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!

The GOP Plan to Nullify Fair Election Results in 2024

The GOP’s strategy for 2024 is now clear, and this is laid out in the June 17th issue of “The Week” magazine.

 Challenge all election losses and “cause chaos” in heavily Democratic districts. A top Michigan Republican operative was recently recorded discussing plans to recruit “an army” of party-trained poll workers, who, unlike poll watchers, have direct influence over vote-counting procedures.

Thousands of MAGA followers have volunteered for this task, most of whom believe Donald Trump’s Big Lie of rampant voter fraud in 2020. (Trump had 50,000 poll watchers in the 2020 election).

If installed as poll workers (not watchers, but workers), they would be connected with GOP lawyers and “party friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts” in Democratic-leaning districts across the country.

Then, Republican state legislatures would have an excuse to ignore election results and choose a slate of Republican electors.  This sophisticated “precinct strategy” is being led by Steve Bannon, the Machiavellian former Trump strategist, said Eric Lutz in “Vanity Fair.” Bannon took part in the failed effort overturn 2020’s results, but, this time, he plans to “hijack the infrastructure of the election system.” (Let us not forget that Bannon was convicted of scamming contributors and sought and received a presidential pardon, so he has been proven to be crooked in more ways than one.)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

The GOP’s anti-democratic efforts are based on a simple premise, said Greg Argent in “The Washington Post.”  “Much of the voting in Democratic areas should be presumed to be illegitimate.”

Most Republicans now insist that “voting is pure and unsullied” in rural areas dominated by the GOP, but “marred by widespread fraud” in cities with lots of non-white Democrats, even though most of the fraud that WAS found during the various investigations in 2020 was by Republicans, but in very small numbers not sufficient to change the election outcome.

To insure a GOP victory in 2024, Trumpists have even created an “America First” slate of 2020 election deniers running for various state offices, according to Alexandra Berzon in “The New York Times.” America First candidates have a good shot at winning powerful offices in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan—four swing states “where a relatively small number of ballots have decided presidential victories.”

The 2020 insurrection has become an “institutionalized” movement, said Jonathan Chait in “New York” magazine.  Tellingly, the Bannon operation “has met virtually no intraparty resistance,” with GOP officials widely agreeing that all “Democratic election victories are inherently illegitimate.” This is the antithesis of what should be happening in our democracy.

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

In 2020, Trump’s efforts to overturn the election “Spectacularly failed,” and culminated in the January 6th violent assault on Congress. The next time, in 2024, the goal will be to “successfully and legally contest and overturn an unfavorable election outcome”—even though that is overturning the will of the voters.

Pay attention. This is the blue print and it is being proven every day the January 6th Commission meets.

 

Second Day of January 6th Commission Hearings: DJT Lies (A Lot)

I’m watching the second day of 1/6 Committee Hearings and Chris Stirewalt, former digital politics editor of Fox News, is bragging about the University of Chicago colleague who had built a truly advanced predicting method for predicting elections. It was this creation that allowed Stirewalt to call Arizona for Biden early—and got him fired. (“Good work! You correctly called Arizona well before any other network! You’re fired!”)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

Stirewalt approved calling Arizona for Biden during the 2020 election. For his expertise in accurately calling Arizona for Biden, he was fired. Stirewalt just said that Trump’s chances of winning the election after that night were “none.”

“In a recount, you’re talking about hundreds of votes…In modern history we’re talking about hundreds of votes. The idea that through any normal process he was going to win, were zero. You’re better off to play the Power Ball then to try to do this three times,” said Stirewalt, who noted that DJT needed to swing 3 states to his column (not just one) to change the 2020 presidential election results.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, has also said that Trump’s lead grew more narrow as the night went on, and in some places Biden surpassed Trump in the vote totals. “Every single— multiple times — we paid attention to those numbers, I was feeling less confident.” He described himself as feeling, “very, very, very bleak.” His belief was that chances for success for Trump in the presidential election were 5 to 10 %, if not lower. He saw no realistic legal challenges changing the outcome. (Stepien avoided having to show up in person because his wife went into labor.)

“I described some of my frustration with some of the claims that people would throw at President Trump, telling him to look at what happened in various states. This is an example of that. In Arizona, someone had thrown out the claim that there were thousands of illegal citizens, people not eligible to vote, who had voted in Arizona. With the margins being as close as they were, that could potentially matter. So, this wild claim was thrown out, which, on its face, did not seem realistic or possible. I recall the response to that. The reality of that was overseas voters, not illegal voters.” (Campaign manager Bill Stepien).

Stepien was termed “Team Normal” after Rudy Giuiliani (et. al.) came on the scene.
“During the 2nd week, Trump was growing increasingly unhappy with Justin Clarke and that paved the way for Justin to be moved out and Mayor Giuiliani to be moved in. For all intents and purposes he (Rudy) became the campaign manager. I inherited the campaign about 150 days in at a time when the campaign was at a low point in the polls. There was a great deal wrong with the campaign. Most of my day was spent fixing the things that could be fixed with 150 days left in the campaign.”

