Monday, January 06, 2020

Truest statement of the week

The arrival of the New Year marks the beginning of a decade of intensifying class struggle and world socialist revolution.
In the future, when learned historians write about the upheavals of the Twenty-First Century, they will enumerate all the “obvious” signs that existed, as the 2020s began, of the revolutionary storm that was soon to sweep across the globe. The scholars—with a vast array of facts, documents, charts, web site and social media postings, and other forms of valuable digitalized information at their disposal—will describe the 2010s as a period characterized by an intractable economic, social, and political crisis of the world capitalist system.

They will note that by the beginning of the third decade of the century, history had arrived at precisely the situation foreseen theoretically by Karl Marx: “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or—what is but a legal expression for the same thing—with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed.”

-- David North and Joseph Kishore, "The decade of socialist revolution begins" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

Millennials and the children we call Generation Z face the horrifying prospect that they will get stuck with the tab for humanity’s centuries-long rape of planet earth, the mass desecration of which radically accelerated after 1950. There is an intolerably high chance that today’s young people will starve to death, die of thirst, be killed by a superstorm, succumb to a new disease, boil to death, asphyxiate from air pollution, be murdered in a riot or shot or blown up in a war sparked by environmentally-related political instability long before they survive to old age.
Long threatened, never taken seriously, not even now that it’s staring us right in the face, human extinction is coming for the children and grandchildren we claim to love but won’t lift a finger to save.

-- Ted Rall, "A Grim New Definition of Generation X" (COUNTERPUNCH).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday morning.

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, 
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?

David North and Joseph Kishore kick off the year with a truest.
As does Ted Rall.
If we had more time to work on this edition, we'd have written something but this really does say it all.
Ava and C.I. take a look at NETFLIX.
A parody piece for all who've missed those.
As promised last month, we did this past decade.
We also took a look at our favorite shows of this past decade.
The Iraq War never ended.  (Maybe it will soon.)
Stupidity runneth over for so many.
Community pieces on the end of the decade.
Don't forget the fires in Australia.
What we listened to while working on this edition.


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

Editorial: Good, let's get out of Iraq

We're reprinting C.I.:

Iraq's Parliament votes all US troops out of Iraq

Joanna Tan reports "Trump threatens to slap sanctions on Iraq 'like they've never seen before'" (CNBC):

President Donald Trump threatened Sunday to slap sanctions on Iraq after its parliament passed a resolution calling for the government to expel foreign troops from the country.
Tensions in the Middle East spiraled last week after Trump called for a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, the U.S. president said: “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump said.
The president added that “If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”

Does that make you sad?

Makes me happy.  I'd love to see Iraq order all US troops out.  And that might, in fact, end the war.  Would it cure Iraq's problems?  Not immediately.  But it would let the Iraqi people take on their corrupt and lethargic government with no interference from outsiders -- including the outsiders (US government) that put it in place.

Let's hope they demand all US troops out.   Per Stephen Sorace (FOX NEWS), this is what the Iraqi Parliament voted in favor of:

The resolution asks the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent forces to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.
"The Iraqi government has an obligation to end the presence of all foreign forces on Iraqi soil and prevent it from using Iraqi lands, waters, and airspace or any other reason," Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halboosi said in an address to lawmakers before the vote.

 Erin Cunningham (WASHINGTON POST via TORONOTE STAR) adds:

In an address to parliament, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi recommended that the government establish a timetable for the exit of foreign troops, including the members of the U.S.-led coalition to fight the Islamic State, “for the sake of our national sovereignty.”
“What happened was a political assassination,” Abdul Mahdi said of the U.S. strike that targeted Iran’s elite Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, as he travelled in a convoy near the Baghdad airport.
He said that foreign troops were in Iraq to train its forces and help target remnants of the Islamic State “under the supervision and approval of the Iraqi government.”

US forces should leave.  And it's likely that in the aftermath of the departure, Adel Abdul Mahdi will finally be pushed out of office -- as he should be.  And as he promised to be, remember?  He resigned.  He's corrupt and ineffective and the only thing that's keep his lazy and corrupt ass in place has been the US government.

Even now, he's a joke.  Qasem Soleimani is not his issue.  The US attack on Iraqi forces last Sunday is the issue.  That attack left at least 25 Iraqi troops dead.  Somehow Mahdi ignores and forgets that but then he's always forgotten the Iraqi people which is why the protesters demanded he stepped down in the first place.

