Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

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

Category: News Page 2 of 11

Oscar Winners On Feb. 24th are “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Roma” and “Black Panther”

The Green Book with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershali Ali

This year, because we were going to be traveling, I was forced to make my Oscar predictions much further in advance than any other year. I tried going with my gut instinct and not playing the “odds.” I also did not want to do any “research” because the other 3 people in our long-time Oscar party already would cry foul about competing with a film critic in our small foursome of Oscar predicting.

The big upset tonight was that Glenn Close did not win the Oscar for Best Actress. This means that she has been nominated 8 times and is winless. She may have to go for 19 nominations like Susan Lucci.

Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther”

I honestly thought that Glenn Close would garner the award, but Olivia Coleman from “The Favourite” gave an absolutely charming impromptu speech (see notes below).

From the informal tally I kept, “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the most, with 4-–although we all seem to have drifted off when Michael Keaton came out and announced the Best Editing award. I’m pretty sure it went to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which means it won for Best Actor (Rami Malek),Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Production Design.

The “Roma” film—[black-and-white, Spanish subtitles, about a pregnant Mexican maid who cleans houses]—won 3: Best Director, Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography. Also winning multiple Oscars was Black Panther, which won for Costume Design and Production Design.

The Big Surprise of the night, as mentioned above, was Glenn Close NOT winning. She had on a gold dress designed with 4 million gold beads that weighed 42 pounds, but still she did not win. I can relate; I wore a gold-beaded dress to my son’s wedding and it was the heaviest dress ever.

Queen, with Adam Lambert performed at the Oscars tonight. This is from a Chicago appearance of Queen that I attended.

I really had hoped that Spike Lee would be given the Best Director Oscar, but, otherwise, the Best Picture choice was fine by me. I had taken my husband to see it, saying that I thought it would do well. Last year, the film I went to with him prior to the awards was “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” so my hunches regarding movies that come on strong at the end have been spot on.

I was soundly drubbed by my spouse, as usual, however. We make him perform “the chicken dance” when he trounces us and I have posted one such dance.

16 of 24 is pretty good: 66 and 2/3 %!  (I was about 50% and most in our party of 5 got only 9 to 12 right.)

I am glad that “Green Book” won. It is too bad that Glenn Close didn’t “win” but, since Olivia Coleman is going to be in Austin at SXSW soon with a new film, that will be neat. I had predicted that Rami Malek would take home Best Actor and that Regina King would win Best Supporting Actress and Maharisha Ali would win for Best Supporting Actor.

I had voted my heart in hoping that “First Reformed’s” script might win for the 72-year-old screenwriter (Paul Schrader), who gave us both “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” and my vote for Spike Lee was “hedged” in print, as I knew Alfonso Cuaron was the favorite, but I hoped in my heart of hearts that Spike would prevail. (The Best Adapted Screenplay Award did go to “BlackKKlansman.”

So, it’s another one for the books as we head into the films of 2019.

Supporting Actress – Regina King in “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Documentary Feature – Free Solo

Make-Up and Hairstyling – Vice

Costume Design – Black Panther

Production Design – Black Panther

Best Sound Editing – Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Foreign Film – Roma

Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)

Best Cinematography – “Roma”

Best Editing – Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Animated Short – Bao

Best Documentary Short Subject – Period. End of Sentence.

Best Short Action – Skin

Original Screenplay – Green Book

Best Adapted Screenplay – BlackKKlansman

Best Original Score – Black Panther

Best Song – The Shallows

Best Actor (Lead) – Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)

Best Actress (Lead) – Olivia Coleman (The Favourites) “This is quite stressful. This is hilarious. This is not gonna’ happen again. Any little girl who’s practicing her skills at home, don’t stop; you never know.” Olivia thanked her husband (shot of her husband) and said, “He’s gonna’ cry.”

Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron (for “Roma”)

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out (Con’t., The End)

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Texas Legislature Image, Beto O’Rourke

(From Beto O’Rourke, on the border wall controversy)

But we still have a choice.  In this democracy, if, in fact, the people are the government and the government is the people, we still have a chance to prove it.

