Sunday, January 04, 2015

Truest statement of the week

The latest iteration of the Iraq War is already starting to escalate. The day after Christmas, U.S. forces and its allies hit the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with 31 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Three thousand U.S. military advisers are now authorized to accompany Iraqi troops into combat, while American helicopter pilots fly combat missions over Iraq. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Secretary of State John Kerry want to keep open the option of officially dispatching combat troops.
In northern Iraq, many Sunni and some Shia political leaders told me they remain suspicious about renewed American involvement. This came as no surprise. The United States, after all, invaded Iraq only a little more than a decade ago on the false pretense of eliminating weapons of mass destruction. Its new stated aims seem to many to be almost as implausible.
In August a U.S. diplomat rattled off to me the three original justifications for the new war: stopping the immediate slaughter of minorities fleeing attacks by ISIL, protecting American military personnel in the northern city of Erbil and keeping ISIL from overrunning the Kurdish region.

None of those rationales hold up under scrutiny.

-- Reese Erlich, "The New Iraq War is Doomed" (Information Clearing House).

Truest statement of the week II

Peering into 2015, there are wars into which our interventionists are eager to plunge that represent no immediate or grave threat to us.
One is the war the Islamic State group is waging in Syria and Iraq, a menace so great, we are told, it may require U.S. ground troops.
But why? Syria and Iraq are 5,000 miles away. And because of its barbarism and incompetence, the Islamic State is losing support in the Sunni lands it now occupies.
The Kurds have halted the group’s advance toward Irbil, Iraq. Shiite militias, no friends of ours, have halted its advance toward Baghdad. The Islamic State is under steady drone and air attack by the U.S. and Arab allies. Iran is providing men and materiel to Damascus and Baghdad in their battle against the group.
Now the Turks and Gulf Arabs, including the Saudis, appear to have awakened to the threat and are weighing in against the Islamic State.
Why not let them do the fighting?
By staying out of the two world wars of the 20th century until the other great powers were fully engaged and horribly bled, America emerged triumphant with the fewest casualties and least damage.

That used to be called statesmanship.

--  Pat Buchanan, "Is War in the Cards for 2015?" (Information Clearing House).

A note to our readers

Hey --


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?

That's what we came up with, happy new year!


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

Editorial: The unmentionable word

Somewhere, Lenny Bruce is rolling over in his grave.

The left in the United States is suddenly reticent about using a four-letter word.

The word in question?


Speaking out against the continued war in Iraq might embarrass War Hawk Barack Obama and so much of the left has whored themselves out on behalf of Barack.

So they stay silent.

And things just continue to get worse in Iraq.

Barack's bombings aren't helping the Iraqi people and they're not reducing the violence.

The European Union's Struan Stevenson offers:

They are designed to bolster the fight on the ground by the Iraqi military, which is in a state of virtual collapse. Riven with dishonesty and fraud, the Iraqi army mirrors the rampant corruption of the Iraqi government in post-Saddam Iraq.
These circumstances have provided the perfect conditions for the brutal Shiite militias to thrive and take control of the battlefield. There are perhaps hundreds of these militias. They are trained, financed and often led by the terrorist Iranian Quds Force. They are Iranian proxies. So the US air strikes are aiding and abetting Iran in achieving its ultimate objective, which is total control of Iraq.
The current war raging across Iraq was as avoidable as it was predictable. Nouri al-Maliki’s second term as prime minister was a tragedy for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the world. As a puppet of the Iranian mullahs, he encouraged the Iranian-led Shiite militias and used them to enforce his merciless “iron fist” sectarian policy of indiscriminate bombing, shelling, arbitrary arrests, torture and mass execution of innocent Sunni civilians. Maliki utilised the claim of fighting a war against terror to secure his grip on power and the West fell for it.

Where are the leaders of the US left?

Do they intend to speak up any time soon?

Or just continue to cower in silence?

50 Shades of Stupid (Ava and C.I.)

Jamie Dornan's lucky he's almost pretty.


You'd think he'd be steered away from greasy hair -- if only for the ringlets.

Is he trying to be the new Mary?

Yes, she got away with being the "girl with the curls," but Mary Pickford's reign was over with silent films.

Or, as Joan Crawford once explained, "I designed my own hair styles for No More Ladies.  I experimented with braids for formal wear, curls for a gay sequence, maybe a severe coiffure for the difficult parts -- wouldn't it be silly to play tragedy in a mass of ringlets?"


Silly would also be exposing stupidity.

Jamie won't flash his cock in the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey; however, he will make a point to pull out his stupidity and wag it at the world.

50 Shades of Grey is watered down Anne Rice (writing as Anne Rampling or A.N. Roquelaure).

It made it into grocery stores across the country because it was watered down and, yes, because it was sexist.

