2008

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Thursday New Tools Feature: The Revolution Will Be Televised

In Tracy's post today, she includes this powerful ad that aired after the presidential debate last night:

The ad was created through a service called SaysMe.tv. Here is the description of the service from their site:

SaysMe.tv is a website that gives individuals the opportunity to use TV to make an enormous difference in their politics, in their local community... and beyond. The 2008 election is just around the corner and the Internet has enabled bloggers of every affiliation to become as powerful in political circles as candidates, journalists and pundits. SaysMe.tv wants to further empower citizens by letting them make their voices heard on TV as well as the Internet. Sign up for SaysMe.tv, choose an ad featuring your candidate or issue of choice, select a network, and personalize your ad. With just a few simple clicks, you can put an ad on TV! Then you can distribute or embed your personalized ads anywhere on the Internet.

I think this may have been the most emotionally effective ad I've seen in this entire election cycle, and it was created by an ordinary person with a video camera. I think that is a truly amazing thing, and a real vindication and confirmation of what we've been saying about Reimagining Video and the End of Broadcast. This is truly people-powered politics at its best.

Hispanics Hand it to Obama

Obama's most important lead after last night's debate may have come among Hispanic voters, who favored him by a 50-36 percent margin according to the national Politico/InsiderAdvantage survey of undecided debate-watchers. The candidates were evenly matched among white voters, with McCain holding a 49-46 percent advantage - equal to the three point margin of error. African Americans picked Obama as the winner by 88-10 percent. You can trace Hispanics' support of the presidential candidates through Gallup's weekly poll - the poll shows Obama with a consistent comfortable margin of at least 20-25 points ahead of McCain. The latest Gallup poll shows Obama ahead by a 60-31 percent advantage.

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Plumber Story Springs More Leaks

As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, Joe the Plumber is a registered Republican and McCain supporter, who in fact would qualify for a tax cut under Obama's plan, does not pay his taxes anyway, and is not even a certified plumber

But that is the least of what's wrong with the Joe the Plumber narrative. Let's listen to Joe in his own words:

But to -- just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you, I mean, that's scary. You know as opposed to other people. I worked hard for it. Why should I be taxed more than other people?

The basic assumption here is that hard work = more pay, and that therefore if people aren't making enough money, they simply aren't working hard enough - Joe works hard "as opposed to other people." This is the absolute granddaddy of all conservative fallacies; for years, Americans' productivity has continued to rise, while their real wages have stagnated or fallen - nearly all of the benefits of our GDP growth have gone to the rich. Many Americans are working just as hard and are still struggling just to get by, which is why I have less sympathy for Joe. 

And what of this idea that with hard work, a person can climb the ladder to wealth? As Paul Krugman points out in "The Death of Horatio Alger," upward mobility in America is largely a thing of the past:

It is true, however, that America was once a place of substantial intergenerational mobility: Sons often did much better than their fathers. A classic 1978 survey found that among adult men whose fathers were in the bottom 25 percent of the population as ranked by social and economic status, 23 percent had made it into the top 25 percent. In other words, during the first thirty years or so after World War II, the American dream of upward mobility was a real experience for many people.

Now for the shocker: The Business Week piece cites a new survey of today's adult men, which finds that this number has dropped to only 10 percent. That is, over the past generation upward mobility has fallen drastically. Very few children of the lower class are making their way to even moderate affluence. This goes along with other studies indicating that rags-to-riches stories have become vanishingly rare, and that the correlation between fathers' and sons' incomes has risen in recent decades. In modern America, it seems, you're quite likely to stay in the social and economic class into which you were born.

As Governor Palin might put it, "Say it ain't so, Joe!"

UPDATE: Joe the Plumber "does not believe in Social Security." Maybe that's why he doesn't pay his taxes.

Candidates Woo Largest Spanish-speaking Audience in the Country, Part II

More on John McCain's interview with Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos. Univision has the largest Spanish-language audience in the U.S.

ON LATIN AMERICA- When asked about the prospect of Russia providing Venezuela with training and nuclear arms, and whether he would rule out U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Sen. McCain responded that he definitely would (keep in mind all those Florida voters who are originally from Venezuela or still have family and ties to the country). Sen. McCain stated his priorities regarding Latin America as: 1) U.S. independence from Venezuelan oil, as there is evidence that Venezuela is helping aid the FARC in Colombia, and 2) passage of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

Last weekend, Barack Obama and Joe Biden appeared with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto. By contrast, when asked about Latin America, Sen. Obama appeared to understand that the United States' relationship with the region has so much more at stake than merely trade agreements and foreign aid, "Trade agreements cannot serve as a substitute to sensible policy...It's not about just sending money [to the region] and forgetting about it...If this hollow policy continues, our children will be in danger...we should be in contact at this critical time." Sen. Biden noted, "..this Administration has no policy towards Russia, or towards Latin America for that matter."

ON OTHER ISSUES - On immigration, Barack Obama said during his interview with Ramos that in order to truly secure the border, we also need to go after unscrupulous employers and to provide legalization to all the undocumented in order to bring them out of the shadows. On the election:

JR: Will Hispanics decide this election? What do you think of Latino voters?
BO: "...The states with the largest Hispanic populations will certainly have a decisive role during this election....Hispanics could be the largest group of voters in New Mexico....I do think Hispanics are going to turn out and vote because they will decide whether they want to continue 8 years of failed policies or not...so I have no doubt that this election will turn out record numbers of Latinos and voters in general."
JR: So will Hispanics decide this election?
JB: In some states, like Florida, yes....in my state for example, small state of Delaware, has among the largest rates of growth of states on the east coast, the population has increased 25% over the last 17 years, and a full quarter of that growth is comprised of Hispanics in my state.

Jorge Ramos also posed a few tough questions to Sen. McCain:

JR: Governor Palin, she said Sen. Obama worked from an ex-terrorist's living room. But she works for the campaign right? So I take it she had your approval to say those things, are you suggesting that [Sen. Obama] tolerates terrorism?
JM: No. We just believe the American people should know more about this relationship.

**Sarah Palin was scheduled to appear with John McCain, but she reportedly had a scheduling conflict. Sen. McCain did say that she will be on Al Punto soon.

Ad Wars: En Español

Over the last few weeks, we have been commenting on how both Presidential candidates are battling it out to win over Hispanic voters by spending record sums on Spanish language advertising on issues of importance to this demographic, such as immigration, health care, and taxes.  The Washington Times has picked up on the brutal ad war and wrote about it in this piece by Stephen Dinan.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Although he may have received a score of 0 on the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard, at least US Sen. John McCain is very big on recycling. Last night's Daily Show takes a look at McCain's "new" stump speech, and finds some striking similarities with the old speech:



A new ad from the DNC hits similar themes to link McCain to President Bush:

Are We Headed Towards A Realigning Election?

The possibility grows each day.  Tomorrow's CBS/Times poll will fuel a new round of speculation that we are witnessing the birth of a new political era, a once in a generation political realignment.  

The Times poll has it - incredibly - 53-39 Obama.  14 points.  In mid October.  5 points is a landslide in a Presidential race. New state polls show similar trends.  

There has not been a Democrat ahead at this late stage of the election by this type of margin since at least 1964.  And only 7 times in the last 50 elections have Democrats won 53 percent of more of the national vote (they received 53 percent last year).  

Of course it could get much closer in the coming weeks but the trend is moving away from McCain now, not towards him.  

Will McCain be able to perform tomorrow night given what he knows?  Will we see a patriot or a partisan?  Reaching across the aisle to get things done or William Ayers?  

I know, I know.  It will be about those earmarks.  After all we've allocated to all those earmarks just one sixth of what President Bush has given to AIG in the last month alone.  

Wed am Update - DemFromCT has more.

Weekly Update On Immigration

FEWER PEOPLE ENTERING U.S. ILLEGALLY - In a piece in the New York Times, Ginger Thompson wrote about the latest report released by the Pew Hispanic Center, the report indicates fewer people are trying to enter the United States illegally and that there has been no growth over the last year in the number of illegal immigrants living here. The study, based on census data, showed that for the first time in nearly a decade, the number of people entering the country illegally was lower than the number arriving through legal channels. The decline helps prove what has already been said in other major studies: the rate of undocumented migration does not respond to enforcement measures, but rather economic incentives. Currently, Hispanics are reporting the highest decrease in economic well-being, according to another Pew Survey. The AP, several other publications and press in Latin America have commented on the data from latest Pew Report as well. The L.A. Times La Plaza estimates that Zacatecas and other states in Mexico are preparing for the return of about 350,000 countrymen from the U.S.

THOUSANDS OF IMMIGRANTS RETURN TO OAXACA, MEXICO FROM THE U.S. - Octavio Vélez of La Jornada reports, an estimated 24,700 Oaxacans who were in the U.S. have already returned to Mexico between July and September of this year due to having lost their jobs as a result of the hit taken by the construction industry during this economic crisis. Most of these workers had been working in California, Texas, Illinois, and New York.

The economic crisis and the decline of immigrants in the U.S. has also caused a dramatic drop in remittances to Latin America. Central banks from Mexico to Brazil have projected the biggest declines in remittances from the United States in more than 10 years. Governor Leonel Godoy, of the state of Michoacan, Mexico, made a request to the Budget Committee of the lower chamber of the Mexican Congress for higher levels of appropriations in order to maintain the economic stability of the state, as it is likely that the amount of remittances from the U.S. to Michoacan will continue to decrease.

DISPARITY IN ASYLUM APPLICATION PROCESS - Ketty Rodriguez of El Nuevo Herald writes about a recent GAO report that found marked disparity in the way applications for asylum are handled by different USCIS offices, and the bearing this lack of uniformity has on the speed of the application process and likelihood to get approved.

TPS EXTENDED - Temporary Protected Status has been extended for another 18 months for Hondurans and Nicaraguans living in the U.S., saving them from likely deportation. USCIS announced that this extension of status is effective from June 6, 2009 through July 5, 2010. Along with people from El Salvador, those under TPS have to apply to obtain legal permanent residence before the expiration of their TPS status, otherwise they can suffer deportation.

SENATORS PUSH FOR IMMIGRATION RAID GUIDELINES - With federal authorities stepping up immigration enforcement raids across the country, Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Robert Menendez of New Jersey are sponsoring a bill to protect the rights of U.S.citizens and legal residents who get caught up in them.

CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE PUBLIC OPINION ON CIR - Local and national business groups are funding a media campaign in Arizona and three other states to convince voters that this country has done enough to secure the border and now needs to legalize the 12 million or more undocumented immigrants and consider allowing more foreigners into this country.

IMMIGRANTS ABOUT TO BECOME CITIZENS LEFT OUT IN THE COLD - 1,241 Houston-area citizenship applicants who saw their naturalization ceremony canceled last month because of Hurricane Ike. Officials with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services initially rescheduled the ceremony for Oct. 29, well after the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, the administrative judge for the Houston federal courts, and U.S. Rep. Gene Green, got on the phone with agency officials and USCIS found a way to hold the emergency ceremony. But not all those on the list to be at the ceremony were informed of the change in schedule - Syed Zubair was not called and so he will miss out on one of the most important rights of every American:"The big thing with citizenship," he says. "is you have a say." Thanks to the federal bureaucracy, he'll have to wait four more years to be heard, at least in a presidential election.

POLITICO: A dog that hasn't barked - Great post by Ben Smith:

I noticed, putting up this post, that I haven't used the "immigration" category on this blog for months, but had meant to pull out a bit from my story last night to show just how much this element of the race has confounded expectations:

When Obama said last fall that he would support states'decisions to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, Hillary Clinton's pollster Mark Penn told her staff that Obama might have just lost himself the election.

"We thought he was going to get killed over it," recalled a Clinton staffer, who said Penn's polling portrayed it as so "lethal" that it could cost Obama the reliably Democratic state of California.

In fact? Crickets.

On that note, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has put together A Candidate's Guide to Immigration along with a two-page document of Answers to the Toughest Questions - to help candidates effectively counter and clarify the myths and ambiguities associated with immigration. NDN has similarly highlighted that the immigration system is broken and it can not be fixed until the terms of the immigration debate shift towards a rational conversation aimed at achieving workable and effective comprehensive immigration reform - we hope candidates use this important guide.

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