Archive for July, 2020

Time bomb – ticking

Author: admin

No, it’s not the sinking numbers in presidential polling. Nor is it the next “insider” book from someone’s former White House days. And, it’s not Trump’s probable loss at the polls in November.

No, none of those. The ticking you hear is coming from the jail cell wherein resides one Ghislane Maxwell. Alleged procurer of teenage girls for the late Jeffrey Epstein. Friend of Donald Trump, a fellow that “wishes her well” in her upcoming trial on charges of twice lying to grand juries a few years ago, sex trafficking of children and enticement of minors. A friend.

Ms. Maxwell and the late Jeffery go back a long way. And, according to many published photos, she, he and DJT also have a years-long relationship. There are even a few pics that include Melania. Just one happy foursome of old “friends.”

Maxwell is the only person – or group of persons – to get well-wishes from Trump. Not storm-bashed Puerto Ricans. Not some Gold Star family or even thousands of Gold Star families. Not surviving relatives of the dead and dying because of our COVID-19 pandemic. Not even the thousands of doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are laboring – and dying – on the front lines of the Coronavirus catastrophe.

No, our president, while acknowledging he knows Ms. Maxwell, has saved his “well-wishes” just for her. Ghislane. A suspected accomplice in rounding up teenage girls for sexual abuse and rape who are then discarded with a hundred dollar bill and, sometimes, even a “thank you.”

Given all that background, all that tragic despoiling of innocent youth, the suicide (maybe) of Epstein in his jail cell, why would Trump look into the TV cameras and well-wish someone he knows – and someone who is charged with such heinous crimes? Why would he do that? To her alone? In nearly four years.

Ah, therein lies the evidence of what I call the “time bomb.”

As she sits in her cell, Ghislane has got to be thinking of ways to reduce what could be a jail term longer than her normal life expectancy. She’s got to be looking at the blue sky through the crossbars on her cell window and wondering just what her options are and how she might lessen the number of years of that same view.

“Aha,” she thinks. “I know people. Important people. I’ve even got pictures and (possibly) some videos from the Epstein mansion and elsewhere. I’ve got contemporary accounts. I may just have some bargaining chips.”

While those are my speculative words, I’d bet the farm they come pretty close to her thoughts. Because, aside from the Trump family, she knows who, where, how many times, with whom, with how many teenage “whoms” and how the enticement schemes worked. She knows the users. And the used.

Trump and Epstein go back a long way. There are published pictures from the ‘80’s. Even one of Trump holding Epstein in a bear hug and kissing the side of his head. There are videos of the three – Epstein, DJT and Ghislane at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere. There’s just too much public evidence of the relationship. Whatever it was. And she knows it. And HE knows it!

Bargaining down her likely long hoosegow penalty is not uncommon. Especially when the unmentionables could help her by becoming mentionable and result in her more quickly becoming a free person again .

It’s hard not to believe she’s talking to prosecutors about a “deal.” And that’s got to be weighing heavily on DJT’s mind.

In six months, he’s going to be a past-president. A civilian again. Unless he, too, decides to bargain with say, the Justice Department – under Bill Barr’s successor – or the folks from the Department’s Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of New York or the Northern District of Virginia or the New York Attorney General or the Manhattan DA, he could be looking at time in somebody’s crossbar hotel. All those entities are believed to have some actionable files relating to #45, the Kushner’s, Rudy, Stone and others in the misbegotten world of Trump. And don’t forget the taxes. Ah, the tax filings. No more “under audit” excuses.

Then, of course, there are those 23 pesky women who’ve filed charges of sex abuse and other crimes. While the statute of limitations probably has reduced the number of active cases, we know some still linger. He knows that, too.

But, then there’s Ms. Maxwell. Ghislane. Wasting away in a Manhattan jail cell. What if she makes her own deal? First.

If I were in her place – in that cell – I’d try for a deal in (please forgive me) a New York minute! She’s got the goods. She knows the players and the played. She’s got pictures, records, probably some contemporary notes. I’d bet she’s got enough of something to get someone’s attention before her upcoming trial.

And that, Virginia, is a time bomb. A ticking time bomb. In the White House master bedroom at, oh say, two or three in the early morning, a ticking that can wake the dead.

Just saying. . . . . . . . . .

Worn down

Author: admin

I think I’ve hit the wall.

After 84 years – more than half in the news business – I’m having a hard time starting the day with a cup of coffee and the morning news. It’s getting almost unbearable.

Day-after-day-after-day-after-day, the headlines bash the brain with bad news, bad news and still more bad news. Trump’s lying outbursts, White House staff trying to justify them, Republicans in Congress committing what appears to be eventual political suicide in their submissions to anything Trump, the outrageous actions of various federal departments undercutting decades of sound regulatory policies, Trump’s SS squad kidnapping peaceful protesters and others off the streets of Portland and anything screaming COVID-19! Especially COVID-19!

