“Hidden Figures” Highlights an American Progressive Era

I went to see Hidden Figures yesterday. It’s a wonderful movie, entertaining and important. Based on a true story, we get to know three gifted, achieving black American women who made a lasting mark on NASA in the early 1960s.

Yet the movie also made me feel sad. For two hours, we immerse ourselves in the years when America was on the cusp of great technological and social advancement. What happened to that promise of a brighter, better, more civilized nation?

For as we know, shortly after the film’s time period, the assassinations occurred — the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some kind of particular, sticky darkness has dimmed our nation’s light ever since.

While leaving the theater, I overheard a fellow viewer make a telling remark, “That was great! How come we’ve never heard this story before?”

Hidden Figures reminds us of a uniquely progressive era of American history, by telling a story that has been submerged under a pall of darkness. The the question is, can America once again turn up the lights?

Medea Benjamin: Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.–Saudi Connection | The Progressive Direction

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of peace activist group CODE PINK and human rights group Global Exchange, was in the Tampa Bay area last weekend to promote her new book: Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.–Saudi Connection. I was able to attend one of Benjamin’s eye-opening talks, which covered Saudi human rights violations and U.S.-Saudi arms deals.


Sound the Trumpet for Student Debt Jubilee

Maybe it’s time for Student Debt Jubilee. Student loan forgiveness would not only give a reprieve to those in debt, it would create an economic upswell for all of America. Imagine the boon to our economy if student loan debtors could afford to replace old shoes, cars, and washing machines — instead of merely paying down the compound interest of their student loans. Continue reading “Sound the Trumpet for Student Debt Jubilee”

The Political Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The political revolution will not be televised, it will be live. (A slight variation of Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 lyric.)

Failure of the Fourth Estate

We shake our heads in wonder because mainstream media consistently fails to report real, accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive, unbiased news. Isn’t the Fourth Estate supposed to inform citizens about significant current events and offer valid insight into the issues that surround them? Yes, particularly so regarding politics and government. Journalism in the Digital Age explains…

“The press makes the actions of the government known to the public, and voters who disapprove of current trends in policy can take corrective action in the next election. Without the press, the feedback loop is broken and the government is no longer accountable to the people. The press is therefore of the utmost importance in a representative democracy.” ~Danny Crichton, Ben Christel, Aaditya Shidham, Alex Valderrama, Jeremy Karmel

For me, the most galling lack of news coverage concerns climate change and money in politics, but the concern applies to any news topic. Those of us “in the know” turn to the Fifth Estate — online independent news sources, bloggers who have developed a certain authority in their subject area, and social media updates — for the news that we need.

We recognize that mainstream media doesn’t fail on news reportage simply because it lacks the financial resources to do a good job, or only hires Trump University graduates. The mainstream media deliberately filters and obfuscates the real news. It wants to spoon feed the public with a controlled narrative. The mainstream media is part of the elite status quo, and it doesn’t want anything to change that. Therefore, the political revolution will not be televised.

The Big Under-Reported News Story of the Day: Wikileaks Hillary Series

The big under-reported news story of the day, related to political revolution, is the Wikileaks Hillary Series. Wikileaks exposed 1,000’s of damning DNC emails to the public yesterday. The revelations prove the Democratic National Committee (DNC) woefully deviated from its own standard of professional neutrality toward presidential candidates and show how the DNC colluded with mainstream media outlets in order to bolster Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Not surprisingly, this riveting #DNCLeak story is in danger of slipping by conscious public awareness. Public figures at the center of the DNC leaks are not even trying to defend themselves, much less respond. Naturally, mainstream media is barely covering the story, even though it centers around presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the DNC — with the Democratic National Convention only two days away.

The political revolution will not be televised. However, we can follow the Hillary Series on Twitter at Wikileaks, #DNCLeaks or #DNCLeak, Wikileaks DNC, or the like. Hopefully, this important news story gains momentum as the main players get involved.

It looks like ABC and CNN are the only big news networks covering the story. (The emails implicate MSNBC and CBS with DNC media collusion.) Now might be a choice time to visit friends and family who soak up mainstream media — with your mobile device. Show them a real news story in development.

Primo Tweets About the Wikileaks Hillary Series

Here’s a sampling of primo tweets about today’s big story: The Wikileaks Hillary Series.



Requiem for the American Dream | Documentary

If you haven’t yet watched it, I highly recommend the documentary Requiem for the American Dream starring Noam Chomsky. The soft-spoken, kindly Chomsky explains the hard truths of inequality. In a nutshell, wealth and power do not play nice with democracy…

Requiem for the American Dream – Official Trailer


“This well-paced and cogent seminar spotlights a man who, now 87, seems at the height of his intellectual powers”~ NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS’ PICK

“A provocative X-ray of current American political realities” ~ RogerEbert.com

“A must see…a much needed punch in America’s gut” ~ Indiewire

“One of the best entry points to the discussion of inequality” ~ The Hollywood Reporter

“A lucid analysis that’s breathtaking in its simplicity, and all the more scary for it” ~ Time Out NY

“Couldn’t be more timely” ~ Toronto Star

The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power

Requiem of the American Dream outlines the “10 Principles of Wealth & Power.”

