Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Truest statement of the week

Policy-wise there are places where Barber, the PPC and the Institutional Church are unwilling to tread. Barber and company seem barely able to recognize domestic or international crimes when these are perpetrated by Democrats. It was Obama not Bush or Trump that started giving training, material support, ammo and logistics to every single army on the African continent except Libya, Somalia and Zimbabwe. Barber’s call for “a just two state solution” is utterly oblivious of the impossibility of anybody peacefully co-existing with or creating such a thing out of the nuclear armed apartheid ethnocracy that is today’s Israel. Barber’s sermon condemns drone warfare’s murder of innocents without noting that Barack Obama originated the policy. Rev. Barber denounces the hateful and immoral border wall, without noting that 70% of it was built under Obama, who voted for it as a US senator, leaving less than 30% to be completed by Trump. All these are places where rank and file activists inside and outside the precincts of the Church-led movement must continue to press Barber, the PPC and the Institutional Church.
The PPC has other built in political limitations as well. While legally and nominally a non-partisan endeavor, its operatives, its organizational history and political ties are firmly to the Democratic Party. Rev. Barber comes out of a tradtion of political preachers, through the NAACP, which is firmly tied by blood, business, social, funding and legal networks to the Democratic party. Rev. Barber was a featured speaker at the 2016 Democratic convention. For all of Barber’s career, and in his previous outfit, Moral Monday Barber was known for deploying his guns of moral outrage exclusively against Republicans. That’s a big problem when austerity, empire and militarism are bipartisan projects of both ruling class parties. And of course Rev. Barber doesn’t touch his party's craven obsession to blame Russian meddling, Russian influence and Russian perfidy of all kinds for the Democrats’ loss in 2016, and maybe for their next losses too.

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "Barber Sermon on Militarism Reveals Philosophical & Political Limitations of the Poor Peoples Campaign" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

The critical task is to merge the working class movement in opposition to social inequality with the struggle against imperialism itself.
This requires a fight against all those political tendencies, fraudulently claiming to be “left” and “socialist,” which have promoted and endorsed imperialist war. The foremost representatives of this reactionary, pro-imperialist pseudo-left are the various factions of state capitalists and the remnants of the anti-Trotskyist Pabloite movement, which have all devoted themselves to legitimizing and endorsing the imperialist carve-up of Syria.

-- the WORLD SOCIALIST WEB SITE Editorial Board, "No to World War III! For the building of a socialist anti-war movement!" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Oh look, it's late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning (depending on your time zone) and we're only now posting.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

See you next week.


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

Editorial: The Moqtada issue?

Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr alliance set to win Iraq's elections in remarkable comeback

Shi'ite cleric and movement leader is said to have headed the biggest vote getter in Iraq's elections last Saturday.

What amazes us is the number of people obsessing over this possibility.

Like this:

  1. Pay attention , this is a big deal for US and the middle east: - al-Sadr is a Shiite cleric - he's a follower of Iran's ayatollahs - he has his own large militia - he has a history of attacking Americans - Iran will control Iraq - US & Trump lost big

It's so strange to hear these details.

There is the reality that Moqtada is an Iraqi citizen whose country was invaded by foreign forces (including the US) and this notion that an Iraqi citizen doesn't have the right to self-defense is a strange one.

More to the point though, Nouri al-Maliki.

Nouri al-Maliki, before he served two terms as prime minister?  He was responsible for acts of terrorism -- including the attack on the US Embassy in Kuwait.

That 1986 attack left five people dead and eighty-six injured.

Yet when he was made prime minister in 2006 and 2010, his killing Americans wasn't an issue, was it?  His attack on a US embassy wasn't really a concern.

We're not endorsing Moqtada and we're not attacking him.  The results represent the will of the Iraqi people who voted and that's what matters.

If you're late to the election, we'll note this from Saturday:

Iraq elections 2018: Historic low turnout and fraud alleged in Sulaimani while at least 3 people die in violence

Daniel Bellamy (EURO NEWS) reports 3 people died from a bombing after polls closed -- two were voters and one was a polling observer.  These were the first parliamentary elections since April 30, 2014.  At that time, the Islamic State was on the rise thanks to the actions of then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki but they had yet to seize territory.

