Monday, August 29, 2016

Pure Imagination

When I was 9, Ernie Kovacs was killed in a car accident. I was too young to remember when the Ernie Kovacs Show was on television, but my dad thought he was brilliant and much of what we knew as Dad's brand of comedy originated with the cigar-chomping Kovacs. It's no surprise I thought The Nirobi Trio was the funniest thing I'd ever seen in my life. When Mr. Kovacs died, I remember thinking there would never be anyone as funny ever again, and comedy would never be the same. 

It wasn't. It was just different.

I managed to keep growing up, and I laughed at new things: Alan King on Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, George and Gracie. TV broadened my horizons: Dick Van Dyke, Car 54 Where Are You, can almost see where this is heading. The times...and the tastes...were a'changing.

Movies were my drug of choice as soon as I could convince my mother to drive my buddies and me to the movies. I saw whatever was playing. When you're spellbound in the darkness, you'll watch damn near anything if you can sit in a darkened theatre. But unlike a lot of my friends who were constantly falling in and out of love with movie stars, I was already noticing acting, not actors.

1967 was like 1939 for movies.  The range was incredible. From In Cold Blood to Camelot, Cool Hand Luke to Barefoot in the Park, Casino Royale to In Like Flint, The Graduate to I Am Curious Yellow. Somewhere in the middle came this very violent, very intense movie about 1930 gangsters. 

Right in the middle Bonnie and Clyde, there was this guy with nothing short of a Marcel wave hair-do.  Small part, but there was something about him being funny in a place where funny didn't belong....I thought Gene Wilder was weird. I didn't know how weird for another year...when The Producers was released. This was screwball comedy on a whole 'nother level. It left people speechless. Then came Start The Revolution Without Me, and then, one of my personal favorites, Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx.  And later, in 1979, there was the sweet, very touching, very funny The Frisco Kid, with a very young Harrison Ford. 

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory was released after Quackser, in 1971. Yeah, I was stoned when I went to see it, and yeah, there were a few days when I thought it was the greatest movie ever made. It wasn't, but it was the one that grew on you. Willy is weird, creepy even, although Wilder'd Willy isn't on the same level as Johnny Depp, but Wilder's blue eyes remain cold and almost dead throughout most of the film and this is not an accident or boredom; it's using the camera in ways, quite frankly, not seen before. It's riveting in a strange and peculiar...and very appropriate way. In his book, KISS LIKE A STRANGER, Wilder wrote he was hesitant to accept the part of Willy Wonka, and created a pre-condition:
When I make my first entrance, I'd like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I'm walking on and stands straight up, by itself... but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause..

Mel Stuart, the director, asked why he wanted to do that. Wilder answered:
 Because from that time on, no one will know if I'm lying or telling the truth.
You can't get a better answer than that. It cuts right into the heart of an actor and shares a truth every actor know, hopes for, dreams about, and once in a while succeeds at creating. That singular moment does not just happen; it comes from learning one's craft while honing one's skills. Gene Wilder left us with a good range of funny. He wasn't the biggest movie star, and, as he put it, good scripts stopped coming his way. He stopped liking what Hollywood was churning out and chose to do other things. But in the body of work, there were great characters, great performances, and great screenwriting. 

That counts for everything. 

Funny is highly personal, subjective, and not really very explainable. Everyone laughs at different stuff. If we are lucky, we get to share our laughter with others. What is funny to one can be offensive to others. That said, comedy is hard work, and when someone is good at it, be thankful. And when someone stands  by his or her principles about what is funny and what is not, respect the opinion. 

Seems we've lost a fair number of comedic icons lately: Gene Wilder, Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, Eileen Brennan, Joan Rivers, Mike Nichols, Harold Ramis, Sid Caeser, Gary Shandling, Bernie Mac....not a complete list by any means. These people, for good or bad, changed what we laughed about. There's something to be said for that. 

Comedy will not be the same; it will be different.

I tripped across an interview done by Robert Osborne at the 92nd Street Y back in 2013. Clearly Mr. Wilder is frail; he has trouble remembering some things. He looks terribly old. In many ways, it's a hard interview to watch, but I am glad I saw it. In the press release today, Mr. Wilder's nephew said he died of complications from Alzheimer's. It's clear from the video he was losing his words. It's amazing that he agreed to do the interview. But then again, he knew what was happening to him.

