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: Local Page 1 of 23

Columns on local goings on could mean the Quad Cities of IA/IL (Moline, IL or Davenport, IA); Chicago; or Austin, Tx, since Connie spends parts of each year in those towns where she has homes. ‘Of local interest” could mean politics, opinion pieces, or business or entertainment-related subjects.

Dominion Voting Machine Conspiracy Theories: Only Crackpots Need Apply

Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute warns that the crack-pot Dominion Voting Machine conspiracy theories are harming cyber-security:

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

Last week, Julian Sanchez wrote about a crackpot conspiracy theory making the rounds: The allegation that voting machines or tabulation software produced by Dominion Voting Systems had somehow been “hacked” or “rigged” to alter the outcome of the presidential election. At the time, I worried I might be giving undue attention to an outlandish claim that—given how thin and easily debunked was the “evidence” for it—would surely fade away on its own. Apparently, I need not have worried. Since then, the Dominion Theory has not only led to the firing of Chris Krebs, the well‐​respected head of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency, but featured in a press conference held by Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who made it the centerpiece of a wildly implausible case that Donald Trump had won the presidency by a “landslide” and been deprived of victory by massive and systematic vote fraud. According to Powell’s increasingly byzantine version of the theory:

“The Dominion Voting Systems, the Smartmatic technology software, and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election after one constitutional referendum came out the way he did not want it to come out.”

None of this is true. Dominion and Smartmatic are separate companies, and indeed competitors; the tenuous connection between them is that Dominion once purchased assets from a firm that had been owned and sold off by Smartmatic years earlier. Smartmatic is an American company, though its founders are Venezuelan, and its software was not used in any of the swing states currently under scrutiny. (It has provided software used in Venezuelan elections, but the company itself has called out electoral fraud there.) Powell’s claim appears to be little more than an effort to insinuate guilt by (very indirect) association with an authoritarian regime.

The other supposed “evidence” for chicanery linked to Dominion is equally shoddy. Election‐​night tabulation errors in Michigan—detected and corrected almost instantly—were speculatively attributed to Dominion software by online conspiracy theorists, but local election officials have since explained that they were the result of human errors, not computers misbehaving. Claims amplified by Trump that millions of votes had been “deleted” in Pennsylvania were unequivocally refuted by state officials. Trump appears to have picked up the notion from a report on the One America News Network, which got the idea from a blog post citing data from the polling firm Edison Research—though Edison itself had produced no such report.

Evidence against the theory is overwhelming, and has only become stronger in the week since my original post. Georgia recently completed a manual recount of paper ballots, supervised by the Republican secretary of state, and found no sign of any significant tabulation errors. (The states electronic voting machines generate voter‐​verifiable paper records, and in most battleground states the in‐​person votes that would have used such voting machines favored Trump, with Biden having the advantage in hand‐​marked mail ballots.) In an open letter, 59 of the country’s most prominent election security experts said they’d found no evidence of systemic fraud—cyber or otherwise.

None of this, alas, was enough to save Chris Krebs, until recently director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security. For the sin of issuing a statement that the agency had found no evidence of voting systems being compromised, Krebs was summarily terminated by tweet, with Trump declaring the agency’s expert analysis “highly inaccurate.”

“We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 2020)

Since the evidence‐​free Dominion theory is unlikely to persuade any court, Krebs’ dismissal may be its most damaging consequence, at least in the short term. This is not merely because Krebs was widely respected and viewed as highly competent, but because the firing sends a clear signal to all government employees: if your own analysis contradicts the president’s claims about vote fraud, you shouldn’t expect to remain employed for long. This undermines CISA’s core mission, which includes assisting and coordinating with states which may lack the federal government’s capabilities when it comes to monitoring and detecting sophisticated cyber‐​threats. Now the specter of political interference hangs over any warnings the agency may provide in the future. The agency may now hesitate to provide state officials—and the general public—with reassurances about the integrity of local elections, while warnings about actual threats may be viewed with suspicion given Trump’s clear desire to find evidence of fraud. Nor is the harm limited to CISA. The Intelligence Community at large is on notice: produce reporting at odds with the president’s public claims, and you place your career at risk.

This is particularly poisonous because it distorts what’s known as the “intelligence cycle”: the process by which agencies gather intelligence, analyze it, disseminate reporting, and then use that information to allocate resources and prioritize the next round of intelligence collection. Any distorting effect on what is reported—either because employees feel obliged to emphasize information that confirms what the president wants to hear or suppress information that contradicts his presuppositions—risks creating a feedback loop, infecting the next round of planning and intelligence collection, and diverting resources and energy away from genuine threats and toward spurious ones. We should hope the president‐​elect has the wisdom to avoid such potentially toxic interference.

“The Comeback Trail” Will Leave You Laughing—and That’s Just What We Need!

George Gallo and Josh Posner took an old idea (based on a 1982 film of the same name  by Harry Hurwitz) and tweaked the basic idea of “The Producers” to give us the comedy “The Comeback Trail.” The movie stars Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Zach Braff, Morgan Freeman, Emile Hirsch and there is an uncredited cameo from Jason Bateman.

Gallo was the creative force behind “Wise Guys,” “Midnight Run,” and “Bad Boys,” among other amusing films. This is a World Class Cast and the music by Aldo Schllaku and cinematography by Lukasz Bielan are top-notch. Budget was estimated to be $25 million.

Here’s the plot in a nutshell (as revealed in numerous trailers): Max Barber (DeNiro) and his nephew Walter Creason (Zach Braff) have just released “Killer Nuns” (“They’re nuns with a bad habit.”). It’s another bomb from Miracle Pictures. [In fact, the Miracle Pictures slogan is, “If it’s good, it’s a miracle.”]

Walter borrowed $350,000 from Reggie Fontaine (Morgan Freeman) to make the picture, and Reggie wants his money back. Since Reggie isn’t kidding about wanting repayment, Max goes to James Moore (Emile Hirsch), a wealthy investor, and James (call him Jamie) demands that the great script for a film called “Paradise” be signed over to Jamie, in exchange for helping bail Max out.

It is while at Jamie’s mansion, where filming is taking place on yet another picture, that Zach Braff, seeking an autograph, inadvertently causes Frank Pierce, the star of the picture (uncredited cameo by Jason Bateman) to fall off a building.  (I wondered if Frank Pierce was modeled on Tom Cruise?) Pierce is killed,— but he was insured for $5 million.

That is the germ of the idea for Max: Hire an over-the-hill movie star of yesteryear, insure him heavily, and kill him off while making a picture. Then, collect the insurance. This isn’t too far off the idea behind “The Producers” when another Max planned to make a terrible Broadway bomb and collect for its failure. That original film with Dick Shawn (“Springtime for Hitler,” anyone?) unfortunately goes on to be a roaring success, which ruins Zero Mostel’s (Max Bialystock’s) plans.

Tommy Lee Jones is the over-the-hill Western star, Duke Montana, who is reduced to doing commercials for Big Earl’s Used Cars, while living in a retired actors’ home, where he is suicidal over his long-lost love, Bess.

THE GOOD

The dialogue frequently references famous movies of yesteryear. At one point, for instance, Morgan Freeman tells Max’s character that, if he is not promptly paid within 72 hours, “I’ll hunt you down like Redford and Newman in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.’” There is an amusing exchange when Morgan Freeman—a frequent investor in numerous film projects—-marvels to his sidekick, Devin, that they are on the movie set where “Gunga Din” was filmed.

“This is where they shot Gunga Din!” says Morgan’s character.

Devin responds, “Who is Gunga Din and why did they shoot him?”

It’s throw-away lines like this, plus the stunt horse Buttermilk (an homage to Dale Evans) that will tickle the fancy of true movie buffs.

The horse (Buttermilk) has various tricks that he’ll perform upon the uttering of a code word. Say “rocket” and he’s off running like one. Say “mattress” and he’ll lie down. Say “Rhubarb” and watch out! There is also a bull whose intentions towards the cast are deadly and a hanging footbridge over a canyon that makes Duke ‘fess up that he is afraid of heights.

THE BAD

I’ve never thought that Robert DeNiro played comedy as well as drama. He always seems to be over-the-top hammy in fare like “Meet the Fockers,” but the movies were still funny. His mugging for the camera (again) doesn’t keep the lines and situations from being laugh-out-loud humor at a time when we desperately need more laughter in our lives.

The movie was filmed in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, and will be streaming by December 18th. Be sure to stay after the credits to see the hilarious phoney ads for “Killer Nuns” and films like “Cows from Beyond” by the mythical Miracle Films.

