Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

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: Editorial Page 1 of 14

Will Hurd (R, TX) Speaks Out Against Trump’s Border Wall

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Will Hurd (R,Tx)
Image from Wikipedia
Will Hurd, (R,TX) on “Face the Nation” on February 17, 2019 was asked about the looming show-down over President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get funding for his border wall.
Q:  You have 800 miles of the border in your district?  How will the National Emergency Declaration affect your district?
Will Hurd: I’m the only Republican who represents a border town. I spent almost a decade chasing bad guys as an undercover guy (before serving in Congress). I don’t think we needed a National Emergency Declaration. This is a problem that has existed since before Ronald Reagan. What we need to be doing is using a combination of technology and other methods.
DEL RIO BORDER SECTION, EAGLE PASS
Will Hurd: “We just passed a declaration that adds new technology. I was just down in the Del Rio sector of the border in Eagle Pass, and I crossed the border into Mexico. There was unprecedented cooperation with the Mexican government. Most of the caravan members are from Central America. Nine-two percent of the people in the caravan are from Central America, especially Honduras.
Will Hurd: We need to address things like border patrol pay. There is a retention problem with border patrol agents. We need additional technology. We just passed something in Congress called the Innovative Tower Initiative, the Smart Wall, which uses technology to figure out what is going on.
Q: How does this concept of the wall and using eminent domain to take land to build Trump’s wall affect Private property in your district?
Will Hurd A; In the great state of Texas we care about a little thing called ownership of private property. Over 1,000 ranchers and farmers would be affected. The government gets to automatically take the land (using eminent domain) and the owner has to go into court to fight to make sure they are getting the bare minimum payment for their land. One. One million acres of arable land is being seized…It’s CRAZY! (with emphasis).
(Hurd sits on House Appropriations)
Will Hurd: “This national emergency declaration. You can’t spend $8 billion in the next 6 months. Can you take funds for military construction…how about in Del Rio, TX, which produces more pilots than anywhere, we’ve been working on fixing additional funds to stop the flooding that keeps us from training pilots. There is
already 654 miles of barrier.The president has already been authorize over 654 million and over 750 million by Home Security. Our government was not designed to exist by national emergency. Our government was designed for the power of the purse to reside in Congress. We shouldn’t have a president, whether Republican or Democratic, who tries to get around it. I would support something that prevents taking money out of military construction for this. They need to make sure that these people are property trained and properly armed. We’re almost in uncharted territory. This is one of the first times that there has been a disagreement It sets a dangerous precedent.
Q: You are saying that the U.S. doesn’t need this wall but will hurt national security?
Will Hurd: “If you’re taking $ away from the military, we just spent the last 4 years rebuilding the military. I don’t want to see that money being taken away from that. We went through a number of hearings and investigations for that money and that is how our government is supposed to operate. 67 billion of drugs are coming into our country and 400,000 people coming in illegally. We need to have operational security. We need manpower and technology. In some places a physical barrier makes sense; we already have 654 miles of fence or barrier.)
Will Hurd: We need a focus on technology, not just one tool (a wall).

 

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) ON SALE for $1.99 Tomorrow (2/17); Paperback $4.95 on 2/17 & 2/18

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) (Convention to Inauguration) with 61 photographs from the field that have appeared nowhere else will be ON SALE in honor of Presidents’ Day, February 18th. The sale will commence on Feb. 17 (e-book) and continue through Feb. 18 for the paperback version. Both books are significantly reduced in price, from 66 and 2/3% for the paperback to -40% for the e-book. Prices will return to normal on Feb. 19th, as I return to my Texas lair and try to stop shaking my head at the comments being made in Munich, Germany and elsewhere by members of the current administration.

The e-book version of “Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) will be on sale ONLY February 17th for $1.99. (Normally, it is $3 more). The paperback will be on sale for TWO DAYS, February 17 and February 18 for a 2/3 reduction, from $14.99 (normal price) to $4.95. 

This is me, missing President Obama while dealing with the rambling, incoherent announcement yesterday from the current occupant of the White House regarding his “national emergency.” (The “pronouncement” was so rambling and unfocused and unintelligible that CBS cut away from the unfocused rambling after 25 minutes.)

I’m here in Texas (Austin). While most Texas representatives have fallen in line behind DJT, here is the pronouncement from our representative Chip Roy (R) who said (and I quote):  “With this authoritarian power grab, Trump would divert resources from real security challenges elsewhere to his politically-contrived, on-crisis on the Rio Grande.  I am a sponsor of a privileged resolution to stop him.  If his routine Republican enablers refuse to join us in standing up for the Constitution, we will promptly seek judicial relief.  What we clearly don’t need is a multi-billion dollar waste in pursuit of his anti-immigrant hysteria.”

 

Bombshell Andrew McCabe “60 Minutes” Interview Runs (Feb. 17)

Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe official portrait.jpg
16th Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(Wikipedia image)

Former Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe of the FBI, regarding a “Sixty Minutes” interview to be aired on February 17th: “I wrote memos about my interactions with President Trump for the same reason that Comey did: to have contemporaneous records of talks with a person who cannot be trusted.”

 McCabe called for an obstruction of justice investigation in advance of Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation. The violation of the president’s oath of office and his abuse of power, was under discussion by CNN talking heads at noon on Valentine’s Day. The concern level regarding Trump’s loyalty to the nation amongst career FBI officials was so high that they were discussing which Cabinet members might support a movement to remove the president from office using the 25th amendment, says McCabe. Legal experts within the department were approached more than once.

WEARING A WIRE

The fact that Rod Rosenstein was approached to wear a wire in conversations with the President is confirmed by Andrew McCabe. Andrew McCabe says he  did not consider Rosenstein’s proposal “joking around.” The top intelligence officials of the United States government, with resources above and beyond the average citizen, saw enough evidence of potential collusion with the Russians and enough wrongdoing on Trump’s part during the election that the very top officials (McCabe, Comey) were trying to right the ship of state and sound the alarm early in the game. (* Paul Revere:”One if by land and two if by sea moment…”)

NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR

The Mueller Investigation is nearing completion, but, with the confirmation of William Barr (which seems to be a foregone conclusion and is happening now in the halls of the Congress and Senate), will Barr attempt to hush up the Mueller findings to “protect” the president? Barr’s pre-hearing writings indicate that he would not move against a sitting president; it is clear that this is Barr’s chief virtue in Trump’s mind for selecting him, following temporary Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker.

Matthew Whitaker
Matthew G. Whitaker official photo.jpg
Acting United States Attorney General
In office
November 7, 2018 – February 14, 2019

(Wikipedia image of Matthew Whittaker)

ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL MATTHEW WHITTAKER

Whittaker was unqualified for the job  and turned out to be a very uncooperative Senate testifier during recent hearings (with only 6 days remaining in his temporary term). Like so many Trump appointees, Whittaker got the job temporarily not because of what he knew, but because of who he knew. In this case, Whittaker was previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sidekick, but had, himself, been accused of defrauding veterans while involved with an Iowa concern and served only a few years in the southern district of Iowa in a position that would even remotely qualify him for the top judicial spot in the nation. [But nevermind about calamitous Cabinet appointees or we will have to discuss Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education and the policy of poor picks will take over this piece.]

FROM TED DEUTCH of the JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

“What we ought to really focus on is that there  enough concern about the president’s actions and behavior that this even came up. We knew that the Republicans saw their role as defending the president above anything, above their duty to defend the Constitution. Now we know what they were defending from.”

The statement above from Representative Ted Deutch of the Judiciary Committee also included the response that he didn’t know that Bill Barr, (who appears to be headed towards confirmation as Attorney General), is now bringing his son-in-law along with him to the Attorney General’s office. Said Deutch: “I didn’t know it was a two-fer.”

Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director of the FBI who was fired just days before his retirement, said, in the interview that will be aired on Sunday, February 17th, that the idea that Rod Rosenstein should perhaps wear a wire to talk to Trump was NOT “sarcasm,” (although some have dismissed it as such.) He said that the concern was high enough that legal experts were approached on more than one occasion about steps that should be taken; legal sources were consulted on more than one occasion.

ANDREW MCCABE

McCabe was ultimately fired from the FBI, days before his retirement eligibility.  His offense was that he leaked to the press and then denied it under oath. The consensus amongst the three-member panel discussing the upcoming “60 Minutes” interview was that Andrew McCabe’s impeccable record as a public servant over decades offset the  minor offense used to remove him from the FBI and that McCabe’s warnings should be taken seriously. McCabe quote: “I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia probe on absolutely solid ground that were I removed the case could not vanish in the night, that if I were removed there would be a documentary record that those investigations had begun.” “Sixty Minutes interviewer recaps: “Because you feared that the investigation would be made to go away?” McCabe’s response: “That’s right.”

Will the Trump supporters, (one of whom told me yesterday that he would “ride the Trump Train to hell,”) consider the implications of the former head of the FBI saying how concerned they were (and are) that Trump was (and is) a traitor and change their minds? [*Is there no amount of evidence that will convince them that the man has conned his way into the White House? Have they drunk not just a glass of Jim Jones’ Kool Ade, but the entire pitcher?]

