Monday, April 29, 2019

Truest statement of the week

It is rare for an enemy to give a gift the way Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did in a recent public speech . Pompeo said what anyone who has ever paid attention already knew. The intelligence agencies of the United States government are masters of deception and one should always assume that they are lying, cheating, and or stealing. 
When they say that a foreign leader is a “brutal dictator” the charge proves just one thing. The person in question is being targeted by the United States. The individual labeled a dictator is said to rule over people who want the U.S. to drop bombs on them or destroy their economy with sanctions.  But as Pompeo pointed out, the spooks and other deep state functionaries are always lying.

It is all to the good that Pompeo is too stupid to keep his mouth shut. In spilling the beans he made the definitive case for opposing U.S. foreign policy dictates. It is especially fortuitous that Pompeo contracted foot in mouth disease at this moment in history.  For those foolish enough to believe that this country has the right to decide who runs Venezuela or Cuba or Iran or Syria or Haiti, Pompeo’s words ought to ring in their ears.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: Pompeo’s Truth About Lies" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

The Democrats’ warmongering and attack on democratic rights come together in the persecution of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, whose enduring contribution to the population of the world was the exposure of the crimes of American imperialism. For this, Assange is currently imprisoned in Britain, facing imminent rendition to the United States. The courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning is in jail for refusing to testify against him.
Such is Clinton’s defense of “our democracy.”
All of this further demonstrates that in the conflict between Trump and the Democratic Party there is no progressive or democratic faction. The anti-Russia narrative has not been challenged by any section of the Democratic Party, including Bernie Sanders, who is again seeking to cover up this warmongering party with a thin veneer of social reforms that it has no intention of implementing.

The conflict between the Democrats and the Trump administration is a conflict between two reactionary factions of the ruling class. All those political organizations and groups that are seeking to direct social opposition behind the Democratic Party are playing the most criminal role. They are no less terrified than Trump and the Democrats of the development of a genuine socialist movement of the working class, which will oppose American capitalism and its wars.

-- Joseph Kishore, "Hillary Clinton’s McCarthyite rant" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday night on the west coast -- already Monday on the east.

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?

Margaret Kimberley gets another truest.
As does Joseph Kishore.
Hint, it's Erik Prince.
Ava and C.I. give you the 411 on EMPIRE that the so-called media keeps missing.  
We propose a live acoustic album and the songs we'd love to see Stevie record.
Repost from THE COMMON ILLS.
It was a bad year for TV.

Rhiannon Giddens.
Stan's review of the new Avengers film.
What we listened to while writing.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: Look Who's Back


Yes, he's back.  Erik Prince of Blackwater infamy.  When Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, Erik Prince was his dream boy as Isaiah noted in "Bully Mama Interrupts Playtime" back in 2007.

Erik's back.  Rosalind Adams (BUZZFEED) reports:

A Hong Kong–based security and logistics company founded by Erik Prince is working in the south of Iraq, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Prince, a former Navy SEAL and the brother of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is best known for founding Blackwater, a private mercenary company that was banned from Iraq after contractors opened fire on and killed unarmed civilians in Baghdad.
Backed by Chinese money, Prince started the Hong Kong–listed Frontier Services Group (FSG) as a logistics company in 2014. Since then it’s expanded from operating Africa-based projects to offering logistics and security services for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a global infrastructure strategy adopted by the Chinese government. FSG has additional offices in mainland China; Southeast Asia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

SPUTNIK adds, "Blackwater's reputation suffered major blow after several of its contractors were accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians, 14 of them without just cause in 2007. After a series of trials, one of them admitted his guilt, while four others were convicted of committing murder. One of them received a life sentence, while three others got 30 years in prison."

The war never ends and the crooks never stop profitting from it.

TV: EMPIRE's fate cries out

A telling moment took place last week.  Some in the media rah-rahed the day after shaking their pom-poms over the first African-American same-sex wedding on a US primetime TV show aired on a broadcast network.  It was monumental, so many insisted.



Because it didn't play that way and the reaction was meh.

The reaction's what we really want to focus on but let's first note that Jussie Smollett's EMPIRE character Jamal has been dead in the water for some time.  Jamal points a lot and recaps a great deal.  He is a busy body, a little red hen doing all.  It wasn't always that way but Jamal's gayness scared away viewers (or so it is thought) so the show began to tamp down it it.

