LA Progressive: This Week’s Articles — April 18 to 24, 2010

CARS: Dragon Knights, Santa Monica Festival 2000

Mitch: Plutocracy’s Patsy
Tom Degan:
I have spent enough time in Kentucky to know that it is chock full of good, decent, and honorable citizens. Knowing this as I do, another perplexing question forces itself on my consciousness: Why would such wonderful and lovely people consistently send a flaming jerk like Mitch McConnell to represent them in Washington? It just doesn’t make any sense!

10 Questions for T People from the Parkie They Heckled
Robert Letcher:
Eighth, how can you act so angry and unaware on the world’s stage (it’s not yours or ours anymore—so you can’t just take it home), yet hope not to be dismissed as ugly Americans who can no longer think well and creatively enough to compete in anything except war games made with real wars?

As Death Penalty Cases Fade, L.A. County Pays to Buck the Trend
Natasha Minsker and Ramona Ripston:
Los Angeles County, home to California’s largest trial court system, has been feeling the pain of those court closures in more significant measure than most. It recently laid off more than 300 staff and is moving forward with shutting down 12 courtrooms. But meanwhile, a parallel trend is stalking the county that’s exacerbating the budget crisis. Astoundingly, Los Angeles County has become the leading death penalty county in the United States. In fact, in 2009 more people were sentenced to death in Los Angeles County than in any other state, including Texas, the longtime leader in this grim statistic.

CARS Catalyzes Cultural Community
Michael Sigman:
Community Arts Resources’ mission emphasizes the development of public space in Los Angeles, a concept that may seem oxymoronic to Angelenos who have panic attacks when they have to walk more than a few feet to their valet-parked cars. Bergin/Paley helped with the design for the new Grand Avenue Civic Park, slated for 2012 opening, which will feature a fountain plaza, performance lawn, community terrace and event space, along with a children’s garden and an area for community markets.

Goodbye, Right-Wing Friend, Goodbye
Natalie Davis:
Progressives and right-wingers don’t speak the same language (and the Right insists that everyone speak theirs and live under its rules and worldview). When I resist that, I AM THE BAD ONE. If I get angry at inequality, something obviously is wrong with ME. Of course, I reject that notion wholesale: Each of the two sides sees the other’s view as completely immoral, not merely as “misguided” or “wrong.”

Moist!
Ed Rampell:
The audience, which included many African-American women, by and large loved the performances and philosophy. In a kind of “call and response” the performers adroitly riffed with the responsive spectators, incorporating some improv into their show since, as Jimmy Durante wisely noted: “Everyone wants to get into the act!” (Especially the sex act.)

Toni Morrison

Sarah & Michelle’s Excellent Tea Party
H. Scott Prosterman:
Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman are pretty women who know how to work a crowd. They wink, they squeal, and say, “Goshdarnit;” and they don’t confuse tea with sympathy. Ole Miss had lots of pretty women on campus in the early 1960s when a major riot broke out over the admission of a black student, James Meredith. At the time, those women were big on both tea and sympathy, until Meredith showed up to enroll. Then, those cute, pretty, demure, Southern sorority girls picked up bricks & rocks, and helped in the effort to kill a few people and shoot more than 20 federal marshals. The next day they put their baby-dresses and hoop skirt! s back on, and went back to being sweet-natured Ole Miss sorority girls.

The Bluest Eye Revisted
Sikivu Hutchinson:
Perhaps no other book in contemporary American literature has captured the ontology of black female childhood experience and imagination as devastatingly as Toni Morrison’s 1970 novel The Bluest Eye. In the novel, Morrison’s preteen female protagonists bear fierce witness to the psychological disfigurements of racism, sexism, and segregation. They comment on the mystery of adulthood and the savagery of being dehumanized as young black girls in a culture that exalts the blue-eyed Barbie ideal. Speaking from an era in which racial progress was equated with the enfranchisement of black men, the female voices of The Bluest Eye quietly historicize the trials of black women in apartheid America.

President Obama Campaigning for Deadbeat Democrats
Anthony Samad:
I fell out of love years ago with the Democratic Party because of the way they disrespect black folk. Blacks “default” to the Democratic Party and get little (or nothing) in return. The Democrats think African Americans don’t have a choice but to vote for them, and they don’t have to work to keep their vote. And blacks often give their vote away before most Democrats can do something to earn it, thus earning the title as the Democrat’s “doormat constituency.”

From an Economy of Consumption to an Economy of Sustainability
Walter Moss:
As we face the simultaneous challenges of creating more jobs and a more sustainable environment for our children and grandchildren, are we not capable of new thinking? Are we not capable of demonstrating that yes, we can evolve toward an economy that evidences more of what Schumacher thought it should — Beauty, Truth, and Goodness?

Obama’s Nuclear Achievements Are Less Than Meets the Eye
Ivan Eland:
Despite all the hoopla about President Barack Obama’s summit on nuclear security and a new arms control deal, the eventual results of his laudable efforts will probably be modest and will likely be dwarfed by the damage to nuclear security done by George W. Bush’s prior administration. . . . but at least Obama has refocused world attention on what is still the only existential threat in U.S. history—nuclear war—and the improbable, but potentially disastrous, threat of nuclear terrorism. In its pursuit of nation-building and military social work in overseas quagmires, the Bush administration had neglected both.

Slum Housing: LA’s Hidden Health Crisis and a Model Response
Diane Lefer: Slum housing has a negative impact on residents’ health–even when the building doesn’t collapse on top of you while you sleep which is what happened to some tenants of slumlord Frank McHugh. But today, more than 3,000 low-income families enjoy better health and almost as many now live in improved housing thanks to the Healthy Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors Collaborative, a groundbreaking partnership among community organizers, grassroots nonprofits, and tenants from South Los Angeles and downtown, all working in coordination with city and county agencies, legal professionals and health care providers.

Do You Know Nothing about the Teabaggers?
Tom Hall:
Like today’s Teabaggers, the Know Nothings wanted their Constitutional rights, but got angry when anyone asked them to actually discuss constitutional issues and governance. And like today’s Teabaggers, the Know Nothings shouted that if their candidates just got elected, everything would be better.

Buy Stocks and Enter Coal Mines at Your Own Risk
Ron Wolff:
The logical question to ask is: How much is the CEO of Massey Energy Company compensated for setting the tone and establishing the philosophy that “violations are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process”? According to the New York Times , CEO Don L. Blankenship earned $11.2 million in 2008, about twice what he earned in 2006.

Gay Community Loses Black Civil Rights Ally Dorothy Height
Rev. Irene Monroe:
As president for forty years (1957- 1997) of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), an organization with the objective of advancing opportunities and the quality of life for African American women, their families, and communities with programs on issues like voting rights, poverty and, in later years, AIDS, Height understood that black families and communities could neither be whole nor healthy without championing gay civil rights for its LGBTQ community.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to Choose the Future
Mario Solis-Marich:
The bill sitting lightly on her desk and heavily on her mind is SB 1070. The bill would require that police officers ask for proof of citizenship should they suspect a person of being undocumented. In a single stroke of her pen Governor Brewer can set back her party even deeper into a demographic hole, transform her state into a national social pariah, and downgrade her political future to that of a speaker on the circuit forged by Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs. Is Brewer Tom Tancredo or is she Ronald Reagan? This week we shall find out.

Mariann Aalda and Iona Morris in MOIST!

L.A. Opera Rescues Conflicted Sexuality from Obscurity and the Nazis
Ed Rampell:
The current production of The Stigmatized is the opera’s U.S. premiere and part of L.A. Opera’s “Recovered Voices” series, which, according to press notes, is “a multi-season initiative to revive the works of composers whose lives and careers were cut short by the Nazi regime.” Schreker’s saucy work, set in 16th century Genoa, was originally presented in Germany in 1918, and can be viewed as being part of the edgy postwar culture of the Weimar Republic that included sexually charged works in various cabaret acts and by playwrights such as Bertolt Brecht.

Who Let the Blue Dogs Out?
Norman Solomon:
It’s one thing to support a Blue Dog Democrat in a general election against a Republican. It’s quite another thing for members of the Progressive Caucus to defend a Blue Dog Democrat against a primary challenge from a genuine progressive Democrat. In the case of the Harman-Winograd race, the best grassroots response from progressives around the country will be to strongly support the Winograd campaign between now and Election Day, June 8.

