The UnAmerican Struggle

I received a press release for a movie I thought some of you would want to keep an eye out for. It’s premiering at the San Antonio Film Festival on August 2, 2017.

“The UnAmerican Struggle” is a feature-length documentary that examines the resurgence of racism, misogyny, sexism, and xenophobia in America brought about by Donald Trump’s words and actions as a candidate, and now his policies as president.

1366 Films, an Atlanta-based production company, is excited to announce that the San Antonio Film Festival will host the world premiere of “The UnAmerican Struggle” on August 2nd. The city served as one of the film’s prime locations, given its exemplary celebration held each January that pays homage to MLK’s legacy of inclusion and civil rights.

“The UnAmerican Struggle” speaks to the dangers of remaining silent in the face of state-inspired hate and threats to civil rights. Bigotry unchecked ushers in greater abuses to civil rights, as evident through the recent attacks on the free press, the cornerstone of American democracy. As such, the documentary provides a voice to groups affected by the intolerance and bigotry sweeping the nation like a cancer.

“The UnAmerican Struggle” pays close attention to the struggle for equality from the perspective of Immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, Blacks, Women, and Transgender People. Seventeen experts representing the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Diversity Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and local groups, such as Black Lives Matter, lent their voices in the film to help Americans better understand the fight to preserve America’s values of inclusion and civil liberties.

And you know I wouldn’t share this with you if I didn’t have a trailer:

Battle for the Net Day of Action

Press release provided by Fight for the Future.

On July 12, 2017, websites, Internet users, and online communities will come together to sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality. Learn how you can join the protest and spread the word at https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/.

Right now, new FCC Chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai has a plan to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies immense control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, the FCC will give companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T control over what we can see and do on the Internet, with the power to slow down or block websites and charge apps and sites extra fees to reach an audience.

If we lose net neutrality, we could soon face an Internet where some of your favorite websites are forced into a slow lane online, while deep-pocketed companies who can afford expensive new “prioritization” fees have special fast lane access to Internet users – tilting the playing field in their favor.

But on July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them. Websites, Internet users, and online communities will stand tall, and sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality.

The Battle for the Net campaign will provide tools for everyone to make it super easy for your friends, family, followers to take action. From the SOPA blackout to the Internet Slowdown, we’ve shown time and time again that when the Internet comes together, we can stop censorship and corruption. Now, we have to do it again!

Learn more and join the action here: https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12

Drug Wars

When you read that I’m about to discuss a book called “Drug Wars” your mind probably goes straight to America’s “war” on illegal drugs, but you would be mistaken. There is a war involving prescription drugs going on right now that many of us had no idea existed. It’s one where pharmaceutical companies always win and the public always loses.

A long time ago, before the mid-80’s (I can’t believe I called that a long time ago!) people realized that very few generic drugs were coming onto the market. Wait, let me back up for those of you who aren’t constantly on meds like myself. So in the fashion world designer label Louis Vuitton sells its “Saint Michel” purse for $1,700. It’s a bag, it holds stuff. You can also find on your better handbag websites what are subtly referred to as “knock off” versions for a couple hundred dollars. It’s also a bag. It also holds stuff. That’s essentially prescription drugs and their generic versions, except in this case the FDA makes sure that the bags are made of the same primary material. A prescription drug can be hundreds of dollars, but a generic drug is nearly identical at a fraction of the price. With the state of health insurance then, and now, there is an interest in generics for public consumption.

Thus in 1984 The Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, often called the Hatch-Waxman Act, went into effect to stimulate a generic drug market. The Hatch-Waxman Act is a great idea. It attempts to strike a balance between capitalism and the common good. When a pharmaceutical company goes to market with a new chemical that company is given 5 years of exclusivity. It also streamlined the process for companies looking to bring a generic version to the market. Thus the originator gets 5 years of market dominance to recoup research costs, etc. while providing the eventual competition of a generic to make things easier on the consumer’s pocketbook and encourage pharmaceutical companies to get back to the drawing board to innovate and bring another new drug to market that again gets 5 years of competition free existence. Pretty elegant, right?