Each relationship has had less and less heat which is how last week's 'event' on FOX really came off as though Jamal was marrying his non-romantic roommate Kai.  The blocking for the two all season long has been hideous.  For example, the scene they broke up in?  They couldn't have been more physically apart if they'd been in different rooms.  The staging of their scenes has not been the way love scenes are staged or romances or portrayed.  Toby Onwumere is a talented actor.  But you can't do anything with these scenes, no one can.  When Doug Savant was Matt on MELROSE PLACE, he couldn't do anything with these scenes either.

Kai and Jamal getting married should have been something.  It wasn't.

It should have been romantic and lively.  Instead, it was just dull.

But you had to watch to know that and the watching is another issue.

There was no bump.  This wasn't just another low rated episode -- they've all been low rated since the show returned with new episodes following Jussie Smollett lying to the nation that two White men attacked him -- it was tied with the episode the week prior for least watched episode of the series.

And that's not supposed to happen.

Weddings are ratings stunts and have been since RHODA kicked off with Rhoda marrying Joe (and Mary and all her friends from THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW attending the wedding).

Jussie has to be fired and maybe even the show needs to be cancelled.

Taraji P. Henson went on THE VIEW earlier this month to plug her latest bomb (she just can't seem to make it as a movie star) and lied.  She said Jussie would be back for season six.  First off, season six is not a given -- especially with the current ratings.  FOX has yet to announce whether the series will be renewed.  Second, she was lying.  As was revealed last week, she and other actors on the show have written a letter to FOX-DISNEY-WARNER-ET AL to insist that Jussie must return.


So we can see more attempts by Lee Daniels, an out gay man, to get credit for a gay storyline where two gay men are in love but never really touch and certainly never make out?  It's really embarrassing to watch that nonsense.

It's also embarrassing to grasp that, as Ann pointed out, this series does not have any main women characters except for Taraji's Cookie.  You've got Lucious, Andre, Hakeem and Jamal.  But, year after year, you've got guest starring and supporting women only.  Is that Taraji?  Is she that self-centered?  Or is Lee Daniels unable to create female characters?  STAR would seem to suggest that the problem isn't Lee Daniels.

But the real problem is Jussie.

There's some sort of deranged fantasy that Taraji has indulged in.  It goes like this: Racists are trying to destroy Jussie Smollett's career and she will stand by him.

What she can't seem to grasp is that racists wouldn't watch EMPIRE.

Whatever non-EMPIRE watchers think, it's clear what the viewers of the show feel: They want Jussie gone.

That's not due to racism, it's due to betrayal.

When Jussie chose to lie, he was not initially condemned.  He was supported.  People were appalled by what happened -- especially fans of EMPIRE.  It was outrageous that he was attacked.

People were standing by him.  And he lied.

Now there is a lot that would need to be sorted out in court.  It appears, for example, that he hired his attackers.  That can be argued -- the brothers say he hired them, he says he didn't.  A court of law could settle the matter (and may yet).  But his claim to have been attacked by two White man?  That's a lie. No court is needed to sort that out.

Now when he made a deal with the prosecutors -- his community service and his posted bail in return for not going to court -- he could have gotten honest.

Then came more lies at the press conference when it was declared he was cleared of all charges.  No, he wasn't.  He cut a deal.  The prosecutor, Kim Foxx, has stated publicly that she believes he is guilty of staging an attack and paying the attackers.

He has never gotten honest.

Viewers could forgive Jamal a lot.  But what happened with Jussie just made it clear that he is not Jamal.  His actions have destroyed the relationship that fans had with the fictional character of Jamal.  They do not want to root for that character anymore, they do not want to watch him.

That's what the ratings for the last seven episodes have demonstrated -- each new episode since the show returned after Jussie's scandal has tanked.

Jamal got married last week and, at another time, viewers would have tuned in for that.  Not last week.  The message is clear, the show's fans are not going to tune in for Jamal Lyon as played by Jussie Smollett.

Jussie needs to be fired.  If the part's important, it needs to be recast.  The audience has spoken.

Why hasn't FOX taken this step already?

Because this week matters.

This week, Jamal won't be on.  The same with next week.

Will the ratings rise without Jussie?

That's what FOX wants to know.  It's one thing to fire Jussie.

That could cost them.