TEAM NORMAL

Trump threw out the normal people (Stepien, etc.) and brought in Rudy Giuiliani and attorney Sidney Powell. Sidney Powell got up onstage and recited pure gibberish.  Eric Herschmann, former White House Advisor said, “What they were proposing I thought was nuts.” Herschmann went on to recite some of the crazier theories that Trump’s campaign threw out (China, Philippines, Hugo Chavez, etc.). “Not the approach I would take if I was you,” said Jared Kushner to his father-in-law when the crazies came out of the woodwork and began throwing out complete and utter fabrications of how the vote was “stolen.”

“I made it clear that I did not agree in putting out this stuff about the election being stolen and I thought it was bull shit and that’ why I left when I did.” (Bill Barr, former Attorney General under Trump and a Republican).

So ended the first panel of Day #2. Barr said that Trump began making claims of election fraud immediately after his loss.

Bill Barr:  “”When we received specific and credible reports of fraud, we looked into them. There was an avalanche of all these accusations of fraud. It was like playing Whack-A-Mole. I knew that many of these claims were silly and totally bogus. They did not give me the feeling that there was any substance there.” Hence, the term “There’s no there there.

On November 23rd, Barr spoke with Trump: “On Nov. 23, I had not spoken to Trump since the election; it was getting awkward, because obviously he had lost the election. I came over to meet with the President in the Oval Office. This is leading up to Kushner. The President said there had been major fraud and as soon as the facts were out the outcome of the election would be reversed. Then he got to the Dept. of Justice not thinking that they had any business looking into these claims. (“The department Is not an extension of your legal team.’) We’re looking into claims and they’re just not meritorious and they’re not panning out.” Barr said, “How long is he gonna’ carry on with this stolen election stuff? How long is it gonna’ go on?”

Mark Meadows said, “I think he is becoming more realistic and knows there are limits to how far we can take this. Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29th things began to deteriorate. DJT said, on a Fox News show (Maria Bertolini) that there had been “vote dumps on election night.” This was completely bogus and fraudulent. ”

Barr told the Associated Press on Nov. 1st that there was no proof of fraud. Barr kept insisting that there was no evidence to support fraud.

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

“I set up a lunch with the AP reporter Mike Balsamo and made the statement, ‘Today we have not seen fraud on a scale that could predict a different outcome in the election.'” He had a previously scheduled Mark Meadows meeting. Barr assumed he might be fired and alerted his secretary that she might have to pack up his stuff, so don’t go home. Meadows told Barr that the President was angry. He went to Pat Cippolini’s office and Trump called both of them to the Oval Office. Barr: “Trump was “as mad as I’ve ever seen him.” He raised the “big vote dump” in Detroit and Barr explained to him that there were 630 precincts in Detroit and they centralize the voting process in Detroit, so the normal process involved boxes coming in at all different hours (something that Fox repeatedly tried to show as proof of fraud.)”

Barr:  “I told him the claims of fraud were bull shit and he was indignant about that. The Dominion Voting Machine claims were among the most disturbing allegations. There was exactly zero basis for these claims. I told him that the fact that these machines had negated the people’s votes was “crazy stuff” and that they were “wasting their time on it” and it was doing “a grave disservice to the country.”

Trump is shown in a clip dated Dec. 2, 2020, talking about a vote dump in Michigan. This was complete B.S. “We have a company that’s very suspect.” He went on to condemn Dominion’s voting system. Barr again told the President that there was nothing to these claims, on Dec. 14th. Barr: “When I went in and sat down, he went off on a monologue that there was now definitive evidence that there was fraud with these Dominion machines. “The report means that I’m going to have a second term.” To be frank, it looked very amateurish, to me. It did not have the credentials of the people involved, etc. It didn’t have any supporting information for it. I thought, “Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has become detached from reality— if he really believes this stuff,” said Barr. “There never was an indication of any interest in the actual facts. My opinion then and now is that the election was not stolen by fraud, including the 2,000 mules movie.”

In a nutshell, the movie was unimpressive. He was waiting to see if there was photographic evidence, but it did not exist. “The cell phone data is singularly unimpressive.” The premise was indefensible. (Cell phones in the presence of ballot boxes were, somehow, going to be evidence/proof of fraud.) Barr: “When the movie came out, the photographic evidence was lacking. It didn’t establish widespread illegal harvesting. It’s not clear that, even if you can show harvesting, this is going to change the outcome of the election. It is still the duty of the party to show that there was evidence to validate throwing out votes.”

Barr:  “Before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the President, but after the election, he didn’t seem to be listening. I was inclined not to stay around if he wasn’t listening.” (Bill Barr quit on Dec. 14, 2020).

Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Attorney General“People are telling me this, or I’ve heard this, this impropriety in Atlanta or wherever, but we were in a position to say, you’re getting bad information That’s not correct. That has been debunked.”

Derek Lyons (former counsel to Trump): “Various allegations of fraud were discussed and we were told that none of those allegations had been substantiated to the point that they could be used to challenge the election.”