We can decide that we’ll get past the lies and fear, focus on the facts and human lives in our midst, and do the right thing.  The end goal is a stronger, safer, more successful country.  Critical to achieving that goal is having immigration, security and bilateral policies that match reality and our values.

  1.  Extend citizenship to the more than 1,000,000 Dreamers in this country.  Not only those who are in our classrooms, but those who are teaching in our classrooms, those who are keeping our country safe around the world tonight in the military; those who contribute more to our communities than they’ll ever take.
  2. Give permanent legal protection and a path to citizenship to their parents, the original Dreamers.
  3. Bring millions more out of the shadows and onto a path to citizenship by ensuring that they register with the government and gain status to legally work, pay taxes and contribute even more to our country’s success.
  4. Make us safer and more secure.  Significantly reduce illegal drug trafficking and stop human trafficking by investing in infrastructure, technology and personnel at our ports of entry.  The ports that connect us with Mexico are where the vast majority of everything and everyone that ever comes into our country crosses.
  5. Increase the visa caps so that we match our opportunities and needs (for work, for education, for investment, for innovation, for family reunification) to the number of people we allow into this country.  Ensure that those who want to work in jobs that we can’t fill can legally come here and legally return to their home country.
  6. Fully accept our opportunity and responsibility under our asylum laws to welcome those whose own governments can no longer protect them, including women fleeing abusive relationships.
  7. Address visa overstays (which account for the majority of undocumented immigration) through better tracking of and notification to visa holders (a first step could be text message reminders) and fully harmonizing our entry/exit systems with Mexico’s and Canada’s (when a visa holder exits the U.S. and enters Mexico, we will then know that they have left the U.S. Currently, if they leave through a land port of entry, we literally haveno clue if they are still here or have returned to their country of origin.
  8. Make Latin America and specifically Central America a top foreign policy priority. Stop relegating it to second-tier status. Invest the time, talent and resources to assist in the development of the domestic institutions that will allow these countries to thrive and offer their citizens protection and economic opportunity.  It is the long long-term solution to the number of asylum seekers and refugees coming to this country.
  9. End the global war on drugs.  An imprisonment adn interdiction-first approach has not worked, has accelerated the erosion of civil society in much of Latin American and has militarized a public health issue to the detriment of all concerned.
  10. Speak with respect and dignity when referring to our fellow human beings who happen to be immigrants and asylum seekers, who, in so many cases, are doing exactly what we would do if presented with the same threats and opportunities.  No more “invasions,” “animals,” “rapists and criminals,” “floods,” “crisis”—dehumanizing rhetoric leads to dehumanizing policies.  We cannot sacrifice our humanity in the name of security or we risk losing both.

Last week we welcomed the President of the United States to one of the safest cities in the United States.  Safe not because of walls and not in spite of the fact that we are a city of immigrants.  Safe because we are a city of immigrants and because we treat each other with dignity and respect.  A city that has the opportunity to lead on the most important issues before us, out of experience, out of compassion and out of a fierce determination to see this country live its ideals and rise to its full potential.

We can learn from the errors of our past, have the courage to do what’s right while we still have the chance, and ensure that the President doesn’t commit this country to making mistakes from which we may never recover.

It’s up to us.

Beto O’Rourke

(Received on 2/19/2019 via e-mail)

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out

Beto O’Rourke photo from his Facebook page.

Beto O’Rourke reached out via an e-mail and, since I’ll be traveling for the Oscar weekend, I’m going to break it up into smaller sections and share it with those of you who have, perhaps, not received it. I probably received it because I contributed to his campaign against Ted Cruz; I am in Texas. We are likely to hear a lot more about Beto O’Rourke, I think, so hear him out, in smaller segments. Thanks!

Connie:

The President came to El Paso last week.  He promised a wall and repeated his lies about the dangers that immigrants pose.  With El Paso as the backdrop, he claimed that this city of immigrants was dangerous before a border fence was built here in 2008. (*Untrue, El Paso was named the nation’s 2nd safest city after San Jose, California in one poll).

El Paso was one of the safest communities in the United States before the fence was built here. The president said the wall saves lives. In fact, walls push desperate families to cross in ever more hostile terrain, insuring greater suffering and more deaths.  He spoke about immigrants and crime, when immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than Americans born here. It’s worth thinking about how we got to this place.

