Lazy Saturday ReadsPosted: April 21, 2018
My mom is visiting from Indiana this weekend–staying with my brother. She will be 93 in June. She’s coming over to visit my apartment pretty soon, so I have to rush around and get ready. It has been so wonderful to see her for the first time since she moved into assisted living more than a year ago. She was moving at about the same time I moved into this apartment.
Last night we watched a wonderful HBO documentary, If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast. It’s about people in their 90s who are still active and vital. Some of the people featured: Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Betty White, Norman Lear, and Dick Van Dyke. Here’s a piece about it at The Atlantic from about a year ago: A Sunny, Funny View of Old Age.
Carl Reiner, the 95-year-old comedian, writer, actor, and director, has a running gag about life as a nonagenarian. “Every morning … I pick up my newspaper, get the obituary section, and see if I’m listed,” he explains. “If I’m not, I have my breakfast.” He stages a version of this routine for the new documentary If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast, airing Monday night on HBO, in which Reiner and a handful of other 90-something personalities mull old age, and the possible reasons for their longevity. “Is it luck? Genes? Modern medicine?” he wonders. “Or are we doing something right?”
The result, directed by Danny Gold, is a documentary that’s loose, unfocused, and utterly charming—much like its subjects. Reiner wants to challenge perceptions about what it means to be living in your 90s (really living, rather than simply alive), and so he chats with friends who, like him, are thriving late in life. Tony Bennett, still swinging at 90, is filmed singing over the opening credits. The filmmaker Mel Brooks (90) and the TV producer Norman Lear (94) converse with Reiner about the impulse to keep working, as do the actress Betty White (95) and the actor Dick Van Dyke (91). The freewheeling, genial nature of the proceedings means the movie often feels like a Hollywood reunion, which perhaps explains why Jerry Seinfeld (a relative baby at 63) also pops up occasionally to ponder the potential of old age….
Perhaps aware of the fact that entertainers are a special breed, Gold also interviews a number of regular Americans who continue to blossom well past their 90s, and who assert the film’s general thesis that physical activity is paramount. These include Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 98-year-old yoga teacher, and Ida Keeling, a 102-year-old runner whose story is so inspiring it demands its own feature-length version. Keeling started running at the age of 67 after both her sons had been murdered. “I felt so different … like I had come out of my shell,” she explains. “Now, I’m chasing myself. There’s nobody to compete with.”
It’s in moments like these that Gold (and Reiner, who acts as a kind of emcee) really challenge perceptions about what growing old has to mean. Their subjects seem to view every day as an opportunity, rather than as another notch on an increasingly long calendar. “People are so worried about getting old,” the 95-year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel explains. “I never think about [it]. I think people should just take advantage of being alive.” Reiner, shown signing books for fans, posing for photographs, and doing stand-up shows, maintains that he’s busier and more productive than ever. Though, as he jokes to Betty White, not all aspects of aging can be helped: “You don’t lose interest in sex, but you lose your power.”
Anyway, I found it inspiring. One of the things that all the interviewees talked about was how important it is to do something you love and be busy every day. I’ve often thought that writing for this blog has been important for me psychologically. It gives me something to focus on and a way to share my thoughts–and sometimes people even pay attention! It gives me the motivation to get up every morning and see what’s happening in politics and other news, and politics is something I have loved ever since I was 11 years old. I don’t know what I’d do without my on-line connections and my constant curiosity about what’s going on in the world.
So here’s what’s happening today.
Did Mike Pompeo deliberately allow people to think he served in combat in the Gulf War? The Splinter: The CIA Says Mike Pompeo Didn’t Fight in the Gulf War.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is set to become the next Secretary of State. It’s an ideal time, then, to clarify details of his biography, including a rather major one: did Pompeo, as numerous profiles have stated, fight in the Gulf War? We asked the CIA, who confirmed that he absolutely did not.
Pompeo is a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1986 to 1991. But he wasn’t deployed to the Gulf: In an email this morning, a spokesperson for the CIA told us, “Director Pompeo was in the U.S. Army at the time of the Gulf War – serving until 1991. He was not deployed to that theater.”
The question was first raised on Twitter Friday morning by Ned Price, a former CIA officer who served under President Obama, and who very publicly quit the CIA rather than work for President Trump, announcing the decision in a February 2017 op-ed in the Washington Post. Price pointed out that among other places, Pompeo’s Wikipedia page suggests that he was deployed. It currently states that Pompeo “served with the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the 4th Infantry Division in the Gulf War.”
Pompeo’s nomination to Secretary of State may be in trouble. ABC News: Coons announces opposition to Pompeo, cuts off path to favorable committee vote.
Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, announced Friday that he will not vote to support the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, officially closing the door on Pompeo’s chances of being favorably recommended out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ahead of a full Senate floor vote.
Coons, the last Democrat on the panel to announce his position, said in a statement that he was encouraged by Pompeo’s commitment to the diplomatic corps that he laid out in his confirmation hearing but concluded that the current CIA director and former congressman would embolden rather than temper President Donald Trump‘s most bellicose instincts.
“I do not make this decision lightly or without reservations,” Coons said in a statement. “I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the President in critical moments. On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force.”
This surprising story broke last night at The Washington Post: Sessions told White House that Rosenstein’s firing could prompt his departure, too.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the exchange.
Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Sessions’s message to the White House, which has not previously been reported, underscores the political firestorm that Trump would invite should he attempt to remove the deputy attorney general. While Trump also has railed against Sessions at times, the protest resignation of an attorney general — which would be likely to incite other departures within the administration — would create a moment of profound crisis for the White House.
In the phone call with McGahn, Sessions wanted details of a meeting Trump and Rosenstein held at the White House on April 12, according to a person with knowledge of the call. Sessions expressed relief to learn that their meeting was largely cordial. Sessions said he would have had to consider leaving as the attorney general had Trump ousted Rosenstein, this person said.
The Intercept has a new story about Elliott Broidy, the guy that paid hush money to a Playboy model whom he impregnated with the assistance of Trump attorney Michael Cohen: Trump Fundraiser Offered Russian Gas Company Plan to Get Sanctions Lifted for $26 Million.
SHORTLY AFTER PRESIDENT Donald Trump was inaugurated last year, top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy offered Russian gas giant Novatek a $26 million lobbying plan aimed at removing the company from a U.S. sanctions list, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
Broidy is a Trump associate who was deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until he resigned last week amid reports that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair. But in February 2017, when he laid out his lobbying proposal for Novatek, he was acting as a well-connected businessman and longtime Republican donor in a bid to help the Russian company avoid sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. The 2014 sanctions were aimed at punishing Russia for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In February 2017, Broidy sent a draft of the plan by email to attorney Andrei Baev, then a Moscow- and London-based lawyer who represented major Russian energy companies for the firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP. Baev had already been communicating with Novatek about finding a way to lift U.S. sanctions.
Broidy proposed arranging meetings with key White House and congressional leaders and generating op-eds and other articles favorable to the Russian company, along with a full suite of lobbying activities to be undertaken by consultants brought on board….
The plan is outlined in a series of emails and other documents obtained by The Intercept. Broidy and Baev did not dispute the authenticity of the exchanges but said the deal was never consummated.
The Daily Beast reports on Michael Avenatti’s appearance on Bill Maher’s show: Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer Tells Bill Maher That Sean Hannity Is Screwed. About Hannity, Avenatti said:
“Here’s what I think: I think that when the documents actually come out, and there are documents—there’s no question in my mind, there are documents wBaith Sean Hannity’s name on them—the extent of that relationship, I think, will be very embarrassing to Sean Hannity,” he said.
Back home in Indiana, Mike Pence suffered a setback in his endless war on women. The Indy Star: Indiana abortion law signed by former Gov. Mike Pence is ruled unconstitutional.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court ruling striking down a Pence-era abortion law.
House Enrolled Act 1337 was signed by former Gov. Mike Pence in March 2016. Among other “non-discrimination provisions,” the law prohibited abortions sought because a fetus had been potentially diagnosed with a disability.
In an opinion filed Thursday, 7th Circuit Judge William J. Bauer called those provisions unconstitutional.
“The non-discrimination provisions clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent holding that a woman may terminate her pregnancy prior to viability, and that the State may not prohibit a woman from exercising that right for any reason,” he wrote for the three-judge panel that ruled on the case.
Jane Henegar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said in a written statement that Thursday’s decision “affirmed a woman’s fundamental right to make her own personal medical decisions.”
So . . . what stories have you been following?