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LA Progressive: July 4 to 10, 2010

Articles by Tom Hall, Joseph Palermo, David Love, John MacMurray, Georgianne Nienaber, Ed Rampell, Mario Solis-Marich, Randy Shaw, Randal Jelks, H. Scott Prosterman, Carl Bloice, Ron Wolff, Jasmyne Cannick, Steve Hochstadt, Anthony Samad, Michael Sigman, Paul Hogarth, Rev. Irene Monroe, Wayne Williams, Andrea Nill, Tina Dupuy, Sylvia Moore, Adam Eran, Robert Reich, Simon Balto, Norman Solomon, Wade Graham, Michele Waslin, Berry Craig, Joseph Palermo, and Sharon Kyle

Mehserle-Grant Verdict Aftermath: Oakland Lives Another Day. Regardless of the verdict, some element of violent protest was inevitable. Ironically, most of those arrested were white, suburban anarchist, rather than black activists. -H. Scott Prosterman


With Elephants in the Room, Where’s the “Liberal Media?” BP had a hand in the Exxon Valdez. BP also operates a pipeline across Alaska’s wilderness areas that ruptured. The investigators found that BP had refused to do routine inspections and maintenance. -Tom Hall

Margaret Spellings, Arne Duncan — What’s the Difference? Nobody in power seems to be listening to what teachers have to say about how best to improve public education. The Administration is telling teachers that all those envelopes they licked, and all those doors they knocked on, and all those phone calls they made to help elect Obama in 2008 were nothing but a goddamned waste of time. -Joseph Palermo

Racially Biased SAT Speaks to a Broken Education System. Is the SAT racially biased? The College Board says score disparities are due to educational inequities but the Harvard Educational Review disagrees. -David Love

A Modest Proposal for Financing Higher Education in California. The brilliantly simple/simply brilliant solution: re-designate our Cal State and University of California campuses as prisons. Since a goodly number of the current student population regards them as such anyway, it should not be too big a stretch. -John MacMurray

thurgood marshall laurence fishburne

Winona LaDuke Pledges Help for Native Tribes Facing BP Oil. LaDuke slammed the Minnesota Ottertail Power Company for being “punitive” in its refusal to allow the White Earth Recovery Project to supply its own power and have some to sell to the rest of the grid. Minnesota has the strictest electrical inspection standards in the United States. -Georgianne Nienaber

Thurgood: Laurence Fishburne’s One-Man Show Brings History to Life. Written by George Stevens, Jr., Thurgood is a perfect specimen of the one-man show format, with all the right ingredients. -Ed Rampell

Oscar Grant Case Verdict – Involuntary Manslaughter. The verdict has been handed down in the case of Oscar Grant. Johannes Mehserle has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the lesser of the three charges he was facing. The former BART officer shot unarmed 22 yr old Oscar Grant who was returning from New Year’s Eve celebrations on January 1, 2009. --Sharon Kyle

Winona LaDuke at White Earth Reservation

Winona LaDuke at White Earth Reservation

Crooks & Liars Founder Indicts Right’s “Insane” Response to Obama. John Amato Speaking at LA Media Reform Fundraiser in Beverly Hills on July 16: In Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane, John Amato and coauthor David Neiwert show that the Tea Party “movement” was not the organic uprising it was made to appear, but rather was kick-started by FOX News and follows in a long tradition of movement conservative activism that harkens back to the street theater days of Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist.

Headless Corpses, Phantom Crimes Rates, & the Sarah Palin of the Desert. Jan Brewer is a lousy Governor. As Brewer positions herself as the new darling of the GOP her handlers are wishing that anti-immigrant passions will obfuscate any real analysis of her performance as an appointed head of a State. However any objective view of her performance to date indicates that Jan Brewer is the Sarah Palin of the Desert. -Mario Solis-Marich

Use Twitter and Facebook -- Or Else! So while I’m not sold on Facebook (a venue where Lady Gaga’s record 10 million “fans“ exceeds that of President Obama), I am seriously considering opening a Twitter account. After all, how can I resist creating another “platform” for marketing? -Randy Shaw

An Illiberal Education and Southern Politics. Dinesh D’Souza, Nikki Haley, and Bobby Jindal have proven what the late comedian Richard Pryor once mocked with great aplomb in his 1975 comedy album, Is it Something I Said? He noted that the first thing that the Vietnamese boat people learned in an ESL class was how to say, “nigger…. so that they could become good citizens.” -Randal Jelks

