Posts tagged with 'American Forum'

Campaign Cash: Biggest Loser Corporate Edition—Spending $2 Million on a Losing Race in Iowa

Posted Nov 1, 2010 @ 10:44 am by
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by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger

Flickr/Public CitizenCorporate America is on the attack in every state. As Joshua Holland explains for AlterNet, outside groups have spent somewhere between $750,000 and more than $2 million in an attempt to unseat Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) in a state where ad buys come cheap. But Braley is almost certain to win anyway, even if his lead isn’t quite as comfortable as it was in 2008, when he took 64 percent of the vote. This is what corporations and wealthy elites are willing to pony up in races they’re sure to lose.

Most of that money comes from two groups: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a front-group for some of the nation’s largest corporations, and America’s Future Fund, a right-wing front-group founded by GOP lobbyist and ethanol executive Nick Ryan. Public News Service‘s Eric Mack highlights the races in Hawkeye state that are unusually flush with cash.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission earlier this year, corporations and wealthy elites now have license to spend unlimited sums to promote candidates they like (or attack ones they don’t). Things are already getting out of hand. Outside groups are dumping millions of dollars into obscure races this year—even in places where they appear to have almost no chance of victory.


Weekly Diaspora: Busting Immigration Myths

Posted Apr 8, 2010 @ 10:56 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

By Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

According to a recent study described by New America Media, passing comprehensive immigration reform and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants  wouldn’t negatively impact the job market for those who are already citizens. This is one of many myths promoted by anti-immigration groups that have recently been busted wide open.

In an interview with Public Policy Institute of California research fellow Laura Hill, New America Media editor Sandip Roy notes, “People say in the current economy with 10 percent unemployment we cannot afford immigration reforms because native born Americans would lose out on jobs. Is that borne out by your study? ”

The answer is no, the study shows. “It won’t cause competitive hardship for native born workers because there is not suddenly mobility among the people being legalized,” Hill tells New America Media. “So this is not a sudden new adverse competition for those already in the workforce.”


Weekly Audit: Congress to take up financial reform, but will it be strong enough?

Posted Apr 6, 2010 @ 9:27 am by
Filed under: Economy     Bookmark and Share

by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger

Next week, the debate over financial reform will begin in earnest when Congress returns from its Easter break. Both political parties are gearing up for a major fight, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. An out-of-control banking sector has cost the economy over 7 million jobs since 2007, and without major reforms, Wall Street could repeat this disaster in just a few years’ time. But thanks to Wall Street’s lobbying might, all of the necessary reforms are currently in jeopardy.

Key Reforms

Writing for The Nation, Christopher Hayes offers a useful primer on financial regulation, highlighting three reforms that are crucial to any bill.

  • With no effective regulation of consumer protection issues for years, the existing banking regulators were more focused on preserving bank profitability than on going to bat for ordinary citizens. If banks could make big profits with unfair gimmicks (or even fraud), regulators usually looked the other way. The solution is a strong, independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) charged with nothing but protecting consumers from banker abuses, an agency with the broad authority to both write rules and enforce them.
  • We need to rein in the $300 trillion market for derivatives, the complex financial contracts brought down AIG. Unlike ordinary stocks and bonds, derivatives are not traded on exchanges, so nobody really knows what is going on in this tremendous market. When something goes wrong, like with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, nobody can tell who the problem will effect. Without information, markets panic, and the entire financial system can collapse within a matter of days. Fortunately, this problem has a simple solution: require all derivatives to be traded on exchanges.
  • Too-big-to-fail is too big to exist. The U.S. has never had banks as large as those that exist today, and their size gives them enormous political clout. It’s part of the reason why regulators didn’t make banks obey consumer protection laws, and why banks have been so effective in derailing reform. It’s been almost two years since the Big Crash, yet we are still wrangling over reform because giant banks deploy giant lobbying teams, and have almost unlimited resources to devote to their lobbying efforts. If we can’t scale back the banks’ power by breaking them up into smaller institutions, it’s unlikely that other reforms will be effective.


Weekly Diaspora: Protecting Haitian Refugees Through Immigration Reform

Posted Jan 14, 2010 @ 12:47 pm by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger

On Tuesday, the worst earthquake in 200 years struck just off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as The Nation reports. Bringing “catastrophic destruction” to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, the disaster has spurred relief efforts worldwide. Crises like this are important reminders of how the treatment and protection of refugees must be a part of immigration reform.

