With a crucial midterm election on the way, early voter turnout is breaking all sorts of records here in the US. Multiple sources are reporting that, as of Wednesday Oct. 31st, the early votes had exceeded 24 million. By comparison, the 2014 midterms had approximately 13 million early votes.
According to this NBC News report, it looks as if the early votes are fairly evenly split - 43 percent going Republican and 41 percent going Democrat, which is almost identical to the 2014 numbers. But remember, early voting doesn’t show exactly which candidate has been voted for, only how many voters have cast ballots and what their party affiliation is. So it’s reasonable to assume that if you’ve registered as a Democrat then you’re probably going to vote for the Democratic candidate. But technically we don’t know for sure. Vice versa with Republican early ballots.
Lots of folks seem to be stumping for their political allies. Which is fine. President Trump is on a whirlwind tour of something like 15 states pushing for conservative candidates. Former President Obama is stumping for Dems all over the country. Oprah Winfrey’s pro voting / pro Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) was apparently so good that even Fox News panelists raved about it. I haven’t heard the speech but I’ve read multiple quotes, including this awesome gem:
“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family,” Winfrey said.
Yeah. I agree.
Even Taylor Swift got into the action when, for the first time ever, she used her social media platform urging her fans to register to vote and vote. She spoke out heavily in favor of, and has already cast her early votes for her hometown candidates Phil Bresden (Senate) and Jim Cooper (House), both Democratic candidates. Her fans listened too and she got 65,000 people to register within 24 hours of posting her “go vote” Instagram. If Tennessee miraculously turns blue, Taylor Swift is probably single handedly responsible.
So, just where can you vote early, anyway? Well, all voters have at least one location where you can vote early with an absentee ballot and those locations vary, depending on where you live. You can check out Vote.org’s very own “Find your early vote” calendar here.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th.
Another day, another lunatic. Many sources have reported multiple gunshot fatalities at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. At least 12 people were shot, eight appear to have been killed. Multiple officers were injured while exchanging fire with the shooter, who eventually surrendered.
The shooter, Robert Bowers, was an active poster on “alt-right” sites, especially, Gab. A site I’ve never even heard of. Anyway, his Gab profile was quickly disabled after he was named the shooter. But images captured from his profile before it was deleted show that a few days before the shooting Bowers wrote about the “kike” infestation, “the overwhelming Jew problem” and this about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.” And then he picked up his AR-15 like rifle and attacked a Jewish synagogue during a baby naming ceremony.
Why he chose Tree of Life specifically is so far unclear. You know what’s particularly scary about his attack? He marched right up to the third floor to begin shooting. You know what is usually happening on the third floor of that building on Saturday mornings? Children’s classes.
So, it’s kind of looking like crippling insecure man baby Robert Bowers knew that children were going to be up on the third floor so he went up to massacre them. Thankfully, earlier that morning, all the children’s classes had been canceled (for some reason but presumably, for the baby naming ceremony). Bowers then shot up the synagogue killing several people - here are the names of the victims.
Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the Tree of Life congregation, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and told them that, at any typical Saturday morning there would be approx. 100 - 150 people from multiple congregations holding simultaneous services in the building.
Police believe he acted alone and that there is no further threat to the community and are treating this as a hate crime.
This is a developing story.
Another day, another lunatic. Multiple sources have reported that federal authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc, a Florida man, in connection to sending possible package bombs (or suspicious looking packages) to prominent Democrats / Trump critics including (but not limited to): Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, John Brennan, James Clapper, Cory Booker, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Eric Holder, the offices of CNN and Robert De Niro.
The packages all looked exactly the same. Manila envelopes all with multiple misspellings and the same return address: Debbie Wasserman “Shultz” (also misspelled) the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. A few of them even had “postage due” stamps on them suggesting the package went through the entire mail system before being discovered as “suspicious.”
The folks over at CNN actually opened the package, not knowing what it was and uncovered the bomb. They partially evacuated the building and the bomb squad came and ended up destroying the pipe package bomb (which is standard procedure).
It should be noted that none of the bombs exploded. Which means they may or may not have been working bombs. Which is mind numbingly stupid. I mean, don’t get me wrong - I’m not suggesting to send working bombs through the mail. I’m suggesting that the culprit put together fake bombs to scare and / or make a political point and now, that he’s caught, will be prosecuted as if he sent real bombs.
What a moron. (Editor's note: The FBI now says the bombs were real. It's fortunate that, but unclear why - none of them exploded.)
I’ve already read the conspiracy sites too. They are up in lunatic arms. “False flag attack. Bummer Obama and Killery Clinton are behind it all!” They claim. *sigh*
I don’t need a conspiracy to answer this basic question, “Do you think someone, in this day and age of hyper partisanship, is crazy enough to send pipe bombs to political figures he despises?”
The answer is - yes! I do! Obviously! I mean, it seems to happen a lot. Death threats. Online harassment. Partisan fucking hatred. Gunmen go after republicans. Gunmen go after democrats. Gunmen go after kids. (Note: The Sandy Hook Massacre was NOT a false flag attack!). Gunmen go after folks hanging out in church.
Point being: There are lunatics everywhere. And some of them are violent. When you hear “lunatic man sends pipe bomb to prominent Democrats” your first thought should be, “Another fucking lunatic man terrorizing political figures” and not, “It’s probably a Killary / Obummer false flag plot to stifle conservative voices all told through the fake news narrative of the CIA controlled media.”
No. It’s not.
It’s probably just another lunatic man sending pipe bombs through the mail. That’s probably what it is. And I hope he goes to jail forever.
This is a developing story.
Spooky, spooky, scary, scary!
It’s that time of year again - where pumpkins are carved up, gutted and massacred. Where kids dress up and beg for candy - from strangers! And let’s not forget - Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without at least one news site running a, “Watch out for razor blades in those apples” story. (Hint: You’re more likely to get mauled to death by a goat then you are to get a razor blade in your apple).
And that means there will be an inevitable flood of lists of movies to watch for Halloween! Hell, even I wrote one last year called Underappreciated Horror Films for Halloween. I took the idea that most such lists have all the usual suspects: take your pick of a franchise - Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Paranormal Activity, Scream, Friday the 13th, Saw, Halloween, Hellraiser, [Insert Random Name] of the Dead, etc., etc. Throw in the obligatory mention of The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining, add another Stephen King adaptation for good measure, class it up with some vintage black and white: Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Frankenstein and toss in whatever is currently hip and popular with the cool kids these days, such as -- It Follows and Babadook.
Great! And done!
But, also, kind of boring.
And so I’m back with another list of underappreciated horror films for your Halloween viewing terror! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of movies in the aforementioned list that I adore. But there are a lot of great horror movies that slip under the radar. If you are a true horror film aficionado there probably won't be much here you've not heard of. But for most movie folk this should be a nice list of underappreciated horror films you may dig.
The trailers were meticulously screened to avoid spoilers. No, seriously. I watched multiple trailers for all of these movies and selected ones that were cool but vague and non spoilerific!
Also, I just recognized that this year AND last year - most of my film selections were written by men, and all of them were directed by men. Hmm. I'll make sure future lists have more diversity. So, I'll work on that.
With that being said, some of my new favorite underappreciated films -- presented alphabetically:
Better Watch Out (2016): The movie's tagline says it all: On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it's far from a normal home invasion. So, very true. =) Better Watch Out is a delightfully sinister Christmas horror film! The three young, unknown (to me) actors: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould are all well cast and will probably go on to bigger and better things (a quick IMDB search tells me they have). The film was mildly loved by critics but largely ignored by audiences. I haven’t found a trailer that didn’t ruin some of the film’s surprises so I would ignore them all if I were you.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2016): Often described as a "slow burn of a film," a phrase I typically dislike, because most folks equate that wording with, “Boring, but kind of interesting.” Instead I would describe The Blackcoat’s Daughter as a dark atmospheric exploration of loneliness. With some devil worship. The ending appears to have been largely misunderstood by critics and reviewers alike and without spoiling anything, I will say that any other interpretation other than, “holy fucking evil tragedy,” is wrong. All three of the female actors Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton do fine work but I would say Kiernan Shipka pulls off an extraordinary take on the affected, especially since I always found her younger years as an actor on Mad Men, fairly inconsistent (she played young Sally Draper). Originally released as, “February” the film has been renamed for streaming and DVD. Official HD trailer for the Blackcoat’s Daughter.
Bone Tomahawk (2015): Kurt Russell. Sweet mutton chops. Western. Bloody vengeance. You read that right! Bearing the same badass mutton chops he flaunted in Tarantino's (kind of overrated) Hateful Eight, Russell steals the show as hard as nails Sheriff Franklin Hunt. The over all plot will certainly be familiar to anyone who’s seen a western before, but the tone of the film works well and carries the story to an effective, brutal ending. Nominated for and winner of - multiple indie / horror awards including the Independent Spirit Award, the Saturn Award and the Fangoria Chainsaw Award where Russell won for Best Actor. Official trailer #1 for Bone Tomahawk.
