Thursday, December 8, 2016

Challenging D.C.'s Tradition Of Unpaid Government Internships

1995 White House Interns with US Senator Diane Feinstein on her visit to the West Wing.

NPR's Parth Shah wrote a great piece on interns in Washington DC and its hardships of working full-time unpaid internships. My personal experience as a White House intern in 1995 with President Clinton's administration was an experience of a life time. That opportunity still to this day opens doors in my career as a lobbyist.

As a USC student with limited financial means, we had to save money prior to starting our full-time internship program in addition to taking a full load of classes at USC's Washington DC program. It was impossible to get a second job because that meant we would not sleep. So with the limited funds that supported our tuition, books, rent and food...we took advantage of the intern "grapevine".

The "grapevine" was a word of mouth of communicating between interns from the White House to the Capitol Building and every Federal department in between. We would know about events where we controlled the "RSVP" list and add fellow interns in order to further network but more importantly eat and drink for free. This was also during the time of the 1995 Federal shut down, where interns were basically running Washington DC because the budget did not affect us, since we were free labor.

My  parents who immigrated in the late 60's from Colombia came from a humble background and sent money whenever they could to add to my limited savings account to survive in DC. But in all honesty, if it was not for all the hard work, struggles and opportunities offered to me, I would not be the person I am today. We share great memories from meeting the leadership of America of both government and business, to sharing struggles as with fellow my interns (including Monica Lewinsky).

 Written by Parth Shah

The Department of Labor has guidelines for companies that want to keep unpaid interns. Essentially, unpaid interns have to be treated like students and shouldn't do the work of paid employees.
Those rules, however, don't apply to government agencies.
"If America runs on Dunkin' Donuts, D.C. runs on unpaid internships," says Carlos Vera, the founder of a campaign called Pay Our Interns. The campaign's guiding principle: how much money your parents make shouldn't keep you from getting work experience.
Vera interned at the White House in 2014.
"For any person that loves politics, it's a dream being at the White House," Vera says. "Once I was on that other side, I realized it's not as glamorous as sometimes you think."

Because of the full-time hours and the high cost of living in Washington, D.C., Vera says, unpaid government internships are out of reach for many people from low-income backgrounds. It's something that hits close to home for Vera.
White House interns are expected to work unpaid from at least 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"One thing that the White House required is you had to bring in a suit every day," he said. "And that's something that they don't think about: Suits cost a lot of money. So my dad, my two aunts, and my uncle had to all pitch in money just so I could just buy one suit."
According to Money magazine, interning for the summer in cities like D.C. can cost upwards of $6,000. In a statement to NPR, White House officials said while the internship is unpaid, interns can earn academic credit. Vera says many government agencies offer academic credit as a form of compensation.
"At my university, school credit is [$1,467]," Vera says, referring to the per credit cost at his alma mater, American University. "You're paying to intern for free."
Reynolds Graves interned at the White House in 2011 and says unpaid internships are a rite of passage.
"You cannot put a price on the knowledge you obtain from an unpaid internship in these marble hallways, whether it's Capitol Hill or the White House," he says.
The White House internship was just one of the unpaid internships Graves did during college. He worked part time and dipped into savings to get by.
"Maybe you've got to bus tables after work. You know, everyone else gets off work, you don't get to go hang out," Graves said. "There's no shame in that and I think that would even build more grit."
Graves says interns can also seek out grant funding. That's what Ermolande Jean-Simon did when she was a White House intern. She got a $5,000 stipend from her alma mater, Boston University. But even with that money she still had to rely on family and friends to help her get by.

Vera says there shouldn't be so many obstacles for people from low-income backgrounds looking to do an unpaid government internship.
"Without that kind of support, I don't think I would have even been able to even do the internship," she said.
"People shouldn't be precluded from starting a career in public service based on their socioeconomic status," he says. "That's so anti-American in many ways."
Vera says his campaign is keeping a close eye on government agencies that don't pay their interns. As new elected officials come in, Pay Our Interns will be pushing to make intern wages a priority.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Presidential Election Prediction & Chapter From My New Book!

By Jaime Rojas, Jr.
November 3, 2016, Book Launch - Los Angeles, CA
Chapter from "Fiscal Conservative's Pocket Constitution 2.0 aka Latino Republicans"

Predictions of the November 2016 Presidential Elections and Beyond

If I was a betting man, never in my wildest imagination would I have predicted Donald Trump to be the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee for the November 2016 elections.