 (Alex Cannon, former campaign lawyer for Trump, discussing a phone call from Peter Navarro): “I recall him asking me questions about Dominion and some other categories. I remember telling him that I didn’t believe the Dominion allegations because the hand recount in Georgia would resolve any questions with that vote. Chris Krebbs had recently released a report saying the election was honest. Peter Navarro phoned me and called me ‘an agent of the Deep State trying to conspire against President Trump.’ I never took another call from Mr. Navarro.”

Alex Cannon went on to say that he, personally, was not finding anything that would support overturning the election.

Richard Donoghue, Former Acting Attorney General: “We’ve looked at Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan. The report of 68% error rate in Michigan was actually 1 in 15,000, a very low error rate. If you gave him (Trump) a very direct answer on one allegation he would move to another allegation. One claim was by a truck driver who believed that he had transported a truck full of ballots from NY to Pennsylvania. I essentially said, We have looked at that allegation from both sides. That allegation was not supported by the evidence. Again, Trump said, “Okay. What about the others?”  He asked about Georgia. The president kept fixating on suitcases rolled out from under tables in Georgia. There is just how they move ballots around that facility. There is nothing suspicious about the movement of those ballots at all. I told him that the video did not support any evidence of multiple counting for Biden. Then, he went off on dead people voting and American Indians voting. I told him flat out that much of the information he was getting was false or was simply not supported by the evidence.”

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

59 of the nation’s leading election security experts testified that there was NO evidence of significant voting fraud in the nation’s election.

SECOND PANEL OF WITNESSES

Mr. Schmidt, city of Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. Mr. Pak.(Georgia) Mr. Ginsberg (leading GOP lawyer for litigation. Represented “W” in Bush v. Gore.

Ms. Lofgren asked the questions.

Mr. Pak, U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Georgia, appointed by Trump.

Q: Were you asked to investigate claims of voter fraud? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  Dec. 4th of 2020 Barr asked me if I had seen a certain video tape of Rudy Giuliani in a Senate Subcommittee hearing about the tape in Atlanta of votes being moved. (This was the tape that my daughter-in-law was impressed by.)

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office investigated. Mr. Pak found that the alleged black suitcase was actually an official lock box where ballots were kept safe. The lock box was kept under the table. There was a misunderstanding that they were done counting ballots for the night and the vote counters were sent home. Then they realized they weren’t done for the night and needed to bring back the official ballot box and they brought back the lock box from under the counter and began counting again. Mr. Giuiliani only played a clip that showed them pulling the lock box from under the table, when the entire tape shows that it was an official ballot box that was kept under the table. Once they discovered that they needed to keep counting, they brought the ballot box out from under the table, where it was kept, and continued counting. The allegations made by Mr. Giuiliani were false.

Mr. Donoghue (former Attorney General):  Re the interviews in Fulton County:

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

“I don’t know how they were initially communicated. They came out in subsequent conversation. I told the President myself that several times that these allegations of ballots being smuggled in in a suitcase were not true.”

Mr. Pak (left Jan., 2021): Bobby Christine came in after Pak – “Mr. Christine continued investigation but was unable to find any fraud that affected the election. There was none.”

BILL BARR:  “The president has repeatedly suggested that there was some kind of outpouring of votes in Philadelphia, as recently as when he walked off the NPR set. He made a comment about how there were more votes in Philadelphia than there were voters. That is absolute rubbish. There was nothing strange about the Philadelphia turnout. There was nothing strange once you actually look at the votes. In Philadelphia Trump ran weaker than 2 of the state’s candidates, he ran weaker than the other elements on the Republican ticket.”

Q:  How about Pennsylvania and absentee ballots? (Question from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  (from Barr) Giuliani raised this in Gettysburg. “The problem is that he threw out this number. He threw out the # of applications for the GOP primary and compared it to the votes cast in the actual GOP primary: apples to oranges. Once you compared apples to apples there was no discrepancy.”

Mr. Schmidt, Republican member of the 3-member commission tasked with overseeing elections in Philadelphia.

Q:  Giuiliani said 8,000 dead people voted in Philadelphia. (Question about this from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  Not only was there no evidence of 8,000 dead voters, there wasn’t even evidence of 8 dead voters.

Q:  Even Mr. Trump’s campaign lawyers knew this was bogus. (Eric Herschmann) “They never proved the allegations that they were alleging.”

Q:  “A guy named Al Schmidt is being used Big Time by the fake news media to explain how honest things were in the election in Philadelphia.” This was a tweet from President Trump that resulted in death threats for you and your family.

A:  The threats prior to that tweet were pretty general, but, after that tweet, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name but included members of my family, their ages, our home address, etc. That was what changed with that tweet.”

Nov. 12, 2020:  “Your husband should tell the truth or your kids will suffer.” (Example of a threatening letter sent to Al Schmidt because he would not collude with Trump on charges of election fraud in Philadelphia and Trump called him out by name on Twitter.)

Mr. Ginsberg’s credentials:  National Council on Republican Campaigns in 2004, 2012. Key role in Florida recount. Served as Co-chair of Presidential Campaign on Republican Election(s).

