Nixon and Trump – There is a Difference

 Congress, Constitution, Election, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Nixon and Trump – There is a Difference
May 222017

It’s impossible to not look at history as the Trump Administration seems to be crumbling under the weight of scandal after scandal. The ties to Russia appear to be growing and becoming more irrefutable. The President and his aids are certainly acting much like people in the Nixon White House leading up to the resignation. The Comey firing is akin to Nixon’s Saturday night massacre. It certainly looks like an attempt to cover it up us underway, and the idea of White House tapes of conversations have been thrown around. But there are differences between the Nixon and Trump Administrations, and that’s what I hope to analyze here.


The list of Trump scandals is growing on a near daily basis, and I won’t try to cover them all here. So far, along with the Russia connections, he’s had appointees (including family members) who have lied on disclosure forms, people failing to register as foreign agents, family members essentially selling Green Cards to wealthy foreigners, and just today, after signing a $110B arms sale to Saudi Arabi, the Saudi’s contributed $100M to Ivanka Trump’s charity. I could go on, but that’s not the point here. Continue reading »

Frost/Nixon – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Frost/Nixon – A Movie Review
May 252009

Frost Nixon Movie PosterFor three years after being forced from office, Nixon remained silent. But in summer 1977, the steely, cunning former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Nixon surprised everyone in selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and secure a place in the hearts and minds of Americans. Likewise, Frost’s team harbored doubts about their boss’ ability to hold his own. But as cameras rolled, a charged battle of wits resulted. Would Nixon evade questions of his role in one of the nation’s greatest disgraces? Or would Frost confound critics and bravely demand accountability from the man who’d built a career out of stonewalling? Over the course of their encounter, each man would reveal his own insecurities, ego and reserves of dignity — ultimately setting aside posturing in a stunning display of unvarnished truth. Frost/Nixon not only re-creates the on-air interview, but the weeks of around-the-world, behind-the-scenes maneuvering between the two men and their camps as negotiations were struck, deals were made and secrets revealed… all leading to the moment when they would sit facing one another in the court of public opinion.

Genres: Drama, Adaptation and Politics; Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.; Release Date: December 5th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for some language.

Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Toby Jones, Matthew MacFadyen

Directed by: Ron Howard

A posting a couple of weeks ago by a friend on Facebook reminded me that I had failed to write a review of the movie Frost/Nixon which Lay and I watched as an Amazon download nearly a month ago.

Kudos to Peter Morgan for his skill as a writer and Ron Howard’s ability to take a story based on real events and a widely known outcome. Howard has created a compelling “what will happen” drama (as he did with Apollo 13) that succeeds as a film.

This is a film based on a play that neither felt trapped in staginess nor weakly expanded with just the stage dialogue delivered exactly but in a variety of locales. Morgan gets a lot of credit here. What is so impressive about Morgan’s work is that in adapting his own play he didn’t try to force his already successful stage-play onto a film director – he has wholly reworked it from beginning to end and yet retained all the gravity and drama that the play elicited. If you saw the play everything key is here and yet you can feel the difference – the pacing is changed, the power achieved in different ways. The staging capabilities of a Hollywood production enables Howard to gussy up this event with such accoutrements as the luxury suite of a 747, Nixon’s seaside villa at San Clemente, and the impressive, downright menacing sight of a presidential motorcade. As the train of glittering, dark limos approach the Nixon friend’s house where the interviews were shot it feels like a battalion of tanks.

For this Howard also deserves credit. To have filmed the play as it was would have been disastrous on film – one long two-hander scene after another, duelling narrators. Howard knows when we need quick cuts, when a long drawn out piece that worked on stage needs to be reduced to a couple of lines and a post-scene reaction, and when he needs to hold with a scene and let it play between the two leads. This happens in several impressive moments in the latter half of the film.

For some this might constitute the films biggest flaw however. Morgan and Howard can’t escape the fact that in the final stages of the film it is the head-to-head scenes of Frost and Nixon that are key and they must stay with them more. This is necessary, but it sadly means that the supporting players, so well established and broadened out to expand the scope in the first half, fall be the wayside. A superb Toby Jones as Irving ‘Swifty’ Lazar, Matthew Macfadyen as John Birt and always reliable Oliver Platt as Bob Zelnick all but disappear and only Kevin Bacon and Sam Rockwell play any significant role beyond the two leads in the final stages. This is a shame.

Frank Langella and Michael Sheen are superb, as they were on stage, and Langella will take a lot of beating for the Oscar this year. There are many moments here when I was so involved I forgot I wasn’t watching the real Nixon. It’s not that he looks that like Nixon but he is so real you believe it completely and have to remind yourself you’re watching an actor. Frank Langella morphrd more successfully into Nixon than his physicality would otherwise permit. Michael Sheen as Frost already seems to look and sound like his character, and the blue blazer outfits add the final touch. Langella’s performance on camera brims of with melancholy, aggression, and self-pity; Michael Sheen’s as frost glitters with a muted, hysterical cheer mixing childishness and fear.

Platt is reliably Platt. Bacon is also his typically understated solid presence doing a lot with little. Toby Jones is fantastic in a small role – instantly memorable; and Rebecca Hall builds on a series of strong performances. But in the supporting cast it is Rockwell that stands out. Sure, he has the most to do but he is completely in this role, he manages to sink into the role which is something he rarely does. He matches the skill he showed in Lawn Dogs and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind here and it is great to see him back at his best.

I thoroughly recommend this film.

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A Little Habeas for Your Corpus

 Constitution, Crime, Culture, Fun Stuff, Humor, Politics, Presidency, Society, The Courts  Comments Off on A Little Habeas for Your Corpus
Jun 112007

Wow, the courts have sure been busy lately. They have given us lots of fun stuff to cover. Let’s see what we have:

Paris Hilton — OK, we won’t dwell on this case, as it’s a lot like a car wreck. You hate it happened, are pissed because it’s making you late, but you can’t help but slowdown and look as you go by. I do want to comment on those that think she’s getting jail time because she’s a celebrity…”after all,” they say, “she was only violated once on her probation.” Well, she’s had a couple of DWI’s, and been stopped several times for driving on a suspended license. The first time, the paper she’d signed agreeing to not drive was in the car with her. Come on, she thought she could get away with it. I’m fine with her doing some time.

Genarlow Wilson — You’ve probably never heard of Mr. Wilson, but a couple of years ago he received a felony sentence of 10 years in jail, and a sexual offender designation for having sex with a 15 year old girl. Sounds bad, right? Well the sex was consensual, and at the time Wilson was a 17 year old honor student and athlete in high school. A Georgia judge decided to use a little common sense and reduce the charge to a misdemeanor sexual battery charge, with a sentence of time served. Not surprisingly, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Monday afternoon that he had filed notice of appeal, arguing that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court.

Robert Alan Soloway — Mr. Soloway is been dubbed variously the Seattle Spammer and the King of Spam. In a U.S. District Court in Seattle on 10 counts of mail fraud, 5 counts of wire fraud, 2 counts of e-mail fraud, 5 counts of aggravated identity theft and 13 counts of money laundering. According to MSNBC:

“Spam is a scourge of the Internet, and Robert Soloway is one of its most prolific practitioners. Our investigators dubbed him the Spam King because he is responsible for millions of spam e-mails,” Jeffrey Sullivan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said in a statement.

Soloway is being accused of operating false Web sites and more than 50 domains, through which he posed as an advertiser offering legitimate “broadcast e-mail services” with “permission-based opt-in e-mail addresses.” He allegedly deceived legitimate businesses into buying marketing software and services that turned out to be spam tools. Businesses that complained were met with intimidation and threats, according to the allegations against Soloway.

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