Summer movie watching list

Avoiding the summer blockbuster movies, here are few movies worth the watch from the convenience of your own home. You may have seen a couple of these movies, but they may be worth the watch again. In no particular order:

“Sarah’s Key” starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Aiden Quinn, Melusine Mayance as the young Sarah, Charlotte Poutrel as the older Sarah and Niels Aretsrup is based on the novel by the same name. Scott Thomas plays a journalist whose husband’s family lived in a Paris apartment vacated when the Vichy (Nazi) government rounded up the Jews during August, 1942. Sarah is the youngest daughter of the Jewish family. The movie is outstanding as it flips back and forth to different periods to show what happened and Scott Thomas’ investigation of such.

“First do no harm” stars Meryl Streep, Fred Ward, Alison Janney and Seth Adkins as the young boy. It is based on a true story of a mother’s fight to get better care for her epileptic son. The movie is excellent and an ideal role for Streep as the mother. Ward does a good job as her husband who is a road weary truck driver whose insurance was temporarily canceled during a change in insurance carriers. But, this issue is less about insurance and more about the kind of treatment he needs.

“Spotlight” which I had seen is based on a true story of a special reports division of the Boston Globe that goes by that name. Spotlight investigated and broke open the story in 2002 of a covered-up decades old pedophile priest problem in Boston. It stars Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and a host of other good actors. With the recent reports on the sexual misconduct of Southern Baptist ministers, this story remains critical.

“Road to your heart” is a South African movie about a son who is asked by his father’s will to do a series of visits to people who touched him as he journeys to his funeral in Cape Town. He is accompanied by an eclectic young woman who gives him a ride when he must lose his car per the will. The movie stars Ivan Botha and Donnalee Roberts as the travelers. While in subtitles, the movie is actually quite good, especially with the obvious chemistry of the two stars, who later get married in real life. Marius Weyers plays the father.

“Ladies in black” is an Australian movie based in the late 1950s. It is about the social and work lives of four women who work together in a department store in Sydney, who are required to wear black dresses to work. The focus is most on the college bound, well-read young intern played by Angourie Rice (who was in “Mare of Eastown with Kate Winslet). But, the other three women’s stories of acceptance in society by a Hungarian refugee played by Julia Ormond, a former dancer who learned her opinion mattered played by Rachel Taylor and a woman whose husband is shy and not very affectionate played by Alison McGirr are covered. The movie is surprisingly good and gives glimpse of culture and mores in the late 1950s.

“War flowers” stars Christina Ricci as southern woman with a daughter played by Gabrielle Popa) whose husband is fighting in the Civil War. She mends a wounded Union soldier (played by Jason Gedrick) who crawled into her basement to get away from the action. Tom Berenger plays a small part as a Union general. The movie is good, but does get a little cheesy on occasion. Ricci, who usually plays bizarre characters, does an admirable job in the lonely wife.

“Sweet land” is a surprisingly good movie about an immigrant woman from Germany traveling to Minnesota to marry a US citizen, a transplanted Norwegian man. The movie is set before WWI and stars Elizabeth Reaser as the young Inge, with Lois Smith the older version. Tim Guinee plays the young Olaf who is painfully shy. Alan Cumming and Alex Kingston liven up the movie as friends of Olaf who welcome Inge. This is critical as the town is not very accepting of a German immigrant.

“Heartland” stars Conchata Ferrell, Rip Torn and Megan Folsom. It is set in Wyoming and involves a mother (Ferrell) and daughter (Folsom) moving west to work as a cook and gardener for a rancher played by Torn. Based on a true story, the woman applies for a homestead and is supported by Torn whose interests in Ferrell are mutually shared. It is a good movie and takes advantage of Ferrell’s feistiness for the role.

Others include “Jindabyne” starring Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne in an Australian movie about a discovered murdered girl, “Columbus” starring John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson and Parker Posey about an young woman coming of age and falling for the son of a famous architect visiting Columbus, Indiana and “Then she found me” starring Helen Hunt, Colin Firth and Bette Midler about a separated woman finding love with the father of one of her students and being found by her birth mother.

If you were short on time, the first three are outstanding movies.

