Borders Without Borders

by John Walters

This will be typed with some trepidation. I am typing this for the same reason that I asked the question that led to the argument that ultimately led to this blog post: because I’m looking for an honest answer to my question. And I’m hoping you can help by offering some advice, solicited, as to whether I was completely off-base to even pose the question. All I’m asking for are your candid replies. Thanks.

“So if you were the president, what would you do about the border?”

That was the question I asked an old friend last week and in the time it would take to repeat the query, I went from old friend to Typical Middle-Aged Racist White Guy. I could see the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see the change happen that quickly.

Is it a fair question? As I was thinking of composing this, I thought of how in the past it was common to begin an argument with “If there’s one thing that we can all agree on…” To begin with common ground on both sides of an argument.

But in the Age of Trump, sadly, I have learned the hard way that there are far fewer things that we can all agree on than I used to believe. So while I was about to write, “If there’s one thing we can all agree on, separating children from their parents and keeping them in conditions that are worse than what the common felon endures at Riker’s Island is flat-out wrong,” I’m not sure we can even all agree on that, unequivocally. But I do know that I believe that it is flat-out wrong. Unequivocally. Racism is wrong. Unequivocally. And that takes precedence over how well one’s stock portfolio is doing. At least it does to me.

The horrors of the border internment camps. ICE raids on chicken processing plants. Trump’s latest plan to suspend any type of habeas corpus in the aforementioned camps (making them in effect a Guantanamo base for illegal alien children). Any of two dozen or more disturbingly cruel and outright racist practices under the Trump administration (take a bow, Stephen Miller), which itself was launched with incredibly racist propaganda about the types of people Mexico was sending us. All of this is cruel and evil and downright un-American. No doubt.

However, the Founders of this country, men inspired by the Age of the Enlightenment and who had only lived in a world ruled by despots and kings, understood well, and sought gamely, to create a nation in which individuals were treated equally regardless of race, religion or economic standing. And for this to happen, they believed, the nation’s foundation had to be laws and our adherence to them.

Now, of course, as you and I and Colin Kaepernick know, all laws are not enforced equally. But the point is, they’re supposed to be. And one of the reasons the phrase “a more perfect union” exists in the preamble of the Constitution is because it embraces the idea that, as a nation, we can always improve. Blacks were not free when the Constitution was ratified. Women did not have the right to vote. America has never been perfect, and it is certainly far from perfect lately, but the ideas behind the Constitution seem to be: 1) we can always get better and wiser (hence the allowance of Amendments) and 2) laws are the cornerstone of a society where people are as free as possible while also adhering to what Rousseau described as “the Social Contract.”

In other words, you cannot be for freedom of speech right up until someone says something that you do not like. The law, all laws, need to be based on general values that a society espouses. Not on particular circumstances. Not on emotions. And if enough of us no longer believe that a law properly represents our values, it can be repealed. Or a new law passed.

Which brings me back to the border. And sure, if you want to include the U.S.A.-Canada border, by all means, go right ahead. Let’s begin with this: If you or I travel to any country outside the United States, we know enough to bring our passports. All developed nations have rules about foreigners entering their country, even if it’s just a matter of an agent glancing at your passport for a matter of seconds before passing you through.

So I guess what I’d like to ask is if those Americans who cannot stand Trump (raises hand) have an actual policy, a guideline, for border crossings that are not undertaken legally. Should it be like the 55 m.p.h. speed limit where, hey, we have it so that we can enforce it if we want but 99 times out of 100 we drivers know they never will? Should there be no law at all and, Hey, c’mon over, everyone? Should it be strict?

I’d argue that one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason, that Trump got elected was because he tapped into the latent racism of far too many Americans, and he used illegal border crossings as his gateway drug. And because, at least to me, no one on the Democrat side had (or has) a better counter-proposal than to tap into the emotional aspects of the situation (the Emma Lazarus Syndrome of “Gimme your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”).

So that what you had on one side was a return to Nazi Germany and on the other side was Morris Albert singing “Feelings” and in between there was just this giant vacuum where common sense should exist. Where we, the people, just ignored the fact that you can’t even begin to address the issue if there’s not a proper law in place. There are decent people who bleed red and blue, I believe, who are frustrated by only hearing the extremes from either side.

You can talk about why ICE isn’t raiding the people who employ illegal aliens as opposed to the illegal aliens themselves (I know I have in this very blog). You can talk about how Mexicans and immigrants from other Central American countries who did not arrive legally are some of the hardest workers and friendliest people you’ll ever meet (this is something I know first-hand, I’d say better than 95% of you reading this). But as you talk about all of that, you are deflecting away from the question. Because it’s not about whether someone coming to the United States illegally is the best cook in your kitchen or an MS-13 member (or both).

It’s about, Should we bother to enforce laws? Are our laws obsolete? And, if law-abiding citizens see that their government is not enforcing laws, how long until those citizens stop respecting laws themselves?

I don’t think (“I think we can all agree…” except that we cannot) you can call yourself a true American if you don’t root for anyone who wants to come here and make a better life for himself, herself, or their family. After all, you’re almost certainly here because someone on an older branch of your family tree did just that. I’m 100% on those people’s sides and I care not one whit about their color, their race, their sexual orientation. If nothing else, 30 years of living in New York City, where we have every conceivable type of person living in extremely cramped conditions and yet people get along just fine, has taught me that.

But, as someone who desperately wants to see Trump out of office, and who sincerely wants every child in a cage reunited with his or her parents tonight, I don’t at all think it’s racist or un-American to ask of a Democratic candidate, So IS there a plan for the border? As it stands now, the MAGA base would put up a wall, which is the enduring symbol of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign (a successful one, I might add, no matter what the popular vote was).

But it feels to me that the opposition (count me in) has to this point come up with nothing better than sharing heart-wrenching stories of either families who have been torn apart or individuals working three jobs to raise their kids. Emotions aren’t laws. Human-interest stories that Lester Holt can narrate on NBC Nightly News are not a response to the sinister xenophobia of Trump’s policy.

Be it on a sports team, on a restaurant staff, or as a United States citizen, I find the operation works best when we have a clear set of guidelines and we hold each other accountable. Isn’t it possible to empathize with every single person who is attempting to come to America while also asking, Do we even have a guideline for who enters and, if so, is it something we are willing to enforce? Or is that something no Democrat would ever do because he or she would never want to alienate their voter base? Which, come to think of it, is something right out of Donald J’s border policy playbook.

Thank you for reading. I’m sure this will all just go down as White Mansplaining, but that’s the world we live in now.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Amazon Crime

What the hell? People are intentionally burning down the Amazon rainforest? Why don’t we all just poop in our water supply, too? Of all the catastrophic events taking place during this new age of fashionable totalitarianism, burning down the Amazon rainforest may be the catastrophicest.