In September 2015, the Republicans had over a couple dozen potential candidates for the position of President of the United States of America. These Republican candidates’ policies fell on various parts of the “conservative/right” spectrum: moderate right to “God is going to scorch your ass” beliefs. But the interesting part, many more candidates were closer to the “God is going to scorch your ass” than usual. Overall nothing to out of the ordinary, well at least for the Republican party, since the 1980’s and its hostile take-over by the Southern Conservative Christian extremist.

The Democratic Party too was going through its form of “extremism”. Once again you had the presumed Presidential Candidate and political machine, Secretary Hillary Clinton, who just eight years ago lost to a no brand name candidate from Chicago, President Obama. On the leftist spectrum, she is very moderate, some even feel more Republican than Democrat in her policies and beliefs.
Now to the extreme left you had the very popular Congressman from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who in my humble opinion would give everything to the American people for FREE or more on the socialist ideal. But to be honest, as a former Democrat, I felt Bernie was more refreshing and “Obama” like in his philosophies (at least in the aspect of “hope”) than his counterpart of Secretary Clinton.

The stage is set and now we have both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton representing their respected parties.

I will preface my next statements by saying I am a first-generation American and the product of immigrant parents who came from Colombia to the United States over forty years ago. As many immigrant stories, they too came with no money, no network, and not speaking a lick of English. But they had the burning desire of the “American Dream” and God bless them….they achieved it! My parents, like many of yours, have a strong work ethic, have old-school beliefs, saved money and were entrepreneurs in their thinking and in their actions. They worked hard all their lives and have a retirement to show for it.

But I believe their crowning jewel above all is the success of their two American sons. Who in just one generation, attended & taught in the best universities, worked for Fortune 500 companies and in the White House, became entrepreneurs themselves and who at the end are productive American citizens.

So back to the Republican party’s nominee, El Donald Trump. As you remember over eight years ago, he just like Hillary, ran for his prospective party and lost. But back then he was a kinder and gentler Trump, who everyone remembers as the person who hobnobbed and networked with anyone who he thought would either make him richer or bring him higher TV ratings, including his friends the Clintons.

Welcome back to 2016 Presidential campaign. The “new” Trump starts off his bid for the Presidential Republican nomination by calling “Mexicans” everything under the big, blue sky and the scapegoats for all of America’s problems. They are rapist, murderers, illegals….who came to this country to basically gut it and return back to their Mother country fat and rich. He now wants to build a continuous wall on the  Mexican/American border to keep America safe. But I wonder what happed to building a wall between the Canadian/American border as well….oh yeah….those Canadian have white skin and look European.

The blame game has been played since the inception of this already great country. It all started when the Puritans were being persecuted in Europe for their religion. They decided to escape this persecution and they landed on Plymouth Rock. The American Indians for the most part welcomed them and helped them with the necessary survival skills to make it through the harsh seasonal weather….and America was born…more or less.

In return, these Europeans gave them diseases and in the long-run committed genocide through the slaughter of the native Indians of this country.
If that wasn’t enough, the agricultural revolution was in full swing, and it was very labor intensive. Due to the lack of numbers of strong European men (and the social class mentality)….slavery thus began. African men were being shipped to America in high numbers to meet the demand of tobacco, cotton and other agricultural products.

As most business-minded folks know, the highest expense any business has is human resources (aka labor), and the conservative numbers is somewhere around 50% of a business’ expenses. So how did the United States become so rich and powerful so quickly….the cost of labor = “zero”….so profits soared through the roof.

Almost forgot….so as American was born, the fore-fathers were very intelligent and forward thinkers of their time. They designed and created a government that was like no other and still is like no other. The core foundation of America are two documents: the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights (luck you, this book contains copies of both).

Our founders believed passionately of the protection of its citizens from its government. But also a controlled government was necessary to protect the people and keep balance and harmony.
So now we have a Presidential Republican nominee (or more like a snake-oil salesman) that literally spews fear, hatred and racism all under the cause of the “Let’s Make America Great Again” slogan. Blaming everyone but himself for the problems of America. What’s wrong with this picture….many things!

