Thursday, March 09, 2023

Robert Blake

Bruce Haring (Deadline) reports that Robert Blake has passed.  He was 89 years old.  He had a long acting career.  He had everything and he repeatedly either threw it away or had the worst luck in the world.

As a child actor, he was in the Our Gang films -- better known today as The Little Rascals.  He played Mickey.  Back then, he was billed as Mickey Gubitosi.  He was born Michael Gubitosi.  A lot of us grew up loving Alpha, Buckwheat, Darla, Spanky and the others on The Little Rascals.  

It should have been happy times.  He was a working actor and he was talented.  But he was abused at home, badly beaten, sexually abused, and he ran away at 14. 

He made movies as a teen until he was drafted.  After serving in the military, when he returned to acting, he took the name Robert Blake.  As a young adult actor, he made many films but the classic was In Cold Blood.  

Finally, in 1975, he struck gold with Baretta -- a popular TV series.  But his behavior on the set was tabloid talk -- amazing back in the day when Cher was the tabloids.  They covered Cher relentlessly -- and often dishonestly -- so for anyone to break through in that coverage -- coverage no one wanted -- was rather amazing.  Robert Blake's tirades on the set were one tabloid cover after another.  ABC was done with him.  Bad luck or he destroyed himself.

NBC hired him with hopes -- this is when Fred Silverman was destroying NBC -- but he never had a TV series even though he kept making TV movies (three) that were supposed to be for his new TV character.  During this time, he also tried to return to film acting.  He co-starred with Dyan Cannon in Coast To Coast -- which flopped.  Two years later, Second Hand Hearts was released in which he starred with Barbara Harris.  This was a bigger flop and had been held from release for about two years and then buried.  If you can catch it on TCM when they occassionally air it, it's worth watching.  It's actually a strong film and I'd rank it with Hal Ashby's other great films: Shampoo, Coming Home, Being There, The Landlord and Harold and Maude.  With a real release, that film could have been a huge hit.  Again, bad luck?  

He bounced back finally with the TV show Hell Town.  He played a priest but some objected to the show for its name.  Yeah, that's how touchy they could be about TV shows once upon a time.  It was a big deal when Krystal or Alexis would say "bitch" on TV around this same time and, of course, Phoebe Cates starred in the mini-series Lace (1984) and famously asked, "Which one of you bitches is my mother?"  Then, in 1985's Lace II, Phoebe asked, "Which one of you bastards is my father?"  It was like a Mama Mia without the music.  Unlike the first Lace, Hell Town was not a hit.  And he'd angered too many people.  He had small roles in two films in the 90s: Money Train and David Lynch's Lost Highway and he had one TV movie in the 90s and that was it.  

He was too violent on the sets and had the worst reputation -- again, that all began with the tabloids when he was on Baretta.  In 2000, after a year of knowing her, he married Bonny Lee Bakley and was in the tabloids yet again.  He married her after she gave birth . . . to a child that might be his or might be Marlon Brando's son.  DNA proved it was Robert Blake's and, again, tabloid fodder.  

In 2001, Bonny Lee Bakley was murdered.  Robert Blake was arrested and tried and eventually ended up acquitted.  Did he kill her?  A civil court judgement resulted in his owing -- after the amount was reduced -- $15 million.  He declared bankruptcy.  

Did he kill her?  

Was it more bad luck?

He didn't work after that and he needed to for money.  He ended up trying to sell odds and ends near the end which means he was in need of money.  

He was a fascinating actor with real talent.  Repeatedly, he either had the worst breaks or he destroyed himself.  

And he may have murdered her. 

Throughout his career, he showed so much promise and it just never resulted in anything.  In Cold Blood didn't lead to a huge film career.  Baretta was his only real claim to fame in his adulthood.  That's really sad because he was so talented. 


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:

Thursday, March 9, 2023.  Will the AUMF be repealed, we note the passing of Kevin Alexander Gray, Glenneth Greenwald in his rush to attack Jill Biden attacks all women (no surprise, he's always been sexist), Tulsi Gabbard's home school education didn't teach her about science, and much more.

How long does it take the US Congress to get something done?  Based on the AUMF, some might say 20 years.  The AUMF is the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution that the Congress approved in 2002, the law that led to the Iraq War.  

