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Politics Book Reviews: Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America & Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

It would be easy to think that those who we elect to speak for our needs in the halls of power are doing their jobs. A deeper dive reveals a lust for power, the need for influence to fill one own pocket, and the lack of care/responsibility to those who put them in office.

Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America, by Dan Pfeiffer, was published last month. In short, it describes how both the carelessness of the social media companies and a right-wing conspiracy nearly led to the annihilation of this nation and our democracy. He also talks about how we can fight back and stop the lies before they destroy us.

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution, by Elie Mystal, was published in March. Mystal takes the legalese out of the Constitution and explains them in a way that anyone would understand. Complete with pop culture references and the occasional f-bomb, Mystal points out what is wrong with the law (i.e. racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ sentiment, etc), and how we can prevent the white patriarchy from dragging us back into the past.

What we need right now are two things: hope and a kick in the behind. These books provide both. By writing laymen’s terms, both Pfeiffer and Mystal are giving the average citizens the tools we need to fight against the growing threats of theocracy and fascism.

Do I recommend them both? Absolutely.

Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America and Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution are available wherever books are sold.

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I Stand With Moses Ingram

The world of Star Wars stands for everything that racism and hate are against. Diversity, inclusion, respect, democracy, etc are ingrained into this world. That does not mean, however, that everyone in the fandom is immune from the hate and racism in the outside world.

Earlier this week, Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram spoke out about the racist messages she has been receiving via social media from a small group of fans who are unhappy with her character’s place in the universe.

Ingram is unfortunately not the first SW actor of color to have this experience. Both John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran were also verbally attacked by online trolls. They could not fathom that there are more non-Caucasian characters than Lando Calrissian.

Thankfully, both the upper echelons at Disney and her colleagues have spoken up. Ewan McGregor, as both the lead actor and executive producer of the series, released a video in support of his co-star.

As a performer, Ingram is completely new to me. But in the three episodes that have been released so far, I have become a fan. Her performance is brilliant and I cannot wait to see where she will go in future episodes.

The haters can suck it for all I care. I stand with Moses Ingram.

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The Shooting in Buffalo is a Shit Storm of Everything That is Wrong With This Country

Saturday morning started as out as a normal day. For the residents of Buffalo in upstate NY, it became a day marked by grief and horror. A gunman walked into a grocery store and started shooting. By the time he was apprehended, ten people were dead, and three were injured.

The accused (whose name will not be mentioned on this blog) is an eighteen-year-old Caucasian boy. According to the police, his intention was to murder as many African-Americans as he could. Only two of the victims were not POC. Upon further digging, law enforcement officials discovered a manifesto in which he also believed the antisemitic bullshit.

To make matter worse, he had previous mental health issues and was able to evade the laws that prevented him from legally buying a firearm. If that was not enough, he lived streamed the massacre. As much as I appreciate the upsides of social media, the companies that run these platforms have some serious work and soul searching to do.

Everything that is wrong with this country is represented by the event on Saturday and the person accused of perpetrating it. There are many who would have no restrictions at all when it comes to firearms, but they will do everything in their power to control a woman’s/pregnant person’s body and their right to choose if/when they become a parent. They also turn a blind eye to the hate coming out of the right-wing press and the politicians who prefer power over respecting democracy, political norms, and the rule of law.

I don’t know what it is going to take to shake us out of this dream world that we live in. I fear that when we do, it will be too late.

May the memories of those killed on Saturday be a blessing. Z”L.

P.S. There were five mass shootings across the country this past weekend. How many people are going to die before we do something about this once and for all?

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He’s All That Movie Review

Movie remakes are the rage in Hollywood, they have been so since nearly the beginning of the film industry. There are two ways this reboot could go. The first is that it stands on its own two feet while paying homage to its predecessor. The second is that on the surface has the imagery of the previous film, but it is nothing but a hollow shell of its forerunner.

The new Netflix film, He’s All That, was released on August 25th. A gender swap reboot of the late 1990’s classic, She’s All That, the new teenage would be lovers are popular girl/social media influencer Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) and artistic rebel Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan). As in the original, Padgett’s boyfriend publicly cheats on her. When she makes a bet that she can do a makeover on any of her male classmates, the chosen candidate is Cameron. As they spend time together, they begin not just understand each other, but fall in love. But the revelation of Padgett’s initial impetus has the potential to break them apart.

The truth is that it does not take a rocket scientist to see where the narrative is going. But, that is this charm of both films. Its sort of a wish fulfillment fantasy about romance that has just enough of reality in it to keep it grounded.

What I liked was that it was not a line by like copy. It has enough of the 1999 film to keep old fans like me entertained while still being set in 2021 with everything that did not exist when I was that age. Add in Matthew Lillard and Rachael Leigh Cook as the high school principal and Padgett’s mother respectively (now I really feel old) and you have an entertaining 90 romantic adventure.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

He’s All That is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Brooklyn Decker Speaks the Hypocritical Truth About the Texas Abortion Ban

There is nothing more hypocritical than a politician speaking out of both sides of their mouth.

I wrote about the Texas abortion ban earlier this week. I am not the only one who is outraged by this law. Yesterday, actress and model Brooklyn Decker shared her thoughts via social media. When a state tightly controls women’s bodies, but is lax on gun control, their actions speak louder than any amount of words can. If this is what it means to be “pro-life“, I have to ask what they mean by stating this and whose lives are worthy of protection?

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Why is the World Silent about Afghani Women When They Made so Much Noise about Israel?

I would love to say that in 2021, women across the world have broken the glass ceiling. The archaic rules of what is “acceptable” for the female gender is nothing but a memory. But the truth is that for every achievement and every right that is ours to claim, there are many who still believe that a woman’s place is in the home.

Since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan last week, the fear of Afghani women is that they will be forced back into the extreme restrictions they were forced to live under in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Though the country’s new leadership has promised to not re-instate the old rules, it is a promise that seems to be more talk than action.

Their promises are akin the Women of the Wall “allowed” to pray in peace at the Western Wall by the Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Speaking of Israel, the world’s reaction to what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan is nothing compared to crap the Jewish state received in the spring. Where is the anger, the outrage, the articles in the press and the posts via celebrities on social media? It is crickets compared to collective noise directed at Israel in May.

The fact is that the country gets shit on no matter what it does. But when there is a life and death issue the affects another nation is facing, the racket from the rest of the world is a pittance. Meanwhile in Israel, women have been free to live their own lives for decades.

Silence speaks more than any word can.

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Bill Cosby’s Release is Both Wrong and Disgusting

Once upon a time (the 1980’s and early 1990’s to be specific), Bill Cosby and his family sitcom, The Cosby Show was everywhere. He was America’s TV dad, breaking boundaries and telling stories that we all could relate to, regardless of skin color.

Cut to nearly 40 years later; Cosby was a felon, found guilty of sexual assault. But as of yesterday, he was released from prison due to the accusation that his due process rights were violated.

Adding fuel to the fire, his TV wife, Phylicia Rashad initially supported him by the following tweet on Wednesday:

“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

By Thursday, it had been retracted and replaced with another tweet.

Starts at 6:09

This is why the #Metoo movement exists. To make sure men like Cosby are given their day in court and then locked in jail for the rest of their natural lives. While I understand that Rashad and Cosby have been friends and colleagues for years, she should not be excusing his behavior. She should be calling him out on what he did and standing by the victims.

As a response to her initial tweet, Howard University, where Rashad is a Dean of the College of Fine arts, has received complaints from students, parents, and potential students. Honestly, I don’t blame them. By condoning him, she sends the message that these kinds of act are not just acceptable, but those found guilty will get just a slap on the wrist.

When it comes to rape and sexual assault, we have finally reached the place in which the victims are believed and the perpetrators get what is coming to them. Bill Cosby’s release is not just wrong and disgusting, it is a cold reminder why we still need #Metoo.

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How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived Book Review

The key element of a memoir is voice. The reader should be able to hear the voice of the writer through the page, as if they are in conversation with one another.

How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived, the memoir by actor Leslie Jordan, was published in April. As Covid-19 spread around the world last year, Jordan took to Instagram to share his thoughts about being home all day. He became a viral sensation, drawing in millions of fans with his own unique brand of Southern charm and telling stories that only he can tell.

I loved the book. It is a joy to read. He is as delightful, entertaining, and authentic on the page as he is on social media. I first noticed him when he played Beverly Leslie, the frenemy of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) on Will and Grace. Of the many side characters, I think I laughed the most when he came on screen.

It is a wonderful book and definitely worth the read.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts On Noa Tishby Calling Out John Oliver

The accusation of war crimes is not to be taken lightly. The problem is that the phrase can be co-opted to misrepresent the truth in a conflict.

During a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Oliver towed the media line and continued to spread the same old lies about the Israel/Palestine conflict. I could show the video, but I would like to be able to sleep tonight. Normally, I love John Oliver. He presents the news in a way that includes much needed common sense but a few drops of comedy.

But on this subject, I cannot stomach the lies he and other media outlets/personalities have shared. Nor can I be silent.

For the rest of this post, I am going to let author, actress, and activist Noa Tishby speak. She is far more eloquent on than I could ever be.

Am Yisroel Chai.

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Firing Gina Carano was Necessary

What we say and do has consequences. Further, what we say on the Internet sometimes comes back to bite us in the literal behind.

This morning, The Mandalorian star Gina Carano (Cara Dune) was fired due to an Instagram post that is without a doubt, offensive.

“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views,” 

Her right leaning politics is not the issue here. The issue is the correlation between being a Republican in America in 2021 and being Jewish in Nazi Germany.

Being Jewish in Europe during World War II was a death sentence. Belonging to the Republican party is not a death sentence.

I take offense to her statement for two reasons. The first is that the entire narrative of Star Wars is about the importance of protecting democracy and human rights from autocracy and hate. The second is that I am a Jewish woman who lost family in The Holocaust. Comments like these make it seem like the six million have been killed all over again.

Only time will tell if Cara will be written out completely or if Carano will be replaced. But there is one thing that is certain, firing her was the right decision.

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