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!

Tag: John McCain

Joe Wilson (R/SC) and Lying Liars Everywhere

Someone smarter than me on www.FactCheck.Org said it first: “If there’s anything the health care debate has made clear it is that the public is starving for the truth.”

I am tempted to say, by way of a humorous aside, “Ain’t it the truth?”

I watched President Obama’s address to Congress on Wednesday, September 9th along with the rest of the nation and applauded when he said, “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.” There were other stirring lines which I could repeat here, but the Big Debate to come out of the night concerns the outburst of Representative Joe Wilson (R, South Carolina) who blurted out “You lie!” when Obama said that the health care bill would not cover illegal aliens.

 Truth is in short supply now; perhaps it has been ever thus.

This episode during Obama’s Congressional speech came on the heels of several lies I, personally, experienced recently.

First, I was lied to, in print (I have the e-mail of Aug. 25th), by a Pulitzer Prize winning writer (who shall remain nameless). Ironically, this very same well-known writer (I heard his latest book has risen as high as Number 4 on the New York Times list) then proceeded to give an address in which he delivered a message to the effect that he “could not live in a world without truth.” My advice to this guy: try telling the truth, yourself, then, for a change! I’d like to be more specific about this writer’s identity, since it was obvious he was working behind-the-scenes hammer-and-tongs to pull a fast one, but was lying about it in writing.  And that same nonfiction writer, Mr. Pulitzer, then lied to me to my face. What have we cone to, as a nation, if you can’t even trust those we elevate to pedestals? Whatever happened to George Washington and the cherry tree story, apocryphal though it may have been?

Second, I listened to a speech given by one of my favorite writing conference speakers, James Strauss, who has been or is a writer for “Deadwood,” “John from Cincinnati,” “House” and other television shows. Now writing novels (The Boy), Jim—who lives in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin because (among other reasons) he cannot abide the incessant stream of untruths that emanate from Hollywood types—told a story about Hollywood wheeler-dealers in which he quoted Hollywood PTB as saying, “We lie, and we tell you that we lie.”

From there, Strauss went on to relate a story of how David Morrell of “Rambo” fame had commiserated with him at a writing conference about the rights to all subsequent “Rambo” films being stolen from him by a famous Hollywood producer “after the first one.” I have heard Morrell speak (“Love Is Murder”) about how having a savvy lawyer when dealing with Hollywood is absolutely essential. I remember, while interviewing Morrell by phone, he was waiting for his agent to call with news of the plans to make yet another “Rambo” movie (the last one), something the author of the piece had learned about only secondhand. Sad.

Thirdly, I received an e-mail from an ex-collaborator claiming he had been responsible for a Joe Hill interview.  I wrote the entire introduction for the interview  (and more than half of the questions), and also set it up, in person, solo, with Joe’s agent, Seale Ballenger and Joe, himself, at a BEA Conference in New York City. Yet, in O.J.-like fashion, this individual (who did not even know that Joe Hill was Stephen King’s son until I clued him in) has somehow convinced himself that he alone did the real work on the interview. He also sent me forth to do the lion’s share of the work under false pretenses, telling me that he had sold the interview to “Cemetery Dance” magazine. I set up the details of the interview under this assumption. Once again, I had been lied to. The interview had not been sold to “Cemetery Dance” at all, but to a far less respectable magazine, one so lurid you really don’t want to have copies of it lying about in your house where someone might see it. So, I was lied to about the journal where the interview was going to appear. Therefore, unintentionally, I misrepresented the journal that would be publishing the piece to Joe Hill and his agent. [I wish to apologize to Joe and Seale with the explanation rendered here.]

So, we’ve established that lies and lying liars abound in the land. It’s not confined to low-lifes if Senators and Pulitzer prizewinners are equally guilty.  The recent hearings that went on around the country, where organized groups shouted down their elected representatives as those representatives tried to explain the proposed health care bill was a particularly egregious example of lies and lying liars. Senator Chuck Grassley (R, IA) and his “pulling the plug on Grandma” comments to constituents made the news. (I noticed that the camera did not find Senator Grassley during Obama’s history-making address to Congress, only the fifteenth time since 1952 that such a joint address to Congress by a sitting president has taken place.)