 

“Meat the Future” Explains How Meat Can Be Grown in Labs and Replace “Real” Meat

Now playing the 43rd Denver Film Festival, “Meat the Future” is a Liz Marshall documentary that explains the brainchild of cardiac surgeon Uma Valeti, who has formed Memphis Meats to bring meat grown in laboratories to market.

Dr. Valeti actually was a trained cardiac surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, but he had been haunted for years by the idea that, in order to eat meat, animals must be grown to adulthood and then slaughtered. Not only did the idea that “in the midst of life, we are in death” affect him as a child, he also became aware of the growing demand for meat that cannot be met by standard methods.

In the course of this film, we meet Ira Van Eelen, whose father in Amsterdam may have been the Godfather of Clean Meat, starting experiments with growing meat in a lab as far back as 2010. Dr. Valeti took the idea and has made it a reality—if an expensive reality—making it possible to cultivate meat that tastes like meat, from the cells of chickens and ducks and beef cattle, in a cultured lab setting over the course of 4 weeks, whereas it takes from 14 to 24 months to raise an animal from birth to slaughter.

SLAUGHTER

In order to feed humans, pigs and cows and other living mammals are slaughtered. It’s a reality that has driven many to become vegetarians. Even Dr. Valeti admits having tried vegetarianism for a while. The success of things like tofu burgers, however, has not been nearly as close to “the real thing” as the cultured meats that Valeti’s Memphis Meats has been able to produce.

Early news articles (April, 2016) showed a pound of what appeared to be ground beef with the label $18,000 – 1 lb. of ground beef from Memphis Meats. The three original investors put $3.1 million together but, since their successes, investors like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, along with David McLennan, the CEO of Cargill, have come onboard to underwrite the group’s efforts.  Draper Fisher Jurveston, an investment firm for those looking to underwrite promising technologies, reports that the group now has “more money coming at them than they want to take” and mentioned a figure of $4 billion.

What are the “good” and the “bad” things about “clean meat”? (“clean meat,” as a term,has tested more positively than “cultured meat” in P.R. studies).

THE GOOD:

  • Animals are a big part of the carbon footprint problem and, with this technology, the need to raise so many animals on feed lots, is bypassed, thereby decreasing the carbon footprint of the industries that are now producing our meat. The film mentions a timeline of 20 to 30 years by which time animals would not need to be raised for meat. This is, as the film put it, ‘a huge paradigm shift.”
  • Supply – The documentary posits the belief that, despite all the efforts that currently exist to feed the world’s people, we need to step up production. Comparing 4 weeks of preparation time (clean meat)  to 14 to 24 months (real meat) is educational.
  • No more slaughtering living creatures for our beef, pork, poultry or fish.

 

THE BAD:

  • As you can imagine, meat producers are not at all sure that this idea is a “good” thing for them, their industry, or the public They maintain that the government must learn how to regulate cell-based meats. Both Sonny Perdue (Secretary of Agriculture) and Dr. Scott Gottlieb of “Face the Nation” appearances talk about “clean meat.”
  • The Good Food Institute says we need the equivalent of a Manhattan Project to move the initiative forward. Why do I get the feeling that, just like the electric car, the “old way” meat people will kill the idea of cultured cells becoming edible meat, just as the fossil fuel industry killed the electric car?
  • Expense – currently, it is prohibitively expensive to create “clean meat” with figures of $1700 per pound mentioned. The use of markets and technology to solve problems cannot be supported enthusiastically enough, but I do wonder if this Bold Brave Idea might end up like the hydrogen car. (Remember that one?)

“A Perfect Enemy” Is a Film To Intrigue from Director Kike Maillo

The intriguing film “A Perfect Enemy” starring Tomasz Kot (Cold War), was directed by 45-year-old Spanish-born director Kike Maillo. Maillo helmed the 2012 film “Eva,” when 37, and it won him the Best New Director award from the Cinema Writers Circle Award in Spain and an award for Best Special Effects (2012). This time out, the basis for the complicated story is a novel by Amelie Nothomb, “Cosmetique de l’ennemi,” but the script was written by Maillo, aided by screenwriters Cristina Clemente and Fernando Navarro.

Architect Jeremiasz August has just concluded a lecture about architecture (“Perfection is when there is nothing left to take away.”) and is in a cab on his way to the airport.

Furthermore, it is an airport that Jeremiasz actually designed, with a beautiful model of his work in the center of a spacious waiting area.