Joe Fisher (UPI) reports, " The Senate will soon hold a vote to officially end the authorized use of military force in Iraq and Kuwait, which could close the books on the Iraq and Gulf War."  Brad Dress (THE HILL) explains, "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to repeal the Iraq and Gulf War military force authorizations, which are still in effect years after the conflicts ended. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), passed on a 13-8 vote in the committee."  

So 20 years?  That's how long it takes for Congress to get something done?  Well . . .  Maybe we need to wait and see if they are indeed going to repeal it before we say that it only takes them about 20 years to get something done.

Let's leave the disaster that war has made of Iraq for a moment to note Ukraine, specifically an essay published by WSWS:

This essay was submitted to the WSWS by Maxim Goldarb, the head of the “Union of Left Forces of Ukraine - For New Socialism” party in Ukraine which opposes the NATO war against Russia and has been banned and persecuted by the Zelensky government. Last month, the WSWS published a statement opposing the state repression of his and other left-wing parties in Ukraine.

80 years ago, in 1943, Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, was liberated from Nazi occupation by troops of the Red Army, led by General Nikolai Vatutin.

Shortly after the liberation of Kiev, General Vatutin died as a result of a wound inflicted on him in an ambush by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators from the OUN—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. In 1944, he was buried in one of the central parks of Kiev that he had liberated, and a monument was erected on his grave with the inscription: “To General Vatutin from the Ukrainian people.”

The general was deservedly considered a hero; flowers from the people of Kiev always lay at his monument.

And now, in our days, in the year of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Kiev, the monument to Vatutin was demolished. With this demolition, the Kiev authorities also desecrated his grave. 

The destruction of monuments to the soldiers of the Red Army, which liberated Ukraine and Europe from fascism, is going on throughout Ukraine. In some cities, such as Chernivtsi, Rivne and many others, they are demolished, and in some places they are completely blown up, as happened, for example, in Nikolaev.

In addition, many other monuments are being demolished: monuments to the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, to the writers Nikolai Ostrovsky and Maxim Gorky, the test pilot Valery Chkalov and many others.

Moreover, in recent years, cities, villages, streets and squares have been massively renamed in Ukraine.

Since February 2014, after the coup d'état during the Euromaidan, more than a thousand settlements and more than 50,000 streets have been renamed in Ukraine.

Last year alone, 237 streets, squares, avenues and boulevards were renamed just in Kiev,  as the city’s authorities, headed by mayor Vitaliy Klitschko, proudly report. The same government, which for nine years since 2014, when Klitschko first became mayor, could not build in Kiev, a city of 3 million people with constant traffic jams on the roads, a single new metro station, a single new multilevel transport interchange, a single new medical center, a single new campus, a single waste processing complex, and so on.

Where did such an insistent desire to rename everything and everyone come from? Is it because a large number of local residents wanted this? Because they were suddenly no longer satisfied with the names of the cities and streets, where they themselves, their parents, and sometimes grandparents were born and raised? Nothing of the sort. There were no referendums, no votes of local residents on these issues, no one asked their opinion.

On the contrary, in the few cases that polls were conducted, they almost always showed their overwhelming disagreement with the renaming. For example, in the case of the renaming of the regional center Kirovograd a few years ago, which had been named so almost 90 years ago in honor of the famous Soviet statesman Sergei Kirov, the absolute majority of the city's population—82 percent—did not support the decision to rename the city to “Kropyvnytsky”. Only 14 percent supported it. 

But neither in this case, nor in any other of the many cases when monuments were demolished and streets renamed did the authorities care at all about the opinion of the citizens.

Why then is all of this happening? The answer to this question becomes clearer if you look closely at the new names and monuments that are now being erected. 

The avenue of General Vatutin, who helped liberate Kiev from Nazism, which was discussed at the very beginning of the article, was renamed to the avenue of Roman Shukhevych, a Ukrainian fascist. A the time of the attack of Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Shukhevych served as a member of the Nachtigall battalion, a subdivision of the Abwehr (the military intelligence of the Wehrmacht), which consisted of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators.

What was formerly “Moscow Avenue” in Kiev was renamed to the Avenue of Stepan Bandera—another Ukrainian Nazi collaborator, and leader of the OUN (b), the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which during the Second World War “became famous” for its collaboration with the German Nazis, and its genocidal massacres of the Polish and Jewish population.