Strangely, there are 'experts' (gas bags) who judge ISIS by how much territory they hold when holding territory was actually not their goal or aim but something they managed to do because of Nouri al-Maliki's corruption, violence and ineptitude.

The elections that took place today had been postponed.  In addition, they were cut in half -- this was supposed to combine provincial and parliamentary elections.

That didn't happen and provincial candidates may be very grateful about that since turnout was very, very low.  Nabih Bulos (LOS ANGLES TIMES) notes, "Before noon, Prime Minister Haider Abadi ordered the curfew lifted in what was thought to be a bid to encourage more people to come out to vote, but it appeared to have little effect even with 30 minutes before polls closed at 6 p.m."

Why would they be excited?

 Ali Jawad (ANADOLU AGENCY) notes, "A total of 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots to elect members of parliament, who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister."  RUDAW adds, "Around 7,000 candidates have registered to stand in the May 12 poll, with 329 parliamentary seats up for grabs."  AFP explains that the nearly 7,000 candidates includes 2014 women.  THE SIASAT DAILY adds, of the nearly 7,000 candidates, "According to the electoral commission, only 20 percent of the candidates are newcomers." Ali Abdul-Hassan and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report, "Iraqi women account for 57 percent of Iraq’s population of over 37 million, according to the U.N. Development Program, and despite government efforts to address gender inequality, the situation for Iraqi women has declined steadily since 2003.  According to the UNDP, one in every 10 Iraqi households is headed by a widow. In recent years, Iraqi women suffered further economic, social and political marginalization due to decades of wars, conflict, violence and sanctions."    RUDAW also notes that 60 Christian candidates are competing for the five allotted minority seats.  How do they elect the prime minister?  This comes after the general election and is based on who won seats in the election.   Abdulrahman al-Rashed (AL ARABIYA) explains, "To win the premiership, a candidate needs to win the majority of the votes, i.e. the votes of 165 MPs out of 329. Since it is a multi-party system, it is almost impossible to win these votes without sealing political alliances. The governorate of Baghdad is the most important one because it is the largest with 69 seats."  The chief issues?  Mustapha Karkouti (GULF NEWS) identifies them as follows, "Like in previous elections, the main concerns of ordinary Iraqis continue to be the lack of security and the rampant corruption."  Sunday, RUDAW explained that the electoral commission "so far fined 210 candidates for violations of commission guidelines."

Corruption is a key issue and it was not a topic explored by candidates outside of Moqtada al-Sadr's coalition.  Empty lip service was offered.  Hayder al-Abadi, current prime minister, had been offering empty lip service for four years.  He did nothing.  Iraqis were supposed to think that, for example, Hayder's focus on ISIS in Mosul mattered.  All life was supposed to stop because of Mosul?  All expectations were to be ignored because of Mosul?

Arabic social media today and yesterday was full of comments about the lack of improvement in services.  It noted how the elections had not mattered before and, yes, how in 2010 the US government overturned the elections because they didn't like the outcome.

I'm sorry, where's the special counsel investigating that?

Oh, that's right, in the US, Americans only get outraged when they feel their elections are stolen, not when they know they stole another country's elections.  So it's not at all surprising that NPR states, "With more than 90 percent of the votes in, Iraq's election commission announced voter turnout of 44.5 percent. The figure is down sharply from 60 percent of eligible voters who cast their ballots in the last elections in 2014." It's left to AP to point out the obvious NPR ignored, "No election since 2003 saw turnout below 60 percent."  AFP also spoke clearly, "More than half of the nearly 24.5 million voters did not show up at the ballot box in the parliamentary election, the highest abstention rate since the first multiparty elections in 2005 [. . .]."

So this turnout was historically low.

Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) reports:

But as voters trudged towards polling stations, there was none of the euphoria of previous polls – where purple ink-dipped fingers were happily displayed – and almost no energy surrounding the process. Iraqis had done it all before, and elections had delivered little. Election monitors outnumbered voters at several polling stations in west Baghdad. “I’m just doing my duty,” said Samira Ahmed in the suburb of Mansour. “We hope it will lead to something, but we doubt it,” said a second woman.

Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Philip Issa (AP) explain, "Results are expected within the next 48 hours according to the independent body that oversees Iraq’s election, but negotiations to choose a prime minister tasked with forming a government are expected to drag on for months."

