Charles Hayes: as is often said in America, anyone has the right to sleep under a bridge, the rich included, although the rich seldom take advantage of the opportunity. If people can’t quit their low-paying jobs for fear of losing their health insurance, are they free? What about individuals who are so inhibited by what others might think of them they never do anything they really want to do, but instead restrict their life choices to only those acts that they believe will gain them social approval? Are such people really free? How about the groups with which we identify—have you ever considered how they might influence our idea of freedom?
Tom Degan: Let’s face some serious facts here, boys and girls: The right wing in this country has always been (since the days of the Confederacy and before) a tad crazy — not to mention dumber than doggy doo doo. What is happening to them now is beyond anything in their long and entertainingly weird history. In effect they’ve totally lost it.
Berry Craig: The show featured a slave mother’s explanation of the Declaration of Independence to her young son. “…Freedom isn’t something that these men plan on giving us,” she said. “…All of this talk is about them getting their freedom, or more freedom because they’re already free….I told him, ‘Son, these are the same men that will beat Negroes nearly half to death…They call us, who God has created, their property…No, son, these men will not free you. And my son looked at me and said ‘Well, that freedom ain’t for me.’
Michael Sigman: 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.
John Peeler: 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.
Tom Degan: 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 Hall: 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.
Anthony Samad: With a conservative court, you never know…we just may be witnessing something we never expected to see. Neither did those living during Reconstruction. Somebody is waiting to “redeem” America a second time. It may be the national debate of the 2012 or 2016 Presidential elections. We just need to know what that really means, in terms of the return to yesterday in America. It’s not impossible…
Andrea Nill: Tuesday,, the Arizona Republic reported that “the exodus of illegal and legal immigrants predicted by some as a result of Arizona’s tough new immigration law is expected to hurt a variety of businesses that directly and indirectly cater to immigrant populations.” If all of Arizona’s undocumented immigrants “disappeared,” the state could lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs.
Tim Gatto: Everyone who calls themselves liberal, progressive, socialist or populist should pitch in and get the corporate lackeys out of Washington and give the government back to the people who really own it. This is just a beginning. We can’t sit on our laurels and let others keep the momentum going.
Tom Hall: This Memorial Day, the head of the Republican Party has called the 13th Amendment a perversion of our Constitution. The Republican members of the Texas School Book Commission have voted to teach that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was the real hero of the Civil War, and that those Union soldiers died in vain. In Tennessee and here in California, Tea Party candidates are campaigning on a platform plank that the 14th Amendment should not apply to brown children whose parents are immigrants.
Mark Bowen: Kentucky does appear to be a state red enough that Rand Paul, no matter how many times he slips up and tells his constituents how he really feels, is still likely to be their next Senator. But in many ways Republicans will be hurt more nationally if he is, making it a minimum of six more years, rather than six more months, that he’ll be their problem.
David Love: From their early days at the McCain-Palin rallies during the 2008 presidential campaign, the Tea Party crowd has had an energy about them that smells of a Jim Crow type of racial intolerance, just like the 1950s and 1960s. Rand Paul’s prominence only confirms what many already knew, which is that racism under girds the Teabag movement.
Paul Hogarth: Democrats are not supposed to run primary candidates against incumbents because it is “divisive” – but it was time to hold Senators like Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln (who killed the public option) accountable. 2006 and 2008 were the years that voters picked “change,” and both Senators are the reason such change failed to get traction. Joe Sestak and Bill Halter faced huge odds taking on a Senator in their own Party who had the President’s support, but what they had was disenchanted Obama activists who wanted to see change happen.
Robert Reich: It’s the economy, stupid. American politics is turning anti-establishment because so many Americans feel screwed by the economy and they blame the establishment. If there’s a trend here, it’s not left-wing Democrats versus right-wing Republicans. It’s the “Mad-As-Hell” Party against both.
