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 3 of 24

Presidential caucuses have been Connie’s specialty in Iowa as she followed the elections of 2004, 2008, 2012 and wrote the 2 books “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” She also continues to follow politics by avidly reading everything she can get her hands on, including “Rolling Stone,” “Mother Jones,” “Newsmax,” “Time,” etc.

Steve Bannon Is Arrested for Fraud on Aug. 20, 2020

Steve Bannon (Wikipedia photo).

Former top Trump strategist Steve Bannon was arrested for defrauding the public with a “We Build the Wall” Go Fund Me campaign that began in December of 2018 and brought in in excess of $25 million dollars.

Bannon was not really building a wall. He was collecting money from suckers to build a wall. All the while he and his co-defendants were promising that “100% of the money goes to the wall,” which was a complete fiction.

Bannon has been charged, as of today, with wire fraud and money laundering. According to an expert CNN commentator, the authorities have Bannon dead to rights, with e-mails, copies of money transfers that went directly into Bannon’s pockets, etc. His bond is set at $5 million. Of that, he had to pony up $1.75 million in cash or properties, plus a promise not to travel without the permission of the court.

The cynicism of the online “We Build the Wall” campaign cannot be over-emphasized, as these were not wealthy donors but small dollar donations from Americans who were behind Trump’s plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

GoFundMe online had some concerns about the campaign. How, exactly, was Kolfage going to give all this money to the government? How would he make sure the government would use it for wall-building?  GoFundMe told Kolfage he needed to find a credible nonprofit organization to accept the money or else it would all be sent back to the donors.

The campaign had grown and there was a lot of money at stake, so Kolfage needed help. Enter Steve Bannon. The former head of Breitbart News, Bannon had been Trump’s campaign CEO in 2016 and served as White House chief adviser in 2017.

The penalty for these crimes can be 20 years in prison, although it is possible that Bannon may have some information useful to federal authorities with which he can bargain for a milder sentence, just like Ghislaine Maxwell (Jeffrey Epstein’s associate). Bannon and Reince Preibus and Kellyanne Conway, backed by Rebekkah Mercer money, were given a great deal of credit for the framing of the issues for the successful 2016 Trump campaign, although Trump and Bannon subsequently had a falling-out, which hinged on conflict between Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Bannon, 66, was arrested at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday near Westbook, Connecticut on a $25 million megayacht called Lady May by officers of the USPS. The yacht was owned by exiled Chinese dissident Guo Wengui. “The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds,” Vox magazine said.  “Not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth.” 

According to “Vox:” In December 2018, Brian Kolfage, an Iraq War veteran and triple amputee, came up with an unusual idea. He set up a GoFundMe page asking Trump supporters to contribute money themselves to get the wall built. The campaign pledged that “100% of your donations” would be given to the federal government for the wall. It went massively viral on the right — $20 million in pledges poured in

Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News,  had been Trump’s campaign CEO in 2016 and served as White House chief adviser in 2017. (To learn more about Bannon, see the Netflix  Errol Morris documentary “American Dharma.”)

According to prosecutors, Bannon, through a non-profit under his control, used more than $1 million from We Build the Wall to “secretly” pay Kolfage and cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon’s personal expenses.

Kolfage, according to the charges, spent more than $350,000 of the donations on personal expenses, including cosmetic surgery, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, payments toward a boat, home renovations, jewelry, personal tax payments and credit card debt.

Bannon, Kolfage and the other two defendants, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Bannon is the sixth member of Trump’s “inner circle” to face federal charges and/or go to jail.

Michelle Obama Is Keynote at DNC First Night Aug. 17, 2020

The Lincoln Project’s “Mourning in America” Paints a Picture of the U.S. Today

Biden: Building Back Better

(*The following Opinion piece is by famous Conservative columnist George Will and is being reprinted here after its appearance in the Quad City Times. Will writes for the Washington Post.)

Moments after becoming president on August 9, 1973, Gerald Ford said, “Our long national nightmare is over.” Having served a quarter-century in Congress, he understood that presidents are to “take care” that laws produced by the first branch of government are “faithfully executed.”  The nation in 1974 was eager for a collegial respite from the gladatorial strife that had consumed the country during urban disorders and the Watergate slew of scandals.

Joe Biden’s election will end National Nightmare 2.0, the nation’s second domestic debate in two generations. Thomas Hobbes supposedly said, is truth seen too late, and in 2020 the nation, having seen it in the nick of time, will select for the Oval Office someone who, having served 36 years sixteen blocks to the east, knows this: A complex nation cannot be governed well without the lubricating conciliations of a healthy legislative left.

Biden won the Democrats’ nomination by soundly defeating rivals who favored—or, pandering, said they favored—a number of niche fixations (eg., abolishing ICE, defunding the police.) He clinched his nominations earlier and easier than did the winners in the Democrats’ most recent intensely contested nomination competitions (Barack Obama against Hillary Clinton in 2008; Clinton against Bernie Sanders in 2016).

Biden does not endorse Medicare for All:  He understands, as some competitors for the nomination amazingly did not, that for several decades organized labor’s most important agenda has been negotiating employer-provided health care as untaxed compensation.  Similarly, Biden does not oppose fracking, which provides many of the 300,000 Pennsylvania jobs supported by the oil and gas industry, and many others in Ohio and elsewhere.  He understands, as some progressives seem not to, that presidential elections are won not by pleasing the most intense faction but by assembling a temperate coalition.

Biden has not endorsed packing the Supreme Court: When Franklin Roosevelt, after carrying 46 of 48 states in 1936, tried that maneuver, the blowback in the 1938 Congressional elections erased his liberal legislating majority in Congress, and coalitions of conservative (mostly Southern) Democrats and Republicans prevailed until President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide produced a liberal congressional majority—briefly.

Biden came to the Senate 8 years later, in the aftermath.  In 1965 and 1966, Democrats wielding lopsided congressional majorities (295 to 140 in the House, 68 t32 in the Senate) had hinged beyond majority public opinion.  Voters’ retribution included Republican victories in 5 of the next 6 presidential elections.  Also, Biden was Vice President in 2010 when the electorate, after just 2 years of unified government under Democrats ended it.

One of Biden’s closest confidants, who has an agreeable preference for anonymity, says that Biden was initially ambivalent about seeking the 2020 nomination but “Charlottesville put him over the edge.”  The confidant refers to the violence provoked by the August 2017 anti-Semitic demonstrators, and to Donald Trump’s assessment that ther were “very fine people on both sides.”

The confidant calls Biden “a relief pitcher—he’s warming up in the bullpen right now,” preparing an administration with “a broad array of people.”  The confidante recommends taking seriously Biden’s campaign slogan ‘Building Back Better.‘ The “Back” acknowledges the national desire for reassurance “that the world, as they knew it, is recoverable.”

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

Many of Trump’s current campaign ads portray a dark fraying America.  They evoke the “hell hole” America that DJT described in 2015 that presaged his inaugural address reference to “American carnage.”  Biden’s optimistic ads suggest that although it is not now, it soon could again be, “Morning in America.”

Trump apologists say that prior to Covid-19, all was well.  “All” means only economic metrics: An American is supposedly homo economicus, interested only in consumption to the exclusion of civic culture.  And never mind a pre-pandemic $1 trillion deficit–at full employment.

Such apologists insist that Democratic  administrations jeopardize prosperity.  So these apologists are not merely projecting their one-dimensional selves onto their more well-rounded compatriots, they are ignoring 120 years of inconvenient data (as noted by Jeff Sommer in the New York Times):  “Since 1900, the stock market has fared far better under Democratic presidents with a 6.7% annualized return for the Dow Jones Industrial average compared with just 3.5% under Republicans.”

Nixon’s “imperial presidency” included Ruritanian White House uniforms, which did not survive nationwide snickering.  Gerald Ford’s presidential modesty produced reports of something that was remarkable only because it was remarked upon:  At breakfast, Ford popped his own English muffins into the presidential toaster.

Forty-six years later, an exhausted nation is again eager for manifestations of presidential normalcy.