I watched the Obama speech with appreciation of its tone and the statements made. I also listened to Charlie Rose and a panel dissect it, later, and declare, “the weakest part was the cost section.” Joe Scarborough said (on Charlie Rose), “The speech went well. I thought it was a great speech,” but all on the panel agreed “It is going to be a very messy process for the next 7 weeks.” As good as the speech was, when there are Representatives in the crowd who don’t understand that civility in the face of disagreement is still necessary, the final result is going to be a Joe Wilson who came up with what Senator John McCain (R, AZ) declared was a “totally disrespectful” example of what the majority party is up against.

For the record, Joe Wilson’s apology went something like this:  “This evening, I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill.  While I disagree with the President’s statements, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable.  I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.”

First of all, www.FactCheck.org on September 10th, 2009 determined that the president was not lying. “Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants. The House Bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those who are in the country illegally.” The specific section of the bill is Section 246, where it says, “Nothing in the subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.” Of course, the Republican organ www.Newsmax.com interviewed Steven Camarota, Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies, who said, “Wilson’s comment is correct in that the normal enforcement mechanism was excluded from the bill.  I think that’s the fundamental question.”

Not me. I think the fundamental question is lying as a national pastime. If you can’t trust your Pulitzer prize-winning journalists and your Senators, and people you are trying to collaborate with while doing 90% of the real work and, of course, some of our presidents (yellow uranium cake ore, anyone?), who can you trust any more?

John McCain Speaks in Davenport, Iowa at Campaign Stop on October 11th

John McCainRepublican Presidential candidate John McCain visited Davenport, Iowa and held a rally at the RiverCenter at 136 E.3rd St on Saturday, October 11, 2008. It was the day after his Vice Presidential running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, was found guilty by a bi-partisan committee in Anchorage (AL) of abusing her power as Governor to have a commissioner fired who refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper.

The rally was scheduled for 10 a.m. and the National Anthem was sung by Nick Boyd of Rock Island, a young student from the Illinois Quad Cities, who did a wonderful job. [His voice has not changed yet, however; one wonders whether that pure high tone will stay with him into adulthood.] Nick had previously sung the National Anthem at a Cubs game.

The stage was decked out with a John Deere tractor to the right, amidst some fake foliage, as Moline, Illinois, in the Quad Cities is the international headquarters of Deere & Company.

I sat on the Press risers next to two sixth grade students from Rivermont Collegiate Prep School whose teacher, Leigh Ann Schroeder (a fifth grade teacher) had engineered press passes for her charges. Madeline Bowman, daughter of Carrie and Jerry Bowman, and Lollie Telleen, daughter of Amy and John Telleen, are two of just 12 students in the prestigious but pricey private school located in Bettendorf, Iowa. They seemed excited to be there and even helped by snapping a photo of me.Connie Wilson

My old boss, Bill Wundram of the Quad City Times wandered by quite late in the game, and, later, said that “they all start to seem the same” of his over 50 years in the news game.

The Blue Devil (Davenport Central) Dance Team did a good job of keeping the crowd amused and occupied while we waited for McCain’s entrance, which was to good effect as the Straight Talk Express drove right into the auditorium, which held about 3,000 faithful fans.

I was very interested to see if there were going to be ugly scenes in this basically polite part of the nation. There was one protester who, at 11:22 a.m., was hoisted onto her male friend’s shoulders and unfurled a banner that read War Is Over. They were promptly escorted out and McCain’s retort was, “There are some people who just don’t get it/.” He went on to say that Americans don’t want to hear us yelling at one another.

Before the rally got started, the Master of Ceremonies had noted that, in 2000, Iowa was lost to the Democrats by 2 votes per precinct. In 2004, it was won by the Republicans by 3 votes per precinct. The message was clear, but the margin, this year, may be quite different.

The backdrop on the stage read, in large white on blue letters: REFORM, PROSPERITY and PEACE. I thought about those three banner words. Palin was brought into the race as an agent of “reform,” and it now looks as though she, herself needs to reform. PROSPERITY? We all wish for prosperity, in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. PEACE? Another sigh and another prayer for deliverance.

The music that ushered McCain into the hall was not the usual Country and Western nor the rock-and-roll anthems that some (Jackson Browne, John Cougar Mellencamp, et. al.) have asked the Republicans not to use. It was a rather somber orchestral score, and it led into the remarks that McCain made, such as, “At this time of crisis, we must go to the heart of the problem and, right now, that problem is the housing crisis.”

The Men with the Big Cameras (national media) swept in around 11:10 a.m., but there were fewer of them than at the Cedar Rapids rally and the tripod count was more like 13 than the huge numbers that usually accompany traveling Presidential candidates.

McCain announced, “I’m so happy to be here in the state of Iowa where there are good family values.” Fifteen seconds into his speech, he used his favorite phrase, “My friends.”

McCain: “One thing I hear from America is that they’re angry.” ( I began to question whether this was a wise segue, in light of recent outbursts at other rallies.) “We’ll turn Washington upside down,” said McCain, adding, “I know how to do that” in reference to getting the economy back on track. The GOP candidate went on to say that he would order the Secretary of the Treasury to carry out a home ownership program, to replace high interest mortgages with affordable ones. “There’s so much on the line. The moment requires a government act,” said McCain.

Just before the female protester unfurled her anti-war banner and was unceremoniously hauled out of the hall, McCain said, “Which candidate’s experience in life make him a better leader? In short, who’s ready to lead?” I thought about this and wondered if this statement worked for or against McCain, who does have many years in the Senate—some of them quite contentious— but does not have the global ties that bind Obama, such as ties to Africa and years spent living abroad in the Philippines. Obama is more an “outsider” than Palin, with his birthplace of Hawaii, but he has Midwest roots, courtesy of his white Kansas grandparents.

McCain made reference to earmarks in a criticism of the “$3 million study of the DNA of bears in Montana.” He failed to mention the two weird and expensive earmark studies that Alaskans asked for and got, to study mating habits of crabs, as I remember one of them.

McCain got a big round of applause when he suggested, “Stop sending $700 billion in aid to foreign countries that don’t like us very much.” He also referenced Obama’s “We need a scalpel, not a hatchet” debate rejoinder in Nashville by saying, “Right now, we need a hatchet and a scalpel.”

McCain, again, expressed his capability of “confronting the $10 trillion debt” with his mantra, “I can do that.” He promised to “balance the federal budget before the end of my term,” which seemed very optimistic for any candidate of either party, at this point in time. He offered no specifics.

There were attacks on Obama: “We’ve all heard what he’s said, but it’s less clear what he’s done or what he will do.” He as good as called Obama a liar saying, “I wouldn’t seek advice (in truthfulness) from a Chicago politician.” [Gee, and just when I thought the Republican candidate was going to take the high road for a while, as when he told the misinformed woman in another state at another rally that, no, Obama was not an Arab and expressed admiration for his life story.

At 11:30 a.m. there were shouts of protest from the crowd as McCain spoke of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and accused Obama of remaining silent in reining in their excesses before the crisis and of taking money from these agencies for his campaign. McCain repeated the line accusing Obama of fining employers who don’t put employees in a federal health program he supports, and repeated a line from the Belmont debate, “He won’t specify the amount of the fine for not insuring employers.” Someone shouted out “accountability” at that point. It was unclear whether it was someone who was for McCain or against him.

McCain, again on the attack, went on to accuse Obama of wanting to raise debt by $860 billion dollars.” I swear that the first time he mentioned the figure, he said $850 billion; the next time, it had been raised by $10 billion. (What’s $10 billion or so when we’re dug into debt this deep?)

In his attack against earmarks (federal pork attached to bills), McCain was particularly incensed by Obama’s support for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois to receive funding for a new lens. I live across the street from the Adler Planetarium. I am glad they got the new funding, as it is a major tourist attraction in Chicago. After all, Obama is the junior Senator from Illinois, and it makes more sense than either of the earmark programs mentioned previously.

A memorable quote, but one which made me uneasy: “You don’t have to wonder if there will be change if I am elected. You know there’ll be change if I’m elected.”

At 25 minutes to 12 noon, McCain thanked every veteran in the house and added of the many conflicts we are now engaged in (thanks to 8 years of Republican leadership, poor intelligence, etc., which includes Iraq, Afghanistan, et. al.) “I will bring them (our troops) home with victory and honor and not in defeat.” [I immediately thought to myself in alarm, “Unless they’re killed or seriously wounded before the 100 years is up that you have previously said we should stay and fight.”]

McCain vowed to “fight for you and put the government back on the side of the people.” He added, “I know I can inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest.” Again, I wondered whether the next generation will be more inspired by the almost 73-year-old McCain and his Alaskan running mate, or by the 47-year-old Obama and Joe Biden from Delaware.

At 20 minutes of noon, just before the rally ended, McCain made a reference to the United States Naval Academy and there was a huge round of applause and big cheers from behind him. Showing the good humor showcased to good effect on many “Saturday Night Live” appearances, McCain turned and said, “Naval Academy graduates, I guess,” with a shrug.

And then the rally was over and we all exited into the bright, sunny 80-degree weather to find out whether the University of Iowa Hawkeyes would beat Indiana’s football team in their Big Ten contest (they did).

And, soon, we’ll see if the Old Warrior can beat the odds, fend off his Republican ties to the least popular President of all time, and pull out what is now an upset win against the junior Senator from Illinois, AKA “that one,” which state is just across the I74 bridge I took home.John McCain

Some Thoughts for Today: McCain, Big Oil, Demonstrations & the Stock Market

Party Unity the Word for Democrats Today

I saw part of a speech given by Barack Obama from New Hampshire today, with Hillary Clinton standing there lending moral support. It was the usual outstanding speechifying from the electrifying Obama, and Hillary did her pant suited best to look enthusiastic. (It is said that Bill could only manage a written “endorsement” of the party nominee, but I saw a picture of the two of them, together, looking cozy, somewhere.)

Now begins the character assassination and the jockeying for power and all the rest of it.

I was called to attend a “meeting of interest” to be held at someone’s office. When I asked what the “order of business” was to be, the person calling me (who had been quite insistent that I call her back, even though I had to call long distance, at the time) said that she was trying to organize a “demonstration” that would highlight John McCain’s ties to Big Oil. This would involve being out in the streets with placards, as I understood it.

I don’t go out in the street with placards until I know the entire fact(s) of a situation. I have protested in the streets at least three times, but I need to know the facts of what I am protesting and be pretty honked off about it before I carry paper and wood into battle. I had just done a big piece on the Second Coming of John McCain, for www.jollyjo.com. Admittedly, I was not looking for ties to Big Oil, but, to me, far more dangerous for us are McCain’s ties to war and warlike behavior.

Anyone who had the childhood nickname “McNasty” because he loved to pick fights, who once had a fight on the Senate floor with Strom Thurmond (of all people), whose great ancestors fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War (from Mississippi) and whose grandfather and father commanded the Pacific fleets during two different wars (WWII and Vietnam) has far bigger things to protest there than whether he took money from Big Oil. It is my guess that EVERY BODY took some money from Big Oil.

After careful consideration, I did not attend said meeting, I’m in the Quad Cities about half of the time, and I don’t want to spend it carrying a sign that may (or may not) be true around in the street, protesting something that may (or may not) be true.

When “W” was getting ready to launch all-out war against Iraq and everybody thought that was a hunky-dory idea, THEN I protested. When we needed to get out of Vietnam (1965) THEN I protested (on 2 college campuses). Is it necessary for me to carry a sign linking John McCain to Big Oil on a busy street at this time in history? Methinks not. I will do far better writing about it…if it is true…on this blog, which I promise you will happen, sooner or later.

