Friday, October 07, 2022

Dionne Warwick's GO WITH LOVE


It's a Dionne Warwick album C.I. tried to give my daughter.  No.  We're not going to take all of C.I.'s albums.  That's what I told my daughter so she told C.I. "No, thank you."  Then glared at me.  

So C.I. found her a copy of it.  Now she has it for her own vinyl collection.  She loved the cover.  It's the covers that turned her intoa  Dionne fan to begin with.  GO WITH LOVE has a very colorful layout -- a square photo of Dionne smiling surrounded by more squares or frames - orange, puruple, yellow, red, green, blue.  

It's a collection and the full title is GO WITH LOVE: DIONNE SINGS THE SONGS OF BURT BACHARACH AND HAL DAVID.  It's a two record collection that came out in 1970.    That's the year that she left her long running label SCEPTER RECORDS.  1970's VERY DIONNE was her last studio album for SCEPTER.  They released many collections over the years but GO WITH LOVE is part of their first attempt, the label's first attempt, to begin repackaging her work because she's leaving the label.

Part of their first attempt?  Along with this two-record disc set, 1970 also saw SPECTER release THE GREATEST HITS OF DIONNE WARWICK VOLUME 1 and THE GREATEST HITS OF DIONNE WARWICK VOLUME 2.  They'd already done, in 167 and 1969, DIONNE WARWICK'S GOLDEN HITS VOLUME 1 and DIONNE WARWICK'S GOLDEN HITS VOLUME 2.

The tracks on GO WITH LOVE are:  "What The World Needs Now Is Love," "Walk On By,"  The Beginning Of Loneliness," "Long Day, Short Night," "They Long To Be Close To You," "Another Night," "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," "How Can I Hurt You," "Are You There With Another Girl?,"  "Let Me Be Lonely," "Window Wishing," "Here Where There Is Love,"  "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," "Go With Love,"  "Looking With My Eyes," "If I Ever Make You Cry,"  "Walkin' Backwards Down The Road," "How Many Days Of Sadness," "Windows Of The World," "As Long As There's An Apple Tree," "In Between The Heartaches," "Walk Little Dolly" and "Is There Another Way To Love You."

So that's 23 tracks.  The point was to cash in.  They wanted to cash in on the reputation Dionne had built and on the money that her new label  was going to be laying out to promote their new artist.  When Diana Ross left MOTOWN for RCA, MOTOWN did the same thing -- releasing all the collections to cash in on what they already had with Diana (songs that cost nothing because they were already recorded and were just being re-released) and to cash in on the money RCA was spending promoting her.  So Diana released diana in 1980 and she had the hits "I'm Coming Out" and "Upside Down" on the album.  That's her last MOTOWN (until she comes back at the end of the 80s) album and she then releases WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE on RCA in 1981 (SILK ELECTRIC in 1982, ROSS in 1983, SWEPT AWAY in 1984 . . .) and MOTOWN releases the following collections: TO LOVE AGAIN (1981), ALL THE GREATEST HITS (a double-disc set, 1981), COLLECTION (1981), DIANA'S DUETS (1982), ANTHOLOGY (a double-disc set, 1983) and ALL THE GREAT LOVE SONGS (1984).  Diana's releasing four albums on RCA, four albums of new material, and MOTOWN's flooding the market and try to cash in during this four year period by releasing six collections -- and two of the six are double-disc albums.

The title track of Dionne's collection, "Go With Love," originally appeared on 1967's HERE WHERE THERE IS LOVE.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, October 7, 2022. BROS, Iraq, Julian Assange and much more.

On BROS, I made the points I wanted to make in the last two snapshots (here and here) and thought we were not going to cover it today.  Then came the online push claiming that FIRE ISLAND does what BROS did not.

No, it doesn't.  

You have no understanding of film if you believe that.  First off, FIRE ISLAND did not become a conversation.  Second, it wasn't a strong film.  The first act is slow and weak.  Ava and I covered it when it came out:

Jane shouldn't do stand up. Stand up comedian Joel Kim Booster shouldn't try to write screenplays. He wrote the script for FIRE ISLAND -- an update on Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. The first forty minutes are excruciating. Once we get into Joel's character and the film's Mr. Darcy, it begins to work. You actually care about those two.


Too many movies -- and TV shows (think NAOMI) -- are just spitting out characters and confusing audiences.

The reason films used "types" -- Thelma Ritter and others for character roles -- was to help the audience follow. It's also why famous and semi-famous people are often cast in roles. Outside of Margaret Cho, most of the cast is unfamiliar to movie goers. Joel' screenplay starts with too many characters and they really needed to cast recognizable faces or at least distinct ones. CLUELESS, another update of Jane Austen, worked because it established characters and used 'types' -- the skateboarder, the preppie, etc.

There is also the fact that it's a celibate film.  Did no one notice that?  Honestly, a number of gay people on Twitter are pimping this as better than BROS but it's a chaste little film for the female/male lead.  If you don't get it, it's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.  It's an adaptation.  Joel Kim Booster makes a lovely Elizabeth Bennett, but not much of a gay man living in 2022.  

The film has many things going for it.  But it's akin to an independent film like IT'S MY PARTY in terms of look and feel.  It wasn't an advance and considering Joel's remarks in his NETFLIX special -- his angry screeds -- I'm surprised anyone's pimping this.  Ava and I also noted that, "His persona may just be saying things for humor. If that's the case, keep it up. But if he's serious about getting complaints from gay people about his jokes, he might try grasping that he's not The Voice for Gay America."

