President Obama Declares His DLC Allegiance: Says "I Am A New Democrat"

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 03/18/2009 - 11:01
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by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

Despite the labels hung on him from all sides, Barack Obama has been, either determinedly reluctant, or notoriously slippery about defining himself.  But early this month, according to a story in Politico, in a relaxed meeting with right wing congressional Democrats, the president let slip his mask, if only for an unscripted moment.  “I am a New Democrat,” declared President Obama, firmly identifying himself with the brand and philosophy, though not necessarily with the organization of the Democratic Leadership Council.

President Obama Declares His DLC Allegiance: Says "I Am A New Democrat"

by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

"Jackson might well have been the nation's first black president.  But Rev. Jackson did something that the first black president did not do."

According to a well-sourced, but largely unnoticed story in story in Politico early this month, Barack Obama declared in a private meeting with a group of rightwing House Democrats that he was "a New Democrat," volunteraily assuming the discredited brand of the deeply corrupt Democratic Leadership Council

Back in 1984 and 1988 the Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns scared the living daylights out of the white Democratic Party establishment.  What frightened the good old white boys in charge of the Democratic Party most wasn't Jackson's poetic oratory or the color of his face.  It was the middle and end of the Reagan era, and tens of millions of Americans, including white ones, were ready and eager for a deep and thoroughgoing change in the nation's politics.  Jackson might well have been the nation's first black president.  But Rev. Jackson did something that the first black president did not do.

Unlike the man who became the nation's first black presidentf a quarter century later, Jackson brought more to the table with him than the symbolic presence of the nation's poor and disenfranchised.  Jackson took the relentless media spotlight that follows presidential candidates to farms and factories and housing projects and directly articulated the concerns, the demands of millions of ordinary people people in the Democratic Party's base.  A bigger threat to party bosses than a Democratic base mobilized behind its own will, a base that believed it had the right to craft and pursue its own policy objectives and that holds the candidates they voted for responsible for, is hard to imagine.  The mostly white bosses of the Democratic party a quarter century ago and today, prefer a Democratic base that votes, and then goes away after the elections, one that allows them to do the talking instead of speaking and moving for itself, a Democratic base that will not and cannot hold its elected representatives to any standard of articulating and carrying out the people's will for peace abroad and economic justice at home.he said it

The threat to Democratic party leaders faded after the '84 and '88 elections, when Jackson demobilized his people into the existing structures of the Democratic party.  But the lesson was not lost on Democratic Party leaders.  In the wake of the small-d democratic upsurge of the 1980s they cemented their hold on the Democratic Pary by founding the Democratic Leadership Council.  The DLC assured them access to the same sources of corporate funding as Republicans, and on the same basis.  As long as Democrats carried the water of big insurance, big pharma, the airlines, the energy companies and Wall Street, as long as DLC-funded candidates could speak for the party's base rather than allowing that base to speak for itself, and as along as the Democratic base was sent home between elections, Democrats would be assured a steady stream of corporate funding.

"The so-called New Democrats with whom Barack Obama identifies are, next to the House Blue Dogs, the most rightwing of Democratic reps in Congress, with considerable overlap between the two groups."

In a generation, the nation's elite educational institutions along with think tanks from the Manhattan Institute to the Rand Institute,  and funding from corporate foundations, would incubate a new generation of “black leaders,” the Cory Bookers, the Artur Davises, and finally Barack Obama.  While paying expert lip service to the tradition of African American struggle for human rights and economic justice, the new-style leaders declare themselves “pragmatic, not dogmatic,” and actively oppose the interests of the constituents that make their careers possible.

The so-called New Democrats with whom Barack Obama identifies are, next to the House Blue Dogs, the most rightwing of Democratic reps in Congress, with considerable overlap between the two groups.  In fact, several House New Democrats are also Blue Dogs.  New Democrats supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and continual increases in the military budget.  They all supported the bailout, and uphold No Child Left Behind and favor the gradual dismantling and privatization of public education in the US which NCLB set in motion.  New Democrats are tepid at best on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers across the country the legal standing workers have in many other advanced industrial countries to fight for wage and benefit increases and respect and dignity on the job.

And despite the fact that single payer health care would create 2.6 million new jobs and cover all the uninsured while costing no more than the present and profoundly broken health care system, New Democrats prefer a healthy private insurance sector to a healthy population.  They know that families who do not fear losing their precious medical benefits will be less afraid to organize and strike and fight for better wages and conditions.  New Democrats favor throwing trillions at banks to “revive” the economy, but are willing to cut or gut Social Security.  All these policy positions, and the New Democrat label itself are the heritage of the Democratic Leadership Council, with which Obama was briefly affiliated early in his career, but forced to disavow.  Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a leading New Democrat in the Congress, has always been a stalwart of the Democratic Leadership Council.  Emmanuel used corporate campaign cash to run pro-war Democrats against antiwar Democrats in 2006 and 2008.