Gone are the days when Nazimova could get Katharine Hepburn fired from A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY for leaving a 'ladies' party with Mercedes de Acosta and not her.

You have to have cause and there is cause.  Clearly, he's no longer an audience favorite.  Should they fire him and he decides to sue for lost wages?  That's especially possible considering the allegation that he hired two brothers to attack him so he could get publicity and use the publicity to get a big raise for his role next year on EMPIRE.

Of course, if he wanted to sue, it would be in a civil court where the burden of proof is much lower and most believe FOX can easily establish, in court, that Jussie's actions harmed the show and that, therefore, his firing was warranted.

But taking that step might not be necessary.  You could avoid Jussie trying to get paid for season six by just cancelling the whole show.

While it's a given that Jussie has damaged the show and needs to go, has he damaged it so much that the show itself needs to go?

In other words, the ratings this Wednesday will explain a great deal.  Are the fans done with the show?  EMPIRE costs a lot to make.  It's worth it to FOX when, for example, the season one finale brings in 17 million viewers.  But when the show's episodes can't even draw four million?  That's a different story.

While reporters have focused on Jussie's fate, they've overlooked the fact that, in season five, the audience for EMPIRE was already bailing with only five to six million viewers tuning in before Jussie's hoax.  Wednesday, FOX airs "My Fate Cries Out" and the reality there is that the show's fate really does cry out.

Stevie Nicks' song circle

Rock star Stevie Nicks is the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of a group (Fleetwood Mac) and as a solo artist.  She's a legend and a new 3-disc collection entitled STAND BACK gathers up many of her greatest songs including the hits "Stand Back," "Talk To Me," "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," "I Can't Wait," "If Anyone Falls In Love," etc.

We can't wait for a new Stevie album but if she's still working on material, we'd suggest she do a song circle album.

What do we mean?  Just a live recording of her performing with her back up singers Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks while Dave Stewart accompanies them on acoustic guitar and maybe Rick Nowels joining on piano for a few songs.  Something similar to what Faith Hill did on her FIREFLIES special.

For the stripped down live recordings, we'd suggest the following 24 songs.

1) "Juliet"

2) "Gypsy"

3) "The Dealer"

4) "Kick It"

5) "Think About It"

6) "Sister Honey"

7) "If You Ever Did Believe"

8) "Wild Heart"

9) "One More Big Time Rock and Roll Star"

10) "Ghosts"

11) "If Anyone Falls In Love"

12) "My Secret Love"

13) "Imperial Hotel"

14) "That Made Me Stronger"

15) "Hard Advice"

16) "Nightbird"

17) "The Highwayman"

18) "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You"

19) "I Sing For The Things"

20)"After The Glitter Fades"

21)  "I Miss You"

22) "Blue Water"

23) "Rhiannon"

24) "For What It's Worth"

The Iraqi government demands the US delete a FACEBOOK post

From C.I.'s "Moqtada floats closing the US Embassy, the Iraqi government demands the US delete a FACEBOOK post:"

So that's one problem for the US government.  Here's another -- this is from the US Embassy in Baghdad's FACEBOOK page:

يستشري الفساد في جميع مفاصل #النظام_الإيراني، بدءا من القمة. فممتلكات مرشد النظام علي #خامنئيوحده تقدر بـ 200 مليار دولار، بينما يرزح كثير من ابناء الشعب تحت وطأة الفقر بسبب الوضع الإقتصادي المزري الذي وصلت اليه #ايران بعد أربعين عاما من حكم الملالي.
Corruption is rife in all parts of the #IranianRegime, starting at the top. The possessions of the current supreme leader Ali #Khamenei alone are estimated at $200 billion, while many people languish in poverty because of the dire economic situation in #Iran after 40 years of rule by the mullahs.

As ALSUMARIA notes, the Iraqi government sees that post as interfering in Iraqi affairs and they says it goes too far.  They are calling for the US Embassy to remove the post.

Will it?

Better question, why is it that the US media is ignoring this?  Normally, when the US and another government clash, it's news.  Does no one in the US media pay attention to Iraq anymore?  Or are they all desperate to save the US government any embarrassment by ignoring this story?