La Mission
Carl Matthes:
Not to be missed is Peter Bratt’s “La Mission,” a film brimming with street and domestic violence, and laced with homophobia, search for ethnic identity and machismo. Starring the talented Benjamin Bratt, Peter’s younger brother, “La Mission” refers to the Mission District in San Francisco, the real-life, growing-up family neighborhood of the Bratt brothers.

Cola Wars and the Campaign to Sell Wall Street Status Quo
Tina Dupuy:
Health care reform is a far cry from government taking over anything. In the town halls over the summer people were upset by the idea, so with some encouragement and coaching by interest groups they came out to make that known. As the saying goes, feelings are not facts and in the health care debate the latter beat the snot out of the former. In the end we’re a sick nation that pays more than any other country for health care and we still rate low in quality of care. The bill that passed is an improvement not a cure-all and certainly not enough to trigger the end of the world or even cause an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano to erupt.

michelle bachmann sarah palinOn SB 1070, Arizona Governor Says She Will Do The ‘Right Thing So That Everyone Is Treated Fairly’
Andrea Christina Nill:
Since the Arizona legislature passed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” a bill which will probably end up establishing the harshest set of state immigration laws in the country, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s phone has been reportedly ringing off the hook with residents encouraging her to either sign or veto Senate Bill 1070. Though Brewer has refused to comment on which action she plans on taking, she did assure attendees of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Black and White Ball this Saturday that she will do what is fair.

As Progressives Predicted, Clinton Welfare Reform Law Fails Families
Randy Shaw:
After President Bill Clinton signed legislation in 1996 “ending welfare as we know it,” many highlighted this “common sense” solution and criticized progressives for opposing the bill. Soon after passage, politicians and the media said it had not caused the downsides that activists had predicted, ignoring that the law had not been fully implemented. But troubling reports soon emerged.

Time to Cut Goldman Sachs and Pals Down to Size
Joseph Palermo:
In 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown , Simon Johnson and James Kwak point out that in September 2008 the high-flying masters of the universe were at their weakest point and had no choice but to do whatever the government demanded of them. Never mind the supreme irony of Wall Street bankers who claimed government had no place interfering in the miracles of the market begging the government to save them, it was at that time when we should have cut them down to size.

coca colaMechanical Morons Unite!
Michael Sigman:
I am a mechanical moron, a species to whom Larry David once gave voice when, in the opening scene of a 2009 episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he exploded with “wrap rage” after a death-struggle with the plastic shell that encased a newly gifted GPS device. The mega-humiliating payoff comes at the end of the episode, when he’s lost and desperately needs to un-package the GPS. But the box cutter he’s sure will do the trick turns out to be so hard to open that it requires a box cutter of its own.

Winograd-Harman Vote Count: “Clearly the Party Leadership Circled the Wagons”
Caitlin Frazier: To many attending the California Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles last weekend, the vote to approve or object to the endorsement of Rep. Jane Harman (CA/36), was too close to call – certainly not reflective of a frenzied convention tabulation Party Chair John Burton delivered with the qualifier, “No one was bribed.”

CDP Convention Wrap-Up: On the Value of Primary Fights
Paul Hogarth: But with no real competition among Democrats to replace Schwarzenegger, progressives have been nervous that Brown will not excite the base. This left much of the weekend’s drama on down-ballot races, where competitive primaries meant candidates for Lieutenant Governor and State Insurance Commissioner sought the Party’s endorsement going into June 8th. And while there’s much controversy around that process, it’s a good thing for Democrats.

Razing Arizona: How Local, State and Federal Authorities are “Rooting Out” Arizona’s Immigration Problems
Michelle Waslin: However, the timing and tone-deafness of this action could not have been worse. ICE has a history of conducting raids just as state or local governments are contemplating critical immigration-related policies. At best, the action left the impression that ICE wants to influence those policy decisions; at worst ICE left the public with the impression that local law enforcement is the same thing as an ICE officer.