As potent as the DLC-New Democrat brand is, it is also poisonous.  As a candidate for the Democratic nomination to the US Senate in 2003, Obama urgently needed to lock down the progressive, black and antiwar vote in his home state of Illinois, and was compelled to renounce the Democratic Leadership Council.  That was then.  This is now.  Perhaps the president feels himself  untouchable and unaccountable now that he is safely in the White Hose.  Maybe he was just relaxed.  Whatever the case, the truth of where his political allegiance lies is no longer a matter of conjecture.  

The Democratic Leadership Council has always been “Republicans-lite,” a pack of corporate funded Trojan Horses inside the Democratic Party responsible to their funders, and not to the Democratic Party's base.  Now President Obama has assumed his place, as the leader of that pack.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Atlanta.  Email him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com

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97 comments

The Democratic Leadership

Submitted by kopilka on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 10:01.

The Democratic Leadership Council has always been “Republicans-lite,” a pack of corporate funded Trojan Horses inside the Democratic Party responsible to their funders, and not to the Democratic Party's base. Now President Obama has assumed his place, as the leader of that pack.

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Pres Obama calls himself a

Submitted by Johnjay1 on Tue, 11/02/2010 - 03:42.

Pres Obama calls himself a new democrat, hmm anyone can say that easily but does he really mean it? thanks for the post, it helps us think if he really is.

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Am A New Democrat

Submitted by MilburnNeville on Sat, 11/06/2010 - 03:01.

Why not, then you could sit on the fence like the Lib Dems do on most issues. By the way, sitting on the fence can be hurtful, you could end up with a sore behind.

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President Obama Declares

Submitted by MilburnNeville on Thu, 11/04/2010 - 02:59.

Blacks and Whites were murdered because they wanted to see a world where black children and white children could play and grow up together- in his lifetime! The colour of his skin is an issue.

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Care to give a good source of

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Submitted by faredog on Thu, 10/21/2010 - 13:33.

Looking very far from new in 2010
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I Am A New Democrat

Submitted by MilburnNeville on Sat, 10/30/2010 - 02:25.

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President Obama

Submitted by MilburnNeville on Sat, 10/30/2010 - 04:07.

Yes, The Fat lady has opened her mouth to sing.

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I have my doubts as for all

Submitted by colibri on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 06:19.

I have my doubts as for all previous presidents, but history will prove how democratic he was.Documentary torrents

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Obama is a great speaker, I

Submitted by deara12 on Mon, 09/27/2010 - 15:16.

Obama is a great speaker, I haven't got any doubt about that, let's hope that he also knows how to be a great president. Great post, thanks for sharing this valuable information.

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Submitted by Vision on Thu, 10/21/2010 - 04:36.

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Yes he is

Submitted by soccerc8 on Fri, 10/15/2010 - 00:46.

I am really proud that Obama is our current president. His presidency means that anything is possible and he is doing a better job than Bush.

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I just hope that obama

Submitted by deara12 on Sat, 09/18/2010 - 10:53.

I just hope that obama delivers what he has promised in his campaign, but you never know what's going to happen. He's a great speaker, without any doubt he is, let's hope that he knows also how to be a great president.

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Obama is refreshingly a

Submitted by Susana on Tue, 09/07/2010 - 03:12.

Obama is refreshingly a leader with different thoughts-backgrounds etc and hope he will deliver what he promised in his campaign by Salt

DEMOCRATS LEASED BY CORPORATIONS

Submitted by PEASEHEAD on Tue, 06/22/2010 - 16:27.

DLC could also stand for democrats leashed by corporations.
Obamania is proof that many American blacks. as well as many people in other parts of the world are more than willing to settle for symbolic "leadership" and symbolic "change" while leaving the power and real benefits of the political system in the same hands as always, the white-run corporations and mult-nationals and their two interchangeable "political" parties. One would think that the Obama groupies would notice that their man of change has retained so many "advisors" and other holdovers from both the Bush and Clinton administrations that any serious change or rethinking of failed policeis is extremely unlikely, but I guess that it's much easier to wallow in mindless euphoria, than it is to attempt to force a President who was created by and for the DLC to do anything for his so-called base other than to collect their votes.

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Submitted by graceanna on Tue, 08/03/2010 - 12:18.

