LA Progressive: February 7-13, 2010 — Table of Contents

Main Street Needs a Hand. Some say government should not be in the business of creating jobs. They are wrong. The government is the custodian of the public land and buildings. All improvements thereto benefit the people. President Roosevelt put people to work improving the public lands with roads and structures when the U.S. had 25-percent unemployment. In 2008, economists warned the government that we could suffer that again if we did not bail out Wall Street. Well, now, Main Street needs a hand. -Tracy Emblem

Searching for Authenticity in Urban Neighborhoods. While many talk about gentrification, few books portray it as vividly as Zukin. She makes New York City’s diverse neighborhoods truly come alive, and her book should interest all those who care about the future of urban America. Randy Shaw

The Democrats, the Deficit, and Social Security.It is not enough for only the leaders of unions and community groups to pressure the Democrats over this issue, especially when Obama has made it clear that he prefers the advice of Wall Street CEOs. Unions and progressive groups must educate and mobilize their base to confront both the Democrats and Republicans over the protection of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. -Shamus Cooke

Too Big to Fail Capitalism. Businesses are constantly in competition, but at some point, as they evolve, either one or a small group of companies often control most of market share. Combine that with a money-driven political system and you have industries too big to fail and a powerless population to weak to succeed. -Craig Williams

American Empire: How the Military-Industrial Complex Is Warping America’s Values–Part 2. When I watch television news I wonder where the critics were when news content began to become so hollow. When the Supreme Court decided recently that corporations, unions, and special interest groups could give as much as they wished to political campaigns; where were the watchdogs? The reason I ask is because this decision will change the face of government while it effectively removes the people from our political system. -Tim Gatto

Avatar: Beauty & the Beastly Ideas. Cameron is a closet Republican. While mouthing anti-corporate platitudes, he embraces the “Party of No” stance that all social strife can be solved with more force, less thought, simple sloganeering and appeals to fear and anger. And, like his Republican compatriots, he rakes in the dough with a stirring yarn which evades, rather than deals with, real social problems. -Tom Hall

Weegee's (Usher Fellig) "Kiss"

Missionaries Doing What Missionaries Always Did. When I heard that ten American missionaries are on trial for kidnapping 33 Haitian children and attempting to take them to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, I, like most other people, was outraged. But I can’t say I was surprised. - David A. Love

Michelle Obama: The Ultimate Insider? Where do presidents’ wives fit in? Some have wielded power openly, some have been powers behind the throne, some have been all but invisible. After a year, the current first lady’s role is far from clear. - Kenneth Weisbode

Arpaio Slams McCain’s ‘Open Border’ Policies. Local news outlets are reporting that last week, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio disseminated a stinging letter urging Republican primary voters to support right-wing shock jock and former Congressman J.D. Hayworth over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in his bid for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat. - Andrea Christina Nill

Massive Sioux Indian Reservation Battles Snow with Three Plows. 1000 telephone poles snapped in Potomac, Westchester, or Greenwich, crews would work 24/7 to restore power. Yet many in the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation have been without power or heat for more than five days. They daily brave temperatures and wind chills of -19 degrees. - Denis Campbell

One Free Market System for Wall Street, Another for Main Street. Rather than defending the outsized paychecks of Dimon, Blankfein, and the rest of Wall Street as part of the free market system, the President needs to demand that Wall Street help homeowners on Main Street. The Obama White House should have made this a condition of getting the giant bailouts in the first place. The least it can do now is to is to make the free market system work for everyone. - Robert Reich:

JFK’s “How To” Manual. Obama took so many daring chances during the 2008 presidential campaign but when it comes to governing it seems he has become risk averse. The Democrats’ slogan for 2010 should be: “If Ben Nelson Doesn’t Like It — We Won’t Do It!” - Robert Reich

