It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, and I’m taking a break from politics, which always includes watching a movie.

I’ve been a Tom Hanks fan since his Bosom Buddies days (1980-1982, that’s how old I am), a series oddly prescient of some of today’s headlines,

Two young single ad men must disguise themselves as women to live in the one apartment they can afford.

Hanks went on to star in dozens of movies, many of which involve travel-related mishaps.

Hanks’s mismatched shoes at the airport get him into trouble in The Man With One Red Shoe. He goes to the boardwalk as a child and turns into a grownup in Big. He has a fateful car accident in The Bonfire of the Vanities. He and Gary Sinise nearly get blown to smithereens twice – first in battle, later in a hurricane – in Forrest Gump, and let’s not forget when he and Meg Ryan came thisclose to being human sacrifices in Joe Versus the Volcano.

As Hanks’s career took off, he starred as astronaut Jim Lovell in Apollo 13, where he said one of cinema’s  most-quoted lines, “Houston, we have a problem,” after the capsule sprung an oxygen leak and lost power following an on-board explosion:

Hanks was hounded by a cabal which counted as a member a self-flagellating albino in The Da Vinci Code. East German punks stole his coat in Bridge of Spies, and Somali pirates his ship in Captain Phillips. He even played Chesley ‘Sully‘ Sullenberger, the most-skilled pilot who landed an airplane full of passengers on the East River. Speaking of passengers, his character was stranded for months at JFK airport in The Terminal.

But Tom Hanks’s most famous movie involving disastrous travel is Cast Away (2000), where he plays Chuck Noland, a FedEx executive who spends years talking to a volleyball named Wilson while stranded on an island somewhere in the Pacific:

Tom Hanks loves “you can’t get there from here” plots.

It’s all entertainment, and he does it very well. So does Denzel Washington, also in the same generation, but if I’m ever at Lowe’s and Denzel comes in followed by five Russians, I’m dropping everything and heading out the door.

Just in case.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Everybody’s posting on Rachel Maddow’s debacle from last evening, where viewers sat through 20 minutes of preamble leading to this,

After the first break—at which point the tax returns were already available on the internet and glossed by the Daily Beast—Maddow was joined by Johnston, and she began by asking him how he knew Trump hadn’t sent the returns himself. Johnston said that he could have. A few hours after Maddow finished airing, this has become a popular conspiracy theory, simply because, if Donald Trump were to share any of his tax returns, the 2005 1040 seems like a good candidate. Trump paid taxes at a rate of around 4 percent, but because of the alternate minimum tax, he also paid an additional $31 million. The form revealed that, rather than not paying taxes and making no money, Trump paid $38 million on $150 million in income. Maddow promised to pull a sordid revelation out of a hat and instead plucked out … Trump’s credibility? Maddow was soon parsing, asking Johnston to explain that Trump is currently trying to do away with the AMT, which, unfair as it may be, still wouldn’t change the amount he paid in 2005.

As the show went on, it became clear that Maddow knew she didn’t quite have the scoop that had been promised.

The White House had already released a statement by the time she got around showing the 1040, not the full returns (which I expect would be hundreds of pages long).

Maddow doesn’t read the Wall Street Journal, or she would remember that almost exactly a year ago the Journal was reporting on the 2005 returns,

Unlike other candidates, Mr. Trump has refused to release even part of his federal income-tax returns, citing continuing audits. But county land records revealed that he has donated conservation easements on at least four of his properties: The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., the Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, N.Y., the New Jersey golf club and a golf driving range on the California coast. Three of the donations, including the Bedminster one, were made in December, when taxpayers are typically making deductions that can offset that year’s income.

Hillary Clinton last year claimed that Trump did not pay taxes.

Instead, the 1040 showed now-Pres. Trump paying $38 million in federal taxes alone, not including state income, real estate, and other local taxes. Maddox may have shot herself in the foot.

The troublesome question, which Pete brought up, is,

If the left considers it legit to leak Trump’s taxes illegally does that mean it’s open season on anyone they consider the enemy?

Look, if Pres. Trump himself put the 1040s in an envelope with two forever stamps, thereby pwning Maddow, Johnston, and everybody at NBC, it’s one thing. Conspiracy theories on MSNBC are nothing new.

But the fact remains that the unauthorized disclosure of tax return information is a crime – a felony under 26 U.S. Code § 7213. If you are not alarmed that the left justify committing felonies to bring down a political enemy, you are just not paying attention.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The Obama appointees at the State Department are unhappy.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray called Secretary of State Rex Tillerson  on Wednesday night to tell him he would be visiting the White House on Thursday. Normally foreign ministers stop by the State Department,

But Videgaray said the thrust of his mission meant he needed to speak directly to the White House. He and Tillerson agreed to meet in person in a couple of weeks, Videgaray said, part of an ongoing “dialogue” the two governments are holding to attempt to repair relations damaged by Trump’s bombastic campaign rhetoric against Mexico.

For Thursday’s meetings, however, Videgaray said he had to raise Mexican complaints about U.S. suggestions it would separate migrant children from their parents at the border as a way to discourage illegal crossings.

Tillerson obviously had no objections, since the next day Videgaray met

with Jared Kushner (Mr Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor), economic adviser Gary Cohn, and National Security Adviser General HR McMaster. 

Which seems straightforward enough, until acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he didn’t realize Videgaray was in town.

The Obama appointees threw a snit. How dare any high-ranking foreign official skip the holy shrine of State! State employees are ‘left with literally nothing to do’!

“The cafeteria is so crowded all day,” said another State Department officer.  “No one’s doing anything.”

. . . especially since Pres, Trump has stated that he intends to cut State Department funding by more than a third.

Of course the gray lady rushed to publish op-eds decrying that Mr. Tillerson is in a perpetual state of duck and cover.

Call me a cynic, but if the Trump administration has close enough relations with Mexico’s Foreign Secretary that Videgaray can talk to them directly by simply calling Tillerson the night before, I consider that a good sign.

But if I had spent the last eight years in a comfortable sinecure at the State Department and was now spending my days ‘adrift and listless‘ hanging out at the cafeteria, I would not.

UPDATE

Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

First a little history on the date’s Leninist origin:

1917
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death of over 2 million Russian soldiers in World War 1. Opposed by political leaders, the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

The United Nations first celebrated International Women’s Day in 1975.

Fast-forward to today’s Day Without A Woman:

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

Loyal to its Communist roots, the website uses the appropriate font,

Like something out of The People’s Cube

The organizers are calling for a one-day strike, by those who can afford it: Women who can afford it because they have enough funds they don’t need a day’s pay (or longer, as they may risk getting fired for missing work), or they are backed by a union whose leaders go for this one-day strike.

For instance, a teachers’ union:

Fifteen-thousand public school children are being kept out of their classrooms in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday. They’re not sick. Their schools are not being renovated. Nothing is wrong with the schools at all. Rather, a group of teachers decided they’d rather engage in political protest than do their jobs, shutting down the entire school system and leaving working moms and dads scrambling to make arrangements.

“In the same spirit of love and liberation” calling for an identity-politics day strike, we cannot ignore the fact that

One of the women issuing the call was the virulently anti-Israel activist Angela Davis, former leader of the Communist Party USA and Black Panther.

Another was convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who served 10 years in Israeli prison for the 1969 SuperSol supermarket bombing that killed Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. See the background on Rasmea in the post  On March 8, remember victims of #DayWithoutAWoman co-organizer Rasmea Odeh (#DayWithoutEdwardandLeon).

Additionally, William Jacobson points out,

The International Women’s Strike is a subterfuge to normalize an anti-Israel platform, much like happened with the Movement for Black Lives platform. It is part of a concerted effort to turn unrelated protest movements against Israel, If you are surprised #BlackLivesMatter joined war on Israel, you haven’t been paying attention

Look, if you want and can afford to spend the day goofing off and demonstrating with Our Ladies of Perpetual Outrage™, knock yourself out. Do it while being aware of who’s behind all this.

In Carmela Soprano’s shrink’s words, “One thing you can never say: That you haven’t been told.”

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

The Trump administration has announced it will start taking bids for the construction of a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border next week.

Mexican cement giant Cemex says it’s willing to help with Trump’s wall

Mexico’s biggest cement maker said it would be willing to provide supplies for the US border wall proposed by President Donald Trump, ending months in which the company declined to comment on the potential project.

Cemex SAB would offer a price quote to any contractors looking to buy cement for the barrier, Chairman Rogelio Zambrano told Reforma newspaper. With plants on both sides of the border, Cemex would be well positioned to compete for building-materials contracts.

. . .

Cemex climbed 4.3 per cent to 17.74 pesos at 11:18am in Mexico City after advancing as much as 4.6 per cent for the biggest intraday gain in a month.

As of the writing of this post, Cemex is trading at US$9.o1, still  going up.

While this may sound rather ironic or humorous depending on how you look at it, it illustrates private enterprise in the form of a multinational corporation responding to a business opportunity, which in turn creates value for its stockholders.

In other news, unless you’ve been in a sensory deprivation cell for the past couple of weeks, you must have heard the Democrats generically impugning any contact with Russians, but only if it’s by a Trump supporter.

The latest is the allegation that Jeff Sessions committed perjury. Andrew McCarthy, who has years of experience as a very successful prosecutor, finds the charge meritless.

The Dem party had two frontrunners last year: One honeymooned in the Soviet Union, the other one approved a transaction that gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States when she was Secretary of State as her husband

received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

The DNC has no problem with that, at all. Instead, they are in high dudgeon over Sessions talking to a Russian ambassador.

I find this very alarming, since crying wolf does not make for sensible international relations.

But, if the Dems are willing to waste time throwing a snit over anyone talking to any Russians, and in the spirit of perestroika, I declare today Talk to a Russian Day.

Happy #TalkToARussianDay!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

 

 

The New York Stock exchange is about to open as I write this. Dow futures are at 20,984, up 179 points from yesterday. Likewise, S&P futures are up 18 points at 2380, and gold is down at 1238.

Undoubtedly, the markets are reacting to President Trump’s speech.

He started by emphasizing results from his first month: More jobs, wealth creation, less governmental expenses, fewer regulations and greater energy self-sufficiency,

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record.

We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

He went on to outline his goals of tax reform, equal tariff treatment, merit-based immigration, infrastructure investment, repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Public reaction to the speech last night was very positive.

The Democrats reaction? To go further left. As Pete said, #trumpaddress The Worst Day #NeverTrump and Democrats ever had.

As I finish this post, the DJI opened at 21,007. The Worst Day for NeverTrump and Democrats rolls along.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

If, as the Washington Post says, “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, the media should get a lot of the credit for dimming the lights. Not for simply making up stories out of whole cloth (remember the “hacked power grid” story that turned out to be one laptop with malware?), but also by omitting or ignoring pertinent information.

Here are two examples just this week:

Story #1:

Ed Price wrote an op-ed for the WaPo,  I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit,

“To be clear, my decision had nothing to do with politics”

As it turns out, Price is not only a registered Democrat who donated $5,000 to Hillary, he was the top spokesman and a senior director for Obama’s National Security Council, and worked to spin both the Iranian deal and the hostages story:

Unmentioned by Price or the Washington Post is the fact that Price gave $5,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that splits contributions between the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Public records indicate that Price is registered to vote as a Democrat in the District of Columbia.

Price rose through the ranks at the White House during the Obama administration. By the end of the administration, Price was the top spokesman and a senior director for Obama’s National Security Council.

Price reportedly worked hand in hand with Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes in his effort to create an “echo chamber” during the administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.

When the news broke that Iran was holding American hostages in the lead-up to Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address, for example, it was Price who was ordered by Rhodes to begin spinning the administration’s “well-cultivated network of officials,” according to David Samuels of the New York Times.

Yet the WaPo went along with his assertion “To be clear, my decision had nothing to do with politics,” later adding a clarification that started with “This column should have included a disclosure of donations.”

Donations indeed.

Story #2:

At The Atlantic, Rumana Ahmed wrote, I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House. When President Obama left, I stayed on at the National Security Council in order to serve my country. I lasted eight days. The short version is that for over five years Ahmed worked at National Security Council (again) under Ben Rhodes (again) in the Obama administration, and quit after Pres. Trump took office.

Of course, The Atlantic and the WaPo may not get as many readers if the headlines read, “I quit when Trump took office after years of working for Obama.”

Never mind that would be more honest.

Need we ask,

Before we get too far along here … is everyone who quits their government gig during the transition from one administration to the next going to write an essay about it?

The answer appears to be yes – and what’s worse, as the Twitchy headline said, it’s possible that the movies may be in the works.

UPDATE
Linked to by The Other McCain. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Today’s top headlines at Memeorandum:

 TOP ITEMS: 

I’ve stayed away from the Milo controversies, and while I admire his physical courage (I also admire Ben Shapiro’s) showing up to face hostile, now violent crowds, I always keep in mind that Milo is a. a performance artist, and b. a polemicist.

Bill Whittle, Stephen Green and Scott Ott come the closest to my opinion on the whole “Milo at CPAC” controversy:
1. Milo got in the headlines
2. CPAC’s in the headlines a few days before it opens.
I invite you to watch:

Whittle, Green and Ott also mention another polemicist, Ann Coulter, who is a favorite of the CPAC crowd.

I remember 10 years ago when Moe Lane and I were in the old Blogger Beastly Basement section listening to the live feed of Coulter’s speech when she called then-presidential candidate John Edwards a faggot. It takes a lot to leave Moe and I speechless even momentarily, but James Joyner was listening too, and slapped us on the back, saying, “Did you guys hear that?”, thence eliciting a downpour of conversation from us.

The bloggers sent an open letter to CPAC (which was promptly ignored), Coulter sold a gazillion books, and Edwards impregnated his mistress while his wife was dying of cancer, thereby proving Coulter wrong.

It’s all about the headlines, folks.

Keep that in mind.


I’m not going to CPAC this year thanks to my new $18,000/yr Obamacare premiums, deductible and out-of-pocket. I’ll miss most of all visiting with fellow bloggers.

I hear that the blogger area is nice, and not a throwback to the Bloggers Beastly Basement of olden days, which was an area partitioned off the indoor garage with area heaters – 0 – cell phone reception. Since Pete is going, please contribute to Da Tip Jar to support his reporting.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

R. H. and I have never met, but I am absolutely heartbroken after reading about the news of his beautiful baby Rebecca’s passing.

Read his post, Who it’s really about.

I was going to write today about the usual American and Latin American politics, but . . . politics, money, jobs, culture, are all ephemeral.

This is what life is really about,

Many of us spend a large part of our adult lives influencing, or trying to influence, those around us.  We read books, we devise arguments, we make PowerPoint presentations, and we argue on Facebook.  And yet here I had a little girl, not even a year old, who came into my life and changed everyone around her, including people she never met.  Her broken heart was changing those with hardened hearts.

The Lord called beautiful Rebecca to his side, and her short life has affected many of us, even when we haven’t met. That a child so young can help so many is indeed a miracle.

From the Book of Common Prayer, we pray for consolation,

O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy, nourish his soul with patience, comfort him with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon him, and give him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And, as we go on our daily lives, may we find joy in what really matters.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Illegal immigration flowing from Mexico into the United States is controlled by the cartels, directly or with the cooperation of coyotes, as InSight Crime reports,

Most coyotes have a clear incentive to have at least some relationship with the drug traffickers, even beyond the need to pay protection fees. Coyotes have intimate knowledge of the terrain and the US authorities on the other side of the border, so they have highly sought-after skills for gangs slipping drugs into US cities. Many specialists in moving drug shipments across the border originally learned their trade working as coyotes.

Typically, however, they do not operate as members of a given gang. Instead, they are independent entrepreneurs who will work with the traffickers opportunistically.

People from other countries who are caught traveling through Mexico illegally are vulnerable to extortion, kidnapping and violence, as a group of 90 Cubans stranded in Mexico held in a detention center allege.

Rather than work towards better conditions, Mexico’s ruling class, which has failed to protect its own citizens from the cartels’ deadly human trafficking business, are offering to backlog U.S. courts,

The order came from above: Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto offered help in defying immigration laws to Mexicans illegally in the U.S. ,

“The 50 Mexican embassies will become authentic legal defense for immigrants,” Peña Nieto added.

The truth is, other democratic countries are far more aggressive than the U.S. about removing illegal aliens.

Indeed,

Mexico has zero tolerance for illegal immigrants who seek to work inside Mexico, happen to break Mexican law or go on public assistance — or any citizens who aid them.

In Mexico, legal immigration is aimed at privileging lawful arrivals with skill sets that aid the Mexican economy and, according to the country’s immigration law, who have the “necessary funds for their sustenance” — while denying entry to those who are not healthy or would upset the “equilibrium of the national demographics.” Translated, that idea of demographic equilibrium apparently means that Mexico tries to withhold citizen status from those who do not look like Mexicans or have little skills to make money.

Where’s the outrage?

When will Mexico’s ruling class extend to their fellow countrymen the basic housing, education or welfare they come to seek in the U.S.?

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.