Sunday, July 20, 2014

Truest statement of the week

Bill Maher makes us physically ill.

The hypocrite gives Obama's PAC one-million dollars in TWO-THOUSAND AND TWELVE and then accuses "liberals" of being "useless Obama hacks."

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Bill Maher: Soapbox Hypocrite of the Month Award" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

Five and a half years into the Obama era, some of his African American supporters finally admit black voters didn't get much of substance for their nearly unanimous support of the First Black President. Of course the black political class does its level best to blame everything on evil racist Republicans who don't even like what the president had for breakfast. In a shameful flip on the notion that black faces in high places should represent us in the halls of power, our black political cognoscenti relentlessly belittle any expectation that the lives of real people down here on the ground ought to improve behind the election of the first black president as unsophisticated and unrealistic. Meanwhile black family wealth continues to fall, black unemployment and mass incarceration remain about the same, and our black political class continue their glittering careers. 

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "What Corporate Media and Corporate Latino Politicians Won't Tell You About Central American Child Refugees" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

See you next week.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Sometimes a Tweet can say it all

  • Welcome to Nazi Germany circa 1938 - aka Mosul, Iraq. The Islamistake identified Christian homes in the province.

    TV: What the return of 24 meant

    24 was a show of the '00s, capturing all the fear, cruelty and hate of that ugly decade and regurgitating it into mass propaganda.


    Art transforms and enriches.  However, the program that blurred the line between Fox entertainment and Fox 'News' was the televised equivalent of nitrogen deficiency, robbing humanity and common sense from the public.  It was awarded with honors it didn't really deserve and became the show pimped by Rush Limbaugh and others in his set.  From the left, there were a few of us who pushed back (we did in 2006, Matthew Rothschild is another on the left who pushed back).

    The pushback was stronger than the endorsement -- in part because the pushback against the vile lies of the show included commentary from Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, the parents of 24 star Kiefer Sutherland.

    Noted actors and leftists, Sutherland and Douglas didn't go public with their sharp critiques but their private critiques led Kiefer to begin public rebuking the torture the show embraced and portrayed as effective.

    His parents criticism also led to Kiefer's two follow up projects.

    First up was the ten-episode web series The Confession which paired Kiefer with John Hurt.  The 24 star went from playing 'rouge' agent Jack Bauer to playing a hitman confessing to a priest (Hurt).  The ten episodes explore issues of guilt and rage as well as consequences.

    It was weighty fare for Kiefer and led many to wonder if it was also his penance for 24?

    There was no question that Touch was penance.

    That 26 episode  (spread out over two seasons) series found Kiefer playing a journalist whose son was the target of a corporation's conspiracy as well as a centuries old religious conspiracy.  There were twists and turns and possibly the ratings for the second season might not have been so bad if the show hadn't aired on Fridays?

    Equally true, Friday is a night of the week and the networks, when they program smart, can pull in viewers on that night.

    What's not in dispute is that Kiefer's Martin Bohm was far removed from Kiefer's Jack Bauer.  Martin avoided violence as much as possible and resorted to it only when his son was in danger.  In many ways, the series recalled Lindsay Wagner's TV classic The Bionic Woman with conflict resolution being more important than fist-a-cuffs.

    Equally true, it attempted to forge a new career path for Kiefer Sutherland, even more so than The Confession.

    In May of 2013, Fox cancelled Touch.

    A year later, Kiefer was back on Fox with the 12-episode series 24: Live Another Day.

    Jack Bauer returned but this time he was the terrorist in England, not America.  As usual, he wasn't seen as a terrorist at all.   He was the 'tortured' and brooding thing of beauty.

    Torture porn?

    Casino Royale's opening with a nude Daniel Craig being tortured had many dismissing the Bond reboot as torture porn.

    And, coming after 24, the events onscreen may have confused many.

    We define torture porn as using violence to titillate while pimping the lie that torture works.

    That had nothing to do with the Daniel Craig scenes.

    Actresses tend to go middle or working class -- a peculiar form of movie 'middle class' and  'working class' -- when they reach a certain level of stardom.  They want to be seen as real and usually portray mothers attempting to save their children -- especially if stardom was found via the comedy route.

    When men reach a certain level of stardom, they want to suffer as well.  But children sick or missing aren't enough for them.  They want to be strung up like a side of beef and suffer physical abuse.  See the work of Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, among others.  Especially pay attention to the work of Mel Gibson who probably exemplified male beauty better than any actor (peak years 1979 to 1990) and who indulged in repeated scenes of onscreen abuse and torture.

    When the star is physically tortured or battered, this really isn't torture porn.

    It may be masochism.

    But it's really not torture in the sense that we now, thanks to the Bully Boy Bush and Barack administrations, contemplate when we hear the term 'torture.'

    24 was always torture porn.  In its eighth season, it also indulged in torturing Jack Bauer.

    But that suffering seems mild in comparison to 24: Live Another Day.  Should the series return for another season, Jack Bauer's suffering may surpass that of the title character in the Mel Gibson directed film The Passion of the Christ.

    The latest season found Jack suffering beatings, suffering the loss of a loved one (a former flame he gave up seasons ago), suffering the kidnapping of his only friend (Mary Lynn Rajskub's Chloe O'Brian) and much more.

    We were supposed to marvel over how Jack endured, how he carried on, how -- when the Russians had Chloe in the final episode of the season -- Jack sacrificed himself for Chloe.

    All of this claptrap was supposed to make Jack come off noble.

    And for the simple-minded, it probably did the trick.

    Chloe is kidnapped by the Russians and Jack hands himself over because he's a 'man of honor' -- that's what some probably thought.

    But he's not honorable, not at all.

    Margot al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley) was this season's villain, the widow of a terrorist killed by a US drone who wanted vengeance.  She wants US President James Heller (William Devane) to turn himself over to her -- to go to a sports stadium alone -- so that she can use a drone to kill him.

    If he does not agree, she will use the US drones (which she's found a backdoor into) to kill hundreds of people throughout England.

    When Jack's unable to locate her or to disable the drones, President Heller makes the decision to turn himself in at the stadium.  He does this to save the lives of innocents.

    But Jack does a video loop of Heller to make it appear that he's standing in one spot in the stadium when he's actually at another spot.

    The 'man of honor' is happy to trick terrorists to save Heller's life.

    But when he could have done the same to save himself and Chloe?

    Jacky Bauer goes all weak-kneed.

    We're also missing the honor in torturing Simone al-Harazi (Emily Berrington) who is already injured and at death's door.  We also question the 'honor' in the decision to toss Margot al-Harazi out a window to her death instead of having her stand trial.

    Most of all, we don't see anyone -- man or woman -- of 'honor' firing at and injuring civilians just to create a distraction.

    In the episode "Day 9: 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.," Jack is at the US Embassy, unable to enter and pursued by the CIA (primarly Yvonne Strahovski's agent Kate Morgan).  So what does he do?

    He shoots at -- and wounds -- civilians taking part in a peaceful protest against drones.

    In the next episode, Kate Morgan will argue that Jack's trying to help because he aimed at the bullet proof vests of the people he shot.


    No, the protesters were not wearing bullet proof vests.  In this follow up episode, once in the Embassy compound, Jack fires at US military personnel and, instead of killing them, aims for their vests to knock them out.

    What he did to the civilians immediately prior to entering the compound -- which Kate Morgan observed -- is never mentioned nor noted.

    Jack Bauer is a good guy, Kate insists, because he didn't try to kill soldiers.

    She is not the least bit concerned that Jack shot into a crowd of civilians and injured several.  Or that he risked human life just to get into a building.

    24 returned and managed to demonstrate that it could get even uglier.

    But what it really revealed is how stunted and over Kiefer Sutherland's career is.

    Second acts on TV are not common.  They do, however, take place.  Alyssa Milano, for example, can smoothly move from a star of Who's The Boss to a star of Charmed to a star of Mistresses.  Larry Hagman can go from starring on I Dream of Jeannie to Dallas.  Kate Jackson can go from The Rookies  to Charlie's Angels to Scarecrow & Mrs. King.  Jane Curtin can go from Saturday Night Live to Kate & Allie to 3rd Rock From The Sun to Unforgettable. That's luck and it's talent.

    But there are those who lack luck and who, especially, lack talent.

    They stop trying to find new roles to explore and instead repeat the only thing that ever prompted applause.  Usually, you see an actor or actress go a decade or more before admitting defeat -- David Caruso comes to mind -- and repeating themselves.  Not Kiefer.

    Four years after he was determined to try something new, he's back on TV repeating himself, the Bob Denver of his peer group, as he admits to himself and to the world that he's little more than a one trick pony.  And it's that  desperation factor and sameness that made 24: Live Another Day such a tired and pointless effort.

    Film Classics of the 20th Century

    In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at  Blow OutYou Only Live TwiceSleeper,  Diamonds Are Forever,  Sleepless In Seattle,  My Little Chickadee,  Tootsie,  After Hours,  Edward ScissorhandsChristmas in Connecticut, Desk Set,  When Harry Met Sally . . .,  Who Done It?,  That Darn Cat!,  Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings, especially on repeat viewings.

    Three women work together to help each other out in a comedy that becomes the biggest comedy Fox has for the year.

    You probably think we're talking about 9 to 5.

    While that does describe the Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton classic comedy, it also applies to an earlier comedy classic.

    In 1953, Fox released How To Marry A Millionaire.  Jean Negulesco directed the film, Nunnally Johnson wrote the script and Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable starred as three friends and models who work a scheme to marry rich.

    Betty Grable had been one of the biggest stars (and pin-ups) of the 40s.  How To Marry A Millionaire would be her last blockbuster film.

    Lauren Bacall became a star in 1944's To Have and Have Not opposite future husband Humphrey Bogart.  The two would reteam for the classics The Big Sleep, Key Largo and Dark Passage.  On her own, Bacall's hit films would include Designing Woman, Harper, Sex and the Single Girl, Murder On The Orient Express, Written On The Wind, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Misery and The Walker.  At 89, Bacall continues her film career.

    Marilyn Monroe, of course, became one of the most famous actresses of all time.

    For all three, How To Marry A Millionaire was a high point.  As noted before, it's Betty Grable's last big hit.  For Bacall, it demonstrated she could do comedy quite well.  For Monroe?

    When Monroe walked away from Fox and went to NYC to study at The Actors Studio it was because of films like this.

    No, not awful films.

    She made this movie, she loved it and she was loved in it.

    But a lot of inferior scripts followed that she would turn down.

    Good scripts had helped her become famous in small roles (All About Eve, Monkey Business, Clash By Night, etc.).  Niagara had made her famous and been followed by the classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

    Good scripts gave her the chance to be more than a sex object.

    How To Marry A Millionaire provided her with a character too vain and too scared to wear needed glasses.  This provided laughs and added a humanizing touch as well.

    And the film is one of the movies first big comedy blockbusters in which the leads are three women.  Many more would follow, including 9 to 5, First Wives Club and The Other Woman -- but it started here.

    The telling photo

    Did you ever see four more guilty looking men?


     Jim: It's roundtable time.  If there's a topic for this roundtable or a theme, it would be the fakes.  We're sick of them.  Judging by your e-mails, so are you.  On the topic of e-mails, remember our e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


    Jim (Con't): First off, Kylie e-mails regarding Mike's "Israel isn't my pressing issue" and C.I.'s "Israel isn't my pressing issue" and I'm quoting from "As do people who will scream if Palestinian civilians are killed in Israel but will remain silent on the killing of civilians by a government in Iraq."  Kylie feels that Mike and C.I. have not given enough attention to the plight of the Palestinians.  Mike, your response?

    Mike: The plight of the Palestinians never ends.  It also never fails to get non-stop attention.  Iraq got a tiny bit of attention, for example, two weeks ago.  Then another attack by the Israeli government and Iraq is dropped and forgotten completely.  I'm tired of it.  This has happened over and over.  I can remember it happening in 2006, for example.  I'm tired of it.  There's a whole platoon of lefty writers who do nothing but cover Israel.  I don't see them accomplishing anything but distracting from every other issue -- including Iraq -- that we should be focusing on.   I have no animosity towards the Palestinians.  I don't even argue attacks on them shouldn't be covered.  But my point is the lack of focus on Iraq.

    Jim: C.I.?

    C.I.: The focus of The Common Ills is Iraq.  With that focus, we can cover events in Iraq, investigations into the war taking place in other countries, peace activities, veterans issues, etc.  I've never done the Palestinian snapshot.  I'll evaluate any criticism that's valid in terms of my missing something that's within our scope.  But we don't cover Palestine, we've never pretended to so I honestly think Kylie's question has no validity for The Common Ills.  She could try aiming it at Third which has a wider scope but it's not pertinent for The Common Ills.

    Jim:  Okay, let's talk Fake Ass.  Isaiah, you've done several comics on this theme, so why don't you go over the Fake Ass.

    Isaiah: Sure.  A Fake Ass is any number of people.  I created "Fake Ass Jeans" for a series of comics where people get called out.  Like then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in "Limited Hangout."

    Isaiah: A fake ass is someone who says one thing to try to look good but really doesn't mean it.  They're just pretending -- fake assing.

    Jim: So, Elaine, a fake ass?

    Elaine: Tom Hayden.  Oh, he cares about Iraq, he cares.  What's he writing about this week?  Oh, fake ass moved on to a different topic. That's what a fake ass does.  Repeatedly.  They have no ethics and they can't focus for longer than 15 seconds.

    Jim: That's another way of summing up a fake ass and certainly Tom Hayden's earned his place on that list.  Trina, you just wrote "The fake" at your site.  Talk about that.

    Trina: Sure.  Elizabeth Warren is the left's great savior?  I'm not buying it.  Not only is she comfortable calling for attacking Iran, not only was she a Republican until recently, but what does she have to show for anything.  TARP?  She told us money went missing.  Uh, okay.  Wasn't she supposed to be providing the oversight?  If I leave my cat with you to watch and I come back and you tell me my cat is dead, I guess you watched it but I'm not sure you did a good job of watching it.  Elizabeth Warren needs to demonstrate a few actual accomplishments.

    Stan: Amen!  And what the hell?  Another one term senator is going to be pimped for the presidency?  Barack is like the ultimate fake ass and clearly he was not up for the job.  At the time of the 2016 election, she will have served three years in the Senate.  This qualifies for experience?

    Marcia: I think Trina said it all in her post when she wrote, "I wish we had someone who could fill us with hope.  Even more, I wish we would stop looking for heroes and stop deluding ourselves."  That really does say it all and put the blame where it belongs -- as much on the fake ass as on ourselves for repeatedly falling for this crap.

    Mike: Yes but don't forget the media's role in this as well.  I mean, my pick would be Robert Parry.  Barack wouldn't be a successful fake ass without the likes of Robert Parry -- an elderly fool willing to act like a teenage groupie over Barack.  He disgraces himself repeatedly.

    Cedric:  Right.  And I mean Robert Parry is awful but he's just one.  There are so damn many who have whored themselves and better grasp that when Barack is out of the White House, that doesn't mean all is forgiven.  All is certainly not forgotten and certain people better grasp that they need to shut their mouths because we know that they're whores now, we know that they called out Bully Boy Bush for, for example, illegal spying but made a point to look the other way for Barack.  That crap is not forgotten and it will not be forgiven so those who whored their good names for Barack better grasp that they have no clout anymore.

    Jess:  And include the Green Party on the list of whores.  My party, I'm a Green, should have been objecting to every move Barack made.  None of it was about helping the people.  It was all about selling out to corporations.  The Green Party should have been screaming for job programs, demanding an end to The Drone War and just going out of their way to provide real opposition to these programs and actions that embrace greed and destroy the people.

    Ann: Jess is 100% correct on this.  And I'd toss in Ralph Nader.  I'm a Green.  I voted for Ralph in 2000, in 2004 and in 2008.  So it pains me to see him become a little whore for Barack Obama.  Where's big brave Ralph?  No where to be found.  He lacks the spine and the ethics to denounce Barack.  That's what's required.  Ralph is just not up to it.

    Ruth: And that is what really stands out for me about the last years -- how many people we have lost, people we thought we could trust who revealed themselves to be Democratic Party operatives and not independent agents of truth.  Robert Parry has been a disappointment, so has Danny Schechter.  And, of course, Medea Benjamin and CodePink.  We thought certain people had ethics but instead we discover there is the so-called standard and then there is the exception that is made for President Obama.

    Dona: I'll jump in because Ruth just noted "the exception" which should remind us all of fake ass Amy Goodman who hectored and lectured the press in cut and paste 'book' after cut and paste book but has there been a bigger whore than Amy Goodman?  Hell, the Goody Whore was even auctioning off inaugural party tickets in 2009 to put a little more green into her dirty g-string.

    Betty: While there is much to call out, it's also true that there's a sense building of: Enough.  We're doing this roundtable because readers of this site are part of that sense of no-more with regards to the fake ass.  That's building every week.  Then you have, for example, Cindy Sheehan calling out the hypocrisy of Bill Maher.  There is real and genuine repulsion over the fake assing of the last years and that's something to see as a good thing.  My opinion.

    Wally:  I would agree with Betty and note that it's genie out of the bottle time, it's not vanishing or disappearing.  All the fake asses who thought they could use this time to whore and to come out strong later on and be believed?  It's not happening.

    Jim: Wally, "come out strong later on and be believed"?  Explain that.

    Wally: These cheap whores think that, for example, they can attack Hillary Clinton and have us applaud them.  No.  I supported Hillary in 2008.  I don't support her today.  But I'll offer a real critique of her and not just a screed of hate.

    Kat:  I don't know.  I think they really count on us being stupid -- these so-called 'leaders' of the left -- because if we're sheep that can be led, they've got a job, they have power.

    Rebecca: So the best way to hurt the whores is to take away their power.  Stop listening to them, expose them and their fake assery.

    Jim: Okay.  On that point, we'll need to wrap up because we're out of time.  This is a rush transcript.

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