  1. Reduce Democracy
  2. Shape Ideology
  3. Redesign the Economy
  4. Shift the Burden (of taxes)
  5. Attack Solidarity
  6. Run the Regulators
  7. Engineer Elections
  8. Keep the Rabble in Line (anti-unions)
  9. Manufacture Consent
  10. Marginalize the Population (people don’t matter)

Activism for Change

In the end, Chomsky doesn’t leave us without hope. A committed activist throughout his life, he points to the mechanism for change:

“The Activists are the people who have created the rights we enjoy.” ~ Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is considered the most influential American intellectual of our time. Requiem for the American Dream is available on Netflix.

Bernie Goes to the Vatican

A short story by JoAnn Chateau… humor, dogs, a tiny bit of politics…

Gus’s next door neighbor, Lacey Cooper, dropped Chester off early that morning, before light. Not only did she have the dog in tow, her arms had been laden with dog paraphernalia: toys, food and water bowls, an old towel, zip-lock bags of kibble and treats, a tote bag full of plastic grocery bags, notebook with important phone numbers, and a miniature dog house with a handle on the roof!

Normally Lace worked from home. The next three days, however, she was conducting a workshop at a regional ROE conference. Radical Online Entrepreneurs. Something about social media and building “community.”

She had been wired! Gus wondered. Too much coffee? Public speaking anxiety? Surrogate child separation?

There had been instructions. Most of them common sense. Gus gathered that Chester was more or less like a high-functioning toddler. It was important to remember he could walk, and run. Always use a leash. Keep the water bowl full and fresh. The mini dog house was Chester’s “safe place” to rest. Pick up and dispose of Chester’s poop. Wait a minute.

Apparently, there were dog-walking protocols. When Gus looked aghast, Lace had been adamant. “It’s the law!”

There was the parting ritual. Lacey solemnly lifted the fluffy, chubby-looking dog, held him to her chest in a two-armed bear hug, swayed back and forth exactly four times, and planted a kiss on each side of the dog’s furry face. For Chester’s part, he obligingly turned his head from side to side to recieve the kisses, then licked her chin in return. Finally, Lacey squeezed him like a bundle of Charmin bathroom tissue, and gently returned Chester to the floor.

Chester stood placidly, cool as a cucumber. He knew the routine, remaining stoic for Lacey’s sake.

Closing the door behind his departed neighbor, Gus held still for several beats, listening. No whining. Thank God. He looked down, about to say, “Good boy,” but stopped.

Chester’s eyes sparkled, his tail wagged vigorously, as if… with conspiratorial glee. Gus thought, “If this dog thinks he’s going to have an adventure, he better have low excitement standards.”

Gus planned to go online. And let the dog sleep.

With his computer and television connected, Gus could view Internet videos on the TV’s wide screen. Somehow Chester ended up in his lap. They had gotten into Bernie Sanders video clips.

Sanders had been invited to address the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on “A Moral Economy.” He had abandoned the campaign trail in New York in order to fly to the Vatican and give his speech. They watched the full-length video. Gus, raised Catholic, was impressed. Chester yawned.

From the Vatican high-point, to this week: Brooklyn-born Sanders lost the New York Primary. Badly. Gus shook his head grimly. No matter how it seemed God smiled upon The Bern, earthly powers snatched away any advantage. If Bernie lost the Democrat nomination, how would the Calling play out? In his gut, Gus knew that Destiny was laid upon the shoulders of one Bernard Sanders. “To Hell with the others,” the war-torn veteran growled lowly.

As if in response, Chester gave a subtle “woof.” Gus appreciated the Little Guy’s consensus. Chester hoped the Big Guy understood that a walk should be imminent. Sensing they needed cheering up from Bernie’s New York shellacking, Gus asked the dog, “Ready to go outside?” Chester’s body tensed. His eyes gleamed.

Before Gus knew what was happening, Chester used Gus’s left thigh like a launch pad (ouch!) and sailed through the air. The dog’s shimmering white fluff flowed and rippled back like the cape of a super-hero. (Gus couldn’t be sure he really saw that.) Projecting past the perimeter of the carpet, Chester landed on the bare floor boards with a resounding thud. He turned about neatly, looking to Gus. Why was the Big Guy still sitting?

Gus hustled the best he could (without knee caps) to the pile of dog gear lying near the door. He snagged the leash with the red box, snapping the service end to the dog’s collar. Chester danced back and forth excitedly. Gus quickly counted out four plastic grocery bags and jammed them into his right hip pocket. He lunged, grabbed the handle, and wrenched the door open.