America is currently facing a fork on the road. On one hand you have, for example, coalminers in Virginia who have seen their great paying, union jobs decline (if not almost disappear) and are not be prepared for globalization. They are undereducated, underemployed and really pissed off. On the other hand you have immigrants (I include African-Americans in this mix….they too are immigrants) who have dealt with racism, glass-ceilings, police/government brutality, scape-goating…they too are pissed off.

So what now? This is the million-dollar question.

My Presidential election prediction should not be too shocking. If we have a high voter turnout, Hillary wins in a landslide. If we have poor turnout, Trump wins a close race.

But the question all Americans should be asking, what happens after Tuesday, November 8th? Are our problems fixable? My short answer is yes but with a hell of a lot of work.
America needs to go back to the basics. We need to begin by getting involved on the local level…that means with our families first. We need to be better parents and better children. I truly believe this is the start of the renaissance of America. Without love and structure of a strong family (traditional and non-traditional) as the foundation, American will continue in this downward spiral of fear, anger and hatred.

How American is that?

Please be a responsible Americans and vote on election day…your country is depending on it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let's Give Back! #GivingTuesday

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


By Jim Wright

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
I’ve been away from the internet all day.
I came home from a family picnic on the Blackwater River to find my inbox, as usual, overflowing like a ripe Port-O-Potty.
One of the first messages I read was about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, quoted above, who last Friday night at the beginning of a preseason game suddenly decided to become the most hated man in America du jour by deliberately not standing for the National Anthem.
Yes, that’s right, a football player didn’t stand for the National Anthem.
As you know, this means Kaepernick is scum, a horrible human being, a likely member of ISIS, a Muslim terrorist, a black thug, a communist, a socialist (and not the cool share your weed Bernie Sanders kind of socialist but the Red Brigade kind of Socialist who sleeps under a poster of Chairman Mao), a radical, a Black Panther, and he probably has Fidel Castro’s phone number in his contact favorites.
Yeah. Okay.
I answered the message and went on to the next one.
The next message was about Kaepernick. As was the next one. And the next one. And…
They all begin pretty much the same way: Jim, AS A VETERAN, what do you think about this? Well?
Let me answer all the messages at once …
AS A VETERAN, what do I think about Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the National Anthem?
As a veteran?
Very well, as a veteran then, this is what I believe:
The very first thing I learned in the military is this: Respect is a two-way street. If you want respect, true respect, sincere respect, then you have to GIVE IT.
If you want respect, you have to do the things necessary to earn it each and every single day. There are no short cuts and no exceptions.
Respect cannot be compelled.
Respect cannot be bought.
Respect cannot be inherited.
Respect cannot be demanded at the muzzle of a gun or by beating it into somebody or by shaming them into it. Can not. You might get what you think is respect, but it’s not. It’s only the appearance of respect. It’s fear, it’s groveling, it’s not respect. Far, far too many people both in and out of the military, people who should emphatically know better, do not understand this simple fact: there is an enormous difference between fear and respect.
Respect has to be earned.
Respect. Has. To. Be. Earned.
Respect has to be earned every day, by every word, by every action.
It takes a lifetime of words and deeds to earn respect.
It takes only one careless word, one thoughtless action, to lose it.
You have to be worthy of respect. You have to live up to, or at least do your best to live up to, those high ideals — the ones America supposedly embodies, that shining city on the hill, that exceptional nation we talk about, yes, that one. To earn respect you have to be fair. You have to have courage. You must embrace reason. You have to know when to hold the line and when to compromise. You have to take responsibility and hold yourself accountable. You have to keep your word. You have to give respect, true respect, to get it back.
There are no short cuts. None.
Now, any veteran worth the label should know that. If they don’t, then likely they weren’t much of a soldier to begin with and you can tell them I said so.
IF Kaepernick doesn’t feel his country respects him enough for him to respect it in return, well, then you can’t MAKE him respect it.
You can not make him respect it.
If you try to force a man to respect you, you’ll only make him respect you less.
With threats, by violence, by shame, you can maybe compel Kaepernick to stand up and put his hand over his heart and force him to be quiet. You might.
But that’s not respect.
It’s only the illusion of respect.
You might force this man into the illusion of respect. You might. Would you be satisfied then? Would that make you happy? Would that make you respect your nation, the one which forced a man into the illusion of respect, a nation of little clockwork patriots all pretending satisfaction and respect? Is that what you want? If THAT’s what matters to you, the illusion of respect, then you’re not talking about freedom or liberty. You’re not talking about the United States of America. Instead, you’re talking about every dictatorship from the Nazis to North Korea where people are lined up and MADE to salute with the muzzle of a gun pressed to the back of their necks.
That, that illusion of respect, is not why I wore a uniform.
That’s not why I held up my right hand and swore the oath and put my life on the line for my country.
That, that illusion of respect, is not why I am a veteran.
Not so a man should be forced to show respect he doesn’t feel.
That’s called slavery and I have no respect for that at all.
If Americans want this man to respect America, then first they must respect him.
If America wants the world’s respect, it must be worthy of respect.
America must be worthy of respect. Torture, rendition, indefinite detention, unarmed black men shot down in the street every day, poverty, inequality, voter suppression, racism, bigotry in every form, obstructionism, blind patriotism, NONE of those things are worthy of respect from anybody — least of all an American.
But doesn’t it also mean that if Kaepernick wants respect, he must give it first? Give it to America? Be worthy of respect himself? Stand up, shut up, and put his hand over his heart before Old Glory?
No. It doesn’t.
Respect doesn’t work that way.
Power flows from positive to negative. Electricity flows from greater potential to lesser.
The United States isn’t a person, it’s a vast construct, a framework of law and order and civilization designed to protect the weak from the ruthless and after more than two centuries of revision and refinement it exists to provide in equal measure for all of us the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The United States is POWER.
All the power rests with America. Just as it does in the military chain of command. And like that chain of command, like the electrical circuit described above, respect must flow from greater to lesser FIRST before it can return.
To you the National Anthem means one thing, to Kaepernick, it means something else. We are all shaped and defined by our experiences and we see the world through our own eyes. That’s freedom. That’s liberty. The right to believe differently. The right to protest as you will. The right to demand better. The right to believe your country can BE better, that it can live up to its sacred ideals, and the right to loudly note that it has NOT. The right to use your voice, your actions, to bring attention to the things you believe in. The right to want more for others, freedom, liberty, justice, equality, and RESPECT.
A true veteran might not agree with Colin Kaepernick, but a true veteran would fight to the death to protect his right to say what he believes.
You don’t like what Kaepernick has to say? Then prove him wrong, BE the nation he can respect.
It’s really just that simple.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Donald Trump's call for poll watchers brings back fears of 1988 Santa Ana

