Back when the economy was booming in the 1990s, Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress agreed on welfare reforms so that poor people would not become dependent on government assistance but would be forced to look for jobs, and officials of both parties hailed the virtues of tough love. But when the housing bubble burst and the jobs disappeared at the end of George W. Bush’s administration, the welfare rolls remained closed.

Jason DeParle wrote in the New York Times (4/8), “much as overlooked critics of the restrictions once warned, a program that built its reputation when times were good offered little help when jobs disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, the cash welfare rolls have barely budged.

“Faced with flat federal financing and rising need, Arizona is one of 16 states that have cut their welfare caseloads further since the start of the recession — in its case, by half. Even as it turned away the needy, Arizona spent most of its federal welfare dollars on other programs, using permissive rules to plug state budget gaps.”

DeParle talked with poor people who were dropped from cash assistance in Phoenix, mostly single mothers, who talked with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. “They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow,” DeParle wrote.

Critics of the stringent reforms say stories like these vindicate warnings they made in 1996 when President Bill Clinton fulfilled his pledge to “end welfare as we know it”: the revamped law encourages states to withhold aid, especially when the economy turns bad.

Peter B. Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University, resigned from the Clinton administration to protest the law. “My take on it was the states would push people off and not let them back on, and that’s just what they did,” he said. “It’s been even worse than I thought it would be.”

Charles Pierce at Esquire.com (4/9) recalled the case of Marcus Stephens, a little boy from New Albany, Miss., who was born in 1984 with a malformed heart. He was 8 before his family qualified him for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program of Social Security and for five years, they received $446 a month. Among other things, this enabled his family to get him to and from Memphis to see his doctor. But SSI was one of the principal casualties of “welfare reform,” and Stephens was among 260,000 children whose cases were “re-evaluated.” On April 15, 1997, Marcus Stephens was placed on a list for a heart transplant, without which he would surely die. On May 27, the 13-year-old child was cut off from SSI payments. Another review in November concluded that, under the new SSI standards, Stephens, who was bedridden, dying, and waiting for a new heart that would never come, was not “disabled.” He died in December 1997.

“This is the way it works,” Pierce wrote. “This is the way it always has worked, ever since Bill Clinton committed the Democratic party to a technocratic, basically conservative approach to ‘welfare reform.’ ... It works reasonably well — all that sustaining mythology about lazy poor people was belied by how the employment numbers boomed in the 1990s, when there actually were jobs — until the economy goes south, and then the jobs dry up and, lo and behold, we discover that the states have been using the money to plug budget gaps and for all kinds of other parochial purposes. The nation winds up with thousands of Marcus Stephenses.”

Meanwhile, as DeParle reports, the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes:

“Several women acknowledged that they had resorted to shoplifting, including one who took orders for brand-name clothes and sold them for half-price. Asked how she got cash, one woman said flatly, ‘We rob wetbacks’ — illegal immigrants, who tend to carry cash and avoid the police. At least nine times, she said, she has flirted with men and led them toward her home, where accomplices robbed them.”

Pierce noted, “The fact is that ‘welfare reform’ gave everybody permission not to care about poverty anymore. It gave preening gombeens like Rick Santorum a chance to talk about ‘character’ and ‘hope.’ It gave the zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan a chance to mouth off about the law’s ‘unprecedented success,’ although I’m not sure if he’s ever explained fully how hard the culture of dependency was on him when he was going through his teenage years on Social Security survivor’s benefits. It gave the political system generally, and at every level, a chance to think about anything else. It was positioned as a unalloyed triumph. It had solved poverty. And then, of course, the economy went bad.”

Meanwhile, Rick Warren, pastor of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., does not approve of programs that simply heal the sick or give food to the hungry, because it creates dependency. On ABC’s This Week on Easter morning, Warren was asked about President Obama’s statement that “I believe in God’s command to love thy neighbor as thyself. And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills, to shoulder the burden alone.”

Warren acknowledged that “the Bible says we are to care about the poor,” noting that there are over 2,000 verses on that subject. But the pastor added, “The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You — you rob them of dignity. The primary purpose of government is to keep the peace, protect the citizens, provide opportunity. And when we start getting into all kinds of other things, I think we — we invite greater control.”

