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58 minutes | Feb 6, 2017
Resisting Our Battle Fatigue
elcome to Connect the Dots. I’m your host Lila Garrett and as the parade of horrors continues with the Trump administration, it’s tempted to move to Iceland. I'm thinking about it… But first I want to express my admiration for you my listeners, and your colleagues. The level of protest has been beyond heartening. It’s been an education. There has not been an outstanding incident of violence since the inauguration and that is something of a miracle. You can be sure it’s not because of the Trump people. It’s because of us. The singleness of purpose, the determination to maintain our democracy, the righteous indignation…yes, righteous…the steely conviction of the millions of protesters who continue to stand against the grotesque Trump agenda is not just reassuring. It’s a thing of beauty. Now what we must work against, aside from this draconian administration itself, is resisting our own battle fatigue. People get worn out…at least good people do. Bad people never seem to. Have you noticed that? “Bad” is a simplistic word…but there’s no other way to describe them. The sadistic man-child Donald Trump is relatively new to this group. But we’ve been stuck with the Koch Brothers errand boy, Mitch McConnell, for what feels like centuries. Now he’s President of the Senate because the Republicans have the majority. When they’re the minority, he’s still their leader, and throughout his endless years of service he has worn his miserable character on his remarkably ugly face. Socrates or Plato or one of those wise men said, after the age of 40 a man looks like who he is. Mitch McConnell is a perfect example of that. But the real poster boy for this phenomenon is Steve Bannon. Bannon wallows so in hate and causing pain it hurts to look at him. His menacing face is almost biblical…or at least Shakespearean. Iago who talked Othello into killing his wife is Mary Poppins compared to Bannon. With him whispering endlessly in Trump's ear, we can expect nothing from this administration but a pyramid of disasters for the next 4 to 8 years. It’s that bad out there. Add to this the remarkable ineffectiveness of most of the Congress and Senate, and what have
58 minutes | Jan 17, 2017
Trump’s Dreadful Cabinet
elcome to CONNECT THE DOTS. I’m your host Lila Garrett and after a week of watching the parade of Donald Trumps’ choices for his cabinet and agency leaders, I was ready to give up. Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there who aren’t even considering it. Three of those noble people are interviewed on CONNECT THE DOTS today. They are Robert Weissman, of Public Citizen , Harvey Wasserman author of Solartopia, and Daniel Barnhart, Secretary of United Teachers of Los Angeles. These are organizations and leaders who handle the walk down the long dark road planned by Donald Trump as a challenge rather than a defeat. And before we even begin today’s show, I want to thank them. But the question remains, what normal human being can watch the parade of sneering Neanderthals offered by the “evil infant”—aka the President-elect—and not be affected by it? More than affected. Terrified. What writer of fiction can come up with three natural enemies who, out of greed, are now locked at the hip in a relationship as close as Romeo and Juliet, Eloise and Abelard, Tom and Jerry. I’m referring, of course, to Rex Tillerson, head of Exxon Mobile, the biggest privately owned oil company in the world. He made a deal with Vladamir Putin, the dictator of Russia, to drill 63.7 million acres of pristine land in northern Russia. This untouched land has under it three times more oil land than Exxon Mobil gets from the entire world put together, including the 14 million acres it leases from the US. What a coup for the new devoted duo! That lease agreement between Tillerson and Putin was made in 2011. But shortly after it was made, the Obama administration slapped Russia with sanctions for attacking the Crimea. That meant Exxon wasn't permitted to drill in their yummy new 63.7 million acres. What a bummer for Tillerson and poor little Exxon. And what an insult to Putin. Something big had to be done. And something big was done. The story goes, Tillerson and Putin put their heads together and decided they needed
45 minutes | Dec 18, 2016
Electoral College: What’s at Stake?