Donald Trump, in Altoona, Pa., on Aug. 12, told the crowd that he would dispatch supporters to monitor polling places to guard against voter fraud in "certain parts" of Pennsylvania. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

By Kurtis Lee
 AUGUST 19, 2016, 10:30 AM

He phone calls to Donald Tanney’s office began shortly after polls opened on that election day nearly three decades ago.

Tanney, then Orange County’s registrar of voters, was told that when residents — mostly Latino — arrived at 20 Santa Ana polling locations on Nov. 8, 1988, they were greeted by uniformed guards holding signs with a message in Spanish and English: "Non­Citizens Can't Vote." The guards, dressed in navy blue attire, had been hired by the campaign of Curt Pringle, a Republican state Assembly candidate from Garden Grove, and the Orange County Republican Party. Their mission? Monitor the polling places to ensure no fraudulent ballots were cast, insisted Pringle and officials from the county GOP.

“It was bad,” Tanney recalled. “People were really upset.” The incident became a blemish for California Republicans, producing allegations of voter intimidation and racism. A lawsuit was filed and a settlement reached.

“I remember thinking, ‘Really?’ This is something you could have easily imagined in other parts of the country,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., who back then was teaching political science in Orange County. “This was a clear attempt to intimidate Latinos.”

Now, nearly three decades later, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calls for his supporters to volunteer as election observers, concerns of voter intimidation have come to the forefront. At a rally in Pennsylvania last week, Trump used strong racial overtones to allege to his mostly white audience that “certain areas” of the state — such as Philadelphia, where almost half the residents are black — will commit voter fraud to support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

 Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania have said they will be on watch Nov. 8 to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot. Trump’s campaign says it’s simply advocating for an open and honest election.

The incident at the Santa Ana polls came six years after the Republican National Committee began operating under a consent decree, which was handed down by the Supreme Court and prevents the party from engaging in some voter­fraud prevention efforts without court approval. Yet that does not apply to campaigns, which routinely dispatch volunteers to observe activity at polling places.

