Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Education Page 1 of 6

There are 150 teacher years in Connie’s immediate family and her first book, written for Performance Learning Systems, Inc., in 1989, is entitled “Training the Teacher As A Champion.” In this day of Betsy DeVos, you can expect to hear some comments on how our educational system is being undermined from the top down.

Thoughts On “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Martin Scorsese’s Newest Epic

Martin Scorsese is the winner of multiple awards over the course of his prolific career. With nine nominations for the Academy Award for Best Director, he is tied with Steven Spielberg as the most-nominated living director of all time, second only to William Wyler‘s 12 nominations overall.

Scorsese has won only once, in 2007, for “The Departed.” Spielberg, by contrast, won for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).

Scorsese won the Best Directing Oscar award for his film The Departed in 2007.  That doesn’t seem like enough, when you consider that Scorsese directed nine films that went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best PictureTaxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Hugo (2011), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and The Irishman (2019). Of the directors still working, even Spielberg tips his hat to Scorsese. (Scorsese actually taught directors Spike Lee and Oliver Stone in film school in New York City.)

PREDICTION

Lily Gladstone & Leonardo DiCaprio

“Killers of the Flower Moon:” Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Given the fact that, despite 9 nominations, Martin Scorsese has only won once, we can assume that “Killers of the Flower Moon” will be Scorsese’s tenth nomination. Given his prominence and how often he has been an “also ran” in the Best Director category, this could well be Lucky Number Ten for Best Director.

The many times that Scorsese was nominated but did not win should weigh heavily when the Academy gets ready to vote this year. Scorsese, born in 1942, is now 81 years old . He is acknowledged as one of the seminal figures in American cinema. Some (most notably the “Wall Street Journal,” which savaged “Killers of the Flower Moon”) may not be as inclined to give the man his due, but I think the picture has a good shot at Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Costuming, Music and possibly Best Supporting Actor. If it snags all of those (and it could lose some acting awards to other contenders like “Oppenheimer”), can Best Picture be far behind ?

Will the Academy reward the legendary Scorsese for his directing of the sprawling tale “Killers of the Flower Moon?” I suspect they will, although there are nay-sayers who have dissed the Master and suggested he is out of touch. (This doesn’t surprise me, given what happened to me this year, my 20th year reviewing at CIFF, but that’s a story for another day.)

THE CAST

Robert DeNiro and Jesse Plemons in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is  a $200,000,000 undertaking that showcases Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone. There are many other notable cast members, including John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser and Jesse Plemmons, plus quite a few names in music, who have small roles. Fraser does a not-that-great job, shouting his dialogue unnecessarily, and Lithgow’s part is very small, but the contributions of the actresses who portray Mollie’s sisters and mother more than make up for the underwhelming nature of the Fraser/Lithgow turns. Cara Jade Myers, who plays Mollie’s wild sister Anna Kyle Brown is particularly good (Best Supporting Actress?) and the actress playing Mollie’s mother Lizzie Q (Tantoo Cardinal) and JaNae Collins, who played Rita, are uniformly excellent.

Among the musicians in the film were Pete Yorn, who plays Acie Kirby, the munitions expert. Yorn wrote the score for the 2000 film “Me, Myself & Irene” but had never acted previously. Country singer Sturgill Simpson makes an appearance as Henry Grammer. Jason Isbell, four-time Grammy award winner and former member of the Drive-by Truckers and the 400 Unit plays Bill Smith, the snake-like husband of two of the murdered Osage women. Jack White, winner of 12 Grammies, has appeared in several other films. Charlie Musselwhite portrays Alvin Reynolds, one of the key informants who spills the beans on the conspiracy that DeNiro’s character William King Hale has set in motion.

Critics have lauded Lily Gladstone, but Robert DeNiro is great as the uber-snake William King Hale. I admired DeNiro’s performance more than that of DiCaprio, but it was great fun seeing these two onscreen in a father/son fashion, which hadn’t occurred since 1993’s “This Boy’s Life,” when DiCaprio was only 18 years old. (Released when DiCaprio was 19.)

PLOT

Killers of the Flower Moon

Lily Gladstone and her sisters in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is based on the book of the same name by David Grann.  An impressive amount of research has gone into this labor of love. You can’t help but feel that, like Marlon Brando before him, this is Scorsese’s personal protest against the historic mistreatment of Native Americans. One character with a substantial speaking part, Paul Red Eagle, is played by the current Osage National Minerals Council Chairman, Everett Waller.

Set in 1920s Oklahoma, “Killers of the Flower Moon” focuses on a series of murders of Osage members and relations in the Osage Nation after oil was found on tribal land. Tribal members had retained mineral rights on their reservation. Whites sought to steal the Osage wealth by systematically murdering them.

In “Killers of the Flower Moon,” writer and journalist David Grann offered an intimately detailed account of a little-known but devastating chapter in American history: the Osage Reign of Terror. This period lasted five years from 1921 to 1926 during which upwards of twenty Osage Indians were murdered in cold blood for access to their valuable shares of oil money. There are also references to the Tulsa, Oklahoma murders on Black Wall Street (Juneteenth) and the KKK is depicted onscreen in  fleeting parade scenes.  Principal photography  took place in Osage and Washington counties, Oklahoma, between April and October 2021. Pawhuska, Oklahoma, stood in for  Fairfax in the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio & Lily Gladstone

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The scope of “Killers of the Flower Moon” is epic. It covers a lot of history and does so with admirable pacing despite the film’s length. Although it is 206 minutes long, eclipsing even “Oppenheimer,” it did not drag (which “Oppenheimer” sometimes did). The entire project began in 2016, so it was 7 years in the making.

The acting by the three leads (DeNiro, DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone) is outstanding, although there were times when looking at the expression that DiCaprio sports throughout the film reminds the onlooker of looking at a pug bulldog. It’s not a good look. It is meant to show Ernest Burkhart’s venality, weakness and stupidity. Mission accomplished, but leading man reputation as good-looking for Leonardo destroyed. One wonders why Mollie would find him attractive.