Over at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, Ben Connable frets, "Without firing a shot, Iran appears to have executed a devastating revenge attack against the United States for the killing of Gen. Qassem Suleimani. Using Iraq’s democratic process, Iranian-influenced members of parliament on Sunday voted to expel American soldiers from Iraq. With that, Iran may have effectively won the battle of influence in Iraq."

Lies.  Lies they tell you to prolong war.

Iraq doesn't want to be controlled by Iran.  It's had a war over that.  Since the 2003 US-led invasion, they've regularly fault over their shared border with both claiming the other was attempting to steal territory, they've regularly fought over who has water rights, it's been one fight after another.  Iran is not going to overrun Iraq.  The government of Iran might like to, but it's not going to happen.

Each year, there are more lies told to continue the US occupation of Iraq.

Will there be violence if US troops leave Iraq?  Probably so.  Very likely.  But the alternative is US troops never leave Iraq.  Let the Iraqi people determine their own future and path.

TV: One great mini-series won't save NETFLIX

Source material can only do so much.  It takes a visionary to look at, for example, the short story "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," and see a full blown movie -- a musical at that.  But an artist like Barbra Streisand was able to do that.  By contrast, Greta Gerwig looked at LITTLE WOMAN and saw a project already made into a film seven times and one that needed no real overhaul, just another generic adaptation.


If any source material can withstand generic adaptations, it's probably horror novels.  As long as they scare us, we're satisfied.  For example, CARNIVAL FILMS and NBC teamed up for 2013's DRACULA and it delivered.  Seven years later, BBC delivers a new DRACULA -- streaming in the US on NETFLIX -- and it's a radical reworking of the source material.

Dracula, for example, turns Jonathan Harker into one of his brides and then prepares to leave on a boat trip to London.  This journey takes much longer than anyone could have expected.  Claes Bang menaces as Dracula.  Van Helsing is now Sister Agatha Van Helsing (Dolly Wells) and she's a formidable foe for Dracula.  Tension builds and builds between the two actors.

Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat have reworked the source material in various ways.  One of the most interesting things they've done is explored the origin issues -- the issue of a cross holding back Dracula or him being unable to enter an area without being invited in or the issue of sunshine harming him.

It would work as a philosophical exercise all by itself but the thrills and spills they keep and add are more than enough to carry the viewer through the three episode mini-series.

DRACULA is a stunning mini-series, one that NETFLIX can be proud of.  They can also be proud of ASTRONOMY CLUB: THE SKETCH SHOW.  Kenya Barris got a big money NETFLIX deal and this is the first program from that deal.  If BLACK EXCELLENCE (the upcoming series he's doing where he'll be acting opposite Rashida Jones and Iman Benson) is half as funny, it will be a show worth watching.  It delivers laughs, it makes you think.  The only problem?  A six episode season?  NETFLIX also did that with their other outstanding sketch show I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON.   Tim's show has been renewed and, hopefully, ASTRONOMY CLUB will be as well but both of them need orders larger than six episodes.  They are too funny to be limited to so few episodes.

And NETFLIX needs to find something.  Talk shows aren't working out (rumor is David Letterman's about to be cancelled).  Most of their over-the-top shows haven't worked.  Their children's programming has become a nightmare and, with very little attention from the press, they've axed both Julie Andrews'  JULIE'S GREENROOM and Carol Burnett's A LITTLE HELP WITH CAROL BURNETT.   What have they renewed?

That's a very good question since NETFLIX spent the spring announcing they were pouring a ton of money -- at one point they were claiming it would be one billion dollars -- into children's programming last year.  Where did that programming go?  The only animated shows for children that they have renewed so far are WORLD PARTY, HILDA, THE HOLLOW, THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH and GREEN EGGS AND HAM and the only live action programs for children that they've renewed so far are GREENHOUSE ACADEMY and MALIBU RESCUE: THE SERIES.

COMMON SENSE MEDIA has a list of children's programs on NETFLIX worth applauding -- you have to get to number 20 find one (GREEN EGGS AND HAM) that NETFLIX has renewed.  We stopped looking at the list at number one hundred -- the only show renewed in the top 100 was GREEN EGGS AND HAM.  Might not matter to you but let's remember that NETFLIX's own publicized estimates have over 50% of their accounts streaming children's programming.

Let's also remember that in the '10s, NETFLIX was a streaming giant with much talked about programming like ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, HOUSE OF CARDS, SENSE8, BLOODLINE, GRACE AND FRANKIE, STRANGER THINGS and more.  And now?  GRACE AND FRANKIE's final season debuts later this month.  STRANGER THINGS is about all they'll have left.  In terms of shows that are popular but not critical successes, they're about to lose both THE RANCH and FULLER HOUSE.