And we’re obsessing over whether or not Trump is going to buy Greenland?!? I’m at the ‘I-don’t-even-know-what-to-say’ level at this point. You?

The Constant Gardner

This photo notwithstanding, Gardner is having a solid summer for the Jags

Remember Gardner Minshew? Graduate student who was gonna be content to ride the pine at Alabama as a backup QB in order to kickstart his coaching career, then made an exodus to Washington State after the incumbent starter at QB in Pullman committed suicide? Became a cult hero as he led the nation in passing yards per game (367.6) and was second in passing completion % (70.7%) as the Cougs finished 11-2?

Minshew, about 6’0″, was not drafted until the 6th round, by the Jaguars. Jacksonville gave him $195,000, guaranteed. By comparison, Jared Goff, another former Pac-12 QB who never posted numbers as exemplary nor led his school to 11 wins, received $18.5 million guaranteed as a rookie three years ago. Not claiming Minshew is going to be as good a pro as Goff, but it does look as if he is going to make the Jags roster as the No. 2 quarterback behind Nick Foles (another Pac-12 alum who wound up surprising a few people as an NFL QB).

UM-believable

He’s kidding, right, this Dudek fellow? Ooh! Oooh! Pick me, Mr. Kotter!

Journey Of A Lifetime

By now you’ve probably seen or read about Brad Ryan and his grandma, Joy, who have set out on an epic adventure, a quest really, to visit all of our national parks. Thus far, after four years the duo have visited nearly half of the 61 national parks, having covered 38 states (Phyllis, what say you?).

I love this story and dollars-to-doughnuts someone will turn this into a feature film. That is unless we discover the two are not actually related and it’s some bizarre Harold and Maude-type relationship.

Comstock Load

This is the funniest thing I’ve seen on Twitter this week and I wanted to learn more. This is the story of Keith Comstock, former journeyman MLB and minor-league pitcher, who as a 32 year-old demoted back to AAA, was able (via teammates united against having their baseball card pics taken unless he was allowed to do this) to create the funniest Topps baseball card ever.

Somewhere Ron Shelton, the writer of Bull Durham, is kicking himself for not having thought of this for the screenplay.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Imagining the Trump Nuuk

Another Day Of Trump

Calls Jews “stupid” if they vote Democrat and cancels trip to Denmark after its Prime Minister called his interest in purchasing Greenland “absurd.” And that was Tuesday.

Just so we’re clear here: titular head of the Republican Party, who defends neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” calls out Jews who would dare to not support him.

The King AnDi-vorce*

*The judges will also accept “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”

Radio megastar and Weekend At Bernie‘s aspirational figure Larry King, 85, has filed for divorce from his wife of 22 years, Shawn King. Who is not that mixed race dude who always gets in on-line battles with Clay Travis. And is definitely not the former Tulane quarterback.

Shawn is 59. This was Larry’s seventh marriage and the depressing part is knowing he’ll get married again before we will wed.

There’s TWO Of Them?

Dear 23AndMe: I’ve got a project for you.

Wow. Yesterday on the campaign trail in Minnesota Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren met her doppelgänger (that’s the U.S. Senator on the right…for once). This gives us hope that there may just be a Charlize Theron lookalike hiding out somewhere.

Edina resident Stephanie Oyen has been told so often by family members that she resembles Warren that she decided to don her blue blazer and glasses (her standard Halloween costume the past two years) and attend an event in St. Paul where Warren was speaking. When she entered the back of the hall, people began to turn around and point out, “It’s her!”

Oyen is 50. Warren is 70. Here’s to great genes.

The Great Buster

TCM aired a documentary on silent film star Buster Keaton Monday night and because I barely knew more about him than the name, I decided to give it a chance. In the intro they explain that Keaton’s short films, or shorts, were essentially the inspiration for most Bugs Bunny cartoons. And, Bugs being an all-time favorite of mine, they had me hooked.

Two things to know about Keaton: 1) he was born, in 1895, to a pair of parents who had their own vaudeville act and then became a part of it before he could even walk 2) in that act and when he became a movie star in the early 20s, he did his own stunts.

Watch this, and notice what he does at :46. Also, at 1:26. Those are two of his most famous stunts. Don’t try that at home (or with your home):

There, Al McCoy

The Phoenix Suns announced that Al McCoy, who has been calling games for the NBA franchise since 1972 (and has missed only ONE game due to personal illness in all that time), will return for a 48th season this autumn. McCoy, 86, is nearly as much of an institution in the Valley of the Sun as Camelback Mountain. A few years back I profiled him in Newsweek.

Music 101

No Time

Last night at the Cookoutateria an upper-middle-aged rock band, The Rockbrokers, covered this Guess Who classic with aplomb. The song was released in September of 1969, which means that it turns 50 next month, and in the aftermath of the Manson Family murders and Woodstock, it feels as if it’s a breakup song with the Sixties in a way. With the gorgeous four-part harmonies and unique guitar riff, it makes us think that this is one song the Beatles wish they had written. The Canadian rockers, who also wrote “American Woman” and “These Eyes,” are somehow NOT in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. WUT?

Remote Patrol

Sullivan’s Travels

TCM 8 p.m.

This 1941 Preston Sturges comedy is considered a classic. John Sullivan (Joel McRea) is a popular young Hollywood director of frivolous comedies (sounds like a few people we could name) who longs to make a meaningful picture. So he dresses as a hobo in Depression-era America to find out what the real people are really like. Somehow Veronica Lake factors into the plot.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Cue “Yakety Sax.”

Starting Five

Tua will start the season as the Tide’s undisputed starter

QB Carousel At The Top

For the first time ever, Clemson is atop the preseason AP poll. No surprise for the defending champions. Here’s to us, what is funny: from a cursory glance, every school in the AP’s preseason Top 5 has been part of a quarterback soap opera in the past two seasons:

-No. 1 Clemson: Trevor Lawrence supplants starter Kelly Bryant after one month in 2018 and Bryant flips to Mizzou (and doesn’t get a ring!).

No. 2 Alabama: Jalen Hurts loses his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa early in 2018 after leading the Tide to a pair of national championship games. He’s now the starter at No. 4 Oklahoma.

He may be young but Lawrence already possesses the tools of a future No. 1 overall pick (2021)

No. 3 Georgia: Jacob Fromm takes the starter’s job away from Jacob Eason, now at No. 13 Washington, early in 2017 and holds onto it, which prompts Justin Fields to transfer also. Fields is now the starter at No. 5 Ohio State.