It is casting against type for Leonardo DiCaprio, who has usually been quick-witted and attractive in his leading man roles. In this one he is spineless, thick, obsessed with gaining wealth without hard work, and conflicted by his genuine affection for his Osage bride. His wife-to-be refers to him as a coyote. But the very real fact that—doing his evil Uncle’s bidding—he is going to be responsible for the of murder most of Mollie’s family members and even bring Lily, herself, to the brink of death is certainly a good reason to be conflicted. There is ample evidence that Ernest will go whatever way the power wants, including his on-again/off-again decision about whether or not to testify against his powerful uncle.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

In addition to the scenes of tribal rituals, whether weddings or pow wows, I was struck by Rodrigo Prieto’s visual imagery in depicting the figures burning down a neighboring farm as almost Dante-esque. They are shown in the distance, fanning the flames of the farm that Bill Hill  had engineered a $30,000 fire insurance policy on just a month prior. The shot looks like figures dancing in Hell. Since Mollie (Lily Gladstone) is confined to her bed by that point in the film, seriously ill from her husband’s poisoning her insulin shots, we see the pulled window shades glowing red inside from the fire outside.  There are many such impressive visual images. The Osage braves frolicking in the crude oil gushing forth, geyser-like, from the earth. The field of flowers. An explosion is also impressively rendered.

The costuming is also noteworthy and authentic.

THE MUSIC

Robbie Robertson did eleven films with Scorsese. He was also a close personal friend of the director. Robertson died of prostate cancer at age 80 on August 9, 2023. He married his second wife,  Top Chef Canada judge Janet Zuccarini five months before his death. Robertson’s scores for Scorsese films include “Raging Bull” (1980), “The King of Comedy” (1982), “The Color of Money” (1986), “Casino” (1985), “Gangs of New York” (2002), “Shutter Island” (2010), “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), “Silence” (2016), “The Irishman” (2019) and “Killers of the Flower Moon” (2023), as well as being a performer and producer on 1978’s “Last Waltz,” the documentary about The Band.

The movie is dedicated to Robertson, who died just months before its release.

INTERESTING INFORMATION (SPOILER ALERT)

Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

 

In researching the genesis of the movie, I found it interesting that, originally, Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to play the role of FBI agent Tom White that Jesse Plemmons portrayed. Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth reworked the story because of the interesting conflict that emerged when Leonardo’s character, who loves his wife, is still complicit in murdering almost all of her family and nearly killing her, something she didn’t truly accept until the scene near the end, when she directly asks him what he put in her insulin and he does not answer truthfully (despite just having said that he has confessed all and that it has been a weight off his shoulders). Lily goes forward, then, and, in fact, marries another, dying at age 50, but she is done with Ernest, who is pardoned late in life. Ernest and Byron (his brother, who was complicit in the murder of his wife, Mollie’s sister Anna) lived together in a trailer park at the ends of their lives. Byron was never convicted of anything, which seems unlikely and unfair.

Mollie divorced Ernest after she realized (or finally accepted) the depth of his betrayals. She did not seem to have done so early in his trial, but in the climactic scene between Ernest and Mollie, we see that she is now ready to accept the horrible truth.

At the unusual creative end, when Scorsese uses the old-style radio show based on the FBI to give us the information on what has happened to the principal characters, Scorsese himself reads us Mollie’s obituary, which another writer described as having really impacted Scorsese in a major way. He couldn’t believe that, after everything Mollie had suffered,  her obituary from June 16, 1937, at the age of 50, mentioned nothing of these tumultuous life events.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Rated R for violence, some grisly images, and language.

206 minutes

Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart

Robert De Niro as William King Hale

Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart

Jesse Plemons as Tom White

Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q

Cara Jade Myers as Anna Kyle Brown

JaNae Collins as Rita

Jillian Dion as Minnie

William Belleau as Henry Roan

Louis Cancelmi as Kelsie Morrison

Tatanka Means as John Wren

Michael Abbott Jr. as Agent Frank Smith

Pat Healy as Agent John Burger

Scott Shepherd as Bryan Burkhart

Jason Isbell as Bill Smith

Sturgill Simpson as Henry Grammer

John Lithgow as Prosecutor Peter Leaward

Brendan Fraser as W.S. Hamilton

Director

Writer (book)

Writer

Writer

Cinematographer

Editor

Composer

“Another Body” Traces Deep-Fake Porno in Timely Documentary

A timely issue for our time is the use of deep-fake video. It was one of the sticking points during the recent 148-day Hollywood entertainment strike. It is bound to rear its ugly head again during the 2024 presidential race. Porno videos with famous people’s faces super-imposed on the bodies of others are out there. In this documentary, it is a college student who makes the discovery that there is “Another Body,” represented as hers, circulating on the Internet. The supreme irony is that, in able to testify to the damage being done to victims like the fictional Taylor Klein, she had to “deep fake” her own testimony, (which made it all the way to the White House.)

In the timely documentary “Another Body,” directed by Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn (co-written by Isabel Freeman), a college student discovers deep fakes represented as being Taylor, circulating online. Using video diaries, synthetic media, and 2D and 3D animation, the documentary takes you behind the scenes: who did this and why and how can it be stopped and rectified? :”I kept asking myself who would do this and why would they want to do this? I worry that they are going to do something more drastic? I believe that, in his mind, he is getting back at us for rejecting him.”

THE GOOD

I marveled at the expertise that the filmmakers showed in presenting this complicated story to us, using dummy-like automatons to represent the fictional “Mike” (the perpetrator that Taylor and friends track down over time.) It was very impressive in regard to its technical achievements.Bravo!

I empathized with statements like, “I’ve had to deal with all the consequences that he should have had to deal with. I’ve had to leave the fun group, but he hasn’t.” 9,500 porno sites with 14 million hits a month sounds like the death throes of a decadent society. Are sites like PornHub that “normal” in this country’s incel culture that this sort of thing is doubling every six months, as the film says? Do those who use such sites routinely end up on a roof with a gun, shooting at spectators at a Fourth of July Parade in Illinois? What-the-heck is going on? Yes, Trump is the poster boy for such bad behavior, but…really?

