Wag The Dog To Win The Election?

British intelligence says there is no “increased threat” from Iran. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has a carrier task-force backed up by heavy bombers headed for the Persian Gulf and is reportedly considering sending in more than 100-thousand troops. Trump has also ordered the evacuation of all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in nearby Iraq.

The Republicans haven’t wagged the dog this hard since the W. Bush Administration was finding yellow cake in Niger and aluminum centrifuge tubes all over Iraq.

How many times are we going to fall for this same ploy? How many times are we going to let the Republicans take the country to war to win an election? How many times have you speculated that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in place, which would have meant no ISIS? Was Saddam that much worse than Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has imprisoned journalists, judges, and pretty much anybody who opposes his regime while he continues his war against our allies the Kurds?

It’s easy to forget that Saddam had our implicit support when he went to war with Iran, and that he would still be holding the Iranians in check had the Untied States not demonized him before invading his sovereign nation in the name of regime change. Sure, Saddam was a nasty guy, but preventing the formation of ISIS and holding Iran in check while eliminating the need for a massive deployment of U.S. troops is no small matter.

What George W. Bush said about “democratizing” all the of Middle East popped into my head the other day. One wonders how many in the current administration continue to believe that’s a good idea? How many there are who think that leaving our troops permanently scattered across the Middle East and North Africa at the U.S. taxpayers expense is a viable option? Presidential adviser John Bolton, is a known supporter of regime change in Iran. In simple terms, Bolton thinks it would be a good idea to invade another sovereign nation to overthrow another sitting government.

We never used to even contemplate doing that kind of thing unless a nation-state or other entity presented a clear and present danger to us or threatened a country with whom we had a mutual defense agreement. It just wasn’t what America did. We were better than that. Apparently that ended with Vietnam, another country we invaded based upon an apparent lie. More than 58,000 Americans died in that one. Sadly, documents and tapes in the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library prove that Johnson had both the South and the North Vietnamese ready to sign a peace treaty, but that the deal died when Richard Nixon’s campaign convinced the South Vietnamese that it would be to their advantage to keep the war going until after Nixon was elected. It would be years later before a disgusted American public became so disenchanted with the unending war that they took to the streets and demanded that the military-industrial complex disengage.

When did the very idea of peace become unreachable while ongoing war feels like the norm? Something we simply cannot avoid? Do you suppose the profitability of war factors into any of this?

Which do you prefer? Educating our kids and giving the country a national healthcare program, or killing strangers on foreign soil? Why isn’t that even discussed? When did the very concept of peace become not just unfashionable, but un-American?

An “exit strategy” to pull our people out of the Middle-East and North Africa, has been all but forgotten, as has an actual long-term game plan for why we are still there. Also nearly forgotten is the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the need for national healthcare, the overwhelming need for campaign finance reform along with real immigration reform and the role the Russians played in rigging our last election.

War with Iran, might very well ensure our national lapse in memory continues long enough to get Donald Trump re-elected. Until then, the chaos this one man has created continues to provide Republicans with excellent cover to continue putting the self-interest of a relative few above the national interest of the many.

Our real enemies appear to be the Russians, who, our intelligence services tell us, continue plotting ways to rig our next election, and the Saudis, who have never stopped spreading a worldwide campaign of anti-American hatred. All the while, Donald Trump, in his infinite wisdom, is laying the groundwork for another war. The ultimate diversion heading into 2020.

Has Our “Constitutional Crisis” Arrived?

Turned on CNN International this morning to hear their guest, a law professor, stating that the United States is now in the midst of “a constitutional crisis.” This, following the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr, allegedly the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, refusing to show up for questioning before the House Judiciary Committee which is trying to get to the bottom of what was redacted from the Muller Report and whether Mr. Barr has greater interest in being the Attorney General of the United States or a personal attorney for Donald J. Trump, doing all he can to give Mr. Trump cover from his obvious collusion with the Russians, followed by his equally obvious obstruction of justice, outlined in the Mueller Report. A report which, Mr. Barr now admits, he has not read and did not read, prior to telling the American people that it clears Donald Trump of any wrong doing. That is to say, no collusion and no obstruction of justice.

We now know, of course, following Barr’s appearance before a Senate committee on Wednesday, that Mr. Mueller complained in writing to Mr. Barr, that he had mischaracterized the contents of the report to the American people. When his complaint was ignored, Mueller, complained again. Barr, apparently did not care, as he went before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said he had a conversation with Muller and that Muller’s chief complaint was not that Barr had mischaracterized the report’s contents, but that the media was getting it all wrong.