Chester stood stock still.

Gus quickly grasped he was supposed to go first. He stepped through the door smartly. Chester bounded after him. And beyond. The dog leash spun out of the red box like a fishing reel! Intending to lock the door behind them, Gus just managed to close it.

Chester had immediately darted around the board fence that shielded the patio. Out of sight, the 20-pound dog rapidly built momentum. When he reached the end of the 25-foot leash, all happening so fast, Gus was caught off balance. Nearly plunging to the cruelly hard cement, Gus grabbed at the outdoor grill as he swept past. His long frame folded over it with a whipping motion. The grill crumpled to the ground, crashing loudly. But breaking his fall. Somewhat.

Gus limply rolled onto his back. To regroup his body parts. Squirrels chattered angrily in the tree boughs above. Gus continued to grip the leash handle firmly. That showed presence of mind, he congratulated himself.

Testing for neck injury, Gus slowly turned his head to one side. Chester was peeking at him with one eye from behind the patio fence. Keeping cover while surveying the damage. Gus let out a weak chuckle. With that cue, Chester padded softly to Gus and offered his commiseration.

Sometimes, even Big Guys take a fall, Chester pondered. And when they do… POW! He licked Gus’s nose, which was turning blue and shiney.

To read more of The Chester Chronicles, go to The Chester Chronicles.

Copyright © 2016 • All rights reserved (excluding Youtube video) • The Chester Chronicles

Bernie and the Little Bird

A short story by JoAnn Chateau… humor, dogs, a tiny bit of politics…

Augustine Ambrosi, known to most simply as Gus, was tall, lean and muscular. Yet he lumbered to his living room recliner. It was a wonder he could walk at all. No knee caps.

The TV was on. MSNBC. Not so Progressive anymore, he reflected. But he could stand Rachel Maddow.

Chester hesitated nearby. He was unsure if he should make himself comfortable in the other armchair, or hop into the Big Guy’s lap. It was the first time he had been left on his own to keep Gus company.

Gus pointed at him. “Lie down,” came the gruff command. Oh… the floor.

Hunkering down with his belly to the carpet, Chester continued to scrutinize Gus. What, if anything, would be required next? Would treats be involved?

Operating the remote, Gus found a recorded past-episode of Maddow. While he got it going he glanced at Chester, who was watching him. “Why you staring at me? Don’t you want to watch TV? High definition.” Gus sighed. It was one thing to babysit a dog. Must he entertain it, also?

Chester wagged his tail and smiled agreeably. Briefly assessing the dog, Gus decided the bared teeth were not aggressive. He returned his eyes to the television.

What the hell was this? Bernie Sanders had a little bird on his podium. The crowd was going wild. Sanders was smiling beatifically.

Gus sat up straighter and hurriedly grabbed the remote to back-track the recording. From his floor position, Chester observed the Big Guy’s animated movements with interest. He perked his ears, ready for anything. Did Gus need a walk?

Grinning, Gus now pointed at the TV. “Freaking Saint Francis of Assisi!”

“Look!” He gestured. It was an unfamiliar command to Chester. What did the Big Guy expect him to do?

Abruptly, Gus leaned over and reached for the dog. Matching his speed, Chester rose and stepped back, just out of reach. “Come here, come here,” Gus waggled his fingers.

Was Gus ready for therapy? If that’s all he needed…. Chester approached readily (Gus was a war vet, not the pokey kind). He was prepared to be petted.

But therapy was not it. Gus raised him up, all right, then put him straight back on the floor facing the opposite direction. Chester craned his head over his shoulder to look at Gus inquiringly.

“There!” Gus waved one hand in the direction of the TV. No longer held in place by two hands, Chester immediately turned around to face the Big Guy, to better attend his every word.

“That’s not right. Here, here.” Gus stretched forward from the recliner to get a firm grip on the thing. It felt warm, and surprisingly sturdy, under that fluffy white cushion of fur. Maybe it was useful… as a living dust mop?

Chester was lifted awkwardly from the floor, his hind quarters higher than his head. But he didn’t complain. It looked like he was getting the lap position!

Once in the lap, he was set to observe Gus’s face for further cues. But the Big Guy only turned him around again. Facing outward, away from Gus, Chester wondered if he was supposed to be on sentry duty. Normally, Alphas didn’t do that job.

“Look,” Gus repeated. “Here, I’ll rewind the show again. You’re missing it.” Gus worked the remote. “Look, Bernie Sanders,” he pointed with the remote. “A foot away from him, a birrrd,” he intoned with emphasis. “Right on his podium. In the middle of a huge rally. A little birrrd.

Chester quivered with anticipation. A bird? Indoors?

