Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Truest statement of the week

The final nail in the coffin of our hopes of post-Clintonian redemption came with Tara Reade's allegation against Joe Biden. Reade's claim, while credible, may not quite meet the preponderance of the evidence, but that's not the conversation Democrats decided to have. Most in the party apparatchik have simply pretended that Ford never existed, acting as though the multiple contemporaneously corroborating witnesses backing Reade's claim are laughable shams of evidence, but some have said the quiet part out loud, admitting that they believe Reade but are willing to accept yet another sexual predator in the White House as long as he beats Trump.
So the press has embarked on a scorched earth campaign against Reade, gleefully reporting how she’s had trouble making rent, misrepresented her college career, and may have embellished details about an undeniably violent and abusive relationship. No matter that no one has actually discredited the evidence backing the actual assault claim. The press can paint Reade as a poor, Putin-loving liar, and that’s good enough for them.
In the midst of this environment, Ben Smith came out of nowhere with a piece criticizing Farrow. Some of Smith’s critiques that Farrow failed to properly explicate his sourcing or explain context in his stories were valid, and one point attempting to exonerate Hillary Clinton’s dealings with Weinstein simply made no sense. But most glaring was his refusal to mention Farrow’s most faulty story, the bogus Ramirez allegation.
Whatever prompted the initial report, it can’t hurt Biden to have America’s most well-known reporter on sexual assault allegations against powerful men under fierce scrutiny.  

-- Tiana Lowe's "We went from 'maybe Tara Reade is lying' to the rehabilitation of Matt Lauer in about a month" (WASHINGTON EXAMINER). 

Truest statement of the week II

Since ending his second bid for the presidency last month, Sanders has carried out an aggressive campaign to browbeat his supporters into backing Biden. Sanders and Biden have gone to great lengths to promote party “unity” under the explosive social and political conditions of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The “unity” campaign started with Sanders’ groveling endorsement of Biden, in which he made no criticisms and placed no demands on the Biden campaign. This was followed by an interview with the Associated Press in which he slandered as “irresponsible” any of his supporters who failed to campaign for Biden. Former top advisors to the Sanders campaign moved quickly to launch a new super PAC, “Future to Believe In,” to direct resources to electing Biden.
Biden and Sanders established phony “task forces” composed of leading members of their respective campaigns to promote party unity ahead of the Democratic convention. This included a friendly agreement over the number of delegates Sanders would be permitted to keep for the convention. The idea was to create the illusion that Sanders supporters had representation and could push the veteran right-wing political operative Biden to the “left.”
Sanders’ silencing of delegates with threats of removal proves all the more clearly the purely ornamental character of the delegate deal and his role more broadly. Sanders is well aware that Biden, who personifies the Democratic Party as a party of Wall Street and the military, has no intention of adopting any of his mildly reformist policies.

When asked in an interview Friday morning if he would “govern as an economic progressive,” Biden evaded the question, saying, “I have a record of over 40 years, and I’m going to be Joe Biden. Look at my record.” Even the most superficial look at Biden’s record reveals a nearly fifty-year history of servitude to big business, including his role in the Wall Street bailout, the expansion of war in the Middle East and austerity against the working class during the Obama administration. If elected, Biden will carry out a pro-corporate domestic policy and a violently militarist foreign policy.

-- Genevieve Leigh, "Bernie Sanders threatens delegates with removal if they criticize Biden" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Early Wednesday 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?


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

Editorial: How many US outlets ever noted what was happening to the Iraqi protesters?

A Tweet:

There is a chain of protests that started on the first of October in all across Iraq in order to overthrow the corrupt government that has been stealing their people’s money for 17 years they were killing protesters and didn’t want the media to know (A THREAD)

Saturday, the United Nations issued a report which noted the way the Iraqi government had attacked the Iraqi protesters.   IANS notes that the report found 123 protesters were kidnapped. Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) notes that the UN "has verified the death of 490 activists and the injury of 7,783 others since October." Hiwa Shilani (KURDISTAN 24) explains:

On Saturday, the United Nations published a report on the abduction of multiple demonstrators in Iraq since late October that detailed the experiences of some, including the circumstances in which they were taken and their subsequent interrogation and torture.
The Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) documented 123 cases of people who disappeared between October 1, 2019, and March 21, 2020. A total of 98 individuals have been found while the other 25 are still missing.
“Absence of accountability for these acts continues to contribute to the pervasive environment of impunity in relation to demonstration-linked reports of violations and abuses,” the UN report highlighted.  
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, stated, “The establishment of a high-level fact-finding committee by the new Government to investigate casualties and related harm is a crucial step toward justice and accountability.”

