LA Progressive Articles: June 18-24, 2010

Johannes Mehersele

Oscar Grant Trial: Armed and Dangerous. The murder charge played well with the furious community, but given how hard it will be to prove intent in this case beyond a reasonable doubt to twelve jurors, did the DA’s office think the more serious charge would make an acquittal more likely? -Diane Lefer

Napolitano Announces Next Steps for Southwest Border . Although Secretary Napolitano trumpeted DHS’s new border initiatives as well as past achievements, she also acknowledged that the border can never be hermetically sealed and that stalling immigration reform by highlighting border security issues is not the answer to our immigration problems. -Seth Hoy

Nurses Have Whitman on the Run.Two weeks into her general election campaign, Meg Whitman has already proved that she has not followed politics in recent years. How else to explain her already picking a fight with CNA and Rose Ann DeMoro that the candidate cannot win, and that makes her look worse with each passing day? -Randy Shaw

Turkey’s Policy Toward Iran Is Worth Emulating. The sad truth is that if Iran wants a nuclear weapon, it will likely eventually get one. So the United States should quit wasting valuable political capital beseeching, threatening, and horse-trading with China, Russia, and other UN Security Council members to incrementally ratchet up likely futile multilateral economic sanctions against Iran. -Ivan Eland

obama mcchrystalThe Presidents and the McGenerals. Gen. McChrystal is far from the first general to scoff at the White House. His fate echoes that of Generals MacArthur and McClellan but the comparison ends there, says historian Kenneth Weisbrode, because today there’s a greater reliance on the military in foreign relations. -Kenneth Weisbode

The New Normal: High Unemployment. With unemployment so common that it’s widely seen as a long-term fact of life, a tacit fatalism has seeped into political discourse and the mass media. In short, what should be unacceptable has gained acceptance. -Norman Solomon

Discrimination: Alive and Well. I don’t quarrel with the Boy Scouts’ right to determine its own membership qualifications, although I think what they’ve done is short-sighted in the least and actually downright bigoted. (Other organizations serving young people — the Girl Scouts, Campfire, Boys and Girls Clubs, and probably a host of others — have seen the light.) What I don’t understand is the desire to celebrate and applaud discrimination, unless of course you approve of those views yourself. -Ron Wolff

Religion’s Ugly Head. fAfter speaking directly with God, the current Leading Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 86-year-old Boyd Packer revealed last year that Mormons must form an alliance with Catholic Bishops in California to stop the desecration of Christian teaching. The aim of this unholy alliance? Stop same-sex marriage. -Carl Matthes

solar powerHow Big Oil Controlled the U.S. Photovoltaic Industry. Big Oil bought and controlled the alternative energy business because Big Oil’s main business is and has always been oil, gas, coal and petrochemical profits first. The “private sector” stimulated was the mergers and buy-outs of smaller photovoltaic research and development companies by Big Oil companies. -Tracy Emblem

Two Rants, No Waiting.Chris Matthews turned in a rock-solid, expressive, impressive, straight-down-the-middle performance that night on Leno’s private turf, and Jay seemed to be both surprised and a smidge taken aback by it all. -Mike Price

Coveting Riches on the Great Rare Earth Highway. The military propagandists needed to come up with something to distract attention from the reality that things are going badly in Afghanistan, very badly. Public opinion in the U.S. has soured toward the war. Every other country that has troops on the battlefields is under tremendous popular pressure to withdraw them. -Carl Bloice

Kyl Accuses Obama Of Holding Border Security Hostage To Immigration Reform As Border Crime Drops. At a recent town hall meeting in Tempe, Arizona, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) announced that President Obama is “holding border security hostage” to immigration reform. Kyl claims that Obama suggested in private that Democrats won’t secure the border because, if they do, Republicans will have no reason to support immigration reform -Andrea Nill

Maxine Waters

Proposed Comcast Takeover of NBC Universal Will Hurt Diversity, Critics Say. Waters’ spotlight on the near white-wash of the NBC fall shows was a highlight of Monday’s hearing, which was heavily focused on how the proposed merger may affect diversity within the entertainment business. -Sylvia Moore

