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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January 13th is Historic Second Impeachment of Donald J. Trump

“Never trust politicians.

They are craven.

It’s an occupational attribute.”

So began Charles M Blow of the New York Times in his essay today.

I could relate to Mr. Blow, an African American essayist.

I wrote this poem, entitled “Words” when I was 16 years old, in Independence, Iowa:

If fewer words were spoken,

If fewer words were said,

If deeds alone were the mark of a man,

Not the ‘catch’ of an eloquent pledge.

If fewer words were spoken,

If fewer words were said,

If, for all the fake forensics, there were simple words instead,

And a man stated just what he started to state,

Without false fuss or further ado.

If you weren’t a politician,

I’d probably listen to you.

So, I’m in agreement with Charles M. Blow as he continued:

“Sure, there are some politicians who are good people, who tell the truth most of the time and choose careers in politics for the right reasons—public service rather than political aggrandizement.

“We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 2020)

But power, as a genre, is about power. And power corrupts. (*And absolute power corrupts absolutely).

Generally speaking, the higher up the political ladder a politician climbs, the more vicious they have had to be, and the more viciousness they have had to endure.”

As a young girl, going around with my Democratic father to help put up yard signs, I remember him saying to me, a then elementary-school-aged child, “Stay away from politics, Con. It’s a dirty business.”

Charles Blow continued:  “Politicians have had to shake more and more hands to raise the obscene amounts of money now needed to run campaigns, and they have likely had to make unsavory compromises in order to protect their own advancement.

I do not seek to draw a false equivalence between the political parties in America. While I find all politicians suspect, the utter moral collapse of Republican conscience and character under Donald Trump still stands out as an outrageous aberration.

Republican politicians, by and large, knew how lacking in every aspect Donald Trump was, not just in experience, but also character, morality and intellect.  Many said as much before he was elected.

Ted Cruz called Trump ‘utterly amoral,’ a ‘serial philanderer,’ and ‘a narcissist at a level that I don’t think this country has ever seen.’ He also said of Trump:
‘This man is a pathological liar.  He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies.  He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.’

Lindsey Graham said:  ‘He’s a race-baiting xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party.  He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.’

Marco Rubio said: ‘We’re on the verge of having someone take over the conservative movement who is a con artist,’ and called Trump, ‘the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency.’

All of this was true  When these people were Trump’s opponents in the quest for the nomination, none of them shied away from telling the truth about him.  Now they have been cowed into obsequiousness.

Trump didn’t change, but his relationship to power did: when he won he had it, and the Republicans swarmed to him like moths to a flame, [or more like vultures to a corpse].

Power, in politics, changes everything.  Politicians are desperate for power the way a drowning person is desperate for air.  But in politics, there are levels of proximity:  The closer you are, the stronger you are  You can possess or be in proximity to it.

Republicans in Washington turned their backs on everything they believed.  Trump created a mob.  He recruited traditional conservatives into it.  He was in full control of it.

To a politician, a mob can look like a movement.   It can look like power. So, they caved to that which they could consort with: they feigned ignorance of the ways they had accurately derided Trump so that, one day, they might harness the white nationalist throngs he unleashed.”

 

I attended a rally for Jeb Bush back in Davenport, Iowa at St. Ambrose University, accompanied by a Republican friend, and we listened to Jeb Bush (in 2016) say, “You can’t insult your way to the White House.” As it turns out, Jeb was wrong, and you actually CAN insult your way to the White House and remain there for 4 long years insulting friends and foe alike! And some of those insults were aimed at our long-time allies, which is even more damaging.

Republicans put their personal ambitions over the preservation of America.  Maybe they thought that whatever damage Trump did would be easily repaired, so they would simply trudge through it until his time in office was at its end.

Well, it is now at its end, and he seems to be doing more damage than ever—or as much damage as ever.

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a shocking thing to behold.  But so much of what has occurred during  the Trump presidency has been shocking.

There is no telling what Trump might attempt to do in his final days in office.”

 

“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” sixth book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

For those of us who have read his niece, Mary Trump’s, book “Too Much and Never Enough” or have viewed “Unfit,” Dan Partland’s fine Amazon documentary, we realize that there is nothing this man, this criminal, will stop at. Nothing.

“Even if Trump leaves office without further damage, the damage he has done is lasting and many of the people who blindly support him will persist. (The militias, the Proud Boys, QAnon, the white nationalists, are not going away).

We may be getting rid of Trump. But we are not getting rid of “Trumpism.” The aftertaste of this toxic presidency will linger.

Now we have to ask a very serious question:  What do we do now as a society and as a body politic?  Do we simply turn the page and hope for a better day, “let bygones be bygones”? (It seems, to me that most Republicans speaking on the floor today want to simply sweep aside what has occurred, punish the common street flunkies who are being rounded up, but ignore the head of the serpent, DJT.) Or do we seek some form of justice, to hold people accountable for taking this country to the brink? (And let it be known that this extends to those at the very top.)

I say that we must prosecute all people who have committed crimes and punish all those who have broken rules.  The rule of law can’t simply be for the common man. It must also be for the exalted man.  Because only then will the ideas of fairness and justice for all have meaning.

