Tuesday, June 15, 2021

TV: Moments of Wonder

Sunday at the G7, US President Joe Biden boasted/warned, "America is back at the table."


We were left to wonder, when wasn't the US at the table or, for that matter, at the head of the table? And was this supposed to be a good thing for the people of the world?

We wonder a lot lately about a lot of things. Like if ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST had been entitled CHICAGO ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST would NBC have renewed it? Or take LOKI. It's a DISNEY+ MARVEL offering. It's also an embarrassment, a huge embarrassment.

Mainly, it's yet another example of how MARVEL keeps failing with TV. By contrast, DC has been hitting all the right notes for decades -- SUPERMAN in the fifties, BATMAN in the sixties, LOIS & CLARK in the 90s, ARROW, THE FLASH, SUPERGIRL, all the way up to SUPERMAN AND LOIS. Yeah, there were clunkers along the way -- the 90s saw a lousy FLASH that audiences ran from. But compare MARVEL's live action TV offerings and there's no contest. The only hit TV show they had trough 2020 was THE INCREDIBLE HULK from the 70s. Along the way, they flopped with SPIDER-MAN and so many others that the bar was set so low MARVEL AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. was seen as a hit.

It wasn't a hit. It was a case of product made by the broadcaster allowed to air when it should have been cancelled. ABC-DISNEY-MARVEL aired the garbage for seven seasons mainly because the government no longer concerns itself with anti-trust issues. The first season? The highest the show ever ranked and even then it wasn't in the top forty. Each year, less and less people would watch -- the 76th most watched show in its second season then dropping to 85th and then dropping to 110th and then -- you get the idea.

Audiences rejected the show. And they did so for good reason. It was immature and poorly thought out. It revolved around Coulson. Who? The minor character who provided jokes and laughs in the Iron Man films because he was meant to be a humor device. That is, after all, why Clark Gregg was cast in the role. Gregg's had a long career and is talented but you don't put the actor most successful for playing Christine's pathetic joke of an ex-husband in THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE, you just don't cast him with his skill set as the lead character in an action show. Nor do you make Phil Coulson the main character of an action series. He was irritating and embarrassing and the show's biggest problem that never got fixed. Instead, popular characters were regularly written off -- Ward, Lance, Bobbie, etc -- but Phil remained -- even when he died, he remained, episode after episode.

MARVEL, briefly, had some success partnering up with NETFLIX. They did that by taking notes. JESSICA JONES, for example, was turned down by ABC but reworked for NETFLIX. Along with DAREDEVIL, LUKE CAGE, IRON FIST and THE DEFENDERS, JESSICA JONES was a show worth watching. The crap ABC-DISNEY churned out then and since? Really not.

They have offered garbage like THE RUNAWAYS. Action-adventure? If a yawn is the proper response to action, then yes. They offer these weak, pathetic shows and then justify it by claiming they're aiming at children. Remember, DISNEY+ couldn't stream the series LOVE, VICTOR starring gay-for-pay Michael Cimino. Just too controversial for DISNEY+ -- so we get watered down garbage, embarrassing garbage.

THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER offered hope. It was a tight show that really exceeded expectations. But before it came the awful WANDAVISION -- a sexist plethora of tropes -- as though they were attempting to film Charlotte Perkins Gilman's THE YELLOW WALLPAPER but from the point of the view of those forcing the 'cure' on the woman.

Mike and Stan have already written of turning off LOKI during the first episode and that's probably the smartest reaction. Yet another show created around a feather weight. This isn't a show for adults and it's not really a show of any kind.

It's proof that MARVEL and DISNEY+ are not a good experiment, that's about all it is. At the end of the first episode, a character pops up who appears to be the one that showed up in AVENGERS END GAME and told Natasha and Clint that one of them would have to die. Why didn't the episode open with that? And then work backwards?

Despite it being decades since Quentin Tarantino first successfuly screwed with storyline, the Disney-fied MARVEL shows continue to move from boring plot point to boring plot point in chronological and linear order. Many praised shows -- including BREAKING BAD -- have screwed with the timelines (and ripped off Tarantino) but doing so has never occurred to ABC-DISNEY-MARVEL. Then again, they appear to be creating content for a 4-year-old audience so maybe they think that viewers won't be able to follow anything more complex than "See Spot run"?

Again, we wonder.

We wonder about Ana Kasparian. Specifically, why JACOBIN continues its association with her?

At the start of the year the 'star' of THE YOUNG TURKS used her JACOBIN podcast to launch a loud, nasty, shrieking attack on Katie Halper for daring to draw attention to Ana's extended throw down with a War Hawk.



That's Ana pictured with her spirit lover Mad Maddie Albright. Ana chose to play footsie with War Criminal Maddie and yet is so sensitive when people point out how wrong that was.