Amidst a deluge outside the lecture hall, a young blonde traveler asks if she can share a cab with the architect. Tessel Textor (Athena Straites)—a petite blonde—does clamber inside the cab in the downpour and begins a pretty much non-stop barrage of information about herself. The Good Samaritan act of allowing her to share the cab causes both the architect and the young blonde to miss their flights, so their conversation continues—more or less—-in the VIP lounge of the airport.

August appears to be growing very tired of the non-stop chatter. There is some symbolism overtly explained. When Tessel first enters the cab,she explains that her name can mean “weaver of words,” although she is not a writer. (August tells her it’s not too late to start.)

There is a third character—a beautiful woman named Isabelle, who was married to August but disappeared  twenty years earlier. We see Isabelle (Marta Nieto) primarily strolling about a charming cemetery and, later, in her apartment. Her relationship with August is confirmed further along in the film by photos of the couple that adorn her apartment.

Things begin to become very surreal and fantastical at the airport. There are clear signs that Tessel is “not right in the head” (if she is even there) and her annoying monologue is beginning to irritate the reserved architect. There are several trips to view a model of the airport. Each time,  airport model has small changes occurring involving splotches of blood, etc. (Take note). The exchanges in the rest room(s) are even more central to the plot and even weirder.

Ultimately, August is on his flight. We anticipate that violence will occur at any moment, especially since Tessel followed August into the men’s lavatory and spends a fair amount of time playing with a knife throughout the film.

Now, August is on his flight. Tessel says to August, “Lower your voice.”

“Why?” asks August.

“Because you’re still on the plane,” responds Tessel. That was not where we thought August was when he raised his voice, so settings are shifting and mysterious things are occurring; the endless stories that Tessel tells are beginning to form a mosaic of sorts, coming together to form one tapestry.

The best comparison, for the viewer, to capture what may be going on in this film is to mention “Fight Club” and how it dealt with reality.

I enjoyed the film. First of all, it was well acted, (although Tessel would have been more convincing if she hadn’t been wearing 10 pounds of colored eye make-up in every scene plus what looked like camouflage pajamas).

Aside from that faux pas on the costuming, the principals carry out the somewhat confusing exchanges of dialogue proficiently, the music is good (Alex Baranowski), the sets are great, the cinematography is above average (Rita Noriega)  and the ultimate resolution of the plot is clear.

Another plus: the actors are all speaking English. I finally gave up on the subtitles of an Iranian film that was supposed to feature a burning theater. Did not make it through to the end of that one. Gave it my best shot; that’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

 Enjoyed this one all the way through to its thought-provoking conclusion.

How Trump Might Try to Cheat to Win

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

This is a slightly truncated version of the original “Washington Post” article that explains one of the likely methods that DJT will/would try to use to steal the November 3rd presidential election.

Could Trump steal the election? Here’s one way to find out. (Sept. 30, 2020)

The disastrous debate that unfolded in Ohio should prompt us to take the possibility that President Trump will try to steal the election far more seriously — even as it also renders that outcome much less likely to succeed.

Trump exhorted his far-right army to mobilize for a sustained conflict over the election results. He refused to say whether he’d accept a legitimate loss. And he confirmed he’s expecting the Supreme Court to help invalidate countless legally cast ballots.

It’s this last point that presents a way to gauge Trump’s chances of executing some version of his corrupt designs.

The short version is this. At Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Democrats can press a line of questioning that might illuminate whether Trump can pull off one of his most-discussed means for rigging the election: getting a GOP state legislature to appoint substitute pro-Trump electors to the electoral college, regardless of the popular vote in that state. 

Trump is telegraphing his scheme

At the debate, Trump said he “can’t go along” with a result tallied up from millions of mail-in ballots, which will mean “fraud like you’ve never seen.” He urged supporters to “watch” the voting “very carefully,” i.e., to engage in voter intimidation.

And asked what he expects of the high court and Barrett, Trump said:I’m counting on them to look at the ballots.”

Trump did also say he might not “need” the court to settle “the election itself.” But that only inadvertently confirms that he believes the court is at his beck and call on this matter.

As far-fetched as it seems that a state legislature might appoint pro-Trump electors, it’s important to note that some Republicans are already claiming that the fictional mass fraud in large-scale mail balloting could serve as the justification for doing just this.

As one Trump legal adviser told the Atlantic, they might say: “We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.”