As a nation, we’ve never been here before. We’ve been mentally battered with a torrent of destruction of our federal agencies for nearly four years. Now, a pandemic of sickness and death. The hellish likeness of our “president” appears in or around most of it.

In an interview the other evening, Dr. Mary Trump, the psychologist- author-niece of our “leader,” said another four years of her uncle in the White House “would mean the end of democracy as we know it.” Blunt? Yes. True? Given the colossal evidence we know, I’d say yes.

For some 250 years, our national psyche has, so far, been too tough to crack. This nation has been hit by just about every catastrophe imaginable and survived – or somehow overcame – all of it. The will of the people to take on wars, political upheavals, cataclysmic acts of nature, pandemic horrors and tyrannies of all sorts has been successful every time.

But, now we’re being hit with two terrible and nationally dangerous disasters at once. It’s going to take all the strength-of-will we can muster to survive both: what appear to be Trump’s actions during his last days in office and the pandemic.

Dr. Trump – the niece – says her uncle can’t be trusted in anything and will do whatever it takes to stay in office. Those words, coming from someone else, could be written off as speculation. But, from a trained psychologist who grew up in the family and who has interacted with her uncle for more than 40 years, there is an authenticity based both on family experiences and as one who has an extensive medical background.

Several recent events seem to prove her right. Our erstwhile commander-in-chief has seemingly turned his back on the ravages we face resulting from the out-of-control pandemic. No significant talk coming out of the White House, no development of a national “plan of action,” cutting off vital information about continuing infections and deaths, refusing to even meet with Dr. Fauci and most other CDC officials, no emergency orders to help the states. Pretty good indicators of a man trying to consolidate power.

The federal intervention and abusive tactics on the streets of Portland can also be linked directly to Trump and his “do anything” efforts to stay out of jail. Watch for new TV, print and online ads aimed at his base touting his tough “law and order” response to “rioters,” “vandals” and “left wing agitators.” “Keeping our streets safe at any cost.” It’s theater -raw meat – for his base.

Oregon’s political leadership demanding investigations won’t result in anything meaningful. No matter which federal department does the “investigating” the results would have to go to the Department of (what used to be) Justice where the matter would never see the light of day.

It would be interesting to see Governor Brown activate the Oregon National Guard to protect the heretofore peaceful demonstrations. Imagine the picture of armed guardsmen standing between the protestors and Trump’s SS troops. He wouldn’t want his “base” to see that.

And the pandemic. His lack of action when informed of what was coming, his repeated efforts to downplay the sweeping coronavirus killer, offering no federal support for states and overrun hospitals, secreting all agency statistics healthcare institutions and the public need in the fight, turning his back on the swelling numbers of sickness and death, cancelling televised updates from government agencies, banning top CDC folks from testifying before Congress. Then, there’s his failed presidential Coronavirus “task farce.”

None of that makes much sense until viewed through the lens of someone trying desperately to hang onto power. To be re-elected rather than going to the “crossbar hotel.”

In the years, before his presidency, while operating as a “businessman,” when debtors clamored to get paid, when various ventures failed or proved to be financially lost, when bank loans totaling hundreds of millions of dollars came due, “businessman” Trump walked away from all of it and took out bankruptcy over and over again. Just walked away and started something else.

He’s doing that now, walking away from this terrible killer of a pandemic. He’s ignoring it, turning his public appearances into attacks on Joe Biden, “press conferences” where reporters are stunned by his almost incoherent gibberish, flying around the country and packing his supporters into unhealthy rallies in the face of COVID-19 spreading. He’s above it all. Acting “presidential.”

And the pandemic itself. Few alive today have experienced what we’re living with and no end in sight. Largely, because of Trump’s deliberate inaction when first briefed on the terrible consequences faced by other countries, we’re approaching 150-thousand dead and, eventually, millions more who’ll likely have virus-related health problems the rest of their lives.

How many wouldn’t have become infected – how many more wouldn’t have died – if our failed businessman-president had listened. Just listened, then taken actions to prepare all of us based on the advice of some of the world’s top health professionals?

He didn’t listen. He didn’t act. Thousands have died. More to come.

Ask yourself. What’s going on in Afghanistan? Russian bounties on American soldiers? How many of our military are being killed in Iran? And elsewhere? What’s happening in the Far East? Do you know about the impending layoffs of thousands and thousands of people in the airline industry after those companies took billions of your tax dollars? Cruise lines, too. Have you been told how many countries Americans can’t travel to or how many states have closed their borders to travelers from other states? How much information on hundreds of other issues are you getting?

