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!

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Quotes: Fifteen John Fitzgerald Kennedy Quotes for Today

  President of the United States, 1960-1963
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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.”

Trump’s First Hotel (Grand Hyatt NYC) Will Crash Like Builder

Grand Central Terminal, right next to the Hyatt where Thrillerfest was held.

Today’s good news is that the Hyatt (Manhattan) in New York City attached to Grand Central Station (Hyatt Grand Central) that Donald Trump bought when it was the Commodore and revamped is being bought and torn down. Yay!

This has to be one of the worst Hyatts, (if not one of the worst hotels in general), that I’ve ever had the misfortune to stay in, not once but at least three times at International Thriller Writers’ Conferences.

Let me elaborate:

The first time I stayed at this Hyatt I could not figure out how to turn the lights off in my room. The rooms don’t have normal light switches. They have strange little electrical plates that don’t work. The men sent up by the desk couldn’t get them to work, either. I ended up having to put a pillow over my head and trying to sleep with the lights on for three days.

David Morrell, an ITW staple.

Secondly, I like bath tubs. I was on a ridiculously high Hyatt floor and there was no water pressure AND no hot water when I tried to hop in the tub and wash my hair quickly. My flight from Chicago had been delayed an entire day; I was lucky to be able to make it in time to “pitch” my novel “The Color of Evil” to a variety of folk. The only person I chose to “pitch” it to was Tony Eldridge, because I knew Tony, personally (slightly). We compared horror stories of our travels. Tony had been stuck on a train, as I recall, traveling from Malibu to New York City, and that had not gone well, either.

The worst thing that happened to me while staying at the Grand Hyatt (aside from the sleeping with the pillow over my head thing) was when I wandered out to get some ice or a can of diet soda. I managed to get my hand (actually, my finger) stuck in a decorative wall plaque that I thought was the “door” to a recessed vending machine. (Hint: it wasn’t). I literally was to the point that images of James Franco amputating his own arm when stuck in a canyon in “24 Hours” were dancing in my brain, as I could not get the ring finger on my right hand back OUT of the crevice on the right after I stuck it IN the crevice, thinking that it would swing open somehow. IN reality, this was a gigantic recessed wall thing-ie meant to be decorative, set near the elevator doors where you would expect ice and soda machines to be located. It hurt like a SOB when I (finally) managed to force my finger back out of the tight spot, most of the skin cleverly removed by the incident.

The last time I stayed at the Grand Hyatt, while attending the workshop presented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco enforcement officers, I actually asked the woman in charge if there wasn’t ANY other hotel that we could have this conference at besides one that was famous as Trump’s first real estate venture in the eighties. The hotel had no cafeteria or cafe (you had to walk over to Grand Central Station’s food court through a tunnel) and the bar was the most ridiculously overpriced bar in Manhattan. I noticed on the third trip to this hotel that literally none of the “famous” authors who had frequented that bar my first year of attendance (Jon Land, Heather Graham, David Morrell, the “Game of Thrones” guy who was there the last two years, etc.) were hanging out in the bar any more. I’m sure they were able to find a much more reasonably priced bar in the area, and one with adequate seating.

Last, but not least, the day I was leaving I had to kill several hours until my plane departed. I checked out by 11 a.m., as required, and left my bags at the desk. Most hotels will happily store your bags for a few hours, but not the Grand Hyatt. There was an hourly charge, per bag, to store your bags in their storage room, despite the fact that you had just paid an outrageous amount to stay in their facility for several days.

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They can’t tear it down fast enough to suit me. From what I have read, the number of rooms available will decline from something like 1300 to 500, so, hopefully International Thriller Writers will find a different venue for the annual conference—hopefully one that has a coffee shop and a bar that is conducive to friends and fellow authors gathering in the hotel, rather than having to leave and go elsewhere to be seated and/or to be able to afford the ridiculously overpriced drinks.