 But what happened in Santa Ana was far from routine. At a news conference after the incident, Jose Diaz Vargas, a 53­year­old Santa Ana police officer, said he was on his way to vote when he heard that uniformed guards were patrolling the polling areas. He went home but later changed his mind in anger and went back to vote.
"I was very upset," he said back then. "This kind of conduct, I did not expect this to happen in the United States. Maybe in some other countries, but not in the United States. . . . I went back to the voting place, but how many other people didn't go back?"

Pringle bested his Democratic challenger, Rick Thierbach, and went on to become Assembly speaker during his time in Sacramento. He did not respond to interview requests. Thierbach said he sees similarities between then and now.

“Trump is afraid he’s going to lose,” Thierbach, a retired Superior Court judge, said as he reminisced about the race he lost by fewer than 900 votes. “What form those poll observers take will be interesting to see.”

 Some Republicans in the state said the uniformed guards of 1988 came at a time when Californians began to see a demographic shift. Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant and expert on Latino voting trends, said the incident was an “encapsulation of an action that was taken that demonstrated how some people in the party viewed a changing electorate.”

“Demographic change is never easy for any constituency or any group — it never has been,” Madrid said. “When it manifests politically, it becomes extremely charged and very explosive.”

Madrid said the growth of the Latino electorate in California in the late 1980s and early 1990s is what some swing states, like North Carolina and Virginia, are experiencing now.

 The stationing of guards in 1988 came six years before Proposition 187, a ballot measure that sought to deny taxpayer­funded services to those in the country illegally — another sign of unease with a changing electorate. Later it was nullified by the courts, but the message from the GOP — the measure was championed by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson — had been sent.

Prior to Prop. 187, Republicans received one­third or more of the Latino vote in California, according to a study by Latino Decisions, a polling firm. The vote peaked in 1984, with 45% of California Latinos backing Ronald Reagan and dropped to 22% supporting Mitt Romney in 2012.

Trump’s rhetoric this election cycle — he’s called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug runners — is not likely to help increase those numbers, say political analysts. Polls in swing states consistently show Clinton outpacing Trump among Latino voters.

“It’s been awhile,” recalled Tanney, “but it was certainly the most memorable moment of my time working on elections in Orange County.”

Now retired, Tanney, a life­long Democrat, was asked if Trump’s calls for election observers in certain states could reignite what occurred at those 20 polling locations in Santa Ana 28 years ago. He sighed and offered no comment.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What the baby Bolivar boom tells us about how we used to view South America

An image from the book "Bolivar" by Marie Arana. (Simon & Schuster)

By Caitlin Fitz

    Almost 200 years ago, as the United States approached its 50th birthday, a new baby name swept the nation. It wasn’t biblical or even Anglophone. It was Bolivar. Hundreds of mothers and fathers, living in Kentucky log cabins or Illinois farmhouses, named their crying, crinkly newborns after Spanish America’s most celebrated revolutionary: Simón Bolívar of Venezuela. The baby Bolivar boom wasn’t an isolated oddity, either. Other Americans named their new towns, their boats and even their livestock Bolivar, adopting the Spanish­speaking revolutionary as one of their own. Given how much of our current election cycle has been marked by talk of border walls and racial slurs, it may seem surprising that ordinary Americans held such early affection for Latin America. A generation before the United States swallowed half of Mexico (including what turned out to be a gold­en-crusted California), visions of a harmonious republican hemisphere prevailed.

    In the 1810s and early 1820s — just a generation or two after our Revolution of 1776 — most of Latin America fought (and won) independence wars against Spain and Portugal, from Mexico and Colombia to Chile and Brazil. Those developments owed more to the chaos of the Napoleonic Wars than to the shot heard round the world, but nonetheless, U.S. patriots happily gave themselves credit for having inspired a hemisphere full of revolutionary disciples. They concluded that their founding republican ideals really were universal — that U.S. light was spreading to places thought mired in Iberian colonial darkness. Victories across Latin America thus inflamed U.S. patriotism; as a Boston newspaper trumpeted, these newfound sister republics were “flattering to our national pride.”