How did it come to be that 11 million undocumented immigrants call America home? How did we come to militarize our border?  How did we arrive at such a disconnect between our ideals, our values, the reality of our lives, and the policies and political rhetoric that govern immigration and border security?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the challenges we face are largely of our own design—a function of the unintended consequences of immigration policy and the rhetoric we’ve used to describe immigrants and the border.  At almost every step of modern immigration policy and immigration politics, we have exacerbated underlying problems and made things worse.  Sometimes with the best of intentions, sometimes with the most cynical exploitation of nativism and fear.

Much of the history of immigration policy, and the source for the data that I’m using, is powerfully summarized in a report entitled “Unintended Consequences of U.S. Immigration Policy:  Explaining the Post-1965 Surge from Latin America,” by Douglas S. Massey and Karen A. Pren.

In 1965, the United States ended the bracero farm-worker program, in part because of the sub-standard wages and conditions in which these Mexican workers labored.  And yet, after decades of employing this labor, with our economy dependent on the laborers and the laborers dependent on access to the U.S. job market, the system of low-cost Mexican labor didn’t go away.  Many of the same Mexican nationals returned to the U.S., returned to the same back-breaking jobs, only now they were undocumented.  Ironically, despite the intent of the 1965 law ending the program, they enjoyed fewer protections and wage guarantees in the shadows as they continued to play a fundamental role in our economy.

As this same population converted from being documented to undocumented, a wave of scary metaphors was employed to gin up anxiety and paranoia and the political will to employ ever more repressive policies to deter their entry.  It was good for politicians and newspapers, but terrible for immigrants and immigration policy.  Thus began the “Latino threat” narrative.

As Massey and Pren wrote:

“The most common negative framing depicted immigration as a ‘crisis’ for the nation.  Initially, marine metaphors were used to dramatize the crisis, with Latino immigration being labeled a ‘rising tide’ or a ‘tidal wave’ that was poised to ‘inundate’ the United States and ‘drown’ its culture while ‘flooding’ American society with unwanted foreigners (Santa Ana 2002).  Over time, marine metaphors increasingly gave way to martial metaphors, with illegal immigration being depicted as an ‘invasion’ in which ‘outgunned’ Border Patrol agents sought to ‘hold the lin’ in a vain attempt to ‘defend’ the border against ‘attacks’ from ‘alien invaders’ who launched ‘banzai charges’ to overwhelm American defenses.” (Nevins 2001; Chavez 2008).

The fear stoked by politicians produced the intended paranoia and political constituency demanding ever tougher immigration measures.  The result of this was not to stop undocumented immigration.

Instead, it caused the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States to grow.
(Beto O’Rourke’s words continued tomorrow)

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

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

 

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

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Adam Schiff, Wikipedia image

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

Here is what Adam Schiff said, condensed slightly:

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

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               Adam Schiff on Twitter

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

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

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

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

Democratic Presidential Candidates Running in 2020

You really need a scorecard to know who is “in” and who is “out” of the forthcoming 2020 Democratic presidential race. While I question whether Sherrod Brown shouldn’t be on the “Definitely In” list (didn’t he already declare he was running?), this list comes to us compliments of the Sunday, February 3, 2019, “Austin American Statesman,” p. A11. I’ve never heard of 9 of these people, and I’m wondering where the Starbucks guy is? (Maybe NOT a Democrat, but an Independent, but then why is Bernie on the list). Stay tuned for further developments. One talking head says that, with the money left over from his run against Ted Cruz, Beto can afford to stay out of the race until March. Who knows who else may be “definitely in” by then?

The 2020 Democratic Presidential Field:

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

Definitely In the Democratic Presidential Race:

  1. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, N.J.
  2. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind.
  3. Former San Antonio Mayor & Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro
  4. Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, MD.
  5. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii
  6. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, N.Y.
  7. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Calif.
  8. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mass.
  9. Spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson
  10. Former tech executive Andrew Young

Likely to Get In the Democratic Presidential Race:

  1.  Former Vice President Joe Biden
  2. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio
  3. Former Gov. Steve Bullock, Montana
  4. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado
  5. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

May Get In the Democratic Presidential Race:

With candidate John Edwards at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa, during the 2008 caucus run (wearing an Obama sticker in the photo).

