Sunday, October 12, 2014

Truest statement of the week

For example, there is now a great deal of liberal handwringing about the "tragedy" of Barack Obama being "sucked back" into the morass of Iraq. "He wanted change, he wanted to lead us away from this kind of thing, but now look! Despite his best intentions, here we are again." In most of these cases, Obama's predecessor gets the blame -- "Bush made a mess of Iraq, and now Obama has to clean it up."
(I don't recall seeing any commentary along these lines noting that Bill Clinton -- the husband of the next president of the United States -- also did yeoman service in making a mess of Iraq, having killed some 500,000 children with his pointless, punitive sanctions. He killed those children because Saddam wouldn't give up his WMD -- you know, the WMD he didn't have. Oh, how we rightfully scorned Bush for "going to war over false pretenses" about that phantom WMD; but the good old Big Dawg killed half a million children for the same knowing lie, and left Iraqi society in chaos.)
Anyway, we are now told that thanks to Bush, Obama is between a rock and a hard place, trying his dee-diddly-darndest to deal with those extremist beheaders of ISIS (with the help of the extremist beheaders of Saudi Arabia) without putting "boots on the ground." He wanted to change the system -- but it looks like the "Deep State" was too much for him. What a tragedy for him -- and for us.

Can we dispense briefly but decisively with this oleaginous bulls**t by making a single observation? A man who hand-picked George Bush's Secretary of Defense to serve as his own Master of War knew exactly what the system is -- and did not have the slightest intention of changing it. In fact, Obama has been phenomenally successful in expanding the system of violence and domination, extending it new areas, with new tools (Oval Office death squads! Assassinating innocent teenagers!) -- and bringing it all back home with hi-tech surveillance, whistleblower persecution and journalist prosecutions his predecessor could only dream of.

--  Chris Floyd, "All Systems Go: The Elite's View of the new Iraq-Syria War" (OpEd News).

Truest statement of the week II

Vice President Joe Biden’s forced apology for speaking the partial truth about the origins of the Islamic State (IS) is the most dramatic – and, for a superpower, humbling – example yet of the absolute disarray in U.S. policy in the Arab and Muslim world. The man who is, technically, the second most powerful official in the empire, was compelled to retract his earlier assertion that “our allies in the region” created the conditions for the rise of IS by funding the “proxy Sunni-Shia war.” Turkish president Recep Tayyep Erdogan – whose border is the chief conduit for Islamist fighters into Syria, and who has openly abetted the unfolding IS conquest of the Kurdish border town of Kobani – exploded in rage at being out-ed by Obama’s number two, as did the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, which Biden named along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Biden might also have cited Jordan and Kuwait, but the biggest omission was the United States, which has on many occasions taken credit for “vetting” the dispersal of funds to “rebel” forces dominated by the al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra, the Islamic Front, and the Islamic State.

One can imagine the cursing out Biden got from his boss, the Jihadist Supporter-in-Chief, with Obama waving his Kill List at the VP while ordering him to recant by Tuesday, when decisions to terminate with extreme prejudice are handed down from the Oval Office.

-- Glen Ford, "VP Joe Biden Accidentally Tells A Little of the Awful Truth" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Yet another Sunday.

First, 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?

Chris Floyd.
Glen Ford.
When they dismiss and ignore the death of an Iraqi journalist, the western media is making a confession.
Ava and C.I. take on a number of issues and shows in this commentary.  
We ditched a short feature to do this.
Reader Noelle told us we had not done this feature since July.  I (Jim) couldn't believe she was right.  Turns out, she was.  Sorry to have let it go so long without a new one.
Ignore the massacres in Iraq.

What we listened to.
UK Socialist Worker.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it. 


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

Editorial: The Western Media Makes Its Point

The Islamic State executed another journalist on Friday, Raad al-Azzawi.

Conflict News Tweeted:

Despite that Tweet, western journalists either ignored the death or reduced it to a whispered aside.

This after using the executions of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff to whip up a frenzy to sell further war on Iraq.

The French press did the best job of covering the latest execution.  For example, Le Figaro and iTele offered substantive pieces.

But the western press did something even more valuable than cover the death.

They made it clear (yet again) that Iraqi lives do not matter.

Not to them.

Repeatedly, they've been (rightly) accused of ignoring the deaths of Iraqis while pretending to care about Iraq.