The Trump people will try to discredit this public servant. He is selling a book now. He was mistreated, first, by being fired just days shy of his pension eligibility. Naysayers will see dumping on McCabe as an attempt to stifle the free press, (since McCabe was accused of leaking to journalists). [James Comey has experienced how a person who lies 8,500 times in his first 2 years in office then points to truthful others and claims THEY are the liars; it’s the old “The best defense is a strong offense.”] Will Trump’s base accept this judgment from the top? [*I rode the Edwards Express until his true colors showed. Why can’t Trump supporters do the necessary analysis to see that their own trust has been misplaced? Learn to admit it when you are wrong and move on.]

James Gagliano, a retired FBI Supervisory Agent, said, in regards to McCabe (whom he knows personally to be an honorable public servant) that not telling the truth about leaking to the press under oath was incorrect, but that the FBI is supposed to defend the United States against foreign interference including situations where a fictional “Manchurian Candidate” becomes fact.

Gagliano says that there may have been panic on the 7th floor of the FBI headquarters (I’ve been there, by the way). Career justice department people panicked at the very thought of Donald J. Trump with the power of the presidency. “You have to be the calm in the chaos,” says Gagliano. He questioned whether McCabe was being calm amidst the chaos. The talking heads say that McCabe saw a five-alarm fire where the President of the United States was involved with Russians in an inappropriate way. (The five-alarm fire may have just escalated to a six or seven-alarm fire).

IN OTHER BREAKING NEWS

1) Paul Mananfort is declared to have lied while supposedly cooperating with the Mueller investigation. (“You’re burnt!”)

2) Dianne Feinstein says Joe Biden is going to for President.

3) Trump is leaving everyone hanging on whether he will sign the funding bill to avert a shutdown. The news from that front goes back and forth. Fox News host Laura Ingraham is dictating Trump’s actions, as per usual, by suggesting that he NOT sign the compromise bill that others have worked on for weeks.

Adam Schiff Lays It Out on “Meet the Press” (Feb. 3, 2019)

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Adam Schiff, Wikipedia image

Representative Adam Schiff, who is heading up the investigative committee on Trump in Congress, appeared on Chuck Todd’s “Meet the Press” on February 3rd. I copied down his remarks (as best I could) because he is always articulate and it is such a nice change from the chaotic, incomprehensible utterings emanating from the Oval Office.

Here is what Adam Schiff said, condensed slightly:

“Our priority is to make sure the President of the United States is working in the national interest…We’re not interested in whether he’s a tax cheat as he said he is. We’re not interested in whether he is worth more millions or fewer millions. We’re interested in whether the President is compromising our national security and a perfect example is Trump Tower (Moscow).

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               Adam Schiff on Twitter

While he was telling the American people that he had no business interests in Russia, he was pursuing perhaps the most lucrative deal of his career and that’s important because it means the President of the United States is looking out for his bank account and not for the United States of America…I find it just remarkable that the President of the United States or the presumptive nominee of the Republican party could be pursuing business with the Kremlin and lying about it to the American people…We have a responsibility to tell the country what happened.

What we have seen from (Attorney General nominee) Bill Barr’s testimony is that there is to be no leadership to find out and tell the American public, so we will have to find out ourselves…

When the President said that there is”no collusion,” he means that Bob Mueller has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is not guilty of colluding with the Russians.  When Michael Cohen was meeting with the Russians, that was a form of collusion.  When Trump Junior was meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower to try to get dirt on Hillary Rpdham Clinton, that was a form of collusion.  When the president  himself in his business is trying to make money from the Russians and promising a new relationship with Russia, promising relief from sanctions, that’s a form of collusion.

Ultimately, it will be up to Bob Mueller to determine if that is a crime. Our job is to find the facts and make them public, whichever way they cut.  The people closest to the President (Steve Bannon) have said that there is zero chance that other people would make a decision without talking to the President.”

Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar Announces Her Run for President

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Amy Klobuchar, (D, MN) Senator

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announced that she is running for President today in a snowy appearance from Minneapolis, where it was 16 degrees. She is among the other female candidates (5 others by last count) who have thrown down the gauntlet, but she is the first one to announce while hatless, in a blizzard. By the end of her announcement today, snow had accumulated on Ms. Klobuchar’s nose; she looked fairly well frozen, as did about 100 hardy supporters clutching signs and occasionally chanting “Amy!”

Here were some of the themes that Klobuchar hit during her announcement:

INFRASTRUCTURE

Alluding to the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, she said, “A bridge just shouldn’t fall down in the middle of America, but it happened. In that day, America saw in a very visceral way that everyone matters—everyone.” Klobuchar went on to praise the heroism of a man who gave up his own life to insure that a school bus full of children did not plunge into the abyss and also praised the heroics of divers who took part in the rescue and recovery mission. She went on: “Later, we worked across the aisle to fund that I35 bridge.  That’s community.  That’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

She continued, “But that vision is wearing down, worn down by the petty nature of our politics.  We are tired of the gridlocks and the grandstanding. Today, on this snowy day, we say enough is enough! Our nation must be governed not through chaos but through opportunity.”

