On today's episode of Democracy Now!
President Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday night was the seventh and final of his presidency. Obama defended his record while implicitly criticizing the Republican candidates who want to succeed him. While mostly avoiding specific policy proposals, Obama spoke out against stigmatizing vulnerable communities, including Muslims, immigrants and lower-income Americans. He defended his historic agreements with Iran and Cuba while touting the U.S. as "the most powerful nation on Earth." Obama called for change in the U.S. political system to stop the outsize influence of wealthy donors, and urged Congress to take meaningful action on climate change—including stopping its denial. We host a roundtable discussion on President Obama’s final SOTU and progressive hopes for his last year in office with five guests: Maryland Democratic congressmember and U.S. Senate candidate Donna Edwards; public TV broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley; Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza; CodePink founder Medea Benjamin; and migrant justice activist and military veteran Claudia Palacios.
We speak with Claudia Palacios, a racial and migrant justice activist and a U.S. Marines veteran. Palacios was among seven people arrested on Friday after blocking traffic in New York City to protest the federal government’s new round of deportation raids against Central American families. She was born in Texas through the help of a midwife, rather than in a hospital, because her mother feared being deported. While the military recognized Palacios’ birth certificate, allowing her to serve for five years, including stints abroad, the State Department has refused to issue her a passport. "I’m basically stateless, because the U.S. does not recognize my birth certificate," Palacios says.
The broadcaster Tavis Smiley made headlines this week for an appearance on ABC’s "This Week" when he called out Donald Trump for being an "unrepentant, irascible religious and racial arsonist." Trump responded by calling Smiley a "hater and racist." Smiley responds to Trump while also criticizing the corporate media for what he calls a lax response to the Republican front-runner’s views.