LA Progressive: This Week’s Articles — April 11 to 17, 2010

Republican Relativism as Radical Rhetoric. It seems the Republicans need to pump themselves up every couple of months or so these days. It’s not so much that they are meeting that troubles me. It’s sorta like an AA meeting except here it’s where “ideologue-holics” come together and try to sober up on their 2008 Presidential defeat with new rhetoric that gets more and more extreme with each outing. This time, it was at the 2010 Southern Republican Convention in New Orleans that the more “radical” elements of the party come together to try to micromanage the Presidency and give a demented spin on the course of current affairs. --Anthony Asadullah Samad

Getting a Liberal on the Supreme Court. Fasten your seat belts and brace yourselves for the latest poop storm that is about to fall on Washington DC, folks. With the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens imminent, President Barack Obama is about to get his second appointee to the United States Supreme Court in a less than a year. And like last year’s Sonia Sotomayor confirmation travesty, you can expect the Republicans (and even some Democrats) to have a positive hissy fit. These people have moved so far to the extreme right in recent years, the wishiest washiest moderate is going to be perceived as too much of a radical, left wing ideologue for these nincompoops. –Tom Deegan

The First Disease Forecasting Center in the World… For Haiti. Praecipio was able to rapidly conduct a “radar sweep” using the Internet and by monitoring Twitter feeds across six languages for the island of Hispaniola, which includes the countries of Haiti and Dominican Republic. We knew instantly from media, blogs, and SMS traffic what was being documented in terms of infectious disease. Consultation with peer-reviewed academic literature enabled us to construct a baseline for several diseases of concern and issue the first infectious disease forecast report in the world, for Haiti, on January 17, 2010. --Dr. Jim Wilson

Tourists Urged to Boycott Morocco. Morocco has shown its disrespect for international law by illegally occupying the western Sahara and also by forging a pact with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to receive kidnapped terror suspects upon whom Morocco’s secret police inflict grotesque tortures. If Rabat will accept a prisoner kidnapped from another country without a prior legal hearing, how safe are you going to be? –Sherwood Ross

Justice William O. Douglas

From Drunken Party Girl to Climate Change Activist. As Angie’s involvement deepened, she found more ways to act on her newfound convictions. She brought over 100 Virginia Tech students to Power Shift, a national student climate change conference held at the University of Maryland. Angie also helped plan the entertainment, and as she looked out from the stage at 6,000 students, “felt for the first time like we really have a movement.” –Paul Loeb

U.S. Gun Nuts Help Mexican Drug Gangs. Obviously, the peddling of weapons to Mexican drug gangs is highly profitable. Remember, 40,000 recovered weapons in 2008 alone, and nobody knows how many still in the hands of gangsters, but certainly many times that 40,000 figure. And there are thousands of sales to drug peddlers every day along the border. Money, money, money. America’s gun makers are going to protect that highly profitable business every way they can, and that inevitably means stirring up the knuckle draggers who front for them in every battle in the stupidly mistaken belief that they are “protecting our Second Amendment rights.” –Jim Fuller

Calling Out the Right Wing Lie Machine. There has been a campaign to politicize loyalty. Those who hate government are loyal. Those who cling to old fashioned ideas that politics should be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” are disloyal. Those who question no-bid contracts for inadequate body armor, unsafe housing for our troops in war zones, or Bush’s $7++ billion gift to Wall Street bankers, are enemies of freedom. –Tom Hall

Theatre West: “Acting: The First Six Lessons” and “The Life and Times of A. Einstein”. Unlike other thespians, such as Brando who frequently derided acting as an unworthy profession (well, if your father repeatedly put you down during your childhood as a big nothing, even if you later won two Oscars, millions and vast critical acclaim, you’d still hear your father’s voice in your addled head insulting you and belittling whatever you did), it was a joy to see the pleasure that Beau continues to take in his lifelong avocation, and the pleasure Emily also takes in this art and craft, as the latest member of this show biz dynasty. And their clear enchantment in being able to perform together in this family affair. –Ed Rampell

America Must Boycott Arizona. While Arizona struggles with budget deficits its’ legislature has decided to legalize racial profiling in a effort to arrest and deport undocumented families. While Arizona has been a hotspot in the immigration debate for some time the lightning rod has been Joe Arpio, the publicity starved Sheriff who is under federal investigation for civil rights violations. This week the Arizona state legislature has trumped Arpio by giving local police a statewide mandate to pull people over based on the color of their skin or their facial features. –Mario Solis-Marich