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

A crash course in Amy’s biography came next, with the information that her parents “arrived in this country with just a suitcase.  They arrived with nothing.  It was cold—Okay, maybe not as cold as this.” (Biggest laugh line). Klobuchar said that her 90-year-old father was present this day and that he had gotten a 2-year degree after arriving in Minnesota, followed by a degree from the University of Minnesota in Journalism, after which he worked for the Associated Press. She described her father as having interviewed everyone from presidents to Ginger Rogers.” Her mother, “a proud union member, taught second grade until age 70.”

GOAL

“I am running for this job for every person who wants their job recognized and rewarded, for every parent that wants a better world for their kids, for every student who wants to be able to afford a good education, for every senior who wants affordable drugs.  I am running for every American.  I am running for you.  And I promise you this:  as your president I will look you in the eye, I will tell you what I think, I will focus on getting things done and, no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.”

At this point, there were numerous chants of “Amy!” from the chilled spectators.

CLIMATE CHANGE

“Let me be blunt: for too long, leaders in Washington have sat on the sidelines.” She went on to cite the inactivity on climate change and the tumult in our world. “Did we view snow as an obstacle? No, we did not. Let’s see those problems as obstacles in our path.  Insidious forces trying to make it harder to vote mean it is time to organize. It is time to galvanize.  It is time to take back our democracy.  We must overturn Citizens United and get the dark money out of our politics. We must restore the voting rights act.  It is time to pass my bill to automatically register every  young person to vote when they turn eighteen.”

Klobachur acknowledged that there were obstacles, but said, “That is also our patch.  They are how we organize.”

On climate change, Klobachur said, “The people are on our side when it comes to climate change.  Why?  Because, like you and I, they believe in science.  That’s why, in the first 100 days of my administration, I will restore the gas mileage standards and put in sweeping legislation to invest in green jobs and infrastructure.  On Day One we will rejoin the International Climate Agreement (Paris Accord).”

COMPUTERS

Moving on to the subject of computer literacy, Klobuchar said, “Way too many politicians have their heads stuck in the sand when it comes to the digital revolution.  If you don’t know the difference between a hack and a slack, it’s time to pull off the digital highway.  We need to put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to people’s privacy.  For too long the big tech companies have been telling us, ‘Don’t worry.  We’ve got your back,’ when they have been mining your data.” She promised to guarantee net neutrality. I promise to connect every household to the Internet by 2022.  And that means you, rural America.  We need to train our workers today for the jobs of tomorrow and strengthen our economy by planning ahead.  Making it easier for people to get 2 year degrees is part of that plan.  Comprehensive immigration reform is part of that plan.  It is time, America.”

HEALTH CARE

Klobuchar moved on to medical questions with the story of a young Minneapolis man who was forced by the high cost of the drug to ration his insulin and, as a result, died.

“We’re going to harness the negotiating power of 43 million seniors and lift the ban on negotiating cheaper prices for prescription drugs. They (big pharma) don’t own me.”

GUN CONTROL

“I will continue to advocate for criminal justice reform.  In a state where we still enjoy hunting, universal background checks and common sense gun legislation will be voted into law. It is time, America.”

WORLD UNITY

“A safer world isn’t judged by what we do here at home.  Even if we want to isolate ourselves, the rest of the world won’t let you.  We need to stand strong and consistently with our allies.  We need to be clear in our purpose.  We must respect our front line troops, diplomats, and intelligence officers, who are there every day risking their lives for us.  They deserve better than foreign policy by tweet!”

Summing up, Klobuchar urged those who support her to text 91990 to AmyKlobuchar.com and added, “Stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate.  We may come from different places, but we all live in the same country of shared dreams.  In Minnesota we have the biggest Somalian population in the country, and we are proud of that country.” She proceeded to tell a story about a man who told a family of 4 to “go home,” causing their small daughter to protest that her mother had said they could eat out that night.  “That little girl only knows one home, and that is the United States of America.”

E PLURIBUS UNUM

Klobuchar quoted Walt Whitman:  “Walt Whitman once wrote, ‘I hear America singing the very carols I hear.’ For Whitman those were the songs of the masons, carpenters, the shoemakers, and those carols are still being sung today.  A chorus of different colors and creeds. E Pluribus Unum: Out of one, many.  It is the North Star of our effort, of our democracy.  It’s time to take back our democracy.  I am asking you to join our campaign. I don’t know if you can even see our number because of the snow.  I don’t have a political machine.  I don’t come from money. But what I do have is grit.  I have family, friends, neighbors, and all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of winter, all of you who are willing to stand up and say, ‘People matter!’ I’m asking you to look up and to look at each other and to look at the future before us. Let us rise to the occasion and meet the changes of our day.  Let us cross the river of our divides and walk across the bridge to the sturdy land of higher ground.  To pursue the good, we must believe that good will prevail, so let’s join together as one nation to pursue the good.”

Thank you, and God bless America!

 

Quotes: Fifteen John Fitzgerald Kennedy Quotes for Today

  President of the United States, 1960-1963
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John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
John Fitzgerald Kennedy would have turned 100 this year, in May.
 He was shot down in Dallas in 1963 when only 46 years old. During his brief tenure in office, JFK gave us many quotes which resonate today. Here are 15 of those quotes:
1)  “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
2)  “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
3)  “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
4)  “We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.”
5)  “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
6)  “Life is never easy.  There is work to be done and obligations to be met—obligations to truth, to justice, and to liberty.”
7)  “The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.”
8)  “We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”
9)  “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
10)  “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men.”
11)  “Mankind must put an end to war,or war will put an end to mankind.”
12)  “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”
13)  “If not us, who?  If not now, when?”
14)  “We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or make it the last.”
15)  “And so, my fellow Americans:  ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.  My fellow citizens of the world:  ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Trump’s First Hotel (Grand Hyatt NYC) Will Crash Like Builder

Grand Central Terminal, right next to the Hyatt where Thrillerfest was held.

Today’s good news is that the Hyatt (Manhattan) in New York City attached to Grand Central Station (Hyatt Grand Central) that Donald Trump bought when it was the Commodore and revamped is being bought and torn down. Yay!

This has to be one of the worst Hyatts, (if not one of the worst hotels in general), that I’ve ever had the misfortune to stay in, not once but at least three times at International Thriller Writers’ Conferences.

Let me elaborate:

The first time I stayed at this Hyatt I could not figure out how to turn the lights off in my room. The rooms don’t have normal light switches. They have strange little electrical plates that don’t work. The men sent up by the desk couldn’t get them to work, either. I ended up having to put a pillow over my head and trying to sleep with the lights on for three days.

David Morrell, an ITW staple.

Secondly, I like bath tubs. I was on a ridiculously high Hyatt floor and there was no water pressure AND no hot water when I tried to hop in the tub and wash my hair quickly. My flight from Chicago had been delayed an entire day; I was lucky to be able to make it in time to “pitch” my novel “The Color of Evil” to a variety of folk. The only person I chose to “pitch” it to was Tony Eldridge, because I knew Tony, personally (slightly). We compared horror stories of our travels. Tony had been stuck on a train, as I recall, traveling from Malibu to New York City, and that had not gone well, either.

The worst thing that happened to me while staying at the Grand Hyatt (aside from the sleeping with the pillow over my head thing) was when I wandered out to get some ice or a can of diet soda. I managed to get my hand (actually, my finger) stuck in a decorative wall plaque that I thought was the “door” to a recessed vending machine. (Hint: it wasn’t). I literally was to the point that images of James Franco amputating his own arm when stuck in a canyon in “24 Hours” were dancing in my brain, as I could not get the ring finger on my right hand back OUT of the crevice on the right after I stuck it IN the crevice, thinking that it would swing open somehow. IN reality, this was a gigantic recessed wall thing-ie meant to be decorative, set near the elevator doors where you would expect ice and soda machines to be located. It hurt like a SOB when I (finally) managed to force my finger back out of the tight spot, most of the skin cleverly removed by the incident.

The last time I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, while attending the workshop presented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco enforcement officers, I actually asked the woman in charge if there wasn’t ANY other hotel that we could have this conference at besides one that was famous as Trump’s first real estate venture in the eighties. The hotel had no cafeteria or cafe (you had to walk over to Grand Central Station’s food court through a tunnel) and the bar was the most ridiculously overpriced bar in Manhattan. I noticed on the third trip to this hotel that literally none of the “famous” authors who had frequented that bar my first year of attendance (Jon Land, Heather Graham, David Morrell, the “Game of Thrones” guy who was there the last two years, etc.) were hanging out in the bar any more. I’m sure they were able to find a much more reasonably priced bar in the area, and one with adequate seating.

Last, but not least, the day I was leaving I had to kill several hours until my plane departed. I checked out by 11 a.m., as required, and left my bags at the desk. Most hotels will happily store your bags for a few hours, but not the Grand Hyatt. There was an hourly charge, per bag, to store your bags in their storage room, despite the fact that you had just paid an outrageous amount to stay in their facility for several days.