Pierce concluded, “If Rick Warren had bustled into the Temple on that Passover long ago, he’d have taken his tithe from the moneychangers and bought himself the best steak in Galilee. The poor, it appears, we will have with us always. We just choose not to notice them, is all.”

TEXAS SAVES MONEY ON DISABLED KIDS. Texas dropped assistance to 5,000 children with disabilities and developmental delays from its Early Childhood Intervention program to help balance the state’s budget last year. In 2011 the Legislature cut $54 mln, or 14%, from the program’s 2012-13 biennium funding, so Rehabilitative Services tightened eligibility standards, requiring children to have a higher level of disability or developmental delays to qualify for the program, Andrea Ball reported in the Austin American-Statesman (4/7). That cut the number of children that were helped by 17%, from an average of 30,000 children each month under the old budget to 25,000 under the new budget, but state officials say they expect the number to approach the target of 28,000 as it moves through the two-year budget cycle. That has forced parents, many of whom are low-income, to seek service for their children with private providers, but some of those specialists don’t take Medicaid and families are struggling, said Lisa Tate, who oversees Easter Seals’ childhood intervention program.

The state also cut $4 bln from public schools, part of $15.2 bln in cuts from previous spending levels. But Gov. Rick Perry (R) has boasted that the Legislature left $6 bln in the state’s Rainy Day Fund and did not increase taxes.

HITS AND MISSES AT CURRENT TV. Current TV made a big step toward developing into a 24-hour liberal talk channel in late March with the decision to telecast the radio shows of Bill Press and Stephanie Miller to fill six hours in the morning, starting 3/26; then the channel’s executives stumbled on 3/30 with the firing of marquee evening anchorman Keith Olbermann.

Current TV was founded seven years ago by former Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt, who hoped Olbermann would bring many of his one million viewers from MSNBC to the fledgling progressive public affairs channel. One year later, Olbermann was Current’s top draw, with 177,000 viewers, but he reportedly was also its top complainer and frequent no-show. Executives accused him of breach of contract and trying to sabotage the channel. Olbermann has sued and Current has countersued.

Peter Lauria of Reuters reported (4/5) that Current TV could be dropped from Time Warner Cable if certain ratings benchmarks are not met in two consecutive quarters, but Alex Weprin reported at TVNewser (4/5) that the channel was not at risk of being dropped anytime soon. Weprin quoted a Current spokesperson who said, “We are not at any risk of losing any of our distribution agreements.”

Lauria reported that the 47,000 viewers who tuned into the initial broadcasts of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s Viewpoint at 7 p.m. Central time, starting 3/30, were “just enough ... to keep Current over the quota,” but Weprin noted it is too early to judge how well Spitzer is doing replacing Olbermann. Nielsen reported that Current averaged 25,000 viewers in total day for the week of 3/26-4/1, and averaged 41,000 viewers in primetime that week. By comparison, in the first quarter of 2012 Current averaged 26,000 total day viewers and 59,000 primetime viewers. The top program was Countdown with Olbermann, the only one in the Current lineup to crack 100,000 viewers, topping out at around 178,000 on 3/28. Number five on the list was The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur at 6 p.m., which averaged 86,000 viewers (3/26), followed by a Sunday afternoon showing of Batman Returns, which drew 82,000 viewers. Another Young Turks, another Batman showing and a reality series, Deadliest Journeys, held the next few slots.

Current’s 8 p.m. show The War Room with Jennifer Granholm topped out with 58,000 viewers on 3/27. The Stephanie Miller Show from 8-11 a.m. topped out on 3/28 with 48,000 viewers and The Bill Press Show from 5-8 a.m. drew 31,000 also on 3/28. Current says that both Miller, who offers a humorous take on the news, and Press, a former Democratic official who has hosted shows on CNN and MSNBC, are up triple digits in their respective dayparts compared to the first quarter of this year. Weprin added, “We don’t know what the minimum ratings requirement is for Current.”