Is It the Apocalypse or Just the End of Western Civilization? I suppose the point of all this is that stuffing as many hot dogs into one’s mouth as possible in 10 minutes is good, clean, healthy fun, and that all young Americans should aspire to such ambitions. If you get really good at it, you can turn pro and sign endorsement contracts. After all, eaters are athletes. -H. Scott Prosterman


The Theory of “Structural” Unemployment and the Jobs That Aren’t Coming Back. The actions of those in Congress that have held up the extension of benefits to the long-term unemployed are not only politically reactionary but also morally repugnant. It’s easy to understand their continued assault on the concept of empathy; they don’t have any and don’t think anyone else should. And, as far as working women and men being on the “wrong” side of history, well that depends on who’s making it. The fellow who said the jobs are not coming back failed to say where they went. -Carl Bloice

A Grand Fourth. FDR spoke about “four essential freedoms” on January 6, 1941, naming 1) freedom of speech and expression; 2) freedom of every person to worship in his own way; 3) freedom from want; and 4) freedom from fear — which he explained was related to a reduction of armaments and the lack of physical aggression against any other country in the world. -Ron Wolff

Jury Deliberates: Oscar Grant’s Family Speaks Out. Oakland and Los Angeles residents are preparing for a verdict in the Johannes Mehserle shooting of Oscar Grant. Family and friends are filled with apprehension and hope. In this exclusive interview, members of Oscar Grant’s family talk frankly about the case, politicians, community activists and life without Oscar as they wait to hear the verdict. -Jasmyne Cannick

EPA, Coast Guard, and BP PR Tied to Airborne Corexit Denials. So, dispersants are clearly present in the air, both over sea and land. If Unified Command is suggesting that oil spill responders might want to reconsider using respirators, why have we been told by the EPA, at a press conference, that there are no dispersants in the air? -Georgianne Nienaber


Did We Cause the Big Crash? We American homeowners appear as co-conspirators in many judgments about what caused the crash. In these interpretations, many of us were greedy for wanting bigger homes than we deserved, foolish to have then bought larger houses than we could afford, and stupid for agreeing to the low-interest/low-payment scams of mortgage sellers. -Steve Hochstadt

California NAACP’s Endorses Legalizing Marijuana: Is It Me, or Is Somebody High for Real This Time, Okay, this is America, where opportunity abounds—no laws appear to be broken but the appearance of impropriety of a state chapter civil rights group endorsing initiatives its president is paid to run couldn’t be more clear. But this is way out of bounds for the NAACP. The only one that looks high on this endorsement is the NAACP. Legalize marijuana, for real? -Anthony Samad

Looking for an Echo: 10 That Shoulda Made The Top 10. If the multiverse theory holds, there’s a land far, far away exactly like ours except that the following cuts — which never made it to American pop charts — would be as much a part of our musical DNA as the songs endlessly repeated in movies, oldies radio and commercials in our neck of the cosmological woods. -Michael Sigman

Prop 25 Most Essential Part of November Ballot. Proposition 25 was put on by labor unions and the Democratic Party, and political consultant Roger Salazar has been retained. Liberal bloggers and other progressives are skeptical, with some going so far as to claim it doesn’t make sense to get a majority for the budget – if raising taxes we need would still require a two-thirds vote. -Paul Hogarth

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Did You Barbecue Pig or Pug This Fourth? The reason we eat cows, pigs, lamb, chickens, fish, and not dogs, cats, hamsters, and parakeets, according to Joy, is because our selective belief systems are supported by emotional and cultural responses that tell us some animals are edible while others are not. -Rev. Irene Monroe

The Great American Disconnect. Whatever happened to truth, justice and the American Way? We gave it away. We said good bye to it when we stopped investing in ourselves and our society. We walked away from our nation when we thought it was better to be a flag-waving corporation and that taxes were the end of the freedom train. No New Taxes is the cry of simple-minded people who don’t invest in their nation. -Wayne Williams

Kyl Now Admits Obama Is ‘Doing A Lot’ To Secure the Border, But It’s a Question of ‘Strategy’. However, according to Kyl, securing the border is like the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. “It’s not enough to say ‘gee, we have a lot of people down there’ — the question is but are you succeeding,” explained Kyl. Kyl believes it boils down to “different strategies that need to be employed.” -Andrea Nill

Car;eme Carter

Car;eme Carter

In the Last Decade, Extreme Weather Deaths Outnumbered War Casualties. And as far as Fiorina’s focus on terrorism killing – well, an average of 42 Americans die from being struck by lightning every year. As opposed to – well, almost none from terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. -Tina Dupuy