It’s the White House playbook. When caught in a lie, blame the media. If that doesn’t work, blame Hillary Clinton. The folks back home will buy it every time. They don’t read, so all that really matters is what they hear, first from FOX or Rush, and then from one-another.

Ostensibly, William Barr, is refusing to show up for questioning because he doesn’t like the format House Democrats are going to use of bringing in an outside attorney to help with the questioning. Republicans say the Dems are out of line in trying to use this technique, even though it is the same form of questioning the Republicans insisted upon when questioning Christine Blasey Ford.

The Republicans are famous for their “do as I say and not as I do” moves. When you have a constituency that doesn’t read and reacts from emotion rather than intellect, it works every time.

Beyond that, and just to clear up any confusion, the Judiciary Committee is charged with overseeing the Federal Courts and Federal law enforcement agencies, like Mr. Barr and the FBI. So in a very real sense (as opposed to “alternative facts”), Barr, is answerable to the Committee. His refusal to show up for a committee hearing is not unlike telling one’s boss to “go stuff it.”

So here we are. If the law professor is correct, and I think she probably is, Donald J. Trump, and his water-carrying Attorney General, have brought us to the brink of becoming a full-blown banana republic. The United States of America, where tens of thousands have gone into into battle to die or be wounded to protect our way of life, our Democracy, and now a spoiled man-child from New York, a man who may have mental health issues, is being allowed to bring it all to the brink?

When you enter the military, you raise your right hand and take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” Trump seems to have no concept of what that means. He is talking and acting like a monarch, because he is being allowed to talk and act like one. He apparently has no idea that the Congress is co-equal to the Executive.

It’s a problem which, at this point, only the Republicans with their majority in the Senate, can fix. However, to fix it, they will have to put country ahead of their party and the polls. So far they have refused, and in their intransigence and unending support for this President who would be king, they have shown themselves to be traitors to the cause of American Democracy.

They are turning their backs on each and every young American who has taken an oath to “support and defend” the Constitution. A document this current Republican Party has no interest in defending. If they did, they would be joining the growing chorus of those who refuse to stand by and watch our great nation being turned into something resembling a third-world country being run by a tyrant who is beyond the reach of the law and without accountability for his words and actions. A man who has delivered us into a constitutional crisis. He is Vladimir Putin’s fondest desire.

Whether Trump understands what he’s doing is no longer relevant. He is doing it. That, is all that really matters. Have you seen what’s happening in Venezuela right now? Don’t think it can’t happen here.

Mr. Barr’s Political Puff-Piece Press Conference

Well, that was interesting. We all knew Attorney General Barr, would continue in his role as White House cheerleader, but why was Rod Rosenstein there, standing up for everything Barr said as he turned the Mueller Report into a political puff-piece for Donald Trump?

There is so much disingenuity and flip-flopping going on that it’s difficult to keep track, but I seem to remember AG Barr saying he would not be sending the report over to the White House before releasing it to the Congress. However, that’s exactly what he did, giving the President’s lawyers a legal leg-up on everyone else.

“William Barr writes he has ‘no plans’ to give Trump or the White House a chance to review the report before its release.” – 3/29/19 Politico

The pundits and writers will now go through the report line by line, as both the Republicans and the Dems seek to use it to their political advantage. Initially though, it appears the bar for what constitutes a campaign’s illegal contact with a foreign power is set so high, that it was unreachable by Mueller’s team. As for obstruction, Mueller found there were ten possible counts, but passed the buck onto the congress to decide whether anything should or could be done about them.

For a time, the question of whether a president can be indicted appeared to be unsettled law. Then, at some point during the Mueller investigation, someone inside the DOJ announced that it was settled law and that the Department’s position was that a sitting president cannot be indicted. A position which was then endlessly parroted by the pundits. This, despite a 56 page memo the New York Times got its hands on indicating the issue was resolved during the investigation of Bill Clinton by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. The memo says in part, “It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties,” the Starr office memo concludes. “In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”  -NYT’s

Apparently reversing their earlier decision, the Department of Justice now does not agree with Mr. Starr’s legal team. They now think the president is above the law, so the answer as to what legally can be done to the President – other than impeachment or removal from office by using the 25th Amendment – is apparently absolutely nothing. It follows, that in all likelihood, nothing will be done so long as Republicans continue to control the Senate.

It is somewhat surprising that the AG has agreed to turn over an unredacted version of the report to congressional leaders for their perusal. He may be doing this because DJT’s lawyers have decided the wisest course of action is to keep it out of court.

An analysis by key congressional leaders will be worth waiting for, as will Robert Mueller’s testimony before congressional committees. AG Barr, says he has no problem with Mueller testifying. At least, that’s what he is saying now. One wonders if he’ll get a phone call from the White House directing him to change his mind. Again.