Russell Means

The National Anthem: Why We Need Health Care Reform So Desperately. Anthem obviously believes it can raise its rates by as much as 39 percent without losing every one of its remaining customers with average or even somewhat above-average medical needs. The only way it could possibly raise its rates so high and expect to keep its customers would be if Anthem’s customers have no other choice. - Robert Reich

Chertoff: U.S. Might Permanently Import Terrorists with Trials Here. A study by Human Rights First showed that immigration law has instead created a situation in which refugee and asylum seekers who pose no risk to the U.S. are unfairly denied U.S. residency due to the “pervasive, unintended consequences of the ‘terrorism’ provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act.” - Andrea Nill

Remittances Will Help Haiti Recover and Strengthen U.S. Economy. It is simplistic to argue that remittances are bad because money is leaving the U.S., but upon further analysis, it becomes clear that remittances return to the U.S. in the form of increased exports. Remittances give individuals in foreign countries the ability to buy U.S. goods and the ability to invest in themselves which, in turn, allows them to buy even more U.S. goods. - Michele Wasdin

If Michael Jackson’s Last Doctor Is Guilty of Manslaughter, So Am I. If Dr. Conrad Murray is guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, well then so am I and about half of America. - Jasmyne Cannick

Honoring Notorious Gladys Bentley. A talented pianist and blues singer, and one of the most notorious and successful entertainers during the Harlem Renaissance, Bentley cultivated a large LGBTQ following up until the 1950s. As an African-American woman whose success derived from her raunchy and salacious lyrics to popular tunes, Bentley not only openly sang about sex, but she also openly lived and celebrated her sexual orientation as an out lesbian. - Rev. Irene Monroe

Calling a Disaster a Disaster. For decades until the recent economic “troubles”, middle classes readily bought into the elite-serving argument: if we don’t question the morality of—and possible connections between—extreme poverty and extreme wealth, elites will act to assure that most of us will never be as poor as those poor Haitians (best delivered with a Glenn Beck quiver). - Robert Letcher

Obomanomics One Year Out. The economic stresses of continued high unemployment and low wages are contributing to the growth of the “I’m Mad As Hell” Party – a rag-tag collection of Tea Partiers furious at establishment Republicans, left-wing Democrats angry at what they consider lily-livered Democrats in Washington, and Independents disgusted with everybody inside the Beltway. - Robert Reich

Where Has All the Bond Money Gone? Los Angeles is certainly not alone in wasting bond money. San Francisco passed bonds some years ago specifically to do ADA upgrades, an administrator used the money to upgrade his house, among other illegalities. After a federal suit was brought, because the ADA upgrades were never made, they had to go back to the public for more money, and the public gave again. This time around, we actually prefer to work in San Francisco because their paperwork demands are not as ridiculous and we can concentrate more on signs. Also, their bond work is definitely not in the luxury class. They are doing only what is necessary, with no frills and much less waste. Otherwise, the public would mutiny, after having had their money wasted once. - Sharon Toji

ICE Claims It’s Not Legally Responsible For Immigration Detention Death. This week, a judge will decide on whether the federal government bears culpability for another immigration detention slip up: the August 2008 death of Chinese immigrant, Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng. ICE is also arguing that this case should be dismissed on grounds that staffers at the jail at which Ng died are contractors — not government employees. - Andrea Nill

Silly Podunk Kentuckians Who Talk Funny. I’ve never heard of a real corporate executive who had a conscience attack and sided with workers at a plant he or she was about to downsize or shut. I don’t know of any members of Local 665 who have found better jobs than the ones they had at the factory. - Berry Craig

Nothing But a (Tea) Party: Lessons in Obstructionist Politics. The Tea Party was no more than an attention grab. It was like a person who draws attention to themselves at the neighborhood block party by hoo-rawing. All the Tea Partiers said to the nation was, “Party over here!” - Anthony Samad

Congo Descending into Third Circle of Hell. What’s the rape and torture and burning alive of many thousands of women and children got to do with anything? What has JUSTICE got to do with anything, for God’s sake? Kabila wants “peace,” after all. A stray bullet might mar the finish on one of his bikes. -Georgianne Nienaber

Obama Era Sees Decline of Organizing. As the midterm elections approach, progressives face a critical choice: either spend resources now on funding organizers who can win real change in 2010, or invest in the November elections to set the stage for 2011. The choice should be clear. - Randy Shaw

Obama and U.S. Foreign Policy. Unlike his predecessor, Obama has avoided any shattering foreign policy mistakes. But as our political culture shows no signs of improving, he will remain a President whose foreign policy choices are very much complicated by the poisonous atmosphere in which he operates. - K.C. Johnson

American Empire: How the Military-Industrial Complex Is Warping America’s Values: Part 1. The U.S. has brought back the 5th Fleet that will patrol Latin America and the Caribbean. The U.S. has also leased seven military bases in Colombia (Venezuela’s next door neighbor) for a 10-year period. These bases are being promoted as a way of interdicting the supply of cocaine that reaches America. According to the L.A. Times, back in 2003 the U.S. and Columbian governments were successfully eradicating coca plants. We can all see how well that has worked out. Personally, I am very skeptical about America’s resolve in wiping out the coca crop. I am also skeptical about Columbia’s commitment to stopping the flow of cocaine into the United States. -Tim Gatto

US Political Process Haunted by Paralysis. “So we’re paralyzed in the face of mass unemployment and out-of-control health care costs…Blame our political culture, a culture that rewards hypocrisy and irresponsibility rather than serious efforts to solve America’s problems…I’m sorry to say this, but the state of the union — not the speech, but the thing itself — isn’t looking very good.” - Ron Wolff

Is Wartime a Time to End Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? The no-change-during-wartime argument is an example of conventional thinking about war and American society. “Wartime” is imagined to be a temporary condition. It is a special kind of time. Wartime, by definition, is preceded and followed by “peacetime.” American history is thought to consist of the movement from peacetime to wartime and back again. In this conceptualization, wartimes always comes to an end. -Mary L. Dudziak

Boehner, Cantor, and Mitch! I’m glad to see Obama starting to show some spunk. His recent performance at the televised Q&A with the House GOP brass was a great start. It got rave reviews at our central labor council. “He looked those Republicans right in the eye and kicked their butts,” said one delegate, a retired Machinist. “He needs to do more than that.” - Berry Craig

Sarah Palin at the Tea Party Convention: She’s Baaaaack. When asked if the movement was broad enough to attract conservative democrats, Palin said, “they’re already peeking in — it’s pretty cool to see some of the Blue Dog Democrats peeking under the tent and finding out what is this movement all about and, holy geez, I’m scared if I’m not a part of this.” -Sharon Kyle

Chase Denied Loan Mods for Now Forbidden Reason—Homeowners in Limbo. The largest servicers have lagged in approving homeowners for modifications. Together, those servicers account for more than 60 percent of the 3.4 million mortgages eligible for the program, but very few homeowners have been approved for lasting modifications. About 425,000 Chase customers are eligible for loan mods, according to the Treasury Department. Only a little more than 7,000 have received permanent modifications. - Paul Kiel

Democratic “Accomplishments” Not Nearly Enough. Unless the Congress moves some progressive legislation quickly there’s going to be trouble this fall because any political party that is stupid enough to allow a couple of shmucks like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, or the outcome of a special election in New England, to unravel its governing coalition doesn’t deserve to be in power. -Joseph Palermo

The Upside of Hell. I’m told by a fellow traveler that the upside of hell is knowing that all of your friends will be there. I can hardly wait. Such was the feeling I had when I saw my name among many more important people on the Masada 2000 website. They are an ultra-right Zionist organization, bent on destroying the reputations and careers of any Jew who dares to utter or publish a criticism of Israel . They call this the Self Hating and/or Israel Threatening (SHIT) List. And there are over 8,800 names. -H. Scott Prosterman

Published by the LA Progressive on February 14, 2010
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