That's One Way To Look At It

An interesting situation is unfolding in Washington, Baghdad, and Tehran. It involves politics, religion, and power. A geo-political game of chess with obvious adversaries and potentially surprising allies.

Let’s look at the event that has fanned the flames of war. Last week U.S. Military forces took out a high level target from Iran. Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and associates were taken out on the tarmac of an airport in Baghdad.

Apparently Soleimani cut quite the figure. He was the commander of a special forces unit which purpose was to fight ISIS and as a side hustle create as many headaches for the Great Satan possible. He was good at his job. So good in fact he had achieved legendary status as a real Revolutionary hero capable of taking the fight to the enemy with swagger and a smile. “The time has come to take out our swords,” he said in one memorable quote.

His swashbuckling style not only gained him fans in the Middle East but the New York Times was almost referential as it gushed about his exploits while writing about his demise. It is early, but Clooney is in the running for Soleimani’s Hollywood turn.

And so his end should come as no surprise. The Great Satan is good at its job too.

At the moment he had set his sights on American targets in Iraq. A military contractor had been killed with the American Embassy under siege. Casualties were likely to mount.

Ok, so these are the events as they stand in the lands of Persia. But what about in Washington and Tehran where the events are being orchestrated.

Washington is waking up to impeachment as the new year dawns. Nancy Pelosi is clutching the articles tightly and tucks them under her pillow each night as she dreams of endless press conferences waxing poetically of the solemn oath she took to defend the Constitution. Trump being led out of Washington in chains brings her to a place she has not felt in years.

For Trump, his eyes are set on November. So this Impeachment, while not a deal breaker, is quite the annoyance.

On the Democrat side we have four sets of eyes on the Oval. But, for better or worse, impeachment fever has sucked all the air out of the room. Rumor has it a debate was held a few weeks back.

Things for Ayatollah Khamenei are even more dire. The economy is in a downward spiral, the gutter is the next floor up, unemployment is rampant, people are out in the streets, talk of revolution is in the air. The Supreme Leader has a supreme crisis.

There it is. Two world leaders, fully in control of their office, true, but storm clouds clearly in the not far distance. Trump has his Pelosi, a true thorn in the side, and Khamenei surely noticed the adoration the Iranian people had, indeed still have, for Soleimani. And who knows, perhaps the revered warrior saw in his future more than a loyal soldier.

But, with one swift blow, impeachment, always a dud of a story, finds itself on page two while Major General Soleimani has been promoted to martyr.

The Great Satan has reappeared with vengeance and who better to slay the White Devil than the Supreme Leader. Mobs again have taken to the streets. But now they are after someone else’s blood.

Pelosi, the four candidates, and the New York Times have been caught off-guard and find themselves in a quagmire. Trump assassinated a sworn enemy who had just led siege to our Embassy. They are now left trying to figure out a way to criticize Trump without seeming too dovish. Reckless seems to be the adjective being employed out of the gate. Not sure about that. Hopefully more effective than quid pro quo.

Doesn’t matter. Trump is on war footing. Everybody and everything else fades into the background. He gets photo ops in the war room while his enemies huddle together pondering what to do with those articles of impeachment.

Hollywood, as if on cue, has made its opinion known. From the mouth of Rose McGowan: “Dear #Iran, The USA has disrespected your country, your flag, your people. 52% of us humbly apologize. We want peace with your nation. We are being held hostage by a terrorist regime. We do not know how to escape. Please do not kill us. #Soleimani

Mana from heaven.

That my friends is a winning Trump ad coming your way soon.

In both countries the conversation has now changed. And Trump and the Ayatollah control the message. Funny how that worked. And so timely. Almost like an I’ll scratch your back if you… moment. Enemies can find common cause, you know.

Anyway, That’s One Way To Look At It…

To Impeach Or Not To Impeach

After nearly three years of chipping at the stone, endless meetings, hours of Rachel Maddow promising that just around the corner a smoking gun would be unveiled, the United States House of Representatives has just concluded Trump is a hard-headed often erratic arsehole.

