Show Me Your Papers




The Trump Regime's promise during the election to ban Muslims entering the United States has affected local law enforcement. This happened BEFORE the ban went into effect, but make no mistake about it--this is the country in which we live right now. 

There's no way a beat cop in Bel Air, Maryland should be accosting citizens and asking for their papers. The woman in question is just as American as you or I. The Bel Air police department should have fired that officer immediately. What an outrage. 

This shit will get out of hand fast. We are headed for panicky days ahead. If you're not ashamed of your country right now, you oughta be. This is not why I served in the Army. This is not what Americans should have to face when walking in their communities. And this is the logical extension of decades of subtle racism, courtesy of the Republican Party. White nationalism won the presidency and way too many people are cheering it on right now.













Stephen Colbert is Holding His Own




Ratings for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert are on the rise, and he is definitely the talk show host for our troubled times:

During inauguration week, from January 16-20, The Late Show averaged a total viewership of 2.84 million, which trailed Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show by just 8,000 people. The demo rating battle was less neck-and-neck, with Colbert earning a 0.5 rating in adults 18-49, while Fallon got 0.73. Still, the week was the closest that the CBS series came to the NBC stalwart in the numbers since its premiere week.
It's not just about the late night talk show wars, either, although I guess that's always part of it. Even compared to itself, The Late Show has seemingly reversed the downward trend that marred much of 2016. The inauguration week numbers are up 6% over what they were last year at the same time, which is fantastic in a TV landscape where upward ticks are an endangered species. On the other side of things, Jimmy Fallon's less political and more goofball Tonight Show episodes were trending low leading up to the inauguration, compared to season averages.
Further, Medialife Magazine reports the inauguration night telecast earned The Late Show's highest stats in the 25-54 demo to date, and it also had the most impressive 18-49 demo rating since the airing back on June 24, 2016. Now, it's almost definitely not a coincidence that Stephen Colbert is killing it at a point when Donald Trump took over the United States, but only future episodes will show whether or not this was a temporary blip on the radar or a sign that Colbert has become a master of his domain.
Other factors are also in play for why The Late Show is doing so well as of late. For one, Stephen Colbert took a while to firmly settle in as the head of a network talk show, unable to initially balance the tides between his natural comedic tendencies and his history of adopting a different persona for TV. But now he's hilariously in the swing of things, even bringing back his former right wing attitude on occasion. And it was in the middle of last year when the show had a big shake-up behind the scenes, with CBS This Morning's Chris Licht getting tapped as a showrunner to guide the show through some creative changes. Did it all pay off? Looks like it.

Is there still a chance that CBS will dump Colbert and replace him with James Corden? Or flip Colbert and Corden in the schedule? I would say that there is a chance, depending on how much people can take of this new era. We just had the most exhausting week I can remember in presidential politics, and Colbert is tapping into the frustration people are feeling. Jimmy Fallon is certainly not interested in going after the audience that might exist out there for commentary about current political events. He's leaving that to Seth Myers. 

Colbert is filling the void left by the Daily Show, which is not relevant anymore. In the weeks and months ahead, people are going to latch onto an outlet that expresses their frustration. That seems to be happening with Colbert right now. People are connecting with his own personal frustration and it's turning into catharsis.













Mary Tyler Moore 1936-2017




It would appear that 2017 is going to be just as much of an asshole as 2016:

Mary Tyler Moore, the Oscar-nominated actress best known for her roles in the television sitcoms "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show," has died. She was 80.
"Today, beloved icon, Mary Tyler Moore, passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine," her publicist, Mara Buxbaum, told ABC News. "A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile."
Moore's portrayal of the single career woman Mary Richards in her eponymous 1970s show arrived alongside the Women's Movement, making her a role model for generations of women, even though Moore didn't consider herself a feminist. The show, which centered on Richards' work as a producer in a fictional Minneapolis newsroom and her life as a single woman, earned 29 Emmy Awards, the most for any scripted series until "Frasier" won its 30th Emmy.