May 25th, Lawk Ghafuri Tweeted:

Tonight Tahrir Square in #Baghdad is packed with candles and protesters are lighting up candles for all the dead protesters who lost their lives protesting against the government and political parties since October 2019. Photos via Telegram #IraqProtests #العراق

So many were harmed and hurt but the protests persisted.  Even after coronavirus emerged in Iraq, protests continued.  They were targeted with violence, they were kidnapped, they were arrested.  Still they protested.

On the kidnappings,  THE NEW ARAB adds:

In every incident, those targeted for abductions had either participated in the protests or provided support to demonstrators, UNAMI said. Nearly all of the abductees were either activists prior to the protests, played significant roles in the demonstrations, or criticised authorities or armed groups on social media, it added.
Abductees were forced into vehicles by masked and armed men close to demonstration sites, according to UNAMI. Many described being blindfolded and driven to locations where they were detained.
All of them were "interrogated" by their captors, with questioning commonly focused on their role in the demonstrations, allegations of links to foreign states - particularly the United States - and their political affiliations.
All male abductees described being subjected to torture such as severe beatings, electrocution, hosing or bathing in cold water, being hung from the ceiling by their arms and legs, being urinated on, being photographed nude, death threats and threats to their families, UNAMI reported.
Female abductees said they were beaten, threatened with rape and touched in their "private areas".

The United Nations is calling for a real investigation -- not the nonsense that passed for an 'investigation' last year.  Omar Sattar (AL-MONITOR) reports:

The new Iraqi government has begun procedures to reinvestigate the violent acts during the popular protests that broke out in October and killed more than 700 people and injured over 25,000. The decision was greatly welcomed at home and in the international arena. The United Nations Security Council called for “transparency during the investigation.”

Following the first meeting of his government May 9, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi announced the formation of an investigation committee, whose members have not been disclosed so far. He said that the committee will work on uncovering the names of the parties responsible for killing hundreds of protesters who have been calling for reform and the trial of corrupt politicians.
The committee is currently being formed and its members will be announced at a later stage. This is the second committee of this kind, following the one that was formed by Adel Abdul Mahdi, former prime minister who resigned at the end of November 2019, which did not yield satisfactory results for the protesters and failed to indict any party behind the bloody events that took place in central and southern Iraq.

TV: Catherine The Great's story it always our story

Watching THE GREAT, it's easy to conclude that nothing's much changed since the time of Catherine The Great.  But the reality is that THE GREAT, like every other production about Catherine The Great, is less about her and more about the time the production is staged in  and/or the filmmakers themselves.


That's most obvious with Josef von Sternberg's THE SCARLETT EMPRESS -- a huge failure upon release in 1934.  Sex as sin, that's what von Sternberg trafficked in.  And that might have worked -- even the allusion at the end to the lie that Catherine had sex with horses -- had he not made the film so opulent -- not a good look for a film released during the Great Depression.  Marlene Dietrich walks through the role of the virginal Catherine and only comes to life once her character discovers sex.  While it turns her wicked, the lack of it among the nobility leads them to be rigid and lifeless.  Josef von Sternberg's obsession with sex is in all of his films -- as are his fetishes.

Others may not have been as upfront, but their films say a great deal as well.  For example, 1968's GREAT CATHERINE cast the great Jeanne Moreau as Catherine but, this being 1968 (and a script by Hugh Leonard), Catherine was shoved to the side.  Though George Bernard Shaw wrote the 1913 play to showcase Gertrude Kingston  and though Gertrude Lawrence starred in the 1947 TV production (NBC), the film stars Peter O'Toole and Zero Mostel with Jeanne Moreau receiving third billing.  1968, for those who don't know, was not a good year for women in film.  Only one film in the top five for the year starred a woman -- Barbra Streisand in her film debut, FUNNY GIRL (FUNNY GIRL was the top grossing film of the year).

WITH SIX YOU GET EGGROLL is outside of the official top ten though it did outgross John Wayne's THE GREEN BERETS which is number ten on the official money maker list.  The confusion may have to do with rentals versus ticket sales or with adjusting for inflation.  However, Doris Day's final film did outgross John Wayne's military nonsense at the box office.  Doris had been a consistent money maker, from 1959 through 1966, she had been a top ten box office success each year.  1968, however, found her moving to TV to start her long running THE DORIS DAY SHOW.