Was it worth it? Is it still worth it?

Depends on your perspective I suppose. For me, ardently opposed to the very thought of Trump , I was hoping something Nixonian was to be found. Even when it appeared The Donald was getting railroaded I did not care so much as I am confident he has dished out worse in his time. Bottom line: Sorry, Bro, had it coming.

The goal was to either remove him from office or make him such damaged goods he’d bow out not wanting to go through the humiliation of a contested primary run.

Yeah, ok, that didn’t work. In fact, we failed miserably. Rather, the opposite appears true. It seems to have invigorated him. Worse, the Dems have riled up the Deplorables.

Which leads me to one conclusion:

My Party has wasted the last three years on a Quixotic quest for the Resistance. Even with that said, they at least, at the very very least, could have made it interesting.

First of all, if you are going to throw an impeachment bash there is nothing worse than inviting boring to the party. Boring and impeachment? Never in the history of the Republic has that been accomplished.

If we harken back to Watergate one can recall that Hollywood casting country lawyer, Sam Ervin. In addition, a cast of characters including H.R. Haldeman, the White House Plumbers, not to mention the Saturday Night Massacre, still echo throughout the hallowed halls of Washington. “Well, I’m not a crook,” was on the lips of every comedian in the land.

Fast forward a couple of decades and we find ourselves hanging out with Bill and Monica knee deep in the mud of Whitewater. A little black dress took on new meaning and we all rolled over as Bill argued, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

We learned that campaign staffers were specifically tasked to deal with bimbo eruptions and more somberly were forced to ponder exactly why Vince Foster took his life.

Those were exciting times no matter which team you were rooting for. In each case, we cried, shared genuine non-partisan outrage, and even got to laugh. The journey was worth it.

Trumps’s Impeachment has nothing as scintillating and everlasting to match the Clinton and Nixon affairs. It will be forgotten by spring’s thaw.

Though, to be fair, the sheer ineptitude of the Dem team and their cable tv warriors has caused more than a few tears.

The lasting image of the Trump drama may well be quid pro quo, a Latin term foreign to some so, midstream, it was changed to bribery. And for those of us who do know the term it sort of struck us as business as usual for politics. Growing up in Boston, I sort of thought quid pro quo was how the wheels of government worked ut solet.

No shady Indonesian businessmen with briefcases stuffed with cash, no slush funds, no Bimbo #3, no pray with me, Henry moments. And certainly no Woodward and Bernstein feeding us ammunition as the gates to the castle crumbled. By any standards, this was a snooze fest.

There is Hunter Biden. He’s interesting, and sort of central to the proceedings but for all the wrong reasons. In any case, just go google Joe’s son and his name is tied to the hip with debunked. That was quick. For what it is worth, he has been locked in a closet somewhere left to deal with a paternity suit though he has hit the mattresses with a tasty South African starlet. Well played, Hunter. Papa, Joe…It’s a boy!! Pass the Cubans…

So, what are we left with? Not a lot other than the hard-headed arsehole we started with and that we all knew was a little shady to begin with.

But, if somewhat corrupt, he is also now more sympathetic to his deplorable base. That brings us to November 2020.

It’s not the economy, stupid.

That apparently will be the rallying cry come next month as we move into Iowa. Basically, whoever emerges from the Primary Season will need to appeal to the voters sense of right and wrong, their political etiquette, rather than to their wallet. Tough sell.

Biden, Sanders, and Warren are the favorites at this point with Mayor Pete lurking. I adore Bernie. But is a 77 year old socialist Jew likely to move into the Oval? Can Joe with all his baggage get close to the finish line? Can Professor Warren, again somebody I really like, have a plan to keep her tribe from falling asleep? Is America ready to install a small-city gay mayor in the highest office of the land?

