Oscar Alert! – 12 Years a Slave

This one has the Film Critics atwitter after the Toronto Film Festival. It is a film depiction of the true story of Solomon Northup, born a free man, who was abducted and enslaved in the pre-Civil War US.  Unlike the fictitious Django – the film is based on a book on the real-life experiences of the author, Solomon Northup, by the same name. The book is the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington D.C in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release.

The other big plus to this one, is that it sticks to historical truth – unlike The Butler, where the Director chose to “spice up” the story, having the central character born in Georgia – instead of Virginia. Met Mr Allen at a Christmas Party at the White House in 1976. I remember him distinctly because of being introduced by a family friend ho was a chef there – and a conversation about the “honesty” and racial feelings of the various Presidents he had served under to that time with the Master chef. Now – gay people may have “gaydar” – but black folks have “racedar” – that is reading the body language and reactions of a white person they interact with. One of the things Allen said was to keep an eye on whether when then new President Carter came downstairs to greet the staff, whether he looked them in the eye while shaking hands (or even shook their hands, which Nixon would not do). He then went on to say that despite the common belief that Eisenhower hated black folks – when he shook your hand he looked you straight in the eye regardless of race. which said a lot more about the man than any Monday morning quarterbacks in the press. I broke into the conversation and asked him which did… And which didn’t. He told me a story totally confounding my then 70′s belief set.

I think back on that brief conversation and recall a quote from Martin Luther King…

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

I wish the movie was about that.

And unlike the movie – NO –  Ronald Reagan was no racist. Although unfortunately several of his senior staff, like Ed Meese, were sheet wearers.

TIFF 13: Did Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave’ just change the game?

TORONTO – Brad Pitt didn’t say much during the question-and-answer session that followed the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of “12 Years a Slave” on Friday night, just a short comment on why he produced and co-starred in the Steve McQueen period drama.

But, like his turn as an abolitionist-minded maverick amid a group of brutal slaveowners, Pitt spoke volumes as he stood on the stage with cast and filmmakers. “If I never get to participate in a film again,” he said, his voice trailing off as if to imply this would be enough, “this is it for me,” he finally finished.

It’s a sentiment you could imagine the lead cast members –Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and of course Chiwetel Eijiofor, standing out amid the standouts — sharing with Pitt. And it’s a sentiment you could imagine the audience feeling. Festivals come and go; movies rise and fade. But once in a great while there’s a film that feels almost instantly, in the room, like it’s going to endure, and change plenty of things along the way. And “12 Years” offers that feeling.

Director Steve McQueen (r) and co-Lead Actor Michael Fassbender (l).

Most narrowly, that’s true on Oscar level. By 9 p.m. Friday night, just six days into September, the film had already become a top contender for various acting, writing and directing prizes, as well as the big prize. You could say that’s premature. But you probably wouldn’t if you sat in the room. (Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan certainly didn’t hold back.)

It’s equally true on a social level. “12 Years” tells the fact-based story of Solomon Northup (Eijiofor), a free man who in 1841 was kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his travails — at once horrifying and surprising, no matter how much you think you’re ready for them — when he is trafficked to a series of Southern plantations for more than a decade.

The movie has many of the hallmarks McQueen has become known for — the meticulous composition, the bold and haunting sequences — but, far more than previous films “Hunger” and“Shame,” it has a galvanizing topicality. (For more on “12 Years” and how it was made see my colleague John Horn’s excellent piece in the Sunday Times.)

It also has the kind of bracing honesty that has always been rare in Hollywood and is even rarer these days, a Hollywood where, if tough issues are taken on at all, it’s under the garb of respectful period drama or easy sentiment.

Slavery is pretty much at the top of that list of tough issues. With films like “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln,“ the subject has have become slightly less taboo in the past few years — but only slightly.“Roots” broke new ground on TV more than three decades ago, yet few have followed in its path. McQueen is finally willing to pick up the trail.

But maybe that feeling of change was most apparent because the movie went beyond its ostensible subject of race and the fight for emancipation. After the screening, several people I was sitting near began comparing the movie, favorably, to other films about race. A worthwhile comparison. But the film also evoked parallels to a more unexpected movie, “Schindler’s List.” Exactly 20 years ago that film paired impressive filmmaking with a wrenching subject, and in so doing achieved something remarkable — used cinema to change the way we view a cataclysmic period we thought we knew. “12 Years” has the  power to do the same thing.

As this movie rolls out this fall, people will talk about the questions it raises, about the evolution of race relations, about what it’s saying on the matter of slavery, whether nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War there is resolution or closure, whether there can ever be resolution or closure.

