Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Humor and Weird Wilson-isms Page 1 of 23

In the spirit of her full-length book “Laughing through Life” that featured humorous stories of child-rearing and general life, Connie has written humor columns for a variety of newspapers, which Erma Bombeck’s widower described as being very much like her columns when presented with a book at an Ohio writing festival.

Bob Odenkirk is “Lucky Hank” in New Series That Premiered at SXSW 2023

Bob Odenkirk and Mirielle Enos onstage at the Stateside Theater in Austin, Texas, at SXSW, on March 11, 2023.

“Lucky Hank” is Bob Oderkirk, in his first television outing since leaving “Better Call Saul.” The premier episode of the AMC+ series premiered at SXSW on March 12th (Oscar day), showing once and once only at the Stateside Theater in Austin.

The series owes much to the Pulitzer Prize-winning book on which it is based, “Straight Man,” by Richard Russo.

The synopsis for the series reads: “An English department chairman at an underfunded college, Professr Hank Devereaux toes the line between midlife crisis and full-blown meltdown, navigating the offbeat chaos in his personal and professional life.”  As IMDB further says, William Henry Devereaux, Jr., spiritually suited to playing left field but forced by a bad hamstring to try first base, is the unlikely chairman of the English department at Railton University. Over the course of a single convoluted week, he threatens to execute a duck, has his nose slashed by a feminist poet, discovers that his secretary writes better fiction than he does, suspects his wife of having an affair with his dean, and finally confronts his philandering elderly father, the one-time king of American Literary Theory, at an abandoned amusement park”

If this all sounds like a great vehicle for Bob Odenkirk, you’re right. The humor and sarcasm are on full display in this clip.

THE GOOD

The cast, headed by Odenkirk, is stellar. Mirielle Enos (“World War Z,” “The Killing”) plays Hanks’ wife, Lily, and she is a revelation. In the Q&A following the screening, she admitted that she “wanted to play a less closeted woman.” Her serious role in “The Killing” made her a natural choice for screenwriters Paul Lieberstein and Aaron Zelman, who had worked with her on “The Killing.” Those representing the premiere in Austin referred to the cast as “spectacular.”

The writers are similarly spectacular. Although credit must also be given to the source material, as the writers admit that they constantly “went back to the book” while also adding depth to Hank’s character.

Bob Odenkirk, onstage after the screening, talked about how he ended up working this hard so soon after “Better Call Saul” ended. “I had said yes to the show. I really thought it would take forever. It didn’t.” Factor in a heart attack that Odenkirk described as, “what happens when you don’t take your heart medication” and here he is in an 8-episode series that he praised as “A place for everyone to do their best” and “A lot of variety on a journey that goes somewhere.” Odenkirk added that it was “Great use of modern TV. We had 4 different directors and travel alterations. The stories and characters progress and it is more like an 8-episode movie.”

Bob Odenkirk and cast members of “Lucky Hank”, streaming on AMC+ on March 19th.

He also praised the dream cast and said, of his character, “He’s so different from Saul, who was a loner. There are people in the right relationships. You love your wife and then, if you’re married long enough, you hate them.” (This brought laughter and an admonition from the writers, “Bob! Your wife is in the audience.”) Odenkirk continued, “If it’s a great relationship, you find your way back and you don’t even know how.” He felt that Saul and Kim in “Better Call Saul” were loners, but “I liked the way this guy relates to other people.” Pointing out the fundamental differences between his Saul character and Hank he said, “It’s fun to do wildly different things. It’s one of the reasons I went into this business.”

THE BAD

For me, the bad is that I currently don’t have AMC+. In order to watch this wildly entertaining series, I am going to have to subscribe, which means that my spouse (of 55 years) is going to be gifted with a subscription to the series (which premieres on March 19th). Since his birthday is March 21st, thank you, Hank, for figuring out what to give the man who has everything. This looks like a totally enjoyable, witty, well-written and well-acted 8-episode series that will entertain mightily.

 

Texas Attorney General Paxton Racks Up $3.3 Million Settlement Bill & Wants Taxpayers to Pay

[This editorial from the “Austin American-Statesman” is in reference to the $3.3 million settlement that Texas taxpayers are supposed to pick up the tab for. It ran on Wednesday, February 15th.]

