Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dex


The richest character ever played by the greatest movie actor of all time ~ in The Philadelphia Story (1940), C.K. Dexter-Haven embodies everything: weakness, sympathy, anger, tension, joy, sorrow, addiction, fear, freedom, elegance, bravery, secrets and remarkable openness. Above all, naturalness. He has been destroyed by the woman he loves, to the point of collapse and alchohol sickness. In a movie of astonishing self-aborption, Dexter-Haven absorbs all. He is always listening and watching, off the edge of the frame, humanizing all around him with his generous-hearted presence. He is never not sorrowful in the picture, while bringing the only joy into this otherwise arch and joyless romp. Everything is elevated by his broken ardor. His physical grace and attraction are immense, yet he uses his powers to put others at ease, to relinquish control. His love comes at us slowly, like a slow dark wave. Yet always isolated, in perfect isolated darkness, outside the world.

Here are Dex's 46 minutes, with all the rest of The Philadelphia Story cut out.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Lost Claus?

Never lost.

Merry
Christmas!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Long Remembered

Perhaps the most deeply felt sequence in all American movies.

Merry Christmas Eve to all!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holy Night



"There is such an amazing tragic stillness about her. She never steps out of it, and she never puts it on. It is always there." -- Douglas Sirk
The most romantic and tender-hearted Christmas movie I know is Mitchell Leisen's Remember the Night (1940), a storybook comfort written by Preston Sturges in his directorial debut year of The Great McGinty and Christmas in July. A jewel thief (Barbara Stanwyck) is arrested days before Christmas with her trial ~ because of the holiday ~ postponed. Nowhere to go and without money, she is taken by her prosecutor (Assistant DA Fred MacMurray) back home to Indiana, where the girl is also from, to spend the holidays with his family and friends. Back in New York after New Year's, both now in love, he tries to throw the trial -- but she pleads guilty to prevent him from hurting his career. In between is an enchantment road movie, with two detours: a meet-up with a vicious farmer and a small-town hanging judge (whose chambers Stanwyck sets on fire); and a terrifying "reunion" between daughter and mother. Ultimate destination: hope and transcendence and elation.

Curiously hating what Leisen did with the script, but embracing Stanwyck and promising he would write her a great comedy, Sturges would give us the incomparable Lady Eve in '41. Compared with Eve, the Leisen movie is less smart and less funny (in fact, it isn't a comedy at all), less knowing and brilliant, less artful. Less a work of "genius." For me, however, Remember the Night is the higher and richer work. Perhaps because the culture has turned against what makes the movie great: kindness, forgiveness, redemption, quiet. All of the picture is set in the enthralled emotional key with which The Lady Eve ends; and in the scene where Hopsie (Henry Fonda) declares his love for Stanwyck in the moonlight: "I saw you here and at the same time further away and then still further away and then very small. . ."



Remember the Night (thanks in large part to the great Ted Teztlaff) is all moonlight, with an ending worthy of Dreyer.

At the movie's center is Stanwyck. Our current screen harridans, like the culture producing them, pimp for toughness and "independence" and smarts. Without a whiff of contradiction allowed. Stanwyck, the real deal, never moves without the light of ambivalence shining through. Her voice -- both flat and expressive, both nasal and husky; not the huskiness of booze, debauchery, or a come-on. But tears, fully wept. The voice of someone cried out. And what the guardians of Personhood don't have: a simple, straightforward sincerity; something immovable and deeply reserved; a tension between experience and innocence. It's what gives her her glow -- the agony of consciousness. Here she dwells in the enchantment. And is alienated from it. Yet there is a promise throughout, especially at the end, that she may break free altogether, to have at last a time purely for her own joy. And ours.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas: Komaneko

Tsuneo Goda's Komaneko Christmas (for all ages and languages).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas: FKB

Not a Christmas show, but very much in the Christmas Spirit. "Bud the Philanthropist" from April of '57.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

It's a Wonderful Life?

George Bailey's nightmare.



Gambling, alcohol, pool, pawnbrokers, dancing, and floozies!

A nightmare worthy of the iron heart of Rudolph Giuliani. . .

Frank Capra was a phony. While obviously a technical master within a factory system humming on all cylinders -- and the director of many interesting and speedy movies before he became classical Hollywood's Social Artist of the Day (American Madness, The Miracle Woman, Forbidden, Platinum Blonde, and the very special Bitter Tea of General Yen) -- Capra-the-Award Winner (and that happened fast) played it safe, took the road most traveled by while adding nothing new to it, and became increasingly sexless, reactionary, anti-romantic, witless, and slow, with every Oscar. (Also, his "Know Your Enemy" entry on Japan must be seen to be believed, worth sharing company with The Eternal Jew and Jew Süss.)