Entertainment Weekly quotes Jamie insisting that Fifty Shades of Grey is not sexist, "I can understand why people say tying a woman up and spanking her is misogynistic. But actually, more men are submissives than women. Very powerful men. It's a far bigger scene than I imagined: in pretty much any city in the world that you could name, people want to get spanked with a paddle with studs on it."

Did you follow it?

Because Jamie didn't.

The pretty mouth was moving but as usual no blood was flowing to the head.

Jamie argues that (a) more men are submissives "actually" so (b) it's not sexist to portray, in his film, a woman enjoying being spanked and forced to submit.

He then (c) insists that's not sexism.

When, in fact, that's the actual definition of sexism.

More men are passive but the film doesn't portray that.

Let's move beyond the sexual tease passing itself off as a film -- which will attract sexually frustrated people to multiplexes come/cum Valentine's Day.

Is it sexist to portray spankings or submission?


There are people who are turned on by it.

Porn today traffics in spanking in both gay and lesbian porn.

The fantasies are fantasies and speak to the desires of those who stream or rent them.

So what about straight porn?

The porn industry has changed in the last decades.

But the historical subjugation of women in straight porn would make us hesitant to give a full pass to every straight porn in which a woman is spanked.  We'll give a pass to porn created today in which a woman spanks a man.

Moving from porn to 'mainstream' films . . .

It's a story of non-stop sexism.

We don't know that there are more men who want to be spanked than women -- in straight couplings -- but we'll allow that there's probably an equal amount of men and women into being spanked by the opposite gender.

It just doesn't make it to mainstream films.

Exit to Eden, for example, features Dana Delaney spanking Paul Mercurio in one scene.  In one scene.  Despite the fact that his character has traveled to a sex resort to be spanked and is spending a great deal of money to be spanked, he gets spanked once.  And then overpowers 'cold hearted' Lisa who 'surrenders' to him as she explains she's so tired of spending all her time at the office, "After a heard day of smacking people, it's nice to cuddle."


She started and runs a sex resort built around bondage and discipline but, when she meets the right fellow, turns out she really wasn't into it.

More often than not, the person being spanked is a woman.  Whether it's Sean Connery smacking a woman's ass in Goldfinger or Spencer Tracey spanking Katharine Hepburn in Adam's Rib or . . .

With women, what sometimes happens -- 1% of the time, maybe -- is that they have power over a man in sex.

The man is restrained in some manner.

The woman is a bitch if not a criminal.

And as the film progresses, the man will 'reassert' himself by violent taking the woman.

Think Basic Instinct where Sharon Stone enjoys tying up men but goes into a sexual frenzy when Michael Douglas gives it to her rough -- something that also turns on the character of Dr. Beth Garner (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn).  Or think about the hideous copycat attempt Body of Evidence starring the charisma free Madonna and Willem Dafoe.  On the hood of a car, Madonna takes control so you know that shortly after Willem's going to have to resort to violence and rough sex to 'prove' he's really a man.

And that's what it's really about, Jamie.

Sexist notions of what men and women are.

The most famous scene of a woman spanking a man in a film is probably Cloris Leachman spanking Harvey Korman in Mel Brooks' High Anxiety.

Is it unfair to point out that Cloris' character sports a mustache?

Which is supposed to indicate that there's something unnatural and masculine about her character?

So, yeah, Jamie, yet another man subjugating a woman onscreen?

It's sexism.

It's especially sexism when you're insisting that, in real life, it's men who are more often asking to be spanked by women than the other way around.

For Jamie not to grasp that is not just embarrassing; it also feeds into the pretty but stupid stereotype that so many barely there actors have projected over the years.


We have avoided Myra Breckenridge for this piece.  Raquel Welch plays an actress who started out as a man (Rex Reed, in the film).  We have neither the space nor time to discuss the phobia on display towards transwomen.  We also don't have time to go fully into our thoughts on the "T" in LGBTQ.  But briefly, we would sum it up by saying if you feel you are a woman trapped in a man's body, then you're a woman.  If you feel you're a man trapped in a woman's body, then you are a man.  We're wondering ourselves if the best help for the T community would be to drop the T which acts more as an explanation to others.  Why explain?  Most people should be able to grasp it and we don't think anyone should have to jump through hoops or prove or explain their gender to anyone.


Eating disorders effect men and women.

Do we have to call it "man-orexia" to get some attention on this?

That's not ET's arm reaching out to Barack.

That's the arm of a grown man, a 53-year-old.

Is everyone waiting for him to leave the White House to address the eating disorder?

It Takes A War Hawk

How do you sell war?