I'm glad that PRIDE AND PREJUDICE still resonates.  But FIRE ISLAND reminds me of the play a famous blowhard wrote in college.  It was his life story.  He made himself front and center in the play.  And every other character existed to tell him how great he was.  They really weren't characters in their own right.  After he started writing films (and, later, bad TV), he just knew his play would connect with me.  (I'd passed on his previous projects.)  I was ambushed while having lunch (a friend tipped him off).  I was still a smoker then, thank goodness because I couldn't have made it through his play without a vice.  Indulgent was the kindest term.  

I told him it was as though Jules (Demi Moore's character in ST. ELMO'S FIRE) had written her own story.  There was no understanding of the world around her (I'm not talking politics or anything other than her immediate world) and that the other characters were all props for the main character (him).  There was no arc of growth.  It was just one indulgent scene after another.

I know screenplays, I've read a number, I've acted a number and I'm also good at plot points and finding where the beat should be (those last two are with regards to films I'm not a part of but that friends who are directors seek my opinion on). 

There are many reasons you can like a film.  It can be a hideous mess like 1987's ANNA but you can love it for Sally Kirkland's  outstanding performance.  Jane Fonda elevated KLUTE to film classic with her performance -- the finest performance by any actor or actress in a film that was released in the second half of the 20th century. You can love a film because the character reminds you of someone you love -- or of yourself.  A film can be a significant piece of art all around -- SOME LIKE IT HOT, for example -- and you love it for that reason.

And there are aspects to applaud with regards to FIRE ISLAND.  But, no, it's not on the level of BROS.  It's screenplay dithers at the start.  It's casting is way off.  It feels like a Greg Berlanti project and, no, that's not a compliment.  Greg wasn't the unnamed blow hard I was referring to above.  That blowhard is straight.

It may reflect your life onscreen and that's great if it does.  But by any critical measure it's just an okay film/TV movie.  

It's not revolutionary or brave -- I think Doris Day got more action in PILLOW TALK than Joel Kim Booster did in FIRE ISLAND. 

And to be clear, FIRE ISLAND isn't a bad film.  It's a weak film.  AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS is a bad film.  

Fire Island came out with a bang as not only was it released during pride month, but according to Mashable, it was the sixth most streamed film during the week of its release, outperforming Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Meanwhile, Bros was unable to outgross the Avatar re-release and is currently being vastly outperformed by the new horror film, Smile.

May 24th is when SONIC 2 came out on streaming.  That means it was in its fourth week of streaming release when FIRE ISLAND 'beat it.'  JURRASIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM is a 2017 movie.  And that week that is highlighted?  FIRE ISLAND is not the number one streaming film -- not even number one of rom-coms.  No, Sandra Bullock's LOST CITY is number three -- and it came out on streaming May 10th -- and weeks and weeks later it still beat FIRE ISLAND.  I don't know how you see that as a win but most people aren't stupid enough to scan Crapapedia and then write a report.  You can call it cribbing but let's be honest, it's plagiarism -- and plagiarism of a very bad source.

BROS came in number five last weekend.  It's harder to sell tickets -- a pandemic, Hurricane Ian, fears of harm over buying a ticket to a movie with a storyline about gay people, etc -- so don't compare the two -- but if the metrics were exact, BROS still did better.  Yet WE GOT THIS COVERED starts out their (mis)report insisting BROS bombed. (BROS sold 1.5 million in tickets -- that's Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -- Thursdays numbers will be released later today.  People are continuing to see the film.)

Another thing, stop writing about the movie if you didn't see it.  And I'm not really sure what you can understand about a film and its response in the United States when you're writing from Australia -- in other words, maybe butt the hell out.  It's interesting that BROS is said to be "less gay" than FIRE ISLAND.  That's not accurate.  Again, maybe don't comment on the movie you didn't see.  Aaron (Luke MacFarlane) is a "BRO" singular.  And Bobby (Billy) thinks Aaron only likes BROS.  But Aaron is the only BRO in the film.  (Some men in the club may or may not be BROS -- they don't have dialogue and we don't know.)   I'm sorry that idiots on Twitter who haven't seen the film have influenced an idiot at WE GOT THIS COVERED to write about something that's completely inaccurate.  There are tons of characters in the films -- gay, lesbian, bi, trans, etc -- Aaron's the only BRO.  We assume that his old friend from high school is probably a BRO. (Bobby makes that assumption when he's worried that Aaron doesn't find him attractive.)   But Aaron spent his life assuming that his hockey team buddy was straight.  And he's not acting very BRO when he's in bed with Aaron, Bobby and Steven. 

Jamyl Dobson's character may strike some as a BRO but a BRO wouldn't have a Barbra Streisand poster up on their wall.  Again, it helps, when critiquing a film, to have actually seen it.

There are a multitude of characters in BROS -- they are not all the same.

And that's what screenwriter  Joel Kim Booster doesn't grasp -- not everyone is alike, not everyone is the same.  Actors in FIRE ISLAND can only do so much with a weak script. 

The idiot at WE GOT THIS COVERED is repeating a false charge and that is why you really need to see a movie to comment on it.  The exception is commenting that you have no interest in seeing the film.  I'm fine with that.  I have always been fine with that.  But if you don't see the film you really shouldn't be talking about what it is or what it isn't because you honestly don't know.

I loved WORLD CAN'T WAIT and Debra Sweet (I know Debra).  But when she started slamming a film and calling for it to be censored -- when she hadn't seen it?  We dropped WORLD CAN'T WAIT.  

I'm an artist first and foremost.  And I'm not ever going to support cries of censorship to begin with.  But when you start attacking a work that you haven't seen?  

Go find another person to plug your activities because it won't be me.

You failed to do the basics before jumping into this conversation.  You're an idiot, Erielle Sudario for writing the article.  And it reveals how vested you are in attacking Billy and what he has done that you rush your ill thought out words into print.  They couldn't pass a fact check. Don't they teach journalism in Australia?

