Category Archives: Blog

A Bad Hair Day For The Brits

Shed a tear for the Brits and another for the free democratic world. Former London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is the U.K.’s new prime minister. He is promising to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, even if that means “crashing out” with no agreement on how to move forward. The results could and quite likely will be enormous and potentially damaging for the U.K. and its allies as well.

The poor Brits, now have their very own version of Donald Trump. The two have more in common than bizarre hair. Like Trump, Boris leans toward bluster and an occasional antic. They are both living caricatures. Johnson, is oblivious, apparently, to Parliament’s many past failures in reaching a deal on what has come to be called, “Brexit.” He appears to epitomize those who have no knowledge of that old saying that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

The markets are said to be very nervous with Johnson’s election. They should be. We should be too. Disunity among democratic nations is to Russia’s advantage. There is in fact some evidence that Putin and his cyber-spies helped engineer the popular push for taking the U.K. out of the European Union, just as they helped Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. (Read the Mueller Report. Please. Just read it.)

The British people were convinced that leaving the E.U. would be a good idea, so they voted for it, just like the American people voted for Donald Trump. Not unlike the British system, the American system is so fouled up with its Electoral College, that Trump won the presidency without a majority of the popular vote. And now a man named Boris is the Prime Minister because he leads a party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons.

It is worth noting that Johnson was so disliked as London’s Mayor, that Londoners got as far away from his conservative persona as they possible could in their next election, bringing in a labor party Muslim to replace him. And now, because of the hazards, rancor and chaos of parliamentary politics, he has been named Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the U.S. It’s so obviously bad for the world’s democracies and good for bullies, tyrants and strong men. All those who hate representative government and love dictators, oligarchs and Neo-Feudalism.

Somewhere, Vladimir Putin must be smiling. Again. He’s probably been smiling a lot since he helped put Trump in the White House.

We can only hope that America follows London’s lead in 2020, and votes in a new president who is as far away from Donald Trump as we can possibly get. We need to recover from this mess before recovery becomes next to impossible.

The Dangers Of Becoming Emotionally Invested In Baseball

My home team, the Baltimore Orioles, have just traded away one of their strongest pitchers, Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox, for a pair of unknown 17 year-old “prospects.” Holy cow. I know they’re at the front end of rebuilding a losing team, but would it hurt to win a few games along the way? You know, balance things out by keeping a few really good players during the rebuild, instead of pinning their hopes on unknowns who may or may not develop into something two or three (or four) years down the road?

I read in the paper this morning that the O’s had an option to keep Cashner through 2020.  He’d only just come on board in February of 2018. Damn, damn and double damn.  Maybe they’ll trade away Trey Mancini as well?  That way, they’ll lose both their best pitcher and their best hitter.  What the hell, they might as well?  Bring on the 17 year-old unknown prospects from the Dominican League.  Who needs a winning team now?  That beautiful stadium is gonna get pretty empty if the losses keep piling up. 

The truth, is that the Orioles have everything but pitching.  So what do they do?  They dump a guy who is arguably their strongest pitcher.   I am beyond unhappy.   All those years in L.A. ignoring the Angels and the Dodgers. Then, I come back and buy into supporting my old team, the O’s.  This is what happens when you allow yourself to become emotionally invested in a sports franchise – not a local team, mind you, a local business enterprise.  Ah, the folly of mixing human tribalism with free trade!

For me though, it goes beyond even that. The Orioles were my alternative to politics and Trump.  Something to focus on other than the daily political madness. And now the guys managing the team have left me with nothing. I can’t stay with a team that does something as mindless as booting Cashner for a couple of unknown teenagers. But what the hell, I’m only a fan.  Even though I was “christened” an O’s fan by Orioles’ superfan Wild Bill Hagy himself, who placed an O’s cap on my head with his very own hands back in 79. I’ve been stuck on the Orioles ever since.

Don’t know if you ever heard how Wild Bill left the Orioles?   He would always bring a cooler of beer to the stadium for his friends in section 34.  Stadium managers decided to stop fans from bringing beverages to the games, including Wild Bill, who kept bringing in his cooler anyway.  When they told Bill that either his cooler would have to go or he’d have to leave, Bill got angry and threw the cooler down onto the field and left, never to return except for an appearance when Cal Ripkin broke the record for most consecutive games played.  The “roar from 34” has never been the same.

Hagy, a cab driver from Arbutus, is in the Orioles Hall of Fame. The people who manage the O’s get kudos for that. But not for trading away Cashner during a rebuild when what they really need is better pitching. Makes no sense. None at all. But then, what do I know? Could be their computers are spitting out some magic formula for winning at some point down the road? A formula that involves dumping the best they’ve got and betting on what? That their fans will still be there win or lose?

“Wild Bill” Hagy at Memorial Stadium (Baltimore Magazine)

(William Grover “Wild Bill” Hagy died at his home in Arbutus, in 2007 – RIP)

Trump Hijacks The 4th

It appears NBC,ABC, CBS and MSNBC will not be covering Trump’s speech tonight. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I feel like congratulating the networks for having the courage to refuse coverage to this narcissist who would be king. On the other, Trump’s base (lemming people) will automatically go to FOX to watch the “salute to Donald,” so they will miss nothing by the nets refusals to provide coverage. And yet, there might be those who would be repulsed by what Trump is doing, but who will not see the bloviating blowhard doing his thing complete with tanks on display and a military flyover. So there’s that, as well. There is also the fact that even for those of us who are repulsed by the man, he is nevertheless, the president. Not covering his official 4th of July publicity stunt may serve only to give more firepower to the far-right. And maybe not. Not sure how I feel about this. Personally, I won’t be celebrating the 4th until Trump, and the threat he represents, is out of office.

I’d prefer to ignore everything the man says and does, but God only knows what he is liable to do or say next.

At the same time, no matter how we feel about Trump hijacking a national holiday, we can all feel good about the U.S. women’s soccer team, which appears to be headed for victory at the World Cup on Sunday. They are true champions, especially their star striker, Megan Rapinoe, who has already stated that she won’t be answering an invitation to visit the White House. Hopefully the other women on the team will follow suit, as U.S. women’s soccer gives us all something we can feel good about. Even while Trump, exhibiting his usual rhetorical elegance and wit, has called Rapinoe, “a loser.” Mr. Trump’s habit of transferring his personal shortcomings onto others is becoming so tiresome.

The Simpson Trial – A Story That Has No End

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Ron Olsen and Kitty Felde

25 years ago today, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were viciously murdered on Bundy Drive in Los Angeles. And so it began. An event that would mark our lives and change news coverage forever. Regularly scheduled panel discussions with legal and other experts on live tv began here, as did the mainstream media following reports in supermarket tabloids – some of which turned out to be accurate in spite of checkbook journalism – and tv helicopters following every “slow speed chase” that came down the freeway.

Some believe the “wall to wall” coverage of the case by KTLA-TV, Court TV and CNN, laid the groundwork for the 24-hr news cycle and the explosive growth in reality show tv. There were no “Kardashians” on tv, before Robert Kardashian joined the “dream team.” The case made the phrases “It’s a no-brainer” and “The question’s prejudicial impact outweighs its probative value” famous as Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark became legal superstars with an entire nation transfixed on the “trial of the century.” According to Time Magazine, 57% of the country tuned in to watch the verdict in the criminal trial, with a summer filled with depositions and the civil trial in Santa Monica, still to come.

At the time, KTLA was coast to coast on cable and satellite and worldwide on SkyTV. We were in the eye of the storm. Only those who were there will be able to understand all that it was, and in some respects, continues to be, as the continuing divide between black and white America has again been painfully highlighted by Charlottesville. It was suggested by one therapist who was interviewed for a series done by local radio, that for those covering the case, it was not unlike going to war.

For those of you who may be new to the story, football star O.J. Simpson, was found “not guilty” in a criminal trial in Los Angeles, and then conversely, he was found liable for the deaths of Ron Goldman and his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, in a civil trial in Santa Monica, and was ordered to pay damages in the amount of $33.5 million. Ron Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, has repeatedly complained that Simpson has never willingly paid one penny of the settlement, which now, with interest, reportedly amounts to around $70 million.

According to the AP, Simpson is currently living in Las Vegas, with pensions keeping him fiscally afloat. An analysis done by CNN/Money indicates that Simpson’s NFL pension could run as high as $100,000 a year, with more pension money coming in from his work in the movies and from Social Security which could run as high as $42,000 a year. Retirement income is protected from any civil court judgement.

The two children he had with Nicole are reportedly in the real estate business in Florida.

Early One Morning In Brentwood

Early on the morning of June 13, 1994. After getting a tip, my shooter, Bill Knight and I pulled up at the murder scene on Bundy. Photographer Carl Stein of CBS was already there. I remember thinking that whatever it was, I was the first reporter to see it. Two bodies and all that blood. None of us knew how big it would eventually be, that through two trials it would eat up nearly three years of our lives. The story of a lifetime. 25 years ago this week. Seems like yesterday. All I feel now is sadness.

We Still Have Baseball

It was so quiet for a while and now he (it) is back. The great orange buffoon tweeting out that the Russians really did help him win the election. Which we already knew. There’s also word that the White House asked the Navy to hide the destroyer, the USS John McCain, so that it wouldn’t be visible while the orange one was in Japan.

It’s just too painful. Nothing to do but ignore politics and hope we make it to the next election intact. Baseball, is a good option. It’s a game where the rules still apply and players are held accountable for their actions. The way America is supposed to be.

Remember the words of James Earl Jones as Terence Mann in the movie, “Field of Dreams.” – “The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. ”

Angst filled though we may be, we are still all playing on the same team. God willing, America will survive Donald Trump. When it gets to the point where you think you can’t take it any more, go down to your local ballpark (or as my former colleague at KDKA, Bill Curry used to say, “down to the ball yard”) and watch a baseball game. Buy a ticket, take a seat, and let the past come rushing back. Let yourself be immersed in real American values, “all that once was good, and that could be again.”

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.

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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.

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