Not all was peaceful.  REUTERS notes, "The governor of Iraq’s Kirkuk province declared a curfew on Saturday and ordered a manual recount of votes there in the national election, saying an electronic counting system had produced an 'illogical' result."  What's going on there?

Well there is a disagreement regarding the Kirkuk vote between the KDP and PUK.  But that's really less interesting than what's going on in Sulaimani which is also in the Kurdistan Regional Government.  RUDAW reports that the PUK is said to have done well in that area.  And that no one believes those to be honest or accurate outcomes.  The Coalition for Democracy and Justice is stating that "large scale fraud has been committed."

Okay, but --

Wait, we're not finished.

The KRG's second most popular party, Goran (Change) says there's no way the PUK won in that region.

We're still not done.

Komal also says it couldn't have happened and that "we will not abide to those results."

Still not done.  The Kurdistan Islamic Union and the Kurdistan Communist Party also state there's no way the PUK could have won.

Still not done.  The KDP says the results indicate "systematic fraud."

The PUK is the party of the Talabanis.  After Jalal Talabani's stroke and Hero Talabani and others lying for over 18 months that Jalal was fit to continue as president while hiding him out in Germany and propping him up for staged photos, the PUK went from the second most popular party in the KRG to the third most popular.

Goran then moved up to second place.  The KDP is the party of the Barzanis and, in the last election cycle for parliamentary elections and for provincial elections, the KDP is the most popular party in the KRG.

TV: The Axe Falls

"F**k you both," opened one e-mail Ty passed on to us.  "I was perfectly fine last week not even knowing about THE CROSSING but I go and read your rave, head on over to HULU and play catch up.  I'm hooked.  And a day later?  ABC cancels the show.  F**k you, f**k you very much."

We understand the anger.

a new illst

It's not just that it's that time of year, it's that the axe has fallen so quickly and so often.  Last week, THE CROSSING got the axe and so did THE MICK, LUCIFER, QUANTICO, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, ALEX INC, DECEPTION, KEVIN PROBABLY SAVES THE WORLD, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, THE EXORCIST, THE BRAVE, TAKEN, GREAT NEWS, LIFE SENTENCE, VALOR, THE EXPANSE, KEVIN CAN WAIT, SUPERIOR DOUGHNUTS, 9JKL, SCORPION and INHUMANS all got the axe.  That's a lot of shows to be gutted all at once.

And then there's BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.  It got the axe last week from FOX but NBC then announced they were going to pick up the show for another season.

It was the sort of last minute rescue many still hope will happen to one of their favorites that just got the axe.  Or, for some, there's the hope that HULU or NETFLIX might resurrect a show.

That rarely happens.

HULU did pick up THE MINDY PROJECT a few seasons back and NETFLIX did grab ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and THE KILLING -- you can even throw in CMT picking up NASHVILLE after ABC axed it.  Or how about LAST MAN STANDING?  ABC cancelled it this time last year and FOX has just announced that they're bringing it back.

The moves by NETFLIX, HULU and even CMT don't happen very often.  FOX's decision?  It goes beyond once in a very blue moon.  But there was the fact that it shouldn't have been cancelled to begin with.  It was ABC's second highest sitcom and third highest scripted show.

And maybe, most of all, LAST MAN STANDING can be seen as a constant reminder that the networks don't have any idea what they're doing.

So if you're a fan of say, SCORPION, remind yourself that the suits are guessing as much as anyone else.

And they're not that smart.

NBC did their upfront Monday and were rather surprised that their new sitcoms didn't result in cheers or even smiling faces.  But NBC knows the crap they've put on has done awful.  GREAT NEWS, for example, should never have had a second season.  The axe should have fallen last year.  It was not funny.  It's rhythm was always off.  That's what happens when you do these 'whimsical' single-cam shows.  NBC had a hit sitcom this season: WILL & GRACE.

Not to take anything away from that show but it is filmed before a live audience and, equally important, the audience didn't flee for the exits.  That's what is supposed to be happening, NBC insists it over and over, audiences want single cam.  There's no ratings to back that up, but it's something a bunch of pompous asses on social media insist over and over -- while not watching TV.

