LA Progressive: May 9 to 15, 2010

my darling clementineHarman vs. Winograd: The Last Democratic Primary Worth Watching. What may be the last Democratic primary race worth paying attention to is taking place in the 36th Congressional District along the Southern California coastline where incumbent Jane Harman is facing a serious challenge from Los Angeles school teacher, Marcy Winograd, with the candidates’ widely separated positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict dominating a critical section of the political landscape. -Jeffrey Blankfort

Arizona Gov Outlaws Teaching Tombstone’s OK Corral Gunfight and Cowboy Pix. In a press conference the unelected Governor also announced that as part of the legislation the Arizona public school system was prohibiting teaching about the shootout at the O.K. Corral. “Educating students about this purported gunfight at Tombstone in 1881 could inflame racial animosity against Caucasians,” contended Brewer, noting that all of the participants in the brief but bloody barrage of bullets were whites. -Ed Rampell

College Graduation Time: Family Pride & Commitment. While graduations have become passé’ and informal for some, the older generations dress up for the occasion like they’re going to church on Easter Sunday and praise, and shake, and shout, “Thank ya, Lordie” just as much. I always wondered why my Uncle Buddy always wore a tie to everybody’s graduation. He said it was to “honor them” for achieving something very special. -Anthony Samad

Google Isn’t (Necessarily) Making Us Stupid. Contemplative practices like meditation and yoga — the yin to Internet promiscuity’s yang — are also on the rise. But my own meditation practice — which facilitates clarity and focus — has benefited incalculably from Buddhist and other spiritual websites, blogs, lectures, readings, videos and guided meditations. And my meditation group’s email tree has become an interactive source for ideas, links and information about local events members might otherwise never discover. -Michael Sigman

ancient greek piggybankEnvironmental Serial Killers. Many right-wing Republicans seem to take an inordinate satisfaction in cutting down forests inside national parks, in fighting anyone trying to save the polar bears or the whales or any other creature, in behaving like neo-Nazi Holocaust-deniers by insisting there is no such thing as global warming, and fighting with all their might to stop efforts to control it. They like watching people who care about the environment suffer. Johnny Townsend

The People of Greece and the Rest of Us. In most of the rest of the world the prescribed method for dealing with economic crisis is austerity. That’s what it is when, in order to deal with the economic malfunctioning, you cut education budgets and fire teachers, enact special taxes that hit working people hardest, reduce services for the indigent and threaten to reduce or eliminate retirement and medical programs for seniors. It comes down to who, in a pinch, is going to be required to lower their living standards, and which individuals and families are expected to lead more austere lives. -Carl Bloice

Oil Spills and B Movies. As the decade of the teens unfolds, the price we will be forced to pay as a result of decades of neglect of America’s infrastructure will be astronomical. This disaster could have been avoided by means of a simple ounce of prevention. -Tom Degan

Lincoln to the Rescue. Blanche Lincoln wants to force the banks to put their derivatives into separate entities that aren’t subsidized by you and me. This is just common sense. Her move would also end the big banks’ monopoly over derivatives, thereby reducing their risk to the financial system. It would also cut dramatically into the big banks’ profits. Robert Reich

haiti's miseryProposition 16: Bad for Californians. California allows cities and counties to purchase electricity or develop it locally through an energy provider of their choice. Currently, 68 percent of California’s electricity is generated by investor-owned utilities. Proposition 16, on the June 8 primary ballot, would alter local government’s ability to develop electricity service and is bad for California’s residents and businesses. Tracy Emblem

How Will Elena Kagan Approach Immigration If Confirmed? Kagan could have a direct impact on the role the federal, state, and local governments play in enacting and enforcing immigration laws. Her potential confirmation could also have a more indirect effect on how the nation’s immigration population is treated and who is and isn’t protected by the U.S. Constitution. Andrea Nill

Princess Kaiulani: A Motion Picture Pretender to the Throne. This biopic purports to tell the tale of a fabled beauty who became embroiled in political turmoil, and of her romance with an Englishman. The movie’s press notes assert that, “Princess Kaiulani is the inspiring true story of the Hawaiian princess.” The problem is that this is a dubious claim. The simple fact of the matter is that Kaiulani opens with a historically inaccurate scene that never happened, and much of the movie is likewise historically suspect. Ed Rampell