It keeps going. Jarrett Patterson left Ole Miss and is now the starter at No. 7 Michigan. Ian Book took the job away from Brandon Wimbush at No. 9 Notre Dame last September; Wimbush is now at No. 17 UCF.

Elite QBs are not students so much as they are hired guns. And you can’t blame them. Frankly, all positions in college football are not equal and QBs should only have to sit out until the end of the season in which they transfer, if they transfer mid-season. If they transfer post-season, they should not have to sit out at all.

Mr. Ed

If you remember the 1960s sitcom Mr. Ed, the premise was a talking horse of the title who not only speaks to his owner but dispenses wisdom on a regular basis. Flash forward 50-plus years to Mindhunter, where convicted serial killer Ed Kemper (who decapitated 6 of his 10 victims) has become the show’s undisputed charmer and sage.

Kemper, who in real life stood 6’9″, has only one scene in Season 2 but his words have remained with me for a few days. Our G-men, agents Ford and Tench, have traveled from Quantico to Vacaville to interview Charles Manson, but he’s housed in the same facility as Kemper, whose interview kick-started the entire profiling practice. So they stop in and visit him.

Kemper on word of their interview with Manson having already spread through the prison: “Everyone knows when Charlie takes a shit, and if you haven’t heard, he’ll tell you all about it. Even if someone else took the shit for him.”

The real Ed Kemper who, like Manson Family member Tex Watson, is still alive and incarcerated in California

Later, Kemper demonstrates how insightful he is, recognizing that they’re on the trail of someone that has yet to make the papers (the Atlanta child murderer). When Ford somewhat smugly states that eventually every serial killer tips his hand and is caught, Kemper, who turned himself in because he realized the cops would never catch him, says, “It occurs to me that everything you know about serial killers comes from talking with the ones who were caught.”

Finally Fired

It took five years, but the NYPD finally fired Officer Dan Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death in July of 2014. Panatela remains a free man, but we can all sleep better knowing that the scourge of second-hand street cigarettes are no longer destroying the purity of Staten Island. In other news, “Juul Labs Says Raised About $325.0 Million In Equity And Debt Financing.”

Hmm.

X Marks The Spot

Yesterday U.S. Steel (ticker symbol “X,” which is way cool) announced that it will lay off hundreds of workers at one of its plants in Michigan. So much winning. The formidable company’s stock price was at $30.93 a year ago today; this morning it’ll open under $13. Stop buying wooden homes, people. Buy steel homes.

Forty Somethings

Boulet


You know us by now: time is pressing, we have to get ready for work, and we still don’t have a No. 5. So we head over to Letsrun.com and hope there’s something and—spoiler alert—there usually is.

Smith, on top of the world in so many ways

The annual Leadville 100, one of the most iconic foot races in the USA (100 miles of trail running across ridges and backwoods in the Colorado Rockies) was staged this past weekend and both the men’s and women’s winners were runners in their forties. Ryan Smith, 40, of Boulder, won the men’s race in a time of 16 hours, 33 minutes and 25 seconds. Magdalena Boulet, 46, who was an Olympic marathoner 11 years ago and lives in Oakland, won the women’s race in 20 hours, 18 minutes and seven seconds. She finished 11th overall and this was her very first Leadville run.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Death or glory? Watch and see.

Starting Five

The 1619 Project

Five hundred years from now, if man is still alive (now we’re just channeling the song “In The Year 2525”), it feels to me as if the United States of America will be paired alongside ancient Rome among the historians. There’s no denying the technological advances that the USA has been responsible for, or that its ideals about democracy and liberty advanced society/societies in every hemisphere.

On the other hand, the two ugly truths about America is that it is land that was stolen from indigenous peoples and claimed via coast-to-coast genocide. And, second, that it was built on the backs of slaves who, as this new project from The New York Times accurately accounts, actually predated those Plymouth Rock Pilgrims on our shores.

“I love the poorly educated,” Donald Trump once said and he’s sincere. The poorly educated do not read. The poorly educated are happier to buy the myths that make them feel good about themselves rather than learn the harsh truths. The poorly educated prefer power to truth. There’s no crime in being poorly educated, since it’s normally the fault of those adults responsible for educating you. But, as an adult, it is a poor trait to willfully be opposed to learning more about what the truth is.

We don’t know how much traction this series from the NYT will gain beyond the “coastal elites.” Surely, if Trump even deigns to spend a moment responding to a question about it, he’ll call it “fake news.” But, capitalism flourished due to slavery (the way it does now via workers in Asia and workers from Central America) and America was built by capitalism. No way around that.

The Man From The Train

If you’ve read Devil In The White City, you know that serial killers in the U.S.A. existed long before Zodiac or Son of Sam or Ted Bundy. What you may not have known, what I certainly did not know, is that there may have been ONE brazen and prolific serial killer using railroads as his entry and egress for murder nationwide in the first decade of the 20th century.

The Man From The Train, whose author is Bill James, better known as the godfather of baseball saber metrics, investigates a series of murders that took place from Portland, Oregon, to the Deep South to Colorado Springs to Iowa and the Midwest. The M.O. was similar and chilling: the killer enters the home of a family after midnight and murders everyone, never using a gun but rather an axe handle, smashing heads as his victims slept. The homes are usually in rural areas and within half a mile of a railroad track.

Bill James and his daughter, Rachel

What makes James’ book (his daughter Rachel gets a co-author credit thanks to her copious research) fascinating is how easy is was to get away with murder a century ago. There was no FBI. Most small towns could not afford to investigate a murder—victims’ families were responsible for raising the money, which meant murders of lower-class people went uninvestigated (have times really changed?)—and without the internet or even a sophisticated newswire network, a mass murder that took place in Colorado that had shocking similarities to one in Iowa, well, those two murders would likely never be connected.

We’re not quite finished reading this book yet, and we hear that James and his daughter will eventually posit a prime suspect. If you enjoy true crime, this is one highly enlightening, and yet very disturbing, read. The good ol’ days weren’t all that good, it seems.

The Walton

Loved the idea of and, from what we saw, the execution of pairing Jason Benetti and Bill Walton in a baseball booth for a White Sox-Angels broadcast on Friday night (Benetti, whom ESPN viewers know as a precociously talented college football broadcaster, is the White Sox play-by-play guy). Which happened to be, coincidentally, the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

“There’s no time limits, and you just go until somebody says, ‘It’s over,’” Walton, sounding not unlike George Carlin, said of baseball. “Sounds very much like a Dead show.

Okay, hate to be That Guy, but the record is actually FOUR and 88 different pitchers hold it. That’s because of the passed ball/wild pitch strike three that allows the player who struck out to safely reach first. But it’s never been done TWICE in one inning plus three other strikeouts (Rule No. 7 waiting to happen).

