Monday, August 31, 2015

Truest statement of the week

To be sure, Naomi Klein’s book is fundamentally concerned with how to bring about a more equal economic order, and her noble conviction that governments must equitably share the global carbon-cutting burden is entirely informed by the needs of poorer countries. In her own words, she writes that “poverty amidst plenty is unconscionable”, and “there is simply no credible way forward that does not involve redressing the real roots of poverty”. But nowhere in the book is there an impassioned plea for ordinary people to rise up and demand that governments irrevocably end hunger and life-threatening conditions of deprivation wherever it occurs it in the world, and as an international priority above all other priorities.
Without this heartfelt concern for the immediate needs of the very poorest people in mostly developing countries, Klein’s case for using the language of morality to build a global citizens’ movement for saving the planet – with everyone together speaking “of right and wrong, of love and indignation” – in the end rings hollow. 

-- Adam W. Parsons, "Where's the Missing Part, Naomi Klein?" (Dissident Voice)

Truest statement of the week II

Several writers have noted Bernie Sanders’ scant comments about foreign policy — small portions.
But another problem is the little that he has articulated in terms of foreign policy — the foreign policy issue that he’s been most passionate about really — is extremely regressive and incredibly dangerous. That issue is the role of Saudi Arabia. Sanders has actually pushed for the repressive regime to engage in more intervention in the Mideast.

-- Sam Husseini, "Sanders Foreign Policy: Backing Saudi Intervention" (Dissident Voice).

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?


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

Editorial: Know Your Friends

Friday brought the following horrific images.

  • 's celeb militiaman Abu Azrael was filmed mutilating corpse of -er he allegedly burned to death. He's one of the good guys, right?

  • This is who the US counts as a 'friend' in Iraq.

    These are the public actions of a 'friend.'

    It's past time that the Congress got serious about examining Barack Obama's plan or 'plan' for Iraq.

    Because it's not working.

    And the actions of those he supports call into question his own judgment.

    TV: When Men Lather

    To call   Narco a flop is to state the obvious.

    The show is a mess with an annoying voice over attempting to graft together that which the screenwriter couldn't.

    On and on, the mess goes, shapeless, unfinished,  unsculpted.

    The only reason it's on the air?

    Because a lot of men (and some women) love violence?

    No, Netflix's latest 'original' is on the air because it's a soap opera.


    Oh, yes, like many a Lifetime TV movie, it's 'based on a true story.'

    Oh, so, loosely based.

    But it's on TV because it's a soap opera.

    For years, many men -- many straight men -- took the position of looking down on soap operas.

    They were for the weak minded, the myth went.

    As was often the case when male myths needed to be exploded, there was Bob Newhart.  Episode 27 of The Bob Newhart Show ("Backlash," written by Susan Silver) found Bob in bed with a bed ache becoming deeply addicted to daytime soap operas.

    That was 1973.

    By the early 80s, the soaps were on prime time.

    Not just the obvious ones but, starting in 1981, Hill Street Blues.

    Series creator Steven Bochco likes to pretend it's season five when the show moves to soap opera but it was soap opera from the first episode.

    But put some ugly actors on the screen, toss around some gun fire, and it just can't be a soap opera, it just can't be.

    It was the soap men could get on board with.

    And continuing elements, the key to any soap opera, started getting added to other shows as well.


    Because continuing elements (soap opera) hook in an audience.

    So Miami Vice, king of the stand alone episodes, starts in with multi-arc ones such as when Sheena Easton shows up playing a love interest who briefly becomes a wife.

    These days, pretty much every hour long show has continuing elements -- even Bones.

    Long gone are the days of Emergency and Adam 12 and The Rookies and other shows with stand alone episodes that didn't leave story elements to be resolved later in the season.

    Despite the fact that most men watching, for example, The Blacklist today refusing to go back to the days of Barnaby Jones, they won't admit that it is the continuing elements, the very soap opera-ish aspect of the show, that keeps them tuning in.

    They can (and do) deny.

    But reality is reality.

    And with regards to the very bad Narco, the reality is the show's not really about reality but it is about soap opera.  It's a garish and violent soap, to be sure.  But it's still all suds and nothing but.

    Film Classics of the 20th Century

    In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at The Net,  Your Friends & Neighbors,  Shampoo,  The Player,  Dick Tracy,  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.

    To many, Lucille Ball is one of TV most beloved stars.  But context is everything.

    For Jess, who did not grow up in a TV family.  Exposure to Lucille Ball came via films -- such as the film noir classic The Dark Corner, or Du Barry Was A Lady, Room Service with the Marx Brothers, Stage Door with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers, Fancy Pants and Sorrowful Jones with Bob Hope, etc.


    The Fullerbrush Girl is a 1950 comedy Ball starred in with Eddie Albert as a couple in love.  They want to buy a house but the land development company is down to their last house.  A five hundred dollar deposit is required.  They might make that with savings but how could they ever manage the monthly payment?

    Things look up when Albert gets a (fake) promotion.  But then Ball is fired from the same company.


    She ends up becoming a door-to-door Fuller Brush Girl.

    And that promotion Albert got?


    Part of the intrigue that snares the couple into a murder and much more.


    Throughout Lucille Ball is the strong steady actress we expect her to be in a comedy, executing one liners, slapstick and so much more.


    By 1950, the screwball comedy era was sadly over.  But just as What's Up Doc? would prove in the 70s, The Fuller Brush Girl proved in the 50s: a well made screwball comedy is always timely.

    From The TESR Test Kitcehn


    Cherry Limeade?

    Hell, what's not to like?


    But this wasn't ready made.


    Sunkist Liquid Drink Mix, Cherry Limeade flavor, promises it's made with "REAL cane sugar."

    And maybe it is.

    But it also promises it will taste good and, no, it doesn't.

    To be clear, it not only tells you how many squirts for an individual glass, it also tells you how many for a 2 quart pitcher.

    We started with the 8 ounce glass.

    Jim, big fan, put in the two squirts.

    To a glass of water.

    And stirred.

    And it didn't taste right.

    So maybe he put two squirts but the squirts weren't long enough.

    He did eight more squirts and was left with water with a little taste to it.

    Instead of doing the 2 quart pitcher, we grabbed a 1 quart pitcher.

    Instead of counting out squirts, we used the measuring indicators on the right side of the bottle.

    We used the 2 quart measuring for a 1 quart pitcher of water.

    The taste should have been strong and overwhelming.

    Instead it was tepid and underwhelming.

    This was not Cherry Limeade.

    It was water with a hint of Cherry Limeade.

    This is one of the worst products.

    The taste is vapid.

    Next time, we'll stick to good old Kool-Aid which never lets you down.

    This edition's playlist


    1) John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy.

    2) John Lennon's Mind Games.

    3) John Lennon's Some Time In New York City.

    4) John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Milk & Honey.

    5)  John Lennon's Walls and Bridges.

    6) John Lennon's Imagine. 

    7) Yoko Ono's Season of Glass.

    8) Yoko Ono's Take Me To The Land Of Hell.

    9) Yoko Ono's Starpeace.

    10) John Lennon's Live In New York City. 

    NWA biopic tries to ‘keep it real’—but bottles the reality

    Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    NWA biopic tries to ‘keep it real’—but bottles the reality

    New film Straight Outta Compton captures a US city about to explode—but shies away from exploring Gangsta Rap’s contradictions

    Corey Hawkins as Dr Dre
    Corey Hawkins as Dr Dre (Pic: UPI Media/Universal )

    Four years before one of the biggest riots in US history, hip hop group Niggaz Wit’ Attitude (NWA) knew that Los Angeles was ready to explode. 

    And they knew that Compton, one of its poorest and blackest suburbs, would be at the heart of it.
    NWA’s 1988 album Straight Outta Compton captured the simmering rage at police harassment so accurately that everyone who heard it knew it.

    The city finally blew in 1992 after four police officers, who had been
    videoed beating black motorist Rodney King, were acquitted of using unnecessary force.

    Fifty three people were killed in the six-day uprising, over two thousand injured and $1 billion worth of damage was done.

    It took 4,500 US National Guard troops to finally put it down.

    Director F Gary Gray’s new biopic Straight Outta Compton carries at least an echo of the times.
    It aims to tell the story of Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr) and Dr Dre (Corey Hawkins)— the core of NWA.

    Gray pulls no punches when it comes to the cops. In the opening minutes there’s a drugs raid involving a police armoured vehicle smashing through a wooden shack, crushing all in its path.


    But just like the group and their music, the film carries a contradiction at its core.

    Gangsta Rap, as NWA’s genre became known, was about gritty realism and the pictures it painted were not pretty.

    They’re stories of drug dealing and abuse mixed with those of prostitution and prisons. Hatred of the police is entwined with hatred of women and homosexuality.

    At its best Gangsta Rap celebrated the defiance of the ghetto—resistance to the cops, poor people surviving against the odds, and creativity in the face of adversity.

    But at its worst, it glamorised the vilest side of ghetto life—the way people can turn on each other.

    Women were routinely described as “bitches” and “hoes” and pimping, raping and abusing them were acts to be celebrated.

    The slaying of any rap or gang rival with automatic weapons was perhaps the second most popular theme.

    How does the Straight Outta Compton film present the bad side of the contradiction?

    Well, naked women gratuitously illustrate so many scenes it’s not worth counting.

    But they are juxtaposed to saintly mothers and “real” girlfriends. However, when it comes to the most misogynistic lyrics and Dr Dre’s real-life acts of violence against women, suddenly Gray turns shy.

    It seems he just can’t tell us the unpalatable truth. And, for a movie that is supposed to be “keeping it real”, that really sucks.

    Straight Outta Compton

    Universal Pictures 

    Directed by F Gary Gray

    Out on general release on Friday

    Manning Punished for Possessing Expired Toothpaste and LGBT Reading Material

    This is from the ACLU:


    Manning Punished for Possessing Expired Toothpaste and LGBT Reading Material

    August 19, 2015

    NEW YORK — A closed disciplinary board at the military correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, last night found Chelsea Manning guilty of four charges, including possessing prohibited material and disrespecting a prison officer.

    Manning was punished with a 21-day restriction on her activities including gym, library, and time outdoors. This conviction can be cited in future hearings concerning parole or clemency, and it is expected to delay her transition from medium security to minimum security custody status by years.

    The following comment can be attributed to Chase Strangio, attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project, who represents Manning in her federal case:

    “Not only does this punishment mean the immediate loss of library and recreation for Chelsea, but she also will carry these infractions through her parole and clemency process and will be held longer in the more restrictive custody where she is now incarcerated. No one should have to face the lingering threat of solitary confinement for reading and writing about the conditions we encounter in the world. Chelsea's voice is critical to our public discourse about government accountability and trans justice, and we can only preserve it if we stay vigilant in our advocacy on her behalf.”

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