I grew up in Minnesota, and the iconic image of Moore throwing her beret into the air on the Nicollet Mall is a timeless piece of television history. 


















Governor Mark Dayton Has Prostate Cancer




This is horrible news:

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo either radiation or surgery for treatment, he announced Tuesday at the state Capitol. 
Dayton revealed the information while taking questions from journalists following the state government budget proposal. They asked if a health condition caused him to collapse Monday while delivering the annual State of the State address.
 
"I will ... in the interest of full disclosure say that I learned last week -- I had a biopsy -- that I do have prostate cancer," he said. 
 
Dayton, 69, said doctors say it appears the cancer has not extended beyond his prostate and he was optimistic he would recover. He planned to receive treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

Dayton has been a successful governor primarily because he's done everything that Scott Walker won't do in Wisconsin. Dayton has raised taxes, fought for better health care, and has created a situation in Minnesota where there is not only a budget surplus but a very successful and business friendly economy. Dayton is the opposite of Sam Brownback, he of the Kansas miracle, which turned a state in deep trouble into a stack of dumpsters on fire.

This is horrible. Some wingnut is going to step in and do what Tim Pawlenty did and bankrupt the state once again. The modern Republican believes that if you give tax breaks to the wealthy and slash spending on education, you'll make people hate their government so much, they'll stop paying attention.  

Democrats and progressives need Dayton more than ever. He is one of the few remaining successful blue state governors. Here's hoping he comes back fighting.













Welcome Back to the Club




Mel Gibson was nominated for an Oscar today, and there's a good chance he will not win.

Either way, he appears to be "back in the club" known as Hollywood, whatever that means. If the Academy can forgive Gibson, who else can they forgive?













Me, Me, Me




The first step in establishing a dictatorship is the creation of the cult of personality. This is the actual bio for the new president of the United States of America. There is no mention of losing the popular vote by nearly 3,000.000 votes, nor is there so much as a thank you to Vladimir Putin. 

Can't wait for the banners, the mega-portraits, and the parades.

Who even uses the word "likewise" anymore?













Yeah, That's a Little Nutty




Who among us hasn't believed something nutty before?

Gwyneth Paltrow is hawking a new product on her site Goop called the “Jade Egg.” The object is to be inserted vaginally to “harness the power of energy work, crystal healing, and a Kegel-like physical practice,” one endorsement explains. But one OBGYN was so furious after reading about the eggs she couldn’t hold back. 
“All I can tell you is it is the biggest load of garbage I have read on your site since vaginal steaming,” Dr. Jen wrote on her blog. “It’s even worse than claiming bras cause cancer. But hey, you aren’t one to let facts get in the way of profiting from snake oil.”
The endorsement justifies the use of the jade eggs because “queens and concubines used them to stay in shape for emperors.”

Not only nutty but dangerous as well:

A major warning Dr. Gunter attacked Paltrow’s store for is the idea that a woman should sleep with the jade egg inside of her. Because jade is porous it can introduce dangerous bacteria into the vagina which “could act like a fomite.” Like a kind of smallpox blanket stuck inside.

In other words, avoid using a jade egg.













Hollywood Doesn't Care About American Audiences




This question is easy to answer:

Will Hollywood Learn From Hidden Figures’s Success?

Nope!

Hidden Figures has been the breakout film of 2017 thus far. Starring three African American women (played by Taraji P. Henson, Janelle MonĂ¡e, and Octavia Spencer), it focuses on an unheralded piece of American history: the work of black female mathematicians and engineers at NASA in the 1960s. Released to strong reviewsHidden Figures seems destined for a few Academy Award nominations next week. Since it expanded nationwide, it has spent two weeks at the top of the box office, ahead of big-budget films like Monster TrucksPatriots DayLive By Night, and Oscar frontrunner La La Land. Made for a comparatively small $25 million, the film is essentially guaranteed to gross at least $100 million in the United States alone, posting a very healthy profit for its studio, 20th Century Fox. The viewing public’s desire for a film like Hidden Figures is indisputable. So why does Hollywood make so few of them?
In 2015, only 32 of the top 100 films at the box office featured a female lead or co-lead; only three of those leads were women of color, and almost half of them did not feature a black female character in any capacity. After having an all-white slate of acting nominees for two years in a row (spurring the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite), the Academy is trying to diversify its voting body with the hope of rewarding a broader selection of films. But Hollywood at large is showing few traces of change. Last year’s most successful films, largely superhero sequels and animated blockbusters, lack for variety in their storytelling. The slow nature of film production means it can take years to really reflect a shift in studio thinking, but Hidden Figures still feels (disappointingly) like an anomaly rather than a sign of a real transformation.

