Monday, November 30, 2015

Truest statement of the week

While the US war machine rages globally, the infrastructure inside the US is in a decrepit state. Sinkholes are mysteriously appearing, swallowing whole houses in the process; families are forced to boil their water because local clean water systems are in a state of disrepair. Rampant mining inside the US has created new emergencies like earthquakes in places totally unaccustomed to them. Bridges are crumbling. In fact, civil engineers most recently (2013) gave overall US infrastructure a grade D+.

--  Cynthia McKinney, "Obama Needs to 'Pivot' to the Crisis at Home" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

These charter schools pay huge amounts of money to their owners and CEOs while stripping teacher’s pay to the bone. Students, more than any other group, are subjected to the worst neoliberal policies pursued by President Obama. And, with privatized prisons always hungry for more and more prisoners, the school to prison pipeline is secure. And the privatized prisons make a profit, to boot!

--  Cynthia McKinney, "Obama Needs to 'Pivot' to the Crisis at Home" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

A Monday.  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?

Cynthia McKinney gets another one.
In fact, she gets two.
A DoD photograph says it all.
Ava and C.I. take on 'institution' Lear, the overly praised Shonda Rhimes, knee jerk reactions and much more.
They sort of missed the entire point in their fact check.
A list you can feel free to add to.  E-mail to let us know which show you wanted on the list.
Hillary's running.  Is Bill a valid issue?

Barack's got a few.
In 30 years, kids will wonder who spoke up as a Sunni genocide was carried out.
Tracy Chapman's got a new album.
What we listened to while writing.

Repost from UK Socialist Worker.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

So that's what we came up with.


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

Editorial: Barack insisted no US troops in harms way

Remember when Barack Obama began (publicly) sending US troops back into Iraq?

They weren't going to be in harms way, he insisted.

They'd just be training and advising.

A Tweet from the US Defense Department makes clear Iraq's not all rounded corners and bumper boards.

  • In Iraq, if you're aiming a gun, chances are you have at least one already trained on you.

    There's no safe mission for US troops in Iraq.

    Only The Cult of St. Barack refuses to face that truth.

    TV: Norman Lear's an idiot and other thoughts

    Norman Lear was once an important force in TV.  As with many who have success in that field, it wasn't good enough for him.  So he turned his back on the medium and ran to film.  It didn't work out well for him and by the 90s he was failing in his attempted TV return.

    He would fail repeatedly.


    Today, he's 93 years old and thinks he can talk entertainment when he really should just sit on the porch reflecting on his past when he actually could create watchable TV.

    It would avoid embarrassments like the ones Ted Johnson (VARIETY) recently reported on:

    Legendary producer Norman Lear had high praise for the latest "Scandal" episode in which Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) has an abortion, calling it an "adult moment, and it was nothing more or less."
    "And it was so well done. It is a helluva show," Lear told Variety.

    It was not well done.

    And it's long past the time we let politics color our judgment of art.

    To be clear, political films and TV shows can be made.  Jane Fonda successfully acted in and produced many including COMING HOME, THE CHINA SYNDROME and 9 TO 5.  These films were successful not because they were political but because they were entertaining.

    Early in the 70s, Jane starred in TOUT VA BIEN -- Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin's very political and very unsuccessful film.

    Also to be clear, we are pro-abortion.

    That doesn't make us applaud the winter finale of SCANDAL where Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) apparently had an abortion.


    It would be just like Shonda to f**k with the viewers when the show returns and have it not be an abortion (it was a dream!) or offer some detail about how the fetus was damaged and that's why Olivia had the abortion or . . .

    Shonda doesn't write good television anymore.

    Shondaland is a drug that no longer provides the needed fix.

    And the abortion storyline made it abundantly clear that Shonda's turned to shock for its own sake.

    The late director Alfred Hitchcock is considered the master of suspense.  His films include PSYCHO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, LIFEBOAT, ROPE, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, VERTIGO, NOTORIOUS, TO CATCH A THIEF, REAR WINDOW, THE LADY VANISHES,

    There is a distinct difference between "suspense" and "surprise," and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean. 
    We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let's suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, "Boom!" There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: "You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!"
     In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.

    What Hitchcock grasped, Shonda can't.

    If you watch the series, you know when the audience learned of Olivia's pregnancy -- when the abortion scene aired.

    This was not suspense, this was pure shock.

    It was also bad writing.

    Norman Lear would know that if he actually watched the series he's yacking about.

    But instead, it's a way for him to toot his own horn and talk MAUDE (his seventies hit sitcom) yet again.

    When Maude (played by Bea Arthur) had an abortion, audiences knew she was pregnant.

    The issue was explored.

    Not only was Olivia's abortion bad entertainment, it was also bad politics.

    Olivia and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) are supposed to be a love couple.  So are Olivia and Jake (Scott Foley).  Like a tennis ball, Olivia bounces back and forth between the two men never sure who she's in love with from one month to the next.