Temporary protected status for Haitian refugees

In September of 2009—just one year after Haiti was decimated by four successive hurricanes and tropical storms that affected at least 3 million people—New America Media (NAM) made a prescient call to halt all deportation to Haiti, and grant Haitians temporary protected status (TPS) status in the U.S. “before more Haitians die or are impacted by natural disasters.” (more…)

Weekly Audit: Getting it Right in 2010

Posted Jan 5, 2010 @ 8:21 am by
Filed under: Economy     Bookmark and Share

By Zach Carter, Media Consortium Blogger

The new decade offers a great opportunity to not only look back on the policies that led to our current economic malaise, but consider other ways of building stability that won’t wreak economic and ecological destruction.

Here’s a quick round up of some smart articles that address how economic policy changes could shift the way we work and live in the next decade. (more…)

Weekly Immigration Wire: Why Are Hate Crimes on the Rise?

Posted Jun 18, 2009 @ 10:45 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

On May 30, 29-year-old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia Flores were shot to death, purportedly by a group of far-right anti-immigrant activists who broke into the Flores home by posing as police officers. On Friday, Shawna Forde, anti-immigrant activist and Executive Director of the Minutemen American Defense, (MAD) along with accomplices Jason Eugene Bush and Albert Robert Gaxiola were arrested on two counts of first-degree murder and burglary charges related to the Flores murders.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes that the MAD website denounces the murders, but wryly adds that the distancing is “a tad belied by headlines down the page,” like “Subhuman Mexicans (God’s Children?) Prey on Countrymen.” The Flores murders are part of a palpable political and social climate of hostility and revulsion toward Latin American immigrants that is running amok in our nation.

As Democracy Now reports, the FBI has noted a rise in hate crimes against Latinos, which isn’t difficult to verify anecdotally. And, according to Laura Flanders at GritTV, “economics, racial panic, immigration, [and] right wing rhetoric” all play a crucial role. If our government continues to spend resources that help portray people as both predatory and “subhuman,” it will continue to foster a perception that violence against this class can be committed in good conscience.

This national, anti-immigrant fervor has resulted in a courts system in which “countless immigrants are subjected to harassing or denigrating treatment” and “have no assistance in navigating the byzantine court process,” writes Mary Giovagnoli at AlterNet. She reports that “misguided deportation-only strategies have led to a breakdown in our immigration court system.” The system is overloaded, backlogged, and not operating effectively or humanely.

The U.S. immigration process is in disrepair due to neglect and improper stopgap measures (like agreement 287(g)), just as broken bones will fuse in any manner if not set correctly. We are mired in an interim period and tensions will continue rising until we take on the challenge as a nation. In any part of the process, from application to arrest to detention to deportation, there are glaring problems. RaceWire touches briefly on the lack of accountability in the detention system.

Is the increasing absorption of virulently racist mentalities into mainstream groups a terrible confluence of unrelated factors, or a predictable reaction to the “browning” of this country? At the same time the U.S. military has relaxed its rules on accepting recruits with ties to white supremacist movements, so have circumstances allowed for “a new crop of anti-immigrant groups to enter the mainstream dialogue, even though many have ties to hate groups with violent records,” as Miriam Zoila Pérez writes for Feministing.

The video above depicts Shawna Forde as a spokesman for one of these hate groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR made news on Tuesday for disingenuously presenting statistics that demonize immigrants as a strain to the economy. At AlterNet, Walter Ewing exposes the tortured logic FAIR employs and makes the case that “once … inconvenient truths are taken into account, FAIR’s ‘cost’ evaporates.”

It wasn’t long ago that we reported on how many anti-immigrant pundits were using the Swine Flu to create a toxic  anti-immigrant/anti-Latino climate. And sadly, none of those people understand how hate speech leads directly to violence. Talking Points Memo makes the alleged murderers’ ties to the anti-immigration movement clear.

When the government build walls to stave off fears, it is, ironically, reinforcing that same emotion of fear. When hostile and punitive legislation is enacted, fear of the Other is mixed with aggression. When a fearful and aggressively rigid mindset is applied to social fluctuations that require flexibility and change, the result is an increase in the return of that negative energy.

And yet, hope will live on. And sometimes that hope will lead to historic change. Which is why we must keep writing and talking, keep pushing, and keep challenging all the injustice we find.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out and This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.