I also recognized that the misogyny that today’s women of the MeToo movement are not willing to put up with has been going on for decades. DJT is a throwback to those decades when it truly was “a man’s world” and, as he bragged on video, if you were male you could get away with just about anything, because that is what women were told they had to put up with in order to be “good” female citizens. Women were not supposed to “take a man’s job” and we were supposed to stay barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, waiting on our man. R-i-i-i-g-h-t. So, I enjoyed seeing the new generation of women take on the male establishment. Maybe the good guys—err girls—will win, this time. I hope so. The request that she be respected for her professional achievements and viewed as “good” is not a pie-in-the-sky goal for the fictional Taylor of this tale; it is what women deserve, but have seldom achieved without a fight.

THE BAD

Like many other documentaries, this one could have been shorter. A half hour trim would not have taken away from the film, which became repetitive. Some of the interactions between Taylor and other victims could have been shortened.

Worst of all, the conclusion that Taylor draws near the end of the film is depressing:  Sometimes the bad guys win.

 

Five False Facts From the August 23, 2023, GOP Debate

  1.  “What the Democrats are trying to do on this issue is wrong, to allow abortion all the way up to the moment of birth.”

(Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida)

“We cannot let states like California, New York and Illinois have abortions on demand up until the day of birth.”

(Senator Tim Scott)

THIS IS FALSE.

Roe v. Wade was the law of the land for over 20 years and the American public still wants the right to decide their own fate in regards to whether a woman is forced by the GOP  to bear a child to term because religious zealots have made it very difficult to secure an abortion that is safe and medically supervised. The sanest voice in the room seemed to be Nikki Haley—-also the only female—who felt that this should be a matter decided by a woman in consultation with her family and physicians. Abortion has always been about the male desire to retain power by keeping women down and in their place. The Democratic proposal that did not pass the Senate allowed states to ban abortion after fetal viability, roughly 24 weeks, except when the mother’s life was threatened. There are good reasons to allow an abortion, but no one in the Democratic party has lobbied for a late-term abortion. This question was answered by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in a back yard in Muscatine, Iowa, in 2004, when he was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president. A physician, he had actually checked records in Vermont and testified that there had never been a documented case of a late-term abortion in Vermont history.

2)  “We will back law enforcement because we remember who we really are.  And that’s also how we address that mental health epidemic in the next generation that is directly leading to violent crime across the country.”

(Vivek Ramiswamy)

This is unsupported by factual evidence. There is no direct correlation between people with serious mental illness and responsibility for violent acts. Ramiswamy had a bad night on the “factual” level, constantly making random remarks that were not supported by any factual evidence. He also voiced the sentiment that Ukraine and Israel should not be supported by the U.S.

3)  “We need to acknowledge the truth, which is that these subsidies are not working.” (Nikki Haley)

THIS IS FALSE.

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

Early data suggests that President Biden’s subsidies for renewable energy are proving to be more popular with companies and consumers than initially forecast. Job creation and investment have been rising. The possibility that subsidies could spur greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than originally estimated have been put forth.  (Governor Doug Burgum).

THIS IS FALSE.

In 2021, the Director of the CIA, William J. Burns, traveled to Moscow, informing Putin about American intelligence concerning Russia’s war plans and cautioning him about the consequences of such an attack.

4)  “The reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.” (Vivek Ramaswamy)

THIS IS FALSE.

No deaths have been linked to the growth of renewable energy or to the Biden administration’s attempts to reduce the use of fossil fuels to address global warming.  Between 1970 and 2021, however, according to the United Nations, 2 million people died from extreme weather events. Right now, we are sweltering under a heat wave and rising global temperatures have caused more than 700 deaths, 67,500 emergency room calls and more than 9,200 hospitalizations.

5)  “Joe Biden’s Bidenomics has led to the loss of $10,000 of spending power for the average family.”  (Senator Tim Scott)

THIS IS FALSE.

Economists agree that the $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package did contribute to inflation, but it was not the sole cause of rising prices. There was also the stimulus passed under Donald J. Trump and the monetary stimulus by the Federal Reserve, along with disruptions to supply chains caused by Covid-19.

 

Trump Is Ineligible to Be President, Say Legal Scholars

According to a recent publication by two Constitutional scholars, Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be President of the United States, because of the Constitutional prohibition under Section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from elected office who has “engaged in” or “given aid or comfort” to an “insurrection or rebellion.”

The scholars—William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas—argue in a law review article that Trump’s attempted coup d’etat “automatically” disqualifies him.  The scholars say that “every official, state or federal, who oversees elections has the authority to bar Trump from the ballot.

Baude and Paulsen are not Biden-loving partisans, according to Matt Ford in “The New Republic.” They belong to the Federalist Society, the powerful right wing organization that helped stock the Supreme Court with conservatives.

Section 3 addressed the problem of Southern states sending Confederate official to Washington D.C. after the Civil War.  The terms “insurrection” and “rebellion” should apply to “only the most serious of  uprisings against the government.”

Baude and Paulsen’s “powerfully argued” case reaches the “obvious conclusion” that Trump tried mightily in several extra-legal ways to overturn an election he had clearly lost.  Thus, he “engaged in insurrection and rebellion and gave aid and comfort to other who did the same.”

Legally, the argument is “very compelling,” said Zack Beauchamp in “Vox.” However, MAGA Republicans might well react with violence to a Supreme Court that might agree with Article 14, Section 3, making January 6th into a prelude to more disaster.

Underground Independence

“Underground Independence” Takes Us On A Stroll Down Memory Lane in Independence, Iowa on Aug. 19, 2023

Independence, Iowa, was named as the seat of Buchanan County in June of 1847.  A second town, New Haven, and its mill, were located on the west bank of the river.  In 1854, the State Legislature merged the two towns.  Ten years later, in 1864, Independence was incorporated. Quasqueton, then called Quasquetuk, which I wrote about as the location of a Frank Lloyd Wright home, is quite near Independence (located on what is often referred to as the Independence/Quaskie diagonal). Quasqueton was originally the county seat, but that distinction was moved to Independence in 1847 at a time when there were only 15 residents in Independence.