But the same media that sold the war in 2003 and that continues to sell the war today doesn't care about the Iraqi people.

That is the message they sent after their wall-to-wall, non-stop coverage bemoaning the deaths of two American journalists compared to their coverage of the execution of Raad.

They only care about Iraq in terms of selling war.

TV: The WTFs

As feminists these days, we spend a lot of our time asking, "WTF?"

Take the never-ending yammering about what took place a week ago on the dreadful HBO program (is that redundant -- dreadful and HBO?) Real Time with Bill Maher.  Bill Maher and Sam Harris on one side and Ben Affleck, Michael Steele and Nicholas Kristof largely on the other.  Ben and company largely took a positive take on humanity while Bill and Sam saw destruction everywhere.

If you wanted to spend more than 90 words on it, and some people clearly did, you might get to the reality of the problem -- both sides were talking around the other and could have made concessions.  (The only point where Maher was correct was in noting that the left -- which includes us -- is very comfortable calling out Christian and Jewish fundamentalist zealots but goes wobbly when it comes to calling out their Muslim equivalents.)

No one seemed eager to make that point.

Nor did they seem to grasp the more pertinent issue.

Bill Maher is a pig.

Trina noted some ridiculous idiot who wrote last week that "now" Maher was attacking women.


For three decades on television Maher has attacked women non-stop.

And there was Bill Maher on his hideous program insisting that Muslims were against women and this to women and that to women and blah blah blah.

And what stood out to us as feminists, as Maher pretended to give a damn about women in order to justify his attacks on Muslims, was the panel.

Maher silences women.  He had a four guests and himself making up a panel allegedly concerned about women and not one of them was a woman.

If you don't get what a hypocrite and liar Bill Maher is, that's on you at this point.  When he's pretending to care about what happens to women while staging an all male panel, if you can't grasp it, we're really shocked by your stupidity.

"You" would especially include a woman at the trash dump that is Salon.  To make her anti-Maher argument she rewrote history (as more than one person leaving comments to her awful article noted).  She also wanted to insist Ben Affleck was not called "angry" because he was White while another commentator was called "angry" and this was some form of racism.  The other commentator wasn't on the show.  If Chris Cuomo called O.C. "angry" and not Ben it may have been because Ben took part in the screaming circus exchange that is Maher's program whereas O.C. was on CNN providing commentary of the HBO exchange.

We get it, Myriam Francois-Cerrah, you're a bad and dishonest writer, it's why you post at Salon.  We get that your issues are not women's issues or issues of racial justice, you're the Muslim equivalent of Billy Graham.  So you're light on facts, you appear to lie (or maybe you're just that stupid) as you create a timeline that appears intentionally false and, in the end, you smear a lot of people with your fake timeline and, even when called out on one error/lie after another in the comments to your article, you offer no correction.

Myriam is as a big a fraud as Bill Maher.

And we're honestly worried about Ms. magazine's blog as well.

Last week, Brianna Kovan wrote a post attacking The Mindy Project.

Again, we were left with someone who 'created' facts and a timeline (see the comments to Brianna's piece) and we were also bothered by what seems to be an orchestrated effort -- by Jezebel and others -- to attack Mindy's show and Mindy herself.

Mindy Kaling can be critiqued -- negatively and positively.

She is the only woman acting on network TV who is also producing her own show and writing for it.

But that doesn't mean she can't be criticized.

She is also the rare lead in a sitcom who is female or a person of color.

But that doesn't mean her work can't be examined and found worthy of praise or lacking.

Reality: In a 22-episode season, Mindy will make mistakes as a writer, as a performer, as a producer -- as will anyone else.

Commentary on the show -- positive or negative -- can only help word of mouth and can only help feminism as we use The Mindy Project (or whatever series) to explore what we believe in and what we don't.

But commentary needs to be based on reality.

Brianna condemns many things including the character of Danny.  Danny is who Danny is, the character was created long ago and it's a strong character (we agree with Ann that the character of Jeremy no longer adds anything to the show and should depart).  Because of Danny's attempt to pursue anal sex, Brianna is offended.