Olbermann averaged around one million viewers on MSNBC before he was fired from that channel. MSNBC draws nearly 800,000 viewers per night in prime time. Spitzer’s former show on CNN averaged 474,000 viewers, Lauria reported. Fox News draws more than 2 mln viewers in prime time. Miller has a radio audience estimated by Talkers magazine at more than 3 mln.

Current TV is available in 60 mln homes in the US, including 12 mln with Time Warner Cable. It also is distributed by Comcast and DirecTV, which reach 22.4 mln and 19.8 mln homes, respectively.

26 MAJOR CORPS. PAID NO TAX DESPITE BILLIONS IN PROFITS. Last year, Citizens for Tax Justice found that 30 major corporations had made billions of dollars in profits while paying no federal income tax between 2008 and 2010. CTJ updated that report (4/9) to reflect the 2011 tax bill of those 30 companies, and 26 of them have still managed to pay absolutely nothing over that four year period:

• 26 of the 30 companies continued to enjoy negative federal income tax rates. That means they still made more money after tax than before tax over the four years!

• Of the remaining four companies, three paid four year effective tax rates of less than 4% (specifically, 0.2%, 2% and 3.8%). One company paid a 2008-11 tax rate of 10.9%.

• In total, 2008-11 federal income taxes for the 30 companies remained negative, despite $205 billion in pretax US profits. Overall, they enjoyed an average effective federal income tax rate of –3.1% over the four years.

Amongst the 30 are corporate titans such as General Electric, Boeing, Verizon and Mattel. The only four companies that slipped into positive tax territory were DTE Energy, Honeywell, Wells Fargo, and DuPont, with DuPont the only one that paid more than 4% over the four years.

Corporate taxes in the US, contrary to the constant protestations of conservatives, are at a 40-year low, with many of the most profitable companies paying nothing at all. CTJ noted that “had these 30 companies paid the full 35% corporate tax rate over the 2008-11 period, they would have paid $78.3 billion more in federal income taxes.” And this is not a problem that only afflicts the US, as the UK found out (4/5) that online retailer Amazon made billions in sales in 2011, while paying nothing in corporate taxes. (ThinkProgress.org, 4/9)

GRASSLEY: OBAMA ‘STUPID’ FOR AGREEING WITH GRASSLEY ABOUT ACTIVIST JUDGES. President Obama reminded conservatives urging the Supreme Court’s five Republicans to strike down the Affordable Care Act that, for years, they believed that “the biggest problem is judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint. That an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” Obama’s statement, which closely mirrors rhetoric President George W. Bush used throughout his presidency, sent those very same conservatives into apoplexy. One Republican judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals even ordered the Department of Justice to produce a three page, single-spaced homework assignment on the President’s views.

Unfortunately, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, appears to be suffering from the same condition as this Republican judge, as he tweeted, “Constituents asked why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Because Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law” (sic).

Grassley’s objection to President Obama would have far more credibility if Grassley himself did not have a long history of using this very same rhetoric, ThinkProgress.org noted. Indeed, as recently as 2011, Grassley harshly criticized people who “turn to the courts” after they “can’t get their policy views enacted through the legislative process.” In Grassley’s words, “the Constitution vests legislative power in the Congress, not the courts. Judges are simply not policymakers.”

GAO DISPUTES CHRISTIE’S HUDSON TUNNEL COST CLAIMS. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) made up claims of inflated costs when he reneged on a deal with the federal government to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

In October 2010, a year after the $8.7 bln Trans-Hudson project broke ground after 20 years of planning to relieve congestion on the existing century-old tunnels, Christie pulled the state out of the project, citing cost concerns. Christie claimed state officials had revised costs for the project to as high as $14 bln. But the GAO reported the cost estimates had not been changed in the two years before the governor canceled the project. State officials, according to the GAO, said those wouldn’t rise above $10 bln. Christie also said New Jersey would pay for 70% of the project. The GAO says the state was paying 14.4%. Christie also said cost overruns would have to be covered by the state. The GAO says no final agreement had been made and that the feds had offered to share such costs.

