Are Tom Steyer and the Center for American Progress (CAP) Responsible for the Death of ThinkProgress?

“Now-unemployed TP writers like Rebekah Entralgo Fernandez single out one very specific CAP board member for conspicuous consumption of the website’s dwindling funding resources. In a recent Twitter thread, she argued that billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer’s doomed 2020 Presidential campaign could have “funded TP for a decade.” Steyer reportedly spent upwards of $8.7 million just on Facebook ads alone, money that could have kept the site running for the foreseeable future.

In a further act of alleged cynicism, Steyer’s staff is accused by Fernandez of recruiting the very same content experts he helped send to the employment line, for positions on his ill-fated campaign team. In short, according to some of TP’s stranded talent, Steyer spent millions on a vanity presidential run rather than help ThinkProgress remain solvent. Self-interest ahead of employees and the public at a time when publishing a strong, well-funded counter-narrative to the “fake news” of Fox’s alternate reality is more critical than ever.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

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Trump in Space

The cast of Laugh Out Loud Theater’s ‘Trump in Space.’ (Photo: Tyler Core)

“Love it or (more likely) loathe it: the Trump administration has gifted America with comedy gold. POTUS 45’s more hateful policies (such as a xenophobic immigration strategy infused with class warfare or fossil-fuel tilted deregulation) are no laughing matter. Though many are feeling the country less morally tolerable by the second, we’re often surprised by genuine if unintentional humor. It’s hard not to laugh at former Trump press secretary-turned-dance-competition-contestant Sean Spicer, or the linguistic presents we’ve received from our Commander-in-Chief’s illiterate tongue and keyboard – “covfefe,” “infantroopen” and so much more. So why is Trump in Space not funny?

Many, including myself, had high expectations for the limited run at Chicago’s Laugh Out Loud Theater. Lampooning this White House should be as easy as shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. The show is a product of the esteemed Second City Hollywood Studio Theater, where it has enjoyed a 23-month stint with rave reviews. In the hands of the original, founding Windy City chapter of the comedy powerhouse, I figured what has already been found quality can only improve.

As it turns out, that’s not true. It’s impossible to say with certainty, having not seen the California edition, what liberties the Chicago troupe took with the source material. As with any improv comedy piece, Trump in Space appears to have broadly drawn plot elements with plenty of room left for individual craftsmanship. What I can say with conviction is that with this group of performers, in this city and on this stage, the work is disappointingly bland and uninspired.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Red Tape Theatre’s ‘All Quiet On The Western Front.’ (Photo: Austin Oie)

“Red Tape Theatre’s artistic leadership has a knack for creating relevant works that offer important critiques on the sociopolitical issues of today. This latest production continues that pattern by dusting off source material about human suffering that accompanied the world’s first tango with industrialized trench warfare — just as we’re grappling with new concepts of violence at the hands of weaponized trade, immigration and environmental policy.

With a terrific, diverse ensemble cast led by the electric Elena Victoria Feliz in the role of Paul, this rendering of Mr. Remarque’s novel leverages music, rhythm and special effects to humanize a band of German soldiers on the wrong side of history. Familiar pop tunes with themes of war, movement and strategically placed smoke dissolve nationality and “siderism” into a universal parable of fear, longing and inevitability. Agnostic of time or place, the troops dance the haka to communicate wild male aggression, and it works. We understand that when so much is unknown, it’s psychologically safest to keep moving, to stay muted and guarded.

So much of this understanding is communicated through Ms. Feliz’s eyes. It could be easy to dismiss her mostly silent role, but the performance and her character are the production’s moral, emotional and physical center. Paul is the omniscient narrator who knows how the story of the 2nd Company ends, even as he’s living it, stoically following through every chapter with empathy and tremendous sadness. This earns Paul the respect of his platoon and solidifies for the audience that Paul’s is the balanced perspective through which we should collectively process the experiences we see onstage. Ms. Feliz achieves this narrative feat using very little more than eye contact with her fellow actors, the folks in the cheap seats, even with the sound engineer. This young actress is going to do big things.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

Mad Man in the White House: Trump’s Mental State is a Public Health Crisis

“Just three days ago, writer James Fallows of The Atlantic published the thought provoking, If Trump Were an Airline Pilot. The piece wrestles with a historical paradigm when it comes to professional medical or mental health speculation regarding a public figure: if you haven’t examined them personally, don’t talk. Then of course, if one has treated a person of repute for a physical or emotional condition, HIPAA and confidentiality laws forbid discussing it.

Essentially health care providers are banned – by social constraint and rule of law – from offering testimony in the court of public opinion about a person’s fitness for office. Fallows challenges this assumption however and asks if the rules, at least in Trump’s case, pose a greater threat to the public good than a frank discussion about the President’s evident, erratic impulses. He reports on experts who are breaking with tradition to take their professional concerns about Donald Trump to the people.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Toni Morrison’s Work and ‘Unapologetic Blackness’ Serve Rebuke to Trump’s Racist America

“What narratives is the United States, under the ‘leadership’ of Donald Trump generating now? Separated immigrant families, children in cages, unarmed people killed by a militarized police force, a proliferation of weapons that turns any lone gunman with hurt feelings into an instant mass murderer. The policies and products of an administration that leverages congressionally unchecked power to make miserable the lives of the many, in service of one very large, frail, white male ego.

If she hadn’t left us this past Monday morning, how would Morrison have written about the latest 2019 appearance of the ‘dark, psychic force,’ that Marianne Williamson identified as underpinning America’s failure as a cultural melting pot?

While we’ll never have new words from the Nobel Laureate, we can be grateful for those she left to help us confront the racism corroding our national soul. In December 1993, she warned a Stockholm, Sweden audience of ‘infantile heads of state’ who speak only ‘to those who obey, or in order to force obedience…Oppressive language does more than represent violence…It is violence.’

We still have an opportunity to do as Morrison did, to move the lives of the asylum-seeking immigrant, the impoverished, imprisoned and powerless away from the margins and toward the center of the story of Donald Trump’s cruel, racist America. Though we’ve collectively lacked the author’s urgent persistence to tell the truth about who we are, it’s never too late to start.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Just Chilling

The cast of ‘Just Chilling.’ (Photo: Pat Radke)

Just Chilling contains several original ideas, including subtle but clear allegorical allusions to the chaos engulfing our current national politics via an illiterate, ill-informed Washington zombie of the living variety. Are there more substantial community dangers in pretending everything is business as usual, even as people’s metaphorical and literal faces are being eaten? Do we owe each other unvarnished truth? These are weighty questions, and academic nuance one might not expect from a comedy staged in a theatre space best known for improv. The laudable effort from Mr. Radke to actually say something renders Just Chilling far more interesting than sci-fi trifle.

In the grand tradition of the best psychological horror, a zombie is never seen, nor do bloody figures dragging their decaying carcasses in pursuit of the living appear. Instead, the potential end of days unravels through the conversations and dynamics of its six characters thrown together by crisis as they drink, worry and tear each other apart inside a Gold Coast apartment building.

Thirty-something yuppie couple Rod (Dave Satterwhite) and Lani (Liz Greenwood) reside in the flat where the disparate personalities converge. An entirely separate Pinter-esque play could be made from their toxic relationship, which crackles with resentment, breeched intimacy and smugness. The zombie apocalypse trope does not typically demand this much in the way of character depth, but the audience is better engaged for it.”

Read the full review on The Broadway Blog.

If Mainstream Media Deems This Week a “Good” One for Trump, All Remaining Credibility Is Lost

“With the 2020 election gearing up in earnest and over 70 percent of Americans believing the country is headed in a wrong and dangerous direction, we must demand more ‘truthiness’ from the media. They work for us, the public, not Donald Trump. And guess what? The President doesn’t think much of the journalistic profession anyway. When Fox News commentators claim that Trump is beating the mainstream media at their own game, they’re not wrong.

No matter what certain members of the mainstream media tell us, things are not going well for POTUS 45. It’s in the interest of all to root for the success of the country’s leader of course, but in his particular case, what’s good for Donald Trump and his band of cronies almost always flies in the face of the national interest, the betterment of regular Americans and their families. A ‘good’ week for him is a necessarily bad one for us regular folks. And when the President bumbles and stumbles as he does so often on the national and international stage, the threats to Americans become that much greater.

All of Trump’s ‘winning’ is costing us the environment, international credibility and the lives of immigrants and their children. If the sentient beings that comprise the mainstream media workforce care about the future of our country, they’ll quit handicapping the narrative in favor of the goon who’s happy to bring it all down upon our heads, if it makes him a buck.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.