Weekly Immigration Wire: Women Central to Immigration Story

Posted May 21, 2009 @ 10:31 am by
Filed under: Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

Celebrated stories of early American pioneers, explorers, and immigrants typically center around men of fortitude and bravery. Depictions of modern-day migrants are still very male-centric, and this cultural lens is a default in most cases. But women play a central and overlooked role in today’s immigration story. Even when not directly highlighted, women often bear the weight of keeping families together and helping them grow stronger.

New America Media has just released the results of a poll titled “Women Immigrants: Stewards of the 21st Century.” NAM surveyed 1,002 female immigrants from Latin American, Asian, African, and Arab countries. According to Sandy Close and Richard Rodriguez, “The story that has not been told is the story of the woman immigrant. This poll is an effort to capture her narrative, and what becomes clear in the responses–many to questions that seemed on their face to have nothing to do with family per se–is that the gold thread giving meaning to her life is family stewardship.”

The poll reveals that the typical model of migration, in which the man left to find work and send home money, has changed. Women are assuming head of the household duties, even if in their prior situation they were in less of a leadership role. The women interviewed for the poll named “securing family stability” as the most important motivator for seeking U.S. citizenship.

NAM also features a number of articles that break down the poll’s findings, all available on the Immigration Ladder. Some feature short videos such as the one below, titled Family, Work and Progress — Latina Immigrants Speak. In this video, Latinas talk about why they came to the U.S. The reasons range from political asylum to simply being able to raise and feed their children. These are hard-hitting pieces because we can see and hear people tell their own story in their own words.

A common line spouted by those in favor of a strong enforcement agenda is that immigrants come here to ‘steal’ or ‘take’ our jobs. The focus is on an abstract, shadowy fence-hopper from Latin America who encroaches on turf and swipes resources. Ironically, there is never a mention of NAFTA and the effect it has had on the Latin American economy in these particular discussions! Perhaps no families would need to migrate north if unfair economic practices hadn’t taken so many jobs from Mexico, Guatemala, and the rest of Latin America.

Quite different than recycled stock footage of a man sliding over a busted-up border fence, NAM’s poll and videos present the truth in its plain and sorry reality. While it may make for less thrilling copy, it’s important to hear a mother talk about leaving a child behind so that she can forge a better path for them both, or about being alone in a strange place with nobody to help; about spending as much on long-distance phone calls to your children as you would on bringing them across the border.

These stories are important. Watching and reading human dramas that demand emotional engagement combat the anti-immigration punditry’s characterization of immigrants. As a result, a question forms that won’t go away: Why are these women alone in their struggle? If they were perceived as U.S. citizens, we would move mountains to come to their aid. It isn’t surprising that some Feminists strongly support immigration, though there is an ongoing debate.

Enforcement tactics are also devastating on a large scale. Writing for the American Forum, Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas paints a clear picture of how the tactics deployed supposedly in the name of U.S. “security” do nothing to secure either happiness, safety, or a sound economy.

In Wiretap, 15-year-old Lupe Carreno tells about the day ICE took her father from her own home, and what that means to her life today: “When they began to walk down the stairs with my dad, it hit me. This could be the last time I see him for a long time. I looked away. I didn’t want to see them take my dad. When I looked down the stairs and didn’t see them anymore, I cried. My mom and my aunt told me not to cry, but this made me cry even more. The whole event only took 15 minutes.”

Lupe’s family has medical problems, but her father’s insurance is no longer there. The enforcement agenda has transformed a happy, cohesive family unit into a fractured cluster of pain and fear. Lupe lives in uncertainty now and worries her mother may be deported any day.

As in Lupe’s case, there are weaknesses in the system that do not provide for those with medical needs. Such as in the case of Xiu Ping Jiang, a Chinese immigrant who fled to the U.S. after being forcibly sterilized for having a second child. In Immigration Limbo for the Mentally Ill, Wiretap’s Brittany Shoot tells how Jiang was separated from her children by immigration officers, and shortly after, fell into a depression. Being an immigrant, she had no state-funded legal counsel to represent her. “This has caused her case to be drawn out for more than a year while she languishes in a detention center,” Shoot writes. “With a history of attempted suicide, her family members in the States grow increasingly fearful that they will lose their fragile sister inside the system.”

Will telling Xiu Ping Jiang’s story produce more than “[o]ne day of frenzied blogging” following the original reportage? Shoot seems to doubt it.