  1. Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York
  2. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York
  3. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minn.
  4. Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington state
  5. Former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans
  6. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Virginia
  7. U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon
  8. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, El Paso
  9. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, Calif.

If you find yourself clueless on any of these names, I have given you a convenient link to their Wikipedia.org entry, so click away! (You’re welcome!)

 

Fact-Checking Trump’s Feb. 1st Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.  FENTANYL:

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

3.  MEXICO’S MURDER RATE:

Cancun, Captain’s Cove, 2018

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

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

Royal Islander, Cancun, 2018

4) CHINA TARIFFS:

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

5) CARAVAN MEMBERS

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

 

 

 

Trump’s Noon Announcement(s): The Wall on February 1, 2019

Trump:  “We’re building a lot of wall right now. The wall is going to get built, one way or another.

If you look at El Paso, it was one of the most dangerous cities in the whole country, it immediately became one of the safest cities in the whole country. A lot of you know this. We’re building a lot of wall. I started this 6 months ago. I could see we were getting nowhere with the wall.”

Q:  Are you concerned that you will immediately be injoined by some court?

A:  “We have very, very strong legal standing. They tend to go to the 9th Circuit and when they go to the 9th Circuit, things happen. In many case—in most cases—it has nothing to do with the 9th Circuit. We have very, very strong legal standing. We are doing it regardless. This is cash on hand. We have a great system, a uniform system. We have a very good, solid system that is very good and very very strong.”

Q:  Will you declare another government shutdown?

A:  (Trump) “We’re building now. When I see the tremendous obstruction, knowing that the only saving of our southern border is our wall, all of a sudden it went from being a horrible hell-hole to being something that really is safe. One story: in San Diego they were begging us to build the wall…(mentioning the mythical criminal-riddled caravans)…We’ve done a great job. It’s been really amazing to see when you have it and when you don’t. The old expression, walls work, whether you want it or not. In Israel they have a wall and it is 99.99% successful. We have a few areas where they (the walls) just spread in. The Democrats are doing a tremendous disservice to our country. Human trafficking can go down by a tremendous amount if we had a wall.  What’s going on in the back seat? What’s going on in the trunk? We’ll be up to about 115 miles of wall, some renovated, some new. We’re going to make a tremendous announcement in the next few weeks. What would help a lot is if the Democrats were being honest. I’d like to hear what they talk about in their rooms. They know they’re not being honest. They cannot justify not having a barrier between our country and Mexico. 38,000 people were being murdered in Mexico, up 38% from previous years. It is one of the most unsafe countries in the world. That doesn’t include Honduras. We’re looking very seriously at taking away all fundings for some of these countries. Same thing for Guatemala and El Salvador. For hundreds of years we’ve done things for them. We’ve had tremendous numbers of criminals that we’ve caught in the caravans before they get here. The Democrats are always instructing, ‘Don’t do a wall.’ They’re doing this for one reason, they think: ‘Maybe we can beat Trump.’ I’ve done other things. I’ve done more than any other president has ever done in the first 2 years of his presidency. I’ve done more in the first 2 years than any other president. But it’s not going to work.”

Q:  Will you make a national emergency declaration?

A: “ I think we might have to do that. I’m saying listen closely to the state of the Union”. (State of the Union happens Feb. 5, whereas the Dem/GOP talks do not end until Feb. 15th).

Q: Are you willing to commit the U.S. military?

A:  “No, I don’t want to say that, but it’s always an option. It’s always an option.”

(Rambling) “We had an incredible meeting yesterday with the Vice Premier of China and we had an amazing meeting on trade and also, actually, on fentanyl. China has agreed to criminalize fentanyl. It’s going to have a tremendous impact on illegal drugs coming into the country.”