Here’s for us, the funny thing: the renaissance of Bill Walton has almost nothing to do with the fact that he’s arguably the greatest college basketball player to ever touch the hardwood (you can make an argument for his UCLA predecessor, Lew Alcindor, or for Pete Maravich, sure). For us, it’s all about his infectious attitude toward…living! Bill gets it: the ride ends for all of us, and all too soon. Enjoy the ride! And be a positive force while on that ride.

One thing we’d like to add: at the apex of Walton’s basketball glory, in the early to mid-Seventies, one of the two to three most popular shows on television was a show that just happened to be called The Waltons (“Good night, John Boy” was America’s most popular catchphrase—a precursor to memes—in the early Seventies before giving way to “Kid Dy-no-MITE!”).

The biggest name in basketball was Walton. One of the two to three biggest names in TV was Walton (after Bunker, perhaps). And while Sam Walton’s first Walmart had already been open for a decade (in Rogers, Arkansas) it was nowhere near yet being part of the American consciousness.

Slurry Kudlow

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow had us harkening back to Johnny Cash’s classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down” as he answered questions on Fox News (and on NBC’s Meet The Press) Sunday morning with what appeared to be a vodka-infused speech impediment. Save the Bloody Marys until after the TV hits next time, LK.

Google Turns 15

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who killed the encyclopedia, among other pre-21st century conventions

Literally, Google began in a garage in California. Fifteen years ago today, the company went public. I remember this fairly well because in the company’s early days, CNBC’s Joe Kernen skeptically asked, “Yeah, but how are they going to make money?”

The company’s stock is up 2,701% since its IPO. And if you happen to care, Google absolutely controls the fate of print media because Google controls how high up a story appears on a Google search.

Google opened at $85 per share on August 19, 2004—the company approached Berkshire Hathaway, i.e. Warren Buffet, with an investment prospectus, and he turned them down. It’s now worth $1,193 per share after one 2-for-1 stock split a few years back.

Remote Patrol

Mindhunter

Netflix

Hello, bingewatch! The first season of Mindhunter, based on the real-life beginnings of the FBI’s serial-killer profiler unit, was hypnotic and addictive. Special agent Holden Ford (based on John E. Douglas) and his partner, Bill Tench, go around interviewing serial killers (the term had yet to be coined, but they’d do it) when not giving seminars around the nation to law enforcement units. Ford comes off as college boy-type while Tench is a man’s man to other cops, but the duo work well together–and in interviews with psychotic killers, Ford demonstrates an uncanny ability to see through his subjects and manipulate them into confessing things they’d never expect to do (he’s like the Roy Firestone of serial-killer interviewers).

So here comes Season 2, which dropped on Friday night. We’ve only seen two episodes, but BTK is going to finally play a prominent role (he was teased in the pre-credit scenes of most episodes in Season 1) and there’s a terrific interview with David Berkowitz. If you say this is the best original series Netflix has yet produced, we’d not argue. For us, only The Crown is on its level.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Mooch! You figured it out! Look at you. Good boy.

Starting Five

The water hazard on the 7th hole of Trump International Greenland

Greenland Day

Of all the idiotic ideas Donald Trump has had before and after becoming president, this is NOT one of them. Of course the USA should purchase Greenland if the Danes put it up for sale. What with climate change and all Greenland will be Charleston in a few decades.

See how close this would put us to Russia, strategically

What we don’t understand is why the White House would bother to purchase it. Why not simply claim that ISIS has set up a base there and then deploy our military there for an indefinite period of time.

It Was Almost Over, Dale (Jr.)

On a sunny afternoon at the Elizabethton, Tenn., airport, Dale Jr.’s plane ran past the end of the runway and crashed through a retaining fence. Dale Jr., his wife, daughter and (most importantly) a dog, plus two pilots, were able to escape before the plane caught fire. There was retaining fence wrapped around parts of the plane, but lucky for Junior the cabin door was not restricted. Or else the Earnhardts would have been toast. Literally.

Now, as to how another airplane was able to bump Dale’s plane from behind, we still don’t understand. But that’s flyin’.

Bryce Capades


Bryce Harper may not be as good of a day-to-day player as Mike Trout (breaking: nobody is), but he can still do this. The Phillies entered the 9th inning against the Cubs down 5-1. Then two runs scored and the bases were loaded with one out when Harper came to the plate. That ball was last seen drifting past Jupiter.

Meanwhile, Harper’s grand slam capped a three-game sweep of the Cubs for the Phils.

Must We Revise Rule No. 1?

Frequent readers of this site are familiar with Rule No. 1: Gravity always wins. And then some skydiver chick in Quebec falls 5,000 feet when her parachute fails to open, survives, and compels us to rethink our entire existence.

Gravity almost always wins?

The 30 year-old female fell into a wooded area and suffered multiple fractures, including to vertebrae, but apparently her life is not in danger. No word on any paralysis.

This is the fastest and most precipitous anything has fallen in the past week that was not a result of an inverted yield curve.

$20 Bet

After Guerrero pressed the lyrics into Burns’ hands, he wrote the melody

It began about 10 years ago. Former Fox Sports reporter and ABC Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero was at a charity golf event with her husband, former MLB pitcher Scott Erickson. The event, held in Kentucky, was overpopulated with country music types.

On the first night, filled with courage and perhaps a libation or two, Guerrero opined that it couldn’t be that hard to write a country music song (and this was long before Lady Ga Ga did so in A Star Is Born). That boast prompted a bunch of “little darlin'” responses but one man bet her $20 that she could not do so.

The next day, Guerrero sat down and wrote a country music song. The title: “Everybody Loves A Comeback.” She turned in the lyrics to the man (she forgets his name), who read them, did not quite believe she’d written the song, and then reached into his pocket and pulled out a Jackson.

Fast forward to this morning: country music artist Keith Burns has recorded the song and legendary Nashville producer James Stroud (credited with discovering Taylor Swift, among other achievements) has produced it. “Everybody Loves A Comeback” is out, under the Sony Music label, as of this morning.

Guerrero, who has a regular gig as an investigative reporter on Inside Edition (everybody really does love a comeback) is one of three backup singers on the song, along with sisters and budding artists Presley and Taylor.

*****

Yesterday. Phyllis phones. “I’m at church. Today is the feast of the Assumption.” Well, of course, Mom, everybody knows that!

“And tomorrow,” she says, “is the anniversary of the beginning of Medium Happy.” Phyllis never fails to astound us. Today is our 7th birthday. All the wealth and fame, sure, but we promise to remain humble.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

How can we be sure this is just not a very tiny human?