elcome to CONNECT THE DOTS. I’m your host Lila Garrett, scared to death. As we approach the finish line, which easily could be today December 19th, when the Electoral College votes Trump in…..or, let us pray, votes him out, it is clear we are looking at the future not just of our country, but the world. What’s at stake? First, certainly our democracy. What’s most amazing is how vulnerable it is. We have been wallowing in pride over our founding fathers, our Constitution, our system of checks and balances, our diverse population of many colors genders and religions, living together in 3 ½ million square miles which make up the United States, and managing it. Not perfectly, not without threats to this minority or that, but hanging in there nevertheless. What’s at stake? Certainly our position as leader of the free world. If we are going to be honest, we didn't exactly earn that position. We demanded it. Sometimes countries welcomed it like Hawaii and Alaska (they used to be separate countries, remember?) Sometimes it took persuasion, violent persuasion—Korea, Vietnam, most of South America. And of course we have a thousand or so military bases around the world, whether they’re welcome or not. One of the largest is Rumstein, in a free nation that is proud of its own sovereignty—Germany. We decided long ago no country is going to have a stronger military than the United States. And no country has. Despite that, Trump is going to double it. So even though, despite our hunger for empire, we don’t own all the world’s countries, they seek our approval to do just about anything….or else. What’s at stake if we continue on this path? The physical beauty of our country for one thing. Think a minute…except for 9-11 and, long ago, Pearl Harbor, we have never been attacked. The 9-11 attack involved two buildings and killed 3000 people. We’ve allowed our rage over 9-11 to rule our foreign policy ever since. Two buildings, 3000 people. Unthinkable. Infuriating. Ironically, instead of teaching us the horrors of war, it seemed to free us to do the same to others. With our endless war policy destroying two buildings and killing 3000 people is all in a day’s work to us. We have been waging random war ever since. 9-11 was the catalytic agent that set our endless war policy from George W Bush
54 minutes | Dec 7, 2016
Connect The Dots: Combatting Trump
elcome to Connect the Dots. Today, we want to review two ways to stop Donald Trump and his team of racist thugs from taking over the country if not the world. Just to mention a few of them: * Tom Price: Head of Health and Human Services opposes anything that relates to either Health or Human Services. He’s against Medicare, Social Security, programs for women’s health including providing contraception for poor women. He’s the exact opposite of what the job calls for. * Jeff Sessions: Attorney General, former Ku Klux Clan supporter, lost a judgeship because of his virulent racism against blacks. * Michael Flynn: In charge of of Homeland Security, openly hates Muslims, but likes torture….especially water boarding & forced rectal feeding. * Myron Ebell: Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn't believe in climate change. * Steven Mnuchin: Goldman-Sachs billionaire, Trump's pick for Sec of the Treasury made his fortune by foreclosing on the homes of 36,000 people. * Betsy deVos: Trump's pick for Education Secretary doesn't believe in public education. * Ben Carson: Proposed new head of HUD says “poverty is a choice.” * Steve Bannon: This notorious anti-semite is Trump’s chief advisor. Famous for his extreme right politics, he’s widely regarded as the most powerful of Trump’s “team.” The list goes on. Trump's choices really spit in the eye of “We The People.” He and his grotesque transition team are arguably the most dangerous takeover that has ever threatened our country. One way to stop them is to see to it that Trump is not inaugurated on January 20th. That can be done through the Electoral College, which votes on Dececember 19th. 38 electors must change their vote from Trump to Clinton and the Trump nightmare will be over. Just 38. And particularly after the vote recount that’s going on now in Wisconsin and Michigan it can happen. It’s nothing really new. The Electoral College has changed the winner of the presidency five times in the past. Five times they’ve disagreed with the vote of the people and selected his opponent instead. This incl
58 minutes | Nov 13, 2016
Where Do We Go from Here?