The California Democracy Act Tragedy. In a sense the Golden State is now a near corporate dictatorship, between an executive office that can be bought and usually is, minority rule in the legislature and underfunded local party organizations masquerading as party organizations, party organizations that don’t responsibly communicate and mobilize their members. Most registered Democrats are for all practical purposes ex-communicated from the party, except at election time. –Craig Williams

Our National Epidemic of Violence. If you wanted to increase violence, he writes, you would take the following steps that the United States has taken: Punish more and more people more and more harshly; ban drugs that inhibit violence and legalize and advertise those that stimulate it; use taxes and economic policies to widen disparities in wealth and income; deny the poor education; perpetuate racism; produce entertainment that glorifies violence; make lethal weapons readily available; maximize the polarization of social roles of men and women; encourage prejudice against homosexuality; use violence to punish children in school and at home; and keep unemployment sufficiently high. And why would you do that? Possibly because most victims of violence are poor, and the poor can organize in rebellion against the rich when they aren’t! terrorized by crime. –David Swanson

Reid’s Office Clarifies: No Floor Vote On Immigration Reform Before Memorial Day. Though Reid has by no means tabled immigration reform, getting a bill won’t be easy. The legislative calendar is packed and leaves little room for obstacles or distractions. Reid seems confident that he already has 56 votes, but he may be pressed to find the last few supporters he’ll need to get a piece of legislation past cloture. And while his statements seem to have left the prospects for reform unchanged, of more significance might be the fact that Graham was quoted today saying: “immigration is going nowhere this year.” –Andrea Christina Nill

Mexican Drug WarsMarcy Winograd: Jobs Not Wars. Ultimately, we have to ask what the Democratic Party stands for? Who will it endorse? Someone who rushes us to war, covers up illegal wiretapping, and votes with Wall Street to make it easier for banks to foreclose? Or someone committed to global diplomacy, the Bill of Rights, and an end to run-away greed ? –Marcy Winograd

Party of “Lincoln and Liberty” More Like Party of “Davis and Disunion”. My guess is the Tea Bagger-tilting, neo-Confederate GOP is disturbing the eternal rest of some other Republicans. I remember Republicans whose politics were considerably to the left of Dixie Democrats. Some were even liberals to one extent or another. –Berry Craig

Catholic Church Needs Its Gay Priests. Studies have proved over and over again that the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are heterosexuals. And most of these pedophiles are not only married heterosexual men, but are married heterosexual men with children. –Rev. Irene Monroe

The Senator and The Truth. “I lie because I have to, It takes away the pain of Truth, of complicated thinking, It keeps me safe From competition, from Uncertainties.” –Bob Barber

2010: The Year of Conservatives’ Roaring Twenties. Put a necktie on a German Shepherd who’s strong on defense and hates taxes and if he’s a Republican he will get at least a 20% approval rating nationally (as long as he’s not openly gay or Mormon). Doesn’t have to be running for anything, just wearing something that has a flag pin attached so people will know he loves freedom. –Tina Dupuy

High Time to Rethink the Cost of Wars. Why have we so readily forgotten that Americans were told there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq as the reason for our military invasion when this turned out to be false. Like Iraq, there is absolutely no guarantee our troops will be withdrawn by 2012. From the Russian-Afghanistan experience, we should readily expect it will take much longer than the six years we previously spent in Iraq. –Tracy Emblem

confederate flag virginiaThe Confederacy and Slavery: Reflections on a Segregated Education in Savannnah. Many white Southerners even today think they can somehow celebrate the glories of the Confederacy while ignoring the oppressive, inhumane institution at its roots. I certainly thought so back then. It was a glorious lost cause; implicitly, the country would have been better off had the Confederate rebellion prevailed. –John Peeler

Reclaiming Our Hope. It’s been a frustrating time since November 2008, but our challenge is to spend less time bemoaning our disappointments and more energy engaging with ordinary citizens the way so many of us did a year and a half ago. If we give people enough ways to act on our present crises, we never know how history might turn. –Paul Loeb

Republican Strategy on Financial Reform: Make Democrats Look Like Patsies for the Street. Republicans have been looking for a way to oppose Senate Dems on financial reform without looking like patsies for the Street. And now they think they’ve found it — by trying to make Democrats look like patsies for the Street. The strategy is surely the handiwork of Republican pollster Frank Luntz who for months has been telling Republicans “the single best way to kill any legislation is to link it to the Big Bank Bailout.” –Robert Reich