And so, when Trump casts doubt on the legitimacy of a prolonged count after Election Day — as he did at the debate — he’s opening the possibility of using exactly this justification for precisely this endgame.

As Edward Foley outlined in a prescient 2019 article, if Trump were ahead in the Election Day count, he’d likely put this scheme in motion while claiming “machine politicians in Philadelphia” are trying to steal the election with fabricated mail votes.

Could this work?

Democratic National Convention

To be clear, it shouldn’t.

The Constitution does assign to each state the authority to “appoint” its electors, in a “manner” that the legislature “may direct.”

But in a terrific piece, three legal scholars — Grace Brosofsky, Michael Dorf and Laurence Tribe — explain that precedent shows this means the legislature must “direct” how the state appoints its electors by making laws that create and define the process for doing so.

Virtually all states have made laws that provide for electors to be appointed in accordance with the popular vote outcome in them. (Maine and Nebraska do this by congressional district.) Thus, those scholars argue, legislatures can’t appoint pro-Trump electors without making a new law providing for appointment of electors based on legislators’ own will, not that of the voters.

Such a new law would require the governor’s signature. And in three states where this appears most likely to be tried — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — Democratic governors would veto any such effort by GOP-controlled legislatures.

The Supreme Court has upheld the principle that a governor can veto such an effort, those scholars note. In the 1932 case Smiley v. Holm, the court ruled that the Minnesota state legislature could not change election rules unilaterally in the face of such a veto.

This ruling confirmed that for the court, “state legislatures cannot alter” laws governing the selection of electors “except through their ordinary state lawmaking procedures,” which would require a gubernatorial signature and be subject to veto, the scholars argue.

So friendly legislatures can’t do this on Trump’s whim without a new law, no matter how loudly they scream that ongoing counting of mail ballots is fraudulent.

Such a case might again find its way to the Supreme Court. But how would it rule?

The question for Barrett

Democratic senators can press Trump’s nominee on this question — by asking whether she believes Smiley is settled law, and on whether she believes the Constitution does or does not allow state legislatures to appoint electors outside the lawmaking process.

Dorf, a professor at Cornell Law School, told me Barrett would likely evade this question, by merely promising to “respect precedent” while declining comment on a question that might soon be before the court.

Still, this might be worth trying. Given that Trump has explicitly said he expects the court — and Barrett — to help him pull off something like this, we’re in an extraordinary situation. By confirming that Smiley is settled law, Barrett could strongly suggest that such an effort will fail, sparing the country from it.

“She could certainly throw cold water on it,” Dorf told me. “She could make it clear that she’s not likely to be receptive to an argument” that legislators can appoint electors without a new law.

As for other justices — such as John G. Roberts Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — they might also look askance at such an effort. In Bush v. Gore, the court described the process for appointing electors as a “legislative” scheme. Dorf says they might see this as invalidating any effort to appoint them outside the lawmaking process.

To be clear, Trump’s disastrous debate performance makes it more likely Biden will win the “blue wall” states by a comfortable enough margin that Trump won’t even try such a scheme.

But Trump also made it clear at the debate that he’s unhinged enough to try anything — and is perfectly happy to rile up millions of supporters behind an effort to overturn a legitimate loss. So if there’s any way to take this off the table now, we should try it.

Dan Partland (“Unfit”) Re-Scheduled for October 22nd on Weekly Wilson Podcast

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

My apologies to all who tuned in to hear me speak with Dan Partland, Writer/Director/Producer of “Unfit,” the #1 Amazon documentary that answers the question, “What the hell is wrong with Donald J. Trump?”

Due to technical difficulties beyond my control, my show was not on the air on 10/15, but Dan Partland has agreed to be with me “live” on 10/22. Trust me: you want to hear this man talk about the truths revealed in his excellent documentary. You can tape the presidential debate, since we already know, based on tonight’s town halls, that DJT will do his best to interrupt and ruin it, anyway. It’s a “live” call-in format so you can call in with questions at 866-451-1451.

Here’s my other thought for today, before I begin comparing the two town halls in a separate piece (to run later). It is page 705 of Jeffrey Toobin’s book “True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump.”

“He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What is right matters even less. And decency matters not at all. I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case and it matters to you. Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.” (Adam Schiff’s adjuration to the Senate during the impeachment of DJT).

It’s Been A Rough Four Years

President Contracts Covid-19: Debates Likely Dead

Trump has tested positive for Covid-19.

He was scheduled for a pair of rallies in Wisconsin tomorrow, October 2nd. What now?

Supposedly Trump and Melania will quarantine at the White House, according to the First Lady’s tweet.

In coming back from Cleveland, Trump was surrounded by a large number of advisors and family members.

The announcement comes only a few hours after he said, “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” 

“I think it’s safe to say this president is going nowhere for a while,” said Brian Williams on NBC News.

Hope Hicks began feeling ill while traveling on Air Force One and was quarantined on the airliner.

Ms. Hicks was subsequently diagnosed as having the virus.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” (from a Trump tweet).

As a 74-year-old overweight man, Trump is at high risk.

[This developing story came in at 1:00 a.m. on the East coast.]

SPECULATION

“We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 2020)

Upon hearing that DJT had tested positive the speculation then began to extend to VP Pence and whether he and his team had been exposed. If both men were to be felled, Nancy Pelosi would be next in line. The list of people on Air Force One extended to about 24 individuals, which included the president’s family and close staffers.

Some speculated that the president is attempting to avoid taking part in future debates which, to be honest, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and other leading newspapers have said should be discontinued anyway after September 29th’s fiasco, largely because of Trump’s interrupting opponent Joe Biden 73 times in 90 minutes.

On Tuesday night both men spoke for 90 minutes from podiums that were distanced. Could this expose Joe Biden?  The mask that Joe Biden usually wears was not being worn and, of course, Trump rarely has worn one and did not wear one for the first time until July 11th, 7 months into the pandemic.

Perhaps the realization that this disease is real and does not play favorites may sink in for the man who has persisted in hosting dangerous Super Spreader events at places like Tulsa or Mt. Rushmore.

I wish no one the bad luck to suffer having this virus, especially if they are of an age to make it very dangerous.

Thirty-two days away from the election, the president’s doctor Sean Connolly announced that Donald and Melania have both tested positive for Covid-19. He said, “They are both well at this time. They plan to maintain their quarantine at the White House. I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without interruption.”

The debates are going to probably be scrapped, which will be a very small loss, based on what went down on September 29th. I will continue to discuss politics (and other topics) on my Thursday night Weekly Wilson programs,. But the talk will not be about the debates, because they (probably) won’t be held. That does not change my announced intent to give away BEE GONE e-book copies FREE on the scheduled debate nights and October 23rd (RBG Day).

Dr. Vin Gupta – MSNBC Medical Director (Remarks from him interrupting Seth Meyer’s late night show):

“This raises the specter of when did Hope Hicks display symptoms?”

This is bigger than just the President and the First Lady as the circle that traveled with them has been exposed.

Did the Vice President’s team become exposed at Case Western on debate nig

There is a pre-symptomatic period up to 48 hours, during which the person can give it to others, although asymptomatic.

Why did the President go to an event today if he knew he was positive and expose other individuals at a fund-raiser today? “That should have raised alarm bells.” Gupta asks, “Who is giving him this medical advice?” (Dr. Scott Atlas?)

Brian Williams raises the point that it may not be Hope Hicks who has exposed the president at all, since he has traveled extensively and has not worn a mask. A massive contact-tracing effort has to be made. “There should be no in-person gatherings for the rest of the campaign. This was preventable. The fact that this even occurred is a damning indictment. This was avoidable if they were practicing the proper procedures and not going to these rallies and attending these events.”

Trump was supposed to have had a conference call about the impact of Covid-19 on the senior citizens. Ironic that this will not now occur.

 

 

Trump VS Biden on Sept. 29th, 2020

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

Debate #1 is history and it was largely “sound and fury signifying nothing. Besides probably yukking it up about the complete lack of presidential decorum displayed, it was described by Jake Tapper as “A hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.”

Others called it “exhausting,”  “ove-torqued,” “monstrous,” “out-of-control” and “frightening.”

Even Republican shill Rick Santorum had to admit, “The President hurt himself tonight.”

THE MODERATOR

Chris Wallace couldn’t handle the one-on-one debate that he was in charge of with Trump that showed a lack of much mutual respect between the two men, held previously. Why did anyone think he would be able to control the notoriously out-of-control Bully-in-Chief?

While wondering why some genius didn’t think to have a button for the moderator to use to cut off either candidate who ran over his supposed 2 minutes of uninterrupted time, who picked Chris Wallace? Was it simply because he is the son of the truly good newsman Mike Wallace? Was it because he is affiliated with Fox News, Trump’s go-to network? Whatever the reason, the choice of someone who seemed to be a bit of a namby-pamby was a bad one.

INTERRUPTIONS

Both men interrupted each other repeatedly, but the true onus of MOST interruptions was clearly weighted in DJT’s favor. Just as his arrogant, obnoxious, self-aggrandizing, pompous proselytizing (“I’m a very stable genius”) is not the kind of behavior that endears the individual to an audience. Trump’s non-stop lying was bad enough, such as his mis-statement of 700,000 manufacturing jobs gained when it is really 270,000 manufacturing jobs LOST on his watch, but the worst thing about the debate is that it showed the nation the Trump that Mary Trump described in her book “Too Much and Never Enough.”

There is criticism enough for the entire nature involving this debacle. Not only did Trump make remarks like, “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe,” but Biden returned fire by calling the President of the United States “Putin’s puppy” and a clown. While both of those remarks are amply supported by evidence, the entire exchange was beneath the dignity of the office and of the ostensible aims of a presidential debate. In fact, analysts on one network said that they wondered if any further debates will be held. (The two are scheduled for 3 presidential debates and 1 VP debate; adjustments are being discussed.)

BIDEN

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

Saying “Everybody knows he’s a liar” and repeating “Here’s the deal” multiple times was not Joe Biden’s finest hour. (“Folks, do you know what this clown is doing?”)

The best part of Biden’s performance was that he looked directly into the camera and delivered remarks as though he were speaking directly to those of us sitting at home. There were no “teleprompters” guiding him and he was more than able to prove that there was “enough gas in the tank.” Both men talked over one another and over the ineffectual moderator to the point that Biden, at one point, said, “Will you shut up, man?” and “Keep yapping, man.”

When the moderator asked a question on Covid-19, Biden had a good line: “It is what it is because you are who you are.” This apparently raised Trump’s ire, as he then threw insults at Biden about his intelligence, his choice of schools, and a barrage of false charges including a remark from Trump that Biden would “kill people all over the place.”

TRUMP

In the midst of the question about the coronavirus that has killed 200,000 American citizens, Trump tried to drag Hunter Biden into the mix, while suggesting that “Our suburbs would be gone” if Biden were to be elected. (Biden’s response:  “He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn.”) What more can you say about DJT?

He is famous for belittling his opponents and his supporters seem to love it. The lack of decency doesn’t seem to bother the Trump base; I’m sure they think he “won” this shameful display of hubris. Trump spent a lot of time feeling sorry for himself and whining about it (standard) and a fair amount of time making totally discredited and outrageous statements (as with his screed about voting by mail). It was interesting, to me, that Carolyn Maloney’s New York Democratic primary race was brought up by Trump as proving that there was fraud in absentee voting. No less an authority than one of her primary opponents “tweeted” that Trump was totally wrong about that. Another “tweet” came from Rudy Giuiliani’s daughter, who opined that DJT had been horrible and was lying. Fact-checker Daniel Dale called Trump’s remarks: “an avalanche of lying” and said, “Almost everything DJT said was wrong.”

The organization that was laid out beforehand featured questions that were supposed to cover:

  • Trump and Biden’s records in office.
  • The Supreme Court
  • Covid-19
  • The Economy
  • Race and violence in our cities
  • Integrity of the election

 

David Axelrod called the display “Trump’s Greatest Hits” and the talking heads talked about how this sort of chaos cannot become a “normal” part of presidential debates. Wolf Blitzer on CNN called it “an embarrassment for the United States of America” and 4 of 6 voters who claimed to have been undecided prior to the debate, who were hooked up to widgets, said they were now going to vote for former vice president Biden.

 

SUMMING UP

 

I have said, for the past 4 years, that it is impossible to try to teach youngsters to be good kids when we have a Bully-in-Chief in the White House. How do you tell your kids that it is not right to lie, when Donald Trump lies at every turn? How do you tell children it is not morally right to make fun of the handicapped when we have film of Donald J. Trump doing exactly that? How can we convince young people to be kind, not mean, towards others? We already know that Trump did not model good mask-wearing behavior until July 11th (despite knowing about the approaching pandemic 7 months prior). We have heard him talk about “grabbing them by the pussy,” so we know that Trump does not extend respect to women. He admitted as much on an infamous Howard Trump interview.

