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!

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In this age of Donald J. Trump and the Mueller investigation, you can expect updates on what is happening to our country and its Constitution.

Biden: Building Back Better

(*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 t32 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 (as noted by Jeff Sommer in the New York Times):  “Since 1900, the stock market has fared far better under Democratic presidents with a 6.7% annualized return for the Dow Jones Industrial average compared with just 3.5% under Republicans.”

Nixon’s “imperial presidency” included Ruritanian White House uniforms, which did not survive nationwide snickering.  Gerald Ford’s presidential modesty produced reports of something that was remarkable only because it was remarked upon:  At breakfast, Ford popped his own English muffins into the presidential toaster.

Forty-six years later, an exhausted nation is again eager for manifestations of presidential normalcy.

Donald J. Trump and His Racist History

Trump has a long history of racist controversies

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

  • 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?”

 

This Ad Says It All

What’s Trump Been Up To? GOP Against Trump’s New Ad

Rest in Peace, Wendy: We Love You

(L to R) Connie & Craig (Wilson); Regina & Steve (Nelson); Wendy & Mark (Wilson).

 

We lost Wendy (far right), the Best Sister-in-Law in the World, on Saturday, April 18th. She was 62.

She had been battling cancer for over a year. Recently, the cancer (leukemia, this time) had returned and her immune system was compromised when 3 different strains of flu hit. She had a high fever and difficulty breathing.

Wendy was in the hospital for 7 weeks, most of them in intensive care. She had already battled through 2 bone marrow transplants, a mastectomy, and various bouts of chemotherapy. When she went to the emergency room, she was having trouble breathing and spiking a fever.

Over the next weeks, her fever would continue and the doctors expressed their desire to re-start chemotherapy in order to boost her white blood cell count and her body’s ability to fight off the flu. Wendy soldiered on.

Wendy and Me, Texas, summer, 2019.

She was intubated three times. Doctors don’t like to leave you on a respirator for too long, and Governor Cuomo of New York says that 80% of patients who are intubated don’t come off the machines. Wendy did, and sat in a chair and was transferred out of the ICU and was potentially going to be sent to a rehabilitation center, where she would have to relearn how to walk.

These last few weeks, she has not been able to have in-person visitors.

When the call came in at 3 a.m., Mark (her husband) was told he needed to come. Wendy was having great difficulty breathing and was probably dying. He could bring one other person.

Mark and Matt, Wendy’s oldest son who is marrying Samantha in June, went to the hospital. She was not unconscious, but was aware of her children, with whom they face-timed: Megan in Denver and Michael, the youngest, in St. Louis. Mark and Matt were bedside.

I will always remember Wendy’s infectious smile and her spirit. I remember wheeling my huge VCR into my classroom in Silvis to show my class there her appearance on “Wheel of Fortune,” where she won a trip to Hawaii and a lot of Gucci merchandise. (Her final puzzle was “Zero In On,” which also seems unfair). I remember being pregnant at the same time, with Wendy giving birth to Matt forty-four days before I gave birth to my youngest, Stacey (we have the pregnant photos, belly-to-belly to prove it).

WendyLife isn’t fair; Wendy should be here. We shouldn’t be scurrying to set up a Zoom family hook-up to memorialize her and restricting mourners in a church or cemetery to 10 people. She should be attending Matt’s wedding in June and having a great time, living in the moment.

Wendy was the World’s Best Sister-in-Law. I’m wearing the gold earrings she gave me for Xmas. I think she may even have liked me. I will miss her at every family gathering and think of her every time “Wheel of Fortune” comes on, oddly enough.

WendyRest in peace, Wendy. We love you and we will always remember and miss you. You put up a courageous fight and you should be here with us.

Easter During the Pandemic in Austin

(L to R) Scott Wilson, Craig Wilson, Jessica Wilson, Stacey Wilson, Connie Wilson (seated).

It’s Easter Sunday and my family and I are still sheltering in place in Austin (TX).

On Thursday, April 9th, the long-awaited interview with Eric and Eliza Roberts went off without too many hitches, and you can hear it for yourself by clicking on the button on this page. The couple couldn’t have been more gracious, and I am hoping they call in to ask their Executive Producer, Ed Dezevallos, a question when I talk to him this coming Thursday at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Weekly Wilson, the podcast, on the Bold Brave Media Global Network. (7 p.m. to 8 p.m.; listed as 8 p.m. on the BoldBraveMedia.com page, because the engineers are in Long Island, NY).

Plans continue to be put forth and, so far, it appears that, after Ed Dezevallos on April 16th, the next week’s guest will be an epidemiologist in charge of the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Bill Kohl, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in and call in (866-451-1451). The last Thursday of April, Jennifer Berliner–who was featured in a big article in the Austin American Statesman recently—will give us some tips for sheltering in place. She has this down as a heart transplant recipient (www.anewheartrocks.com).

As we move into May, plans are much looser and still under discussion, but the tentative schedule has Dan Decker, author and founder of the Chicago Screenwriting School, on May 7; Michael Serrapica, an author and frequent guest with whom we discuss politics, on May 14th; Linda Gratz, author of “Redlined,” a story about Chicago’s housing policies that targeted black home owners; and Anita S. Oswald from Colorado, the author of “West Side Girl,” also a Chicago memoir.

In June, I’m working on shows with Suzie Quatro (June 4), Cathy Moriarty (“Raging Bull,” “Neighbors”) on June 11th and author Heather Graham on June 18th, but June is still under discussion and a long way away…or is it.

HAPPY EASTER!

Do you have coronavirus anxiety? This could help.

 

Singing in Italy During the Pandemic

“Keep Austin Weird”

Tune In to Weekly Wilson, the Podcast on Thursday Nights (7 p.m., CDT)

Home podcast office in Texas.

The upcoming guest list for the Weekly Wilson podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network, while subject to changes in these uncertain times, looks like this through mid-May:

April 2, Thursday, 7 p.m. CDT – Texas author Charlotte Canion will speak with Connie about her book, “You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying,” which is about coping with elderly parents when you may have health issues of your own.

April 9, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Film star Eric Roberts and his wife Eliza (also an actress) are re-scheduled after the shutdown of the network caused the cancellation. We’ll talk about Eric’s storied career, his role in “Lone Star Deception” and other topics of interest.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

April 16, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Ed Dezevallos, Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” and the force behind a series of instructional videos for young people called www.soyouwanttobe.org will drop by.

April 23, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Dr Bill Kohl, an epidemiologist in charge of the University of Texas in Austin’s response to the Corona virus, will share insights and information.

April 30, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Jennifer Berliner, heart transplant and cancer survivor and blogger (www.anewheartrocks.com) will share various tips regarding “sheltering in place” and remaining positive in the face of adversity. (Read up on Jennifer’s background at her blog)

May 7, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – TBA

May 15, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Author Michael Serrapica returns to talk politics with Connie.

As always, listeners can find the podcast (Thursdays, 7 p.m. CDT on the Bold Brave Media Global Network) and phone in “live” at 866-451-1451.

Trump’s Statements Through This Crisis Tell the Truth (Which He Doesn’t)

The Covid-19 Coronavirus was first reported on December 1, 2019, in China by a courageous physician, Dr. Li Wenliang, who told other physicians that a SARS-like illness was spreading. For his concern, he was arrested along with 6 others and obliged to apologize for “spreading rumors.” Dr. Li Wenliang died of COVID-19 on February 7th. Until January 5th, the Chinese government engaged in a cover-up. As late as January 15th, official sources were saying the risk was low and that human-to-human transmission had not been proven. Only on January 23rd, 6 weeks in, did China quarantine Wuhan.

Back in the U.S. of A.:

January 22, 2020 – “We have it totally under control.” (DJT)

February 2, 2020 – “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

Two times in February, Trump said that “When we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”

February 26, 2020 – (Over 60 cases diagnosed) – “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 28, 2020 – (In South Carolina): “This is their new hoax. (Blaming the Democrats for the Chinese COVID-19 virus.)

March 6, 2020 – Continuation of the theme that the virus was “a hoax.” and “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” Repetition of a “fake news/Ukraine” theme saying that the tests were “beautiful” and “The tests were all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect, right?”

March 7, 2020 – asked if he was concerned about the virus, Trump replied, “No, we’ve done a great job.”

Two days after declaring that the virus was “under control” Trump declared himself “a war-time president” and said, “I’ve always know this is a real—this is a pandemic.  I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” He also gleefully proclaimed himself as “getting it” and being extremely good at understanding the epidemic.

With Vice President Joseph Biden (then Senator Biden) at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Davenport, Iowa, caucus season, 2008.

Will November’s voters remember the criminal dishonesty that permitted this pestilence to hit us so very hard and kept us from preparing for the eventuality for so very long? Coupled with the damage to our national parks, our environment, our very planet, our alliances, our economy now (post-pandemic), with the evidence that management is not DJT’s forte, will informed voters finally get the message that drafting this guy was a bad idea? His remarks about opening up for business as usual have alarmed health experts, with the stated date being Easter—only a couple weeks away.

For the moment, the graphs and charts showing how GREAT our economy was doing—[supposedly all because of Trump, although the last 36 months of President Obama’s tenure showed an uptick after his saving of the economy from the housing collapse of 2007-2008]—have stopped. That is the only “good” thing I can point to from a worldwide epidemic that should show very clearly the true colors of the man who is unfit to lead a nation, let alone 4 bankrupt businesses. The second good thing to come from it will be if this ousts Trump from power.

The petty actions towards the Governors of Washington state and Michigan speak volumes. The failure to have bi-partisan shows of support for the stimulus bill when it was signed in the Oval Office: small and unpresidential. The grasping, ridiculous mewling of GOP Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and 2 others delaying the passage of the stimulus bill on the floor of the Senate far into the morning (1:30 a.m.). The only voice of reason seemed to be Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

What were Lindsey and Cruz so upset about? The stimulus package might give South Carolina workers $23 an hour for an hourly wage and, according to Graham, workers could be hired there for $15 an hour, largely because the minimum wage has been stalled for nearly a decade. And this was a problem why? Well, because, for 4 months (a finite period of time for the stimulus package), the citizens of South Carolina (whom Lindsey obviously thinks are a bunch of slackers) would rather NOT work than work, because of the pay difference. No thought given to those who welcome a return to normalcy and having something to do, including some structure in their lives.

Meanwhile, New Orleans needs 20,000 ventilators and has only received 200. Mardi Gras Parades, as usual, were, perhaps, not such a good idea. New York’s Governor Cuomo asked for 30 or 40,000 ventilators and had to argue with DJT over whether it needs that many. Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are new “hot spots,” but New York is the worst. Parts of New York might be put under quarantine by the man who allowed this disaster to become worse, our president Donald J. Trump. Of course, the quarantine did not come up during a conversation between the Governor (Cuomo) and the President, as per usual. Management, transparency, and communication are not this president’s forte, as we know from the failure of his administration’s top-ranking officials to come to Congress when asked.

In Chicago, 3,000 cases wiith 34 deaths. Mayor Lori Lightfoot had to shut down beaches and Lake Shore Drive’s jogging trail. Young people are showing up in hospitals, like Rush. Dr. Omar Lateef, President & CEO of Rush University Medical Center expressed concern. Over 400 new cases in the past 24 hours, including within the jail population—one of the largest in the nation.640,589 cases worldwide, 111, 684 in the U.S. 1,850 deaths in the U.S. versus 29,848 worldwide. 138 people on board a cruise ship off the coast of Panama are sick. Delta is waiving costs for health care workers who are traveling to help volunteer in hard-hit states. All Nevada businesses closed by the Governor for 30 days. Los Angeles cases tripled in three days. Elon Musk took it upon himself to fly 1200 respirators to California from China. A hospital ship now sits offshore (The Mercy) of Los Angeles with 12 fully functioning medical operation rooms and a similar ship sits off the shores of New York City.

And so it goes when you elect a Con-man who is untrustworthy and he ends up heading up a nation during a national crisis. We all held our breaths when DJT was pronounced the winner of the presidency in the electoral college and hoped that he could continue skating on the thin ice that buoyed the economy—for a while.

Joe Biden in Independence, Iowa, on the Fourth of July, 2019.

Beyond the embarrassment we feel whenever Donald J. Trump unleashes his thin-skinned temper at an unsuspecting reporter or insults the Governor of a state for no good reason, beyond the jockeying for position our national leader displayed for the world to see, [shouldering aside the leader of Montenegro so he would be first in the picture at an international meeting]—those embarassments fade in comparison with statements that misled a nation with only a brief window of time to prepare, to get ready, to be prepared (as the Boy Scout oath says) for a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

My mother lived through the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. She was eleven, the same age as my twin granddaughters are now. I remember her stories of how only half of her sixth grade class returned to school after schools resumed and how flatbed trucks circulated in Hospers, Iowa, to pick up the dead bodies.

DJT blew this. Big time. Like the cheating husband who tries to win back his wife after infidelity with promises of better behavior in the future, DJT has not been equal to the challenge; people are dying because of it.

Future President of the United States?

Remember that in November when you vote. Before then, try to see the documentary “Kill Chain:  The Cyber War on America’s Elections” to prepare yourselves for the extent of the cheating that will occur this time around.

 

 

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