A mini-series like DRACULA is hugely needed for NETFLIX but they need a lot more and they're starting to underwhelm.  A new change that's taking place: The Water Cooler Set is saying that NETFLIX needs to stop dumping a series all in one day.  Hmm?  That sounds familiar.  Oh, that's because we've been making that point for years.

If it wants a future as something other than a footnote, NETFLIX needs to start making some very bold moves.

ATTENTION WHORE season 35, episode four

You take the good
You take the bad
You take whatever
You can grab
Attention Whore
Attention Whore

medea for fake ass

This episode of ATTENTION WHORE was taped before a studio audience.

A zaftig MEDEA BENJAMIN lumbers into the room carrying poster board and markers.  4 YOUNG WOMEN look over at her.

Medea: Girls, girls, girls!  We've got to get these posters made for the demonstration.  Local TV cameras won't be around forever!

Young Woman #1:  What is it this time, Medea?

Medea: (Looking up) Who said that?  Was it the fat one?

Young Woman #1: It was me.

Medea: Oh.  This is about the fires in Australia.  I care deeply about all the planet's creatures and that so many are dying in these fires . . .  [Medea sobs for a moment.]  No, it's alright.  I'm okay.  I can do this.  Deep breath, Medea, deep breath.  Girls, grab markers, let's make our posters.  On each sheet of poster board, let's write, "Fire Kills."  Got it?  Everybody got it?  Does the foreign one understand?

Young Woman #2: I'm not foreign.  I'm from New Jersey!

Medea: Is that "si" or "no"?

The young women all share a look as Medea writes a large "F" on her own poster board.

Medea: You know, girls, this reminds me of when I was starting out.  It was all about girl power and just knowing that we women could do anything.

Young Woman #3: I thought you started Medea's Muffins with a man, Kevin Danaher?

Medea: Who said that?  Was it the fat one?

Medea's cell phone rings.  Her ring tone is Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music."

Medea:  (On phone) Social healing, one-stop protest, fiber equality and justice for all and so much more here at Medea's Muffins.  Go for Medea.  Jodie, how are you?  What?  Oh no!  Oh!  No!  I'm on it.  I'm on it.  I'm sitting on it, I'm so on it.  It's a park bench and I'm on it!  But it's a public bench so I'm leaving room for others to get on it too!  Thank you.

Medea sighs dramatically as she puts away her phone while the four young women attempt to ignore  her.

Medea; I said SIGH!!!!! [Long pause.]  Huh?  What?  Did one of you just ask what's wrong?  Was it the fat one?  It doesn't matter which of you angels asked, the point is you asked.  Someone has been arrested!  Arrested.   We must protest this.  We must be heard.  So we're doing different posters.  I've already got an "F" on mine for "Fire Kills."  But let's all use our "F"s and make it "Free Him!" instead.  I assume it's a him.  My friend Jodie didn't give me the person's name.  Or what he did.  He might have been jay walking.  Or it could have been a DWI.  Or maybe first degree murder.  I don't know but he's been charged with something and we need to finish our posters and hurry downtown.  We have to help him.  If it is a him.  Jodie didn't tell me the gender.

Young Woman #4: You don't know much, do you?

Medea: Okay, that time I know it was the fat one.  But that's okay,  Jodie's on her way over and we've got posters to make and muffins to bake!  We didn't have it so easy when I was your age, girls.  Back then, you made any stand of substance and Fidel was kicking you out of Cuba.  That's what he did to me.  Oh Fidel, he never forgave me, you know?

MARCOS struts into the main area.  Scratching his nuts, he leers at the young women and then turns to Medea.

Marcos: Oven's on.

Medea: You turned it on?  Marcos, you turned it on?  Oh, you work so hard.  What do I owe you?  Two hundred dollars?

Marcos: Yeah.  You going to need me to come back at the end of the day to turn the oven off?

Medea: (Digging through purse) I think one of the girls can manage it.  But you will be back tomorrow to turn the oven on again, right?

Marcos: Yeah.  See you, girls.

Marcos nods and grabs his crotch.  As he walks off, Medea beams.

Medea: That Marcos, he's quite the charmer.  If I was five years younger . . .

Young Woman #2: Are we getting paid this week?  Or do you just pay men?

Medea: Girls!  Get to work.  I'm the only one who even has two letters on my poster board.  I have an "F" and I have an "R."

Young Woman #4: Yeah, I got an "F" and a "U."

Before Medea can respond, a ridiculous looking red-headed and balding elderly woman limps into the room.  This is Medea's friend JODIE

Jodie: Oh, Medea, it's so awful!

Medea: I know.  But, Jodie, we're working on our posters.  They're going to read "Free Him!" which is kind of catchy, right?

Jodie: No, Medea --

Medea: Well it's no "Blood For Oil," but there is worse.

Jodie: No, Medea, that's not what I mean.  Haven't you heard the news?  Breaking news, we're going to war on Congo.

Medea:  No!  No!  It's come to this?  War on dancing?  "Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga. I know you can't control yourself any longer. Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga. I know you can't control yourself any longer."

Medea does a sad and half-hearted hip move as she shakes her head.

Medea (Con't): I love the conga.

Jodie: No, not conga, the Congo.

Medea: Oh.  Oh.  I guess that's different.  (To Jodie) Right? (To the Young Women) It is, right?

Jodie: We'll need all new posters.  Any ideas?

Medea: Well "F" and an "R"  -- Let me think.  Oh, Jodie, why can't it be simpler like when we were kids.  We'd go to the store and buy some candy straws and then we'd go to the overpass and drop car batteries on cars passing under us.  Those were simpler times.  Better days.  I miss my sugar straws.  And a good car battery, preferably a Mighty Max ML35-12 Battery.  Those puppies really packed some power when they landed on a car hood.

Jodie nods and wraps an arm around Medea, giving her a hug.

Medea: I've got it!  I've got it!  Another memorable slogan from me Medea!  "Freak Out! War!"  Huh?  Huh?  That's good, right?  I did it again.  Girls, did you hear?  We're doing "Freak Out! War!" on our posters.

Jodie watches as the young women stare.  She looks at them, then at Medea.

Jodie:  They're not moving.  Why aren't they moving?

Young Woman #1: We're not moving because we're not getting paid.

Jodie: This is a calling, not an occupation.

Medea: Yeah!

Jodie: You don't get paid for a calling.

Medea: Yeah!

Jodie: It's your civic duty.

Medea: Yeah!

Young Woman #1: We were hired to make muffins.  We make muffins.  We've done that for two weeks now.  Where are our paychecks?

Medea: Yeah!  I mean, no.  No!

Jodie: We are a non-profit.  The government sees us as a non-profit.

Medea: Yeah!

Young Woman #1:  You pay Marco.  All he does is come in every morning and turn the knob on the oven and you pay him.

Jodie: That is very hard work.

Medea: Yeah!

Jodie: And he has a family.

Medea: Yeah!

Jodie: And a penis.

Medea: Yeah!

Young Woman #1: Paying men but not paying women is sexism.

Medea starts to yell "Yeah!" but Jodie puts her hand over Medea's mouth.

Jodie: (To Medea) Who is that girl?

Medea: I don't know.  It's not the fat one and it's not the foreign one.

Jodie: Girls are the worst little bitches.

Medea: Aren't they though.

Young Woman #2: We're out of here.

The four young women walk out of the muffin shop.

Medea: Good!  Go!  Who needs you!  (Nodding to Jodie, she points at the women.) That one, that's the fat one.

Jodie's cell phone goes off and she reads a text on it.

Medea: Okay, so let me get a least one sign with "Freak Out! War!" on it and --

Jodie: (putting away phone) Forget it, Jon Stewart's just announced another Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear.  We've got to make that our focus.

When your life never seems 
To be living up to your dreams
And suddenly you're finding out
The world is not all about you
Attention Whore
Attention Whore

created by a massive ego and CODESTINK

starring Medea Benjamin

"Follow That Protest" based on an idea by Jim, Cedric, Rebecca, Marcia and Wally, script written by Ann, Betty, Ava and C.I.

"Attention Whore (Theme Song)" written by Stan, Elaine, Kat, Ava and C.I.

Illustration is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Medea Benjamin For Fake Ass Jeans."

50 essential albums of the '10s

1) Dionne Warwick's SHE'S BACK.

2) Coldplay's EVERYDAY LIFE.


4) Stevie Nick's 24 KARAT GOLD.


6) Harry Style's FINE LINE.

7) Alicia Keys' HERE.

8) Mavis Staples' LIVE IN LONDON.


10) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.

11) Cat PowersWANDERER.

12) Sam Smith's THE THRILL OF IT ALL.


14) Sting and Shaggy's 44/876.