Cassidy Hutchinson – testimony exudes courage and honor

It was a privilege to see a public servant like Cassidy Hutchinson show political courage and honor her oath to the constitution. Her difficult testimony to the House select committee needs to be both commended and heeded. As former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said he knows Hutchinson and believes her. In contrast, people who know Mark Meadows and Donald Trump don’t believe them. Their history does not warrant such trust.

Her testimony and that of others through emails and texts on January 6, 2021, paints a “disgusting” picture of the former president’s seditious and deceitful actions leading up to the insurrection on a branch of government. Also, he showed little regard for the folks he endangered. Trump claims Mike Pence is a “wimp” and deserved be hanged shows a disturbing lack of character of the former president.

It will not surprise me if the former president and his allies are charged with seditious actions. He cannot blame anyone but himself for his actions.

*Note: The following article by Rex Huppke in The USA Today entitled “Cassidy Hutchinson puts her former boss and assorted Trump-supporting cowards to shame” is worth a quick read. This quote struck me:

“But until those calling Hutchinson a liar do what she did – testify under oath before a congressional committee – their words hold the combined worth of Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Airlines and Trump University.

Republican icon Senator Alan Simpson urges Trump to ‘stop the squeal’

In a Mediate article this week entitled “Wyoming GOP Icon Rips Into ‘Spoiled Brat Trump,’ Urges Him to ‘Stop the Squeal’ After Taping Ad For Liz Cheney,” the headline tells you as much as you need to know. In a MSNBC headline called “This former Republican senator just called Donald Trump a ‘spoiled brat'” the following is noted in the first few paragraphs:

“Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson isn’t a big Donald Trump fan.

In an interview with NBC News, Simpson called Trump, among other things, a ‘spoiled brat’ and said that ‘this guy is so full of himself that he would overturn every kind of rule of law or Constitutional process because of his own ego, which is twisted.’

Simpson, a Republican, acknowledged that he voted for Trump in 2016 but noted that ‘I’ll never vote for him again – that’s for goddamn sure.'”

This is the kind of push back the Republican party should have been giving Donald Trump all along. It is sad that this former president instigated a seditious act on a branch of government and his Big Lie and other lies have further divided our country. We need more folks like Simpson in the GOP and government and less of those like the former president. Maybe we could get back to more normalcy.

Please note, I hold Simpson in high regard. His opinion matters, at least to me. He collaborated with Democrat Erskine Bowles to lead the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee formed by President Barack Obama. Their ideas had merit and should have been given more consideration than they were. Now, the debt and deficit is far worse.

I mention this example as what Simpson-Bowles did is what we need more of in Congress and country. People coming together to solve problems. This tribal BS we have in our country serves no one if problems do not get addressed or, worse, problems are created.

Strong suggestion for Democrats

I have a strong suggestion for Democrats who are not happy with the Roe v Wade verdict, watered down gun governance and restrictions on civil rights and are fearful of climate change inaction, environmental degradation and health care attacks, they need to vote. Know the rules that have been altered to keep you from voting and get out and vote. You could throw a few million people marches to get their attention as well.

There is a canary in the coal mine that is saying more voters are switching to the GOP (I read 1+ million), including the suburban educated women voters. To me, this tells me that people are listening to messaging coming out of more conservative channels that rakes Dems over the coals. I am not saying that messaging is correct, but people are listening to it.

Dems better crystalize key talking points that will appeal to all Americans and hammer them home. If they appeal to only progressive Dems, they will need to look up what happened to George McGovern in 1972. Watergate was in part related to Nixon wanting to run against McGovern and not Edmund Muskie. He knew he could beat McGovern but knew Muskie would be a tougher challenge. He ran against McGovern and won 49 states to 1.

Note, I am not saying progressive ideas are not good, but they need to be ideas that are saleable to all Americans and not offensive because of poor word choice. For example, “Defund the police” may have not meant exactly what it said, but the term was a gift to Republicans. My old party is bereft of good ideas in my view which is one reason conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the GOP is in “decay.” But, the GOP spin doctors do a better job, aided and abetted by Fox News, QAnon, and Infowars, et al, to focus on over-exaggerated issues where a label can be slapped on it and a bumper sticker created.

And, Dems please note, they are winning at this and expect to take the House and Senate majority. I have said before we need a viable Republican party, but this is not it. The best way to rid the country of this extreme party is not to vote for them.

Monday, Monday – a few this and that(s)

Since our friend Jill recently posted “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and Papas, let me use the title of another one of their songs to begin the week. Here are few items to chew on for the week:

  • Since January 6, 2021, I have felt the political career of the former president is over. But, I felt it would take some time for the Republican party to figure that out. To be honest, it has taken a little longer, but that is due to active sycophants who are scared to tell the MAGA crowd the truth.
  • The great unraveling is occurring with donors getting tired of the “sh** show” as one referred to Trump’s antics and an increasing number of conservative icons speaking out. The latest is Brian Kilmeade, who is one of hosts on Fox and Friends. His criticism speaks volumes as he has fawned over Trump for years.
  • I also heard that Trump is riveted to the hearings and is in furor with no one there to defend the indefensible – that Trump betrayed his country. He is blaming everyone else but the guy watching the TV from his home. The fact he is not accountable for his own actions has long been a weakness of the former president, but we have to remember his mentor, attorney Roy Cohn told him to “never apologize and to sue everyone” per his biographers.
  • I do think the odds-on favorite to the GOP nomination in 2024 is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. As an independent, this troubles me as I see a more effective mini-Trump in DeSantis who bullies people into acquiescence. The GOP could do much better with ex-govenors Mitch Daniels or John Kasich, but they do not stand a chance in hell, given they are more moderate and collaborative. Like Trump, the truth is a foreign currency to DeSantis, even before becoming governor.
  • SCOTUS has made two horrible rulings the past ten days to appease two different crowds of people. Roe v. Wade being changed gets the most notoriety. They took a fifty-year-old law that had been reduced to a workable framework and decided to gut it. So, now we will have a confederation of state laws. What is interesting to me, there were enough votes in Congress to pass some continuation of Roe v. Wade and may still be there, but it will require very narrow focus and not an expanded one. I think once Republicans realize this ruling is not a winner, some may want to come to the table, but that window for change may have closed.
  • The second ruling allowed people to more openly carry a gun overturning a New York law. This occurred a few days before Congress passed some watered governance changes, but at least they did do something. The SCOTUS ruling concerns me as mixing testosterone, alcohol and a firearms means more gun deaths. Mixing depression and gun access means more suicides. To be frank, people carrying guns does not make me feel safer given the temperature of too many in our country. People wound too tight might shoot first and talk second.
  • As for shootings, the beat goes on. More occurred yesterday. Plus, the US has exported mass shootings to other civilized countries, Norway being the most recent example. Given our fascination with guns and freedoms to use them, I truly don’t think we will ever solve this problem unless we make more demonstrative changes. I am glad something was done, but it was not near enough. But, it is a start. Sadly, the SCOTUS ruling may erase the chalk on the board where the new law is written.

That is all for now. Let me know your thoughts.

It is better we found out now

A friend told me that regardless of the seditious actions and Big Lie of the former president, that even his better educated relatives and friends who voted for Donald J. Trump will do so again. As unbelievable as this sounds, too many think this way. Here was a note I forwarded to him that he could feel free to share.

As an independent and former Republican and Democrat, I understood why some voted for Trump in 2016, as his opponent, although very experienced and skilled, rubbed too many the wrong way. She was one of the most capable candidates that has ever run, yet Trump’s success was getting people not to vote at all or for one of the other three candidates due to her past.

After watching him for four years, I cannot believe people voted for him again as what I saw was overt deceitful and bullying actions and as a conservative pundit David Brooks said a White House that was “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” His bungling of the pandemic response lingered after he left office and endangered too many. Yet, his fans just ignored all the bad press as biased and voted for him again. Yet, seeing the Big Lie and instigation of the insurrection on a branch of government is seditious action and he and his allies should be held to account. It is traitorous behavior. Full stop.

The question is not could Donald Trump win again – he could as we are not a very informed nation on the whole. The question is he should not be allowed to run again because he betrayed his country, as president. We are more divided as a nation because a person with a shallow ego is not man (or adult) enough to admit he lost the election. He can spin this all he wants, but he has lost all but one out of 65 or so court cases and every recount, audit and review. He cannot lose any more than he has. His niece said he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election – it is our democracy he is burning down.