Equally true, since I'm now writing on the topic again, let me plug my friend Luke who is better looking than anyone in FIRE ISLAND.  He has true charisma.  Not just chemistry with Bobby, but true charisma.  And he looks hot as hell in the film.

We need to point out  the sexism involved in Twitter segment that WE GOT THIS COVERED elected to amplify.  A small group of gays are saying FIRE ISLAND is better because it's their life (they wish) and they're worried about representation.


Or are you just self-involved jerks?

Because I only saw Margaret Cho playing a lesbian in FIRE ISLAND.  

14 people in the main cast and only one's a woman -- and this is representative?  

If that truly reflects your life, what a sad life you live.

(There are 21 characters in the main cast of BROS.  I am counting Debra Messing who plays herself -- and is hilarious -- as a character because she's in more than one scene.  I am not counting Kenan Thompson, Ben Stiller, Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers or Kristin Chenoweth as characters -- they do cameos.  Explain to me also which FIRE ISLAND characters were bi, trans or non-binary?  Again, a small group of Twitter trolls are playing 'woke' but just sporting their hatred of women and anyone who isn't like them.)  

The unruly Twitter children are out of their minds as they drool over their own mirrored reflections.  It's why they rush to celebrate FIRE ISLAND -- a bunch of young, gay men -- and say BROS -- whose characters truly are LGBTQ and straight -- isn't 'representative.'

COFFEE AND TEQUILA has offered two strong pieces covering BROS this week.  We've already noted the first one in a snapshot but let's put it in this snapshot too.

And now here's the more recent one.

Let's note one more time that today is October 7th.  Why?  Monday will be October 10th.  It's very unlikely that, over the weekend, Iraq's politicians are going to pull their act together.  October 10, 2021 was when Iraq held elections.  Still waiting on the formation of the new government.  No new prime minister.  No new cabinet of ministers.  No new president.  

It will be one full year on Monday.  And there's no end in sight.  Blame it on a Biden?  Iraq's always struggled some but the last time it took this long?  Joe Biden was in charge of Iraq.  Then-President Barack Obama had put Joe in charge.  It was 2010.  It took 289 days for the government to be formed -- 289 days after the election.  

In that instance, the incumbent -- former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki -- refused to honor the results and step down.  So Joe oversaw The Erbil Agreement -- a contract signed by Iraq's political leaders which tossed the votes aside and gave Nouri a second term.

This go round, Joe's been notoriously absent from the scene of the crime.  Despite repeating urging from the Congress, he's done nothing.  Well, sometimes doing nothing is sending a message.  Noted failure Mustafa al-Kahdimi is the 'caretaker' prime minister at present since the Parliament still can't name one.  And Mustafa and Joe are not, to put it mildly, close.

Joe doesn't go to Iraq.  They don't talk.

Now Mustafa did visit the US last month.  He and Joe were both at the United Nations.  But Joe ignored him and didn't visit with him.  He met with many -- including the Prime Minister of Japan -- a man whose name the White House struggled with repeatedly in press releases announcing the visit.  They sent out a written message on each meet up.

There was no meet up with Mustafa and, as a friend with the State Dept stated to me, "That was the message."


Sadly, some didn't get the memo.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's visit to Erbil looks like a courageous step in the current delicate circumstances that Iraq, one of the most important countries in the region, is going through.

This step proves that Kadhimi, although he leads an outgoing government, wants to be the prime minister of all of Iraq and of all Iraqis.

Let's translate that whoring into reality.  This is what Khairallah's really saying:

My buddy Mustafa and I remain close and I don't disclose it anymore than various press outlets Mustafa used to work for ever disclose that Mustafa was their employee before he became prime minister.  That's why we pimp him as some great leader when he's an inept failure who has accomplished nothing despite being handed the post of prime minister.   The US Ambassador has told Mustafa that now is not the time for oil disputes -- not with Opec's recent moves and inflation -- and, Iraqi court verdict or not -- Mustafa was told to get his ass to the KRG and try to make some sort of peace between the KRG and Baghdad and do so quickly  because the US government is really tired of Mustafa.

You can pin a lot of the blame on the press that covered for Mustafa and pretended he wasn't the problem.  He didn't fix anything.  Things got even worse under his 'leadership.'

And that's before we get to the continued armed struggle in southern Iraq.  Daniel Stewart (360 NEWS) 'reports:'

Prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered armed groups under his control to suspend their activities in almost the entire country in order not to increase tensions after weeks of heavy clashes in Basra province between the cleric's forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of pro-Iranian militias.

No, Danny, not "all."  MEMO explains:

Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr today announced the freezing of all his armed factions across Iraq, except the northern province of Saladin.

Saleh Mohamed Al-Iraqi, a leader of the Sadr's movement, said the influential cleric also "banned the use of weapons in all provinces except Saladin and Samarra city."

It was not yet clear why Saladin province was not included in the ban.

Salih Mohammed al-Iraqi, a close associate of Sadr, said in a statement on behalf of the Shiite leader that they were freezing all armed factions, including the Saraya al-Salam, and banning the use of weapons in all Iraqi provinces except for Salahaddin to “avoid sedition” in Basra, adding “otherwise, we will take other measures later.”

Iraqi also called on the commander-in-chief of the armed forces Kadhimi to control the “disrespectful” militias of Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of AAH, as they “know nothing but terror and money and power.”

AAH?  Danny gets that part right "the League of the Righteous (Asaib Ahl al Haq or AAH) militia."

January 10, 2020, the US State Dept designated Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq as a terrorist organization.  Prior to that, it was most infamous for killing US troops in Iraq.  You'd never know that from the sobbing some in the US gave when one of its leaders was killed.  Long before that happened, it was a terrorist group and Barack Obama was happy to make deals with the group.

For those unfamiliar with the League of Righteous, among other things, they kidnapped 5 British citizens in Baghdad and, when Barack Obama's administration entered into negotiations with them, released 3 corpses and 1 hostage alive (Peter Moore was the one alive) after their leaders were released from prison and, much later, released the corpse of the fifth British citizen.  The four turned over dead were  Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell,  Alec MacLachlan and (turned over much later)  Alan McMenemy The Obama administration's decision to enter into talks with the group was shocking considering the group also brags of their attack on a US military base in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed.

Dropping back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

They never did answer for it.  People treated it as normal that a leader responsible for the deaths of five Americans was released from American custody.  Barack should have been called out.

Well he was.

In the Arabic media, the League of Righteous called him out, mocked and made fund of him, bragged about delaying the release of Alan McMenemy to show Barack who was running things.  

But he should have been called out in the US media.  The news of it registered with military families but otherwise it was just a headline quickly forgotten.

 As Joni Mitchell observes in "Dog Eat Dog:"

Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away

Dog eat dog
People looking seeing nothing
Dog eat dog
People listening hearing nothing
Dog eat dog
People lusting loving nothing
Dog eat dog
People stroking touching nothing
Dog eat dog
Knowing nothing
Dog eat dog

Land of short attention spans.  

US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange for the 'crime' of exposing War Crimes carried out by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Let's again note this Kevin Gosztola report on a British television discussion of Julian.

A segment on Piers Morgan’s “Uncensored Program” yesterday provided its mass audience with a rare and unvarnished demonstration of the two sides in the case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who is imprisoned in Britain and faces extradition to the United States for exposing American war crimes.

On the one hand, Assange’s wife Stella Moris outlined the dire precedent that the US is seeking to establish by prosecuting a journalist for publishing true information. She spoke eloquently in defence of the democratic rights of Assange and the population at large, as well as on the importance of upholding international legal norms.

On the other hand, John Bolton, a lifelong Republican politician and state apparatchik, ranted and raved as he asserted the “right” of the American government to ruin the life of anyone who gets in the way of its “national interests.”

The program was broadcast on British television’s TalkTV station, and has already been watched hundreds of thousands of times on social media. 

The response demonstrates the true public opinion of Assange, which is generally buried by the official media. Moris has received widespread praise for her thoughtful and principled comments, including her statements on Bolton’s own relationship to war crimes. Bolton’s remarks have been condemned as dangerous and frightening.

Morgan began by noting that Assange has been locked up in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison, a “very high security” and “grim” facility, for almost four years, following seven years of arbitrary detention at Ecuador’s British embassy. Where did Moris think the case would go, and what did she hope to achieve, he asked.

Moris, who is herself a widely-respected human rights lawyer, explained: “Julian faces a potential sentence in the United States of 175 years for doing journalistic work. For receiving information from a source and publishing it, and it was in the public interest. It was about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he revealed tens of thousands of civilian deaths that had not been acknowledged before.”

Morgan said that he would play “devil’s advocate,” repeating the oft-repeated claim that while the Guardian and the New York Times had redacted the material from whistleblower Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks had dumped it online, placing individuals at risk.

Asked if she accepted this argument, Moris replied forcefully: “I don’t accept it, because it’s not true. WikiLeaks did actually redact all of those documents that Manning gave to WikiLeaks, and in fact it was in cooperation with those newspapers.”

WikiLeaks, Moris noted, had withheld 15,000 documents from the US army’s Afghan war logs, and had been criticised by some for extensive redactions of the Iraq war logs. The publication of 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables, in full, had not been the doing of WikiLeaks. Instead it was the outcome of Guardian journalists recklessly publishing the password to the tranche in a book.

While the US government persecutes Julian Assange, it meets-and-greets and celebrate nazis.  Jacob Crosse (WSWS) reports:

Last month leading members of both US political parties met with high-ranking soldiers of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

The week-long meetings in Washington by the fascist delegations, who were warmly greeted by Republican and Democratic politicians alike, have gone virtually unreported in the press.

In their posts first exposing the visit, journalist Moss Robeson revealed that one of the Azov soldiers that visited the Capitol was Giorgi Kuparashvili. Robeson wrote that Kupraashvili is a “a co-founder of the Azov Regiment and the leader of its Yevhen Konovalets Military School, named for the founder of the fascistic Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.”

The Azov Battalion was founded in 2014 by white supremacist Andriy Biletsky. The organization is teeming with fascists and racists who idolize Stepan Bandera, a fascist who as a member of the OUN-B collaborated with the Waffen SS during World War II in carrying out the Holocaust in Ukraine.

The embrace of neo-Nazis in the Capitol by both big-business parties obliterates any pretense that the US government is fighting for “democracy” or “human rights” in Ukraine, or anywhere else.

In publicly available Telegram posts, the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders, an organization comprised of family members of Azov soldiers, boasted that Kateryna Prokopenko, Yuliya Fedosyuk and Alla Somilenko joined Azov soldiers, Kupraashvili, Vladyslav Zhaivoronka and Artur Lypka in holding face-to-face meetings with Democratic and Republican legislators alike.

The following sites updated:

Where's the oversight

The whistleblower told the office of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the Justice Department launched the review of the FBI’s disciplinary database in 2020 following an Associated Press investigation into sexual misconduct allegations involving at least six senior FBI officials.