Starting Five

Hutchings: no mas

For Whom The Taco Bell Tolls

Holy mole! When we wake up and the most intriguing headline we see is “Man Dies During Taco Eating Contest,” we feel that, in these times, we should be grateful. Dana Hutchings, 41, was partaking in a taco eating contest during a minor league baseball game in Fresno and apparently you best leave accelerated mastication to the pros.

Cell Shock

Well, at least the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein appears to be on the up and up. Coroners found multiple broken bones in Epstein’s neck, including in the hyoid bone. According to The Washington Post, citing experts, “Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation.”

Just out for a friendly chat with the warden

Oh. Put that piece of information side by side with the shrieks emanating from Epstein’s cell, the news that TWO guards fell asleep while on duty and, I’m sorry, is there not any video even from the hallway outside Epstein’s room? None? Where is it?

Blurred Lines

This, above, represents why Wall Street was in such a panic yesterday. It’s a Yield Curve Inversion and it apparently is a reliable omen that a recession is on the way?

You don’t even know what a yield curve inversion is, do you? No, but Wall Street does and they’re the ones panicking! Or maybe it’s just because the Mets now have Joe Panik. I dunno.

Here’s what we know: an inverted yield curve means that the long-term rates on bonds have now become lower than the short-term rates. You’d get a higher rate of return holding a bond that matures in a shorter rate of time. According to the first thing we Googled (so it must be correct), “An inverted yield curve, or a situation in which long-term rates are lower than short-term rates, may suggest that markets expect a recession and thus lower interest rates in the future.”

The bad news is that the Dow dropped 801 points yesterday, its worst day of 2019. The good news is that this should not impact your Fantasy Football Draft and, really, what else matters?

How’s It Gonna Be?

Third Eye Blind toured this summer with Jimmy Eat World, which means there were at least five to eight turn-of-the-millennium era songs you’d really love to hear at the show. At least we would. Apparently, the bands themselves did not love one another. The following tweet is from JEW drummer Zach Lind, tweeted out just after the tour finished, regarding TEB lead singer Stephan Jenkins:

There were probably worse transgressions Lind witnessed, but what he did choose to tweet about was TEB’s insistence that they, and only they, be excused from having to wear backstage laminates for security purposes (Guys, you’re not Freddie Mercury).

Keyboard Cubicle Cowardice

I’m old enough to remember when Will Leitch wrote a piece for his main employer, New York Magazine, titled “The Era Of The Old Athlete Is Over.”

This appeared on April 3, close enough to the date to be considered an April Fool’s joke, but he actually meant it. If you’re scoring at home, this story was released two months after 41 year-old Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to yet another Super Bowl victory and less than two weeks before Tiger Woods, 43, won the Masters. Soon after Rafael Nadal, 33, won the French Open and Serena Williams, 37, advanced to the Wimbledon final. Justin Verlander, 36, is arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball this season.

But, yes, Will, your point is well-taken. What was it based on again?

So when it comes to Leitch, I’m pretty much in the H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger camp, who once told him to his face on TV, “I gotta be honest with you, I think you’re full of shit.”

The beauty of that moment is that Bissinger had the balls to tell Leitch what he thought of him face to face. Leitch, as he does with yesterday’s hit piece on Dabo Swinney, has fashioned a career of hiding behind his laptop and ripping people, occasionally, without even speaking to them. On the few times he has been called out by his subjects, he usually acts somewhat contrite (See: Roger Ebert hit piece) or attempts to equivocate, post facto.

There’s certainly a point to be made that the beatification of Dabo by College GameDay, in particular, and many college football writers is way overdone. He’s made plenty of gaffes (“Osama bin Dabo”) and some of his opinions (being paid $9 million per year but then being outraged at the idea of college players being paid) display a total lack of self-awareness, not to mention of irony. Leitch uses Dabo’s latest affaire du controverse, a stupid dispute over whether a player who quit the team after four games deserves a national championship ring, as his launchpad to character-assassinate Swinney.

Here’s the thing: Leitch has discovered that he can write columns like this for a magazine based in New York City whose editors don’t consider sports a main course. My guess is that most of them are more familiar with the latest Bluestone Coffee (rip-off) to open up in Park Slope or Carroll Gardens than they are with who’s leading the National League East (Atlanta). And they’ve invested in Leitch as their sports guru because he’s made himself into a brand and apparently they feel as if he’s an expert.

But this, this Dabo piece, is what he is truly expert at: cherry-picking the facts or anecdotes that suit his polemic so that he can produce a piece that gets plenty of attention and/or clicks even when the totality of the argument, i.e., the truth, is usually something very different. If this were his first time doing it, I’d give him a pass. But it’s really the pattern of his entire career.

Even Leitch has acknowledged he does this. And while you may think, well, that shows some character that he was willing to make this confession, what comes across to me is 1) that he ever did something so low and 2) it feels as if he’s appealing for our, the readers’, sympathy as to why he behaved like such a jackass.

But NY Mag (and SI.com) will continue to provide him a platform.

Reserves

Pardon my retweeting myself–it’s online onanism–but this had to be inserted somewhere today:

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Nature: The Greatest Show On Earth.

Starting Five

A Second Chernobyl?

What’s that old Russian saying? Those that whitewash history are condemned to repeat it?

Apparently, no one at the Kremlin gets HBO or none of them watched Chernobyl, because Russia appears to be sliding down the same radioactive path that it did back in 1986. Here’s what we know: a failed missile test on an offshore platform in the White Sea in northwest Russia, near the small city of Nenoska, took place last Thursday. The above explosion is the result. That much is for certain.

At the time the Russians announced that two military members died in the blast and that there was no spike in radiation (that you even need to announce that sets off bells and whistles). Now, four to five days later, we know that an additional five people, all of them nuclear scientists, also perished in the blast (word to the wise: whenever you get five nuclear scientists together and it isn’t a scholarly symposium, chances are it’s not for a softball game, if you know what I mean). We know that even Russia is admitting that radiation spiked four to 16 times in the aftermath (and this is just what we’re admitting; who knows if it’s the truth?). We know that the Russians ordered Nenoska to be evacuated and then suddenly said, “Naw, don’t worry about it.” We know that doctors and nurses who treated some of the injured have since been transferred to a hospital in Moscow.

That last one is a big UH-OH.

The best onscreen buddies of 2019 may need to reprise their roles (they’ll appear as their bastard sons that no one knew about)

Seriously, Vlad. Please go back and watch Chernobyl. But don’t watch the “Killing All The Pets” episode. That’s excruciating. Anyway, they’re making all the same mistakes all over again.