Donald J. Trump and His Racist History

Trump has a long history of racist controversies

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

  • 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
  • 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
  • 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of “stripping the United States of economic dignity.” This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
  • 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four Black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
  • 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
  • 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • 1993: In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”
  • 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”
  • 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a Black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’”
  • 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
  • 2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, “Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.”
  • 2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first Black president — was not born in the US. He even sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a ”carnival barker.” (The research has found a strong correlation between “birtherism,” as this conspiracy theory is called, and racism.) Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.
  • 2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

 

This Ad Says It All

What’s Trump Been Up To? GOP Against Trump’s New Ad

Tune In to Weekly Wilson, the Podcast on Thursday Nights (7 p.m., CDT)

Home podcast office in Texas.

The upcoming guest list for the Weekly Wilson podcast on the Bold Brave Media Global Network, while subject to changes in these uncertain times, looks like this through mid-May:

April 2, Thursday, 7 p.m. CDT – Texas author Charlotte Canion will speak with Connie about her book, “You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying,” which is about coping with elderly parents when you may have health issues of your own.

April 9, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Film star Eric Roberts and his wife Eliza (also an actress) are re-scheduled after the shutdown of the network caused the cancellation. We’ll talk about Eric’s storied career, his role in “Lone Star Deception” and other topics of interest.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

April 16, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Ed Dezevallos, Executive Producer of “Lone Star Deception” and the force behind a series of instructional videos for young people called www.soyouwanttobe.org will drop by.

April 23, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Dr Bill Kohl, an epidemiologist in charge of the University of Texas in Austin’s response to the Corona virus, will share insights and information.

April 30, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Jennifer Berliner, heart transplant and cancer survivor and blogger (www.anewheartrocks.com) will share various tips regarding “sheltering in place” and remaining positive in the face of adversity. (Read up on Jennifer’s background at her blog)

May 7, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – TBA

May 15, Thursday, 7 p.m., CDT – Author Michael Serrapica returns to talk politics with Connie.

As always, listeners can find the podcast (Thursdays, 7 p.m. CDT on the Bold Brave Media Global Network) and phone in “live” at 866-451-1451.

Trump’s Statements Through This Crisis Tell the Truth (Which He Doesn’t)

The Covid-19 Coronavirus was first reported on December 1, 2019, in China by a courageous physician, Dr. Li Wenliang, who told other physicians that a SARS-like illness was spreading. For his concern, he was arrested along with 6 others and obliged to apologize for “spreading rumors.” Dr. Li Wenliang died of COVID-19 on February 7th. Until January 5th, the Chinese government engaged in a cover-up. As late as January 15th, official sources were saying the risk was low and that human-to-human transmission had not been proven. Only on January 23rd, 6 weeks in, did China quarantine Wuhan.

Back in the U.S. of A.:

January 22, 2020 – “We have it totally under control.” (DJT)

February 2, 2020 – “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

Two times in February, Trump said that “When we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”

February 26, 2020 – (Over 60 cases diagnosed) – “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 28, 2020 – (In South Carolina): “This is their new hoax. (Blaming the Democrats for the Chinese COVID-19 virus.)

March 6, 2020 – Continuation of the theme that the virus was “a hoax.” and “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” Repetition of a “fake news/Ukraine” theme saying that the tests were “beautiful” and “The tests were all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect, right?”

March 7, 2020 – asked if he was concerned about the virus, Trump replied, “No, we’ve done a great job.”

Two days after declaring that the virus was “under control” Trump declared himself “a war-time president” and said, “I’ve always know this is a real—this is a pandemic.  I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” He also gleefully proclaimed himself as “getting it” and being extremely good at understanding the epidemic.

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

Will November’s voters remember the criminal dishonesty that permitted this pestilence to hit us so very hard and kept us from preparing for the eventuality for so very long? Coupled with the damage to our national parks, our environment, our very planet, our alliances, our economy now (post-pandemic), with the evidence that management is not DJT’s forte, will informed voters finally get the message that drafting this guy was a bad idea? His remarks about opening up for business as usual have alarmed health experts, with the stated date being Easter—only a couple weeks away.