You grab an unfortunate incident or tragedy and repackage it into a cry for war.

Vian Dakhil's been all over the US and England and elsewhere and she even got taken under War Hawk Samantha Power's saggy hot wing.

If Vian Dakhil was attempting to help the Yazidis, she'd have her ass in Iraq because Parliament was in session.

As War Hawk Power gushed, she's the "only Yezidi in Iraq's Parliament."  So her ass should been there defending the Yezidis.

Instead, she was spearheading the neoconservative funded effort to expand and continue the Iraq War.  They're paying for her trips, they've hired a public relations firm.

From that moment forward, all claims about the Yezidis were no longer to be met with skepticism (as all claims should be) but to be dismissed.

That's not fair to the Yazidis.

We're sorry about that.

Maybe they can take it with the 'friend' who sold them out?

Here she is again, sitting with Samantha Power.

Shake that little tush

'Cause I'm a model, you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah, on the catwalk
Yeah, on the catwalk, yeah.
I shake my little tush on the catwalk . . .

This edition's playlist

1) Sam Cooke's Night Beat. 

2) Janis Joplin's Pearl.

3)  Dinah Washington's For Those In Love.

4) LaVern Baker's See See Rider.

5) Tim Buckley's Goodbye and Hello.

6) Cass Elliot's Bubblegum, Lemonade and . . . Something for Mama.

7) The Doors' LA Woman.

8) Nick Drake's Pink Moon.

9) Janis Joplin's I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

10) Marvin Gaye's What's Going On?

Tales of Grimm justice

This is a repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Tales of Grimm justice

Writer and translator Jack Zipes spoke to Socialist Worker about the enduring popularity of the tales of the Brothers Grimm, and how they appeal to our sense of hope

Once upon a time the Brothers Grimm collected folk tales. The stories and characters are hugely familiar. 
It is well known that the tales are more bawdy and brutal than Disney cartoons. Characters sometimes live “happily to the end of their days” but they never live “ever after”.

But the scale of the difference only now becomes clear for an English language reader.

The Grimms’ Children’s and Household Tales first edition, published in German in 1812, has been translated into English for the first time by left wing scholar and translator Jack Zipes.

According to Jack, “The Grimms never intended the tales they collected to be read by children.

“The tales are about children and families, and how they reacted to the difficult conditions under which they lived.”

The stories originated as tales told by “folk”. They were passed down through generations to provide entertainment.

Jack argues that the process of making literature from non-literary traditions can be a sanitation, but not in a simplistic way.

The tales are brusque, blunt, absurd, comical and tragic. How Some Children Played at Slaughtering was cut after the first edition.


It tells the tale of two boys who see their father slaughtering a pig. “They decided to play slaughtering,” explained Jack.

“One brother became the pig, and the other became the slaughterer and he slit the throat of the younger brother.

“The mother saw what happened from a window. She ran downstairs and took the knife out of the boy’s throat and, out of fury, stabbed the older boy in the heart.

Then she realised the baby was upstairs, and in the meantime the baby had died and drowned in the tub.

“She was so remorseful she committed suicide. The father was so dismayed that after two years he wasted away.”

Another tale is called The Children of Famine. A widow is starving with her two children and thinks she might have to eat them.

“The two children, two girls, do their best not to get eaten by their own mother,” said Jack. “The story ends with the children promising to lie down and sleep ‘until judgement day’. The mother departs to ‘nobody knows where’.”

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm lived in a French-occupied Germanic area at the start of the 19th century.
They overcame poverty and their view of folklore reflects their utopian dreams.

“The Grimms wanted to preserve tales they believed emanated naturally from the German people in an oral tradition before they evaporated,” said Jack.

“They were among the first Europeans at the beginning of the nineteenth century, later called folklorists, who took a sincere interest in the culture of the common people.”

For Jack, the Grimms’ “mission” was to conserve German tales, legends, myths and other artifacts.

“In this way, they felt they might contribute to the cultural unification of German people throughout central Europe,” he added.

“We must remember there was no such thing as Germany in the early part of the nineteenth century.”

Jack said there was an overtly political side to their project.

“By collecting and assembling tales that were probably told in dialect or some variant of high German, they wanted to contribute to a cultural and social sense of ‘German-ness’.

“They took the side of revolutionaries in 1848 to support political reforms. They published the tales in high German—not to repackage them but to make them accessible to a growing literate class.”

Originally there were 156 stories, while the seventh edition has 210. The Grimms didn’t simply add stories over the years. They deleted, made many changes, revisions and embellishments. 

The stories morph into the more polished, puritanical, sentimental, Christian and child-friendly refinements of the bestselling later editions.