She writes:

To start, Mindy focuses on Danny’s pleasure over her own throughout the episode: acquiring sedatives so she can please Danny without being fully conscious; getting sex advice from Peter for the same purpose; and discarding her grandma’s bathrobe purely for Danny’s enjoyment. As the plot complicates, never does Mindy prioritize her sexual desires or her right to consent—an unfortunate and familiar narrative in women’s lives.
The last two scenes reinforced this theme, leaving me squirming in my seat. Danny, who performed a sexual act without Mindy’s consent, is somehow positioned as the ultimate boyfriend at the episode’s close. Somehow his character doesn’t need to apologize for overstepping boundaries. Rather, Mindy is characterized as being dramatic (per usual), and the problem is normalized as something that must happen to all couples. 

We disagree with that summary strongly and think people need to be a little more factual in their presentations.  But let's assume she's right, let's assume Brianna has captured what took place on the show, okay?

So what.

That's no reason to condemn the episode or be offended.

We're reminded of the film Wolf.  The Mike Nichols directed thriller with comedy elements stars Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer.  Michelle wanted to work again with Nicholson and was eager to work with Nichols as well so she signed on to a so-so role in the midst of re-writes.  Of non-stop re-writes.

As the film neared its start date, one script after another attempted to 'solve' issues with her role by making her character this or that.  But, as Michelle pointed, it didn't really make Laura Alden a character as one (male) writer after another came up with a busy-work job for Laura Alden but didn't really address the character.  Michelle and Elaine May grasped that the character could be stronger if they embraced what was at the root of Laura, she was living a hollow life (which many women -- and men -- do) and that the attraction to Nicholson and becoming a wolf is about owning her power.

Life is a journey.

Too many forget that when they slam this or that woman.

Artist Mindy did not embrace anything in that episode, it was an exploration.

She was recently slammed for not wanting to do an abortion story on her program -- judging by Ms. magazine's over-reaction to an anal sex storyline, Mindy was right to avoid the topic of abortion.  (Though she's avoiding it because she doesn't feel it fits her storylines currently.)

What the f**k is going on?

Lena Dunham is semi-responsible for her hideous show Girls.

Bill Maher needs to do a program on how fat White women who are psuedo intellectuals get away with anything.  Ms. refuses to call Lena out.

Her show is set in NYC and has an all female cast -- four women -- all White.

When some -- not Ms., of course -- began crying racism in season one, Lena immediately announced she would be adding a woman of color in season two.

No such character emerged and Lena took to NPR's Fresh Air to explain that she couldn't write people of color.

See, Lena can talk to death White women but, to Lena, women of color are animals or less, things and not people, things she can't understand.

That's racism.

And the the Grand Dragon of the Media's KKK got away with it.

If she were seen as 'low class' -- yes, feminism can be very classicist -- she'd be ignored the way the hilarious Melissa McCarthy has been by Ms. despite delivering laughs forever and a day in Molly & Mike (also set in NYC, like Girls, but features people of color in the cast).

Dunham is a racist.  When you say you're unable to write women characters -- as many men have claimed over the years -- you are a sexist.  When you say you can't write people of color, you're a racist.

That's all she is, a  racist.

Ms. has failed to call her out but they can't seem to leave Mindy alone.

They -- and other so-called women's sites -- can't stop picking on Mindy.

Mindy's actually funny.

Not whimsical, not 'ironic,' she's laugh out loud funny and very talented.

If Ms. wants to create this standard to hold Mindy to, okay, but why is it just Mindy?

And while Ms. wants to present the anal sex attempt as something akin to rape -- no, it wasn't -- why weren't they joining us in condemning 30 Rock when 'feminist' Tina Fey's show was promoting -- as hilarious and 'no foul' -- Pete having sex with his wife who was asleep?

That was treated as the norm and something cool.

And where was Ms?

If you can become a feminist hero -- as religious fanatic and professional sex-hater Tina Fey did -- you can write whatever s**t you want and get away with it.

You can sexualize Sarah Palin and then whine that Chevy Chase never got called a sexist for doing a parody of Gerald Ford.  But, of course, he never wore a skirt as Ford, let alone, as Fey did, pulled the skirt up in a skit.  That was disgusting and, again, where was Ms?

The blog's becoming a joke with its purple prose and mash notes about non-feminist Beyonce whose weak-ass efforts (strongly marketed) are making Madonna look like Bella Abzug by comparison.  But it's also attacking women for the wrong things.

The Mysteries of Laura.

A reader writes that we're "pimping" the show because we attacked NBC last season (repeatedly) for failing to add even one show to their lineup that revolved around a woman.

