Film Review: The Great Wall

WALL

Not So Great: Oh! How the Mighty Have Fallen Aside from some stunning cinematography, special effects and scenery, this U.S.-China co-production lensed, according to IMDB.com, on location in Qinqdao and New Zealand (!) is more about cashing in on the growing international audience of the PRC and USA.  The use of Real 3D and IMAX 3D is what The Great Wall is really all about - not a story or, heavens’ forbid, character development - although to Continue Reading...

Does Trump’s slashed Foreign Aid Budget give China the Advantage?

USAID

The US foreign aid budget is not mainly about helping the poor.  It is an instrument for buying influence in countries important to the US.  The poorest countries in the world do not get much help from the US. Israel, which is a wealthy country, gets over $3 billion a year, some of it going to Israeli civilians!  Egypt is a relatively poor country, but most US aid to Cairo goes to the Egyptian military.  In fact, they don’t need or know what to Continue Reading...

Selling Purim to Progressives in the Era of Trump

SONY DSC

It has been my custom to reproduce this “Selling Purim to Progressives” post occasionally on Purim.  The last time was in 2015, when we were in the midst of the Iran negotiations. Well, since then the world made a deal with Iran.  Trump may say that it's a lousy deal, but he doesn't plan on changing it soon, certainly not to Bibi's liking.  And as for the guy who's running Trump, forget about it; Putin is telling Bibi to move on. That's the Continue Reading...

Whoppers Big and Small in Trump’s Speech

TRUMP_CONGRESS

This is classic dumb guy wedding speech writing: “The chorus of their dating became an earthquake of their love.” – Samantha Bee on Trump’s speech Donald Trump just gave a fact-free, and detail-free, speech to a joint session of Congress.  Early on in the evening, the president – who has loaded his cabinet with billionaires and his administration with former Goldman Sachs executives – earned audible guffaws from the assembled lawmakers when he Continue Reading...

Russia Scandal Math: How The President Called Trump Can Be Brought Down Hard

TRUMP_RUSSIA

Everything, as they say, is now perfectly clear.  Except what still isn't clear at all.  If you, like many millions of Americans, are praying that the Donald Trump presidency crashes and burns, the clearest path not involving a Caine Mutiny moment in which he gets frog-walked from the Oval Office in a straightjacket as he clutches his smartphone and madly tweets is to follow the scent of the smoking guns in the Russia scandal.  There are several Continue Reading...

Random Observations on Trump’s Speech to Congress Last Night

TRUMP

1. Let's get this out of the way up top: President Donald Trump's exploitation of Carryn Owens, the widow of Ryan Owens, a Navy SEAL who died in a fuck-up of a raid in Yemen, induced the kind of nausea you usually feel when you accidentally catch a glimpse of a pus-draining video.  While anonymous "senior officials" (who could be Trump - really) argue over whether or not any decent intelligence was gotten from the raid (spoiler: they didn't), Continue Reading...

Film Review: Do Not Resist

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

The Post-9/11 Iron Heel of the State The chillingly named Do Not Resist, which won the Tribecca Film Festival’s Best Documentary Feature award, opens with a tense demonstration shot at Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 only 10 days after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an African American youth not carrying any weapons.  The footage shows heavily armed, helmeted officers with body armor, shields and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Continue Reading...

Holocaust Denial and Religious Persecution, Courtesy of the White House

HOLOCAUST_DENIAL

Friday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. As you may have heard, the White house marked the occasion with this statement: It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust.  It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror. Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎  As we remember those who Continue Reading...

A Man Walks Into A Bar: Why We’ll Take Small Victories Over Cheeto Where We Can

BOWLING_GREEN

Yes, it sounds like a bad joke, but could the tide have turned in the false news wars by a guy walking into a bar?   The answer is maybe, but in any event we'll take small victories where we can in the long slog to take down Cheeto Jesus.   A mere three weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump has historically low popularity ratings, but still has the unwavering support of the pitchfork posse while rumors of a congressional Republican revolt Continue Reading...

Democrats Should Resist, But Everything That Happens is on Republicans

CALM

Let's get rid of one part of this in short order: Democrats in Congress should be resisting Trump every step of the way.  That includes pushing hearings to crisis levels of antagonism, voting against every unqualified candidate, and, of course, filibustering his Supreme Court picks.  It shouldn't even be up for discussion.  They will lose and lose, but Democratic House and Senate members would be fundamentally misreading their marching, chanting, Continue Reading...

The Sadism of Racist Exclusion: Courts Temporarily Block Trump

REFUGEE

Picking on immigrants and refugees is the act of a sadistic bully, since they are the one fairly large group of residents of the United States whose constitutional rights are disputed.  The executive order Trump signed late on Friday suspending entrance to the United States for citizens of seven countries and canceling the US refugee program for four months is probably illegal.  The 1965 immigration law forbids discriminating against immigrants Continue Reading...

Film Review: The Salesman

SALESMAN

Life of a Salesman: Is This the Enemy? Asghar Farhadi may be to Iran’s screen what Arthur Miller was to the American stage.  His 2011 A Separation, a searing account of an Iranian couple’s divorce, won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.  A Separation’s script also scored Farhadi a nomination for the Best Writing, Original Screenplay Academy Award.  Now, the writer/director’s newest feature, The Salesman, is again in Continue Reading...

Kansas And Puerto Rico Show How Trump’s Tax Cuts Will Hurt Us

TAXES

The business-oriented media are loudly proclaiming that president-“elect” Donald Trump’s proposed tax cuts for the rich and corporations will “boost” the economy. ● WSJ: Trump’s Proposed Tax Cuts Could Boost U.S. and Global Growth, Says World Bank ● CNBC: Trump tax cuts could boost earnings by 20 percent next year: Yardeni ● Fortune: OECD Says Trump Tax and Spending Plans Will Boost Global Economy ● Fox Business Video: Why Trump’s tax Continue Reading...

If Dr. King Looked Beyond The Grave Today, He Would Be Bitterly Disappointed

KING

When I was first cutting my teeth in the newspaper business, my editors sent me out on "house ends," visits to homes where I would interview families of interest because something very bad of interest had happened to them. It was the late 1960s and many of these house ends were the result of the death of a young man in Vietnam, usually an Army or Marine Corps infantryman who had been drafted or given the choice between prison or the military by Continue Reading...