15) Chaka Khan's HELLO HAPPINESS.

16) Rod Stewart's BLOOD RED ROSES.


18)   Steve Grand's ALL AMERICAN BOY.

19) The Cowboy JunkiesALL THAT RECKONING.

20) Ben Harper's CALL IT WHAT IT IS.


22) Carly Simon's SONGS FROM THE TREES.

23) Pretenders' ALONE.


25) Radiohead's THE KING OF LIMBS.

26) Prince's ART OFFICIAL AGE.


28) Neil Young's Storytones.



31) Aimee Mann's MENTAL ILLNESS.

32) Joss Stone's LP1.

33) Dashboard Confessional's CROOKED SHADOWS.

34)  Ben and Ellen Harper's CHILDHOOD HOME.

35) Chrissie Hynde's STOCKHOLM.

36) Jack Johnson's FROM HERE TO NOW TO YOU.

37) Afghan Whigs' DO THE BEAST.

38) Blondie's POLLINATOR.



41) Cloud Nothings' Here and Nowhere Else.

42) Animal Collective's CENTIPEDE HZ.


44) Wilco's STAR WARS.


46) Tracy Chapman's GREATEST HITS.

47) James Blake's ASSUME FORM.

48) Taylor Swift's REPUTATION.


50) Conor Oberst's SALUTATIONS.


  • 50 essential albums of the 00s
  • 50 essential albums of the 90s
  • 50 essential albums of the 80s
  • 50 Essential Albums of the 70s

  • 50 essential albums of the 60s

  • The best shows of the '10s

    As we look back at the '10s, we feel these were the best shows of the decade.

    1) SENSE8

    2) WILL & GRACE


    4) FRINGE

    5)  NIKITA

    6) REVENGE





    Oh, look at the dummies

    It takes a lot of stupid for wars to drag on forever.  Just like it takes a lot of stupid for a UK-er to think his reaction is more important than an Iraqi person's reaction.

    Mass protests against Iran’s growing influence in Iraq were gaining momentum. Soleimani’s plan was to provoke a US military response that would redirect that rising anger toward the United States. In death he would appear to have achieved just that.

    Solemani's dead.  He's over.  He's not achieving anything.

    The outrage you're feeling is not what's taking place in Iraq.  In Iraq, they're protesting and they're protesting outside influence by the governments of the US and Iran.  On Saturday, Iranian interests grabbed a Turkish restaurant in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and tried to demand that one of their two candidates be named prime minister.

    It did not go over well.

    While Solemani is all you can think about, he is not the consuming interest in Iraq.  The Iraqi people fight to be free daily.  You?  You're just a wanker.

    Baby Cum Pants Was a Dumb F**k

    Oh, look, little Benny Norton just had a waking wet dream in his pants.

    There's a pretty big anti-war protest going on right now in Times Square in New York City, against US war on Iran (and Iraq again)

    A protest on war on Iraq again?

    Baby Cum Pants, the Iraq War never ended.  It was just your interest in it that faded.

    Now change into a dry pair of shorts and try to rejoin the conversation.

    Remembering 2019

    "2019: The Year For Dummies" C.I. looks back at 2019.

    "2019 in music" -- Kat looks back at the music of 2019.

    "Kat's Korner: The decade in music" -- Kat looks back at the last decade of music.

    "Ruth's Radio Report Morphs Into Ruth's Streaming R..." -- Ruth looks back at the year in programming.

    "2019 in Books (Martha & Shirley)" -- Martha and Shirley look back at the year in books.

    "10 sexiest men of 2019" -- Rebecca looks at 2019's hottest men.

    "2019 in film -- Ann and Stan" and "2019 in films -- Ann and Stan" -- Ann and Stan look back at the year in movies.

    Tweet of the week

    Our hearts are aching. Aching for this beautiful country we are watching turn to ash before our eyes. For the people who have lost their lives, and the families left behind. For the hundreds of millions of native animals who never stood a chance. [thread 👇]

    This edition's playlist

    1) Dionne Warwick's SHE'S BACK.

    2) Coldplay's EVERYDAY LIFE.

    3) Cat PowersWANDERER.

    4) Harry Style's FINE LINE.

    5) Ben Harper's BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN.

    6) Mavis Staples' LIVE IN LONDON.

    7) Sam Smith's THE THRILL OF IT ALL.

    8) Alicia Keys' HERE.

    9) The Mamas and the Papas' THE PAPAS & THE MAMAS.

    10)  Taylor Swift's  LOVER.

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