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: Of Local (Quad Cities’) Interest Page 2 of 22

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)

Oscar Predictions for February 24, 2019 Academy Awards

2019 Oscar Predictions

My Oscar Predictions for February 24, 2019, have to be put up early, so I can start the trek back to the Midwest for our Annual Oscar Party with friends.

Meanwhile, I’ve had 2 requests from wannabe bloggers to guest post.  I asked each of them to prepare a “Predicting the Oscars” piece by today. I have neither Oscar Prediction piece by deadline, so I will give you mine, just prior to our trip back to the frozen wasteland of Des Moines, Iowa, from Austin, Texas.

(Pictures from IMDB)

Viggo Mortensen and Linda Cardellini in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book (2018) Peter Farrelly in Green Book (2018) Viggo Mortensen in Green Book (2018)

BEST PICTURE

I think the Best Picture will be “Green Book.”

The nominees are:“Black Panther”

“BlackKKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

I have seen all of the nominated films and my top favorites would be “BlackKKlansman” and “Green Book,” with “Bohemian Rhapsody” in third place. I thought the hype for “Roma” and “A Star Is Born” (and, for a while, for “Black Panther”) was Big Studio money talking.  I am glad that it isn’t looking like big money will win out, this time.

As for “Vice,” as I said in my review on WeeklyWilson.com, it lacked focus. And “haters gonna’ hate” so the GOP members won’t like it much.

BEST ACTOR (MALE)

Joel Edgerton and Rami Malek in The Late Late Show with James Corden (2015) Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Joseph Mazzello and Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek, and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Joseph Mazzello, Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, and Ben Hardy in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Rami Malek with Joel Edgerton on James Corden’s Talk Show;IMDB “Bohemian Rhapsody” shots.

I think Rami Malek will win.

For some reason that I cannot explain, neither the much-nominated Viggo Mortensen (3 nominations, including “Eastern Promises,” “Captain Fantastic” and this one) or Willem Dafoe (4 nominations for Oscars, but his first for the lead) ever prevail. Willem Dafoe’s previous Supporting Actor nominations were for “Platoon” in 1987; “Shadow of the Vampire” in 2001; “The Florida Project” in 2017; and this year for “At Eternity’s Gate.”)

I actually saw all four of Dafoe’s nominated films (and all 3 of Viggo’s) and can point to fantastic work with roles in  films like “To Live and Die in L.A.” (as the counterfeiter) to bolster my impression that they are reliable actors who always turn in good work. “The Florida Project” was a very low budget film where Dafoe played a landlord managing a run-down motel complex in Florida. It was an odd project, but so was this year’s “At Eternity’s Gate.” If you needed any further convincing that Willem Dafoe is a worthy nominee, think about the fact that he and the film’s director Julian Schnabel (“At Eternity’s Gate”) were responsible for all the knock-offs of Van Gogh paintings used in the film (about Van Gogh’s life). It was a truly unusual film; at various points, the screen would simply go black. [The director of “The Bell Jar,” Julian Schnabel, strikes again].

I can’t imagine why Viggo and Willem, with 7 Oscar nominations between them, are always the groomsmen and never the groom. I think Rami is going to beat out Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”), Willem, Viggo, and Christian Bale in “Vice” (even though Christian Bale took home one of the prestigious awards, saying, as he did so, that he looked to Satan for inspiration in playing Dick Cheney in the George W. Bush administration bio-pic helmed by Adam McKay).

BEST ACTRESS (FEMALE)

Image result for glenn close recent photos
Image result for glenn close recent photos
Glenn Close at the SAG Awards winning Best Actress.

Nominees are Yalitza Aparicio in “Roma;” Glenn Close in “The Wife;” Olivia Colman in “The Favourite;” Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born;” and Melissa McCarthy in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

First of all, WHY would the Academy think it “fitting” to give such a prestigious award to an actress in her very first outing as a leading lady? That reference applies to Yalitza Aparicio, (who isn’t even an actress, usually), and Lady Gaga. Then we have “The Favourite,” in which Olivia Colman plays the Queen, and my own personal favorite, Melissa McCarthy in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” I truly enjoyed McCarthy’s dramatic turn, but Glenn Close has been nominated 7 times.

If there ever was a sure thing this year, Glenn Close is it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (MALE)

Image result for Mahershala Ali pictures
Image result for Mahershala Ali pictures
Mahershala Ali’s Oscar for Moonlight (IMDB).