ave you noticed that the Democratic Party has become the Republican Party? The Republican Party has become the Fascist Party? And the rest of us, the majority, who want to raise the minimum wage, a peace economy instead of a war economy, free public colleges, universal healthcare, real equality of race, gender, justice and an end to our endless drive for empire…we the real majority are the ones with no place to go?! The ones that still call themselves Republicans have contempt for us. The establishment Democrats suck us in to swell their ranks, then, when they’ve had their way with us, they throw us out like old whores and slam the door in our faces. “We’ll take it from here” they say. And they do, as we saw with Bernie Sanders. They take it from there, all right, and when we have swelled their ranks and we have no place else to go they dump our agenda and challenge us to leave. Some of us do leave and vote for Jill Stein even though we know she has no chance. Most of us stay, cringe and pull the lever for the establishment candidate. In this case, Hillary Clinton. But we’ve done it before with Hubert Humphrey in 1968. With Dukakis in in 1988. The irony is, every time we have compromised, we have lost. So, do we finally get it? Time for us to decide: do we keep knocking on the door of the Democratic Party and going through the same old drill, or do we finally create a place to go. Do we develop a viable third party. We know its been tried before and we thank to parties that have tried it….Peace and Freedom. the Greens, Labor Party the Progressive Party. They have all paved the way for this moment, but they are hot button names which scare people away. Time to throw it in the teeth of the establishment. How’s The NEW Democratic Party. Or The REAL Democratic Party. As brash as that. Do we take the same old path, or do we start a Real/New Democratic party and slam the door in the sell-out tired old Democratic Party’s face for a change. nd let’s not invite Debby Wasserman Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed, or Chuck Schumer to our party or we’re right back where we started. Okay. I feel better. But for those not quite ready for that, let’s start with the question, where do w
24 minutes | Aug 3, 2016
The Movement for Black Lives—M4BL
ince new media has placed the Black Lives Matter protests front and center—challenging the notion of American exceptionalism—mainstream media, politicians, and talking heads across all platforms have been quick to criticize the movement for not having a specific set of demands. Well, that set of demands has been laid out and published online in a platform created by The Movement for Black Lives entitled “A Vision for Black Lives, Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice.” The Movement for Black Lives is affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Movement but is broader. It is comprised of a coalition of organizations representing thousands of people across the United States. I learned of this coalition shortly after its first convening in 2015—a convening that occurred almost organically in response to the sustained violence enacted by state actors against black people in cities across the country and broadcast widely through the new media. With input from members of Black Lives Matter as well as dozens of other organizations representing thousands of people across the country, The Movement for Black Lives released a comprehensive platform that provides a roadmap of sorts that would help to make life more fair and equitable for black people. In reviewing it, I suggest that the Vision for Black Lives is a vision that, if implemented, would simply put black people on par with the dominant culture. While the vision centers on black communities, the movement states, “We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people.” They spent over a year talking to grassroots community organizations to gather, assess, digest, and then synthesize the data they gleaned from these many discussions with over 60 organizations. ne of their goals was to provide a set of comprehensive answers to those trying to understand what the Black Lives Matter movement wants. Their vision offers more than mere bandaid solutions and is well worth the read for all who are progressive and sincerely dedicated to making this nation a nation that is for the peopl
13 minutes | Aug 1, 2016
Can Clinton Convince Skeptical Voters She’ll Fix the Economy?
illary Clinton offered a strong economic platform at last week’s Democratic National Convention. She promised to boost employment and wages with large-scale investments in infrastructure and green jobs. She declared her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), said she would expand Social Security and proposed tuition-free education for the middle class. This agenda should resonate with voters. The analysts at Moody’s certainly liked it. But times have been tough for a while now, and Americans are in a skeptical mood. This time around, Democrats will need to convince voters they really mean it – especially if the bad news keeps coming. The day after she accepted the nomination, as Clinton and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine took their message to the Rust Belt, a new report showed that the economy grew by only a disappointing 1.2 percent last quarter. There’s a recovery going on, but a lot of people can’t feel it. The middle class is dying. Inequality is getting worse. Wages are stagnating. Labor force participation remains low. It’s true that Republican nominee Donald Trump’s economic proposals are a grab bag of false promises and giveaways to his fellow oligarchs. But his message is clear and direct: They’re screwing you, and I’ll make them stop. What’s Hillary Clinton’s economic message? According to her acceptance speech, “My primary mission as President will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States.” In normal times that message might be enough. But these are not normal times. A recent poll shows that Americans trust Trump more than they trust
13 minutes | Jul 31, 2016
November Election: Slim Pickings
any voters—especially on the left end of the spectrum who read LA Progressive—face a quandary this November. On the one hand, we've got a Democratic presidential candidate many say they don’t trust. On the other hand, we’ve got a Republican nominee whose candidacy—never mind the presidency sane folks among us hope he’ll never have—makes America the laughingstock of the world, pretty wife or not. In between, you’ve got a Green and a Libertarian who have no chance at all, no matter how fetching some of their ideas might be. Let’s take a look at this weekend's survey to get some sense of the choices you'll make. Going Green Overwhelming, the survey indicated that many Bernie supporters will opt for Jill Stein and the Green Party, which led with 71% of the three choices we offered respondents. Following next was the thought that Independents would support the Greens as well, with 49%. Said Dick Chase, “I think we just have to wait for both major parties to self-destruct into many fragmented parties. Then we can be governed by a fluency of coalition governments, not unlike many countries in Europe and the Commonwealth Nations. BOTH Parties are yesterday’s news.” Feelings among Bernie's supporters are understandably raw coming out of a convention that was so thoroughly orchestrated to marginalize Sanders and his supporters in the coronation of a candidate who party insiders, Wall Street kingmakers, and many media mavens had long ago selected. Former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod tweeted “As one who has worked conventions, this one was masterful from start to finish in its strategy, messaging and production.” Right, if the point was to put on a Beyonce concert, that would have been the approach to take. But at a political convention, it came across as yet another attempt to subvert the will of regular workaday Democrats and the independent voters who will likely determine the election’s results. Nor was everyone enamored of the Jill Stein approach. Said Gary: “What legislative accomplishments as a house member, senator, governor or mayor of a large city does Stein have that she should earn my vote? What meaningful position has
14 minutes | Jul 25, 2016
DNC Email Scandal Swamps Kaine Pick
efore the latest Wikileaks release blew up a tempest that so far has led to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz losing her post as DNC chair—and even her right to pound the lectern with a wooden mallet to open the DNC festivities —it seemed that Hillary Clinton's pick of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate would be a hot topic of discussion. Would the choice further ruffle progressive feathers? Would it make for a powerful antidote to the Donald Trump craziness? Would it lead to catastrophe for the Democratic Party? Or something in between? We wanted to know, so we asked you in this week's survey: Why Did Hillary Go Mild with Tim Kaine? And dozens of you responded. Even as the blowback from Wikileaks -- now dubbed #Wassergate Scandal -- seems about to set the convention on its ear, the Tim Kaine choice is still worth a look -- especially as one of the plots brewing among Bernie's supporters is to open up vice presidential nominations. Research—or a Chance to Talk? We ran a survey that can be found here. Several of you chided us for poor survey research methodology, but I'd have to say that calling what we're doing here "research" is a stretch. Does the fact that 64% of 90 respondents in our survey say that the Tim Kaine pick will cause some Bernie supporters to vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein tell you something you can extrapolate to some larger group of voters? No, of course not. It's like those polls asking which candidate you support on a Bernie-friendly website—you've seen them, the ones that say 90% of folks will vote for Bernie. Right, don't take that to my bank. What this weekly survey does is give our readers an opportunity to weigh in on important topics, providing a general sense of the way sentiments are shifting on important issues of the day. Not so much in the Gallup, Nate Silver, or Zogby mode, this is more like the NFL field goal kicker who tosses a handful of grass into the air to see which way the wind is blowing. And one way the wind is blowing with this survey is in defense of Tim Kaine, both as a man and as Hillary's choice. Here's Jeffrey on that point: "Kaine is
14 minutes | Jul 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton Goes Mild
Hillary Clinton VP Pick Tim Kaine n an effort to win over moderate swing voters and the growing hordes of independents, Hillary Clinton intends to move to the center now that she's won the nomination. At least that's what is being widely reported. To explain why Clinton would use this tactic, Robert Reich offers this: Hillary is only doing what she knows best. Moving to the putative center is what Bill Clinton did after the Democrats lost the House and Senate in 1994 – signing legislation on welfare reform, crime, trade, and financial deregulation that enabled him to win reelection in 1996 and declare “the era of big government” over. Reich goes into further depth in his piece but bottom line he believes her selection of Tim Kaine as her vice president is among the first of many decisions that reflect her intention to veer away from the left and go to the center. On the internet and in social media, left-leaning denizens are describing Hillary's selection of Kaine as “missing the mark,” “lacking inspiration,” and "a slap in the face” to progressives. With such a large contingent of Bernie voters still up for grabs, it's puzzling that Hillary's VP pick wouldn't be one that appealed more to the progressive vote that could put her back in the White House. While it is true that Tim Kaine has voiced opposition to the death penalty, he oversaw 11 executions as the governor of Virginia. Although Kaine has publicly supported a woman's right to choose, his personal opposition to abortion is likely to dampen the enthusiasm of some of Clinton's more ardent pro-choice supporters. And his past support for the Trans Pacific Partnership might be a deal breaker for a good chunk of Sanders supporters when it comes time to cast a vote in November. o this weekend we'd like to hear from the LA Progressive readers. Why, when polls indicate that Trump and Clinton are running neck and neck, would Hillary chose the Virginia senator given that his positions don't exactly resonate with progressives? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below and don't forget to PLEASE share
14 minutes | Jul 20, 2016
Embracing the New Populist Moment
he Bernie Sanders campaign is the latest and largest wave of a rising populist tide, gaining force from the Occupy movement, the Dreamers, Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15, the Wisconsin showdown, and more. The failure of the political establishment has been exposed, but the center still holds. So what’s next? First, Sanders is right: Beating Donald Trump is vital to ensuring that bigotry and nativism do not poison and discredit the new populist moment. Once Trump has been defeated, the progressive movement should focus on defining issues and politics from the bottom up. The next movement waves—climate change, student debt, protests against systemic inequality and brutal policing—will continue to shake the establishment. Battles over these defining issues will deepen the understanding that there is an alternative. At the national level, this will start with a pitched battle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the lame-duck Congress, followed by challenges to the Wall Street–Washington revolving door in executive appointments, as well as skirmishes over real immigration reform, fair taxes, and rebuilding America. In states and localities, the Sanders movement should join with insurgents in communities of color to drive real change—campaigns to establish a living wage; to save public schools; to make clean-energy, clean-water, and mass-transit investments, paid for by taxing the rich; and to enact sweeping criminal-justice reform. Those fights will set up insurgent candidates to challenge those standing in the way, from city councils to the statehouses to Congress. any flowers will blossom from the energy unleashed by the Sanders campaign. The Vermont senator would be well-advised to create a vehicle both to drive these defining-issue battles, and to identify and support Sanders Democrats up and down the ballot. Wherever possible, these Sanders Democrats should take control of state parties. Then we can begin to reshape how our democracy actually works. Robert Borosage Campaign For America's Future
18 minutes | Jul 19, 2016
We Have Seen This Bitterness Before: Reflections on 1968 and Now
have many friends, most of them younger than me, who are terrified by the divisions in the country, by the violent acts that periodically add to the tension, and by an election which brings out a level of fear and anger they have never seen before. Unfortunately, this is not new to me. I have vivid memories of the year 1968 and that Presidential election. We had a terrible war. Assasinations. Riots in every major city. Campus take overs. And a country divided down the middle over race and politics I will give you snippets of this to put things in perspective. Race was a huge divider. There was bitter white resentment of Black urban uprisings and campus protests, fueled by a third party candidate named George Wallace, and used as a political platform in somewhat less visceral ways by the Republican candidate Richard Nixon. You could feel the tension on the streets, especially in neighborhoods which were undergoing rapid racial change. I vividly remember signs along the Cross Bronx Expressway which said "This is Wallace Country" as the line separating whites from Blacks and Latinos quickly moved from Tremont Avenue to Fordham Road. It also divided families. I was basically kicked out of my family for falling in love with a Black woman and adopted by her extended family, which had a base in the Bronx. Walking hand in hand through the city was like maneuvering a minefield. You never knew who was going to blow up at us But it wasn't just race. It was the war, drugs and the "hippie youth culture too." I vividly remember driving through the Midwest with white friends on the way to Chicago, all of whom had long hair, and getting hate looks from parents while the children passed the peace sign. Some of my friends had been virtually disowned by their parents too, for growing their hair long, opposing the war, or participating in protests. Those of us who were living through it saw no end in sight. Many of us thought we would die early deaths and that there would be a revolution or the emergence of some kind of fascist state. We had our apocalyptic fantasies and great music to fuel our fevered imaginations. But though some people died, others burned themselves out, and families fractured, the nation survived and we stumbled on without our political system collapsing.
8 minutes | Jul 16, 2016
The President and The People
n the aftermath of the Dallas massacre and the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, President Barack Obama had a national conversation on race relations this past Thursday. Billed as a “National Conversation with the People of the United States on Race Relations, Justice, Policing and Equality”—the one-hour ABC News discussion attempted to touch the surface of these urgent and deeply interrelated matters. Unfortunately, several key people who were impacted by last week’s tragedies were not present because they were attending funerals. And some who did attend were left frustrated. Said Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors: “ABC used the faces of the black community to exhibit a watered-down message of hope and reconciliation. And Obama collaborated. Instead of what felt like a placating and painfully repetitive conversation about issues – which organizers and advocates had already broached with the president – we should have been discussing more pressing matters.” The townhall was part of a series of events the President has participated in this week in the wake of the Dallas rampage that left five police officers dead and eleven others wounded, following the two police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier in the week. On Wednesday, Obama had convened a longer, edgier meeting at the White House with police, elected officials, and civil rights advocates to address what all acknowledge is a gaping divide between communities, viewpoints, and races. e wanted to get your take on the president’s interchanges with the audience. So our survey this week gives you a chance to share your opinion since most of us were not physically at the townhall. Please explain your answers in the comments section below and look for our survey recap in the next day or so. Sharon Kyle Publisher, LA Progressive.
15 minutes | Jul 15, 2016
illary Clinton’s 6-point lead over Donald Trump in last month’s CBS News poll has now evaporated. As of mid-July (even before Trump enjoys a predictable post-convention bump in the polls) she is tied with him. Each garners the support of 40 percent of voters. This is astounding, given that Trump’s campaign is in shambles while hers is a well-oiled machine; that he’s done almost no advertising while she began the month spending $500,000 a day on ads; and that Republican leaders are deserting him while Democrats are lining up behind her. The near tie is particularly astonishing given that Trump has no experience and offers no coherent set of policies or practical ideas but only venomous bigotry and mindless xenophobia, while Hillary Clinton has a boatload of experience, a storehouse of carefully crafted policies, and a deep understanding of what the nation must do in order to come together and lead the world. What happened? Apparently the FBI’s recent report on Clinton’s email heightened what already were public concerns about her honesty and trustworthiness. Last month, on that same CBS poll, 62 percent of voters said she’s not honest and trustworthy; now 67 percent of voters have that view. So as the Republican convention prepares to nominate the least qualified and most divisive candidate in American history, the Democrats are about to nominate among the most qualified and
16 minutes | Jul 12, 2016
Vice President Bernie Sanders!
ith Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton today he gains power and influence over the long-term direction of the Democratic party and potentially the policies of the next administration. Bernie has more clout remaining inside the tent than outside of it. By joining forces with the Democratic party’s 2016 nominee he has become a kingmaker. This endorsement unifies the Democratic party and cements the social movement Bernie leads as a powerhouse inside the party pulling it to the left. Going forward he can mobilize his supporters to keep the heat on Clinton whenever her knee-jerk corporatism and militarism get the better of her. And what was the alternative for Bernie at this point in the election? To sweep up his 1,900 delegates, walk out of the Democratic convention, and run as a third party in a doomed and ultimately symbolic campaign? Such a foolish move would divide and weaken the Democratic party and terminate any role the Sanders movement could realistically play in Democratic politics going into the future. Bolting the party would also strengthen Republican candidates up and down the ballot in every state of the Union and could even divide the Democrats to the point where the unthinkable could happen: the election of President Donald J. Trump. If Hillary Clinton becomes president she will do whatever she can to keep Bernie and his formidable coalition inside the Democratic party. Bernie and his supporters have the leverage now to generate enough opposition from within the party to sink her presidency. This clout should pull her to the left on many key issues as the Democratic party platform for 2016 already shows. illary Clinton acknowledged today “Bernie is building a movement that is bigger than one candidate or one campaign.” She could solve just about all of her problems with the left side of her party by simply asking Bernie to join her as her runni
20 minutes | Jul 11, 2016
Will America’s Hard Week Lead Anywhere?
thank all the people who consoled me on my father's passing. I had mentioned it here so publicly, partly because Dad's death rests so heavily on my soul right now and partly to explain my uncharacteristically dour mood, which has flooded my perceptions of this violent week across America. Around here, I'm known as the "glass half-full guy," the one who can always find that ray of hope, that way to accentuate the positive, that reason to get up and take another run at things. This soul-saving approach to life comes in part, I think, from the years I spent working at a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and addicts. Far too frequently, one or another of them would find reason to give way to the madness, according to their temperaments and the circumstances of their lives at the moment, by putting a gun in their mouth or pitching one last epic bender to drown themselves in blood from the ruptured veins in their throats. If you couldn't find a way to lift your spirits in that work, you would be tempted to drive down to the beach yourself and swim out in the general direction of Hawaii until the muscles in your arms and legs gave out—if that matched your temperament. And so I became the Glass Half-Full Guy in part out of necessity. But sometimes, as in this week filled with police murders of innocent black men, coupled with the murders of police officers, I have to suspect that this irrepressible optimism I'm blessed with has a strong admixture of self-deception to it. More Guns Than People This week's survey asked your views about gun violence generally and particularly police murders of innocent black and brown men. I encourage you to read the many responses. In both cases, and especially around gun control, solutions abound. The problem? The lack of will to do anything about it. As Janey Mitchell responded, we need to…pass sensible gun control laws without loopholes." Perhaps we could treat guns like cars. To get a driver's license, typically you have to take some training, pass a written test, and then score well on a driving test. And at some point if your behavior shows you can't drive responsibility, you lose your right to drive
16 minutes | Jul 2, 2016
Hillary Clinton FBI Interview
he Hillary Clinton FBI interview has happened. CBS is reporting that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with the FBI for a scheduled interview as part of the ongoing investigation the Bureau has been conducting to determine if Clinton broke the law when she set up a private email server to conduct official State Department business. According to the report, Hillary Clinton voluntarily agreed to be interviewed but White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell tweeted "Use of word "voluntarily" in the context of @HillaryClinton FBI interview means there was no subpoena." The three-hour meeting was conducted this morning at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This FBI interview comes on the heels of the much talked about meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former president Bill Clinton. The pair met on Lynch’s airplane on the tarmac of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport on Monday. According to Lynch, neither she nor Clinton had planned the meeting, which happened serendipitously when the two were at the same airport at the same time. Lynch claims that Clinton walked across the tarmac and got onto her plane. Bill Clinton appointed Lynch to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999. According to Lynch, their social meeting lasted about 30 minutes and all that was discussed was the grandchildren, their travels, and former Attorney General Janet Reno, who served in Clinton’s administration. Since the news of this meeting came out and perhaps because of the shadow it has cast on the email server investigation, Lynch has said she regrets having had the encounter with Clinton. The Attorney General says she now plans to distance herself from the case but she is not recusing herself. e'd like our readers to weigh in on this. Our
18 minutes | Jun 19, 2016
American Gun Lust — Will It Ever Wane?
American Gun Lust he murderous rampage at the LGBT-friendly dance club in Orlando, Florida, last weekend has once again thrust America's gun control debate front and center. A lone gunman, claiming ties to Islamic extremist groups and carrying a military assault rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, opened fire in the crowded Pulse nightclub early last Sunday morning, killing 49 people and wounding at least another 53 before dying in a hail of police bullets. Afterwards, as President Obama talked of grief beyond description and urged renewed progress on gun control, Democrats in Congress revived proposals for expanding background checks to gun shows and online firearm sales and banning people on the government's terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses. Seeming to bow to public outrage, Republicans showed some willingness to compromise, but quickly pivoted to terrorism links to the Orlando shooting, even though the FBI quickly discounted any ties the shooter, Omar Mateen, actually had to ISIS, indicating that racial hatred and homophobia more likely motivated the outrage. What Can Change? The Orlando massacre was utterly horrific, the worst mass shooting in recent American history. But it was also just another mass shooting in a numbingly long list—San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and then a great many with fewer victims and less lasting notoriety. Our survey this week asked if Americans will ever be able to defeat the powerful gun lobby to enact sensible gun control measures found elsewhere in the world. The results were mixed, with 56% saying change would happen and 44% saying it would not. For Cynthia Parker, the problem stems from our weapons manufacturing industry: "We have an economy supported by defense/guns from the lowest jobs in New England’s obscure gun and munitions factories, to West Coast based defense giants like Lo
18 minutes | Jun 18, 2016
United States Gun Culture — Will It Ever Change?
n the wake of the June 12th massacre in Orlando, the gun control debate emerged, once again, with renewed vigor. The talking heads on the airwaves, the politicians, even a filibuster on the Senate floor all focused on the rate at which Americans lose their lives to senseless gun violence—some experts stating that Americans are 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries. And as the funeral services for the 49 victims who lost their lives in Orlando are still underway, we remember the nine who lost their lives to gun violence at a historic black church, in Charleston, South Carolina, just one year ago on the night of June 17, 2015. If we're being honest, we know there will be more. So, this week, while there are lots of issues being debated around these massacres—the 2nd Amendment, racial and ethnic hatred, LGBTQ hatred, self-loathing, terrorism, mental illness—shouldn't we take an honest look at ourselves and ask, why does the United States not do what countries all over the world do to control gun violence? We can make this as complex as we want but the simple fact is that countries all over the world play the same video games and have the same mental health issues as the United States, but they manage to avoid a ridiculously high gun murder rate perhaps because they regulate gun ownership in ways that produce outcomes that make their societies safer than ours. Australia, a country that shares many of the characteristics of the United States, was once on a similar path when it came to gun ownership. But in 1996, within months after a man went on a rampage with a semi-automatic rifle killing 35, Australian politicians enacted strict legislation that has resulted in a significant reduction of gun violence. So today we want you to weigh in. Given that the gun murder rates in all other similar
15 minutes | Jun 11, 2016
Bernie-or-Bust Now What ?
n his most recent post, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich penned a letter to his friend Bernie Sanders. “I don’t know what you’re going to do from here on, and I’m not going to advise you,” Reich said. “You’ve earned the right to figure out the next steps for your campaign and the movement you have launched.” But Bernie Sanders has, on more than one occasion, rebuked the notion that he himself launched a movement. “It's not about me,” he's always quick to emphasize.“It’s about all of us.” Certainly we agree with Reich that there’s a movement underway. But Bernie’s point can’t be stressed enough. This is a bottoms-up, people’s movement. This political revolution is fortunate enough to have a person like Bernie Sanders to help move it forward. But make no mistake, it needs all progressives to do their part to carry out the mission articulated by Bernie Sanders, by Occupy, by Fight for Fifteen, by the Dreamers, by Black Lives Matter, and by so many other groups fighting for “Change We Can Really Believe In.” Given that the Associated Press and corporate mainstream media has already labeled Hillary Clinton the preseumptive presidential nominee and Trump is the only one still standing on the Republican side, what are you likely to do this election season? Please answer this survey and share it with your friends. And then in the comment box below, tell us what you plan to do with your progressive energies going forward. Sharon Kyle Publisher, LA Progressive
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