LA Progressive Articles: January 31 to February 6, 2010

Haiti Reminds Us of the Poverty at Home. It is unfortunate that it took an earthquake to put the spotlight back on poverty in Haiti. To be sure, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince would have been devastating under any circumstances. But the people of Haiti had been suffering for years. The difference is that no one cared, because people often become weary hearing about black people suffering. -David A. Love

Who’s Killing Financial Reform? Congress isn’t doing a thing about Wall Street because it’s in the pocket of Wall Street. Dodd’s outburst at the Street is like the alcoholic who screams at a bartender “how dare you give me another drink when all I’ve done is pleaded with you for one!” -Robert Reich

Pregnant Immigrant Deported By Man Posing As Federal Marshall. A local news station is reporting that a man posing as a federal officer abducted a pregnant immigrant, Cherrie Bell Hibbard, in California last month, took her through airport security, and put her on a plane back to the Philippines. -Andrea Christina Nill

The U.S. Can No Longer Afford Its Empire. The Cold War is long over, and the concomitant rationale (dubious even then) for using an interventionist U.S. foreign policy to attempt to run the world is now obsolete and even dangerous in an era of blowback terrorism. Many empires throughout history have collapsed or withered away because their aspirations were too big for their wallets; the U.S. is in that perilous position now. Therefore, the United States should dramatically retract its defense perimeter, thus cutting the U.S. security budget by half and saving more than $500 billion a year. -Ivan Eland

U.S. Military Veteran Who Was Wrongfully Detained Sues Immigration Officials. Nonetheless, whether it’s explicitly spelled out in the Constitution or not, U.S. citizens shouldn’t have to worry about being locked up by immigration officials for seven months until they can scrounge up the money to hire an attorney who can prove their legal status. Reporter Raul A. Reyes further warns that, “if ICE believes you are in the country illegally, you can be arrested without a warrant and deported without a hearing.” - Andrea Christina Nill

Mr. Obama, You Need to Forcefully Take the Lead. You cannot leave critical matters for future administrations to sort out in a meaningful manner. Despite vicious backlash for your stance, you must vigorously work to change our collective course now rather than continue the same old policies that your predecessors in office had and that, obviously, do not work. - Emily Spence

Desmond Tutu

South Africa: A Model for the Future. Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and a Nobel Peace Price winner, has lent his name to the fight against homophobia saying, “Homophobia is a ‘crime against humanity’ and ‘every bit unjust’ as apartheid.” Brad Pitt, in a 2007 Vanity Fair interview of Tutu, remarked, “So certainly discrimination has no place in Christianity. There’s a big argument going on in America right now, on gay rights and equality.” - Carl Matthes

The Good and the Not So Good State of the Union. President Obama told the country. “Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations – they’re not standing still. These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.” I about fell off my chair when I heard that. He was speaking the truth, telling us all something that we should wrap our collective brains around. -Carl Bloice

Beyoncé’s Soulless Starbucking of Music Industry. Beyoncé has been a great star since childhood, and has gotten to the top through hard work, dedication, good looks and a powerful singing voice. But she seems to have gone through a corporate homogenization machine that has deprived her of real passion, real soul, and of the ability to express true feelings and emotions in her songs. –Randy Shaw

End the Filibuster and Pass a Lot of Stuff. The Democrats must pass a lot of legislation before the midterms or they’re going to be very sorry. Soon enough, given the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, we’re going to see campaigns where our choice for U.S. Senator will be between the “Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips” candidate and the “Pepsi/Pizza Hut/KFC/Frito Lay/Taco Bell” candidate. Former President George W. Bush is raking in the bucks speaking at the National Grocers’ Association. First he defiled the presidency by getting John Yoo to turn the Justice Department into a law factory for monarchical presidential powers, now he shares the stage as an inspirational speaker with Terry Bradshaw. Our elections are about to become a satirical skit that Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report did a long time ago. - Joseph Palermo

Gingrich: ‘It Ought to Be Easy, Not Hard to Get A Visa’ to Come to the US. Gingrich aptly points out that the nation is currently operating under an inefficient, outdated, and ineffective visa system. While many immigration hawks demand that undocumented immigrants go “to the back of the line,” Gingrich speaks to fact that there isn’t really a line for them to get in. - Andrea Nill

Do We Still Need to Celebrate Black History Month? Within the African- American LGBTQ community, Black History Month has always come under criticism. And rightly so! The absence of LGBTQ people of African descent in the month-long celebration is evidence of how race, gender and sexual politics of the dominant culture are reinscribed in black culture as well. - Rev. Irene Monroe

Obama Revives the Dukakis Presidency. President Obama aspires to change the way politics is played, saying he is tired of questions masquerading as talking points, and of “tactics” substituting for the best policies. Like Dukakis, he wants the two parties to engage in national policy debates, where the best ideas prevail. Unfortunately, that’s not how politics works in the United States, and Obama’s misguided idealism is costing his base dearly. -Randy Shaw

Don’t Call It a ‘Defense’ Budget. As new sequences of political horrors unfold, maybe it’s a bit too easy for writers and readers of the progressive blogosphere to remain within the politics of online denunciation. Cogent analysis and articulated outrage are necessary but insufficient. The unmet challenge is to organize widely, consistently and effectively — against the warfare state — on behalf of humanistic priorities. In the process, let’s be clear. This is not a defense budget. This is a death budget. -Norman Solomon

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy. It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide. - Robert Reich

How About House Democrats Next? In the past year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have made major strides passing progressive legislation – only to see it die or lull in the Senate, with the President barely lifting a finger. Voters are getting restless, Obama’s approval ratings are down and Democrats are in trouble because they haven’t gotten much done. Now with the Senate acting like a House of Lords, it’s time for House Democrats to get a little respect – and give Obama a piece of their mind. - Paul Hogarth

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Israeli Women Soldiers Break the Silence. Sometimes, as the Breaking the Silence report indicates, the level of brutality grows beyond comprehension: a five-year-old child beaten; a nine year old who “posed no danger” shot to death; another child with both arms and both legs intentionally broken. The Yediot Aharonoth article offers a series of such horrifying incidents. When the full report is available on the Breaking the Silence website, it will be surely include even more heart-breaking tales. - Ira Chernus

Gibbs: Obama’s Immigration Position Unchanged. According to Gibbs, the question isn’t whether President Obama still supports passing comprehensive immigration reform, but rather, whether the White House can be convinced that there is enough bipartisan support to get it passed. A recent affirmative statement from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicates that at least one key GOP member is reaching out to his colleagues and encouraging them to embrace the immigration issue. Meanwhile, themajority of Republican and Independent voters already support comprehensive immigration reform. - Andrea Christina Nill

Obama’s Base Pact with Colombia Accelerates Dangerous Trend. Although much of Latin America is in the vanguard of the “anti-corporate and anti-militarist global democracy movement,” Grandin writes, the Obama administration is “disappointing potential regional allies by continuing to promote a volatile mix of militarism and free-trade orthodoxy in a corridor running from Mexico to Colombia.” Grandin’s article in The Nation’sFebruary 8th issue is titled, “Muscling Latin America.” - Sherwood Ross

Life-Saving Government? I can’t tell you that my life has been saved by the efforts of government to reduce air pollution. But living in an area highly susceptible to the accumulation of dangerous particulates and ozone, I can tell you that I notice a distinct improvement in air quality over the last 15 years. And that has probably added several years to my life expectancy. Yes, government has saved my life. Maybe it has saved yours too. Is this worth paying for? I guess that depends on whether you want to pay your fair share of taxes to support these worthwhile endeavors. - Ron Wolff

Time for a New DNC Chair! The $28 million that the Big O spent on Latinos and Chicanos was well spent and did the job of helping Latinos nationwide figure out that the Democratic Party was indeed on their side. So far, since the new DNC Chair (whoever he is) has been in office, we have seen absolutely no evidence that he gets it. So it is time for him to be shown the door and let’s get back to winning the midterms and finding a dogcatcher to elect. - Steve Ybarra

Democrats Return to Slumber after Massachusetts Wake Up Call. Consider the Democrats top concerns. Health care? “We’ll get to it sometime.” Comprehensive immigration reform? “It’s still a priority.” EFCA? Off the political radar screen. Climate Change? “We don’t have the votes.” The Budget? Freeze all domestic spending but education and research but protect defense. - Randy Shaw

Bhutto:The Film — Heartbreaking, Thought-Provoking History Lesson. Bhutto: The Film presents the story of a woman whose strength of personality and conviction totally dominates the constraints of a fundamentalist religious society where women had no intrinsic value. The voice over of Bhutto describing her birth is the ghost in the room. Her extended family was in mourning that Benazir entered the world in a society where the only desire is that the firstborn be a boy. “Dogs and cats were giving birth to boys,” she narrates from the grave. -Georgianne Nienaber:

Emergency for LA’s Arts Community. There are always going to be those who say the arts are a luxury we can’t afford. The truth in Los Angeles — according to Jack Kyser, chief economist for LA, Inc, and author of the 2009 Otis Report — is that the arts are an economic engine that employ over 35,000 people directly and contribute at least that many jobs indirectly in tourism, restaurants, printing and ancillary businesses, not to mention the economic multiplyer at other local businesses where those employees shop like grocery stores. - John Gallogly

Why Would Union Members Vote Republican? The union-haters must still be in hog heaven over an AFL-CIO-sponsored poll that showed most Massachusetts union households supported Republican Scott Brown over union-endorsed Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. - Berry Craig

Once Again the State of the Union Makes a President Strong. Obama quickly plunged into a much-needed defense of the bank bailout and his stimulus plan. In his most human moment, he acknowledged that Democrats and Republicans united in hating the bailout: “I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.” His stimulus defense appeared more substantive as he detailed the bill’s accomplishments. But to avoid being too professorial, Obama failed to connect the dots, not quite explaining how that controversial bill actually created the jobs he enumerated. - Gil Troy

Howard Zinn And J. D. Salinger: Two Heroes. Both Zinn and Salinger remained true to themselves. Zinn maintained his radical stance when many of his contemporaries softened. Salinger rejected what he considered the phoniness of fame, and even stopped publishing (but maybe now, secreted works will go public). Though some of his rumored actions, if true, were eccentric, there’s nothing reclusive about wanting to live a life free from an obsessively attentive outside world. -Wendy Block

British Iraq Inquiry Ours Too. What the United Kingdom is dealing with is the hangover of the crimes of George W. Bush, crimes that have been conveniently swept under the rug on this side of the pond. Blair was Bush’s poodle and now he finds himself in the hot seat defending the actions of his former master. Seeing a former Prime Minister grilled is a wonderful thing. We’d never see a U.S. president in a similar predicament because, ironically, the president is now more of a monarch than any executive in Britain. - Joseph Palermo

The New Obama Is the Old Obama. And at the Republican Party’s retreat in Baltimore, President Obama was responsible for the most compelling example of political theater in recent American history. He fielded questions from a crowded room of hostile adversaries– outnumbered, perhaps, but unmatched in intellectual firepower. The result was nothing less than a nationally-broadcast smackdown that the Republicans will not soon forget. Perhaps the president’s adversaries in the GOP, blinded by their partisanship, extremism, and dare I say racism, underestimated his capabilities. - David A. Love

Published by the LA Progressive on February 7, 2010
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