LA Film Festival 2010: Freakonomics. Freakonomics is a great documentary adaptation of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt’s bestselling book that applies statistical and economics theory to various phenomena, finding extraordinary explanations and insights. Master documentarians direct various segments linked to interviews with the co-authors. -Ed Rampell

Can America Again Become An Imagine-Nation? Roger Nygard’s new documentary The Nature of Existence gives us a good-natured glimpse into the imaginations of brilliant thinkers from science, religion and other disciplines on life’s fundamental questions. If we try to let our imaginations run free and work shoulder to shoulder on real problems instead of fantasizing about self-aggrandizement — my own particular fave being high school basketball greatness — maybe we can become an imagine-nation and begin to turn things around. -Michael Sigman

Facing the Future as a Media Felon on the Gulf Coast. The United States Coast Guard considers me a felon now, because I “willfully” want to obtain more photos like these to show you the utter devastation occurring in Barataria Bay, Louisiana as a result of the BP oil catastrophe. -Georgianne Nienaber

Independence Day, For Some -- Sharon Kyle

Clockwise: Frederick Douglass, Malia Obama, Thomas Jefferson, Ron Kovic

Should Journalists Cozy Up to Power or Uncover the Truth? Hastings, a freelance reporter, is being criticized for exposing the insults and embarrassing behavior. Lara Logan, a foreign correspondent for CBS, blasted Hastings on CNN for what she felt was a breach of trust on his part that could possibly damage journalists’ relations with the military. -Sylvia Moore

LA Film Festival 2010: Night Catches Us. Set in 1976 Philadelphia after the heyday of the Black Panther Party, this film noir-ish feature depicts the fallout involvement in the Black liberation cause has on ex-Panthers and others. -Ed Rampell

Could Consume-atives Be Deficient? Consume-atives proclaim we should cut something but seldom propose anything specific. The plan is for bankruptcy court to sort that out, rather than making consume-atives a target for blame. “Take 10% off the top” is another, meaningless Republican proposal in recent budget negotiations. What does that mean, though? Let 10% of the prisoners out? Only treat 90% of the sewage? -Adam Eran

Slouching Toward a Lousy Recovery at Best. The people who are suffering the most from the failure of public officials and the greed of large bankers are the least able to endure it. Unemployment among people with four-year college degrees is barely over 5 percent; among high-school dropouts it’s over 25 percent. -Robert Reich

In Defense of Ethnic Studies and American History. Amidst the recent assaults on ethnic studies in Arizona and beyond that propagate a myth that such programs are divisive and exclusionary, I now find myself seeking to defend and justify their importance, and to wrestle with their place in American history. -Simon Balto

Unanimous Conformity in the Senate. Every living senator voted Wednesday to approve Gen. David Petraeus as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Call it the unanimity of lemmings – except the senators and their families aren’t the ones who’ll keep plunging into the sea. -Norman Solomon

thomas jefferson

Jefferson: Founding Father and Connoisseur. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, also set the standard for American-style conspicuous consumption. Historian Wade Graham discusses Jefferson’s paradoxical combination of politics and home improvement. -Wade Graham

Immigrant Women: The Silent Victims of a Broken Immigration System. Without immigration reforms, many immigrant women will continue to lack economic access, experience separation from their families, and be subjected to exploitation and criminal activity. -Michele Waslin

It's Plain Whose Country the Government-Haters "Want Back". It makes most Republicans and Tea Baggers hopping mad when somebody suggests that outright racism, or pandering to racism, underlies most of their anti-government rhetoric. But there is no denying the GOP is what the Democrats used to be — mostly the white folks’ party. -Berry Craig

LA Film Festival 2010: One Lucky Elephant. Lisa Leeman’s documentary One Lucky Elephant is similar to the 1990s fact-based features Buddy and Gorillas in the Mist starring, respectively, Rene Russo and Sigourney Weaver, as humans living closely with wild animals. All three films study the paradigm of inter-species relationships. -Ed Rampell

asian woman

Afghanistan Again. After nine years of war the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan lacks support at home and is widely recognized as a drain on the domestic economy in a time of severe economic contraction. The billions of dollars in U.S. economic assistance to the Hamid Karzai government has created an unsustainable class of Afghans who are dependent upon the American largesse and military presence that would be impossible to sustain by local taxes. It is a puppet government that wouldn’t last a day without American arms and money. -Joseph Palermo

The 4th of July. In 1852, legendary abolistionist and former slave Federick Douglass who was known for his extraordinary oratory skills was asked to give a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That speech became one of his better known pieces and stands as a reminder that the 4th of July does. --Sharon Kyle