The Future of American Jobs. The Great Recession has accelerated a structural shift in the economy that had been slowly building for years. Companies have used the downturn to aggressively trim payrolls, making cuts they’ve been reluctant to make before. Outsourcing abroad has increased dramatically. Companies have discovered that new software and computer technologies have made many workers in Asia and Latin America almost as productive as Americans, and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently moved to another country without loss of control. –Robert Reich

Baseball Has Lost Some of Its Soul. But I despair at the way money and media and mercenary players have invaded the game and changed its character from a pastime to a business. Just one recent example: today’s opener between the Red Sox and Yankees was moved to 8:05 PM for the benefit of ESPN Sunday night baseball in the hopes of garnering higher ratings and advertising revenue. Few seem to care about inconveniencing the fans, or flouting the tradition of opening day played in the afternoon under God’s natural light. –William J. Astore

SEIU at the Crossroads. Since January 2009, SEIU has spent millions in two campaigns against rival unions. Its campaign against UNITE HERE has alienated virtually the entire labor movement, effectively destroyed the Change to Win Labor Federation, worsened SEIU’s budget problems, and achieved none of the hoped-for membership gains – yet SEIU’s raids against UNITE HERE continue. –Randy Shaw

Let’s Get Our Own Foreign Policy House in Order Before Criticizing Others. On March 31, 2010, the New York Times wrote an editorial that briefly expressed horror in response to the Moscow subway terror bombings, then warned that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin might yet again use terrorist attacks to further consolidate his power, and finally lectured Russia that the only way to defeat such extremism was to deal with the underlying causes. Such a sermonizing editorial by any Russian publication after the 9/11 attacks would have engendered outrage in America –Ivan Eland

Campaigning For and Being President As Two-Way Learning: A Benchmark. It’s not that I expected Obama to communicate with me about his policy positions, although I certainly hoped he would – even though I don’t wait around for him to call. Instead, it just seemed to me that his campaign – our campaign – would likely improve his prospects for winning if he were somehow to really communicate with this me and all the other me’s whose support he needs in order to be elected and govern successfully. –Robert Letcher

After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Towards Social Collapse? With the current peak-oil interval, we have a grace period when oil is still fairly inexpensive and abundant. At the same time, we cannot expect our government leaders to help society transition off of heavy oil dependence on account of their being controlled by “big business” interests. Therefore, it is up to average citizens to create the reforms that lead into localized economic and social development. –Emily Spence

Why More Immigrants Is an Answer to the Coming Boomer Entitlement Mess. Sixty years later, we boomers have a lot to be worried about because most of us plan to retire in a few years and Social Security and Medicare are on the way to going bust. I should know because I used to be a trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Those of you who are younger than we early boomers have even more to be worried about because if those funds go bust they won’t be there when you’re ready to retire. –Robert Reich

Visioning Exercises: Popular, and Often Misleading. I am reluctant to go in for visioning exercises, because in my own experience such exercises almost always proceed on the basis of (to borrow my favorite of George W Bush’s malapropisms) “misunderestimating” the capacity of the opposition, and particularly those elements of the opposition who always already possess systematically asymmetric advantages in access to power and resources. –Bob Letcher

Can Progressives Get Coffee to the Tea Party People. To be blunt, all but a couple of Tea Party people were unable to express why they are angry in any specific terms.They voice sentiments along the lines that “Obama is ruining the country” or that immigrants are hurting us and some referred to a nasty rap song, “Press One For English,” but they could offer no specifics to back their feelings. –Lydia Howell

Exit Gen. Grant – Enter St. Ronald? A Republican member of Congress wants to remove the visage of Ulysses S. Grant from the $50 bill and substitute Ronald Reagan. But why? Historian Steven Conn speculates that the party wants to make its past match its present orthodoxy. –Steven Conn

With Immigration Low on List of Tea Party Priorities, Is Nativism Really on the Rise? If Obama decides to tackle immigration reform next, some have wondered what the tea party response would be. Interestingly, it may not be an issue for most rank and file tea party members. When asked whether immigration was an issue that motivated how they voted, tea parties responded that it was just as low on their priority list as the average population. --Andrea Christina Nill

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