Q:  How was the Trump campaign post-campaign different from others? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  In the normal course of things, we do a couple of things. 1) Analyze precincts with abnormalities and send people to investigate (2) Poll watchers will be used and they will be talked to about irregularities. The Trump campaign talked about having 50,000 poll watchers. In the normal course, their reports would be analyzed. The 2020 campaign was not close. The most narrow margin was 20,000 (Az): “You just don’t make up those kinds of margins in recounts.” That put the Trump campaign on a sort of process of bringing cases without the evidence you need to have.

Q:  Did any court find any credible evidence?

A:  No. I’ve looked at 60 cases with more than 180 counts. Sixty-two post-election cases filed up to Jan., 2021. Sixty losses and only one victory that did not affect the election outcome for either man.

Q:  What do you say about the claims about their day in court? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  About half of those cases were dismissed at the procedural level, for lack of evidence. In the other, there was discussion of the merits within the complaint. In no instance did the court find that the charges of fraud were real. There had been post-election reviews in each of the 6 states that could have changed the election outcome, including the farcical Cyber Ninjas in Arizona, Michigan, etc. No credible evidence of fraud found in any of those cases. (from Mr. Ginsberg)

 

 

 

“Jurassic Park Dominion” Ends the Series That Began in 1993

We journeyed off to see “Jurassic Park Dominion.” First, I re-watched the 1993 original movie, to see if Spielberg’s original, based on Michael Crichton’s novel (and with Crichton assisting on the original script) held up. It did.

Then, we put in 2 hours and 20 minutes watching what I think is the sixth installment in the nearly 30-year-old franchise.

The first thing that surprised both of us was that the focus was not on Chris Pratt, but on Bryce Dallas Howard. That made sense, given the script’s emphasis on the young cloned girl whose mother, Charlotte Lockwood managed to give birth to the child (played by newcomer Isabella Sermon) on her own and also “fixed” the genetic defect in her child that had claimed Charlotte’s own life prematurely. She is now being parented and protected by  Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt. It’s all about reuniting mother and daughter after she is snatched because of the intellectual advances studying her would represent.

The second thing that surprised us was that genetically modified locusts are more pivotal to the movie’s plot than the dinosaurs. An evil corporation called BioSyn has bio-engineered the locusts to make them completely lethal to crops that are not planted from BioSyn seeds. The insects are devastating fields from Iowa to Texas. Soon BioSyn will control the world’s food supply. As the screenplay says, “We’re just three meals away from anarchy.”

The third thing that was a surprise: Black characters save everyone. There are 2 major “new” characters, DeWanda Wise as helicopter pilot Kayla Watts, and Mamoudou Athie as good guy Ramsey Cole, who becomes the John Dean of the BioSyn complex, refusing to go along with evil-doing by those in command. There is a line that references “complete system-wide corruption in the executive ranks.” I couldn’t help but feel that this reference had more to do with politics than BioSyn.

Here’s another comment: Campbell Scott, who plays the CEO of BioSyn, Lewis Dodgson, appears to be modeled on the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook.  The white hair gives it away. The BioSyn executive denies being solely interested in making money, instead telling the visitors to BioSyn (Laura Dern, Sam Neill) how much good his company plans to do for the world. [Maybe. Maybe not.]

One of the best things about this series that began in 1993 with Steven Spielberg at the helm is that all three of the main characters from the original film are back. By that, I mean Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm. Then, of course, we have Maisie’s adoptive parents, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing.

There are certain lines from the original film that have resonated throughout the past 29 years. One is “Life finds a way,” which, according to a recent late-night appearance by Jeff Goldblum, multiple fans have had tattooed on their bodies.

I decided not to reveal the plot to those who would severely criticize me if I did, but to give you some lines from the film that  amused me or made  an impression. Here they are:

“We are 3 meals away from anarchy.”

“We’re subordinate to nature.  Unfortunate consequences occur in dealing with genetics and nature.”

We must transform human consciousness.”

“It is always darkest before eternal nothingness.” (Snidely, from Jeff Goldblum)

“We should take the time that we have left and, just like we always do, squander it.” (Jeff Goldblum)

“We don’t stop because a little side project went awry.” (Campbell Scott to his underling after the locusts have completely ruined things.)

“That girl is the most valuable intellectual property on the planet.” (Referencing the character Maisie).

“The way the world is headed, it’s hard to look away.”

“It isn’t enough to do nothing.”

“You’re racing towards the extinction of our species and you don’t care.”

“That’s bananas.” (from Jeff Goldblum, in response to the burning locusts scenes, which are spectacular)

“Jurassic World—not a fan.” (spoken sarcastically by Jeff Goldblum).

“We have an understanding, Ramsay, and you do not break that.” (Spoken by the Tim Cook clone, who is grabbing the Barbasol shaving cream can from the original film, which Wayne Knight was using to smuggle dinosaur DNA.)

“The system’s safety system is what is gonna’ kill us.”.

“Forget the hat.” (Laura Dern to Sam Neill at a key moment)

What matters is what we do now.”

“Nobody said there’d be bugs.” (locust scenes; seems like an homage to the snakes line from “Indiana Jones.”)

These lines were scripted by Emily Carmichael and Colin Trevorrow, the film’s director. Trevorrow has been involved with 3 previous “Jurassic” films, in 2016, 2018 and 2021. He was also slated to direct a “Star Wars” movie until Kathleen Kennedy fired him.

