We haven’t had Tangerine Satan president even a week before the wheels have come off the American wagon.
Trump has so many conflicts of interest, so many defiantly ignorant and wrong ideas of procedure and tradition, that gaining focus to resist is not an easy task. Today we’ll take two: his cabinet net worth and treatment of the press.
Remember when Trump said he was “for the little guy?” Yeah about that: The combined net worth of Trump’s cabinet choices and other “important presidential appointments” so far exceed $20 billion. If you isolate just his closest circle (from the WaPo):
The net worth of the Cabinet Trump had selected as of Monday was at least $13.1 billion, based on available estimates, or more than the annual gross domestic product of about 70 small countries.
So when all the focus was on Hillary Clinton being beholden to Wall Street and too cozy with monied donors, and the promises of eschewing corporate interests, we was full of crap.
By comparison, by the end of his presidency George W. Bush’s team was worth “about $390 million collectively,” says the Washington Post.
Trump is in fact so corrupt, so full of daily lies, that the resistance to him could splinter since there are so many strands on the sweater to pull.
The one that is currently frying my rice? The reaction of D.C. poh poh to the constitutionally protected action of protesting—and the covering of those protests. Granted, some of the protestors became violent and caused damage. But that doesn’t justify rounding up whole swaths of people and throwing them in jail—some of them without charges.
I also learned a new word that you need to know: “Kettling.” Think of it as the opposite of law-enforcement restraint. In a nutshell, when police set up a perimeter around a group of protestors, all of the people within that circle are subject to arrest and detention. Here’s the problem: innocent protestors, marchers and, yes, journalists can get ensnared in a situation that could involve confiscation of cell phones and lack of access to communication, food and water, and bathroom services.
D.C. police ignored decades of precedent and “kettled” a large group, including at least six journalists. All of them are subject to a felony sentence of 10 years in priz or a hefty fine. Sound outlandish? That’s because it is (ThinkProgress):
It’s a tactic known as overcharging, where prosecutors use the threat of long jail terms to induce guilty pleas. Even if Phillips ultimately drops some of these 200-plus felony cases after reviewing evidence more carefully, Hopkins-Maxwell said, he’s already sent a clear and ugly signal.
I don’t see how our union can survive this. Setting aside egregious civil liberties violations of the peaceful protestors, our media and legal observers cannot and should not be intimidated into silence. We won’t be silent, either.
We can thank producer Sheila Nevins for Bright Lights (HBO)—the greatest unintentional farewell gift imaginable. After Nevins had seen Fisher’s show Wishful Drinking (based on the book of the same name, which is great—highly recommended), she thought it would be perfect to adapt it for television.
What was uncovered in that process was the bond these two women shared, and Fisher’s desire to film her mother’s continuing performing verve. “In my heart of hearts, I think Carrie wanted to memorialize Debbie,” Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter.
Bright Lights would have been poignant and sad in its own right without the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds a day apart. The doc’s producers moved up the release date from March after they sadly passed away.
Many scenes in this brilliant documentary (which, by the by, will win an Emmy) spoke to me, but most of all, the moment in the antique shop where Carrie was filled with enthusiasm as a collector. “I’m having a crisis of joy” she quipped wistfully. To me this encapsulated her as a person, surviving manic depression and addiction, only to come out on the other side shopping with gusto.
I had the privilege to be at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, and I attended one of the black-tie parties with some pals. Carrie Fisher was there, sitting quietly by the side of the stage, watching Cyndi Lauper sing with Rufus Rainwright. I didn’t know it at the time, but I captured a rare moment of Carrie enjoying the show, seated to the side of the stage—much like I imagine she did when her mother was performing.
I was so happy to dig this series out of the vault so I can share it with you.
One final postscript: director Fisher Stevens played a bit part in Friends as Phoebe’s annoying psychologist boyfriend who analyzed the bunch, much to their chagrin. Stevens’ interview with Access Hollywood is actually quite good and gives some background on how the two women reacted to the film.
Last week (CrankyYank Vol. 47) we had esteemed guest blogger and great pal Rob “Reenage” O’Connor review the first episode of Homeland (Showtime) Season 6. He wrote accurately that this new season’s episodes have “some exciting possibilities in them already, and offer the taste of some real meat as they begin to intertwine.”
I offer a quick counterpoint to Rob’s review, which was largely positive. For me, the first episode landed like the thud of yellowpage books on your front porch. The writing and directing were spotty and vague—certainly not in keeping with past episodes that were built around suspenseful plot arcs and gripping sequences in foreign lands.
As I mention in my sidebar bio, I’m obsessed with the mechanics of filmmaking. In this case, there were many stumbles in the plot and directing that gave me pause. Why did Quinn have to visit the drug den? Why did that intruder come in and decide, “nah, I’ll wait” and pause on his robbery and get serviced by a hooker first. Huh?
I especially loathe when filmmakers do too many takes and try to overlap them to make sense in post-production editing. With a show so heavily reliant on storytelling, tell the fucking story in a single shot rather that stunt the emotional impact by cutting up varying angles. Single long shots ask more of the actors but, in the end, produce a way more convincing product.
Todd VanDerWerff over at Vox has the best take on the series in my view:
Most seasons of Homeland start slowly. Showrunner Alex Gansa and his writers want nothing more than to emulate great spy novels, which take time to build up steam.
But even by those standards, the early episodes of season six are a patience-testing slow burn. The Quinn stuff is unnecessary, and every other storyline feels like it’s taking place on a different show. It’s not clear why Carrie, Saul, and the president-elect are all in the same series, except for the fact that they have been before. And even when Homeland tries to knit them together, the result feels slightly forced.
The show—even with a surprising course-correction from frantic thriller to build-as-you-go drama—is still one of the best on TV. Like Rob, I’m putting my trust in writers, directors and producers to take us on a ride that both mirrors and exposes political life as we know it.
My friend Eddie Duke here in Atlanta gave me a heads-up about meditation audio on YouTube that can help you center yourself and encourage you to breathe. Do a search and find one that suits you, but this 3-Hour Reiki Music video above has a great selection of healing, meditative “soundtrack-y” instrumental music that will cure your crankies in no time flat.
That’s a wrap guys. We’ll see you right back here next Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Make sure to comment often—cranky loves company.
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