Monthly Archives: August 2021

FOCUS: Ed Asner Was a Proud Socialist in Hollywood

By Ed Rampell, Jacobin = 31 August 21

The legendary actor Ed Asner, who died at 91 this week, was an unflagging supporter of socialist causes. And he paid a price for his leftism, taking a stand against Ronald Reagan’s bloody Central America interventions and losing a show over it.

Legendary actor Ed Asner died on August 29 at the age of ninety-one, and I am grateful to have spent last Saturday with him before he passed. Ed had a star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame, won five Golden Globes, and had more Primetime Emmy Awards than any other male actor in TV history. Yet the costar of the beloved Mary Tyler Moore Show played his greatest role off-screen and offstage, courageously challenging the Reagan regime’s blood-drenched Central America policy.

Throughout his life, Ed continued to epitomize the actor/activist, using his celebrity to support causes, candidates, and charity. And this is how I was lucky to meet and get to know Ed, interviewing him many times over the years. But let me begin with what turned out to be my final encounter with the man whose most famous role was the gruff yet lovable newsman Lou Grant on Mary Tyler Moore’s long-running sitcom, then as the title character in a spin-off dramatic series.

On August 21, I was invited to attend a party at the home of Jan Goodman and Jerry Manpearl. Jan and Jerry are well-to-do, left-leaning attorneys who often donate the use of their Santa Monica enclave for progressive purposes. We were there to discuss the ongoing, contentious struggle over the direction of the Pacifica radio network.

When I arrived around 6:45 p.m., Ed was ensconced in a chair out on the western end of the patio, engaged in conversation with our host. I pulled up a seat and joined them, noticing that Ed had grown a goatee since I’d last interviewed him in person, pre-pandemic, at his sprawling home in Tarzana. The nonagenarian, who was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, still had a stocky build, although I believe he’d lost weight since I’d last laid eyes on him. For the first time that I’d noticed, Ed also had a walker, which was parked in front of him.

The trio were talking about politics, of course. In the course of their discussion, Ed stated that he was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), something he’d never told me before. We discussed CNN’s recent hour-long program on his fellow DSA member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that had studiously avoided asking America’s second-most famous living socialist a single question about socialism.

Before we moved to the dinner table, the subject of political persecutions came up, and I mentioned that Ed himself was no slacker in that department, having taken a heroic stand against the Reagan administration and paying a steep price for opposing US interference in Central America. In a previous interview, Ed discussed details of what had gone down in the 1980s when he was making the series Lou Grant while serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and how he got into a big brouhaha with President Ronald Reagan, who was himself a former SAG president.

“I was approached by a Catholic nun named Sister Pat Krommer,” Ed recalled. “She showed me footage shot by a Belgian cinematographer about the dead left in El Salvador. I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. This is happening under US aegis by an ally of the United States. Then Bill Zimmerman came to me, having been successful with medical aid for Indochina, and he said, ‘We’re going do the same for El Salvador. Will you be on our board?’ I said, ‘I’d love to.’”

…(read more)

The Morning: The longest war is over

The end

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States and its allies needed less than four years to vanquish their fascist enemies. After the secession of Southern states in 1860 and 1861, the U.S. spent slightly more than four years defeating the rebellion. After the first battles at Lexington and Concord in 1775, the colonies took about eight years to beat the British and create a new nation.
The war in Afghanistan — which ended yesterday, as the final U.S. troops left — lasted 19 years and 47 weeks, dating to the first bombing of the Taliban on Oct. 7, 2001. It is America’s longest war, far longer than the country’s great victories and longer even than its previous protracted defeat in Vietnam or stalemate in Korea.
Over the past two decades, the U.S. has been able to claim some accomplishments. American troops killed Osama bin Laden (albeit in Pakistan, not Afghanistan) and captured or killed other architects of the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan temporarily turned into a democracy where schools improved and women could live more freely than before.
Yet the main accomplishments proved fleeting.
For all of the bravery and sacrifice of the Afghan and American troops who fought together, their leaders failed to create an enduring government or functioning military. Despite two decades of work and a couple of trillion dollars spent, the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed in a matter of days. The regime was evidently no more enduring than it had been five years ago, 10 years ago — or on Dec. 22, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first post-9/11 leader.
Across the span of American history, it’s hard to think of another failed project that lasted so long or cost so much. There have been worse injustices and tragedies in this country, but they were usually deliberate. The U.S. has been attempting to win in Afghanistan for nearly the entire 21st century.
Biden certainly could have overseen a more successful exit than he did, especially if he and his aides had taken more seriously the chances of a rapid Taliban takeover. I also understand that some people believe that an unending, low-level war in Afghanistan was worth the trade-offs. These advocates argue that the number of American soldiers killed each year had fallen into the single digits, while the financial cost was below $20 billion a year (which, by comparison, is a little more than half the country’s foreign-aid budget). In exchange, the U.S. likely could have prevented a complete Taliban takeover and the chaos of the past few weeks.

