2-3-12 Links Roundup

A heterogeneous population representing multiple ethnic backgrounds and cultures, Hispanics are difficult to pigeonhole politically but have historically trended Democratic. But growing evidence suggests the potential for that to change, creating an opening for Republicans and a dilemma for Democrats.

“Republicans don’t need a large number of Hispanics. All they need to do is get a few points in each of these states and shave off that margin, and Democrats have a problem,” said Joe Velasquez of the American Latino Alliance PAC.

Velasquez’s group formed in mid-January and is putting together a muscular fundraising and campaign structure, bringing on the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Hispanic media guru James Aldrete. The super-PAC plans to support President Obama’s reelection and Democratic Senate candidates in seven states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

“We’re a very, very, very partisan Democratic operation,” Velasquez said. “We’re going to be heavy with the president.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The monster beneath this rhetoric is the Welfare Queen, the fabled boogeywoman of the 1976 Reagan presidential campaign.

“She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veterans’ benefits on four nonexisting deceased husbands,” Reagan told enraptured crowds at stump speeches. “Her tax-free income alone is over $150,000.”

As the narrative developed, she was, of course, black. She was promiscuous and she was lazy. She was also a lie.

When reporters investigated this story, they found only one case that even remotely supported Reagan’s claim. The woman’s name was Linda Taylor, from the south side of Chicago. She had defrauded the state of only $8,000 and had only four aliases.

But facts be damned.

The withholding of state funds will also be applied retroactively between August 2011 and January 2012. That money — about $5 million — will be taken out of the district’s February allotment, said Ryan Ducharme, an Arizona Department of Education spokesman.

Should the district not bring the program into compliance, the district stands to lose about $14.4 million over the fiscal year, Ducharme said.

The district’s governing board can also appeal the decision in Superior Court. The board will discuss the matter in its next meeting on Tuesday, a district spokeswoman said.

Outside the cul-de-sac’s seven brandy-colored brick neocolonials, party conversation quickly turned to typical middle-class concerns, from the quality of area schools to guidelines for the local homeowners association. By the time the Otigbas cleaned up and helped the hired DJ pack his equipment, several of their new neighbors had made something else clear. Most planned to spend the coming decades living in Balk Hill.

“I found that refreshing,” said Otigba, 43. “When we moved here, I told my wife, ‘This is it. I’m never moving again.’ We were planting our roots.”

That was then. Today, the Otigbas and five of their six immediate neighbors are underwater on their mortgages, that is, they owe more than their homes are worth. The lawyer’s house sits vacant after a failed short sale. The engineer fears the house he shares with his family will become unaffordable when their mortgage resets in about a year. And having attempted once unsuccessfully to cut a new deal with their bank, the Otigbas are waiting to hear the results of a second effort. For months they’ve lived in fear that an official foreclosure notice will arrive with an order to vacate.

“I am like a tree that is on the verge of being uprooted by water,” Otigba said, then sighed. “When that happens, think of all the other parts of the ecosystem that are upset, the streambeds that overflow, the problems that follow. That’s what it is like here.”

“Upon entering,” Hassan told us, CNN let him know he’d have the chance to ask his “very important question in front of the entire world.” With a nervous quiver in his voice, Hassan went for it (video below):

How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? As a Palestinian-American Republican, I’m here to tell you we do exist.

Awkward silence. The jarring discomfort between a discourse of intolerance on this very subject, and the presence of the object of such intolerance could only resolve itself in a tepid, sporadic, nearly embarrassed applause.

At intermission, I spoke to Darrell Rodenbaugh, president of PCT’s board of directors. My question was “Why do you have white kids playing black characters?”

“Well, should we deny these kids the opportunity to do a fun show?” he said. “We’d paid for the rights to the show six months in advance. We couldn’t cancel it.”

Didn’t any black kids audition? No, said Rodenbaugh, it’s hard to recruit black kids to PCT because there aren’t that many in Plano. (African-Americans make up less than 8 percent of the Plano, Texas, population of 259,841, according to the most recent census numbers.)

So why do a show with black characters in it if you know going in that you won’t have any black kids to play them? Rodenbaugh had several answers about how much the kids wanted to do Hairspray, how they weren’t going to bow to “political correctness” and how “the parents expect this.”

  • Anonymous

    Just fixed the link. Thanks for the heads-up!