As for all the rest of it – all the noise to come – I’ll be preserving what sanity I have left by watching baseball, as we appear to be stuck with Trump and his bizarre band of cronies until the next election despite evidence of obstruction of justice and obvious collusion with the Russians, even if it doesn’t meet one legal standard or another. Like so many Americans, I am now officially suffering from chronic Trump fatigue.

Assange, Trump, and setting the Barr

Everything AG William Barr is now saying he will do, like investigating the investigators because he thinks there was “spying” during the runup to the 2016 election, was called for by Donald Trump during his campaign at the same time he was praising Wikileaks for dumping info on HRC’s email. The insanity with Trump wanting this, is that the investigators he want’s investigated are some of the same people who inadvertently helped Trump win the election by going public with information on Hillary’s emails. Or more precisely, her email server. If memory serves.

We have no Attorney General. We have the Trump family running the country like it’s their private business, with the most powerful man in the world making irrational decisions and using the AG as his private attorney while he kicks up as much dust as he possibly can by creating a “crisis” on the border with Mexico. Trump needs a curtain to hide behind. Chaos fueled by hyperbole or outright dishonesty, is the curtain giving him continued cover from the real question of whether and to what degree his campaign was in collusion with or impacted by the Russians.

“Wikileaks! I love Wikileaks!” – Donald J. Trump

Poor Julian Assange. At least he is now finally out of the Ecuadorian Embassy. With all the propaganda being thrown about, one way and the other, it’s difficult not to be conflicted about the guy. In the end, it could all boil down to whether the United States can prove he actually assisted Chelsea Manning in obtaining classified information, or if Manning got the data on her own and simply passed it along to Assange, who then published it.

Legal experts speculate that if it’s the latter, Assange was acting as a publisher, just like the New York Times. Meaning, he should be protected by the First Amendment. Either way, you can be sure Donald Trump’s promotion of and love for Wikileaks, is sure to be highlighted in the weeks and months to come, as will Daniel Ellsberg and his release of the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg beat an espionage/conspiracy rap because he was discredited by the U.S. Government. Can’t the same be said of Julian Assange? Do ya think? Is it possible for the government to hate Assange enough to want to throw him in prison even while the president professes his love for leakers? And what will the Mueller Report have to say about Assange and the Russians?

Across the pond, the Brits have not only succeeded in arresting an unshaven Julian Assange by dragging him out of the Embassy, they have also bought themselves some breathing room by extending the Brexit deadline into October. The Brits can breath again, at least for a while, without having to worry about their chaotic government crashing out of the EU. Could be a terrible mess, don’t you know. With the extension, all they need worry about is whether to hold another referendum, and if they do, whether that’s contradictory to their democratic principles, since one referendum was already held which directed the government to leave the EU. However, another referendum may be their only viable option, because the House of Commons can’t agree on when to break for lunch, much less a compromise on Brexit.

With the United States and the U.K. both in the grip of governmental chaos and even the Israelis voting to support a “strong man” in the person of Benjamin Netanyahu, you can be sure that somewhere deep inside the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is loving every minute of it as he dreams of the demise of democracy and the rise of what? Plutocracy? Fascism? Some form of Neo-Feudalism that benefits the few but denies the many while convincing the hordes of commoners that a good screwing is in their best interest? Anyway, why should any of that matter to Putin, so long as it strengthens his position on the world stage.

When Politics Becomes A Disease

“Aggression unopposed becomes a contagious disease.” -Jimmy Carter

Started the day by turning on the tv to find a congressional committee getting set to question William Barr. Oh, that’ll be productive. Not being able to stomach that exercise in futility (I’ll wait for Lester Holt to fill me in on all the questions Barr refused to answer), I go to CNN, where I am greeted by the announcement that Trump is thinking of giving refugee families arriving at the border two options. One, is to keep their kids. The other, is to give them up to the government, which now has a reputation for locking up refugee kids in cages. Neither of the pundits talks at all about why any parent would feel motivated to give up their kids.

Disgusted that they are avoiding this central question, I move on to the Internet, where I find an exchange dealing with all the absences in Donald Trump’s cabinet and speculation that temporary cabinet officers who haven’t been confirmed by the Senate won’t be able to take action to remove the president via the 25th Amendment.

Flipping over to another of the cable channels I’m met by a discussion of the “purge” at the Department of Homeland Security. Purge? Here in the U.S.? When did the media begin using terms that once were reserved for tyrants and dictators to describe the actions of a President of the United States? And yet, unrestrained, how far would Donald Trump be from the philosophy and actions of Joseph Stalin? If that idea’s outrageous, then it may be important to remember that Mr. Trump could very well turn out to be one of the most outrageous politicians in our country’s relatively short history and that we are still waiting for a fully sanitized and redacted version of the Mueller report to determine his involvement or non-involvement with the Russians.