"You had an impact," the reader writes, "and so now you praise the show."

No, we praise the show because it's good.

The Mysteries of Laura is also a hit.

Right now, it's pulling in twice the audience that, for example, NBC's Parenthood delivers.

The reader didn't know that (what a surprise) but he did want to explain to us "how wrong you are because Rotten Tomatoes had the last word, 'Despite a talented cast, The Mysteries of Laura is dated both as a cop show and as a representation of single, working mothers'."

Is that the last word?

Did the reader not know how to read?  We covered this already.

If you can't grasp a show, sit your tired ass down.

Rotten Tomatoes?

Who gives a f**k about an aggregator that produces nothing and can't even handle a single sentence synopsis.

Debra Messing is not playing "a representation of single, working mothers."

The reason?

She's not single.

She's married to Josh Lucas' Jake.

How do you criticize the show, how do you critique it, and presumably watch it to do so, and not notice that Laura is married?

When we dealt with the show before, we explained how sexists (men and women) were displaying their sexism.

If someone doesn't like the show, that's fine.  As long as they can call out the actual show.  But when they're inventing things -- like Laura's a bad mother because her twins can't read -- they're not reviewing the show.

And it's really telling just how much sexism greets women that the egregious Rotten Tomatoes can get away with falsely labeling the married character of Laura as "single."

The Mysteries of Laura is in the tradition of The Rockford Files and Hart to Hart and many other shows that aren't in production today but remain popular in syndication.

The Water Cooler Set needs their cocks -- real and imagined (imagined for the women trying to be men) -- teased with displays of crimes scenes where dead women in bras (or less) are covered in blood.  They need the edging to enjoy a show.

So they're not going to care for The Mysteries of Laura but the reality is The Water Cooler Set rarely knows what audiences want.

And they clearly want The Mysteries of Laura.  Why wouldn't they?

It's a funny look each week at a mystery that allows us to explore the talented cast led by Debra Messing but also including Lucas, the awash in physical chemistry Laz Alonso and the always interesting Janina Gavankar.

It's a wonderful show and it's so nice to see Debra not disgrace herself the way other women have as they've rushed to join existing shows.  We're not the only ones calling out a few actresses privately.  Jennifer Lopez is attempting to develop her own detective show and she has (rightly) made clear that she will be playing a character not a cock-tease.  Everyone knows what actress Jennifer is referring to but Ms. hasn't called that woman out and probably won't.

In the meantime, they ignore Debra Messing and The Mysteries of Laura.

But considering how they've savaged Mindy Kaling, maybe that's a good thing?

And maybe at some point, Ms. can explain why they cover the 'arts' but never found time for Nikita or for Scandal or for Revenge or How To Get Away With Murder or . . .

Oh, that's right, feminism has a strong strand of elitism in it.  So if it's not on cable, they're not going to cover it.  It's the same reason it was The New Republic, and not Ms. that first explored the feminism in the sitcom Roseanne.  Ms. is too busy trying to be Water Cool Cred to cover shows that women actually watch.  See, shows that women actually watch, are ghettoized by The Water Cooler Set and Ms. is too chicken s**t to stand up to the sexism that dismisses programs women watch as unworthy of exploration or coverage.

You'd think Ms. would be championing shows women watch, shows that feature women, but instead they're as much into torture porn (Homeland, seriously?) as The Water Cooler Set.

To be a feminist these days is to live through a series of never-ending WTFs.


Note.  We would praise Ms. for their post on Joan Rivers which attempted to explore Joan's place in history.  We would praise it.  But they published it twice -- one as written by Michele Kort, the second time as written by Audrey Bilger -- the exact same piece, and we have no idea who wrote it.  For the record, we would call Joan a feminist and a feminist pioneer.  But we're open to others interpreting and exploring otherwise.

Barack's continued war on the press

Big Brother is not just watching, he's also listening.

Monday, the US government accused the press of creating "a media outcry" about the Islamic State's seizure of Kobani.  As  Holly Yan, Michael Pearson and Ingrid Formanek (CNN) reported, the Pentagon was insisting if the media hadn't been present, it wouldn't be a problem.

Saturday, the administration was back at it, expressing their hostility towards the press. RT reported,  "American intelligence officials are trying to blame news reports for failed military attacks against shadowy jihadist groups, arguing that the articles alerted a new terror group to impending air strikes."

