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: Texas

“Meet the Press:” Mueller’s Report; Home-Grown Terrorist; Florida Amendment 4

If Mueller is going to have more indictments, they would come before the report. “They’d be returned, if not revealed,”
said one of the talking heads on Sunday morning’s “Meet the Press” on February 24, 2019.

Q: Would we see the Russian collusion charge revealed? (From Chuck Todd)

A:  “Mueller has indicted Roger Stone for conspiring with WikiLeaks, which is a Russian organization”. Solomon Wisenberg, former special counsel, says  “Everyone should be concerned about and be worried about” the obstruction of justice charge. [Does obstruction of justice mean the same thing as collusion? “These are crucial crimes because they delay the revelation of the truth.”] 

A:  Wisenberg: “It’s a big mystery why some of the people did lie and we should absolutely be concerned about it.”

“At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report….” Chuck Todd: “Does this mean the public will never see it?”

A:  “The overall intent of the regulation is public confidence in the investigation and any sort of suppression will flunk the test.”

The charging of the Mueller investigation said:

“The A.G. will notify the Chairman and ranking minority member of the House with an explanation…”

Wisenberg: “Barr has great discretion over what he reveals. How will Mueller reveal his report to Barr? He can do it in a way that makes it easier for Barr to release it to the public.”

Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general: “We’re in a different world than when those regulations (from the Clinton impeachment hearings under Ken Starr) were created. There will be a lot more pressure on Mueller to give all of the information to Congress.”

Chuck Todd notes that the President will get to read the report first. 

The catch, they say, is whether the president will order someone to do something about the Mueller report. “That is when things would get interesting. The obstruction of justice is of great consequence to anyone, but especially when committed by the Chief Executive of our land, the President.” (Asa Hutchinson R/Ar of Kentucky, now the Governor of Arkansas said this in 1999 when commenting on the Kenneth Starr investigation into Bill Clinton.) Hutchinson says it is a very serious charge. “The American public look at any charge against the president of the United States with great scrutiny, as they should…This one is less than 2 years of time, where the investigation of President Clinton took 4 years under Kenneth Starr.”

Q:  What are you looking for in this report?

Q/A:  Jim Himes (D/CT): “I’m looking for a report that gets to the truth and gets out there. More than anything else, the question of the Russian interference and the possibility of collusion and obstruction has twisted our politics into something unrecognizable. The way to end that is to get the truth out there. First and foremost, given that we’ve been on the edge of our seats for the past 2 years, everyone needs to know what happened and then we’ll be ready to take it further.”

Hutchinson: “You have to have conversations in a bi-partisan way in the timing of what should be revealed. This could simply be a report that does not list any offenses against the president of the United States. Let’s communicate. Let’s see if that can be done in a bi-partisan way.” (Jim Himes expressed doubt that there would be much bi-partisanship in the current political climate).

Chuck Todd: Q:  “Is there anything that can be done (to make it more bi-partisan)?

A:  Jim Hines, D/CT: “One answer is that Devin Nunes is no longer the head of the investigative committee. I sort of chuckle at Governor Hutchinson’s optimism, because today, facts are disputed. Now, each and every fact is disputed. I point out that we’re going to get a sort of partisan warping of our system because there will be legislation before the House saying that his decision to spend money on his border wall is not constitutional. I suspect that the GOP are going to vote that Trump is not going to be held accountable for going around the Congress to get money for his wall.”

Jim Hines:  “There’s always some question about whether Michael Cohen feared retribution for his testimony.”

Chuck Todd: “The House GOP seems to be rigging the rules to keep the president from having a challenge in 2020.”

Asa Hutchinson (R/AR):  “Obviously, in our system of democracy, anyone is free to make a challenge. It will be very difficult for someone to make a successful challenge against President Trump. You’re always going to have a debate…It’s about what he has accomplished.”

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows and you don’t need a special report to know what kind of president Trump is.” (David Graham)

Talking heads: It’s (the Mueller Report) a political document and a historical document. “We have to have a long view of the reckoning that we have to take after this administration is over.” (Al Cardenas, Republican strategist): “A lot of people who are bad people around the President of the United States have been indicted…I don’t feel the President will be indicted…I think the Mueller Report will leave a lot of unfinished business. This will be a setting of the bar.”

How serious is obstruction of justice to Congress (Andrea Mitchell): “We have let people normalize criminal and abnormal behavior. If this is a witch hunt, they found a coven—37, so far. Going forward in 202 we do not know what impulses in social media are being programmed from Moscow. I’m now so suspicious of anything we’re reading.”

Lanhee Chen, Republican strategist – “Clearly the president not directly saying, ‘I look forward to the report’ is telling. I think it’s a fairly simply political calculus.”