Doris Day was a female star of the sixties.  She wasn't the only one.  There was also Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie and Julie Andrews.  PENELOPE is a perfect example of how revisionary history eradicates women.  The Natalie Wood film was pushed as a bomb for years.  It was never a bomb.  It debuted at number one and made over four million in rentals  That was more than enough to allow it to be listed in VARIETY's January 4, 1967 article "Big Rental Pictures of 1966."  It was a hit film.  The other lie that revisionary history loves to offer is that the film was a bomb and Natalie didn't work for years because of it.  No.  It was a hit, Natalie didn't work because she didn't want to.  She turned down BONNIE & CLYDE and many other films because she was focused on her analysis.


You will notice, though, that most of Jane's successes were prior to 1967.  As the sixties matured, women were less and less the focus.  They barely exist, for example, in EASY RIDER.  In 1969's BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, Paul Newman and Robert Redford make a pretense of being interested in Katharine Ross' supporting character Etta; however, the real romance is between the boys and the most unintentionally telling line (or is it intentional?) is when Paul talks to Robert about his desire to "go straight."  THE ODD COUPLE, BULLITT and MIDNIGHT COWBOY were a little more honest about the love between two male leads and about the disinterest in actresses.  Time and again, women were buried.  By 1977, it would be revolutionary, as Jane Fonda would note, for her to be playing scenes with Vanessa Redgrave (JULIA) and for Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft to be playing opposite one another in THE TURNING POINT.  Equally true, in this period, Julie Andrews goes hitless (THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE was a hit in 1967 but she wouldn't have another hit until 1974's THE TAMARIND SEED) while Audrey Hepburn just disappears from the screen from 1967 (TWO FOR THE ROAD and WAIT UNTIL DARK) until 1976 (ROBIN AND MARIAN).

Only in that era from 1968 through 1976 could you make a film about Catherine The Great entitled THE GREAT CATHERINE and make the actress playing her the third billed in the case and provide a script by a noted sexist which rendered Catherine a supporting player.

It's worth noting two productions made in the mid-forties.  First up, Otto Preminger's embarrassing A ROYAL SCANDAL (1945).  Yes, it should have been directed by Ernst Lubitsch and should have starred Greta Garbo -- as was planned.  But it didn't have to be the fiasco Preminger and Tallulah Bankhead turned it into.  Sex is corrupting and women are just awful -- that appears to be the major theme.  Around the same time, CATHERINE WAS GREAT debuted on Broadway (August 2, 1944 -- it ran on Broadway through January 13, 1945).  Mae West starred and wrote the play, Mike Todd produced.  Being a Mae West offering, sex was a large part of it but sex wasn't corrupting and, equally true, the emancipation of women was also a strong part of the story (also a concern of Mae's).  Mae's production was never turned into a film.  In the post-war aftermath, women were not valued for strength onscreen and Otto's version -- or even Sternberg's where a strong woman was a cold bitch (Mae had serious problems with Dietrich's portrayal which she felt stripped all warmth from Catherine), so there was no place for Mae's version.

Today's version?

Elle Fanning plays Catherine and is wonderful in the role.  Nicholas Hoult plays her royal husband Peter the III and is amusing in what could easily be a one-note role.  Gwilym Lee and Phoebe Fox also deserve strong praise.

HULU seems to succeed best when they're doing a series set in another period or place:  HARLOTS, 11.22.63, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, FUTURE MAN and now THE GREAT.

Though set many centuries in the past, THE GREAT is created for today and reflects the times we live in currently.  In that regard, it gets a great deal correct.  The women of the noble class sneer at Catherine, most of the men do as well.  She's a fighter and there are many who want to destroy her just for that reason.

Yes, you can draw parallels to Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of assault.

Instead of addressing the accusation, the corporate media -- the same media in the tank with Joe Biden for the Democratic Party's primary -- ignored Joe and his history of lying and his history of groping women and sniffing women to instead rip apart Tara.

If you doubt what went down, Rose McGowan has posted some of the questions that 'journalist' Lisa Lerer asked Tara.  They include:

Can you tell us about your time as a downhill skier, and your training, contests won, etc?

In court records, your ex husband Ted says that your mother hit you during a fight over her drinking, back when you were living with her during your pregnancy.  Was his description of that fight in court papers accurate?

We heard that after your car was repossessed friends sold you their vehicle and let you pay it with a no interest loan but that you struggled to make those payments and they took it back.  Is that true?

Also, several people told me you were dating a Russian man online in the spring of 2019.  Is that true?  How did you meet and can you tell me about the relationship?

On Quora, you followed three Russian individuals -- Andrey Davydov, Dima Vorobiev and Alex Korolev.  How was it that you came to know them and follow them?

None of the questions above -- or the rest of them posted -- have anything to do with assault.

Nor did they result from any work that Lerer herself did.

They're part of the Biden campaign.  Anita Dunn oversaw the list of questions and she saw to it that they were distributed to the press.