 

January 6th: How Lying to the U.S. for 4 Years Can Create Chaos

The Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board (Austin, TX) posted this on Sunday, January 10, 2021:

“We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 2020)

Politicians stretch the truth all the time. Some lies, though, are so big that they can pull at the seams of a nation, pit its people against one another, leave a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, and render a police officer and a rioter dead.

President Trump’s wild-eyed claim of a stolen election is just such a lie. And a lie doesn’t grow that big or that dangerous being tended by just one man. Eager to flatter Trump or afraid to displease him, much of the Republican Party leadership repeated this lie for the better part of the last two months, giving it oxygen and a glint of legitimacy in the eyes of Trump supporters.   Belief in that lie—that their country needed saving—led to rioters assaulting the Capitol on Wednesday, as members of Congress undertook their Constitutional duty to finalize the election results.

Repairs are underway at the ransacked Capitol, the backdrop for President Biden’s January 20th Inauguration. Repairs for our divided nation will prove more difficult. The events of this past week, indeed, of the past four years, remind us how powerful words and lies can be, and how fragile our democracy is.

This moment calls for accountability and truth. Both seem in perilously short supply in today’s Republican party.  It is unclear whether Trump will be dislodged before Biden takes office. But the doubts and conspiracy theories Trump has sown will not expire with his term.  They will fester and poison the body politic unless GOP leaders heed the words of Senator Mitt Romney (R, Utah):  “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth! That’s the burden, that’s the duty of leadership.”

Too many of our leaders have shunned that burden. They prefer to chase the adulation of their political base, to stoke the manufactured controversies that animate fundraising e-mails, than do the tough work of governing. They have forgotten that public service is about service.

Unfit for office since Day One, Trump has been the worst offender, but hardly the only one.

Senator Ted Cruz fueled Trump’s election lie, leading the charge Wednesday to block certain states’ election results, knowing that Congress had no authority or justification to disenfranchise millions of voters. If he had any shame, he would resign, but we know Cruz has no shame.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also fueled that lie, filing a spurious lawsuit last month asking the Supreme Court last month to toss four states’ election results, then returning to Washington on Wednesday to tell Trump supporters, “We will not quit fighting.”

After that crowd laid siege to the Capitol, our state’s (Tx) chief law enforcement officer shielded their sedition with another lie, claiming on social media that those who stormed the Capitol were not Trump supporters, but members of the left-wing Anti-Fa movement.

If he had any shame, Paxton would have resigned years ago, when he was indicted for securities fraud, or months ago when the FBI began investigating charges of bribery and corruption.  But we know Paxton has no shame.

The list of Trump’s abettors runs deep.  Governor Greg Abbott cheering on Paxton’s election lawsuit. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick offering cash rewards for claims of voter fraud. Central Texas Representatives John Carter of Round Rock, Pete Sessions of Waco and Roger Williams of Austin, who returned to the Capitol after Wednesday’s insurrection, tear gas residue still clinging to the walls, and voted exactly as the rioters wanted. All of them lent credence to an alternate reality of rampant voter fraud, knowing full well that multiple voter recounts, dozens of judges, and Trump’s own cyber-security chief and his own attorney general had affirmed the election results were valid.

Mitt Romney: Presidential Front-runnerVoters will deliver their verdicts on these officials in due time. In the meantime, we all need for our leaders to pull back from the brink, to dispense with the lies that incite lawlessness

We need hearty debate, of course. Discussions on tax policies and environmental policies and most crucially the path out of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to kill a record number of Americans each day. But we cannot have those debates, and reach some resolution, if we don’t accept the legitimacy of the elections that put those leaders in office.

Once the recounts and court rulings have upheld an election, we cannot allow the lie of a stolen election to persist.  Republican officials have an obligation now to tell the truth, to accept the presidential election didn’t go their way, and to recognize it was a free and fair election all the same.

No doubt that will infuriate those who steadfastly believe the lie: Feed the lie, legitimize the mob, watch our democracy burn.

 

 

 

AntiFa Activists Not Responsible for the Insurrection at the Capitol

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

Immediately after the breaching of the Capitol by Trump supporters, I experimented and checked to see if Fox was covering it (A: No, at that time). I went out on Twitter and Facebook to see what was being said. (A: “It was AntiFa!“)

Let the truth go forth.

To steal a line from the Austin American-Statesman editorial page, “This moment calls for accountability and truth.”

The truth is that Antifa is not to blame for the insurrection of January 6th. Here are some excerpts of the article that a Texas paper, the Austin American-Statesman, ran, proving that conclusively:

Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, addressed the large “Save America” rally (which disgraced radio D.J. Alex Jones says his company paid for) saying, “Those who stormed the Capitol yesterday were not Trump supporters. They have been confirmed to be Antifa.” He cited a tweet by Paul Sperry, a right-wing journalist, and a “Washington Times” article, stating that, “Facial recognition firm claims antifa infiltrated Trump protesters who stormed the Capitol.”

There was an incorrect Tweet that said a bus of Antifa thugs had infiltrated the peaceful demonstration.

The truth? NO….there was no bus of Antifa thugs and the “Washington Times” article, published about 8:15 p.m. by opinion writer Rowan Scarborough, has been debunked. The “Times” article cited some unnamed retired military officer, who cited a firm called XRVision, which, he said, used its facial recognition software to I.D. Antifa members

The newspaper has since retracted the erroneous report. However, Matt Graetz (R, FL) cited it later that day on the House floor, saying it was true when it was not, much like the accusations about the fraudulent election.