The bridge connecting the East and West banks of the city had become impassable.  Built just above river level, the bridge was at the mercy of floods and frost. A flood in 1865 finally swept the bridge away entirely.  [I’ve heard stories about an elephant falling through the other downtown bridge, while in town for a circus, but I’ve never been able to document that interesting bit of trivia. I will say that, on my visit there for the Mini Reunion on Aug. 11th, we had to use this secondary bridge because the city fathers had blocked off Main Street for something called Music on Main.]

How Underground Independence Came to Be:

It was decided to raise the bridge to make it less vulnerable. In doing so, the level of the street on the East side would also need to be raised, thereby changing the grade of the entire street.  A massive project began. Retaining walls were constructed.  Dirt was hauled from further up the hill to the East to raise the street from the river to beyond 3rd Avenue N.E.  As it progressed, the entrances to stores fell below street level.  A walkway was maintained so that merchants and customers could still do business. I’ve been told that the revelation of this “buried” level of the city was not fully realized until about 2011. I grew up there and knew nothing of it, but the Episcopalian minister of St. James Episcopalian Church, Sue Ann Raymond, whose father owned Raymond Printing Company for years, said she was aware of this subterranean nature of the city, because part of it was located beneath her father’s store.

By 1866, the new bridge was completed.  Samuel Sherwood began to make plans to erect a new, much larger woolen mill, which is now known as the Wapsipinicon Mill. The 1867 mill, now called the Wapsipinicon Mill, was a source of electrical energy from 1915 to 1940. Some structural restoration occurred in recent years, and the mill now functions partly as an historical museum. We visited the Mill, the Loft Chamber of Commerce at 112 1st St. E, the Gedney Bakery at 116 1st St. E, the Sanity Room at 117, 1st St. E, Eschen’s Clothing at 211 1st St. E, and Quilter’s Quarters at 213 1st St. E. Tours are self-guided and stairs are steep: be warned.

A courthouse was built in 1857, on the east side of the town, on a site described at that time as “the highest tract of land in the neighborhood,” which offers “a fine view of the city of Independence, the valley of the Wapsipinicon, and the surrounding Country”. The original courthouse was replaced in 1939 by a Moderne or Art Deco structure. My father was then the Democratic County Treasurer of Buchanan County (partially a fluke, as his Republican opponent died before he could be sworn in, and they offered the post to my father, who was re-elected for a total of four terms. Dad helped lay the cornerstone of the new County Courthouse. He was 37 years old.)

Dad began thinking about establishing a second bank in town as his term was coming to a close, contacting the bank examiners and being put in touch with investors from other parts of the state like Mason City. Security State Bank opened in 1941. I have the first check that cleared the bank framed on the wall of my study. Check Number One is dated October 8, 1941, between the  Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Security State Bank in the amount of $971.97.  I learned that what is now called NSB (Northeast Security Bank) now has deposits of $421,617,000 with branches in Independence, Dysart, Fredericksburg, Decorah, Fairbank (my dad’s home town, where he began in banking as a cashier), Sumner, Rowley and Fayette.

In November of 1873, a fire started behind what is now Hartig Drug Store and burned the buildings going East.  Six months later, in May of 1874, a second larger fire began in the middle of the West side of 2nd Avenue, N.E. (my old home street). It burned the entire West side of the street. Everything from the river to what is now the NSB (Northeast Security Bank Corner), formerly the Security State Bank that my father founded in 1941.  A livery, four residences, and a church in the block behind were also burned.

In May of 1874 a second larger fire began in the middle of the West side of 2nd Avenue, consuming the buildings on the north side of 1st St. E to the river. High winds allowed the fire to jump to the south side of the street. Within 10 days of the second fire, merchants and land owners began rebuilding on the existing limestone foundations, leaving underground storefronts as they were.  The devastation led to an opportunity to recreate the downtown with beauty and continuity.  The buildings were crafted in the Italianate architectural style of the day.

The block on the West side of 2nd Avenue burned down again in 1960, something I vividly remember, as a high school student who was viewing the film “Exodus” at the Malek Theater, one short block from my house at 214 2nd Avenue, when the fire broke out. Because sparks were landing on the roof of the theater, we were asked to exit the theater and I began trying to walk home, which was not easy, because fire trucks and firemen were clogging up 2nd Avenue directly in front of the post office. The locker plant across the street was destroyed as were all other buildings on the block.

I finally took the alley behind St. James Episcopal Church back to my house at 214 2nd Avenue N.E., the former railroad station master’s house. My father was out on the front hill with a garden house watering the area down as sparks drifted across the street. I was 15 years old.  I remember it vividly, just as I remember the Independence Senior High School burning down in 1956. (It was just before I was to enter 7th grade in “the new junior high school,” which quickly became the high school/junior high combined. This building, Jefferson High School, was torn down and a new high school was erected in 2013.)

Rush Park: Axtell & Allerton

For a few years in the late 1880s and early 1890s, Independence was a nationally known horse-racing center, and was sometimes referred to as the “Lexington of the North”. This came about as a result of the meteoric financial success of Charles W. Williams. A telegraph operator and creamery owner from nearby Jesup, Iowa, Williams (with no experience in breeding horses) purchased in 1885 two mares, each of which within a year gave birth to a stallion. These two stallions, which Williams named Axtel and Allerton, went on to set world trotting records, with the result that Williams’ earnings enabled him to publish a racing newspaper titled The American Trotter, to build a large three-story hotel and opera house called The Gedney, and to construct a figure-eight kite-shaped race track on the west edge of town, on a large section of land called Rush Park, where he also built a magnificent horse barn and his family mansion. Williams eventually (1889) sold Axtell for $105,000, a record price for any horse at the time. (*Axtell broke down as a 4-year-old and never raced again.)

The grand opening day for the kite track was  August 25, 1890. At least 225 horses valued at over one million dollars were on exhibition for the price of $1.00 at the gate.  Season tickets, admitting the holder to all 5 days, could be purchased for $4. Season tickets for a lady and gentleman cost $7. There was no extra charge for teams or admission to the grandstand.