Trump. And the pandemic. That’s what we hear. The rest has been pushed aside.

If Dr. Trump is correct – and I’ll bet she’ll be proven so – the next 140 days will be filled with even more bad news. Expect more vocal attacks on our government by our own president and thousands more American deaths caused by COVID-19. And that same president.

Hit the wall? Maybe. Maybe not. But, my back feels like it’s being pushed against something very sturdy.

Damn it’s hot

Author: admin

When you’ve had enough of the disaster that is Donald J. Trump – when you’re overwhelmed by the pandemic that is COVID-19 – when you’re maxed out with Wolf Blitzer – well, it’s time to take a mental break. That’s where I am today.

So, let’s consider some diversions more peaceful.

Walked the dog this morning. About 8:30. Temperature on the back porch was 95-degrees. By 9:30, it was 100. Going for 117 in the PM, we’re told by the experts. That’s the warmup for Arizona summers. Just the warmup. More – and higher – ahead.

When the temps here officially hit 118, Sky Harbor International – our local airport and fourth largest in the country – planes can’t fly. FAA says so. Everything stops. Also, physics. At 118-degrees, large planes can’t carry large, profitable loads because they can’t get enough lift under the wings.

By this time of year, EPCOR – our local water company – shuts off the cold water lines. All new home owners are told that when they find tap water is as warm as that in a swimming pool. Day-after-day of high temps heats the soil down several feet. Where water lines are. Everyone keeps lots of bottled water in the frige. Many businesses, too. Free. First question you’re asked at a car dealer or some other place is “Would you like some water?” Gotta keep hydrated.

Our community, known nationally for our many golf courses, starts Summer play at 5:30am or so. Gotta get in that 18 holes by nine. Once in awhile, you’ll see some hackers out there at two or three in the afternoon when the temps are 110-112. Crazy as duck hunters.

After you’ve been here a year or two, you either acclimate or sell out and move back home. For those of us who stick it out, we get used to it. Mostly. With ubiquitous face masks, you go from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned store-theater-rec center-ice rink, back to air conditioned car to air conditioned home.

There are other oddities here. For example, all our well-paved streets have rolled curbs and are wider than most communities. Our 55+ haven has a five-mile “main drag” that’s six lanes wide with a well-kept median filled with small trees, flowering plants and cactus of various varieties. And a speed limit of 35-mph.

Yes, Virginia, 35. Know why? Golf carts.

A lot of us here have a golf cart. Now, I’m not a golfer. But, that makes no difference. Because, while these little vehicles may look like your normal golf cart, all of ‘em have been “souped up.” Whether electric or gas, they top out at – wait for it – 35-mph. Same as the speed limit on our “main drag.” That’s why that beautiful, six-lane highway – where speeds should be in the 50’s – will always have a speed limit of 35.

We call these carts “neighborhood cars.” You see ‘em everywhere! They’ve got seatbelts, wide-view mirrors, turn signals and headlights. Some have been modified to look like ‘57 Chevies or ‘56 Caddies. Some have a back seat for two more riders. Some have little pickup beds. Some have “fringe on top” or small solar panels. And, a few have air conditioners overhead!

But, no matter what they look like, they’re very handy for local trips, shopping, visiting friends, going to church or just getting out of the house in these times. Many stores have “golf car only” parking up front.

Speaking of parking, on a doctor’s order, Arizona issues handicap license plates, as most states do, so those with physical problems don’t have to walk so far in parking lots. But, here, they sometimes don’t provide that little extra help. That’s because, when you live in a 55+ community, lots of other folks have those special plates, too. So, there can be gray-haired kerfuffles for a parking spot at the store. For a golf cart!

“Snowbirds” are gone now. Back to Wisconsin, North Dakota or Canada. Their homes here – often costing half-a-million or more – sit empty as things heat up. You know those orange “Homer” buckets you see at Home Depot? Neighbor of ours leaves 48 of those in his vacant home each summer. 48! Filled with water. It’s to keep moisture in every room, in the dry, desert heat, with his thermostat set at 90-degrees for the air conditioner. Weird, but true.

Most homes here are one-story with an attic. My air conditioner tech told me it can get to 250-290-degrees up there when the outside temperatures reach into the hundreds. Rafters become very dry and can twist which makes for an expensive re-roofing job.

Lots of things here are very different from our beloved Pacific Northwest. We’re still not used to seeing coyotes, havalinas, bobcats, desert snakes and other wandering wildlife in our graveled backyard. Sometimes cross paths with a coyote when walking the dog. They usually look at you, then wander off.