Presidential historians have ranked him the 5th worst president in the US primarily due to his botching the pandemic and the insurrection and Big Lie. Yet, what little success he had is overstated as he inherited an economy that was in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth, with a more than doubled stock market and six straight years of  2+ million per annum job growth. Saying Trump did great with the economy is also saying Barack Obama did as well, which Republicans are loathe to do. Yet, Trump left us with a recession and Obama inherited a recession from his predecessor.

Sorry for the soapbox. Please feel free to route this as you see fit.

Letter to the editor – concerns over attacks on others

I sent the following brief letter to my newspaper this weekend. It will likely go unprinted, but I want to share it with you in case you would like to modify and use. Maybe it will get printed somewhere.

Reading about the increase in verbal and physical attacks on LGBTQ+ citizens or the denigration of the rights of women or people of color concern me. This is especially troubling when it comes from people who espouse the teachings of Jesus. When he said treat others like you want to be treated, he offered no caveats. Full stop. If we would only follow that one rule, which is so important it is called “golden” and also appears in in other religious texts, we would be in a much better place with our civility. We have two ears and one mouth, we should use them in that proportion. We all deserve such treatment.

People died for our country to preserve the freedoms for all its citizens. That guy Jesus chose to spend most of his time speaking to and hanging out with the disenfranchised people in his time. We should remind ourselves why would they choose to do that. Our country has had fits and starts of trying to live up to our ideals. Yet, we should never stop trying to be the best version of ourselves.

Tuesday’s gone with the wind – a few more windy remarks

Using one of my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, “Tuesday’s gone” one more time, let me offer some more windy remarks. This is in deference to many politicians who tend to be big bags of wind with contrived and exaggerated truths.

  • I know everyone is anticipating the Roe v Wade impacting ruling from the Supreme Court, but another major ruling will affect jurisdiction over corporations, making it easier on these entities to cut corners. I have said before, the primary reason Republicans like conservative judges is not things like Roe v Wade, it is to help companies avoid having to be held liable for their misdeeds. Everything else is window-dressing to that primary purpose.
  • The Wizard of Oz-like actions of the most recent former president is underway to get people not to look behind the January 6 insurrection curtain. If they do, they will see a person pulling everyone’s levers to mask his own actions of sedition and deceit. It will not surprise me if the former president is brought up on charges by the Attorney General after this for his role in the insurrection. It will not surprise me if a few congressmen are brought up as well.
  • I truly would hate to be Joe Biden right now. This imperfect man has Republicans who are told to blame him for everything, pretty much in lock step, and he has progressives who do not like that he is not going far enough. So, he will continually get low marks on ratings as he truly cannot win. Has he made mistakes? Yes. Is he as bad as being portrayed? No. And, after the deceitful, bullying, seditious and denigrating actions of his predecessor, he is truly a breath of normalcy.
  • Boris Johnson needs to say a prayer every night and thank Vladimir Putin for getting him off the front page with negative news about him. Putin has become what he should always have been known as, a pariah in the world. It is no one else’s fault but Putin’s for the invasion. I miss that Senator John McCain has passed away, as he was Putin’s largest nemesis and he would be all over this issue. McCain would also be all over the former US president.

That is enough wind-blowing for now. Tuesday’s gone with the wind…

Short note to Republican Congressman after more disturbing remarks

The following is a note I posted on my Republican Congressman’s website after reading his comments that the House Select Committee was traitorous and not the subject of why they were formed. It should be noted this is just one more example why I did not vote for this person. I truly am long past weary of people who swore an oath to the constitution kowtowing more to a person who betrayed his country, in my view.

Congressman, as an independent and former Republican, seeing your remarks on Newsmaxx about the House Select Committee is highly disappointing and disturbing. We must get to the bottom of what happened during this insurrection and hold people to account, full stop.

There are only two Republicans on the committee because Kevin McCarthy nominated several folks who had conflicts of interest. A simple question is if people are so innocent, why did several GOP members of Congress ask for a pardon in the former president’s final days.

To be frank, from what I witnessed and have read, it would not surprise me if the former president is brought up on charges. He instigated this insurrection with his bogus and unproven election fraud claims, and invited and incited people to besiege the Capitol. I am glad you and others survived, but some were not so fortunate.

We need a viable Conservative party but following the former president while vilifying the truth tellers is not the best path forward. Please reconsider your stance on this. As Liz Cheney correctly said “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.” Republicans must get back on better footing.

Chile water crisis should serve as a warning

In an article called “‘Consequences will be dire’: Chile’s water crisis is reaching breaking point” by John Bartlett as reported in The Guardian, a long-lasting drought and water misuse have led to an alarming problem. The sad truth is the water crisis in Chile is not an isolated event. The following select paragraphs tell an important story. The full article can be linked to below.

Unprecedented drought makes water a national security issue as more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in area with ‘severe water scarcity’ by end of 2021.

From the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, a 13-year megadrought is straining Chile’s freshwater resources to breaking point.

By the end of 2021, the fourth driest year on record, more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in an area suffering from ‘severe water scarcity’, and in April an unprecedented water rationing plan was announced for the capital, Santiago.

In hundreds of rural communities in the centre and north of the country, Chileans are forced to rely on emergency tankers to deliver drinking water.

Ecuadorian natives clash with the police 30km from Quito in 2010 in protest of a proposed water privatisation measure.

‘Water has become a national security issue – it’s that serious,’ said Pablo García-Chevesich, a Chilean hydrologist working at the University of Arizona. ‘It’s the biggest problem facing the country economically, socially and environmentally. If we don’t solve this, then water will be the cause of the next uprising.’……

‘I used to supply all of the markets and communities in the area,’ said Alfonso Ortíz, 73, a farmer who once employed several workers to grow watermelons, pumpkins, corn and oranges using water from the lagoon.

‘Agriculture here is dead. There’s nothing left,’ he said.

Chile’s economy, South America’s largest by per-capita GDP, is built on water-intensive, extractivist industries principally mining, forestry and agriculture.

But its growth has come at a price.

Supported by the private rights system, about 59% of the country’s water resources are dedicated to forestry, despite it making up just 3% of Chile’s GDP.

Another 37% is destined for the agricultural sector, meaning only 2% of Chile’s water is set aside for human consumption.”

Re-read that last sentence. “2% of Chile’s water is set for human consumption.” While this is an extreme example it is not isolated. Going on for several years now, the number one long term crisis facing us as surveyed by the World Economic Forum is the global water crisis. Climate change impact was second as it actually makes the first problem worse.

For those that think it cannot happen here, farmers in the plains of the US are worried about water. There is a great book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn that shares these concerns. There is one town in Texas that is now dry because of fracking and drought. Other water supplies are getting more dear and fights over river and reservoir access have been going on. The Biscayne aquifer that provides water to Miami is being encroached on by rising sea levels coming through the porous limestone. And, that is before the issue of lead pipes comes into the equation.

What troubles me greatly is the lack of public debate over this concern. Cape Town, South Africa was so bad off it had a countdown to no water. It survived, but just barely. Yet, not a peep was discussed here. We are to busy talking about contrived and exaggerated issues to deal with real crises. One would think not having water to drink or irrigate crops would be a concern. One would think that climate change causing water reservoirs to dry up faster and cause longer droughts and forest fires would be a concern.

Let me leave you with this thought. I heard a spokesperson from one of the largest US utilities speak on climate change impact. This utility had a long-range report that said two very disturbing things. First, they have increased their model for expected evaporation of reservoir water due to climate change by 11%. If the water level is too low, it cannot be converted into steam to turn the turbines to create power. So, they cut the water flow to people to make up for it, as they manage the river.

Second, these long-range projections noted the river will not be able to support the water needs of the metropolitan population in about fifty years unless something is done. This troubling projection has gotten very little coverage in our newspapers or TV news. This is more concerning to me than BS like critical race theory or replacement theory which are the contrived and exaggerated issues of the day.

Steven Solomon, author of “Water” created a term that has been used by at least one utility executive. “Water is the new oil.” If that does not scare you, note oil rich Saudi Arabia said it was OK to pray with sand rather than water. Why? They said Allah gave them a lot of oil, but little water.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/01/chiles-water-crisis-megadrought-reaching-breaking-point