Category Archives: RagBlog

Glenn Scott :
THEATER | Gregg Barrios’ delightful ‘I-DJ’ was first play to be featured at Texas Book Festival

‘I-DJ’ is a head-nodding, toe-tapping dance through Chicano and LGBT history.

By Glenn Scott | The Rag Blog | March 10, 2017

Author, poet, and playwright Gregg Barrios has broken many sound barriers in his life and career, and he broke another one at last November’s Texas Book Festival in Austin.

His new play, I-DJ (Hansen Publishing, 2016), was the first play to be featured at the Texas Book Festival. Barrios was a bit stunned that no other published plays had been on the program at the annual two-day book extravaganza at the Texas State Capitol.

“Why is it so rare to think people read plays?” Barrios wondered. But he hastened to add that he was very honored to have his play in the program.
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Lamar W. Hankins :
The ‘unvarnished truth’ of President Trump

Texas Congressman Lamar Smith to constituents: Ignore traditional sources and get your news from President Trump.

Donald nose all. Image from Max Pixel / Public Domain.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | February 26, 2017

“Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.” — Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex)

SAN MARCOS, Texas — The words above were spoken on the House floor on January 23, 2017, by Congressman Lamar Smith, whose congressional district extends from Leakey, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Boerne, and Northwest San Antonio, to New Braunfels, San Marcos, and on into South Austin. Apparently, he believes that his constituents should ignore all traditional sources of news and instead get their news only from President Trump.

One San Antonio journalist, Rick Casey, had the temerity to point out that this was pretty much the way it works in North Korea. His comments were censored, for a time, by the PBS station in San Antonio. The full story should serve as the canary in the coal mine for a free press.
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Thorne Dreyer; Alan Pogue, James Retherford,
and Nathalia Ochoa
STORY & PHOTO GALLERY | Austin takes to the streets

Spirited resistance movement sparks hope amid the fear and loathing.

Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

By Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | February 17, 2017

Gallery of photography by Alan Pogue, James Retherford, and Nathalia Ochoa, below.

AUSTIN — As we suffer through the first month of the Trump presidency, with all its horrors, we have something very important to be thankful for: a thriving multi-faceted nationwide movement of resistance to Trump’s ultra-right-wing, hate-driven message.

And it all started with the massive mobilization January 20-21, 2017, the weekend of Trump’s inauguration.

The women’s actions — in Austin, nationally, and internationally — were significant because they constituted an act of great solidarity on the part of women around the world and a powerful, militant response to the shocking misogyny of Trump and his supporters; because they made for a triumphant counter-inauguration, bringing a resounding sense of hope to a very chilling narrative; and because they may have laid the groundwork for a serious anti-fascist resistance movement in this country.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Susan Rittereiser & Mike Miller; Medea Benjamin & Col. Ann Wright; George Lakey; Philip Russell; and Paul Spike & Bobby Byrd

We talk Austin movie houses, Trump’s ‘foreign policy,’ the success of ‘Viking Economics,’ the failed presidency of Mexico’s Peña Nieto, and the murder of Robert Spike.

Having way too much fun! From left, Rag Radio host Thorne Dreyer, engineer Tracey Schulz, and peace activists Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | February 17, 2017

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host Thorne Dreyer. The syndicated Rag Radio program, produced in the studios of Austin’s cooperatively-run KOOP-FM, has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture.

Susan Rittereiser & Mike Miller: ‘Historic Austin Movie Houses’ and the stories they tell!

Susan Rittereiser and Mike Miller of the Austin History Center are the authors of Historic Austin Movie Houses. We talk about Austin’s early theaters and the amazing history that surrounded them, including how the civil rights movement in Austin helped integrate them. We visit the world premiere of Batman: The Movie in Austin in 1966, and remember how the roof of the Queen Theater caved in during a Lex Barker Tarzan movie.

Read the full show description and download the podcast of our Feb. 10, 2017 Rag Radio show with Susan Rittereiser and Mike Miller, here — or listen to it here:

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David P. Hamilton :
The French presidential election: Does the Left have a shot?

The central electoral issue is, who will win the opportunity to beat Le Pen in the runoff?

Benoît Hamon may be the left’s one hope. Painted portrait by thierry ehrmann / Flickr / Creative Commons.

By David P. Hamilton | The Rag Blog | February 16, 2017

In the wake of the disastrous term in office of “Socialist” president Francois Hollande, the chances that the left could win the upcoming French presidential election are certainly not good, but also not impossible.

In French elections, there are two rounds. The first round has participants from many parties. There are currently 11 announced candidates. Each is given the same amount of television time and expenditure limits. Unless one candidate wins a majority in the first round, the second round is a runoff between the two candidates receiving the most votes in the first round.

The first round of the 2017 French presidential election will be on Sunday, April 23rd and the second on Sunday, May 7th. There will be 4-5 major candidates in the first round and several others representing minor parties who will collectively receive 10-12% of the vote. With the vote split so broadly in the first round, as little as 20% might get one into the runoff.
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Ben Hirsch :
What is Tom Brady, and why does it matter?

The Brady-as-an-underdog tale has got to be one of the most dubious American sports myths.

In Brady We Trust. Photo by d. thomas / Flickr / Creative Commons.

By Ben Hirsch | The Rag Blog | February 15, 2017

I was 11 years old and lived in Hull, Massachusetts, a suburb on the south shore of Boston, the first time Tom Brady – then a sort of floppy, child-like savant not so much immune but oblivious to pressure – led the Patriots to “world champion” status. I really cared; I jumped off of a family friend’s couch when Adam Vinatieri converted the field goal that beat the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams, and hugged my dad like it mattered.

Now, 16 years later, at the age of 39, Tom Brady — the ice-veined sex symbol version — won his fifth Super Bowl, and was awarded his fourth Super Bowl MVP award. He is universally considered the greatest quarterback of all time and is probably the most impressive athlete I have ever seen.
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James McEnteer :
VERSE | Mourning Again in America

Death as a Nazi soldier. Arthur Szyk, 1939.













Mourning Again in America

“I could never throw roses to Hitler” *
Or shake Henry Kissinger’s hand
Or embrace a place whose bombs leave children
Bleeding to death in the sand.

I could never make nice to Dick Cheney
That merchant of torture and death
Or Putin, Duterte or Erdogan
All killers with foul lying breath.

I don’t want a trumped-up country
With freedom and justice for some
Where bankers and brokers are royalty
And everyone else is scum.
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Alan Waldman :
FILM | The 30 films I enjoyed most in 2016

Plus 73 TV series and 31 standup comics.

Dev Patel starred in The Man Who Knew Infinity.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | February 13, 2017

I guess 2016 was a pretty good year entertainment-wise although it was a wretched year otherwise, as Russian hackers, Breitbart liars, CIA dupe James Comey, and Cable news execs foisted Donald Trump on a gullible nation while wonderful Alan Rickman, Gary Shandling, Glen Frey, and Gary Marshall passed away. Although I considered a lot of the big-screen Hollywood fare to be excreta noxia, there were 30 films I enjoyed and that I sneakily suspect you would too.

With my Netflix subscription and DISH TV, I also really enjoyed 30 British programs (27 drama/thrillers, two comedies, one smart talk show), 23 American series (21 crime shows, one hilarious comedy written, of course, by a British genius, and a late-night talk show hosted by a multi-talented Englishman). This year I widened my net and dug 15 scintillating TV series from Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, and Europe.
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Dave Zirin :
SPORT | In the city known as ‘The Big Heart’: Resistance at Super Bowl LI

This will be a Super Bowl with political action outside the stadium and political symbolism all
over the field.

Houston Discovery Green. Photo by Texas.713 / Flickr / Creative Commons.

By Dave Zirin | The Rag Blog | February 4, 2017

HOUSTON — The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are heading to Houston this Sunday for Super Bowl LI, which is shaping up to be a remarkable collision of politics and play.

Over the last week Houston has been transformed by protests against Trump. In addition to its barbecue and the Space Center, Houston is known globally for being a sanctuary for refugees from all over the world. No city in the United States is more welcoming, more open, and more willing to take in those fleeing war and famine.
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Lamar W. Hankins :
How is Trump illegitimate?

Let me count the ways…

Is this man legitimate? Photo by Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | January 25, 2017

Since Rep. John Lewis challenged President Trump’s legitimacy, the mainstream media has stumbled over itself to declare Lewis wrong, saying that it is beyond equivocation that Trump is the legitimate president. While this is true in the most narrow constitutional sense of the term (he received a majority of the electoral college votes), Trump can be seen as illegitimate in several other ways.

Voter suppression. I remember the poll tax in Texas, a system aimed at poor blacks and Hispanics in an effort to keep them from voting by charging them to do so. This worked well both before and after it was adopted as a part of the Texas Constitution in 1902. The poll tax was usually the equivalent of one or two days of a poor person’s earnings.
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Philip L. Russell :
2016: Another bad year for Mexico’s Peña Nieto

His presidency has been marked by corruption, social inequality, and broken promises.

Caricature of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
by DonkeyHotey/ Flickr.

By Philip L. Russell | The Rag Blog | January 18, 2017

Philip Russell will join Thorne Dreyer on the syndicated Rag Radio program, Friday, January 20, 2017, to discuss this article and the Peña Nieto presidency. The show first airs on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and is streamed live here.

Philip Russell writes about Mexico for The Rag Blog. This is the third in his series about the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto.

December 1, 2015, marked the half-way point of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. At that time his approval rating stood at 39 percent — the lowest such rating for any Mexican president this century. As reported in the paper Reforma, during the following year his approval rating sunk to 24 percent as a result of his failure to address chronic problems as well as new aggravations.

According to the government’s own statistical agency, known by its acronym as INEGI, the Mexican public considers insecurity and criminality to be their country’s gravest problem. Peña Nieto, rather than making a dent in the social and economic problems which lead young people to join drug gangs, has continued his predecessor’s failed policy of combating trafficking by taking out kingpins.
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Harry Targ :
Foreign policy: The elephant in the room

An undercurrent in the 2016 election was growing opposition to an activist United States economic/political/military role in the world.

Elephant in the room. Photo by Sam Hood, March 24, 1939. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | January 11, 2017

An empire in decline

United States global hegemony is coming to an end. The United States was the country that collaborated with the Soviet Union to defeat fascism in Europe and with Great Britain to crush Japanese militarism in Asia in 1945. The Soviet Union, the first Socialist state, suffered 27 million dead in the war to defeat the Nazis. Great Britain, the last great imperial power, was near the end of its global reach because of war and the rise of anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa.

As the beneficiary of war-driven industrial growth and the development of a military-industrial complex unparalleled in world history, the United States was in a position in 1945 to construct a post-war international political and economic order based on huge banks and corporations. The United States created the international financial and trading system, imposed the dollar as the global currency, built military alliances to challenge the Socialist Bloc, and used its massive military might and capacity for economic penetration to infiltrate, subvert, and dominate most of the economic and political regimes across the globe.
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