I was feeling pretty good. Now, I feel terrible. Like I need therapy, maybe. Thank you very much, Donald J. Trump. The day they kick your sorry giant posterior out of the White House will be one of the finest day’s in the nation’s history.

The election can’t come soon enough. Sorry to be so overt about this. It is of course, my opinion, but it feels like the time for holding back the obvious truth about the peril this president presents is long past. Attorney General of the United States, William Barr, who is supposed to represent we the people, represents Donald J. Trump, and Trump, represents only himself. And we, dear friends, have been left waving in the wind, many of us feeling slightly ill from the constant motion and lack of stability.

7People Reached3Engagements

And Now The News…

Good morning, and now the news…Hopelessly unable to reach a compromise, the Brits remain deadlocked on the Brexit issue, with at least one conservative MP resigning his position in frustration while all of the EU and the UK continue to wonder what chaos will follow should Britain “crash out” of the European Union. Venezuelan strongman, Nicolas Maduro, has appointed someone named “Igor” to take over what Maduro calls the country’s “war on electricity.” (Think Young Frankenstein.) No word yet on how much influence Russian advisers who are now on the ground in Venezuela (as opposed to floating slightly above it), might have had on Maduro’s decision. Here in the U.S., Donald Trump says the GOP will delay implementing its new health plan he has been promising (it’s a secret, apparently) until after the 2020 election while he complains that Puerto Ricans in need of assistance would be stealing money from Americans, apparently forgetting that Puerto Rico is part of America. (Think pathological liar, malignant sociopath and big dummy.) The only sign of political sanity comes from Ankara, Turkey, of all places, where President Erdogan’s semi-fascist party (those who disagree with him are thrown in prison) appears to be losing in the polls. And finally, agriculture experts predict we will run out of avocados in three weeks time, should Donald follow through with his snit-fit promise to close the border with Mexico potentially costing both Mexico and the U.S. billions in lost trade. In Toronto, proving the world may actually be spinning off its axis, the Baltimore Orioles winning streak continues. The Orioles, last year’s worst team in American baseball, are now three and one, having taken two games from the Yankees in a three game series and then winning yesterday’s first game against the Toronto Bluejays. Gotta love those O’s. And that’s the real news, nothing fake about it, so you can now turn off MSNBC and FOX for the rest of the day. As for me, I’m going back to bed. Wake me when it’s over. Or by seven, when the Orioles play their next game in the series up in Toronto. If we last that long.

Message From The Los Angeles Press Club

The Board of the Los Angeles Press Club strongly condemns the
State Department’s decision to exclude most media outlets from covering a briefing on international press freedom. On Monday, the State Department held a briefing call to discuss international press freedom with
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The call, bizarrely, was specifically only for faith-based media. In response to inquiries from excluded
journalists, the State Department declined to provide either a transcript of the call or a list of media outlets allowed to participate and would not explain the criteria used in choosing those media outlets. The LA Press Club joins the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in urging
the State Department to immediately release the transcript of this
briefing call, and guarantee that future briefings — especially those on
issues of widespread public interest — are open to any and all interested journalists. A free and unfettered press is the pillar of our democracy.

(Received from LA Press Club, 3-21-19)

Just Another Day In Trump’s America

Not sure what’s up with Facebook, but I can’t get into it right now, so I’ll pour out my angst here. Maybe it’s the Russians? Speaking of which-

Donald J.Trump’s former campaign manager and known associate of certain Russian operatives, Paul Manafort (who signed onto Trump’s campaign for gratis), has just been handed a 16-count indictment by the State of New York relating to allegations of fraudulent business practices. The move by New York prosecutors came moments after he was sentenced to a total of 7-1/2 years in jail by the feds. The federal sentences are pardonable by President Trump, convictions that might result from the state charges, will not be.

Also today, President Trump announced that the federal government is grounding all Boeing 737 Max-8 and 737 Max-9 aircraft. The move by the U.S. was announced only after nearly every other developed country in the world had grounded the aircraft over safety concerns following two crashes. Canada, grounded the aircraft just a short while before the announcement by Trump. Aviation experts say it was unusual for the President to make this announcement rather that the Secretary of Transportation or the FAA. CNN reports that Trump is a long-time supporter of Boeing and that his former Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is now on the board at Boeing.