Hollywood is happy to turn out a handful of small, independent pictures like this but, really, the whole thing is built around larger movies with special effects that will appeal to global audiences. The economics are such that, if they were to shift everything, lay off thousands of special effects people, and try to make movies like this, it would bankrupt the industry faster than it's going bankrupt now.

In short, they want to make movies Chinese teenage boys will want to see, own, and watch repeatedly. They don't want to empower a generation of African-American actors and then start having to pay them what they're worth. The only way they can survive is to keep making superhero films that don't suck. They don't care about filmmaking or art anymore--it's not 1970. The biggest directors are not visionaries--they're successful project managers who can work for months on end and produce content. 

Who's the new Robert Altman and why isn't he making movies?

Octavia Spencer alone is one of the greatest actors of her generation. She's not just an actress. She's not just a black actress. She's a fucking actor. They don't treat her like Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, or Tom Hanks because they think she's not a movie star. Put her in a movie with five or six other people who can act, make her the lead, and she'll blow the fucking doors off of people. Do you think there's a Hollywood producer out there ready to sell that to a studio? Who's going to give her $10 million to start in a film and have her as the top billed actor?

Nobody. And that's a crying goddamned shame. She's amazing. And she's undervalued and under appreciated.













J. K. Rowling For the Win




J. K. Rowling correctly identifies the insult comic tendency of the President Elect.













Republican Hypocrisy is Eternal




Edwin D. Williamson, today:

President-elect Donald Trump’s attempt to put the conflicts issue behind him has failed, at least according to the mainstream media. His announcement that he would resign from all positions with companies in the Trump Organization, put the Trump Organization in a trust run by his two sons and a Trump Organization employee, and not communicate with the trustees on the business did not stifle the howl from the media and such self-appointed ethics watchdogs as Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, who continue their dire warnings about the new president's potential conflicts of interests. Even the supposedly nonpartisan director of the Office of Government Ethics has chimed in, saying that Trump's "plan does not comport with the tradition of our presidents over the last 40 years" (which is incorrect with respect to President Carter; the others did not have financial interests that came close to the extent and complexity of Trump's).

The media and the watchdogs insist on a full divestiture by Trump of all financial interests in the Trump Organization (he will be the principal beneficiary of the Trump trust). For a variety of reasons, divestiture probably cannot be done at all, but it certainly cannot be done without creating an entirely new set of conflicts. What the president-elect has done would not satisfy the requirements of the federal conflicts law if they applied to him (they do not), but he has made a good-faith effort to distance his role as president from his financial interests.

Edwin D. Williamson, November, 2008:

An MSNBC article discusses ethics issues that former President Bill Clinton's extensive charitable activities could present if Barack Obama nominates Hilary Clinton to be Secretary of State. Here's an excerpt:

[V]ast amounts of money and prestige are involved, and those factors could pose problems for lawyers at the State Department who work to prevent ethical conflicts from corrupting the nation's foreign policy.

Edwin D. Williamson, who served as the State Department's chief legal adviser under President George H.W. Bush, said he does not know how the agency would resolve the potential conflicts. "If a client came to me with this set of facts, I would describe it as nightmarish," he said.

The gall of these people. Their moral compass disappears as soon as a Republican gets near the White House. Every single legal argument used against the Clintons for over 25 years is simply flushed down the memory hole.