Image result for image of attorney general ken paxton texas
Image result for image of attorney general ken paxton texas
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

After agreeing last week to settle a whistleblowers’ lawsuit against him that will likely cost Texas taxpayers $3.3 million, ethically compromised Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday tried to falsely spin it as a win—for taxpayers.

“I have chosen this path to save taxpayer dollars and ensure my third term as Attorney General is unburdened by unnecessary distractions,” Paxton said in a statement.

Even for a public official as shameless as Paxton, this absurdist political spin is breathtaking.  The fact is that Paxton’s firing of 8 whistleblowers who credibly accused him of bribery and abuse of office is almost certain to cost Texas taxpayers millions, just as it has cost the Texas attorney general’s office reputational damage that can only be repaired when Paxton, re-elected to a third 4-year term in November, is no longer in office.

Settlement Agreement Raises Questions About Use of Tax Dollars

The mediated  tentative settlement agreement requires a $3.3 million settlement payment to 4 of the whistleblowers and an apology from Paxton to the plaintiffs, but not an admission of wrongdoing.  The agreement raises serious questions about the propriety of asking Texas taxpayers to pay the settlement on Paxton’s behalf. The agreement is contingent on “necessary approvals for funding,” which means the Texas legislature may have to consider a funding request.

It’s certainly convenient for Paxton to ask taxpayers and Texas lawmakers to clean up the mess he made while professing he’s doing it “to save taxpayer dollars, but lawmakers must not let him off the hook easily, and should investigate whether the payment is an appropriate use of tax dollars.

Paxton has argued that Texas law allows for the expenditure of tax money to defend against multiple lawsuits filed against him during his tenure as attorney general.  But Andrew Cates, who wrote a book called “Texas Ethics Law” said that doesn’t make it right, especially when the issue is a multi-million dollar settlement stemming from the firing of whistleblowers.

Cates said, “This is one of those just because you can doesn’t mean you should situations.  I, personally, believe it would be more appropriate for him to take it out of his campaign fund.” Cates pointed to a Texas statute that allows campaign donations to pay the legal bills of a candidate or office-holder.

The whistleblower saga began in 2020 when 8 attorneys in the attorney general’s office—all of them appointed to their positions by Paxton—either resigned or were fired after telling federal investigators that they were concerned that Paxton was using the power of his office to help Austin investor Nate Paul, whose home and offices were searched by federal investigators in 2019. They accused Paxton of illegally using his office to help Paul, in exchange for benefits that included a $25,000 donation to his re-election campaign, remodeling Paxton’s home, and giving Paul’s alleged mistress a job.  Overriding a decision by his agency’s Charitable Trusts division, Paxton also directed his office to intervene in a lawsuit against Paul lodged by The Mitte Foundation.

Paxton’s Legal Bills Are Adding Up

The allegations against Paxton are sadly unsurprising when considering his time in office. For 7 years he has been under federal indictment for securities fraud and the State Bar of Texas has sued to sanction him for his shameful role in trying to overturn the legitimate presidential election of 2020. Nor should Texans be surprised that, once again, Paxton is asking for a handout to help him pay for his legal fees. So far, according to the Dallas Morning News, Paxton has run up half a million dollars in legal fees. Instead of relying on state attorneys, Paxton hired outside attorneys, one of whom charged $540 an hour, paid by taxpayers.

After years of questionable behavior that has been rewarded by election to a third term, we’d be naïve to expect Paxton to become a paragon of virtue at this late stage of his career.  …Texas needs an attorney general who is looking out for their best interests, not just his own

“Vengeance” Hits Amazon: Enjoy

“Vengeance,” the B.J. Novak debut directorial debut with Ashton Kutcher as a cast member, is now available on Amazon Prime.

It is one of my favorite films of 2022, and I highly recommend it. It was way better than “Bullet Train,” which we saw the next night.

Try it. You’ll like it.

“Raymond and Ray” (Ewan McGregor & Ethan Hawke) at the 58th Chicago International Film Festival.

“Raymond and Ray” premieres on Apple TV+ on October 21st.  Ethan Hawke (Ray) and Ewan McGregor (Raymond) play half-brothers in the film, offspring of a feckless father who traveled the world apparently impregnating a variety of women. Check it out and see if you agree with one of its stars (Ethan Hawke), who once said, “It’s fun to see a movie that’s made for someone over the age of 15.” This is such a film.

These two sons by different mothers whom Dad (Benjamin Reed Harris III, portrayed only after death by Tom Bowers) gave the same name, grew up together. One guesses that the duo probably survived their father because they had each other. A line from the script is “We come from chaos.”

 

“Raymond and Ray,” Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke, at the 58th Chicago International Film Festival.

Raymond—the more conventional of the two and an employee of the Cincinnati Water & Power Department—convinces Ray (Ethan Hawke) to accompany him to their mutual father’s funeral over Ray’s initial objections. The pair have very bad memories of dear old Dad. Raymond (Ewan McGregor) warns his half-brother regarding their father’s passing, “It’s gonna’ take a whole lot more than a hole in the ground to get him out of your head.”

Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke can spin gold out of dross; their excellence in these roles was expected. Ethan Hawke, in particular, plays a character who has been a jazz musician for his entire life and is a reformed drug addict. Hawke delivers some scene-stealing moments playing the trumpet, both at the funeral and in a jazz club after the service is over, accompanied by co-star Sophie Okenodo as Keira. Hawke portrayed 50’s jazz trumpeter Chet Stevens in the 2015 film “Born to be Blue” and  spent about 8 months learning to play the trumpet prior to that outing. It shows—although Hawke claims no expertise as a trumpeter.

Ray’s (Ethan Hawke) reputation in life has been that he attracts women “like shit attracts flies,” so Sophie Okenodo is written well in an interesting departure from expectations. Kudos to the writer/director Rodrigo Garcia. I loved lines like this one when the sons hear what a charming fellow their dead father was to others. Says Ray (Ethan Hawke): “Does whipping our asses with a belt count? ‘Cause, if it does he was a hoot.”

Rodrigo Garcia previously wrote 5 episodes of one of my All Time Favorite television series, “Six Feet Under” between 2001 and 2005. Only two other writers ( the show’s creator, Alan Ball, and one other writer wrote more ). “Six Feet Under” was a great training ground for this film, as it examined the family that ran a funeral parlor, and there are many scenes shot in a funeral parlor in this movie. The quirky funeral director is well-played  by Todd Louiso and Vondie Curtis Hall plays the Reverend West.

Others have criticized the writing: too middle-of-the-road, too predictable, not far enough into either comedy or drama. I disagree. As someone who has been reviewing film for 52 uninterrupted years, “Raymond and Ray” showed the audience insights that few other films have even attempted, and did so with humor.

I agree that the many “reveals” became a bit much by film’s end, but the script delivers on some nuggets that have not often been examined at all. One Eternal Truth that Rodrigo Garcia illuminated for the audience is that we all belong to something greater than ourselves.

But the one that resonated, with me, came at film’s end, when the two brothers have lived up to their father’s odd wish that they actually physically dig his grave.Raymond (Ewan McGregor) says to Ray (Ethan Hawke), “We never really knew him, did we?” This truth is driven home again and again as the duo converse with others in their father’s life, including some of the women he loved and left.

I learned this lesson IRL, as someone who has buried both parents. I was constantly being brought up short by remarks made to me about what a lovely, sweet woman my schoolteacher mother was. It’s not that I didn’t love my mother or that I didn’t agree that she was “lovely,” It’s that the self a parent reveals to his or her offspring is often a completely different human being than the one the son or daughter experiences. It is jarring to hear from others about what a great conversationalist one’s parent has been—with and to others. That was the Eternal Truth that this screenplay illustrated so beautifully.

Spanish actress Maribel Verdu, as Lucia, enlivens the entire film. A veteran of “Y tu Mama Tambien” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the Spanish actress was a stand-out.

Certain aspects of the film deserve special praise. The music (Jeff Beal) is great and the cinematography by Igor Jadu-Lillo is, as well. Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity,” “Roma,” “Children of Men”) is one of the executive producers.

