Thursday, January 31, 2008

Five Years Too Many: anti-war actions

I just received this e-mail from NYC-United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)

Dear Friends,

In conjunction with the national call for activities to mark the 5th anniversary of the war, NYC-UFPJ is planning a week of activity beginning with Winter Soldier events March 13-16 and culminating with RIVER TO RIVER: STAND UP FOR PEACE on Saturday, March 22.

On Saturday, March 22, we are calling New Yorkers to join us to form a human chain along 14th Street from Avenue A to 11th Avenue. We will gather all along 14th Street at noon and STAND UP FOR PEACE until 1:00 p.m. Then both ends will march towards each other to converge in Union Square for a short rally (permit pending).

Bring your friends, your children, your neighbors, your signs and banners.

The occupation of Iraq has taken an enormous toll on US servicepeople and their families and on the Iraqi people. And as we all know, it has also taken a huge toll on our communities. Imagine what the $490 billion already spent ($16 billion of that from New York City alone) could buy in affordable housing, services for seniors and people with HIV, resources for our schools, college scholarships and job training programs! We want to highlight these local costs of war with our signs and our leaflets to urge New Yorkers to take an active stand against this war!

In the next couple of weeks, there will be fliers to download and stickers that can be picked up at the UFPJ office so that we can all work together to spread the word!

On Wed. March 19, we are also calling for actions in neighborhoods and congressional districts all over the city. This is a time for all of us to become organizers, to reach out to those people who we know are against the war, but who have not yet joined us on the street. Gather together 10 or 20 of your neighbors for a candlelight vigil, a street phone-a-thon to Congress, a meeting with your congressperson or a roving sidewalk funeral procession. The Granny Peace Brigade will be at the Times Square Recruiting Station knitting sock coverings for veterans who have lost limbs. Westside Peace Action will join with others in a walk from W. 86th St to Columbus Circle. Add your event to the growing list of actions around the country! Be sure to post your event at so that others can join you and we can help to publicize it!

5 years of death and destruction cannot continue! Let's join together to bring it to an end!

Leslie Kielson
NYC-UFPJ Coordinator

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

By By Rudy

Well! All New Yorkers, as clearly many other Americans, wish Rudy well as he resumes his regular job as America's mayor.

The most interesting thing about the Guiliani campaign, I heard last night on MSNBC, is that wherever he actually appeared his poll numbers went down. In other words, it took most Americans alot less time to catch on to him than it took sophisticated New Yorkers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SAG Award winners

Ruby Dee Accepts Award
The 2008 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) winners
(The SAG Awards were presented on Sunday, Jan 27, 2008)

(Winners are highlighted in bold)


Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

3:10 TO YUMA

Male Actor in a Leading Role:

GEORGE CLOONEY / as Michael Clayton – “Michael Clayton”
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / as Daniel Plainview – “There Will Be Blood”
RYAN GOSLING / as Lars Lindstrom – “Lars And The Real Girl”
EMILE HIRSCH / as Christopher McCandless – “Into The Wild”
VIGGO MORTENSEN / as Nikolai – “Eastern Promises”

Female Actor in a Leading Role:

CATE BLANCHETT / as Queen Elizabeth I – “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
JULIE CHRISTIE / as Fiona – “Away From Her”
MARION COTILLARD / as Edith Piaf – “La Vie En Rose”
ANGELINA JOLIE / as Mariane Pearl – “A Mighty Heart”
ELLEN PAGE / as Juno MacGuff – “Juno”

Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

CASEY AFFLECK / as Robert Ford – “The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford”
JAVIER BARDEM / as Anton Chigurh – “No Country For Old Men”
HAL HOLBROOK / as Ron Franz – “Into The Wild”
TOMMY LEE JONES / as Ed Tom Bell – “No Country For Old Men”
TOM WILKINSON / as Arthur Edens – “Michael Clayton”

Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

CATE BLANCHETT / as Jude – “I’m Not There”
RUBY DEE / as Mama Lucas – “American Gangster”
CATHERINE KEENER / as Jan Burres – “Into The Wild”
AMY RYAN / ass Helene McCready – “Gone Baby Gone”
TILDA SWINTON / as Karen Crowder – “Michael Clayton”


Ensemble in a Drama Series:


Male Actor in a Drama Series:

JAMES GANDOLFINI / as Tony Soprano – “The Sopranos”
MICHAEL C. HALL / as Dexter Morgan – “Dexter”
JON HAMM / as Don Draper – “Mad Men”
HUGH LAURIE / as Dr. Gregory House – “House”
JAMES SPADER / as Alan Shore – “Boston Legal”

Female Actor in a Drama Series:

GLENN CLOSE / as Patty Hewes – “Damages”
EDIE FALCO / as Carmela Soprano – “The Sopranos”
SALLY FIELD / as Nora Walker – “Brothers & Sisters”
HOLLY HUNTER / as Grace Hanadarko – “Saving Grace”
KYRA SEDGWICK / as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson – “The Closer”