Willy Wonka is still a pretty creepy movie. And Gene Wilder gives creepy a whole new definition when he sings Pure Imagination. Watch it for yourself. The lyrics, however, are not creepy. I still think Roald Dahl gave us a strange character in Willy Wonka, but Gene Wilder managed to shape him into the magic man we all hope exists. 
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly wish to be
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There's nothing to it
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You'll be free
If you truly
Wish to be
Lyrics Anthony Newley, Jonthan Owusu-Yianomah, Kwesi Mills, Leslie Bricusse                            
Baruch Dayan ha'Emet. ...G-d is a righteous judge. May Mr. Wilder's memory be for a blessing for his family and friends, and for all of us who got to laugh along with him.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

You can synch your old iPod to your new one.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Get A Grip, Folks!

Okay, people. Let's see if you can all wrap your collective brains around this one. I'll type it in really big letters just in case you need help seeing it:


Let me restate this in case you didn't get it the first time:



Baton Rouge: Saturday..........Sunday (photo CNN)
If you care about the people in a disaster situation, let the first responders do their jobs. That's what they are there for. No one who does not belong to that place at that time should be there. PERIOD. This means everyone; social status, political status, or voyeur status does not matter. If you get in the way, other people may die. Got it now?


Let's move on.  

So, I tried watching the Olympics. Really. I did. Yeah, I know I wrote about it last week, but this week, I want to do the gestalt thing. 

I grew up anticipating each Olympiad with such relish. I couldn't to wait to see the exciting races and feats of daring. I bought into the idea that Olympics were the universal level playing field and every athlete should have a shot of getting there. 

Of course, my faith was shaken once the doping scandals started, but I chose to believe American athletes were clear, all-American, honorable athletes. I believed the IOC was an agency devoted to global cooperation and all things good and fair. I continued to believe that if you were an athlete who made it to the Olympics you would treat all other athletes with respect, dignity, and even a little friendship. I believed if you were good enough to get to the Olympics, you were part of a bigger, global family that would change you forever, and you would  bring home those principles. 

I also believed in the Tooth Fairy. 

Can't say 4 members of the American men's swim team did much to add to the feeling of national pride. Frankly, I think Ryan Lochte should be serving time in both countries: in Brazil for vandalism, and in the States for embarrassing an entire nation. At the very least, he should be banned from representing the US in any activity. It's the lie, folks, that did him in. 

But that is only one part of the Olympic experience that will stick with me. This year, the broadcast was one long commercial interspersed with a few minutes of athletics. There were so many commercials I thought I was watching the Super Bowl. And they weren't even that good. 

As for the coverage, let's be real plain and get to the point: the sexist, degrading sports reporting was something so inexcusable in this century that it was an embarrassment to listen to it. I thought Elizabeth Plank of VOX did a brilliant compilation piece on the double standard:

Do yourself a favor and watch this. 

And speaking about sexist reporting, there have been a rash of naked Donald Trump statues popping up. They're pretty ugly, and I'm not gonna post a picture here. And I will tell you why.

If we are going to take issue with body shaming women, turnabout is not fair play. As my mother used to drill into my head (until the day she died) two wrongs don't make a right, and posting the picture would be a wrong. Yes, the statues are graphic and the man has earned that well-honed craft of political satirical attacks, but this is not that. This is not a cartoon, it's not a drawing, it's crude, malicious, and no better than what some men continue to do to women they don't even know. It's just not nice. 

Besides, the hands are too big. Just kidding. It needed a punch line. 

And speaking of pictures I did yet did not want to see, my big brother sent me a picture of the headstone which was set last week. The official unveiling won't take place until next spring, when Mom's year is up and we can all travel to New York. I'm sure there will be pastrami involved. 

There is something final about seeing the names engraved in stone, knowing that they are, well, permanent. And very real. 

May their memories forever be for a blessing. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Be extra kind to your pets in this extreme heat. 
They can't tell you how much it's stressing their bodies,
but it is. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew walked onto a podium

Like so many others, I harbor a not-so-secret love/hate relationship with the Olympics. I love the idea of the Olympics, the pageantry of the march of the athletes, most of the sports, and hearing all sorts of anthems at medal ceremonies. There are moments of sheer transcendence, like when gymnasts of both Koreas, heads together, took a selfie. I was ferklempt. That was an incredible moment and judging by subsequent photos, they seem to have taken a step toward friendship in spite of Kim Jung-un.

There's the Olympic Refugee Team, athletes who no longer have homes, and whose cause was initially and successfully championed by marathon runner Tegla Larpoupe. Ten athletes who would never have been able to compete at any level made it to the games because someone cared enough to make sure victims of war were not forgotten. What a powerful statement. At this writing, none of them have taken a medal, but how much does that matter? Maybe next time there will be more time to train and more facilities open to athletes without countries. 

Many athletes arrive at an Olympic village with the knowledge that they are the best of the best in their countries. With duffles stuffed with dreams and hope, these competitors know they will challenge themselves, challenge each other, and meet others like themselves, sharing what it means to be just that good. 

And then there's the part about the Olympics that I hate: the refusal of the IOC to actually recognize there are deep-seeded issues that must be firmly and permanently addressed. Instant media means those issues can no longer be glossed over or hidden in a backroom. There are very big giant cats and they are jumping out of very small bags...right into the net of the electronic press.

Some athletes will come with syringes, pills, and hidden agendas. Doping remains rampant. Once upon a time, there were serious questions about steroids and gender. As recently as right now, it turns out the Russian Olympic team was involved with not just systematic doping, but a committee dedicated to masking that doping. And despite all evidence supporting a national program of doping, some Russian athletes are competing in these games...and not without boos and backlash.

Others come to intentionally spit on the spirit of the Olympics. Who is responsible when one team refuses to permit another team to board a bus to the opening ceremonies? Who is shamed in the moment a proffered hand is refused..the one who offers a hand in the spirit of the moment, or the one who turns his back? And who is shamed when a lie is exposed...the liar or the target of the lie?

The Lebanese team blocked the Israeli team from boarding a bus to the opening ceremonies on August 5th. 
A source from the Lebanese Olympic committee told Lebanese television station Al Mayadeen on Saturday that the refusal to allow the Israeli delegation to ascend the bus on Friday was a group decision of the Lebanese Olympic delegation.

A separate source also said that Lebanese athletes are "committed to the national position in refusing to be in the same place as the Israelis." He added that Lebanon will remain part of the resistance against Israel.                                                                                                       Jerusalem Post 08/07/2016 
The IOC, when alerted to what was happening, immediately arranged for a second bus for the Israeli team. And they ultimately scolded the head of the Lebanese team after a hearing on Sunday. 

Scolded. Really? "Now, now, kiddies; play nice."

At least when the Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli competitor, they sent that guy home. I guess it was easier to send one guy than a whole team.

This is not news, folks. This is really old, old stuff. 

Arab athletes are exhorted to refuse to participate in Olympics lest they face an Israeli opponent. They are instructed to refuse any and all contact with Israeli athletes. Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby was hounded in the Egyptian media not to go. They are advised to block and prevent wherever possible. Athletes are encouraged to lie about their training situations to make Israel appear to be preventing them from competing at all. Mary Al-Atrash lied to global media about access to "olympic-size" pools; the IOC said nothing. 

Yet, the IOC does little. And in doing little, they are in violation of their own mission statement, specifically the following item:

1.    to encourage and support the promotion of ethics and good governance in sport as well as education of youth through sport and to dedicate its efforts to ensuring that, in sport, the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned;

2. to encourage and support the organisation, development and coordination of sport and sports competitions;

6.   to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic                        Movement

I guess discrimination against Israelis and Jews does not really affect the Olympic Movement. 

No other nation had its athletes slaughtered in a terrorist attack. Munich remains a ghostly specter over the games, a shadow that never really dissipates. Israeli athletes are acutely aware that they are never really safe. No other nation is continually subjected to the snubs, the slights, and the unsportsmanlike behavior of other athletes like the Israelis. No other nation is expected to just stand there and stoically take it. Israel, in this one area, takes the high road. They continue to compete, they continue to act with honor, and they continue to exhibit the best of good sportsmanship. 

Of course, this is nothing more than a symptom of a much larger illness. In the greater scheme of life in the universe, the Olympics, however amusing, are narishkeit, nothing of import. The Olympic process is flawed from beginning to end; the system has long ago abandoned what little ethical and moral compass it once had for the tarnished gleam of lucre. The IOC has been accused of bribery, favoritism, nepotism, and a whole host of other isms too numerous to mention. Host cities spend billions they don't have on Disney-esque villages where, at least in the case of Rio, slums are displaced and the toilets still don't work. Long ago, they should've built a permanent home in Greece and Switzerland and end this charade of musical venues. 