10 worst TV shows of the 2018 - 2019 season

SANTA CLARITA DIET just got the axe from NETFLIX.  All the good shows are getting cancelled these days while too many shows that should be kicked to the curb keep getting renewed.  We're compiling a list of the ten worst shows from last fall to date.  We're leaving out reality or 'reality' television.  We're also taking a pass on Chicago shows.

1)  I FEEL BAD. Has a show this bad ever been promoted so hard?  You'd think after viewing the pilot, NBC would have decided to cut their losses.  Instead, a small fortune was spent trying to persuade viewers that this was a funny show -- it wasn't.

2)  THE CONNERS.  As Ava and C.I. pointed out, Rhoda only gets married once.  And Roseanne only gets killed off once.  Eleven million watched that episode.  After?  They averaged six million.  A huge comedown for the show that was ROSEANNE the year before and, as ROSEANNE, their highest rated episode saw 27 million tune in and their lowest saw 15 million viewers.  THE CONNERS is a bomb and no one wants to watch pointy-chinned Sara Gilbert play a straight woman pursued by several men (three this season alone).  It took Gilbert years to come out of the closet -- she was already married and had a kid ready to start school before she came out.  How long before she finally agrees to play a lesbian -- which is what Darlene should be?  The homophobia wafting off Sara Gilbert is disgusting.

3) EMPIRE season five.  Oh, look, another season where we pretend Cookie's going to grow emotionally but doesn't.  Another give her a romantic partner who is questionable season.  And, look, there's Jamal thinking bitchy is the new heroic.  Between that and everything else, the only storyline that worked was Lucious relationship with Kingsley -- and the show even blew that, delaying Lucious accepting his own son so long that it made a mockery of everything Lucious had ever stood for or done.

4) SUPERSTORE.  A great episode, for this show, means you smile once.  You never laugh because it's not a funny show.  Ratings should have gotten this show cancelled years ago.  Low rated, non-funny shows like this crowded our WILL & GRACE a decade ago.  These single-cam shows built on 'whimsy' but no one tunes in for that.  NBC has had to bring back WILL & GRACE to get a hit on Thursdays but they still surround it with these single-cam shows billed as "sitcoms" which are actually not funny.  Of all of them, SUPERSTORE is the worst.

5) THE GIFTED.  It should have been more.  Bryan Singer's lust for young boys, is that why we got what we got?  The hideous Percy playing a lead role even though he should be laying the guest on SAVED BY THE BELL whose head gets pushed in the toilet  by Zach while Slater flushed the toilet.  White boy blond Percy was the worst actor in the cast and played the least interesting character.  So why was he front and center?  Bryan Singer's lust or just the fact that he was Anglo White?

6) THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT.  Lifeless and joyless, this is another single-camera 'comedy' that fails to deliver the laughs.

7) THE PASSAGE.  If the first episode had been 30 seconds, it might have worked.  They had enough going on to make the commercial appear to be for a strong new show.  But then the actual episodes started airing and it was clear that the writing just wasn't there and never would be.  One of the great disappointments of this season.

8) WHISKEY CAVALIER.  As Ava and C.I. noted, when you build a show around sexual chemistry, your leads need to have it: " Scott Foley is a lead, yes.  But Lauren Cohan?  She's not a lead.  She's someone's who has been hired for a role she's all wrong for and every episode is an attempt to shoot around this reality."

9) NCIS.  Apparently, this show will be back next season so that the increasingly feminized Mark Harmon can breast feed the young pups on this tired show.

10) FOSSE/VERDON.  What should be a raging potboiler melodrama instead is a genteel bore.  Michelle Williams looks so bad, you don't even wonder why they've hired another actress to play Gwen Verdon as a young adult, first married woman.  Yes, she looks that bad and that old and that flabby ass doesn't speak to a professional dancer.  Sam Rockwell has a ridiculous part but he goes with it and does deliver a performance, he's the only one in the cast who does.

The top two on the list above also made our list for the worst of fall 2018.

Video of the week

Rhiannon Gidddens' "He Will See You Through" from her new album THERE IS NO OTHER.


This is a repost of Stan's review of the new Avengers film.



The audience I watched it with burst into applause during the last third of the movie, the big battle scene, where Spiderman shows up.

The film?

Let's start with the fact that I only need one ending.  If I want to watch a film that never knows how to end, I'll watch a Spike Lee film.  (MO BETTER BLUES if really want to see Spike struggle to figure out an ending.)  How many endings did we need?  A death on the battlefield.  A funeral.  Another mission.  A man returning from the past but now old.