This is why Joe kept saying that Tara needed to be 'vetted' in interview after interview.  He and his campaign had the smears they wanted and they had already provided them to the so-called press.

In THE GREAT, Catherine endures similar attacks.  We all get the story that best fits our timeline.

10 Great Goldie Hawn movies


Them's fighting words! That was our response last week when Trina offered her top ten favorite Goldie Hawn movies.

Who doesn't love Goldie? She's one of our great comedic actresses who has made so many films that make us laugh while also speaking to the world we live in. Now we love CRISS-CROSS, for example, but we're omitting dramas from the list. Goldie proved she could do drama long ago, at the start of her film career with THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS. She's wonderful in DECEIVED as well. But, after much arguing (THE DUCHESS AND THE DIRTWATER FOX and SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES had strong support but not enough to make the top ten), we came up with these ten films.













Pandemic observations


Living through a pandemic -- if you were one of the lucky ones. What will we take away from this? 

Let's not a positive: Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to work across party lines when necessary. He also called out the president when necessary but did so as an adult. (Apparently suffering from senility, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi grew ever more childish throughout the pandemic.) Cuomo was a leader on the national stage at a time when Joe Biden was still attempting to figure out how to live stream online. When noting mistakes, Cuomo noted his own and not just those of other people. His politics are to the right of our own but we are more than thrilled to praise him for offering leadership at a time when a lot of people could not or would not.

 Other than that? We congratulate the American people who made it through and did so with little to no assistance from so-called public servants. In our community, many of us made the point that we were not all in this together; however, no one made it more often than Trina. She was correct that it was an empty slogan. And she was correct that it was an empty slogan intended to lull us into complacency.

And that's about it on the positive side.

Congress made it very clear that we were not in this together. Over and over, they voted for corporations and not for We The People. This was especially disappointing with regards to the House of Representatives which the Democrats control. When not showing off her ritzy ice cream ("let them eat ice cream"), Pelosi had nothing to offer.

We were reminded repeatedly of just how useless Congress was by not just their refusal to help the American people but also by the fact that they were 'non-essential.' Did you miss that? While the people working in clinics and hospitals -- office staff, nurses, techs, doctors, custodial staff -- were expected to go to work every day and while the person working the drive thru at McDonalds and the person stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart were expected to go to work, Nancy Pelosi refused to call the House back into session. If you ever doubted just how non-essential Congress actually is, make a point to thank Speaker Pelosi for making it clear.

Whiners are the next group that got on everyone's nerves. They were almost as bad as Congress -- certainly as useless. If you missed them, they showed up to whine that they saw someone in a Wal-Mart buying a kid's game or some things for crafting or -- Whatever. A parent of a young child is going to pick up something to amuse a kid that is no longer leaving the house to go to school. Pull the stick out of your rear and stop worrying about things that clearly don't have anything to do with you. It's a super center, a Wal-Mart super center. We don't need to go back to the days of blue laws and aisles taped off in the stores on Sundays. You going to have a fit too if you see someone go to the toy aisle in a dollar store?

After Congress and whiners, the most irritating were celebrities. Not all celebrities were a pain, mind you. But those like Alyssa Milano, Ellen DeGeneres and others who whined about being bored, or it being like being in prison? And don't forget the ridiculous David Geffen Tweeting from his yacht about how he was avoiding the pandemic. We can forgive a bad cover of "Imagine" but we can't forgive people who lack any sense of perspective. (In contrast, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks were inspiring as they dealt with coronavirus. They were a calming and positive force.)

You know what else was irritating?

The way we all quickly appeared to move on as a nation. A pandemic? You would have thought it would have registered more. We seemed ("we" includes all of us -- if it doesn't apply to you, let it slide down your back) to go from concern and panic to boredom -- as though it was a new video game we quickly tired of.

Is it over? No. New cases continue to turn up. Also there's no vaccine. It's probably going to return stronger this winter.

Jim's World


Memorial Day?

A day for bad movies? Is that what TCM thinks the country needs? If TCM wants to honor memorial day, they can display the names of the service members who passed away in the last 12 months.

We don't need John Wayne on Memorial Day. I love Jane Fonda and COMING HOME but we don't need that either. Stop pretending that fictional films are 'service.' Stop pretending that everyone who is a veteran wants to watch a war movie -- let alone hours and hours of them.

TCM is an entertainment channel -- a reality that host Ben frequently forgets. It doesn't need to spend a day on war films. My daughter was flat out disgusted and already angry because they scheduled children's films at midnight Saturday morning. She doesn't know what the heck is going on. I told her that TCM is trying to get some easy applause while doing nothing.