   The excitement was pervasive. From Chillicothe, Ohio, to Savannah, Ga., mothers dressed their daughters in feathery, broad­brimmed “Bolivar hats.” Poets wrote odes to Brazil and Peru. West Point cadets looked exuberantly south and fired ceremonial cannons. Newspapers printed long lists of toasts sent in after each Independence Day, including hundreds feting Latin American freedom. As editors nationwide approvingly observed, toasts to “the Patriots of South America” were “the favourites of the day,” along with toasts to the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and the United States itself.

    The U.S. government remained officially neutral in these revolutions, declining to do for Latin Americans what France had done for it. But people found smaller ways to chip in. In 1812, Congress voted to send $50,000 worth of provisions to help erstwhile revolutionaries in Caracas dig out after a devastating earthquake; it was a pioneering instance of U.S. foreign aid. In another groundbreaking congressional vote 10 years later, the United States became the first country to formally recognize Spanish America’s new nations as independent powers.

    Hoping to do well by doing good, merchants loaded their ships “with weapons as ballast” (as Portugal’s ambassador griped) and sold the goods to South American rebels. With similarly mixed motives, some 3,000 privateers attacked Spanish ships on the high seas until Congress outlawed the practice beginning in 1817.

    The inter­American idealism was so strong that it often transcended racial and religious differences. Everyone knew that Latin Americans were Catholics, and newspapers widely reported that Spanish Americans in particular were passing gradual antislavery laws. Black U.S. audiences were thrilled, while white observers were so excited about the anticolonial battles that they accepted the antislavery ones. As the flummoxed Portuguese ambassador wrote at the time, it was “as if every person ... was denounced as an anti­patriot, if he be not an advocate for supporting every rebellion or insurrection ... whether these self­styled patriots are white, black, or yellow.”

   Americans’ universalist optimism about human potential was endlessly contested, and their abstract talk of brotherhood wilted as slavery spread into the South and West. Inter­American ardor eventually yielded to manifest destiny, racialized chauvinism and war with Mexico. But the sanguine inclusiveness of the 1810s and early 1820s mattered nonetheless. In celebrating the decline of colonial rule to their south, Americans were defining the United States as an advocate for worldwide republican liberty — even when that liberty included Spanish­-speaking antislavery Catholics.

   This short­lived and self­congratulatory excitement for Latin American independence offers few easy answers for our own times. Hemispheric enthusiasts themselves disagreed about the particulars of inter­American trade and diplomacy. Immigration wasn’t a central issue, and when it did begin to surge later in the 1820s and 1830s, people usually were moving to Mexico, not away from it. Still, the hemispheric enthusiasm stands in striking contrast to our current political discourse about Latin America. Our early 19th century predecessors saw themselves as political kin of people with clear cultural, linguistic and sometimes racial differences. Turning south of the border, early U.S. patriots adopted internationalism as a credo.

   Two centuries later, Donald Trump offers a new credo: “Make America great again.” The power and the peril of this slogan stem from its imprecision. To which past? What elements of our history does he propose to resuscitate? To paraphrase Walt Whitman, our history is large; it contains multitudes. It teems with triumph and treachery, freedom and slavery, equality and oppression.

   But here’s one thing we might resuscitate. We could improve upon our early 19th century predecessors’ global awareness and interest, their conviction that our welfare was intertwined with that of foreigners. We could reject Trump’s belligerent isolationism in favor of international goodwill. And we might consider that such hemispheric hopefulness and inclusive cosmopolitanism are an American tradition too.

Caitlin Fitz is an assistant professor of history at Northwestern University and author of “Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

REPOST: Exclusive Interview with Ann Coulter On The Upcoming Latino Vote!

Ann Coulter with Jaime Rojas
By Jaime Rojas, Jr.
Jimmy's Politico

(This piece is dedicated to you for the opportunity you gave me. May the decision made by be for the better and the positive future of our Latino community!)

Describing her as polarizing is an understatement. Many perceive Ann Coulter to be divisive and at times even anti-Latino. One of the columns she included in her new book, "Never Trust A Liberal Over 3 - Especially a Republican,"  is entitled "America Nears El Tipping Pointo." 
In it, she states: 

"No amount of 'reaching out' to the Hispanic community, effective 'messaging,' or Reagan's 'optimism' is going to turn Mexico's underclass into Republicans."Now, these are precisely the kinds of comments that makes so many Latino voters think there is no way they would ever turn to the Republican party.