A man.

That's the biggest problem.  This was the most sexist of all the Avengers movies -- and, yes, that's really saying something.

Black Widow is the only woman in the first film.  She's also the only woman to be in every one of the Avengers films.  So to kill her off is problematic.  To do so at the middle of the film when there are no real female Avengers around was flat out sexist.

Paul Rudd was comic relief.  I'm not insulting him.  He did that very well.

But if he's comic relief, why do we have Thor being comic relief?

Why do we have to see Thor travel back in time and speak with his mother who's dead in the present?  Or the same for Iron Man with his father?

But Black Widow?  After she dies, the male Avengers are talking about her but don't even know if she had any family.  That's a case of the writers never giving women actual storylines.

And where's her funeral?

Iron Man dies and we have a big old funeral.  She dies and nothing.

She dies on a mission to get stones.  She's paired with Hawkeye.  The others?  They get tons of time trying to get the stones -- Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America.  But she and Hawkeye aren't even the main story of their mission.

The rank sexism also included Carol Danvers' Captain America showing up at the beginning but then disappearing until the last third of the movie for the big battle scene.

The bulk of the film was Ant-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Thor.  They couldn't do a damn thing with Black Widow.  She was never the focus of any scene.

Scarlet Witch shows up in the last third for the big battle scene and, for a brief moment, it's remembered that she is actually hugely powerful but then they move on quickly and that's it for Scarlet Witch until she gets to say a few words to Clint at Iron Man's funeral.

Clint gets back with his now alive wife and kids.

And let's grasp that at Iron Man's funeral and the scenes right after, Jon Faverau gets more scenes than Pepper Potts.

The sexism never ended.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

This edition's playlist


1) Rhiannon Giddens' THERE IS NO OTHER.

2) Tracy Chapman's OUR BRIGHT FUTURE.

3) Mavis Staples' LIVE IN LONDON.

4) Chaka Khan's HELLO HAPPINESS.

5) Alicia KeysHERE.


7)  Cat PowersWANDERER.

8) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.

9) Sam Smith's THE THRILL OF IT ALL.

10) Ben Harper's CALL IT WHAT IT IS.


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.

"Moqtada floats closing the US Embassy, the Iraqi g..." -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

"Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Joe Biden Snif…" and "Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY "She's Getting Desperate" -- Isaiah's latest comics.

"No to Sir Joe!," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Oh, Joe, no, Joe," "No to Joe," "Idiot of the week," "Biden"  "No to Elizabeth, yes to Tulsi," "Tulsi is the real deal," "Mayor Pete," "That idiot Elizabeth Warren," "Elizabeth can't focus and is messing up things for everyone," "In a desperate big to save her failing campaign . . .," "Mayor Pete's packing a lot self-hatred," "Why does ABC hate women who serve in the military?," "Tulsi," "Rot in hell, Elizabeth Warren" and "The faux 'resistance' is full of homophobia" -- political coverage in the community.

"The Boss," "Brenda Russell, Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders," "Chrissie Hynde and Stevie Nicks," "Today in music history"Tulsi Gabbard, Nirvana, Tori Amos"  "and 5 great tracks by Alicia Keys" -- music coverage in the community.

"dynasty sinks from too much elizabeth gilles," "More trouble for NETFLIX," "Lee Daniels confesses he's sexist trash," "Nate Bargatze," "dynasty gets their new alexis (and it's a huge mistake)," "Axe Empire," "Jussie the never ending nightmare" and "It's time to cancel Empire" -- TV coverage in the community.

"Tortilla Soup in the Kitchen" -- Trina serves up a new recipe and some music talk.

"Mosquitos," "Curiosity Rover," "Aurora Borealis," and "There's no soothing term for what we are doing to our planet" -- science coverage in the community.

"Basketball without African-Americans?" -- Marcia offers some history.

 "AVENGERS ENDGAME sucks" and "Yes, Avengers Endgame sucks" -- Stan and Ann go to the movies.

"The Empire family welcomes more," "Taraji has another reach around moment" and "THIS JUST IN! IF THEY CAN ACCEPT JUSSIE, THEY CAN ACCEPT ANYONE!," and "" and "" -- coverage of what it takes to be a cast member on EMPIRE.

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