Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Truest statement of the week

Donald Trump was the convenient scapegoat for the first year of the Covid-19 crisis. Austerity, low wage work, housing insecurity, and the profit driven health care system were problematic issues before anyone heard the word Covid-19 or indeed before Trump’s presidency. Every failing of the United States already in existence came into sharp relief when the pandemic struck.
Joe Biden has done nothing to alleviate these many crises. Temporary unemployment benefits end in September, and millions of people were denied these funds when republican state legislatures decreed that they wanted people back at work. The Supreme Court struck down the eviction moratorium and 90% of the funds allocated to pay for rent relief remain unspent. Millions of people face the prospect of becoming unhoused.
Meanwhile even a small increase in the number of Covid patients upends health care around the country. Intensive care units are full, staffing shortages abound, and patients who don’t have Covid-19 are also suffering because the system isn’t designed to respond to emergencies.
The words “trust the science” ring hollow when information changes daily. The public were assured that vaccines were a kind of magic bullet but they are not. The unvaccinated comprise at least 90% of those who are seriously ill, but vaccine efficacy wanes and the vaccinated are urged to get boosters for protection.
Biden is little better than Trump in addressing the pandemic. Like his predecessor, Biden’s goal was to get people back to work and make life easier for the private sector. He arbitrarily chose July 4 as the date when all would be right, with hoped for high vaccination rates. He didn’t trust the science either, as the Centers for Disease Control declared that the vaccinated no longer had to wear masks. The World Health Organization was far more cautious and advised against any such declaration. The rise of the Delta variant has driven an increase in cases and Biden administration miscues are responsible.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Why the US still suffers from COVID" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).






Truest statement of the week II

In 2001, Afghanistan was stricken and depended on emergency relief convoys from Pakistan. As the journalist Jonathan Steele reported, the invasion indirectly caused the deaths of some 20,000 people as supplies to drought victims stopped and people fled their homes.
Eighteen months later, I found unexploded American cluster bombs in the rubble of Kabul which were often mistaken for yellow relief packages dropped from the air. They blew the limbs off foraging, hungry children.
In the village of Bibi Maru, I watched a woman called Orifa kneel at the graves of her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, and seven other members of her family, including six children, and two children who were killed next door.
An American F-16 aircraft had come out of a clear blue sky and dropped an Mk82 500-pound bomb on Orifa’s mud, stone and straw house. Orifa was away at the time. When she returned, she gathered the body parts.
Months later, a group of Americans came from Kabul and gave her an envelope with 15 notes: a total of $15. “Two dollars for each of my family killed,” she said.
The invasion of Afghanistan was a fraud. In the wake of 9/11, the Taliban sought to distant themselves from Osama bin Laden. They were, in many respects, an American client with which the administration of Bill Clinton had done a series of secret deals to allow the building of a $3 billion natural gas pipeline by a U.S. oil company consortium.
In high secrecy, Taliban leaders had been invited to the U.S. and entertained by the CEO of the Unocal company in his Texas mansion and by the CIA at its headquarters in Virginia. One of the deal-makers was Dick Cheney, later George W. Bush’s vice president.
In 2010, I was in Washington and arranged to interview the mastermind of Afghanistan’s modern era of suffering, Zbigniew Brzezinski. I quoted to him his autobiography in which he admitted that his grand scheme for drawing the Soviets into Afghanistan had created “a few stirred up Muslims”.
“Do you have any regrets?” I asked.

“Regrets! Regrets! What regrets?”
When we watch the current scenes of panic at Kabul airport, and listen to journalists and generals in distant TV studios bewailing the withdrawal of “our protection,” isn’t it time to heed the truth of the past so that all this suffering never happens again?

-- John Pilger, "The Great Game of Smashing Nations" (INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE).





A 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?



 It's been awhile since an edition was anything other than just Ava and C.I.  We're trying to be more focused and hope we can get full editions for the rest of the year.




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








Editorial: Of course, they hate Julian

Assange Defense Tweets:

Julian Assange revealed the truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. #JournalismMatters #FreePress


 Of coruse.  

That's the way it works.  Sell the war, whore for the war, prolong the war and you will be employed.  Doesn't matter that you were wrong or that you lied.  

And it's not just the corporate media that will employ you.  MOTHER JONES looked high and low to hire a blogger, after all.  And who did they go with?  Someone who got it right about Iraq?  No, they went with war whore Kevin Drum.

That's how it works.  Tell the truth and be punished.

KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWSPAPERS were the only only US newspapers who tried to determine the truth about the claims for war on Iraq.  And their reward?  They are no more.  

But all the whorish outlets that lied are still around.

There's a special hatred at the top in the US for those who refused to lie and whore.  That hatred it especially aimed at Julian Assange.  If you were against the Iraq War, grasp that the US government would be focusing on you if they didn't have Julian in their cross-hairs currently.









TV: ABC's disappointing dive

As fall TV prepares to gear up, none of the broadcast networks offers much hope but one of the saddest sights is ABC.  It's as though the network is committed to killing off broadcast TV.


One high profile project -- the only one? -- is a reboot of THE WONDER YEARS.  But this time it's an African-American family!!!!  Oh, that addresses the problem with that 80s crap, right?  Wrong.  THE WONDER YEARS was a piece of garbage show that audiences were patient with for awhile.  Then they gave up on it because it was obvious that the daughter would never, ever be a focus.  Older brother Wayne and, of course, Kevin would be the focus over and over.  The only character that really represented the decade, played by Olivia d'Abo, would be ridiculed onscreen.  It was a toxic show and no one was really surprised to learn that a woman had been harassed by both male juvenile leads.  Though both boys -- now men -- try to deny the allegations, they both settled with the woman.  It was harassment and just how toxic the environment was could be seen years later when 'actress' (hack) Alley Mills showed up decades later to defend Fred Savage and say it was "cute" that he would grab the costumer designer's body and ask her to have an affair with him.  Cute.  Monique Long wasn't employed to be grabbed and touched by horny little male teenagers.  She was a professional costume designer attempting to do her job without being harassed.  That Alley Mills thinks it was cute goes to both how f**ked up that set was and how f**ked up Alley Mills is.

The show was disgusting.  Alley Mills played a character who acted as though she were a hostage in a domestic dispute and you bought it because the father of the show came off as an abuser.  Maybe casting will fix that in the update?  Maybe, but the problem with the show won't be fixed.

THE WONDER YEARS was set in the mythical sixties as opposed to the real sixties.  It's 'reality' stemmed from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER episodes.  Boys and girls did not interact.  On the show, they didn't.  In real life, the sixties were all about breaking down walls and barriers.  This included boys and girls being friends.  But you'd never know it from THE WONDER YEARS.  A girl in the cast just meant she was Kevin's love interest.  Casting for the 'new' old garbage demonstrates that detail is being kept the same.

THE WONDER YEARS was a sexist show that didn't have much to offer other than Fred Savage's cute face.  As people grew more and more irritated with the show, they stopped watching.  If there was a reason to do a new version of the series, it was to fix what was wrong with it, not to go through that sexist garbage all over again.  

The network that gave us BLACK-ISH now not only serves up this garbage but can't find a slot for BLACK-ISH on the fall schedule.  It can't find much of anything -- including a purpose.

Garbage is what it's serving up this fall.  CELEBRITY WHEEL OF FORTUNE and SUPERMARKET SWEEPS are among the cheap programming they're offering.  Garbage no one's asked for and garbage that takes broadcast TV further into the gutter.  ABC has nothing to offer this fall that's deserving of an Emmy nomination.  They continue to serve up the hideous program THE CONNERS.  AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, with similar ratings, got cancelled.  THE CONNERS lives on because ABC stole the program and the characters from Roseanne Barr, blackmailed her (to save the jobs of the crew) into turning over the characters she created to ABC.  Shame on Candice Bergen and any other person who considers themselves an artist but participates in this show.  Art is not theft.  What ABC did to Roseanne Barr should result in any real artist refusing to participate on that show.  Bad enough that they fired her, but to steal and appropriate her life's work?  Shame on Candice Bergen, Cheryl Hines, Fred Savage, Dan Aykroyd and all the others who are condoning ripping off an artist's work.  Shame on you and may you suffer accordingly.  Because they stole from Roseanne, ABC makes a big profit from THE CONNERS and so they keep it on the air even though it's ratings get less and less each season.  


Reality program dominates other nights.  You've got game shows, dancing shows, dating shows, you've got everything but a scripted program worth watching.  THE ROOKIE is back.  For its fourth -- and final? -- season.  Season three should have been the last season but ABC suits obviously are after something other than ratings or they would have axed it and A MILLION LITTLE THINGS -- also on its fourth season.  The show was a disappointment in the ratings in season one -- and with the amount each episode costs, should have been cancelled.  In season two, it actually managed to rally.  But season three saw the show die and the viewers leave -- so much so that it couldn't even scrape up 2.5 million viewers an episode in the final episodes of season three.  

The only returning hit that ABC has -- its only hit from last year -- is BIG SKY.  They've moved it over to Thursday where it will close out the night.  Thursday is ABC's 'biggest gamble' in that they're taking the staple GREY'S ANATOMY which has opened Thursday nights for two decades and moved it to the middle of primetime.  Opening the night now?  The struggling STATION 19.  GREY'S is bringing back Addison (Kate Walsh) but whether that will be enough is anyone's guess.  Generally, when a network starts moving a long running series around on the schedule, it's a hint that they've lost interest in it and are preparing to get rid of it.  Strange since GREY'S was the sixth most watched broadcast network program of last season and one of only two programs ABC had in the top ten (the other, at number ten, was THE BACHELORETTE).  But then GREY'S really doesn't fit the anti-woman mood ABC is currently going for in the new season -- or are we also not supposed to notice that?

There's so much we're not supposed to notice about the floundering ABC-DISNEY corporation. For example?

The following CBN telecast does not reflect the views of this network.

Have you seen that?  If you were following the latest season of MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM, you probably have.  That title card appeared at the end of every episode of the witch drama, right before ABC-DISNEY's FREEFORM then began showing . . . THE 700 CLUB.   FREEFORM had many previous names but, since DISNEY purchased it in 2001, it has been known as ABC FAMILY and, since 2016, as FREEFORM.  No matter who has purchased it, they have been contractually required to air THE 700 CLUB.  

The huh?  That's a conservative, religious news magazine that has been airing since 1966.  We don't agree with the views offered on the show but we're not sure why ABC-DISNEY feels the need to offer that warning.  



You may be too young to remember that.  ABC-DISNEY created that for the fifth and final season of ELLEN.  Ellen DeGeneres' character came out at the end of the fourth season with no such warning required.  But for season five, every episode had to be prefaced with that warning.

Ellen wondered at the time where this would end?  Would it be used against African-Americans, Jews, what?

We now know.  It will be used against religious conservatives.  

THE 700 CLUB doesn't reflect our views. We have no problem saying that. But we didn't buy THE FAMILY CHANNEL and legally agree to continue airing THE 700 CLUB. Our point is that's it is tacky on ABC-DISNEY's part and leaves them open to a lawsuit. We've looked at the contract and there's no disclaimer option.

We also question the wisdom of the disclaimer. THE 700 CLUB doesn't reflects the views of ABD-DISNEY? Which views? The belief in Jesus Christ? Because if that's the view that doesn't reflect ABC-DISNEY, we think they're going to lose a lot of business. And a lot of jobs.

Jobs. We're on another beef now. We're looking over at HBO-WARNER specifically on this. TCM is TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES and not a Memorial Day or July 4th go by without TCM putting on war propaganda non-stop. When we ask, they insist that it's a holiday. Not a holiday from war, obviously. And what some WWII John Wayne film has to do with July 4th is anyone's guess ?

There's no guess work required with Martin Ritt's NORMA RAE. No the film that features an Academy Award winning performance by Sally Field is not a war movie. but we just celebrated Labor Day. Why isn't TCM committed to celebrating labor? Niki Caro's NORTH COUNTRY would be another example of a film they should be programming on Labor Day. 9 TO 5 features the great team of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton and, yes, it is a labor film. Three office assistants take over the whole floor of a corporation, that's a labor film. There are many other examples and that's before we start noting some of the great documentaries about labor. Yet year after year, TCM ignores Labor Day.

To be really clear, we'd be thrilled if they'd ignore July 4th and Memorial Day. We don't watch TCM for politics of for history unless it's film history. Bu if they're gong to force us to put up with war movies to 'celebrate' holidays, then they damn sure should be programming films about working and workers on Labor Day.

And we're back to programming. ABC-DISNEY should not have been allowed to purchase FOX. That was a huge mistake. Anti-trust legislation apparently is no longer enforced. All the purchase has done is turn FOX into a bigger embarrassment as ABC has made it into a twin. In other words, there's no adding to the network. Cheap programming passes for 'new shows.' ABC should not get a single Emmy nomination in 2022 because there is no excellence in their programming. They're offering the dregs that one would expect on basic cable. However, in fairness to basic cable, it's offering are superior to most of what ABC is programming this fall. Certainly TNT's ANIMAL KINGDOM and FREEFORM's MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM have fascinated viewers this summer. Equally true, NBC remains a huge disappointment. We used to think ABC might force NBC to better its programming but instead ABC's decided to dumpster dive and join NBC. Both networks are but one SUPER TRAIN program away from being as hideous as NBC was in the late 70s.

Which leaves you with THE CW and CBS. The latter hasn't gotten any better. We wish that weren't the case, but it's true. Still staying the same while others around you sink does make you appear better. THE CW is making real moves to build a relationship with their viewers and that does include going seven nights a week. This fall will be the first time they program for Saturdays. While ABC and FOX join NBC in throwing in the towel, THE CW alone strikes us as building for a future.


It's a little -- was it really enough?

The Thrifty Food Program? Probably a lot of Americans feel that they practice that. But the one we're referring to is actually a government program. The USDA explains:  

The Thrifty Food Plan is one of four food plans USDA develops that estimate the cost of a healthy diet across various price points – the Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal Food Plans. The Thrifty Food Plan is the lowest cost of the four. It represents the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet prepared at home for a family of four, which is defined in law as an adult male and female, ages 20-50, and two children, ages 6-8 and 9-11.


The TFP is used as the basis for designing Food Stamp Program benefits. It is the cheapest food plan and is calculated monthly using data collected for the consumer price index (CPI). It is not the same as the food components of the CPI. The monthly cost of the TFP used for the Food Stamp Program represents a national average of expenditures (four-person household consisting of an adult couple and two school-age children) adjusted for other household sizes through the use of a formula reflecting economies of scale. For food stamp purposes, the TFP as priced each June sets maximum benefit levels for the fiscal year beginning the following October.

In the middle of last month, Congress passed an increase for the program. US House Rep David Scott, Chair of the House Ag Committee, stated, "The 2018 Farm Bill passed with broad bipartisan support, along with record support from the full House of Representatives, which is why it's great to see USDA implementing the Farm Bill requirement. This update to the Thrifty Food Plan ensures that SNAP benefits are based off an accurate science-based and up-to-date Thrifty Food Plan and will go a long way towards reducing hunger and food inscurity in this country. As always, I am grateful to see provisional with bipartisan support moving along in a productive way."

Senator Debbie Stabenow is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and she declared, "We can all agree that the world is much different today than it was in 1975 when the Thrifty Food Plan was last updated. Congress recognized this and that is why the 2018 Farm Bill required the USDA to modernize SNAP benefits levels. This long overdue update finally takes into account the time constraints, nutritional needs, and budgets of working families in America today. For the families struggling to find enough time to prepare and share meals or afford enough nutrition for their growing kids, or the seniors on fixed incomes now navigating complicated dietary health needs, this will be a welcome improvement."

And while we're glad for the increase, it's not really that much. As Stabenow's office noted, "the average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit will increase by $36.24 per person, per month, or $1.19 per day, for Fiscal Year 2022 starting October 1." Again, we're glad for any increase to those in need but $1.19 a month extra strikes us as a little cheap.




Subway is still the worst

Subway has been 'refershing' the menu. They're bothered that sales went from flat to down and were convinced that the problem was the ingredients. So they added new ingredients and, guess what, it didn't help at all.

We DoorDashed Subway on Sunday and regretted it the second the food arrived. Fourteen sandwiches, you'd think they'd get one right?

Artisan flatbread? As Jess and Ava's daughter asked, "Is this a Gordito?" It certainly did seem like something off the Taco Bell menu. And melted 'cheese' in that is just not melted cheese -- have one, you'll see what we mean. It's also the most fattening bread choice that Subway currently offers.

Our biggest beef? Every sandwich as made with Toasted Artisan Flatbread. Why is that a problem? Not one of us ordered that hideous bread or 'bread.' Mike and Elaine's daughter wanted a vegetarian sandwich as did Jess. Shouldn't be too hard to mess that up, right? wrong. Not only did they get the bread wrong but one vegetarian sandwich contained bacon while the other had ham.

The problem with Subway was never the published menu. The problem was always the store's refusal to follow it. Back in 2019, Marcia noted her fury when Subway refused to serve the honey oat bread on the menu.


It's something common. The pandemic has only made it worse. There was one day Ty went to three Subways trying to get a sub on wheat bread. Each store was out. He'd wait until they made a new loaf. They weren't planning to make any new loaves. At five o'clock, they were done making bread for the day? Seems like Subway's most offensive ingredient has always been its employees -- and that's hard to say when you're pro-worker. But maybe the answer wasn't a bunch of new ingredients and celebrities promoting their sandwiches, maybe the answer was better wages, letting the employees take some pride in the stores and in their work.

Apparently, that's the one thing Subway's not willing to invest in.







Tweet of the week

Ajamu Baraka Tweets:

Why the focus on some yet to be confirmed reluctance of Taliban to allow U.S. & Afghans to leave the country but no attention on obvious efforts of U.S. to limit number of Afghan refugees to the U.S.? U.S. created crisis, take responsibility. Neocolonialism has consequences.

Music video of the week



Diana Ross' "If The World Just Danced."

Rose McGowan Calls Out Harvey Weinstein & Alyssa Milano





This edition's playlist







1) Nick Jonas' SPACEMAN.


2) Chase Rice's THE ALBUM.



3) Cat PowersWANDERER.


4) Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo's BLACKBIRD: LENNON - MCCARTNEY ICONS.


5) Harry Style's FINE LINE


6) Dionne Warwick's SHE'S BACK.








9) Dionne Warwick's HERE WHERE THERE IS LOVE.



10) Tracy Chapman's CROSSROADS.





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