Trump:  “We had a lot of walls that we never used, anyway. They were in such bad shape that we have taken them down. We’re doing a combination of renovation and new wall. By the way, we’re doing a lot of it. We’re already appropriating. It’s already done. One of the things we’re considering is a national emergency. It’s an invasion of drugs into our country; it’s an invasion like you’ve never seen before. 90% of the heroin coming into our country comes in through the Southern border. If we built a proper barrier with great technology, too, we would see crime go down in percentages that you’ve never seen before. No country has had the success that we’ve had over the past two years. If the other party got into office, instead of having the great results with jobs (straying from topic and rambling)…If we had a deal with China, it would be a different world for us. We lost $500 billion a year before.” (Reference to tariffs).

“If you look at all of these other chain migration(s), we have to fix all of it…we have to fix the loopholes. You’re 100% right.” (*Note: before “fixing the loopholes,” Trump brought all of Melania’s family into the U.S. and recently they were named citizens, using chain migration that he now wants to “fix.”)

Q:  Is there a new arms race with Russia?

A: “ Honestly, I don’t think Nancy has a clue. It’s all rhetorical. She’s hurting our country very very badly.”

***********************

[This was a reaction to us pulling out of the arms treaty with Russia.] Trump: “It’s no good to comply with an agreement if the other parties are not complying with the document. The INF agreement is being violated by the Russians.”

Leon Panetta:  10:36 a.m. PT from Marina, California – “There is a real concern among a lot of people, especially in Europe. The concern is whether we are now beginning to have a new arms race, especially in regards to nuclear weapons. There is no question that the Russians are violating these treaties. They are deploying cruise missiles along their borders. This administration does not have a very good track record of dismissing agreements and then replacing them with something better. People in Europe are worried that we are in a new arms race.I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try to sit down and try to get our allies and Russia to get a treaty that everybody will abide by. There’s not a good track record there. This administration pulled out of the trade agreement with southeastern nations, the Iran agreement (nothing has replaced that), out of the Paris climate accord (nothing has replaced that.) The Intel chiefs testified publicly on camera in contradiction to the administration.”

Q: (To Leon Panetta): How would you view all this if you were still CIA director?

A:   (Leon Panetta) “When the President rejects their (FBI and CIA) speaking truth to power, he not only attacks them, he now is saying they were misquoted. The reality is that if this president is going to face the tough decision that presidents have to face, he has to receive  good, truthful intelligence. It sends a real message to the world that we now have a president who operates on his own and does not listen to his intelligence chiefs. He’s now operating on his own. It’s a terrible situation to have a president who rejects the intelligence from the very people he has hired. Their responsibility is to speak truth to power. We have a president who doesn’t want to listen to intelligence. This president says that Iran is cheating on the national agreement; our intelligence says that is not the case. He rejects anything that doesn’t comply with his world view. So, the danger here is to have a president who has his version of what he thinks should be true. Basically, it is what he wants the world to look like. The purpose of intelligence is to have people who tell the president what the world is, not what he wants it to be.

Q: (To Trump:)  What is happening with the nuclear arms agreement with Russia?

A:  (Trump) “One side has not been adhering to it. Unless they’re going to adhere to it, we aren’t going to keep it. You have to have everybody adhere to it. We have a certain side that pretty much pretends it doesn’t exist. Unless everyone is going to comply with it, we can’t have a treaty where we are complying and other people are not paying any attention.”

Take-aways from the above (from the CNN talking heads): 

  • Trump is totally dismissing the  ongoing Democratic/Republican talks (scheduled to go on until Feb. 15th) and gearing up to announce a national emergency, which he has said might occur as early as Feb. 5 when he gives the State of the Union message. He’s likely going to have to announce a national emergency and then Trump urges us to tune in to the state of the Union address. There are a few problems with his national emergency message: it sounds like he’s found enough money that he’s mitigated the threat of the caravans; it’s going to be bizarre if he is going to say the wall is a national emergency when he just sat there talking about how he has built so much wall already.”
  • Congress is a co-equal branch They are opposed to declaring a national emergency. It’s going to be a huge show for him. There is going to be push-back from Congress.
  • Now, It sort of sounds like the wall is already being built and it sounds like he is saying “finish the wall.”
  • This is certainly not the wall that he campaigned on every day in 2016. He’s trying to find his fig leaf on the wall so he can say “he got the wall.” That wall across the Southern border that he said Mexico would pay for is not the one he was talking about today. (A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor & Columnist for RealClearPolitics.)
  • Congress is supposed to have “the power of the purse.”