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Adam Driver, “BlackKKlansman”

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Mahershala Ali should nail this down for “The Green Book.” He’s already won almost all of the awards from other groups and he is doing some great work in “True Detective” on television right now. Again, I don’t know enough about the concerns of the family of the pianist whom Ali portrays to say that he is not represented properly onscreen, but even if “Green Book” is a work of semi-fiction, it was a heart-warming audience favorite in both Toronto and Chicago. It was the only film I took my husband to, after the Chicago International Film Festival was over, telling him I thought he’d probably want to take it in before Awards season began. The year prior (2017) that distinction went to “Three  Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and that turned out to be a dark horse late in the game.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “Vice”

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

I would like to see Amy Adams win, but I think Regina King will emerge victorious.

Why?

With 800 new members recently inducted into the Academy, many of them minorities or women, it is time.

 Amy Adams may join the ranks of Viggo and Willem as “Most Likely to Be the Bridesmaid but Never the Bride.” Amy has been nominated with great frequency (6 times), beginning in 2005 with “Junebug,” for Best Supporting Actress (the only nomination for her that I have not seen). She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress again, in 2008, for “Doubt,” and again in “The Fighter” in 2010 and again for “The Master” in 2013 and again in “American Hustle” in 2014 and now, this year, her sixth nomination for an Oscar. All but “American Hustle” were in the category she is nominated in this year, Best Supporting Actress.

The nomination of both actresses from “The Favourite” will split that vote. I honestly don’t think non-actresses in a black-and-white film chronicling Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood days in Mexico deserve to be nominated in their first outing. We watched it on Amazon; underwhelming. Lots of money spent promoting this one. Much ado about nothing, for me, but I wasn’t that keen on Cuaron’s “Birdman,” either. (“Gravity” was better.)

BEST DIRECTOR

Image result for Spike Lee pictures recent
Spike Lee, (IMDB image)

Spike Lee, “BlackKKlansman”

Pawel Pawilkowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

I keep being told  how much I should like the black-and-white “Roma.” I have not been a huge fan of Cuaron’s other films. I found the drumming in “Birdman” annoying, while others hailed it as brilliant.

You can pretty much eliminate Pawel Pawilkowski (which you’ll all have to see on television on Amazon or Netflix, probably, as I did “Roma”) and, while I did enjoy “The Lobster” by Yorgos Lanthimos” and thought his work on “The Favourite” was impressive, I think it is time for Spike Lee to win, don’t you? It’s been THIRTY YEARS, people, since “Do the Right Thing.” So, do the right thing.

If I were working with my students in class to help them “win” a predicting contest, this is one where I would tell them to “wheel the horses.” That is, fill out ballots with Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”) and Spike Lee as their Director picks. I think it is between those two men, and I, personally, think Spike really deserves it for his entire body of work and for this film, in particular. It was easily one of my very favorite films of the year and we all got to see Denzel’s son, John David Washington, break out.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Let Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” win for Best Foreign Language Film.

OTHER CATEGORIES

As for the other categories, I’m thinking that “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse” has the best current “buzz,” but Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” may have the director’s name recognition on his side. (It premiered at SXSW last year).

I, personally, liked “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” enough to award it a best adapted screenplay award, but James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” adapted by Barry Jenkins might be difficult to beat.

For an original screenplay, many old-timers like the idea of giving it to Paul Schrader for “First Reformed,” after his long career of excellent work (“Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull.”) But there are other good original screenplays in this category, including “The Favourite” (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara;) “Green Book” with Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Petr Farrelly, “Roma” with Alfonso Cuaron; and “Vice” with Adam McKay.

The latest word is that the Oscars will have NO host and that awards such as Cinematography and Editing will be given off-screen during the commercials. Not a fan of that idea. The other sure thing this night will be Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” (with Mark Ronson and Anthony Rossomando) will be Best Song. (The question mark, right now, is whether Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will duet on it onstage.)

QUESTIONS

Why were there only THREE nominations for Make-up and Hair? (“Border,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” and “Vice”). Why wasn’t “The Favourite” nominated, as well?

As far as acting nominations that were overlooked, Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”) and Lukas Hedges (“Boy Erased” and “Ben Is Back”) were robbed of rightful nominations. I also thought Charlize Theron (“Tully”) and Toni Collette (“Hereditary”) and Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place” did work that was Oscar-worthy and should have potentially been nominated.

My own “don’t miss them” list for movies of this year, [for films that were entertaining and should have done better at awards time] would include “First Man” with Ryan Gosling; “The Front Runner” with Hugh Jackman; and “A Quiet Place,” with an acting nomination for Emily Blunt.

Promotion of Volume 2 of “Obama’s Odyssey”: Today and Tomorrow

As usual whenever I plan a promotion, nothing is going “right.”

