(*The following Opinion piece is by famous Conservative columnist George Will and is being reprinted here after its appearance in the Quad City Times. Will writes for the Washington Post.)
Moments after becoming president on August 9, 1973, Gerald Ford said, “Our long national nightmare is over.” Having served a quarter-century in Congress, he understood that presidents are to “take care” that laws produced by the first branch of government are “faithfully executed.” The nation in 1974 was eager for a collegial respite from the gladatorial strife that had consumed the country during urban disorders and the Watergate slew of scandals.
Joe Biden’s election will end National Nightmare 2.0, the nation’s second domestic debate in two generations. Thomas Hobbes supposedly said, is truth seen too late, and in 2020 the nation, having seen it in the nick of time, will select for the Oval Office someone who, having served 36 years sixteen blocks to the east, knows this: A complex nation cannot be governed well without the lubricating conciliations of a healthy legislative left.
Biden won the Democrats’ nomination by soundly defeating rivals who favored—or, pandering, said they favored—a number of niche fixations (eg., abolishing ICE, defunding the police.) He clinched his nominations earlier and easier than did the winners in the Democrats’ most recent intensely contested nomination competitions (Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in 2008; Clinton against Bernie Sanders in 2016).
Biden does not endorse Medicare for All: He understands, as some competitors for the nomination amazingly did not, that for several decades organized labor’s most important agenda has been negotiating employer-provided health care as untaxed compensation. Similarly, Biden does not oppose fracking, which provides many of the 300,000 Pennsylvania jobs supported by the oil and gas industry, and many others in Ohio and elsewhere. He understands, as some progressives seem not to, that presidential elections are won not by pleasing the most intense faction but by assembling a temperate coalition.
Biden has not endorsed packing the Supreme Court: When Franklin Roosevelt, after carrying 46 of 48 states in 1936, tried that maneuver, the blowback in the 1938 Congressional elections erased his liberal legislating majority in Congress, and coalitions of conservative (mostly Southern) Democrats and Republicans prevailed until President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide produced a liberal congressional majority—briefly.
Biden came to the Senate 8 years later, in the aftermath. In 1965 and 1966, Democrats wielding lopsided congressional majorities (295 to 140 in the House, 68 to 32 in the Senate) had hinged beyond majority public opinion. Voters’ retribution included Republican victories in 5 of the next 6 presidential elections. Also, Biden was Vice President in 2010 when the electorate, after just 2 years of unified government under Democrats ended it.
One of Biden’s closest confidants, who has an agreeable preference for anonymity, says that Biden was initially ambivalent about seeking the 2020 nomination but “Charlottesville put him over the edge.” The confidant refers to the violence provoked by the August 2017 anti-Semitic demonstrators, and to Donald Trump’s assessment that ther were “very fine people on both sides.”
The confidant calls Biden “a relief pitcher—he’s warming up in the bullpen right now,” preparing an administration with “a broad array of people.” The confidante recommends taking seriously Biden’s campaign slogan ‘Building Back Better.‘ The “Back” acknowledges the national desire for reassurance “that the world, as they knew it, is recoverable.”
Many of Trump’s current campaign ads portray a dark fraying America. They evoke the “hell hole” America that DJT described in 2015 that presaged his inaugural address reference to “American carnage.” Biden’s optimistic ads suggest that although it is not now, it soon could again be, “Morning in America.”
Trump apologists say that prior to Covid-19, all was well. “All” means only economic metrics: An American is supposedly homo economicus, interested only in consumption to the exclusion of civic culture. And never mind a pre-pandemic $1 trillion deficit–at full employment.
Such apologists insist that Democratic administrations jeopardize prosperity. So these apologists are not merely projecting their one-dimensional selves onto their more well-rounded compatriots, they are ignoring 120 years of inconvenient data (as noted by Jeff Sommer in the New York Times): “Since 1900, the stock market has fared far better under Democratic presidents with a 6.7% annualized return for the Dow Jones Industrial average compared with just 3.5% under Republicans.”
Nixon’s “imperial presidency” included Ruritanian White House uniforms, which did not survive nationwide snickering. Gerald Ford’s presidential modesty produced reports of something that was remarkable only because it was remarked upon: At breakfast, Ford popped his own English muffins into the presidential toaster.
Forty-six years later, an exhausted nation is again eager for manifestations of presidential normalcy.
Drive-in theaters will definitely make a “comeback,” if you want to call it a comeback when there were always a few that were still operating.
My birthday was Thursday and, in an attempt to go to a movie somewhere other than my living room, I searched for any operating theaters in a two-state area near me (IA/IL). None of the indoor theaters were operating, but there were a few drive-ins open and operating. One was in Delmar, Iowa. One was in Maquoketa, Iowa, and one was in Blue Grass, Iowa.
Since Blue Grass was the closest to us, we went to it on Friday night. I spoke with the Manager, who said it has been in operation since 2014. It is a 10-acre plot in a field near the small town of Blue Grass, Iowa, and the screen is a ‘cube.’ allowing them to show 3 different sets of double features.(They haven’t gotten the fourth side operational yet). We selected “The Rental” with “The Big Ugly,” which was premiering that night at the drive-in. I think “The Rental,” directed by Dave Franco, is also streaming on Hulu and it featured Allison Brie and 3 other young actors who had rented a lovely remote vacation spot that was, apparently, owned by a homicidal psychopath.
Who was in these movies? Well, “The Big Ugly” was a chance for Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”) to square off opposite Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”). There were also quite a few “old reliable” character actors rounding out the cast, including Bruce McGill, who was D-Day in “Animal House” and has appeared in any number of films since then, and Nicholas Braun (“Succession”) as Will, plus a promising new-comer, Brandon Sklemar, who played Perlman’s no-good son, Junior.
I took the opportunity to speak with the manager of the complex, which makes most of its money on the popcorn and pizza and other edibles they sell and requests that you not bring your own food. (Plus, no alcohol). The tickets were $10. The large pizza, 2 large (refillable) diet cokes, and a large popcorn were about $36. All together, the cost of the evening was about $50. We took lawn chairs and watched Movie Number One sitting outside and watched Movie Number Two inside the car. The film began at about 9 p.m. and the whole evening took until about 1 a.m.
The manager told us that the owner, when he retired in a few months, wanted to make the fourth side of the cube in the middle of the 10 acres into a fourth functioning screen. Right now, they show 3 different double features. (“Grease” and “Footloose” were on one and “Iron Man” and some children’s film was on a third.) The owner has a perhaps pie-in-the-sky dream of building suites (on stilts) and running year-round, which sounds “iffy” in the midst of an Iowa winter, but this night the weather was perfect, with a slight breeze, extremely friendly employees (all masked), and radios that one could rent for $5 if you didn’t want to tune your car radio into a pre-set number and run your car all night. The only drawback was hearing the soundtrack from nearby screens while watching our film(s).
Tribeca, the film powerhouse, has recently made plans to open 160 new drive-ins around the country. The “big new” thing for touring musicians is having their filmed performance showing on a drive-in screen. One that is coming up in the future is Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Garth Brooks, and Keith Urban have all used the drive-in system, instead of the normal in-person concerts during the pandemic. At the Blue Grass Drive-in, they have no say over the ticket prices of such shows and the manager wondered, openly, why the cost for Garth Brooks was $100 per carload, versus $115 for Blake Shelton. [He felt it would be better to have a standard price for these “concerts,” but he doesn’t make the rules.]
So, the drive-in is back. I hadn’t been to a drive-in in 40 years, but I’m sure I’ll go again if all the theaters remain closed.
Tori Eldridge is the Anthony and Lefty Awards-nominated author of The Ninja Daughter, which was named one of the Best Mystery Books of the Year by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and awarded 2019 Thriller Book of the Year by Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Her short stories appear in several anthologies and her screenplay “The Gift” earned a semi-finalist spot in the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship.
Before writing, Tori performed as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television and film. She is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent and was born and raised in Honolulu, where she graduated from Punahou School with classmate Barack Obama.
Tori holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin-Do ninjustsu and has traveled the U.S. teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-preservation.
Her second book in the Lily Wong series, “The Ninja’s Blade,” will be released September 1, 2020.
Join Tori and I as we discuss her books, her life, her trips to Shanghai, and her goals for the future on Thursday, July 16, from 7 to 8 (CDT), 5 p.m. from California for Tori.
Trump has a long history of racist controversies
- 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
- 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
- 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of “stripping the United States of economic dignity.” This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
- 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four Black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
- 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
- 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
- 1993: In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”
- 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”
- 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a Black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’”
- 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
- 2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, “Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.”
- 2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first Black president — was not born in the US. He even sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a ”carnival barker.” (The research has found a strong correlation between “birtherism,” as this conspiracy theory is called, and racism.) Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.
- 2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”
Some of you who hear the Suzi Quatro interview on Thursday, June 25th at 7 p.m. on the Bold Brave Media Global Network (or Tune-In Radio) may be wondering how you can find the documentary on her life and her music.