[On another note: Cory Booker has entered the Democratic primary battle.]

My own inclination is to check out the veracity of the statements bold-faced above, such as Trump’s remark about 80% of heroin coming in over our Southern border. It is somewhat amusing that he accuses Democrats of being untruthful when he has told somewhere around 8,450 lies in his first 2 years in office. No single president has been less truthful during his time in office, and yet the pot calls the kettle black.

Let’s all make a game of picking apart the factual remarks (when Trump could stick to the topic long enough to make one in the verbatim transcript above, taken from his 12:30 (CDT) appearance in the Oval Office) and try to find out if ANYTHING he has said is truthful.

“Nancy Pelosi would be begging for a wall.” (Aaaarrrrggghhhh. DJT speaks from the Oval Office.) DJT, “Live” moments ago on CNN.

“They wanted the wall built so badly in San Diego. The minute it was built they started saying, ‘We don’t want a wall.'” (No explanation for this series of contradictory facts.)

A reporter is asking DJT about the government shutdown:

“Are you willing to jeopardize the economy and your presidency again?”

A:  “Many of those people wanted me to stay out, but I wouldn’t allow it because many of them are getting hurt.” (?) [W-H-A-A-A-T?] Lie # 10,000?

More rambling about the beautiful wall he wants to build, including this untrue statement: “Everybody knows it works.” “You will see a mess like you’ve never seen before” (if the wall were to be torn down.) [*Note: no Mayor or government official with a city along the wall has said it will be effective or has lobbied for the construction of such a wall.] “Something there is that doesn’t like a wall, that wants it down.” (Robert Frost, loosely paraphrased).

“I was elected partially on this issue. If we don’t put up a barrier or wall, a physical barrier, you can forget it. Our country is going to be an unsafe place.” (A litany of  largely untrue and proven lies about drugs, etc., coming in.) “I would like to build it even faster. We put up several large sections over the past two weeks.” [Interesting that he has taken funding from TRUE national emergencies, like Puerto Rico’s, and moved the funds around to build his symbolic wall, so that he can go back to his “base” and say he has delivered on this asinine promise of a physical barrier straight out of medieval times. It’s all about HIS political agenda and his desire to run again and be re-elected. Please, Mueller: isn’t it Mueller-time yet?]

DJT condemned the attack on “Empire” actor Jessie Smollett in Chicago. Meanwhile, the attack, while universally condemned if factual, has been referred to as “alleged” while authorities pour over video tapes trying to find the two men who may have attacked the actor. There were reports that he had declined further security, as offered by the producers of “Empire,” in the weeks leading up to the alleged attack.

DJT: “Go to war with North Korea. Many were saying this when I came to office. I’ve accomplished practically everything else. I accomplished so much, the economy is the Number One economy in the whole world. The wall is happening right now.”

Talking heads point out that DJT has NOT “accomplished everything else.” Obamacare and his desire to undo it was not accomplished it and, far from “draining the swamp,” DJT has stocked the swamp with larger and more corrupt creatures, which has led to 37 indictments of those closest to Trump and also 17 investigations of DJT’s personal actions. The shutdown hurt the economy and most certainly will discourage bright young people from trying to go to work for the government as air traffic controllers, etc., if they are expected to be used as political pawns and work without pay for long periods of time.

Immigration:  “I think them fighting us on what everyone knows has to be done for proper security is bad politics. (digressed on drones flying overhead; digressed on a deal with China.)

CHINA:  “They have to be open to us. It would be so easy to do a deal with China but it wouldn’t be a real deal. It would be so easy to get them to open up to soy beans. We are taking in billions and billions of dollars from China. They are being charged a tremendous amount of money. I think we are going to make a deal with China. It is going to be a tremendous deal. The trade deals won’t kick in for a while. NAFTA was one of the worst deals ever made. During the campaign I said I would negotiate a new deal. I won’t allow NAFTA. You go to New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina…you have factories that are still empty Pre-NAFTA we had huge surpluses with Mexico. I stopped it a lot.” [W-H-A-A-T?}

“Could I have done it differently? By having the shutdown, people wouldn’t understand the subject. It’s called in dealmaking, setting the table. We’ve set the stage for what is going to happen on the 15th of the February. If they’re not going to give money for the wall, they’re wasting a lot of time.” It sounds very much like DJT has decided the only way he can “save” his presidency, which he feels requires him to “deliver” on his wall promise, is by ignoring anything other than “a wall” that the Democrats now meeting might offer. DJT seems to WANT to shut down the government again, which had horrible repercussions for all concerned and finally led to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport saying it was going to have to shut down for lack of qualified TSA and air traffic controllers showing up for work. That, more than anything, broke the back of the first shutdown.

I say the first shutdown because it seems quite clear after today’s incoherent press conference on CNN that DJT intends to shut the government down a SECOND time, if he can. Can’t our elected representatives stop this madman from harming our country in this fashion and, furthermore, publicly castigating the most highly qualified FBI and CIA and other security people working for our government? Can’t Congress and the Senate take control and stop this guy? The answer to that musical question will be a post-Valentine’s Day (Feb. 15th) mystery right up until we all are hurled into the abyss again. The experts say that there is no enthusiasm in Congress for The Donald’s obvious plan to, once again, launch us into the abyss.

“We’re building the wall right now. It’s going up fairly rapidly. We’re renovating tremendous amounts of wall. It’s being beautifully renovated and replaced. The wall is going up right now. We’re going to see what happens on February 15th.” (As David Letterman used to say: “HEP ME! HEP ME! I BEEN HIP-NO-TIZED!” What is this Madman rambling on about? WHY is he such a doofus? How could my smart Republican friends have EVER thought this guy would make a “good” leader when, in point of fact, he is as corrupt (and unstable) as they come? Aaarrrggghhh.)

DJT:  “I’m waiting until February 15th. If they don’t have a wall, I don’t even want to waste my time reading what they have. The only thing that works with security and safety for our country is a wall. If they don’t have a wall, they are all just wasting our time. It’s just politics.” (It can be argued that DJT does little to no reading of any kind ever and seems incapable of having thoroughly “vetted” plans or people.)

The above was a transcript of the incoherent live interview with DJT on CNN that I witnessed at 12:05 p.m. on CNN.

[Sheesh.]

The cartoon of “The Wall,”  courtesy of “Newsweek,” is purposely crooked. Enjoy if you can, given what we have ahead of us.

Foxconn (Co.) Is Not Hiring 13,000 Wisconsin Workers After All

Many stories breaking now, including the loss of Foxconn in Wisconsin, a company that had promised to hire 13,000 people and bring back jobs to the Heartland. This promise was trumpeted by Donald J. Trump (henceforth referenced as DJT) and Foxconn’s $10 billion dollar plans were conscripted by DJT to show he was “making America great again.”

Well, Foxconn may not build this plant and all the photos of DJT manning a shovel in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin in June are toast. Foxconn received billions of dollars worth of incentives from the state of Wisconsin (under then Republican Governor  and notorious union-buster Scott Walker) but now they say it is going to be more of a technology hub, NOT the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States. (“Say it isn’t so,” wails DJT).

And, of course, I’ve recommended watching “Blood on the Mountain” about coal mining in West Virginia on Amazon Prime many times, for those who believed DJT’s promises of bringing back coal mining jobs to mines that are, essentially, pretty well shot. According to “Blood on the Mountain,” companies are actually resorting to blowing up the tops of mountains, since deep mining has exhausted the coal supply over decades of previous continuous mining.

Trump took credit for Foxconn’s supposed return to the U.S., saying they only were going to come back to the United States (and Wisconsin) because he was elected president. And only Trump knows about the military, as he publicly called his military advisers “naive.”

Everything is looking like his only way out of the corner(s) he has painted himself into (the wall, Foxconn’s return, etc.) is “once again into the breach,” meaning shutting down the government. Again.

Ugh. 

Meanwhile, crews are lighting train tracks on fire in Chicago (my home town) because of the intense cold and I’m amusing myself by playing the recording of towns around the U.S. like Minneapolis, Cedar Rapids (IA), Des Moines (IA), Independence (IA) and Menomonie (WI), [all of them c-c-c-cold] on WTForecast.com (a humorous weather app).

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