First, the website (ConnieCWilson.com) crashed, after I had pointed out to my computer assistant that there were several framed squares with nothing in them. She says it can’t be fixed until she can talk to GoDaddy. That will most likely not be before Tuesday.  The sale ends on Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 18th, for the paperback version. The e-book version is on sale only on Feb. 17, today (Sunday). So much for having a helpful buy button set up for the promotion on my author site. (Sigh).

Secondly, Kindle, for some reason I do not understand, said the price of the paperback could only be reduced to $7.17. Besides being just a really weird amount, I don’t understand why that is the case, but there you have it. It’s still a reduction of over 50%, but the original plan to reduce your cost to $4.95 (from $14.99) has also crashed and burned.

The only thing that remains the same in this promotion (as far as I can tell now at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning) is that the e-book is on SALE for ONE DAY ONLY, $1.99.

I beg you to post a review for one or both of the books in this promotion. This can be as simple as clicking on the number of stars for the book(s). Without reviews, none of us can survive.  It doesn’t have to be a huge promotion on your part; a click will do.

Thank you, and I apologize for the above things regarding the Presidents’ Day promotion, which are beyond my control.Pr

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

(Wikipedia image)

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

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

WEARING A WIRE

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

NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR

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

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

(Wikipedia image of Matthew Whittaker)

ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL MATTHEW WHITTAKER

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

FROM TED DEUTCH of the JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

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

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

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

ANDREW MCCABE

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

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

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

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

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

IN OTHER BREAKING NEWS

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

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

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

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

Image result for adam schiff pictures
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).

 Image result for adam schiff pictures

               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.”

Presidents’ Day Sale on “Obama’s Odyssey,” Vol. II

Inside the Democratic National Convention of 2008 (Pepsi Center) in Denver, Colorado.

“Obama’s Odyssey:  The 2008 Race for the White House” (Vol. I) was put on sale a while ago. The response was so overwhelming (from heartsick Democrats?) that the long Presidents’ Day weekend seems the perfect time to offer Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey”  for sale.

“Obama’s Odyssey: Convention to Inauguration,” Volume II, contains 61 previously unseen photographs. In 2008 I followed all candidates during the Iowa caucuses; the caucus season gave way to the nationwide campaign and led to 23 months spent following the Democratic and Republican candidates across the country. With over 1,000 blog entries from the field that garnered over 3 million hits, I was named Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics (2008).

I still remember the phone call that came from Yahoo editors in Colorado asking me if I’d come to Denver and report on the DNC. “Your pieces predicting that Obama would carry the Iowa caucuses caught our eye. You set off a lot of controversy. We’d like you to come to Colorado and cover the Democratic National Convention. We can get you inside.”

My response? “Heck! I’d pay you guys for that, but you’ll have to find me somewhere to stay that doesn’t cost me $500 a night.”

They did, and I did. The two volumes of “Obama’s Odyssey” are the result of those long days spent attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver at the Pepsi Center, the Republican National Convention at the Excel Center in St. Paul (MN), the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis at the Target Center, the Belmont Town Hall meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, and uncounted caucus rallies in the state of Iowa.

And so, once again, in the spirit of longing for the days of civility, intelligence and decorum represented by the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, I’ve lowered the price on the e-book version of Volume II to $1.99 for ONE DAY ONLY, February 17, 2019. ($3 off the normal e-book price).

Taken during a McCain rally at the Cedar Rapids Municipal Airport during the 2008 presidential campaign. Cover of Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” (Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book).

If you prefer the paperback version of “Obama’s Odyssey,” it will be reduced from $14.99 to $4.95 on the same day, a reduction of $10 off the $14.95 regular price. It will be on sale on February 17th (Sunday) AND the following day (Feb. 18th),Presidents’ Day.

On Monday, February 18th, PRESIDENTS’ DAY, only the paperback version of “Obama’s Odyssey” will be on sale. It will remain reduced in price to $4.95, which is 2/3 off its normal price. [Put aside $1 daily starting today (5 days out) and you’ll have the price of the paperback on Amazon.]

This is a ONE-TIME ONLY sale price.

If you miss Barack Obama and long for a return to those 8 years of his presidency, this is the book for you! And PLEASE leave a review of  both books on Amazon. Writers in today’s marketplace have no chance without reviews. That, my friends, is up to you. If you don’t want to write anything, simply click on the stars, but please take the time to simply click on the Amazon stars for either or both volumes of “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.”

Quotes: Fifteen John Fitzgerald Kennedy Quotes for Today

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

“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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