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They can’t tear it down fast enough to suit me. From what I have read, the number of rooms available will decline from something like 1300 to 500, so, hopefully International Thriller Writers will find a different venue for the annual conference—hopefully one that has a coffee shop and a bar that is conducive to friends and fellow authors gathering in the hotel, rather than having to leave and go elsewhere to be seated and/or to be able to afford the ridiculously overpriced drinks.

Not my favorite Hyatt, and with the Trump history, truly a hotel worthy of tearing down. Did I mention that they charged you an outrageous amount to use the Internet in the room? If you wanted free Internet, you had to go to the lobby. While I realize that is not that uncommon with high-priced hotels, it did nothing to endear me to the place, since I had no hot water, couldn’t turn my lights off (yes, I called downstairs and the desk told me that they had problems of the sort in the hotel all the time before sending someone up who couldn’t fix it) all night, and found the entire place cold, sterile and uninviting.

Trump “Live” Breaking News Announcement of ISIS’ Defeat

President Donald J. Trump made a “live” announcement (covered by CNN) at 2:50 p.m. CDT to the effect that the United States has defeated ISIS:

“Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters are gone. We have freed the people from more than 5 million bloodthirsty killers.

“We’ve had victory after victory after victory. 23, 320 square miles controlled by ISIS at end of 2016. [Trump claims to have liberated 20,000 square miles.]

Thanks to the global coalition and to our other partners, the ISIS Caliphate has been decimated. Nobody thought it was possible to do it this quickly. 3 weeks ago I was in Iraq and talked to some of our great generals and I gave the generals the absolute go-ahead. I spoke to one general and he told me it would take one week. They will be informing us officially very soon that it is 100%. Isis can no longer claim superiority over our troops.

We can’t do better than we have done militarily.

We will have people who will be around and hopefully they won’t be around very long. They can no longer extract natural resources because they no longer control the land or the area.

(At this point I noticed that DJT was  dribbling down his chain. Why?)

They can no longer claim ancient artifacts. We are cracking down on the Internet. Now, the people on the Internet who used to look up to them as being so brilliant, are not thinking of them as being so brilliant because they’ve been decimated. They can no longer control schools (to inflict their propaganda on young children.) They can no longer launch foreign attacks from launching areas. Their land is gone; it’s a big factor. Their land is gone.”

Trump went on to salute American soldiers and generals and then warned about the remnants that might remain. (“A remnant can be very dangerous.”)

ANALYSIS

Ben Wedeman, CNN Senior International Correspondent and Max Boot, the author of “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right” commenting on CNN: “There are between 20 to 30,000 ISIS fighters still in Syria. They have mixed in with the local population and escaped from Raquaa. We have seen more than 100 assassinations of people involved in the anti-ISIS movement in the last few months. From 2000 to 2013 ISIS ruled over a territory as a quasi state. They can just as easily go back to wreaking havoc as a terrorist group without that state. So, speaking with commanders in eastern Syria on the ground, they warn time and time again that the battle against ISIS is not over when their land is gone. That battle would be prolonged in the absence of U.S. air power and coalition support. People are bracing for the possibility of a wave of terror once ISIS loses its final ground.”

“Power vacuum” – reduction in the caliphate is a positive step in the right direction, BUT…The problem is ideology. You can physically kill off soldiers, but if you have the mentality in the hearts and minds of the populace, it is the age-old question.  The problem of the administration is that they are being narrow-minded in focusing on the regaining of the territory that ISIS had controlled. Significant, because a lot of ISIS revenue came from that territory, but to just say, “That’s it. Now we can leave” negates every single objective we have had in that area.”

“Great nations do not fight endless wars” (from Trump in SOTU.)

“When Trump said this on Tuesday night, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were sitting there stone-faced. He was saying this in the face of his generals’ counsel. General Votel said what Mattis said about suddenly withdrawing from Syria: “It’s a very bad idea. It’s going to allow ISIS to get back off the map and re-generate its capacity. Last night, President Trump was trashing Iran during the SOTU. We are essentially giving up 1/3 of Syria to Bashar Assad and allowing Iran to expand its power in Syria if we withdraw. A bi-partisan majority in the Senate passed a vote disapproving of a rapid pull-out in Syria, in disagreement with the president’s plans and announcements.”

IN OTHER NEWS

House Intel Chair (Rep. Adam Schiff) plans to probe into Trump’s personal finances.

The Pope has admitted that some sitting Bishops abused nuns.

New Content Coming Tomorrow: Stay Tuned

Biden on the caucus campaign trail in Iowa prior to the 2008 presidential race. Don’t worry: I’ll be back to politics by the end of the week.

Content: I’ve been experimenting with trying to post new content on this blog every day.

This is hard when you are a staff of one and have a life, but no new material, i.e., content.

Of course, I don’t have much of a life at the moment, but I did play Hand & Foot Canasta all day today, so I don’t have anything “new” to share with all of you, except that the drive to play “Hand & Foot Canasta” is so far that it took me almost an hour to get there. And it starts at 11 a.m., so I was up early, for me.

I had received a somewhat snarky request that I “not be late.” I was not late, but 2 other people were late (one never showed up at all), and, therefore, my table of newcomers who are learning the game started play with 2 “ghost” players represented by a piece of paper. Those hands were played by our best player (Inga) who did a remarkable job. Inga, who has a pronounced German accent, is truly a good player, as she was able to play HER hand and supervise the 2 pieces of paper that represented the MIA players, one of whom never showed up at all. Apparently you need either 4, 6 or 8 players; we had 5 by game’s end, which made the order in which we would draw and discard cards somewhat irregular.

I had just gotten myself used to the fact that I was the player who would “follow Inga’s discard” when, as it turned out, Inga was playing  THREE TIMES.  I, however, was not.  It became very complex to even know if or when it was even my turn—[and I had 2 sets of rules from the one time I played 2 years ago while visiting my friend Marilyn at the Senior Citizen Center (which is also far away, but not nearly as far as the Blue Cafe where we played here in Austin.)]

I am unclear whether we won or lost. That’s the truth. No idea at all.

I think the first set of hands we were so far down that we couldn’t find up, so everyone decided that we would just call it a “practice round.” One woman (Katie) said she never cared about the score, anyway. That was fine if you’re Katie, but some of us who are going to spend 5 hours playing a game would like to know, at the end of that time, whether we “won” or “lost.” I’m thinking we “lost” the first round and maybe won (?) the last. Who knows? More content on that when I figure it out.

What I do know is that I accidentally left my expensive metal cup in the rest room (I took my own ice because the ice situation is dire with the staff; they bring you a pitcher of water and a pitcher of iced tea, but no glasses, so…). I am sorry I left a $20 thermal cup in the rest room, but I have 2 bright spots of content to share.

#1) I gave a homeless guy in an intersection with a sign one of my 2 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper at a stoplight. He had a sign that read “Anything will help” and it was the only thing I had time to hand him before the light changed.

#2) I walked past a truly cool store at the Galleria (where the restaurant is located) and bought myself a white shawl-like garment that I will, henceforth, carry with me when the AC may be too cold…like all the time. More content on that as the temperatures in Austin soar to 78 or so in the next two days.

#3) I also realized that I had parked my car ON the curb. (I wondered what that large “bump” was when I backed in doing my best imitation of parallel parking.)

So, tomorrow, I am either going to review “Glass,” the new M. Night Shymalan film, OR make predictions about the upcoming Oscars. Stay tuned for further developments. Let me know if you have a preference. Content! Content! Content!

Fact-Checking Trump’s Feb. 1st Claims

Cabo San Lucas in November, 2018. Claims justified as to its danger, but reports say it is improving with additional police presence.

I never thought I’d see the day when I would have to fact check every single claim that a sitting U.S. President made, but that day has arrived. Oh, yes, we always had to take some figures and facts from any president (“W,” in particular) with a grain of salt, but it has become increasingly clear that we cannot believe even one fact or figure that comes out of Donald J. Trump’s mouth without confirming it independently, so I thought I would spend a small amount of time doing just that. I consulted sources like the U.K. “Guardian” that are not known to be prominently right or left, and I read more than one source. So, I’ve done your work for you, Kids!

I boldfaced a lot of Trump’s “claims” in yesterday’s speech from the Oval Office to help me in this onerous task. I don’t claim that I have done as good a job as Snopes, but bear with me, Sportsfans!

The first claim that I want to cry LOUDLY is pure B.S. is The Donald’s bragging about how much he has accomplished in these last 2 years in office. (“I’ve done more than any other president has ever done in the first 2 years of his presidency.“) The truth is that a quick check of just ONE President (FDR) and his first 100 days in office—far less than 2 years— would prove that Trump has a high opinion of himself that is undeserved. Anyone who was alive when Obama took command of the housing mess in 2008, inherited from George W. Bush, can provide a list of  the actions Obama took to save the auto industry and keep our economy from collapsing. (Thank God it wasn’t Trump who was in office then!).

  1. TRUMP’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE PAST 2 YEARS:

In FDR’s first 100 days in office (3 months), he pushed through 15 major bills (March 4, 1933) including the Emergency Banking Relief Act, the Federal Emergency Relief Act which was a state-run welfare program, the Homeowners’ Loan Act, Glass vs Steagall Act, which guaranteed deposits in banks that were under $5,000 (and loans for a few million) AND he took  the nation off the gold standard. I could probably do a similar comparison with every one of the other 44 presidents, but suffice it to say that Trump has not “accomplished more while in office in my first 2 years than anyone else.”  (Not much honor in causing the longest shutdown in U.S. history.)

2.  FENTANYL:

The second claim I checked out was whether or not China has, at Trump’s urging, declared fentanyl illegal and stopped the flow of the drug into the U.S. The CNBC comment on this was: “Chinese state media said only that the nation will work on controlling fentanyl, language that falls short of the White House statement.” Apparently, fentanyl was already illegal. [This reminds me of Trump’s many pronouncements about North Korea’s arms building following his meeting with their leader; nothing substantive was signed, sealed or delivered during those meetings].

3.  MEXICO’S MURDER RATE:

Cancun, Captain’s Cove, 2018

Trump said: “38,000 people were being murdered in Mexico, up 38% from previous years. It is one of the most unsafe countries in the world.” This statement comes closest to being true, but there are some caveats here, as with anything Trump says. The murders per 100,000 in 2017 were listed as 25 per 100,000 (versus 19.4 in 2011). Murders went up 16% in 2018. In the first half of this year, the reports were 15,973 murders and, if you double that, you come up with 31,946, which is close to what Trump cited.

The problem, currently, is that the Jalisco and Sinaloa drug cartels are competing for control after El Chapo’s arrest and imprisonment.  These figures are important to me, with a time share in Mazatlan in Sinaloa and a couple in Cancun (Quintana Roo). The murder rate in Mazatlan is (currently) 71 per 100,000. (Honduras and El Salvador, by comparison, chart 60 per 100,000 ). The most dangerous state is Colima with 80 per 100,000. Quintana Roo, where we have vacationed at Easter for the past 25 years, has a rate of 35 per 100,000, a 132% increase. All these figures are courtesy of The Guardian (July 23, 2018). [I’m particularly interested in Cancun with an April 6th arrival date this year.] Recently, El Poncho (Alfonso Contieras Espinoza) and his wife were gunned down while he was hospitalized at Playamed Hospital.  Los Cabos  (we just spent a week in Cabos at Thanksgiving) was characterized as “the most dangerous city outside a war zone.” There is a new gang called the Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) and they are fighting with the Gulf cartel for control of Baja Peninsula’s drug trade. A former Mayor of Playa del Carmen (Mauricio Gongora) was recently accused of misappropriating $13.3 million.  There was the explosion on a ferry boat that killed 9, which was said to be drug-related. Still, the occupancy rate in Cancun remains 83%; tourism is 8% of Mexico’s annual GDP. Still, 84% of the locals in Cancun do not find their side of town, away from the Hotel Zone, “safe” and complain that they have third world facilities in a first world city, when a pot hole has gone unfixed for 15 years and has gotten so bad that they recently held a birthday party for it (zip-line across the large gulch) to underscore their dissatisfaction. So, The Donald is not wrong about the need for Mexico to get its murder rate under control (much like Chicago); the preliminary report from Cabo, is that an increased police presence has been instituted and is working there.

Royal Islander, Cancun, 2018

4) CHINA TARIFFS:

Trump seems to think that we are profiting from the tariffs with China. (Two economists analyzed this (Krill Borusyak of Princeton and Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics) and they say the tariffs will cost the average American family $127 a year.  Among other manufacturers that will have to increase their prices in the face of Trump’s tariff decision are Walmart, the Gap, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Macy’s. The list of products that will increase because of Trump’s poorly-thought-out decision include TVs, home repair materials and home building materials, washing machines, solar panels, cars, beer, cosmetics, electronics and clothing. And don’t get me started on the loss of the soy bean market (et. al.) for American farmers.

5) CARAVAN MEMBERS

As for the caravan members and how many of them are “bad dudes,”, of 4,841 registered migrants applying for housing in a sports complex in Mexico as part of their caravan to seek asylum, 1,726 were below the age of 18. Three hundred and ten were under the age of 5; 2,700 applied for temporary visas in Mexico upon arrival. Of the approximately 5% of the caravan’s members who have a criminal record, 32% of them were because they were undocumented in the country, 16% were for drug possession, 14% were for traffic violations, 10% were for assault and  1.7% were for sexual assault, Trump’s biggest talking point. (“They throw the woman onto the back seat of cars with black masking tape on their mouths; they turn left, blah, blah, blah.”) These figures mean that 95% of the caravans’ members were NOT in any way “criminals” and the “crimes” that the others were accused of were often minor, yet Trump sent 5,000 U.S. troops to the border to deal with these (primarily) women and children.

 

 

 

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