Tiger Beat

For all the negative pub the Orioles receive for being so bad this season—losing 15 straight to the Yankees and falling by the score of 23-2 to the Astros on Saturday don’t help—the Detroit Tigers actually have baseball’s worst record (35-81) this season.

The above outfielder-assisted home run for Seattle’s Kyle Seager is the 10-second byte that tells you the story of Detroit’s season.

Poetry Emotion

I’d advise you to watch this entire clip before coming to a Twitter-ian judgment as to whether Ken Cuccinelli is a monster or not. A couple weeks ago I saw a Ricky Gervais tweet, not sure how old it is, in which the British comedian (he’s so much more than that, but okay) wrote, and I’m paraphrasing, “Civilization began to go downhill when feelings replaced facts.”

Exactly.

The Extreme Left is wrong on this one because, I’m sorry, no one gets to enter my country or my home without at least doing a fair share of the chores. If they expect that, then they are a GUEST and not a MEMBER. So, yeah, no one should expect to come here from another country and suck the teat of the hard work of their neighbors.

Of course, the Extreme Right is even more wrong on this one for two reasons: 1) because those of us who work with immigrants know first-hand that they’re the humblest, hardest-working people around (I don’t think the eye roll at a boss’ or customer’s request becomes a thing until at least the second or third generation) and 2) countless immigrants come here exactly because they are in search of work and a better life. But they may come here with almost no money and prospects. If they had money and prospects in their native countries, they’d probably not be very prone to leave.

I work with a Mexican busser named Janet. We all love her. She’s ALWAYS smiling. She’s always happy to do whatever needs to be done. On Saturdays she brings the entire staff tamales from a joint in her Harlem neighborhood. This week Janet and six family members are all driving down to Florida to visit Disney World which, for countless immigrants, represents the very best of what America is supposed to be about (I’d have told her to go hiking in the Adirondacks, but that’s me). They’re taking one vehicle. They’re SOOO excited.

We were joking at work yesterday that Disney World, the “happiest place on Earth,” is about to greet the happiest person on Earth. I can only go off my own experiences, but man, give me a thousand Janets. I also work with a white woman Janet’s age (early 20s) who earlier this summer skipped out on us as we were all doing our mandatory duty of cleaning up after bartending a party for 500. When one of our co-workers, a Haitian immigrant, asked this native Manhattanite if she was not sticking around (at that moment she was clocking out; we all had an hour’s work ahead of us), her response was, “Fuck that sh*t.” Then she headed out to a bar. If I were the manager I would have fired her on the spot.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But please, let’s make a trade. You take our entitled and spoiled masses yearning to piggyback off their parents’ and grandparents’ efforts.

Friends and Neighbors

We saw Once Upon A Time In Hollywood last night, and while these next two items won’t have any plot spoilers, if you are yet to see it and want to enter completely blind, then stop reading now. This is why we put the final two items, both of which deal with the film, at the end of today’s IAH!.

On to the thoughts…

–Of the few reviews we’ve read, the one that for us is the most spot-on comes from Owen Glieberman in Variety. He writes:

 It’s been a decade since Quentin Tarantino gave us an unambiguously great Quentin Tarantino movie (Inglourious Basterds).

You know the difference as well as I do, because it’s one that you can feel in your heart, gut, nerves, and soul. It’s the difference between a Quentin movie that’s got dazzle and brilliance and a number of hypnotic sequences, and is every inch the work of his fevered movie candy brain, and a Quentin film that enters your bloodstream like a drug and stays there, inviting (compelling!) you to watch it again and again, because it’s a virtuoso piece of the imagination from first shot to last, and every moment is marked by a certain ineffable something, the Tarantino X Factor that made “Pulp Fiction” the indie touchstone of its time.

Gliebermann’s verdict is that Once Upon… falls short of the Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds standard. Agreed. It is a film that is far less than the sum of its parts, and while a number of those parts are delightful, the 2 hour, 39-minute film is proof positive that everyone needs an editor. No director should have total final cut on a film he’s written.

Plenty of scenes like this that, while fun, were far from necessary and left us feeling bloated.

Tarantino has made a 159-minute film in an era in which audiences fill up on 32- to 40-ounce sodas during the movies. Human kidneys were simply not built for this. I gave myself a pat on the back for having sat through this film without having taken a pee break, but I wonder how many fans will be able to do the same.

–If this is not Brad Pitt‘s best performance, it’s my favorite of his since Thelma & Louise. These are the roles he was born to play. Also, I can see that Champion spark plugs shirt becoming a popular item.

–Whoever did the makeup on Damian Lewis to become Steve McQueen deserves a raise. In the scene where McQueen is talking to a blonde actor I suppose to be either to Goldie Hawn or Joey Heatherton or Connie Stevens (which is what IMDB seems to be suggesting), he’s absolutely convincing. Now I want to see a Steve McQueen biopic with Lewis starring.

–There are a plethora of auto and L.A. traffic scenes in the film, and like me you’ll probably scan them to see if all the vehicles are authentic to the period. Tarantino knows that we live in the digitalized world of screen grabs, so he can’t hope to think he could avoid fans Zapruder-ing such scenes. From my cursory inspection, all of the cars and trucks were of the era, which must have been a herculean feat to pull off.

–For as much of a pretty boy as he can be, you have to admire Leo for going in such a different direction in this film. There’s a scene in which, at the end of it, his young co-star whispers a kind word to him. And we couldn’t agree more.

–Burt Reynolds was slated to play George Spahn but died a month before production began. Bruce Dern stepped in for him. Luke Perry does appear in the movie in a small role.

–Of course it was a satisfying scene, but nobody but nobody beats Bruce Lee in hand-to-hand combat. C’mon, Q.

–Was the Spahn Ranch scene the most compelling one in the movie? For me it was.

–The dialogue lacked the snap, crackle and pop of the best Tarantino efforts. For me the freshest line, the most classic Q moment, was the opening scene that involved the TV interview. Pitt gets off a funny line that invites you to think there are plenty more such moments to follow. There aren’t.

–Props to Tarantino for getting the little details of the history correct (you can Google Map Cielo Drive to see what I’m talking about), right down to where Sharon Tate and friends ate their final meal and also that her sister visited her on the afternoon of August 8th.

–So much I’d love to say about the climax, but any words are spoilers. So I’ll leave it alone and perhaps we’ll revisit next month. What did you think of the film, without giving anything away?

Pussycat Doll

For me, the biggest revelation of Once Upon A Time… was the big-screen debut of Margaret Qualley, who is enchanting as Manson family member Pussycat (not based on an actual person). The easiest way for me to quantify her screen presence is 50% Elizabeth Taylor (in Giant) and 50% Krysten Ritter (from Gilmore Girls).

