Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

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

Category: Politics Page 2 of 18

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.

Global Warming is Wreaking Havoc with Weather Patterns

In a recent Gallup poll, 66% of Americans said they wanted to see something done about global warming. Scientific studies have long cried “Wolf!” about the impending climate change, caused by global warming, and reversible, we thought, up until 2020—DoomsDay, according to a 2014 Field Museum documentary.

But developments are  heating up, in more ways than one. Rising temperatures are wreaking havoc in the Arctic and Antarctic and melting ice sheets that were thought to be impregnable, like the Vincennes Bay glaciers just south of Australia, crucial because they block the inland Aurora and Wilkes ice basins from falling into the sea.

If both basins collapsed, sea levels could rise by up to 92 feet, submerging coastal communities across the globe (this means you, Miami! And New York City might become the Little Apple if part of it goes under due to a catastrophic event like this.

Lately, Donald Trump has been on his Twitter feed ignorantly trumpeting his complete indifference to this life-threatening scenario while a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that 2018 was the second-warmest year on record and the second-worst year for sea ice.

The Bering Sea lost an area of ice the size of Idaho in 2 weeks’ time in February, 2018. Toxic algae blooms, a warm weather phenomenon, are also becoming common and all manner of wildlife are threatened, including 80% of the krill on which walruses and penguins in the Antarctic feed. Global warming causes unusual weather patterns, like the polar vortex currently causing -40 to -60 temperatures in the Midwest or the forest fires that swept California.

It’s time to wise up and join other nations in combating human effects on global warming; we don’t have time to wait around to do it!

“The Favourite:” Not MY Favorite

 “The Favourite” is nominated for 5 awards at the Golden Globes. It has another 76 wins and 204 nominations for other cinematic awards.
The excellent acting in “The Favourite” is  from all three of the principals: Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as Lady Sarah Marlborough and Emma Stone as Abigail (Lady Sarah’s cousin) are 3 of its Golden Globe nominations. Also excellent is Nicholas Hoult as Harley. There are numerous nominations from various other competitions for Best Screenplay, Best Costumes, Best Make-Up, Best Direction, Best Ensemble Cast, Best Comedy/Drama, etc.
First, let me say that I knew “The Favourite” would be “different” in a weird way, because it was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed “The Lobster” with Colin Farrell (and Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman, again). That was one of the stranger films in recent memory, but it had some very funny moments.
I anticipated similar funny moments in “The Favourite” but this film is much less humorous. (I’ve appended some memorable lines from it.),
Second let me add that I have only now researched Anne, last of the Stuart rulers (1702-1714) to determine the film’s authenticity. Throughout the film I asked myself about the French/English  war in question. Only now, in looking up the history, did I find out that there was a difference of opinion about whether to fight the war on land (Rachel Weisz’s spouse, Lord Marlborough, was the head of land forces) or on sea. The movie also failed to mention a settlement in a war under Queen Anne that gave her something like 22% of a lucrative trade ferrying slaves. (Not P.C. enough?)
The information that Queen Anne gives in the script about having been pregnant 17 times: true. Only one child, a son, managed to live until 1700. Her failure to provide a male heir led to Queen Anne’s downfall as a monarch.
Third: The palace settings in “The Favourite” (Hatfield House in Hatfield, Hertfordshire) and costuming were phenomenally opulent. The costumes and make-up will be hard to beat at awards time. Add to that the sensitive acting by the three female leads and it is a film-lover’s film. Maybe not for the Marvel fans among us. Filmed on a $15 million dollar budget, it looks every penny of those millions.
STRANGE TOUCHES