The burgeoning community was soon home to other mansions, churches, and even a trolley-car service. My mother used to tell me about the Gedney Opera House burning down; I believe that the trolley car came down 2nd Avenue (Chatham Street) to the Gedney, bringing big name horse racing enthusiasts to the races. That street was paved with red brick throughout much of my growing-up years in Independence, and you could hear the Amish buggies clip-clopping down the street to the sale barn on weekends.

The Wapsipinicon Old Mill basement.

The horse races at Rush Park were an effective magnet. The fifty cents admission fee paid by over eight thousand spectators must have delighted Charles W. Williams. Charles W. Williams would have beamed with joy as he saw twenty-five hundred people jammed into his $10,000 amphitheater, happy to pay an additional thirty-five cents for the privilege. Purses totaling $2400 had lured many of the fastest horses in the state to Independence.

Williams went on to raise other record-breaking horses, but he lost much of his fortune in the Panic of 1893. Williams subsequently moved to Galesburg, Illinois, where (among other things) he became acquainted with the young Carl Sandburg (as mentioned in Sandburg’s autobiography, Always the Young Strangers). Today, the location of Williams’ race track (which was the original site of the Buchanan County Fairgrounds) is a corn field. His house is still standing, but, in recent years, the Rush Park barn was demolished by a bulldozer, to make way for a fast food drive-in and an auto parts store. There was a point when two wealthy California natives tried to make an upscale supper club within the famed Rush Park barn, but that, too, ended up being short-lived.

In the years that followed the race track days, the town lost most of its importance when the railroad terminal at Independence was pushed further west to Waterloo, Iowa. Today, the old depot stands on the highway that leads to Oelwein and serves as a visitor center, but it is no longer a functioning depot. I remember my parents taking the train to Chicago and staying at the Palmer House for bankers’ meetings, but that would be impossible today, just as my trips from Iowa City to Chicago would be impossible with the sub-par rail service in Iowa today.

Of additional interest are several other buildings of historic and architectural value. Among these are the Christian Seeland House and Brewery at 1010 4th Street Northeast (1873), an Italianate style mansion and brewery; Saint John’s Roman Catholic Church at 2nd Street and 4th Avenue Northeast (1911); the Munson Building, formerly the Independence Free Public Library, at 210 2nd Street Northeast (1893–95); Saint James Episcopal Church on 2nd Avenue Northeast, just north of 2nd Street (1863, 1873); and the Depression-era United States Post Office Building at 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue Northeast (1934), not for its architecture, but because hanging inside in the lobby is a WPA mural from the 1930s, titled Postman in the Snow, painted by a former Independence resident named Robert Tabor. (*There was another Tabor painting of a small child wearing white galoshes and a pink coat and holding a book up to the librarian to check out. I was told by the librarian that that child was me, then aged about 5, which would have been painted when Mr. Tabor (who did not begin painting until he was 52) was about 68 in 1950, as he was born in 1882. Since I spent all of my free time at the library, I can believe this.)

About 10 miles east of Independence, south of U.S. Highway 20, near Quasqueton, is the Lowell Walter house or Cedar Rock, a state-owned Frank Lloyd Wright house that is open to the public from May through October. (See previous blog article.)

For me, as a St. John’s student from 1950 to 1959, I worshiped weekly at St. John’s Church a block away from my childhood home. I remember when a tornado tore the roof off St. John’s Church (established 1911) and deposited the wreckage in our back yard in about 1947. My father made a playhouse out of the shingles and boards, which my parents referred to as “the hookey.”

The Library mentioned was right down the alley. I made almost daily trips there to read, as we did not purchase a television set until I was a junior in high school in 1962. (My mother’s prescient remark was: “Pictures were never meant to fly through the air;” she had pronounced television to be a fleeting fad.)

St. James Episcopal Church, the oldest continuously operating church in town, is one house away from my childhood home. I remember when my parents hired a Chicago architect to remodel our home in 1957. He was quite smitten with the church with its beautiful stained glass windows, and made frequent trips the 100 yards to tour it on his own.

One of my favorite library stories was when the librarian thought I was too young to check out a book about the Zulu uprising in Africa. She called my mother at home and asked her if she should allow me to check out the book. Mom replied, “Sure. Go ahead.” (Good going, Mom!)

At the 2000 census there were 6,014 people in 2,432 households, including 1,588 families, in the city.

Points of Interest:

Historic Downtown

AXTELL

Year of Birth: 1886
Immortal: Yes
Elected as Immortal: 1955
Year of Death: 1906
Gait: Trotter
Record: t, 2:12
Sire: William L.
Dam: Lou
Mambrino Boy

Axtell was foaled in 1886, son of William L. out of the non-Standard mare Lou. His breeder was C. W. Williams of Independence, Iowa. Axtell was trained and raced by Williams on the famed Independence kite-shaped track. He lowered the two-year-old stallion record to 2:23 and won every race in which he started. As a three-year-old Axtell again won every start and lowered the world’s stallion record to 2:12. In 1889 Williams made history by selling Axtell to a syndicate for $105,000, the highest price ever paid for a horse of any kind at that time. Axtell broke down as a four-year-old and never raced again, but retired to stud. His progeny included the foundation sire Axworthy 2:15 1/2, and he became one of the highest priced sires of his day. His 1891 stud fee was $1,000. Axtell died on August 19, 1906 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Anti-Semitism on the Rise in the United States

I’m almost caught up from the recently concluded SXSW film festival.

I still have a review of a screened horror film (“Appendage”) and one that is embargoed until April 24th for a drama financed by National Geographic commencing May 1st that will focus on the brave young woman who helped hide Otto Frank and his family in war-torn Amsterdam. Most of us know the story of Anne Frank from her recovered diary and the many spin-off dramatizations that sprang from it. Most of us did not know about Miep Gies, however.

It  was Miep Gies, then a 24-year-old secretary to Otto Frank at his business (a jam factory called Opetka) who agreed to hide Otto Frank (Liev Schreiber) and his family of four (Otto, Edith, Anne and Margot) and five other Dutch Jews from the Nazis during WWII and the occupation of Holland. They lived in hiding for 2 years, until they were turned in.