What no one saw coming, but let’s face it, those in the know probably did, was that pharmaceutical companies found ways to extend their periods of exclusivity, which of course makes things harder on us sickos of America. The use of lawsuits to stall generics going to market is common, and not surprising once you’re reading “Drug Wars”. What was shocking was the collusion between the manufacturers of the original drug and the companies making the generics. When these companies are in litigation they can fight it out, or settle. Oddly the settlement involves the manufacturer of the original drug paying obscene sums of money to the generic, and the generic agreeing to hold off going to market for several more years. There many ways safe and effect generic drugs are delayed from becoming available, and “Drug Wars” does an amazing job highlighting them. The authors, Robin Feldman and Even Frondorf, also make recommendations on how to fix these issues.

If you’re into intricate bureaucracies, healthcare in America, and a few laugh out loud absurdities then you need to read “Drug Wars: How Big Pharma Raises Prices and Keeps Generics Off the Market” by Robin Feldman and Even Frondorf.

To learn more, visit here.

People’s Climate March

This information was provided by People’s Climate March & the Sierra Club.

In the wake of the Women’s Marches, activists have announced a major People’s Climate March on April 29th in Washington, D.C. and across the country. The effort is being organized by the coalition formed out of 2014’s People’s Climate March, which brought over 400,000 people to the streets of New York City and many more around the world.

The April 29th march comes in response to widespread outrage against President Trump’s disastrous anti-climate agenda – including his executive orders advancing the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines – as well as his attacks on healthcare, immigrants, and programs and policies that improve the lives of all Americans. The event will cap off 100 days of action to fight Trump’s proposals to reverse climate action, dismantle our government and hand power over to the one percent.

Over 145 protests in local communities took place across the country in the first 100 hours of the Trump presidency, demonstrating widespread opposition to the administration’s anti-environment and corporate agenda as part of an ongoing campaign organized by the People’s Climate Movement.

The People’s Climate Movement grew out of the largest climate march in U.S. history in New York in September of 2014, creating a groundbreaking coalition of green and environmental justice groups, labor unions, faith, students, indigenous peoples and civil rights groups working to advance a climate agenda rooted in economic and racial justice.

With the 100 days of action and April march, this coalition will leverage their power once again, to resist the Trump administration and corporate leaders’ efforts to thwart or reverse progress towards a more just America.

Now more than ever, it will take everyone to change everything. So, the People’s Climate Movement is calling on everyone to join in resisting Trump, his crooked administration and the one percent who are running our country.

For more information on The People’s Climate Movement and the mobilization on April 29th, please visit: https://peoplesclimate.org/

Don’t Believe the Job Killer Hype

Press release provided by The Environmental Integrity Project.

Washington, D.C. – As incoming President Donald Trump prepares to appoint an anti-regulatory EPA Administrator based on claims that environmental regulations “kill jobs,” a new report that synthesizes decades of economics research documents that this claim is false.

The Environmental Integrity Project’s report, “Don’t Believe the Job Killer Hype,” examines data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as reports from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and more than two dozen economists and researchers.

The federal government data show that only about two tenths of one percent of layoffs are caused by government regulations of any kind, including environmental regulations. Layoffs are caused far more often by corporate buyouts, technological advances, and lower overseas labor costs.

“The evidence shows that there is no simply no truth to the idea that regulations kill jobs or stifle growth,” said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. “In fact, regulations provide huge economic benefits to our society, with minimal, though generally positive, effects on jobs and productivity. On the other hand, the absence of regulation can have severe economic consequences, with perhaps the most notable example being the 2008 financial collapse.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Trump’s pick to serve as the next EPA Administrator. Pruitt has made a career of repeatedly suing EPA for its “overreach” and has promised to make “regulatory rollback” a top goal.

President Elect Trump’s website praises Pruitt for his opposition to what it calls “job killing” regulations. The Trump website features quotes praising Pruitt including this one from Texas Governor Greg Abbott: “I look forward to working with Scott as he brings common-sense policies to a federal agency that has been one of the biggest job-killers in the Obama administration.”

This term has been used repeatedly by Trump and Congressional Republicans, but an examination of economics data and literature reveals that the claim lacks a factual foundation, and is just an empty rhetorical device that journalists should challenge and the public should reject.

Here are the facts, all of which are backed up by detailed citations listed in the report:

• According to information reported by employers to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics, only two tenths of one percent of mass layoffs – defined as more than 50 people laid off for at least 30 days — are caused by government intervention or regulations (of any kind, not just environmental regulations).

• For every job lost due to regulations, 15 are lost due to corporate cost cutting and 30 are lost due to changes in the ownership of business or other organizational changes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• A 2014 review paper from the London School of Economics concluded that the effect of environmental regulations on the competitiveness of businesses is “negligible compared to other factors such as market conditions and the quality of the local workforce.”