XRVision, a facial recognition technology company based in Singapore, has announced to PolitiFact and BuzzFeed News that it sent a cease and desist letter to the Washington Times, asking for a retraction and an apology. They did acknowledge that SRVision software identified 2 members of a neo-Nazi organization and a QAnon supporter, but not members of Antifa.  The company said that the imagery was distributed only to a handful of company members for private consumption, only. The results announced by the media (and Matt Graetz) were erroneous.

XRVision said: “XRVision takes pride in its technology’s precision and deems the Washington Times publication as outright false, misleading, and defamatory.”

A correction was issued by the newspaper about 5:30 p.m. Thursday. PolitFact submitted this statement:  “The Washington Times erroneously reported late Wednesday that facial recognition technology backed up that speculation and identified 2 Antifa members.  In fact, XRVision has not identified any members of that far-left movement as being part of the attack.”

The pro-Trump channel OAN showed a head shot picture (amongst a crowd) of a dark-haired man they said was a member of Antifa. They gave his name as John (something). It is probable that this mis-identification from that station hinged on the erroneous story.

This is a typical Trump tactic. Always blame someone or something else. I’m just surprised that they haven’t brought up Hillary’s e-mails.

How Did We Get Here? What’s Happened to the GOP?

I don’t know how many of you reading this digital page still get a REAL newspaper (i.e., paper) and, if you do get one, is it the Quad City Times?

Since I am (currently) reading the Austin American-Statesman, a 150-year-old newspaper that was named Texas Newspaper of the Year 3 times and won national reocognition for investigative reporting from the National Headliners, the Online News Association, and the Investigative Reporters and Editors, in addition to hundreds of state awards, I’ve been sharing some of the editorials highlighted in that paper.

Let me be clear: these are “the best” of the editorials I read on a regular, daily basis, and, if you, like me, find that many of the newspapers whose editorials you would most like to read are behind a “pay wall,” this is a service to those who really want to be informed.

The New York Times’ Paul Krugman wrote this editorial entitled “HOW DID WE GET HERE?  WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?” and you won’t face a pay wall to read it (below):

HOW DID WE GET HERE? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GOP?

“Don’t touch the chair arms!” (say with spirit). Me, in Sydney, Australia, for my dedicated Australian reader! (All one of you!)

“There have always been people like Donald Trump:  self-centered, self-aggrandizing, believing that the rules apply only to the little people and that what happens to the little people doesn’t matter.

The modern GOP, however, isn’t like anything we’ve seen before, at least in American history.  If there’s anyone who wasn’t already persuaded that one of our 2 major political parties has become an enemy, not just of democracy, but of truth, events since the election should have ended their doubts.

It’s not just that a majority of House Republicans and many Republican senators were backing Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss, even though there is no evidence of fraud or widespread irregularities. (*If you watched into the wee hours—3, 4 a.m., as I did, on Wednesday—you know that there were still substantial numbers of Republicans who argued against confirming Pennsylvania’s counted electoral votes.Look at the way David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler campaigned in the Senate run-offs in Georgia.

They weren’t running on issues or even on real aspects of their opponents’ personal history.  Instead, they claimed, with no basis in fact, that their opponents are Marxists or “involved in child abuse.” That is, the campaigns to retain Republican control of the Senate were based on lies. (*Fortunately, the GOP efforts based on blatant lies, failed and Ossoff and Warnock were elected, but, still…)

On Sunday, Mitt Romney excoriated Ted Cruz and other Congressional Republicans’ attempts to undo the presidential election, asking, “Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”  But what principle does Romney think the GOP stood for in recent years?  It’s hard to see anything underlying recent Republican behavior beyond the pursuit of power by any means available.

So how did we get here?  What happened to the Republican Party?

The party’s degradation has been obvious for those willing to see it, for many years. (*As the child of a Democratic office-holder in the 30s and 40s, I’m old enough to see how the Republican party has changed since the days of Bob Dole, Ike, and other admirable GOP leaders.)

Way back in 2003, I wrote that Republicans had become a radical force hostile to America as it is, potentially aiming for a one-party state in which “elections are only a formality.” (*Think Ted Cruz’s remarks on the Senate floor just before all Hell broke loose in that august body, where he was proposing appointing a 10-day investigatory commission a la the Hays-Tilden election of 1876, to circumvent the will of the people in voting).

In 2012, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein warned that the GOP was “unmoved by conventional understanding of facts” and “dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

If you’re surprised by the eagerness of many in the party to overturn an election based on specious claims of fraud, you weren’t paying attention.

But what is driving the Republican descent into darkness?

Is it a populist backlash against elites?  It’s true that there’s resentment over a changing economy that has boosted highly educated metropolitan areas at the expense of rural and small-town America. Trump received 46% of the vote, but the counties he won represented only 29% of America’s economic output.  There’s also a lot of white backlash over the nation’s growing diversity. (*”The Browning of America”).

The past 2 months have, however, been an object lesson in the extent to which “grassroots” anger is actually being orchestrated from the top.  If a large part of the Republican base believes, groundlessly, that the election was stolen, it’s because that’s what leading figures in the party have been saying. Now politicians are citing widespread skepticism about the election results as a reason to reject the outcome—but they, themselves, conjured that skepticism out of thin air.