The cinematographer for this film is John Schwartzman and Michael Giacchino did the music.

I liked the movie, but, at 2 hours and 20 minutes, it was overlong. There were many fights between dinosaurs (the bigger the better). I felt like I was watching Godzilla versus King Kong. The dinosaurs are amazing, but 2 such fights would have been enough for me.

During the repetitive fight scenes tympany drums were liberally used, the music swelled, and I checked my watch. There are so many dinosaur fights between dinosaurs with names that I would not be able to remember, even if I had tried, that this overview will simply say “many, many kinds of dinosaurs.”

It’s supposed to be the end of the “Jurassic Park” movie series. It’s loaded with messages and references that I think are meant to evoke our attitude toward global warming, Donald J. Trump, and many other topics of the moment, so listen carefully for all of them when you go.

January 6th Commission Hearings Open with a Bang on June 9th, Thursday

Thursday Night, June 9th, Commission Hearings About the January 6th Coup D’Etat:

Liz Cheney and backlash over her anti-Trump stance. She will pay the ultimate price for being loyal to the U.S. Constitution and calling out Trump’s treason.

Liz Cheney opened the impressive Opening of the January 6th Commission with these words: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

• Trump believed the rioters were “doing what they should be doing,” Cheney said, and yelled at advisers who said that he should call them off. He said that rioters who chanted about hanging Pence “maybe” had “the right idea.”

• The committee played video of Bill Barr, the former attorney general, saying that he had called Trump’s fraud claims “bullshit” and “crazy stuff.” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, testified that she “accepted” what Barr said.

• Footage shot by a documentary filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys showed members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two far-right groups who stormed the Capitol, meeting on the evening before the attack. This footage had not been aired previously and included the violent assault on a female Capitol officer, who testified in person and suffered a brain injury during the assault on the Capitol.

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

• In video testimonies, several rioters said that they had stormed the Capitol in response to Trump’s summons. “He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on Jan. 6,” one said. It seems logical that the individual who planned it all (i.e., Donald J. Trump) should also be charged and should suffer the consequences of selling out his country to attempt to hang onto power, no matter what.

• Cheney said that Pence, not Trump, ordered the National Guard to the Capitol during the attack, and that “multiple” House Republicans sought pardons over their efforts to overturn the election.

• My thoughts on the request by several Trump loyalists for pardons for their actions during January 6th, before he left office, begs this question: “If there was nothing illegal going on, why would any of these Trump loyalists need to be pardoned?” The obvious conclusion is that they knew damn well that they were playing with fire, and when the effort to overthrow the duly elected president did not succeed, some of them began scrambling for cover.

The second day/date of the hearings will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 13th.

Other Countries Weigh in on USA Gun Violence

The newest issue of the June 10th “The Week” magazine had some really interesting things to say about the spate of violence in America.

On page 4, Charlie Sykes of “The Bulwark” said: “Face it: Our democratic system is broken.  Faced with endless mass shootings and daily gun carnage, a nation that once put men on the moon is mired in paralysis and ‘hoplessness.’ An America that won’t act to stop the periodic slaughter of schoolchildren is ‘in crisis, perhaps in terminal decline.’”

As a Baby Boomer who grew up during the turbulence of the 60s, I agree and wonder. I thought America was on the edge of the abyss in the sixties, but shootings in churches, schools, malls, supermarkets, at outdoor concerts and simply in the streets of American cities like Philadelphia and Chicago is extreme, even for me. I am similarly appalled that the young girls of today are facing the same struggle for the right to determine what happens to their own bodies that my generation faced in my youth, which led to the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

First, I am reprinting the words of newspapers in Sydney (Australia), Paris (“Le Monde”) and Japan, to show you what the rest of the world thinks about the United States of America. The headline was “America Allows the Massacre of Children.”

Visual search query image

“The indiscriminate slaughter of young children should bring a country together in mourning,” said “The Times” (U.K.) in an editorial.  That’s why mass shootings in Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and elsewhere inspired prompt reform of those countries’ gun laws, with Canada banning ownership of handguns in the past few days. Take the 1987 Hungerford massacre in Britain, when an armed man cut down 16 people before killing himself.  After that senseless horror, the U.K. banned nearly all semiautomatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns, as well as exploding ammunition.  Plenty of Brits still own guns, half a million in England and Wales alone.  Yet because they require licensing and background checks, which include examining applicants’ social media, only 4% of British homicides involve guns, and the overall homicide rate is 1/5 that of America’s.  The U.S., though, claims there is nothing it can do—even as mass shootings proliferate, even as, last week, a young man shot to death 19 children and 2 teachers in an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school; even as last month a white supremacist killed 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store.  In the U.S., such shootings don’t bring national soul-searching, but bickering and hand-wringing.

It’s the guns: More guns mean more homicides, said Meret Baumann in Switzerland.  Most rich countries, including Japan, Australia and almost all of Europe—have gun control and boast homicide rates of less than 1.5 per 100,000 some even less than 1.  America’s rate is approaching 8, worse than Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar.  The U.S., in fact, has a frightening 120 firearms for every 100 people “more than any other country” and the Texas gunman was able to legally buy an AR-style rifle and almost 400 rounds of ammunition with no training the very day after his 18th birthday.  That single fact “should set off alarm bells, but such behavior is not questioned in the U.S.”