Qualley, who trained as a ballerina and it shows, dances across the screen in every scene she has (note her footwork on the railing during the dumpster dive scene). I had no idea until after the film that she’s the daughter of Andie MacDowell and, oh my, is she everything as an actress actor that her mom never was. Mom was always a model trying to persuade us, unconvincingly, that she was her character. Qualley, 24, absolutely inhabits Pussycat (as does Margot Robbie inhabit Sharon Tate, for that matter; her performance, though short on lines, is terrific. Tate was a joyful and unself-conscious beam of sunshine, and Robbie nails it).

It must have tickled Brad Pitt, who entered the lives of filmgoers as a young, lanky and mischievous hitchhiker in Thelma & Louise, to play the person behind the wheel as Qualley portrayed the distaff version of the same. By the time she steps up to the Cadillac to utter her first line, she’s already won us–and Pitt’s Cliff Booth–over.

Qualley had a role in Showtime’s Fosse/Verdon, but this is her big-screen intro. And she was electric. We’ll all be seeing more of her.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Hang Time*

*The judges respect the New York Post’s “Caught Off Guard” headline, too.

On the one hand, maybe a guy who lived in a metropolitan Shangri La-type mansion, only flew private jets, and had his very own “Bachelor In Paradise” island, couldn’t take any sort of confinement and wanted to off himself. And maybe the guards were either incompetent or for whatever reason ($$$…?), complicit.

On the other, what better time to off a dude then early Saturday morning, in terms of the news cycle? What more expedient time than after a giant document dump (unsealed depositions, allegations) and hours after a six-figure fundraiser in the Hamptons in which potentially some of the malefactors would have opportunity to converse and conspire, in a non-digital, non-traceable fashion? If you were building a Manchurian Candidate-type plot, all the pieces fit.

The current White House administration, in quite the Orwellian manner, is attempting to make truth extinct in our country (thanks to Richard M. Nixon for getting the ball rolling on that one). At least in terms of government and justice. So who the hell knows? You’ve heard by now that there were shrieks coming from the vicinity of the 66 year-old Epstein’s cell last Saturday morning: were they from him or from the non-trained officer who was supposed to be guarding him?

Other questions: what type of cell and bedding was it that Epstein could still have an opportunity to hang himself? Why would officers responding to the scene not KNOW that he had hanged himself, as opposed to “thought to have?” Is that just incomplete reporting or another weird twist to the saga?

Middle Age Crazy

Thinking of the Epstein-Barr (Jeffrey, William) virus, and all of the powerful and moneyed men potentially entangled in it, it led me to think of two films and, particularly scenes from those films.

The first is The Philadelphia Story. A true American classic from 1940 that is 98% romantic comedy, its other 2% is rather a record scratch when it attempts to mansplain middle-aged philandering. There’s a scene where Tracy Lord’s (Katharine Hepburn’s) wealthy but wayward father, Seth (John Halliday), returns to the family after a heavily implied adulterous relationship in New York City. And his wife takes him back, no questions asked.

Tracy is appalled (irony of Hepburn’s arguably greatest film character being named Tracy) and her father, with her mother approving of him, scolds her prudish ways. I don’t have the quote directly in front of me, but Seth Lord explains that a wife understands that her middle-aged philandering husband isn’t doing it as an affront to her, but that he is simply seeking the glory of his youth. And that makes him feel more alive. He tells Tracy that she has everything in the world except one main ingredient: an understanding heart.

The second film is Moonstruck, which 47 years later again brings us around to an adoring daughter (Cher), a philandering father (Vincent Gardenia), and an understanding, to a lesser degree, wife (Olympia Dukakis). After the husband is caught having an affair with a much younger woman, the wife sagely explains to him the misbegotten intent behind his adultery and the lost cause stirring it. Again, not verbatim, but she says something to the effect of, “No matter how many nubile young women you sleep with, it won’t prevent you from getting old.”

Which brings us to Jeffrey Epstein and his “friends.” Who knows how many of these powerful men had the opportunity in the bloom of their youth to, um, take advantage of their masculinity? Maybe some did, maybe others were nobodies or too busy working their way up the corporate or political ladder. Then here they are, middle-aged and wealthy and used to getting what they want. And what they really want is to have the allure of that 21 year-old lifeguard, Baywatch-type. But they never will. What they do have, however, is money and power. And Jeffrey Epstein was just the sort of man who could make their sexual and sinister dreams come true (as these young women and often underage teens) were procured for their wants.

And let’s not forget that it was only seven months ago that Robert Kraft was taking advantage of just such a relationship when, as a 77 year-old billionaire (or near to it), he was getting pleasured by someone for pay. On a Sunday morning. Before flying to watch his Patriots play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game. Kraft IS exactly the type of man who thrived in Epstein’s circle.

Finally, if it ever comes out just how Epstein acquired all of this wealth…if it turns out he was the ultimate pimp in terms of procuring underage girls for the wealthy and powerful, if that is demonstrated to be true, well, it’s only too bad that Stanley Kubrick is not around to make a sequel to Eyes Wide Shut.

Tatis All, Folks

As rookies go, Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr., was somewhat overlooked in the season’s opening third. After all, San Diego had a lights-out rookie phenom pitcher named Chris Paddack who had a 1.93 ERA after two months—until he visited Yankee Stadium.

Paddack has since shuttled back and forth between AAA Lake Elsinore. Tatis, who does not have enough official at-bats to qualify for official stats, has played 83 games (about 2/3) and is batting .316 with 22 home runs. The 20 year-old is a star in the making.

Kong Blockers

This is a photo of yesterday’s massive and peaceful protest at the Hong Kong Airport that caused all flights to be suspended. Oddly enough, the Wolfgang Puck’s in Terminal 2 still had plenty of available seating.

We’re with the protesters, 100%. China tried to sneak through extradition legislation that in effect would give BIG BROTHER the power to extradite any independent Hong Kong citizen to the mainland and thus render these free people unto the totalitarian state. That’s when these people (Hong Kongers?) recognized their freedom was at stake and moved into action.

What’s the next move on the chess board, we wonder? And would Iron Mike Pompeo just mansplain a massive Chinese attack by saying, “Look, every government gets its hands dirty, but what truly matters is that the U.S. is still independent and our oil barons and other business tycoons are sated.”

Who’s A Fredo Whom?

Some dumb Moe Greene type (Moe Greene wasn’t actually dumb. He was “a great man!”) made the mistake of referring to CNN’s Chris Cuomo as “Fredo” and Cuomo almost went full Sonny Corleone on him. Love it. And if you’ve met Cuomo, he’s pretty jacked and I think this would have gone very poorly for the dope.

WENDELL’S WISDOM

Now batting for JW, Wendell Barnhouse (“Now batting for Manny Mota, Pedro Borbon”…a funny joke from Airplane! even though Borbon was a pitcher and would have never pinch-hit for Mota), with some words on this weekend’s assault to the senses.

by Wendell Barnhouse

Truth. Justice. The American Way. Remember that? Sound familiar? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah, those were the good old days, huh?

One week after 31 people were killed in two mass shootings, the death of one man Saturday further rendered what this country once stood for. Perhaps most citizens had not paid much attention to Jeffery Epstein’s sordid story. The batshit crazy news cycle requires full attention and its twists and turns can be confusing and exhausting; trust me on that.

Epstein was a billionaire, but nobody knows where or how he got his money. He received a sweetheart deal in 2007 for being a pedophile who peddled underage girls for sex. That should have landed him in prison for life. He was arrested just over a month ago after returning from France on his private jet. This time, the charges were similar, but the outcome figured to be far different. 

A Pulitzer-worthy investigative story, mostly reported by Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald, had uncovered more victims, more evidence and exposed his previous “sentence” as a sham.  Epstein allegedly had pimped young girls to his rich and powerful friends.

Saturday, three weeks after a possible suicide attempt, Epstein was found dead in his cell. (Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.)

Epstein was being held at Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City, a Federal facility. Reports are that he was not on suicide watch. If he indeed hung himself, how did he do the deed? Were there cameras monitoring his cell?

Dead men tell no tales. Many of the secrets of Epstein’s relationships went with him. Perhaps it was a pipe dream that he would have testified and sold out the rich and powerful men who possibly shared and benefitted from his perverse lifestyle. 

Reports are that Attorney General William Barr is angry. He has ordered an investigation, declaring in a press release that he “was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered.”

And Captain Renault was “shocked, shocked” to find gambling going on at Rick’s.

Epstein, who in his early 20s and with no college degree, was hired to teach math at an exclusive private school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Dalton Prep. The man who hired him was William Barr’s father. Coincidence? The federal prosecutor who signed off on Epstein’s deal was Alexander Acosta. With no background in the field, Acosta was appointed as Labor Secretary by Donald Trump. Coincidence? Again?

Perhaps. But even those with a passing interest can research and find that Epstein was like Zelig when it comes to coincidences. He was seemingly everywhere with everybody.

Let’s pause and consider the darkest side of the Epstein Affair. 

He didn’t hang with merely athletes or stars. His acquaintances were the crème de la crème. Names like Bill Clinton, Prince William, Alan Dershowitz along with several politicians are thought to have partied with Epstein and his squad of underage girls. Clinton, for one, is thought to be a philanderer. But the thought that he and other rich and powerful men not only cheated on their wives they did so with girls who could be their granddaughters is vomit-inducing.

The news of Epstein’s death probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. He was a dead man walking once he was arrested. But speculation that he would die before trial has now been replaced by conspiracy theories. In particular, the Far Right has fomented the theory that the Clintons – aka Murder Inc. – made the suicide happen. After all, remember Vince Foster and Seth Rich? (If the Clintons are so nefarious, how the hell did Hillary lose to that idiot Trump? … Oh, right. Three million more votes.)

Speaking of Donald John Trump, he was once best bros with Epstein. Upon Epstein’s arrest, Trump immediately distanced himself from the perp. However, at least one of Epstein’s harem accuses our 45th President of raping her, when she was 13, at an Epstein-hosted orgy in 1994.

The Twitter-in-Chief, spending the weekend in the Hamptons telling racist jokes at $250,000-a-plate fund raisers, had time to use his stubby fingers to retweet to his 63 million followers a Tweet by an “actor, comedian, commentator” promoting the “Clinton Conspiracy.”

So, there’s the alleged leader of the Free World (another term headed for the dustbin) amplifying the theory that the Clintons had Epstein killed. As David Frum of The Atlantic wrote Saturday, What if Richard Nixon, once he was elected President, had accused Lyndon Johnson of masterminding JFK’s assassination?

Our system elected a President who averages about 10 lies a day and has committed a laundry list of alleged crimes; the use of “alleged” is a journalistic practice however it seems obscene to give a venal, narcissistic con man the courtesy.

If the system doesn’t self-correct and Trump is never convicted, does our democracy, our rule of law matter? Trump losing in 2020 would be the “voice of the people” but justice would not be served.

We’ve been told “the truth shall set you free” and to “have faith.” Truth and faith are in short supply. Your Humble Correspondent’s generation has lived with JFK’s assassination and the grassy knoll, Vietnam (and a lying government}, Watergate, Iran-Contra, a presidential election decided by hanging chads, 9/11 and Iraq/Afghanistan (and a lying government).

Now, we have the highly suspicious death of a man whose testimony might have incriminated dozens of men in whom we placed our trust and faith. 

William Barr oversees the Department of Justice, but will he allow a full investigation of Epstein’s death? So far, Barr has acted like Trump’s consigliere, not the lawyer representing America’s citizens. If Epstein were murdered, no doubt the conspirators have made sure the tracks are covered and the evidence destroyed. 

Perhaps it was a “clerical error” that removed Epstein from suicide watch. Maybe there is/was a malfunction that blacked out the video surveillance at the time he killed himself. Nothing to see here, citizens. Move along. 

Disgusted that men with money and power (allegedly) decided it was okay to have sex with girls? If you’ve been paying attention for the last 50 years, why are you surprised that your disgust is duly noted while the perverts board another private jet?

Truth. Justice. The American Way. Those were words credited to/uttered by Superman. Silly us thinking a comic book character with superpowers was aspirational.

****

Postscript, editor’s note: We’ll have more on this tomorrow. The timing of Epstein’s death, during the slowest news hours of the week, and shortly after both a giant document dump less than 24 hours earlier the big Trump fundraiser in the Hamptons Friday night, is curious but it may be just another coincidence. We’d not be surprised if Epstein wanted to take his own life and we’d not be surprised if a few employees at the MCC were paid off to not do their jobs for an hour or two or however long it took.

Whatever happened, this was the most important inmate awaiting trial in America, in a federal prison, being neglected in one way or another. And as a federal prison it falls under William Barr’s purview, which means the buck stops there. So, for the umpteenth time, imagine if this had happened under the Obama administration and just how nasty Fox News would have gotten over their incompetence and/or corruption. Instead, you have Kellyanne appearing with Bill Hemmer on Sunday mansplaining why Trump’s tweet was responsible because he just wants everything to be investigated. Shameless.