Ensemble in a Comedy Series:


Male Actor in a Comedy Series:

ALEC BALDWIN / as Jack Donaghy – “30 Rock”
STEVE CARELL / as Michael Scott – “The Office”
RICKY GERVAIS / as Andy Millman – “Extras”
JEREMY PIVEN / as Ari Gold – “Entourage”
TONY SHALHOUB / as Adrian Monk – “Monk”

Female Actor in a Comedy Series:

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE / as Samantha Newly – “Samantha Who?”
AMERICA FERRERA / as Betty Suarez – “Ugly Betty”
TINA FEY / as Liz Lemon – “30 Rock”
MARY-LOUISE PARKER / as Nancy Botwin – “Weeds”
VANESSA WILLIAMS / as Wilhelmina Slater – “Ugly Betty”

Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries:

MICHAEL KEATON / as James Jesus Angleton – “The Company
KEVIN KLINE / as Jacques – “As You Like It”
OLIVER PLATT / as George Steinbrenner – “The Bronx is Burning”
SAM SHEPARD / as Frank Whiteley – “Ruffian”
JOHN TURTURRO / Billy Martin – “The Bronx is Burning”

Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries:

ELLEN BURSTYN / as Posey Benetto – “Mitch Albom’s For One More Day”
DEBRA MESSING / as Molly Kagan – “The Starter Wife”
ANNA PAQUIN / as Elaine Goodale – “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”
QUEEN LATIFAH / as Ana – “Life Support“
VANESSA REDGRAVE / as Woman – “The Fever”
GENA ROWLANDS / as Melissa Eisenbloom – “What If God Were the Sun?"

Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture:


Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series:


Life Achievement Award: Charles Durning.

Wolfowitz: A bad penny keeps turning up

Here's an e-mail I just got from Andrew:

Paul Wolfowitz is back in the government?!?!?!?!?!?
In arms control? GAH, is there a worse spot for one of the most evil men in the world? With his finger on the button?

peace and love

February 8,: BOOK PARTY / FORUM: Urbane Revolutionary: C.L.R. James & the Struggle for a New Society

Friday, February 8, 7:30 pm


Urbane Revolutionary:
C.L.R. James & the Struggle for a New Society

Frank Rosengarten

The Brecht Forum
451 West Street

In his presentation of his new book, Urbane Revolutionary: C.L.R. James and the Struggle for a New Society, Frank Rosengarten will look at six controversial questions in James's life and work.

Feb. 7: F ilm: NO! The Rape Documentary

Thursday, February 7, 7:30 pm


The Rape Documentary

Discussion with Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons

The Brecht Forum
451 West Street

Sliding scale $6/$10/$15
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

This feature length documentary explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the through intimate first person testimonies from Black women victim-survivors, commentaries from acclaimed African-American scholars and community leaders, archival footage, spirited music, transformational dance, and performance poetry.

Produced and directed by incest and rape survivor Aishah Shahidah Simmons over a period of 11 years, seven of which were full time, NO! is a Black feminist educational organizing tool, which is being used in the global movement to end violence against women and children. Winner of an audience choice award and a juried award at the San Diego Women Film Festival, NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia.

(Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning African-American feminist lesbian independent documentary filmmaker, television and radio producer, published writer, international lecturer, and activist based in Philadelphia, PA.)

Class: Red Threads in the 20th Century

Tuesday, February 05, 7:30 pm

Red Threads in the 20th Century
Mapping the Organized Left & Its Political Impact in the U.S.

6-Session class begins

The Brecht Forum
451 West Street

The social rupture of 1968 grew out of—and, at the same time, subverted—the legacy of earlier left political movements. After more than a decade of suppression, the U.S. left reemerged in both new and old forms. Their influence on 20th century social movements–and society as a whole--was much greater than their membership numbers or bases of sympathizers.

This series of discussions will explore the thinking and experiences of some of the main revolutionary and left-reformist parties and trends, from the decades pre-World War I to post-Soviet.

Ethan Young is a writer/editor with a sordid background of radical activism beginning in high school in the 60s. He has since moved to the left.

Feb. 1: Discussion: Columbia, Harlem & the World

Friday, February 01, 7:30 pm

Columbia University, Harlem & the World

Kazembe Balagun, Thulani Davis, Bryan Mercer, Mark Rudd & Others TBA

The Brecht Forum
451 West Street
Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

During the world-wide revolutionary upsurges of 1968, Columbia University was the site of a series of important and interconnected struggles. As the protest movements against the seemingly endless war in Vietnam continued to escalate in size and militancy, Columbia students and community members were simultaneously organizing against the Universities plans to expand into Harlem, displacing thousands of mostly black residents. These campaigns, targeting both the war at home and abroad, led to several interesting alliances and coalitions both on and off campus.

[Having been at Columbia in 1968, I have always believed that if it hadn't been for the coalition between Black and white students at Columbia College the university would have acted quite differently - the police would have been called in much sooner and the rebellion would not have had the chance to build on campus.- Dan]

40 years later the world has changed dramatically, yet we still find ourselves fighting many of these same struggles. Another endless war, a new series of proposed expansions by Columbia, a new generation of activists and organizers who are pushing back on neo-liberalism and empire.

An intergenerational dialogue between former and current student organizers who, drawing on a rich history and the current political context, discuss strategies for moving forward.

Jan. 31: Film Showing: FATIMA

Thursday, January 31, 7:30 pm



The Brecht Forum
451 West Street

Discussion with Writer-Director Ricardo Lobo
(87 min | Arabic with English Subtitles)

Sliding scale:: $6/$10/$15
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

Fatima is a unique dramatic film shot in Baghdad amidst the war, featuring an all-Iraqi cast with a Palestinian lead actress. A beautiful young woman returns to Baghdad from abroad after the fall of Saddam Hussein to confront a harsh reality and shattered dreams.

Fatima is a psychological film that tackles the devastating effects of war on civilians, families and women. Shot on location, the film captures the raw reality and strong emotions that unfold in situations where violence prevails and the social and moral fabric deteriorates.

Set against this gloomy background, Fatima is a life-affirming film that highlights the importance of maintaining ethical standards in chaos. It is a film about love, choice and fate.

Ricardo Lobo is an independent filmmaker who has made over 30 films worldwide.
His website is lobodocs.comrecht

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Quote of the day

It is hardly surprising that in a period when the greatest weapon of the right wing is fear of "A conspiracy so immense " Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy would again become its hero. It seems that a right-wing "journalist" has published a book (Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies) that is according to David Oshinsky, "a full-throated defense of the senator." Oshinsky himself has a dog in this fight as the author of the best critique of the senator, A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy. What's at stake in this rather esoteric attempted rehabilitation of the hated senator, is that maybe even Cheney, Bush and Rove and their groupies can be similarly rehabilitated. But in this case this is a long-winded intro to the quote of the day from Oshinsky's piece in the New York Times Book Review:
To be labeled a McCarthyite is akin to being called a liar or a fraud. His loudest current admirer is Ann Coulter, a fact I suspect, that even the senator would have found unsettling.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Contact Rep. Nadler re impeachment

I have both signed a letter and sent the following e-mail to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who seems to be standing in the way of initiating impeachment proceedings against the current occupants of the White House,

Regarding: impeachment

I understand you are blocking serious Congressional consideration of impeachment. It seems to me that the only way we (the U.S.) can regain the world's respect is to place the current occupant of the White House and his assistant devil for high crimes and misdemeanor- ors. What is more impeachable than lying to the American people in order to engage in an immoral and illegal war. This president (and his cohorts) in the Middle East is clearly like a bull in a China shop. Invading a sovereign country to get control of its resources and for domestic political purposes seems to me like what the founding fathers were talking about. It is your constitutional responsibility to at least seriously pursue the question.

It would be a good thing if you sign the letter as well.

And the nominees are...

Ellen Page in Juno

And the nominees are...

Best Picture

"Michael Clayton"
"No Country For Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie, "Away from Her"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney, "The Savages"
Ellen Page, "Juno"

Best Actor

George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises"

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Saorise Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actor

Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton"

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Best Original Screenplay

Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille"
Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"
Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"

Best Adapted Screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"
Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Sarah Polley, "Away from Her"

Best Foreign Language Film

The Counterfeiters"

Best Animated Feature

"Surf's Up"

Best Documentary Feature

"No End in Sight"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
"Taxi to the Dark Side"

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Roger Deakins, "No Country for Old Men"
Robert Elswit, "There Will Be Blood"
Janusz Kaminski, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Seamus McGarvey, "Atonement"

Best Editing

Jay Cassidy, "Into the Wild"
Roderick Jaynes, "No Country for Old Men"
Christopher Rouse, "The Bourne Ultimatum"
Dylan Tichenor, "There Will Be Blood"
Juliette Welfling, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Best Art Direction

"American Gangster"
"The Golden Compass"
"Sweeney Todd"
"There Will Be Blood"

Best Original Score

Marco Beltrami, "3:10 to Yuma"
Michael Giacchino, "Ratatouille"
James Newton Howard, "Michael Clayton"
Alberto Iglesias, "The Kite Runner"
Dario Marianelli, "Atonement"

Best Original Song

"Falling Slowly," from "Once"
"Happy Working Song," from "Enchanted"
"Raise It Up," from "August Rush"
"So Close," from "Enchanted"
"That's How You Know," from "Enchanted"

Best Costume Design

"Across the Universe"
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
"La Vie en Rose"
"Sweeney Todd"

Best Makeup

"La Vie en Rose"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

Best Sound Editing

"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Best Sound Mixing

"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"No Country for Old Men"
"3:10 to Yuma"

Best Visual Effects

"The Golden Compass"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

Best Live-Action Short Film

"At Night"
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)"
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)"
"Tanghi Argentini"
"The Tonto Woman"

Best Animated Short Film

"I Met the Walrus"
"Madame Tutli-Putli"
"Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)"
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)"
"Peter & the Wolf"

Best Documentary Short Subject

"La Corona (The Crown)"
"Salim Baba"
"Sari's Mother"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roe v. Wade at 35: Biology is no longer destiny

Blog for Choice Day On this 35 anniversary of Roe v. Wade it behooves us to recognize why the right to choose, the right to control one's own body was (and still is) so important and must be defended. It has cynically been used by right-wing demagogues to organize support for their agenda. It is an inherently anti-liberation agenda.

The religious right, which is at the core of the anti-choice movement, is at the same time it opposes a woman's right to control her own body also opposed to many of the basic ways we might actually reduce abortions.

The most important argument for choice was made 29 years ago by the late Ellen Willis in the Village Voice (March and April 1979). In this article Willis wrote
the only way to drastically reduce the number of abortions is to invent safer, more reliable contraceptives, ensure universal access to all birth control methods, eliminate sexual ignorance and guilt, and change the social and economic conditions that make motherhood a trap.
Those who oppose choice also oppose most, if not all, of these innovations. Don't ever forget the Catholic Church which has been in the forefront of this movement is also against gender equality, contraception and sympathetic sex education. Essentially the anti-choice movement is also an anti-female sexuality movement. Most people who are opposed to choice believe that the only way women can avoid the possibility of unwanted pregnancy is abstention. In other words, sex is OK for men, but not for women. That's biology, sorry.

Willis again:
When all the cant about "responsibility" is stripped away, what the right-to-life position comes down to is, if the effect of prohibiting abortion is to keep women slaves to their biology, so be it.
It should be obvious to even the most neanderthal-like anti-choice proponents that gender equality is impossible without a woman's right to control her own body.

There is one other thing that needs to be said. After the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, too many of us sat back and assumed that it was set in concrete forever. Unfortunately the right-wing opponents of choice did not sit back, they fought back. And after almost eight years of extreme right wing power, it looks like the battle has to be fought again. Lets make today, the 35th anniversary of Roe, a clarion moment in the battle for women's rights.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Razzie noms announced on eve of Oscar noms

On the eve of the Oscar nominations announcement (actually later this morning), the Razzies (years worst) noms are out. The winners (losers) will be announced Feb. 23 on the eve of the Oscars.

Worst Picture
Daddy Day Camp
I Know Who Killed Me
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Worst Actor
Nicholas Cage -- Ghost Rider, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Next
Jim Carrey -- The Number 23
Cuba Gooding, Jr. -- Daddy Day Camp and Norbit
Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) -- Norbit
Adam Sandler -- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Worst Actress
Jessica Alba -- Awake, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Good Luck Chuck
Logan Browning, Janel Parrish, Nathalia Ramos, and Skyler Shaye -- Bratz
Elisha Cuthbert -- Captivity
Diane Keaton -- Because I Said So
Lindsay Lohan (as Aubrey) -- I Know Who Killed Me
Lindsay Lohan (as Dakota) -- I Know Who Killed Me

Worst Supporting Actor
Orlando Bloom -- Pirates of the Carob-bean: At Wit's End -- aka Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Kevin James -- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong) -- Norbit
Rob Schneider -- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Jon Voight -- Bratz, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, September Dawn, and Transformers

Worst Supporting Actress
Jessica Biel -- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Next
Carmen Electra -- Epic Movie
Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia) -- Norbit
Julia Ormond -- I Know Who Killed Me
Nicolette Sheridan -- Code Name: The Cleaner

Worst Screen Couple
Jessica Alba & Either: Hayden Christiansen (Awake), Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck), or Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
Any Combination of Two Totally Air-Headed Characters -- Bratz
Lindsay Lohan & Lindsay Lohan -- I Know Who Killed Me
Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) & Either: Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong) or Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia) -- Norbit
Adam Sandler & Either: Kevin James or Jessica Biel -- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Worst Remake or Rip-Off
Are We Done Yet? -- Remake/Rip-Off of Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House
Bratz -- "A rip-off if ever there was one!"
Epic Movie -- "Of every movie it rips off."
I Know Who Killed Me -- Rip-Off of Hostel, Saw, and The Patty Duke Show
Who's Your Caddy -- Rip-Off of Caddyshack

Worst Prequel or Sequel
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Daddy Day Camp
Evan Almighty
Hannibal Rising
Hostel: Part II

Worst Director
Dennis Dugan -- I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Roland Joffe -- Captivity
Brian Robbins -- Norbit
Fred Savage -- Daddy Day Camp
Chris Siverston -- I Know Who Killed Me

Worst Screenplay
Daddy Day Camp -- Geoff Rodkey, David J. Stem, and David N. Weiss
Epic Movie -- Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
I Know Who Killed Me -- Jeffrey Hammond
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry -- Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor
Norbit -- Eddie Murphy, Charles Murphy, Jay Sherick, and David Ronn

Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie -- New Category
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Hannibal Rising
Hostel: Part II
I Know Who Killed Me

The media and the "writers Strike"

There are many reasons for the anti-union perspective of the corporate-owned media in relation to the strike involving the film producers and TV networks (AMPTP) and the writers (WGA). The TV networks' news programs are obviously covering the same strike that directly effects their bosses in lother areas. And they have never been known for placing journalistic ethics above corporate profits.

But I think, the print media has its own issues with the strike, namely the Newspaper Guild. If they look too favorably on the movie and TV writers' action they may be faced with one of their own.

But let's be fair. In the excellent State of the Unions Philip M. Dine has argued that one of the problems that labor has is its difficulty with communication with the press. And it's clear that the networks and movie studios have much better public relations.

Two recent print pieces demonstrate this problem. They both heavily favor the producers and networks.

The New York Times article by Jacques Steinberg deals with how come the soaps can keep producing new shows and avoid reruns. The answer is, of course, quite simple. As in most strikes executives and other staff people are forced to pitch in. And there is a "guild designation known as "financial Core" or financial need," which allows Guild writers to go back to work. But it's odd that after an interview with someone who criticizes two All My Children writers who invoked the clause, we find out the two writers being criticized replaced the woman making the criticism when she was fired. Why bother to include such questionable material except to make the union look bad. But at least Steinberg eventually includes the pertinent information.

That's more than we can say for the New York Post's Adam Buckman's Sunday anti-union diatribe "TV writers have already lost the battle." Buckman's distortion of the strike reality is clearly evident in statements like:
Maybe the writers don't care what others think of them, but they have to be the least popular people in Hollywood right now. Among those who must be sick of them as the strike drags on into its third month: Hundreds of stranded non-writing co-workers...; and the public....
The striking writers didn't kill TV; they only succeeded in making a lot of people - those who watch TV and those who work in it - hate them.
According to Buckman's reporting this must be the first strikes in history with only one contending force. There is, of course, no mention of the fact that the AMPTP walked out of negotiations six weeks ago.

Buckman's column reads like a producer/networks' press release. Why is no counter information coming from the WGA.

The most serious violation of journalistic ethics is Buckman's failure to mention That the owners of the paper that publishes his column - the New York Post - also owns the Fox TV network against which the "hated" writers are on strike. Do I hear conflict of interest?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Go Giants

Eli Manning

Go Giants

Who would have believed that Eli would be the Manning brother to go to the Ssuper Bowl

Whatever happens Feb. 3 --- GO GIANTS --- they are giving us one more game (and what a game) to root for them.

My apologies to Eli for saying the Giants would never win a championship with him as quarterback. They did last night. And they're gonna win a bigger one Feb. 3. Remember! You heard it here first.

go Blue

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The New York Times and Mr. Kristol

I certainly wouldn't hazard a guess as to why the powers that be at the New York Times chose this moment in U.S. history (on the cusp of the most important election in years) to hire an extreme right-wing ideolog to write a bi-weekly column. Well maybe I would but for the moment I would rather take them at their word.

Ernest Partridge quotes Op-Ed page Editor Andrew Rosenthal's explanation of why they hired William Kristol:
Mr. Kristol ... is a columnist and magazine editor, with views that clearly bother you. I disagree with many of his views, as well as many of the other views expressed on our Op-Ed page. It is not my job to print only those with whom I agree. It is my job to give readers [as] broad a spectrum of views to read as we can manage.
So Mr. Rosenthal opens up the question of how we can broaden the spectrum of views the New York Times can manage. Let's start a canpaign to persuade the paper of record to hire a columnist who would balance Kristol. Well perhaps there is no one not institutionalized who can actually balance Kristol but right off the top of my head I can suggest several very good journalists who would broaden the political spectrum of views available to Times readers (that would be "fit to print"). How about Democracy Now's Amy Goodman? Or perhaps Air America's Rachel Maddow (who often appears on Countdown with Keith Olbermann)? Other possibilities are Media Beat author Norman Solomon or independen journalist Greg Palast. I haven't spoken to any of these people and have no idea if they would even be interested in a Times' column. But they only scratch the surface of "broadening the Times spectrum of views" unless Mr. Rosenthal doesn't really mean it and "broadening the spectrum" is just an excuse to extend the Times spectrum as far to the right as is humanly possible.

But the problem with Kristol isn't that he is on the extreme right, but that he was one of the key neo-con artists who constructed the ideological justification for the Bush Doctrine. Now he is using the column to attack all critics of Bush foreign policy and justify the fantasies of the neo-con led Bush foreign policy. So what does Kristol actually say about our occupation of Iraq and his sworn enemy the Democratic Party.
Obama has been pretty consistent in his opposition to the war. But Bill Clinton is right [I can just feel the pain in Kristol's face as he wrote out those four words]...:Obama's view of the current situation in Iraq is out of touch with reality. In this, however, Obama is at one with Hillary Clinton and the entire leadership of the Democratic Party.
Would that that were true. If it was, I would register as a Democrat tommorow.

What is Kristol's version of reality with which Obama is "out of touch?" The Democrats refuse
to admit real success because that success has been achieved under the leadership of...George W. Bush.
But what is this success the Democrats won't admit?
The Democrats were wrong in their assessments of the surge. Attacks per week on American troops are now down about 60 percent from June. Civilian deaths are down approximately 75 percent from a year ago. December 2007 saw the second lowest number of U.S. troops killed in action since March 2003.
So we've gone from "Mission Accomplished" to measuring "real success" in Iraq in terms of less of our troops being killed.

Kristol has one more piece of evidence for Bush success:
...Now Iraq's Parliament has passed a de-Baathification law - one of the so-called benchmarks Congress established for political reconciliation. For much of 2007, Democrats were able to deprecate the military progress and political reconciliation taking place on the ground [less U.S. forces being killed] by harping on the failure of the Iraqui government to pass the benchmark legislation. They are being deprived of even that talking point.
Kristol's desperate rush to judgement of the Democrats is unfortunately undermined by the Times "harping on the failure of the Iraqi government to pass the benchmark legislation" in the very same issue in which Kristol's column appeared. Here's Solomon Moore's analysis:
...the legislation is at once confusing and controversial, a document riddled with loopholes and caveats to the point that some Sunni and Shiite officials say it could actually exclude more former Baaathists than it lets back in, particularly in the crucial security ministries.
I don't think this is actually what Congress had in mind. It's not that Kristol could have seen this article when he wrote his column, but it demonstrates his premature self-justification and rush to attack his enemies.

It would seem to me that New York Times' readers deserve better than William Kristol's self-serving screed, but, if Rosenthal really wants to broaden the spectrum of views available on the op-ed page, there are many excellent ant real journalists avilable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The New York Times and the Hollywood work stopage

The media coverage of the struggle between the Hollywood producers and TV honchos (AMPTP) and the screen and TV writers (WGA) continues to raise serious questions about journalistic ethics. Most of the coverage, of course, deals with the lack of the usual elaborate TV coverage of the award shows. Take, for example, David Carr's ("The Carpetbagger") article in yesterday's New York Times. For example with regard to the likelihood of an Oscar show, he quotes one of his producer sources, Walter F. Parkes, as follows:
If there is a quick settlement with the directors' guild and if it is looked upon by the writer's guild as a framework for negotiations, and it brings them back to the table, there might be an Oscar telecast.
This is the last point made in the article. Carr never questions its accuracy despite the fact that the producers and network executives walked away from the table not the writers. But to acknowledge that would challenge the basic point of view of his article, which is that of the producers and network executives.

At an earlier point in the article Carr writes:
No one...last night... [after the Globes' non-show] wanted to be spotted jackknifing in glee with a Champagne glass in hand at a time when the town is tearing itself in half because of a writers' strike that has idled most television production, threatened future movie shoots, put thousands of people out of work....
So if you are interested in who is responsible for "the town...tearing itself in half" and "put thousands of people out of work" its obviously the writers, who are on strike.

This despite the fact as Michael Winship, president of the Writers guild, East, reminded us on Democracy Now that it was the
the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, against whom we’re still on strike...who have refused to come back to the bargaining table.
Unfortunately this view from the perspective of one side of this dispute is not unique to Carr and the Times. It has been characteristic of almost all the corporate-owned media. I'll bet that if asked when Carr was researching the article the president of the Writers Guild, west would have been happy to talk to him. But I guess Carr and his editors just weren't interested.

The other thought I had about all this is how we've reached the point where if TV doesn't cover these awards with all the stars and the red-carpet brouhaha they don't really happen. That may be the unkindest cut of all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jan 17: Brecht Forum: Beneath the Froth of the Democratic Race

Primary Colors

Thursday, January 17, 7:00 pm


Beneath the Froth of the Democratic Race

Kat Aaron, Jean Carey Bond, Laura Flanders & Others TBA

451 West Street (Between Bank & Bethune)

(212) 242- 4201

Hillary can only win if she cries. Barack can only talk race if he doesn’t mention it by name. “Change” is the watchword of the day but no one can say what they’ll do that’s different. So how do those on the left relate to the carnival of the Democratic presidential primaries? Is it all just bread and circuses to sell more newspapers and distract from the real issues at hand? Or are there hidden meanings on the campaign trail that we need to unpack and debate? In the first of a new series of rapid response discussions, where the best critical commentators in town take on a hot button issue of the day, the Brecht Forum’s Third Thursday looks at Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond to ask “What’s any of this got to do with us?” Come along and join the conversation.Starting in 2008, join us on the Third Thursday of each month to dig beneath the headlines and late breaking news. We'll have analysts on hand to help guide a lively discussion. Check back for updates on topics and speakers.

Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Golden Globes

So, strike or no strike, it's begun. Actually I like it better this way, without all the brouhaha - just a simple announcement. Who won. The award season has begun. A neat break from the incessant presidential primaries.

Last night, the Golden Globes. For better or worse. TV and films. Drama and music and comedy. So here they are. I'll reserve comment until we get closer to the Oscars.


Best Picture Drama: Atonement
Best Picture Musical/Comedy: Sweeny Todd

Best Actress Drama: Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Best Actress Musical/Comedy: Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose)

Best actor Drama: Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Best actor Musical/Comedy: Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd)

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There)
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)

Best Foreign Language Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Animated Feature Film: Ratatouille

Best Director: Julian Schnable (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Best Screenplay: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)

Best original score: Atonement
Best original song: "Guaranteed" (Into the Wild)


Best Drama: Mad Men
Best Musical/Comedy: Extras
Best Mini-Series: Longford

Best Actress Drama: Glenn Close (Damages)
Best Actress Musical/Comedy: Tina Fay (30 Rock)

Best Actor Drama: Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Best Actor Musical/Comedy: David Duchovny (Californication)

Best Actress in a Mini-series or Motion Picture: Queen Latifa (Life Support)
Best Actor in a Mini-series or Motion Picture: Jim Brodbent (Longford)

Best Supporting Actress: Samantha Morton (Longford)
Best Supporting Actor: Jeremy Piven (Entourage)

Jan 18: Film: "AMANDLA: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony"

"AMANDLA: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony"

Friday, Jan. 18, 7pm
2295 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (at 135th St.)
2/3 or C/B to 135th street
$7 donation suggested

Amandla! (2002) is one of the first documentaries about the fight against apartheid in South Africa. More importantly, it tells the story in a way that is inspirational, funny, factual and humanizes the struggle.
The film was the most decorated film at Sundance 2002, where it won the Audience Award for Documentaries and the Freedom of Expression Award.

Get involved! Contact 212-694-8720 or

Friday, January 11, 2008

Media bias in writers-producers battle

The way in which the media has been covering the struggle between the Writers Guild (WGA) and the movie and TV producers (AMPTP) is very revealing of the biases of the corporate-owned media, particularly the way in which they have covered the threat posed to the award shows. For example, Variety's most recent headline:
"Globes is latest victim of WGA Strike; Ceremony collapses under weight of walkout."

Why "victim of WGA Strike?" Why not "victim of greedy, stonewalling producers?"

First of all it was the AMPTP that walked out of the negotiations on Dec. 7. So if anyone is responsible for the current problems, it is the producers not the writers.

But even at a more basic level no labor-management struggle is ever the result of the actions of only one side. No labor union has ever gone on strike unless provoked by management. The process is very simple: the current contract expires, the union makes a proposal, management accepts it or rejects it or they negotiate. In this case the WGA put a proposal on the table, the producers, instead of negotiating, walked out because they misjudged the union's strength and commitment. So we are at a standstill in negotiations - nothing is happening and the award shows (and the TV series) are falling like dominos. All it would take to get things moving again would be for the producers and networks to get back to the bargaining table. But you would never get this from the fundamentally dishonest media coverage.

Or try this Variety headline: "WGA strike means pay cuts at ICM." So anyone at ICM, whose pay is cut (or job is eliminated) knows who to blame. Why not?: "Stonewalling producers mean pay cuts at ICM"

For a breath of fresh air on the strike coverage check out Roger Wolfson on the Huffington Post and Michael Winship, President of the WGA-East on Friday's Democracy Now

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writers Guild nominates years best

As the film award season hits high gear here's my attempt to keep track of what's happening. This is an attempt to compensate for the absence of award shows on TV due to the producers and network excutives stonewalling the writers.
Here are the writers' nominees for year's best. Winners will be announced Feb. 9 in L.A. and New York.
But according to Variety the "WGA has called off the Feb. 9 awards show in Los Angeles — unless it has ended its strike by then." "the guild said it would announce its awards as planned but added, 'There will be no Writers Guild of America West show until the strike is over.'”