They develop a more homespun note, a more preachy bourgeois tone with an emphasis on patriarchal and middle class values.

Though even the later versions are far more gritty than subsequent retellings.

Jack said, “There were no religious tales in the first edition. Other changes were made to embellish the style, to delete erotic or gruesome elements, to eliminate tales that were too French.”
Artist Andrea Deszo’s new illustration for the tale The Devil in the Green Coat
Artist Andrea Deszo’s new illustration for the tale The Devil in the Green Coat

These included Bluebeard—the story of a man who keeps corpses of women in a locked room—and Puss in Boots.

In many cases certain tales of the first edition were replaced by longer and more elaborate versions.

Sometimes the Grimms change phrasing to make the stories more “proper”.

One example is Rapunzel, in which the young maiden in the tower becomes pregnant.

According to Jack the “essence of the tales is more vivid” in the earliest version where the Grimms made the “greatest effort to respect the voices of the original storytellers or collectors”.

The later morality doesn’t mean a lack of violence.

In Cinderella a girl overcomes impossible odds by virtue of her beauty and goodness.

The Grimms’ version in all their editions is the one where the spirit of the dead mother assists Cinderella, who visits the tree beneath which the mother is buried.

There are two sets of slippers, one silver, one gold.

Cinderella’s sisters, who have beautiful faces but black hearts, chop off their toes hoping to fit into the slipper, but the blood betrays them.

In the 1812 Grimm edition the story ends with Cinderella’s wedding. In the later edition there is an additional scene.

As the sisters approach the church, pigeons peck out their eyes. “And so they were punished for their wickedness and malice with blindness for the rest of their lives.”

It’s Snow White’s mother—not the step parent—who wanted to murder her daughter in the original tale.
“She was only seven years old,” said Jack.

“The mirror declares a seven year old more beautiful than this obviously beautiful queen, and the mother is so enraged that she wants her daughter murdered.

“In Hansel and Gretel, it’s also not a stepmother. It’s a biological mother who wants to abandon her daughter in the woods where they will probably be eaten by beasts.”

Partially this is sanitising, but it is also linked to how people lived at the time.

“Many women died during childbirth,” said Jack.

“The fathers would marry a very young woman who might be close in age to the eldest daughter and of course there would be a rivalry of some kind.”

That tension between the tales’ reflection of social reality and their ability to be retold continues today.
Jack pointed out, “Huge corporations such as the Disney Corporation view the tales as commodities.

“They are a means to make a huge profit in reinventing them because the tales are so popular. The exploitation of the Grimms’ tales occurs on many levels.

“The recent surge of fairy tale films reveals that Corporations will reproduce and exploit fairy tales to make profit and celebrate brand names of corporations.”

But despite the transformations, Jack argued that an underlying reason for the Grimms’ popularity remains.

“The tales engage readers and listeners because they present alternative worlds in which social justice occurs,” he said.


“Sometimes the justice is retributive and cruel, but there is always a sense of social justice.”

Jack said this appeals at a time when justice seems lacking.

He said, “I believe we are living in perverse times, and that we, particularly in the US, have lost a sense of social justice.

“Our politicians and judges are total hypocrites and unjust in their actions, as are the billionaires who control our economy.

“We turn to and need fairy and folk tales not to escape but to maintain a sense of justice and hope that we can bring about more just societies.

“It is the legacy of social justice in the Grimms’ tales that keeps writers wanting to re-create them.

“Fortunately, creative and serious independent filmmakers and writers explore the tales because they might reveal how much inequality and injustice has grown, and how we might imagine alternatives to a deplorable reality.

“Fairy tales, including reinvented ones, seek to foster a sense of social justice.

“It is up to us as readers to realise the dreams and fantasies of these tales.”


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition
by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Translated and edited by Jack Zipes and illustrated by Andrea Dezso (£16.97) 

Grimm Legacies: The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes (£24.95) 

Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion by Jack Zipes (£23.99) 

Available at Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"The US is training the Shi'ites . . . but to defeat who?" -- most requested highlight of the week.

"Diana Ross: The RCA Years" and "Uh, what, Bono?" -- Elaine and Kat on music.

"Pacifica (lousy radio)" and "The state of radio" -- Ruth on radio.

"Paddington," "Some Like It Hot," "The Spider-Man movies"and "Top film of 2014 (box office)?" -- Betty, Mike and Stan go to the movies.

"He needs a library?" and  "THIS JUST IN! HE NEEDS A LIBRARY?" -- Cedric and Wally note the ridiculous.

 "Now she cares?" -- Ruth raises an important point.

 "The most admired" and "THIS JUST IN! WHO PAID OFF THE POLLSTERS!" -- ridiculous poll results. 

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