There are now many monuments erected and streets named in honor of Bandera in cities throughout Ukraine.

Whenever this does end, the facts will emerge.  Questions will be asked.  The media has done a very good job pimping this war and shutting down reality but it does come out.  And if you think there's distrust in government right now, wait until this over and people are aware of everything that's been suppressed and realize that the media, the government and the Sean Penns have treated them as simpletons as they ran their con on the American people and depleted the treasury to back a bunch of Nazis that they installed in 2014.  

A lot to cover today, moving on to a passing.  Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) noted Wednesday:

Kevin Alexander Gray had a massive heart attack yesterday and didn’t make it. He was apparently out doing yard work when his wife noticed it was quiet. They called EMS but they couldn’t revive him.

I had just talked with Kevin last week. He said he was working on his will, but there was nothing to worry about, he just wanted to get it done. Kevin, who was 65 when he died, always felt was living on borrowed time because his dad and uncles had died young of heart failure—in their 40s and 50s.

Kevin was a great organizer on both local and national campaigns (Jesse Jackson). He helped James Brown when he was down. Built black businesses in Columbia, South Carolina. Helped families who’d lost members to violence, poverty, drugs or prison. He was a historian of black movements (Waiting for Lightning to Strike, Killing Trayvons), a gifted polemicist (in CounterPunch, The New Liberator and The Progressive), and a blast to be around.

Kevin Alexander Gray was an important voice and an important writer.  I met him through Bruce Dixon.   I had praised him repeatedly to Bruce in 2007 and 2008 and Bruce began repeatedly saying, "You need to tell him that."  So he introduced us and I did. 

There were many things to love about Kevin and that includes his personality.  He was warm and friendly and he was determined.  If he believed in it, you weren't going to talk him out of it, you weren't going to see him waffle, you weren't going to see him say 'oh, let's table this for now and just focus on what everyone else wants.'  He had convictions and he fought for them and I admired that as much as I admired his spirit.  If he had a 'flaw,' it was that he was too forgiving of some people who deliberately wronged him.  It wasn't easy being a truth teller in 2007, 2008 and 2009 as The Cult of St Barack reached fevered heights.  He told the truth and told it so well that it always packed a punch.  Some 'friends' on the left turned their back on him as a result.  Some of our more well known institutions were no longer interested in publishing him.  He'd just say that they couldn't handle his independence and leave it at that.  He was far too kind and far too forgiving of sell outs and he was a much, much better person than I could ever be.  

He will be greatly missed.  And his honesty, his spirit and his legacy will live on.  

Gray was outspoken on civil rights and political issues for decades, often appearing and speaking at rallies for a variety of causes. He was also an author, penning the book "Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics." 

In 1988, Gray led Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson's campaign in South Carolina. He also was the head of the Rainbow Coalition in the state, a civil rights organization founded by Jackson.

He later served on the campaign of Tom Harkin in 1992 and Tom Clements' Senate campaign in 2010. 

He often lent his name and time to a number of causes. According to Spartanburg-Herald Journal article in 1989, he and the Rainbow Coalition spoke out against the ongoing apartheid in South Africa. He also was a past president of the South Carolina ACLU.

Gray was also involved in the effort to get the Confederate flag removed from atop the dome of the South Carolina State House. The flag was taken down and moved to a nearby monument in 2000 and was eventually moved to a museum in 2015 following the massacre of nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. 

Gray, one of five children, grew up in Spartanburg. His family owned Gray’s Groceries, a small grocery store, Gray in that 2022 interview. He described himself as “radical, even back then” and said his father often feared for his son’s safety in the 1960s South.

“That was my father and his brothers, how they came up... they came up at a time when the Klan was active,” Gray said.

Gray was good at understanding the needs of the community and even better at knowing how to articulate that, his longtime friend, Lawrence Moore said. Moore also said he would tease Gray for his keen ability to memorize song lyrics.

Gray worked as an editor of Black News, a longtime weekly newspaper in Columbia.

“He confronted power, rightly — or wrongly, sometimes — in a very public way,” Eileen Waddell, who worked with Gray at the newspaper said. “Others organized, worked behind the scenes and ran voter registration drives. Kevin took it to people in power verbally, to their face, Black and white, without holding back.”

Preach Jacobs is a Columbia DJ, rapper and writer who has penned columns for The State, Free Times and others about issues affecting the Black community. He said he was frequently in contact with Gray, and one of their last text exchanges was about the possibility of writing a column about mercurial rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Jacobs said he was crestfallen to learn of Gray’s death. “As someone who would write about the Black experience in the South, I definitely see him as a mentor, and someone who would give me perspective, give me advice and give me criticism, when necessary,” Jacobs told The State. “He really loved his people and he loved Columbia, and that was evident in everything he did. ... With his talents he could have gone anywhere. For him to establish a Black-owned business in Columbia, in the community it was established in, was very intentional.”
 Jacobs added that Gray “spoke on behalf of marginalized people in the community” and “amplified Black and brown voices that probably didn’t have someone speaking on their behalf” as much as was needed. 

You can read some of Kevin's writing here at BLACK AGENDA REPORT.  Some.  They never published him that often and then when Glen Ford died, they began their diversification program, you know, where they tried to publish more White convicted pedophiles like Scott Ritter.  Choices.  We all make them. 

Again, Kevin will be missed.  He was the real deal.  His Twitter feed is here.  And Kevin was the author of  "Obama's Big Gay and Black Problem" -- one of the few voices to call Barack out for using homophobia as a campaign tool:

If Obama doesn't win South Carolina with its large African American voter base the race may be over for him. His poll numbers in South Carolina have been up and down. Right now Clinton appears to have the overall lead in the state as well as with black voters. Clinton also has the edge with black women who regularly vote at a higher rate than black men.
Oddly, Obama threw a premature haymaker but it wasn't aimed at Clinton. The target was the GLBT community. Obama's wild swing involved having four of the most abrasively anti-gay gospel singers represent his campaign on his "Embrace the Courage" gospel music tour in South Carolina. The gay bashing headliners included Reverends Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker, Pentecostal pastor of Brooklyn mega-church, the Love Fellowship Tabernacle and Mary Mary (a sister act duo).
The Mary Mary sisters compare gays to murderers and prostitutes. In an interview with Vibe magazine, one of the singers said, "They [gays] have issues and need somebody to encourage them like everybody else -- just like the murderer, just like the one full of pride, just like the prostitute."
McClurkin's previous political involvement was performing for George Bush at the Republican National Convention in 2004. Now he's singing for Obama. And, while stumping for the candidate McClurkin didn't just "get on stage, sing, and shut up" as some in the Obama campaign hoped he would do. He sermonized: "God delivered me from homosexuality" - as though one could simply "pray the gay away." The predominately black crowd inside the Township Auditorium in Columbia clapped their approval of McClurkin's message. Meanwhile a small, predominately white group of gay rights supporters picketed outside the venue.

Do we have to talk about Tulsi?  I guess we do.  

She's not the brightest and she's a fake ass.  In fairness to her, she's not an original thinker so I'm sure she's copying the mistake that I'm about to have to note.  Tulsi believes -- maybe guru Chris told her about it or maybe during one of the cult orgies it slipped out of someone's mouth -- that there are only two "constructs."  You are either born male or born female.  She and other idiots want to talk about genetics.  Heaven save us from the science lectures of the home schooled, save us all.

XX and XY?  It's not that simple as anyone who actually knows science can tell you.  In the most visible proof of it is not that simple?  Intersexed persons.  They exist, they have always existed.  They are a part of humanity.   And I'm wondering how many idiots pushing the various hate laws of late were homeschooled or cult schooled like Tulsi?

I know Jill Biden and I like Jill Biden.  There's not much about Joe that I'll praise these days but I do praise Jill offline.  Online, I've tried to be fair meaning we only noted her once when she was Second Lady.  She wrote an important column on veterans and we noted that here.  After her husband left government, I did note that she had done some strong work on veterans issues and that veterans responded to her -- as opposed to other members of that administration.  (Thomas E. Ricks also made that observation.)  

I've written more about her as a candidates wife in 2020 and as First Lady.  It's much more than I'd like to write.  I almost praised her earlier this week here.  She responded to questions about her son Hunter Biden and did so appropriately.  Hunter's the reason we've had her in snapshots to begin with -- especially noting that she (and Joe) tread a careful line and need to respect it.  

Yesterday, I saw something that went up on Tuesday and said, "Sleep on it."  I have and we're going to note it.  

The great Glenneth Greenwald is and always has been a sexist.  Remember how we were just noting the hypocrisy of him calling out Don Lemon?

Well he went after women again in his attack on Jill.   
The spouse of a surgeon isn't qualified to speak on the intricacies of surgical procedures simply by virtue of being married to a surgeon, and nobody would express interest in asking them about it or giving them a media platform to opine on it. Nobody would value that opinion.


Now I know Glenn doesn't understand how marriage is supposed to work.  For example, most of us with a spouse in the hospital in a very difficult condition with the possibility of losing their life?  Most of us wouldn't be on Twitter and doing interviews.  In fact, that's not how I handled my marriage in crisis moments or how most people do.  If your spouse is in the hospital, you're there for them.  And you don't pretend like you need money.  Yes, Glenn walked away from THE INTERCEPT because the 'legal genius' was too stupid to have sued them (contract law, Glenn, it's not difficult, but then you're the one who ran away and I'm the one who walked away with seven figures on an endorsement I didn't end up doing because I happen to know contract law).  But he made enough at THE INTERCEPT that he could take time off to be there for his husband.  

Marriage is hard for Glenn.

He also no longer lives in the United maybe he doesn't realize we value freedom of speech?  (Brazil has freedom of speech as well but Glenn's like the vacationer that never learned the culture.)  

Jill is married to Joe.  She's going to defend him and no one in their right mind is going to blame her for that.  It's not as though she ran onstage and slugged Chris Rock.  She defended her husband in an interview.  If Glenn's truly bothered by that all I can do is note again that Glenn doesn't understand how marriage is supposed to work.

Then he really sports his stupidity -- a feat he accomplishes more and more these days.  Let's note the second Tweet above one more time:

The spouse of a surgeon isn't qualified to speak on the intricacies of surgical procedures simply by virtue of being married to a surgeon, and nobody would express interest in asking them about it or giving them a media platform to opine on it. Nobody would value that opinion.

Jill isn't qualified to speak on surgery?  I don't believe she did.  And while the wife or husband of a surgeon might not be "qualified to speak on the intricacies of surgical procedures," that doesn't mean that they can't address how the hospital or clinic is run.  Jill's an educated American citizen who's lived many decades and has wisdom from those years.  Exactly what is she not qualified to speak to, Glenn?  

He's such a sexist pig and he always has been.  He was that way in college and he was that with his roll dog in 2007 and 2008 as they went around trashing Hillary in sexist ways -- not for her actual positions (which you can object to) but in disgusting sexist ways.

Now he thinks he's going to say that Jill Biden -- who holds a PhD and who is a 71-year-old woman who has raised kids, worked outside of the home, been Second Lady for eight years (emphasizing veterans issues during that tenure) and who has been First Lady for two years and he wants to argue she's not qualified to speak?

If he'd smear her like that, imagine what he'd say about the rest of us?

Like his ego, he needs to get his sexism in check.

No one has to agree with a single word that Jill Biden offers.  But to imply that she lacks the education to speak?  She has that education -- both formally and lived education as well.

And, hey, Jill's a good parent.  She's not like some people who publicly state that they didn't want to have kids.

Imagine the self-loving loon who would do that, Glenn.  Imagine it, Glenn, and imagine the damage that would do to a child.  And, Glenn, imagine doing it to a child publicly when their father is in the hospital.


That's right.

Glenn doesn't have to imagine.

He did all that himself last year.

One more thing, Glenn.  Jill was not the kid's babysitter while Joe's first wife was alive.  She was not their baby sitter while the first wife was in the hospital.  So allowing your psychopants to post that she was underage and Neilia Hunter Biden was in the hospital when she and Joe became lovers?  You're garbage and you're trash.  And Neila died the day of the car wreck, how stupid are you, Glenn?  

Here's NEWSWEEK -- from December:

There's no evidence that Jill Biden was ever Joe Biden's family babysitter, nor was she 15 when this photo was taken.

According to a White House biography, Jill Biden was born in June 1951 and met Joe Biden in June 1975 when she was 23 and he was 32.

Both Jill and Joe were married before they first met.

The president was married to his first wife Neilia from 1966 until 1972, when she died in a car crash alongside their firstborn daughter Naomi.

Poor Glenneth.

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