A different sort of nightmare. Produced by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, here's a view of 1946 a lot closer to the daily concerns of the daily American, for all its technical messiness.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Message from the Devil


Courtesy of Chris Floyd:
“You are taking a path into darkness. It began years ago, with your acceptance of crimes and inhuman practices on a vast scale. In the late 20th century, your leaders once confessed on national television that they had killed 500,000 innocent children with death-dealing sanctions — then declared this atrocious massacre was “worth it.” Yet there was no outcry, no outrage, no uprising, not even a peep of protest. Indeed, the leader who carried out this massive slaughter of innocent children ended his reign at new heights of popularity and forever after was considered a beloved elder statesman. Your next leader lied brazenly to start a war that killed a million innocent people and led directly to decades of murderous instability in numerous countries. He too ended his days in wealth and comfort and public regard. Your next leader refused to prosecute the crimes of aggression and torture openly committed by his predecessor; instead, he continued his practices, enshrining many of the heinous practices into settled law, waging undeclared war in more than half a dozen countries and personally signing off on extrajudicial murders every week of his reign. By this time, the moral degradation of the people was so complete — they had countenanced, cheered or ignored so many crimes and so much corruption on so many levels — that they easily fell prey to a voracious, half-crazed demagogue and the forces of fascism, feudalism and lawless rule that he brought into power. This was the nominal end of your democracy, but it was already deeply rotted from within — rotted by your years of turning a blind eye to monstrous crimes committed in your name by both factions in your power structure.
“Because of your shameful acquiescence, your shallow understanding of the forces that ruled you and used you and manipulated you, your bedazzlement by public image, your astonishing credulity at the transparent lies and hollow, sinister pieties you were fed, we, your descendants, have lived in squalor, rancor, violence and despair all our lives, for generations. There is no hope for us unless you abandon your slavish ignorance, your adherence to partisan fantasies about the factions of the power structure that rules you and rise up to overthrow it. Instead bring fearless clarity to bear on the reality of what you have accepted. The murder of 500,000 children. The millions murdered in the wars you started and the wars bred by your wars. Assassination. Torture. Dehumanization and demonization of your fellow human beings, both at home and abroad.
“It is your acceptance of these things that has brought you to the final turning point represented by a berserk demagogue’s rise to power. Now there is nothing left for you to do but resist: resist with all your might, with every means at your disposal — but always, always, with the full knowledge of how you came to this place, and your own connivance and collusion in this descent. Keep this in mind as you fight, so that it doesn’t happen again. You are not exceptional, you are not plucked out by God for special favor: you are human beings like all the rest, and like so many human beings in so many societies down through the ages, you have failed to look your own evil in the eye, you have failed to confront and condemn acts that make you shudder with horror when you hear of them committed by  other nations.
“Own this knowledge — this terrible, tragic knowledge — and let it guide as you fight the putrescence that past crimes have now brought gushing forth, and as you build something better in the aftermath. Otherwise, you are lost, and we are lost, the world itself is lost.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Krazee


Maybe the funniest character in maybe the funniest cartoon series ever, her full name is Goo Goo Ga Ga and she is IN-sane.

"Go Goo Go" from November of '05.

Friday, December 9, 2016

God Speed

John Glenn, RIP.

Friendship 7.



The following year, two months before Dallas, at the United Nations:



National Security Action Memorandum 271, 10 days before Dallas:
MEMORANDUM FOR

The Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

SUBJECT: Cooperation with the USSR on Outer Space Matters

I would like you to assume personally the initiative and central responsibility within the Government for the development of a program of substantive cooperation with the Soviet Union in the field of outer space, including the development of specific technical proposals. I assume that you will work closely with the Department of State and other agencies as appropriate.

These proposals should be developed with a view of their possible discussion with the Soviet Union as a direct outcome of my September 20 proposal for broader cooperation between the United States and the USSR in outer space, including cooperation in lunar landing programs. All proposals or suggestions originating within the Government relating to this general subject will be referred to you for your consideration and evaluation.

In addition to developing substantive proposals, I expect that you will assist the Secretary of State in exploring problems of procedure and timing connected with holding discussions with the Soviet Union and in proposing for my consideration the channels which would be most desirable from our point of view. In this connection the channel of contact developed by Dr. Dryden between NASA and the Soviet Academy of Sciences has been quite effective, and I believe that we should continue to utilize it as appropriate as a means of continuing the dialogue between the scientists of both counties.

I would like an interim report on the progress of our planning by December 15.
The proposal died 10 days later.

Glenn Redux

Pure exhilaration, from Phil Kaufman.

Friday, December 2, 2016

And Now. . .

Chris Hedges:
We await the crisis. It could be economic. It could be a terrorist attack within the United States. It could be widespread devastation caused by global warming. It could be nationwide unrest as the death spiral of the American empire intensifies. It could be another defeat in our endless and futile wars. The crisis is coming. And when it arrives it will be seized upon by the corporate state, nominally led by a clueless real estate developer, to impose martial law and formalize the end of American democracy.

When we look back on this sad, pathetic period in American history we will ask the questions all who have slid into despotism ask. Why were we asleep? How did we allow this to happen? Why didn’t we see it coming? Why didn’t we resist?

Our ruling mafia will use the crisis much as the Nazis did in 1933 when the Reichstag was burned. It will publish its own version of the “Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State.” The U.S. Constitution will be in effect suspended. Personal freedom, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to organize and freedom of assembly, will be abolished. Privacy will be formally eradicated. Search warrants will be unnecessary. America’s emergency decrees will cement into place what largely exists now. When they come, the loss of freedoms will be openly acknowledged and made permanent.