NBC's biggest sitcom hit this season was WILL & GRACE and for ABC it was ROSEANNE while CBS had THE BIG BANG THEORY.  All three sitcoms, the biggest on broadcast TV, had one thing in common: multi-cam programs filmed in front of a live audience.

You'd think YOUNG SHELDON would have taught everyone something -- it trails THE BIG BANG THEORY.  This is FLO before CBS leaves it on its own.  It only pulls the audience it does because it's on after THE BIG BANG THEORY.  Move it to another night and it's dead weight dragging the network down.

At some point in 2019, NBC will air ABBY'S, a multi-cam sitcom.  In the meantime, audiences will have to suffer through more whimsical and bland nonsense.

Again, they don't know what they're doing.

ABC proved that this season with HOUSEHOLD NAME.  Don't remember seeing it?  It never aired.  But ask an ABC vp -- any will do -- and they'll tell you it was the funniest sitcom the network had a shot at in years.  It starred Carol Burnett.  That alone should have allowed it at least a six episode run.

Instead, ABC screwed with it over and over, asked for this change or that change and Carol finally walked away.

She walked over to NETFLIX where her show is A LITTLE HELP WITH CAROL BURNETT and features Carol and her co-host Russell Peters.  It's a panel show and the networks had forgotten all about those.  Carol's show offers advice -- to famous and nonfamous people (among the famous Taraji Henson, Lisa Kudrow, Julie Bowen and Wanda Sykes).  They come on with a problem -- Lisa has agreed to go to lunch with a friend when another friend calls her with an emergency, what should she do?  They present their problem to the panel.

Carol's panel is a panel of children.

It makes for a very funny show and also serves to remind you, as children attempt to tell a story while repeatedly self-derailing, that Kathy Griffin's comedy style has been around forever.

Few TV shows are around forever.  THE SIMPSONS has been around forever and, April 29th, aired its 636th episode meaning more episodes have been broadcast of it than the previous scripted primetimer with the most episodes (GUNSMOKE).

If you're show just got the axe, it really stands no chance of ever topping THE SIMPSONS -- even if some streaming service should order a season or two of new episodes.  And the networks, as they cancel more and more shows, stand less of a chance when it comes to brand loyalty.  Once again, THE CW stands out.  This season, they've axed two shows.  Even better, when existing shows are going off, they've started a pattern of announcing "Next season will be the final season" which allows their viewers to prepare for what's about to come.

Then again, nothing really prepares you for losing your favorite show -- a point WILL & GRACE made quite well in their episode "No Sex 'N' The City" (originally aired March 25, 2004).  In the spirit of the month, we'll close by noting our greatest losses from past season.  NBC should never have cancelled WILL & GRACE the first go round.  THE CW should never have cancelled NIKITA (still the best show they've ever had).  FOX should never have cancelled FRINGE. ABC should never have cancelled HAPPY ENDINGS.  CBS should never have cancelled PARTNERS.


Jim: Roundtable time. We're covering movies, war, Trump and more.  Remember our e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't):  We are working from a prepared list of topics.  First up, the film BLACK PANTHER.

Ty: $547.8 million.  That's how much, through its third weekend, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR had made domestically.  Betty?

Betty: And this was the thirteenth week for BLACK PANTHER which, including this now past weekend, has made 696.2 million.  Do you get that?  AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR will make more than the overhyped BLACK PANTHER -- and do it all by selling tickets bought by the people sitting in the seats.

Ann: Betty's getting at the nonsense of our African-American celebrities and others buying tickets and shipping -- or I guess the term would be "bussing" -- young people into those seats.  Octavia Spencer buying out all the tickets to a movie house in Mississippi, for example.  Kendrick Lamar, Big Boi, Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, Jas Waters, T.I., Jabari Parker, Damond Blue, as well as many more including NFL and NBC players and churches and attorneys and so many others.  And it is nonsense.  And this is the community, please remember, that first called out the right-wing 'best sellers' on NYT's list because of the asterisk which, if you read the note, denoted these were bulk buys.  We were opposed to that fraud so, yeah, we'd be opposed to this nonsense that was doing nothing but jacking up the box office by making it appear there was a larger demand for the film than there actually was.