Not my favorite Hyatt, and with the Trump history, truly a hotel worthy of tearing down. Did I mention that they charged you an outrageous amount to use the Internet in the room? If you wanted free Internet, you had to go to the lobby. While I realize that is not that uncommon with high-priced hotels, it did nothing to endear me to the place, since I had no hot water, couldn’t turn my lights off (yes, I called downstairs and the desk told me that they had problems of the sort in the hotel all the time before sending someone up who couldn’t fix it) all night, and found the entire place cold, sterile and uninviting.

Trump “Live” Breaking News Announcement of ISIS’ Defeat

President Donald J. Trump made a “live” announcement (covered by CNN) at 2:50 p.m. CDT to the effect that the United States has defeated ISIS:

“Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters are gone. We have freed the people from more than 5 million bloodthirsty killers.

“We’ve had victory after victory after victory. 23, 320 square miles controlled by ISIS at end of 2016. [Trump claims to have liberated 20,000 square miles.]

Thanks to the global coalition and to our other partners, the ISIS Caliphate has been decimated. Nobody thought it was possible to do it this quickly. 3 weeks ago I was in Iraq and talked to some of our great generals and I gave the generals the absolute go-ahead. I spoke to one general and he told me it would take one week. They will be informing us officially very soon that it is 100%. Isis can no longer claim superiority over our troops.

We can’t do better than we have done militarily.

We will have people who will be around and hopefully they won’t be around very long. They can no longer extract natural resources because they no longer control the land or the area.

(At this point I noticed that DJT was  dribbling down his chain. Why?)

They can no longer claim ancient artifacts. We are cracking down on the Internet. Now, the people on the Internet who used to look up to them as being so brilliant, are not thinking of them as being so brilliant because they’ve been decimated. They can no longer control schools (to inflict their propaganda on young children.) They can no longer launch foreign attacks from launching areas. Their land is gone; it’s a big factor. Their land is gone.”

Trump went on to salute American soldiers and generals and then warned about the remnants that might remain. (“A remnant can be very dangerous.”)

ANALYSIS

Ben Wedeman, CNN Senior International Correspondent and Max Boot, the author of “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right” commenting on CNN: “There are between 20 to 30,000 ISIS fighters still in Syria. They have mixed in with the local population and escaped from Raquaa. We have seen more than 100 assassinations of people involved in the anti-ISIS movement in the last few months. From 2000 to 2013 ISIS ruled over a territory as a quasi state. They can just as easily go back to wreaking havoc as a terrorist group without that state. So, speaking with commanders in eastern Syria on the ground, they warn time and time again that the battle against ISIS is not over when their land is gone. That battle would be prolonged in the absence of U.S. air power and coalition support. People are bracing for the possibility of a wave of terror once ISIS loses its final ground.”

“Power vacuum” – reduction in the caliphate is a positive step in the right direction, BUT…The problem is ideology. You can physically kill off soldiers, but if you have the mentality in the hearts and minds of the populace, it is the age-old question.  The problem of the administration is that they are being narrow-minded in focusing on the regaining of the territory that ISIS had controlled. Significant, because a lot of ISIS revenue came from that territory, but to just say, “That’s it. Now we can leave” negates every single objective we have had in that area.”

“Great nations do not fight endless wars” (from Trump in SOTU.)

“When Trump said this on Tuesday night, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were sitting there stone-faced. He was saying this in the face of his generals’ counsel. General Votel said what Mattis said about suddenly withdrawing from Syria: “It’s a very bad idea. It’s going to allow ISIS to get back off the map and re-generate its capacity. Last night, President Trump was trashing Iran during the SOTU. We are essentially giving up 1/3 of Syria to Bashar Assad and allowing Iran to expand its power in Syria if we withdraw. A bi-partisan majority in the Senate passed a vote disapproving of a rapid pull-out in Syria, in disagreement with the president’s plans and announcements.”

IN OTHER NEWS

House Intel Chair (Rep. Adam Schiff) plans to probe into Trump’s personal finances.

The Pope has admitted that some sitting Bishops abused nuns.

“Glass” Review: Does Splicing “Unbreakable” and “Split” Work?

Glass: Please be warned that I may talk about the end of this movie, so don’t read on if you’re saving up to watch it and be surprised. I saw “Glass” the day it opened and it’s still keeping a slim hold on the #1 box office spot for the third week. Estimates are that it has earned an additional $9.5 million in ticket sales, which would bring its total earnings to $88.7 million. 

I’ve been trying to decide what to say about “Glass,” M. Night Shymalan’s return to the big screen after “Split” 3 years ago (2016). I loved “Split.”

I was very happy that the director who gave us “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Unbreakable” (2000); “Signs” (2002); “The Village” (2004), and “Lady in the Water” (2006) was back with a winner in 2016 and, hopefully, “Glass” would be the winner in 2019. I may not be quite as fanatical about Shymalan’s success as the two screenwriters who wrote “A Quiet Place,” Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. They showed pictures on Twitter of every ticket stub for all of M. Night Shymalan’s pictures since the very beginning. [“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” and “Signs” have sold over $1.3 billion in ticket sales, and Shymalan also was the creative mind behind television’s “Wayward Pines.”]

I’m a Shymalan fan, but I have to confess that my loyalty waivered a bit after “Lady in the Water” with Paul Giametti and Bryce Dallas Howard.  I was only too happy to get back on the bandwagon after “Split” hit theaters 3 years ago.  I was truly rooting for “Glass” to be just as good as “Split.”

The performance by James McAvoy in “Split” was nothing short of fantastic.  “Glass” would revive the character with 24 multiple personalities that McAvoy brought to life so vividly in “Split.”

Fortunately for me here in Austin (Texas), a history” of the inter-relatedness of the characters was shown at the Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane just before the main feature. “Glass” was a merger of Shymalan’s biggest hits: “Unbreakable” with Samuel L. Jackson and his case of osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disorder) and Bruce Willis as a hooded superhero survivor of a train wreck with McAvoy in “Split.” We also got a now-grown-up Spencer Treat Clark as Willis’ son. [Clark expressed gratitude that Shymalan was so loyal to his actors and had re-cast him as an adult after his first appearance as a child in “Unbreakable.” (He laughingly said he expected to hear that one of the Australian Hemsworth brothers got the role in 2019).]

So, it is with a great deal of reluctance that I have to say that I was disappointed in “Glass.” There is one scene where Anya Taylor-Joy goes to the sanitarium where James McAvoy is confined and asks to talk with him. It is strange that she would WANT to talk to him, since he held her prisoner in “Split” and terrorized her, but she survived.

JUMP-THE-SHARK MOMENTS

The head psychiatrist, played by Sarah Paulsen, is heard telling the young girl from the film “Split” that she cannot possibly talk to her former captor—and then, in a complete reversal, there Anya is, talking to him. Why? How? What?

Then there is the scene in “Glass” when all three of the bad guys are brought into the room to talk with Paulson (see a slight amount on the trailer above).

Only one of the three is chained, and that is Bruce Willis. Why wouldn’t James Mcavoy be chained, as he is clearly the most dangerous of the three? (Jackson is in a wheelchair and appears to be catatonic)  Also weird: the drum music used in the background; the pacing of the entire scene gave us a very draggy scene.

For the keen of eye, the usual cameo—a la Alfred Hitchcock—is Shymalan at a stand that sells cameras. He says he “used to hang out with some shady types at the football stadium in his youth.” Thanks to the Alamo’s history lesson, I remembered that, in the movie “Unbreakable,” his cameo appearance cast him as a drug dealer at the stadium where Bruce Willis’ character David Dunne is a guard.

So, the scenes in Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Hospital were generally difficult to explain or understand and some key scenes really dragged. David (Bruce Willis) is being treated for delusions of grandeur. He remains locked up until a scene where he inexplicably takes 3 runs at the metal door and manages to break free. (Say what?)

Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass has everyone convinced he is practically a vegetable when, in reality, he seems to be able to get out of his cell at will (something that is also never really explained.) And the operation Glass is to undergo on his brain, we are led to believe, is ineffectual because he switches out some glass lenses in the equipment the night before. Highly unlikely. He’s brilliant, yes, but he’s not a physician (although all 9 of Shymalan’s family, including his wife are either MDs or PhDs.)