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Obama is a smooth talker he

Submitted by vero216 on Tue, 08/31/2010 - 06:23.

Obama is a smooth talker he can get just about anyone to listen to him. Also people love his personality.

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He's Trying Real Hard

Submitted by michelle on Fri, 12/04/2009 - 23:56.

Everytime Obama tries to help people he has people criticizing him. He's trying really hard to get people insured because they have nowhere else to go. Of all the presidents I can remember, he's the only one that I have seen who tries to help the regular folks.
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Submitted by alexjones142 on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 10:02.

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Consider

Submitted by rizzchams on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 20:49.

Well, they may be both black but they are different in a way lets just not generalize things, leave it be the bad things, lets just count the good things and just believe in him.
 
 
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I'm Rooting For You Obama!

Submitted by JayAllan on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 16:56.

It seems strange to me when people act like he's been in office for 4 years already.  It hasn't even been a year yet and people are expecting this entire mess to be cleaned up.  I don't understand it.  Regardless, Pres. Obama IS a "new type of democrat" and people should at least give him a chance before being so harsh.
 
 
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I couldn't agree more J....

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I couldn't agree more J.... its like he's being held to a higher standard and people are expecting the impossible from him... __________________________
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New Democrate

Submitted by san diego real ... on Fri, 10/23/2009 - 18:24.

President Obama declares his DLC Allegiance that he is a new Democrat. As far as my political mind and my political awarness is concerned, I think its gonna be a good sign as expected something new will come to our ways that may help us recover some of our past mistakes.
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I should say that i really

Submitted by Willis on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 01:09.

I should say that i really like a young President only for his spirit and view. But Obama is not that assuring anymore. Not after the few hundreds of days of his work. free ads |employment |adjustable beds

What does it even mean?

Submitted by dbehw on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 15:21.

Barack Obama declared in a private meeting with a group of rightwing House Democrats that he was "a New Democrat," What does a new democrat even mean. Is he doing the insanity workout to get buff? Is it about a new body or new "image". Come on president O... lets do this right.

I sure hope he is a new democrat

Submitted by frankdryfus on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 12:28.

Quite frankly, it's about time we got a new kind of dem, since all the old ones are stuck in their old ways. We need a prez that is going to make good on his promises, so we shall see what we shall see.
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I disagree in the fact that I

Submitted by rcat010101 on Wed, 10/21/2009 - 09:53.

I disagree in the fact that I don't think that a "new democrat" is very different from an "old democrat".  The positions and ideologies are the same, and the only different is the way that they go about achieving their goals.  Our culture is always changing (and occasionally progressing!), and although the end-goal is always the same, politicians have to change the way that they work towards the goal in order to go along with cultural and societal norms.  I think that Republicans are just as guilty of this - trying to claim a revolutionary chance - while they're still up to their old tricks as well.
 
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Obama subscribes to the same

Submitted by mindspring on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 00:25.

Obama subscribes to the same tired old tried and failed liberalism of the past. There’s nothing new about him. The scary thing is the fact there is a liberal congress that will do as he wishes, and a stupid/dumb citizenry that doesn’t care. We are doomed... case pariuri

Obama is the man

Submitted by rezvprincess on Thu, 10/01/2009 - 13:07.

Even if Obama fails miserably as a president, he'll still be 10,000x the leader than Bush was. Sorry but you know it's the truth.

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Obama is refreshing!!

Submitted by zodo on Tue, 09/08/2009 - 06:10.

Obama is refreshingly a leader with different thoughts/backgrounds etc and hope he will deliver what he promised in his campaign. But whatever it is, his speach is inspiring one!!
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Good article Bruce. All the I

Submitted by tonitero on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 17:39.

Good article Bruce. All the I ask is that they make health care affordable. Lets just see what he could do for all of us.
 

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Great article I do believe

Submitted by KyllieKay80 on Thu, 07/09/2009 - 01:11.

Great article I do believe Obama is the new breed of Democrats today, I hope he is able to follow through on his campaign promises, We need health care reform the costs are bankrupting our country
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Great article Bruce,do you

Submitted by tamarav on Tue, 06/23/2009 - 10:10.

Great article Bruce,do you still see him as the leader of the pack, or have your views changed?
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Submitted by buggiesdad on Sat, 06/20/2009 - 16:26.

Obama is a smooth talker he can get just about anyone to listen to him. Also people love his personality.
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"Better than Republicans" is the basis of the stupidity

Submitted by Lou on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 11:30.