But interestingly enough, even Ann Coulter realizes the GOP needs the Latino vote.  "Any election analysis that doesn't deal with the implacable fact of America's changing demographics is bound to be wrong." 

In her new book, she outlines to those Republicans and conservatives who want to listen a basic strategy for GOP success.

This may be surprising, but as  a Republican Latino - and there are many of us out there, but mostly in hiding nowadays - I agree with some of Ann's opinions. 
Don't get crazy with me now - I said "some" of her opinions. When she is not hurling insults, Coulter brings up some good points on how Republicans need to shift gears if they want to win elections.
"Conservatives, we need to adopt the smart things Democrats do, not the stupid ones. We like their persistence, but not their plans to wreck the country. We like the part about winning elections, not the part about jamming execrable policies down the nation's throat."


So how does she propose winning? 

For one, I strongly believe in Ann's comments that the GOP needs to focus on "how to win" elections by picking the strongest Republican candidates that showcase the diversity of the party and not the extreme views of the party. 

She stated that Republicans should stay focused on the party's message  - in order to gain support from Latinos and other minorities in America.

Coulter adds that "part of the problem Republicans always have in reaching out to Latinos and women ... is that they do not stick to the core principles of the Party ... believing in freedom, opportunity and hope in America." 

The GOP can begin preaching these core believes via action by finally putting together a comprehensive immigration policy. What better way to support freedom, opportunity and hope in America!

I asked Ann whether the recent re-election by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, where he received 51 percent of the Latino vote, is a GOP roadmap on how to outreach to Latinos. Coulter says "this is a great indicator for the GOP on how to appeal to the Latino voter. 

 Conservatives should reach out to the Latino community, but they are currently doing it the wrong way."

On immigration, Coulter does not believe "amnesty" - providing a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants - is the way to appeal to Latinos. 

She mentioned that some polls show immigration is not the top priority for some Latino voters, saying that "scratchy toilet paper ranks higher than amnesty for Latinos in America."  

She also adds that "...for the poorest and working class of this country – these are the people that will get hurt most with amnesty being passed in this country."

Coulter has a myopia view of immigration by only looking at amnesty. I am shocked that as a staunch Republican she does not follow in the beliefs of her idol President Reagan who granted "amnesty" to so many in the 80's. 

But again total reform is needed to give America's immigration policy a complete and much needed overhaul:

But like many Republicans and Americans for that matter forget that amnesty does not equal comprehensive immigration policy. 

Amnesty is only one element of many parts that make up the whole on immigration reform in this country. Let's just follow the strategy the Republican President Ronald Reagan, the great communicator and Californian, who made comprehensive immigration policy happen....almost 30 years ago.

Can the GOP finally be listening or is this just Coulter "marketing" to sell more books? Or maybe I can just tutor Ann in the art of compassion, which is the truly the American way!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The sinking fantasy that Trump would defend the Constitution

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks in Portland, Maine, on Thursday. (Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

By George Will

Like shipwrecked mariners clinging to a floating mast, many Republicans rationalize supporting Donald Trump because of “the court.” This two ­word incantation means: Because we care so much for the Constitution, it is supremely important to entrust to Trump the making of Supreme Court nominations. Well.

In a Republican candidates debate, Trump complained that Ted Cruz had criticized Trump’s sister, a federal judge. Trump said: “He’s been criticizing my sister for signing a certain bill. You know who else signed that bill? Justice Samuel Alito, a very conservative member of the Supreme Court, with my sister, signed that bill.” Trump, the supposed savior of the Supreme Court, thinks federal judges sign bills.

The mast clingers say: Well, sure, he knows nothing about U.S. government, including the Constitution, which he vows to defend all the way to “Article XII.” He will, however, choose wise advisers and humbly defer to them. 

This does not quite seem like him, but the mast ­clingers say: Don’t worry, he already has compiled a list of admirable potential nominees, and, stickler that he is for consistency and predictability, he will stick to this script written by strangers. This, too, does not quite seem like Trump, but the mast­clingers say: Don’t worry, he has said enough to reveal what his “instincts” are. Indeed he has.

The court’s two most important decisions in this century are Kelo and Citizens United. Conservatives loathe Kelo; Trump loves it. Conservatives celebrate Citizens United; Trump repeats the strident rhetoric of its liberal detractors. Kelo did radical damage to property rights. 