Where’s the Religious Left?
Sikivu Hutchinson:
Perhaps the only figure with national stature on the “religious left” who has been consistently vocal in his opposition to fundamentalist Christian orthodoxy has been Jimmy Carter. Clearly, if a comparable coalition existed on the Left the Religious Right’s moral and political influence on such issues as abortion, same sex marriage, stem cell research and intelligent design would be balanced by dissenting forces. That such a coalition does not exist underscores the bankruptcy of organized religion’s monopoly on morality and moral principle.

marcy winograd

Credit: Ralph Oden

Poor Whites Get Confederate History Month and Coal Mine Disasters
David A. Love:
To invoke the Confederacy in 2010 is to throw a bone to disaffected white voters. They are bitter and angry because they can’t make ends meet, and rightly so. But their anger is misdirected. They want their country back, and hope to return to the “good ol’ days”, which was pretty horrible for minorities, women, the poor, and everyone except for rich white WASPy dudes with connections.

Why Are Corporate Groups Funding the Tea Party?
Shamus Cooke: Rank and file Tea Partiers are, politically speaking, lost at sea in the dead of night, looking for the light of common principles. On land, those manning right-wing lighthouses are broadcasting ideas loaded with hidden motives into this ocean of conservative public opinion. What the Tea Party will become is presently unknown; but those with an agenda will do their best to steer lost boats at sea in their direction, with potentially dangerous consequences.

Cal State Stanislaus: Let Sarah Palin Speak — Somewhere Else
Joseph Palermo:
Thanks to the resourceful dumpster diving of two CSU, Stanislaus students, Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, the public was finally able to get a glimpse behind the curtain of Sarah Palin Land. Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown has promised a thorough investigation. These two young people should be commended for their civic mindedness and citizenship.

Bill Clinton: Disorientation And ‘People Looking For Anchors’ Explain Arizona’s New Immigration Laws
Andrea Christina Nill:
Now, we have the highest percentage of Americans who have been out of work for six months or more than we’ve had in decades. This is disorientating and people are looking for anchors to make life simple and understandable and digestable again and sometimes with the idea that they need to go back to an idyllic time that never existed. That’s a big part of the explanation for this anti-immigration law that Arizona just passed or the idea that we out to bring back Confederate month in Virginia without saying anything about slavery.

Benjamin Bratt in "La Mission"

Facing Opportunities and Obstacles in Space
Jonathan Coopersmith:
The Obama administration is discarding older NASA technologies in a quest for a new start. A historian of technology says that progress depends on finding ways to explore space at tolerable prices

Economy Recovery Depends Upon Your Vantage Point
Carl Bloice:
Like the knee bone and the thigh bone, the foreclosure crisis is closely related to the jobs crisis. Last week the Obama administration cautioned the public not to expect any dramatic improvement in the jobless rate, largely because thousands of formerly “discouraged” jobless workers sense the situation is improving and have started back looking for work. As a result, some economists have suggested, the jobless rate may well go beyond the 9.7 percent where it stands now.

Floor Fight! It’s On! Challenger Winograd Takes Harman to California Democratic Convention Floor
Linda Milazzo:
In an impressive feat against blue-dog incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman, primary challenger and progressive Democrat, Marcy Winograd, has secured more than the needed number of votes to pull Harman’s Democratic Party endorsement recommendation and open the contest to debate today, Sunday, the last day of the convention.

Friday Feedback: Education to Cure Job Losses
Once again it is stated by Dr. Reich that education is the best way out of the recession and job loss problems faced by many Americans. This is at a time when states are cutting funding for education causing teacher layoffs, program cuts and an ever increasing sense of unease among parents of school-age children. Technical schools are seeing their enrollments rise as many recognize that their former occupation either no longer exists or exist at a markedly lower pay scale.

LA Progressive: This Week’s Articles — April 11 to 17, 2010
Articles by Jim Fuller, Tom Hall, Ed Rampell, Mario Solis-Marich, Craig Williams, David Swanson, Andrea Christina Nill, Marcy Winograd, Berry Craig, Rev. Irene Monroe, Bob Barber, Tina Dupuy, Tracy Emblem, John Peeler, Paul Loeb, Robert Reich, Robert Reich, William J. Astore, Randy Shaw, Ivan Eland, Robert Letcher, Emily Spence, Robert Reich, Bob Letcher, Lydia Howell, Steven Conn

Published by the LA Progressive on April 25, 2010
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