The follow-up review found 665 FBI employees, including 45 senior-level officials, resigned or retired between 2004 and 2020 following a misconduct probe but before a final disciplinary letter could be issued, according to a letter this week from Grassley to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

It was not clear how many of those cases involved sexual misconduct. Grassley’s office, which declined to make the whistleblower or underlying documents available to protect the person’s identify, said that was the kind of information it was still seeking but estimated the number could be in the “hundreds.”

That's appalling.  Congress needs to hold hearings.  But there's no functioning Congress, they refuse to provide the needed oversight.

Anyway, here's Sam Smith's latest video.

That came out this week (there was a lyric video out prior).

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, October 6, 2022.  We're part two on BROS today and we also note a new event in Iraq and an anniversary.


This week, the late Cass Elliot got her star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame thanks to the very hard work of her daughter Owen Kunkle.  Cass was a one-of-a-kind vocalist.  With The Mamas and the Papas (Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty and John Phillips), she sang on such classics as "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," "Safe In My Garden," "California Dreamin'," "Creeque Alley," "Dancing Bear," "Midnight Voyage," "Got A Feeling," "Monday, Monday," "I Saw Her Again Last Night," "Sing For Your Supper," "12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)," "Dedicated To The One I Love," "Too Late," "Words of Love" and many more.  As a solo artist, her classics included "California Earthquake," "Make Your Own Kind Of Music," "It's Getting Better," "New World Coming," "Move In A Little Closer Baby," etc.  "Different" (video above) is a song she performs in the film PUFNSTUF.   There are so many classics waiting to be rediscovered.  I'd include Cass' version of Judee Sill's "Jesus Was A Crossmaker" . . . 

. . . and of Laura Nyro's "He's A Runner."

Owen's done a great job honoring her mother.  Cass is remembered to this day.  And her music pops up everywhere -- yes, LOST, but I'm thinking of Hettie MacDonald's BEAUTIFUL THING.  That 1996 film is an important one.  

We're back to BROS and we're back to my marveling over how some people are so uninformed and some are taking part in the backlash without even grasping it.

BROS is the best comedy of 2022. Billy Eichner co-wrote the screenplay and he stars in the film with Luke Macfarlane.  People are continuing to see it and maybe if theaters were running it it would be making even more money.  I've already detailed how homophobia on the part of theater owners led to less showings on the Friday it debuted.  But what's going on now, especially with AMC theaters, is it's only been shown once or twice a day.  Even so, it made $1.4 million on Monday and Tuesday -- Wednesday's numbers will come out later today.

It's an important film and let's address that because people don't seem to understand what an important film is.

Some are carping and blaming Billy -- on that, I haven't seen anything like that since MOMENT BY MOMENT -- when, as Academy Award winning film editor Verna Fields (JAWS, WHAT'S UP DOC?, PAPER MOON, AMERICAN GRAFFITI . . .) observed they refused to let the film die.  They being the industry.  They slammed and they ripped apart long after it had faded away.  The film starred Lily Tomlin and John Travolta.  It was directed by Jane Wagner.  And it was attacked because the director was a lesbian.

Now MOMENT BY MOMENT is not a great film.  It's not an awful film.  There were awful films released at that time and they were allowed to fade away.  But there was a concentrated effort to go after the film.  As Verna pointed out, many, many films bomb and they're allowed to die but with Jane Wagner's film, they wouldn't let it.  They kept after it, kept insulting and destroying it inflating it into the all time worst movie.

If MOMENT BY MOMENT were widely available today -- TCM can show the crap that is WHO'S THAT GIRL? but they can't show Jane Wagner's film -- it might be re-evaluated.  It might seem better than it did in its own time.

But let's teach the lesbian her place -- that was the industry's goal.  Everyone knew Lily was gay and that she and Jane were in a relationship -- everyone in the industry knew.  And no studio wanted Lily out of the closet and they didn't want her working with Jane.  Which is why Lily and Jane would find their success on Broadway.  

The industry doesn't honor coming out.  It never has.  Ellen came out and ABC pissed all over her show -- adding that warning before every episode, for example, refusing to promote it, acting as though it was a flop when it was still doing better than SPIN CITY or the awful show that replaced it.

Ellen got another shot at sitcoms.  But CBS refused to back it.  It didn't belong on Friday nights -- something they realized when the show landed Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner as guest stars on one episode.  CBS suddenly moved the show to Monday nights for one episode.  Oh, wow, look at the high ratings, look at the difference a time slot can make.  Then it was immediately shove it back to Fridays.

CBS didn't want to support it -- like they didn't want to support PARTNERS.  

Sometimes, the industry is more interested in laying down the law than they are in making a profit.

And some of the garbage being published in the trades reads like an effort to destroy Billy.  Even sadder, the trashing is finding an audience gleeful to join in.

(As noted  before, I know Luke Macfarlane and consider him a friend.  I don't know Billy, I've never even met him.)

Billy has made an amazing film and egged on by the trades, some of the garbage is mutlyping online.


And some supposedly saw the movie.

They blame Billy, for example, because BROKEBACK was a hit!!!!  If BROKEBACK is a hit then BROS would be too -- it must not be any good!

Did they not see BROS?  The dead cowboy?

I believe Billy makes that point in the film -- sadness and death straight audiences are more than fine with now.  That's where we've progressed as a society.  We can applaud BROKEBACK and even the hideous LOVE SIMON and its after birth LOVE VICTOR.

Ava and I wrote the following in June of 2020:

Original content? Sometimes about the only thing nice you can say is: Well it's new content.

We thought about that as we suffered through LOVE, VICTOR. HULU decided to do a TV series out of the film LOVE, SIMON. And they brought along all the baggage from the film.