Gus saw Chester understood. “That’s right. On the TV. Bernie and a little bird.” He added with a chuckle, “An ordinary sparrow, I think.” He gave Chester’s back a rub.

He was on the lap and the Big Guy was in a happy mood, Chester noted with satisfaction. Maybe there would be snacking later. Or sooner.

Relaxed, Chester quickly figured out the “bird” was only a small, fuzzy, gray blob on the TV screen. The Big Guy seemed to think it was important. Chester didn’t intend to burst his bubble. He settled into viewing the show with Gus, content.

Now, the man on TV, the guy Gus called “Bernie,” he was the real star, mused Chester. Of course, it takes one to know one; probably why Gus didn’t get it. But this Bernie guy had a special “something” blasting out of him…. He was good, Chester decided.

Bernie was talking about free school. Chester had attended school. He had rapidly excelled, only needing to go once. The instructor had called him Mr. Congenial. His human, Lacey, had gushed, “He always listens to me at home.” A fond memory.

The bird again. (Gus kept replaying the scene.) Now Bernie was talking about world peace. Chester drifted into a peaceful snooze… that did not last long.

By the tone of his voice, Chester gathered that Gus had entered lecture mode. It was only polite to listen, so Chester dutifully roused himself.

Seeing he had the dog’s attention, Gus continued enthusiastically, “Bernie Sanders… a political revolution… yada… get money out of politics… restore democracy… yada, yada… universal health care… together, we can do anything….” And on.

Chester got it. Gus liked Bernie, too. Chester beamed at the Big Guy – for catching on.

Unaware he was beaming back, Gus noted, “You seem to agree, Little Guy.” He added, “You’re really smart.”

Copyright © 2016 • All rights reserved (excluding Youtube video) • JoAnnChateau.com

“Where to Invade Next” Will Spur an American Human Rights Upgrade

Michael Moore’s latest movie Where to Invade Next may inspire a new generation of American expats. Or, as Moore intends, it will spur a clarion call for upgraded human rights here in the United States. From the movie trailer:

My Mission? I will invade countries (with names I can mostly pronounce), take the things we need from them, and bring it all back home… because we have problems no army can solve.

Michael Moore

A Controversial Take on America?

Common Dreams is quite supportive of Moore’s Where to Invade next.

Michael Moore Says His New Movie Will Change America (Link)

Filmmaker Michael Moore on Friday is launching the national release of his new documentary Where to Invade Next, which is said to be both his happiest and “most subversive” movie yet.

In the film, Moore travels to countries throughout Europe and also Tunisia to “pry loose from them the tools they’ve been using to make their countries happy, shiny places,” he writes, with the goal of “show[ing] millions of Americans what these countries have been hiding from us.” Such tools range from eight weeks paid vacation in Italy, to a year of paid maternity leave in Scandinavia, to women with “true equality and power” in Tunisia, to trusting prisons in Norway. […]

— Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

The National Review didn’t think Where to Invade next was funny. Nor does it like Moore’s comedic “progeny.” (All the guys I love!)

Michael Moore’s Chucklehead Itinerary (Link)

Billed as “A New Comedy,” Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next is ungenerous and condescending. Those unfunny characteristics typify propaganda just as they also describe the sorry state of contemporary political humor, which has declined in this millennium, and Moore is largely to blame. Since his first distorted documentary, Roger and Me, in 1989, he’s used stridency, partisanship, and snark to despoil an art form and demean political discourse.

Moore’s jovial pretense is immediately divisive. He starts with a satirical proposition about American foreign policy: “On January 2, I was quietly summoned to the Pentagon to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Each branch was represented: the Army, the Air Force, the Marines. ‘Michael,’ they said, ‘we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing.’” His casual anti-military jibe introduces the film’s premise: Moore, the bumptious American, visits global sites of bloodless social revolution: Finland, Norway, Iceland, Italy, France, Slovenia, Tunisia, Portugal. He seeks counterpoints to what the United States has repeatedly done wrong. Where to Invade Next is millionaire Moore’s goofball imitation of President Obama’s 2009 European trunk show, which has been described as an apology tour.

No matter that Moore’s anti-Americanism turns into sentimental patriotism at the film’s other end — both positions are shallow, and neither is credible. Moore’s only distinction as a maker of documentaries (mockumentaries, really — mocking the idea of journalistic fairness and thorough reporting) is that he doesn’t care to be convincing. Like his imperious TV progeny Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver, Moore preaches to the choir. […]

Armond White, National Review

It’s no secret. The United States has yet to make the Top Ten in the World Happiness Report. I imagine that is the simple point Moore is trying to emphasize with this film.

If you have seen Where to Invade Next – please leave your impressions in the comments. When I have a chance to see this film, I’ll give it a star rating.

“Where to Invade Next” Will Spur an American Human Rights Upgrade was originally published on Aware & Fair