And there will be, inevitably, a backlash, people who will question the choices McQueen made, will scrutinize whether this detail softpedals the history or that detail overplays it, whether he went too far or not far enough, whether he fetishizes too much or too little.

Mostly, people will talk about slavery in a way they haven’t before because by seeing the film they’ll experience it in a way they never have before. McQueen on Friday summed up his reason for making a movie about slavery thusly: “For me it was a no-brainer. I just wanted to see it on film. I wanted to see that history on film. It was important. It was that obvious. And that’s it,” he said, putting a period on the sentence. But the conversation is only just beginning.

BTx3 is going to see this one. This one strikes a personal chord as part of my own family fought re-enslavement after the Revolutionary War for near 50 years. While no letters or material from those family members still exist (although there are a few pictures), there is ample evidence in court documents from 1790 through 1840 which document the trail… Including 4 court cases where slavers tried to claim various members of he family were escaped slaves. A decades long struggle which by a bit more than just local legend included several killings.

Bill Maher eviscerates Dinesh D’Souza

Damn! – With room to park a brand new bus sized RV in his shiny new azzh…

 

One and Done – Pat Buchanan and MSNBC

Not sure what took so long, but…

Pat Buchanan May Be Done At MSNBC: Phil Griffin

The president of MSNBC criticized Pat Buchanan — the network’s controversial pundit who has been missing from the air for months — during interviews on Saturday and said it is not certain that Buchanan will remain a paid contributor to the network.

Buchanan has been absent from MSNBC since late October, just after his latest book was released. The book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” contained typically incendiary musings on race and immigration, and Buchanan even appeared on an openly “pro-white” radio show to promote it.

It’s not altogether certain what made “Suicide” so different from Buchanan’s other work. After all, he has been a lightning rod around issues of race and religion for decades. However, there was also apublic call for MSNBC to fire or punish him from African American, Jewish and gay rights groups.Hundreds of thousands of people also signed a petition calling for Buchanan’s removal.

On Friday, The Huffington Post and others once again raised the issue of Buchanan’s status with the network.

MSNBC had not commented on Buchanan’s absence until president Phil Griffin spoke to reporters from Deadline and the New York Times during the annual Television Critics’ Association tour in California on Saturday.

“The issue has become the nature of some of the statements in the book,” Griffin said. “I don’t think the ideas that [Buchanan] put forth [in the book] are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC.” He said he and Buchanan were going to meet to discuss the latter’s future on the network, but that he has not yet made up his mind.

Uncle Ruckus Cain

Uncle Ruckus has been a very busy man the past few weeks, in his 8 minutes of fame as a “leader” of the Republican President wannabe herd…

So here is a” cainipption”,  three issues in one post.

This one has Cain stuffing his own pockets with campaign money, not dissimilar to the way Michael Steele paid himself during his runs in his home state of Maryland…

Cain Used Campaign Funds to Buy Autobiography From His Company

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain used campaign funds to buy his own books from his motivational speaking company, Federal Election Commission records show.

Although his autobiography was published by a division of Simon & Schuster Inc., Cain paid Stockbridge, Georgia-based T.H.E New Voice Inc. $36,511 for books. His campaign spent $4 million through Sept. 30, including more than $64,000 paid to his motivational speaking company for airfare, lodging and supplies, as well as the books.

“They are buying my books and my pamphlets,” Cain said in an interview in between appearances in Arizona yesterday. “The campaign is buying them from T.H.E New Voice.”…

The books are being given away to supporters to help Cain acquaint them with his life story, part of his “unconventional approach” to his candidacy, he said, adding that his campaign has seen a $2 million windfall in donations in the last two weeks after a surge in the polls.

The FEC has let campaigns buy candidates’ books as long as they don’t profit by the sale. In 2001, the commission said the campaign committee of then-Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania could buy the lawmaker’s autobiography to give to donors, provided the he didn’t receive royalties or count those books in calculations of future payments. The FEC issued a similar ruling in 2004 concerning Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent…

Another 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, faced ethics issues over a $4.5 million book advance he was offered in 1994 from a publishing unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., shortly before becoming House speaker. Amid criticism from lawmakers from both parties, Gingrich agreed to forgo the advance and just take royalties.

On news that Mr. Cain is a long time Koch sucker…

Herman Cain: ‘I’m Very Proud Of The Relationship That I Have With The Koch Brothers’

I know the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers helped to start to an organization called Americans for Prosperity. And I did some speaking when they were starting that organization, and I’m very proud of the relationship that I have with the Koch Brothers, as well as Americans for Prosperity. I have also attended some of their seminars and have found them very informative. So I don’t have a close relationship with the Koch Brothers, but I know them and I respect them, and they know me and respect me.

This one is ripping through the conservative blogsphere. Martin Bashir is drawing more than a little ire from the white right for this one (Follow the link to see the video) -

Bashir: Cain Doesn’t Want To Be “Associated With African-Americans”

MARTIN BASHIR, HOST: Mr. Cain was supposed to attend the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial on Sunday. I like many people watched it, was moved by it, but he failed to attend. Now there’s been some surprise at his absence. But being honest, isn’t this consistent for a man who really doesn’t want to be overtly associated with African-Americans…

MICHAEL STEELE: Oh no, that’s…

BASHIR: and certainly not a man as dangerous as the greatest civil rights leader in the history of the country? He doesn’t want to be associated with those…

MICHAEL STEELE: No, come on, no, I reject that and on his behalf resent that.

BASHIR: You do?

STEELE: Yeah, because I know first off, you know…

BASHIR: But this is a man, Michael, who says racism virtually doesn’t exist.

Come on down, Herman… And get your award!

Herman Cain Black Conservative Tea Party Supporter of the Year Award

The Importance of Anita Hill

Anita Hill has a new book out – and it’s getting some pretty good reviews. Patricia J. Williams is a Law Professor at Columbia University, and what she has to say about the importance of Anita Hill travails at the Clarence Thomas hearings really clarifies a lot of what Hill meant to other professional women…

Anita Hill

The Legacy of Anita Hill, Then and Now

Sad fact: there are few women of my generation who don’t have what is known as our “Anita story.” Mine occurred in 1980. I was five years out of law school and had decided to shift my career from practice to teaching. I was walking down a long hallway at the Association of American Law Schools meat market for new hires. There were two men behind me who were joking about the excellent shape of my legs and the unusually well-defined musculature of my lower quadrants. (Did I mention that it was a very, very long hallway?) At the end of that eternal passage was my appointed interview room. I escaped into it, only to be followed by the two. They, as it turned out, were doing the hiring.

Life was like that sometimes, I thought. And so I went through all the proper motions of expressing how much my fine ideas could contribute to their faculty, pretending that nothing had happened.

I didn’t stop pretending nothing had happened until 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the unwanted office approaches of her boss, then-chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clarence Thomas. I remember how still and dignified she was at the center of that howling hurricane of mockery, meanness and machismo. It was like some psychedelic cross between The Crucible and The Wizard of Oz, with its swirling fantasies of witchcraft, conspiracy theories and mad satyric orgies. I remember everyone from Orrin Hatch to Rush Limbaugh dismissing anything that “might have happened” as “bedroom politics,” even though Hill’s allegations centered on misbehavior in the boardroom, not the bedroom, and even though those allegations implicated precisely Thomas’s public ethics as the chief enforcement officer of sexual harassment laws. “He said, she said” entered the national vocabulary. So did “They just don’t get it.”

Anita Hill graduated from Yale Law School in 1980. The percentage of women in law schools was 38 percent—in contrast to the approximately
50 percent it is today. Back in those times there were so few women among the legal professoriate that many law schools didn’t even have women’s bathrooms. And as for women of color—there were only five or six of us teaching in the entire United States.

If the percentages of women in all professions improved over the next decade or so, the ability to speak up and speak out was often constrained by fear of losing status, ruining one’s career. It was the shockingly abysmal treatment of Anita Hill by the United States Senate that changed all that. Women were mobilized in a way unseen since the time of the suffragettes. EMILY’s List took off, as well as hundreds of networks for women’s political empowerment. Twenty years later, if some men’s behavior has not changed as much as one might have hoped, the collective women’s response has undergone seismic change. It’s not “nothing” anymore.

Patricia J. Williams

Anita Hill remains an icon to whom subsequent generations are rightfully indebted. At the same time, she has not remained trapped by her own symbolism or frozen in time. It is sometimes forgotten that she is a respected scholar of contract jurisprudence, commercial law and education policy. She is a prolific author, publishing numerous law review articles, essays, editorials and books. Today, Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Much of her most recent research has been on the housing market, and her most recent book, published this month, is Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.

It is ironic that the full substance of Hill’s remarkable intellectual presence remains so overshadowed by those fleeting, if powerful, moments of her Senate testimony. If the larger accomplishments of her life aren’t quite as iconic as that confrontation with Clarence Thomas, they nonetheless merit attention by feminists and scholars alike. To begin with, Hill is a remarkably elegant and accessible writer. For those who wish to apprehend the gravitas of her intelligence and dignity, Reimagining Equality would be a good place to start…(more)

Powell Blasts Cheney for “Cheap Shots”

Fascinating.

President Obama’s first failure was not putting all the Bushit SOBs in jail for their crimes.

F. Lee Bailey – “OJ is Innocent!”

Wow – seems like old times keep coming up. First there was the wife of Clarence Thomas calling Anita Hill…

Now the OJ case… Again.

F. Lee Bailey says document provides new evidence that proves OJ Simpson’s innocence

F. Lee Bailey answers questions during an interview in his office in Yarmouth, Maine on Monday, Jan. 10, 2011. Bailey, O.J. Simpson's former defense attorney, defended Simpson's 1995 acquittal on murder charges in a 46-page paper on his website in which he presents evidence he says proves Simpson's innocence....Evidence of O.J Simpson’s innocence was held back in the 1995 trial in which he was acquitted in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles, one of his former lawyers says in a new document.

In the 20,000-word document, F. Lee Bailey tells of four people who could have bolstered Simpson’s case but never testified. He also gives an overview of the sensational trial from his own perspective.

Simpson was found not guilty. Most Americans are convinced that he is guilty, Bailey said, but the document might persuade some doubters that he is innocent.

Bailey wrote the document, “The Simpson Verdict,” in 2007 as a proposal for a book that never materialized. He published it on his website Sunday.

“It’s time somebody put out the real facts of the case,” he told The Associated Press.

In the document, Bailey said the defense team was prepared to call four people who never testified _ a forensic scientist, an expert on battered women, a blood expert and the person whose possible testimony he says is the most important of the four: a man who might have seen the killers.

That witness, he wrote, saw a woman the night of the murders matching Nicole Simpson’s description in an apparent confrontation with two men, neither of whom was O.J. Simpson. Upon hearing of the murders the next day, the witness recalled what he saw on a tape recording and wrote a detailed description and sketch of his observations.

But the defense team decided not to call any of the four to the witness stand out of fear that additional jurors would be dismissed and a mistrial declared if the eight-month trial didn’t soon end, Bailey wrote. Bailey said Monday he thinks the real killers were out to collect a drug debt and killed Nicole Simpson and Goldman after mistaking them for their targets.

The document might sway a sector of the public into believing in Simpson’s innocence in the 1995 case, Bailey said. But he knows there’s another group whose minds couldn’t be changed “with a sledgehammer,” and thinks the trial damaged his reputation among that group.

“Among the rednecks of America, which there are many more than people seem to realize, it was terribly damaging,” he said. “I got blamed for O.J.’s acquittal.” Continue reading

Clarence Thomas Ex…To Tell All!

Lillian McEwen has written a memoir, titled

Lillian McEwen Who Dated Thomas in the 80's Has Written a "Tell All" Book

Clarence should still be giving his wife Ginny the side eye for providing the impetus for this one with her call to Anita Hill.

Much as I despise the man, and everything he stands for – I still think this one is unfair.

Former Thomas girlfriend has book deal

A former girlfriend of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas has a deal for a “sexually driven” memoir.

"Long Dong Silver" a retired Porn Actor Whose Films were reputed to be a Thomas Favorite.

Lillian McEwen, who dated Thomas in the 1980s, has signed with TitleTown Publishing, a Green Bay, Wis.-based publisher specializing in true crime and “inspirational” survivor stories. “D.C. Unmasked and Undressed” is scheduled to come out in early February, TitleTown announced Tuesday, adding that the book was “sexually driven.”

McEwen, a retired administrative law judge, broke a long public silence last fall when she told The Washington Post that Thomas often made inappropriate comments and was “obsessed with porn,” allegations made by former Thomas colleague Anita Hill during his 1991 confirmation hearings. Thomas vehemently denied such behavior.

 

President Obama’s New Book Hits Shelves

Thumbnail image for sing2.jpgPresident Obama’s New book hits the shelves today. Of Thee I sing, A Letter to My Daughters identifies 13 Americans which President Obama believes have contributed to the fabric of America, and have show particular courage. Proceeds from the book will go to a charity supporting the children of killed or wounded Veterans.

The 13 Americans are:

Georgia O’Keeffe (“helped us see big beauty in what is small”)
Albert Einstein (“changing the world with energy and light”)
Jackie Robinson (“showed us all how to turn fear to respect”)
Sitting Bull (“a Sioux medicine man”)
Billie Holiday (“sang beautiful blues”)
Helen Keller (“taught us to look and listen to each other”)
Maya Lin (“public spaces should be filled with art, she thought”)
Jane Adams (“fed the poor”)
Martin Luther King, Jr. (“taught us unyielding compassion”)
Neil Armstrong (“first to walk on the moon”)
Cesar Chavez (“showed farmworkers their own power”)
Abraham Lincoln (“promised freedom to enslaved sisters and brothers”)
George Washington (“our first president”)

Seems, most everyone is excited and looking forward to the book…

Except Faux News – who led with the headline - Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General, and then goes on the choice of Sitting Bull was poor, “because he killed Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn”…

Which is historically wrong. It was probably either Chief Gall or Crazy Horse who killed Custer, as they led the two principal forces involved in defending the Sioux Village from Custer’s attack

Not Sitting Bull, who was a Medicine Man – not a War Leader, and did not participate militarily in the battle.

Obama To Publish Children’s Book Dedicated to his girls

Is Dad the best… or What? Glad mine are old enough not to want Dad to write a book for them! Be a real hard act to follow.

Obama adds a children’s book to his publishing credentials

There’s yet one more book to file under “O” for Obama. “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” an illustrated children’s book titled by the president, will be released on Nov. 16.

According to the book’s publisher, “Of Thee I Sing” is “a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation – from the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington.” The book will be illustrated by well known author and illustrator Loren Long (author of “Otis” and other children’s titles).

The publication of “Of Thee I Sing” completes a three-book, $1.9 million deal Obama signed with Random House while he was still an Illinois senator, including his earlier bestselling titles “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.”

However, if there’s more room in the “Obama” section of your personal library, there’s no need to stop at books by the president. Quite a number of titles by members of the Obama family are now available. These include: a memoir called “Homeland” by the president’s halfbrother George; an upcoming children’s book called “Ladder to the Moon” by his halfsister Maya Soetoro-Ng; a memoir called “A Game of Character” by his brother-in-law Craig Robinson; and “Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia,” the doctoral dissertation of his mother, S. Ann Dunham, which was published posthumously by Duke University Press last year.

And if that’s still not enough Obama for you, you can also look forward to a foreword by the president that will appear in Nelson Mandela’s private diaries, “Conversations with Myself,” due out in October, and an upcoming young-adult version of “Dreams from My Father.”

The Nov. 16 release of “Of Thee I Sing” has been carefully timed to ensure that the book lands in bookstores at just the right moment – two weeks after midterm elections but still in plenty of time for holiday shopping.

A 500,000-copy first printing is expected.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor.

KKKarl Rove’s Upbringing

My last post was about a Republican closet queen who had been outed by his own drunken actions. KKKarl Rove is on the road shilling his book, one portion of which deals with his difficult upbringing. One part of that is his parent’s divorce, and mother’s subsequent suicide -

“I just wanted to set the record straight, because I mean, again, this was a political attack on me,” Rove told Lauer. “In order to get to me, people had to say ugly things about my parents. I don’t know whether my father was, at the end of his life, gay or not. I just don’t. I don’t think so, but I don’t know … My mother never said to us that their marriage fell apart because my father was gay.”

In his new book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” Rove writes:

“I have become an adjective. There is something called a Rovian-style of campaigning and it’s meant as an insult. One columnist said it consists mainly of throwing mud until it sticks. One prominent blogger described the elements of a textbook Rovian race as fear-based, smear-based and anything goes.”

Others, including fellow Republicans, don’t buy Rove’s denials. As Lauer reported, “Roy Fletcher, McCain’s deputy campaign manager, said of the South Carolina smear, quote, ‘This whole thing, it was orchestrated by Rove.’ ”

And Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, said she would not stab Rove in the back if he walked by her. “I would stab him in the front,” she reportedly said.

Lauer also read a quote from Matt Latimer, a former Bush speechwriter, who wrote of Rove: “He was what all the liberals said he was, the villain. And to make matters worse, a clumsy one at that. He turned out to be less a Voldemort than a Boris Badenov chasing Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

Rove has quite possibly been the most destructive force in American politics since George McDuffie fabricated the “40 Bales of Cotton” fiction supported by John Calhoon which directly led to the Civil War.

Calhoun, a brilliant orator and writer, was a proponent of Republicanism, which he saw as implying slavery, states’ rights, limited government, and nullification.

Were justice really applicable to all people in this country…

Karl Rove would be sitting in a prison somewhere, convicted of treason for his role in outing a CIA Agent, along with a few of his closest co-conspirators.

more about “Karl Rove’s Family Issues“, posted with vodpod
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