Anyone who is not white or “loyal” will be attacked, first verbally and then physically. Everyone will be constantly watched. The prisons will swell. Militarized police will no longer be confined to operating in marginal communities. Lethal, indiscriminant force by the state will be common. The courts will condemn with little or no evidence. The press will utterly unplug itself from reality and speak to us as if we lived in a functioning democracy.  Academics will burrow deeper into their holes of obtuse jargon and quantitative irrelevance. The last remnants of our labor unions will be crushed. Religious institutions, as silent about the evils of corporate capitalism as Goldman Sachs, will take the safe route of spirituality and piety rather than social justice. The lawyers, courts and law schools will serve the law even when the law overturns our constitutional rights by judicial fiat and is a tool of naked repression. Hollywood and the rest of mass entertainment will churn out the usual tawdry fare of sexually explicit and violence-drenched spectacles. The military “virtues” of hypermasculinity and patriarchy will be celebrated.

There will be rebels. They will live in the shadows. They will be the renegade painters, sculptors, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, dancers, organizers, activists, mystics, intellectuals and other outcasts who are willing to accept personal sacrifice. They will not surrender their integrity, creativity, independence and finally their souls. They will speak the truth. The state will have little tolerance of them. They will be poor. The wider society will be conditioned by mass propaganda to write them off as parasites or traitors. They will keep alive what is left of dignity and freedom. Perhaps one day they will rise up and triumph. But one does not live in poverty and on the margins of society because of the certainty of success. One lives like that because to collaborate with radical evil is to betray all that is good and beautiful. It is to become a captive. It is to give up the moral autonomy that makes us human. The rebels will be our hope.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Comandante, Farewell

Two from Oliver Stone.

Comandante (2003)



Looking for Fidel (2004)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Men and Not Men

  

From March of '16, upon the arrival of Obama in Havana:
The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.

Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.

Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add - principally for the youth - that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.

Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.

Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary...” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.

Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.

Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:

“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:

“We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”

The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution - that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.

In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries

As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.

The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.

Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and - surprise! - the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.

Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.

I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.

There is an important issue:

Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”

I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?

Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.

I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Who Needs the Beatles?


Famous Red Hunter interviews the greatest Red of the 20th Century.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Revolutionary

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Forgive My Grief


The greatest revolutionary leader of the 20th Century is dead.

Fidel Castro embodied with burning passion the values of communion, courage, joy, humor, compassion, sorrow, remembrance, true justice and -- perhaps most important -- HONESTY. Comandante Castro, for all the Cold War nonsense regarding East vs. West and North vs. South, was the greatest Christian leader of his time: Christian in fact, in deed, in thought -- rather than the vampires and their minion who have so degraded the term.

How many people throughout history have been blessed with the guts, strategic brilliance and cunning to become their nation's leader? And blessed with the deep sympathy and understanding of the powerless, the weak, the sad? Fidel Castro was one of the great intellectuals of his age and one of the great political historians. (Imagine the United States being led by a combination of Malcolm X and Noam Chomsky.) Comandante Castro was a man who could have used his power to be just another exploiter, pimp, or baboon -- instead he chose to be a protector of all those needing protection. And yes, by any means necessary. Yes -- any means! Why give up the weapons of violence to the scum of the earth?

In the Big Dark of the American End of Empire, it is very easy to feel a daily despair. Think of Castro: his humor, outrage, faith, brilliance, and total honesty. One example:
"The fascists stop at nothing. They try to find the weak spot. They invent the most ridiculous lies. They try to create terror and unrest among the people by telling the most outrageous lies. Their appeal is always to the gutter instincts: hatred, fear, racism, economic insecurity, selfishness, ignorance. They feed off of keeping people stupid. They resort to every method they can think of. And what do fascists do when their own institutions no longer guarantee their domination? How do they react when the mechanisms they've depended on historically to maintain their domination fail them? They simply go ahead and destroy those institutions, without a moment's look back. The fascists stop at nothing."
In body, Comandante Castro has passed from us. In spirit, courage and passion -- he will live forever. Viva Fidel! Venceremos!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why?

The conclusion of Oliver Stone's "JFK -- To the Brink."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mortal

The most extraordinary Presidential speech of the 20th-century.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Prelude and Post


The 1960 campaign.



The 1964 Democratic Convention's tribute to the removed leader.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

100


And on a scale of 1 to 100, this episode pretty much hits the top: "One Hundred Terrible Hours" from 5/5/65.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why?


Professor Richard Wolff explains.



And Glenn Greenwald.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ding Dong The Witch is Dead!

Diana Johnston:
“There’s no place like home.”

That’s the lesson. Even when home is Kansas.

The real meaning of this election is not, as bitterly disappointed Hillary supporters still maintain with tears in their eyes and fear in their throats, a victory for racism and sexism.

The real meaning of this upset is that Wall Street’s globalization project has been rejected by the citizens of its homeland.

