LA Progressive Articles: March 7 to 14, 2010

First Solve Prison Crisis, Then Fix California’s Budget. To get a handle on the damage California’s current approach to incarceration is having on its citizens, consider this: In a recent 23-year period, California erected 23 prisons—one a year, each costing roughly $100 million dollars annually to operate, with both Democratic and Republican governors occupying the statehouse—at the same time that it added just one campus to its vaunted university system, UC Merced. –Dick Price

More than Merely Counting Carbon Dioxide Emissions. If we agree simply to total up CO2 emissions, China ends up being the world’s biggest emitter. But, if we agree to account for China’s much larger population, by ranking per capita emission, the US can go back to its familiar cheer: “We’re #1! We’re #1! Whhoooa!!” –Bob Letcher

We Are All Accountable. I understand that it is hard to comprehend that the United States is capable of war crimes of this magnitude. It is human nature to deny that our nation could be a party to such horrendous actions against other human beings. –Tim Gatto

Six Degrees of Fornication: That Crazy, Kinky, Wacky Little Thing Called Sex. If the performers are under the covers and covered up in a play about sex, and the show’s not willing to show skin, it makes one wonder: why do a story about that particular topic in the first place? If you don’t want to show naked people and depict sex acts, why not do a play about something else? –Ed Rampell

Black America Calling For “A Black Agenda”. The President shouldn’t hide behind black leadership who have access, while they sing a song, as Tavis says, “that we all don’t know,” namely that “the President doesn’t need a black agenda.” Don’t deny what we all know is the real help Black America needs. It’s not a subject that you have to run from. And when your community calls, Brother President, just pick up the phone. –Anthony Asadullah Samad

How Democrats Can Reclaim the Youth Vote. Dashed hopes also matter. Politics may be the art of compromise, but from health care to Guantanamo to Afghanistan and the bank bailouts, the compromises of the Obama administration have added up to belie the image of a candidacy of change. –Paul Loeb

Corporate Media: All the News that Suits the Suits. One reason that there has been so little outcry about this complete abandonment of the capitalist ideals of the Reagan years is that there is no longer any press competition in the United States. All the broadcast and cable networks are now owned by about five multinational corporations. And in every major city, the same corporations own all of the television and radio stations and the cable systems. Most cable systems have no competition at all. –Tom Hall

Racism and the Myth of a “Victim Mentality”. It’s a common argument, made by those who would rather ignore or finesse the problem of racism in America. If you can’t argue the facts, never fear, just suggest that certain facts are too dangerous to be spoken. The possibility that persons of color might adopt a victim mentality once they learn the extent of racism, means we simply have to move on, and tell those who are, as a matter of fact, often the victims of injustice not to dwell on their experiences too much, lest their commitment to self-help be vitiated. –Tim Wise

Regine Simon-Barjon

How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste. The uncomfortable truth, however, is that crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the last few decades — they are currently are at historical lows — but imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Quintupled, in fact. And the vast majority of that increase is due to the War on Drugs. –Michelle Alexander

Righting the Moral Wrongs of Immigration Reform. The Tea Party movement, a twenty-first-century incarnation of the angry white mob—with corporate backing no less—exploits the fear of the foreigner. They and their cohorts in the anti-immigrant movement stoke the fires of hatred and resentment, among a population hit by recession and searching for the enemy. –David A. Love

California Fair Elections Kickoff. It’s impossible to eliminate money from politics, and there’s no reason to. But release candidates from huge campaign contributors and the special favors that follow victory, and you’ll see miracles after every election. –Wendy Block

Black Motherhood Lost at the Oscars. The historical legacy of the devaluation and demonization of black motherhood was both applauded and rewarded at this year’s Oscars. And the point was clearly illustrated with Mo’Nique, capturing the gold statue for best supporting actress in the movie “Precious,” based on the novel Push by Sapphire, as a ghetto welfare mom who demeans and demoralizes her child every chance she can. –Rev. Irene Monroe

Dick Armey Wants Tom Tancredo Out of His Tea Party Tent. The majority of Americans, including Republicans and independents, support a solution to the nation’s broken immigration system that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Chances are, many would also be turned off by ALIPAC and Tancredo’s impractical “deport them all” strategy and nativist vitriol. –Andrea Nill

Broken Senate Breaks Dreams. There are well over 1 million children in this country without documentation. These young undocumented adults hold great promise for our country’s future, and yet even at this difficult time in our country, when potential should be at a premium, the adults in charge have discarded these students’ gifts out of fear and expediency. –Mario Solis-Marich

Haiti Recovery: “We Can Grow Our Own Chickens”. Regine Simon-Barjon, speaking for the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce as the CEO of Biotek Solutions did, and she courageously faced off against a room full of companies, some well-intentioned and some not, who were poised to get paid lots of money to provide “aid” to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. –Georgianne Nienaber

Oscar Ceremony Shows Hollywood’s Rightward, Militaristic Shift. While conservatives love bashing “Hollywood liberals,” Sunday night’s Oscar telecast showed how little this description applies. From Kathryn Bigelow’s promoting George W. Bush’s argument that the U.S. invaded Iraq to protect Americans, to the disproportionate acclaim given to films exalting the military, to the exclusion of Michael Moore’s Capitalism, A Love Story from the documentary nominees, Hollywood now largely avoids any hint of progressive social analysis. –Randy Shaw

Hurt Lockher director Katherine Bigelow, Barbra Striesand

Beyond Unemployment Insurance in the Face of Structural Job Loss. Unemployment compensation was conceived as a temporary solution to a temporary problem, getting people through the down part of one cycle to the up part of the next cycle; not as a long-term solution to a long-term structural problem. –Bob Letcher

Tea Baggers: The Great American Debate Recommences. The Tea Party campaign raises again the issues first fought out when the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation in the 1780s. –Louise W. Knight

Time to Mobilize on State Budget Reform. If we can’t get a simple majority for raising taxes in the legislature, we can still put AB 656 on the ballot – while in the meantime get a simple majority for passing the budget. It’s those kinds of incremental (and winnable) moves we need to get us out of this mess. –Paul Hogarth

Bail Out Our Schools. Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That’s fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation’s public schools now face it’s a cruel joke. –Robert Reich

Love Thy Tea Bagger? Somehow Noam Chomsky thinks the Tea Baggers, some of whom are putting out Palin-in-2012 bumper stickers, are ripe for leftist picking. He says Tea Baggers are just plain folks who are angry because they feel like they’ve been shafted by “the system.” –Berry Craig

The Ballad of Emmett Till: Till We Meet Again. But in a country still troubled by racism, where hate crimes are on the rise — from nooses and KKK hoods at the University of California San Diego to death threats against the first African American president — any month is appropriate for this engaging interpretation of the life and death of Emmett Till, the martyr who launched the Civil Rights movement. Three months after Till’s murder, Rosa Parks stood up by sitting down in a segregated Southern bus. –Ed Rampell

Education Activists Need Strategy Beyond Marches. Activists can use mass action to pressure legislators and the Governor to redirect excessive spending on prisons and other wasteful programs to education, but there is no chance this year of getting enough Republicans to win the necessary two-thirds legislative votes. –Randy Shaw

Good News on Bullying. What are the consequences of not providing mature social learning environments for our children? Just observe the overgrown children who populate our legislative bodies! –Ron Wolff

California State Senator Cox on Climate Change: Ignorance Is Bliss. The one thing we don’t want to do is subsidize even more petroleum consumption. If we gave oil producers a special tax break (like the “depletion allowance”), or paid for the military protection for those increasingly important overseas oilfields, gas would be artificially cheaper at the pump, and we would have abandoned the “magic of the marketplace” for crony capitalism, where a few favored interests get the lion’s share of public policy benefit. –Adam Eran

Women’s History and a Woman’s Subtle Power. The Obama presidency has given rise to much soul-searching about who we are as a nation and how we should behave toward each other, within our borders and around the world. Perhaps this is the time we should consider the alternatives Dolley Madison offered us at the dawn of the national experiment. In the early days of the nation, few of Dolley’s contemporaries could resist her invitations. At this particular turning point in our modern nationhood, neither should we. –Catherine Allgor

Michael Moore Speaks: Capitalism, A Love Story. The good news is that Capitalism, A Love Story is another Michael Moore instant classic, and in his considerable, 20-year-long oeuvre – which spurred revitalization of the documentary as an art form, as well as an entertainment medium — is second in quality and power only to his 2004 masterpiece, Fahrenheit 9/11. –Ed Rampell

Rico E. Anderson, Adenrele Ojo, Bernard Addison, Lorenz Arnell, and Karen Malina White

Continuing Bad Job Numbers Make It Harder –But Even More Important –to Pass Health Care Reform. In politics as in economics and love, timing is everything. Obama can’t wait much longer if he wants to convince waivering and worried conservative Dems to join him in a last ditch 51-vote reconciliation measure to get health care through the Senate. We’re already in the gravititational pull of November’s mid-term elections. But the economy is taking a longer time to turn around than anyone expected, and telling Americans the jobs numbers are getting worse more slowly isn’t exactly reassuring. –Robert Reich

From “Fired Up and Ready to Go” to “Tired Out and Staying Home”. During the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush years the center of American politics was pushed about a hundred degrees to the Right. Obama gets elected and tries to move it about a half degree leftward and all we hear are screams of “socialism!” –Joseph Palermo

The Fight to Save Public Education. The first battle tactic against public education was to starve it. Politicians have consistently lowered taxes on corporations and the rich for the past three decades, thereby lowering state revenues that have created the budget crises in nearly every state. Consequently, public education is in a state of shell shock. –Shamus Cooke

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