“Raymond and Ray,” Running time: 106 MIN.
• Production: An Apple TV+ presentation of an Esperanto Filmoj Limited, Mockingbird Pictures production. Producers: Alfonso Cuarón, Bonnie Curtis, Julie Lynn. Executive producers: Shea Kammer, Gabriela Rodriguez.
• Crew: Director, screenplay: Rodrigo García. Camera: Igor Jadue-Lillo. Editor: Michael Ruscio. Music: Jeff Beal.
• With: Ethan Hawke, Ewan McGregor, Maribel Verdú, Tom Bower, Vondie Curtis Hall, Sophie Okonedo.

“Program 1: Obsession, Compulsion and Disorder” at the 53rd Nashville Film Festival

Program 1: Obsession, Compulsion and Disorder.

I watched the films in the streamed package twice. There were 6. At the end, there was a discussion group with 9 films discussed. Not sure what happened to 3 of the films, but they didn’t reach me in Illinois.

Here are capsule summaries of the 6 I saw:

“Inevitable”

“The Inevitable”

Iranian Director Milad Faraholahi has created a very dark short that is synopsized this way:  “A disturbed girl has a horrible nightmare in which two muddy figures ask her to open a mysterious box.  To get rid of that, she decides to kill herself in her nightmare just to wake up.” I felt I needed to know more about what, exactly,  unhinged the lead. Suicide is a pretty dire solution to a problem. As far as the scary quality of the house in which the young girl finds herself, thanks to excellent sound effects and music from Milad Movahedi and cinematography from Hashem Moradi, all of the tried-and-true things that are guaranteed to scare us are used super effectively. Creepy sounds. Lights that turn on and off. Dripping water. Mysterious footprints. A door handle that turns menacingly. Knives in water. Blood on pages of a book.  I think some subtitles during the phone conversation would have helped, as my four years of French did not prepare me to know what was said. I could barely hear it; I did not understand it, as a result, although, at one point, my computer coughed up the directive “Une erreur imprevue d’est produite” so my complete comprehension of the plot was definitely compromised. Apologies. I did think the creepy sets and the unhinged performance of the lead served the piece well and that the director has  a real future in making more shorts or longer films. There are many talented Iranian filmmakers and one, in particular, who caught my eye at SXSW and directed “Everything Will Be All Right” came to mind immediately. I hope this young director (and his crew) pursue more creepy, scary films, because this one was one of the most frightening that I saw…and I mean that in a good way!

“Bowlhead”

Would someone’s skull really make a good bowling ball? (Food for thought; it’s hard to say.)

The Winnetka Bowl has a dedicated bowler in Joe Harsley as Henry. I was immediately reminded of the 1986 film “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” starring Michael Rooker. This Henry is just as diabolical as that Henry, and his ruse of attempting to return a wallet lost at the bowling alley to a hapless victim leads to a scene that shows Henry overpowering the female victim and then making his victims’ heads into bowling balls (hence the title). Henry definitely comes off as someone who is “not right” and the rest of the plot proves it. (*Note to self: do not go bowling in Winnetka.)

 

 

“A Home Invasion”

A Home Invasion”

Maddie Downes and Evan Marshall collaborated to make this serio-comic “AHome Invasion” short, which, they said, was inspired by the couple in Missouri who were seen brandishing firearms and threatening Black Lives Matter protesters in their front yard. The couple is seen fighting at the beginning of the piece, removing their wedding rings, and arguing about who will get custody of the dog, Cooper ( played by Scoober). Then, a friend (Nathan) finds the runaway dog outside the couple’s home and, while attempting to return the pooch, ends up uniting the bickering mates, who pull out guns and plan to face the assailant, (who is only trying to do them a favor.) Nathan is shot, for his troubles.  Travis Prow handles the cinematography (nice shot at the opening, coming into the house through the window from outside) and the music is courtesy of Joshua Rutkowski.  The cast of players, in addition to Evan Marshall (who was promoted to lead actor after an older actor dropped out) includes Jessica Bishop, Henry Koly and, of course, Scoober the dog (as Cooper). A sarcastic commentary on America’s fixation on guns (which seems to override all other preoccupations).

 

“Black Dragon”

Black Dragon”

“Black Dragon,” filmed on location in Alamanee County, North Carolina, is one of the most polished of the shorts. It was inspired by the 1968 My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, which wiped out a Vietnamese village but resulted in only a 3 and ½ year prison sentence for those involved in the Ukrainian style war crime of wiping out an entire village. Matthew Del Negro  from “City on a Hill” plays Colonel Palmer who has a small son (Eddy, played by Chris Day) about the age of the Vietnamese girl in the short, Chau, who is played by Celia Au. Chau has the power to bring the dead back to life. Eddy, the Colonel’s son, has suggested that his dad “has an angel watching over ” him. The angel is going to make some demands of the Colonel that will result in many deaths.  Alex Thompson directed and co wrote the piece with Nathaniel Hendricks and Harper Alexander handled the cinematography while Jeffery Alan Jones was in charge of sound design. It is a very professional and polished short piece. If you click on Matthew DelNegro (see link above) you’ll recognize him from “City on a Hill” and it was a nice touch that his surname (DelNegro) fit the title of this short (“Black Dragon”).

 

“Lemons”

Lemons

Parker Gayan wrote and directed this short film about what would happen if you cut into a lemon and found a USB drive. He has a conversation with a Black friend (Stephen Guma) about his discovery, and there is an appearance from The Lemon Man. I was particularly taken with the idea that Parker is wearing a neck brace throughout the piece. When asked if the neck brace had anything to do with the lemon theme, he said, “No. It was an unrelated accident.” Parker’s attempts to look up something_something.lemon, which results in nothing, was also amusing. I couldn’t help but think of the simpler days before computers, which someone like me remembers. Not only would we never have imagined cutting into a lemon to find a USB drive, we didn’t have USB drives back in the dim dark ages of my youth. It also reminded me of a skit one of my 7th grade English classes once put on for our Ad Campaigns in the Classroom unit, where the young boys who created a Mole-busters van also came into the classroom to the strains of the famous Ray Parker, Jr., “Ghostbusters” theme song (“Who you gonna’ call? Mole-busters!”)  I enjoyed this loopy short way too much considering its lack of gravity and  excess of levity. (The director, in an interview that followed the film, said you can get a really inexpensive Lemon Guy costume on Etsy, in case you were wondering.) I apologize for the random mention of the “Mole-buster” unrelated class unit, but it did win a Scholastic Books contest, at the time, naming me “one of the 10 Most Creative teachers in America” (it came with a cash prize). Somehow, this clip summoned such unrelated memories of random merriment, and random happy thoughts are always welcome.

Lemons” by Parker Gayans.

 

 

 

 

“The Unlocking”

This one and “Inevitable” were probably the 2 creepiest shorts, although “Black Dragon” is close. Certainly a giant lemon is not creepy and the bickering couple with the guns, while concerning from the standpoint of safety to the community at large, is not “scary” or “creepy.” Both “Inevitable” and “The Unlocking” were. This is a Thomas Brush film and he certainly demonstrates an over-active imagination, as the character even says, “Please fix my brain!” It was interesting to me that the house where this was filmed  was actually a childhood haunt, a home where a friend of the director’s lived . The director had always considered the house “creepy.” He got permission to use the house as the setting for the film  (cinematography by Joshua Murray).  This story of a completely bonkers guy in a tutu who will ultimately attack our hero and do substantial damage to him was frightening in the same way that a strange noise in your own kitchen late at night can be terrifying if you are home alone. First, we see the protagonist walking around in the house in the dark trying to investigate who might have come in when he left the door unlocked ( he was advised by others to leave the door unlocked; chaos ensues) but the OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) from which the main character suffers is not misplaced over-anxious worrying, but honest-to-God real-life danger,realized at the film’s climax.

“The Unlocking,” by Thomas Brush.

The filmmakers spoke about their films afterwards, often giving contact information and extra details (such as that regarding the house that is the setting for “The Unlocking.”) There were 2 additional shorts discussed at length, but I was not sent either short.

Printers’ Row Rained Out For Me on September 11, 2022

Well, if any of you were Chicago residents, you know that it rained A LOT today, Sunday, September 11th.

I have to confess that I did not make it to the IWPA booth at Printers’ Row for precisely that reason.

I got up about 9 a.m. (early, for me) and it was raining.

I had a cup of coffee and sat around for over an hour, thinking it would let up.

It did not.

I went back to bed and got up closer to 11 a.m., and I consulted the hour by hour weather forecast, which said that there was a 100% chance of rain for the next several hours.

About 1:20 p.m. the rain actually ceased…briefly. It was right back at it within half an hour.

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

Not to be too big a wuss, but dragging a box on wheels through the wet streets of Chicago is not great for paperbacks, and paperbacks were what I had with me. I was going to go with the political books of the hour, because, as we used to say about Nixon, “We won’t have DJT to kick around any more.” (Or so I fervently hope).

If you had your TV sets tuned to the Bears game at Soldier Field, right across the street from me, you will know that it was really pouring down during the game. Enough said.

My apologies to any of you who did make it out, but I could not imagine that there would be more than one or two folks brave enough to saunter down to Polk Street during the downpour.

The books I had with me are all available on Amazon, and I hope you check them out.

Printers’ Row in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 11th

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

I will be manning the IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association) booth from approximately noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11th.

My computer assistant and I attempted to send out a MadMimi newsletter, only to learn that the person who compromised my last credit card screwed me out of that account. I have been trying to fix this for a week. No luck.

I decided to take only my political books to this year’s fair.

Why?

For one thing, “BEE GONE” came out just before the pandemic shut things down and is my most recent book.

Preceding that was “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House”, Vols. I & II. These two books have a wealth of photographs taken as I followed the political candidates of 2008 across the land and into the halls of the DNC and the RNC.

"The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee," sixth book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).The Powers-That–Be conspired to keep me from ever being able to advertise “BEE GONE,” which is a shame, as the illustrator is brilliant and the book is a hoot and a half (unless you are a MAGA fan.)

Since my hope is that there will be a future soon without DJT, bringing “BEE GONE” in multiple copies seems right. The book is about $10 and the children’s version—in full color with puzzles and mazes—has the same great illustrations of Donald Trump as a gigantic bumble bee determined to take over the hive from the Queen Bee.

Enjoy! See you on Sunday at the IWPA booth if you’re in Chicago.

Hundreds of Top Secret and Classified Documents Found in Mar-a-Lago Raid

The search at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 found twice as many classified documents as Trump’s lawyers had turned over voluntarily, despite promising they had returned everything. This was also despite two attorneys (one named Evan Corcoran—hope he’s no relative) signing off and telling the FBI that those they had initially taken were the extent of it, when they were not.

The documents had been seen by members of the club, some of whom ratted The Donald out about his lax handling of the sensitive documents, marked Top Secret, Secret and Confidential. Regardless of how “sensitive” the documents were, they should not have been removed from the White House. It is not true that “they all do it” and that “Obama took some, too.” All previous presidents followed elaborate protocols for when and where they could even look at the documents, but Trump apparently kept some of his “mementos” in his desk drawer and would show it to casual Mar-A-Lago visitors. Among those items were the “love notes” from the North Korean dictator to Mr. Trump. Another he had removed was the letter left him by former President Barack Obama.

The blacking out (redacting) of much of the search warrant language was necessary to protect both the witnesses who have testified to seeing the documents in Mar-A-Lago and to the identity of other secret sources, whose very lives might be endangered.

Apparently, Trump considered anything he touched during his time in office “his.” He considered himself to be much like a king and everything was “his.”

Even if the documents were as ordinary as the menu for breakfast (and they weren’t) removing them from the White House was wrong and an obstruction of justice, and, since the many polite government requests to give them back ended with only a partial return of the papers, the FBI conducted its raid on Aug. 8th. And, to make matters worse, the ex-president and his cronies attempted to move the documents around to prevent the government from seeking their rightful return.