Comparing these two shit-holes political Parties as "liberal" vs. "conservative" vs. "centrist" is the basis of the stupidity, the source of the inability to see that Dems and Repugs are 2 sides of the same coin.  Micah, right now, at a breathtaking speed no one could imagine, Obama has morphed into a more incompetent, reckless but "smooth" version of GWB.  Do you like "jazz" Micah or "Rockabilly"?  The Dems are better to some because they have better "rhetoric", they just sound better despite their energetic efforts to move the country and their Party further and further to the Right.  I see the "librul" Moveon.org is preparing to run an ad supporting Obama's budget.  I'll support his f***king budget when the World Socialist Website endorses it.   As I've said previously, the Propaganda Ploy is quite simple:  "Take a centrist, Republican-Lite position and morph it into a "liberal position" while at the same time make ultra Right Wing positions "Centrist."  The Politico.com persistently writes about Obama battling the "Centrists" in his own Party as well as the GOP.  BULLSHIT!  Obama is as Right Wing as you can fathom without actually being called a Rethug.  But according to the corporate media he's "Liberal" thus the Party infighting with the "Centrists" who are doing "their level best" to make sure Obama isn't to "Liberal."   Evan Bayh is a f***ken Right Winger, Obama is a neo-liberal, pablum-addled  "Centrist" Dem but only the "dumbasses" buy into these false distinctions propagated masterfully by the corporate media.
 
Only in in the confines of the Corporate Elite structure in Amerikkkan news circles does Right Wing Lite perpetrate as "Far Left" Liberal.  Only in a country where Castro and Chavez can only envy the Government subsidies and de facto nationalization of the economy is there a phony debate about "nationalizing" the banks or failed corps. It sounds like a discussion amongst f***king 6th graders.  You gotta hand it to Madison Ave. and the millionaire minions monopolozing the press and airwaves, and of course big ups to the dumbasses who don't understand the phony nuances.  Somebody tell Chuck Todd to make some sacrifices.  I've been sacrificing paying my children's student loans to the point where now they must seek deferments to ease the burden.  Someone tell Chuck to kiss my ass and donate the substantial raise (he no doubt received) to become White House Correspondent and the mouthpiece for Wall St. and GE.  I'm can't find a f***king decent P-T job, Chuck.
 
The World Socialist Website can always be counted on to strip away the bullshit:
 
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"The presidential press conference held Tuesday night, nationally televised from the White House, was a demonstration of the vast social gulf that separates the financial and political establishment of the United States—including the highly-paid representatives of the corporate-controlled media—and the working people who constitute the vast majority of the population.
The opening statement from President Obama and nearly all the questions revolved around the administration's economic policies, with the discussion focused largely on the twin preoccupations of the US ruling elite: that every effort should be made to guarantee the wealth and profits of Wall Street, and that sufficient sacrifices should be imposed on the American people."
 
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/mar2009/obam-m25.shtml
 

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Submitted by NYCartist on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 15:53.

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better than the Republicans?

Submitted by micah pyre on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 10:24.

Well, you can say Obama is "better than republicans" if you want.  You can try to believe that.  You can even try to make me believe it.
 
But I won't.  Because he's no different.  His black-ish skin and black father don't make him better than a Republican.  What's he done differently than a Republican, besides call himself a Democrat?  What's he done differently than Bush43?
 
Nothing.  Nothing of substance anyway. 
 
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I wish that I couldn't say "I told you so"...

Submitted by Anthony_JK on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 20:34.

...but, I guess that my basic instinsts about Obama being just a neoliberal with a deeper tan (or worse, the son George H. W. Bush could only wish to have) have been proven right.
I still believe that Obama is worlds beyond what America had with Bush (both 41 and 43) as well as Reagan (and even Clinton), and that even a moderate neoliberal Democrat is far better than the Far Right regimes we have suffered with for the past 10 years.
However, I do think that the Left can do so much better than to just blindly boost Obama and the Democrats and moan about the Republicans.  They need to establish themselves as an independent force of resistance against BOTH Obama neoliberalism AND the extremism of the Right, and hold both Obama and the Democrats' feet to the fire in promoting genuinely progressive outcomes and legislation.
I do find it quite amiusing that some have pontificated about the "death" of the DLC (even that organization's founder, Al From, has hinted that he may dissolve that organization soon due to lack of support); even as they have a President (and they would have had the same if Hillary Clinton had won the Dem nomination and thusly the Presidency) which essentially follows their exact blueprint for public policy (if just slightly bending a fraction to the left). Certainly the appointment of prominent Clintonites and neolibs and Wall Street policy wonks to Obama's key policymaking positions tell a great deal about his true foundational leanings.
In any rate....my sole concern is that an independent and grass roots-oriented Left gets organized ASAP to offer genuine radical alternatives to the existing status quo, because if such does not happen, it will be the populist RIght who will be the chief beneficiary when the Obama bubble finally bursts. And then, we will ALL -- and not just Black folk, either -- be royally screwed.
 