The administration's war on the press has included seizing AP's phone records, spying on Fox News' James Rosen and the non-stop attack on New York Times reporter James Risen.

Tonight on CBS' 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl reported on the non-stop attacks on Risen and interviewed, among others, former NSA director Mike Hayden who told Stahl that he would not be prosecuting Risen in an attempt to force Risen to reveal his source for the 2005 report on the government's illegal spying.

Yet Barack Obama continues to attack the press.

Friday, Sara Rafsky (Committee to Protect Journalists) noted:

In May, my blog post looked at what had changed in the seven months since CPJ's first comprehensive report on press freedom in the United States, authored by former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie, Jr. The answer then, as it is now, was not much. Though the cast of characters and the specific settings might have shifted, it feels like journalists are stuck in the same play with the president, who admitted in the "Meet the Press" interview that the "theater" of politics doesn't come to him naturally.

Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, may be on his way out, but the Justice Department has still not withdrawn a subpoena seeking to force New York Times journalist James Risen to give testimony that would reveal a confidential source. The Supreme Court said in June it would not consider Risen's appeal of a lower court ruling that he must testify, meaning the journalist has exhausted his legal avenues and could face jail or a hefty fine if he is found to be in contempt of court. And on Thursday, court papers unsealed at the request of The New York Times shed more light on the efforts of journalist Mike Levine, then of Fox News, to quash a grand jury subpoena in 2011 seeking his confidential source for a story about alleged supporters of terrorism in Minnesota, according to news reports. Levine lost the fight but The Justice Department ultimately did not call him to testify.

Both of these cases are exemplary of the government's will to aggressively prosecute alleged leakers of classified information and how the effort has ensnared the press. The government's pursuit of journalists' sources combined with the eight leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act; the implementation of programs designed to ferret out potential leakers, such as "Insider Threat;" and secret subpoenas of news outlets, have a created an environment in which officials are terrified to speak with reporters without explicit permission.

At what point does the press stop enabling Barack and start holding him accountable?

Reporters Without Borders' 2014 World Press Freedom Index covered 180 countries and noted that the US ranked number 46 when it came to press freedom.  That is shameful and embarrassing in a so-called democracy.  The report noted:

Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices.  Investigative journalism often suffers as a result. 
This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks.  The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.
US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of the CIA leak.  It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a "shield law" to protect the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level.  The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information.  And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government. 

In the spring of 2014, the Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium was held.  James Risen was among those attending.  Sharyl Attkisson reported:

Risen, who faces the threat of jail time for refusing to turn ​over information about a confidential source, was one of ​the featured speakers. He is winner of the 2006 Pulitzer ​Prize for National Reporting and the Goldsmith Prize for ​Investigative Reporting.
"A Rip Van Winkle today would be shocked with what we accept in society and what we think of as normal," Risen told the audience of several hundred investigative journalists and Berkeley journalism graduate students. He said that there's been a "fundamental change in society" since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and that Americans have given up civil liberties and press freedoms "slowly and incrementally."
"We've been too accepting of rules and mores of, first, the Bush administration and, now, the Obama administration. We have to stand up and begin to fight back . . . we need to think about how to challenge the government in the way we’re supposed to challenge the government."
"[The Obama administration] want[s] to create an interstate highway for reporting in which there are police all along telling you to stay on that highway. As long as we accept this interstate highway of reporting, we are enabling and complicit in what’s happening to society and the press," said Risen.

The administration is out of control.  When Richard Nixon pulled similar moves, he was rightly called out.  Today, too many are willing to cover for Barack and to betray the Constitution.

Film Classics of the 20th Century

In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at How To Marry A Millionaire,  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.

Of actors in the latter half of the 20th century, Warren Beatty may have made more film classics than anyone.  
Though a lesser one in his canon, Dick Tracy is among the film classics of the last century.  

Against all odds, Beatty brought the comic strip to the big screen.  Yes, Tim Burton's Batman had been a box office smash but Batman was a super hero -- one with many comic books.  Dick Tracy was largely known as a newspaper comic strip (it had comic books and even a Saturday cartoon at one point). 

And the implosion of Howard The Duck was not forgotten.

So it was a gamble for Disney and its Touchstone Pictures to greenlight the project.

Warren produced and directed and, yes, starred in the film.