You may remember how both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W, Bush placed their personal assets in blind trusts in order to ensure that they could not be accused of anything unethical, but that's not enough. You may remember how Presidents Clinton and Obama did the same thing, but you'd be sneered at for bringing it up. You might remember how all other candidates have released their tax returns, but now you're just being shrill.

Trump has made a "good faith" effort. Except that he hasn't used a blind trust in any way, shape or form. That's not good faith. That's thumbing your nose at the whole idea that a president should comport himself in an ethical manner.

The Republicans have set up a dangerous precedent. In the future, be prepared to laugh in their face if they ever raise a concern for the "appearance of a conflict of interest" with regards to any Democrat.

 













A New Factory in Manchester




It's not any old factory, either:

Manchester’s proposed £110m arts centre, the Factory, has moved a step closer to being built after city councillors gave planning permission for the Rem Koolhaas-designed building.

The Factory will be erected on the site of the former Granada Studios and is seen by the city council as a game changer, one which the authority’s leader, Sir Richard Leese, has said would “make Manchester and the wider region a genuine cultural counterbalance to London”.

It is a central part of the northern powerhouse project, championed by the former chancellor George Osborne, who pledged £78m of government money in 2014, a sum which was confirmed this week following a Treasury review of the full business case.

The enormous and striking glass cube construction will be the first major public building in the UK by Dutch architect Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) practice.

I still can't figure out how they got through this whole article without paying homage to Tony Wilson's Factory music label, which essentially defined the music scene in Manchester.














 

 

In Russia, This is Bug, Not Feature




The Russians are messing with us now:

In a strange moment of startling symmetry with the current state of American politics, C-SPAN—the public affairs network that regularly broadcasts proceedings the United States House of Representatives and Senate—was interrupted by a broadcast of Russia Today.

The state-funded Russian news network briefly took over the online feed of C-SPAN1, which had been broadcasting a discussion in Congress regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission Regulatory Accountability Act.

As California Democrat Maxine Waters was speaking, the feed suddenly cut from the House floor to a broadcast of RT. The feed cut in with a commercial break before returning to the RT news desk, where an anchor spoke of a suicide bombing.

Multiple C-SPAN watchers made mention of the sudden change on Twitter, including Deadspin editor Timothy Burke, who captured the moment the C-SPAN feed switched to RT.

The takeover reportedly lasted about ten minutes before the C-SPAN feed was returned to normal. The interruption does not appear on the saved broadcast hosted on the network's website.

When contacted by IBTimes, A spokesperson for C-SPAN provided the following statement: "This afternoon the online feed for C-SPAN was briefly interrupted by RT programming. We are currently investigating and troubleshooting this occurrence. As RT is one of the networks we regularly monitor, we are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue. If that changes we will certainly let you know."

When they substitute the Big Bang Theory with a parade of Russian missile launchers, maybe then and only then will Americans figure out what the hell is going on.













96 Million Americans Are Looking For a Job




The real number is around 5.1 million, but what does that mean anymore?

Donald Trump’s first press conference as president-elect will be best-remembered for his jeering at the press and vague dismissals of financial and ethical impropriety. But buried inside the taunting and dissembling was a Trump moment that stands out as a kind of microcosmic footnote—subtle yet representative of his ability to scramble the news cycle with simple falsehoods.

“Right now, there are 96 million [people] wanting a job and they can't get [one],” he said. “You know that story. The real number. That's the real number."

No. That’s not “the real number.”

This is a perfect example of the effect Trump will have on any policy debate he seizes. He takes a fraught yet critical topic—American work, lack of the work, and the way the U.S. government addresses both—reduces it to a bizarro sound bite that bears no relationship to reality, and bends the political and policy conversation toward his dramatic warping of the truth, all without offering a substantive plan to address even the moderate version of his apocalyptic proclamations.

Trump didn’t pull this particular figure out of thin air. There are 96 million Americans over the age of 16 who are not in the labor force. But “not in the labor force” does not mean they want a job and can’t get one. In fact, it means something quite different: that they are neither working nor looking for work.