“The Favourite” has used the credits in a weird way—presenting them like a cross-stitch at the end. It makes them hard to read. During the story various messages are displayed for the camera with odd statements like “This Mud Stinks,” “What An Outfit,” “A Minor Hitch,” “Stop Infection,” “Leave That I Like It,” “I Dreamt I Stabbed You in the Eye.” The plot does not unfurl as smoothly as that of some other films of this length (2 hours) and part of that is the presence of these weird markers. The title cards, displayed along the way are like the names of television episodes that we see on Netflix streaming services. Often, the phrase displayed will be a line of dialogue (“This mud stinks.”).
THE END
“The Favourite” really does not have a “concluded” feeling. It is a long movie (1 hr., 59 minutes) but it feels as though it (still) could go on for a while, to let us know exactly what the fate of Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) and her soldier husband are. Instead, it just ends.
The musical background in “The Favourite” is monotonous and odd, with almost the sound of dripping water at times. It’s a bit like a beating heart. However, the musical selections are duly noted at film’s end. (Primarily classical).
One question that I still have: was the dance that Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is shown doing in “The Favourite” with a  young man (which drives the Queen into a rage) a “real” dance of the time? It looked more like something from the Zoot Suit days than an early 18th century parlor dance. Likewise, the dance that Abigail and the Queen practice in her chamber.
NOTABLE QUOTES:
Here are some lines from the nominated screenplay for “The Favourite”scripted by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara:
“Love has its limits.”
“Sometimes a lady likes to have some fun.”
“I’ll make a killer of you yet.” (Lady Sarah, i.e., Rachel Weisz, to Abigail, i.e., Emma Stone)”
“I am a person of honor even if my station is not.” (Abigail)
“You are too sensitive.” (Lady Sarah to Queen Anne). “And you are too mean and uncaring.” (The Queen to Lady Sarah, her childhood friend become Lady of the Bedchamber and chief advisor.)
“There is no point winning a war abroad if losing one at home.”
“I’m on my side, always. Sometimes, it’s a happy coincidence for you.” (Abigail).

“Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House” ON SALE

I am writing to once again mention the ONE DAY sale (e-book) for $1.99 for “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vol. I,  that is happening on January 5, Saturday, tomorrow.

I seldom use this space to advertise my own books (although it is said that I should), but I’m feeling distinctly nostalgic for “the good old days,” before Russian troll farms, when religion, politics and how much money one made (or didn’t make) was off the table for public discussion.

The e-book version of Volume I is (normally) priced at $4.99 and, if you would like it in paperback, the price was $14.95 on Amazon. There are numerous pictures that appear nowhere else (mine) and the blog entries from the run-up to the selection of the candidates to run in the 2008 election (i.e., Obama and McCain).

Volume II goes on to actually chronicle the presidential race, itself, which I covered, inside at the DNC, the RNC and elsewhere, for Yahoo. (Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics that year).

There are A LOT of humorous entries and, if necessary, I’ll figure out a small segment from Book I to put up here tomorrow, along with a “buy” link.

Hope you all go take a look at the book, at least, on the peek inside feature.

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. I) ON SALE for One Day (Jan. 5)

Barack Obama in Davenport, Iowa (River Center) during the 2008 caucus season.

I don’t know about you, my readers, but I’m missing B.O.  (Barack Obama).

And by B.O. I mean Barack Obama. And Michelle, of course. And the days when we had an intelligent, literate, kind, considerate, compassionate adult couple in the White House.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArzB7P9CEy8It is January. It is cold outside. Children in elementary school are dying at the U.S. border while Emma Lazarus weeps. (“Give me your tired, your poor. Your wretched refuse yearning to breathe free. The huddled masses of your teeming shore. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”).

So, I decided to put my 2008 book “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House” on sale for just $1.99 in e-book format, for ONE DAY ONLY because, well, because I’m missing Barack Hussein Obama and his wife and family and the decency and integrity that his 8 years in Washington, D.C., represented.

In the day(s) when indictments are flying faster than snowflakes and the days stretch ahead of us, gloomy and dark, and we are fast heading towards the cliff of a Constitutional crisis, we ALL need more pictures of the 2008 election. This book fits the bill. It is jam-packed with previously unseen pictures, taken by Yours Truly as she followed the campaign across Iowa and, eventually, across the nation—to Denver’s DNC  and St. Paul’s RNC  and the Belmont Town Hall Meeting and the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic and the goings-on in Grant Park and at Invesco Field.

It’s only going to be on sale on January 5th, so hurry up and take advantage of this offer. I could be persuaded to put Volume II on sale in the future if this goes well. So crank up your e-book readers and order yourselves a slice of history for under two bucks.

You won’t be sorry.

“Vice” Is Not An Adam McKay Fun-Fest: Be Warned

Adam McKay’s new film “Vice” focuses on the Vice Presidency of Dick Cheney under George W. Bush. The director of “The Big Short” previously helmed “Anchorman” (2004), “Talladega Nights” and “The Other Guy.” McKay wrote and directed this film and is nominated as both Best Director and for Best Screenplay among the 6 nods from the Golden Globe awards.