JACOBIN, for those who don't know, promotes itself as "socialist." WSWS would beg to differ and, on that, we agree with them 100%. (We agree with them on many things but not on everything.) If you're thinking, "I'm familiar with IN THESE TIMES, THE PROGRESSIVE, THE NATION, etc, but this JACOBIN . . ."

The weirdly pronounced outlet is new-ish. It's basically the US SOCIALIST WORKER renamed. That outlet imploded due to massive internal racism and sexism. There were rumors and charges of abuse and harassment and it became so toxic we can't imagine anyone putting it on their resume for at least another ten years. In it's puddle, JACOBIN emerges.

If you're thinking, "You two really hate JACOBIN," you're wrong. We don't kiss ass. And we don't fluff.  Don't mistake that for hate. What we do hate about JACOBIN is that they pimp for the Democratic Party at election time. We think if you're a voting age adult reading a publication pitching itself as "socialist," you don't really need anyone telling you how to vote. We think a lot of outlets on the left are forgetting themselves and mistaking their readership for a cult that will follow orders.

JACOBIN has many things going for it of the positive nature and they include some very passionate writers. We'd call the addition of David Sirota a positive.

But then there's Ana.

March 21, 1973, criminal John Dean told criminal and then-president Richard Nixon, "I think that there's no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we've got. We have a cancer within -- close to the presidency, that's growing. It's growing daily. It's compounding."

For JACOBIN, Ana is both their cancer and their nasty Dick but who will be their John Dean?.

Because she really needs to go.

She has been attacking Jimmy Dore and Aaron Mate for months now. We haven't weighed in once. They're big boys and they can take care of themselves.. No, Glen (Rodney) King, we can't all get along. And we don't have to. And a critique or a slam comes with the territory.

Ourselves? We're not slamming Glenn Greenwald or Naomi Wolf these days. Both are getting a lot of slams. Both are trying to deal with serious issues. Whatever problems we may have with either in the future or have had in the past? They're trying to do real work as opposed to offering empty chatter on MSNBC. We'll stand with them against attacks.

And we're not upset that Ana's got a smart mouth and a nasty attitude. That puts her in the category of pig -- which is where easily half the men on YOUTUBE being 'political' land.

But we noted back during the attack on Katie Halper and Brihana Joy Gray that Ana was hurting JACOBIN's brand and shouldn't have pulled that stunt on a JACOBIN program.

What she's done lately, she's pulled on THE YOUNG TURKS.

But it was so offensive, she should have been pulled from JACOBIN for it.

Screeching and hollering, the pig snarled "F**k you" to a non-present Aaron Mate and raised one of her hooves to flip him the bird. All of this was done in defense of . . . herself.  While others worry about war and famine, Ana gets outraged over the top results from Googling her own name.

Who exactly did she think would find that 'performance art' attractive?

We don't watch RING OF FIRE because Farron Cousins pulls out that toxic masculinity.

And, yes, boys and girls, women can possess toxic masculinity as well and, yes, boys and girls, Ana does.

As we noted in June of 2017:

The 'independent' film scene today isn't independent and is really just a farm for the studios to make their low budget dramas even cheaper than they used to.
That which stands out is either beaten down or co-opted.
Ellen Barkin's Smurf does that with her children and her grandson J (Finn Cole). She's drugging her son Pope, for example. She pulls the strings. If she can't, she's plotting to take her own children down.
Of all the masculinity on display in ANIMAL KINGDOM, the most toxic is that exhibited by the matriarch Smurf.

We don't think Ana's currently exhibiting the most toxic masculinity -- Cenk is one of the fools riding ahead of her -- but, yes, she is exhibiting toxic masculinity. It's that trait, in fact, that let her take part in TYT all these years where overgrown (and overfed) men tried to pretend they were young boys and that frat boy mentality was the norm.

We wish Ana's attack on Katie and Bri had registered more. Independent outlets have privately expressed agreement with us that Ana went too far and JACOBIN needed to replace her. But Ana's attack on Aaron Mate has registered. Because he's a man? Maybe. Maybe when a woman attacks two women some just see it as a cat fight. Her attack on Aaron is not seen that way. Aaron is seen as a journalist because that's what he is. And journalists aren't attacking Aaron. Partisans are, but journalists aren't. We heard from reporters and editors for THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE and THE MIAMI HERALD as well as from two producers and one anchor for CNN and ABC. Ana's little stunt, her explosion, was noticed by the corporate press. This is not the time for JACOBIN to be associated with or linked to her.

So we wonder why she's still at JACOBIN and why her cozy love-fest with Mad Maddie wasn't enough to get her hall pass pulled?

War Criminal Mad Maddie supported the sanctions, remember. These would be the same sanctions of which ALJAZEERA noted, "The UN estimated that up to 1.7 million Iraqis may have died as a result of the sanctions; 500,000 of them were children, by 2003."

A year ago, at COMMON DREAMS, Tom Gallagher explained:

Dig deep into the June issue of National Geographic magazine and you might just find something that will cast a major aspect of American foreign policy—our economic sanctions regimes—in a new light. The issue’s cover story, "The Last Voices of World War II," includes a graphic showing the death tolls of the various nations in that war’s European and Pacific Theaters. Unfold that graphic and you’ll find an even more interesting one within—"Peaks of Brutality," which displays the "100 deadliest events of the past 2,500 years." World War II’s 66 million deaths (an estimate, as all the numbers are) lead the list. The events are not limited to wars, so in second place we find Genghis Khan, deemed responsible for the death of 40 million—over 10 percent of the 13th century world population. But the most interesting and relevant listings are found down at the bottom—"Saddam Hussein" in 100th place and "Sanctions against Iraq" in 95th.
You read that right. By this list’s reckoning, the 1979-2003 reign of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein constituted the 100th deadliest event in world history, responsible for an estimated 300,000 deaths. It was surpassed in deadliness, however—and in a considerably shorter time period (1990-2003)—by the economic sanctions which killed an estimated 350,000 Iraqis following their country’s invasion of Kuwait. In other words, in the matter of Saddam Hussein, the supposed cure proved deadlier than the disease.
To say that the American public has exhibited less concern over the Iraqis killed by sanctions than over those whose deaths were attributable to Hussein himself is a serious understatement. But then, with mainline journalism being ever-responsive to the D.C. propaganda machine, how many are actually aware of these numbers? Really, the only time the matter of the sanctions’ deadliness made a ripple on the American political scene was in reaction to then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s response to a 1996 60 Minutes question about sanctions killing Iraqi children: “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
This profoundly cynical response was clearly not enough to harm her career, though. Following a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing that she opened by stating her determination to keep the sanctions in place, the Senate confirmed her appointment as Bill Clinton’s secretary of state—by a 99-0 vote.

The verdict on Mad Maddie has long been in on the left. On the left. Not necessarily among the partisans. But on the left, we know she's garbage and that's who Ana was scissoring publicly.

We wonder, "In what world?" Really, in what world?

Joe Biden lives in his own special world. It's a world where he never addresses the needs of the people which makes him the perfect guest for the G7.

As John Quelly (COMMON DREAMS) noted:

Anti-poverty groups, climate campaigners, and public health experts reacted with outrage and howls of disappointment Sunday after the G7 leaders who spent the weekend at a summit in Cornwall, England issued a final communique that critics said represents an extreme abdication of responsibility in the face of the world's most pressing and intertwined crises—savage economic inequality, a rapidly-heating planet, and the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
"This G7 summit will live on in infamy," declared Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of inequality policy, in a statement responding to the G7 communique at the conclusion of the weekend summit—a gathering characterized by the global progressive movement as an unmitigated disaster compared to what could have been achieved.
"Faced with the biggest health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our planet," Lawson said, the leaders of the richest nations "have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times. Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet. We don’t need to wait for history to judge this summit a colossal failure, it is plain for all to see." 

If there was ever a meet-up that Status Quo Joe was made for, it was a do-nothing, for show meet-up like the G7.









Truest statement of the week

The media adds to the drama with their usual determination to take the side of the powerful. William Bratton  led police departments in New York and Los Angeles and in a recent New York Times interview said,“ They got what they wanted. They defunded the police. What do they get? Rising crime, cops leaving in droves, difficulty recruiting. Now, they’re waking up to the fact that our cities are unsafe.”

Not only should this propaganda be rejected, but the original questions about police funding should be revived. Police do have far more money than they need to do their jobs. Bloated budgets are a feature of police work in a society dedicated to racist practice. The modern day slave patrol is a racket that gives good paying employment to people who otherwise wouldn’t have it while simultaneously keeping Black people under physical control. But even if reducing funding were a realistic proposition, is that what the demand should be?

Community control of the police should be the goal but that can’t happen unless all government functions address human needs. Without real democracy and a true commitment to human rights, policing will not change. Of course, any discussion of law enforcement is inextricably linked to anti-Black racism, the controlling feature of many aspects of public policy in this country.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: The Truth About Defunding Police" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).





Truest statement of the week II

Newsom’s attack omits that Benitez was upheld by other judges in his earlier decision. That does not mean that the opinion is manifestly right (Indeed, it is being appealed). However, the opinion advanced well-established arguments and authority in reaching its conclusion. A majority on the Supreme Court would likely agree with much of the opinion. It is not about him. It is about the law.  That is why I criticized Trump for his attacks on judges and why we should be equally critical of Newsom and Democratic leaders doing the same thing now.