For the moment, the graphs and charts showing how GREAT our economy was doing—[supposedly all because of Trump, although the last 36 months of President Obama’s tenure showed an uptick after his saving of the economy from the housing collapse of 2007-2008]—have stopped. That is the only “good” thing I can point to from a worldwide epidemic that should show very clearly the true colors of the man who is unfit to lead a nation, let alone 4 bankrupt businesses. The second good thing to come from it will be if this ousts Trump from power.

The petty actions towards the Governors of Washington state and Michigan speak volumes. The failure to have bi-partisan shows of support for the stimulus bill when it was signed in the Oval Office: small and unpresidential. The grasping, ridiculous mewling of GOP Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and 2 others delaying the passage of the stimulus bill on the floor of the Senate far into the morning (1:30 a.m.). The only voice of reason seemed to be Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

What were Lindsey and Cruz so upset about? The stimulus package might give South Carolina workers $23 an hour for an hourly wage and, according to Graham, workers could be hired there for $15 an hour, largely because the minimum wage has been stalled for nearly a decade. And this was a problem why? Well, because, for 4 months (a finite period of time for the stimulus package), the citizens of South Carolina (whom Lindsey obviously thinks are a bunch of slackers) would rather NOT work than work, because of the pay difference. No thought given to those who welcome a return to normalcy and having something to do, including some structure in their lives.

Meanwhile, New Orleans needs 20,000 ventilators and has only received 200. Mardi Gras Parades, as usual, were, perhaps, not such a good idea. New York’s Governor Cuomo asked for 30 or 40,000 ventilators and had to argue with DJT over whether it needs that many. Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are new “hot spots,” but New York is the worst. Parts of New York might be put under quarantine by the man who allowed this disaster to become worse, our president Donald J. Trump. Of course, the quarantine did not come up during a conversation between the Governor (Cuomo) and the President, as per usual. Management, transparency, and communication are not this president’s forte, as we know from the failure of his administration’s top-ranking officials to come to Congress when asked.

In Chicago, 3,000 cases wiith 34 deaths. Mayor Lori Lightfoot had to shut down beaches and Lake Shore Drive’s jogging trail. Young people are showing up in hospitals, like Rush. Dr. Omar Lateef, President & CEO of Rush University Medical Center expressed concern. Over 400 new cases in the past 24 hours, including within the jail population—one of the largest in the nation.640,589 cases worldwide, 111, 684 in the U.S. 1,850 deaths in the U.S. versus 29,848 worldwide. 138 people on board a cruise ship off the coast of Panama are sick. Delta is waiving costs for health care workers who are traveling to help volunteer in hard-hit states. All Nevada businesses closed by the Governor for 30 days. Los Angeles cases tripled in three days. Elon Musk took it upon himself to fly 1200 respirators to California from China. A hospital ship now sits offshore (The Mercy) of Los Angeles with 12 fully functioning medical operation rooms and a similar ship sits off the shores of New York City.

And so it goes when you elect a Con-man who is untrustworthy and he ends up heading up a nation during a national crisis. We all held our breaths when DJT was pronounced the winner of the presidency in the electoral college and hoped that he could continue skating on the thin ice that buoyed the economy—for a while.

Joe Biden in Independence, Iowa, on the Fourth of July, 2019.

Beyond the embarrassment we feel whenever Donald J. Trump unleashes his thin-skinned temper at an unsuspecting reporter or insults the Governor of a state for no good reason, beyond the jockeying for position our national leader displayed for the world to see, [shouldering aside the leader of Montenegro so he would be first in the picture at an international meeting]—those embarassments fade in comparison with statements that misled a nation with only a brief window of time to prepare, to get ready, to be prepared (as the Boy Scout oath says) for a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

My mother lived through the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. She was eleven, the same age as my twin granddaughters are now. I remember her stories of how only half of her sixth grade class returned to school after schools resumed and how flatbed trucks circulated in Hospers, Iowa, to pick up the dead bodies.

DJT blew this. Big time. Like the cheating husband who tries to win back his wife after infidelity with promises of better behavior in the future, DJT has not been equal to the challenge; people are dying because of it.

Future President of the United States?

Remember that in November when you vote. Before then, try to see the documentary “Kill Chain:  The Cyber War on America’s Elections” to prepare yourselves for the extent of the cheating that will occur this time around.

 

 

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