Returning to New America Media, we have the story What Am I Without My Leg? Eglis, an undocumented immigrant, lost her leg to an uninsured driver and is struggling to live with the consequences. Eglis’ story is a brutal example of the healthcare gap for immigrant women.

Finally, the Colorado Independent reports on a bill sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. that would create “a special ‘blue card’ status for undocumented immigrants who’ve worked a minimum number of hours in the agriculture sector in the past two years.” Some immigration advocates would call this a success. But true progress includes acknowledging in law and public dialogue what such a move truly indicates: That immigrants are not a threat to our nation, but in fact, a crucial and needed part of our way of life. Without them, we fall apart. This is what happens when you remove a mother from a family. This is what happens when you remove a workforce from a factory in Postville, Iowa. And this is what will happen if we continue to punish or forcibly remove immigrants from our nation.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out and This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.

Weekly Immigration Wire: Building Up to Change

Posted Apr 23, 2009 @ 11:05 am by
Filed under: Economy, Immigration     Bookmark and Share

by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger

As the U.S. moves closer and closer to enacting immigration reform, the situation on the ground is evolving as well. Nothing is static for an issue that touches so many people across so many communities. This week’s wire follows up on trends observed last week: holding mainstream media accountable, enforcement tactics, and immigration’s positive effect on the economy.

But if you’d first like to get up to speed on immigration reform fundamentals, stop over at Feministing’s interview with Christine Neumann-Ortiz. (And definitely don’t miss Feministing’s call to action to stop the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.)

Last week, the Wire highlighted the importance of  holding mainstream media accountable—especially when it comes to giving proper context to quoted sources. This week, Texas Observer’s Melissa del Bosque writes that “[t]he truth differs wildly from the perception.” when it comes to the actual political situation in Mexico and the image cultivated by mainstream media. While some outlets continue to develop an image Mexico as lawless and volatile, the actual scenario is not as dramatic.

Following up on enforcement tactics, Marcelo Balivé, writing for New America Media, explores the “backlash against immigrants” that “continues to rage countrywide.” According to Balivé, anti-immigrant sentiment is bleeding over into American perceptions about Mexican culture, “casting a pall on all Hispanic immigrants, whether they entered the country illegally or not.”

On a more positive note, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head Janet Napolitano’s recent statements that ICE will henceforth target employers rather than workers is a move in the right direction, though she gives no indication of how that might manifest on a practical level. Napolitano also admits that there will be “no halt to arrests of undocumented workers.”

This is unfortunate. The effects of ICE raids, and the ongoing hunt for “illegals in our midst” is hurting most Latinos in the U.S., even citizens. Even the so-called “Sanctuary” cities, which refuse to enlist local law enforcement to federal duties like immigration control, are no longer offer a feeling of safety. San Francisco, much like Postville, Iowa, is now feeling the devastating effects of the ICE raids. I’m not sure how the Democratic party intends to square its support for community-shattering raids with previous promises to a large part of their constituency.

In the American Prospect, Ann Friedman writes that nearly one year after the raid in Postville, “The lingering effects of the raid make depressingly clear how misleading the “immigrants take from our communities” narrative really is.” Friedman asks that we consider what a community loses when we act as if a huge part of that same community is “illegal.”

Following up on last weeks coverage of immigration as an economic issue, Pramila Jayapal and Renee Radcliff Sinclair argue that  Immigrants Keep Washington’s Economy Strong for the American Forum:

The Office of Financial Management estimated that in 2007, Washington households with at least one foreign-born member contributed $1.48 billion in tax revenue, or 13 percent of the state’s total tax revenue. Even low-income immigrant households earning less than $20,000 a year contributed a total of $50 million in tax revenue.

And in other immigration news, Wiretap’s Naima Coster writes of an ethical conflict of interest when “anti-immigrant policy and the capitalist ambitions of pharmaceutical giant Merck” are joined. Is it right to federally mandate all women immigrants to receive the Gardasil vaccine, which has claimed approximately 20 lives and produced “thousands of cases of adverse effects”?

Women have good cause to be concerned with the immigration issue “because of the displacement and separation of families—and the inherent link … between women and family life,” writes Elisabeth Garber-Paul for RH Reality Check. It’s a point also implicit in Made in LA, an Emmy-winning documentary that follows the lives of three Latina immigrants fighting for labor protections and the right to pursue freedom, happiness and a fair living.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out and This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.