The Constitution says private property shall not be taken “for public use” without just compensation. Until Kelo, the court had held that “for public use” meant for something used by the general public (e.g., roads, public buildings) or to remove blight.

In Kelo, the court held, 5 ­to­ 4, that the government of New London, Conn., behaved constitutionally when it bulldozed a residential neighborhood for the “public use” of transferring the land to a corporation that would pay more taxes than the neighborhood’s residents paid to the government. 

Trump’s interests as a developer and a big­ government authoritarian converge in his enthusiasm for Kelo. Citizens United said that Americans do not forfeit their free ­speech rights when they band together in corporate form to magnify their political advocacy. 

The court held that the First Amendment protects from government restriction independent (not coordinated with candidates’ campaigns) candidate advocacy by Americans acting collectively through corporations, especially nonprofit advocacy corporations such as the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association. Hillary Clinton favors amending the First Amendment to empower government to regulate the quantity, content and timing of campaign speech about the government’s composition and conduct. 

It would do this by regulating campaign spending, most of which funds the dissemination of speech. The rationale for this, and for the broader liberal objective of replacing private funding with public funding of politics, is the theory that politicians are easily bought and that private contributions breed quid pro quo corruption. Trump loudly voices this proposition. 

The court has said that campaign ­speech regulations can be justified to combat corruption or the appearance thereof. Trump says he has made innumerable contributions to members of both parties because, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” 

Before he decided to solicit contributors, he said his wealth made him the only candidate impervious to corruption. It is unlikely that he would nominate to the court people who believe that the First Amendment, properly construed, requires the deregulation of political speech. 

The mast­ clingers should remember that Trump’s hostility to First Amendment values is apparent in his desire to “loosen” libel laws, thereby making it easier to sue or intimidate people who criticize people like him. 

Most mast­clingers are properly dismayed by President Obama’s anti-­constitutional use of executive orders to implement policies Congress refuses to enact. Trump promises more executive orders: “I’m going to use them much better, and they’re going to serve a much better purpose than he’s done.” So, mast­clingers straining to justify themselves by invoking “the court” are saying this: Granted, Trump knows nothing about current debates concerning the court’s proper role. 

We will, however, trust that he will suddenly become deferential to others’ preferences about judges. And we will ignore his promise to continue Obama’s authoritarian uses of the executive branch that will further degrade the legislative branch. We will do this because we care so very much for the Constitution. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Khizer Khan to Donald Trump: Have You Read the U.S. Constitution?

By Ghazala Khan

Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.

Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America, where we moved when he was 2 years old. He had volunteered to help his country, signing up for the ROTC at the University of Virginia. This was before the attack of Sept. 11, 2001. He didn’t have to do this, but he wanted to.

When Humayun was sent to Iraq, my husband and I worried about his safety. I had already been through one war, in Pakistan in 1965, when I was just a high school student. So I was very scared. You can sacrifice yourself, but you cannot take it that your kids will do this.

We asked if there was some way he could not go, because he had already done his service. He said it was his duty. I cannot forget when he was going to the plane, and he looked back at me. He was happy, and giving me strength: “Don’t worry, Mom. Everything will be all right.”

The last time I spoke to my son was on Mother’s Day 2004. We had asked him to call us collect whenever he could. I begged him to be safe. I asked him to stay back, and not to go running around trying to become a hero, because I knew he would do something like that.

He said, “Mom, these are my soldiers, these are my people. I have to take care of them.” He was killed by a car bomber outside He said, “Mom, these are my soldiers, these are my people. I have to take care of them.” He was killed by a car bomber outside the gates of his base. He died trying to save his soldiers and innocent civilians.

 That is my son. Humayun was always dependable. If I was vacuuming the house and he was home, he would take the vacuum from my hand and clean the house. He volunteered to teach disabled children in the hospital how to swim. He said, “Ilove when they have a little bit of progress and their faces, they light up. At least they are that much happy.” He wanted to be a lawyer, like his father, to help people.

CLICK HERE to hear his speech at the DNC Convention

Humayun is my middle son, and the others are doing so well, but every day Ifeel the pain of his loss. It has been 12 years, but you know hearts of pain can never heal as long as we live. Just talking about it is hard for me all the time. Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty.

I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter­in­law to do it. Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?

Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but Itold him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family.

When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant. If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion.

Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.