Monday, January 09, 2023

Truest statement of the week

A recent series of stories in New York Magazine headlined “The Year of the Nepo Baby” has struck a chord among those who are being outed for having benefited from insider status. Nepo babies are the children of the rich and famous, the ones who are borne of naked nepotism and whose ubiquity exposes the myth of American meritocracy. Nepo babies can be found everywhere there is power.

The New York Magazine stories have predictably generated defensive responses from nepo babies. Jamie Lee Curtis, actor and daughter of famed Hollywood stars Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, wrote a lengthy post on Instagram defending her status. Although she admitted that she benefitted from her parents’ fame—“I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don’t pretend there aren’t any”—she also clapped back at critics, saying she was tired of assumptions that a nepo baby like her “would somehow have no talent whatsoever.” Curtis went further in claiming that the current focus on people like her was “designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt.”

Curtis is clearly a talented actor, of that there is no doubt. But, in defending her privilege from critique, she reveals just how deserving she considers herself. It is the converse of imposter syndrome—the insider syndrome.

The act of calling out nepotism doesn’t necessarily imply that nepo babies are not talented. (Nepo babies are sometimes talented—and sometimes not.) It means pointing out that some talented people are able to benefit from family connections and fame that other equally talented people are not able to.

The critique is intended to call out elitism, not “diminish,” “denigrate” or “hurt,” as Curtis accuses journalists of doing. Journalism that exposes power and its corruptive influence among elites punches up, not down. Curtis is hardly a disadvantaged person whose well-being will suffer from such coverage. 

-- Sonali Kolhatkar, "Nepo Babies and the Myth of the Meritocracy" (COUNTERPUNCH).  

Truest statement of the week II

A video showing New York City (NYPD) policemen holding the metro transit fare gates open for several members of the Proud Boys has surfaced on social media, garnering millions of views in the 48-hour period since its posting.

The individual filming the video can be heard questioning the officers’ actions in disbelief, demanding to know if the militia members were being allowed to evade the subway fare by the police.

The video was posted on TikTok on Sunday, and by Tuesday evening it had upwards of a third of a million individual user “likes,” 18,000 comments and 13,000 “shares.” A reposting of the video on Twitter showed 3.4 million more views, along with 13.9 million views of the thread to which it had been attached.

In an example of popular disgust with the collaboration between the police and the political far-right, one commenter wrote, “I’ve literally seen the NYPD chase people [for] fair evasion, this is insane.” Another user added, “cops let their own in.”

The video was filmed after the Proud Boys, along with the ultra-religious, anti-vaccine, anti-LGBTQ Guardians of Divinity, threatened a Drag Queen Story Hour (DSH) event at the Queens Public Library in Jackson Heights on December 29.

Between the two extreme-right organizations, over two dozen members were present at the event, while about 150 counter-demonstrators showed up in protest against the far-right provocateurs. Guardians of Divinity members and Proud Boys hurled slanderous epithets and attempted to intimidate supporters of the event. 

--  Jesse Thomas, "Proud Boys, far-right groups terrorize New York City drag event" (WSWS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday 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? 

Sonali Kolhatkar gets a truest.
As does Jesse Thomas.
We didn't have anything on Iraq ready to go so we raided C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot."
Ava and C.I. take on a hate merchant.
We did this roundtable very quickly.
Ava and C.I. on a show that they highly recommend
Our book reviews at community sites is starting back up this year.
This is a reprint of the first book review for the year.
Ajamu Baraka.
What we listened to while writing.

Mike and the gang did this and we thank them for it.



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

Corruption in Iraq

Last week, John Lee (OZ ARAB MEDIA) noted:

The Iraqi Minister of Oil, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, has announced revenues of more than $115 billion from exporting crude oil for the year 2022.

More than 1,209 billion barrels of crude oil were exported, giving a daily export rate is approximately 3.320 million barrels per day (bpd).

ARABIAN BUSINESS noted, "This is a four-year high following a collapse in prices during the Covid-19 pandemic."  But it means nothing for the Iraqi people because the US-installed government in Iraq has never attempted to better the lives of the Iraqi people.  Nouri al-Maliki and his family got rich after the 2003 invasion, it was the Iraqi people who struggled.  Jobs are nowhere to be found and politicians and officials steal the public monies.  There's no investment in infrastructure.  There's no investment in the people.  That's what The October Revolution was protesting against: corruption that destroyed not just the chances of the young people but the entire country.  Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries in the world as ranked by Transparency International.  Today, RUDAW reports:

Over a thousand people held a demonstration before the Iraqi finance ministry on Sunday demanding permanent employment at the Shiite Endowment Office and their inclusion in the 2023 Iraqi national fiscal budget.

The protesters, some of whom have been working with the Shiite endowment by contract for the past 15 years, called on the government to make their employment permanent.

“We ask for permanent employment. Three generations of the rest of the directorates have been granted permanent employment, but we have not been until now,” Ahmad Abdulrahman, who has been working with the office for the past 13 years, told Rudaw’s Mustafa Goran, calling on Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani to address their concerns, saying “we are tired, and we have had enough.”

The total number of those who are contract-based with the Shiite Endowment Office is around 7,000, working a variety of jobs including guarding holy shrines, doing media work, cooking, and running administrative affairs.  

This is the third protest of its kind that they have held in the course of the past two months, but they have not yet received any answer from the government.

At least three.  Last week, RUDAW noted:

At least five people were wounded in Kirkuk on Monday as police applied force to disperse hundreds of angry demonstrators who protested the lack of employment by the North Oil Company (NOC) and tried to storm its headquarters.

A total of 1350 college graduates received a six-month-long training course by the state-run NOC four years ago, but have not yet been employed. Of this number, Over 450 of them staged an angry protest on Monday.

A protester told Rudaw that Baghdad already consented to employ 458 of the trained graduates, but they were not true to their words and that they employed other people instead of them.

And Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reported:

Hundreds of recently graduated teachers who have been working without receiving payments for years gathered in Kirkuk on Wednesday to protest their lack of contractual employment, calling on the Iraqi government to address their concerns. 

Iraq’s Education Minister Ibrahim Namis al-Jubouri announced on Tuesday that the council of ministers has agreed to include teachers of the graduating class of 2020 in the 2023 budget, granting them employment by contract. The decision does not include graduates from any other year, many of whom have been teaching free of charge and without contracts for years.

“We teach at schools without any privileges… Yesterday evening, a decision was issued to employ graduates of 2020, we are graduates of 2019, 2021, 2022 and we are still waiting… We have been teaching for free for two years,” one of the protesters told Rudaw’s Hiwa Hussamadin.

Most graduates resort to teaching for free hoping it would lead to full-time employment.

The protests come as IANS notes, "The Iraqi Ministry of Planning has said that the rate in the country was 25 per cent in 2022, the Iraqi official news agency reported."  So oil income is at a four year high for Iraq, the highest since the pandemic started, in fact.  More money than in the last four years has come into Iraq from oil revenues.  And at the same time poverty has increased -- and they're blaming COVID for the poverty increase?

None of the links about want to talk about it but those living in poverty were estimated, two years ago, to be at 20%.  There's been a five-percent increase in the number living in poverty and this has taken place at the same time that oil revenues have hit record highs.

This isn't about COVID, this is about corruption within the government. 

[Excerpted from today's Iraq snapshot.]

Little Christy Toto -- Stupid and Hateful (Ava and C.I.)

Christian Toto is a hate merchant who fancies himself a latter day Rona  Barrett.  If you've never heard of him, we're sorry to drag him into your world.  From time to time, NEWSBUSTERS (a right-wing outlet that monitors the media) features his demented scribbles because they love how he hates and who he hates.   But even they tend to shy away from some of his most ridiculous opinions (AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is "anti-human," according to Toto).  



Brains were apparently sold separately when Christian Dodo was being put together.  That would explain how, when he yet again wrote about Joe Rogan and SPOTIFY two weeks ago and brought up Neil Young (who infamously pulled or 'pulled' his music from SPOTIFY in protest of Joe), he couldn't even mention (because he's so stupid) that Neil's can once again be heard on SPOTIFY.  

Topics he chooses to write about are topics he can't even handle.

In Christian Dodo's latest garbage that NEWSBUSTERS chose to highlight (here), he's whining about the news media which, for the record, is not Hollywood.  

He's upset that the media is ignoring two huge stories.  His idea of 'huge'?  Makes us wonder how small he is because the two stories are beyond minor -- if they were male genitalia, they'd be micro penes and they'd be something, at last, that Dodo could write about from an informed perspective.

Actor James Woods (THE WAY WE WERE, AGAINST ALL ODDS, WHITE HOUSE DOWN, VIDEODROME, etc) was censored on Twitter.  And Dodo is upset that the whole world has not dropped everything to discuss this.  Now if James brings forward the lawsuit he's threatening, it might be news.  But right now, James Woods is not the story.  The Twitter dumps have been handled poorly by most working them and they're poorly covered by the larger media.  So it's not just James being banned in the past that's being ignored.  But censorship would be the story when it's covered.  Christian Dodo is pouting in his SALVADOR footie-pajamas over nothing.

His other big concern?  The news media has ignored Kirk Cameron!!!

Really?  Well that would make them like 97% of the country then.

The 52-year-old Kirk Cameron is butt ugly.  Not a crime unless your claim to almost-fame is having been a minor teen idol.  We've warned since our first year doing these pieces that time was not kind to male teen idols and they were idiots for thinking they could skate forever on their looks.

That's especially true if you were gopher-like teen idol in your day.  Yes, even in his hey day, Kirk was gruesome.  It's why he never had a career. 

He was third-billed on the sitcom GROWING PAINS -- a FAMILY TIES rip-off that ran for seven seasons.  Fans discovered it in season two and made season two and season three top ten hits.  Like Kirk's looks, it quickly faded.  He became an extremist as season three progressed and that led to the show's falling out of the top ten and sinking each season until season seven found GROWING PAINS ranked 75th out of all the broadcast networks' prime time offerings.

He wouldn't do this, he wouldn't do that.  He didn't want to speak to this cast member or that (and would invite none to his wedding), he didn't like this actress because she posed in PLAYBOY (God may forgive, but Kirk never does), etc, etc.

He was a joke and deserved to be.  GROWING PAINS never became a syndicated hit because he was so off putting he ran off fans of the show.  

Michael J. Fox was a star.  Kirk is merely the answer to an obscure trivia question.

His Hollywood career ended long ago.  No one wants him and it's not because he's a Christian.  Being a Christian never hurt Della Reese's career.  But Della wasn't a rude asshole screaming and yelling at the grips or taking over the catering table and telling guest actors that the food set out wasn't for them.  Kirk was the definition of "little bitch" when working for ABC and his earned reputation ensured that no one would ever say, "Hey, what about Kirk?" in a casting session again -- a real casting session for a real project -- not the vanity crap he does now.

Christian Dodo is upset because Kirk wrote a book -- or, more likely, put his name to it -- and when he went around calling libraries to make appearances, he found they didn't take him or his 'book' seriously.

Nor should they.  He's not an author.  He has no following. He is a divisive person who hates gay people, who screams "Communism!" when people start discussing how to slow the spread of COVID, etc, etc.  Despite all but spitting on a GROWING PAINS co-star because she posed in PLAYBOY, he thought Donald Trump was the epitome of Christianity -- yes, Kirk is that insane.  Cheating on his marriage vows, divorcing twice, etc, etc fits Kirk's idea of Christianity which just goes to how insane Kirk Cameron is.  

Add to that, libraries are places for readers and Kirk himself has been described as a book burner.

So Kirk had a children's book to sale and he couldn't understand, since he was a minor TV star as late as 1987, libraries wouldn't be thrilled to pimp his latest hateful offering.

And let's be clear what he's marketing: Hate.  It's not Christianity.  Christianity does not believe the "swamp still needs to be drained" or any of the nutjob beliefs of BRAVE BOOKS and its publisher Trent Talbot.  In fact, the news media would be doing a wonderful job if they exposed to the public exactly who Kirk Cameron has hooked up with.

He was a hateful little bitch when he was a teenager.  Though the looks have faded, Kirk's managed to hold on to hateful bitch status and he's found others who he can share the hate with.


Building his writing career around the likes of non-entities like Kirk Cameron goes a long way towards explaining why Toto has a niche following at best.  And from this tiny corner, he rails against the world.  DISNEY's LIGHTYEAR?  It was a movie trying to 'groom' kids, according to Christian Toto.  That is an insane take and brought to you by a demented mind.  Two same-sex characters have a kiss and that has blown whatever was left of Toto's mind.  

He doesn't want the world reflected.  He wants to shut out what he doesn't believe in and what he refuses to acknowledge.  That's why he lives in his crazy world of hate and wastes his time trying to resurrect the career of Kirk Cameron.  It's funny how these hate merchants so often claim to be Christians when the teachings of Jesus Christ are never their focus.


Jim: It's roundtable time. Remember our e-mail address is but you can also use and, in fact, should this week Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Okay, first up, LIGHTYEAR.  The film didn't do well at the box office.

Dona: It didn't do great but it did make over one hundred million in ticket sales.  I don't know how you spend $200 million on an animated film to begin with.  If they'd had a reasonable budget, the same amount at the box office would have been considered a hit.

Stan: LIGHTYEAR needed Tim Allen.  He is Buzz Lightyear and to make the film without him -- despite all their excuses -- was stupidity.

C.I.: I think the role should have gone to Tim as well but I also think Chris Evans is the wrong actor for vocal work.  His voice is not distinctive enough -- or deep enough.  These films do better when you're using unique voices.  Chris Evans has a generic voice.  You need Demi Moore, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Wanda Sykes, Jack Whitehall, Will Smith, people with distinctive voices.  Like Tom Cruise, Chris Evans does not have a distinctive voice.

Stan: And it tends to work better if they've had sitcom experience or stand up comedy experience.

Ann: I would agree with that.  

Jim: You had the RISE OF GRU that did well this summer and the new PUSS IN BOOTS is doing well --

C.I.: Doing damn well.  And here's where we get to Dona's point.  Ticket sales are at $197.  And unlike LIGHTYEAR, it didn't have a $200 million shooting budget, it's shooting budget was $90 million. 

Ava: And, let's be honest, they were just throwing money away on LIGHTYEAR.  Chris Evans with his so-so voice was paid $10 million for LIGHTYEAR.  Why?  His voice is weak and indistinctive.  He didn't deserve it at all. When not playing CAPTAIN AMERICA, what film has he made that justifies a $10 million payday?  None.  

Jim: Steven Spielberg is another one who seems to have trouble justifying a salary these days. The WEST SIDE STORY remake bombed.  THE FABLEMANS is a bomb.  What's going on?

Ann: I don't think he knows how to tell realistic stories anymore.  We don't relate to him unless the film has a syfy gimmick.  His stories are old and tired -- that's true of WEST SIDE STORY and true of THE FABLEMANS.

Jess: Someone, and maybe it was you, Ann, noted that the original WEST SIDE STORY was an iffy project which was why Jack Warner cast Natalie Wood in it -- to bring some star power and ensure that tickets were sold.  Spielberg didn't feel that need.

Ann: He sure didn't and it certainly showed at the box office.  

Jim: He seems out of touch with today's audience.  And that can destroy a career.  I don't think Warren Beatty's going to direct again.  I could be wrong. 

C.I.: I hope you are but you're probably right.  RULES DON'T APPLY should not have received a green light.  It is hopelessly out of date.  If Warren had made it in the 70s or the 80s, that would be one thing.  But in 2016?  It was garbage because, by then, people who care about movies and care about Howard Hughes all knew he was bisexual and had affairs with Guy Madison, Cary Grant, Jack Buetel and others.  So to be playing him as straight looked hopelessly out of date and like a really bad TV movie.  If you can't deal honestly with your subject, don't make the film.  Hughes was bi and pretending otherwise would have worked in the 70s or 80s but it was like making a film in 2016 trying to convince the audience that J. Edgar Hoover was straight.

Ava: It didn't help that the overweight and non-sexy Alden Ehrenreich was the third lead.  

Jim: He's a lead in OPPENHEIMER.

Ava: No, he's not.  He's 14th billed on that project.  Besides Elizabeth Banks there aren't many people stupid enough to give him a main role these days and he's fourth billed in her upcoming film. He has no appeal.  Idiots are casting him in roles when it should be clear to everyone that the American people do not respond to him. 

Jim: Margot Robbie has no appeared in multiple flops.

Ty: But she wasn't carrying the films.  BABYLON is Brad Pitt's film and it's his flop.  She was not the star of AMSTERDAM -- a hideous film with a lousy performance from Taylor Swift.  THE SUICIDE SQUAD was a flop but I think everyone grasps that it would have made even less money without her in it.  It's really easy to blame Margot but these weren't her films and, of course, the press has always refused to hold Brad Pitt accountable for his bombs and he's made more bombs than he has hits.  Right, Betty?

Betty: Exactly.  For an actor who's been making films since the 90s, he has very few hit films he can point to today.  Blaming Margot for BABLYON is sheer stupidity.  Brad's gotten bloated in the face and in the mid-section yet there he was in every ad for BABLYON strutting around in his underwear.  People might have paid for that in the 90s or the 00s, but it's too late now.  He looks like an old man and all that drinking has made him not just fat but also old beyond his years.  He's the reason the film flopped.

Jim: When we were covering BROS -- especially Ava and C.I. covering it -- we got some of the worst e-mails ever.  But as the weeks have passed, even some of those who didn't get the point originally, now appear to have.

Betty: I don't think people realized what a homophobic waves was cresting.  I think people would have taken less offense to Billy Eichner's Tweet -- which wasn't offensive at all -- if they're realized just how concentrated the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community was.  I think we all saw the hatred after BROS opened.  Prior to that, we weren't really aware of it.  We thought the world had progressed beyond the Cameron demon-spawn of Kirk and Candace.  They are disgusting people.  HALLMARK better not take her back after she fails at her new network.  

Marcia: It's funny to me because, growing up, DJ Tanner always read gay to me.  I think that's true for a lot of people who watched.  It wasn't because she was overweight -- although that played into it.  She just had an air and attitude about her.  I think that's why she hates gay people so much, she realizes how easy it is for her to be one.  She'll probably be on her death bed before she can admit the truth to herself.

Betty: She may not know she is but I always felt Kirk was a closet-case and that he ran to religion not out of a love for God but in an effort to deny who he really was.  He's a flamer.

Marcia: Support.

Stan: I think that's true for a lot of them.  They are way too interested in the bedroom actions of two men or two women for it to be anything other than their own inclinations.  I think they're deeply closeted.

Ty: The Camerons or homophobes in general?

Stan: The Camerons for sure.  And Candace is so ugly.  That had to have hurt her growing up.  Knowing she wasn't pretty.  Always being fat and so masculine.  It had to eat at her identity.  She probably always wanted to be small and cute but she's so mannish -- even in the face.  Poor thing.  I'll pray for her.

Betty: I will too.  We're praying for you, Candice, praying Jesus will forgive you for your attacks on LGBTQ+ people and also for all the hatred that's inside your fat and ugly heart.  

Dona: Look, I'm not a girly girl and have never claimed to be but even for me, growing up, Candice Cameron rang the same-sex bells.  I always assumed that when FULL HOUSE ended, she'd be coming out of the closet.  

Ty: I'm going to read this in, this is from LGBTQ NATION:

A new trend seems to be all the rage for anti-LGBTQ+ parents, who have been increasingly touting the need to “deprogram” their progressive children and turn them conservative.

recent report from the New York Post features a group of mothers who say their children refuse to talk to them after being “indoctrinated” with “gender and race ideology” by progressive high schools and colleges.

The article likens progressive values to being in a cult and details the mothers’ desire to find a “deprogrammer” to jolt their children back to reality.

The mothers were inspired by another story from the New York Post, that of Annabella Rockwell, a pharmaceutical fortune heiress, a rightwing activist, and a Mount Holyoke alumna who claimed that her mother hired a $300/day “deprogrammer” to turn her conservative after college.

“I saw Annabella’s story and my life turned upside down,” said 54-year-old Beth Pensky, whose son and daughter don’t speak to her.

Ty (con't): Thoughts?

Dona: Disgusting.  As a mother, I find that appalling.  You clearly don't love your child if you think they need deprogramming.  I fear for children with crazy parents.

Jess: I'm going to 100% with Dona on that.  If Ava and my child was gay, fine.  If she was a right-winger or left-winger or apolitical, fine.  We want her to be happy.  We want her to find love.  Am I wrong?

Ava: No, you're not.  Some people don't want children, they want little programmable mini-mes.  It's really sad.  I want my daughter to be happy.  That's really it.  I don't need to live through her, I don't need to program her.

Trina: You know, I've got eight children and they have similarities and they have differences.  I have one son who is gay.  I love all my children and I just want them to be happy in life like Dona, Jess and Ava are saying. 

Jim: Did you ever fear for your son being gay?

Trina: I'm scared for him right now.  This is a very homophobic time we're going through.  But I never thought, "Gee, if only he wasn't gay."  Gay is who he is.  I love him and it's not an issue.  Now I'm Catholic and I'm from a family of eight and I have a family of eight children.  When you're Catholic and have a large family, my experience, the question is never, "Do you have a gay child?," the question is "Which one is your gay child?"  Now my friend Pat, she's also Catholic and she has nine kids.  She knew one was gay, one of her boys.  And she thought that was all.  Then it turned out one of her daughters was as well and then two sons -- including one who came out after he married a woman.  If you asked Pat, she'd tell you she loves every one of her kids.   I watch these people like Candace Cameron and think, "Someone needs to study the teachings of Jesus."  She's so far from shore when it comes to God's love.  I have no use for people like that.  Not because they're ignorant -- they are ignorant -- but because they are using their ignorance to hurt others.

Ty: Well said.  To zoom over into the drag queen aspect, there are places that are trying to outlaw women dressing as men and men dressing as women.  I loved when C.I. asked what they're going to do when the next BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE comes to town?  And they're right-wingers who don't seem to grasp that their political hero Bob Hope dressed as a woman in movies.  I just am baffled by the hate involved in that.  I grew up with hatred aimed at me over the gay issue.  But they're bothered by Drag Kings and Draq Queens now?

Kat: I'll say it, I'll say the obvious.  They're home schooled in many cases, they haven't gone to college.  They have a huge chip on their shoulder and are angry at the world so they choose to target the LGBTQ+ community as well as drag artists. 

Rebecca: I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings but I agree with Kat.  Lauren Boebert is the perfect example of that.  She dropped out of high school.  Then, years later, right before she runs for office, she tries --- more than once -- to pass the test for a GED.  She's an idiot.  She's uninformed and she's full of hate.  So is Tulsi Gabbard, by the way.  And she's the equivalent of home schooled -- she went to that cult school.

Ruth: I can understand the hatred she pours on gay people.

Rebecca: You can?

Ruth: Yes.  There was a woman, a girl back then, who was at my school.  She was on her second year of 10th grade, her name was Kim Lide.  Her face, like Tulsi's face, was covered in scars and pockmarks as a result of acne.  People say she was sweet and fun until she got to eighth grade and developed bad acne.  She'd start out every day convinced the world was against her.

Rebecca: I can see it.  And, as a mom, I look at Tulsi and I honestly think, "Shut up."  She keeps talking about how she has to save America's children.  What children does she have?  None.  So back off.  I don't want some stranger interested in my child.  Don't want a male Scott Ritter or a female Tulsi Gabbard.  And what a fake ass she is.

Kat: Yeah, she did run a con job in the primaries pretending she was against wars.  

Mike: Up until she had to put or shut up.  In her last debate, she was twice asked about Joe Biden and the Iraq War and she gave him a pass.  After he's in office, she starts saying he's a Nazi.  Well, golly gee, Tulsi, who helped him into office?  Uh, you did.

Isaiah: Exactly right.

Mike: Exactly.  Not only did she refuse to hold him accountable in that debate, when she finally dropped out, she endorsed Joe and not Bernie.  So if Tulsi is unhappy -- and looking at her, seems like she's always unhappy -- then she has only herself to blame.

Ty: But people like that, homophobes, don't take blame.  They project it out on to others.

Dona: Agreed.

Betty: And I do believe there is a war being conducted against the LGBTQ+ community and that people who think they can stay on the sidelines are kidding themselves.  And that Marcia and C.I. are right to call out Glenn Greenwald.

Wally: Because he is covering up for Mother Tucker Carlson and others.  He's holding hands with homophobes.  He never had any self-respect, of course.  And he's so desperate and clingy that he'll sell out his own family in order to lick the boots of Mother Tucker and Marjorie Taylor Green and all the rest.

Cedric: As an African-American male, I'm bothered by the homophobia in the Black community.  Betty has rightly called it out at her site repeatedly and people will be like, "No, no, it doesn't exist."  It darn well does.  And it's appalling because we know discrimination based on skin color so why would we want to inflict harm on anyone else.  And, be honest, there's not a church choir -- a Black church choir -- in the country that doesn't have a gay man or two on it -- usually as a choir director.  They are our families.  We need to embrace with love.

Betty: I've talked to much, I know.  But when the whole drag thing came up at THE COMMON ILLS, C.I. noted how a freed slave, in DC, was one of the first drag artists in the country.  I mean that's a part of our culture.  It predates Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry. It's a long history.  We need to embrace our history.  And if a freed slave can go to DC and do that, nobody else has a right to judge.  How dare they.  This is part of our culture and we need to embrace it.

Ty: I agree with you both.  

Jim: Before we wind down, could you explain, C.I., about the man Betty is referring to.

C.I.: Sure.  William Dorsey Swann was born into slavery in Maryland in 1860.  In the 1880s in DC, he started hosting drag queen balls and is thought to be the first person to refer to himself as "the queen of drag."  PBS' AMERICAN MASTERS did a special on him in 2021.

Jim: Okay and on that note, we're going to wind down.  This is a rush transcript.






Will Trent?

Will Trent do what?


No, it's WILL TRENT -- like PERRY MASON -- that's the name of ABC's latest crime show.  Before you lose interest, give us a chance.

Now we'd understand if you already bailed.  ABC crime show.  What is this another ROOKIE?  As if one starring the aged dream 'boy' of aged men and women Nathan Fillion.  At 51, he's THE ROOKIE.  And it's played for something other than comedy -- at least THE ROOKIE: FEDS has Niecy Nash-Betts to provide some life to the tired concept. 

WILL TRENT could be a tired concept but the cast carries it into something more than you've been able to expect from ABC for years now.  Take Sonja Sohn who plays Will Trent's boss Amanda.  Tired, beleaguered and just not in the mood for it -- for anything.  Will's upset that set him up to be loathed by other members of the police force?  Well, she points out that same case (where he busted bad cops) got him a promotion.  Faith (Iantha Richardson) not glad that she teamed her with Will (who got her mom kicked off the force after 30 years)?  Well, Amanda points out to Faith, this is a great learning experience if she'll see it as such.


Then you've got Michael played by Jake McLaughlin who was so great in BELIEVE and QUANTICO.  He doesn't play guys like Michael, though.  Michael is not trust worthy -- not when he's questioning a student who, let's be honest, he's beating up outside the kid's dorm room and not when he's happy a former female partner is being paired with him again -- the previous problems are alluded to when she brings up his wife.  Jake manages to stretch into the role and fill it out -- our only fear is that the writers might try to clean Michael up to make him more like the type of character Jake usually plays.


Mark-Paul Gosselaar is in the cast and we did a cheer over that followed by a sad note.  He usually plays the good guy characters like Jake McLaughlin does.  In this one, he's a man cheating on his wife who also loathes Will (they were in the same orphanage as children).  Maybe the fact that he's playing a different will change the outcome of this series?  Mark-Paul has evolved into a very strong actor and we've enjoyed him in several TV shows over the last years --  TRUTH BE TOLD, PITCH and THE PASSAGE -- but not one of them has lasted more than one season.  

Erika Christensen has been in hundreds of films and TV shows in the last two or so decades.  She was in THE BANGER SISTERS with Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon, FLIGHT PLAN with Jodie Foster, KIMI with Zoe Kravitz, LIE TO ME, THAT 70S SHOW, TEN DAYS IN THE VALLEY , , ,  Now she's playing Angie on Will Trent.  Angie used to partner with Michael but it went bad.  She moved on over to vice and she's undercover trying to take down a drug ring when we see her for the first time.  After possibly destroying that case (or maybe not), she gets re-assigned and is back partnering with Michael.

Out of the office?  She's with Will.  They knew each other as kids.  Now they have an on-again-off-again relationship that's always in a state of flux.

As great as everyone above is -- and they are great -- the series belongs to Ramon Rodriguez who plays Will Trent.  Whether he's interacting with Betty (his new dog) or with humans, he seems right in every response and move he makes -- even when they take you by surprise.  He's delivering the kind of performance that should bring some Emmy attention back to broadcast TV.  

It's a star making role and he delivers and then some.

 But will the audience show up?

It's airing on Tuesdays and had so little attention that, until Saturday night, it didn't even have a WIKIPEDIA entry.  Debuting last week, it did better than THE ROOKIE: FEDS had done in that same time slot.  Still, it's probably going to require strong word of mouth for it to get a second season. 

Books (Ava and C.I.)

Ava: We are starting back up with book reviews at community sites.  After the review is posted, we will again interview the person who wrote the review.  The reviews for 2023 kicked off with C.I. who posted "Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)" on Saturday.  Obviously, she can't interview herself -- maybe she could? -- so I'll ask questions.  Your book was Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE: THE CIA AND THE COVERT RECOLONIZATION OF AFRICA

Why did you pick that one?

C.I.: It was in a pile on my desk of books I wanted to read but hadn't gotten around to yet.  I grabbed ten and checked them on KINDLE.  This book was on sale for $4.99 so I thought it was something a lot of people might want to follow up on -- as opposed to one that's 18 dollars or more.  

Ava: Susan Williams is a historian.  You noted she has a wide range of sources -- including government documents. 

C.I.: Right.  Patrice Lumumba is one of the leaders that the US, the UK, Belgium and the United Nations worked to destroy in Africa.  He was the Prime Minister of the Congo.  Then President Dwight Eisenhower decided Lumumba needed to be killed and the CIA began working on that -- with help from MI6.  The US government may have spent as much as $150 million on their operation to take out Lumumba and other leaders including Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah who was overthrown in 1966.  

Ava: At one point, we were talking about the book when you finished reading it, at one point, Lumumba is ahead of the killers and then he's not.  Talk about that.

C.I.: So they want to kill  him.  He and his crew are attempting to escape.  They go to the British embassy and are refused.  And they're also refused military help.  But either the British military there didn't know that or decided to ignore the order so they help stop the people pursuing Lumumba. Coll Mobutu Sese Seko is trying to overthrow -- capture and kill -- Patrice. And no one is helping.  When people in Africa distrust the United Nations, it's not by mistake and it's not because they don't know what the UN does.  It's precisely because of what the UN did that they are distrustful.  And Maya Angelou was over there during this time period.  She talked about how it went from people telling her they didn't understand how she could leave the US and big cars to come to Africa to becoming very wary of the so-called American dream because that dream was targeting them.  

Ava: You strongly recommend this book, correct?

C.I.: Absolutely.  It's an important moment in US history and it goes to why we are seen so poorly around the world.  

Ava: You talk about us being "mafia wives."

C.I.: Absolutely.  Lumumba was killed because the US government could profit from his death, could profit from uranium and diamonds.  We want to wear the furs our mafia husbands bring to us but we don't want to know about the blood spilled to get those perks.  

Ava: One last thing, Jim just texted me.  Can we reprint the review here?

C.I.: Only if we agree that we're going to do that with everyone's review throughout the year.

Ava: Agreed.

Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)

Reposting C.I.'s book review:

Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)

"This ain't no United Nations.  This is just United White folks."  An opinion offered immediately after the January 17, 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba -- prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Historian Susan Williams quotes the opinion in WHITE MALICE: THE CIA AND THE COVERT RECOLONIZATION OF AFRICA.

The 2021 book covers many topics as it traces the role of the US government in Africa.  Will there ever be reparations for the slavery trade and the wealth generated by the use of slaves?  If there is, the next step would be for the US to make reparations to the countries of Africa that they worked so hard to destabilize.


That's the one weak area in Susan Williams' book.  She documents many things -- and has an exhaustive and endless supply of sources --  contemporary press accounts, government documents (redacted and unredacted -- one, in fact, she has two copies of and is able to tell what was in the original because one copy released by the US government redacts one section, while the other copy released by the US government, redacts the other part -- putting them together, she has an unredacted copy), a  COUNTERPUNCH article (a 2005 article, noted by me to give the publication a shout out), letters from various participants, and interviews.

You can't claim that the author hasn't covered all the basis.

It's a fascinating book and one I highly recommend (in 2023, we are returning to the goal of one book review a week at community sites).  It's also available on AMAZON KINDLE for $4.99 right now which is the reason I'm noting it.  That's a very good bargain.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a hero to some deluded people, wanted Lumumba murdered.  He was, three days before John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president.  Did JFK know about the plan to take Lumumba out?

Susan's not sure, the record's not clear.  There's a chance he did, there's a chance he didn't.  If he did know, there's a chance that he thought, having been elected, he would be able to call it off (that's me, not Susan Williams).  

We do know Eisenhower wanted him dead.  


The Congo was rich in diamonds and uranium.  And if you're a freak for Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (twice failed presidential candidate, among other things), the book's not going to make you happy here because Adlai helped a friend (a rich thug, who partied with Jaqueline Kennedy later on in the 80s) who wanted the diamonds in the Congo.  

That's the thing, a lot of hearts will be broken by WHITE MALICE.

Life's not the picture book you were taught it was as a child.  

As shocking as the British government's refusal to help Lumumba when he is being pursued by armed 'rebels' and as shocking as the beating he will endure once he is captured, the ear that will be cut off and 'gifted' to one of his political rivals, the way TIME magazine will mock his widow, etc -- as shocking as all that is -- and as brutal as it is -- the bigger shock is that it was carried out by the US and UK government (with help from Belgium) as well as the United Nations --  and it was done in the names of the people of those countries.

It was The Cold War.  And there were excuses offered like the Congo -- and other countries in Africa -- might go over to the side of the USSR.  

That's not the reason though.  

And it wasn't the diamonds and uranium or, today, the cobalt. 

Yes, those were wanted and desired.

But the reason for that?

To maintain a standard of life.  We are mafia wives in the US.  We expect certain things and most of us aren't about to question how they get provided to us.

And this is how it happens.  The US and the UK trample over the rights of people in poorer countries.  They create enemies -- via the CIA-assets in the western press (and Susan goes into that).  This is all about justifying theft and maintaining a standard of life.

Is that why former CIA agent Gloria Steinem can justify her own crimes?  It's getting harder and harder for Gloria.  Susan Faludi offers an excuse and a white wash for Gloria in BACKLASH.  In the book, Betty Friedan is portrayed as demented and desperate to hang on to power.  The latter was probably true.  And I believed the former for years* because I considered Gloria a friend and she insisted it wasn't true -- she just went to an international conference as a college student and wasn't really aware that it was CIA-linked.  And Katha Sarachild and The Redstockings were portrayed as lunatics.  (Here for Katha Sarachild's 1975 PACIFICA RADIO interview discussing Gloria and the CIA.)


Damn lies.

And I was a fool to believe Gloria.

She worked for the CIA for years.  It took Ava and I about ten minutes to find proof online demonstrating how long after college she continued to work for CIA front companies before suddenly becoming a feminist.  

For those who need to hear it from her mouth, you can find her on YOUTUBE in videos where she's bragging about her work for the CIA.  Such as the one below.

And bragging about the CIA.  Now what she did at the conference -- the only CIA event she wants to own up to -- was to report on dissidents who went home suffered because of her reports.  That's outrageous enough.  But now that we know she worked CIA fronts after college -- and she did --  now that THE NEW YORK TIMES no longer cares to cover up for her.  They will, however, laugh at her letters griping about that report and even print one:

In a titillating lead into an otherwise accurate article about why I love New York, John Leland writes that I started my career as “a C.I.A. operative,” got my “break as a Playboy Bunny” and married the father of a movie star.

She really needs to get honest.

And let's be clear, THE NEW YORK TIMES turned on her.  She's no longer judged as some one worth protecting.  For years, she was.  For years, she could count CIA assets in the press and publishing to protect her and to prevent the larger world from knowing what she did.  Now?  Patrick Iber tells the truth at THE NEW REPUBLIC, Louis Menand at THE NEW YORKER . . . 

I bring up Gloria because she is a liar and she was CIA and her defense of it -- after being outed by RAMPARTS -- was to say that she agreed with them and they were the good guys.

This is when they're murdering Lumumba.

They're good guys?

Well, I guess that explains why she spread her legs for Henry Kissinger long after the world knew what a War Criminal he was.  Gloria raved to WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY in September of 1971, "Henry's the only interesting person in the whole Nixon Administration and he's not afraid of hostile reporters.  I enjoy talking with him.  He's the only person on the Nixon team who can talk."

Of the CIA?  "They were enlightened, liberal, non-partisan," Gloria insists in the video above.

She chose to climb into bed with the CIA at the time that they were trying to overthrow many leaders (such as Fidel Castro) and when they were plotting to murder others (such a Lumumba).  

In 2017,  Ann Garrison (at COUNTERPUNCH) examined Gloria's remarks at the ridiculous celebrity 'fauxtest' in DC:

Gloria Steinem: “I’ve been thinking about the uses of a long life. And one of them is that you remember when things were worse. We remember the death of the future with Martin Luther King, with Jack Kennedy, with Bobby Kennedy, with Malcolm X. Without those deaths, for instance, Nixon would not have been elected and there would not have been many of the wars that we have had.”

Huh?  These assassinations of the 1960s brought on the wars that destroyed Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and very nearly Syria?  The ongoing 15-year Afghanistan War?

Gloria needs to answer for what she's done.

Will she?  Hasn't she got one foot in the grave already and she still can't get honest?

That's the CIA for you.  They traffic in lies. 

They don't believe in fairness and equality or even democracy.  They believe in control.

They should be shattered to the winds.

Yet, some on the left were praising them during the Trump years, hailing them as saviors.


Covert action of any sorts, said Franck Church, the Idaho Democrat who chaired the 1975 Senate select committee investigations into the abuses of the CIA, was nothing more than 'a semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies, whatever is deemed useful to bending other countries to our will.'

We drown in a river of denial because we don't want to see the truth.  We don't want to grasp that Gloria worked for the CIA for over ten years.  We don't want to address what our politicians have done or what the CIA has done.

We want to be mafia wives -- we want to model the fur but we don't think about the blood that it took to put that fur on our backs.

Patrice Lumumba inspired many and could have delivered and inspired democracy across the African continent.  But the US government wanted the profits the diamonds and the uranium could bring.  So the Lumumba had to be targeted, his country destabilized.  It was all about the red ink and the black ink in the ledger.  On such economics is US foreign policy really dictated.  In the end, Dwight Eisenhower and Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano aren't all that different.

That's how the US can target foreign leaders and foreign populations.  It's how it can target its own people.  As WHITE MALICE notes, millions were spent by the CIA to determine how to break people -- the National Health Institute cooperated with those experiments as part of MKUltra in the 1950s and 1960s -- experimenting on American citizens without their knowledge.  They also experimented on animals when humans weren't available -- using radar on the brains of monkeys to knock them out, knocking animals out with concussions to see if they could create amnesia that way.

There are no ethics.  These people will resort to anything -- it's like the mob -- and they will insist that they are doing it for a better world, a better country.  But they do it in secrecy because some part of them knows it is wrong -- it's unethical, it's illegal and it's inhumane.

Susan Williams notes that when asked who killed Patrice Lumumba, Daphne Park declared, "The CIA, of course."  She also stated that, as head of the United Kingdom's MI6 in the Congo, she orchestrated the killing.  There's no guilt there.  Park, now dead, thought she did something amazing and wonderful.  And, if you want to be a mafia wife and think that as well, avoid reading Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE.

 The following sites updated:

  • Tweet of the week


    This edition's playlist



     1) Harry Styles' HARRY'S HOUSE.


    2)  Diana Ross' THANK YOU

    3) Robbie Williams' XXV



    5) Chase Rice's THE ALBUM.


    6) George Ezra's GOLD RUSH KID



    7) Billy Joel's  LIVE AT YANKEE STADIUM.


    8)  Adele's 30.  



    9) Bob Dylan's ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS.


    10)  Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.


    a park painting 11
    This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights. 

     YEAR IN REVIEW PIECES: Community year-in-review pieces:  Cedric's "They really believe this," Ann's "Trump and his snowball chance in hell," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! 1 MORE WTF MOMENT!" and Betty's "I'm guessing Elvis Presley wasn't available?," THIRD's "2022: The year of bad 'documentaries' (Ava and C.I.)," Isaiah's "2023 arrives, 2022 be gone," Ann's "Worst films of 2022" and Stan's "10 Worst films of 2022," Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "THE PEW loses it," C.I.'s "2022: The Year of WTF," Kat's "2022 in music," Ruth's "Ruth's Report: Networks and Streaming," Martha and Shirley's "2022 in Books (Martha & Shirley)," Stan's "2022 in film (Ann and Stan)" and Ann's "2022 in film (Ann and Stan)Trina's "Labor story of 2022," Mike's "Idiot of 2022," Marcia's "The Most Disgusting Person of 2022" and Elaine's "What album am I looking forward to most in 2023?."


    "Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

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    "Carbonara in the Kitchen,"  "Beef Stew in the Kitchen," "Black-eye Pea Soup in the Kitchen," "Food Party Rings and other New Year's Eve recipes" and  "Carbonara in the Kitchen" -- Trina and Ann serve up recipes.


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    "RAYE makes it to number one," "My Grammy wish," "Chase Rice" "The Pointer Sisters is now The Pointer Sister," "Adele and THE ROOKIES" and "Judy Garland" -- music coverage in the community.


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