Yep, desert living is a whole new experience. But, hopped-up golf carts, coyote sightings, dealing with 100+degree temps, listening to daily ambulance sirens on our six-lane golf cart path, seeing tattooed women in their 80’s and 90’s at the store, surrounded by vacant homes half the year – all that and more in our unincorporated Dell Webb asylum for seniors – can take your mind off Donald J. Trump, COVID-19. And, yes, even Wolf Blitzer.

But, you gotta stay inside May to September. ‘Cause, damn, it’s hot out there!

Baby and bath water

Author: admin

“Baby and the bath water” is an old saw. But, it keeps running in my head these days as we’re watching some of our history being swept away in a wave of political correctness.

I’ve never been a big fan of “political correctness.” Sort of felt it’s too – uh – correct. Still do.

We’re currently witnessing the demolishing of statues, renaming prominent buildings, removing public art and “correcting” almost anything tied to the confederacy that existed in this nation in the mid-1800’s. And after.

Even Teddy Roosevelt has been threatened. Yes, Teddy! There’s a statue in Boston with Teddy on his horse and an Indian on one side and a Black man on the other. Both standing. The raucous outcry to end ol’ Teddy’s days on public display is because he’s “higher” than the other two depicted and that makes some of the P-Cer’s unhappy. They say the difference makes the two other figures “lesser.”

Well, la de dah. Of course, Teddy’s “higher.” He’s sitting atop a horse, idiots! The sculptor, to anyone’s knowledge, wasn’t making a “racial statement” when carving in the 1930’s. Still the voices of rancor want the whole shebang torn down. Now!

Woodrow Wilson’s name is being sandblasted off an old building on the Yale campus. Seems he was a “bad guy,” too. Yes, he said and wrote some things that could be considered racist. And anti-Semitic. But, his words, however they appeared, were nearly 90 years ago. His worth – whatever history deems that to be – will likely be based on what he did – or didn’t do – as President of these United States.

We’ve even been told some voices want the artwork on Stone Mountain in Georgia blasted to bits. If you’ve ever seen Stone Mountain, its not something you’d likely want to see reduced to pebbles.

I understand – about as much as a Caucasian man can – the feelings of some Black Americans when referring to various public objects with depictions of the years of the Civil War. Anger being the most universal, we’re told. I understand.

But, what comes next? Do we pillage libraries everywhere by removing texts telling of slavery – or the war – or the Confederacy? Do we stop teachers in our public schools from teaching students about that terrible time of a divided nation – of the destruction and death – the terrible toll when Americans were killing Americans? And Black Wall Street and Red Summer?

Can’t some standard be set by somebody before junking public art depicting the people, the events, the history of our nation at that time? Do we have to destroy it all in the name of “political correctness?” There must be some other way.

Bad as the Civil War memories are for some, I have my own memories of another time when our nation was in danger and those in power made a terrible decision.

I was six-years-old, in early 1942, when sheriff’s deputies raided my first grade classroom and literally carried out some of my classmates – my friends – because they were from Japanese-American families. I can’t forget the screaming voices. They, and their parents, were hauled off to isolated camps in the Western U.S.. Mostly barren places with tar paper dormitories surrounded with barbed wire and armed guards.

It was a national tragedy – a national shame – authorized by Franklin Roosevelt at the urging of other politicians. One of the loudest and most persistent voices belonged to Senator William Borah of Idaho.

So, what happened to those camps of shame? After the war and after the release of those families, did we destroy them? Did we try to cover up our national disgrace by obliterating any trace?

No, we didn’t. Some of those terrible places were reconstructed. They’ve become monuments to constantly remind us of the wrongs committed. Like slavery. To the tragedy we allowed simply because the lives uprooted were those of a people who didn’t look like the rest of us. With different skin color. Like slavery.

I used to occasionally travel past one of those WWII camps near Minidoka, Idaho. Everytime – every time – I remembered those first grade kids – the big, armed deputies – the screams. Mostly the screams. I now live 15-hundred miles away but, even as I write these words, I can see Jimmy Yamamoto twisting and screaming as he was picked up out of his little seat.

We made those memorials to remind an entire nation to not forget the misplaced racism. Yes, racism. That’s what it was. Pure and simple. The “cover story” we were told was that some of “those people” might be”secret agents”of Japan. Our bloodthirsty enemy on the battlefields of the Pacific. But, at it’s core, it was racism. A different color skin.

Germany also decided to remember that nation’s shame – and racism – by making monuments out of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and others. Some were rebuilt as they were during the mass killings. They, like the American camps, stand as constant reminders of shame.

For those hell-bent on removing all the public reminders of Civil War racism and slavery, there are other ways of looking at those times – those tragic times. And those pieces of rock and stone and granite.

“Baby and bath water.” Be careful.