Marcia: And why back that piece of crap to begin with.  There have been actual films that were about something or tried to be.  This is nothing but another grab your own crotch film.  Superhero comics are not breakthrough moments in humanity.  As Christopher Lebron noted at BLACK AGENDA REPORT, "In the end, all comes down to a contest between T’Challa and Killmonger that can only be read one way: in a world marked by racism, a man of African nobility must fight his own blood relative whose goal is the global liberation of blacks. In a fight that takes a shocking turn, T’Challa lands a fatal blow to Killmonger, lodging a spear in his chest. As the movie uplifts the African noble at the expense of the black American man, every crass principle of modern black respectability politics is upheld." and "Even in a comic-book movie, black American men are relegated to the lowest rung of political regard. So low that the sole white leading character in the movie, the CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), gets to be a hero who helps save Wakanda. A white man who trades in secrets and deception is given a better turn than a black man whose father was murdered by his own family and who is left by family and nation to languish in poverty. That’s racist."  Bruce A. Dixon (BAR) also noted, "In the Black Panther movie, all the Wakandan players are royalty, their counselors, their advisors or their rivals. All the strikingly beautiful and capable Wakandan women take orders from men. The only unambiguous good guy is the Frodo looking CIA agent. The homicidal Killmonger character is calculated to sully the very notion of black rebellion against unjust authority, while Pan Africanism and humanism are defecated upon from multiple angles. Cinematic bar fights, car chases and battle scenes are a dime a dozen, and worst of all Wakanda isn’t even rendered in any visually inspiring way."

Cedric: And quoting Margaret Kimberley:

The reaction to the Black Panther movie is understandable given the overall production quality of the film, and the attractiveness of the setting and the characters. But the lack of political education amongst ourselves is the bigger issue here. Without that the desire for justice and inclusion can be reduced to seeing people who look like us. We may ignore a problematic political message in a film or even worse support a president who destroyed the advanced African nation of Libya. That real life villain was a black face in a high place too.
Corporate produced entertainment is just one part of a corrupt system that tells us up is down and bad is good. We can’t separate our movie going experience from anything else. There are very few Americans of any race who know that Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with the help of the CIA. There are few Americans who know his name at all and therein lies the biggest problem.

Betty: It was not about helping young Black people.  It was marketing and it was big business and it was commerce and much more economic slavery but it wasn't about helping young Black people.

Stan: And are they prepared to do the same when the sequel comes out?  Buy out movie houses?  It was beyond stupid.

Jim: Okay.  Our next topic.  #MeToo.  A number of readers wonder why we walked away from it.

Rebecca: #MeToo is the takeover Alyssa Milano and CAA did.  It's not about anything and those women are an embarrassment.  They were an embarrassment at the Golden Globes and the Oscars as they yammered away about this woman and that woman and ignored the reality that men had came forward to discuss the abuse they suffered.  It was just navel gazing from a lot of women who should have passed quietly into another career long ago.

Ava: As has been noted, when brave people like Rose McGowan spoke up, we applauded that and we still applaud real bravery like Rose's; however, we thought this was going to get at the truly defenseless.  That would be the children, not Mira Sorvino.  Instead of using their time on stage to help anyone else, they just wanted to wallow.  Like Rebecca, I have no respect for the Miras.

Trina: It's just a case of people who are adults and seem to think they are the every point of everyone's attention.  Anthony Edwards spoke out about what happened to him as a child.  But there was Mira Sorvino and others at awards show going on about themselves and going on woman, woman, woman -- uh no.  It wasn't just women who were assaulted.

Dona: Trina, you're doing more coverage of diabetes at your sight.

Trina: I am.  It's an issue that's touching a lot of people which I didn't realize.  After C.I. wrote about diabetes and the roundtable on diabetes for Hilda's newsletter, it really became a topic of e-mails to me.  I write about food at my site and there are a lot of people who are trying to deal with various issues like diabetes and finding confusion when eating out and difficulty when cooking at home. I think it's issues like this that need exploring and also allow us the opportunity to learn about our commonalities.

Jim: Okay, we're not Alyssa Milanos.  And a lot of people are happy about that.  We only endorse a candidate if we can vote in the election.  There is one e-mailer who disagrees with that and says we should be doing everything we can to elect candidates who matter.

