age of instant information, the world. But just as quickly, it petered out. 

Here in San Francisco, the protest began the same week the iPhone 4S came out and even at its peak, the number of protesters barely rivaled the number of those who stood in long lines at the Apple Store a few blocks away. 
The same news cycle has returned a year later: The anniversary of the 99% against 1% movement coincided with the debut of the iPhone 5. While the headlines describing the Occupy movement seem discouraging: "1 year after encampment began, Occupy Wall Street is in disarray; spirit of revolt lives on," and "Occupy Movement: Spent after First Year?" the news for the iPhone debut was all rosy: "Apple: iPhone 5 pre-orders topped 2M in 24 hours." 
On the other hand, noted USA Today, "As the last of its urban encampments close and interest wanes in a movement without an organizational hierarchy or an action agenda, it's unclear whether Occupy's first birthday will be its last." Perhaps it couldn't be helped. Critics and pundits alike said that there was no coherent demand, no collective goal. The movement slowly imploded instead by quarrels and quibbles that descended in many cases into fistfights and bottle throwing. 

Sylvia Manzano

The Latino Gender Gap: Latina Voters Prefer Obama by 53-Point Margin

By Sylvia Manzano, Sep 17, 2012 10:08 AM

Latino Decisions

With seven weeks until the election Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s potential gender gap with women faces a new hurdle in the Latino community, as reported today by Pilar Marrero. According to the fourth week of the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll Latina voters plan to vote for President Obama by a margin of 74% to 21% for Romney – a 53 point gap. Among Latino men, 61% plan to vote for Obama and 32% for Romney. The September 17 polling data suggest the president continues to solidify his lead among Latinos, and there are no signs of cracks in the Obama coalition among Latino voters. Overall Obama holds 68% of the Latino vote to 26% for Romney, erasing the small bump Romney received in the September 3 (week 2) poll release following the RNC convention.

But it is among Latina voters that Romney and the Republican party fare the worst. The impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll data show very clearly that Hispanic women are very opposed to Mitt Romney and the Republican Party image right now. Romney’s favorability is 27% among Latino men and just 22% among Latinas, while Republicans in Congress are seen favorably by 29% of men, but just 20% of women in the Latino community. Looking towards the vote in the U.S. House, 68% of Latinas say they will vote Democrat compared to 59% of Latino men.

Given the focus of female voters and issues in the 2012 election the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll included a new question asking Hispanic respondents which party was better equipped to address issues important to women. When it comes to handling issues of concern to women, Latino voters – both men and women say that the Democratic Party is more trusted to handle women’s issues. However, among Latinas, we find a 65 point advantage for the Democrats on women’s issues, perhaps the largest gap on any policy issue our polling data has ever revealed – this is very bad news for the Republican Party. What’s more, our data indicate that Latinas are more motivated to vote in 2012 than are Latino men. Among Latinas, 59% say they are very enthusiastic about voting this year (51% for men) and 88% say they are certain to vote (84% of men).

Explaining the gender gap among Latinos

While much has been written about the gender gap in presidential election this year, little has been said about Hispanic women. Earlier this year, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto was one of the first to point out that Susana Martinez alone would not solve the Latina gender gap for Republicans, and that much deeper policy issues were at stake. Last week, Rob Preuhs pointed out that a June Latino Decisions poll in Colorado found a sizable gender gap emerging there as well. Given the historic and current state of party platforms and policy issues, we identify five reasons why Hispanic women are less inclined to support the Republican party.

1. The hostile rhetoric about immigrants has been gendered – “anchor babies” is a slur directed at Hispanic mothers – and it is no surprise Latinas think Democrats are better than Republicans at women’s issues. Ugly framing about Latina fertility and their children in context of immigration position-taking probably led many Latinas to think Republicans were not in their corner well before they started parsing words defining rape, adopted a platform position to ban all abortions, and waged a fight against covering birth control. It would be entirely shocking if Hispanic women suddenly became the champions of the party and candidates that put that phrase into the national lexicon.

2. When 78% of Latinas, and 68% of Latinos say that Democrats are better at women’s issues relative to the GOP, it is likely a reference to a whole host of issues that matter for Hispanic women, not merely a reference to abortion politics. Abortion and contraception consistently rank last among the most important issues to Latina and Latino voters. It almost does not matter how we conceive of “women’s issues”, Democrats have taken positions much more favorable to Hispanic women – affordable health care, DREAM Act support, Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court – compared to Republicans.

3. The idea that the economy, jobs, immigration, and health care are singular issues may not be so useful when we think about the perspective and experience Latinas (and Latinos for that matter) bring to these topics. It may not be useful to think about “the most important issue”, or “women’s issues” because things like jobs, economic concerns and heath care are inextricably connected for this community. For example, Latina voters are likely to have more care-giving responsibilities than other voters, and less income. We know that Latinos lack health care at higher rates, have more children than non-Latino whites, and have more multi-generational households (e.g. older family members live in the same home). All of these factors make “health care” more pressing for Latina voters who are concerned with their family’s actual health, as well as the impact it can have on the household’s economic stability.

4. Latina voters are more likely to say that the DREAM act is a priority issue, many Latinas – whether they are parents or not – think of the DREAM act as a long-term solution that provides economic and employment opportunities for their friends, children and larger community. So again, the economy and immigration policy are not two different things.

5. While there are differences between Hispanic men and women, it is important to notice that they are on the same side — well over half of Latinos and Latinas prefer Obama over Romney, are certain they will vote, and think Democratic outreach is much better than Republican outreach. This is not the same phenomenon as the white voter gender gap, that usually refers to men and women taking opposite positions on issues or candidates. The “Latino Gender Gap” is nothing like the white voter gender gap. Since Latinos and Latinas are similarly situated in terms of the social and economic status, their political preferences and behavior is pretty much alike. Hispanic men don’t like their kids being called “anchor babies”, or having their mothers insulted either.

Aurora Saldivar

Getting Personal at the DNC

By Aurora Saldivar, Sep 12, 2012 2:02 PM

This will be my first chance to vote in a Presidential election, and I feel as if my whole world is at stake. With health care, immigration reform, cost of higher education, and our job market, I believe my future and that of my entire generation lies in the balance. The path to becoming an adult is daunting enough, and now I worry that this college degree I am struggling to get will be useless in this economy. I also worry about what the outcome of this election will mean for my Eastern Coachella Valley community. You can barely locate it on the map, but it is full of people striving to protect their health and dignity.

Edwin Buggage

RNC -- A Throwback to 1950s TV America

By Edwin Buggage, Aug 29, 2012 3:45 PM

What I see downtown at the Republican National Convention is not a reflection of America in the 21st Century. What it seems more like is a throwback to the TV America of the 1950's. And it is unfortunate that this race has devolved into something equivalent to turning back the hands of time into this sort of nostalgia and selective amnesia of "The Good Old Days." A time where minorities and women were on the margins or non-existent in the mainstream of America.

Marisa Treviño

Texas Latino Voters Wonder at Excitement Over Cruz Victory

By Marisa Treviño, Aug 2, 2012 11:34 AM

The political world is in a frenzy today because of what happened in last night’s Texas Republican Senate primary race — newcomer Ted Cruz beat veteran and current Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.