Along with noting the passings, TCM could also, if they wanted to do something, they could also speak to Disabled American Veterans and bring on some of their members to choose a favorite film.

Instead, they air bad movies and pretend like they're honoring veterans. It's garbage. And all we get are garbage movies -- movies already airing near weekly on over the air channels like MOVIES! -- over the air channels that don't charge you. I'm paying for TCM.

Repeatedly, they show films like SOME LIKE IT HOT and it ends up on their most popular list -- topping it, in fact. That's because we love that movie -- it's a classic that never grows old and just may be the funniest film of the 20th century. Not every film they show should be popular -- they're also about educating. But when the only John Wayne film that ever makes it high on the list of most viewed is the one in (fake) France with Joan Crawford or the one with Katharine Hepburn.

This isn't about politics, my objections. Nor is about partisanship. It's about bad movies. Bob Hope is from the same political spectrum as John Wayne. But Bob has some solid films. I don't complain when Bob's films are on -- I actually think they aren't on TCM enough. He was one of the biggest film stars and made some great classics. MY FAVORITE BRUNETTE is my favorite film with Bob Hope but I also love THE PALEFACE, THE LEMON DROP KID, ALIAS JESSE JAMES, THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT, MY FAVORITE BLONDE, MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE,, MY FAVORITE SPY, SORROWFUL JONES, etc.

I'll also note that they don't air enough Barbara Stanwyck -- and I don't care that she was a Republican. She made some amazing films. DOUBLE INDEMNITY has been their most streamed movie for three days in a row. SORRY WRONG NUMBER is repeatedly ignored by TCM. Her CLASH BY NIGHT and CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT tend to get shown and THE LADY EVE. So much more gets ignored including GREAT BALLS OF FIRE, GOLDEN BOY, NO MAN OF HER OWN, MY REPUTATION, ANNIE OAKLEY, THE FILE ON THELMA JORDAN, CRIME OF PASSION and WITNESS TO MURDER.

Sexism in the Progressive Movement, Tara Reade Allegations, Biden & more... w/ Tina-Desiree Berg

Sexism in the Progressive Movement, Tara Reade Allegations, Biden & more... w/ Tina-Desiree Berg Use Brave Browser which will not track you and block trackers and ads while earning crypto for viewing ads...Clicking on the Link below & downloading & USING Brave will also provide support to The Convo Couch :) Support our effort to cover the 2020 Primary Elections and bring you ON-THE-GROUND Live independent coverage: JOIN ROKFIN! --------------------------------------------------------------- Keep Up With THE CONVO COUCH 🛋 📺 Youtube: 💵Patreon: 👾Rokfin: 🤖Twitch: 🐦Twitter: 👮‍♀️Facebook: 🍑Instagram: 🍝Craig "Pasta" Jardula Twitter: Facebook: 💃Fiorella Isabel: Twitter: Facebook: 🌊Jonny Tsunami: Twitter:

From The TESR Test Kitchen


We love chocolate. Time and again, that seals our doom. Such was the case with the latest Rice Krispies snack. Who doesn't love Rice Krispie squares made with Rice Krispies and marshmallows? They're delicious.

But we can't say the same about the new chocolate version and -- again -- we love chocolate. But it just don't taste right. The chocolate taste is barely there and the sweetness is gone. So it's a lot like you're eating a rice cake which is not anyone's idea of a treat.

Epic. Fail.

Whatever happened to this man?

Have you seen this man?  Didn't he play the older brother on WONDER YEARS?  Or maybe it was Doogie Howser's best friend?

Have you seen this man?

Marianne Williamson endorses against Dem leadership, warns of 'end to Democratic party'

Former Presidential candidate and activist Marianne Williamson discusses her long list of progressive endorsements against Democratic incumbents. About Rising:  Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen. It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.  Follow Rising on social media: Website: Hill.TV Facebook: Instagram: @HillTVLive Twitter: @HillTVLive Follow Saagar Enjeti & Krystal Ball on social media: Twitter: @esaagar and @krystalball Instagram: @esaagar and @krystalmball

Why is YOUTUBE screwing with video stream counts?

263.  That's what the streams were on Saturday morning.  Now it's dropped to 61.  This also happened on Friday.  If YOUTUBE wants their streaming numbers to matter, the numbers need to be accurate.

Credit for the video:

a Joe Biden 2020 campaign ad parody Written & Performed by: Ely Kreimendahl Edited by: Ely Kreimendahl and Alex McQuilkin Camera: Basil kreimendahl Written & performed by Ely Kreimendahl

This edition's playlist



2) Pretenders'  PACKED.

3) Harry Style's FINE LINE.

4) Alicia Keys' HERE.


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