GUEST WORDS--Edward Bellamy wrote one of the top selling books, Looking Backward: 2000-1887, in 1888. He was the brother of Francis Bellamy, the socialist minister who wrote the original American Pledge of Allegiance.

Looking Backward created a mass movement against the growing concentration of power and economic control held by monopolies, oligopolies and trusts — a phenomenon that had been growing since the Civil War. It was a utopian science fiction novel about a wealthy man who fell into a comatose state in 1887 and miraculously wakes up more than a100 years later to a world completely changed. In many ways, the book was prescient in regards to some of the of the changes that would take place. But one change that happened within Bellamy’s lifetime was government regulation of monopolies under the Sherman Antitrust act, which passed in 1890.

The post-Civil War era of American history is often neglected in current arguments over racism, tax reform and economics as the Republican congressional majority cuts the taxes for corporations and the wealthy — a rehash of trickle-down economics made popular by President Ronald Reagan. It seems that we are once again destined to see history repeat itself for our lack of memory. Bellamy’s book may be as relevant today as it was then — perhaps more so.

GUEST WORDS--Someone may be putting something in the Los Angeles water supply. In the past months, two unlikely LA-based presidential contenders — Mayor Eric Garcetti and Disney Chief Robert Iger — have been floated in the media, including in the New York Times.

But before we start worrying about how an LA-based president might affect traffic (after all this is the big issue in Southern California), we might want to confront political reality. In both cases, the case for our local heroes’ candidacies is weak at best, and delusional at worst.

The Disney fantasies

The Iger case is, if anything easier to dismiss. Iger can sell himself, like Trump, as a business success story, and with probably far-fewer questionable business transactions. Yet Iger, trying to run as a progressive in an increasingly left-wing Democratic Party, will face numerous challenges that dwarfs those faced by Trump. (Robert Iger, with Mickey, photo right)

Iger, for example, will have to run against the sad record of his company’s self-serving interference in Anaheim. Disney is generally a low-wage employer, and, in Orange County, this can be seen as contributing to the enormous disparity between cost of living and low salaries. I don’t suggest that companies should be primarily social justice warriors, but when a corporate executive runs, he’s going to be subject to their scrutiny.

GUEST WORDS--There is so much to be said of the latest Donald Trump episode, and I mean layer upon layer of unpacking. But let’s just get one thing straight: President Trump is a buffoon. He disrespected the esteemed Navajo Code Talkers at a ceremony honoring them by making a dig at one of his adversaries. He did all this by using a loaded historical reference to Pocahontas, a reference already deemed abusive to indigenous people. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Photo above: President Trump during the Oval Office ceremony at which Navajo Code Talkers Fleming Begaye Sr., seated left, Thomas Begay and Peter MacDonald were honored.)

While much of conservative media and the Trump administration deflect the issue by pointing to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s questionable heritage, liberal media belabor Trump’s idiocy. We should ask: What are both arguments missing, and where does the indigenous community fall in the greater conversation?  

To be sure, the indigenous community is not surprised Trump would stoop this low and disrespect our Native American veterans, but just because this type of behavior is expected doesn’t make the matter less infuriating. The brave men that Donald Trump dishonored are our elders, and any affront to our elders is a matter we take very seriously. What is more, though, is that as much as indigenous people honor and learn from our elders, we also honor and learn from history, and history has made it very clear: Trump and his administration do not give a damn about indigenous communities.

Decades ago, in fact, Donald Trump showed Native Americans where he stood on indigenous issues when protesting against the tribal nations involved in gaming on the East Coast. These tribes were his competition. From the ongoing Pocahontas mockeries, to the display of a painting of President Andrew Jackson in the White House and the fast-tracking of oil infrastructure through indigenous homelands, Native Americans know who Donald Trump is: a greedy, narcissistic fool, and perhaps even a white supremacist.

GUEST WORDS--It’s the little things that beat you up in the end, the daily irritations and indignities.

Mail from City Hall, for instance. You know, even as you draw blood with a paper cut while opening the envelope, that it can’t be good news.

In Atwater Village, people have been receiving “courtesy notices” from something called the Pro-Active Code Enforcement division of the Department of Building & Safety.

The word “courtesy” is the first clue that your holiday spirit is about to be crushed, and “pro-active code enforcement” removes all doubt.

A colleague of mine got this notice about the gate to her back yard:

GUEST WORDS— Jack is sure that when the “love thy neighbor as thyself” was announced, that did not mean that Jack had to love his neighbor as himself if the neighbor was gay.

December 5, 2017 is the magic date. That is the date the United States Supreme Court will hear the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which might also be called the Wedding Cake, the Lord and Jack Phillips.

Jack Phillips is the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. One of the things Jack loves to do is bake cakes. He does it in the shop in which his cakes are also sold and, as he will be the first to modestly tell you, God is his chef. He and God work hand in hand producing Jack’s wonderful creations.

GUEST WORDS--Mary Battari, from the Center for Media and Democracy told the Guardian she considered it "a smart move" for libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch to be part of the purchase of the Time magazine empire. "The only way they can convince the public not to worry their heads about climate change and to forget about regulating the fossil fuel industry, is to create their own media megaphone."

Last night, the media company, Meredith, announced it was buying Time magazine for an estimated $2.8 billion.

Meredith Corporation Chairman and CEO, Stephen Lacy, said: “We are creating a premier media company serving nearly 200 million American consumers across industry-leading digital, television, print, video, mobile, and social platforms positioned for growth.”

GUEST WORDS-Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile “machinery of death” can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity.    

Since its reinstatement over forty years ago, the death penalty has soiled our justice system and collective moral compass with its racist, arbitrary, and torturous application. Its ignobility and continued existence in the U.S. has not only drawn international opprobrium from human rights activists and religious leaders, it continues to deny us a seat at the table of civilized, just, peaceable people around the world – whose countries long ago rejected capital punishment. 

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