As the “New York Times” put it:

“The investigation into Mr. Trump’s retention of government documents began as a relatively straightforward attempt to recover materials that officials with the National Archives had spent much of 2021 trying to retrieve. The filing on Tuesday (Aug. 30)  made clear that prosecutors are now unmistakably focused on the possibility that Mr. Trump and those around him took criminal steps to obstruct their investigation.

Investigators developed evidence that “government records were likely concealed and removed” from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago after the Justice Department sent Mr. Trump’s office a subpoena for any remaining documents with classified markings. That led prosecutors to conclude that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the government filing said.

The filing included one striking visual aid: a photograph of at least five yellow folders recovered from Mr. Trump’s resort and residence marked “Top Secret” and another red one labeled “Secret.”

It is time. LOCK HIM UP!

The legal filing included a photo of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.Department of Justice

List of Sitting Lawmakers in IL, TX, TN, Who Betrayed Our Democracy

As the January 6th Commission convenes in Prime Time on Thursday evening (7/21), it is good to remember those representatives and Senators who betrayed our democratic values on January 6th. I have listed the states where I live and where my son and daughter live, as the names on the lists below do not deserve our future votes for office.

Here is an opinion reprint from “Daily Kos” that names the traitors in office.

by Brandi Buchmann

Now that the January 6th committee has spent more than a year investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, they have unearthed evidence, in physical records and eyewitness testimony, that overwhelmingly suggests former President Donald Trump desperately schemed to retain power after losing the 2020 election and saw this plot aided or advanced by an increasingly craven series of lawmakers, lackeys, lawyers,  aides, and right-wing extremists.

Many of those lawmakers who parroted Trump’s meritless claims of voter fraud did so at relatively the same clip he did, using their sizeable platforms, power, and influence to promote conspiracy theories about the results of the election that were disproven by the nation’s Justice Department and intelligence apparatuses and dismissed by court after court and judge after judge—including those judges Trump appointed.

When Congress finally met for the joint session on Jan. 6 to count certified elector slates and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gaveled in, throngs of protesters would breach Capitol police barriers just minutes later. Trump, live from the Ellipse, was finishing a speech where he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol. One line encouraging this in his draft speech, according to White House records provided to the committee by the National Archives, shows Trump ad-libbed this call to action four times on Jan. 6.

Testimony and other evidence collected by the committee indicate too that Trump initially tried to conceal a plan to march on the Capitol even as he, members of his campaign staff, and rally organizers moved full steam ahead. This detail drastically undercuts claims by Trump and his allies currently in Congress that say January 6 was a peaceful protest that spontaneously went awry.

The committee has also shown evidence of at least six Republican lawmakers seeking preemptive pardons from Trump in the wake of the insurrection. In a request spearheaded by Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, he went so far as to ask for a preemptive pardon for all 147 members of Congress who lodged an objection to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Brooks also requested pardons for 126 Republicans who joined an amicus brief filed in Texas that sought to challenge election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

Brooks has since defended his ask while simultaneously trying to distance himself from his own inflammatory remarks delivered at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.

It was Trump who told Brooks to make the pardon request, he wrote, in a Jan. 11, 2021 email.

Notably, Brooks said he was making his inquiry “pursuant to a request” from Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. More than six weeks after Trump finally left office, it was reported for the first time by The New York Times that Gaetz was under investigation for alleged sex trafficking and sex with a minor.

In addition to Brooks and Gaetz, Hutchinson specifically named House Republicans Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. All have issued various denials about the pardons but remain vocal, staunch supporters of Trump and have continued, until now, to cast doubts or aspersions on the Jan. 6 committee’s work and standing.

Trump never issued the pardons and Brooks fell out of favor with him after he urged prospective voters during his failed campaign for a Senate seat to put the 2020 election “behind them.” Trump said Brooks went “woke” and endorsed his opponent.

The Senators who voted to overturn the 2020 election after the insurrection are:

House members in Texas, Illinois and Tennessee who voted to overturn the 2020 election results after the insurrection:

One additional Texas legislator on the list has subsequently died.

 

 

Did Chuck Grassley Collude with the January 6th Trump Insurrection?

Since we are on the border with Iowa, it is important to present this Mark Karlin article that ran on “Daily Kos.” Karlin’s point that the Secret Service should know enough not to delete phone text messages sent on one of the most momentous days in our country’s history, January 6, 2021 is common sense. The possible involvement of 88-year-old Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley in Trump’s plot is something to consider if you are an Iowa voter going to the polls at mid-terms. This year, Admiral Franken (Grassley’s probable opponent) is a charismatic alternative to the 88-year-old Chuck Grassley and—if Grassley’s slip of the tongue is legitimately a sign of Grassley’s allegiance to DJT, do you want to support a candidate willing to overthrow democratic elections who may not support the democratic principle of  the peaceful transition of power?

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By Mark Karlin

The bombshell that the pro-Trump Secret Service deleted crucial text messages from January 5 and January 6, 2021, may be a “connect the dots” moment. It’s not just that this excised communication could have corroborated Cassidy Hutchinson’s second-hand account of Trump lunging for the steering wheel and grabbing a Secret Service member to try and compel them to drive him to the Capitol after the January 6 rally.

There might be something much more profoundly concerning: there might be Secret Service collaborators in Trump’s coup plot.

Let’s begin with a July 16, 2021, article from the Independent that is entitled, “Mike Pence refused to get in car in the midst of the January 6th riots, fearing Secret Service ‘conspiracy’, reports claim”:
Former Vice President Mike Pence purportedly refused to get into a vehicle with Secret Service agents amid the 6 January riots out of fear there was a “conspiracy” to “vindicate the insurrection”….
Mr Pence refused to evacuate the Capitol a number of additional times on January 6th as pro-Trump rioters stormed the building in a bid to prevent the certification of the 2020 election results.
In the midst of the riots, Mr. Pence was evacuated from the Senate chamber to his ceremonial office, where he remained protected by Secret Service agents alongside members of his family present that day. He was also the only elected executive branch member calling for help for the besieged Capitol, as President Trump did nothing for hours. (This will be the subject of the next January 6th Commission hearing in prime time this week.)

Then, let’s move to an eye-raising detail involving the oldest member of the Senate, Charles Grassley (R-IA), about a January 5, 2021, comment he quickly backtracked on. Heather Cox Richardson recalled the short-lived claim in her July 13 column:
On January 5, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who was the president pro tempore of the Senate, the second highest-ranking person in the Senate after the vice president, talking to reporters about the next day, said: “Well, first of all, I will be—if the Vice President isn’t there and we don’t expect him to be there— I will be presiding over the Senate.”

Grassley’s office immediately clarified that Grassley meant only that he would preside over counting of the Electoral Votes only if Vice President Mike Pence “had to step away during Wednesday’s proceedings,” and that “‘[e]very indication we have is that the vice president will be there.”

Richardson writes that the largely forgotten “we don’t expect him [Pence] to be there” statement combined with Grassley’s claim that he would then preside over the electoral count “continues to bother” her, as it should. Grassley’s statement appears, given that democracy was at stake, as something more than casual. It seems to reflect the possibility of someone who knew of Trump-world plans, but was quickly told to retract his “prediction.”

Official portrait, 2017

Charles “Chuck” Grassley (age 88)

Who knows if Grassley would have accepted the Biden electors in the swing states, given the strenuous pressure from team Trump, if he had been presiding over the electoral count? His eye-popping statement of January 5 certainly raises that question. Why would Pence need “to step away”? Why would Grassley even consider such a possibility the day before the count and insurrection unless he knew more than he was saying? Why was Pence fearful of the Secret Service driving him from the Capitol, with the result being, amidst the mob activity still in full swing at the time, that the electoral count would be delayed indefinitely or Grassley would preside over it when it resumed if Pence had complied?

This leads to the erasure of Secret Service texts from January 5 and 6 in 2021. According to a July 15 article in The Washington Post:
A government watchdog accused the U.S. Secret Service of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them as part of an inquiry into the U.S. Capitol attack, according to a letter sent to lawmakers this week.

Joseph V. Cuffari, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees indicating that the text messages have vanished and that efforts to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack were being hindered….
Cuffari emphasized that the erasures came “after” the Office of Inspector General requested copies of the text messages for its own investigation..

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