-- Jonathan Turley, "'Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of the Gun Lobby': Newsom Attacks Federal Judge Who Ruled In Favor Of Gun Rights" (JONATHANTURLEY.ORG).





Mini note to our readers


Hey --

It's Tuesday night.

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?

Edition was supposed to go up Monday night.  Didn't.  We lost everything.  We had to try to rewrite everything and had no luck.

Well some had to try.  

Ava and C.I. have written drafts and C.I.'s amazing memory. They also had the notes for their piece with Jess.  I had a Jim's World that I couldn't pull back together and we lost our editorial.  So this is a mini-note for a mini-edition.


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









In 2018, community sites took turns covering a book every week.  You can see "In 2018, we read books" to review that coverage.  We didn't want to repeat ourselves in 2019 or 2020.  So when Marcia came up with a way to cover books but with a twist, we were all for it.  Marcia's idea was for us to digital books -- we're largely a printed text crowd -- and to use AMAZON's KINDLE UNLIMITED.  So for 2021, we'll be doing a book a week and trying to just use KINDLE UNLIMITED. This week, we're talking with Jess about Victoria Lee's [see his "THE FEVER KING (Jess)"].



So you really loved the novel you read?

Jess: I did. It would make a good movie or even mini-series. It's tight and compelling.

You call it a page turner. Give us an example of another page turner so readers of this site can judge.

Jess: Sure. I'd say THE PELICAN BRIEF by John Grisham or his novel THE FIRM. Along those lines. You just have to tear yourself away from it, force yourself to stop reading so that you can go to sleep.

Do you plan on reading any other books by Victoria Lee?

Jess: I plan on asking my co-worker if he has any other books by her that he'd recommend. I trust his judgment now. That was a great book that he recommended.

And you went with fiction intentionally. We really do come up short with that.

Jess: We do. In the community newsletters, not so much. There are book discussions there -- on new books and old books -- and often it seems like those are all fiction.

We should note Betty's and Dona's which both cover fiction and that when you refer to Marcia covering fiction in your write up, you are referring to the books she covers at her site.

Jess: Correct. And I've already told Marcia she has to read this book. She loves sci-fy and I know she's going to love this book.


Jess: If it were just for me, it wouldn't be worth ten dollars a month, sorry. But Ava and I both use it and so does our child so, between the three of us, I'd argue that we get our monies worth. I'd recommend you do a subscription that your share with family or friends because that makes the cost worth it.




"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Jim, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Kat, Ava and C.I.)"


"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Kat, Ava and C.I.)"


"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Betty, Ava and C.I.)

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Stan, Ava and C.I.)


"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Betty, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Isaiah, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Elaine, Dona, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Mike, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Trina, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Stan, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Marcia, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Kat, Ava and C.I.)"

"KINDLE UNLIMITED (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)"







When I was finally up at bat, I felt like I needed to do something different. So I asked around. Most of my co-workers suggested some sort of legal book (no surprise, I'm an attorney) but one suggested a novel. Works of fiction don't get a lot of attention in our online community. Marcia's the only one who notes them with any real regularity. We tend to be a non-fiction based community. 

So a novel -- and one that my co-worker raved over -- seemed the thing to do. Which is how I ended up reading Victoria Lee's THE FEVER KING. This is yet another novel sent a post-apocalyptical future and, honestly, dystopia bores me. If that had been all the novel had to offer, I would have stopped reading it. But it's an involving book centering around a young man who loses his family during a pandemic (outbreak of magic) and he's left with the power to control technology. The government wants to use him and use his powers. He's hoping to use them to address issues (including immigration).

It's one of those books that you read, look up at the clock, realize you should have been in bed an hour ago but tell yourself, "Five more pages, just five more."

It grips you, it pulls you in and you're at the end before you know it.

I'm not sure I was the intended audience for the book. It felt to me like this was a book probably geared at Young Adult readers. If so, I was a visitor in a foreign land but I certainly enjoyed the visit and would recommend the book to everyone.










Track to listen to



That's Chase Rice's "Bedroom," featured on his latest album THE ALBUM.







Tweet of the week

Responding to the claim that "diplomacy is back'' with Joe Biden in the White House, Sarah Abdallah Tweets:

Really? Because you’re still stealing Syrian oil, aiding Israeli war crimes and starving Yemeni babies last time I checked.
Quote Tweet

This edition's playlist






1) Nick Jonas' SPACEMAN.


2) Chase Rice's THE ALBUM.



3) Cher's STARS. 



4) Harry Style's FINE LINE






7)  Mavis Staples' LIVE IN LONDON.


8) Tracy Chapman's CROSSROADS.



9) Tracy Chapman's TRACY CHAPMAN.


10) 3) Liz Phair's SOBERISH.



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