Only Otto Frank survived the war after the Nazis captured the family, hiding in a hidden annex built above Mr. Frank’s business establishment, Opetka.  He and his family were sent to concentration camps, separated as a family, and only Otto survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

Together with her colleague Bep Voskuijl, Miep retrieved Anne Frank’s diary after the family was arrested, and kept the papers safe,  returning the papers to Otto Frank when he came back to Amsterdam from Auschwitz in June of 1945.  Gies had stored Anne Frank’s papers in the hopes of returning them to the girl, but gave them to Otto Frank, instead, who compiled them into a diary first published in June of 1947,

Bel Powley, who portrays Miep Gies in “A Small Light.” (Photo by Connie Wilson)

In collaboration with Alison Leslie Gold, Gies wrote the book Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family in 1987. Born in 1909, she died just one month shy of her 101st birthday in 2010, which was surprising, considering the fact that she was instrumental in saving many Dutch Jews from the Holocaust. [She denied any involvement in helping hide the Franks when their hiding place was discovered.]

Considering that anti-Semitism is at its highest point since the seventies, the choice to dramatize this story at this time in history is a timely one. The Anti-Defamation League began keeping records of anti-Semitic activity in 1979. In the past 5 years, the incidences of assaults or robberies or other crimes have increased 500%. On college campuses, the incidences have risen 4o% and in Kindergarten through 12th grade schools, the incidences of such wrongdoing are up 50%.

Specifically, incidents of violence against Orthodox Jews are up 67%. Incidents of vandalism are up 51%. General harassment is up 29% and assaults, in general, are up 26%. As the experts have said, “Extremists feel emboldened right now” and various other spokesmen called it a “battleground against bigotry.”

As one CNN expert said, “It may start with the Jews, but it doesn’t end with the Jews.” A super spreader of such hatred would be social media outlets. When social influencers (like Kanye West and Mel Gibson) express hatred for the Jewish people, there are surges in such evil acts. There is a reverberation effect within and among conspiracy groups; the actions condoned by the MAGA hordes are germane.

Signs of people in positions of authority condoning, explicitly or complicitly, man’s inhumanity to man contributes to the deep-seated problem and exposes a sickness in society. Kanye West today tried to dig himself out of the deep hole he had dug for himself with his anti-Semitic rants, saying that watching Jonah Hill in “21 Jump Street” had changed his opinion to one that is more positive. Not only is this a weak defense against his previous bigoted words and actions, but it hardly seems likely to stem the tide of actions like those that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia from August 11th to 12th in 2017.  That Unite the Right rally was a white supremacist rally that seems, now, to have been a watershed moment in giving radical groups permission to act in  uncivil and illegal manners. It is worth noting that it took place during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The focus on the heroic actions of the Miep Gies’ of the world comes at a time that should give the excellent production “A Small Light” a welcome platform. (Review to follow in April).

“Caterpillar” Is Fascinating Documentary on Opening Night of 2023 SXSW Film Festival

Caterpillar” documentary at SXSW.

SXSW 2023 is back with a vengeance.

I have not received Red Carpet placement for  Opening Night since 2017, so I executed Plan B, planning to take myself over to the Alamo Drafthouse on Lamar Boulevard to see “Confessions of a Good Samaritan.” This was a film about a woman who donated a kidney to a stranger. When I arrived, the film had begun, so I took myself to “Caterpillar,” instead.

This was a fascinating documentary about a new YouTube fad, changing one’s eye color, which is done, surgically, in India. It sounded very dicey, and, as it turns out, it is.

The documentary, written and directed by Liza Mandelup of the Parts & Labor film enterprise, followed the journey of Raymond David Taylor of Miami as he set off for India to have his brown eyes turned into a color described as “frost.”

It seems that there is a thriving cosmetic industry in Cairo, Mexico, Panama, and India and, of course, the recent deaths of two American citizens in Matamoros, Mexico, (we now know), was a trip for cosmetic surgery. A friend of mine flew to Costa Rica for dental work, so I’m surprised I had not heard of this latest vision fad, but I don’t spend much time watching videos on YouTube.

David had a very rough childhood, even getting kicked out of the house while young, at one point, and he (and most of the other patients) seem to think that “Changing me will change my outlook on life.” As David says, “If I feel sad one more day, I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”

He doesn’t have the money for the surgery, but a well-written letter to BrightOcular explaining his desire for the implants brings an offer from them to come have the cosmetic procedure for free, if he will let the company use his story and his photos for advertising purposes.

We then meet others on this medically unregulated journey, including Izzy, a woman from New Delhi, a young man from Japan, a male underwear model and a beautiful girl from Jamaica, but the focus is on David, which filmmaker/writer  Mandelop explained was her attempt to initially start out with three main characters and trace their journeys, with one emerging as central to the story.

She described this engrossing film journey into eye surgery this way:  “I wanted to visually convey it. I wanted to do something that people wouldn’t think was cinematic, like eye surgery, but make it cinematic. It became an emotional journey. David allowed me to make the film that I was craving.”

In the course of the journey, we meet David’s mother, who also suffered a rough, abusive life, but tried her best as a young single mother to care for her children on wages of $2.35 an hour. David’s mother and David don’t agree on a lot of things. She is okay with David’s being gay, but she says, “I cannot deal with that if you start cutting parts of your body off and adding stuff.” She adds that she thought he was a great female impersonator. Mom’s point-of-view is, “You’re stubborn. You don’t listen.” She adds, “You’re never satisfied with the way you look.” Others in the film describe the cosmetic procedure as “a bandaid to the past.” Most of the others have selected jade green as the color their brown eyes will be after surgery.

Writer/Director Liza Mandelup, “Caterpillar.”

It is a big blow to David when they do three patients’ surgeries simultaneously and, in the process, he is given jade green eye color by mistake, rather than frost. This will mean another eye surgery to fix the error.

If you are thinking, “This can’t be safe,” you’re right. It is only about four months post-surgery after David undergoes the procedure that he describes it as “the worst mistake of my life” when headaches and visual problems begin. All of the prospective patients seem to want to transform to some ideal person they have created in their heads. When the subject of the film appeared before us in person, however, the audience got the feeling that the subject of “Caterpillar” has, in fact, bettered his life, moving back to Brooklyn and now working as an EMT. He explained his mother’s absence from the showing as his way of “avoiding drama.”