To use this number as a data point about unemployment is absurd. Most of these 96 million people are retired. Most of the rest are stay-at-home parents and students. To say that 96 million people “want a job and can’t get one” is to argue that a 90-year-old grandfather at a nursing home is struggling to find a suitable job. Is Trump hoping grandpa gets back on his feet and starts realizing his latent labor potential? If not, don’t call him unemployed! If yes, we have deeper issues.

I don’t want to give the impression that unemployment is a cut-and-dry issue just because Trump’s mistake is cut-and-dry. As CNBC's Steve Liesman wrote, the real number is closer to the 5.4 million Americans who say they want a job but aren't working. Liesman is technically right. That is the official figure. But determining the “real” unemployment rate is not like measuring the pressure of a gas in a beaker. It’s a measurement inflected with mutable values and arbitrary definitions.

The Trump Regime has a whole host of Baghdad Bobs on the payroll. Their job is to appear on television, repeat lies, and pretend they are hurt when someone points out that they are lying.













It's All Fake News




Just when you thought that we were going to settle in and have a normal week, this happened.

Isn't it time we start planning for a do-over election?













Florida Woman Can't Be Blamed For Being Drunk in Wal-Mart




This poor woman was tricked into getting drunk in public. Somehow, Wal-Mart should be held accountable for the fact that she was able to get these five beers into her system before being helped by the employees. 

Don't they have security cameras? Aren't they there to assist? What kind of customer service is this?

Yeah, I know what you're going to say about personal responsibility and all that. But, really, when you're eighteen and there's beer everywhere, what are you supposed to do? Someone should have been there to help this poor young woman make better choices. Her support system broke down, the store's commitment to customer service broke down, and I see a lot of failure here on the part of local law enforcement to let her sober up and go home under her own power.













Racist Jerk Loses His Business




Now, this is how things are NOT supposed to work in this country:

The Dairy Queen owner shouting the n-word at Deianeira Ford told her he could say whatever he wanted at his fast-food restaurant — that any accusations and complaints she uttered would fall on deaf ears.

Ford was vindicated two days later, when her Facebook post about the incident provoked outrage so strong that the Dairy Queen in Zion, Ill., didn’t open for business.

But her victory was tempered by something even more troubling that she heard at a protest: Although she was the most vocal victim of the owner’s racism, she was not the first.

On Wednesday, Ford had taken her two children to visit their grandmother — and, because they were well-behaved, she stopped by the Dairy Queen on the way home. She ordered a $5 box, but part of the order was wrong, and another part was missing.

So she asked the owner to fix the order, and when he balked, she asked for a refund. That’s when things spiraled.

The owner, James “Jim” Crichton, returned her $5, but gave her a mouthful, according to Ford and the police in Zion, 50 miles north of Chicago.

“He called me and my children n—–; he said I can go back to where I came from,” Ford told The Washington Post.

This is how things ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK:

On Friday, Dairy Queen announced that it was closing the location in Zion, Ill., and that it was terminating Crichton’s franchise rights.

Ah, the free market. It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?













Tom Hardy is the New Mad Max




I will always have a special place in my heart for the second Mad Max film, The Road Warrior. I think it was the best of the original trilogy and stands apart as one of the greatest dystopian films ever made.

Having said that, it would be foolish not to keep Tom Hardy in mind as the "new" Mad Max and it wouldn't be out of the question to make a new version of that original classic:

It's pretty much undeniable that the gritty, epic Mad Max is a masterpiece, certainly in part because of Tom Hardy's incredible acting. Now, it looks as though there will be Mad Max sequels coming, and Hardy says he'd be down.
When TheWrap asked Hardy about whether Mad Max sequels would be happening, he replied, "Yeah I believe so! I don't know when that starts, but I believe that's in the books. There's a couple of those floating around. I'm waiting for the call to come. It was so good, man."