From Great Man to Great Screwup: Behind the McChrystal Uproar. For months, the McChrystal star had been slipping. A few days before the Rolling Stone piece caused a sudden plunge from war-making grace, Time Magazine’s conventional-wisdom weathervane Joe Klein was notably down on McChrystal’s results: “Six months after Barack Obama announced his new Afghan strategy in a speech at West Point, the policy seems stymied.” -Norman Solomon

President Obama, BP, “Shake-downs” and Runaway “Joes:” Now I Know The Republicans Are Crazy. For a long time, we’ve known that the Republican Party was perceived as insensitive to the circumstances of the poor. We’ve seen it with Katrina, and with other policies that required special attention to the populous (including cutting off unemployment extensions this week). Now we can say that the Republican Party is just being unreasonable. I’d go as far as to call them, crazy. -Anthony Samad

BP’s Other Gifts to America—and to the World. At this point, we might well wonder if it was such a good idea to overthrow a democratic, secular nationalist like Mossadeq to preserve the profits of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now renamed BP). Indeed, given the sordid record of BP and other giant oil companies, we might wonder why we tolerate them at all. -Lawrence Wittner

nea and jedidiahMichael Tomasky’s Despairing Take on American History. Tomasky argues that many of President Obama’s harshest critics on the left are reacting that way because they don’t want to admit to themselves that the “feelings of invincibility and redemption” after the 2008 election “were misplaced,” and that “the power and euphoria were somehow counterfeit.” -Joseph Palermo

“Los Angels” at LAFilm Festival, Friday, 25 June: Director Thomas Napper Illuminates Skid Row. Serendipitously, perhaps even miraculously, a second movie had been made; a documentary originally titled THE CHORUS as a take-off on THE SOLOIST, that was now titled LOST ANGELS. It was an expose dedicated entirely to Skid Row and to the extras employed on THE SOLOIST. Joe Wright was an Executive Producer. Susan Klos, author of the above email, who’d read my article, was a Co-Executive Producer, and Thomas Napper, a long-time associate of Joe Wright, lovingly and patiently directed. -Linda Milazzo

Dude, Let Students Help Make Those Teacher Cuts. Because our school makes these cuts strictly on seniority, it’s always the newer teachers who go, the ones who connect so much better with us students. Athough we like and respect our older, more experienced teachers, these younger ones are more flexible in their teaching plans and are closer to us in age, so they understand us so much better. So we’re terribly sad to see their teaching careers end, at least for now. -Nea Friberg-Price & Jed Von Dielingen

Pointing Our Oily Finger. The reason we’ve got oil rigs drilling a mile deep into the ocean and fouling Alaska’s wilderness is because you and I insist on filling up our car’s gas tank anytime we want, right to the top, at a fraction of the cost others around the world pay, almost as an inalienable right. It’s why we’ve got soldiers dying in Afghanistan and Iraq these many years down the road, too, you know. -Dick Price

Oil-Soaked Dolphins Struggle in Lousiana’s Barataria Bay. Toxic poisons are stalking the dolphins in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, and no one is discussing or reporting the fact that the oiled mammals are struggling in the waters near Grand Terre Island. There are no published photos or videos that we have been able to find, and no stories that describe the oil-encrusted dorsal fins and odd behavior that suggest an under-reported or deliberately hidden environmental catastrophe. -Georgianne Nienaber

Progressive Critics Help Obama and Democrats. Holding self-identified “progressive” politicians like Barack Obama accountable for fulfilling campaign commitments actually improves the chances for progressive election victories, as it pressures Democrats to satisfy their base. And as the critical midterm elections approach, ensuring this grassroots base is motivated and mobilizable by holding Obama and Congressional Democrats accountable is even more imperative. -Randy Shaw

Carmen Miranda, The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat. Magi Avila is Here’s your Miranda warning: You have the right to be charmed, beguiled and to go bananas during the Hollywood stage production of Carmen Miranda, The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat. Magi Avila incarnates the 1940s dancing and singing sensation of stage, screen and nightclubs who personified Latin America for a generation of U.S. audiences. -Ed Rampell

Exploit This Tragedy. The “don’t exploit this tragedy” knee-jerk catch-all phrase is absolutely meaningless. In American politics, we rule by crisis. There is no political will to act unless something is burning, melting or spewing. We don’t plan for the future – we brace for it. -Tina Dupuy

Alvin Greene’s South Carolina Win: The Inside Scoop. Roughly a third of Al’s votes came from soul and pop music lovers who believed they were voting for sexy Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Al Green, nee Albert Greene. Green, who was a superstar who sold millions of records in the ’70s, also evoked sympathy from voters who remembered he was once doused by his girlfriend in a sea of boiling grits. -Michael Sigman

Jerry Brown, Eucalyptus Trees, Esalen, and More. Unlike today, there were politically strong progressive movements during the Brown era that operated outside the Democratic Party establishment. Brown had strong backing among environmentalists, tenants, those focused on “appropriate” technology, and the United Farm Workers (UFW). -Randy Shaw

Fighting the Orange Tide. Not so long ago, you would most likely call a Democrat running for office in many parts of Orange County quixotic if not just flat foolish. Beth Krom, a lifelong Democrat who has won five consecutive local elections in Irvine—the crustiest of upper crust Orange County—begs to differ. -Dick Price

SB 1070 “Gets Tough” on Arizona’s Housing Market. According to the Arizona Republic, housing experts anticipate that SB 1070 will not only drive illegal immigrants out of the state, but legal residents and potential new homebuyers with them—“departures from a state where growth is the economic foundation.” -Seth Hoy

Ten Suggestions for Effective Activism. When I was updating Soul of a Citizen, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at Florida Gulf Coast University suggested I gather togetherthe Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. -Paul Loeb

Why China’s Currency Announcement Is Hockum. Don’t be fooled into thinking that US companies will continue to make big profits from sales in China. China allows big U.S. and foreign companies to sell in China on condition that production takes place in China – often in joint ventures with Chinese companies. It wasn’t American know-how, so it can eventually replace the US firms with China firms. -Robert Reich

Respecting Teachers. If the goal is to improve our public education system–and there is no organization or institution that cannot be improved in some way–then the most straightforward way to accomplish this is to give the highly-trained, highly-motivated professionals in the classrooms the resources they need, and let them do the job they were hired for. -John MacMurray

Deliver Us from Ignorance: Freedom’s Higher Meaning. As is often said in America, anyone has the right to sleep under a bridge, the rich included, although the rich seldom take advantage of the opportunity. If people can’t quit their low-paying jobs for fear of losing their health insurance, are they free? What about individuals who are so inhibited by what others might think of them they never do anything they really want to do, but instead restrict their life choices to only those acts that they believe will gain them social approval? Are such people really free? How about the groups with which we identify—have you ever considered how they might influence our idea of freedom? -Charles Hayes

commuteArizona Shooting of Latino Man Considered a Hate Crime. At this point, it’s difficult to verify what role, if any, SB-1070 played in Varela’s death. However, chances are the law has made an already toxic atmosphere worse. A growing number of Latinos are already the targets of discrimination and hate crimes in the U.S. SB-1070 has only exploited the public’s frustration with federal government inaction and played to their worst instincts. -Andrea Nill

Peak Oil 102: What To Do Now. A recent U.N. study found that raising livestock caused more climate change than all human transportation combined. Currently U.S. agriculture is not even “solar.” We burn ten calories of petroleum to produce one calorie of food. -Adam Eran

“Why Is the Media So Anti-Union?” Generally, the smaller a paper or TV or radio station is, the greater its bias against unions. Their anti-unionism is sometimes as plain as their front doors, which are often plastered with decals or stickers proudly proclaiming chamber membership. The fact that the chamber is openly pro-business and anti-union apparently doesn’t trouble local media owners about conflicts of interest. -Berry Craig

Joe Barton and the Big Big Debate. Representative Joe Barton’s apology to Tony Hayward for what he termed a “shakedown” of BP by the White House in order to get BP’s agreement to a $20 billion escrow fund, was the best thing to happen to BP since April 20, and the best boost for the White House in months. What possessed Barton, the ranking Republican on Energy and Commerce? -Robert Reich

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