The true wheat amongst the chaff here is Christian Bale’s amazing transformation from, well, Christian Bale, into the heavyset, overweight, middle-aged, follically challenged Cheney. Hats off to the make-up crew!

Amy Adams also received a Golden Globe nod for Best Supporting Actress and Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor for playing a somewhat clueless George W. Bush.

Given the fact that McKay wrote for “Saturday Night Live” in 1975 and has a partnership with comic talent Will Ferrell (“Funny or Die” is their channel), this is more in the spirit of “The Big Short” than of his previously silly films, but is not nearly as story focused

THE GOOD

Obviously, when this many nominations are given for acting, the acting is great. (Not to mention the make-up.)

As for the screenplay, it is crammed with so much  that you will drown in numbers, figures, and much, much more. It was not the movie I thought I was going to see, as I thought that Hollywood directors had  this “FOCUS! FOCUS!” part down, (whereas my screenplay efforts are always accused of containing too much and being all over the place, even when they win awards).

For the “good” list, let’s just mention some of the superlative performers (besides those already mentioned above) who put in an appearance:

Steve Carrell – his wife was an early improv partner of McKay’s. He plays Donald Rumsfeld.

Alison Pill – she had a fairly large role opposite Sarah Paulson on the clown episodes of “American Horror Story.” She plays Mary Cheney (the gay one).

Justin Kirk – You will recognize Justin Kirk, who plays Scooter Libby, from “Weeds.”

Jesse Plemons – Kurt – Jesse was in both “Fargo” and “Breaking Bad.” I did not like the way in which his character was integrated (or not integrated) into the plot, and I was always told that “voice over” was lazy writing. So much for that advice.

Tyler Perry – Yes, THE Tyler Perry, plays Colin Powell

So, the cast? Uniformly good. I watched a documentary (Errol Morris) on Donald Rumsfeld called “The Unknown Known” at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival and Rummy comes off as just as big an SOB here as he did there.

THE BAD

The acting cannot overcome the incessant barrage of facts and data, some of which are incidental to the story. We all know that there is a drug epidemic going on, but why do we see close-ups of a victim being treated with NarCan, for example, or forest fires in California? For that matter, why did Gerry Fraser photograph it in such a herky-jerky fashion that it was like rewatching Costa Gravas’ “Z”, (which pioneered hand-held camera work) or “The Blair Witch Project.” The close-ups were not fun for the audience.

There’s just too broad a net thrown over this whale. It may be nominated for Best Picture, but it was a disappointment to me, as we drove around on Christmas Day for an hour and fifteen minutes trying to get in to a 3:10 or 3:55 showing, only to ultimately give up.

The political implications and message did not offend me, a journalist (Yahoo Content Producer of the Year 2008 for Politics) who did not much care for George W. Bush and thought him incompetent, but Republicans won’t like it. As for me, the film is too jam-packed with too much detail to carry the plot of how Cheney became our “acting President,” (whether he ever earned the honorary title or not).

The “Manchurian” Mess We Must Address

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

I drew back, apprehensive.

Was this guy at the Trump rally at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa, really going to hit me? He looked seriously angry and would have fit Hillary Clinton’s description of a “deplorable.” I had done nothing to him other than attend the same rally, as a member of the press.

It was Saturday, December 5, 2015.

Yes, I was wearing a Press badge, but SERIOUSLY?

I’m a 73-year-old retired English teacher, five foot two, and unarmed—except with a pen and camera. I routinely covered presidential politics in Iowa and beyond. I also review film (www.TheMovieBlog.com) and write everything from short stories to novels to screenplays to children’s books. As a result of this journalistic encounter, I no longer cover presidential political primaries in Iowa. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but I’d like to remain physically unimpaired.

I’d like to be as courageous as Marie Colvin, but I wouldn’t like to be as dead as Marie Colvin. I also want to keep both of my eyes, as I paid a fair chunk of change for cataract surgery this past summer.

I went home and said to my husband of 51 years: “This isn’t fun any more. It’s becoming downright dangerous.”

FAMOUS JOURNALIST’S WORDS OF WISDOM

A Private War: Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dorman.

I did review the film “A Private War” (Chicago International Film Festival, October), which told of the life experiences of courageous U.K. journalist Marie Colvin (portrayed by Rosamund Pike).

Colvin, despite losing one eye in Sri Lanka, continued to report on wars in far-flung places, saying: “I feel we’ve failed if we don’t tell what was done. There are people dying here, and nobody knows it’s happening… When you’re covering a war, you have to go places where you could be killed…You have to make that suffering part of the record…This is the rough draft of history.  You have to find it.  If you lose that, you’re not helping anybody. You’re just making yourself feel better.”

She was killed in Syria on February 22, 2012.

BACKGROUND

I started out covering presidential politics in 2004, traveling across the I-74 bridge from Illinois into Iowa and writing for the Howard Dean blog, www.blogforiowa.com. A Journalism major on a Ferner-Hearst Scholarship when at the University of Iowa, I felt this was something I could do for the cause of taking our country back (Howard’s slogan).

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

I tried to give people on the blogs I wrote for who were not able to be there a firsthand view of the process of selecting presidential candidates. Volume I of my 2 books was about the run-up to  of the candidates. Volume two was about the campaign that followed. The books are filled with photographs of all the candidates, pictures that I took during this wonderful experience.

 

Starting in 2004, I continued to write for a variety of blogs until, in 2008, I was sent to the DNC and the RNC (and elsewhere) by Yahoo and named their Content Contributor of the Year 2008 for Politics. My pieces (over 1,000) were “hit” 3 million times. I’ve written two books entitled “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vols. 1 & 2. (Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book).

But here I was facing a possible assault because I was Press.

TAKE-AWAYS

This is a watershed year for journalists and journalism. The number of journalists has dropped from 114,000 to 88,000 between 2009 and 2017, according to the December 31, 2018 “Time” magazine. That same issue reports that in 1983 there were 50 corporations controlling what most Americans see or hear, but now it is down to five.

A record number of journalists (262) were imprisoned in 2017 (*Committee to Protect Journalists). Fifty-two journalists around the globe were killed. Five of the Capital Gazette (Annapolis, MD) journalists were slain in their office on December 9th. White House reporter Jim Acosta was stripped of his credentials by a peeved Donald J. Trump on November 7, 2018 and a doctored tape from “Infowars” was used to justify this unprecedented action. Jamal Khashoggi, a member of the Washington Post press corps, was cold-bloodedly killed and dismembered by Saudi Arabian goons inside the Istanbul consulate at the direction of Prince Mohammed bin Salman on October 2, 2018.

Around the world: Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam: jailed for more than 100 days after criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Sudan: freelance journalist Amal Habani arrested, beaten with electrical cords, and detained for 34 days. Brazil: Reporter Patricia Campos Mello- targeted with threats. Hong Kong: Asian news editor for the Financial Times forced out of Hong Kong because he invited an activist to speak at a press club event against the wishes of the Chinese government. The Philippines: Maria Ressa of the “Rappler” news site and her reporters were banned from presidential events and charged with tax fraud as a crackdown on “Rappler.” [That charge could send Ressa to prison for 10 years.]

Maria Ressa’s remark is worth repeating: “I think the biggest problem we face right now is that the beacon of democracy, the one that stood up for both human rights and press freedom—the United States—now is very confused. What are the values of the United States?”

Russian operatives in troll farms seeded Facebook (126 million reached on Facebook, alone, according to CNN on December 17th) with posts intended to help the Trump campaign. One USSR technique was to create a group called The Army of God, which enlisted those suffering from sex addiction(s). It is thought that the USSR hoped to blackmail some of these U.S. citizens into becoming Russian assets. The Facebook and Twitter and Instagram posts sought to sow unrest and dissension amongst the populace.

It worked.

Democratic National Convention, 2008, Denver.

A good friend of my son’s—his former neighbor in Texas—engaged me on my thread on “Facebook” and immediately took to name-calling. I was a “libtard.” He and his family would move to Cabo San Lucas if Hillary Clinton were elected. I had been in this young man’s house. I had been at numerous gatherings where he prepared brisket. His son played with my 9-year-old twin granddaughters. Now I was “the enemy” because I might have a different political opinion than his. I was to be called names and generally put down.

Did I respond in kind? No, I did not.

“Jimmy,” I said, “We are never going to agree on politics, so let’s not discuss it.”

Despite my polite request that we NOT talk politics (since we would never agree), he persisted, telling me he would say “whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted.”

My response was to first beg my son to come throw cold water (figuratively speaking) on his fanatical friend, before the trip I had planned to Cabo San Lucas over Thanksgiving to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary at Sunset Beach (where Jimmy’s family would be vacationing at the same time as us in their time share), went down the tubes. My son did not see my e-mail(s).

A day passed.

Jimmy persisted, returning to my Facebook thread, growing increasingly more unpleasant and adamant, telling me how he was going to say “whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted.” I finally said, “I don’t think that’s the way it works on Facebook, Jimmy,” and blocked him.

I allow anyone to speak their mind on either side of an issue on my Facebook thread, but there is to be no name-calling. Name calling is not allowed from either side of the aisle. That is MY “control.” Later, this good friend of my son’s texted my son to apologize to HIM. [Last time I checked, it was not my son who was called names].

I have not received an apology from Jimmy and the trip to Cabo rather pointedly left my husband and me out of the reunion with his family. They had moved to North Carolina before all this occurred—(a state I am sure is more in tune with Jimmy’s politics than Austin (Texas) was).

I like Jimmy and his wife and sons, and I regret that he could not treat a woman at least twenty-five years his senior, the mother of his close friend, with more respect. I regret even more that Jimmy is representative of the divide in this country that has been fostered by our president and social media.

This is what has overtaken our country in the wake of the election of 2016. I don’t think this country will ever be quite the same, unless certain controls that existed in the past are re-instituted or new ones are imposed.

CONTROLS

What do I mean by “controls”?

For one thing, money, politics and religion were always considered to be “off limits” as conversational topics in polite society in my day. We no longer have a polite society, largely due to the lack of decorum at the top. It is creeping into our schools and seeping into our culture. I even wrote a six-book series of Christmas books for children aged 3 to 10 to try to keep these virtues and values alive, “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats.” The cats go about doing good deeds and helping other animals in distress. From ages 3 to 6 the granddaughters (twins, now aged 9) helped select the animals. We quickly moved through cats, rats and bats and, as their interest in the project waned in favor of their IPads and Minecraft, I selected deer and bear for the last two books. Next year’s book, “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee” will have Donnie Drone scheming to take over the hive. Draw your own conclusions. The illustrations by Hallmark artist Gary McCluskey are wonderful. He says it is the most fun he has had at work.

Belmont Town Hall meeting on campus in Nashville, Tennessee, 2008.

This year, “The Christmas Cats Care for the Bear” has a promotion on e-book that enters the purchaser into an Amazon $500 give-away as they read this anti-bullying tract to their 3 to 10 year old charges. I said I’d do these books as Christmas presents for my granddaughters until they no longer believe(d) in Santa Claus. They turn 10 on January 11, 2019. Six books will remain to convey to them what I have tried to pass on about behaving the way I was taught to behave towards others. [Obviously, I was not very convincing in my conversation(s) with Jimmy on Facebook, but I do still have both eyes (in good working condition) and for that I am grateful.]

These are “throwback” books that try to teach young people to be helpful, to be polite, to respect all human life, not to be prejudiced, not to bully and to try to get along with others in rhyming Seussical quatrains, with interactive activities at the back for the little ones. (www.TheXmasCats.com). In other words, the books reaffirm all the pillars of society and values that, along with what I will mention next, will hopefully return, once we select a different leader.

The Federal Communications Commission enforced the Fairness Doctrine until 1987. It required stations to cover public controversies and present both sides of the controversy. That FCC doctrine was repealed in 1987. Fox News was founded in 1996; MSNBC four months prior. The years of polite decorum in debate would soon be under attack and possibly become a thing of the past in an Internet world. We, as a society, are under constant attack from all sides. It is not hard to conceive of a Putin or a Xi chuckling at how we are being destroyed from the inside out.

 I used to say that the 1962 movie “The Manchurian Candidate” was my favorite movie. Those of you who remember it will also remember that it disappeared for a very long time. That was because of the assassination of JFK. That was a “control” move, to keep anybody from thinking that a political assassination was a “good” thing.

We need to take similar action to rid ourselves or control all of the disruptive elements that are tearing us apart, and you can put the very reasonable concept of gun control in that category. I admired “The Manchurian Candidate” until fiction became fact.

I see children being torn from their parents at the border of this great land. These poor folks have dared greatly to reach a country that, previously, said, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.” (Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty).

What does our country say to immigrants—to the world—to you— now?

“Give me your white only immigrants from countries like Norway? Don’t dare to hope that we’ll welcome you graciously, because now we are solely a Me First nation? Go back to your s******* country and leave us alone?”

Is that the new United States of America message to the world at large?

As I grieve the death of all the initiatives that our last president championed (Obamacare, solar power, LGBQT rights, good relations with our allies), I urge everyone in the field of journalism or right-thinking to stand up to  obvious falsehoods and untruths and misdeeds, seemingly committed to benefit those in power. Unprecedented abuses of our First Amendment freedoms occur and are occurring each day. Let’s restore this great country and save the entire planet from global warming before it’s too late. (A film at the Field Museum, “Antarctica on the Edge” says 2020 is the deadline; the film was made in 2014).

This assault on the freedom of the press may presage democracy’s last stand. Will you take an active part in helping maintain the United States as one of only 13% of the world’s countries that enjoy complete freedom of the press? Or will you side with someone who wants the satirical TV show “Saturday Night Live” prosecuted for making fun of presidents, (as the show  has done for decades?)

To me, it’s not a difficult choice.  I grew up in a very Republican state (Iowa) with a Democratic office-holder (my father, John Corcoran, Jr.) who only got the job as Buchanan County Treasurer after his Republican opponent died before being sworn in.  (“John—your opponent died. Do you want the job?”) I was tacking up political posters on telephone poles at the age of 5 and listening to my father say, “Don’t go into politics, Con. It’s a dirty business!” Nevertheless, he served four terms as County Treasurer of Buchanan County, Iowa before starting a bank in 1941, the Security State Bank of Independence, Iowa, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary.

I’m used to being considered out-of-step with those around me, politically, but I always extend respect and courtesy to those who differ from me in their beliefs. My godmother (Arlene Raymond) was a Republican lobbyist for chiropractors in the state of Iowa for years.

What I won’t do is swallow, wholesale, lies and untruths. You have to really stay on top of things in this day and age, reading BOTH sides of the aisle, especially since the advent of news organizations that are geared at presenting only one side of any argument. [Fortunately, my vision is 20/20, thanks to the miraculous surgery of Eye Surgeon Associates on July 27 through September 11th].

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

At one point in time during the 2008 presidential primaries, I was a John Edwards supporter. When the facts showed that he was lying to all of us and was not as represented, naturally I was crestfallen, but I did not continue to insist that it was the nasty news media that had made him into a philandering husband who fathered a child with a girlfriend while his wife was dying of cancer. It was a bitter pill for many of us to recognize that John Edwards truly had feet of clay, but we ate crow and admitted the facts. Rudy Giuiliani now says “Facts aren’t facts.” Au contraire, Rudy. Facts are what will set us free.

This will run before Christmas and I would like to end by saying, “Peace on Earth, good will towards men.” Help save our country by opening your mind(s) to all possibilities. No one is above the law and this great country needs to remain the beacon of hope it has always been for the entire world.

PG-13 | | DramaThriller | 24 October 1962 (USA)
The Manchurian Candidate Poster
A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy. A Russian “asset” is intended to be placed in the White House by the manipulation of Angela Lansbury at a political convention.

Writers:

Richard Condon (based upon a novel by), George Axelrod (screenplay)

Thoughts on Films & Politics on November 5th, 2018

Some thoughts of the day, on Monday, the day before the election.

I am asked if I think there will be a Blue Wave.

I respond that my biggest fear is that the Kavanaugh hearings will function like the Comey memo about Hillary’s e-mails. If the Kavanaugh hearings energize Trump’s base…..(finish that thought).

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

Joe’ Seafood, Prime Steaks and Crab House, Chicago.

On another topic, I saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” AND “First Man” and I can highly recommend both.

Years ago, at the Chicago Film Festival, I saw a bio-pic on Freddie Mercury of clips of all his public appearances put together by the man responsible for curating same. It was terrific! One thing that was not covered as well as it could have been was Freddy’s collaboration with an opera singer of the day.

Damien Chazelle, Writer/Director of “La La Land” and “Whiplash.”

First Man” was also wonderful and a tribute to Damien Chazelle’s directing as much as Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Neil Armstrong.

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

Visited the Field Museum today and saw 2 films, one on ancient Egypt and one on Antarctica. Both were informative and educational.

The rest of the past few days were spent participating in a SLAM (Culture Club)

The Field Museum.

on Friday night and dining at Joe’s on Saturday night. I learned, the hard way, that I should always ask for the “market value” on crab values. (A: $70!) But it is a lovely place and the food was good.

 

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