The stock market plunged a great deal today. It recouped slightly by the end of the day, but it is scary to think of all the controls that have been lifted that would (possibly) prevent another “crash” of the stock market, such as occurred during my father and mother’s lifetime. My father (a banker) predicted a Depression would occur for years and, Dad, if you’re looking down from heaven, you may just be right. If this isn’t a full-out Depression, it sure is beginning to feel like something close.

“Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” Handicap the Presidential Race

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama Debate in Austin, TexasOn Sunday, March 3rd‘s versions of “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press” expert political commentators filled us in on how this year’s race for the Presidential nomination is playing out. A bi-partisan mixture of Republican and Democratic strategists had the opportunity to put in their two cents’ worth. This is how it sounded.

     Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a guest on “Meet the Press”, said, “I’ll make a cash money bet right now on Obama.” There were no takers. Murphy backed up his bet with the information that, even if Hillary wins in both Texas and Ohio, she would have to win 70% of the votes in the 12 states that remain, which represent 611 delegates. (Most of those states, for the curious, are: Oregon, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Mississippi, Guam and Puerto Rico, which has 63 delegates.)

     Bob Schrum—famous for his soaring speech work for the Democrats—commented, “You cannot go into this convention and not have some moral claim.” James Carville, the bald strategist to both Bill and Hillary, who appeared on “Meet the Press” alongside his Republican strategist wife Mary Matalin, said, “Nobody in the world can look at these polls and predict with any accuracy.” He did acknowledge, however, that he agreed with Bill Clinton, who told Texas voters during a campaign rally for his wife in Beaumont, Texas, “If you don’t deliver for her, I don’t think she can (win). It’s on your backs.” Carville agreed with his former boss, saying, “You gotta’ win something.”

     Mary Matalin, his Republican spouse, laughed at most of the comments made about the continuing Democratic death struggle on “Meet the Press”, ultimately commenting, “It’s so khumbaya that they (the Democrats) can’t pick a nominee.”

     Countered her Republican counterpart Murphy, “Turnout is his (Obama’s) demographic. The thing I’d be watching on Election Day is turnout. He creates a turnout demographic that is very powerful.  My gut tells me he’s gonna’ take ‘em both (Ohio and Texas), and that’ll be the end.”

     Democratic strategist and speechwriter “Schrummie” (Bob Schrum) interjected, “What we’re really seeing is a generational struggle inside the Democratic party.” He went on to liken Hillary to the Beach Boys when the Beatles came to America.  The analogies were flying thick and fast. At one point, Obama was even compared to the hula hoop craze! Is it a fad? Will it last? What about staying power?

    There was a lot of scrutiny of the latest ads that Hillary and Obama are running. The ads show a phone call coming in to a home with sleeping children in the dead of night. Hillary answers the pre-dawn ringing phone, dressed to the teeth (my husband wondered why she wouldn’t be in her nightgown, a valid Republican observation). The implication: a crisis call was coming in. Who is most qualified to answer it?

     Obama immediately countered this Mark Penn-designed ad with one that used the same imagery, but underscored his judgment as being sounder, as he had been against the Iraq War since the beginning. Carville categorized both ads as “fair.” Then the experts began picking them apart, saying that the origin of such a ringing telephone ad goes all the way back to Walter Mondale in 1984, running against Gary Hart and using an image of a red phone. (Boy! Did that phone look dated!) The problem, the strategists said, is that the “red phone” fear message has become a bit of a cliché. The implication:  this cliché charge is also true of Hillary’s entire campaign.

     Next came some finger pointing. “Mark Penn has called the strategy in this campaign, dominated it.” This from Jason Horowitz’s New York Observer newspaper article titled “Ickes: Blame Penn.” As her chief strategist, Penn actually wrote the current phone call ad.

    There were moments of mirth. After the phone ad began appearing in Texas and Ohio, someone asked Hillary during a campaign stop to give an example of a time when she had to handle a crisis phone call. There was apparently not a lot of thought given beforehand to this particular question arising.  The best answer the campaign spokesman came up with was,  “She’s on the Armed Services Committee.” Said Democrat Schrum, laughing, “You know the only crisis on the Armed Services Committee is when John McCain loses his temper.” Republican Murphy, laughing, added, “The only crisis call she (Hillary) might get is from Texas.”

