LA Progressive Articles: June 6-12, 2010

James Baldwin

Not Knocking on Heaven’s Door:* Black Atheists, Urban America. I was recently told that I’d been deemed an unsuitable culmination speaker for a bourgie philanthropic organization’s young women mentees because of my decidedly unladylike public atheism (Perhaps the Israelite’s Old Testament shout-out to silent prostrate women would be more acceptable). -Sikivu Hutchinson

Not Enough Drama from Obama? It’s bad enough that the requirement of this media age is that all of our presidents be “telegenic.” It is now apparently mandated that they comport themselves like drama queens. Not only do they need to look like the model in an Esquire ad, they now have to behave like Greta Garbo: “I vant to be alone!” -Tom Degan

Why Main Street Isn’t Getting Any Better. Americans have no choice but to pare back their debt. That’s bad news because consumer spending is 70 percent of the economy. It helps explain why we so few jobs are being created, and why we can’t escape the gravitational pull of the Great Recession without far more government spending. -Robert Reich

Peak Oil 101. The acute problem of the Gulf oil spill makes the cost of corruption-afflicted government front page news. Lax Federal offshore drilling oversight under Bush 43 has cost us dearly. However, our society’s vulnerability to any trouble with this critical resource should also remind us of the chronic problem: peak oil. -Adam Eran

Cell Phone Video Of Border Patrol Shooting Raises Questions About Disproportionate Use of Force. A new cell phone video “raises questions” about the claims made by the border patrol agent who shot and killed a 14-year-old boy earlier this week. The border patrol agent reportedly told authorities that he was surrounded by rock-throwers, as if to imply that he had no choice but to shoot his gun in self-defense. FBI special agent Andrea Simmons told the press that the border patrol agent “gave verbal commands to the remaining subjects to stop and retreat…the subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him.” However, the video captured by a cell phone on the Mexican side of the border shows a different scene, -Andrea Nill

Bruce Springsteen

Israel’s Talking Points, the Media, and the Cement Missile Threat. The purpose in this case is to underscore the contention that the cruel blockade of Gaza is to prevent the smuggling of arms and weapons-making material into the enclave. It is not and never has been. The aim of the blockade is to make life miserable for the 1.4 million Palestinians there in the hope of undermining the Hamas government, which was duly elected four years ago. Gaza is being held for ransom. That’s collective punishment and it’s against international law. -Carl Bloice

Eight Thoughts About Election Day and Words and Music. The name Tea Party evokes — was no doubt conjured to evoke — deep deep associations with The Boston Tea Party, a stirring public challenge to corporate monopoly and monarchy studied by every American schoolchild. Now, thrown together with carefully-chosen words and phrases like “Take our country back,” “socialism” and “Hitler,” the Tea Party purveys the exact opposite — restoring corporate monopolies and viciously rejecting a popularly-elected president. -Michael Sigman

Is Obama Powerless Against BP? When the polls reported that Obama wasn’t taking the oil spill seriously enough, his next TV appearance depicted him as “outraged.” Yet his continuing lack of action doesn’t match his new, stronger emotions; nor does his inaction match the dire seriousness of the situation. -Shamus Cooke

joblessnessWhitman Was the Highest Bidder. Whitman has said that her cap on donating to her own campaign is $150 million dollars. She spent half of that on the primary. This is a governor’s race. One state. Just to put this into perspective, in 2008 John McCain spent $350 million total to run nationally for president. That’s all 50 states. -Tina Dupuy

Why Economic Advisors Are Paid to Be Economic Advisors. Say you’re a high government official with some responsibility for advising the President on what he should be doing and saying about the economy. You know the economy is still in a deep hole, the deepest since the Great Depression. -Robert Reich

Despite Spending $46 Million, California Rejects PG&E. Outspent over 1,000-to-one by a monster utility company, consumer advocates defeated by a 52-47 margin an odious measure that would have cemented PG&E’s monopoly. To call this a David & Goliath victory does not give it justice. -Paul Hogarth

Does Protecting Our Children Mean Political Action For Them And For Us? Particularly in these difficult times, we often use our children as reasons to avoid getting involved in critical issues. We’ve got all we can handle holding on to our jobs and spending a little time with them. We fear political commitments will make their lives more insecure. Especially when they’re young, it may be all we can do just to go to work, come home, pay attention to their needs, and catch a few scarce hours of sleep. Yet when we do find ways to get engaged, our children can give us powerful reasons to act. -Paul Loeb: .

Why Can’t the Left Pull a Tea Party? The Democratic Party just is not a mirror image of the Republicans. It’s true that partisans have become steadily more polarized in the last generation: the Republican Party really is a conservative party today, in a way that it wasn’t even in the days of Richard Nixon. The Democrats are distinctly more liberal, but they are not a liberal party in the same sense as the GOP is conservative. -John Peeler

Doomed Pelicans: British Petroleum Neglecting Booms in Pelican Rookery. Dawn offered a grand sunrise, and as our skiff skimmed over relatively flat seas, the endless sky was a counterpoint to the sickening sheen on the water’s surface, blobs of red-orange light crude, and worse yet, bubbles of foam and oil that indicated controversial dispersants had done their job, suspending oil in the water column, making the water opaque and denying sunlight to the organisms below. -Georgianne Nienaber

Oh, Bill O’Reilly — It’s “Our” Country, Too. There are many among that celebrated group of “We the People” who are opposed to the Arizona law but who nonetheless remain deeply troubled by our broken immigration system. I am one of them and, frankly, I do not need to be lectured about the consequences of illegal immigration by Mr. O’Reilly or anyone else. -Tanya Acker

A Pride Event Not to Be Proud of. Because of the bleaching of the Stonewall Riots, the beginnings of LGBTQ movement post-Stonewall is an appropriation of a black, brown, trans, and queer liberation narrative. And it is the deliberate visible absence of these black, brown, and yellow LGBTQ people that makes it harder, if not nearly impossible, for LGBTQ communities to build trusted coalitions with white LGBTQ communities. -Rev. Irene Monroe

bp's oil spillComing Soon: Corporate Town Halls against Social Security. The group organizing the national town halls is the “non-partisan and non-profit” America Speaks. But scratching the surface of this purportedly harmless group reveals a corporate snake pit. America Speak’s Board of Directors and National Advisory Board showcase an impressive list of corporate CEO’s, CFO’s, consultants, politicians, and elite law firms. Not a single voice from working people is to be found. -Shamus Cooke

Obama Must Take Charge. Obama has no ass to kick until he’s in charge. Obama should take over BP’s rescue operation. That’s the only way the public can be sure all necessary resources are being put to the job, that public risks are being properly weighed, and it’s getting the truth. -Robert Reich:

John Wooden: Understanding Race Equality and Character Through Sports. Coach John Wooden made players of various races and belief systems play together and forget about race and religion for forty minutes a game. The politics of race was well-known and well documented in college sports. While not as much of an issue today, in 1963, not many NCAA Division I schools had black players on their teams. Those that had one, only had one (or two). If they had one, the black player, in most instances, had to be the best player on the team. – Anthony Samad

Al and Tipper’s Separation as an Iconic Baby Boom Act. No one other than the Gores knows exactly what happened—and they, too, may not be completely sure. Even marriages free of public scrutiny are icebergs, with the true foundations submerged: some rock solid, some fragile. Still, as national role models who frequently made their private lives public, their private trauma has public repercussions. -Gil Troy

john woodenEM Forster and Facebook. But the story is also a poignant criticism of technological advancement. The current struggle between “old media” and “new media” is one of reporting versus digesting news. One hundred years ago a lecturer in Forster’s tale pronounces, ”Beware of first-hand ideas! First hand-ideas do not really exist…Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from the disturbing element – direct observation.” It’s a rundown of blogging verses journalism. -Tina Dupuy

A Lopsided Approach to Border Violence Doesn’t Solve Anything. While advocating for the allocation of more money and manpower to “secure the border” may make for good campaigning in an election year, experts find that beefing up the border actually does little to curb border violence. In fact, these “get tough” border initiatives—more troops, fencing and operations that target non-violent border crossers—pull valuable resources away from solving violent crimes. -Seth Hoy

Magic Johnson and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. It will soon be 20 years – Nov. 7, 1991 – since Magic Johnson went before a packed news conference at the Forum in Inglewood, California, to reveal that he was HIV positive and would be retiring from basketball. For the world of sports, it was a devastating announcement. -Carl Matthes

Physician Warns That Arizona Immigration Law Could Turn Doctors Into Criminals. Lucas Restrepo, M.D., published a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine that provided a whole new angle on the effect SB-1070 will have on the medical profession. Restrepo points out that, under the law, health care providers who treat undocumented immigrants could be considered criminals. -Andrea Nill

Groucho Marx and Thelma Todd

June 2010 Election Predictions. The June 8, 2010 election is not the most eventful in recent years, but it will provide valuable guidance for November. In California, the Republican Party will continue its pattern of political suicide by nominating two candidates — Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina — who have almost no chance of prevailing in the fall. -Randy Shaw

Rethinking Big Government. Shouldn’t the argument be focused – not on “big government” – but rather on “good government”? Efficiency versus incompetence? We are now a nation of over three-hundred million people. The very idea that the government should be made smaller – or done away with entirely – is beyond idiotic. -Tom Degan

Marcy’s Response to Jane Harman: You’re in the Bubble. My JOBS, NOT WARS campaign against Jane Harman in today’ Democratic Party primary centers around connecting the dots between the trillions we spend on war and the money denied for sustainable job creation, affordable housing, strong public education, and quality health care for all. -Marcy Winograd

When Does Border-First Become Border-Only? While President Obama and Gov. Brewer agreed that “federal inaction on a comprehensive immigration overhaul is unacceptable,” she has done nothing to substantiate that notion. Meanwhile, Gov. Brewer admits that crime is down in Arizona (as well as other border towns), even though she has repeatedly claimed that her state is “under siege” from border crime -Seth Hoy

joyce blown callImperfections. In baseball, as in life, we need people like Bud Selig to exercise their judgment as to when certain challenges have gone too far. But in baseball, as in life, we’ll eventually get to the point where our paranoia over imagined unintended consequences gives way to our recognition of the value of doing the job right. -Mark Bowen

The Right to Exist: Who Has It? Where Is It? Why? The Zionist state demands the right to exist as a Zionist state—a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, bristling with nuclear weapons. Did Yahweh come out of the clouds and declare that this state alone can break all the rules of international decorum with impunity, without censure? -GAry Coseri

Winograd Supporters Greet Harman at Mar Vista Farmers Market. 50,000 doors knocked and calls made, over 800 volunteers, $426,000 raised without a dime of corporate money — that’s the Winograd for Congress campaign. -Marcy Winograd

bp spillYes on Prop 15: One Small Step for Democracy. Californians can do something about time-consuming fundraising, nefarious corporate influence, and obscene personal spending in American politics on Tuesday, June 8. A victory for Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, will mean that the race for the Golden State’s Secretary of State will be a “clean money election” in 2014 and 2018. A small step, but a necessary one. -Michael Sigman

The Teabag Platform – Clear Even in L.A. In the same week that 48 states agreed to a proposal to have national education standards, Chuck Wilkerson said that we should be busting teachers’ unions, slashing teacher salaries and turning education over to private enterprise, to make a profit. 48 States. That’s every state except Alaska and Texas, even the most “red” states want some minimum standards. But the Teabag position is that public education is bad and should be ended. -Tom Hall

Do You Vote the Party Line? My father looks to me for endorsements. In a sense, we all need endorsements to help us select who we’ll vote for. Our knowledge of the issues and the candidates runs the gamut. Some of us are plugged in 24/7 others rely on television ads, still others wait for the slates to arrive in the mail and then there’s always the endorsement of the party. -Sharon Kyle

Put Jobless Young People to Work Cleaning Up BP’s Mess on BP’s Dime. Friday’s job report was awful. For most new high school and college grads finding a job is harder than ever. Meanwhile, states are cutting summer jobs for disadvantaged young people. What to do with this army of young unemployed? Send them to the Gulf to clean up beaches and wetlands, and send the bill to BP. -Robert Reich

Media All Wrong on BP Oil Spill Politics. The nonsense and political disinformation around the politics of the BP oil spill is stunning. Each day we are told that President Obama’s entire agenda has been undermined by BP’s reckless action, despite all evidence to the contrary. -Randy Shaw

Published by the LA Progressive on June 13, 2010
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