• Over the last decade, the benefits of environmental regulations have exceeded the costs they impose by a ratio of more than ten to one, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

• All told, major regulations provide net economic benefits to the U.S. of over $500 billion per year.

• A 2014 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that stronger environmental policies lead to short-term gains in productivity growth, resulting in permanently higher levels of productivity.

• Clean air and water regulations often require power companies and municipalities to hire construction workers and engineers to build filtration systems. A report prepared for the Utility Air Regulatory Group estimated that the installation of a sulfur dioxide scrubber on a 500-Megawatt coal plant, for example, creates over 100 full-time jobs for three years.

• In 2009, Economists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst found that per dollar of spending, solar and wind energy projects create twice as many jobs as coal or natural gas, including more jobs in manufacturing and construction, and more “high-credentialed” jobs at an average hourly wage of $24.50.

Abel Russ, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project and author of the report “Don’t Believe the Job Killer Hype,” noted that by selecting Scott Pruitt to run and possibly dismantle EPA, Trump appears to buy into the argument that it’s better to delegate environmental regulations away from the federal government and towards the states.

“If this happens, we may also see a repeat of what some economists observed during President Reagan’s efforts at deregulation in the 1980s,” Russ said. “States with stronger environmental policies will outperform weak states and create more jobs, while states with weak environmental policies will suffer. Senators should keep this in mind when they vote on Pruitt’s confirmation during the hearing this week.”

To view the report, visit here.

The Environmental Integrity Project is a 15-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health. To learn more, visit http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/.

Banned Books Week 2015

Young Adult books are the focus of Banned Books Week in 2015. Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will run from September 27 through October 3, 2015, and will be observed in libraries, schools, bookstores and other community settings across the nation and the world.

“Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. “These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.”

In recent years, the majority of the most frequently challenged books in libraries have been Young Adult (YA) titles. Six YA titles were on the list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2014, according to the American Library Association. Attempted bans on books of all kinds also frequently occur under the guise of protecting younger audiences.

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read by encouraging read-outs, displays, and community activities that raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Last year, tens of thousands of people participated in Banned Books Week online. More than 500 videos were posted in a virtual read-out, and thousands participated in hundreds of events in bookstores, libraries, and schools and universities across the country.

BannedBooksWeek.org is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can get involved. The website also includes resources and activities provided by event sponsors.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, People For the American Way Foundation, PEN American Center, and Project Censored. (via the American Library Association website)

So what are the top challenged Young Adult* books of 2014-2015?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

Data courtesy of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

* Young Adult literature is generally written for an audience between the ages of about eleven or twelve to about seventeen or eighteen. This is not a steadfast rule, but rather a general parameter. For the purpose of this list, the sponsors of Banned Books Week have defined Young Adult as books that have been taught in middle and high schools, and/or are located in the teen collections of public and/or school libraries.

Curious as to what the full list of banned and challenged books were for 2014-2015? Check it out here.

Report challenges to books to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom! And remember to read!

Looking for a Young Adult book to read? Buzzfeed lists 37 Books Every YA Fan Needs To Read Before They Die (According to Goodreads Users).

10 Questions with John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco, PhD

1. For readers too young to even remember breaking off relations with Cuba. Can you give a brief explanation as to why America decided to sever diplomatic ties with Cuba and put in place the trade and travel embargo?

The United States cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 because Washington was suspicious of Fidel Castro and feared that Cuba would become a communist nation. This was the period of the Cold War, when U.S. leaders and the general public were consumed with curbing the power of the Soviet Union, especially in the Americas. While initially Cuba was not communist, the nation opened trade deals with the U.S.S.R. and refused to bow to U.S. commercial demands and political expectations. President Eisenhower approved a CIA plan to remove Castro from power in what would become the Bay of Pigs in April of that year. Tensions mounted and U.S.-Cuban ties were cut.

2. After that, what have relations been like between the United States and Cuba?

Overall they have been rocky, at least in official terms. The October Missile Crisis in 1962 revealed that U.S.-Cuban animosity could escalate to near world war. The CIA continued attempted assassinations of Fidel Castro. By the late 1960s, there was a cool dynamic of non-communication and non-interaction. President Jimmy Carter attempted some form of reconciliation, but in the end this failed. There has been a steady stream of Cubans immigrating to the United States, to the degree that nearly 2 million Latinos claim Cuban heritage today. There also has been a history of Americans traveling to Cuba in defiance of the embargo for humanitarian, academic, or political reasons. Part of what my upcoming book shows is that Cuba was a resource-rich nation for Left politics in the United States during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Cuba – Photo – John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco
3. You traveled to Cuba multiple times as an academic while the trade and travel embargo were in place. What was that like?