And what’s striking if you look into the background of the politicians stoking resentment against (so-called) “elites” is how privileged many of them are.  Josh Hawley (R, MO), the first senator to declare that he would object to certification of the election results, rails against elites but is, himself, a graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School.  Ted Cruz has degrees from Princeton and Harvard.

The point isn’t that they’re hypocrites.  It is that these aren’t people who have been mistreated by the system. So why are they so eager to bring the system down?

I don’t think it’s just cynical calculation, a matter of playing to the base (*and potentially bolstering their own chances for a race in 2024).  My best guess is that we’re looking at a party that has gone feral—that has been cut off from the rest of society.

People have compared the modern GOP to organized crime or a cult, but, to me, Republicans look more like the lost boys in “Lord of the Flies.” They get their information from partisan sources (*Fox, OAN, Parler) that simply don’t report inconvenient facts.  They don’t face adult supervision because, in a polarized political environment, there are few competitive races.

So they’re increasingly inward-looking, engaged in ever more outlandish efforts to demonstrate their loyalty to the tribe.  Their partisanship isn’t about issues, although the party remains committed to cutting taxes on the rich and punishing the poor. It’s about asserting the dominance of the “in” group and punishing outsiders.

The big question is how long America as we know it can survive in the face of this malevolent tribalism. (*Note: It’s not surprising that in the wake of a woefully mishandled pandemic, 400,000 dead citizens that Trump’s neglect of duty and poor example make him complicit in their demise, the resulting cratering of the economy, and long lines of Americans out of work and waiting literally hours in food lines, there is a sense of urgency and despair that is surfacing. The unbelievable thing is  the misguided belief that “more of the same” is the cure.)

The attempt to undo the presidential election went on far longer and attracted much more support than almost anyone predicted.  And unless something happens to break the grip of anti-democratic, anti-truth forces on the GOP, one day they will succeed in killing the American experiment.

Our Wounds Are Deep: Let’s Bind Them Up!

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

On the heels of the data from the state of Texas that the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine is not set up in an equitable fashion (so far, nobody knows how, when, or where to get a shot), I read Eugene Robinson’s essay about Donald J. Trump’s attempt to overthrow our democracy. It originally appeared in the Washington Post.

Texas, where I currently am, is supposed to receive a total of about 200,000 doses of the vaccine next week. An Austin American Statesman review of the state’s online map of COVID-19 vaccine providers found that all but a handful of local providers are west of I-35. For decades, being east or west of I-35 has represented a racial and class divide in Austin.

None of the vaccination sites are in the city’s lowest-income and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, while there are 16 distribution sites in an area bounded by I-35, MoPac Boulevard, Lady Bird Lake and FM2222. Hmmmmm.

A record number of Texans are hospitalized: 13,784 across the state, setting a new record for the 5th day in a row. In Texas, only 552 beds remain available. The number in Travis County had dropped from 34 ICU spots to 24 in one day recently. These statistics are for those back in Illinois, where we also spend half our time.

On Thursday, the state health agency reported 19,598 new COVID-19 cases here in Texas.

Back in Illinois, there were 9,277 new cases, to bring the Illinois total to 1, 017, 322 known infections and 17,395 deaths, with 126 of those deaths occurring just today in Illinois.

“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” sixth book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

Democrats are urging that all doses of the vaccine be administered now, rather than holding back doses for the second round of shots, which is in contrast to the Trump plan.

Against this tumultuous backdrop of a pandemic that has killed more people than died during WWII, against the backdrop of January 6th’s insurrection attempt by Donald J. Trump to wrest control of the presidency from the duly-elected president, came this insightful essay by Eugene Robinson, a Black American and an eloquent writer.

Eugene Robinson’s essay for the Washington Post was entitled “Trump Has Wounded Us.  It Will Take Time to Recover.” Here it is:

“Let’s be clear:  What happened Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol was an attempted coup d’etat, egged on by a lawless president desperately trying to cling to power and encouraged by his cynical Republican enablers in Congress.

It was perhaps inevitable that President Donald Trump’s chaotic and incompetent tenure in office would end with riots and tear gas.  Not since British Major Gen. Robert Ross set fire to the president’s residence and the Capitol building in 1814 have we seen such a scene at the hallowed citadel of our democracy, as an angry and disillusioned mob—whipped into a frenzy by Trump himself—forced its way into the Capitol to disrupt the official certification of Trump’s electoral defeat.

Images from this shameful day will endure forever:  Crowds storming the security barricades, overwhelming outnumbered and seemingly unprepared Capitol police, and breaking windows to pour into the seat of American power.  Police officers inside the House of Representatives chamber, guns drawn and aimed at the main doors, where protesters threatened to force their way inside.  A scarf-draped rioter sitting smugly in the chair where, an hour earlier, Vice President Mike Pence had presided over the Senate.

The central act of our democracy—the peaceful and orderly transfer of power—was not allowed to take place.  Blame the rioters themselves, who must take responsibility for their own actions.  But blame Trump above all.

And blame the Republican members of Congress who sought to boost their own political fortunes by validating Trump’s self-serving paranoid fantasies.