Finally, but not least interesting, is the ongoing conversation about the fairness of the application process at U.S. colleges and universities following the “shocking” announcement by the FBI that some families, including a couple of Hollywood celebs, were allegedly paying off the right people to get their kids into prestigious institutions of higher learning. Seriously? Was everyone asleep in years gone by as wealthy families funneled millions upon millions of dollars into their favorite colleges or universities prior to those same families kids being admitted whether they deserved it or not? Are you all kidding? Not everyone can be like Donald J. Trump, who was admitted to Wharton because of his self-admitted genius.

Just another day in Trump’s America.

Our Most Recent “Long National Nightmare”

Democrats are now in charge of the House. Things that were not happening with the Republicans in charge, are now happening.

The president’s former lawyer and so-called “fixer,” Michael Cohen, will be questioned about reported irregularities with the Trump organization, including his campaign and subsequent administration with regard to meetings with Russians in the Trump Tower, alleged “hush-money” payments to Mr. Trump’s women friends and more.

The House Oversight Committee, will once again begin carrying out its assigned duty of overseeing the executive branch of the federal government. Something for which the Republicans, exhibited absolute negligence over the past two years as they looked the other way, letting Donald J. Trump run roughshod over the nation with his Mafia boss style of governance. The Democrats, have a lot of catching up to do.

Even with all the lies and unacceptable activity, with Donald Trump publicly soliciting the help of the Russians to throw the 2016 election, with his publicly taking the side of Vladimir Putin over United States intelligence agencies, with his defaming a great American like John McCain and smearing a Gold Star Family, with him publicly proclaiming that there are good neo-Nazis among us as he continues to conduct a presidency by Twitter, even with all of that and more, there are still those out there who continue to support the Republican Party, the party of Trump. According to some pollsters, Trump’s support is running as high as 40%. How can that be possible?

To paraphrase progressive satirist, Bill Maher, anyone who still thinks there is no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, hasn’t been paying attention for the past twenty years. This is a real pet peeve of mine, especially for those who think it’s okay to continue supporting Republicans at the local level, even though they disapprove of Mr. Trump. It’s not. Can’t have it both ways. With the Republicans, if you’re in for a dime, you’re in for a dollar. Trump’s dirty, bullying, racist, sexist, boss hog politics have polluted the Republican party with self aggrandizing political filth, including, but not limited to, cozying up to the Russians while turning his back on our allies. Speaking out against our free press, with his unbelievable acts and statements piling atop one-another, eventually forming a mountain of deceit.

Those who have read Orwell, might liken our would-be dictator Donald Trump and his current batch of Republicans to a neo-feudal movement, using deceit to take their naive followers to a new world of haves and have-nots. Only rich and poor, with the poor realizing far too late that they made the wrong choice in worshiping greed and fear, surrendering their self-determination rather than having the courage to pursue the common good and promotion of our general welfare through Democracy. The former needing only followers, the latter requiring those with the courage to lead.

With Donald Trump in Vietnam for talks with North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, one is reminded of Nixon being praised for his China initiative, even while the Watergate scandal was approaching its inevitable conclusion. Reminded of the sad and pathetic denials of Richard Nixon, despite a mountain of evidence towering over his presidency. It can, I think, be legitimately compared to the sad and irresponsible and possibly treasonous behavior of Republicans in congress who did nothing while Donald Trump ran wild with what may be the most dangerous American presidency in history, even while Michael Cohen prepared to offer public testimony, now that Democrats have regained control of the House.

If you still think there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Many of us who have been paying attention, I fear, are nearing exhaustion, feeling a need to turn away from Facebook and Twitter and even the daily news, as we grow weary from attempting to refute the lies and half-truths of the right, weary from wondering if those we argue with are actually who they seem to be or might be a Russian bot or agent. We are seeking some relief from the intellectual overload of daily nonsense coming from the Administration of Donald J. Trump, while hoping more of America, at least some portion of those who continue to be in Trump’s tribal camp, will wake up to the facts, rather than right-wing fiction, to help us deliver the country from this most recent “long national nightmare.” So that we can once again, as President Gerald R. Ford said not so many years ago, “go forward now together.”

Remembering Bill Knight

Bill Knight is second camera from the left – Photo courtesy of Guy Aoki

I worked with Bill Knight and Zimmy Zimmerman for ten years and with Bill alone for another five at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. As Bill’s partner for fifteen years I feel a need to say something about his passing. Mostly, I feel a need to tell you about his dedication to the craft. So, here’s a story.

We were headed down the Hollywood Freeway, just south of the 101/134 split, returning to KTLA when a car shot by us on the left followed by a CHP car in hot pursuit. They both jagged to the right in front of us and hit an off-ramp, which, if memory serves, was at Lankershim. I looked at Bill, he looked at me and we both had the same thought. “Let’s go” I said as Bill headed for the ramp. It may be of interest, although possibly not pertinent, that I was, as fate would have it, on the phone with the press-relations guy for the FBI, discussing a story I was working on. So he ended up hearing bits and pieces of the whole thing.

We wound our way down the ramp to find the suspect car stopped at a traffic light with the CHP car directly behind it. The driver’s-side front door of the CHP car was open. The officer was standing next to the suspect car, his weapon drawn and pointed directly at the man seated behind the wheel. Suddenly, what could have been a mundane pursuit ending with a possible evading charge or maybe a speeding ticket had turned into something else.

Moving faster than I’d ever seen him move, Bill flew out the door, popped open the tail-gate and grabbed his camera. Within seconds he was over on a “grassy knoll” just to the left of our truck and about twenty feet behind the cop. A perfect spot to shoot whatever was coming next. It was then that the officer did something I still can’t explain. He stepped out in front of the car, still pointing his weapon at the driver. It was almost as though he was daring the guy to run him down. Which the driver proceeded to do. He moved the car slowly forward toward the cop, who reacted by opening fire. Firing first at the front window, with shots ricocheting back toward me and Bill, and then at the driver’s side window, as the suspect fled. “Shots fired! Shots fired!” I yelled into the phone, while also giving the FBI agent at the other end of the line our location. The cop had emptied his gun, nine shots as I remember, and through it all Bill Knight never moved. He never ducked, he never took cover. He just stood there and kept rolling.

As the cop jumped into his cruiser to pursue the suspect, Knight returned to get behind the wheel and follow the pursuit. It ended in a church parking lot a few blocks away where the suspect, surrounded by CHP and LAPD cars had been taken into custody. There was clearly no time for us to mess around. Bill jumped out, grabbed his camera and ran, leaving me to park the truck.

I pulled into the nearest space and ran over to the parking lot about a half-block away. What I saw wasn’t good. Bill, who was inside the yellow tape trying to shoot the incident, was surrounded by four or five CHP and LAPD cops, who were trying to take his camera away – literally trying to tear it off his shoulder. Bill, was resisting. By the time I got over to the scene, they had Bill in handcuffs and slammed face down on the hood of an LAPD cruiser.

A CHP officer, a young buffed-out cop, who looked like he spent all his off-hours at the gym, insisted upon pressing charges, so Bill went to jail despite a call to Bernie Parks, who allegedly said he “wanted this one for the guys out in the field.” I did what I could with an LAPD lieutenant at the scene, including a charge that the CHP, the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles were in violation of the First Amendment, and state law 409.5 which deals with press access to crime scenes, but they took Bill away. I did get our camera and videotape back even though the CHP wanted to keep it.

It turned out that when Bill first got there and started shooting, he was standing outside the yellow tape – a “do not cross” line the police put up at crime scenes. However, while he was rolling, the cops decided to move the tape, and Bill, back. And Bill objected to it.

Much to their credit our managers at KTLA hired one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the country, Alan Isaacman, to get Bill out. Isaacman, is the same guy who argued (and won) Larry Flynt’s First Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m not sure Bill ever really understood just how high-powered (and high-priced) his lawyer was. Anyway, Issacman, got Bill out of jail and kept him out.

And that’s the story. Love him or hate him, Bill Knight, always got the shot. Never, not even once, did I come back from a story working with Bill with too little video. In the case of the CHP cop who opened fire on the off-ramp, not only did I get plenty of video, Bill and I also were honored with an Edward R. Murrow Award. But it was Bill who got the story. He always did.

Condolences to Betty and the family. So long Bill. RIP

Ron

Dear Mr. Schultz: Please stop emulating Ralph Nader

On wonders if Howard Schultz is just naive, or whether he is colluding with other billionaires to be a spoiler for the Dems in 2020? Surely he can’t be so blind as to think the votes he would draw away from the Dems wouldn’t matter? Or can he?

What are we supposed to think about a billionaire who publicly proclaims progressive taxation to be a bad idea? Someone who thinks it is better to wring another 30-cents a day out of poor Liza Doolittle than to increase taxes on those who have more than they can possibly use or might ever really need? Even if that might mean going without a fourth gated estate, a second private jet or another yacht? Someone who tells us that so-called “Medicare for all” will bankrupt the nation, even while other developed countries like the U.K., Germany, Taiwan, France and Canada, are doing quite well with national health insurance?

For some, enough, it seems, will never be enough. Is it possible that the concept of being rich only gets “filthy,” when one stops caring about others and rationalizes away their immorality?