It was interesting and fulfilling in so many ways. Without proper relations in place, things become much more difficult for Americans. Remember that there is still no U.S. banking in Cuba, so I had to do everything with cash – no travelers checks or credit cards. But these difficulties were not insurmountable and they made the human connections that much more important and heartfelt. People opened their homes, possessions, and knowledge to me. Most Cubans I came to know always had time for a conversation and coffee. The hospitality I received—from people with little to give—was at times extraordinary and showed that populations from countries at odds with one another still could have decent humane interactions.

4. What did it appear life was like for the average Cuban while living under the U.S. embargo?

For the average Cuban, life was (and still is) difficult. “No es fácil” (It’s not easy) is something you hear often around Havana. If one is able to work in proximity to tourists or has additional income from remittances from friends and family living overseas, then his or her life can be better. But for those relying on the government system alone, day-to-day life can be quite encumbering.

5. How did cultural exchanges, perhaps the best known being the Buena Vista Social Club franchise affect Cuba’s relationship with the West?

There has been a constant stream of tourism to Cuba, including from the United States, so when the film came out more tourists were requesting these songs. Cubans found this humorous because this style of music was older, from the 1930s and 1940s, but tourists wanted these songs. So Cuban musicians rediscovered these melodies in order to satisfy the tourist demand for them.

6. And how did academic exchanges, like your experiences and Cuba offering medical training to Americans, influence their relationship with the West?

Cultural and academic exchanges have been hugely important to maintaining some sort of link between countries. A lot of Americans do not know that some of their fellow citizens have trained to become doctors in Cuba. The academic friendships I made have been the foundation to my field of study and my current career. These are avenues of dialogue that have succeeded where traditional government channels have failed.

7. Now the Obama administration wants to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba, including a U.S. embassy in Cuba, and the recently opened Cuban embassy in Washington D.C. and a large portion of America flips out. Republicans, Democratic, progressives, and conservatives. What’s going on there?

Actually, for many years now most Americans have favored normalization of ties with Cuba and a repeal of the embargo. A recent Florida International University poll disclosed that now even the majority of Cuban-Americans favor reestablishing diplomatic ties and overturning the embargo. The issue is that the pro-embargo constituency is strong and well connected. They have reliable representation in Congress and still enjoy economic and political influence.

8. Do the guys flipping out have valid points?

Yes they do. One of the main points of contention is human rights violations in Cuba. Political imprisonment, limited access to free speech and information (like internet), political intimidation—there are many things Cubans have to live with that most democratic governments, the U.S. included, do not support. However, anti-embargo people say that the embargo has not forced the Cuban government to abide by U.S. standards of leadership. Normalizing relations has a better chance of doing this because the Cuban government realizes that it will have to make concessions in order to have a fruitful relationship with the United States and with other nations in the hemisphere. In fact, Havana has already made some favorable changes in recent years. Finally, by repealing the embargo, the United States will be conforming to the desires of the international community. In 2013 the UN General Assembly voted 188-2 in favor of the United States ending the embargo. Only the U.S. and Israel voted no. It was the 22nd year in a row that the UN has voted this way.

9. So seriously, where does this leave me with getting a bottle of Havana Club Rum at my local liquor store?

That might be some time, yet. However, people have been bringing back Cuban rum into the United States for years, so it depends on the connections of your local spirits guru.

10. Parting Shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Is there any room for Cuban food on this buffet?

Oh absolutely! Cuban Sandwich? So good! Frita, the Cuban hamburger sounds delicious. Always room for more food at this buffet!

About John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco:
John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco, PhD, became interested in Cuban history when he studied in Spain during his junior year in college. He entered the PhD program in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), and after his first (of four) visit to Cuba as a graduate student, decided to make it a part of his specialization. Toward the end of his graduate study, Dr. Gronbeck-Tedesco was awarded UT’s most prestigious dissertation fellowship.

He is currently an Associate Professor and Convener of American Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Dr. Gronbeck-Tedesco has presented at several conferences outside of the United States and is among the growing number of scholars committed to international and transnational studies.

