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Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Tonight on TDS,  Robert Reich, with the documentary Inequality for All; Kamau's got writer/performer/cultural commentator Kristina Wong; and on TCR it's Andrew Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.
sausage grinder of snark

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Kind of a theme night tonight.

Jon's got Robert Reich, talking about his film "Inequality for All" (you might recall the kickstarter), which will be in 'selected theaters' starting 9/27. There'll probably also be assorted screenings from various orgs who have your email, too.

Multiple articles compare the movie to Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, but better. Or not as good, or just different (sigh). But then, I only found a few articles, and not that many reviews --RottenTomatoes only lists seven at the moment (tomatometer rating is 100%,though). I expect more will pop up over the next few weeks.

Here's a bit from a review on RT:

Sundance 2013: INEQUALITY FOR ALL Review
Matt Goldberg on Collider.com

...Viewers coming into Jacob Kornbluth‘s documentary Inequality for All will find Robert Reich‘s explanation of wealth disparity an eye-opening experience or a remedial course with nice visual aids.  The film is transparently an advocacy documentary, and it won’t change the minds of viewers who are convinced that Reich is a communist or a socialist (also because people who level those charges usually don’t know the definition of a communist or socialist).  Kornbluth finds an affable lead figure in the diminutive Reich, but his well-spoken lesson only leads to facile solutions.

Based on Reich’s book Aftershock, Inequality for All brings us into the Berkeley professor’s classroom where he lays out his lecture: What is wealth disparity, why is it happening, and is it good or bad?  Kornbluth occasionally cuts into the lecture with personal stories from Reich about his youth, why he got into politics, his work as Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, and his passion for the issue of income inequality.  The director and Reich work together to make their lesson entertaining, informative, and—believing they’ve done their job correctly—a call to action.

Inequality for All is a very well-made film.  Kornbluth does a fantastic job with clean, vector graphic visual aids that go along with Reich’s arguably dry explanation of changing percentages as they relate to American wealth over the course of the 20th century.  Even for those who understand the larger points presented in the film, these breakdowns provide compelling facts in a clear, concise fashion...but Inequality for All never pushes beyond its intro-level course.  Audiences seeking to explore more complicated questions will be left wanting.  Granted, the whole purpose of Kornbluth’s direction is to make the issue as easy to understand as possible...

...but as an advocacy documentary, Inequality for All comes to obvious conclusions and tired recommendations...also falls into the same trap as many other advocacy docs: 95% devoted to explaining the problem, 5% to proposing solutions to the problem, and please visit the official website for more...

So apparently it's a 101-level course. Another review from the film's Sundance showing agrees:
...Reich will have viewers ready to follow him into battle, but he needs to lead a charge.

"Inequality For All" is a well-made polemic. It's lively and funny and infuriating and Robert Reich is as appealing a presenter as you could hope to find for a crisis that many people might find hard to embrace otherwise.  It starts a conversation, but it left me hanging...

Stephen's got "Military Intellectual" Andrew Bacevich, with his Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country. Here's a bit from a review by Rachel Maddow in the NYTimes:

America is, truly, exceptional in the scale of our military commitments; it is the defining context of our role among nations. In his abrasive, heartbreaking new book, “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country,” Andrew J. Bacevich starts from the assumption that our modern militarism is unsustainable and unwise. He then proceeds to assign blame, mercilessly: to the public (for our consumerist apathy); to the Pentagon (for its “generals who had slept undisturbed back when Warsaw Pact commanders had ostensibly been planning to launch World War III” but who “now fretted nervously over the prospect of their budget taking a hit”); to the contractors (whose profiteering steals honor from the soldiers they serve alongside); and, naturally, to the politicians. Even Fenway Park and the Red Sox come in for blame, for the staging of a sailor’s homecoming at a July 4 game that left Bacevich all but retching over the “convenient mechanism for voiding obligation, . . . a made-to-order opportunity for conscience-easing.”

Bacevich saves particular vitriol for pro-war writers of both the right and left...a retired colonel, a Vietnam combat veteran and a West Point graduate, but his book’s massacre of sacred cows does not spare the institution he served as a career officer for 23 years...

...He is not out to make friends. And he won’t. His criticism of the Obama administration, and of the public, and of the military, and especially of what he calls the “Israelification” of American defense strategy probably push him beyond the bounds of acceptable discussion in this most sclerotic and cramped of all policy fields. He closes his book with the accusation that those who disagree with his thesis “cannot be said to love their country. Nor can they be said to care about the well-being of those sent to fight on the country’s behalf.” Worse, the closest thing to a hero in Bacevich’s book is a senior Army officer who killed himself in Iraq in protest of his perceived inability to serve honorably in the war. Bleak stuff.

But plainly, Bacevich doesn’t want to get invited to the cocktail parties. The visceral depth of his disgust for war itself — “an unvarnished evil” — is matched only by his insistence that we stop expressing corporate-manufactured, guilt-assuaging “support” for the troops, and instead that we actually love them in the most elemental way: by protecting them from harm. He is the opposite of the Beltway chicken hawk, who proves his seriousness on national security by sending (other) Americans into every conceivable fight...

Other reviews at Amazon and B&N, of course. Kirkus (at B&N) mentioned:  
Bacevich...offers a subtitle that is more than a little misleading, suggesting as it does that his complaint is a general failure to “support our troops.” Instead, the author sees the widespread support-the-troops sentiments only as periodic feel-good moments for citizens who otherwise have nothing to do with the fighting and dying—and as crass opportunities for merchandisers...He goes after some individuals, too; among them is Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose understanding of the challenges in Afghanistan, Bacevich claims, were “spectacularly arrogant or stunningly obtuse.” The author argues that the current system benefits only those in power and that the national security state does little but enrich some people and keep them in power.

A mixture of passion, dismay and cynicism, with streaks of perhaps hopeless hope.

Bit different over at Totally Biased. Kamau Bell's got writer/performer/cultural commentator/etc Kristina Wong, possibly re: this:
If my vagina had a guest book, it would look like the roster of the United Nations (if the United Nations consisted of a small group of broke-ass ambassadors of different ethnic backgrounds). Lately, though, with white guys I’ve dated, I’m consistently finding out that I’m one in a long line of Asian women they’ve dated. It’s awkward.  

White guys with Asian fetishes used to be easy to spot -- pathetic social pariahs planning their sex tour vacations to Thailand, creeping around Japanese language classes. Now, Asiaphiles are attractive tattooed hipsters that possess fantastic social skills, and we meet them through friends of friends.  

When I ask these guys: “What’s up with your long history of dating so many Asian women?”  It’s like I’ve triggered the shaming meltdown of a lifetime -- dudes get nervous, defensive, and very rarely, are willing to engage in an inevitably uncomfortable conversation about race...

4. “I lived in China/Japan/Thailand/Mongolia/Studied Buddhism for a year. I know more about your culture than you!”

Just like I don’t assume to know what it’s like for you to be a presumptuous white man, you don’t know “my culture” until you’ve spent 18 years raised by my Chinese mother and another lifetime fighting off the guilt that I’ll have from publishing the opening sentence of this essay. And who are you to define what my culture is? “Culture” is an ever-evolving diasporic phenomenon; it’s not just about language and ancient customs.  
5.  “I don’t see race.”

Then how is it that your dating habits have me feeling like I’m on an assembly line of Asian blow-up dolls?!  


Also, she'll be going to Uganda soon to work with microloan NGO Women’s Global Empowerment Fund. Hope she talks some about that.  
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