Canceling the tunnel, which was then the largest public works project in the nation, helped shape Christie’s profile as a rising Republican star, an enforcer of fiscal discipline in a country drunk on debt, Kate Zernike noted in the New York Times (4/10). But the report is likely to revive criticism that his decision, which he said was about “hard choices” in tough economic times, was more about avoiding the need to raise the state’s gasoline tax, which would have violated a campaign promise. The governor subsequently steered $4 bln earmarked for the tunnel to the state’s near-bankrupt transportation trust fund, traditionally financed by the gasoline tax.

Christie supported the tunnel in his campaign for governor in 2009 and in letters to the federal Transportation Department as late as April 2010, four months after he took office. When he canceled it, he said that he supported the merits of the project, but that the state could not afford it, and that he would not put New Jersey taxpayers on “a never-ending hook” to pay for it.

WINGERS HAWKING LUGAR. Forty years ago, Dick Lugar was called “Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor” for his support of turning control of federal programs to local communities, Meteor Blades noted at DailyKos.com (4/9). The label didn’t hurt as Lugar won a US Senate seat in 1976. But now, campaigning for his seventh term, Lugar has collected a new label from right winger: “Obama’s favorite Republican.” The Club for Growth has begun airing a 30-second TV backing state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the May 8 Republican primary. It also has two 60-second radio spots, one of which says: “Dick Lugar might be a statesman, but he’s not a conservative,” noting that he voted to raise the gas tax, the Wall Street bailout and “even voted to put taxpayers at risk bailing out New York City. ... Lugar voted for each and every every Obama Supreme Court Justice. ... Indiana conservatives deserve better than Obama’s favorite Republican.”

The National Rifle Association has a laundry list of things Lugar has done to irk the organization dating back to Lugar’s support for the 1993 assault-rifle ban. Of the seven other Republicans who voted for the ban, only Dan Coats, R-Ind., is still in the Senate.

GOP STILL HAS SOCIAL SECURITY ‘FIX’ IN MIND. When it comes to entitlement “reforms,” lately attention has been drawn to Republican efforts to replace Medicare’s guaranteed benefit with a private voucher scheme. But Steve Benen noted at Maddowblog.com that the GOP hasn’t given up on privatizing Social Security, either. On Fox News Sunday (4/8), for example, Newt Gingrich said he’d like to see the US adopt the social security system pushed by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s, when Congress and then-President Reagan tried to fix the US retirement system. Among the problems with the Chilean system, Benen noted, was that people were required to purchase private investment accounts — a mandate. “Even Republicans, for all of their rhetorical acrobatic skills, may find difficult in the future to say federal mandates for investment accounts are fine, but federal mandates for health insurance are a communist plot to destroy civilization,” Benen said.

Second, he noted, many Chilean retirees ended up getting shafted, as hidden fees “soaked up as much as a third of their original investment” — and they would have been better off if they’d stuck with the public system. “So long as prominent Republicans continue to push the Chile line, it’s worth remembering how misguided the policy is.”

GOP LEADER’S MONEY TARGETS REPUBLICANS. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has had to explain the $25,000 his PAC donated to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC that has targeted incumbent Republicans. Cantor’s aides told the New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman (4/9) the money was earmarked for the effort to defeat Reps. Don Manzullo, a 10-term R-Ill. who was redistricted into th same district as freshman Rep. Adam Kinziger, a favorite of Cantor’s. But leaders of the super PAC told Weisman the money went into the $2 mln anti-incumbent pot, which helped defeat Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), tried but failed to defeat Reps. Spencer Bachus and Jo Bonner (both R-Ala.) as well as Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill). It is going after Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Tim Holden (D-Pa.) in the 4/24 Pennsylvania primaries. Weisman noted that the group’s target list reads like a who’s who of the House Republican old guard: Walter B. Jones of North Carolina and the Texans Ralph M. Hall and Joe L. Barton. A spokesman for the group, Curtis Ellis, said Representative John L. Mica, a 10-term Floridian forced to run against a freshman Republican, Sandy Adams, would most likely join the target list.

In the Manzullo-Kinzinger showdown, a Republican official told Weisman he had no doubt that the $239,000 that the anti-incumbent super PAC rushed to Illinois in the contest’s final days made a difference. The state’s Democratic-drawn redistricting plan left Republicans with a district in which 44% of Republican voters had been represented by Manzullo and 31% by Kinzinger. Early polls gave Mr. Manzullo the edge. Then came a barrage of negative advertising in the campaign’s last two weeks, the largest number from the Campaign for Primary Accountability. When the votes were tallied, Mr. Kinzinger came out with almost 54% of them.

While Cantor aides insisted that the majority leader had an ironclad assurance that the contribution would be walled off from other races, Leo Linbeck III, a construction magnate and co-founder of the super PAC, told CNN he did not know what Cantor’s expectation was. “For us, it came in, it went to our super PAC, and we spent it.”

JOURNOS WON’T CALL ROMNEY ON LIES. Romney may have set a record for brazen dishonesty in his speech to the Newspaper Association of America (4/4). As reported by David Corn of Mother Jones:

• In slamming Obama’s stimulus package, Romney declared, “The administration pledged that it would keep unemployment below 8% …it has been above 8% every month since.” This charge — a favorite on the right — has been debunked repeatedly. Obama never promised to bring unemployment below 8%. (Two economists on his presidential transition staff produced a report prior to Obama’s inauguration projecting unemployment would fall below 8% if Obama’s stimulus were to be enacted. But this projection came with all the usual caveats, and it was written before the full impact of the economic crash under way was realized. The *Washington Post*’s “Fact Checker” has deemed the 8% accusation false. Yet Romney and others keep on repeating it.

• Romney reiterated the canard that Obamacare is “a government takeover of health care.” PolitiFact judged that assertion—widely used by conservatives—as the lie of the year for 2010. Moreover, Corn asked, would Romney describe the health care plan he passed as governor of Massachusetts as a “state government takeover of health care”?

• Romney blasted Obama for not having any fiscal plan, noting the president has “failed to … propose a serious plan to solve our entitlement crisis.” He added that Obama had “zero” economic ideas. This is absurdly false.

• Romney proclaimed that Obama “is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare.” Given that Romney supports the GOP-backed Ryan budget that calls for severe slashes in Medicare spending, this is an odd charge. It is also false. As PolitiFact notes, Obama’s “health care law reduces the amount of future spending growth in Medicare. But it doesn’t cut Medicare.”

• Romney denounced Obama for “apologizing for America abroad” during his first years in office rather than focusing on the economy. It’s another silly and inaccurate claim. PolitiFact awarded Romney a “Pants on Fire” rating for having made such a statement during his June 2, 2011, speech announcing his presidential bid. But this line obviously plays well for Romney. He has used it over and over.

Corn was shocked not only by the Republican candidate’s dishonesty, but by the larger context: “Romney stood before a gathering of journalists. He made a series of incorrect and dishonest accusations. And he was not hooted out of the room. He faced no penalty for this — just a few slaps from those pesky, fact-checking schoolmarms. He will not be banned from similar forums. The politerati is not up in arms. His campaign rolled on. And this may well sum up one of the fundamental problems with American politics.”

MICHIGAN GOP TAKES VOTER SUPPRESSION TO THE NEXT LEVEL. Since January 2011, when Republicans won the governor’s office and took solid majorities in the Michigan legislature, it has passed 566 bills, Rachel Maddow reported (4/5). Of those, 546 of them — 96.5% — allegedly were passed with two-thirds majorities to allow them to take immediate effect. Under the state’s constitution, bills take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, unless they are passed with a special “immediate effect” resolution that requires a supermajority. Republicans used “immediate effect” to take away health benefits for domestic partners of public employees, to block the expansion of union rights and to implement their souped-up Emergency Manager law, which was passed on 3/15/11, signed by the governor and, less than a month later, an Emergency Manager appointed by the governor seized all power in Benton Harbor from the town’s elected mayor and elected commission and began disposing of city assets, including a prized lakeside park that was sold to a resort developer. “In the span of one month, starting with a bill sponsored by Benton Harbor’s own representative, Michigan Republicans routed the democracy of that mostly-poor, mostly-African American Michigan town and they were just getting started,” Maddow said.

The only problem is that Republicans don’t have a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, and Democrats have voted in a bloc against immediate effect, but the House Speaker refused to count them. Democrats finally filed a lawsuit challenging the immediate effect resolutions. A county judge (4/6) issued a temporary injunction ordered the House leadership to grand requests for roll call votes, but the state Court of Appeals (4/9) overturned the injunction and allowed the laws to take immediate effect while the case is argued in court.

CON GROUP CAUGHT LYING, REPEATS LIE. Madison conservative group Reforming Education And Demanding Excellent Results-Wisconsin (READER-WI) recently put up a billboard on US 12-18 (the Beltline) that uses a quote purported to be from the late Albert Shanker, former head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) that says “When schoolchildren start paying union dues ... I’ll start representing schoolchildren.”

The only problem, Mark E. Anderson noted at DailyKos.com (4/9), is Shanker never said it. In a speech at Oberlin College in the 1970s, when he was president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, he did say something like: “I don’t represent children. I represent teachers ... But, generally, what’s in the interest of teachers is also in the interest of students,” according to Matt Di Carlo and Esther Quintero of the Albert Shanker Institute.

When The Isthmus, a Madison weekly, asked READER-WI frontman Jeff Waksman, a spokesman for the Republican Party in Dane County (Madison), Waksman said he knew the quote was disputed, but adds that it describes the essence of teacher’s unions. ‘Teacher unions by law are not allowed to represent children,’ he says in a phone interview. ‘It describes exactly what they do.’”

CASTRO PRAISE SIDELINES BASEBALL MGR. One thing Cuban Americans will not tolerate is any appreciation of Fidel Castro. So prominent Cubanos went ballistic when new Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, in an interview with Time magazine (4/9), said he “loved” Castro, adding, “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a b—— is still here.”

It was an inopportune remark the week that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was opening a new state-of-the-art, tax-funded stadium in Little Havana, and he hopes to expand the team’s popularity in Latin America. Dave Zirin noted that the Marlins immediately released a condemnation of Guillen but that couldn’t stop a volcanic political explosion. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez called on the organization “to take decisive steps” against Guillen in the name of “freedom loving people.” Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez demanded Guillen’s resignation. Cuban-American state Sen. and Hispanic caucus chair Rene Garcia sent an open letter published in the *Miami Herald* calling Guillen’s comments “appalling” and said he was “looking forward to further actions taken against him for his deplorable comments.” Garcia also stuck Loria in the ribs by including, “What I also consider disturbing is the fact that the Miami Marlins received tax dollars from this community, including Cuban-American exiles, to fund the construction of the new stadium.” Suffice it to say, many a sports commentator also want Guillen fired or suspended. In their frothy anger, they have a common demand with the Cuban hardline exile group Vigilia Mambisa. An organization that has never shied from street violence and intimidation, Vigilia Mambisa has called for protests in front of the stadium until the Miami Marlins manager is fired.

Zirin noted the irony: “Cuban exiles want to show their love of freedom by taking Guillen’s job for the crime of exercising free speech.” But Zirin explained that “Guillen is big on a collective Latin American pride and will not abide anti-immigrant and anti-Latino words or deeds. He has a great deal of respect for the way Castro and Chavez stand up to the United States. He opposes efforts by the US to impose their will on these countries and wishes the rest of Latin America show similar mettle. It’s not a question of the relative good or bad of Cuba’s internal politics. It’s a question of independence. He’s also as gung ho for the United States as any manager in baseball, going as far as to fine players for not showing proper respect for the National Anthem, a practice I criticized in 2005. I know that people love portraying Ozzie Guillen as an out-there, crazy kind of guy, and that’s in part because he is an out-there crazy kind of guy. But what’s crazier? Guillen’s view or the fact that an aging coterie of people who mourn for the strong hand of Fulgencio Batista control the political debate in South Florida?”

From The Progressive Populist, May 1, 2012


News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2012 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652