C.I.: I'm focused on Iraq.  I don't have time to also focus on every candidate running for office around the country.  I think you have to be an airhead like Alyssa to think (a) that you can know the candidates and the local issues and needs and (b) that everyone needs to know your opinion on everything.

Mike: When I started my site, I'd probably have endorsed anyone.  I didn't.  I just naturally focused on the candidates I knew about because they were in my area.  I do agree that a lot of people are pretending to know everything when they don't.  I remember being shocked, for example, when Tammy Duckworth first ran for office and people were presenting her as a 'progressive.'  She wasn't.  But all these so-called 'progressive' sites got behind her.  Christine Cegelis was the progressive.  There's spin and there's reality.  If I'm going to endorse someone, I need to believe in them and I need to know what they stand for and what their past actions were.

Cedric: And, let's be honest, most of the candidates aren't calling for an end to all these wars.  I find it disgraceful that my country is involved in so many wars and that we are not collectively demanding these wars end.  I'm just disgusted to be honest.  The normalization of war that's taken place since 9/11 is disgusting.

Ruth: I would agree.  I am the oldest one in this roundtable and I remember growing up in a different world, a world where wars had endings and where the media was required to cover these wars.  Today, the wars are considered over when they continue and it seems like the media does a horrible job, yes, but also there is a strong desire to ignore reality on the part of the people.  How much of an idiot or a liar do you have to be to go around saying the Iraq War is over?  I do not get it.

Marcia: Agreed.  Honestly, this 'Trump's going to declare war on Iran!' hysteria?  I really don't care.  I do care if a war with Iran is started but I don't care about these people.  They stayed silent for 8 years about war and now they show up -- hysterics over a potential war that may or may not happen when they said nothing as Libya was bombed -- as Black Libyans were put into slavery because of the US?  STFU to these posers.  There are real wars, ongoing wars, to demand the ending of and they've got their panties in a wad of Iran -- a war that's not started, that may not come to be.  They're full of it and I can't stand them.

Jess: It just seems to me that we're supposed to spend a lot of our time on things Trump might do or what he's Tweeted.  real issues are not deal with -- whether it's war or what we really need like Medicare for All.  As a Green, I'm immune to this toxic rage at Donald Trump.  Democrats are so fake pretending Hillary would have been better.  And they're so fake pretending that I or anyone else doesn't have a right to vote for Jill Stein or that she didn't have a right to run.  They need to wake up to the fact that there are a lot of us who are Greens.

Ann: And who were raised Greens.  Jess and I both come from Green families.  I'm really sorry that for some pathetic people, they've never met a Green Party member but we are out there and we do have real concerns that go way beyond what someone Tweets.  As my husband [Cedric] was saying, this toleration of war -- of never ending war -- is disgusting.  I think the Democratic Party needs to take a hard look at itself.

Isaiah: I'd expand that beyond the Democratic Party.  I'd certainly include myself but I'd also include the Democratic Socialists and much more.  There is way too much hypocrisy and apathy and tribalism, to eager to define "the other" and I think that a lot of the reaction to Donald Trump is actually more outrageous than anything Trump's doing.

Wally: Every word is pounced upon.  Every statement.  It's what is the most outrageous and offensive take we can have on what he said?  The outrage machine must be fed hourly these days.

Jim: Agreed.  Okay, we're going to close with that.  This is a rush transcript you're reading.

THE CON IS ON is hilarious

"I've had so many things stuffed up my ass, I might as well get a boyfriend and move to San Francisco," Tim Roth tells Uma Thurman in THE CON IS ON.

 con is on

THE CON IS ON was released in theaters at the start of the month and is also available on streaming platforms.  It's one of the funniest movies of the year and its the best case of ensemble acting since Robert Altman's SHORT CUTS.

The film moves quickly.  For example, in her first scene, Maggie Q shoots someone dead.  In her second, she kills them with a knife.  She's deadly and Q makes the point quickly and effectively.  She is precise in her line delivery and her execution of movement.  She could be a non-speaking role and still manage to get across every tone and meaning.

As amazing as Maggie Q is, everyone is outstanding -- including Quinn Meyers in a bit part (a waiter in one scene) as Sandy.  Hats off to director and co-screenwriter James Oakley for a witty caper film.