Why can’t America be more like Australia? asked the “Sydney Morning Herald” in an editorial.  We, too, are a rugged settler nation, and many Aussies in the Outback were devoted to their weapons.  But after a gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur in 1996, they “cracked down on gun ownership,” outlawing some weapons and mandating licensing and background checks.  Aussies eagerly turned in thousands of guns in our buyback program, and our risk of dying by gunfire quickly fell by more than half.

Yet the U.S. remains “trapped in its madness,” said “Le Monde” (France) in an editorial.  “America is killing itself” and he Republican Party is “ideologically complicit.”  Because the GOP is in thrall to the gun lobby, and because the antiquated U.S. system of representation gives disproportionate weight to Senators from less-populated, Republican-led states, the American people can’t vote their way out of their nightmare.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, most Americans wanted at least background checks for gun buyers.  But “elected officials representing 118 million of their fellow citizens were able to defeat those chosen by 194 million.”  U.S. schools will surely continue to be “transformed into bloody shooting ranges, sticky with blood.” 

That is the true “American exceptionalism.”

Blog Dark for Five Days: Apologies to All

“Weekly Wilson” has been dark for 5 days, as you may have noticed if you are a regular reader.

My computer assistant, Allison, spent THREE HOURS on the phone with them, beginning on or about the 6th or 7th and they claimed to have “fixed” the problem. They told her it “might take a few days” to resolve, but it would be back up.

They lied.

This happened before, and I used Jennifer Lopez to draw eyes to the blog on December 1, 2021, when it went offline for a matter of days, and I looked further back and determined that it also happened in September, 2021, so, every 3 to 4 months, GoDaddy lets my blog go dark and then one or both of us have to spend hours on the phone trying to get it back “up.” I pointed out that MANY people work from home via computer these days, and that going “dark” for a week 3 times in one year is a lot, IMHO.

If any of you truly “tekky” people out there want to suggest other services that might have been able to get the blog up in, oh, say, a day, rather than five to seven days, I’d be interested in hearing the names of such services, since I am a person who was using a land line to call them and refuses to text on a cell phone.

I had been posting almost daily, as you may also have noticed, and I had a very good piece prepared about the Uvelde shootings. Perhaps I will run it tomorrow, as it is now after 1 a.m. and, as I told the technician I finally got (Jennifer, who succeeded someone with an unpronouncable Indian name) “I need this s*** like I need another hole in my head.” This is the truth.

Me, Craig and best friend Pam in “the good old days” on campus in Iowa City.

So, am having so many bad side effectswithout further ado and with apologies, I offer up (again) Jennifer Lopez in her jungle dress, which has absolutely nothing to do with this topic, but might draw your eyes to the blog. I spent an extra long time today being radiated (we jumped immediately to “the boost” because I am having so many bad side effects ) and then I went to the Toyota dealership and got red paint for a dent someone put in my brand new Prius. I had no red paint for the 20th Anniversary Prius, but John at the Toyota dealership ordered me some and then he actually came out and put it on the dent. (Thanks, John!)

Now THAT’s what I call “customer service.”

If I sound frustrated, fed up and less than patient, you have hit all three nails on the head, and I’ll move on tomorrow to post my piece on Uvalde (which is really highlights from around the world on what OTHER countries have had to say about gun violence in America) and to comment on last night’s first airing of the January 6 Commission hearings, which was riveting, historic television.

I never thought I would ever have very positive things to say about someone whose surname is “Cheney” but I have to admit that Liz has done her nation proud, and it is just too bad that the rest of the GOP are people like that Hawley dude from Missouri and Ted Cruz.

The January 6th Committee Hearings Hit the Air Waves Thursday, 6/9, at 7 p.m. (CDT)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot released new details Thursday about its first hearing, scheduled to kick off in prime time on  Thursday, June 9.

June 9th, television-watchers, is this coming Thursday (as I write this on Sunday, 6/5) and the timing for those of us in the Midwest on MSNBC, Channel 356, will be 7 p.m. CDT.

“The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the panel said.

Additional information about witnesses will be released this coming week, the committee said.

The hearing, scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, is expected to focus on former President Donald Trump’s role in the violence that unfolded at the Capitol during the official counting of the Electoral College votes before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. In a civil court filing in March, the House committee argued it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that [Trump] and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has said the hearings will include testimony from witnesses “we’ve not heard from before.”

One of those witnesses, who was hauled off a plane in leg irons as a flight risk, may be Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s inner circle who was among the most obnoxious spokespeople ever to grace the air waves. Navarro emerged as a legend in his own mind, moving away from the trade issues he was supposed to be expert in, to talk about matters as diverse as Covid-19 and the economy. Where he was supposedly going when apprehended at the airport has been variously reported as Nashville, but apparently those in a position of power had misgivings about his attitude towards telling the truth about his involvement in the January 6th coup d’etat.

There is a rumor that Jared and Ivanka Trump may take center stage via video-taped testimony during the televised hearings, although we will all have to wait and see if they say anything of note. Rachael Maddow and others will be handling the broadcast duties Thursday night.

Meanwhile, a lot of buzz has been created by a comedy duo who took the microphone during the NRA’s ill-advised Texas convention and more-or-less chastised the NRA for getting a lot of us killed by opposing sensible gun control laws. (The look on Wayne LaPierre’s face as they sound off on ” how Wayne LaPierre has offered thoughts AND prayers” is priceless. Check it out on YouTube or wherever you seek out memorable news moments.)

 

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” Is Spectacular Showtime Series

It is Saturday, June 4th, and I am pondering what late-night viewing I will watch as my spouse slumbers beside me.

Usually, I scroll through the movies, but recently I have been watching “The Man Who Fell to Earth” on Showtime.

They premiered “The Man Who Fell to Earth” at SXSW in Austin and I signed up to go, but they were showing it within the Convention Center. I have learned (the hard way) that getting to and from the Convention Center during SXSW is no day at the beach. They barricade off the area, so a cab is not an option and the last few times I journeyed down there when SXSW was actually underway I had to hire a pedicab guy to make it from the panel I wanted to hear (horror movies from Bloomhouse Pictures) to the Paramount for the afternoon showing.

So, sadly, I missed the SXSW premiere of this new series, led by Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney) but I was impressed by her former series that originated with the “Silence of the Lambs” film and agent Clarice Starling. Here is what IMDB tells us about Jenny Lumet: Jenny Lumet was born on February 2, 1967 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a producer and writer, known for Rachel Getting Married (2008), The Mummy (2017) and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022). She has been married to Alexander Weinstein since May 2, 2007. They have one child. She was previously married to Bobby Cannavale.

IMDB also gives us this Jenny Lumet quote about writing, in general: “I suppose that there are writers that say, ‘I write what I write and if people get it, great, if they don’t, whatever.’ “But I don’t feel that way. I feel very passionate about making connections with people. I want very much to be heard.”

With “The Man Who Fell to Earth” the writers (Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman) have revamped a movie from 1976 that originally starred David Bowie. I still remember sitting in the darkened theater marveling at how well David Bowie fit the role of an alien.

Here are the actors involved in the series:

As you look over the pictures above, you may know that Chiwetel Ejiofor is better-known to U.S. audiences for his role in “Twelve Years A Slave” where he portrayed Solomon Northrup. He was Oscar-nominated for that role and he is astounding in this role. One of the chief aspects of this visitor from another planet is that he consumes voluminous amounts of water and has encased himself in what he calls “a skin suit” to better blend in and resemble humans.
Naomie Harris was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2017’s “Moonlight,” but has appeared in both “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” in 2021 and as Moneypenny in 2021’s “No Time to Die.”
Clarke Peters portrays Jusin Falls’ (Naomie Harris’) father and her daughter is portrayed by Annelle Olalaye. Both are good, but kudos to the leads: Ejiofor and Harris.
Another recognizable face was that of Jimmi Simpson as Spencer Clay. At first, I could not place where I knew him from, until I thought back to his many appearances on “West World” as William from 2016 to 2020.
Bill Nighy as Thomas Newton, the scientist who left behind plans that could save not only a foreign planet but our own planet was also a recognizable actor from his appearance in “Love, Actually.”
This is a thinking man’s series and it helps if you pay close attention to the discussions of theoretical physics and our own world’s chance of being destroyed by the year 2030 by the same sorts of crises that afflict that of our hero, who has journeyed to Earth to try to save his own planet and his own countrymen.
The special effects are, well, special—one could justifiably say “spectacular”—and the acting is great. I look forward to each new episode each night and recommend that you sample it, if you want to find a good new series.

Day #17 of Cancer Treatment Did Not Go Well—(Or At All)

At the risk of becoming a “woe is me” blog, I am sharing today’s latest cancer concern.

I made it through my 16th day of radiation with no bad side effects, but a slight amount of redness. Some nurse assistant (whom I had never seen, although she seemed to know my name) handed me a green printed handout that said I should add 1/4 cup of vinegar to 2 quarts of water and then soak a cloth in this and put it on my slightly red upper right quadrant. I am sorry that she handed me that really antiquated advice at that moment in time, because I was feeling fine until then and the redness was quite slight.

I thought when she told me this that it sounded like advice from the 1920’s. Why do I say that? My mother had a favorite story about her bad sunburn when she was 20 in 1927. She was supposed to be in a girlfriend’s wedding as a bridesmaid and they had to sew her into her dress. After that, she described exactly this therapy for her bad sunburn: vinegar in water. Surely there is something more up-to-date and modern in 2022, nearly 100 years later?

So, my husband and I (who had been actually out CELEBRATING how well I had been doing, dining at the TreeHouse in Davenport) secured a vat of vinegar roughly the size of my head (K & K Hardware) and carefully measured out this concoction and I spent most of the evening of 6/3 applying carefully wrung out cloths to my right breast.

This  turned out to be a very bad idea.

In the night, I woke up in pain and realized that the skin under my right breast had totally sloughed off. This, despite having NO problems up to the point of the vinegar soaking. The difficulty is keeping the area under a 44D breast dry to heal, which I well know, so I was actually sleeping with a wash cloth tucked in strategically, but it didn’t help.

I now am very, very red and in a fair amount of distress and some pain, but I showed up for my radiation on time and, when I did, ran into Daniel, the male nurse, who asked how I was doing.

Me: “Not that great, Daniel. All of the skin under my right breast has left the building and it hurts like a son-of-a-bitch.” (At the time, I was waiting to be shepherded back to the radiation table, where I have spent the past 16 week days. This day would mark the halfway point of my 33 day ordeal. I was in “the pond,” pictured below.)

Daniel spirited me away to an examining room and secured a radiologist (not my normal one), who nixed radiation for the day and prescribed the ointment I had asked for much earlier in the festivities. (I wanted to have it on hand when/if things got bad). With a name like Silvathiazole, it immediately conjured up memories of the sulfathiazole ointment my parents always applied to injuries during all my growing up years.

Now I am applying this white salve (a prescription with sulfa in it) for 3 days (Friday/Saturday/Sunday), putting it on four times a day, [but not 3 hours before radiation]. I am scheduled to meet with my oncologist at 2 p.m. on Monday, and I have been told to show up a half hour early on Monday, to make sure that it is okay to radiate at all on Monday.

Known as “The Pond,” one waits for pick-up to the radiation room here.

The problem with all this is that I have a very narrow window of opportunity to get all this done before boarding a plane for Texas on June 30 to fly to Austin for the Family Fest. I was supposed to have been “done” on June 27. That has now become June 28th. Then, of course, we have to drive to Chicago, which will probably occur on the 28th or 29th—unless this doesn’t heal up. And we fly on the 30th.

Do I really expect this to heal up? It is impossible to keep this area dry. I learned this the hard way when all of my stitches from my low faneuil incision tore out after my second C-section in 1987. That was an emergency room visit with my then-19-year-old son doing the honors, as his father was busy being plant manager at a Deere plant.

So, whoever made the 1920-era suggestion of vinegar in water for ME, in particular: VERY BAD IDEA. I realize that the cumulative effect of the radiation is just now evidencing itself, but someone should have given some thought to the concept of trying to keep the midriff and under-the-breast area of someone with 44D breasts DRY during this sensitive period. Now, I’m paying the price and the jury is out on whether I will make it through 33 days of this or not by June 30th, when I leave.

Keep in mind that no less an authority than Iowa City, Iowa, told me that they would not have radiated me at all had I had surgery there. While I felt that some of that was ageism, some of that was sexism, and some of that was probably just the insurance company not wanting to pay for anything they could avoid, I am still in agreement that helping reduce the risk of recurrence was worth trying to go through radiation. Not sure if cutting off “the boost” part of the process (i.e., the last 5 days of the 33, when they aim the beams directly at the hole left by the incision, rather than simply radiating the entire upper right half of your body, as it seems we are now doing) will be enough. Not very happy that I was handed the green sheet with the 1920-era advice on it, which I blindly followed.

I remember asking how much of this 33 days would be necessary to do me any good after my May 6th Iowa City visit,  on upping the odds of no recurrence and being told nothing very firm. It sounded, to me, as though the final 5 days might be omitted without that much loss of the % benefit, but what do I know?

This has really shot down our premature celebration of making it through the first half uneventfully.  I can’t help but feel that the introduction of vinegar and water to treatment—which is about as old-fashioned as you can get—was a very bad idea. And I am crossing my fingers that this salve—which I asked for right out of the box for the time when this started to happen, which could have been predicted from the get-go given my uber-sensitive skin—works.

Johnny Depp Wins in Court Trial

The verdict is in from the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial.

I admit that I watched most of the testimony on You Tube and found it difficult to believe that someone who is physically raped with a glass bottle would not seek medical treatment, but simply go upstairs and take a sleeping pill and go to bed. That one was a stretch. The reports of broken noses with an appearance on the James Corden show the very next day showing no bruising, was also a stretch. If the woman documented every little thing, including Johnny’s rampage in their kitchen, why did she not take pictures of such major evidence of physical assault as she testified to?

I do also think that addicts who drink to excess or take illegal drugs to the point of blacking out may not remember everything they have done or said.While he may not have “laid a hand on her,” reports of shoving and pushing her down in an airplane aisle with the toe of his boot were not pretty and may well have happened.

As for the “who said what,” it was pretty clear that each of the participants had defamed the other and acted poorly. The e-mails from Depp to Paul Bettany concerning Amber Heard were way beyond uncomplimentary, but it is undeniable that Amber was similarly cruel towards Johnny Depp and probably pushed buttons from his childhood, since she knew enough to do so.

Then there was the film from the elevator to Amber’s penthouse apartment, showing her going up to the penthouse the very day before filing for a restraining order against Depp, accompanied by James Franco. Another such video shows her with Elon Musk.

The jury  awarded Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in the suit against Heard. The “Aquaman” star  received an award of $2 million in damages in her countersuit against Depp.

In other words, there were no angels in this mess and neither side is going to walk away without repercussions that, by and large, are going to be bad.

 

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