You may remember Jennifer Garner and other stars of the film tried to pimp the movie. BLACK PANTHER had done incredible at the box office for many reasons, The people behind LOVE, SIMON suspected one reason for the film's success was that BLACK PANTHER was being pushed as a film with a person of color playing an admired comic book hero. Outside of Wesley Snipes in the BLADE films, that had not happened.

In the crazy world where Jennifer Garner has some sort of career despite so-so talents, it seemed logical to tell people that they should see LOVE SIMON because it was about a gay person.

Here's the thing, and we objected in real time, Chadwik Boseman played Black Panther (and did so with an amazing performance). Boseman is a person of color.

LOVE, SIMON? It starred boxy Nick Robinson as a gay man. But, here's the problem (pay attention, Jennifer), Nick Robinson is not gay (or, if he is gay, he's in the closet).

The idiots didn't get it. They still don't.

LOVE, VICTOR is supposed to instill gay pride. How?

Michael Cimino stars as high schooler Victor who, yes, is gay.

And, if this were 1992, that might be something. But it's not 1992, it's 2020.

How can a series preach gay pride or even just tolerance (we've never been fans of tolerance) when the gay character is played by a straight actor (judging by his INSTAGRAM)?

If being gay is okay (and we agree that it is), why are you casting straight actors in the role?

Anybody remember IN AND OUT? One of the jokes in the movie is that Matt Dillon's straight character plays -- and wins an Oscar for playing -- a gay character. That was funny in 1997. In 2020, it's just sad. 

What a great message for the world, for the youth, for us all -- It's okay to play gay.

Not to be gay, understand, but it's okay for a straight person to play gay.

Both LOVEs refused to cast an out gay actor -- as either Simon or Victor.  

I'm sorry, love Scarlet Johansson to tears, but, no, when trans actors are getting cast so little it is not right for a non-trans person to play a trans character.

This was our beef with Cleveland of FAMILY GUY and THE CLEVELAND SHOW -- Ava and I tackled that repeatedly at THIRD -- why is a White actor voicing Cleveland on FAMILY GUY and it only got worse on TCS when other non-African-Americans were brought on to voice Black characters.

Can a straight actor play a gay character?  Sure.  They might even be able to play it well.  But when out actors are still trying for something more than a bit part, casting gay leads with straight actors is offensive.

And don't pretend that Billy and Luke both being out wasn't an issue.  Don't pretend for one moment.  

Billy could have cast a straight actor as his love interest.  We would've gotten a crappy movie -- because after that concession, he would have had to make many more -- and some ass would be posting online about how it was a hit that made $65 million for the studio.  No, it didn't -- we really need to educate on markets and on theaters and on the issue of who makes the most upfront -- I'm tired of idiots trying to handicap the box office when they don't know what the f**k they're talking about.  They're usually quoting crapapedia -- that's where they get garbage about how LOVE SIMON is the X on the all time list of top grossing teen romance movies per BOX OFFICE MOJO!  That link doesn't work because it never did work because that's not a truth.  And if you want to make a list, you better grasp that SIXTEEN CANDLES had $80 million in ticket sales because you can't take that 80s movie and put it on the list without putting it into today's dollars. 

Billy made a movie that mattered.

When we've talked about this to groups this week someone will raise a hand or clear their throat and I know before they open their mouth where they are about to go . . . "No offense, but I think the pushback in society is to a degree because of trans people."

Do you think that?

You may be right.

And I think: Good.  

There's always going to be a backlash, the pendulum is always going to swing one way and then the next.

It is important that people press for progress.  That's the only way it ever happens.

The trans community shouldn't be silent and they shouldn't have to wait for their rights.  We should all be pushing for equality.  

You don't win anything by being silent.  You don't win anything by saying, "I'll fight in a few years."

Did the trans community make some people uncomfortable?  Again, if they did, good.  That's how we grow.  

And Billy's made a great movie in terms of entertainment.  But he's also made a historic movie by being so true to himself.  

He and Luke are the first gay (out) actors to play a same-sex couple that a film's focused on where they fall in love, where they have sex and neither dies.

Your crappy LOVE SIMON, if you've forgotten, makes the climatic moment of the film Simon finding out who his admirer was.  Yeah, that's all they could handle in the 90s and LOVE SIMON is not going to push for anything better than what we could have seen decades ago.

ABC let Ellen come out but they didn't know how to deal with her once she was out.  It was one thing for her to have a non-romantic kiss with Laura Dern on the coming out episode (idiots continue to refer to it as a romantic kiss -- no, Laura's character is already involved and in a relationship) but when Ellen found Lori, the next season, ABC had such a huge problem with it.

LOVE SIMON takes you to the first gloricous sunset and that's all some can handle.  Billy went beyond that and his film is transformative.

Back when he was president, Barack Obama got really pissed at Joe Biden when Joe went on MEET THE PRESS because Barack was going to do a slow-roll on marriage equality and Joe forced everyone's hand.  Joe also noted, in that appearance, that attitudes had changed towards gay people because of WILL & GRACE.  Joe was right.  

Without representation, people don't exist.  That's true in a democracy and it's true in the arts.  

Billy's put some truth onto the screen.  He's changed the country as a result.

I am very limited on what criticism I will take right now on Billy because he has not gotten any where near the credit he deserves for what he's done.  

Or for the crap he's had to put up with over the last days.

He insulted us!!!! Get a damn grip.  He said straight people didn't turn out for the movie.  He's right.  as a group, we did not turn out.  It's a fact.  

He's blaming!!!! It's a fact and I didn't hear blaming in it, I heard shock and surprise.  And he has every right to have that (or any other) response.  The film achieved.  Where's the audience?

I don't think they were steered to it.  When you have the kind of reviews BROS got?  That's one of your trailers.  Not "Such and such on Rotten Tomatoes" -- a small segment of the audience cares about RT.  That's about it.  What you do is you pull quote from reviews and make that a trailer.  

But UNIVERSAL didn't want to do that.  The attitude was, "We've spent enough promoting the film."  And that was before it opened.  Before.  

A film with those of reviews?  A studio goes all out -- drama or comedy.  They go all out promoting. Studios live for those kind of reviews.

Even now, UNIVERSAL's not doing a good job.  There should have been multiple trailers.  There should be clips on YOUTUBE that you can stream -- multiple clips.  There are not.  

And where is the romance in the trailer?

We do get a kiss . . . after some pushing and shoving that others mistake as a physical fight and think they have to break up -- cue laughter.  As a scene in the movie, it more than works.  In the trailer?  Looks a lot like the reaction to 1982's PARTNERS (the comedy starring Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt).  

Why was UNIVERSAL more scared of romance being shown in the trailer?  

Time and again, you look at everything that went down and you see institutionalized homophobia.

Billy was up against all of that.  And he made an incredible film.

Repeatedly, I see people posting that the trailer turned them off because it mocked straight people.  A number of people are insisting that they are butt hurt over that.

Then they 'quote' the line and get it wrong.  But more to the point, that same trailer - the only trailer -- had Billy and Luke speaking and saying gay people were so stupid.

That happened before the joke about straight people.  

It's interesting to watch this conversation and see what gets emphasized and what goes unspoken.

Alice Walker has always said she writes the world she wants to see.  

And that's what you have to do.  Most of us will never see the possibilities unless someone gives us a glimpse. 

With BROS, Billy goes beyond the climatic coming out moment after which Hollywood wants the gay characters to go away or to drop deep into the background and be supporting characters.  He goes beyond the it's-okay-for-them-to-be-in-love-because-one-is-going-to-die nonsense.  

BROS shatters everything that Hollywood has created over many, many decades.

He didn't settle, he pushed the conversation along.  He took us, in one film, further than Hollywood's done in three decades.

And that's what you do if you're an artist, it's what you do if you're an activist.

No one is ever going to be happy to let go of their prejudice and their entitlement.

Dave Chappelle (who I know and like) has too much fun mocking the transgender community.  He's too vested in it.  And, in his mind, you're an awful person if you're asking him to stop and think for a moment.  I said when the criticism mounted against Dave that he needed to listen and that people were right to press him on this issue.  That's not censorship, that's a dialogue, that's an exchange in the public square.

The trans community pushed their issues and that's what they needed to do.  

They have every right to participate in this democracy, they have every right to raise their issues and to say "Here I am."

And only by doing that are they going to be heard and are they going to be appreciated.  That's how it is for every minority group.  You have to fight.  

But you have to fight smartly.  That's not a slam on the trans community, I think they've done a wonderful job.  That is a slam on some of the people posting carps online about BROS.  Billy delivered.  It's not his fault that the studio didn't.  It's not his fault.

UNIVERSAL did the bare minimum ahead of the film and now they're willing to let the film die.  They're not trying to fix their mistakes.  They're not rushing out a trailer that is nothing but pull quotes.  They're not rushing a trailer that's showing romance.  They're not even flooding the internet with clips.

They want the credit and their egos stroked.  They haven't done anything wonderful.  Billy worked his ass off.  UNIVERSAL's basically copying Aaron Spelling in the 90s, copying him in 2022.  That's not bravery and it's nothing that should earn them any credit.


As certain elements within the industry gleefully sharpen their knives for Billy, I wish there was a real pushback leading us to all acknowledge what he has achieved.

 Billy is not Orson Welles and BROS is not CITIZEN KANE.  But we're seeing Billy getting that treatment, the post-CITIZEN KANE treatment where the industry turned on Orson.  

Let's turn to Iraq before I start swearing (as always, the snapshot is dictated).

Stephen Zunes (TRUTH OUT) notes:

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the fateful congressional vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq, many are questioning what would have happened had Congress refused to go along. There was widespread public opposition to going to war at the time. The Catholic Church and every mainline Protestant denomination came out against the war, as did virtually every major labor union and other left-of-center organization that took a stand. The vast majority of the U.S. Middle East scholars opposed an invasion, being aware of the likely disastrous consequences. The vast majority of the world’s nations, including most of the United States’s closest allies, were also in opposition to the war.

Unlike the near-unanimous vote (save for Rep. Barbara Lee) the previous year authorizing military force in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war resolution was far more controversial. A sizable majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the resolution authorizing the invasion, which came to a vote on October 10, 2002. The Republicans then controlled the House, however, and it passed easily.

This left the determination as to whether the United States would go to war up to the Democratic-controlled Senate the following day. To the astonishment of many, several leading Democratic senators crossed the aisle to support the war authorization, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid and Foreign Relations Committee Chair Joe Biden, as well as such prominent senators as John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, John Edwards and Dianne Feinstein.

All this was well-known at the time. Since then, however, a number of these Democrats, particularly those with presidential ambitions, have lied about their votes — and much of the mainstream media have allowed them to get away with it.

The primary excuse they have subsequently put forward has been that the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution,” as it was formally known, was not actually an authorization for use of military force against Iraq. Instead, these Democrats claim they did not actually support George W. Bush’s decision to invade in March 2003 but simply wanted to provide the administration with leverage to pressure Iraq to allow a return of UN inspectors, which President Clinton had ordered removed in 1998 prior to a four-day bombing campaign, and Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had, quite predictably, not yet allowed to return.

Despite wording in the congressional resolution providing Bush with an open-ended authority to invade, John Kerry claimed in 2013 that he “opposed the president’s decision to go into Iraq.” While running for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton insisted that she voted for the resolution simply because “we needed to put inspectors in, that was the underlying reason why I at least voted to give President Bush the authority,” and that she did not want to “wage a preemptive war.” Similarly, during his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden insisted he supported Bush’s war resolution not because he actually wanted to invade Iraq, but because “he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program,” and further claiming that, “Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment.”

In reality, at the time of the vote on the war resolution, the Iraqi government had already agreed in principle to a return of the weapons inspectors and were negotiating with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission on the details which were formally institutionalized a few weeks later. (Indeed, it would have likely been resolved earlier had the Bush administration not repeatedly postponed the UN Security Council resolution in the hopes of inserting language that would have allowed the United States to unilaterally interpret the level of compliance.) In addition, all three of these senators voted against the substitute amendment by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, which would have also granted President Bush authority to use force, but only if Iraq defied subsequent UN demands regarding the inspections process. Instead, they voted for the Republican-sponsored resolution to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq at the time and circumstances of his own choosing, regardless of whether inspectors returned.

More critically, when Bush launched the March 2003 invasion a full four months after large-scale weapons inspections had begun with no signs of any proscribed weapons or weapons facilities, Clinton, Biden and Kerry still argued that the invasion was necessary and lawful.

Biden defended the imminent launch of the invasion by saying, “I support the president. Diplomacy over avoiding war is dead. … I do not see any alternative. It is not as if we can back away now.” He added, “Let loose the dogs of war. I’m confident we will win.”

Meanwhile, when last we saw Moqtada and his massive man boobs (MOOBS), he was retreating from the political process in a huff, pulling a Greta Garbo, he just wanted to be alone.  Look who's back.  MEMO reports:

On Tuesday, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, agreed "to dialogue, if it is public, and in order to exclude all participants in the previous political and electoral processes."

Commenting on the briefing given by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Jeanine Plasschaert, he said in a tweet, "With regard to the briefing by the UN representative, what she said caught my attention as she said the main reason for what is happening in Iraq is the corruption that everyone agrees exists."

"Indeed, this is very true and accurate, and the first step for gradual reform is the exclusion of the old faces, their parties and people from the next government in accordance with the aspirations of the rebellious people," noted Al-Sadr.

Moqtada ignores his own corruption, of course.  And he wants newbies because he's still hopeful that he could dominate the process.  He thought he could do that back in November as well.  That's what led to months and months of the political stalemate.  In case anyone forgot, the government should have been formed after the elections and the elections were October 10, 2021 -- we're four days short of a year since the elections and there is still no new prime minister, still no new president, still no cabinet.

Let's note this tweet:

On the day of the protests, we noted this was not Moqtada's protest.  This was The October Revolution which began in 2019.  But if you're still confused -- and a few e-mails are coming from confused people -- a protest that Moqtada was responsible for would not have slogans against Moqtada.  

It's a media failure because the US media largely ignored The October Revolution and only covers protests if Moqtada's involved.  But after a year or two, if you're still weighing in and getting wrong, I think you have to take some responsibility and not pin it all on the media.  Exactly how many times are you going to trust the US media on the topic of Iraq considering their well known history of lying the country into war?  Or are we still pretending it was all just Judith Miller?

Let's close with this from Margaret Kimberley's latest at BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

You know me, and I know you.”

Those words were spoken by president Joe Biden at the recent Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference. No doubt he was purposefully evoking Congressman James Clyburn’s 2020 endorsement. Clyburn famously said , “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.” The identity of the other party in the first person plural was never stated, but was widely assumed to mean Black people. The oligarchs of the democratic party had chosen Biden and that meant Clyburn went along as well. He is not the king maker he is made out to be. Of course the importance of his endorsement extended beyond the South Carolina primary and was considered to be a stamp of approval for all of Black America.

The CBC hasn’t improved any since that time. The annual conference host is the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which this year secured a sponsorship from Amazon, the corporation whose warehouse workers suffer injuries at double the rates of counterparts at other companies. Amazon’s low pay and working conditions churn out low income workers so rapidly that in many places their warehouses have run out of people to hire. The behemoth corporation fought tooth and nail against a successful Black led unionizing drive at one of their warehouses in New York.

As always the CBC conference was sponsored by corporate giants such as Amazon, Coca Cola, Pepsico, Delta airlines, Bank of America, fossil fuel corporations Dominion Energy, BP, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, and big pharma corporations such as Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Ferring, and Bristol Meyers Squibb. It is no coincidence that Congressman Clyburn receives more campaign money from big pharma than any other member of the House of Representatives. As the House Whip he is unlikely to allow any legislation that his funders would not want to see realized.

Biden acted like the good white boss in his appearance, telling jokes about attending Howard University, bragging about appointing Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, “With the CBC, we invested an historic $5.8 billion dollars — that’s “B” with a — “B” — billion dollars…” He even told a story about the Voting Rights Act being passed when neither he nor CBC members seemed to be concerned about protecting it after SCOTUS made its most important provisions null and void. Biden bragged about Medicare negotiating drug prices but left out the fact that this won’t happen until 2026 and will apply to only ten drugs. Kingmaker Clyburn surely played a role in securing that outcome.

The Black political class is doing what it always does, serving as a prominent buffer class, and giving a pass to the democratic party. That is their most important function, not fighting for their constituents, but keeping their constituents in line by propping up Obama or Biden or any other democratic president while mouthing fake condemnation when republicans are in office.

If Biden is the good white boss who can tell jokes and get reliable laughs in return, he won’t be taken to task for giving Ukraine and the military industrial complex $80 billion. He won’t be asked about the failure of Build Back Better or why the majority Black city of Jackson, Mississippi has a failing infrastructure that doesn’t provide clean water.

The following sites updated: