“United Shades of America”: W Kamau Bell looks at US history and “stealing” of indigenous lands (not much yet on reparations); Tim Pool on political engagement for moderates and libertarians

WinStar casino and resort, Oklahoma, near I-35 and Red River on Texas border S of OKC and Ardmore

Sunday night, Aug. 14, W. Kamau Bell and “United Shades of America” aired an episode titled “What Is the Land Back Movement?”, CNN press notice.

The one hour episode looked particularly at Sioux held lands in western South Dakota, and other nearby states, especially the Black Hills. The episode started at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which I have visited twice, in 1974 and 1998.  Some of the episode showed some customs, such as one involving severed buffalo heads.

W Kamau Bell on indigenous people in film

Much of the episode concerned a treaty around 1868 which promised the return of captured indigenous lands.  Litigation ended with a scolding by the Supreme Court in 1980 but with a payout from the US Treasury of “only” $100 million instead of several billion.

In the meantime, the welfare of indigenous peoples has become bureaucratic, and legally obscure to most people (what does tribal autonomy really mean?)   Casinos appeared, which benefitted wealthier indigenous persons.  When I lived in Minneapolis 1997-2003, I often visited Mystic Lake Casino on Highway 160 SW of Minneapolis.  The Libertarian Party of Minnesota often had events there. In one instance in 2002, there was an incident with a party candidate bringing a concealed weapon onto the premises.

As with the well known issues of slavery, one could debate the idea of other reparations.  There is always the possibility that at some point, individual private citizens could be held legally liable, if there had been stolen lands of slave holdings in the ancestral chains above them.  But because most of these situations occur in “red states” and because inheritance and trust law is largely controlled by states, this sounds politically unlikely.

It is also important to note that indigenous peoples on reservations in western states were hit very hard by COVID, partly because of poorer health (especially Type II diabetes because of western diets and possibly weaker immunity because of genetics or lack of prior exposure to coronaviruses).

I wanted to share a Timcast (Tim Pool) video from Aug. 11. 2022, where Tim discusses the ramifications of a situation where a customer of a YWCA in Washington State was banned for complaining about a transgender employee’s bathroom use.  Tim says “the penalty for not engaging in politics is to be ruled by your inferiors”. 

Seriously, many older people (myself included) do disagree strongly with the more extreme positions on both far Left and far Right.  There is a tendency for the more moderate majority to leave actual politicking and fund raising for candidates to persons more polarized on the extremes, which reinforces cyclical and self-augmenting tribalism.  In fact, I write a lot of commentary about the possible significance of many political developments, while refusing to join one side or the other.  I discussed this dilemma here on Aug. 3.  Bur one has to be in a situation of some perhaps unearned privilege to speak out without climbing into someone’s lifeboat and being willing to sink with it (as if recused from the Titanic).  This could tend to work against speech set up the way mine has been over the long run.

Tim Pool talks about the need for “moderates” to be willing to participate more actively in politics

It’s important to realize, in the context of Pool’s video, that this refers to total political participation, not just voting. It means activities like helping others to get to polls, being willing to raise money in your name for “other people’s causes” that you may not personally be in sync with, because voting blocks cross manly lines when it comes to sensitive specific issues (for example, “social and emotional learning” for children vs. age-inappropriate gender-related material). It means not feeling “ashamed” personally of people you pinch hit for, even if you have thought of them as competitive “losers”. It can mean “getting over yourself” indeed.

(Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 11:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

“President”: instructive documentary about a 2018 election in Zimbabwe, maybe foreshadowing our issues in 2020?

BLM demonstrators near White House in June 2020, shortly after George Floyd incident

If you see that a film is given the title “President”, you might think it is about an “average person” running got president in the US or a western country.

“President” trailer

No, Camilla Nielsson’s documentary presents Nelson Chamisa’s candidacy for president in Zimbabwe’s presidential election in 2018.  The country had been through turmoil. A military coup had removed Robert Mugabe in 2017, but seemed to be as corrupt.  Chamisa (then 40, and having recovered from a violent assault a decade earlier that had fractured his skull) did believe he could restores some kind of democracy to the country. 

The whole film (2 hours) aired on PBS POV Monday August 8, starting a half-hour early at 9:30 AM.  The film has had a theatrical release from Madman Gilms and Greenwich Entertainment and looks sharp in full wide screen, 2.35:1. The closing credits were followed by a brief statement by the director.  

A great deal of attention was given to the alleged corruption in the country’s election system, with gaping holes in security that allowed for deliberate mishandling of ballots.  The same sorts of accusations, without basis, were made in the US with Trump’s “stop the steal” meme after the 2020 election, and we know where that led (and the crackdown in social media, especially Youtube, on election misinformation). 

sts rally 201105 at Republican GQ on Capitol Hill

In the film’s middle there is some graphic street violence, and at the end there are enormous hearings on the election.  Ultimate Chamisa’s efforts don’t prevail.

Wikipedia articles present LGBTQ rights in the country as in peril (like Uganda) and as (religious) social values in the country as patriarchal, suppressing women, where men seem to depend on this social conservatism to feel up to carrying out their own marriages.  Chamisa was not an improvement on this issue.

Wikipedia picture of Harare Parliament buildings.

This is a good place to mention the 1987 Universal film “Cry Freedom”, directed by Richard Attenborough, about a journalist Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) who befriends a black anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington) and who has to flee South Africa himself to write the book about Biko (this is several years before Mandela).  I remember seeing it at Northpark in Dallas in 1987.

“Cry Freedom” trailer

(Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2022 at 10 AM EDT)

“Aftershock”: Sundance documentary hits the subpar maternity care for non-white women

NYC from Freedom Tower 2015-11-7

On July 19, Hulu started aired the 88 minute documentary “Aftershock”, directed by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, from Onyx and ABC News and shown at Sundance 2022, depicting the inferior health care to pregnant women of color.

trailer for “Aftershock”

The documentary traces the tragedy of two families in particular, where mothers died of childbirth complications.  The tagline for the film is, “when a black mother dies there is a ripple effect.”  The film focuses mostly in New York City, (a new women’s center is built in the Bronx), Tulsa OK, and Massachusetts.

The film maintains that sometimes doctors are quick to do cesarians rather than natural delivery. It is also critical of the way the practice of delivering babies has evolved.  In the past, the deep south had black midwives who also delivered babies for the owners on the plantations.  The field of delivery gradually became professionalized, but not always with good results.

Toward the end the film shows a natural delivery, up close and very graphically.   The moment where the baby sees the outside world is very sharply delineated and he does breathe right away.

The film predates the overturning of Roe.  But it is well to note that it is very dangerous to expect some women to carry pregnancies with major problems, and ectopic pregnancies can be treated only what is technically abortion (whether by medication or surgery).  The sudden crackdowns in several red states have made it very difficult for some women to get medically necessary care, forcing them to become very ill before an ectopic is terminated. 

I’ve met a male Air Force doctor whose specialty is to deliver babies (of female personnel or of spouses).

Back in 2008, Morgan Spurlock (who had thrown up in public in “Supersize Me” after eating at McDonald’s without the supervision of Johnny Harris) made a film “Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?” where he interviewed people randomly (in various places in the Middle East) on the villain and guessed right about Abbottabad.  At the same time his own life was late in pregnancy and the film ends with him as an attentive husband when his wife gives natural birth to his son. A very nice Baxian epilogue indeed.

trailer for “Where in the World …”

(Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 10 PM EDT by John W Boushka)

Biden suggests GOP would sunset Medicare, Social Security in 5 years; Kamau Bell looks at what CRT, “woke” mean for blacks or other marginalized groups

White House

Recently President Biden has been warning Americans that a GOP takeover of Congress in the 2022 elections could mean that Congress would sunset Social Security and Medicare and require it be re-authorized every five years or it would go away. Padems has a story here.

Factcheck disputes this claim,  which seems to be based on proposals by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), which refer to all or many government programs, in an 11-point plan, which sunsets all legislation every five years.

Part of the debate could invoke the debt ceiling, which keeps getting repeatedly challenged by the GOP (particularly in 2011 and 2013), to burn down the systems.  Remember those meetings between Obama and the “cigarette smoking man”, Ohio senator John Boehner. 

The House Budget office says that the debt ceiling is stable until early 2023, when there could be another fight (especially if the GOP wins the races).

Seriously, since Social Security seems to become more precarious, it’s pretty easy to imagine proposing means testing for existing recipients (a topic I often discussed on Blogger before I shut it down in January this year).  There is a 1960 SCOTUS ruling Flemming v Nestor (based on a very odd case) which maintains that social security benefits are a “welfare” benefit and are not considered legally earned like an annuity.  (For that matter, one of my annuities, from Nationwide, is doing very badly right now.)

 Evan Edinger (American, living now in the UK) explains how conflict of interest (a big issue in my own life) corrupts all three branches of the federal government. It’s “The major problem with the US that no one is talking about”.  He likes plurality voting, which is practices indirectly in Europe.

On CNN, W Kamau Bell, on his “United Shades of America”, on July 10, 2022, looks at the controversy over what “critical race theory” and “wokeness” really mean.  “Woke”, he says, for black people (and sometimes expanded for other marginalized groups) means “awake” and aware of the harm from others (whites) under ordinary circumstances (like “driving while black”).

For a subset of LGBTQ youth, (he would mean) it means awareness of the likelihood of being bullied for not being competitive according to traditional gender norms.

With education, most of all in earlier grades, the challenge is to present history accurately, as to what some of our ancestors really did, without indoctrinating students. School systems may go close to the edge with SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) curricula in lower grades. Some efforts have gone too far, dividing students into “oppressors and oppressed” and making it very personal.

CNN Pressroom announcement gives some details.

PBS has a balanced take:

PBS on teaching critical race theory

Yes, it is important to teach what really happened (as so well told by the book and movie “Gone with the Wind”).   It can be hard to do this in public schools. Especially lower grades, without “indoctrination”. Texas wants to use the euphemism “involuntary relocation” for slavery (as in the 1997 movie “Amistad”). 

GWTW analysis:

analysis of Gone with the Wind

Amistad trailer:

“Amistad” trailer

Extra pictures:

Remaining demonstrators from Women’s march July 9. My videos (YouTube shorts: first, second).

Protest signs demanding society support children who mothers were forced to carry

Also this one:

Qanon debunked sign from lingering protester

(Posted: Sunday, July 10, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)