This has major implications for the European nations that have been dragged along into this ruinous project.

Hillary Clinton was the candidate of the military industrial complex and international finance capital.  She designed herself to be the figurehead of those forces, as queen of regime change. She aspired to be the one to remake the world in the image Wall Street dictates. It was a project enthusiastically and expensively supported by the one percent who profit from arms contracts and the trade deals they write themselves for their own interests.

To distract from the genuine significance of her candidacy, the Clinton campaign appealed to the desire for respectability of educated city dwellers, portraying Trump supporters as racist yokels motivated by a hateful desire to scapegoat minorities as revenge for their own inadequacies.  They were “deplorables”, and you wouldn’t want to be one of them, would you?

Trump was sexist, because he referred to certain women as “bimbos”.  Elizabeth Warren called him out for this, on a platform where Hillary sat listening, mouth wide open in delight – she who had referred to Bill’s girlfriends as “bimbo eruptions”.  Sleaze and hypocrisy drowned out policy discussions. The worst the Clinton campaign could come up with was an eleven-year-old locker room exchange – just words, hardly comparable to Bill’s chronic actions.

Still, millions who were taken in by the Clinton campaign line are devastated, terrified, convinced that the only reason Trump won was the “racism” and “sexism” of that lower caste in globalized society: white heterosexual working class males.

But no, Virginia, there were other reasons to vote for Trump.  Racism and sexism are surely low on the list.

Trump voters were scandalized by Hillary’s lies and corruption.  Many of them would have voted for Bernie Sanders if they had the choice.  That choice was taken away from them by Democratic Party manipulators who were sold on their own advertising campaign to elect “the first woman President.” A brand new product on the Presidential election market!  Be the first to vote for a woman President!  New, improved!

Bernie’s success already showed that millions of people didn’t want that woman.  But the Democratic Party manipulators and their oligarch sponsors went right ahead with their plans to force Hillary Clinton on an unwilling nation.  They brought this defeat on themselves.

Contrary to what you could believe by reading the New York Times, there were even intellectuals who voted for Trump, or at least refused to vote for Hillary, for the simple reason that Trump appears less likely to lead the world into its third and final Great War.  He said things giving that impression, but such statements were ignored by mainstream media as they worked overtime to inflate the ogre image.  No war with Russia?  You must be a Putin puppet!

Trump voters had several reasons to vote for Trump other than “racism”.  Most of all, they want their jobs back, jobs that have vanished thanks to the neoliberal policy of transferring manufacturing jobs to places with low wages.

But racism is the only motive recognized by the globalized elite for rejecting globalization.  British citizens who voted to leave the European Union in order to recover their traditional democracy were also stigmatized as “racist” and “xenophobe”.  Opposition to racism and xenophobia is the natural moral defense of a project of global governance that deprives ordinary citizens of any important power of decision.

This extraordinarily vicious campaign has brought out and aggravated sharp divisions within the United States.  The division between city and countryside is most evident on the electoral maps. But these real divisions are exacerbated by a campaign that portrayed Donald Trump as a racist madman, a new Hitler about to bring fascism to America. The antiracism of this campaign, denouncing “hate”, has actually spawned hate.

No, Virginia, Trump is not Hitler.  He is the Wizard of Oz.  He is a showman who pulled off an amazing trick thanks to the drastic moral and intellectual decline of the American political system.  He is neither as dangerous as his opponents fear, nor as able to “make American great again” as his supporters hope.  He is the Lesser Evil.  What will become of him in Washington is anybody’s guess.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

You're Fired!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Word

Monday, November 7, 2016

Barrel Bomb


From Chris Floyd:
Well, here we are: at the bottom of the barrel under forty feet of slag. Tomorrow, we’ll know our fate: the five-alarm fire of Trump Rule (oh, how those police unions are chomping at the bit!) or the Clinton Age of Hyper-War (oh, how those neocons are chomping at the bit!). In either case, the entrenched coagulation of corporate interests and war profiteers that have strangled the peace, prosperity and prospects of the American people will not be budged an inch. The change that people are so desperately hungry for — so hungry that that some of them might well elect an Establishment insider whose sinister clowning makes him appear to be a ‘rebel’ — will not come. Thus their bitterness will grow deeper, more sour, erupting more and more often in physical violence: from militarized police against protestors, from Trump-empowered racists (if he wins or loses), from extremist militias, from angry, maddened people on every side. And of course there will be more — much more — of the horrific, never-ending, globe-spanning violence of the bipartisan Terror War that churns on and on, no matter who is sitting temporarily in the White House.

There’s no use in pretending that’s not what we face. But there’s also no use in pretending that this situation is somehow sui generis, some terribly unlucky conflation of unforeseen circumstances coming together at this particular time. It is in fact the culmination and embodiment of the deliberate choices of the most powerful forces in society: the choices to enrich themselves beyond all reason and extend their military and economic dominance over the earth.

It doesn’t matter that many if not most of the practitioners and functionaries of this system “believe” in its rightness. It doesn’t matter that brutal neoliberal nostrums and extremist imperial notions have become religious dogmas for those who see themselves as the “meritocracy.” It doesn’t matter if the leaders and factotums genuinely believe in the “exceptionalism” they preach or if they are cynical power-seekers. It doesn’t matter if they actually believe their rapacious financial machinations are reflections of the “natural law” of the “the market” that will eventually benefit all, or if they know themselves to be what they really are: ugly souls disfigured by greed. The end result has been the same: a long series of deliberate choices by a bipartisan elite that have hollowed out the lives and communities and futures of millions of Americans, and created a living hell of war, ruin and hatred over much of the earth.

This is a system that has delegitimized itself, a system that has undermined its own institutions. Through its own actions, it has rotted out the foundations of trust and reason which once upheld it. Some might say, “Oh, but there’s been a decades-long, concentrated effort by right-wing billionaires and corporate forces to foment ideological and religious extremism to undermine the legitimacy of secular government, which might restrict their profiteering or let more people have a share in power.” And that’s true. But it’s been accompanied at every step by the collusion and cowardice of the putative opposition. The so-called New Democrats, exemplified by the Clintons, jettisoned concern for the common good to embrace “centrist” and “technocratic” policies: i.e., to adopt the neoliberal dogma that unbridled pursuit of private profit by a connected elites will somehow, someday, lead to general prosperity. The idea that the party should fight to improve the lives of ordinary people in the here and now, to fight for their quality of life in a genuine, substantive way,  came to be seen as old-hat, a quaint and fusty notion of has-beens and dreamers who didn’t understand the way the world really worked. A true, savvy “moderate” knows you must compromise every ideal, show yourself to be a willing and avid servant of the monied interests and the militarists, in order to gain power so you can … make a few cosmetic changes around the edges, a few little social improvements here and there (but only — of course! — in “partnership” with private interests), but never, ever challenge the system at its core.

This is the only deal in town: outright, unvarnished right-wing rule, or simpering, cowardly “moderate” management of a violent, rapacious system. That’s been the choice on offer since 1976. That’s the choice on offer today. The only difference is that the system has metastasized to a monstrous degree over the years: lacking any genuine opposition, the system has grown more violent, more rapacious.

Establishment collusion — and Democratic cowardice — finally and completely degraded and delegitimized the American electoral process 16 years ago, when the Supreme Court — with two members who had direct family ties to the Bush campaign — stopped a recount that would have resulted in the actual winner of the election to take office. This outrageous action was accepted by every single organ and institution of the American system. (With the momentary exception of the Black Congressional Caucus, whose members tried, in vain, to get a single Democratic senator to challenge the result.) Instead, Americans were encouraged to applaud the fact that power had changed hands “without tanks in the street.” That is, we were to celebrate that an actual coup d’etat had taken place before our eyes without the slightest show of resistance.

Once in place, the coup regime — staffed at the highest levels by extremists who a year before had publicly called for a vast militarization of American policy and society, even if the public had to be “galvanized” by “a new Pearl Harbor” — led the nation into a disastrous war based on false pretenses, a vast crime that not only killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people but has led directly to unbridled turmoil, extremism, conflict and corruption around the world. The elite-supported coup regime instituted torture programs and death squads, and launched an orgy of war profiteering unprecedented in world history. The regime then presided over the worst economic collapse in generations.

Not a single member of the regime was ever tried — or even investigated, at even the most preliminary level — for a single crime committed during its time in power. There were no high-profile Congressional investigations into the hideous carnage and ruin and instability they wrought; not even a “Chilcot Commission” into the origins of the war, as the UK belatedly launched. Instead the regime’s leaders and top factotums were heaped with honors and wealth. Today their endorsement is eagerly sought — and gained — by the “progressive” Democratic candidate for president.

In 2008, the desperate electorate turned to a figure presented to them as an outsider who would at last bring real change. He had the trappings of difference — a black man with a Muslim name, who spoke eloquently of peace and social justice, who most people thought was far to the left but voted for him anyway. But Barack Obama was of course a meritocratic “centrist” to his core. Riding an enormous wave of popularity, and a strong Congressional majority, he proceeded to … bail out Wall Street fraudsters and finaglers with tax money and create a health care system based on the plan of a rightwing think-tank that prioritized corporate profit — and probably killed the chance for a genuinely public health care system for generations, if not for good. He also doubled down on the Terror War, expanding it to more countries, extended Bush’s death squads, helped destroy nations like Libya and Yemen (thus spawning more chaos and terror), expanded illegal surveillance of the populace (and the world) to an extent beyond the wildest dreams of the Stasi or KGB. And after saving Big Money from itself and securing the guaranteed profits of the healthcare-insurance corporate complex, he spent most of his time on the domestic front trying to strike a “grand bargain” with Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Again, all hopes of any real change were thwarted. So now the nation swings from being ready to embrace a perceived leftist to the brink of voting in a bellicose rightist as it seeks the genuine change no one will give them. Of course, after the scorched-earth tactics of bipartisan neoliberalism and the inevitable moral degradation and brutalization that comes from year after year after year of vicious aggressive war, the choice for Trump is more nihilistic. It’s as if people believe positive change is no longer possible — so let’s tear everything down and see what happens. (This is the actual, open philosophy of the Breitbart gang, who are now directing Trump’s campaign.)