Defense Secretary Wants Defense Spending Cuts–Really. Going largely underreported, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at the Eisenhower Library (name for the president who coined the term “military-industrial complex”), last week calling for cuts in the Pentagon’s budget. Gates asked, “Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners?” Tina Dupuy

lena horneLena Horne Was More Than Skin-Deep. Horne discovered her light-skinned complexion and white facial features might have opened MGM doors for her, but once she got through them her tenure with MGM was fraught with all sorts of racial problems, the biggest one being her light-skinned complexion. Rev. Irene Monroe

How to Win the Arizona Boycott. For the Arizona boycott to succeed, activists must follow the lessons of the UFW grape and lettuce boycotts of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the South Africa divestment campaign of the 1970s and 1980’s, and the UNITE HERE “Hotel Rising Boycott” of 2006. And the timing is perfect for a “Boycott Summer,” which would boost immigrant rights activism both in Arizona and nationally. Randy Shaw

Misery, Fear, Loss, and Confusion in Haiti Four Months After the Quake. As she knelt with her back to the writer, the Grandmother stopped the smoothing, stopped the straightening, and grew very quiet. Her shoulders began to heave and it was obvious she was wracked with sobs. The task was hopeless and the Creole cries were soft at first and then became a wail. Not knowing what else to do, the writer sat down in the water and touched the back of the elegant Grandmother. Georgianne Nienaber

The Origin and Caveat of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. With the recent passage of SB1070, which opens the gate to racial profiling, and the adoption of an educational policy that seeks to ban ethnic studies and teachers with an accent to teach English in Arizona, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month becomes a crucial time for needed remembrance and reflection in the 21st Century. To truly celebrate the struggles and contributions of AAPIs in this country, we need to stop repeating history. We need to continue to courageously speak like Jeanie’s grandfather and fully realize her dream now. John Delloro

The Great Reckoning of Ragnorak: Wagner, Valhalla, Wall Street and the Twilight of Capitalism’s Gods. L.A. Opera’s culmination of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelungen is not only the fourth, final and finest installment of the four part Ring Cycle, but goddamn, Götterdämmerung is the greatest opera I’ve ever seen in my entire life!!! Ed Rampell

Kagan in Context: Shafting Progressive Values. If President Obama has his way, Elena Kagan will replace John Paul Stevens — and the Supreme Court will move rightward. The nomination is very disturbing, especially because it’s part of a pattern. The White House is in the grip of conventional centrist wisdom. Grim results stretch from Afghanistan to the Gulf of Mexico to communities across the USA. Noman Solomon

chinese railroad workersObama Lies to Defend Blanche Lincoln. It’s natural for progressives to target conservative Democrats like Lincoln who are to blame, fielding primary challenges like they did to Joe Lieberman. But how the Party leadership berates, belittle, and insults these efforts will only make it worse – while a clear anti-incumbent mood is sweeping the nation that threatens to doom Blanche Lincoln anyway. Paul Hogarth

Arun Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Looking Beyond The Impossibly Perfect Standard. I love viewing Gandhi not as the master strategist of social change that he later became, but as someone who at first was literally tongue-tied–shyer and more intimidated than almost anyone we can imagine. His story is a caution against the impulse to try and achieve perfection before we begin the journey of social change. Paul Loeb

Iraq: Controlled Devolution or Uncontrolled Disintegration. Although the Iraqi constitution creates a fairly decentralized state, the most worrisome development for Iraqi unity is Barzani’s increasing demands. Barzani’s electoral gains—and because of Iraq’s post-election political stalemate, his ability to be a king-maker in selecting Iraq’s next prime minister—make him and the Kurds more strident in their quest for autonomy, or maybe even independence, and to grab the ethnically-mixed but oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Ivan Eland

Banks, Markets Now Just Shearing Pens. For the first time in the 50-plus years I’ve been paying close attention to the securities markets and banking and looser attention to commodities markets — most of those years covering such businesses for newspapers and magazines — I am close to concluding that the only place for the modest savings of the average Jane or Joe is a tightly sealed jar buried in the garden or an envelope under a mattress. Maybe in a mixture of currencies. Jim Fuller