    If Shonda could make up her mind on who Olivia's in love with, maybe Huck wouldn't have said, in the abortion episode, what he said?

    Described the TV news coverage of Olivia as "a whore, a homewrecker, a slut who repeatedly spread her legs to get to the top"?

    That's interesting to have Olivia called those things in Huck's recap to her father.

    But whether you're team Jake or team Fitz, there's a good chance you may be upset that Olivia will not be having a child with the man.

    Now Shonda could do a 'reveal' where Olivia was raped while she was kidnapped last season.

    And the pregnancy resulted from that.

    But chances are Jake or Fitz contributed the sperm.

    And Olivia didn't inform either man.

    She also fed into an anti-choice stereotype of a woman who has an abortion -- she didn't discuss the decision with anyone and, after, she was happy to sit on her couch watching TV, munching on popcorn and sipping wine.

    Though the use of "Silent Night" in the abortion and murder scene (yes, Jake shot someone dead during "Silent Night" -- a fact many overlooked) was tasteless, we were surprised that the anti-choice contingent was objecting to the episode because it fed every lie they've ever told about abortion.


    Friday, a Planned Parenthood was the setting for a shooting.  Jennifer Markovsky, Ke'Arre Stewart and Garrett Swasey were shot dead.

    Some are using the crimes to argue against free speech.

    The attack, they insist, is the result of rhetoric.

    We oppose Planned Parenthood's 'repursing' (our term) of fetal tissue in at least five states but we're not blaming that for what happened.

    Nor will we ever join in an attack on free speech.

    The crime happened because of decisions an individual made -- decisions that may or may not have been influenced by his level of sanity.

    Abortion is an issue that divides many groups.

    Each side needs to argue its position passionately.

    There is no need for barriers to public debate.

    And it is always shameful for any side in a debate to point to some act of violence and claim it derived from speech

    We didn't approve of that tactic when the Bully Boy Bush administration used it and we don't approve of it when our side uses it.

    Some are calling the crime spree an act of terror (see NOW President Terry O'Neill's statement here).

    It may well be.

    However, it might not.

    We'll wait to see what evidence is entered.

    It is a crime, it is a tragedy and it is shocking.

    It may be more than that as well but the term "terrorist" is used far too easily these days.

    We describe Ike Turner as a "terrorist" for what he did to Tina Turner.

    We wish others would stop using terms like "spousal abuse" for what is terrorism.

    And it's very likely that the attack that left three people dead was "terrorism" -- we're just saying we want to see the case made on facts.

    Ike Turner a terrorist?


    Tina was beaten regularly.  She had to seek medical care constantly.  He threatened her.  He terrorized her.

    To us, the case has been made.

    And it may be made with regards to what took place Friday in Colorado Springs.

    Right now, it hasn't been.

    And we're not senile Norman Lears who will rush to spit out any soundbyte without examining the facts or weighing what they mean to us.

    The reaction to SCANDAL's winter finale made it very clear that on the left we're becoming so insane that we're unable to judge by its merits but instead rush to applaud even the worst crap if it backs up our political beliefs.

    PolitiFact struggles with a fact check

    So the story starts with gas bag Arsalan Iftikhar going on NBC's MEET THE PRESS this month and declaring, "59 percent of Americans today believe that Barack Obama is still a Muslim."


    And Louis Jacobson handles what passes for a fact check at POLITIFACT.

    Jacobson goes to great length to disprove the figure and eventually to rate the claim false due to the figure.

    And this is a fact check?

    Do they know how to read at POLITIFACT?

    Can they comprehend?

    The gas bag did not say, "59 percent of Americans today believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim."

    He said, "59 percent of Americans today believe that Barack Obama is still a Muslim."


    They never address that claim.

    While insisting they are disproving the claim that Barack is a Muslim.

    The statement is false and that's not just for the 59% figure -- it's also because the gas bag is declaring that Barack was a Muslim at some point.

    10 TV Shows That Are Running On Fumes

    At one point, they might have been good, maybe even great.

    These days?

    Each episode's a chore.

    Here are 10 TV shows we believe are running on fumes.



    Short of the brothers acting out some of the WINCEST fan fiction, we've seen it all.

    2) NCIS.

    Mark Harmon looks like your Aunt Flo.  On a good day.


    Modern . . . if it were ten years ago.  This Christopher Guest rip-off isn't again well.


    It's not even seven episodes in and already it feels like it's shown the world all it has to offer.


    If ever a marriage needed a divorce, it's Alicia and Peter's in name-only union.


    As we exposed in early 2006, they're not even American.

    7) THE VOICE.

    At least AMERICAN IDOL knew when it was time to draw the curtain.


    This show's been comatose for a good three seasons now.

    9) THE 100.

    Only the female lead comes off manly -- rather surprising when you grasp that the bulk of the cast is male.


    There is no more trashy for this gutter dwelling family to go.

    Is Bill fair game?


    bills bucket list

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bill's Bucket List" went up Sunday.

    While all is fair in political cartoons, is it fair to ask about Bill Clinton with Hillary Clinton attempting to become president?

    Yeah, it is.

    His failure to keep his fly zipped resulted in a national crisis.

    No, he did not deserve to be impeached.

    But he was President of the United States and he didn't have the self-control to protect himself or the office.

    What's changed?

    If Bill is having affairs still, that's something the public should know now and not after Hillary is sworn in.

    The Clinton's marital issues traipsed across the national stage for most of the 90s.

    It's an issue reporters have every right to explore.

    Presidential hobbies


    When not posing for photo ops or presidential signings, Barack Obama likes to show off his skills at shadow puppetry.

    Above, he attempts a duck.

    Though that was a flop, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest insists the president is a wiz at bunnies and butterflies.

    The ongoing genocide the world rushes to ignore

  • Top 5 After "Fast Car"


    Tracy Chapman's GREATEST HITS is now available online and in stores.

    "Fast Car" is the hit that made her a name.  It is one of 18 tracks on the album.

    Our five favorite tracks after "Fast Car"?

    1) "Sing For You"

    2) "Telling Stories"

    3) "Baby Can I Hold You"

    4) "Give Me One Reason"

    5) "Talkin' Bout A Revolution"

    Again, there are 18 tracks.  Give the new collection a listen and see which ones stand out for you.

    This edition's playlist


    1) Carly Simon's SONGS FROM THE TREES.

    2) Tracy Chapman's GREATEST HITS.


    4) Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm.

    5) Afghan Whigs' Do The Beast.

    6) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.


    8)  Steve Grand's ALL AMERICAN BOY.


    10) Ben and Ellen Harper's CHILDHOOD HOME.

    Hunger Games’ finale is a bittersweet tale of defiance

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

    Hunger Games’ finale is a bittersweet tale of defiance

    scenes of war-torn cities are reminiscent of images from the Syrian civil war
    scenes of war-torn cities are reminiscent of images from the Syrian civil war (Pic: LGUKPublicity)

    The fourth and final film in the Hunger Games saga opens with its young hero Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in hospital, voiceless and badly bruised.

    She’d been strangled by the tortured and brainwashed lover she spent the whole of the previous film trying to rescue.

    Now the people nursing her voice back to health are also putting words in her mouth. And the torment is only just beginning.

    It’s no spoiler that Mockingjay part 2 ends in a revolution.

    Visually it takes its cue from the real life civil war in Syria. Katniss and her comrades walk through a ­cityscape of rubble.

    The slaughter unleashed by ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has forced the uprising a long way from the demonstrations and riots seen earlier in the series.

    It has pushed all opposition into the camp of heavily armed faction District 13 and its equally ruthless leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

    Though an expert archer, Katniss is kept from the front lines. Instead she is used as a propaganda symbol to inspire the rebellion.

    It’s all carefully choreographed by Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the defected state media guru who used to run Snow’s Hunger Games.

    These deadly contests were ­televised to intimidate the regime’s enemies.

    As one survivor points out, that sense of spectacle remains central to the conflict. Another struggles to tell what’s real from what isn’t.

    Katniss speaks most powerfully when she throws the scripts away. She calls for those Snow has kept divided to unite against their real enemy.


    If anything her story is missing the genuine joy and participation that revolt can bring. But the towering success of such a bleak series says a lot about our time.

    Hunger Games has inspired a genre of imitations and is progressively breaking records set by Harry Potter a decade earlier.

    Its most obvious influence, Japanese cult classic Battle Royale, dates back to just 2000.

    Their shared theme of adolescents forced to kill each other speaks to a generation driven to stress by constant competition.

    It’s a far cry from the 2005 adaptation of V for Vendetta which inspired the masked protests earlier this month.

    That film ends in jubilation as the regime melts away.

    Katniss’s victory is hard fought and bittersweet. But it too can inspire.

    Protesters in Thailand were even arrested last year for copying her three fingered salute.

    Despite its epic sweep, the Hunger Games is at heart a personal story all about Katniss.

    Life under Snow’s regime has taught her to be pessimistic and distrustful, hoping for nothing beyond the survival of those she cares about.

    But it also makes even that aim impossible.

    As she says of Snow, “Nothing good is safe as long as he’s alive.”

    And perhaps her defiance in the face of never-ending nightmares offers a bit more solace in a cruel society. In the end, it makes her aim truer than anyone’s.


    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.

    "Remember, bombs dropped from airplanes never kill ..." -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Hillary Ready" -- She's not just ready, she's Hillary ready!!!!

    "Kat's Korner: Tracy Chapman collects the best" -- Kat reviews Tracy Chapman's new collection.

    "Cynthia should run" -- Trina knows who she's supporting.

    "Carly Simon coverage" -- Elaine, Kat, Ann and Trina cover music. 

    "Thoughts on films." "Mel Gibson," "Hunger Games got it right" and "The Secret In Their Eyes" -- Stan, Betty and Marcia go to the movies.

    "The Bride of Iran" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

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