Monday Reads: The Swiftboating of Hillary and the Clinton Foundation

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Happy Labor Day!

We’ve been discussing the absolutely uneven and biased media coverage of the 2016 presidential race for some time here at Sky Dancing.  Corporate media’s fascination with Donald Trump is completely swamping any motivation to actually ensure the truth of statements made by his campaigns and campaign surrogates.

There’s an obsessive false equivalency giving Clinton positions and arguments some kind of equal footing with outrageous, unsupported accusations and name calling coming from Trump and his seriously unhinged surrogates. A laundry list of appeals to the Alt-Right and dog whistles to White Nationalists does not equate to calling some one a bigot with no proof above and beyond the name calling.  Just  sayin’.

So why do they get away with it?  Hasn’t anyone in the media determined that right wing conspiracies and bigoted statements by fringe groups are disinformation and propaganda?

A few group associated with media accountability and culpability plus a few–primarily woman and minority–journalists are beginning to document the absolute unequal treatment of coverage of the Trump  Foundation and actual circumstances of illegal donations with that of the Clinton Foundation.The Clinton foundation has long been considered one of the ethical charities in existence.  I want to provide some information on the swiftboating of the Clinton Foundation vs. the hands-off treatment given the already fined and found guilty Trump Foundation.  As we’ve discussed here, both the AP and the NYT have hit absolute lows in  reporting tying to infer that Clinton’s time at the State Department included a pay for play scheme with her husband’s foundation.

Hillary Clinton has faced consistent scrutiny for her role in the Clinton Foundation, which was established after Bill Clinton left office. The foundation focuses on global health, climate change, improving opportunities for girls and women and a variety of other activities.

Much of the controversy about the Clinton Foundation focuses on Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State and whether she was complicit in “selling access” in return for donations to the foundation. These charges were elevated to prominence by Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, in his book Clinton Cash.

The Government Accountability Institute is the non-profit arm of Breitbart.com, a notoriously pugilistic right-wing website. Trump recentlyhired Steve Bannon, who runs Breitbart, to be the CEO of his campaign. Schweizer’s book failed to uncover any clear evidence of wrongdoing — and was rife with errors — but it did succeed in focusing mainstream media attention on the alleged issue.

Details from both the NYT and AP stories proved to be an assortment of cherry-picked schedules, innuendo, and clickbait headlines.  Meawhile, an actual example of illegal donations–which has all the look of a pay for play on the part of the Trump Foundation–has going nearly ignored. I’ve borrowed a few paragraphs’ here from Judd Legume’s excellently researched at Think Progress. Please go read the entire piece which includes the wonky graph up top.

Meanwhile, on September 1, news broke that the Trump Foundation “violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida’s attorney general.” It was required to pay a $2500 fine to the IRS.

The details of the case are even more unseemly. Florida’s Attorney General was considering opening an investigation into Trump University, which is accused of defrauding students. Bondi herself contacted Trump and asked for a political contribution. After a political committee associated with her campaign received the illegal $25,000 contribution, she decided not to pursue it.

The story has something that none of the Clinton Foundation stories have: Actual evidence of illegal conduct. In this case, not only is there concrete evidence that the Trump Foundation broke the law, but a formal finding of wrongdoing by the IRS.

This weekend, many others have taken up the banner to decry the unequal coverage.  Professor Rick Hasen–a political science and law professor at UCI--is among them

Hassan points out the silence of the lambs at the NYT on the Bondi bribe.  Check out the Storify listed by Greg Dworkin (below) for his complete analysis. He also has a blog which we’ll quote from shortly.

Paul Krugman has gone on the attack too. Here’s some analysis via AltNet.

Krugman has a sick feeling of deja vu in the coverage of Clinton and Trump. True, some of Trump’s dishonesty has been reported. But he is definitely being normalized and graded on a crazy curve. The minute he does not say anything deeply offensive for a whole day, he is hailed as pivoting and being presidential. Maybe he won’t immediately round up 11 million undocumented immigrants. Good for him! Meanwhile, his latest apparent criminality, payoffs to state attorneys general to stop investigating his fraudulent University, is getting almost no attention.

Compare this to the Clinton Foundation, the coverage of which Krugman calls “bizarre.”

When Bill Clinton left office, he was a popular, globally respected figure. What should he have done with that reputation? Raising large sums for a charity that saves the lives of poor children sounds like a pretty reasonable, virtuous course of action. And the Clinton Foundation is, by all accounts, a big force for good in the world. For example, Charity Watch, an independent watchdog, gives it an “A” rating — better thanthe American Red Cross.

Now, any operation that raises and spends billions of dollars creates the potential for conflicts of interest. You could imagine the Clintons using the foundation as a slush fund to reward their friends, or, alternatively, Mrs. Clinton using her positions in public office to reward donors. So it was right and appropriate to investigate the foundation’s operations to see if there were any improper quid pro quos. As reporters like to say, the sheer size of the foundation “raises questions.”

But nobody seems willing to accept the answers to those questions, which are, very clearly, “no.”

The now infamous Associated Press report, filled with innuendo, managed to dig up the fact that Clinton met with a Nobel Peace Prize winner and personal friend Muhammad Yunus. Oooooo, that’s bad.

Krugman cautions readers of such reports to be aware of “weasel” words, like “raises questions,”  or creates “shadows.”

Only one candidate in the raise bilked students, stiffed workers, and from all appearances, failed to pay his share of taxes.  Which is to say nothing of being totally incoherent about policy and engaging in dangerous, violence-inciting fearmongering.

My  friend David Bernstein dropped these links to my facebook comment about the Bondi and Abbot donations. There is a clear implication of pay to play here as well as where the real  IRS fine occurred in the Bondi case.

From the Miami Herald:  Donald Trump Buys himself an attorney General for $25000 from June 8, 2016.

From the Federalist:  Did Trump Buy Off Cuomo To Protect His Bogus University? from April 18, 2016

From CBS NEWS:  Former Texas official says he was told to drop Trump University probe from June 5, 2016

Owens said he was so surprised at the order to stand down he made a copy of the case file and took it home.

“It had to be political in my mind because Donald Trump was treated differently than any other similarly situated scam artist in the 16 years I was at the consumer protection office,” said Owens, who lives in Houston.

Owens’ boss at the time was then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now the state’s GOP governor.

The Associated Press first reported Thursday that Trump gave donations totaling $35,000 to Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign three years after his office closed the Trump U case. Several Texas media outlets

Here’s Hasen’s analysis of the impropriety of the Bondi donation. As mentioned before, Hasen is a professor of political science and law at UCI.

This good story by WaPo’s David Fahrenthold explains how a $25,000 contribution to Florida AG Bondi wound up illegally, and apparently inadvertently, getting paid out of the Trump Foundation account (which cannot make such political donations) rather than from Trump personally.  The explanation for how this happened seems plausible enough.

But the real scandal here is not that a payment came from a foundation but that Trump was giving money to Bondi while Bondi was deliberating over whether or not to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. After the $25,000 donation, Bondi decided not to pursue the case.

Quid pro quo?  Not proven. But conflict of interest for the AG to solicit money from someone while contemplating a civil [corrected] investigation of that person? That stinks.

And imagine if Hillary Clinton had made a contribution to someone who was deciding whether to investigate her. That certainly would have been a bigger story.

This is a much worse pay-to-play problem than we’ve seen with the Clinton Foundation stories, at least what we know so far.

Meanwhile, coverage by the media has been scant with the exception of Joy Reid.  (Ask me about being one of the original Reiders!!!)  Media Matters gives this headline:  “CBS’ John Dickerson Is Only Sunday Host To Cover Trump Foundation’s Proven Lawbreaking”.

A Washington Post report that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 fine after his charitable foundation illegally gave a political contribution went mostly ignored by the cable and network Sunday political talk show hosts, with only CBS’ John Dickerson questioning a Trump surrogate about the story.

The September 1 Post article reported that the Donald J. Trump Foundation had “violated tax laws” with a $25,000 political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who at the time was deciding whether or not to take action against Trump University. The report also highlighted an error, “which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.” According to the Post’s article, the Trump Foundation is still out of compliance because “under IRS rules, it appears that the Trump Foundation must seek to get the money back” from the group which should never have received it:

Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, an official at Trump’s company said, after it was revealed that Trump’s charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida’s attorney general.

The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time, Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.

Earlier this year, The Washington Post and a liberal watchdog group raised new questions about the three-year-old gift. The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the IRS — noting that, as a registered nonprofit, the Trump Foundation was not allowed to make political donations.

The Post reported another error, which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.

In that year’s tax filings, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump’s foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi’s political group. In fact, Trump’s foundation had not given the Kansas group any money.

The prohibited gift was, in effect, replaced with an innocent-sounding but nonexistent donation.

With the breathless media hyping of every new detail about the Clinton Foundation, despite the lack of anything illegal occurring, one would think that the proof of lawbreaking by a charitable foundation founded and named for one of the two major party presidential nominees would attract significant attention from the media. But Face the Nation host John Dickerson was the only Sunday political talk show host to bring up thePost’s findings.

During his interview with Trump campaign surrogate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Dickerson cited the Post story to ask if it was an example of Trump knowing “how to use political donations to get the system to work for him” because in this situation Trump “gave the money then the investigation didn’t happen”

Karoli covers the Reid coverage and the lack of coverage by both FOX and CNN.

Last Friday, Washington Post reporter David Farenthold broke a blockbuster of a story about Donald Trump, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and a clear-cut pay-to-play scheme. Our report on that is here.

It’s a blockbuster of a report that can leave no doubt about the fact that there was a quid pro quo between Bondi and Trump, with an equally clear effort to conceal it on the Trump Foundation reports.

In other words, it’s truly a scandal. A REAL scandal. One that should have dominated today’s Sunday shows and the newspaper headlines this weekend. Yet, there was no mention that I saw on any Sunday shows, and headlines are still dominated with bogus Clinton email stories.

Curiously, only MSNBC has reported the story at all. Joy Reid did a lengthy segment while sitting in for Chris Hayes on All In last Friday night, a bit of which we’ve clipped above. In the words of Joe Biden, this is a BFD.

After sitting through all of the Sunday shows today, I wondered about where all of the stories on this were, so I went on a hunt. I searched the transcripts for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC to see where they had done any reporting on this. There are also huge questions about whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also dropped a Trump University investigation after receiving $35,000 from Trump, but for now let’s focus on Bondi since the Trump Foundation admitted they sent her a contribution when they weren’t supposed to.

The last mention of Bondi on Fox News was on August 24th, ahead of a Trump rally where she was slated to warm up the crowd. Before that, the last mention was during the Republican National Convention, where she was a speaker.

There have been no mentions of Bondi whatsoever on CNN since Wolf Blitzer interviewed a Gold Star parent who talked about a meeting Bondi facilitated with Trump.

Meanwhile, Bondi is shocked !  Shocked I tell you!  Evidently, not opening an investigation isn’t the same as blocking it!  And maybe she’sTrump and bondi mostly shocked because she got $10,000 less than Abbott.  Check out their cozy picture. Trump has a type, doesn’t he?

The alternative media and a few intrepid reporters in various outlets are giving this story legs. Meanwhile, I want to draw your attention to to journalists that are speaking out and loudly.

Charles Blow outlines the bleak state of Trump’s Soul. I wasn’t aware he had one.  The entire op-ed is here at the NYT.

“You have proudly brandished your abrasiveness, and now you want to whine and moan about your own abrasions,” Blow writes. “Not this day. Not the next day. Not ever. You will never shake the essence of yourself. Your soul is dark, your character corrupt. You are a reprobate and a charlatan who has ridden a wave of intolerance to its crest.”

He then reminds us of some of Trump’s greatest hits, including:

  • His role in promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory about President Obama
  • His claim that Mexico is intentionally sending rapists across the border into our country
  • His lies about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11
  • Mocking a disabled reporter and then lying about it
  • Encouraging supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters at his rallies

“You are not to be praised for your fourth quarter outreach, but reviled for it, because it contains contempt, not contrition,” Blow seethes. “Everything about this spectacle was offensive: that a black pastor had invited this money changer into the temple to defile it; that Trump was once again using the objects of his aggression for a last-ditch photo-op; that news media continue to call this an ‘outreach to black voters,’ when it’s clearly not.”

The best is from Soledad O’Brien who accuses CNN of mainstreaming White Supremacist thought.

cnn_rs_obrien_160804a-800x430From Raw Story: Soledad O’Brien eviscerates CNN: ‘You have normalized’ white supremacy with shoddy Trump reporting

Former CNN host Soledad O’Brien blasted the cable news business over the weekend for profiting off the hate speech that has fueled Donald Trump’s political rise.

According to O’Brien, the media had gone through “contortions to make things seem equal all the time” when comparing Trump to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“If you look at Hillary Clinton’s speech where she basically pointed out that what Donald Trump has done — actually quite well — has normalized white supremacy,” O’Brien explained to CNN host Brian Stelter on Sunday. “I think she made a very good argument, almost like a lawyer. Here is ways in which he has actually worked to normalize conversations that many people find hateful.”

“I’ve seen on-air, white supremacists being interviewed because they are Trump delegates,” she noted. “And they do a five minute segment, the first minute or so talking about what they believe as white supremacists. So you have normalized that.”

“And then Donald Trump will say, ‘Hillary Clinton, she’s a bigot.’ And it’s covered, the journalist part comes in, ‘They trade barbs. He said she’s a bigot and she points out that he might be appealing to racists.’ It only becomes ‘he said, she said.’ When in actuality, the fact that Donald Trump said she’s a bigot without the long laundry list of evidence, which if you looked at Hillary Clinton’s speech, she actually did have a lot of really good factual evidence that we would all agree that are things that have happened and do exist. They are treated as if they are equal.”

O’Brien insisted “that’s where journalists are failing: the contortions to try to make it seem fair.”

The former CNN host argued that the question that journalists should be asking is if Trump is “softening the ground for people — who are white supremacists, who are white nationalists, who would self-identify that way — to feel comfortable with their views being brought into the national discourse to the point where they can do a five minute interview happily on national television?”

“And the answer is yes, clearly,” she said. “And there is lots of evidence of that.”

O’Brien observed that cable news outlets were effectively being rewarded for bad behavior.

This puts me in mind of the harping of the TV news readers on Hillary Clinton’s lack of press conferences.  She had a press conference.  The audience was Black and Hispanic Journalists.

Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine told ‘This Week’ host Martha Raddatz that claims that Hillary Clinton is avoiding the press are not true. He also compared Donald Trump’s relationship with the press to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

“Secretary Clinton has not held a press conference in 274 days,” Raddatz noted. “Our campaign reporters and others say she doesn’t really answer that many questions. Is this going to change?”

“She’s had hundreds interviews in the last year,” Kaine replied. “And I’ve got to push back on the notion that she hasn’t done a press conference.”

Kaine referred to Clinton’s appearance last month at the Association of Black and Hispanic Journalists convention where “members of mainstream media outlets” were allowed to ask Clinton questions. “She did a press conference there,” Kaine said.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 National Association of Black Journalists' and National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Hall of Fame Luncheon at Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 National Association of Black Journalists’ and National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ Hall of Fame Luncheon at Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Here’s a headline that appeared in someplace other than CNN, FOX News, etc. from August 5, 2016 : Journalists grill Hillary Clinton at NABJ/NAHJ conference

Hillary Clinton held a mini-press conference of sorts with reporters Friday — and lived to tell the tale.

She spoke to the joint convention of the National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Washington, D.C. and briefly dealt with what’s been her frustrating (for reporters) reluctance to hold a press conference.

She was more predictable and scripted than revealing and forthcoming as she answered a series of questions from NBC’s Kristen Welker and Telemundo’s Lori Montenegro, who then opened the proceeding up to questions from the audience.

Some drew very generic responses from a political pro, while others were a bit more ticklish but navigated without much apparent damage by her. But there was one surprisingly, and needlessly, awkward moment.

The two most notable questions perhaps came from Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post and Kevin Merida, a former top Post editor who now oversees ESPN’s daily dissection of sports, race and culture, the Undefeated.

O’Keefe spoke to press chagrin with how a famously press-wary figure deals with the press following her on the campaign. Damning with a certain faint praise, he said, “We encourage you to do this more often with reporters across the country, especially those news organizations that travel the country with you whereever you go.”

He didn’t get any response to that comment. He did get a very Clinton-esque response when he got to his main query: How would she lead a nation where a majority of people mistrust her, according to survey?

Her answer: She’s been in the public arena long time, it’s in the opposition’s self-interest to stir the pot against her and, regardless, she will work to earn the trust of all Americans once elected.

I guess it’s only a press conference if the white boys get to do it.

So, I’ve run long. It’s a holiday and I’m sure you didn’t want this long form, documented rant from me but here it is!!

And, I’m giving my last word to the Rude Pundit.  Hillary Clinton is running for President too.

While we are all mesmerized by watching the ongoing train crash into a dumpster fire on top of a mountain of shit that is the Donald Trump campaign, we seem to be missing any coverage at all of what’s been going on with Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, aka “The Evilest Harpy Ever to Swoop from the Heavens to Devour Our Children and Our Testicles” or whatever right-wing media and Trump are calling her now.

Believe it or not, she has a campaign, too. I know. Hard to believe. And things happen with it that have nothing to do with love emails to ISIS or the Clinton Foundation digging a tunnel right to the State Department’s door or whatever we’re supposed to believe now. And some of those things happened just in this last week or so of watching Trump dance the merengue on the dreams of immigrants.

For instance, Clinton proposed a “Comprehensive Agenda on Mental Health,” something you’d think Donald Trump’s family would want him to get in on. A chunk of it already has bipartisan support in that the GOP-controlled House passed some of what she is proposing. Her full plan is incredibly detailed, with projected costs included, in a way that you’d never see on that other guy’s website for his idiot hordes. It’s smart and insightful, and it has real reform and compassion behind it. So no one gives a shit. If she had said, “Lock up the calm nuts and shoot the criminal ones in the streets like they’re rabid dogs,” the media would have been all over it, discussing the merits of such an extreme action.

Clinton also proposed a public health fund for things like the Zika outbreak. Yeah, “Rapid Response Fund” isn’t as glamorous as “big, beautiful wall,” but, you know, probably a great deal more useful.

She was also recently endorsed by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which has never endorsed a candidate in its 15 year existence. Oh, and the Teamsters endorsed her last week, making it the final of the 5 biggest unions in the United States to do so, none of which seem to be bothered by email bullshit or faux Foundation shenanigans. Or even Benghazi.

Yeah, in a normal campaign, where we actually treated the candidates in a normal way, we’d have a discussion about some of these things and their implications should Clinton become president.

But when one thing sucks up all the oxygen in the room, the rest of us suffocate.

 

Have a good Labor Day!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Sunday Reads: Morbid Melancholy Blues 

 Well, another morning. There is that.

I sometimes feel a strong sense of Déjà vu when I write the post titles…I especially got that sensation when typing out the title for today’s thread. Maybe it is because we spent last evening in the Banjoville General Hospital ER. Maybe it was seeing all those same people, and experiencing the same sights and smells as we did a few months ago when my brother Denny was taken to the emergency room…This time it was my daughter who was ill. She was suffering from food poisoning, something that the ER was able to treat with IV fluids and anti-puke pills. But that visit last night brought back some memories from my brother’s final stay at that hospital…and when we finally got back home last night, all I could do was think sad morbid thoughts.

imageSo the images that accompany this thread may seem unsuited or tacky…deathly, whatever. The theme is obvious.

If there is ever a day you’d wish to stay in bed…What Would Happen to Your Body If You Stayed in Bed Forever? | Mental Floss

Check out that link and find a video that will “make you want to get out of bed immediately.” Meh, all I felt was myself falling back to sleep while watching it.

I caught this blog post on Facebook and thought you all would find it intriguing.  (Wait is that spelled right?)

imageWhat if British history was told the same way Maya history is told? – Maya Archaeologist

There is so much incorrect information about the Maya online. This causes me much frustration, particularly as teachers (KS2 History Maya Civilisation) unknowingly are teaching these inaccuracies in the classroom and thousands of children are learning untruths about the Maya.

As mentioned in a previous blog post – How to spot untrustworthy resources on the Maya – the Maya seem to get a raw deal when it comes to the study of ancient cultures.

They are lumped with the Aztecs in regards to bloody sacrifices and any of their achievements are thanks to the Olmecs, an earlier culture that did not live in the Maya area.

The Maya was only 1 of 5 cultures in the world to have independently developed a writing system where they could write anything they said, they were only 1 of 2 cultures in the world who created the number zero, they had an elaborate and accurate calendar system, they built cities in the rainforest and some of the largest pyramids in the world –  so why are they given such a raw deal?

imageHow about if I turned the tables on us, the Brits and gave a tongue-in-cheek description of British history, much in the same way Maya history is told:

Meet the Ancient Britonians

The Britonians, for this is what the people were called, inhabited an area that is now called England.

In 2500 BC, when great civilisations of the day were building pyramids 500 feet high, the Britonians were placing abandoned stones upright, sometimes, if they were feeling artistically inclined, these stones were arranged into shapes, such as squares, rectangles or circles.

There were no carvings or inscriptions on these stones or anything of interest.

stonehengecartoon

 

That should make you want to go and read the rest of that thread.

imageI am really not in the mood to write any more…plus we have to run down to the Banjoville pharmacy to pick up Bebe’s meds…here are the rest of this morning’s links in dump fashion.

Death, war, graves, madness, oh they are all here for you today:

London lab recreates horrors of war with 3D technology

Starvation, torture and rape: the grim daily realities of prisoners inside Syria’s Saidnaya military prison have been recreated in harrowing 3D detail by a London-based agency, established to highlight claims of rights abuses.

The Black Sea has lost more than a third of its habitable volume

imageTrauma patient deaths peak at two weeks — ScienceDaily

A new study by University of Leicester academics has shown that lower severity trauma patients could be more likely to die after two to three weeks.

Researchers tackling the chocolate crisis …and that is a huge potential loss for people like me…and I bet folks like you!

When Doctors Diagnose Danger – Scientific American Blog Network

It might seem like a no-brainer to inform the authorities and potential victims if a patient threatens violence, but it’s not that simple

Cornell University welcomes 12-year-old college freshman

When he was 2, Jeremy Shuler was reading books in English and Korean. At 6, he was studying calculus. Now, at an age when most kids are attending middle school, the exuberant 12-year-old is a freshman at Cornell University, the youngest the Ivy League school has on record.

NASA sees Hermine’s twin towers

NASA sees Hermine's twin towers

imageOne vent just isn’t enough for some volcanoes: Curious case of Mount Etna’s wandering craters — ScienceDaily

Volcanoes are geology at its most exciting. They seem so fiery, dangerous and thrillingly explosive. That may be true, but most old and mature volcanoes are surprisingly stuck in their ways and even if when they will blow is difficult to forecast, where they will blow from is often more predictable.

Living with dementia: Life story work proves successful — ScienceDaily

image

EEG recordings prove learning foreign languages can sharpen our minds — ScienceDaily

Discrimination by Design – ProPublica

A few weeks ago, Snapchat released a new photo filter. It appeared alongside many of the other such face-altering filters that have become a signature of the service. But instead of surrounding your face with flower petals or giving you the nose and ears of a Dalmatian, the filter added slanted eyes, puffed cheeks and large front teeth. A number of Snapchat users decried the filter as racist, saying it mimicked a “yellowface” caricature of Asians. The company countered that they meant to represent anime characters and deleted the filter within a few hours.

“Snapchat is the prime example of what happens when you don’t have enough people of color building a product,” wrote Bay Area software engineer Katie Zhu in an essay she wrote about deleting the app and leaving the service. In a tech world that hires mostly white men, the absence of diverse voices means that companies can be blind to design decisions that are hurtful to their customers or discriminatory.

A Snapchat spokesperson told ProPublica that the company has recently hired someone to lead their diversity recruiting efforts.

But this isn’t just Snapchat’s problem. Discriminatory design and decision-making affects all aspects of our lives: from the quality of our health care and education to where we live to what scientific questions we choose to ask. It would be impossible to cover them all, so we’ll focus on the more tangible and visual design that humans interact with every day.

I will include this next link…written by actress Gabrielle Union: ‘Birth of a Nation’ actress Gabrielle Union: I cannot take Nate Parker rape allegations lightly – LA Times

On with more links from the dump:

image

Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists Are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom | History | Smithsonian

imageThe worse it gets, as I wade and stumble through the Great Dismal Swamp, the better I understand its history as a place of refuge. Each ripping thorn and sucking mudhole makes it clearer. It was the dense, tangled hostility of the swamp and its enormous size that enabled hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of escaped slaves to live here in freedom.

Meet Ava, a Bronze Age Woman From the Scottish Highlands | Smart News | Smithsonian

A forensic artist has recreated the face of a woman alive 3,700 years ago

Mother Teresa is now a Saint: Mother Teresa: The humble sophisticate – BBC News

Back to murder and mayhem and misery:

image

 

‘It’s terrifying’: Alaskans on edge after unsolved murders on trails and in parks | US news | The Guardian

  • Anchorage has had 25 homicides this year and nine deaths remain unsolved
  • Police issue advisory this week urging residents to be ‘extra aware’

image‘Ghost snake’ discovered in Madagascar

Researchers discovered a new snake species in Madagascar and named it “ghost snake” for its pale grey coloration and elusiveness. They found the ghost snake on a recently opened path within the well-traveled Ankarana National Park in northern Madagascar in February 2014. They studied the snake’s physical characteristics and genetics, which verified that it is a new species. The researchers from the LSU Museum of Natural Science, the American Museum of Natural History and the Université de Mahajunga in Madagascar named it Madagascarophis lolo, pronounced “luu luu,” which means ghost in Malagasy. Their work was published in the scientific journal, Copeia, today.

imageLiving with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease — ScienceDaily

What are the expectations of persons who decide to have their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease tested? What should doctors pay attention to when ascertaining individual risks? What is the benefit of risk determination for patients and their close others, while options to treat the disease remain insufficient? According to current estimates, the number of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease worldwide is 40 million – and rising. The burdens imposed on the patients, on their caregivers, and on society are considerable.

imageWell, there is something here…New Drug Shows Promise In Stopping Alzheimer’s From Developing : HEALTH : Tech Times

Six animals teaching scientists about limb regeneration | Tampa Bay Times

Wouldn’t it be amazing if a person who lost a limb could simply grow it back? It happens all the time in the animal kingdom. Sea Cucumbers, for instance, don’t need to die when they lose internal organs. They simply grow new ones in a process called regeneration. We use regeneration to grow new toenails and small parts of our liver and brain. But why can’t we regrow other important body parts, like legs or lungs? Scientists are studying an array of animals and insects in order to understand regeneration and how it can further help us.

Viking Burials Included Board Games | Mental Flossimage

From Viking graves to immigrant graves…Three cultures in one city

This investigative study examines the unique burial traits of three cemeteries in Ybor City, Florida founded by immigrant mutual-aid societies in the early 20th century. By thorough documentation and careful analysis, an argument for their potential National Register eligibility will be crafted to further support their preservation. Cemeteries on a whole deserve better protection, both locally and nationally, as they inherently deal with different circumstances than structures or buildings face in terms of eligibility. This thesis serves to highlight the underappreciated burial typologies found in the three mutual-aid society cemeteries in Ybor City.

Meanwhile in Iceland…what out for angry elves: Icelandic Construction Workers Dig Up ‘Enchanted’ Rock to Placate Angry Elves | Mental Floss

And also, check it out: In Iceland, Drawing a Map on Your Mail Works Just as Well as an Address | Mental Floss

Our last link for the day.

Shinya Kato’s Surreal Cabinet Cards

“Life Goes On,” an exhibition by the Japanese artist Shinya Kato, opened last week at +81 Gallery, in New York. Kato uses a painting knife to apply layers of color to nineteenth-centurycabinet cards.

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More cards at the link above…

And that is all I have for you today.

This is an open thread.

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Lazy Saturday Reads: Children of the Corn and Some Serious Journalism

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Good Morning!!

I spent most of yesterday in a state of extreme anger. As I’ve been writing for a long time now, I’m fed up with the media attacking Hillary and ignoring real questions about Donald Trump’s dishonesty and corruption. I’m hoping when I drive back to Massachusetts next week, I’ll find some peace and quiet all alone in my car. It usually works that way.

Late last night, lots of people on Twitter were having fun photoshopping a new Trump ad that showed three of his children (Where is Tiffany?). For the first time all day I was able to laugh. I’m going to use the best ones to illustrate this post. Here’s the original tweet from Donald Trump Jr. that started it all.

The corporate media spent the last day before Labor Day reveling in the release of the FBI’s notes from their interview with Hillary Clinton. Sadly for the New York Times and the rest of the national media circus, there was once again nothing to support their ravening desire to prove Hillary is a corrupt liar. Too bad, so sad. Oh, they tried their best to make her look bad, but with very little success.

It’s been a very bad couple of weeks for the corporate media. Now that we have twitter and blogs, they can’t escape criticism when they screw up, and they’ve screwed up royally. It must be very difficult for these “journalists” who like to think of themselves as so much smarter and more savvy than the rest of us to see their flawed stories and their own pompous attitudes mocked on Twitter. But why is it so hard for them to just admit when they’re wrong?

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John Stoer at The Washington Monthly tries to understand Why Political Journalists Can’t Take Criticism. Stoer begins by discussing the AP’s claim last week that half of the people who met with Clinton as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation Donors. It was simply ridiculous, but the AP still refuses to correct their false tweets about the horrible article. Then he offers a more recent example:

On NPR this morning, “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep asked Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake if he shares Clinton’s view on immigration. According to Trump, Inskeep said, his opponent favors “open borders” and “amnesty.”

This is an example of a statement that’s technically accurate, but entirely misleading. And dangerous. Yes, Trump has said, time and again, that Clinton wants “open borders” and “amnesty.” It’s also true that this claim exists only the realm of fantasy. Indeed, in an interview — just yesterday — NPR’s Mara Liasson told Inskeep those claims were false.

Journalists, I believe, are beholden to the truth. If they are unwilling to pay deference to the authority of the truth, even when that deference conflicts with the profession’s other guiding principles, there isn’t much point in being a journalist….

I got in touch with Inskeep on Twitter this morning to make him aware of his mistake. (I do not subscribe to the childish claim, as Glenn Greenwald does, that the American media is in the tank for one or the other candidate). It was an honest mistake. So I asked: Will you be offering a clarification?

I didn’t expect Inskeep to reply. When he did, it was not a good faith exchange between journalists about the concrete facts of the matter. He offered instead a series of bewildering deflections, obfuscations, and, to be frank, playing dumb.

Go over to The Washington Monthly to read the exchange.

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Of course there are some journalists who are doing important investigative work. One is David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post who has spent the past year trying to find evidence of Trump’s charitable giving. He wrote the story that Dakinikat referenced yesterday about Trump’s illegal gift (essentially a bribe) to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi while she was considering joining a lawsuit against Trump University.

Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general.

Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, an official at Trump’s company said, after it was revealed that Trump’s charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida’s attorney general.

The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time, Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.

Earlier this year, The Washington Post and a liberal watchdog group raised new questions about the three-year-old gift. The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the IRS — noting that, as a registered nonprofit, the Trump Foundation was not allowed to make political donations.

The Post reported another error, which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.

In that year’s tax filings, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump’s foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi’s political group. In fact, Trump’s foundation had not given the Kansas group any money.

The prohibited gift was, in effect, replaced with an innocent-sounding but nonexistent donation.

Trump’s business said it was unaware of any of these mistakes until March, when it heard from the watchdog group and The Post.

Anyone who believes that this wasn’t a bribe that was deliberately hidden from the IRS is a hopeless fool. Twitter has been filled with comments on this story and questions about why no one else in the media is covering it, but I’ve seen no serious responses from corporate media reporters.

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Another investigative reporters who has been doing important work is Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine. Sherman is the author of a book on Roger Ailes, and he has spent month investigating the story of Ailes’ sexual abuse of women at Fox News. Sherman’s stories ultimately led to Ailes leaving the right wing network and going to work for Donald Trump. Here’s the latest blockbuster story from Sherman: The Revenge of Roger’s Angels. How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media.

It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history. Ailes built not just a conservative cable news channel but something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers. That the place turned out to be rife with grotesque abuses of power has left even its liberal critics stunned. More than two dozen women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, and what they have exposed is both a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.

It began, of course, with a lawsuit. Of all the people who might have brought down Ailes, the former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson was among the least likely. A 50-year-old former Miss America, she was the archetypal Fox anchor: blonde, right-wing, proudly anti-intellectual. A memorable Daily Show clip showed Carlson saying she needed to Google the words czar and ignoramus. But television is a deceptive medium. Off-camera, Carlson is a Stanford- and Oxford-educated feminist who chafed at the culture of Fox News. When Ailes made harassing comments to her about her legs and suggested she wear tight-fitting outfits after she joined the network in 2005, she tried to ignore him. But eventually he pushed her too far. When Carlson complained to her supervisor in 2009 about her co-host Steve Doocy, who she said condescended to her on and off the air, Ailes responded that she was “a man hater” and a “killer” who “needed to get along with the boys.” After this conversation, Carlson says, her role on the show diminished. In September 2013, Ailes demoted her from the morning show Fox & Friends to the lower-rated 2 p.m. time slot.

Carlson knew her situation was far from unique: It was common knowledge at Fox that Ailes frequently made inappropriate comments to women in private meetings and asked them to twirl around so he could examine their figures; and there were persistent rumors that Ailes propositioned female employees for sexual favors. The culture of fear at Fox was such that no one would dare come forward. Ailes was notoriously paranoid and secretive — he built a multiroom security bunker under his home and kept a gun in his Fox office, according to Vanity Fair — and he demanded absolute loyalty from those who worked for him. He was known for monitoring employee emails and phone conversations and hiring private investigators. “Watch out for the enemy within,” he told Fox’s staff during one companywide meeting.

Taking on Ailes was dangerous, but Carlson was determined to fight back. She settled on a simple strategy: She would turn the tables on his surveillance. Beginning in 2014, according to a person familiar with the lawsuit, Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’s office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along. “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation. “I’m sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to,” he said another time.

It’s a long, fascinating story. Read all the gory details at the New York Magazine link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


Friday Reads: SMH and WTF all day long

Women wearing oversized masks on the beach in Venice, ca.1930Good Afternoon and Welcome to the Long Weekend!

There is a very little about this campaign season and the associated media coverage that can shock me any more. We’ve gone way beyond the usual silly season nonsense.  We’ve got a  Republican candidate that shouldn’t be any where near anything having to do with Presidency and the media seems to just be trying to turn lies and conspiracy theories about the Clintons into actual news rather than cover the jaw-dropping shit coming from him and his campaign.  Boston Boomer has been covering this aspect of the campaign quite completely and I’m afraid I have to go there for one more day of posts. It isn’t getting any better.

We keep hearing total fabrications about the Clinton Foundation while we really actually do have a scandal about a candidate’s foundation.  This is from Vox and Matthew Yglesias: ‘Guess which candidate’s foundation was caught in an illegal campaign funding scheme?’  The Trump Foundation has been fined and caught making illegal campaign contributions.

 For some time now, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has been looking into the neglected subject of Donald Trump’s charitable giving.

And most recently he’s found out that Trump’s charitable foundation made an illegal campaign contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (this reporting is based, in turn, in part on work done by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). Then when they found out they had broken the law, they kinda sorta corrected the error but didn’t actually follow their legal obligation to get the money back.

It’s all at least a little suspicious. The story includes the phrase: “Trump staffers said that a series of unusual — and unrelated — errors by people working for Trump had led to both the improper donation and to the omission of that donation from the foundation’s tax filings.”

What’s more, the contribution to Bondi came right when she was one of several attorneys general who were looking into possible Trump University fraud investigations. Shortly after receiving the illegal campaign contribution she dropped the investigation.

Oh, also, it turns out that the Trump Foundation itself was part of a setup to ensure thatTrump’s own money was never used to finance a Trump charitable contribution.

In the grand scheme of the 2016 campaign this seems like maybe not that big of a deal.

But it’s hard not to notice the fact that various Clinton Foundation lacuna involving such scandalous activity as trying to help a Nobel Peace Prize winner, introducing the chair of the Kennedy Center at the Kennedy Center Honors dinner, and having a meeting with the Crown Prince of Bahrain have been major, cycle-dominating news stories. I think it’s fair to say that a lot more digital pixels have been spent exploring possible conflicts of interest involving Clinton charities than the contents of Clinton’s plan for combatting drug addiction.

Meanwhile, the NYT does a piss poor job of reporting or as Charlie Pierce puts it: “The New York Times Screws Up Its Clinton Coverage, Part Infinity.”e7c86739bd0e745382cb8a7c1e5015f0

Oh, for the love of god, mother Times. Are you freaking kidding me?

It’s long past the point where many of our major news publications be sent to the dogtrack with their names pinned to their sweaters, at least as far as the Clintons are concerned. Right now, there is substantial evidence that many of them will print anything as long as they can wedge “Clinton,” “questions” and “e-mails” into a headline. Of course, if Hillary Rodham Clinton would just hold a press conference, at which every question would feature those three words in some order or another, then we’d all turn to discussing the comprehensive mental health plan that she released to thundering silence on Monday when most of the press was in an Anthony Weiner frenzy. Yes, and I am the Tsar of all the Russias.

But this latest iteration of The Clinton Rules is probably the most egregious one yet. From the Times:

A top aide to Hillary Clinton at the State Department agreed to try to obtain a special diplomatic passport for an adviser to former President Bill Clinton in 2009, according to emails released Thursday, raising new questions about whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at the department.

The request by the adviser, Douglas J. Band, who started one arm of the Clintons’ charitable foundation, was unusual, and the State Department never issued the passport. Only department employees and others with diplomatic status are eligible for the special passports, which help envoys facilitate travel, officials said.

Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign said that there was nothing untoward about the request and that it related to an emergency trip that Mr. Clinton took to North Korea in 2009 to negotiate the release of two American journalists. Mrs. Clinton has long denied that donors had any special influence at the State Department.

Jesus H. Christ on Dancing With The Stars, that’s what this is about? Bill Clinton’s mission to get two American journalists out the hoosegow of The World’s Craziest Place? Wasn’t that a triumph?Weren’t we all happy about it? Hell, this was so surreptitious and “questionable” that HRC even wrote about it in one of her books.

I thought the bombshell in Tiger Beat On The Potomac about how Bill Clinton questionably availed himself of services to which he was legally entitled as an ex-president was going to be this week’s most prominent parody of investigative journalism. (After all, it got to drop the ominous “taxpayer money” into the conversation right next to “private server,” which one of the endless parade of dingbats shilling for the Trump campaign used on CNN just this morning.) But this story puts that one in the ha’penny place, as my grandmother used to say.

Meanwhile, Trump hires a Citizen’s United dude and crickets except for WAPO.  Thank you Robert Costa!  This means it’s only going to get uglier.bb008b11ae19a2c92f3a16b4aa37b7e9

David N. Bossie, the veteran conservative operative who has investigated the Clintons for more than two decades, has been named Donald Trump’s deputy campaign manager.

The Republican presidential nominee revealed his hire in a phone call with The Washington Post.

“A friend of mine for many years,” Trump said, speaking from his office in New York. “Solid. Smart. Loves politics, knows how to win.”

Bossie participated Thursday in strategy sessions at Trump Tower where he was introduced to campaign aides and Trump associates, according to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

Conway said Bossie would be assisting her with managing day-to-day operations and with strategic planning.

“He’s a battle-tested warrior and a brilliant strategist,” Conway said. “He’s a nuts-and-bolts tactician as well, who’s going to help us fully integrate our ground game and data operations, and help with overall strategy as my deputy.”

Bossie will also work on crafting attacks against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, mining past controversies involving her and former president Bill Clinton, and cultivating Trump’s bond with conservative activists.

The addition of Bossie, who first gained notice in the 1990s as the Republican congressional staffer who aggressively delved into the Clintons’ finances and dealings, is the latest sign that the Trump campaign’s new leadership team is embracing right-wing figures whose ties to the party’s elected leadership have been tenuous or even hostile.

And outreach to hispanics with race baiting continues with the race baiting coming from representatives of the groups themselves!  This happened after three hispanic advisors quit the Trump Campaign after that horrid Wednesday night screed.

A supporter of Donald Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “All In” on Thursday night to offer a vision of a bleak, delicious future.

“My culture is a very dominant culture, and it’s imposing — and it’s causing problems,” Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump told Joy Ann Reid. “If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

That’s a serious charge, worthy of being considered seriously. Although easy access to inexpensive Mexican food would be a boon for hungry Americans, what would the inevitable presence of those trucks do to the American economy? How could our country accommodate an explosion of trucks at that scale?

c60c8638975b53d7506e243fa9774129And we find out that Trump’s outreach to Black Americans has been scripted and arranged so that he doesn’t really have to go near the community still.  He just has to hold his breath long enough to read his script in front of maybe one or two in Detroit.  I mean, WTF does this say?

Donald J. Trump’s visit to a black church here on Saturday will be a major moment for a candidate with a history of offending the sensibilities of black Americans.

His team was leaving nothing to chance.

Instead of speaking to the congregation at Great Faith Ministries International, Mr. Trump had planned to be interviewed by its pastor in a session that would be closed to the public and the news media, with questions submitted in advance. And instead of letting Mr. Trump be his freewheeling self, his campaign prepared lengthy answers for the submitted questions, consulting black Republicans to make sure he says the right things.

An eight-page draft script obtained by The New York Times shows 12 questions that Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, the pastor, intends to ask Mr. Trump in the taped question-and-answer session, as well as the responses Mr. Trump is being advised to give.

The proposed answers were devised by aides working for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to an official who has been involved in the planning but declined to be identified while speaking about confidential strategy.

The document includes the exact wording of answers the aides are proposing for Mr. Trump to give to questions about police killings, racial tension and the perception among many black voters that he and the Republican Party are racist, among other topics.

The official said the answers could change based on feedback from the black Republicans they are consulting with.

At least the Press of Lake Woebegone are working overtime.

Essas três mulheres não são Rosa Luxemburgo, Simone de Beauvoir e Emma Goldman na praia dos anos 1930

Essas três mulheres não são Rosa Luxemburgo, Simone de Beauvoir e Emma Goldman na praia dos anos 1930

Former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor penned a scathing letter to Donald Trump on Wednesday, accusing him of only running for president to win the respect of Manhattan elites.

“If you were to win election, they couldn’t ridicule you anymore,” the author and radio personality wrote.

“You wanted Mike Bloomberg to invite you to dinner at his townhouse. You wanted the Times to run a three-part story about you, that you meditate and are a passionate kayaker and collect 14th-century Islamic mosaics. You wish you were that person but you didn’t have the time.”

Keillor mocked Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat and his entourage of Fox News host Sean Hannity, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, comparing them to hospital visitors.

“The cap does not look good on you, it’s a duffer’s cap, and when you come to the microphone, you look like the warm-up guy, the guy who announces the license number of the car left in the parking lot, doors locked, lights on, motor running.”

Running for president won’t gain Trump the respect he wants because he lacks the discipline, Keillor writes:

“You walk out in the white cap and you rant for an hour about stuff that means nothing and the fans scream and wave their signs and you wish you could level with them for once and say one true thing: I love you to death and when this is over I will have nothing that I want.”

It’s about time Hillary Clinton comes out swinging and defending her honor directly.  I’ve really appreciated how many of her proxies–like Jennifer Granholm yesterday–have been sticking up for the work of the Clinton Foundation and pushing back on the false narratives cooked up by the press and the Alt-Right. But, it’s time Hillary address them directly.  BB said she felt that we were seeing the swiftboating of Hillary.  That’s a very good comparison.  But this time, the press appears eager to join in with the lies.  Watch the Granholm interview.  She expresses complete, utter frustration while listing a catalog of complaints.

Here are a few other things to read:original (1)

From Raw Story: ‘Drinking the Orange Kool-Aid’: Cult expert says Trump is like Rev. Jim Jones — but far more dangerous

From The Californian: Trump’s repellant inner circle

From NYDN: KING: Oregon white supremacist uses his Jeep to chase down, maul and kill black teen  

I hope your Labor Day Weekend will be AB FAB!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads

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Good Morning!!

Did you watch Donald Trump’s speech last night? If you didn’t, I suggest you do so today. This man is a danger to our country and to the world, and our clueless media is largely playing down the horrific nature of what was broadcast live from Phoenix, Arizona last night.

What we saw was essentially a Klan rally dressed up as a “major policy speech.” Are the “journalists” in this country so young and historically ignorant that they can’t see the parallels between what is happening here and in Europe right now and events in Europe in the 1930s?

I watched the speech in shock and horror, and I was even more shocked by the calm reactions I saw on the cable shows afterward. Lawrence O’Donnell claimed that Trump was continuing to back off his threat to deport the 11 million undocumented people and their families and that his renamed “deportation task force” was different from the “deportation force” he had previously described. Steve Kornaki’s show at 11PM struck a similar tone. In addition they invited guests like Bill Kristol and Hugh Hewitt on their shows to push the narrative that yesterday was a great day for Trump and his campaign.It was if watching a madman scream at the top of his lungs about “illegal aliens” destroying our country and how he would crack down was no big deal to these people.

Many reporters seemed deeply impressed by Trump’s charade in Mexico City yesterday, calling him “presidential” and “statesmanlike.” When the speech finally came last night, they were apparently primed to continue seeing Trump in that way. I’ve never seen anything like it. What on earth is wrong with these people?

Of course I wasn’t alone in my reaction to Trump’s speech, as you can see from some of the tweets above. But many in the media still seem anxious to normalize Trump as they work to tear down Hillary Clinton with attacks on her emails the Clinton Foundation. More twitter reactions:

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has been essentially erased from the campaign coverage. She gave a speech to the American Legion yesterday that turned out to be nothing but a blip in the midst of the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s quick trip to Mexico and his insane speech last night. He was on TV again with his own speech to the American Legion. Where is Hillary? She and her campaign are going to have to step up soon or all could be lost.

Hillary has been focusing on raising money and attracting Republicans and independents to support her. It’s way past time for her to focus on talking about her own liberal agenda. When is the last time she talked about guns and gun violence, for example? And she is going to have to deal directly with the attacks on the Clinton Foundation and the lies about her emails and server. I don’t know what strategy would work, but what she is doing right now is not helping.

So what did Trump say last night?

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Nolan D. McCaskill at Politico: Trump promises wall and massive deportation program.

Donald Trump on Wednesday squashed any speculation that he might soften his immigration position to reach new voters in the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, delivering a hawkish, hardline, and true-to-his-roots border platform and vowing that on Day One of his administration, the United States would launch a mammoth deportation program and begin construction of a wall.

Emerging from a hastily organized meeting with Mexico’s president, the Republican nominee flew to Arizona and not only renewed his pledge that America’s southern neighbor would fund an impenetrable, beautiful border wall but said it would be built in “record time” and at a “reasonable price.”

“We will build a great wall along the southern border — and Mexico will pay for the wall,” Trump said. “100 percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re gonna pay for the wall.”

Trump hailed the “great people and great leaders” of Mexico following his visit to Mexico City but insisted, “they’re going to pay for the wall.”

“On Day One, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” Trump said during a major speech on immigration in Phoenix after weeks of waffling on the issue that has been core to his campaign. “We will use the best technology, including above- and below-ground sensors. That’s the tunnels. Remember that. Above and below. Above- and below- ground sensors, towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels and keep out criminal cartels and Mexico, you know that, will work with us. I really believe it. Mexico will work with us. I absolutely believe it.”

It seems pretty clear to what Trump is saying. He even made it clear that any undocumented person who is arrested will be shipped out, without trial. So he’s not just talking about drug dealers or murderers. He’s still telling tales to his followers about a wall that will never be built and that he will somehow make Mexico pay for it. Will that involve a war?

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James Hohmann at The Washington Post provides a succinct summary of the policy proposals in Trump’s immigration speech:

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what Trump said:

  • He declared that he will build a “Great Wall.” (“On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.”)
  • He insisted “Mexico will pay” for it: “One-hundred percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall.”
  • He suggested that he’d like to deport his opponent. “Maybe they’ll be able to deport her.”
  • He said Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” did not go far enough. (He name-checked Ike but did not say what the strategy was called.)
  • He reiterated that he will indeed create “a deportation task force” and promised to deport two million “criminal aliens” starting on “day one.”
  • He said undocumented immigrants seeking legal status would first have to leave the country and try to return lawfully. “There will be no amnesty,” he said. “You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country. Can’t do it. … Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation.” He did not use the term “self-deportation,” but that’s exactly what he called for: “You can call it ‘deport’ if you want. The press doesn’t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want.”
  • He claimed “countless Americans” are “victims of violence” by illegal immigrants who are “dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals”: “We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants arrested for any crime whatsoever.”
  • He said government has “no idea” how many undocumented immigrants are on U.S. soil: “It could be 30 million.”
  • “We’re like the big bully that keeps getting beat up,” Trump explained. “We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Sometimes it’s just not going to work out. It’s our right, as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.”

Read the full transcript here, and watch the whole thing for yourself here.

More stories to check out:

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Think Progress: America’s ‘Most Prolific Conspiracy Theorist’ Reveals He’s Now Advising Donald Trump. Yes, they are talking about Alex Jones.

Charles Blow: The Duplicity of Donald Trump.

Joseph Cannon: Let’s predict the day Trump pulls ahead. {{shudder}}

Benjy Sarlin at NBC News: Trump Meets With Mexican President but Dispute Emerges Over Wall.

Jorge Ramos at the WaPo: Jorge Ramos: Peña Nieto was meek with Trump. Latino voters in the U.S. won’t be.

Politico: Several Hispanic Trump surrogates reconsider support.

Nate Silver: Election Update: As The Race Tightens, Don’t Assume The Electoral College Will Save Clinton.

Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump Dealt With a Series of People Who Had Mob Ties.

ABC News: FBI Warns Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Staffers to Beware of Foreign Spies in US.

Josh Marshall: Blood and Race and Trump.

Politico: Vicente Fox on Trump: ‘Please wake up, America.’

Crooks and Liars: Former Mexican President on Trump’s Visit: He Is Lying!

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Wednesday Remembers Prince Myshkin

919gfaThere is a scene in the film The Producers (1968), where the character Leo Bloom…played marvelously by Gene Wilder, has a “nervous attack” when Broadway Producer Max Bialystock, the one and only Zero Mostel, touches his “blue blanket”…click the link below to see the video of the scene at TCM:

Producers, The (1967) — (Movie Clip) A Minor Compulsion

Nervous accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) and desperate producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) discuss financial chicanery and psychological nuances in an early scene from Mel Brooks’The Producers, 1967.

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The line in particular I want to point out is this one

After Leo has his hysterical fit in Max’s office and he calms down, Max says to him soothingly, “Yes, Prince Myshkin.” It’s an oblique insult, since Prince Myshkin is the title character of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

(More interesting tidbits if you care here: The Producers (1968 Film) – Influences and here: The Producers / YMMV – TV Tropes)

Actor Gene Wilder is shown in December 1980. (AP Photo)

Actor Gene Wilder is shown in December 1980. (AP Photo)

It was an obscure comment that many would have missed, had they not known who Prince Myshkin was…but if I could use it as an example of the subtle nature of Gene Wilder’s way of portraying his neurotic characters as crazy yes…but with that bit of humanity underneath.

Y’all know what I am talking about right? Maybe it is in the way he stared with those eyes, adding the sadness behind some of Hollywood’s most outrageous and hysterical characters.

37B1491400000578-3764037-Gene_Wilder_pictured_above_in_his_high_school_senior_photo_in_19-a-3_1472510623973Gene Wilder’s Understated Nuttiness – The New York Times

There was no mistaking Mr. Wilder, even when it seemed like putting him in certain roles was a mistake. That’s why they put him there. Mopey gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles” or mad scientist in “Young Frankenstein” (both from 1974)? A 1977 parody of Rudolph Valentino’s silent-movie erotics in “The World’s Greatest Lover” (which he wrote and directed)? All miscast, all the funnier for it. All thestranger.

Mr. Wilder’s eyes were famous. They glimmered even when — in, say, “The Producers” (1968), “Blazing Saddles” or “The Woman in Red” (1984) — he looked sad, even in the black and white of “Young Frankenstein.” (Although, acting next to Marty Feldman or Zero Mostel he didn’t seem to have eyes at all.) But when he spoofed Valentino, he telegraphed the gag by enhancing the diameter of his eyes so that he looked more lunatic than lusty. And his Willy Wonka spent that chocolate factory tour quietly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. For one thing, he never seemed to blink.

Mr. Wilder also had amazing diction. It was as crisp as a potato chip, as precise as some professors and as neat as the curls in his hair were a mess. It all came together when his characters fell apart. His performance in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) was a master class of gradually shattering aplomb. Toward the end of the movie, when Wonka’s obsessive-compulsiveness overtakes him and he erupts at Charlie and his grandpa, who’ve inquired about why Charlie doesn’t win a lifetime of candy after all, Mr. Wilder’s rage struck a very young me the way “The Rite of Spring” shocked those Parisian ballet-goers in 1913. What kind of monster does this to people?

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Some of that shock came from Mr. Wilder’s punching every word in Wonka’s tirade. “Wrong, sir! Wrong!” he shouts, and continues, “You stole Fizzy-Lifting Drinks! You bumped into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get … nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”

Then, just like that, he changes his mind. Mr. Hyde goes back to being Dr. Jekyll. And Charlie wins. Mr. Wilder made the character as unstable as he could make the protagonist of a supposed kiddie movie. But that was him in a nutshell: funny at both extremes. In “Young Frankenstein,” Mr. Wilder lies atop the monster his character has created, peeved that the creature beneath him has been aroused, not subdued as he requested. “Sedagive?” he barks, referring both to an earlier joke about a sedative and the current situation, and turning each syllable into a note of aggravated disbelief.

2016%2F08%2F29%2Ff8%2F59495dcfaa124451b4d519691045f7bb.c7d66alicublog: GENE WILDER, 1933-2016.

There are many great comic movie actors, and all of them have that thing called timing, but while many of them make it look easy, few of them make it look as natural as Wilder did. True, his characters were often outsized and manic, but they were grounded maniacs — you always knew each of them had a very good reason for his fits. When Leo Bloom in The Producers does that weird gibberish over the loss of his blue blanky — “ungh nuhngnuhngnuhng, ungh nuhngnuhngnuhng” — it’s not just crazy nutso shtick; you really feel the loss of that blue blanky and want him to get it back. (How awful Max Bialystock would have seemed if he didn’t give it back!) I love Jack Lemmon, but great as he is I think he wouldn’t have elicited the same feeling in that role; Lemmon, when manic, was clearly operating somewhere above the normal spectrum of human behavior (“Security!“). Wilder, on the other hand, made even his most outre behavior look perfectly normal. He was perfect for the post-psychedelic era; he made you comfortable with psychological wreckage.

Yet he could also surprise you with the unexpectedness of his readings. I’m not just talking about oddities like “Stop, don’t, come back,” but his offbeat way of realizing classic comic builds. Look at the “do not open that door” scene, rendered below: the payoff would probably be funny no matter what, but the absurdly inappropriate mildness of “let me out, let me out of here, get me the hell out of here” just kills me every time. He constantly gave you something fresh, yet after the initial shock it usually made perfect sense. For a performer, that’s not too bad a definition of genius.

 

 

The sad news that Gene Wilder passed a few days ago from complications from Alzheimer disease was very upsetting to me, his films and performances have peppered happy moments of my life.

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Gene Wilder Tribute: Mad Hatter Who Turned Off-Screen Neurosis Into Comedy Gold | Hollywood Reporter

Wilder’s work with Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and more made him one of the comedy titans of his generation.

Gene Wilder was the Mad Hatter of American screen comedy. He could make you laugh without even moving, his beatific half-smile always shading into a sinister smirk, his soft-spoken manner a flimsy mask for the whirling maelstrom of mischief beneath. With his radiant blue eyes, explosion of frizzy hair and otherworldly demeanor, Wilder was an unsettling clown and an unlikely leading man. But his offbeat energy helped create some of the greatest screen comedies, and biggest box-office hits, of his generation.

Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933 to a Russian-Jewish immigrant father and a sickly mother who sometimes mistreated him, the young Wilder was bullied for being Jewish by other kids. As a young man, he did two years of military service in the psychiatry department of a U.S. army hospital, later spending many years in analysis working on his deep-seated feelings of guilt, shame and sexual repression. For a Jewish-American comedian, of course, there is no finer apprenticeship; Wilder certainly always laced his finest comic performances with an undercurrent of anguish. Tellingly, he cited Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights as a key inspiration because “it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”

Initially making his mark on Broadway, Wilder first registered on Hollywood’s radar with his small but scene-stealing appearance in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967), all nervy intensity and deadpan mirth. His big break came a year later when Mel Brooks cast him in The Producers (1968) as Leo Bloom, the seethingly neurotic accountant recruited by Zero Mostel’s crooked Broadway operator Max Bialystock for a money-making scam reliant on the surefire failure of a tasteless stage musical about Hitler. Where Mostel is a wrecking ball of crazed energy on screen, Wilder balances him with Zen-like minimalism, despite the mounting panic in his eyes. The film earned him his first Academy Award nomination and cemented his star status.

Gene-Wilder-and-Gilda-Radner-744x997Wilder was talented in many ways other than acting, he was a writer and director too…

Wilder’s fruitful creative partnership with Brooks led to two further collaborations. In the bawdy western spoof Blazing Saddles (1972), he provides the zany plot’s calm emotional center as The Waco Kid, a legendary gunslinger with a surprisingly philosophical manner: “I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille,” he sighs ruefully. Two years later, in the affectionate monochrome vintage-horror pastiche Young Frankenstein (1974), Wilder stars as a hapless descendant of cinema’s most infamous mad scientist, wittily blending vaudevillian shtick with stylized Expressionist mannerisms. It was conceived by Wilder, and Young Frankenstein earned him a second Oscar nod, this time as co-writer with Brooks.

Wilder and Brooks brought out the best in each other, and each of their filmographies would be unthinkable without the other. But the eccentric star’s most memorable screen incarnation was in a non-Brooks project as the eponymous confectionery tycoon in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Director Mel Stuart’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s deliciously nasty children’s book was a box-office flop, but it is now firmly established as a beloved cult classic.

Wilder’s multilayered performance as Wonka — by turns menacing and playful, stern and tender, creepy and compassionate — is a master class in darkly surreal humor that set a new bar for generations of Batman and James Bond villains. Even today, it continues to resonate through remakes, musical tributes and an ever-evolving social-media meme featuring Wilder grinning manically in full mad-hatter mode.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Pace/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock (712363g) Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks Opening Night of the play 'Young Frankenstein' in New York, America - 07 Nov 2007

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Pace/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock (712363g)
Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks
Opening Night of the play ‘Young Frankenstein’ in New York, America – 07 Nov 2007

The obituary continues, talking about his roles with Richard Pryor, and his wife Gilda Radner…

After undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the turn of the millennium, Wilder mostly stayed away from acting in his autumn years. With his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, he preferred to busy himself with charity work, painting and writing comic novels. More recently, as he succumbed to the Alzheimer’s that would eventually hasten his death, he preferred to keep his illness hidden from the public. This was because, as his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman explains, “he simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”

Gene Wilder’s Genius Was His Simmering Hysteria — Vulture

As the news of his death spreads, everyone will think of his or her favorite insane-slow-burn Gene Wilder moment. The late Pauline Kael mentioned a quintessential one, the bit in Start the Revolution Without Me (1970) in which Wilder (as a haughty aristocrat) is informed that the noble bird on his shoulder is, in fact, dead. Wilder fixes the upstart with his laser-blue stare and says, with that eerie calm-that’s-being-slowly-strangled-to-death-by-escalating rage, “Repeat that.”

My own favorite is in Young Frankenstein (1974), which Wilder conceived and co-wrote with Mel Brooks. Here, with elaborate patience, Wilder’s Dr. Frankenstein poses the question to Marty Feldman’s Igor: What brain did the hunchback steal for the inexplicably brutal creature? “You won’t be mad?” asks Igor. “I. Will. Not. Be Mad.” By the time we hear, “Abby someone,” and the gentle but quivering, “Abby — who?” we are ready — eager — for the murderous explosion to come. No one built as exquisitely as Wilder from the genial, the gentle, the hopeful, to violent, no-holds-barred hysteria. At those moments, Wilder was unique — a genius.

From whence did this persona come? Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933, Wilder spent much of his childhood as the object of anti-Semitic bullying, which was likely how he learned to keep his feelings under wraps while nursing an imagination of disaster. Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio compelled (coerced, bullied) him to tap into his dark side, but — unlike many Studio grads — Wilder used that newfound ability carefully, almost warily. In repose, he could be mistaken for a mild, Stan Laurel sidekick — and he was just that, in outline, opposite Zero Mostel’s Oliver Hardy in Brooks’s The Producers (1968). But there was always something seething underneath. As Willy Wonka in the clunky but fondly remembered Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wilder made Roald Dahl’s sadism more family-friendly. But he still suggested — in the immortal phrase of “J.J. Hunsecker” — “a cookie full of arsenic.”

With his sympathy for the freaky outcast (nurtured by psychoanalysis), Wilder created Young Frankenstein, the rare parody that was also an act of celebration — of both the work being parodied and the originalFrankenstein myth. It was the apex of Wilder’s and Brooks’s series of collaborations, a succession of highs with almost no lows. When the two parted ways, both lost something. Wilder had a sentimental streak and a longing to be a “straight” romantic lead that led to vehicles like the weirdly flat The World’s Greatest Lover and the dire The Woman in Red. (Poor directing did in his attempt to do a Brooks-like parody with Feldman inThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’s Smarter Brother.) Brooks, who liked to cut the foreplay and jump right to hysteria, needed Wilder’s discipline and the grounding in psychological reality that came from Wilder’s Method training.

Wilder’s financial windfall came from his screen partnership with Richard Pryor, beginning with the blockbuster Silver Streak (1976), in which he was a passable romantic lead and, for a few moments, had something wonderfully jazzy going with Pryor. As a stereotypical ungainly white man, Wilder was a great foil for his edgy, African-American co-star. But in subsequent vehicles, Pryor lost that edge, and cocaine abuse addled his timing. And then there was Gilda Radner, Wilder’s third wife and the second woman in his life (the other was his mother) to die of ovarian cancer at a tragically young age. It was a love story offscreen, but onscreen with Radner he was perhaps too gentle. The madness had receded.

Rather than fight a business he no longer enjoyed, Wilder left the field — another tragedy, since he might have shifted into character parts the way other clowns with acting chops (Robin Williams, Albert Brooks) did. But he never abased himself, never betrayed his gifts, never sold his profession short. From his home in Connecticut, where he lived with his fourth wife, he wrote an upbeat memoir and several novels before Alzheimer’s took him.

His death will have the effect of sending us back to his work. You can savor his brief turn in Bonnie and Clyde, in which his high-strung conviviality exists astride a grave, and he freaks out Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker. His scenes with Mostel in The Producers are classics, although the two didn’t rekindle the magic in the little-remembered American Film Theater production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. (It’s still worth a look to see Mostel transform into a rhinoceros in one of the roles that made him, onstage, a legend.) Blazing Saddles looms large, although as good as Cleavon Little is, the movie would have taken off into the stratosphere if Brooks had succeeded in casting Pryor in his prime. (The studio was too frightened of Pryor back then.)

Above all, re-watch Young Frankenstein, and learn. Watch Wilder be convulsively funny while serving as the straight man. Watch him lovingly yield the spotlight to the boisterous Feldman, the soulful Peter Boyle, the exquisitely tremulous Teri Garr, and the incomparably insouciant Madeline Kahn, among many others. With its emphasis on self-plumbing, the Method could produce actors too much in their own heads, but Wilder could go deep into himself and still be the greatest audience imaginable for his fellow clowns. That’s what lingers today. To be able to court madness in oneself while giving others a safe space to let their own creative spirits rip — that’s akin in comedy to saintliness.

There are many links I have for you that you may like to read about Gene Wilder:

Here’s to the Milder Gene Wilder – The New York Times

In This 2005 Interview, Gene Wilder Explains How He Learned To Get Laughs : NPR

[PHOTOS] Gene Wilder: Remembering A Comedy Movie Icon — Gallery | Deadline

Why celebrities like Gene Wilder choose a private death – The Washington Post

Hullabaloo –  Surely, he’s joking: R.I.P. Gene Wilder By Dennis Hartley

I guess I must have been in shock.

When I received a text from Digby asking if I’d heard about Gene Wilder, I steeled myself and immediately queried Mr. Google. There it was. But I refused to believe it. This just couldn’t be. That’s when I began a one-sided argument with my, erm…laptop:

“Wait a minute. Gene Wilder is no longer with us? Are you saying, he is no longer with us? Is that what you’re telling me, that Gene Wilder…is no longer here? No longer here. He was here, but now, he is not? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL ME?!”

Goddammit.

Sorry, but people that talented, that funny, are simply not allowed to just up and leave us.

97407785c3d159f3d9d108415a1373fdNo, they do not just up and leave us, Wilder has left us  a treasure trove of film to remember him…Where You Can Watch Gene Wilder Movies on Demand — Vulture

Our Writers Remember Gene Wilder’s Creative Legacy

While discussing the sad news of Gene Wilder’s passing today it became abundantly clear that everyone has their own treasured connection to the legendary comedic actor, so we asked some of our writers to share what it is about Wilder’s roles that stood out for them.

Cloris Leachman Remembers Gene Wilder | Deadline

Leachman remembers how he kept cracking up during one scene in the iconic film in which she played Frau Blücher. Wilder said Young Frankenstein was his favorite film, and you can see from the blooper reel below how much fun they all had on set. Brooks has said in the past that Blücher translates to a horse going to a factory and being turned to glue, hence the horses neighing loudly every time her character’s name was mentioned.

“I remember when we were shooting Young Frankenstein there was a scene where I had to get the group up the stairs immediately. I had to say, ‘Shtay close to zee candles’ and turn toward him. As I turned around I could see his face was in two pieces. We had to do our scene 14 times over because he’d be laughing so hard. Alas, alas. So dear Gene, I vill say, ‘Goodnight.’”

gene-wilder-scenes--300x200Blooper reels at that link.

More bloopers here: Open Thread – Remembering Gene Wilder – Young Frankenstein Bloopers | Crooks and Liars

Watch Mel Brooks Mourn Gene Wilder: ‘I’m Still Reeling’ – Rolling Stone

Comedy legend Mel Brooks paid tribute to the late Gene Wilder Tuesday on The Tonight Show. “He was sick, and I knew it,” Brooks said. “And he was such a dear friend. I expected that he would go, but when it happens, it’s still tremendous. It’s a big shock. I’m still reeling from … no more Gene. I can’t call him. He was such a wonderful part of my life.”

[…]

“I met him when my late wife Anne Bancroft was doingMother Courage, a Bertolt Brecht play, and Gene was in it,” he said. “He was the chaplain. He came backstage, and I got to know him a little bit. The chaplain is a great part – it’s sad and funny. It’s touching, and it can be amusing. So he said, ‘Why are they always laughing at me?’ I said, ‘Look in the mirror – blame it on God.’

Richard-Pryor-and-Gene-Wilder“We became very good friends, and I told him about Leo Bloom in the thing I was writing called The Producers,” he continued. “And I said, ‘Look, I’m promising you: When we get the money, you are gonna be Leo Bloom.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, when you get the money. You’re doing a play about two Jews who are producing a flop instead of a hit, knowing they can make more money with a flop. And the big number in it is ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ Yeah, you’re gonna get the money!”

Brooks said, after securing the funding, he surprised Wilder backstage after another play and told the emotional actor the news. “He was taking off his make-up in his dressing room,” he said. “I took the script, and I said, ‘Gene, we got the money. We’re gonna make the movie. You are Leo Bloom.’ And I threw it on his make-up table. And he burst into tears and held his face and cried. And then I hugged him. It was a wonderful moment.”

American actor Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory', directed by Mel Stuart, 1971. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

American actor Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’, directed by Mel Stuart, 1971. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Mel Brooks Thinks Blazing Saddles Is the Funniest Movie Ever Made | Vanity Fair

Gene Wilder and grieving in the digital age: Why we mourn the famous, and in such a public way – LA Times

Gene Wilder’s entrance in Willy Wonka is how I’ll always remember him.

How a Chicago company made Gene Wilder’s most beloved movie role possible – Chicago Tribune

Gene Wilder’s most famous song was originally a dud | New York Post

Carol Kane says Gene Wilder gave her a second chance – CBS News

Gene Wilder Dies From Complications Of Alzheimer’s At Age 83 : NPR

In the wake of Gene Wilder’s death, we explain the ‘complications’ of Alzheimer’s disease | Daily Mail Online

1472513693882Coldplay honors Gene Wilder and dreamers everywhere with ‘Pure Imagination’ cover

Actor Gene Wilder: A charming life and career – The Washington Post

University of Iowa cherishes its Gene Wilder collection | The Gazette

Gene Wilder’s 7 Most Memorable Movies, From ‘Willy Wonka’ to ‘Young Frankenstein’ (Photos)

Photos: GALLERY: Gene Wilder over the years – Uticaod – Utica, NY

Be sure to click on those photo galleries…

This is an open thread.

 


Tuesday Reads: Trump Trauma

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Good Afternoon!!

Last night Lawrence O’Donnell had a psychologist named Bill Doherty as a guest on his program “The Last Word” to talk about Donald Trump. Here’s an excerpt from Doherty’s bio at Psychology Today:

William J. Doherty, Ph.D., is Professor of Family Social Science and Director of the Citizen Professional Center at the University of Minnesota. He is also a practicing marriage and family therapist and co-founder of The Doherty Relationship Institute, LLC, a new venture designed to help engaged couples through couples on the brink.  See DohertyRelationshipinstitute.com

Bill is a past-President of the National Council on Family Relations, the oldest interdisciplinary family studies organization in North America. He has received the Significant Contribution to the Field of Marriage and Family Therapy Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

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You can read his cv at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. Doherty has established a website, “Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism” where he posted a manifesto that has so far been signed by 2,400 mental health professionals. From the manifesto:

As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American democracy itself. We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism. We can leverage this time of crisis to deepen our commitment to American democracy.

What is Trumpism?

Trumpism is an ideology, not an individual, and it may well endure and grow after the Presidential election even if Donald Trump is defeated. (Variants can be seen all over Europe.) Trumpism is a set of ideas about public life and a set of public practices characterized by:

  • Scapegoating and banishing groups of people who are seen as threats, including immigrants and religious minorities.
  • Degrading, ridiculing, and demeaning rivals and critics.
  • Fostering a cult of the Strong Man who:
    • Appeals to fear and anger
    • Promises to solve our problems if we just trust in him
    • Reinvents history and has little concern for truth
    • Never apologizes or admits mistakes of consequence
    • Sees no need for rational persuasion
    • Subordinates women while claiming to idealize them
    • Disdains public institutions like the courts when they are not subservient
    • Champions national power over international law and respect for other nations
    • Incites and excuses public violence by supporters

At the political level, Trumpism is an emerging form of American fascism, a point being made by social critics across the political spectrum, including Robert Reich, Robert Kagan, and Andrew Sullivan. As journalist Adam Gopnik points out, whether or not the term “fascism” fully fits, it’s clear that the American republic faces a clear and present danger when the candidate of a major political party embraces an anti-democratic ideology. At the cultural level, the Urban Dictionary has defined Trumpism as “the belief system that encourages pretentious, narcissistic behavior as a way to achieve money, fame, and power.”

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Go to the link to read about the effects of Trumpism and the reasons why therapists are so concerned. One thing that Doherty said last night really struck me. He said that therapists around the country are seeing clients who are very stressed and anxious about Trump’s campaign.

I’ve been writing for some time that I go through a struggle with myself every time I write a post because it’s so difficult for me emotionally to deal with the Trump phenomenon. I always knew that the attacks on Hillary would be vicious and that we’d have to deal with ugly and escalating sexism and misogyny; but I wasn’t prepared for the Trumpism to be piled on top of the Hillary hate. I guess I’m suffering from Trump stress.

Months ago there were a few articles about this topic. The Washington Post in March: Psychologists and massage therapists are reporting ‘Trump anxiety’ among clients.

To the catalogue of anxieties her patients explore during therapy — marriage, children and careers — psychologist Alison Howard is now listening to a new source of stress: the political rise of Donald Trump….

“He has stirred people up,” Howard said. “We’ve been told our whole lives not to say bad things about people, to not be bullies, to not ostracize people based on their skin color. We have these social mores, and he breaks all of them and he’s successful. And people are wondering how he gets away with it.”

Hand-wringing over Trump’s rapid climb, once confined to Washington’s political establishment, is now palpable among everyday Americans who are growing ever more anxious over the prospect of the billionaire reaching the White House.

With each Trump victory in the GOP primaries and caucuses, Democrats and Republicans alike are sharing their alarm with friends over dinner, with strangers over social media and, in some cases, with their therapists. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 69 percent of Americans said the idea of “President Trump” made them anxious….

Type “Trump” and phrases such as “scaring me” or “freaking me out” into Twitter’s search engine, and a litany of tweets unfurl, including one posted two weeks ago by Emma Taylor as she lay in bed in Los Angeles: “I literally can’t sleep because I just thought about how Trump may actually win the Presidency and now I’m having a panic attack.”

“It’s like a hurricane is coming at us, and I don’t have any way of knowing which way to go or how to combat it,” Taylor, 27, a Democrat, said in a phone interview. “He’s extremely reactionary, and that’s what scares me the most. I feel totally powerless, and it’s horrible.”

Read much more at the link.

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The Guardian, also from March: How to cope with anxiety caused by Donald Trump: experts lend advice. I’ll let you read the suggestions for yourself. I didn’t find them all that helpful, because I don’t think the article takes seriously the nature of the Trump threat to our country.

A couple of days ago, JJ posted a link to a piece by linguist George Lakoff: Understanding Trump’s Use of Language. Lakeoff suggests that you first read his earlier article, Understanding Trump. Lakoff has long studied the differences between conservatives and liberals as a function of their uses of language.

In the 1900’s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

photoPeterMax

Of course Republicans are believers in the “strict father family,” and Trumpism is an extreme example of that world view.

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

I hope you’ll go read the entire piece as well as the follow-up article on Trump and language.

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Right now it looks like Trump will not win the presidency, but he has already done immense damage to our foreign policy, out national security, and to political discourse. If Trump loses, he isn’t going to go away. He’ll still get plenty of attention from the press and his comments on a Clinton administration will get heavy play. I find this very frightening.

Trump’s “strict father” attitudes have certainly triggered deep feelings from my own childhood in an authoritarian family with an angry and violent father. I would guess the effect is quite widespread. Combined with the media’s irrational hatred of Hillary Clinton and their lies about her, we are becoming a traumatized nation. You can even see this in Republicans. I don’t know what the answer is, but this is something that is really happening.

The Peter Max paintings and posters are there to cheer me up. I hope they work for you too.

What stories are you following today?