I thought the final word that came through loud and clear on this night of American theater was that, at the end of the night, only one candidate came across as a normal, regular guy who does care about viewers at home; only one of the two candidates seemed to be an upright citizen who you can trust to try to do the right thing in office.  Calling it “such a low moment in presidential history” was an understatement.

I wonder(ed), when it was all over, whether the next announcement was that there would BE no more debates this election season. I wondered, after the Iowa caucuses, if, come 2024, we’d hear that Iowa was no longer going to enjoy its “first in the nation” caucus designation (stay tuned for developments on that front.)

And so it went from Case Western Reserve Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Join me on Thursday, October 1st, on the podcast Weekly Wilson on the Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio, a live call-in format, when author Michael Serripica and I (“Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals”) discuss the debate live. Call-in number is 866-451-1451.

“New York Times” Reveals Details of Trump’s Tax Records

The New York Times article (which I read) says Trump paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and again in 2017 but no taxes at all in 10 of the last 15 years. “A devastating picture of a president who is counting on the presidency to prop him up.”

That assessment is consistent with the reasons that were given back in 2016 about why DJT finally did what he had often threatened to do and ran for president. He didn’t expect to win, but he felt it would burnish his fading brand.

Keep in mind that Trump has $421 million coming due within 4 years, including a possible $100 million (plus interest) penalty on the refund he got in 2010 for $72.9 million on the $95 million he had paid over 18 years. (Now in dispute with the IRS). It seems that, if you were really and truly wiped out in a bankruptcy, with nothing to show for your former business, you could request a tax refund, BUT, DJT claimed to have lost everything in the financial collapse of his casino when, in reality, he got 5% of the new casino company, which presents a problem for the refund he received.

Trump has always been bailed out by his wealthy father. But Daddy is dead and Trump has not been a good steward of his money, let alone of our country’s money (The national debt has risen by $6.6 trillion on Trump’s watch.)

Very few of the 500 or so companies that make up Trump’s holdings are money-makers. After his good year on “The Apprentice” in 2014, for which he received 50% of the revenue, he bought many properties (something like 12 golf clubs) which was ill-advised. Only Trump Tower of all of his purchases seems to have made money ($20 million a year) and he still has paid none of the principal on the $100 million that is due in 2022. Trump personally guaranteed $300 billion in loans, and they are coming due.

True, there were temporary gains from his run, including an uptick in memberships to Mar A Lago which brought in an extra $5 million a year, but owning country clubs is not a very lucrative proposition and they have consistently lost money for him, including $315 million lost by such courses as Doral in Miami, which he bought in 2012. Trump’s Washington Hotel has also not been doing well, despite the unwritten rule that those paying court to the U.S. President should stay there. It has lost $55 million since opening in 2016.

One of the more troubling bits of information, besides the fact that Trump paid almost no taxes in over 15 years, is the additional information that he paid taxes to other foreign entities, such as the $156,824 he paid on his $3 million in income from the Philippines, or the $145,400 he paid to India on the $2.3 million he made there, or the $15,598 he paid to Panama. He also earned $1 million from Turkey in 2012. At one point, Trump was selling stocks and bonds to raise more money (he only has $873,000 left to sell) and he has always licensed his name ($427.4 to license his name and the image of Trump). The Donald used to like to brag that he “owned the Empire State Building.” He did own the land on which it sat once, but no more.

Then there was the practice of calling Seven Springs in Westchester County (Bedfford, NY) an investment property some of the time and a residence some of the time.

Also troubling: taking a $22 million property tax deduction when a 2017 law says you can only deduct $10,000 a year. Most millionaires in Trump’s neighborhood financially end up paying 24.1% of their wealth to the government, but Trump has always claimed that he has lost so much money that it wiped out his need to pay anything into the treasury. Practices like paying Ivanka “consulting fees” ($747,622) to travel to Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia are probably not going to fly with the IRS. Neither will the $1.1 million in “consulting fees” or the $5 million collected from the hotel deal in Azerbaijan.

As historian Douglas Brinkley said, “He’s an outlaw that’s in trouble.”

How quaint to realize that it was Nixon’s only paying $792.81 on his 1970 income of $200,000 that caused it to be considered routine for presidents to release their tax records, something which, until Trump, had occurred with regularity since 1973.

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