But where does that leave the Israelis? I think Brurya Bigman, the Israeli team's press attache, referring to Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby's refusal to shake Or Sasson's hand: 
This is his problem. It's not our problem.

In truth, it's the IOC's problem and by extension kol yisrael...all of Israel. Are we not taught: 
כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה
All Israel is responsible one for another. 
 We are. We are responsible to standing up to antisemitism whether it masks itself as anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, or anti-Jewish. It's all the same. The Israelis will continue to take the high road in this milieu. It's the right, the righteous, and the ethical thing to do. 

One day, Arab competitors will shake hands with their Israeli counterparts. One day Palestinian swimmers will train with other athletes of the region in whatever pool is handy. One day, Arab and Israeli teams will share more than a bus, they will share a venue, a locker room, and even a village. And just like in the photo below, the moment will be about athletic competition instead of politics, and all the nations of the world will get to play against the best. 

A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew walked onto a podium.........
Bronze mendalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia, gold medalist Simone Biles and 
silver medalist Aly Reisman of the United States 
It can be done, people. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Every time there's an Olympiad, I hope for the best.
Giving in to cynicism is not useful here.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Oldest Canard In The Book

A while ago, I mentioned the Senior Son thought I had my empathy chip removed some time ago.  I really am the least empathetic person I know.  What I am is a practical pragmatist. Ziggy used to say that was one of the things he liked best about me; I could be passionate about all sort of stuff, but when it came to me and mine, practical pragmatism always won out. If nothing else, I was reliably dispassionate in my private life. 

Now, that said, do not think for one New York minute that I am apathetic. I am not. I care deeply about a number of issues, and in my own way, I go about dealing with them. Some are very watering the plants at shul. No one was doing it. I hate seeing perfectly good plants all withered. It's not exactly a big deal to water the bleepin' things, and then they give you lovely leaves. There are bigger things I care about, too, most of you, dear readers, already know. That's why I do this blog thing.

So if you've been around for a while, it should come as no surprise that I am an advocate for civil rights. ALL civil rights. I have posted the Declaration of Independence in this blog, and I have liberally quoted from the Constitution. I fervently believe people have the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

We, the People, in these here United States are struggling against an escalating tide of civil wrongs. Gun violence is out of control. Black men are being shot by police at an alarming rate. The incarceration rate among minorities is obscene, and there are places where the process that puts people behind bars is so stacked that it's beyond being a travesty. To top it all off, there's a whole political party that seems to sanction this kind of small-mindedness and hate, as if those are desirable attributes in the country. 

Those are not desirable attributes; those are the tip of a reprehensible iceberg that smacks up against every hope and dream built into the fabric of our Constitution. And in there, millions of people are once again wrapping their heads around the idea that the Civil Rights movement did not stop in the 60s or the 70s; that movement must continue forward. There is much work to be done by all citizens of all races, all creeds, all genders, all orientations. We, the People are poised at a moment when great change is possible.....

Or maybe the moment already has been lost.

When we should all be pulling together as We, the People, striving to create an equal and social-conscious society, one minority group has just been blindsided. One small group that has been at the front of every march, every demonstration, every rally has just been told that they are no longer welcome to the party. 

I am not welcome at this party. Neither are my kids, nor most of my friends. 

You see, we're Jews who support the existence of the State of Israel.

The Black Lives Movement has singled out Israel in their platform as an agent of genocide. They refer to Israel as an apartheid state. The condemn Israel for being, well, Israel. 

Calling Israel apartheid is an old canard. Stating that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people flies in the face of reality. Their statement sounds like something out of the Protocols Of the Elders Of Zion.

Under the section called INVEST/DIVEST, the following statements appear:
  • The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people. The US requires Israel to use 75 percent of all the military aid it receives to buy US-made arms. Consequently, every year billions of dollars are funneled from US taxpayers to hundreds of arms corporations, who then wage lobbying campaigns pushing for even more foreign military aid. The results of this policy are twofold: it not only diverts much needed funding from domestic education and social programs, but it makes US citizens complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government. Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people. Palestinian homes and land are routinely bulldozed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli soldiers also regularly arrest and detain Palestinians as young as 4 years old without due process. Everyday, Palestinians are forced to walk through military checkpoints along the US-funded apartheid wall.
This is followed by the following "remedies:"
  •  Federal Action:
    • Build invest/divestment campaigns that ends US Aid to Israel’s military industrial complex and any government with human rights violations.
  • State Action: 
  •  Fight the expanding number of Anti-BDS bills being passed in states around the country. This type of legislation not only harms the movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but is a threat to the constitutional right to free speech and protest
For the record, I am NOT a fan of the Israeli government. I strongly disagree with many of their policies regarding Gaza and the West Bank. I think Netanyahu is right up there with President Bush II in lousy leader land. And I think the religious coalition is basically wrong when it comes to Diaspora and non-Haredi Jews. 

Is that clear enough? Do you get that I disagree with large swaths of Israeli domestic policy????? Are you getting that part???

HOWEVER, and this is a BIG HOWEVER...

Anyone who has ever been to Israel should know from being there that Israel is the only country in the region that has western standards of citizenship. That means freedom of religion, freedom of speech, free education, free health care, and compulsory service in the IDF. Israeli Arabs serve in the IDF. There's an Israeli Arab on the bench in the Supreme Court. All Israeli kids who go to public school get a diverse and respectful education regardless of race, religion, nationality, whatever. 

That is not how an apartheid state works. But why let facts get in the way?

Israel is not perfect, but the Israeli government does not throw gay people off roof tops. ISIS does that. You don't see Syria mentioned, do you?

Interested in the state Human Rights in Palestine?   Check out the Wiki article. You might find it interesting. Yet, Black Lives Movement didn't seem to take into account the human rights abuse that is standard in Gaza and the West Bank before it accused Israel of human rights abuse. You know...human shields, hiding rocket launchers embedded in civilian areas. Teaching small children how to be martyrs for jihad. 

But this isn't really about human rights at all. This is about Jews living in Israel, isn't it? It's about Jews having self-determination. It's about Jews running their own country and prospering. Because if it was really about the Palestinians, they would've been encouraging Soda Stream to stay on the West Bank because they provided good paying jobs with benefits. If you cared about the Palestinians, isn't that just the kind of economic development you want? 

Not if your real goal is to push the indigenous population into the sea. 

That's right; the indigenous population. Jews have been living on the land for over 3000 years. Jews built Jerusalem. Ask Jesus. He was there. He was one of us. Ask him where he lived. It sure wasn't Lithuania. Or Poland. Or even New York. 

But we're not indigenous enough, are we?

So, here's the bottom line. I cannot and will not support any movement that 
  • refuses to recognize Jews' right to live on our own land in our own country that we happen to share with a lot of other folks. 
  • refuses to recognize human rights abuse and violation in ALL locations. Singling out Israel is not about civil rights, it's about antisemitism. 
  • refuses to recognize the role of Hamas in the violence being perpetrated against civilians in BOTH Gaza and Israel.

An organization that refuses to recognize those basic facts is an organization that provides a fertile ground for prejudice and hatred of others. Ultimately, they are not about civil rights; they are about themselves. 

Mr. Phil
In what should have been a transcendent moment of common unity, the Black Lives Movement has chosen to add hate to its agenda. That does not serve them well, nor  does it help us in these here United States to move forward toward a time of equality and peace. 

I can and will continue to fight for justice for Philando Castile without signing on to Black Lives Movement. I can and will continue to fight against marginalization of the African American community without associating my name to a cause that fosters hate of others. I can and will actively support the fight against civil wrongs. 

I can and will remain firmly rooted in the idea that Israel has a right to exist. With or without the blessing of Black Lives Movement. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
Sometimes the very best shopping trip happens in your own closet. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Kremlin

Imagine what Donald Trump would tweet if:
  • President Obama had 5 children by 3 wives?
  • Michelle Obama went and bought a dress, wore it, then told the store she was only paying 40% of the bill because, after all, she is a successful person
  • Hillary Clinton refused to make her tax returns public
  • Joe Biden hired contractors and then refused to pay them the agreed-upon terms?
The tweets, whether they are by the "real" Donald Trump or a staffer, are insidious. They are not about policy or what America needs, they are lashon ha'rah, evil tongue, nothing but gossip and innuendo targeting the most serious process this nation has. The tweets divert the attention from the real issues and make the election of the next President of the United States nothing more than a game show. The only insight the tweets provide are an insight into the man in whose name they are being sent. 

Me ranting will not change anyone's mind, so there is no point. Instead, I would like to focus on a single factoid. This one little chain of comments presents an astoundingly rounded portrait of the GOP nominee. His own words illuminate the essential core of this man: who he thinks he is, who we think he is, and who he might actually be. 

This is about Donald Trump's relationship with Vladimir Putin:

November 9, 2013 - MSNBC interview
Thomas Roberts (NBC):Do you have a relationship with Vladimir Putin? A conversational relationship or anything that you feel you have sway or influence over his government?
 Donald Trump: I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today. He's probably very interested in what you and I am [SIC] saying today, and I'm sure he's going to be seeing it in some form.
May 27,2014 - National Press Club
Donald Trump: Russia does not respect our country any longer. They see we've been greatly weakened, both militarily and otherwise, and he certainly does not respect President Obama. So what I would do—as an example, I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success. The show was live from Moscow, and we had tremendous success there and it was amazing, but to do well, you have to get the other side to respect you, and he does not respect our president, which is very sad. 
Donald Trump: So, we have more than just Russia. But, as far as the Ukraine is concerned, and you could Syria -- as far as Syria, I like -- if Putin wants to go in, and I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates, and we did very well that night. But, you know that. But, if Putin wants to go and knocked the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it, 100%, and I can't understand how anybody would be against it...
November 11, 2015: TIME Magazine refuted the “stablemates” remark: 
In fact, they weren’t even on the same continent. Trump was interviewed by CBS’s Scott Pelley in his New York City penthouse for the season premiere of the hour-long docu-series, while Charlie Rose travelled to Moscow to interview Vladimir Putin.]
July 27,2016  Florida press conference:

I never met Putin -- I don't know who Putin is. He said one nice thing about me. He said I'm a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin.
July 31, 2016 -  ABC’s THISWEEK
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Russia. You made a lot of headlines with Russia this week.

What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: I have no relationship to -- with him. I have no relationship with him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say in 2013, I do have a relationship. In 2014, I spoke...

TRUMP: Because he has said nice things about me over the years. I remember years ago, he said something -- many years ago, he said something very nice about me. I said something good about him when Larry King was on. This was a long time ago. And I said he is a tough cookie or something to that effect.

He said something nice about me. This has been going on. We did "60 Minutes" together. By the way, not together-together, meaning he was probably shot in Moscow...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he was in Moscow...

TRUMP: -- and I was shot in New York.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you were in New York. But that's the thing.

TRUMP: No, just so you understand, he said very nice things about me, but I have no relationship with him. I don't -- I've never met him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet you said for three years, '13, '14 and '15, that you did have a relationship with him.

TRUMP: No, look, what -- what do you call a relationship?

I mean he treats me...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm asking you.

TRUMP: -- with great respect. I have no relationship with Putin. I don't think I've ever met him. I never met him. I don't think I've ever met him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You would know if you did.

TRUMP: I think so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean if he...

TRUMP: Yes, I think so. So I've -- I don't think I've ever met him. I mean if he's in the same room or something. But I don't think so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You never spoke to him on the phone?

TRUMP: I've been in Moscow. I didn't meet him in Moscow.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You've never spoken to him on the phone?

TRUMP: I have never spoken to him on the phone, no. I've speak -- I've spoken -- when we had the Miss Universe contest a number of years ago, we had Miss Universe in Moscow, in the Moscow area, he was invited. He wanted to come. He wasn't able to come.

That would have been a time when I would have met him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But a -- I just want to clear this up, because you did say on three different occasions you had a relationship with him. Now you say there is not.

TRUMP: Well, I don't know what it means by having a relationship. I mean he was saying very good things about me, but I don't have a relationship with him. I didn't meet him. I haven't spent time with him. I didn't have dinner with him. I didn't go hiking with him. I don't know -- and I wouldn't know him from Adam except I see his picture and I would know what he looks like. 
And even though he doesn't even know what Putin really looks like, Donald Trump went on:
TRUMP: Well, look, you know, I have my own ideas. He's not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He's not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he's already there, isn't he?

TRUMP: OK, well, he's there in a certain way, but I'm not there yet. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you're talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he's going where -- he takes -- takes Crimea, he's sort of -- I mean... 
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you said you might recognize that.

TRUMP: I'm going to take a look at it. But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also.
This is nothing more than a small snapshot of one comment that has incredible ramifications. That he began with a lie is evident from his own words. That he compounded the lie is obvious. In his attempt to back off from the lie, he demonstrated he had no knowledge of foreign current events in regard to Russia and the Crimea. 

Ask yourself this question: Is this someone I would trust to be my friend? 

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