The film revolves around con artists Harry (Uma Thurman) and Peter (Tim Roth).  Their latest scheme involves stealing a ring from a woman who's described as "an actress/chat room whore."  They debate how to introduce themselves to her (for Peter, re-introduce) when Uma offers, "Maybe it's better if we bump into her casually" right before rear-ending the woman's car.

The woman is Jackie (Alice Eve).

"You're looking for Jackie," asks Parker Posey's Gina.  "You looking for Jackie?  Where's Jackie?  Where is Jackie?  Jackie?  Jackie?  Jackie?  Jackie?  She's downstairs."

Gina can't stand Jackie.  Parker Posey grabs Gina in a fierce hold and delivers more brave acting.  When she was announced to take over the Dr. Smith role in the LOST IN SPACE reboot, it seemed she was slumming.  But once NETFLIX started airing the show, it was clear that Parker had her own concept she planned to execute.  Gina is another twist and unexpected performance from Parker.

Alice Eve produces non-stop laughter as Jackie.  When Uma's con artist pretends to be a dog whisperer, she explains to Jackie that the dog is "disappointed, this is not what she was led to expect" and Jackie in insistent that the dog was lucky "to be adopted by a celebrity."

"She says she's never heard of you,"  Uma's Harry explains.

Priceless is the look of shock and fury that cross Alice Eve's face as she snarls, "That.  Little.  Bitch."

Jackie's married to film director Gabriel (Crispen Glover).  Glover really runs with the role.  He brings just the right-note of blow hard as he walks around with a crowd of hanger ons explaining, "God is a Communist.  I'm not a Communist although some people might say I am God."  The pompous Gabriel is married to Jackie and sleeping with Gina and sleeping with Vivian (a delightful Sofia Vergara).

There's a lot of sleeping around.  Peter's still ticked about his wife Harry sleeping with Irina (Maggie Q) a few years back.  And Jackie's employee Hans (Michael Sirow) is convinced he's going to sleep with Peter -- telling Peter early on, "I will f**k you."  And then later on, "Just close your eyes and pretend I'm Jackie."

Hans will be among the many killed by Irina prompting Sidney to rationalize, "Well if you're going to wear shorts like that you must expect to be shot, mustn't you?"

Sidney, played by Stephen Fry, is all about the cash and constantly pulling his employee and lover Kim Kim (Edward Zo) in front of him to use as a shield whenever anyone pulls out a gun.  Whether doing that or pushing an amorous Kim Kim away ("Not now, Kim Kim, I've got a Xanax in my throat"), Stephen Fry is outstanding.

Throughout it all, even a shoot out near the end, Tim Roth's Peter is bemused.  For example, the look on his face as two tourists at a party discuss the decay in first class amenities ("Those terrorists, they've ruined everything.") is priceless.

As each new scene replaces the previous one, you're ready to call the movie for Parker Posey or Uma Thurman or Crispen Glover or Maggie Q or Stephen Fry or Tim Roth or Alice Eve or Sofia Vergara or any of the others in smaller parts -- because this film provides each actor something to dig into and really deliver.

It's a shame this film has been buried and that the few notices its received have treated it like a failure.  It's a hilarious caper film and James Oakley and everyone involved has much to be proud of.  Check it out for yourself.  Hopefully, a year or two from now, THE CON IS ON will have found the audience that the studio LIONSGATE seems bound and determined to keep from it for now.

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  1. In 2008, naïve progressives thought that a new Obama administration with democrats controlling both houses would investigate government abuses under Bush. They didn't understand that strengthening the state against the people was agenda of both parties.

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"A sexist woman writes She's a Rebel and distorts music history" -- Ann.
"barbara ehrenreich's 'natural causes'" -- Rebecca. 
"Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook" -- Trina.

"Blackfish City" -- Marcia.
"THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES by Alice Walker" -- Ruth.
"Harry Belafonte" -- Mike.

"THE SAME RIVER TWICE (Alice Walker)" -- Isaiah.

"Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield" -- Marcia.

"Good for Jimmy Stewart, bad for readers" -- Stan.

"Conversations with Toni Morrison" -- Marcia.

"Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream" -- Ann.

"He Ran All The Way" -- Trina.

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