Even if Clinton wins, this nihilism will still be rampant. And given that she happily embodies the bipartisan Establishment now roundly despised on all sides for its many depredations, the nihilism will grow even worse — especially as she has given no indication whatsoever that she will even try to make substantive changes in the neoliberal-militarist system that is strangling us. Quite the contrary.

So yes, this has been a campaign like no other — but mostly because it has brought the systematic decay of the Republic into the sharpest possible relief, and has shown, more clearly than before, that the neoliberal-militarist ascendency offers no hope for a better life, a better world; indeed, that it offers nothing at all — except more violence, more bitterness, more ruin, more degradation for us all.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Murder Cow



A masterpiece from Justin Raimondo.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Then and Now

Dr. Michael Parenti from 1990: what the US Vampire State did to Eastern Europe; and what the Clinton Vampire State would attempt to do to the entire world.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Collaborators


Our great political theologian, from six years back. And never so prescient regarding November 8th.



The accompanying essay.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Satan vs. Satan

On the election, here are.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Miranda Juju

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Acquainted with the Night


John F. Kennedy's tribute to Robert Frost, Amherst College, October 26, 1963. He was speaking of Frost, but also -- as we now can feel -- about himself as well.

How far we have traveled away from both men's dreams.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Does Donald Trump Really Want?

Mike Whitney with the answer.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mister Clutch

Kershaw comes through again:

Career Regular Season:       ERA 2.37  WHIP: 1.007
Career Post Season:            ERA 4.55  WHIP: 1.157
Career Elimination Games:  ERA 6.28  WHIP: 1.447

Truly, Clayton Kershaw is the anti-Bumgarner.

And congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers -- with all that hedge-fund money and all those insipid fans -- concluding their 28th consecutive season in the Major League Baseball wilderness!

With #29 coming up!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Who's Next, Michael Jackson?

Bob Dylan is getting the Nobel Prize for LITERATURE?

David Walsh has a few laughs.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Are You an Acceptable?

The young Robert Vaughn sure hopes not, in a classic FKB from December of '56.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Acceptance, Forgiveness, and Love



Louis Prima. Joe Franklin. Cigarettes. The old. The accented. The poorly dressed. People with scars, moles, jowls, wigs. Bad noses. Bad hair. Delis. Plastic-covered furniture. Howard Johnson's. Colony Records. Lumpy bodies. Cigarettes. S&S cream-cheese cheesecakes and pecan pies. Cherry cheesecake. Heaps of corned beef and pastrami. Blood-soaked, untrimmed steaks. Cigarettes. OTB. Optimo. Cocktail waitresses. Smarm. Ventriloquists. Escape artists. Smiler's. Accordion music. Chain smokers. The dirty grease on groovy hamburgers. Cigarettes. Terrible (but funny) jokes: "I just saw a horrible accident. Two taxi cabs collided. Thirty Scotchmen were killed." The working class. Sweetness. Zest. Enjoyment. Life. Ways of caring. Earnestness. Devotion. Joy. The naive and the silly. The human range of New York City. The lost. The lonely and alone. The broken and crippled. Cigarettes.

Vanished. No, not vanished. Banned. From the public, cultural face of the Apple. Gone.

Woody Allen's 1984 valentine to the New York City disappeared is his best and most moving work. And the funniest. His embrace of all we never see anymore -- the shunned -- is keyed to the tune of the true hearts: those who may be talentless and unsophisticated, mediocre and boorish, ugly and uncool. Doesn't matter. Because all they do is heartfelt and self-forgetful. Toward them here is shown not a moment's camp, condescension, or cruelty. Here, they are celebrated. As are the great stand-ups from the time before Allen hit it big: Corbett Monica, Sandy Baron, Jackie Gayle, Will Jordan -- from places like the Latin Quarter, the Copa, the China Doll. Only caveat: Gordon Willis's inappropriately gloomy photography.

Why not shoot it like this?



Of course, before and after Broadway Danny Rose, Allen's cinema gave / will give a strong push off-stage to the dear hearts. But this is his penance. This is his un-Manhattan.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Jazz

Courtesy of Ken Laster.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Japanese Girls at the Harbor


Silent and wonderful and very strange. Director Hiroshi Shimizu -- one of the forgotten masters of classical Japanese cinema -- invented his own film language and here it is used to create a series of free-floating emotional tableaus, either in support of, or not, a story. (I can't tell.) It seems to be about two Yokohama high school girls who go their very separate ways, one called Sunako, the other Dora. (Dora? In 1933 Japan?) Yes, for the movie cuts with an anti-Western edge, as it opens with foreboding scenes of foreign ships filled with non-Japanese passengers: we see foreign cars, a Christian church, gangsters right out of Scarface (1932), and the names Dora, Henry, and the troubled Yoko Sheridan. (Henry and Dora later get married and live in a thoroughly Western house.) The main character (and the movie's troublemaker) is Sunako (played by the rather limited Michiko Oikawa, who looks forlornly at the ground quite a bit). Sunako yearns for Western-style bourgeois respectability, while mistreating (and eventually tossing out) her devoted Bohemian boyfriend; and while yearning for the cheating ex-gangster husband Henry, who breaks his own devoted wife's heart. (Dora is played by Yukiko Inouye, who for some reason reminds me much of Renèe Faure in Les Anges du Peche.) As we move along, many questions arise. Why is there no emotional weight given to the artist boyfriend? How did Sunako escape after shooting Yoko Sheridan? How did Yoko come to such dire straights? What crime did Masumi commit? What exactly is Yoko guilty of, besides getting shot by Sunako?

We don't know. Shimizu never tells us. But his language is so his own that you won't care and all you'll remember are the sequences: the disappearance dissolves; the shooting in the church; the slow track to the left revealing who Sunako's new neighbor is; the unraveling ball of string; the montage of "where we used to walk together"; Masumi's arrest; Sunako's bar search for Henry; Sunako's recognition of her neighbor; the ending's visual exhiliration.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Way We Live Now


From the Playboy Club, San Francisco, May 1970, the great Mort Sahl on Nixon/Agnew, JFK, CIA, Jim Garrison, Kent State, and that most cowardly brand of collaborators -- Hollywood Liberals.

Mort from EJK on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

To Keep Her Love Alive


I once thought of Dragnet Girl (Hijosen no onna), Yasujiro Ozu's 1933 silent gangster melodrama, as the Chrysler Building of movies. However one feels about Deco, has it ever been presented on screen with such comprehensiveness, concentration and beauty? And with, at least for the first half, such a sense of loss, as if Ozu felt a need to contain and preserve it before something else took its place -- like a man in a burning house who has 10 minutes to collect the valuables.

Something more than a celebration, however, is taking place. The objects are astonishingly beautiful -- typewriters, dice, ceiling lamps, clocks, hats, mirrors, iron gym rings, blinds, Victrolas: soft light, from no apparent source, spreads across them, leaving an irregular darkness. And the objects cast no shadows, and indeed seem edge-lighted as if the light is coming from within. Yet there is something sinister, as well as holy, in the objects. The era defined by the design of Deco was also an era of Capitalist Restoration, the first of the media age -- Deco is a Fordist atmosphere: the pure, clean, smart, of-the-moment, mechanistic new order of production made stunning and opulent. Yearning and mystery, perhaps for the past when the blood had a different throb -- excluded.

Until Tanaka takes over. It is hard to connect this sassy pool-playing moll (with a backside so cute everyone seems to want to watch it) with the suffering mothers and wives and sisters from her 1940s and 50s greatness. She is so pretty here, and one doesn't think of her that way post-war. She turns the movie on its head, when she fears the loss of Joji, her lover, an ex-prizefighter now living off of Tokiko (Tanaka). His character, despite Tokiko's burning, remains to the end as abstract as the objects surrounding him (in Joji's case, a rather Frankensteinian abstraction). All the characters remain pure types, as fixed and frozen in their perfection as are the Deco objects themselves: soon-to-be Naruse's own Sumiko Mizukubo, playing the devoted sister; Hiroshi the confused and somewhat wacky brother; Yumeko Aizome, her own embodiment of astonishing slender Deco beauty. And the story is little but myths and notions of its time. Tokiko is the only force in the work who strives to bust the abstractions and settlements around her, who strives to change, who at the end shoots her lover in order to force him to not merely live in the perpetual now of externals and structures. She becomes a figure of disruption and freedom, the only force in the work that longs to become different. And she forces a work that started out in the land of Hawks and Von Sternberg, to become Bressonian. (Ten years before Bresson.)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October

If one would ask how the monumental can be tender, October in New York is the answer. The city then recalls us to the brutal and to the awesome. Her wood and asphalt and brick skin becomes luminous in any pale light ~ it also reflects the shadow of the rock: New York in such shadow on a sunny day, the glass of her eyes have the blue of the sea. Days and nights slow down, and people seem much readier to recognize others, before the Transfiguration of Christmas. New York October: when the magnificent blue sky glows like sapphire, after the sun sets. Streams and ponds and lakes of water flash blue. Great lines of silver-grey poplars rise and make avenues ~ or airy grey quadrangles ~ across the Park. Their top boughs are spangled with gold and green leaf. Sometimes gold and red, a patterning. A bigness ~ and nothing to repress the romantic spirit.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Trane at 90

Friday, September 16, 2016

Good and Blonde


The flip side of Holiday (1938). Here the rich are wacky, good-natured types, who only need to be taught how to act, by a butler who's secretly a fallen member of the ruling class. And who saves the day by a stock-deal too similar to Johnny Case's Seaboard coup. There, it blows everything up. Here, it makes everyone whole.

Ahh, so what? Lombard sweeps all before her.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Case


Johnny Case ~ one of the key characters from classical Hollywood, mostly forgotten. His eyes: far-seeing, haunted, engaged, melancholy. Case (and the man who played him) holds the secret of life, embodies the democratic nature of movies itself: joy, magic, movement, thought, energy, intelligence, luck, charm, grace, quality, hopes, dreams, and freedom.

In Holiday (1938), Case and his spirit are permanent polar opposites to all that is seen in the movie as anti-life and anti-spirit: money; and those who have it. Holiday reminds us what all Americans knew in their bones, until about 30 years ago: the American very rich are very stupid, humorless, in-bred pigs, capable of holding onto money and power only because of their single-minded opportunity and obsession to do so -- a brood that knows itself to be above others by right and beneath them in fact. (My Man Godfrey [1936] -- another great Depression comedy -- must've been more comforting to its slumming wealthy audience members.)

The story begins with Case -- proletarian and very temporary investment banker -- returning to New York City from a Lake Placid ski trip, where he has met the girl of his dreams. Visiting her home for the first time, he discovers she's the daughter of enormous wealth, living in a preposterously huge Fifth Avenue mansion.

(The hole in the movie is the wholly unbelievable notion that Case could fall in love with either Doris Nolan the actress or Julia Seton the character. Another hole is Katharine Hepburn. In a work of beautiful, understated performances, hers is often as artificial as it is righteous.)

Holiday revolves around Grant's magic, coming closer and closer, then drifting away. It begins on Christmas morning. (And we wonder: where are the decorations in this enormous house? 'Though we do see the family, sans Hepburn, attend Christmas morning mass.) Johnny's friends Nick and Susan (two classical 30s leftists, played by Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon) return him to himself -- when he is apart from them he is fretful and distracted. The negative attitudes shown toward Case on occasion by members of the Seton family or Seton family friends strike us as insane. Ned -- quietly played by the special Lew Ayres -- is someone we long to see brought in by Case, as comrade and brother-in-law: we know this will give him heart. Julia -- the intended -- will never take that heart, and so has no real use for Case. For the rich are naturally stunted, says the movie. Hepburn is already where she needs to be -- archly -- and how long could Johnny take her close-up, day-after-day? She already seems complete. The warmth and ardency of a young Lupino might've been a lovelier match. Or Ann Sheridan. . .

Seton Cram, played by Henry Daniell, seems to be playwright Philip Barry pouring it on. Yet aren't we now in a place of Seton Crams-on-steroids, runaway Crams draped in baggy Versace suits with washboard stomachs, carefully unkempt hair, tattoos and bee-stung lips? At one point Cram offers to help Johnny make his first million within a year: "It wouldn't take that long if we had the right sort of government." Ted Cruz couldn't have said it better.

And Grant to Hepburn: "There's a conspiracy against you and me, child. Vested interests. . ." Interests and conspirators who have completely won out.

Still, what a grand movie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

State of Grace


She returns us to an age when Americans could look up to screen visions and ghosts with awe, wonder and appreciation. Unlike our own dreary marketeer non-cinema where almost all releases seem calculated to squash anything that might stir envy in the iron hearts of the narcissistic and the mediocre. After all, anyone can be Jennifers Aniston or Garner.

Who can be Kay Francis?

As a comedienne she was almost as great as Lombard. And sexy as hell. Her liquid voice is as languorous, warm, and dark -- dark as dark blood -- as are her movements. Her eyes are clear pools of light, reflecting how much love is coming toward her. Yet she was boxed in, mostly playing two types: a woman dying young; or an uptight Professional -- doctor, reporter, fashion editor, pilot(!) -- before her time. Or both. So her wit is mostly wasted. Within these types she is often the normal partner left for someone more exciting. Who would ever leave Kay Francis? (All nods to Lubitsch, but certainly not for Miriam Hopkins.) Besides Trouble in Paradise (1932), her only great film, she was rarely lucky with directors.  A (bad) Vidor, two with Borzage, several with Michael Curtiz. Otherwise, hacks.

Perhaps because she is echt Deco, she cannot be placed outside the 30s. She is too still and melancholy for screwball. And even her late 30s works -- such as Confession (1937), King of the Underworld (1939) and In Name Only (1939) -- how in the world can a movie with Grant, Lombard, and Francis be so dull? -- stiffen her up. Yet even there (most everywhere), when betrayed or spurned, she lapses into a sort of somber exclusion, away from the world, away from the movie, a curious communion with forces only she feels, a sort of mystic, dark state of grace. She is a miracle. There is no one else like her in movies.

* * *

We all know Trouble in Paradise, so let's look elsewhere. Tay Garnett's One Way Passage (1932) is a sort of pre-code, early talkie version of Tristan and Isolde, almost ruined by the non-comic antics of Frank McHugh. Almost. William Powell is a death row inmate recently escaped from San Quentin, at last caught up with in a Hong Kong bar, and incarcerated aboard a ship heading back to San Francisco. Kay Francis is on the ship, with her doctor; she is dying. Via some nice story turns -- and a moving subplot causing Powell's SF detective jailer (Warren Hymer) to also fall in love -- we are given Francis at her most ardent and beautiful. Strange and amorphous, she yearns through the trouble like a warm, glowing cloud blown in the middle of a storm. And Powell is worthy of her.