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!
The obvious answer to “Who in history should never have been born?” would be Adolph Hitler, but, updating that, let’s also nominate Donald J. Trump. The harm he is doing is growing to proportions that may make it impossible to right the ship of state unless we intervene much more quickly than is currently happening.
“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”
It’s all well and good to talk about the Mueller investigation and hope it will bring an end to the chaotic madness that putting up with Donald J. Trump hath wrought, but a film I saw recently suggested that we only have until 2020 to reverse global warming (which is not a priority on Trump’s watch) and every day he undertakes some expensive initiative that is either poorly thought out, not thought out at all, or deeply divisive and destructive.
If you still need examples of these things, after the shootings and the up tick in hate crimes and the forest fires in California, you just aren’t paying attention.
Meanwhile, we have agencies that are responsible for such things as the underground radioactive containers (the Department of the Interior) that are either not being run at all or are being run by people who are proven enemies of the departments they now head up.
I pray that I am over-reacting and that the massive debt Trump has loaded our country with will magically disappear, but reality has a bad habit of rearing its increasingly ugly head.
The above was my Quora answer of nearly 2 years ago—BEFORE the pandemic hit. Feel free to leave your civil comments and we’ll have a dialogue that might lead to some sort of consensus. Light, not heat.
“President Trump: For 4 years, we’ve had to live with you and your racist attacks on black people. We learned early about your sexist attitudes towards women. We’ve had to endure clips of you mocking a disabled man.
We’ve had to listen to your anti-democratic attacks on journalists.
We’ve read your tweets slamming private citizens to the point of receiving death threats.
And now you’re attacking Democratic mayors and the very institutions of democracy that have served this nation well since its founding.
Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?
It’s YOU who have created the hate and the division.
The Tweets that you have been putting out in the last 48 hours, attacking Democratic mayors, attacking those who are trying to bring resolution to the violence in their local communities.
You have an opportunity to uplift us and to bring us together to help us move through this difficult situation in our nation’s history, and, instead, you choose to play petty politics and to divide us.
That’s my reaction
So, I’m gonna do the work that I need to do here in my local community with my local officials, to take accountability for what is happeningi on our streets, and I’d appreciate that either the president support us or that you stay the hell out of the way.
[Having just finished watching both the DNC and the RNC and doing a “live” podcast discussing both, I am reprinting here the observations of another, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post.
I’ll ultimately put down my own thoughts about the two conventions, articulated “live” on Weekly Wilson podcast last night in discussion with author Michael Serrapica (author of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals,” a book about political propaganda), but here is part of Eugene Robinson’s column. Coming from a black citizen, the viewpoints offer more insight than my own :
In his first paragraph, Robinson called out what I similarly called out in a Letter to the Editor of the Quad City Times published on 8/27, a rebuttal to a Sunday letter from Lyle Miller that ran on Aug. 23rd. Said Robinson of the RNC show. I call it a DISCONNECT FROMREALITY of those swearing allegiance to DJT.
“What 176,000-plus deaths from COVID-19? What devastating shutdown and recession? What double-digit unemployment? What mass uncertainty over whether and how to open our schools? What shocking police killings of African Americans? What long overdue reckoning with systemic racism? Let me put it another way: What country does Vice President Mike Pence live in?” wrote Eugene Robinson.
If you saw my letter to the editor in the paper yesterday in response to Lyle Robinson, I referred to his completely ignoring similar shortcomings and failings of the current administration as “a disconnect with reality.” What is wrong with intelligent people that they cannot see through this charlatan’s charade and how he is playing “the fear card” to try, by any means possible, to hold on to power? It wasn’t a coincidence that Melania Trump showed up looking like a Slovenian Prison Matron the night of her speech in the Rose Garden, the garden that she completely uprooted in order to use “the people’s house” for the Trump team’s purposes.
Robinson continued: “During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Pence sounded as though he lived in some kind of fantasyland that perhaps had encountered a few tiny little bumps in the road. His party has spent the week claiming to represent ‘the common man,’ but Pence spoke as though he knew next to nothing about the daunting challenges that Americans are having to deal with every day. The most he could muster was an acknowledgement that ‘we’re passing through a time of testing,’ as though he were consoling a motorist after a fender bender.”‘
Pence did offer ‘our prayers’ for victims of Hurricane Laura’ and he acknowledged there had been deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, though not how many. But his only pointed and specific words were his attacks against the Democratic nominee—‘You won’t be safe in JoeBiden’s America‘—and his full-throated endorsement of President Donald Trump’s ‘law and order’ rhetoric. The idea that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America” is complete and utter B.S. and any thinking person who was alive from 2008-2016 should be able to figure that out for himself or herself.
At this point, we could add that the violence we are all seeing and experiencing in towns like Minneapolis and Kenosha is on Trump’s watch, with his apparent tacit endorsement, as it might help him cling to power if he can convince gullible Americans that the violence breaking forth on our streets right now is not on HIS watch, but try to lay it at the feet of a rival candidate who served honorably for 47 years, 8 of them as Vice President.
Robinson continued: “The vice president rejected the idea of systemic racism, instead focusing on the protest and demanding its end. He blasted ‘violence and chaos—rioting and looting—tearing down statues”–with no mention of why those things might be happening.”
It is a fair charge to say that DJT cares more about dead Civil War heroes than he does about living flesh-and-blood American citizens.
Continuing: “Pence spoke from an iconic American setting, the site of the War of 1812 battle whose ‘rocket’s red glare’ and ‘bombs bursting in air’ inspired Francis Scott Key to write ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Fort McHenry is meant to symbolize national unity. It was an act of defilement to use such a place for partisan political rhetoric intended to provoke division and fear.”
“But as far as this Republican convention is concerned, what else is new?”
“So far, the GOP has misused the White House—the people’s house— to have Trump and his acting Secretary of Homeland Security stage a naturalization ceremony, crassly reducing 5 newly-minted U.S. citizens to photographic props; have Trump pardon an African-American ex-convict Jon Pardon, as part of an all-out attempt to whitewash the administration’s shocking racism; and have First Lady Melania Trump deliver her convention address standing in the Rose Garden she recently renovated.”
We could interject here, “recently ruined.” The Rose Garden trees were planted by Jackie Kennedy in the sixties and the trees bore the names of other first ladies through the years, but they were all gone, dug up to make way for cables and microphones and bland-by-comparison flowers, so that Trump could squeeze 3,000 people into the Rose Garden, nearly all maskless and sitting in close proximity. If there are bigger ways to give the rest of the U.S. the finger, what are they? “Let’s rip out Jackie Kennedy’s garden and, instead, make this hallowed location a launching pad for the propaganda of our convention!” And that’s what 100% of the convention was about: propaganda. Truth rarely reared its head.
“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”
“The party also had Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speak to the convention from Jerusalem, playing an active partisan role in a way no sitting secretary of state has done in living memory (because of the Hatch Act)—in the middle of a taxpayer-funded diplomatic trip, no less. Pompeo is supposed to represent the entire nation, but apparently he represents only the loyal Trump base.”
“Trump and his campaign aides see this ostentatious disregard for hallowed norms (and laws, like the emoluments clause of the Constitution) as elements of ‘the Trump brand.’ Despite being in office for 3 and 1/2 years, Trump still wants to cast himself as some kind of rough-hewn outsider willing to smash all the china, if necessary, to ‘get things done.’ It’s pure razzle-dazzle (or razzle-fizzle) designed to create the illusion of blunt effectiveness and to distract from the administration’s dismal, tragic failures.”
“Pence is supposedly leading the nation’s response to the coronavirus emergency. You would think that he, of all speakers, would at least try to deal with that crisis substantively, but you would have been wrong.”
“As Pence spoke, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm was grinding towards landfall along the Gulf Coast—one of two to hit within days. Thousands of people were trying to evacuate their homes near the Texas-Louisiana border and, because the Trump administration so bungled its response to Covid-19, they had to scramble for shelter and safety in the midst of a raging pandemic.”
“Meanwhile, Kenosha, Wisconsin, was under a tense dusk-to-dawn curfew following angry protests that were sparked by the shocking police shooting Sunday of yet another Black man, Jacob Blake, shot 7 times in the back in front of three little boys while attempting to get into his car. (and now paralyzed from the waist down). Pence apparently hadn’t noticed the reason for the Kenosha protests. And he apparently really didn’t notice the killing Tuesday of two protesters, allegedly by a 17-year-old White Racist vigilante and avid Trump supporter whose mother drove him and his automatic weapon to Kenosha from Illinois. “[The perpetrator, Kyle Rittenhouse, was even able to drive back home to Antioch, Illinois and spend the night in his own bed, while the police chief in Kenosha blamed the victims for “being out after curfew.”]
Let’s be quite clear here: all of this completely unacceptable violence is happening on DJT’s watch. The buck stops there.
I’m old enough to remember violence of this magnitude in the sixties, as various civil rights and political icons were shot down and the Black Panthers movement armed to counter police violence towards people of color. Still, the circumstances, amidst a pandemic, with a president who tacitly condones and encourages such unrest, while claiming to be trying to control it, are very different.
Robinson goes on to say: “I wasn’t surprised. Earlier in the evening the convention brought out Michael McHale, president of the Nattonal Organization of Police Organizations, to describe Biden (who authored the 1994 crime bill) and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris (a former prosecutor) as—somehow (unbelievably)—anti-police—and to call DJT ‘the most pro-law-enforcement president we’ve ever had.'”
“Be afraid, America, be very afraid, said Eugene Robinson.
“What all of this actually reveals is Trump’s own naked fear. (Fear that he may lose because of his incompetence when handling his duties regarding the coronavirus and the subsequent economic downturn.) Even this night, masks were not being worn and social distancing was not being practiced, yet more evidence of this administration’s anti-science bent, which has contributed to the U.S. having 1/4 of the world’s deaths from the virus but only 4% of the world’s population. Trump has made us the leader of “civilized country with most deaths that could have been prevented,” but that was not what the evening’s script wanted you to believe.
Robinson sums up: “Trump and the Republicans are pulling these stunts because they know that right now they are, according to polls, they are losing this election. Badly. And, deep down, I hope at least some of them realize that defeat is what they rightly deserve.”
Let us never forget P.T. Barnum’s words, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Apparently, the Trump team thinks that they can bamboozle their way through inconvenient facts and lie their way to a second term. Be a critical thinker. Look around you. Do you see long lines at food banks? Do you have neighbors who are out of work and whose jobs probably will never return? Worse yet, do you have friends or family members who have caught this lethal disease and are gone forever? Today’s headline of the Quad City Times reads: “Iowa breaks Covid-19 Daily Records.”
It’s not business as usual, folks, and we are NOT back to “normal.” And whatever “normal” we return to will been shaped by the incompetent response of the very people tasked to address it, who, instead, told us as long ago as January 22nd, “We have it all under control.” Trump continued to spout this falsehood, even in the face of reality.
Don’t let the GOP disconnect with reality blur your own eyes and ears. Look around and ask yourself that old political question, “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” The answer is clear, and that means change of leadership. Or, actually, getting ANY national leadership in the Covid-19 fight, for a change.
(*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.”
With Vice President Joseph Biden (then Senator Biden) at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Davenport, Iowa, caucus season, 2008.
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 (asnoted 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.
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?”