It's a marvel of colors and visuals.  It's got a story that pulls you in and pacing that other films based on comic books should study (if they did, they'd be able to do more than origin story films).

The only weak link?

Glenne Headly.

With that pinched face and pasty complexion, we'd run off and leave her at the table too.

Tess Truehart is supposed to be the film's romantic interest.  

When filming started, Sean Young was playing the part.  It was felt she wasn't coming across (Sean has another story) and she was replaced.

That was a mistake.

A big one.

Sean could have provided fire in the performance but Glenn Headly can only play sexless freaks (in one film after another).  She also happens to be one of the worst actresses around.

If Sean was out (and she was), Warren should have gone with someone else -- Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Gena Davis, Sharon Stone -- any number of women but he went with a sexless mouse.

It matters.

For example, Tess is kidnapped at one point.

Instead of being worried about her, the audience is largely relieved she's now offscreen for a healthy chunk of the film since she's a wet blanket when onscreen. 

Her awful performance allows Madonna to steal the picture.

Madonna comes across as she seldom has in film.

She thought this was the beginning of her film career but no other director would take the care to light her and cover her with so many takes (her performance is pieced together in editing) as Beatty did.

Regardless, she nearly walks off with the film.

Which is really saying something in a film which features Dustin Hoffman. 

And James Caan.

And Estelle Parsons, Dick Van Dyke, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Sorvino, Michael J. Pollard, Charles Durning . . . 

and Al Pacino.

And Al Pacino who Madonna more than holds her own with.

In scene after scene, she comes across as talented and skilled.

But as good as she is, she's up against one person she can't steal the film from. 

And that's Warren Beatty.

An actor whose looks quickly elevated him to leading man status, Warren's filmography attests to both talent and taste.  Even his supposed misfires -- The Fortune and Ishtar, for example -- are being critically reconsidered.

With Dick Tracy, he made another film classic.

Again, Headly's all wrong for the film.  And what was the man who played love scenes with Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, Natalie Wood, Faye Dunaway, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Seberg and Leslie Caron thinking when he cast Headly?

Having done that, the decision to focus on Madonna's Breathless Mahoney was inspired.  And, again, Madonna was (for once) up to the film challenge.  

Ignore your own eyes, please

That's what Barack Obama would like you to do.

: مقتل(24)مدنيا، وإصابة 42 آخرين بجروح -في حصيلة أولية-؛ جراء قيام الطيران باستهداف سوق شعبي وسط قضاء هيت. .

Last Monday, the US military bombed the town of Hit.  As Iraqi Spring MC documented above, there were deaths (24) and people left injured (42).

But, as  Nabih Bulos and Patrick J. McDonnell (Los Angeles Times) reported, the US denied civilian casualties.  They quoted CENTCOM spokesperson Major Curtis J. Kellogg insisting, "We have seen the media reports alleging civilian casualties in Hit, Iraq.  However, based on our current assessment, we believe them to be false and have seen no evidence to corroborate these claims. I can assure you that prior to any mission, every precaution is taken to ensure we do not harm civilians or civilian facilities. However, we take all such reports seriously and look into them further."

Ignore your own eyes, it's what Barack wants you to do.

This edition's playlist

1) Stevie Nicks' 24 Karat Gold Songs From The Vault.

2) The Clash' London Calling.

3) Carly Simon's Torch.

4) Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue.

5) Diana Ross' Everything Is Everything.

6) Harry Belafonte's Belafonte Sings The Blues.

7) Dinah Washington's Drinking Again.

8) Stevie Wonders' Songs In The Key Of Life.

9) Nirvana's Unplugged.

10) Johnny Mathis' Open Fire, Two Guitars.


This is from the Institute for Public Accuracy:

Institute for Public Accuracy
980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * *

        Wednesday, October 8, 2014

        Ebola: Are We Being Told the Truth?

CNN reports: "Thomas Eric Duncan, a man with Ebola who traveled to the United States from Liberia, died Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the hospital said." Reuters reports at least 3,439 people have died in the current outbreak. 