Chuck Todd: “Will Democrats regret it if they DON’T open an impeachment investigation?” (Many now regret not standing up to Mitch McConnell over Obama’s right to name a Supreme Court Justice.)

Talking Heads, A:  “These are people who took an oath to the Constitution.” (Implied: yes there must be an impeachment).

Andrea  Mitchell: “Mueller’s reputation in the country seems impeccable. It will not go well with the Republicans if they attempt to impugn him. I’m curious how the Attorney General will handle the Mueller Report.”

COAST GUARD HOME-GROWN TERRORIST

It was 72 hours before the public learned of the Coast Guard officer who had stockpiled weapons since 2017 and planned to massacre as many people as possible, especially Democratic leadership and various political commentators. The head of Homeland Security, commenting, said he was glad that they found this individual’s writings on his Homeland Security computer.

Todd: “How did someone with this ideology get into the Coast Guard and stay in the Coast Guard and not get caught doing things like this at his work computer?”

A:  (Jeh Johnson, former Head of Homeland Security): “We don’t probe into people’s political leanings. We need to do a better job of rooting out people with extremist leanings that could lead to terrorist actions.” In 2016, the budget was $21 million, whereas in 2018 the budget has been reduced to $8 million to ferret out plots like this. (Fewer employees, less money).In 2017 , there were 65 incidents totalling 95 deaths. Muslim extremists committed just 7 attacks. “Very definitely there is a rise in the level of extremists and violent actions directed towards individuals perceived to be in positions of power: “the list.” “The levels of hatred and violence that we see are going up. It’s got to start at the top. Leaders lead. We’ve got to see it start at the top. Individuals like the Coast Guard individual become emboldened and may even feel entitled. It is incumbent to raise the levels of our political discourse.”

THE BORDER WALL

Q:  Is a wall at the border a national emergency? (Chuck Todd)

A:  Jeh Johnson, former head of Homeland Security: “I do not believe it was appropriate for the President to evoke the National Emergency statute. Better to work with Congress and collectively come to a decision.”

FLORIDA AMENDMENT

Florida: Amendment 4  returning voters’ rights to convicted felons who have served their time; the end result is that 1.4 voters could be added to the rolls. Many are African American. 52% of those who had lost their voting rights were Democrats and 14% were Republican. Democrats could see a net gain of voters. Amendment 4 has the potential to be a game-changer in Florida. Not happening yet as newly enrolled voters were nearly evenly split between the GOP and Democrats, so far.

 

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out (Con’t., The End)

Image result for beto o'rourke images
Texas Legislature Image, Beto O’Rourke

(From Beto O’Rourke, on the border wall controversy)

But we still have a choice.  In this democracy, if, in fact, the people are the government and the government is the people, we still have a chance to prove it.

We can decide that we’ll get past the lies and fear, focus on the facts and human lives in our midst, and do the right thing.  The end goal is a stronger, safer, more successful country.  Critical to achieving that goal is having immigration, security and bilateral policies that match reality and our values.

  1.  Extend citizenship to the more than 1,000,000 Dreamers in this country.  Not only those who are in our classrooms, but those who are teaching in our classrooms, those who are keeping our country safe around the world tonight in the military; those who contribute more to our communities than they’ll ever take.
  2. Give permanent legal protection and a path to citizenship to their parents, the original Dreamers.
  3. Bring millions more out of the shadows and onto a path to citizenship by ensuring that they register with the government and gain status to legally work, pay taxes and contribute even more to our country’s success.
  4. Make us safer and more secure.  Significantly reduce illegal drug trafficking and stop human trafficking by investing in infrastructure, technology and personnel at our ports of entry.  The ports that connect us with Mexico are where the vast majority of everything and everyone that ever comes into our country crosses.
  5. Increase the visa caps so that we match our opportunities and needs (for work, for education, for investment, for innovation, for family reunification) to the number of people we allow into this country.  Ensure that those who want to work in jobs that we can’t fill can legally come here and legally return to their home country.
  6. Fully accept our opportunity and responsibility under our asylum laws to welcome those whose own governments can no longer protect them, including women fleeing abusive relationships.
  7. Address visa overstays (which account for the majority of undocumented immigration) through better tracking of and notification to visa holders (a first step could be text message reminders) and fully harmonizing our entry/exit systems with Mexico’s and Canada’s (when a visa holder exits the U.S. and enters Mexico, we will then know that they have left the U.S. Currently, if they leave through a land port of entry, we literally haveno clue if they are still here or have returned to their country of origin.
  8. Make Latin America and specifically Central America a top foreign policy priority. Stop relegating it to second-tier status. Invest the time, talent and resources to assist in the development of the domestic institutions that will allow these countries to thrive and offer their citizens protection and economic opportunity.  It is the long long-term solution to the number of asylum seekers and refugees coming to this country.
  9. End the global war on drugs.  An imprisonment adn interdiction-first approach has not worked, has accelerated the erosion of civil society in much of Latin American and has militarized a public health issue to the detriment of all concerned.
  10. Speak with respect and dignity when referring to our fellow human beings who happen to be immigrants and asylum seekers, who, in so many cases, are doing exactly what we would do if presented with the same threats and opportunities.  No more “invasions,” “animals,” “rapists and criminals,” “floods,” “crisis”—dehumanizing rhetoric leads to dehumanizing policies.  We cannot sacrifice our humanity in the name of security or we risk losing both.