Simply put, it’s called “sharing the wealth.” Those of us raised in the Christian faith learned all about it in Bible class. You can be sure those of other faiths and even Secular Humanists, are familiar with it as well. The founders obviously held it close to their hearts, referring to it as our “general Welfare” in the preamble to the Constitution.

I have learned never to equate great wealth with intelligence. Some of these guys, and I’ve know a bunch of them, just fall over backwards into a pile of money. Like….ah….Donald Trump. Making Mr. Schultz an even bigger threat, is that he has Steve Schmidt working on his campaign. Schmidt, is very smart and very savvy, and he could greatly increase the number of voters Schultz draws away from the Dems. I know, I know, Steve Schmidt convinced McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. So he screwed up (massively) on that one. However, if you’ve listened to any of what he’s had to say on the talk shows, then you already know that generally he’s a very bright guy.

In other news for the intellectually battered and weary, scientists at the University of Minnesota are working on a new “what it feels like” scale for the weather. This one is for pets and it will be based upon the time it takes a hairless cat to succumb to hypothermia when it’s 0 degrees with a 10mph wind blowing. Not really. It’s a joke. I’m just really tired of weathercasters telling me not just how cold it is outside, which is something I can relate to, but what it will “feel like” if I’m mindless enough to stay outside without proper clothing long enough to get into trouble. Meaningless hype. That said, some idiot wanting to make a name for himself is probably out there working on a “what it feels like” scale for pets, right now.

Perhaps they should instead be pondering how long it will take us all to freeze to death if the Russians or the Chinese or the Russians in collusion with the Chinese, shut down the power grid? Cold, is cold. Twenty below can kill you even if you feel like it’s 25 below while you are dying. Just tell me how cold it is and leave it at that. Cut out all the hype. And do a little research on the Russian hacking thing, how they can kill our power at will. That’ll really scare you. Almost as much as somebody telling the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, that he needs to go over to the White House and “educate” the President. Those two, Coats and Russian hacking, are both on the “for real” scale, as opposed to “how it will feel.”

Wouldn’t We All Be Better Off Without Twitter?

For me, the exchange of information, much of it valid news, is a chief advantage of being on Facebook. Beyond that, there is the ability to stay in touch with friends scattered around the country and the world.

That said, I have been trying to determine what value, if any, Twitter has? It seems to me to be nothing but a vehicle for celebrities with a huge fan base to communicate their personal feelings to their fans. Their personal feelings and opinions may or may not have any informational value, they may in fact be spreading misinformation, but Twitter gives them free reign to disperse what may be blather to millions of adoring subjects without any fact checking or editing. In as much, it could be considered a purveyor of intellectual chaos.

For the rest of us, who don’t have millions of fans and who have no desire to lock horns with strangers in meaningless confrontations, what possible use does Twitter have – other than being a social networking gossip channel for kids? Why are we even using it, considering one of its most noteworthy impacts has been to assist DJT (and others like him) in threatening our democracy by giving him instant and free contact with his base? Even now, some argue that the very threat of a flurry of angry Trumpist tweets is preventing the Congress from taking action on the government shutdown.

I’m pretty sure the founders never imagined anything like this when they came up with the First Amendment. Extending freedom of the press to the massive white noise that is Twitter, is quite a stretch. Or maybe not? How far can and should free speech be extended with regard to all this new technology?

So why are so many of us still using it? Could it be because we continue hoping it will fulfill some promise of providing us with something – a credibility perhaps, or a purpose that gives it value – that simply is not there?

Is Twitter potentially too dangerous, too politically and culturally toxic, to be left to its own devices? Like putting a loaded shotgun in the hands of a small child? Equally troubling is the obvious fact that much of the Congress is largely ignorant as to how the Internet functions, much less the way dozens of various applications might impact our national security.

Who Will Make It Stop?

With the current partial shutdown and Trump’s obvious affinity for the Russians, my thinking keeps returning to Steve Bannon’s vow to push forward with the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

At what point does “deconstruction” cross over into destruction?

Coupled with the chaos of Brexit, we should all be wondering not whether, but the degree to which both the U.S. and the British are being played by the Russians. Only our law enforcement and intelligence agencies can protect us, but Donald Trump continues bloviating against them as well as our traditional allies and NATO. Why? Surely, you can’t think he came up with all of this himself?

It is to Russia’s advantage to split up the EU, and to throw the U.S. Government into chaos while America pulls her troops out of Syria with Donald Trump spouting ridiculous revisionist history with regard to the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, an act nearly as repulsive as his sycophantic display in Helsinki.

Is this really so difficult to understand? Are there any Republicans left who care more for the long-term good of the nation, the survival of our American democracy, than for their own short-term political advantage?

To what degree are they willing to continue selling us out? How much farther will this political charade be permitted to go before Mitch McConnell allows a bill to be introduced on the floor of the Senate that reclaims congressional oversight of the executive? Surely the fact that McConnell’s wife and brother-in-law are both employed by Trump, wouldn’t have any influence with regard to his responsibilities as Senate Majority Leader?

Russians, Russians, Everywhere…

The Brits are all agog about Theresa May surviving a no-confidence vote by her conservative party in the midst of the continuing fight over Brexit.  And they should be  It’s a big deal.  It means they won’t have to go through the pain of choosing a new Prime Minister.  However, with a vote of 200 for May and 117 against, she is still anything but popular within the ranks of her own party.   It’s also a sign that the British Government is as chaotic or perhaps even more chaotic than the U.S. Government under Donald J. Trump.

What I cannot understand, is the absolute absence of any discussion about the degree to which the Russians might have influenced the original Brexit vote.   A referendum which, a great many British now regret.   Hence, the chaos.

A report, commissioned by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee some months ago, points to concerns about possible Russian influence over Brexit, as British finance laws have loopholes allowing non-British companies to funnel money into British politics without being detected.   According to a piece in The Guardian,  “This opacity,…may have enabled Russian-related money to be directed with insufficient scrutiny to various UK political actors………Investigative journalists have also raised questions about the sources of sudden and possibly illicit wealth that may have been directed to support the Brexit ‘Leave’ campaign.”

Whether Russian money found its way into the hands of Brexit supporters or not, it’s fascinating that the United States has a similar problem following the Supreme Court’s decision in the “Citizens United” case, which also allows the flow of “dark money” into our political arena.   So, who really knows what the Russians may or  many not be up to?

All we do know is that the U.K. and the U.S. are in political chaos, with a President in the United States who appears to be a lap dog for Vladimir Putin and British politicians who have forgotten that the Russians may have had a hand, or may still have a hand in the whole Brexit mess, which is spilling over into the rest of Europe.

Sounds like the ingredients for a counter-intelligence board game or possibly something Russian intelligence dreamed up to throw the world’s democracies into chaos.  However, I wouldn’t dare suggest that.  I don’t want anybody calling me a conspiracy theory nut.

With all this going on one wonders how much time President Trump, who seems to be into Vladimir Putin to the point of bromantic adoration,  has invested in seeing to it that our political process is protected from Russian hacking as another election approaches?   He hasn’t said a word about it, has he?  Not lately, anyway.

Not to worry though.  President Puffery is going after that border wall thing with a vengeance.  That’s at least as important as the security of our electoral process or the stability of European democracies.

Trump’s First Real Challenge – Avoiding World War III

A conspiracy-minded person might wonder if  Vladimir Putin is going to let the situation in Ukraine continue building to a flash-point for WW III, before bringing in Trump for talks that will completely defuse the situation – with the purpose of rebuilding whatever image Trump has left in the U.S.   Sounds like something Russian intelligence would come up with, doesn’t it?

The other possibility is that the Russians have no further use for Trump,  that they are giving up on him as their political tool,  while they risk another world war by blocking off the Sea of Azov and possibly seizing more real estate by marching farther into the Ukraine.

Recent court filings, sentencing recommendations  in the Southern District of NY and from Robert Mueller, which point to Donald Trump being a felon  are big news, but the obvious hazards of the situation in Ukraine and the potential economic explosion from the arrest of one of China’s top business executives, the CFO of Huawei,  Meng Wanzhou, in Canada at the request of the United States,  are as big or bigger.   Huawei, is an electronics giant.  Wanzhou, is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei,  who is a former military technologist with the People’s Liberation Army.

Think of Bill Gates daughter being arrested while changing planes in Venezuela at the request of the People’s Republic of China.   Think the U.S. would be the least little bit upset?

We now have a Chinese dragon by the tail and are coming nose-to-nose with the Russian bear with intemperate and uninformed Donald Trump taking the point on handling what could be his first great geopolitical challenge while John Kelly, one of the few adults still standing,  makes an exit from the White House.  All the while, alleged Republican leaders continue their flirtatious relationship with treason by refusing to take greater control by reigning in this pretend president, putting the country and the world in ever-greater danger.

Instead of taking care of geopolitical business in the form of a clear and present danger from the Russians and this current president’s obvious inability to deal with it, the Republicans are behind closed doors in show-hearings for their base,  again asking  former FBI Director Comey about Hillary’s emails.    Their behavior represents extreme negligence.  At long last do they have no shame?

It may be time to look up from the football game and pay more attention to politics.