But it’s worth emphasizing that this option really did mean unending war. After nearly 20 years and no apparent progress toward an Afghan government that could stand on its own, America’s longest war would have continued. It would not have resembled the ongoing U.S. presence in Korea, Japan and Western Europe, where no enemies are launching regular attacks and no American troops are being killed.

…(read more).

Another $25 billion to the Pentagon — for what?

RT AmericaAug 31, 2021
Despite the official war with Afghanistan, a new proposal has appeared in Congress for another $25 billion in national defense. Comedian and “Redacted Tonight” host Lee Camp joins Tyrel Ventura (in for Rick Sanchez) to weigh in. They also discuss problems in assigning blame for the war across four consecutive US administrations.

Pandemic, online learning taking a toll on children’s mental health

CBC News: The NationalAug 31, 2021
Research suggests the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the move to online learning, has led to symptoms of depression in 50 to 70 per cent of children. It doesn’t appear that loosened restrictions or a return to the classroom will improve the situation.

More deaths expected in wake of Hurricane Ida disaster

RT AmericaAug 31, 2021
Hurricane Ida swept through the Gulf coast over the weekend, leaving at least a million people are left without power, and it is being blamed for four deaths in the region. Nearly 5,000 National Guard personnel were activated to deal with the flooding. RT America’s Mollye Barrows reports.

Caldor fire: Thousands flee US resort town Lake Tahoe amid wildfire threat

Guardian NewsAug 31, 2021
A ferocious wildfire approached Lake Tahoe just hours after roads were clogged with fleeing cars when the entire California resort city of South Lake Tahoe was ordered to evacuate and communities just across the state line in Nevada were warned to get ready to leave. ‘We’re in areas that haven’t burned on some records for decades or even 100 years. Fuel load is extreme out in these areas’, said Keith Wade from Caldor Fire Incident Command. Strong winds have pushed the Caldor fire across California towards Nevada. In California alone, more than 15,200 firefighters are fighting more than a dozen large fires. Caldor fire: thousands of firefighters aim to stop blaze from reaching Lake Tahoe Empty beaches and eerie skies as Caldor fire looms over Lake Tahoe – in pictures Chaos as Caldor fire forces unprecedented evacuation of Tahoe tourist town

Steve Lynch: Remove School Board Members Who Support Mask Mandates

NowThis NewsAug 31, 2021
GOP candidate Steve Lynch is calling for the forceful removal of school board members who support mask mandates.

U.S. marks end of Afghanistan war

CBC News: The NationalAug 31, 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden marked the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan by defending the decision to exit as critics express concern about a power vacuum that could allow other terror organizations to take hold.

Conservatives try to sell their version of a carbon tax

CBC News: The NationalAug 31, 2021
For years, the Conservative Party of Canada railed against the very existence of a carbon tax. Now the party is trying to sell its own take on carbon pricing, but critics aren’t sure it will fly with Conservative voters.

Farm Talks – How Is Climate Change Affecting Your Food?

The WireAug 29, 2021
#ClimateChange #VandanaShiva #ipcc #climaterefugee

In the first episode of Farm Talks, Indra Shekhar Singh discusses climate change and its effects on food and agriculture. Beginning with IPCC 6th report the episode covers issues of biodiversity, weather modification technology, eco-refugees, etc with Dr Vandana Shiva. The show also features voices of people from across India talking about climate catastrophe in their regions.

Join The Wire’s Youtube Membership and get exclusive content, member-only emojis, live interaction with The Wire’s founders, editors and reporters and much more. Memberships to The Wire Crew start at Rs 89/month.…

Like our work? Click here to support The Wire:

The founding premise of The Wire is this: if good journalism is to survive and thrive, it can only do so by being both editorially and financially independent. This means relying principally on contributions from readers and concerned citizens who have no interest other than to sustain a space for quality journalism. As a publication, The Wire will be firmly committed to the public interest and democratic values.