I thought there were excellent characters in The Road Warrior, and I think it could be expanded for a modern re-telling.  That's not to say that a completely new and updated original movie wouldn't be welcome, either. But if you were going to remake something, you could do a lot worse.













Carrie Fisher and Richard Nixon




Yes, that's a very teenaged Carrie Fisher standing next to the real Darth Vader. Via...

How Did Larry Flynt End Up Being the Voice of Reason?




Larry Flynt survived 2016 in order to shame the American media:

Larry Flynt, the Hustler publisher and First Amendment advocate, says the media needs to do a better job covering President-elect Donald Trump.

“Hold him accountable at all times,” Flynt told us. “He makes the press look like amateurs in the way he tweets and tells half-truths and lies, and he gets away with it.”

Flynt says that shows like “Meet the Press” are “the worst culprits,” and continued, “You can’t bury your head in the sand, you have to fight back . . . If Trump could, he would like to put restrictions on the First Amendment. That’s what happens any time you give absolute power to anyone. The first thing to go is the free press and then individual freedoms go. You have to fight for it.”

Is there anything Flynt is wrong about?

No! Of course not! He has a very simple take on the media and on the new division pundits that have not been held even remotely accountable for the disaster that was the 2016 presidential election. He's even reminding us that freedom of the press is about to become a distant memory very shortly because we don't appreciate what we have. A lot of people fought hard in 2016, but exactly the right number of people in a few states decided that freedom isn't as important as having a kleptocratic banana republic installed as the next American government.

How many of them were fired because they got it wrong?

None of them!

And here we are, just a few days into 2017, and Larry Flynt is the voice of reason. Amazing.












Creation Stories




Creation Stories is a book I enjoyed reading, but it did leave me wanting more.

I should state, up front, this review of the book is not a normal one. The book came out two years ago, and I just got around to it recently. I do recommend this for fans of the British music genre known as "Britpop" because you'll get a fair amount of background information from the book. You'll want to view it as a historical look at British independent music from the early Eighties until the end of the Nineties. It is not comprehensive, but there are a fair amount of good anecdotes to give you a superficial understanding of where Creation Records and Alan McGee fit into everything.

McGee downplays himself throughout the book. He could rightly call himself a genius at several things, but specifically he was enormously gifted when it came to spotting talent. This is a combination of knowing how to size up people, evaluate their skills, hear what they could do on stage, and make a business judgment about them relative to the music industry. Many people have done this and done quite well; McGee found the biggest band since U2 and a dozen other bands that were both commercially and artistically successful. He found Oasis, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, and a slew of other bands. He made millions for himself and for the artists that he worked with. He had his finger on the pulse and built a successful company.

Now, the fact that he did all of that while out of his mind on drugs is neither here nor there. The book details his prowess finding artists and it reveals the failures he had both professionally and personally. This is an honest book, through and through.

McGee could have been more specific and he could have researched dates and times and really looked at how Creation Records moved and shaped the culture. He could have done one book separately on Oasis and one on the company; it all blends together after a while. He is probably on the hook for another telling of these stories, and that's all right--there's so much more happening that you miss out on. I would have liked more focus on the business side of things, just to get more of a feel for how he ran things. What I came away with was an understanding that this wasn't a madcap laugh or a lucky break. Building Creation Records wasn't just what he did while on drug holiday or while sleeping on trains. He bridged the music scenes from Manchester, Glasgow, and London and made local acts global stars. He put music in the hands of people who never would have discovered it. He spent millions on records that otherwise would have never been heard. 

I do think it was a good read. I do wish there were specific year by year breakdowns and summaries of how big the company got, how big was the roster, why bands would come and go, and how it all compared to other labels in the same business. He breezes through some of these details and you don't really get the whole story of what happened when Oasis dwarfed the rest of their roster of bands and why some acts broke out and why some faded away. I don't know if he's trying to be even-handed or spare feelings, but he's relentlessly hard on himself and honest about his failings. In and of itself, McGee's harrowing descriptions of life at home and his health scares makes this a worthy read.

If McGee gets around to writing about more of the things I've outlined above, then all the better.