Director Liza Mandelup and Raymond David Taylor, subject of the SXSW documentary “Caterpillar”on Opening Night, March 10, 2023.

Some other patients, we learn, who did not heed the United States opthalmalogists’ warning about the damage the implants have done (or are doing)  to their eyes ended up blind or partially blind.  One former patient whom David tracks down after he begins encountering headaches and blurry vision said that he woke up after 5 years with blood on his cornea. “I had to remove them or go blind.”

The unfettered access to the surgery and the patients seems quite unusual. That is, until we learn that the leadership of BrightOcular is very circumspect. No one ever comes forward to represent BrightOcular or another entity called Spectra. These agencies exist and are offering this service and heavily advertising how it will “change your life” on social media, with beautiful pictures of patients like David. They are not as forthcoming about the negatives of the procedure. The Indian physician who says he, personally, would not undergo the procedure knows this is a very risky way to change one’s outlook on life and seems to convey that through his reticence to heartily endorse the procedure.

David bought into it with words like, “This is my new beginning. I’m changing,” or “Beauty matters. Beauty gets you through the door.

Musical selections like “Stand By Me” and “I Want to Dance With Somebody,” selected by Music Supervisor Melissa Chapman, merge with the early upbeat theme of positive change seamlessly and add much to the extremely well-done production.

Afterwards, the writer/director (Liza Mandelup) and David, the chief subject, answered questions about the inspiration for the film and its aftermath. Liza said she had been doing research on the apps that can change one’s appearance when she learned of this eye surgery. She sent the BrightOcular company an e-mail asking if she could do a documentary about the process. They were very positive in their response and never really surfaced as an entity. Their leadership remains a mystery.

She cautions that David was one of the few patients who listened to the warnings from U.S. eye doctors, post-surgery,  and had his implants removed fairly quickly. Others have faced the need to have cornea transplants and some have gone blind because they refused to give up the implants over a period of years. One patient, asked what she would be content with in regards to improving her appearance, answered, “What am I content with? Just more.”

Among the best compliments of the terrific job the filmmaker did with this riveting documentary was a woman who stood up in the back during the Q&A and said, in heavily accented English, “You mean this was a documentary? I thought it was a movie!”

Birthday Events in Chicago: July 23rd Weekend

I’ve been in Chicago for a few days and have discovered that this may be one of the coolest cities of those I track. It was 101 in Austin (Tx), but my son and family were here with me. It was 100 in Nashville, but, likewise, my daughter flew in to join the group of 7 of us celebrating my birthday and attending a concert at Wrigley Field. The Chris Stapleton fans did that on Saturday night.

We also managed to have a wonderful dinner on the 70th floor of the Lake Point Tower restaurant,with a phenomenal view of the city and, afterwards, we were able to stroll over to Navy Pier and check on the fantastic growth of the small trees mid-plaza. I think it’s been a while since I hit Navy Pier and the trees have really matured.

Lastly, Stacey, Ava and Elise and Craig attended the Monet Immersive Exhibit with me and we dined, afterwards, at Corcoran’s Bar & Grill. Expect to see pictures from the fantastic Monet Exhibit for some time, as I took so many that my new phone may be full. We had taken in the Van Gogh Exhibit, and this one was just as impressive.

So, with those explanations, here are some photos from Wednesday through Saturday.

At the Germanium Club and the Monet Immersive Exhibit.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Many News Sources

Nicole Carroll, the Editor-in-Chief of “USA Today” was on CNN this morning at 11:28 E.T., talking about the “Austin American Statesman’s” release of the Uvalde videocam footage of the school shooting in that city. “We are thankful for journalists for not stopping, but asking the tough questions that needed to be asked.” The Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Carroll, bemoaned the fact that authorities were misleading the public with press releases and, in particular, that the information coming out of Uvalde, Texas, after the slaughter of students and teachers in their school were erroneous and delayed. Her  defense of the release of the video was that the Austin “American Statesman” newspaper felt that the public had a right to know the truth so that what happened in Uvalde would not be repeated.

In similar fashion, an earlier CNN story this morning (Sunday, July 17) went into a fair amount of detail about how a local reporter in Indianapolis was able to document the truth of the ten-year-old rape victim who had to travel to another state, from Ohio, to secure an abortion after she was raped (twice) and became pregnant by an illegal alien. At first, various sources such as Fox News flat out called the news false, making no effort to get to the bottom of the truth. It took a local reporter to notice on the court docket that an arraignment was going to happen in court that day of a male charged with rape of a female under 13. She went to the courthouse and learned that the story was absolutely true and the remarks of commentators like Tucker Carlson were based on nothing.

“The Boston Globe” and the “New York Times” are reporting that only 1 in 4 people who are Democrats want Biden to run again and only about half want to see Trump on a ticket again. (Next was DeSantis with 25%). Young voters have lost trust in it all and want nothing to do with the geriatric candidates they are being offered, according to 585 of those interviewed for a “New York Times” article. Only 3 in 10 (Biden) or 4 in 10 (Trump) want to see either of those men run for President again. The duo was considered too old the first time, so running them for a second time is not considered a good idea by the rank and file.

The stories in my first two paragraphs underline why a robust local media is a necessity. Without the enterprising news reporter who followed the 10-year-old rape story to its source, the public would not know the truth. Without the January 6th Commission hearings, the American public would not know the truth about who did what to cause the insurrection on January 6, 2021.

One GOP stalwart, speaking with me, tried to dismiss the January 6th Commission as “a joke,” admitting that he has not listened to the testimony of ALL REPUBLICAN INSIDERS on what really happened that cold January day after the 2020 election. He simply took one network’s directions on faith, without attempting to inform himself by exposure to all points of view, which is my journalism-based goal. (I tape 3 different main news channels and watch the fringe ones late at night for their viewpoint.)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

The complaint he voiced to me was that all the panel members were “hand-picked.” He has missed the fact that every single person testifying was a GOP insider and the only reason that there aren’t more Republican members of the Commission (aside from Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) asking the questions is that Nancy Pelosi warned GOP leader McCarthy that they could not be Republican lawmakers who might be implicated in the coup d’etat:  Mo Brooks (R, Alabama) was involved, as were Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuiliani, Andy Biggs, Louis Gohmer, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Margie Taylor Greene, Brian Babbitt, Matt Gaetz, Paul Goser, Andy Harris, and Jody Heiss. All were involved in pushing for the role of the VP in illegally not certifying the electoral votes (“the Eastman Theory”). Quite obviously, a sitting VP does not have the power to simply throw out the vote of the people, as presented by their official electors. If this were a solid principle, why couldn’t Al Gore have declared himself the “winner” after Florida and the hanging chads in 2000? Obviously, the VP’s role on January 6th was ceremonial, as former Vice President  Dan Quayle advised Pence, and the entire 38-page Eastman coup d’etat document was partisan, flawed, and illegal, constituting sedition if not treason, in trying to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States by hampering the peaceful transition of power.

When McCarthy learned that he could not appoint Trump loyalists (and probable conspirators) like Jim Jordan, he refused to appoint any other Republicans, so the relatively small number of GOP representatives asking the questions is because of McCarthy’s decision not to cooperate.  McCarthy is also responsibl for, first, loudly denouncing January 6th and then scurrying off to Mar-A-Lago to kiss the DJT ring.

Sticking one’s head in the sand and denying that something really happened does not cause it to disappear as an issue, but that seems to be the current GOP strategy for the January 6th Commission, just as it was for the legal outcome of the 2020 presidential election.  The panel has been hearing testimony from high-ranking GOP stalwarts who helped elect DJT and served him in office for 4 years, such as Mr. Cippolone, his Chief Counsel. Fox News won’t cover it, because they know how damaging it is to their appointed dictator-to-be, DJT.

There are several good documentaries about the importance of the local media and investigative reporters in fighting back against Fascism in all its form, one of which, that centered on Storm Lake, Iowa, I reported on for this blog. Storm Lake documentary – Weekly Wilson – Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson) A second one, “Writing with Fire,” detailed how Indian women are making valiant efforts to report on news in that country and are making news, themselves, for their efforts. (This documentary was Oscar-nominated.)

Liz Cheney within the Capitol (Photo courtesy of the Denver Post).

Finally, the commentator spoke sadly about the vast number of Americans who will only watch news from a channel that confirms their biases. This is a mistake, and one I do my best to overcome. I routinely watched OAN in the early morning hours, until cable refused to carry it any more because of the blatant mistruths it was spreading. I tune in Fox News on occasion. I tape “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” and “George Stephanopoulus” and “Fahreed Zakaria” (whose program seems to be airing earlier than it used to. I subscribe to the “Austin American-Statesman,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Quad City Times,” a Seattle newspaper, and the “New York Times” (which has, by far, the best and most-detailed Ukraine coverage.)

Make an effort. Try to get your news from a variety of sources, even if you don’t agree with the point-of-view of some of your sources. I was a journalism major in college and the recipient of that year’s Ferner-Hearst Journalism Scholarship. I care that truth comes out, and I hope you do, too.

Roe v. Wade: What Does the Rest of the World Think?

 

When I received the July 8/July 15th issue (p. 14) of “The Week” magazine, I was most struck by the article on page 14 that relayed how the recent Roe v. Wade reversal is viewed by the rest of the world.  There’s no question that a woman’s decision to have a child–whether intentional or unintentional—is probably the biggest economic decision that female will ever face.

It’s pretty powerful. Here it is:

How They See Us:  U.S. Rolls Back Women’s Human Rights

By reversing Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical conservative majority has delivered “a profound and ominous setback” for women’s rights”—and for democracy, said The Irish Times in an editorial.  Even though more than 60% of Americans believe abortion should be legal “in all or most circumstances,” the court’s life-tenure far-right justices have now cleared the way for abortion bans to take effect in about half of the 50 states.

The U.S. thus joins Catholic El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Poland as the only countries to roll back abortion rights in decades. Some European countries, it’s true, restrict abortion at 12 or 16 weeks, earlier than Roe, but we also have largely free health care, so in practice, European women have easy access to abortion.  Here in Ireland, the procedure was legalized by a referendum in 2018, spurred by the 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied the abortion that would have saved her life as she miscarried an unviable, wanted pregnancy.  Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital as her husband begged doctors to help her.  The U.S. has doomed itself to a future of similar tragedies.

For any European who has ever been pregnant, said Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in The Guardian (U.K.), the news from America “felt visceral, as vicious misogyny often does.” Pregnancy is a wholesale takeover of the body.  I wanted my child, but having been through it, I know that forced birth would “amount to torture.” American women and girls, henceforth, will suffer, and at the explicit direction of the state.  But not all of them, said Marius Oprea in Mediafax (Romania).  Most rich women will still get the care they need, even if they have to travel out of state.  But poor—especially Black, women—will either have unwanted children or try to self-abort.  The U.S. health care system “is utterly unprepared” for the wave of abandoned newborns and mothers in crisis.  Expect a health crisis of “apocalyptic proportions.”

The ruling is further evidence of America’s “democratic collapse,” said Le Monde (France).  The extremist Catholic majority on the court is the product of “the tyranny of a minority permitted by an electoral system outrageously favorable to the most conservative states.”  Donald Trump was defeated in the popular vote, yet became president anyway.  He then nominated 3 ultraconservative justices who were confirmed by a Senate whose makeup is permanently skewed to favor rural voters at the expense of the Democratic majority.

President Biden often talks of a world at war “between democracies and autocracies,” said Mariam Martinez-Bascuan in “El Pais” (Spain), “but we can no longer be sure the U.S. is in the former camp.”The repeal of Roe is just the latest example of Republican “obstinacy,” from the Jan. 6th assault on the Capitol to the “dying rage over firearms” and efforts to restrict the Black vote.  And like the other examples, the abortion ruling will surely hurt America’s standing in the world.  How can the U.S. pose as the beacon of freedom against the authoritarian darkness of Russia or China, when it denies its own female citizens their basic human rights?”

Page 1 of 6

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén