Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Truest statement of the week

President Trump’s dismissal of FBI director James Comey is certainly a topic worthy of discussion and debate. In typical Trump fashion, his amateurish administration has given a variety of contradictory rationales for the action. While there may be confusion about what precipitated the decision, there should be no confusion about the FBI’s long history of persecuting black people in this country.
No one should forget the FBI played a major role in prosecuting Marcus Garvey. A young agent named J. Edgar Hoover led the investigation during the Wilson and Harding administrations. Hoover destroyed the Garveyite movement by arranging a trumped up charge of mail fraud. Garvey was convicted, imprisoned and deported from the United States.

The FBI never relented in this strategy of actively opposing the black struggle for human rights. In fact every FBI agent was responsible for managing at least one informer to report on activities in black communities. Political action was not the only target of attack. Writers such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, W.E.B. DuBois, and James Baldwin were all under FBI surveillance. The works of Lorraine Hansberry, Ralph Ellison and others were submitted to the FBI by a network of informers.


-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: No Tears for the FBI" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).






Truest statement of the week II

The release of Poitras’ film has become the occasion for large portions of the American media to vent their malicious hatred of Assange, taking for good coin the claims of the Democratic Party and its orbit, for which absolutely no proof has been offered, that WikiLeaks passed on damning information about the Clinton campaign it received from Russian sources.
It is not necessary to cite many of the disgraceful and slanderous comments—a few will give the general idea. Owen Gleiberman in Variety headlines his piece, “In ‘Risk,’ the Radical Chic of Julian Assange Reaches Its Sell-By Date,” and suggests that at certain moments in the documentary, Assange “comes off as the flip side of Donald Trump: a pure creation of media who pretends to care about this or that, when it’s really all about him” and, moreover, is possibly “a pimp of information for Vladimir Putin’s regime.”
Daily Beast, unsurprisingly, claims that “WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Is an Egomaniacal, Sexist Creep in ‘Risk,’” while the Atlantic asserts that “Every time Julian Assange appears in Laura Poitras’s new documentary, Risk, there’s a distinct impression of his quiet thrill at being on camera” and that he is “a preening, icy figure throughout the film.”
Fred Kaplan at Slate has a history of venomous attacks on Assange and WikiLeaks. His review of Risk is yet another. Referring at one point to Poitras’ comment that she no longer trusts Assange, Kaplan asks: “But what specifically bred Poitras’ distrust of Assange? The sex charges; the Russia connection; his blooming paranoia; the sense, gleaned from several in Assange’s entourage (we see it on the faces of his lawyers and advisers, as they try to debrief him on his legal and PR troubles) that he’s a narcissistic asshole; all of the above? It isn’t clear.”
He adds: “Long before the 2016 election, then, it should have been clear to anyone with eyes that WikiLeaks—which may once have been dedicated to truth and transparency—had degenerated into a Kremlin tool.”

A. O. Scott of the New York Times too feels obliged to join this right-wing chorus. He asserts that the “pressing empirical questions about Mr. Assange now have to do with the extent and nature of his intervention in the [2016 US] election,” and goes on to note that the “deeper and historical” question haunting him most “goes something like this: What if some of the organizations and individuals [presumably WikiLeaks and Assange] that seemed, not so long ago, to be pushing liberal democracy to live up to its potential were actually contributing to its demise?”


-- David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, "Risk: Laura Poitras’ confused, superficial documentary about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks" (WSWS).




A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Tuesday.







Let's 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,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
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?

Margaret Kimberley gets another truest.
WSWS does as well.
The Iraq War's going to end?  Even The Mosul Slog hasn't ended.
Ava and C.I. take on the TV movie.
Bill Maher thinks he can tell people who to vote for.
Margaret Kimberley nailed it.
The attacks aren't about democracy.
What we listened to while writing.
Repost.
Repost.
Mike and the gang wrote this.



 Peace,






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






Editorial: That ongoing and never-ending war

Really?

Again with this?


Liberation of Mosul from ISIL is 'imminent', the UN envoy for Iraq says




Again.

Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) observed earlier this week:


At the beginning of the month, Iraqi officials were bragging about their substantial military gains against ISIS, saying that ISIS held less than 10 percent of the Old City area of Mosul, which is about 30 square km in size. Today, Iraqi special forces declared their mission accomplished, noting ISIS now controls only 8 square km of the Old City, which is more than 25%.
This has been a recurring problem for Iraq, which has been anticipating declaring outright “victory” over ISIS in Mosul since December of last year, and keeps projecting the “end of the month” every time a new month starts and ISIS still remains in the city.



Again.

Imminent?



Liberation of Mosul from ISIL is 'imminent', the UN envoy for Iraq says


Imminent.


It hasn't arrived yet.

map update. Green= completely liberated. Orange= frontline clashes. White= control.




Day 216 of The Mosul Slog.


If it's going to take over 200 days to liberate or 'liberate' Mosul, what does that say about the state of Iraq?

What does it say about foreign fighters ever leaving Iraq?





TV: The TV movie

Last week, visiting a friend, we were surprised by the announcement that LIFETIME now had movies on NETFLIX.  We knew LIFETIME had some of their films on HULU, for example.  What movie, we wondered was on NETFLIX?





tv

IN DEFENSE OF A MARRIED MAN.

That's a 1990 TV movie starring Judith Light.

But it is not a LIFETIME movie.

Our friend, an actress, was born in the mid-seventies.

But to her way of thinking, any TV movie starring a woman must be a LIFETIME movie.

TV movies really took hold in the sixties.

We'd argue a point few make, this has to do with the move from live to taped.

In the fifties, for examples, live TV had little need for made-for-TV movies.

They had, for example, plays performed live.

But as live TV dwindled, a need developed.

ABC aired THE ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK starting in 1969.

The TV movie could be any sort of fair.

It might allow  Tuesday Weld to remake DIABOLIQUE (as REFLECTIONS OF MURDER) or Lee Remick to star in THE WOMEN'S ROOM or Susan Blakely to star in A CRY FOR LOVE.


Eve Plumb might be able to show there was more to her than Jan Brady by starring in DAWN: PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY.


Some actresses might stay with the movie of the week genre for a series of films -- Mare Winningham, Donna Mills, Elizabeth Montgomery, Victoria Principal and Lindsay Wagner, to cite a few.


It was a genre actresses could make a mark in with defining performances delivered by Farrah Fawcett in THE BURNING BED, SMALL SACRIFICES and BETWEEN TWO WOMEN; Marlo Thomas in THE LOST HONOR OF KATHRYN BECK and NOBODY'S CHILD; Jane Fonda in THE DOLLMAKER; Angela Bassett in THE ROSA PARKS STORY; Glenn Close in SOMETHING ABOUT AMELIA and SERVING IN SILENCE: THE MARGARETHE CAMMERMEYER STORY; Diana Ross in OUT OF DARKNESS; Ann-Margaret in WHO WILL LOVE MY CHILDREN? and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE; Cicely Tyson in THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN; Bette Davis in WHITE MAMA; Vanessa Redgrave in PLAYING FOR TIME and SECOND SERVE; Alfre Woodard in UNNATURAL CAUSES, THE PIANO LESSON, MISS EVERS' BOYS and A MOTHER'S COURAGE: THE MARY THOMAS STORY;  Barbara Hershey in A KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN; Halle Berry in INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE and THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD; Jessica Lange in NORMAL; Liza Minnelli in A TIME TO LIVE; Lynn Whitfield in THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY; Sigourney Weaver in PRAYERS FOR BOBBY; Natalie Wood in THE CRACKER FACTORY; Queen Latifah in BESSIE; Mary Tyler Moore in LIKE MOTHER LIKE SON: THE STRANGE STORY OF SANTE AND KENNY KIMES; Elizabeth Taylor and Carol Burnett in BETWEEN FRIENDS; and Cher, Demi Moore, Sissy Spacek, Anne Heche and Jada Pinkett in IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK.



That's not a complete list but the list may have you noticing that the more recent TV films tend to be on cable.

Cable and streaming tend to be where they air now.

The streaming service CRACKLE, for example, offered their first TV movie in 2013 (EXTRACTION) and this year offered the comedy MAD FAMILIES starring Charlie Sheen and Leah Remini.

The better known streaming service NETFLIX got started making TV movies two years after CRACKLE in 2015.  But if you count their documentaries, they started a year before CRACKLE -- in 2012 with ART OF CONFLICT: THE MURALS OF NORTHERN IRELAND.



Documentaries are the strongest TV movies these days and HULU has had two of the best.

BATMAN & BILL is Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce's look at how Bill Finger was denied his creating credit on the character Batman (among others) and how, decades after his death, he finally got the credit he deserved.

It's an involving story that holds your interest to the very end even if cheats little.

How?

The money settlement is never acknowledged.

Will it ever be?

Who knows but the film offers a heroic pursuit of the truth.

It also offers a clear villain.

The most obvious one would be the corporation itself but since WARNER BROTHERS produced the documentary with HULU, is it a surprise that the corporation is seen as kind and loving?


The villain becomes Bob Kane.

Kane asked for Bill Finger's help in creating Batman.

But he refused to share credit.

And, as the years went by, he lied.

He even, apparently, tried to pass off an after-the-fact drawing as something he'd done years before he met Bill Finger.

There's a story that gets noted but not explored: How a lie that you back yourself into can consume you and destroy your legacy.

That subplot is as important as the granddaughter pursuing the truth for her dead father and grandfather.

HULU's other documentary this month is BECOMING BOND.

Directed by Josh Greenbaum, the film is TV movie at its worst.

Greenbaum's never been strongly connected to the truth throughout his brief career.

He refuses to let it hamper him here.

George Lanzenby is the subject.

The Australian's claim to fame is playing James Bond in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.

The documentary tells a cute little tale that doesn't hold up with the Broccoli family which may explain why -- despite casting many actors to recreate various scenes -- Cubby Broccoli doesn't show up as a character in the documentary.

Sadly, Josh Lawson shows up repeatedly.

He plays George Lazenby as an adult so he's in easily half the film.

Josh is 35 and looks 42.

This isn't a minor detail when Lazenby is known for being the youngest actor to play James Bond (he was 29-years-old).


Josh doesn't look like Lazenby either.

The film goes from present day Lazenby to Josh playing him to a scene from the film ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE with Lazenby from decades ago.

And it's jarring for so many reasons.

The Bill Pullman hair cut is off putting as it the dull brown color.

It's not the way Lazenby wore his (black) hair in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.

It brings out all the chubby in Josh Lawson's face.

And demonstrates that he would never have been a successful male model.

As an actor, he skims the surface repeatedly.

Jane Seymour plays Maggie Abbott in the film.

The former Bond girl (LIVE AND LET DIE) gives a great performance but you wonder about a scene where Maggie's on the phone and the false eyelashes on her left eye go astray.

Why didn't director Greenbaum call for a reshoot?

Did he not notice?

He appears to miss a lot and to hope that the viewer misses even more.

For example, it wasn't just the beard and long hair that the producers objected to.

In fact, they didn't object to the beard all that much.

They wouldn't want to film Bond in a beard but a beard on the male model might make him less suspect to the press.

What bothered the producers of the Bond film was the long hair and ear ring.

Strangely, the ear ring's never mentioned.

The ear ring, like hanging with Barbra Streisand, didn't come off Bond-like to the money men.

The documentary never notes  Streisand or Lazenby's affair with Joanna Lumley.

It also fails to provide any real context.

When he's being advised to turn down follow ups in the James Bond franchise, it's said that Bond will be uncool and out of step.  Some brief remarks about films are mentioned but there's nothing about Harold Wilson or the problems Labour is experiencing.  (Exactly six months after the film ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is released, Wilson will be voted out as prime minister and Labour will see the Conservative Party take control of Parliament.)

Vietnam as an international issue and Ireland as an issue in England were issues that Lazenby cited in real time but they're issues that don't appear anywhere in the documentary.

The documentary also wants you think the studio feared Lazenby might be gay due to being a male model.

While the press loved to run with that (and THE MELODY MAKER would spend so much of the 70s and 80s still running with homophobia and THE LONDON EVENING STANDARD would carry Dusty Springfields' remarks about bisexuality in 1970, creating a stir), the reasons the producers worried are in the documentary even if director Greenbaum doesn't want to acknowledge it.


Scenes and talk of three-ways, Lazenby, a woman and another man.

Was this a bromance or something heavier?

Greenbaum never asks that question.

Or question Lazenby's decision to have sex with a woman in a hotel room while a man sits in a chair and watches.

BECOMING BOND is beyond superficial.

As firmly as Colin Hanks' ALL THINGS MUST PASS is rooted in reality, BECOMING BOND is rooted in fantasy.  (ALL THINGS MUST PASS is currently airing on SHOWTIME, FYI.)  Forget a fact check, it doesn't even hold up to the commentary on the disc of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.


The TV movie will be tested yet again this Wednesday when ABC airs their remake of DIRTY DANCING.


F**k Bill Maher

BILL MAHER BLAMES CORNEL WEST FOR HILLARY'S LOSS, AGAIN!: via




If you missed it -- busy or maybe just common sense, Bill Maher used his HBO show to attack Cornel West.

Why?

Because otherwise, he wouldn't learn.

Learn what?

To not criticize the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

Per Maher, it is our civic duty and obligation to vote for the Democratic Party.

It's not a politician like Hillary Clinton's job to win our votes, our votes are just owed to her.


In what world is that accurate?

A politician's job on the campaign trail is to win votes.

Hillary failed.

That's on Hillary.

And no one owes any candidate their vote.

The lesson to be learned here is not one Cornel West needs.

It's a lesson the political parties need to learn: You want votes, address the issues that matter to We The People.

Cornel West, like anyone else in America, is entitled to vote for whomever he wants (or to not vote at all, if that's the choice).

Political parties and Bill Maher need to learn that act before the next election.


----------

Also see Kirsten West Savali's analysis at THE ROOT.







Tweet of the week







Rachel Maddow says Roger Ailes was her friend. Even after sexual harassment came to light. I don't like Maddow.






Impeach?

Those who feel personally insulted by Donald Trump have been whining for months.

They don't like Donald Trump and pretend it's about politics but it's never been about politics.

It's really not been about We The People.

Joseph Kishore (WSWS) explains:

With each passing day, it becomes increasingly evident that the political crisis gripping Washington involves a conflict between two reactionary factions of the ruling class and state apparatus.
The Trump administration poses a grave danger to the democratic and social rights of the working class. His administration, composed of oligarchs and generals, is seeking to establish a form of political dictatorship based on a presidency with unlimited powers. In terms of its social physiognomy, the Trump administration directly embodies the gangsterism that characterizes the corporate/financial aristocracy which rules America.
Trump’s opponents in the media and political establishment, headed up by the Democratic Party, represent another faction of the ruling elite. They are not raising a single progressive or democratic issue in their campaign against Trump. Their appeal is not to the working class, but to the military-intelligence apparatus, particularly the FBI, NSA and CIA. It has an unstated agenda, developed behind the scenes, and centered largely on foreign policy issues.
If their effort to bring Trump into line or remove him from office succeeds, it will only strengthen the position of the corporate-financial elite and the “deep state” of intelligence officials and generals. 


The press hasn't gone after a president like this ever.

Even their personal distaste for Bill Clinton did not lead to this kind of coverage.


They present themselves as truth tellers but that's not what they are right now.



Robert Parry (CONSORTIUM NEWS) notes:



The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, view themselves as embattled victims of a tyrannical abuser. The Times presents itself as the brave guardian of “truth” and the Post added a new slogan: “Democracy dies in darkness.” In doing so, they have moved beyond the normal constraints of professional, objective journalism into political advocacy – and they are deeply proud of themselves.
In a Sunday column entitled “How Trump inspired a golden age,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Trump “took on the institution of a free press – and it fought back. Trump came to office after intimidating publishers, barring journalists from covering him and threatening to rewrite press laws, and he has sought to discredit the ‘fake news’ media at every chance. Instead, he wound up inspiring a new golden age in American journalism.

“Trump provoked the extraordinary work of reporters on the intelligence, justice and national security beats, who blew wide open the Russia election scandal, the contacts between Russia and top Trump officials, and interference by Trump in the FBI investigation. Last week’s appointment of a special prosecutor – a crucial check on a president who lacks self-restraint – is a direct result of their work.”
But has this journalism been professional or has it been a hatchet job? Are we seeing a new “golden age” of journalism or a McCarthyistic lynch mob operating on behalf of elites who disdain the U.S. constitutional process for electing American presidents?



A lynch mob describes it perfectly.

Would Barack Obama have achieved anything if the corporate media had covered him this way?

Even now, they struggle to admit his lies.

But they hold Donald to a standard.

Don't think it's a new standard that the press plans to continue.

This is about bigger issues.

Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes:



 In editorials published simultaneously for their Sunday editions, the New York Times and the Washington Post called for caution in the anti-Trump campaign they have been spearheading with claims of nefarious connections between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.
The Times editorial, headlined “Watergate? We’re Not There Yet,” cites comparisons between the crisis of the Trump administration and the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon 43 years ago, only to suggest that impeachment or forced resignation is not yet the order of the day.

After repeatedly slamming Trump as a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a threat to US national security, including the publication last week of an editorial with comparisons to Watergate, the Times now counsels the Democrats to proceed cautiously and avoid “distraction.” It advises leveraging the official investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, along with the continuing decline in Trump’s poll numbers, to “win back a majority next year in at least one house of Congress” in the 2018 mid-term elections.



While those two newspapers tried to calm down some of the crazy they'd been creating on Sunday, Germany's DER SPIEGEL announced it was time for Donald Trump to go.


At some point, reasonable people are going to have to point out that the impeachment process is not created as someone goes along but outlined in the Constitution.


And that may very well mean that even those who dislike Donald Trump (which would include us) are going to have to stand up for what's right.


At present, there are no grounds for impeachment.



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