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.

3 thoughts on “WENDELL’S WISDOM

  1. Without wanting to distract from Mr. Barnhouse’s smartly written essay, I am too much of an Airplane fan to resist noting that it was in fact Mota who pinch-hit for Borbon.

    • Appreciate the compliment. John is overworked and underpaid, hence the reason for his brain freeze on the Airplane line. But to illustrate how a fried brain sometimes works, when I first read his pinch hitting reference, my crossed wires thought it was from the Naked Gun movie where Nielsen was umpiring.

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