Compliance (2012): Based on the shocking true story, Compliance is a fairly accurate recreation of truly fucked up events that unfolded in the back of a Kentucky McDonald’s. Much like 2011's Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene the film is a non supernatural psychological thriller but, in essence - is a real horror film. There doesn’t have to be a supernatural presence, or a murder, in order for a movie to be down right chilling and horrific and Compliance is both. The premise of the film: A man, claiming to be a police officer, calls a fast-food restaurant and convinces the manager that one of her employees is a suspect and that the manager must strip search the employee. She complies. It gets worse from there. Compliance premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was … controversial to say the least. Audience members walked out because they found the movie too disturbing and then there was some kind of screaming match during the film’s Q&A all about the nature of compliance. Ann Dowd, as the manager in question, was nominated for all sorts of acting awards - winning the National Board of Review. Official trailer for Compliance.
Creep / Creep 2 (2014 / 2017): Writer / actor Mark Duplass, arguably the king of all fucking independent films in the last fifteen years (though he did not invent mumblecore films with The Puffy Chair in 2005 as many have implied, that was Andrew Bujalski with Funny Ha Ha in 2002). Anyway, Duplass pulls off another charming mumblecore-esq role as - the creep? Or is he? Also, this is one of the rare gems where the sequel might be better than the original. Both are found footage films with all the pratfalls that entails but are relatively short at 80ish minutes each and can be watched in one creepy evening. Official Trailer for Creep. And hey now, don’t go watching the Trailer for Creep 2 until you’ve finished Creep!
Hereditary (2018): Okay. I will go out on a limb and tell you that Hereditary is the greatest horror film of the last decade and might be my favorite horror film of all time. Criminally underappreciated actress Toni Collette turns in a powerhouse performance as artist Annie Graham. Her mother has just died and Annie inherits an enormous amount of emotional baggage the threatens her family and her very existential existence. Both Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff, as her children, are equally mesmerizing. Ann Dowd, mentioned above in Compliance is as universally great as she always is. Hereditary drips with imagery & symbols and heavily explores themes of the title of the film - inheritance. A simple enough premise but executed with unbelievable skill in front of and behind the camera. I hesitate to use the word “masterpiece,” because the word is so over used, especially in film criticism. But, use it I shall because Hereditary is a domestic nightmare, horror masterpiece. Official trailer for Hereditary.
Green Room (2015): Like many movies on this list Green Room was a critic’s darling that underperformed at the box office. Staring the late, great Anton Yelchin and the crazy talented chameleon Imogen Poots. Seriously, I could not believe she was the same woman from the perfect Fright Night remake. The movie is about a punk rock band, the Aint Rights, who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after accidentally witnessing a murder at the skinhead’s club. And who plays the leader of the skinheads? Patrick Stewart, naturally. No, seriously, I don’t know what convinced him to play the role of a skinhead Nazi but the movie gods should be thanked that he recognized the greatness that was about the become the film Green Room! And it’s really, really great. Official trailer for Green Room.
Thoroughbreds (2017): The movie that made me ask, “Um, who the hell is that actress? Because in the next ten years she’s going to be recognized as one of the greatest actors of her generation.” The woman in question - Olivia Cooke. You fine folks might be all like, “Oh, the girl from The Bates Motel - and Ready Player One, yeah, she’s great!” Well, at the time I saw Thoroughbreds Ready Player One had not been released and I had not seen a single episode of Bates Motel - but you can be sure I binged it in the next few months. (And, it’s okay. Cooke's character is very under written and she's underused which is okay since she's not the lead, and the two leads are great in Bates Motel - but that’s another story). Anyway, Thoroughbreds is more of a super dark comedy than a traditional horror film, but they often go hand in hand. I mean, it is a film about murdering one of your parents but, like - in a hip, non trite way. #amiright? As much as I love Angela Bettis in May and Robin McLeavy in The Loved Ones, I think Olivia Cooke’s sociopathic Amanda is the new big girl on the block. Official trailer for Thoroughbreds.
And there we have it. Another list. Hopefully, you’ll see something here that interests you. If you like a lot of films on this list, perhaps check out my list from last year, linked above. More of the same - underappreciated gems.
This years tally of horror: An on screen body count of approx. twenty four but maybe as high as eighty (hard to keep track of as some of the serial killer movies are deceptive about victims). Three movies with decapitations. Two about demons. Two with bad parents. One about Christmas. One on tour. Three, perhaps four (number debatable) about serial killers. Four with female leads. Two found footage. One with Nazis. One based on a true story. And one starring Kurt Russell and those glorious mutton chops.
Better Watch Out (2016), an Australian Horror Comedy film directed by: Chris Peckover and written by Zach Kahn and Peckover.
The Blackcoat's Daughter (2016), an American Canadian supernatural psychological drama written and directed by: Oz Perkins, son of late Anthony Perkins.
Bone Tomahawk (2015), an American western horror film written and directed by S. Craig Zahler.
Compliance (2012), an american thriller drama written and directed by Craig Zobel.
Creep / Creep 2 (2014 / 2017), American independent found footage horror film directed by Patrick Brice and written by Mark Duplass and Brice.
Hereditary (2018), an American supernatural horror film (masterpiece!) written and directed by Ari Aster. His first feature film.
Green Room (2015), an American horror film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Also - fuck Nazi’s.
Thoroughbreads (2017), an American black comedy thriller written and directed by Cory Finley. Starring crazy, madman genius young actor Olivia Cooke.
The damage from Hurricane Michael is staggering. Georgia’s farms were clobbered and the agricultural industry is reporting “unprecedented generational losses” that are estimated to reach nearly $3 billion in damages.
About a million acres of timber has been destroyed as well all sorts of vegetable and nut farms. Lots of sources are still reporting about the Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla. The base, if you have not heard, sustained heavy damage from the storm. Most of Tyndall’s planes were flown to safety before Michael hit the coast but 17 F-22 Raptors were left behind because they were undergoing maintenance and were not flight worthy. Each of the Raptors cost an estimated $330 million each. Which means that’s almost $6 billion dollars of fighter jets that may have taken significant damage from Michael. The Air Force is being a little mom on the subject, which - fair enough. There is no reason to broadcast to enemies how many of our fighter planes were damaged beyond repair.
But that isn’t even touching on the personal cost to homeowners up and down the coastline. The NY Times has a “Damage in Pictures” all about Michael and from the look of things it’s as bad as everyone expected. Entire towns are wiped out. Farms are gone. Houses obliterated. It’s apocalyptic looking stuff.
If that’s not bad enough there are sheriffs in FL reporting that they are arresting about 10 looters each night since last Wed. Armed looters, it appears, are targeting homes without electricity and taking advantage that first responders are stretched thin. People really suck sometimes, you know?
There are even neighborhoods putting up hand made signs that say things like, “You loot. I shoot.” Which - sounds about right to me.
Still, it sounds as if hundreds of thousands of people are still without power and cell phone service has only just recently been (mostly) reinstated.
And keep in mind this is all damage from one hurricane. That’s not counting the damage that Florence did just last month. It’s not counting the death toll when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and almost three thousand people died as a result. How about Irma and Harvey - two Hurricane’s that pummeled the south just last year.
They keep coming and they seem to keep getting more destructive and more costly. And why is that? Well, last year my co-worker wrote a strongly worded story titled “Hurricanes should blow climate deniers’ eyes, minds open.” In it he writes:
“While I wish the best to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I also hope climate change deniers affected by the hurricanes realize their denial of climate change contributed to their current situation and will contribute to worse situations in the future.
Mother Earth is doing her best to convince climate denying Americans that global warming is no hoax and that people are responsible for the increasing instances and intensity of weather disasters. She started by flooding the Gulf Coast with category-three hurricane, Harvey, which AccuWeather predicts will cost America more than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined.”
His story makes compelling arguments and he links to more than a dozen reputable sources and studies. He wrote that more than one year ago and he was correct in predicting that this year the hurricanes would be much, much worse.
And they are. And now all we can do is rebuild and assist those that are in need. And we’ll probably have to do it again. And again. And again.
If you can, donate to the Red Cross.
If you can, donate to the Humane Society Animal Emergency Rescue Fund.
On Monday morning sources around the country reported on the Sears bankruptcy. But that doesn’t mean the company is out of business. Well, not yet anyway. It’s a good ol’ fashioned restructuring type of bankruptcy. I don’t believe that many feel the restructuring will work but there it is.
There is blame o’plenty. Current CEO Eddie Lampert blames Sears retirees. Analysts around the globe blame the CEO for his bad decisions not committing to online sales. Common sense and reason suggests that Walmart and Amazon gobbled up Sears customers like an old school game of Pac Man. It might even have been because of that time in 2003 when Sears sold its highly lucrative credit card business to Citigroup. No, seriously, that credit card business was more than 50% of the company’s profits. And they sold it off. *shrugs*
Anyway. It was probably a giant mixture of events that led Sears to inevitable bankruptcy after 130 years in business. CNN interactive made a really nice timeline of the company leading up to Monday’s announcement.
This all seems eerily familiar to my childhood. I grew up in MPLS, MN and we had a huge Sears building on Lake Street, kind of midtown Minneapolis. And I spent many an hour walking those retail halls or getting my keys made there or wondering why we could only shop on floor 1-3 but the building clearly had several stories above those - what was happening there? I even have fond memories of scrolling through the Sears catalog and circling all the toys I wanted for Christmas. Our Sears building closed down in 1994 and was eventually declared a national landmark building. Then in 2006 it was reopened as the Midtown Global Market with apartments and condos above. I’ve also spent many an hour eating and drinking at the Midtown Global Market so it all came full circle for me.
For the Sears company however, it all came down to that $134 million dollar payment they had due on Monday. And they couldn’t afford to make it. Hence the bankruptcy and restructuring.
Everything Sears seems to be fading fast. Even the famous Chicago Sears Tower, at once the tallest building in the US, was eventually bought and renamed the Willis Tower. The only silver lining here for Sears - I’m pretty sure everyone in the world still calls it the Sears Tower.
Again, this isn’t the end for Sears (yet) but the company does plan to close more than a hundred underperforming stores.
Hurricane Michael, the strongest on record in the U.S. since 2004 hit the Florida coastline this afternoon. It’s too late to evacuate. If you’re there - you’re there. Michael is a Category 4 hurricane with winds at 155 mph. But that makes it that top end of Category 4 because as soon as winds hit 157 it will officially be a Category 5. Not that there is much difference between 155 and 157 mph winds other than the rating system because, either way, enormous damage is about to rain down on Florida.
Not even one month after Florence flooded Georgia & the Carolinas and caused $1.5 billion in damages, the E coast is getting hammered again. This time by Hurricane Michael, which meteorologists have rated a Category 4.
Folks in Georgia and the Carolinas still have flooded areas in large portions of the coastline and in a few more days will receive more rainstorms as Michael hits Florida today but will move N further inland by Friday. Michael is actually the opposite of Florence which went from a Category 4 down to a Category 1 by landfall while Michael increased in strength as it came closer to the SE coastline. In fact, meteorologists believe that Michael will still be a Category 2 Hurricane when it hits Alabama and southern Georgia.
If that’s not bad enough Hurricane Michael, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, could spawn tornadoes anywhere from 50-100 miles outside the hurricane eye. That’s all those folks need, right? Tornadoes to go along with their Category 4 hurricane.
Last month, our very own Dr. Daliah wrote a “How You Can Help” column for Hurricane Florence and all of her information is relevant for Michael as well. You can read her column here. Her column also has plenty of links to the Red Cross, the Army Emergency Relief and other sources if you want to donate assistance. The American Red Cross is accepting monetary and blood donations. Financial donations can be given here or on their website at redcross.org. Moreover one can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. More relief numbers in her column.
The forecast cone is expected to stretch Michael all the way north to Maryland, which is a lot of damage, and a lot of danger.
This is a developing story.
Kanye West is no stranger to controversy. His music talent assures him hall of fame status as a hip hop artist. His marriage to Kim Kardashian is a thing of pop culture legend. And boy does he like to spread his opinion. And his opinions are … well ...
You see - Kanye West loves Donald Trump. His wife does not but whatever. There it is. But now, some of you are saying - “Why is this controversial? Thirty million white people adore Donald Trump.” There being, the rub. Kanye West is a black man who grew up in Atlanta and Chicago with a middle class family. Now he’s a filthy rich hip hop artist. So, obviously - there aren’t too many black hip hop artists that are pro Trump. Why is that? Because many can make the strong case that the modern Republican party doesn’t give a rats ass about people of color. Which is why the crushing, overwhelming majority of black Americans vote against the Republican party and voted against Trump.
Now, Kanye West, rightfully so, responds, “Whatever. No one tells me what politician I can or can not support.” And he’s right. Of course, he is also the famous musician who stood up in front of millions of viewers and said, “George Bush doesn't care about black people” during a live fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. And he was right then too.
Which belabors the question why Kanye West thinks that George Bush doesn't care about black people but Donald Trump does. Jimmy Kimmel asked him this very question and West’s silence spoke volumes (Kimmel had to cut to commercial due to the silence). When Kimmel came back from commercial, West never bothers to respond and moves on to other topics. About three weeks later at a Chicago radio station West was asked the same question and came up with this:
“I feel that he (Trump) cares about the way black people feel about him. He would like for black people to like him like they did when he was cool in the rap songs and all this, and he will do the things that are necessary to make that happen because he’s got an ego like all the rest of us. He wants to be the greatest president and he knows that he can’t be the greatest president without the acceptance of the black community so that’s something he’s going to work towards.
Um, okay. So Kanye's answer is - Trump doesn’t really care about black people except for their value as a prop to help him gain more power. Well, um, yeah, I agree with you Kanye! Trump doesn’t give a rats ass about black folks except how he can exploit that relationship for personal gain. Which means he doesn’t care about black people!
Does West know this? Is Kanye trolling the world? Is this all a marketing scam to remain in the public eye? I mean, as long as he kicks the hornet's nest he sells more records? Or something?
Maybe. But his love for Trump does seem sincere.
But that’s not all. A few months ago he said this about slavery to the folks at TMZ, “you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 hundred years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years with all ya’ll? (Kanye laughs at this point).”
Now, I don’t care how much of a “free thinker” you claim to be, laughing that slavery was a choice is just butt ass stupid. Thankfully, the entire internet beat him up until he backtracked the comment.
And then, just last week he stepped in it again and tweeted a picture of himself wearing a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat and wrote:
“This represents good and American becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love”
Ugh. So much to unpack.
First of all “America becoming whole again.” This is a fine idea. And all good folk should want this. Better said than done, but still.
“We will no longer outsource to other countries. We will build factories here in America and create jobs” This is a fine idea but Kayne West is as fucking nieve as a tiny baby if he thinks his buddy Donald Trump will build American factories.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that Donald Trumps has said over and over that he will bring factories back to the U.S. and nieve folks all across America screamed, “Trump, Trump, Trump!” It was a main platform for Trump in the campaign. MAGA = bring American jobs back!
But guess what?
Didn’t happen. Won’t happen. Not with Trump in charge.
The vast majority of Trump products are currently manufactured overseas in China, Bangladesh, Canada, Honduras, Germany, Taiwan, Mexico, Slovenia, South Korea and Vietnam. But mainly, in China.
Here is Jimmy Kimmel ordering a bunch of product from Trump.com and having a hard time finding anything made in the U.S. But he did find some illegal product that violated U.S. import laws. So, at least there’s that.
In fact, back in July, Trump hosted a White House event to promote American made products and, as you can imagine - the vast majority of Trump products could not be featured at his own event that he hosted to promote goods manufactured in the country where he’s the president.
How bullshit is that?
And you will still find millions of Trump supporting jobless factory workers from small towns all over the U.S. who have been financially devastated when a big corporation closed down the only manufacturing plant in town and moved it overseas to pay workers in Bangladesh ten cents per hour. These are the very same people that chant, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” about Hillary because of - I don’t know, something about her emails.
So, to be clear. If you approve of Trump because you think he’s the president that, as Kanye tweets, will, “Build factories here in the U.S. and create jobs” you’re only fooling yourself.
And finally we get to the last part of West’s tweet, “We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love.”
Abolish the 13th amendment? The, um, amendment that … you know - abolished slavery? West wants to get rid of that? WTF?
Well, as you can imagine - the internet went bonkers. Here is a rich, black man writing to abolish the amendment that got rid of slavery. Well, that kind of sounds like something a white, nationalist Nazi would write. You know?
Of course, West immediately corrected himself saying he “misspoke” and that he wants to “amend” not abolish the 13th amendment. Well, fair enough. This makes a bit more sense. His beef with the 13th amendment is with the “unless you are in prison” portion.
As you may or may not know the 13the amendment specifically says,
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
I added the bold, italic as emphiss. To clear up what he meant by the 13th amendment West later tweeted, “In order to make a freed man a slave all you have to do is convict them of a crime.” This, I feel, is a fair point. Kevin Dickinson writing for bigthink.com kind of agrees too in his very nice piece, Kayne West’s 13th amendment outburst was baffling, but worth considering.
A few points he brings up:
“Arizona's Tent City prison was infamous for its inhumane conditions. It was overcrowded, prisoners remained outdoors at all times in the Arizona heat, and many were forced to work in chain gangs for no compensation. Although closed last year, Tent City remained operational for more than two decades...”
He also talks about how enormous amounts of unreported rape happen behind bars and posits that this could be considered a form of sexual slavery especially if the prison guards know about it and don’t do anything to interfere. Well, the 8th amendment provides protection against cruel and unusual punishment. So, maybe it should all tie together and the 13th amendment could be revised slightly to end for profit prison slaves. Agree with it or not, it’s a fair point.
Of course, West doesn’t suggest out “how” the 13th amendment should be amended only that it should be. Which is fine. There are lawyers for that. But still I mean, that’s the whole point of the Constitution having amendments - so that it can evolve over time.
Okay. So, despite some of the crazy things Kanye has said in the past (and will say in the future), I’m giving him a pass on his 13th amendment tweet. I believe he honestly meant amend and not abolish.
But, Kanye - all that other “Trump is going to bring factory jobs back to the U.S.” - what bloody alternative universe do you live in, man?
Bill Cosby has been denied bail and was sentenced to 3 - 10 years for drugging and raping Andrea Constand while she was incapacitated. Cosby is now an 81 year old convicted sex offender.
For those who have not heard, Cosby’s record of allegations began back in 2000 when several women came forward accusing him of sexual assault and rape going as far back as 1965 and into the 80’s and 90’s. One of them was Andrea Constand who sued Cosby in civil court after the D.A. refused to prosecute him in criminal court. She settled for an undisclosed amount in 2006.
There was some media coverage but for the most part, too many folks never really believed that TV’s dad (from the Cosby Show in the 80’s) was a serial rapist. And then, suddenly, just as quickly as the accusations were made - the allegations were swept under the rug and went away. For way too long.
Cut to 2014.
Stand up comic Hannibal Buress had been working on new material in his routine. And one of his bits was about Bill Cosby “talking down to young black men about their mode of dress and telling them to pull up their pants.” Buress shot back at Bill with, “Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so that kind of brings you down a couple of notches!” You can watch video of the bit here.
The audience laughs along because it sounds like Buress is joking. He is, after all - a comedian. Plus, I mean, Bill Cosby - a rapist? Come on!! But then Buress doubles down and encourages people to go home and Google, “Bill Cosby rape.”
The bit began to get a little press, which is how I heard about it. I did exactly as Buress said (because I couldn’t believe it). I Googled, “Bill Cosby rape.” And I was shocked. There was story after story about Bill Cosby drugging and raping women as far back as the 60’s. And there were trials and investigations back in 2000 and all I could think of is, “How the hell did I not know about this?”
Well, there were many who thought the same thing and suddenly a media firestorm picked up. Then, over the course of the next few years - more than sixty women came forward with similar stories - that Bill Cosby either attempted to assault them (but the woman escaped) or that Cosby drugged them, sexually assaulted or raped them, when they were too incapacitated to give consent or object.
Oh, and there were multiple police reports to back this up in several states from multiple decades, so it’s not like this is anything new. Law enforcement has reports on Cosby ranging from attempted assault, to sexual assault to rape in the 80’s, the 90’s, in 2000, in 2002, multiple reports in 2005, a report of attempted assault in 2013, and then dozens and dozens or reports in 2014 and 2015 who came forward to recount their stories from the past.
One, of course, wonders - if Cosby hadn’t been rich and famous, would he have been caught and put away a long time ago? Well - probably. But - he is rich and famous. And he’s rich and famous for playing a really, really nice guy on TV. And that warps people’s minds. Folks really want to believe that the onscreen persona that actors play is - exactly who they are. So no one wanted to believe that super nice TV personality Cosby dad - was a serial rapist.
Of course there were some people who knew the nice TV dad guy was an act. Richard Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, on a 2015 podcast interview for Allison Rosen is Your New Best Friend, had this to say about Cosby and the allegations:
“Bill’s just a fucking hypocrite, and dirty on the inside. It was a well-kept secret that Bill fucked everything that moved.”
Pryor was upset that Cosby came down on her husband and told him to always “be clean” in his act. For anyone who remembers Richard Pryor you know damn well that “be clean” was never, ever on his mind. (Richard Pryor died in 2005).
Jennifer clarifies that no one had any idea about the drugging and the assault, which is probably true. I mean, even if you are married (which Cosby was) it’s totally legal to “fuck anything that moves” - as long as it is all consensual. Adultery is not sexual assault. If Cosby’s wife knew that Cosby was committing adultery and she chose not to leave him - that’s none of our business! So I won’t speculate.
Anyway, all I’m suggesting is that there were obviously folks that knew Cosby’s squeaky clean image was completely fraudulent. Alas, knowing someone is morally dubious doesn’t mean you know they are a serial rapist.
But I digress.
Cosby had his day in court. In fact, he had multiple days in court over multiple decades. And finally, finally his victims get some semblance of justice. A 3-10 year sentence. Hopefully, that sentence is on the longer side but I won’t hold my breath. I’ve seen too many rapist men get sentenced and then released after a shockingly short time incarcerated.
The famous case of Brock Turner comes to mind. You remember that douche bag, right? He raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He was caught by two Swedish exchange students who luckily happened to be passing by. Brock ran, one of them went to assist the victim, the other chased and caught Brock. Turner was eventually arrested, charged and sentenced. The Judge was super duper nice to the rapist and gave him a six month sentence. Turner was out of jail three months later.
Three months in jail for raping an unconscious woman.
So, forgive me if I don’t hold out much hope that filthy rich Bill Cosby will spend much time in jail. And, he’s at the end of his life. Sure, he’s had a rough few years what with the accusations and the criminal investigation but, basically - he got away with it for almost his entire life. Despite the fact that there were a dozen accusations against him in multiple states over multiple decades - it still took more than 20 years to convict him of sexual assault.
Which, I guess, is better than nothing.
Last month, as you may or may not know, Nike released a new Just Do It campaign starring a variety of young athletes as well as Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick. The ad is great. Before I get back to Nike, a bit about Colin Kaepernick:
Colin has been in and out of the news since 2011. First as a backup QB for the San Francisco 49ers as his team went to the Championship game in 2011. Then Colin took over as the starting QB and led his team to the Super Bowl (where they lost 31-34 to the Ravens). Then in 2012 Colin led them right back to the NFC Championship game in 2013 (which they lost).
Kaepernick's productivity dipped slightly during the next few years, mainly due to an injury that lasted into the 16 season and he never seemed to fully recover and was not named a starter again; however, his 4-2 play off victories and the fact that he’s only one of four quarterbacks to get 3 passing touchdowns and a 100 yards rushing in a single game means that while he might no longer be an elite starter in the NFL, it’s pretty obvious he would make an exceptional backup QB.
But then something happened. Colin decided to protest racism - by silently sitting during the national anthem. And folks took note. And the red, rage conservative aneurysms began. And fake news sites spread the word that Colin Kaepernick was “protesting the flag and disrespecting American troops!”
Also, Kaepernick had grown out his hair into an afro. Which makes conservative Americans uncomfortable. No, seriously. As black comedian Paul Mooney says, “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”
And suddenly - redneck white rage was all over the NFL. And Colin Kaepernick took note. He heard that NFL watching white Americans were angry. Kaepernick didn’t want to appear disrespectful to soldiers and he didn’t want his message mixed so he spoke with former Seattle Seahawks player and U.S. Army veteran Nate Boyer about his idea of “sitting down” during the anthem.
Kaepernick says about the meeting with Boyer:
“After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we (Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid) should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”
Well, as you can imagine - conservative white Americans still lost their shit and wrote all sorts of inflammatory, untrue, hit pieces about Kaepernick calling him everything from “ungrateful” to “traitor.” But the hatred focused on the same false narrative over and over - that Kaepernick’s kneeling was purposely disrespectful to the troops and the flag.
It didn’t matter how many times Colin would eloquently speak up and remind people his protest was about police brutality against people of color; redneck Americas still reared up as fast as possible to call him a traitor, a soldier hater, ungrateful and, of course, the oft used, ni***r!
It didn’t matter that, time and again, Colin would put his money where his mouth was as he donated (and raised) money to and for, what he called, “oppressed communities.” In 2016 he gave a million dollars to charities and neighborhoods all over the country to help with homelessness, community-police relations, prison reform, hunger, etc, etc.
If that wasn’t enough he put together his #10For10 pledge where he asked fellow athletes and artists to donate money to a similar cause. Then Colin agreed to match their donation. Here is what was raised and by whom:
1. Kevin Durant: $20k to Silicon Valley De-Bug in San José, California
2. Jesse Williams: $20k to Advancement Project in Washington, DC
3. Steph Curry: $20k to United Playaz in San Francisco, California
4. Snoop Dogg: $20k to Mothers Against Police Brutality in Dallas, TX
5. Serena Williams: $20k to Imagine LA in Los Angeles, California
6. T.I.: $20k to Angel by Nature in Houston, Texas
7. Jhene Aiko and Chris Brown: School on Wheels in Los Angeles, California
8. Nick Cannon and Joey Badass: $40,000 to Communities United by Police Reform in New York, New York
9. Meek Mill: $20k to Youth Service, Inc. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10. Usher: $20k to H.O.M.E. in Lithonia, Georgia
Some familiar names to me, some not. But whatever. Money for good causes is still money for good causes (though, I’m not sure what the F! The “Silicon Valley De-Bug” charity is. I’ll have to look into that one a bit further). But I would say for the most part - worthy causes.
And now let’s come full circle. Colin Kaepernick has been universally vilified by conservative white America. And he’s been blackballed by the NFL for “controversy.”
And Nike does not care.
Colin Kaepernick is now the face of Nike’s new long running Just Do It campaign. And, just like when he took a knee - redneck America is in an uproar. Head over to YouTube and search for hilarious videos of people burning Nike product in protest. See if you can find some of the truly genius ones where folks run out and buy hundreds of dollars of Nike products only to come home and burn them!
You read that right. They give $$ to Nike and then burn the product. So, um, Nike already has their money.
Some people are so dumb.
Anyway. Because of the “controversy” of Nike casting Colin, shares for company dropped the day after that ad released by 3%. Conservative fools everywhere whooped their joys of racism! Hell, even our President chimed in via (where else) Twitter:
The President’s Tweet:
“What was Nike thinking? Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”
But not so fast!
After an initial minor backlash here we are three weeks later and Nike is reporting - all time record sales. Reuters is reporting a huge increase in sold out Nike material (up approx 60%) and anyone can jump online and see that Nike’s market value has surged by $6 billion.
Look, I’m not a Nike guy. At all. This is not a paid advertisement. I’m all with RUN DMC - me and my Adidas! (And Vans). I am however a free speech guy. And, despite the ignorant, racist Kaepernick backlash - he’s clearly one of the good guys.
That being said, I will leave you with Lebron James gloating over President Trump’s “Nike is getting absolutely killed…” Tweet.
Nike stock closes at $83.47, an all-time high for the company.