     Chuck Todd, the NBC News Political Director was quoted  (“Meet the Press”) this way, “According to our delegate math, Clinton winning both Ohio and Texas by 52% – 48% would net her a combined 5-6 delegates.  Yet, toss in a potential Obama landslide in Vermont, and then her next March 4th haul could be as little as 2-5 delegates.”

    On “Face the Nation” Governor Bill Richardson was interviewed, as was former candidate Senator Chris Dodd (D, Connecticut), who noted that “If experience is the sole criteria, it should be Joe Biden and me,” something he said more than once on the campaign trail in Iowa. Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, a Clinton supporter, was interviewed onscreen as well, and commented, “We’re hiring someone to do the toughest job in the country, and a big part of that job is being Commander-in-Chief. Intelligence people report renewed attacks. It’s a risky world. We need someone with the seasoning and the ability to be Commander-in-Chief. It’s a dangerous world.”

     Chris Dodd (D, CT), who has endorsed Obama, countered with, “This is a person (Obama) eminently qualified to lead. It’s not, as they say, just about who answers that phone, but about what they say.” For those of us who have heard Hillary Clinton’s shrill tone of voice, we might add, “and it’s about HOW that individual speaks when they answer.”

    From Santa Fe, New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson on” Face the Nation”, who has endorsed neither candidate, weighed in with, “I am legitimately torn (between the candidates),” saying, “The concern that I have is that the bickering is going on too long. D-Day is Tuesday. I want to see us, after Tuesday, come together and move towards the general election.” He added, “McCain cannot be taken for granted.” Richardson noted, “We haven’t elected a Senator in over 40 years. I guess we’re going to this time.”

    Many charts and graphs were used to reinforce points being made. To share just a few: In Ohio, Clinton attracts just 38% of men under 50, while Obama gets 52%. Hillary gets the vote of 54% of those over 50 in Ohio, while Obama gets only 36% of those over 50. By race (in Ohio) Obama claims the vote of 86% of African-Americans (to Clinton’s 6%), while 62% of Hispanics favor Clinton, compared to only 30% for Obama. (“Meet the Press” graphic).

     As to Super Delegates, those much-discussed 800, the change since February 5th has seen Obama pick up 38, while Clinton has lost 6, giving Obama a 111-vote lead. In a Pew Foundation Poll shown on “Meet the Press”, when asked whether a candidate was “very likable,” “somewhat likable” or “not likable,” Obama was judged “Very likable” by 50% to Clinton’s 26% and McCain’s 21%. In the “somewhat” range, the split was 35% for Obama, to 37% for Clinton, to 55% for McCain. In the dreaded “Not Likable” category, Hillary scored 33%, while McCain was at 18% and Obama at 10%.

     Republican strategist Mike Murphy on “Meet the Press,” commenting on the general election, said, “We’ve got the one different kind of Republican this year who can go to the center, and a lot of the Obama stuff—the energy behind his campaign, other than the war—is stuff John McCain built his reputation on and frankly has shown a lot more courage on than Barack Obama ever has. He’ll (McCain’ll) co-opt that middle space and beat him on experience and leadership.”

     All agreed that, if Obama were to be elected, it would “set the Conservative movement back 50 years.”

     In another interesting bit, respondents to a CNBC Current State of the Economy survey (“Meet the Press”) were asked to respond with one word to the three remaining candidates in the race. The responses to each candidate and the word used most frequently follows:


            Old                                55

            Honest                          32

            Experienced                29       

            Patriot                          21

            Conservative               14

            Hero                              13

            Liberal                          12


            Inexperienced              45       

            Charismatic                   32

            Intelligent                      25

            Change                            23

            Inspirational                  14

            Young                              12

            New                                  11


            Experienced                 34

            Strong                           16

            Untrustworthy            16

            Intelligent                     15

            Smart                             14

            Determined                   12

            Rhymes with

            “witch”                             11

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