Original Screenplay:
Juno, Diablo Cody
Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy
The Savages, Tamara Jenkins
Knocked Up, Judd Apatow
Lars and the Real Girl, Nancy Oliver

Adapted Screenplay:
No Country for Old Men, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.
There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the novel Oil by Upton Sinclair
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ronald Harwood, based on the memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
Into the Wild, Sean Penn, based on the book by Jon Krakauer.
Zodiac, James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith.

Michael Moore's Sicko is among the nomines for Best Documentary Screenplay.

Also nominated were
Anthony Giacchino for The Camden 28,
Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman and Elisabeth Bentley for Nanking,
Charles Ferguson for No End in Sight,
Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham and Bonni Cohen for The Rape of Europa, and
Alex Gibney for Taxi to the Dark Side.

Rudy feeds on tit of disaster

Today Rudy Guiliani's (who thinks he's already been elected president) announced the creation of a disaster and terrorism advisory committee:

The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee today announced the Catastrophe Advisory Committee. This group will advise Mayor Giuliani on the needs of local communities in preparing for and responding to hurricanes and other natural disasters, in addition to the creation of a National Catastrophic Fund.

Joe M. Allbaugh, former Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will serve as the National Chair of the committee.

It seems clear that Guiliani believes in the twin pillars of the Cheney-Bush administration: fear and enriching one's friends. Scare them to death so that they won't notice you're feeding at the public trough. Perhaps you don't remember the name Joe Allbaugh. Here's Sam Stein on The Huffington Post:

to the disastrous reign of Michael Brown. In fact, he was the man who made Brown the Number 2 official at the agency. During Katrina, as the country suffered through the most botched disaster response in its history, Allbaugh was on the ground in the Gulf region -- not to help in reconstruction, but to get lucrative business contracts for corporate clients. His companies included Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), the subsidiary of Halliburton; TruePosition, a manufacturer of wireless products, services and devices, and the Shaw Group, a provider of engineering, design and construction services. Another Allbaugh client, Service Corporation International received a mega-contract through FEMA (through a subsidiary) to help with the recovery and relocation of Katrina victims.

And this is the same Rudy Guiliani who claims Bernie Kerik was an aberration in his appointment history.

One might have assumed that a presidential contender might want to run on the promise of hope and change but it seems that for some reason the right-wing Republican candidates want to wallow in the mire of the Cheney-Bush years.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jan 8: Palestine slide show

Our good friend and comrade Ellen Davidson (with whom I used to work at The Guardian) sent us the following announcement. I strongly urge you to pay attention to anything with which she and Judith Pasternak are involved.

Jan. 8
Last chance in Manhattan to see Palestine slide show

Yes, next week is the last time we'll be presenting our show Pictures of
in Manhattan
(although it looks like we'll be taking it on the
road to Brooklyn soon).

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m.
At the home of Mariliyn Clement
4 West 13th Street, Apt. 2RW

Judith Pasternak and I [Ellen] will do a reportback from our trip to Palestine last
summer, with stories and pictures of the destroyed Palestinian village of
Lifta, the Israeli settler community in Hebron, Syrian Druse resistance to
Israeli occupation, and much more.

If you've already seen the show, perhaps you'd like to recommend it to someone else.

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Jan 11: Shut Down Guantanamo

From Witness Against Torture: A Campaign to Shut Down Guantanamo

Friday, January 11, 2008: The 6 year anniversary of the first prisoners being brought to Guantánamo.

Last year on January 11th, after 500 people proceeded from the Supreme Court to the Federal court, 150 people risked arrest on behalf of the men in Guantanamo, with 88 being arrested inside the Federal Court in DC. Many of those arrested withheld their identification and took the names of men at Guantanamo. It was a very powerful day, made possible by the contributions of many in the extended Catholic Worker family.

This year, we again are working with many groups on a demonstration in Washington, D.C. The day will begin with a rally at the National Mall co-sponsored with Amnesty International and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture followed by a “prisoner procession” to the Supreme Court. Endorsed by Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CodePink, International Federation for Human Rights, Network of Spiritual Progressives, Peace Action, School of the Americas Watch, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International, United for Peace and Justice, War Resisters League, and other groups.

Come to DC or if you're in New York City and can't make it to D.C. there's an alternative:

Jan 11 2008 - 12:30-2:00 pm

Foley Square
Pearl and Centre Sts.

Commemorate six years of boys and men being thrown into Guantánamo Prison

Say, “NO MORE!”:

• to Indefinite Detentions
• to Inhumane & Degrading Treatment
• to Lack of Fair Trials
• to Torture

led by Imam Talib Abdur Rashid — 12:30pm
Interfaith Prayers & Vigil — 1:00-2:00pm
Bring Signs, Slogans, Prayers and Hope

Metro New York Religious Campaign Against Torture
Contact: Father Mark Hallinan, S.J. at 917-853-7137,

For other actions around the U.S. and around the world see