Anthony
 

The Obama Mystique

Submitted by Thunder X on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 19:07.

This is what is truly disturbing. The evidence is clear, yet so many are unwilling to acknowledge it. Obama's supporters are content to embrace half-truths and outright misinformation about Barack Obama assuming to know the whole of the truth. What's more is their unwillingness to be critical of Obama, examine the facts before them, or to even grant said facts so much as a cursory glance. Worse is their eagerness to attack anyone who disagrees with their position, or who sees Barack Obama for what he truly is. A woman on a social network launched into an assault on my character, told me I knew nothing of Marcus Garvey, and branded me a race-traitor; all because I dared speak on her unfair and unsubstantiated tirade against Hip Hop artist KRS-1's perspective on Barack Obama. Not once did she offer an analysis of what I had posted, not once did she address any of my points (she insists that I and KRS-1 are jealous of Obama). This sort of behavior seems to be common to those who are entranced by the "phenomenon" that is President Barack Obama. Rhetorical outburts are also common to this crowd. Obama has become a cult unto himself, and his fans (which we all know is short for fanatic) behave as such. When I see the manner in which the Obama-philes react to any suggestion that Obama is anything other than what he appears to be, I am reminded of the movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". But it is minds that have been snatched, and this is no movie.

Could it be that Afrikan Americans have suffered so much, waited so long for a savior/messiah/deliverer, that we have lost all reason?

New Democrat, Same as the Old New Democrat

Submitted by Elian Maricon on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 08:15.

As a queer Latino, I feel compelled to point out two examples of how Obama is essentially Clinton 2.0, except perhaps more conservative.
 
First, the Daily Telegraph reported today that Obama is still promoting the "ex-gay myth".  His current inner circle of spiritual advisors include pastors who are well-known virulent homophobes, some of whom support "ex-gay" ministries.  Anti-choice zealots are among the ranks of the clergy to whom Obama turns for guidance as well.  This is eerily remniscient of Clinton making all sorts of promises to the LGBTQ community and then giving us DOMA.
 
Secondly, his recent saber rattling about militarizing the US-Mexico border (supposedly as an expansion of the "war on drugs") strikes me as a cowardly capitulation to  racist nationalism of the type espoused by Lou Dobbs.  Or maybe Obama shares Dobbs' prejudices against undocumented immigrants.  After all, the man targeted the LGBTQ community  with a massive ad campaign containing platitudes about his belief in "equality for all", etc.  He does so w/ a straight face despite his history of associating with so-called "ex-gay" ministries and his subsequent veneration of Rick Warren, a man with personal and financial ties to Christian Jihadists who terrorize and murder LGBT people (in addition to equating us to pedophiles and comparing our relationships to bestiality and incest).  So he may very well hate spics like me for all I know.  His policy towards Latin America certainly is not indicative of any "change" from the last 8 years whatsoever.
This behavior reminds me of how Clinton signed NAFTA into law (something the ruling class had wanted for quite some time), thereby opening the door to "free trade" policies that essentially raped the Mexican people and have spread to other parts of Latin America.
 
Obama is a New Democrat alright, assuming "New Democrat" is the equivalent of a moderate Republican.  Or a sociopathic liar.
Thanks again for the amazing reporting you folks do here at the BAR!
 
 
 

What is a "queer Latino"?  I

Submitted by AngelaE8654 on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 00:46.

What is a "queer Latino"?  I would hope that you would have enough respect for yourself
so that you do not call yourself disparaging names.  And I'm quite Conservative, too.  However,
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Good post Angela

Submitted by Ramon1982 on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 14:50.

Angela great sentences. I as a younger generation don´t understand how people used to hate so blindly. Maybe it is true that the world is progressing and people are getting better now. Skin color should be a stupid thing to argue anyway as even white people are not really white. A lot of color between the specter you know. :p
Some centuries forward we will be all so mixed noone can tell us apart.
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Whats the problem??!!

Submitted by david1 on Mon, 11/23/2009 - 05:45.

I agree with Angela, there must be respect, I do not know why is there a problem with different people, why does the color of the skin matter so much, I just cannot understand it. I have nothing against people that are different from me by the skin color, if I find the person interesting I will talk to him etc.
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