He is the author of the forthcoming book, “Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975” (Cambridge University Press, October 2015) and has been published in academic journals and different online forums including Journal of American Studies, Journal of Latin American Studies, Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, American Quarterly, CounterPunch.org, TheHill.com, Truth-out.org.

What if the U.S. Disappeared?

By Dr. Saqib Qureshi

Of course that’s not happening, unless somebody knows how to use the Force in ways which George Lucas hasn’t envisioned, but let’s just imagine a world in which the US government completely withdraws from the rest of the world. Let us just imagine. This is not a bizarre idea. After all, hundreds of millions of people world over accuse the US of failing to mind its own business, of interfering and poking its nose where it’s not wanted. And there is also the non-interventionist tradition within American foreign policy, a position that ironically enough emanates from Robert Walpole, Britain’s prime minister from 1721 to 1742, and was later shaped by presidents Jefferson and Monroe.

So what will happen? What will a disengaged world look like? Well, for a start, there’d be a big economic problem…. and I am not referring to the elimination of the US$50bn in foreign aid which DC doles out every year through the State and Defense Departments, as well as via multi-lateral organizations. Mind you, some countries would be the up the wall … Afghanistan and Israel each receive from the US about hundred times the aid per capita which Bangladesh and South Africa receive. It’s fair to say that Afghanistan would be ‘game over’, that is assuming it wasn’t already, while Israel would need to reduce its military spending and seek a fair peace with the Palestinians.

The real big economic problem is that US federal government needs loans (largely from China via bonds) for funding. An America that cuts itself off from the rest of the world will rapidly realize that it can’t function. It won’t be able to pay civil service salaries, infrastructure development and all the other things that the government currently covers. To cut to the chase, the US would go through a massive recession… since not only would the government have to rapidly reduce its spending, but exports would take a hit too. After all, with the US in recession, there’s a good chance that the world will enter a recession. Where is everything ‘Made in China’ going to go? For that matter, where is everything ‘Made in America’ or ‘Designed in California’ going to go?

World politics would also be affected, maybe not … but maybe as badly as world economics. NATO countries, Japan, Israel, the Gulf countries, South Korea and Taiwan would feel the loss of America’s shield. Since they and their neighbours will struggle to raise military spending in a recession, resolving regional tensions would take on a greater sense of urgency. NATO and Russia would listen more carefully to each other, as would America’s Asian allies to China, the GCC to Iran and Israel to the Palestinians and Arabs. There is though a real risk that economic frustrations are politically channeled through war, even if most of these countries have nuclear deterrents. This credible counter-scenario to my proposed scenario is nuclear war… and that partly comes down to domestic politics and society.

With a sharp economic recession and the collapse of various UN agencies which get their funding from the (withdrawn) US and other countries which can’t afford the to keep up their dues, countries will have tougher societal issues to deal with than in a world with an engaged US. Poverty rates would explode. Law and order, as well as political stability could be up for grabs. Full term parliaments would become rarer than they already are. Institutions of civil society would be starved … fewer people would donate to charities and non-profits, or even to pay for the news. Hospitals and other societal infrastructure would be severely strained. And the nastier end of the human spectrum, the xenophobes and racists, would get a wonderful kick in the arm much like Hitler got in the early 1930s. That would have an interesting impact on inter-state politics.

So, what do I conclude as we ponder the meaning of 4th of July? I’m fasting – it’s Ramadan but I can still somewhat think. Yes, there’s a fair chunk that the US does which it should be ashamed of and needs to fix (do I need to mention Guantanamo, black church-burnings, poverty levels, Islamophobia etc?) …. but we are probably ALL better off with an engaged US than an isolated one.

About Dr. Saqib Qureshi:
Dr. Saqib Qureshi is a divergent strategist who looks at things a little differently. He writes intellectual and thought provoking articles on Reconstructing Strategy and received his PhD from the London School of Economics. Dr. Q has lived in Europe, Asia and North America and has worked for McKinsey & Co., HSBC Investment Bank and several governments. He was the first person to appear on British television to raise concerns about Muslim extremists in the West and the failure of western culture to properly understand the Muslim community. His new book, “Reconstructing Strategy: Dancing with the God of Objectivity” is available now.

Hillary: The Coloring Book

Yep, Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic nomination to be candidate for President of the United States. I’m in New York so I had her as a first lady, then a senator, then primary candidate, then Secretary of State, and now this. For as polarizing as a public figure as Clinton may be on the national and international stage, you can turn that dial up to 11 in New York State. Maybe it’s different down in the city, but upstate where I am, she’s loved, she’s hated, she’s put up, even people that love her have hang ups with her, and oddly, even people that hate her, no, they pretty much just hate her. Yet all of those people can unite behind one thing, “Hillary: The Coloring Book” by Valentin Ramon and Kelly Glover.

This is a fun activity/coloring book that profiles Hillary Clinton’s life and career. It starts with her birth and childhood. Yes, you can color a little Hillary Clinton in her Girl Scout uniform. The book was published before everyone 100% knew she was going to make a go of running for President again so it ends with you helping to design her potential 2016 campaign poster. An example of what you’ll do is this:

A Run at the White House

I have a limited supply of colors to draw from so my choices for skin tone were alabaster vampire or a weird orange/George Hamilton hybrid. I opted for vampire. Insert vampire politician joke here. Also, in looking at the choices I made for the jacket and blouse for what we all know is a pant suit, I realized I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Clinton in that soft of tones. We’ll call this my idealized Hillary. To be honest, my idealized Hillary is Bernie Sanders. And my idealized Bernie Sanders is Dennis Kucinich. I’m going to be one sad young lady on November 5, 2016. Where the hell was I?

Ah ha! The text that goes with my idealized Clinton coloring is:

As early as 2002, Hillary had hinted that she might soon run for president. Speculation grew over the years and came to a head on January 20, 2007, when Hillary formed an “exploratory committee.” She made the announcement in no uncertain terms on her official website with the simple statement, “I’m in. And I’m in to win.” Her story was irresistible; Hillary was the 25th woman to run for president and the first former First Lady make a run at returning to the White House as the president herself.

She received more media attention than any other candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries, which included a host of male candidates, including Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson. As the primary election went on, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, a young senator from Illinois, quickly became the clear front-runners, with many of the other candidates withdrawing within the first few weeks.

“Hillary” is a fun, kitschy, and informative and perfectly priced at a suggested retail of $10.00. Give it to a big Hillary fan for them to have fun with. Give it to children, especially girls, as an educational gift. Give it to your favorite Hillary hater for them to deface! I told you at the beginning, “Hillary: The Coloring Book” is perfect for everyone!

24 Hour Joe Show

I suspect it comes as no surprise that my political inclinations are progressive, and thusly I found myself curious when given the opportunity to watch an advance screener of “The Joe Show”, a documentary about Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Would it celebrate him? With publicized appearances from known Arpaio supporters Ted Nugent and Steven Seagal it would seem like it. Yet even if it celebrated someone whose politics I felt certain no documentary could give me a warm fuzzy about, I couldn’t resist. I watched the Sarah Palin documentary “Undefeated”. I could handle whatever “The Joe Show” had in store.

Joe Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. You may know him as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”. Sheriff Arpaio is nationally known, and in many cases internationally known, for having prisoners wear pink underwear, erecting Tent City (an outdoor tent prison), feeding prisoners food salvage, being overly enthusiastic about cracking down on illegal immigration, investigating the origins of President Obama’s birth, and more. Fortunately for the press, he loves media attention.

However “The Joe Show” was eight years in the making, and that means eight years of access to the Sheriff and Lisa Allen (the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Media Person), as well assorted constituents, activists, and supporters. It’s not surprising to think Arpaio would allow a documentary film to be made about him, and as the film starts it’s a very neutral experience. Basic background, friends and supporters.

Then things begin to turn. As I said, I already know my politics don’t mesh with Arpaio’s. I’m not down with Tent City, meals of food salvage, or the birthers. Yet with not living in Maricopa County I never went out of my way to follow what had been going on over there. I don’t want to do a big info dump on you here, because you should really just watch the documentary, but we’re talking about abuse of power, devastating failures to investigate sex crimes, and racial profiling. While it’s going on he just keeps getting re-elected. Apparently “The Joe Show” is just too entertaining for the voters of Maricopa County to let go.

Love him or hate him you’re not going to want to pass up on watching “The Joe Show”. It is a well-paced, entertaining, and eye-opening documentary.

The Joe Show – Official Trailer from FilmBuff on Vimeo.

“The Joe Show” will be released December 16 on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, GooglePlay, Xbox, Playstation, and Vudu.