Last week we welcomed the President of the United States to one of the safest cities in the United States.  Safe not because of walls and not in spite of the fact that we are a city of immigrants.  Safe because we are a city of immigrants and because we treat each other with dignity and respect.  A city that has the opportunity to lead on the most important issues before us, out of experience, out of compassion and out of a fierce determination to see this country live its ideals and rise to its full potential.

We can learn from the errors of our past, have the courage to do what’s right while we still have the chance, and ensure that the President doesn’t commit this country to making mistakes from which we may never recover.

It’s up to us.

Beto O’Rourke

(Received on 2/19/2019 via e-mail)

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out (Day #3)

Beto O’Rourke’s piece about the border wall, mailed out from Beto O’Rourke headquarters. As someone who has captured a great deal of interest from the general public in his run against Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, it is safe to say that we haven’t heard the last of Beto O’Rourke.

“After terror attacks in the 1990s and in 2001, the Mexican immigrant was a ready scapegoat for politicians, and the intensity and brutality of enforcement and deterrence measures increased.  In the face of terrorism that originated in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, the United States chose to conflate the war on terror with immigration from Mexico and Latin America.

With the passage of the Patriot Act of 2001 the number of deportations skyrocketed, with nearly 400,000 sent back to their country of origin in 2009 alone.  Not one of the 9/11 terrorists entered through Mexico—and yet Mexicans bore the brunt of this country’s immigration response to the terror attacks.  Last year, the State Department’s Bureau of Counter-terrorism found that “there are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.”

This year’s report found much the same thing.  “There was no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.”

In addition, walls and fences authorized by the Secure Fence Act of 2006 pushed migration flows to ever more treacherous stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border.  More than 4,500 human beings died while crossing the border from 2006 to 2017.

Far too many of these deaths were children.”

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out (Con’t, #2)

Image result for beto o'rourke images
                                        Beto O’Rourke, Wikipedia

Here’s why the illegal immigration population grew: as we made it harder for people to cross into the United States, we made it less likely that, once here, they would attempt to go back to their home country.  Fearing an increasingly militarized border, circular patterns of migration became linear, with immigrants choosing to remain in the U.S., many of them ultimately joined by family members from their home country.

This government-created condition continued to feed upon itself:

“The sustained accelerating accumulation of anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement operation produced a massive increase in border apprehensions after the late 1970s, when the underlying flow of migrants had actually leveled off.  For any given number of undocumented entry attempts, more restrictive legislation and more stringent enforcement operations generated more apprehensions, which politicians and bureaucrats could then use to inflame public opinion, which led to more conservatism and voter demands for even stricter laws and more enforcement operations, which generated more apprehensions, thus bringing the process full circle.

In short, the rise of illegal migration, its framing as a threat to the nation, and the resulting conservative reaction set off a self-feeding chain reaction of enforcement that generated more apprehensions, even though the flow of undocumented migrants had stabilized in the late 1970s and actually dropped during the late 1980s and early 1990s.”

This would only get worse.

(Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out, Continued, Day 2)

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out

Beto O’Rourke photo from his Facebook page.

Beto O’Rourke reached out via an e-mail and, since I’ll be traveling for the Oscar weekend, I’m going to break it up into smaller sections and share it with those of you who have, perhaps, not received it. I probably received it because I contributed to his campaign against Ted Cruz; I am in Texas. We are likely to hear a lot more about Beto O’Rourke, I think, so hear him out, in smaller segments. Thanks!

Connie:

The President came to El Paso last week.  He promised a wall and repeated his lies about the dangers that immigrants pose.  With El Paso as the backdrop, he claimed that this city of immigrants was dangerous before a border fence was built here in 2008. (*Untrue, El Paso was named the nation’s 2nd safest city after San Jose, California in one poll).