Mandela’s Ubuntu: We Are Human Only Through the Humanity of Others. “Mandela’s Way” is about life and one’s reaction to it. It demonstrates the need for us to understand our own motivations and the need for us to develop and articulate our own sense of Life, Love and Courage. The almost three years it took for Richard Stengel to chronicle Nelson Mandela’s life’s lessons and then condense it to enjoyable readable form, makes this book indispensable. Carl Matthes

Barry Bremer

Announcement

Marco Rubio Flipped Wrong on Arizona. Perhaps the most damning evidence that the law hasn’t really changed is the fact that its main sponsor, state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) admitted himself that the new wording won’t alter how the law is enforced. The changes also do not address the fact that the new law is likely unconstitutional on the grounds that it allows the state to regulate immigration — a power which the Constitution explicitly assigns to the federal government. Andrea Christina Nill

Sex in High Places: The Universal Hypocrisy. In fairness to Rekers, it should be pointed out that he says he hired the rentboy just to carry his bags. (His teabags?) Rekers wants to have it both ways. On one hand, he wants to say he just wanted a luggage carrier. On the other, he wants to parade himself to other gay men as someone so well hung that when he travels, he needs someone along to carry his sack. Tom Hall

Our House: The Potential to Build Something Beautiful Is Badly Tarnished. A half-dozen former addicts, ex-offenders and homeless people living together in an abandoned Brooklyn building makes for a sad Hot Docs entry in search of a theme – and a purpose. Charley James and Lulu Demaine

Keep Grant on the $50. When Reagan said he was a “states’ rights” guy, “he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon” and “tapping out the code,” Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times in 2007. “It was understood that when politicians started chirping about ’states’ rights’ to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you. And Reagan meant it.” Berry Craig

Lena Horne Dies at 92. The legendary actress, singer, and activist, Lena Horne passed away at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She was 92 years old. Ms. Horne was gained stardom more than a half a century ago when blacks were rarely seen on stage and screen. For more than 60 years Lena Horne entertained in films, on the radio, in television, nightclubs, concert halls and Broadway. –Sharon Kyle

bp oil spillCharley and Steinbeck’s America, 50 Years Later. Back in our Mickey Mouse capital, our Mickey Mouse politicians, lovingly gazed upon by their butt-ugly Mickey Mouse wives, firmly secure in their Mickey Mouse careers, are busy passing worthless Mickey Mouse laws that their clueless, Mickey Mouse constituents will thank them for by reelecting them to one Mickey Mouse term after another and another and another. Tom Degan

“The Gulf Appears To Be Bleeding:” Institute for Southern Studies. The Institute for Southern Studies (ISS) features a compelling video on its website that documents an overflight at ground zero of the British Petroleum oil catastrophe resulting from the explosion of the Transocean/Deepwater Horizon well platform on April 20. This is the view that cannot be seen from sanitized satellite photos and composite maps depicting the direction and extent of the massive river of oil threatening entire ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. Tar balls have already been reported on pristine Dauphin Island, and the damage is escalating daily. Georgianne Nienaber

Murderers of Old Men. I feel a sense of injustice whenever I read of someone logging unprotected redwoods, trees that have been fighting the odds for 500 years or more to live out their lives. What kind of person could kill a 500-year-old tree? For that matter, just logging in an “average” old-growth forest, with trees merely 100 or 150 or 200 years old still seems to me a crime. Johnny Townsend

The White House Should Stop Pandering to the Street; Support Three Critical Banking Reforms. The White House dismisses all three of these three measures “populist,” as if that adjective is the equivalent of “irresponsible.” But in fact, these amendments are necessary in order to restore trust in our financial system. They would reduce Wall Street’s tendency to take huge risks, pocket the wins, and fob off the losses on the public. Robert Reich

A Letter to a Mother Unknown. I never called anyone Mommy although I remember one day during my first spring semester at Union Theological Seminary in 1988 when I was rolled into St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Room because I was hemorrhaging, I just called out this name. Rev. Irene Monroe

http://www.laprogressive.com/progressive-issues/john-steinbeckamerica/
Published by the LA Progressive on May 16, 2010
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