I mean you, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.  And you, Sen. Ted Cruz.  And you, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.  And all the rest who thought that the way to succeed in GOP politics was to pretend to believe Trump’s lies rather than tell the nation the truth.

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

Trump told his MAGA legions that he didn’t really lose the election, that, in fact, he could not possibly have lost, and that somehow he would manage to remain their president for a second term.  First, various recounts would save him—until they all confirmed Joe Biden’s victory.  Then, it was going to be the certifications of the vote totals, but all the states certified their results. Then, it was going to be the courts that rode to the rescue, but courts at every level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, tossed out his frivolous lawsuits like so much scrap paper.

Finally, on January 6th,— or perhaps Pence, acting alone,— would surely throw out the electoral votes from states that Trump falsely claimed to have “won,” thus giving him the glorious victory he deserved.  He urged his followers to come to Washington to “Stop the Steal,” to keep Congress from doing its constitutional duty in counting the electoral votes.  And Hawley, Cruz, Scalise and scores of other congressional Republicans went along with this ridiculous fairy tale so as to not anger the president or his supports.

But then January 6th arrived.  Pence issued a statement early in the day making clear that he would obey the Constitution, not Trump’s autocratic wishes.  And the many thousands of Trump supports who had gathered on the Ellipse to hear Trump give a long and angry rant, and who obeyed his order to march on the Capitol, became a guided missile aimed at the heart of U.S. democracy. (*Note: was the “fix” in on guarding that heart? How did these thugs gain access to our most hallowed building, especially on the west side of the Capitol, where film exists of guards opening the barricades and welcoming the domestic terrorist hordes.)

They were like a doomsday cult when the appointed day arrives and the foretold asteroid does not strike.  Trump had convinced them he could not possibly lose, yet inside the Capitol he was losing.  They decided to prevent the transfer of power by force.  Shots were fired, and one person—a 14-year Air Force female veteran—was struck and killed (*Note: 5 have, so far, died in the riot). Tear gas was deployed.  The scenes were like those I saw in places like Paraguay and Peru as a foreign correspondent, and nothing like we’ve ever seen in the United States. (*Imagine how the rest of the world must regard us now!)

Future President of the United States?

President Biden gave a televised address calling for an end to the ‘insurrection’ and the restoration of ‘decency, honor, respect, the rule of law.’ Trump posted a desultory video statement on social media urging rioters to ‘go home’ but repeating his claims that the election was ‘stolen’ (and saying ‘we love you.’)

It is possible to see better days ahead.  Biden is a good man and a lifelong public servant.  Inauguration Day is just a little under 2 weeks away.

But somehow our damaged nation has to make it through those next 2 weeks.  Police and the National Guard are more than capable of re-establishing order in the streets. 

The wounds Trump has inflicted upon the nation, however, are ragged and deep.  We will be paying for the mistake of electing this bitter, twisted man as president for a long, long time.****

***

Finally, a suggestion:  If you have not secured your copy of either “Bee Gone: A Political Parable” or the youth-oriented version (available in both paperback and hardcover, but in hard cover only by contacting me), “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” this one book is going to be the best “memento” of the end of DJT’s reign of terror.

The books were written over 2 years of time, in rhyming fashion, to serve as Tina Fey-like humor aimed at defeating the man in the White House who had proven himself dangerously unstable early on. Humor is a powerful weapon, and Gary McCluskey and I spent 2 years putting the story of the Donald’s run against Hillary Clinton into verse—adding coloring book pages and puzzles to the end of the 6-book Christmas Cats in Silly Hats.

These books (with the exception of the hard cover version of “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee”) are available on Amazon and you can read more about the entire Christmas Cats 6-book series at ConnieCWilson.com. The series was intended to be a gift for my twin granddaughters and meant to teach young elementary-school aged children (ages 3 to 11) how to behave.

It has been extremely difficult, during Donald J Trump’s 4 years in office, to teach young people how to behave, because Trump does not know how to behave appropriately. He never has known how to behave in a responsible manner, and many books on his life prove this. My XmasCats.com series would end when the girls (scheduled to celebrate their twelfth birthday this coming Sunday) were too old to believe in Santa Claus. It ended with a book about a bee who tries to seize control of the hive from the Queen Bee, and was prophetic in its worker bee refrain about the rise of the insurrectionist, who dethrones the Queen Bee, causing the worker bee to say, “Oh, no!” said the worker bee, after his rise. “This really is awful. Our whole hive might die!”

As we close in on 400,000 deaths in this country, caused by incompetence and dereliction of duty at the top since January of 2020, the worker bee’s cry seems almost prophetic. In over 100 years, we have not seen a human tragedy as great as the pandemic and much of our status as the country affected the worst by the pandemic was caused by the poor stewardship of the ship of state.

And so the Christmas Cats series ended. But the series ended with a book that is a small microcosm of what was going on in our country when written. The entire Christmas Cats series is a wholesome, entertaining series, beautifully-illustrated by Gary McCluskey, but this final book in the series is the memento, the time capsule of our time. Order up a copy from Amazon and see for yourself. If you want a beautifully bound Ingram Spark hard cover version of the children’s version (“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee”) drop me a line. [My stash of such books is back in Illinois, but I’ll happily take orders for the hard cover version (that is NOT advertised on Amazon) and get them to you by next Christmas.]

There were 4,000 deaths yesterday (January 7th) and we lost 145,000 jobs. I support President Joe Biden’s efforts to avert catastrophe and to bring this country back to a semblance of calm and normalcy. I hope that all patriotic citizens are reading widely [and not just swallowing the one-sided, often false versions of various news organizations.]  Now, more than ever, we need to stick together and try to become informed members of our democracy, the United States of America.

 

January 6th: History Is Made on Capitol Hill During Ceremonial Meeting to Certify Election

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

Texas politicians have been involved in the contesting of the presidential election results far more than those of other states including: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (recently reported by his staff for taking bribes in the service of a wealthy realtor), U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert. The “Metro & State” portion of the Austin American Statesman, today, had an entire story entitled: “Four Texas Republicans Who Have Humiliated Us.”

Cruz is going to contest Arizona’s election returns today—in just a few moments, in fact, inside Capitol Hill on the Senate Floor. (See some of those remarks at the end of this article.) Gohmert has had various legal actions thrown out of court. Former Ken Paxton aides reported him to the FBI and then began resigning in droves. An anti-trust lawsuit against Google was underway, but now, because Paxton’s former deputies are all accusing him of crimes in the service of wealthy donor Nate Paul (an Austin real estate investor), Paxton is seeking $43 million to go forward with the Google lawsuit with outside legal help. Paxton hired outside firms to conduct the suit, saying, “The legal services cannot be adequately performed by the attorneys and supporting personnel of the attorney general’s office.”

This was not true before Paxton was reported for misconduct in office, as the Attorney General’s office had thousands of employees and Deputy Attorney General Darren McCarty was leading the investigation, prior to Paxton’s misconduct in office.  Mateer, McCarty and Ryan Bangert, another senior lawyer involved in the case, all resigned after reporting Paxton to the FBI. All 8 of Paxton’s accusers have quit or been fired and 4 alleged in a lawsuit that the attorney general created a hostile work environment, including deploying armed guards, to force them out.

Google, of course, has assembled “the best lawyers unlimited money can buy.” Now, Texas tax-payers are being asked to foot the bill for hiring outside counsel to the tune of millions. The allocated amount to pay the monthly bills is $43 million, if approved by the Legislature.  If Google doesn’t end up paying those charges, Texas will try to recoup its costs in court. A second firm (Keller Lenkner) has laid out a similar payment plan. Texas has the largest Republican-controlled state attorney general’s office in the country.  With roughly 750 lawyers and 4,000 total employees. It’s  for the state to hire outside counsel. Paxton most recently hired outside lawyers last month, for his failed suit seeking to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

Today, in the Austin American Statesman opinion piece (see below) entitled “Cruz’s Stunt Shows Contempt for Voters’ Will” the newspaper had this to say about all the shenanigans ongoing today on Capitol Hill:

“The Electoral College challenge planned by Senator Ted Cruz and other Republicans reeks of an audacious stunt, a desperate act to keep Donald Trump in the White House.

But this is no political game.  Something far greater is at stake here, something Americans hold dear: our nation’s standing as a democracy, the legitimacy of its government coming from the consent of the governed.

Cruz, a dozen other senators and about 140 Republicans in the U.S. House—including newly elected Rep. Pete Sessions, whose district includes a swath of northern Travis County, and Williamson County’s Rep. John Carter—plan Wednesday to stymie the confirmation of the Electoral college results.

They won’t succeed in preventing Joe Biden from being sworn in January 20th as president.  But they risk inflicting lasting and unspeakable damage, cratering the public’s confidence in our elections and deepening the partisan divides that make it harder for Americans to confront the pandemic, achieve an economic recovery and tackle other pressing challenges.

“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” sixth book in the Christmas Cats series (www.TheXmasCats.com).

No kidding. It’s amazing that number isn’t higher, given the barrage of disinformation from Trump and conspiracy theories on social media.  Equally disingenuous, Cruz says “the unprecedented allegations of voter fraud” demand Congress’ intervention, ignoring the lead role he and other GOP officials played in amplifying those baseless claims.

Cruz would have Americans believe that a new “Electoral Commission” is needed to scrutinize the elections administered and certified by the states, opening the door for legislatures to pick a different president than the people did.  Nevermind the fact that at least 86 judges across the political spectrum have heard—and dismissed—all claims of election irregularities.  Or the fact that former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election.  Or that a national coalition of election security officials, including some appointed by Trump, said “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Cruz’s crusade is not about election security  It’s about pandering to a diehard Trump base that he hopes will propel him to the White House in 2024.  It’s about the flurry of fundraising emails from Cruz, Carter and others seeking campaign donations to “join the fight”—as if it costs them anything to show up Wednesday and raise objections on the floor of Congress,

To no one’s surprise, Trump has handled defeat the same way he’s managed other political setbacks:  Spread lies and conspiracy theories.  Pressure key officials to bend the rules.  The appalling audio of Trump’s hour-long phone call last weekend with Georgia elections officials shows the leader of the free world demanding a “recalculation” of the votes to keep him in power–as if the results of an election were negotiable.

Trump’s antics have tested our nation’s commitment to self-governance and created a rift within the Republican Party.  Our democracy still stands because others within the GOP—from local elections officials to Republican-appointed judges—have shown their fidelity to the Constitution and the will of voters.

Laudably, a growing chorus of Congressional Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Chip Roy of Hays County, have refused to take part in challenging the election results on Wednesday.  In a statement with 6 other members of the U.S. House, Roy said taking such an action would “unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process…(and) would amount to stealing power from the people and the states.”

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).

Plenty of issues, from tax policies to judicial nominees, are fair game for partisan fights.  But the underpinnings of our democracy, the very notion that voters decide the elections must be sacrosanct.

Honoring the will of the voters should not be a Republican or a Democratic norm, but an American one.  The efforts to subvert that, first in failed lawsuits by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Rep. Louie Gohmert, now in the charge led by Cruz, are nothing short of seditious.

Cruz’ gambit on Wednesday will fail, too.

But what a shameful spectacle!

*******

“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids!” (Mitch McConnell) If we overrule the election results, we damage our democracy. This election was not even unusually close The electoral college count was almost identical to what it was in 2016.

If this election were overturned by unsupported allegations from the other side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. Every 4 years would be a scramble for power. If we overrule the voters, we can damage the Republic forever.

The effects would go even beyond the elections themselves. Self government requires a shared commitment to the truth and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system. We cannot keep drifting apart into 2 separate tribes with a separate set of facts with nothing in common but a respect for the common institutions we share.

Every time since 2000, said McConnell, such a dispute took place. Republicans condemned those baseless attacks back then, said McConnell. “There can be no double standard.” We must not imitate and escalate what we repudiate,” said McConnell. It must not be “an endless spiral of partisan venom.”

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

“Honor the people’s decision,” said McConnell. “Show that we can still muster the patriotic fervor not only in victory, but in defeat.”

“It would be unfair and wrong to overrule the voters on this extraordinarily thin premise.”

I will vote to defend our system of government as we know it”

(The above from Mitch McConnell)

******

From Chuck Schumer:

The Congress does not decide the outcome of elections; the people do.

American people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next Pres. and VP of the U.S. And yet a number of our colleagues have organized an effort to challenge our free and fair election. They have no evidence of widespread voter fraud to change our election. That’s because there is none. They know that President Trump and his allies have lost no fewer than 62 legal challenges, rendered by many Republican judges appointed by President Trump.

In the process of objecting, they will embarrass themselves, their party and the United States of America. Merely accepting the results of an election is considered an act of political courage.

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

That anyone, much less an elected official, would be willing to tarnish our democracy in order to burnish their personal political future, senators of good will from both sides of the aisle will explain why these challenges must be dismissed.

What message will we send today? What message will we send to every dark corner of the world where elections are stolen? What will we show those people? Will we show them that truth matters. There will always be a stronger coalition ready to push back, ready to defend everything we hold dear.

Let those words ring in the ears of every Senator. Let us do our duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help us God.”

(From Chuck Schumer)

****

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.

From Ted Cruz:

We have seen and will continue to see a great deal of moralizing from both sides of the aisle. We are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis. Recent polling show that 39% of Americans believe that the election was rigged. That is a profound threat to this country and any administrations that will come.

I believe that there is a better way. Let me be clear: I am not arguing for setting aside the results of this election.

The Hays-Tilden election of 1876 appointed a 10-day investigatory commission. (Cruz wants to establish such a commission).

 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to You !

Stacey opens a present.

Today was two days after Christmas in Austin (Tx). It was 78 degrees at the airport.

The holiday has also provided other 70+ days—all sunny—and, since arriving in early December, there have been at least 2 83 degree days.

We celebrated Christmas Eve at my son’s house opening presents and, on Christmas Day, between the two households, we prepared a feast of prime rib, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn on the cob, salad, rolls and a mixed berry pie with ice cream.

We have played euchre, rummy, Code Word, Upwords, Monopoly and Scrabble.

Daughter Stacey traveled in from Nashville. While here, Nashville suffered the explosion. This affected her Dec. 28th start on a new job, so she traveled back one day later than planned.

Everyone liked the presents they received and we have gone back and forth to each other’s homes, dining, playing games (in some cases, outisde) and it has been a stress-free holiday period. It is the culmination of the cancellation of all holidays since Halloween

Craig, Stacey, Connie,
Wrigley the dog, Elise and Ava

Sad news reached me concerning the death of my first cousin (Rollie Monson’s) son’s death while hunting (a heart attack) and my former brother-in-law, Ed Castelein, had a stroke.

Otherwise, no news is good news and, aside from trips to my son’s house, we have remained close to home.

Happy New Year upcoming on Thursday!

Sunset.

Podcast Guests in December Limned

Tonight’s guest on the 7 p.m. (CDT) Weekly Wilson podcast is Dylan Kai Dempsey, a New York-based writer/filmmaker and film critic.  He covers all the major festivals and his reviews have been published in “Vanity Fair,” “Variety,” “NoFilmSchool,” “Nonfiction.fr” and “IonCinema.com.

In addition, Dylan is developing a graphic novel, #LikesforLukas” plus a TV series based on his own award-winning pilot script.

Dylan has also taught film, both at Tufts University, his alma mater, and in Paris.  He began hi career as a development intern for Bona Fide Productions in Los Angeles and Rainmaker Productions in London.

Tune in “live” tonight (Thursday, December 10th) as Dylan and I discuss the future of cinema: “Can the movies survive the pandemic?” “If they do, what will the theaters of the future be like?”

On December 17th, the guest will be Quad City author Sean Leary, talking about his newest book.

On December 24th and December 31st, since those dates are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, respectively, you can expect re-runs of some of the previous 37 interviews done since February of 2020, with the replays available, as always on the blog and on the Bold Brave Media Global Network blog.

January will see some more political discussions as a new president is sworn in. What will happen between now and January 20th? Stay tuned for further developments and discussions.

Texas’ Lt. Gov./Texas’ Attorney General: Time for Changes Here?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 3:20 PM

From San Antonio; Reposted on Tuesday, Dec. 8th

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick - WIKIMDIA COMMONS / GAGE SKIDMORE

  • Wikimdia Commons / Gage Skidmore
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

After telling seniors they should be willing to risk contracting COVID-19 to protect the economy (see previous WeeklyWilson article), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t seem to be willing to make a similar sacrifice to serve in the Texas Legislature next year.

Hereford cattle on LBJ Ranch.

Patrick, 70, who presides over the upper chamber, informed state senators Friday that people testifying before committees may need to register three days ahead and take a quick-turnaround coronavirus test 24 hours before they’re allowed into the Capitol building, the Texas Tribune reports.

During past sessions, people have been able to sign up and speak on the same day.

Patrick, a Republican, discussed the safeguards on conference call with the Senate Democrat Caucus, the Tribune reports. During those discussions, Patrick he wants the National Guard to conduct the tests, handling 10 to 12 people per hour.
Such caution seems at odds with Patrick’s partisan pronouncements about COVID earlier this year during TV talk show appearances.

In addition to telling grandma and grandpa they should be willing to risk death to save the economy, Patrick downplayed Texas’ infection numbers and accused the media of ginning up panic. He also dismissed warnings from Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying the nation’s top infectious disease expert “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

And, to top off the crazy from Texas, where I currently am, the Attorney General of Texas, who is under indictment for Securities fraud and under investigation for bribery, filed a lawsuit alleging that the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona shouldn’t be allowed to confirm their votes on today’s “safe harbor” date (Dec. 8th) which comes in advance of the Dec. 14th vote of the electoral college. Supposedly, the man is angling for a pardon from the departing DJT and is a huge Trump loyalist.

Grape Creek Winery

It is Texas officials like these that drive one to travel far into the countryside (Fredricksburg) and visit wine tastings in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. Time for a change, politically, perhaps?

It was 75 degrees out today and, from the highway (I-290) we could see people swimming in their pool! We also decided to take a leisurely drive through LBJ’s old ranch, something the spouse and I had done but the son and daughter had not done.
Tomorrow, it is supposed to be 82 degrees. Not sure if this is a record, but it certainly beats the Illinois temperatures on a December day.
Aside from the wine tasting, daughter Stacey has traveled to Austin to be with us and her brother took off half a day of work to join us on our wine-tasting adventure. Then, we watched Iowa (#3 nationally) beat North Carolina (#16 nationally) in basketball. Following that, the younger members of the family got in the hot tub, but—once the sun went down—the evening temperatures did not convince me that I’d be warm enough.

LBJ Ranch, with deer.

I re-started my subscription to the “Austin Statesman” newspaper (REAL newspaper) and it was to have started this morning.

It didn’t. (Sigh)
[Other observations above from Sanford Nowlin who writes for the digital edition of the San Antonio paper.]

New Boston, Texas, on Night Three

Day 3 found us driving from St. Louis to New Boston, Texas.

The land was flat and uninspiring. I took several pictures along the way, especially one of a city sign for Pocahontas, Arkansas, in honor of our dear friends who used to live in Pocahontas, Iowa.

Naturally, none of the pictures I took has appeared in my mail, which is par for the course. I’ve sent them from my phone 3 times, but they are not coming through. (Sigh).

I did learn a lot about Pocahontas, Arkansas, today, a community of just over 6,000 residents, according to the 2010 census, versus the 1,910 who lives in Pocahontas, Iowa. It is a community on the Black River and, during the Civil War, when they seceded, it ended up having 35,000 Confederate soliders billeted there during the war at one point. Unfortunately for the town, the Yankees broke through the defenses and burned the downtown to the ground at one point. There were 3 Indian tribes that lived in this area back in the day.

The news tonight says there are 99,000 people hospitalized with Covid-19. I did a division problem that showed that the number of cases identified in November meant that each of the 50 states had 80,000 people ill with Covid-19. (Obviously, this was a simple division problem and some states—notably Maine and Hawaii—have done better than others.

St. Louis, Night #2

We had considered driving straight through to Austin, but an accident on the road slowed traffic to a crawl. I persevered and read on in “The Cartel” (p. 192), but darkness fell and we are now sheltering at the Holiday Inn in New Boston, Texas, just outside of Texarkana, where we ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut.

The news tonight in the U.K. “Guardian” says that Trump’s group is being investigated in a pardons-for-pay scheme.

Interestingly enough, the gas in St. Louis was cheaper than in the Quad Cities, but the gas here in Austin (lowest I’ve seen) was $1.63 a gallon. While picking up groceries, I noticed that the 90% ground beef was $4.57 a pound, while it was $6.47 a pound at the Jewel/Osco store on Kennedy Drive and Avenue of the Cities.

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