Friday Feedback: Stop kvetching because in 13 or 14 months progressives haven’t gotten all they wanted. What you did get was numerous, immmediate reversals of Bush environmental policy, a pledge to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan in a discernable period of time, the biggest infusion of public works money since the federal highway system was built, and a complete makeover of our nation’s image into something more wholeseome and organic on the world stage.
Natalie Davis: Whether the GOP and its militant wing like it or not, they are Teabaggers. Theirs is the Teabag Movement. And this country is in deep trouble if they win. The Teabag Party/GOP oppose equality for women and gays — more than a few have said to me that despite their admiration for gun-totin’ TV star Sarah “Pitbull with Lipstick” Palin, they believe all other women should “get back in the kitchen.”
David A. Love: The terrorist-as-enemy-of-America is like the bogeyman of Red Scare fame, ubiquitous yet elusive, and you can’t quite put your finger on them because they’re tricky. The definition of terrorism itself can serve as a political weapon—a form of terrorism itself, dare I say. Call someone a terrorist, or a communist or socialist or supporter thereof, and you delegitimize everything that person has to say. You marginalize everything that person represents.
Nomiki Konst: While Obama has done an admirable job ignoring the Tea Party outbursts and outlandish claims and focusing on moving his agenda forward, Maddow, Matthews, Olbermann, Colbert, Stewart, Cooper, Crowley, Sanchez and Shultz have missed an incredible opportunity to vocalize the progressive agenda while they have the floor. For eight years, progressives were unable to bring their agenda to the table and had to constantly act on the defensive.
Tina Dupuy: The Republicans siding with the Birthers and generally ramping up of the anti-immigration sentiment, are shooting themselves in the foot. And not just with Latino voters. Schwarzenegger is by far the most popular and (gasp) competent of any other candidates vying for the nomination in 2012.
Ivan Eland: The tea sippers extended their pinkies in a salute to torture, harsh policies toward Iran, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They didn’t seem to mind the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping and vacuuming up of ordinary Americans’ phone calls either, according to Bovard. Yet of all the causes of big government in human history, warfare is the most important. The nation-state originally came into being because wars had become too expensive for mere kingdoms to handle.
Ed Rampell: One of the worst informers of the Blacklist era was Elia Kazan; nevertheless, I went to see a restored version of Kazan’s 1960 New Deal drama Wild River, co-starring Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick and Jo Van Fleet as a stubborn old lady who refuses to vacate her home as the Tennessee Valley Authority prepares to flood the area. Convincingly playing a character 30 years older than her, Van Fleet’s Big Government hating Ella Garth seems like the grandmother of today’s Tea Party activists. TCM is big on film preservation and it aired a short featuring Martin Scorsese, Anthology Film Archives’ Jonas Mekas, etc., on this subject prior to Wild River.
Michael Sigman: Basketball legend Bill Walton is beloved as much for his boundless enthusiasm and quirky individualism as for his hoops heroism. But the class and perseverance he’s shown through decades of severe chronic back, leg and foot pain might just top his most courageous courtside achievements.
Linda Milazzo: Responding to what are you reading? here, at the 15th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, requires finding space on the formerly all-white wall that after just two hours is dense with book titles, ranging from children’s classics to the coming-of-age The Catcher In The Rye, to seemingly equal entries of The Koran and The Bible. In a city known for its Hollywood glitz and climate-friendly outdoor living, what many don’t know about Los Angeles is how much it reveres its book festival; the largest in the nation, attended by 130,000 readers of all ages and ethnicities.
John Delloro: Longtime labor and international activist Bill Fletcher likened the Tea Party movement to herpes—they have always been there lying dormant and inevitably re-emerge whenever the nation’s immune system goes down. Highlighting the racist overtures of this inflammation on the body politic, Bill adds that it will take more than “economic inoculation” in order to return them into a slumbering state. In other words, just addressing “bread and butter” issues will not be enough. We still need to address race.