Harry Targ :
The neocons, the humanitarian interventionists, and the new Trump

His foreign policy combines the worst aspects of the two factions of the foreign policy establishment.

Donald Trump, warrior. Caricature by DonkeyHotey / Wikimedia Commons.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | April 19, 2017

Although most progressives preferred a Hillary Clinton victory in the 2016 election, strong reservations about her candidacy existed because of her historic association with foreign policies promoting the globalization of violence, war, and covert operations in countries which challenged the neoliberal policy agenda.

Candidate Trump made bold statements about avoiding escalation of United States involvement in Syria, staying out of the perpetual tensions on the Korean peninsula, pulling the plug on NATO, and opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Most of all Trump seemed to strike a rational chord with his call for improving relations with Russia.
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Carlos Rumbaut :
VERSE | Republic

Public shore marker, San Francisco Bay, Burlingame, California. Photo by Michael C. Berch / Wikimedia Commons.



We are the public.
As in public health and public education.
As in public parks and public transportation.
Public safety, public libraries, public funding for the arts,
public assistance, public discourse,
public outcry and public demonstrations.
We are the public. We are growing stronger.
We are finding our courage and our voice.

There are a thousand paths to the Resistance.
A myriad different ways to say, No Way.
Countless things to do to counter what is brewing.

The best way to resist? To live your values
every day, no matter where you are.
Do that, and you sabotage the system
of one man claiming to have all the plans.
Every chance you get, speak truth to power.
Every time you can, call out their lies.
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘Marcella’ is a twisty 8-part U.K. mystery from a popular Swedish writer

Anna Friel is a female detective with memory problems who suspects she may have killed her husband’s lover.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | April 8, 2017

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Marcella is a smart, involving, British eight-parter in which female former investigator Marcella Backland (Anna Friel) is called back to solve a multiple murder that closely resembles one she tackled 11 years ago. She is disturbed to learn that the serial killer’s fourth victim is a woman Marcella’s husband Jason (Nicholas Pinnock) was having a three-year affair with and whom she confronted the night before her death. Only now she can’t remember clearly.
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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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