The entirety of Trump’s term, the past two Congressional sessions, has been spent figuring how to remove him from office. Perhaps it would have been best spent focusing on the ballot box and using the Rachel Maddow’s of the world as a platform from which to craft an attractive candidate or two.

That has not been the case. Hard to believe, but Trump will spend New Year’s with the wind solidly at his back and full steam ahead to mix nautical metaphors.

And all because the best that Pelosi, Schiff, and company could dredge up was quid pro quo.

Which leaves me at a crossroads. I still need to pick my horse. But, truth be told, I’m not there yet. No pizzazz seems to be on the horizon so eventually I’ll need to settle on the best of a mediocre field.

Ok, that is it for this edition of The Locke Report… I’ll try to be better next time. And, if we don’t talk beforehand, the very best of Holidays!!

Let The Good Times Roll

The Locke Report will endorse a Presidential candidate before 2020 dawns. Quite frankly, the process has been winnowed down to two candidates, Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren. I supported Bernie in 2016 and may well this time too. But I dig Liz. So we’ll see.

And I will choose one or the other based on optimism. But I’m not here to talk about them today.

Rather I would like to remind everybody that the sun is truly shining on the democratic experiment John Adams and Thomas Jefferson created almost 250 years ago.

You see, I do not share the doom and gloom scenario that so many seem to revel in. This is not a time of crisis. These are the good old days.

American Democracy is neither under attack nor paralyzed no matter what the New York Times is blathering about nowadays. Is it messy? Absolutely. Show me a passive quiet democracy and I will show you a system in trouble. This is not Britain dealing with Brexit. This is not a mealy mouth body politic unable to function coherently leaving the populace rudderless.

No. The exact opposite is now happening in the United States. The Congress of the United States of America has two chambers. The lower house is controlled by the Democrats while the upper house is run by the Republicans. Conservatives and Democrats both have a large microphone to push their respective agendas. Guess what, they use it.

Against this backdrop we have a raving lunatic in the White House. But here’s the point, in a little over a year the American public will have an opportunity to vote him out. Or, if things fall the right way, he’ll be impeached and perhaps be forced out of office. And if he is not, well that will be democratic as well.

This is not a democracy in crisis, this is a democracy acting exactly as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson drew it up. Democracy does not guarantee utopia or even equal outcomes. What it does guarantee is your right to kick and scream and march and protest and organize and vocally persuade all in the name of pushing your agenda. And as long as you don’t trample on my God-given inalienable rights then have at it.

On any given Facebook day I can see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s name being dragged through the mud or it being held in the highest ring of honor. Likewise Mitch McConnell is the White Devil incarnate to some while at the same time being lauded for his White Christian gun-toting virtues by others. Each has their champions.

The point being, the spectrum of voices participating and thriving in American politics is as diverse as it has ever been. And just as corrupt too. Yeah, that is also part and parcel of the American experience. It is also a testament to the success the economy has enjoyed for ages. You can even call it White Privilege if you want. Hunter Biden and the Trump brood can wax eloquent on the benefits of power. They can also be brought before a court. Hear Hear to that.

I live in the center of the political spectrum with a bay window looking just left. There is an LGBT…community way off in the distance. They despise my baseball loving beer drinking church and football Sunday rituals rock & roll listening white boy ways. It is their right. And they can denigrate me and my White Privilege from highest hilltop. As long as you don’t tread on my God-given inalienable rights. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of their lot either. But I will defend their rights. Why? Because they are the same as mine.

Rejoice in the foot stomping table pounding finger pointing mud-slinging pile of dung our Democracy is. That is what the Founding Fathers envisioned. The more mud being slung the better the system is working.

The imperfections of the system, in my estimation, highlight its beauty. Is Trump an eyesore? Yes! Bottom of the heap. But the system Jefferson and Adams designed is a system of men and women. We are imperfect. Our leaders will reflect both the best and the worst of our character. But as imperfect as we are and as imperfect as the system may be, it is also the best system designed by man to rectify its own mistakes.

John Kennedy once said: Our problems are man-made — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable — and we believe they can do it again.”

That’s the spirit, Jack!

So let Mitch McConnell thump his Bible and applaud when AOC rails against cows farting, heck, applaud harder when she hurls the cow dung at Mitch, because when you see that, man’s reason and spirit, then you know the wheels of democracy are churning.

I am out and will try to be better next time. Have a great Halloween! Whatever you do, Live Life!!

Social Justice Stops at the Water’s Edge

Daryl Morey is the General Manager of the Houston Rockets. He runs a basketball team in the NBA. It pays well. As far as jobs go one could do worse. His job is to assemble a roster of talented individuals, negotiate contracts, and provide a competitive squad for his coach.

That’s it. Everything else to do in that franchise is done by other employees. So, evaluate talent, make sure the team’s salary structure makes sense, and hire a coaching staff. For doing those 3 things, and apparently he does them rather well, Daryl Morey makes more than 1 million dollars per year.

Well, maybe not for too much longer. Why? Because he committed one of the most mind-numbing mistakes I have ever seen. Daryl likes to Tweet. Ok, many are addicted. The problem in this case is that Daryl tweeted his support for the protesters in Hong Kong. He probably thought it was a socially savvy move much like Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich and likely to upgrade his public profile in this era of enlightened Social Justice.

He could not have been more wrong. China has about as much use for democracy, free speech, and social justice as I do for a farmer’s hoe and tractor. None. But, more to the point, China is the NBA’s biggest, by far, partner.

490 Million Chinese turned into the NBA last year to root for their favorite teams. They buy shirts, sneakers, and coffee cups all to show their support. TENCENT, the Chinese broadcast company has paid 1.5 Billion to the NBA for the broadcast rights over a 5 year period. This does not include the money from merchandising and other revenue streams including direct access.

That Chinese connection pays a lot of bills.

That is about to be turned off. The Chinese Government sees these Hong Kong protests as part of a larger separatist movement. Any support of that movement will put you in jail or, in this case, out of a job.

Now, the Social Justice movement is a money maker in The States. If Daryl Morey wants to lambaste Trump as being a homophobic white supremacist who dabbles in Devil worship, have at it. If Pop and Kerr want to decry the inhumane conditions of immigrants marching as a clear example of human rights abuse by the Trump Administration, Tweet away. If Kap wants to take a knee in protest of the oppression people of color are exposed to on a given day, bravo my well paid Nike social warrior. Bask in the warmth you get from being on the ‘right’ side of these issues and as champions of those less fortunate.

But these savvy advocates of human rights know their message must be limited to the water’s edge. Kap & Nike know they have a brand to protect in China. When he talks of mental and physical abuse by the man, he is not talking about that worker at a Xi’an Nike factory.

I just read an article that if China boycotts the NBA this year each team will lose between 12 to 18 million for next season. Players will be paid less. Coaches will be paid less. The fan will pay more. Knowing this, Pop and Steve also know where to target their outrage.

So Adam Silver, the NBA’s Commissioner, has quite the international incident on his hand. Games are being taken off normal broadcasting, NBA apparel taken of shelves, all the while the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets are being holed up in their hotels their games being suspended and player interviews cancelled. Team sponsorships, especially for Morey’s Rockets, are being terminated

On the one hand, a group of lawmakers – including the rare alignment of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – sent a letter to Silver saying the NBA should show the ”courage and integrity” to stand up to the Chinese government.

On the other, Pop and Kerr do not have an opinion formed on the Hong Kong democracy riots. Basically they have said that they do not know enough about this situation to comment but have a deep respect of China’s culture and long history. Well played! They know who is buttering their bread. It ain’t AOC.

Adam Silver has basked in the progressive light the NBA has supported over the last several years. It is an atmosphere that encourages players and coaches alike to make their thoughts and opinions known on a variety of socially important issues. But let us be clear, keep focused on American issues.

Chinese soldiers gunning down unarmed kids in the street is not an “American issue.”

In order for things to return to normal, in order for the financial faucet to be turned back on, in order for LeBron’s upcoming Space Jam II movie to hit Chinese cinemas, in order for all those Air Jordan’s to be put back on the shelf, Morey needs to be handed a pink slip.

And perhaps guidelines should put in place. Voter suppression, YES!! Democracy in Hong Kong, NO!! Women’s Rights-ME TOO, YES & Yes!! Women’s Rights in Muslim Society, No, Stay Far Away!!! A manual such as this could have helped Daryl Morey avoid career suicide.

Through it all, a valuable lesson will be learned. Leave the Social Warrior cape at home when traveling abroad.

That’s it! I’ll try to be better next time…

Osso Bucco And The Power Of A Name

Osso Bucco and the Power of a Name

 

I was recently sitting in our nearby university bookstore with my wife. It has become a Sunday ritual of ours to bring our daughter to the bookstore where she can play in the wonderful children’s room. It’s all about Barbie for her now; Barbie The Mermaid, Barbie and The Fairy

While my daughter went to play with her friends my wife and I sat off to the side.

My wife, a magnificent cook, or should I say amateur chef, routinely peruses through the many cook books on hand while I fiddle on my tablet. From time to time she will show me a recipe and ask: “What do you think?” Usually I will take the time to scan it over, more out of routine than anything, and then give my nod of approval. I don’t believe I’ve yet to give a thumbs down to anything but still my wife was surprised at the enthusiasm with which I instantly gave a thumbs up to her latest query: “What about Osso Bucco?”

“Hell Yeah!” I stated with gusto. “Who wouldn’t want to sit down with a plate of Osso Bucco?

Tarn, my wife, shook her head impressed. “It must be delicious then!”

“I guess. I’ve never had it. But it must be, right?” I replied.

“What is it made of?” she followed, showing her surprise.

“Not sure,” I responded matter-of-factly.

Further confused, she probed, “What is it, Italian?”

I pulled my head up from my tablet, “Must be; it sounds Italian.”

“Then why are you so sure you want me to cook it?” she questioned, increasingly perplexed.

I thought about it for a moment; “It’s the name really. I mean c’mon, it’s Osso Bucco! The name itself probably adds ten dollars to the plate.”

“It’s all in the name then.”

“Exactly!”

“So meatloaf…” she pressed.

“Not so much,” I admitted. “But hey I love your meatloaf so don’t get me wrong.”

My wife shrugged her shoulders and continued flipping through her book so I started to delve back into the tablet, but thought better of it. I began to think of the power of the “Name.”

I thought back to a quarterback who played in the NFL not too long ago; a quarterback by the name of Joey Harrington. It didn’t fit. Could you ever imagine a Joey Montana? Or, god forbid, a Joey Namath? Broadway Joey! No, it was the name, Harrington, predictably, didn’t last too long. So names, it seems, have to be just right; Joey Stalin certainly would seem out of place for a ‘tough as nails’ dictator and I can only imagine the words Clint Eastwood would have for his chair if they made a remake of The Outlaw Joey Wales. It’s all in the name!

Currently I’m neck deep in my 2nd Sam Collins Mystery and have fleshed out my characters, refined the plot, and now all that is left is to finish the darn thing. Still I was stuck on one character, or should I say two. You see, this character is living a double life, one female and one male. I’m quite fond of both actually; there’s an honest, if confused, quality to each that I’m quite taken with. But the name for either had eluded me. At least until my wife ingeniously brought up the topic of Osso Bucco.

This conversation provided me with a stroke of creativity. I began digging deep into each personality trying to find a name that would represent their respective qualities; a name which could inform the character more than a stack of words would; a name which could almost draw a portrait of the character for the reader.

My wife looked over at me, smiled, and said, “Still thinking of the Osso Bucco?”

“Sort of,” I admitted. “In fact, I’m trying to think of names for two characters in my new book.”

She nodded, left me alone with my thoughts, and after an instant snapped her fingers. “I’ve got it,” she stated firmly.

Interested, I looked over at her, “Let me have it.”

“Osso and Bucco,” she laughed.

“Not bad, sweetheart,” I said with a laugh. And, for a novel set in Thailand, where nicknames come in all sizes and shapes, a suggestion I have filed away for future use. “But,” I continued, “For what I’m doing here I don’t think it’ll work.”

Still the suggestion kept my mind churning. The first character, the young man with a kind heart who is always lurking in the shadows, needed a name that skirted darkness and light.

“Casper,” I blurted.

My wife, a bit startled, whispered back, “The ghost?”

“The friendly ghost,” I corrected.

The second character, the girl with an understated wild streak, a flair for fashion, and a taste for Bangkok’s high society nightlife, was a bit more difficult. For some reason the word Xanadu kept popping into my head. But perhaps too common and a vague recollection of a bad Olivia Newton John movie also sought out a place in my mind. No, that would not do at all. Anyway, my character has a zany streak that is oddly balanced with her hauntingly seductive good looks. Hey wait a minute, Xanadu + Zany = “something I can work with,” I said under my breath.

“Xanny!” I shouted excitedly. This brought out an even louder “Shsss,” from my wife and perhaps another parent.

“I got it, Babe” I continued, still excited about my discovery.

“I know, Xanny,” my wife whispered.

She then proceeded to take a photo of the Osso Bucco page from the recipe book, something I’m sure is frowned upon, but which is yet another undiscovered use of the Samsung Galaxy. I nodded approvingly.

We all left the bookstore contented that day. My daughter had her new Barbie book with DVD. Of course, it’s anything Barbie for her nowadays; again, it’s the name!

I discovered the handles for my split-personality character. A feat that still has me smiling: The perfect names!

And my wife, well she secured her recipe for the week: Osso Bucco!

She has yet to make the Osso Bucco and I still am in the dark as to what it is. I thought of Googling it, but in the end I figure it’s better to be surprised.

Hell, who am I kidding! Surprised, no way, It’s Osso Bucco man, of course it will be delicious: It is all in the name!  

Common Sense & Greta Goes To The U.N.

Thomas Paine wrote this small book, Common Sense, some 245 years ago and it remains the most popular book in American history. Writing in a clear easy to understand manner and using a persuasive prose, Paine outlined the moral and practical reasons for a clean break from England and the British Empire.

For today’s Locke Report I would like to use this theme, this old saw used by people and leaders from all walks of life, young and old, rich and poor.

Let us begin to apply common sense to my love of travel. In my younger days I enjoyed a bit of adventure in my journeys. Swimming with the rays in the Cayman’s during the day while dining on dolphin and turtle soup under the stars. Or maybe getting drunk with local writers and musicians in Xi’an’s ancient and famous night bazaar stumbling back to my guest house with a cute singer whose name and face elude my grasp and are forever cast to the recesses of my mind. Don’t remember much about that foray but it still brings a smile to my face.

Now let’s talk about the modern hipster travel experience. One couple, Jolie King and Mark Finn, decided to quit their jobs in Perth, Australia, and drive a modified Toyota Land Cruiser across Asia, the Middle East and Europe “to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel. And also try to break the stigma around traveling to countries which get a bad rap in the media,” they said.

Jolie and Mark are now being held in an Iranian prison. Mark thought that a clever way to inspire his followers would be send his drone over the city of Tehran to show exactly how beautiful this ancient city is. The problem is that Tehran’s city fathers frown upon such activities. It is illegal. It is considered an act of espionage. They are now classified as spies and one can imagine are being treated as such.

Naturally, and understandably, the media is quite sympathetic to the plight of Jolie and Mark. I am too. Obviously these two had little to no common sense into their liberal worldview. Nor apparently do any of their friends or family. Then again, lack of common sense rarely listens to the voice of reason.

Nobody loves the ocean more than I. Creatures such as sharks are amazing creations of nature. But common sense dictates I appreciate them from a distance.

In any case, I wish them well. On the bright side, they certainly will have one compelling travel tale once their release is secured.

As you all are well aware of by this point, a young lady by the name of Greta has taken the environmental and political world by storm. In Joan of Arc fashion this young ingenue has become an international celebrity. Her hold no bar confrontational oratory has shaken the political world.

On the one hand, President Macron of France dismisses her speeches as the rantings of uneducated youth and her ideas as economically disastrous. Others, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, hop on the nearest plane to be in her presence. Unfortunately, neither response reveals much common sense.

Personally, I like people who shake things up. Whether it be a 72 year old Socialist like Bernie Sanders who tossed a dagger at the throat of the Democratic Party or a 16 year old firebrand such as Greta who is now globetrotting the world in a solar driven boat.

All too often critics get tied up in the smallest details and find themselves lost in the weeds. Common sense will implore us to respect the passion. Is she flawless? Surely not. Do we need to fall in lock step behind Bernie’s socialist vision? Of course not. Can they be criticized? Bring on the heat, Baby!

But, one thing I can say assuredly, apathy will doom a strong culture more than any misguided economic policy.

Greta has that ‘IT’ factor. Bernie wows the crowds!. Six decades may separate them in age, but if more of our citizens exhibited the energy, passion, and moral courage as these two then our Western culture would be thriving.

To me, that is simple common sense.

Thomas Paine may well be looking down from above sometimes with a frown, but, hopefully, often with a smile firm with the knowledge that common sense has not been completely lost.

The Locke Report: Lawyers, Politicians, Guns, & The Money-Go-Round

So much to say but with so little space and time.

Let’s start with the latest batch of mass shooting and near mass shootings. I won’t belabor the point of how tragic the loss of life and for the permanent scars these psychotic losers have placed upon so many decent people and families. It goes without saying.

The sad reality is these horrific events become mere talking points for those entrusted to govern the nation. Beto hopped on a plane, cried, and spent the next week in front of a camera hurling insults at the President. The President consoled the people of El Paso and Toledo, oops, Dayton with vague promises of doing something.

And that something appears to be strengthening background checks and putting in to place red flag provisions in an attempt to keep guns out of bad or unstable people’s hands. Ok, it’s a start. Mental health issues cannot be discounted as playing a role in this growing epidemic.

Now that the tears have subsided, Dayton, El Paso, and Santa Cruz become a political football. If, and this is a big if, Trump proposes stiff and meaningful background check/red flag laws will the Democrats sign on? Will they want to give him a win in an election cycle?

My bet is no. They will insist on a ban on assault weapons. The Dems, especially those running for the Oval, will insist that the mental health concerns are mere window dressing and the only substantial reform is to take these AR/AK’s off the market. I agree with the assault rifle argument. Get those grave diggers out of our lives forever. I also agree that mental health concerns are real. For me, I’d take half of the pie now, beat Trump’s arse in ’20, and then get the other half sorted out. That is unlikely to happen in this political climate.

Another pressing concern is climate change. While gun violence waxes and wanes according to the newsworthiness of the latest tragedy, global warming is a daily winner. And so it has become an A-List Brand cause.

A few weeks back Google held an A-List week long event to highlight the current dire condition of the environment. They held this event on a posh island off the Sicilian coast. You knew it was highly important as they labelled this a “summit.” They flew in the elite from the fields of Hollywood, Music, Royalty, and Politics to confer with the best and brightest of the scientific community on how best to provide leadership on this critical issue.
No expense was spared by the Tech Giant. Some of these titans were flown in on private jet while others preferred to arrive by yacht. Each, as befitted their stature, was provided a vehicle for the week. Taylor Swift’s BMW convertible 4 wheel drive SUV was tasty. Naturally, deluxe accommodations overlooking the pristine sea were provided though some preferred the homey confines of their yacht.. Elton and his band highlighted the nightly festivities.

What an event and to think it all revolved around making the world a greener place can make us all proud.

The curious case of Jeffrey Epstein keeps getting stranger and stranger.

The Feds went through Epstein’s Manhattan digs and one can only surmise came away with more questions than answers.
So, what do we know? As the internet is exploding with conspiracy theories, it is best to keep our eye on the ball and not get distracted by all of these interesting yet less than important details. As an aside, blue does favor Billary.
First, Jeffrey Epstein preyed upon young underage girls. He was a convicted pedophile and a known serial rapist. This enormously wealthy man was a child sex trafficker.

Second, Epstein counted among his friends the current president, a former president, the Randy Prince Andy, prominent celebrity lawyers, and untold leaders of industry. He courted them on his private island and touted them around the world in his fleet of private jets. He contributed handsomely to their foundations and donated to their pet charities. Jeffrey Epstein was connected in a way few people could claim.

Third, Epstein was able to stare eyeball to eyeball with a federal prosecutor in Florida with the charge of serial rape of minors standing against him. His army of lawyers, led by famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, won the day. Epstein was, because of money, corruption, and connections, free to rape again.

Fourth, Epstein was apprehended again and this time put behind bars pending trial. This time the odds did not seem nearly as good. Shortly after his incarceration he was found unconscious in his cell, abrasions around his neck. It was never revealed whether these wounds were self-inflicted or if he was attacked. He was transferred to a higher security prison, in NYC, and placed on suicide watch. Until he wasn’t. Then he was found dead.

Fifth, the main stream media was prepared with articles defending the conclusion of suicide before the body had even been prepared for autopsy. Claims of conspiracy were unfounded they preached.

Finally, dead men don’t tell tales as we all know.

These are the facts and they are beyond dispute. What is shrouded in mystery is the circumstance regarding his demise. First of all, Epstein was a ward of the state and as such was under their protection. Serious questions need to be asked and answered as to how that task was carried out. It stands to reason, with his noted connections, many would want him silenced. It also figures that he would want to pull every lever at his disposal, as was done to great success in Florida, to secure a favorable outcome. Why commit suicide now when he had not played his last hand? So, a great mystery lingers and is likely to remain so for some time to come. Who killed Jeffrey Epstein?

My FB universe hosted a tempest in a teapot this past week. You see, there has been an uproar over the liberal bent of the Old Gray Lady. As august an institution as the New York Times is, it is not immune to the dictates of the marketplace. The days of Abe Rosenthal are long gone. Readership for all print media is down. Significantly. Fewer eyes means fewer ad revenue coin.

So, when the NYT prints a neutral headline reporting the gist of a presidential address they are courting trouble. Their readership is left. The Left despises Trump. So, in a real sense, the NYT is there to serve its financial base. Supporters stormed the gates looking for blood. They don’t subscribe to the paper to receive journalistic balance or to even hear both sides of the story. They want their thoughts and worldview confirmed.

The headline was retracted, or at least revised for the next edition. Heads will roll. A meeting was quickly held and the editor laid out ground rules on when it was allowed to call the president a racist. It was said that the younger journalist were none to happy with that leash.

And perhaps neither is the readership. Trump is a racist sells. Subscribers were lost and potentially never to return based on the journalistic lapse of a balanced headline. Let us not forget, it is called the Newspaper Business.

If you do not subscribe to a liberal world view then do not subscribe to the New York Times. It is simple. If you do not adhere to the hard right, don’t tune in to Fox. The last thing to do is complain about the way they go about their business. Like you and I, they have their eye on the bottom line.

That’s it for August. Have a great end to the summer and I’ll talk to you when the leaves begin to fall.