    Nass writes at the Anthrax Vaccine blog. Her recent pieces include: "Drilling Down Into the Facts Regarding Airborne Spread of Ebola" and "U.S. Ebola: [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head] Frieden Said Every Hospital Was Ready. He is Wrong." 
    Nass said today: "Thomas Eric Duncan died in spite receiving the highest level of intensive care, including dialysis and ventilation. The CDC and much of the media have been saying that you can only get Ebola through direct contact with body fluids -- and at the same time they've been backing the use extraordinary measures to prevent transmission. The fact is, there's no doubt that Ebola has a history of airborne droplet transmission and pundits are beginning to admit it. When only one to ten live viral particles are needed to cause an infection you are looking at airborne droplet and fomite transmission as viable routes of spread, and healthcare facilities being a locus of spread. See from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: "Health workers need optimal respiratory protection for Ebola." 
    "The USAMRIID [United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, based at Fort Detrick, Maryland] and Tulane University had a unit physically located near where the Ebola outbreak began. This unit's job was to test blood for Lassa antibodies; they were also testing for Ebola as part of their work.

    "So USAMRIID had a bird's eye view into the Ebola epidemic from the start. Maybe WHO [World Health Organization] and CDC were too bureaucratically hamstrung to understand the implications of a big Ebola outbreak, but USAMRIID, our premier biodefense center, has no excuse that it did not understand what was happening. The military now says that they proved that Ebola had been in the area for at least eight years and a whopping 9 percent of samples tested positive for Ebola. Why wasn't this noticed?"

    Nass notes the Boston Globe is reporting: "BU biolab nears OK amid hopes for tackling Ebola, safety concerns." But earlier this summer, she points out that there was reporting on widespread escapes at such labs. See: USA Today report in August: "Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy." Nass states: "It would be a mistake to license another high containment lab in the middle of Boston when existing labs have a terrible track record of containing the very organisms they are charged with studying." 


    Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, Boyle drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which is the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention. His books include Biowarfare and Terrorism.

    He said today: “Different United States government agencies have a long history of doing allegedly defensive biological warfare research at labs in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This includes the CDC, which is now the point agency for managing the Ebola spill-over into the United States. Why is the Obama administration dispatching the elite 101st Airborne Division to Liberia when they have no medical training to provide medical treatment to dying Africans? How did Zaire/Ebola get to West Africa from about 3,500 kilometers away from where it was first identified in 1976?

    “Why is the CDC not better prepared for this emergency after the United States government has spent somewhere in the area of $70 billion dollars after the October 2001 anthrax attacks to prepare for this exact contingency? It is clear that those anthrax attacks originated from United States government sources.”
    The New York Times reported in 2010: "More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. on Friday closed its investigation, adding eerie new details to its case that the 2001 attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Intervention by Turkey or the US won’t help the Kurds (Ron Margulies)

This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Intervention by Turkey or the US won’t help the Kurds

by Ron Margulies in Istanbul

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) meets US navy admiral Mike Mullen
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) meets US navy admiral Mike Mullen (Pic: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Flickr)

The Islamic State is a clear and present danger in Turkey, not a distant threat. Islamic State tanks and heavy artillery are just on the other side of the country’s long south-eastern border with Syria, a stone’s throw from the town of Suruc and several villages.

Wayward Islamic State mortar shells frequently land on the Turkish side of the border. Yesterday, three people were injured when a house in Suruc was hit.

The population in this part of Turkey, and on the Syrian side of the border, is mostly Kurdish. People have family on both sides and, in normal times, the border tends to be porous.

Islamic State has been attempting, for three weeks now, to take the Syrian town of Kobane. Kurdish resistance has been fierce, but the odds are stacked against them.

Initially, the Turkish government refused to open the border to escaping civilians, but was forced into letting 160,000 refugees in under pressure from public opinion at home.

The US-led coalition has been bombing ISIS positions outside Kobane for the past few days. Kurdish 
forces on the ground report it to have hardly any effect at all.


This battle puts the Turkish government in a difficult position.

It doesn’t want a second autonomous Kurdish entity on its borders (the first being in Northern Iraq), but the fall of Kobane would both endanger the peace process with Turkey’s own Kurdish movement, led by the PKK and make the unpredictable ISIS a direct neighbour.

After considerable arm-twisting by Washington, Turkey has taken sides with the US coalition. Parliament voted to authorise the government to send troops abroad and to allow foreign troops to launch operations from Turkish soil.

While the predicament of the Kurds in Kobane makes it difficult for the anti-war movement to argue against US bombs and Turkish military involvement, it is important that the argument is put forward.

US bombs have never solved  any problem in the Middle East or elsewhere. Neither the US nor Turkey are likely ever to do any favours for the Kurds.

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