The fight outside the sanitarium between Willis and McAvoy seems extremely unrealistic and hokey, especially when Willis’ son shows up and is about as ineffectual at helping his father as humanly possible and with McAvoy loping along like he is in a “Planet of the Apes” sequel. Who really thinks that the much younger McAvoy (i.e., “the Beast”) is going to be truly challenged by Willis? The “precipitating event” that we see (i.e., a scare in the water when he was a young boy) is anti-climactic.

COMIC BOOKS

Shymalan likes comic books. This script says, “Superheroes are based on people like him” and, “Everything can be explained away, yet it exists. Some of us can bend steel and don’t die from bullets.” But, later, this line is inserted, “There just can’t be gods among us.” Paulsen’s specialty is treating patients who think they are super-heroes. (I wondered if there was a lot of work for a psychiatrist who only treated Superhero wannabes.)

CAMERAWORK

The camera work at the end, when three characters are shown sitting in the Philadelphia train station, was off-putting and jerky. One wonders how anyone is going to know to come flocking to the train station in the first place. Way off the chart of believability.

TWIST ENDINGS

Shymalan is well-known for surprise or “twist” endings and tries for a double twist here, which I won’t reveal, although he has said, “The negative thing about the twist (ending) is that it’s all people are occupied with; all the gentleness in the movie is being overshadowed by the flashy cousin in the sequined vest taking center stage.” In this film he tries for a double surprise ending as we come to learn that Mr. Glass was much smarter than his keepers. It may be for the best that both Samuel L. Jackson’s character and Bruce Willis’ character are dispatched by film’s end, but it seemed pretty arbitrary. Still, I’m glad that he bit the bullet and did not leave us thinking they’d show up again in a film this implausibly plotted.

IMPORTANCE OF MOVIE THEATERS

One thing that I do agree with Shymalan about is the importance of the movie-going experience. I recently answered a question on Quora (about whether I’d take a million dollars if it meant I could never watch a film at a theater again) in direct opposition to 5 other responders. I don’t ever want to see movies go away, and I said so. Shymalan agrees, saying:

“I’m going to stop making movies if they end the cinema experience. If there’s a last film that’s released only theatrically, it’ll have my name on it. This is life or death to me. If you tell audiences there’s no difference between a theatrical experience and a DVD, then that’s it, game’s over, and that whole art form is going to go away slowly. Movies will end up being this esoteric art form, where only singular people will put films out in a small group of theaters.”

Shymalan also went on to share this anecdote:

[on the power of cinema] “I once wrote an article about the Nuremburg trial and on the evil of the Nazis. These people were animals. And their faces throughout the trial were like ice, except for the moment when they showed a movie in the courtroom. When the lights went down and they showed the footage of the bodies being pushed into the pits, their expressions changed and they became emotional. They were watching the events on the screen through the eyes of everyone in the theater. They were having a joint experience. They were all connected, and they saw the horror, saw that their victims were human beings, and they changed.”

I recently spoke to a roomful of 3rd and 4th graders at a Young Authors’ Day on January 24th. The students were polite and generally attentive. When I switched to the trailer, projected on a large screen, for my book series (“Ghostly Tales of Route 66”) and showed a short film clip of the route, I was in the back of the room, scanning the crowd. They were mesmerized, enraptured, totally “with it,” whereas I had to contend with Susie sharing her lunch crackers with Janie and whispering to her when it was just me trying to share stories of my experiences driving from Chicago to Santa Monica gathering ghost stories. (www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com).

ON CRITICS

As for his reaction to the luke-warm critical reception of “Glass,” Shymalan said:

“It really doesn’t bother me because my aspiration, as I said, isn’t necessarily acceptance. But I always want to understand what’s going on. What are the principles behind the tension or the miscommunication? I want to totally get that. Then I can choose not to react to it, or react to it. My constant, in self-analysis, is to try to figure out: Am I complicit in this situation? How did I create this situation? What is my role in it? Do I want to continue that role? Do I want to change the course of that role? As long as I understand it, I’m much more comfortable with it. And I feel I’m in a strangely decent place of wanting that amount of passion [and debate] people have when they speak about the movies, and the expectations. My obligation is to figure out the bridge so that I don’t just let go of me and please them. That would be the disaster.”

He added, ruefully, referencing critics in general:

“It’s human nature. Twenty-six people love the movie, and the 27th person hates it, and the only thing you can think about is the 27th person.”

New Content Coming Tomorrow: Stay Tuned

Biden on the caucus campaign trail in Iowa prior to the 2008 presidential race. Don’t worry: I’ll be back to politics by the end of the week.

Content: I’ve been experimenting with trying to post new content on this blog every day.

This is hard when you are a staff of one and have a life, but no new material, i.e., content.

Of course, I don’t have much of a life at the moment, but I did play Hand & Foot Canasta all day today, so I don’t have anything “new” to share with all of you, except that the drive to play “Hand & Foot Canasta” is so far that it took me almost an hour to get there. And it starts at 11 a.m., so I was up early, for me.

I had received a somewhat snarky request that I “not be late.” I was not late, but 2 other people were late (one never showed up at all), and, therefore, my table of newcomers who are learning the game started play with 2 “ghost” players represented by a piece of paper. Those hands were played by our best player (Inga) who did a remarkable job. Inga, who has a pronounced German accent, is truly a good player, as she was able to play HER hand and supervise the 2 pieces of paper that represented the MIA players, one of whom never showed up at all. Apparently you need either 4, 6 or 8 players; we had 5 by game’s end, which made the order in which we would draw and discard cards somewhat irregular.

I had just gotten myself used to the fact that I was the player who would “follow Inga’s discard” when, as it turned out, Inga was playing  THREE TIMES.  I, however, was not.  It became very complex to even know if or when it was even my turn—[and I had 2 sets of rules from the one time I played 2 years ago while visiting my friend Marilyn at the Senior Citizen Center (which is also far away, but not nearly as far as the Blue Cafe where we played here in Austin.)]

I am unclear whether we won or lost. That’s the truth. No idea at all.

I think the first set of hands we were so far down that we couldn’t find up, so everyone decided that we would just call it a “practice round.” One woman (Katie) said she never cared about the score, anyway. That was fine if you’re Katie, but some of us who are going to spend 5 hours playing a game would like to know, at the end of that time, whether we “won” or “lost.” I’m thinking we “lost” the first round and maybe won (?) the last. Who knows? More content on that when I figure it out.

What I do know is that I accidentally left my expensive metal cup in the rest room (I took my own ice because the ice situation is dire with the staff; they bring you a pitcher of water and a pitcher of iced tea, but no glasses, so…). I am sorry I left a $20 thermal cup in the rest room, but I have 2 bright spots of content to share.

#1) I gave a homeless guy in an intersection with a sign one of my 2 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper at a stoplight. He had a sign that read “Anything will help” and it was the only thing I had time to hand him before the light changed.

#2) I walked past a truly cool store at the Galleria (where the restaurant is located) and bought myself a white shawl-like garment that I will, henceforth, carry with me when the AC may be too cold…like all the time. More content on that as the temperatures in Austin soar to 78 or so in the next two days.

#3) I also realized that I had parked my car ON the curb. (I wondered what that large “bump” was when I backed in doing my best imitation of parallel parking.)

So, tomorrow, I am either going to review “Glass,” the new M. Night Shymalan film, OR make predictions about the upcoming Oscars. Stay tuned for further developments. Let me know if you have a preference. Content! Content! Content!

Democratic Presidential Candidates Running in 2020

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

The 2020 Democratic Presidential Field:

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

Definitely In the Democratic Presidential Race:

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

Likely to Get In the Democratic Presidential Race:

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

May Get In the Democratic Presidential Race:

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

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

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

 

Fact-Checking Trump’s Feb. 1st Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.  FENTANYL:

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

3.  MEXICO’S MURDER RATE:

Cancun, Captain’s Cove, 2018

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

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

Royal Islander, Cancun, 2018

4) CHINA TARIFFS:

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

5) CARAVAN MEMBERS

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Q:  Will you declare another government shutdown?

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

Q:  Will you make a national emergency declaration?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q:  Is there a new arms race with Russia?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A reporter is asking DJT about the government shutdown:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Sheesh.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh. 

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

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