El Paso was one of the safest communities in the United States before the fence was built here. The president said the wall saves lives. In fact, walls push desperate families to cross in ever more hostile terrain, insuring greater suffering and more deaths.  He spoke about immigrants and crime, when immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than Americans born here. It’s worth thinking about how we got to this place.

How did it come to be that 11 million undocumented immigrants call America home? How did we come to militarize our border?  How did we arrive at such a disconnect between our ideals, our values, the reality of our lives, and the policies and political rhetoric that govern immigration and border security?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the challenges we face are largely of our own design—a function of the unintended consequences of immigration policy and the rhetoric we’ve used to describe immigrants and the border.  At almost every step of modern immigration policy and immigration politics, we have exacerbated underlying problems and made things worse.  Sometimes with the best of intentions, sometimes with the most cynical exploitation of nativism and fear.

Much of the history of immigration policy, and the source for the data that I’m using, is powerfully summarized in a report entitled “Unintended Consequences of U.S. Immigration Policy:  Explaining the Post-1965 Surge from Latin America,” by Douglas S. Massey and Karen A. Pren.

In 1965, the United States ended the bracero farm-worker program, in part because of the sub-standard wages and conditions in which these Mexican workers labored.  And yet, after decades of employing this labor, with our economy dependent on the laborers and the laborers dependent on access to the U.S. job market, the system of low-cost Mexican labor didn’t go away.  Many of the same Mexican nationals returned to the U.S., returned to the same back-breaking jobs, only now they were undocumented.  Ironically, despite the intent of the 1965 law ending the program, they enjoyed fewer protections and wage guarantees in the shadows as they continued to play a fundamental role in our economy.

As this same population converted from being documented to undocumented, a wave of scary metaphors was employed to gin up anxiety and paranoia and the political will to employ ever more repressive policies to deter their entry.  It was good for politicians and newspapers, but terrible for immigrants and immigration policy.  Thus began the “Latino threat” narrative.

As Massey and Pren wrote:

“The most common negative framing depicted immigration as a ‘crisis’ for the nation.  Initially, marine metaphors were used to dramatize the crisis, with Latino immigration being labeled a ‘rising tide’ or a ‘tidal wave’ that was poised to ‘inundate’ the United States and ‘drown’ its culture while ‘flooding’ American society with unwanted foreigners (Santa Ana 2002).  Over time, marine metaphors increasingly gave way to martial metaphors, with illegal immigration being depicted as an ‘invasion’ in which ‘outgunned’ Border Patrol agents sought to ‘hold the lin’ in a vain attempt to ‘defend’ the border against ‘attacks’ from ‘alien invaders’ who launched ‘banzai charges’ to overwhelm American defenses.” (Nevins 2001; Chavez 2008).

The fear stoked by politicians produced the intended paranoia and political constituency demanding ever tougher immigration measures.  The result of this was not to stop undocumented immigration.

Instead, it caused the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States to grow.
(Beto O’Rourke’s words continued tomorrow)

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) ON SALE for $1.99 Tomorrow (2/17); Paperback $4.95 on 2/17 & 2/18

“Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) (Convention to Inauguration) with 61 photographs from the field that have appeared nowhere else will be ON SALE in honor of Presidents’ Day, February 18th. The sale will commence on Feb. 17 (e-book) and continue through Feb. 18 for the paperback version. Both books are significantly reduced in price, from 66 and 2/3% for the paperback to -40% for the e-book. Prices will return to normal on Feb. 19th, as I return to my Texas lair and try to stop shaking my head at the comments being made in Munich, Germany and elsewhere by members of the current administration.

The e-book version of “Obama’s Odyssey” (Vol. 2) will be on sale ONLY February 17th for $1.99. (Normally, it is $3 more). The paperback will be on sale for TWO DAYS, February 17 and February 18 for a 2/3 reduction, from $14.99 (normal price) to $4.95. 

This is me, missing President Obama while dealing with the rambling, incoherent announcement yesterday from the current occupant of the White House regarding his “national emergency.” (The “pronouncement” was so rambling and unfocused and unintelligible that CBS cut away from the unfocused rambling after 25 minutes.)

I’m here in Texas (Austin). While most Texas representatives have fallen in line behind DJT, here is the pronouncement from our representative Chip Roy (R) who said (and I quote):  “With this authoritarian power grab, Trump would divert resources from real security challenges elsewhere to his politically-contrived, on-crisis on the Rio Grande.  I am a sponsor of a privileged resolution to stop him.  If his routine Republican enablers refuse to join us in standing up for the Constitution, we will promptly seek judicial relief.  What we clearly don’t need is a multi-billion dollar waste in pursuit of his anti-immigrant hysteria.”

 

New Content Coming Tomorrow: Stay Tuned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén