Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This is one I missed when it came out. It’s Sleepers from 1996, featuring such notables as Kevin BaconRobert De NiroDustin Hoffman., and Brad Pitt. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video, allowing me to get these screen shots. Details are from  Wikipedia. This is a crime, social justice, courtroom drama, with a story going back to 1966. It takes two and a half hours to run, so I had to wait for some serious slack time to watch it.

Four kids grow up in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, which I will explain later. Suffice it to say, in those days this was not the toniest place in town. It’s also the setting for West Side Story.

Anyhow, the place is the definition of multi-ethnicity, with scads of Italians, Hispanics, Jews, maybe some Irish, but I couldn’t tell. The four pals live in the streets, and about the time their hormones are beginning to kick in their lives go to shit in single day. They hit upon the grand idea of ripping off a hot-dog vendor, and they end up making off with his cart. When the cart goes down the steps to the subway and puts a man in the hospital the law cracks down on them with a vengeance.

They are sent to Wilkinson Home for Boys, a place in upstate New York that is dressed out as a prep school but is in in actuality Attica writ small. The guards brutalize the boys, employing beatings and sodomy. One boy who helps in a scheme to humiliate the guards in a touch football match is beaten to death. The boys remain quiet, under threat of retaliation, and they vow to carry their debasement to their deaths.

But one, Michael, has taken an interest in The Count of Monte Cristo, the story a man, falsely imprisoned, who escapes and plots vengeance.

Thirteen years after they get out it’s 1981, and two of the boys are hardened criminals, one with a record of multiple murders. The two are in a pub one evening when they spy the key guard, Sean Nokes (Bacon). They sit themselves across the table from him, introduce themselves, and shoot him multiple times.

Unfortunately,  there are multiple witnesses, and the men are put on trial for second degree murder. One of the kids, Shakes (Jason Patric), has grown up to become a newspaper reporter. Another, Michael (Brad Pitt), is now a prosecuting attorney, and he wrangles the job of prosecuting his two pals. The back history of the four is secret due to their age at the time of their crime, so Shakes’ scheme is to get the two killers off and also to work justice on the Wilkinson Home and its guards. He arranges for washed-up lawyer Danny Snyder (Hoffman) to defend the killers. His scheme is to throw the case.

A part of the scheme is to bring back one of the guards, a friend of Nokes, to testify as a character witness for the victim. Snyder has all the dope on the Wilkinson guards, and his cross-examination eviscerates the corrupt Wilkinson culture.

Additionally, a friendly priest (De Niro) testifies he was attending a Nicks game with the two killers at the time of the crime. The killers are not convicted, and after the trial they meet for the final time in their lives. Within a few years both the killers are dead from their life styles.

It’s an interesting story and one that could have been told in less than two hours, but I had the time. As a historical  note it’s the tale of a place whose time has passed. Hell’s Kitchen came to my attention while I was still in high school and before West Side Story. Out of high school and in the Navy, I got a glimpse of Hell’s Kitchen when my ship docked on the Hudson shore. One of the guys in my division was from the neighborhood, and he went by for a visit and got knifed.

A few years later I was back, doing some work at the Post Office building nearby, and we would sometimes wonder over to Manganaro’s for lunch. This was in the early 1970s, and at the time it was not a place you wanted to be alone or after dark.

Times have changed:

Since the early 1990s, the area has been gentrifying, and rents have risen rapidly. Located close to both Broadway theaters and the Actors Studio training school, Hell’s Kitchen has long been a home to learning and practicing actors, and, in recent years, to young Wall Street financiers.

It does take some of the spice out of the story.


The Golden Shower

Number 33 of a Series

I recently finished reading James Clapper’s book, Facts and Fears, out last month and available in a Kindle edition for $15 ($14.99 plus tax). Clapper is a retired Air Force lieutenant general, more recently serving as Director of National Intelligence. His final day on the job was inauguration day for President Donald Trump, and during his long career in military intelligence and in the civilian intelligence system he had great opportunity to observe the workings of our government’s very expensive system for gathering information.

In his course he developed a great respect for fact and the telling of truth. As he observed the candidacy of Donald Trump he was dismayed at both the lack of regard for truth and at the same time the ever more obvious fact that Mr. Trump was under the influence of a foreign government. The later chapters of his book deal with his assessment of Mr. Trump and with the influence the Russian government exerted on the 2016 election.

To be clear, it quickly became obvious to American intelligence that Vladimir Putin’s government despised candidate Hillary Clinton, and it set its intelligence warfare apparatus to work with the aim to undermine her candidacy. When Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee, much of the Russians’ effort swung toward support for the Trump campaign. I will write a review of the book, but for now a few excerpts will illustrate James Clapper’s observations.

The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We knew now that the Russians had thousands of Twitter accounts and tens of thousands of bots that posted more than a million tweets. They posted more than a thousand videos on YouTube with days of streaming content. Facebook has said Russian content reached 126 million of its American users—an astonishing number, considering that only 139 million Americans voted.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 395). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Most interesting was the extent to which members of Congress, dominated by Trump’s party, were eager to support the narrative pushed by Russian intelligence. Particularly, the Fox cable network, which never seems to find a right wing notion it will not support, diligently assisted in the Russian effort.

In April, Mr. Trump first used the phrase “lying, crooked Hillary” to refer to his likely opponent in the primary election. RT, Fox News, and paid and unpaid trolls across social media latched on to the moniker. Russia and the Trump campaign seemed to be quite in sync, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were colluding—coordinating their efforts behind closed doors. They may simply have had a lot in common: a strong dislike for both the Washington political establishment and Hillary Clinton personally; a proclivity for social media, particularly Twitter, which meant they’d end up sharing each other’s ideas on the internet [sic]; and a genuine delight in wallowing in conspiracy theories.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 334). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

If you are not familiar with the RT television network, an excerpt from Wikipedia will be helpful:

RT (formerly Russia Today) is a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government. It operates cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and Russian.

Government intelligence agencies initiated an intense investigation into the activities waged against the election, and this effort continues to the present. Prior to the end of his term in office, President Obama ordered briefings on these intelligence findings and made them available to the new administration. With great dismay, the intelligence community found that rather than accepting these findings whole heartedly, the Trump administration pushed back with a vengeance. After Donald Trump assumed office FBI Director James Comey declined to put an end to the bureau’s investigation and President Trump fired him. Subsequently a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, was appointed to investigate and to bring criminal charges to those involved in criminal activity. That was 13 months ago, and during all this time the Trump administration, right-leaning members of Congress, and also conservative news outlets, have maintained an effort to end these investigations and, failing that, to undermine public confidence in the findings and in the people working the case.

With some surprise, I find amusement in all this. An element of my amusement is a stream  of imagery running across my TV screen almost daily. Most recently, there was John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight.

Oliver claims this is one of a series he calls “Stupid Watergate.”

Regardless, it’s Oliver’s biting— and at the same time humorous—take, on the massive pushback against the Mueller investigation and on the simultaneous attacks against the American intelligence agencies. I streamed the TV episode on my computer and captured 59 screen shots to illustrate the story line, and I may not use all of them in this posting. Here’s the story.

Fox Network is particularly aggressive in casting the investigation as a witch-hunt. Sean Hannity, who has very close ties with the president, does not have enough time in a day to say all he wants relating to the matter.

Tucker Carlson is no less effusive.

Additionally, Fox has Sebastian Gorka, Roger Stone, Newt Gingrich, and even President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

At this time I need to apologize if somebody in these shots appears in bad form. Truth is I have to watch these stream live on YouTube, and I have to snag the Print Screen button at just the right moment, when nobody’s eyes are closed, or worse. Sometimes I am successful.

Anyhow, they are all calling the Mueller investigation a witch-hunt, prompting John Oliver to declare therefore there must be witches.

New indictment filed against Manafort names ally with Russian intel ties. “… 20 people and 3 companies have been charged.”

From The New York Times:

Mueller investigation enters year two: What comes next — and how it could end “Five guilty pleas.”

Oliver points out the objective of this jawboning the matter has the goal of reducing public confidence in the process and the people. Last July 62% of those polled thought the investigation should continue. By April of this year the level had dropped to 54%. The strategy seems to be working.

On another matter, it is being claimed by the president and his allies that federal authorities planted a spy in his organization back in 2016. This narrative is being pushed relentlessly, despite a complete lack of evidence.

Oliver outlines three tactics employed to deflect the investigation findings. The first is “redefine,” establish a alternate definition of what the investigation is about and attack that.

Here is a woman commenting on Fox News. Somebody please help me to identify her, because I have no clue. Anyhow, we hear her saying:

Mueller is there to show collusion between Russia and Trump, and there is [none] so far, so why not end it.

Hannity is saying:

Where is there any evidence of collusion? Show us. Nothing so far. Not a whiff.

Katrina Pierson, advisor for Trump 2020 campaign:

There is zero evidence of Russia collusion.

And Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway makes the ultimate case, and if anybody can explain it to me, then I will buy them a beer. And I will have one for myself.

Unkindly, Oliver reminds these good people that evidence of Russian collusion is not and never was a part of Mueller’s directive. His task, as originally directed by his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was to [investigate]:

“… any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of  President Donald Trump …”

The second tactic is what Oliver calls “whataboutism.”

Yeah, what about all that stuff others do? Hannity points to our notorious two-tiered justice system, apparently one set of rules for his favorite president and another set for everybody else.

He informs us of the massive load of malfeasance perpetrated by those others.

These are all very bad people, and if anybody can tell me what they have done that warrants my attention, then there is another beer waiting.

Oliver counters with his own list, equally staked out. Almost anybody can put a bulletin board and a list of perps in bold white font.

He notes the utility of this approach. If you produce a movie, and it gets a bad rating, then you can point to the blockbuster hit From Justin to Kelly. “Look at how bad that was, so why am I not getting an Oscar?”

The logic is impossible to challenge.

Then there is the counter narrative.

I don’t watch Fox News much, so I missed out on some stuff. Apparently Hannity has a passel of conspiracy theory story boards that outline the Mueller and Clinton crime families.

Who would have suspected this stuff was going on? Possibly not Hannity, but definitely a basket full of deplorables, who bought into this line and voted for Donald Trump. Sadly, it turns out, there is one graphic which even John Oliver is unable to decipher. Explanation please, and another beer.

More or less echoing what James Clapper details in his book, Hannity has been on the air “night after night” pushing the theory that the investigation is one massive plot to take down President Trump, and it involves the Democrats, the FBI, the “deep state,” and “establishment” Republicans. Hannity repeats a favorite catch phrase, calling the Mueller investigation bigger than Watergate. He says again and again it makes Watergate look “like stealing a Snickers bar.” There follows a sequence of shots similar to the one below and showing Hannity invoking the Snickers comparison.

This gives Oliver the opening to have his own fun with a Snickers bar.

Two of the names on Hannity’s “Waiting to be Raided” board are Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. These were two government workers originally gainfully employed in the Mueller investigation. While so employed, they were also enjoying some sub rosa snuggle bunnies. They were humping on the sly while married to others. Worse, they were found to have exchanged disparaging remarks about Donal Trump, said exchanges being conveyed through their employer’s email system. Mueller dismissed both from the investigation upon learning this, and they have since left government service.

Gone from the taxpayers feed trough, the pair still provide grist for the Fox News mill. Gregg Jarrett does not pass up the opportunity to refer to them: “If these two cheating love birds, who were still married to other people at the time, have any opportunity to still do their jobs at the FBI …”

This is the opening for Hannity. He is ripe to unload on Page with choice characterization:

There she is. FBI love bird Lisa Page …

This is scandalous beyond the pale. I mean, Watergate comes off as filching a Snickers bar by comparison.

That stalwart of moral propriety, Mike Huckabee, joins the chorus. He goes full conspiratorial, cupping his hands to his mouth as he intones “and secret lover” when referring to Page. Hester Prynne somebody else need your A.

Appears to be the same Fox News mystery woman, dishing on Strzok and Page. They are getting off the hook for their misdeeds to keep the anti-Trump scheme on  oxygen.

The pair’s misdeeds are undisputed. From The Washington Post:

FBI officials’ text message about Hillary Clinton said to be a cover story for romantic affair. “… relied on work phones to try to hide their romance from a spouse …”

The views they exchanged were unworthy of government employees:

“God trump is a lothsome human.”

“God Hillary should win 1,000,000,000 – 0.”

Imagine what kind of person would say such a thing about Donald Trump. A possible description might be “sentient life form.”

The picture painted by those pesky facts is less than lurid. From The Wall Street Journal, which went to the trouble of reading the several thousand messages exchanged between the two:

Inside the FBI Life of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as Told in  their Text Messages

The conclusion being “… show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump.”

Introducing “Spy Gate,” a more recent Hannity brain storm, according to Oliver.

At this point I pause to weep for the English lexicon. Forty-six years ago the Democratic Party was headquartered in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The etymology for this site has a local history, but at the time I was already acquainted with the need to apply spiffy names to mundane constructions, being acquainted with the newly-constructed Westgate building in Austin, Texas.

Anyhow, for the next two years the word Watergate was on the front page of about every American newspaper, and it got stuck in copywriters’ heads, filling that empty place from which originality is supposed to flow. Since the time it has become the custom to name a scandal of any scale by snagging a tag word and appending “gate.” Shortly there was Koreagate:

 … in 1976 involving South Korean political figures seeking influence from 10 Democratic members of Congress.

After that there was no holding back the flood, producing among many, Tunagate. Alas, “Spygate” was inevitable.

Despite Mr. Hannity’s deepest desires and despite what fuels the fever in his imaginative brain, Spygate is he stuff of yawns. From The New York Times:

F.B.I. Used informant to investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

“… F.B.I. agents sent an informant to  talk to two campaign advisers [who] had suspicious contacts linked to Russia …”

Working at a cut above Alex Jones, Fox News relentlessly pumps the Spygate liturgy. Congressman Trey Gowdy, no stranger to investigative overreach, is seen telling panelists on CBS This Morning that the FBI was doing exactly what the FBI is required to do in such a situation. Not good news for Fox and Friends, and not so good for Congressman Gowdy, as well, his comments drawing immediate fire from Trump supporters.

Fox and Friends want us to know government investigators spooked the Trump campaign apparatus in a dark scheme to undermine the candidate. In a different world, where the sun comes up every morning, newspaper headlines read, “FBI Investigates Possible Crime.”

Oliver characterizes this as reporting that Domino’s delivers pizza. Who would have thought of that?

We see Lou Dobbs, commenting on Gowdy’s remarks:

I’m naming names here. I’m through with it. Trey Gowdy … is schizophrenic … He is absolutely in the service of the establishment. And the deep state, where they are consciously … purposely …

And that is so amusing, because “the establishment” is what left wing radicals used to call the Republican Party 50 years ago.

Oliver reminds us this is in  accordance with Conspiracy Theory 101 [my words]. Anybody speaking against the conspiracy theory is part of the conspiracy.

Something is obvious wrong here. We see Hannity making the case in a most queer way:

No evidence of Trump Russia collusion. Mueller, if you got it, come on the show and tell America. And by the way, if the media, if you have more proof that this is not a witch-hunt. OK. I don’t believe you.

Oh Jesus. They have reached the tipping point. No amount of counter evidence will convince them. This is Conspiracy Theory 101 §1.2. Take note, students. It’s going to be on the quiz.

Oliver cruelly reminds viewers of what is known. In June 2016 Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting in  Trump Tower with a Russian agent who promised to provide dirt on candidate Clinton.

The hard facts available to us are not the result of any deep state intrusion into a political campaign, nor are they the result of an aggressive FBI investigation. We know these things because Donald Trump Jr., oldest son of the current president, tweeted this information out, from which it was picked up and published in a major newspaper.

Hannity has a masterful comeback to that bit of news.

He proudly reveals that a Russian-American lobbyist at the Trump Tower meeting reports knows Hillary Clinton and associates.

Score for Hannity! Not quite. Supposedly Hillary Clinton sent a Russian agent to a meeting with the aim of spilling incriminating evidence on herself. Oliver properly catalogs this response as the “shittiest conspiracy theory ever.” And I did not even realize this was supposed to be a contest.

Putting it all together, Hillary Clinton, her good friend Trey Gowdy, and the FBI, engaged in a dark  plot to sabotage the Trump campaign. Pardon me while I take a break and have another beer.

If this explanation is correct, then a massive conspiracy involved diverse people and agencies working diligently to cost Trump the election. Then came the time to implement it and they all took vacation. Yes, I believe that. I believe it. I think.

But wait! Please do not come at me with pitchforks and blazing torches, but I have horrendous news for you. It works. All this finagling with the truth and all this carpet bombing the airwaves with cockamamie conjectures actually convinces a large segment of the population. Clips from [apparently] an Emory University focus group study record remarks from adult American  citizens.

They call it a farce, created by the deep state.

It was a witch-hunt to overturn the election. All of this stuff that they say Trump did, they are finding out the Democrats did.

It’s been going on for a year and a half. They found nothing. She told … Oh, there’s something, there’s something. We’ll find it, we’ll find it. There’s nothing.

I hope you are sleeping better tonight. Don’t let me keep you awake.

Oliver likens it to the O.J. Simpson defense, which relied on discrediting parts of the state’s case and then convincing jurors the remainder of the case was similarly flawed. Trump supporters, including a major American news outlet, work with immense energy to keep the story alive while it gradually sinks in.

Oliver leaves us wondering whether, when it is all done, and Donald Trump skates free of any jail time, he will recapitulate O.J. and publish a tell-some book titled “If I Did It.” I will wait for the Kindle edition.

The intelligence community’s investigation continues, and Robert Mueller continues to bring charges and to prosecute people. Despite having President Trump and many others refer to this work as a witch-hunt, Mueller’s team continues to find offenses that require prosecution. At least one party so charged has already served his term in jail.

American intelligence has established credibility for their findings related to Russian efforts to undermine our electoral process and also to compromise the American president. The Steele dossier, which surfaced late in the 2016 election cycle, details Russian efforts to influence Donald Trump, and many of the allegations included in it have good confirmation. Other parts have not, including a humorous section after which this series is titled:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

The vision of a future American President, paying to watch prostitutes pee on a bed in an upscale Moscow hotel would have been difficult to summon up scant years ago. Times have changed, and the Golden Shower is now a meme I promote at every opportunity. I hoist it as a banner against the oft-cited basket of deplorables that allowed themselves to be manipulated by a foreign government to elect the sorriest piece of humanity to ever lead our country. My fondest hope is that when these people close their eyes for the last time, this is the vision what remains burned into their retinas. And that’s just me being gracious.

Dying to Believe

Number 109 in a series

Jesus works in mysterious ways and in many disguises. Such as in this case:

Pastor killed by crocodile during water baptism

A water baptism ceremony held near a lake turned into a horrific tragedy when the pastor was reportedly grabbed by a crocodile Sunday.

Pastor Docho Eshete was baptizing at least 80 members of his Protestant congregation at Lake Abaya, in southern Ethiopia, an area known to have a huge crocodile population, when one of the creatures leaped out of the water and grabbed him.

“He baptized the first person and he passed on to another one,” a local resident told the BBC. “All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor.”

Jesus wanted him to come home, right now.

Quiz Question

Each color in the above diagram represents a separate piece of a puzzle. Rearrange the pieces to form the figure below.

The images are to scale, so you can print the top one and cut the pieces apart to work the puzzle. Scan your solution and post the image as your solution. Use the comments section below.

Update and solution

Two people have proposed solutions. I printed the puzzle out and cut out the pieces. I was unable to solve it sitting at the breakfast table, I was when I went to the puzzle’s Web site and used their interactive controls to manipulate the pieces. Here is what I came up with.

Here is Helen’s solution.

Mike proposed a solution. See the comment below.

The Government You Paid For

Number 36 of a Series

Americans need to know they are finally getting the government they paid for. People ask me for examples—actually they don’t ask me for examples, but imagine they did—and I like to respond by pointing to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, there are not many people who can do Sanders’ job. There are not many who can stand straight-faced to a hostile gaggle of news types and tell it like it isn’t. Sometimes it is not a matter of facing reporters en masse, but a matter of going one-on-one before a live audience. Take the case of Sanders’ interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo a few days back. CNN has graciously put up a transcript, an excerpt of which follows:

SANDERS: I can’t imagine why attacking a president who has strengthened our economy, built better foreign relations, put national security back on the forefront, and made America respected again, made us feared again by — and friends of our allies, I just — I find it laughable that Chuck Schumer would find things wrong with the direction of the country is going right now

Here’s a screen shot from the interview as it ran on YouTube.

“I can’t imagine why attacking a president who has strengthened our economy, built better foreign relations, put national security back on the forefront, and made America respected again, made us feared again by — and friends of our allies…” All except for the better foreign relations, the making America respected again, and the friends of our allies part.

I’m already beginning to feel more comfortable with the government I paid for.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Back to Amazon Prime Video (these screen shots) for another bad movie, and this is not really old old one. It’s The Sand from 2015, and you know it’s going to be a teenage slasher movie from the opening scenes. Details are from Wikipedia.

Yes, we see a wild spring break party on a beach at night, and all stops are out. There is massive drinking, hijinks, and screwing of another girl’s boyfriend. We’ve all been there. You have? What’s it like?

A huge egg-like object casts up on the beach, arousing some curiosity and thereafter ignored.

Until the morning. Kaylee (Brooke Butler) is the first to come around, and the sun is already up. She’s finished the night in the lifeguard shack with Mitch (Mitchel Musso). When she looks around everybody else is gone except for her boyfriend Jonah (Dean Geyer), who is ensconced in the front seat of a convertible with another girl, Chandra (Meagan Holder). Another couple are in the back seat.

Marsha (Nikki Leigh) has spent the night close to nature on top of a picnic table. She is the first to die, except for those already missing. Kaylee is the one with the brains, and she spots the problem when the sand devours a bird. She suspects there’s something wrong with the sand, and she shouts warnings. Marsha ignores this good advice and steps onto  the sand, only to have her body dissolved into the sand.

During the night Gilbert (Cleo Berry) got really drunk, and they painted a dick on his face and stuffed him in a trash barrel, where his massive hulk has become stuck.

The boy in the back seat of the car gets out and is devoured. Jonah figures he has found a way to get across the sand and to freedom by placing two surfboards, one after the other, on the sand. But in his last stretch to reach the table the sand shifts the board he is standing on, and tendrils reach up from the sand and infest his abdomen. He does not die, but he reaches the top of the table with horrendous injuries.

Since the partiers had the foresight to lock their cell phones in the car trunk (to prevent the evening’s festivities appearing on YouTube), they cannot phone for help. Fortunately Rex (Jamie Kennedy), the beach patrol commander, arrives in his patrol car, but he is a total shit head, and the kids tell him so. He does not believe their story about the sand until it devours him alive.

Eventually the sand gets everybody else except Kaylee and Chandra, and they make it to the patrol car, taking Jonah with them. At night the creature in the sand attacks again, this time with enormous octopus tentacles. Kaylee defeats the sand thing by pouring gasoline on it and  throwing in a book of lighted matches.

Come daylight another person drops by and raps on the window. Jonah is dead, and the sand is free of the menace. Another closing shot appears to be an aerial view of Santa Monica Pier. Wikipedia tells me the creature is revealed as a giant jellyfish, retreating back  to the ocean and in search of another beach full of people.

And that’s the plot. If the writers had wanted to stretch it they could have gotten into how the survivors explain what happened to all the others, but that would not have been much excitement. Wikipedia further calls attention to “Blood Beach – a 1981 film with a similar premise.” What we have is a great opportunity to ogle college girls in skimpy outfits and even some bare tits. That aside, the production could have done with better F/X. Depictions of people being consumed by the sand often employ some local image blurring, which we are supposed to assume is what it looks like when a human body dissolves. Sub par for a 21st century production. This was distributed by Taylor and Dodge.

The Golden Shower

Number 32 of a Series

Up front I need to state that as far as I know there is no confirmation that the most salacious part of the Steele dossier is true. However, I would be surprised if it were not. As much as I regret having to  recapitulate the sordid details, I will do it again as a matter of perspective:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

Most readers will agree with me that the vision of a president of the United States paying prostitutes to pee on a bed in a swanky Moscow hotel while he watched is hard to imagine. At least it was hard to imagine until recently. Not so hard anymore. Weekly developments bring the vision into sharper focus.

Start with an episode of the Rachel Maddow Show that ran on MSNBC yesterday. I like to catch these as they stream on YouTube. I can put them up on my computer and capture screen shots to illustrate. That’s what you see above. The link to this clip has gone stale, removed by the user, but you may be able to find another clip, perhaps posted by MSNBC. I will tell this story by putting up screen shots from YouTube and from a few other sources, adding my comments.

First, Paul Manafort, who served as the Donald Trump Campaign manager from June to August 2016. He had served in the Trump campaign since March 2016, agreeing to work for free. In June Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and gave the job to Manafort. On 6 June, the same month Manafort took the campaign manager job, he attended a meeting in Trump Tower in New York along with others in the campaign. The meeting was originally proposed by a Russian lawyer promising to provide dirt on Trump’s presumptive opponent, Hillary Clinton.

By August of  2016 word about Manafort’s association with Russian authorities seeped into  the Trump campaign, and his influence began to evaporate. He tendered his resignation, which resignation Donald Trump accepted on 19 August. Since that time it has come to light that the feds had been investigating Paul Manafort long before his association with the Trump campaign. As facts continue to unfold, Manafort’s eagerness to work for the Trump campaign without pay begin to make more sense.

Manafort had for years worked as a lobbyist for Russian interests, all the while failing to register this detail with the government, as required by law. A principal activity had been to champion the case for now deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He had additional Russian interests, as well. One of those interests was Oleg V. Deripaska (see above):

He was once Russia’s richest man, worth $28 billion, but nearly lost everything due to mounting debts amid the 2007–08 financial crisis. As of May 2017, his wealth was estimated by Forbes at $5.2 billion. Deripaska is also known for his close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as his connection to American political consultant Paul Manafort, whom Deripaska employed from at least 2005 to 2009.

Whatever the dealings between the two, word is that Manafort wound up in debt to Deripaska to the tune of $19 million. From The New York Times as posted by Rachel Maddow. The headline reads, “Manafort Was in Debt to  Pro-Russia Interests, Cyprus Records Show.”

Oleg V. Deripaska…claimed Mr. Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million.

I have experienced debt, and I agree it can weigh heavily. I cannot imagine, however, the weight of owing $19 million to  a person such as Oleg. V. Deripaska, an associate of Vladimir Putin. In  the video, Rachel Maddow allows as how this is the kind of thing that would keep her awake at night. Anyhow, a presumption is that Manafort saw that the close association with a winning presidential campaign would work wonders toward clearing up his strain with g. Deripaska. In the video Rachel Maddow puts up graphics chronicling the chain of events involving Paul Manafort and the investigation of his activities by the FBI, which obtained warrants to  monitor his communications. The Washington Post ran the story detailing some of those findings:

Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire private briefings on 2016 campaign.

The Atlantic posed the question, “Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally?”

From The Atlantic:

On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

MSNBC relates snippets of exchanges between Manafort and Kilimnik, as obtained from The Atlantic:

“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right” Manafort wrote.

“Absolutely,” Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev.

“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asks. “Has OVD operation seen?”

I cannot account for the grammar, but it appears Manafort is inquiring whether the contemplated dealings would settle, at least partly, his debt to “OVD,” meaning Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska.

“Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD,” Kilimnik responded in April

“I am carefully optimistic on the issue of our biggest interest,” Kilimnik went on. “Our friend V said there is lately significantly more attention to the campaign in his boss’s mind, and he will be most likely looking for ways to reach out to you pretty soon, understanding all the time sensitivity.”

“I am more than sure that it will be resolved and we will get back to the original relationship with V.’s boss.” The source close to Manafort confirmed that “V” is a reference to Victor, the Deripaska aide.

Manafort jumped on the suggestion that the campaign might offer the opportunity to restore his relationship with Deripaska: “Tell V boss that if he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” he wrote back eight minutes later.

“We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you. He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation …

It has to do about the future of his country, and is quite interesting… please let me know which dates/places will work, even next week, and I could come and see you.”

Manafort agreed to the cryptic request, responding “Tuesday is best.” Manafort and Kilimnik met on August 2 at the Grand Havana Club, a Manhattan cigar club.

Kilimnik has said the two discussed “unpaid bills” and “current news.”

In case there is any doubt, here is this same Paul Manafort in cozy association with the future president and the future president’s daughter. This happy scene shortly shattered when Manafort was forced to leave the Trump campaign and also to lose his leverage with “OVD”

Cut loose from his any support he hoped to gain through the Trump campaign, Manafort was left dangling in the wind, still heavily in debt, under increasing scrutiny from federal agencies. His fortunes continue to spiral downward.

It’s worth while at this point to flesh out the character of Konstantin Kilimnik. From 1995 to 2005, Kilimnik was employed by the International Republican Institute, an organization funded by the United States Government to promote democratic ideals and operating in Russia and in other places. Wikipedia has some background on g. Kilimnik:

Konstantin Kilimnik is a Russian-Ukrainian political consultant and suspected Russian intelligence operative. As an associate of Paul Manafort his activities have become a point of focus in the 2017 Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Kilimnik is believed by CNN and The New York Times to be “Person A” listed in court documents filed against Manafort and alleging Person A to either have ties to Russian intelligence agencies or to be a Russian intelligence operative. He is also believed to be Person A in court documents filed in the criminal indictment of Alex van der Zwaan. In 2017 Kilimnik denied any such intelligence ties.[1] Kilimnik was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury on June 8, 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by attempting to tamper with a witness on behalf of Manafort.

From Politico, as posted by Rachel Maddow:

Kilimnik bounced around a bit, doing freelance translating, until eventually landing a job in  1995 in the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute.

The IRI knew of Kilimnik’s past association with Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik did not hide his military past from his new employer. In fact, when he was asked how he learned to speak such fluent English, he responded “Russian military intelligence,” according to one IRI official.

“It was like ‘Kostya, the guy from the GRU’ — that’s how we talked about him”

The GRU is:

Main Intelligence Directorate (RussianГла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ниеtr. Glavnoye razvedyvatel’noye upravleniyeIPA: [ˈglavnəjə rɐzˈvʲɛdɨvətʲɪlʲnəjə ʊprɐˈvlʲenʲɪjə]), abbreviated GRU (RussianГРУIPA: [geeˈru]), was the foreign military intelligence agency of the Soviet Army General Staff of the Soviet Union.

The fact of his training in military intelligence became the stuff of office teasing. When Kostya struggled to make sense of some American political terminology, the American official who hired him  would josh him about his martial past.

Note: “Kostya” is the diminutive form of his first name, “Konstantin.” The Russians do that a lot. For example, Ivan becomes Vanya. Tatiana becomes Tania.

“If I had you translate ‘There are seven tanks and three infantry with heavy mortar hiding on a bridge,’ you could translate that lickety-split, I bet.” According to the American  official, Kilimnik would wink and say, “Oh yeah, I could translate that real fast.”

The New York Times ran a story under the headline, “He says He’s an Innocent Victim. Robert Mueller Says He’s a Spy.”

They didn’t have evidence, but suspected Mr Kilimnik had been the source

When the IRI discovered in 2005 that g. Kilimnik was also working for Paul Manafort, they promptly fired him. Subsequently a Russian politician rose in their parliament to denounce the IRI, and he used statements made during a private IRI meeting. It is presumed that Kilimnik, in a fit of spite, leaked the conversation to the Russian parliamentarian.

Since his failed lunge for the brass ring two years ago, Manafort’s fortunes have spiraled increasingly downward. He is under indictment on multiple charges and is confined to his house under $10 million bail. A condition of his bail is that he quit doing all this bad stuff and otherwise behave himself. He failed at this, as well, being caught by the feds communicating with associates and attempting to get them to lie for him. Subsequent to reading these surreptitious dialogues, Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors filed additional charges of witness tampering and asked that federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia revoke his bail and send him immediately to jail:

Manafort has violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1) by attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release.

Meanwhile, the President, who jumped at Manafort’s offer of free service, with nary a thought of checking on his background, has since been working to distance himself from the scandal.

The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he…

….came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!

Fast forward and we now have a person who has access to the nuclear codes and who continues to run the country with the same attention to detail he employed in his previous endeavors. At this juncture who cares that he once paid prostitutes to pee on a bed. If only we could get  him back to that point.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Sam was the owner of a world-wide chain of stores and a multi-millionaire. When his daughter became engaged to a very religious young man, Sam called the prospective groom into his office for a chat.

“Tell me,” Sam asked the fiancée, “what are your plans for the future?”

“I plan on spending the remainder of my life studying the holy works,” the man replied.

“And, given this, how do you expect to support my daughter?” Sam continued.

“I am sure the Lord will provide,” was the answer.

“And what about your children? How do you expect to support them?” Sam persisted.

“The Lord will provide,” was the answer.

After the interview Sam met with his wife. “What do you think of your future son-in-law?” she asked.

“He’s just great,” responded Sam. I only met him, and already he thinks I’m the Lord.

The Government You Paid For

Number 35 of a Series

As I have mentioned before, I am so glad we are finally getting the government we paid for. That said, it’s time to turn our attention to one who daily puts service to the American public front and center on a daily basis.

On Wednesday CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, now moved to prime time, was down to the nation’s capital, and he interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She’s really just Sarah Sanders, being married to Mr. Bryan Sanders, but I like to insert her maiden name to remind us she is descended from former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. My observation has been that in this case the apple did not fall far from the tree, but that’s a matter for another story.

Anyhow, Mrs. Sanders has done an admirable job of speaking on behalf of President Trump since last year, when she took over for Sean Spicer, who had a tendency to wilt under the pressure. Apparently you can stand only so long telling reporters that it is so when all the while they know that it is not so. Saying it is so when it is not seems to be built into Sanders’ DNA, a definite requirement for the job. Take the above screen shot from Cuomo’s Wednesday night show. Before getting around to talking with Mrs. Sanders he cruelly put up a video, apparently of remarks she made on Monday regarding the low esteem the administration holds for mainstream media. She is quoted as saying of these news hawkers, “My credibility is probably higher.”

See what I mean? Sean Spicer, the previous press secretary, was able to make such statements, to his credit, but there was the perception he was having difficulty keeping a straight face. And, as I have said, he soon wilted and had to be pulled. Historically, Mrs. Sanders has stood firm and unblinking going on for nearly a year. Pardon the expression, but the lady has balls. This is one of those cases that require further analysis.

To begin with, the statement, “My credibility is probably higher,” could be misinterpreted. Without forewarning, the casual listener would be tempted to fill out the unsaid portion. To give an example, listeners might presume to reconstruct the statement like this: “Compared to Willie Sutton, my credibility is probably higher.” That was the thought that came to my mind, along with the thought that the conclusion is debatable.

Anyhow, Chris Cuomo’s segment runs over 19 minutes on YouTube, and CNN has been kind to post a transcript on-line, saving my having to run the tape back and forth to pick up snatches of the conversation. It’s interesting to examine a few excerpts. Here is one:

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The most visible member of the administration outside of the president himself is Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and she is here.

Sarah, it is good to see you.


CUOMO: I respect you taking the opportunity.

SANDERS: Thank you. Thanks for being in D.C.

CUOMO: Well, I came for you.

What do you think about this as a positive pivot? Let’s take a look at this situation and see if we can get to a place, mutual respect, both sides think credibility counts, and we move forward. What do you say?

SANDERS: All right. We’ll give it a shot.

Yeah, and that just about does it for the pleasantries for much of the remainder.

They begin by talking about the meeting at Trump Tower in New York on 9 June 2016 between members of the Trump campaign team and a Russian lawyer who promised to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. Trump campaign members attending included campaign manager Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.

Records of the meeting preparations came to light, and there was an element of embarrassment. Trump Jr. attempted to put our minds at ease by asserting the meeting was not about Clinton, rather it concerned the adoption of Russian orphans. That was obviously a lie.

It was suspected that President Trump issued a statement for Trump Jr. to unload on pesky reporters. When these suspicions were voiced, the White House, in the person of Mrs. Sanders pushed back:

On August 1, at the next day’s White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that Trump “certainly didn’t dictate, but … he weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do”

As we now know, that didn’t wash, despite reassurances from President Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulov:

On July 16, 2017, in an NBC interview Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulov again said that Donald Trump did not draft the response and was not involved in the drafting of the statement.

Rather than continuing to bore you with the lengthy history, the lie has now been put to rest:

(CNN) – In a confidential letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, President Donald Trump’s legal team acknowledged for the first time that Trump “dictated” the first misleading statement put out about his son’s controversial 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.

And that’s the lead-in to the following exchange between Cuomo and Sanders:

CUOMO: All right. Where’s the sticking point? This meeting matters, you know it does. I understand the reference to counsel. I get it. Not just because I’m an attorney, but you don’t want to answer for the lawyers, you don’t want to answer for an operation that you’re not a part of. I get it.

But you can answer for what you said. You don’t have to refer to counsel for that. Sekulow is not your lawyer. He’s the president’s lawyer. You’re saying, he didn’t dictate this. He did what any father would do.

That turns out not to be true. You agree with that?

SANDERS: Once again, I know I answered this question on Monday. I answered it on Tuesday, and I’m going to answer it the same way today and you’re probably not going to like it anymore on Wednesday than it sounds like you liked it on Monday or Tuesday. But this is a legal matter and the appropriate individuals to answer questions on a legal matter are the outside counsel.

And I would direct you to them. And frankly, I did direct you to them. And you had them here on your set and asked them that question and I would refer you back to that statement.

See? That’s why Sanders makes the big bucks. She can stare a reporter in the face and say she already answered that question, which she did not do, and she will refer you back to an original statement in which she did not answer the question but instead referred back to another source, which source she observes is not covered by her job title, and that’s that, and you can take your silly questions and stick them where the sun does not shine.

There’s a lot more, and here’s a part of what gives me the most joy:

CUOMO: Let’s look at it a different way. Do you wish that the White House had corrected the error between where it started and where it wound up with Sekulow in this letter sooner?

SANDERS: I wish that we spent a lot less time focused on things the American people don’t care about. I wish we spent a lot less time talking about this witch hunt and that we talked about things that impact everyday Americans. I wish we spent a lot more time talking about the economy.

I wish that your network had spent a lot more time today covering a very important piece of legislation that the president signed when he spent a good bit of time this afternoon talking about the importance of Veterans Choice Act that he signed into law today. And your network didn’t even take that.

I wish those were the things that we spent time talking about that.

That’s right. We should be talking about the economy and the veterans bill just signed. Except that… Except, lady, your house is on fire! Don’t you think we should talk about that?

Truth be told, I do miss Sean Spicer. He squirmed so deliciously. Sanders, to my simultaneous dismay and wonder, pastes on that smile of self-righteous certitude and reminds us that we are wrong, and she is right. Move over, Willie Sutton.

This is your President speaking.

Number 114 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

When and where will all of the many conflicts of interest be listed by the 13 Angry Democrats (plus) working on the Witch Hunt Hoax. There has never been a group of people on a case so biased or conflicted. It is all a Democrat Excuse for LOSING the Election. Where is the server?

At long last we have a president willing to speak up on issues of most importance to the American people. Keep talking. We are listening.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 114).

Remember to always keep your weapon ready for the times you will need it to protect your family:

(CNN) —An Indiana man faces charges for leaving a loaded gun in the car with his family as he shopped, after his 3-year-old daughter accidentally shot her mother, police said.

Shanique Thomas, the woman who was shot, told police she was unaware that Menzo Brazier, 21, was carrying his weapon when they left their residence in Michigan City, Indiana.
Remember, the NRA instructs responsible gun owners that if they have plans for leaving a loaded gun in a car while they are shopping, they should instruct their young child to not shoot her mother under any circumstances. I hope everybody has the message by now.

This is your President speaking.

Number 113 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch. “They were running an operation to undermine a candidate for President of the U.S. These are all violations of law. This is intelligence tradecraft to steer an election. There’s nothing more grave when it comes to abuse of our intelligence system…

…This is a level of criminality beyond the pale. This is such a grave abuse of power and authority, it’s like nothing else we’ve seen in our history. This makes the Nixon Watergate burglary look like keystone cop stuff

Mr. President, speaking of a Keystone Cop operation

Don’t drop the soap.

Number 7 in a Series

This is turning out to be a theme that will get a lot of use. Instead of beginning to cool down as a certain Schlemiel-in-Chief seems to want, the matter continues to heat up. Readers still puzzling over the meaning, “Don’t drop the soap,” need to pause for a moment and reflect. Those who have spent time in stir do not need to reflect. They know this is good advice. It’s good advice for former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has for months appeared to be headed that way, all the while working to step on  the brakes. More recently he has succeeded in pushing down harder on the gas.

The story is best illustrated by its telling on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, streaming on Hulu, and also The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC streaming on YouTube, where I obtained these screen shots. There is some history.

More than two years ago Paul Manafort advanced himself for the job of managing candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. He offered to do it without pay, which is remarkable in itself. Subsequent events indicate the offer was not so remarkable. It was a time when Manafort was getting stretched thin and needed a way to painlessly recoup. The Trump campaign may have seemed to be Manafort’s opportunity to gain political access, said access being beneficial to his need to unload some financial reverses.

What should have been a slick move by Manafort turned out to be, according to O’Donnell, the worst decision by either of the parties. Association with the Trump campaign exposed Mr. Manafort to scrutiny of a special prosecutor investigating attempts by the Russian government of Vladimir Putin to influence the 2016 election:

The FBI reportedly began a criminal investigation into Manafort in 2014, shortly after Yanukovich was deposed. That investigation predated the 2016 election by several years and is ongoing. In addition, Manafort is also a person of interest in the FBI counterintelligence probe looking into the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On January 19, 2017, the eve of the Trump’s presidential inauguration, it was reported that Manafort was under active investigation by multiple federal agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Director of National Intelligence and the financial crimes unit of the Treasury Department.Investigations were said to be based on intercepted Russian communications as well as financial transactions. It was later confirmed that Manafort was wiretapped by the FBI “before and after the [2016] election … including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.” The surveillance of Manafort began in 2014, before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of United States.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed on May 17, 2017 by the Justice Department to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and related matters, took over the existing criminal probe involving Manafort. On July 26, 2017, the day after Manafort’s United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing and the morning of his planned hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, FBI agents at Mueller’s direction conducted a “no-knock” pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, in regard to the Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Manafort’s legal situation eventually slimed the Trump campaign, something his August 2016 departure could not cure. But why? O’Donnell reminds us, “It’s the money, stupid.”

Manafort needed money from foreign sources, which he could get by leveraging his access to a new president, and Donald Trump figured to save a seven-figure fee for a campaign manager.

It all began to come unhinged when federal prosecutors started to investigate a suspicious meeting in June 2016, a meeting that involved, among others, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was promising to provide dirt on Trump’s presumptive opponent in the presidential election. The feds had already been tracking Manafort, due to his unregistered lobbying for foreign interests and also due to transactions that smacked of money laundering.

Apparently special prosecutor Robert Mueller started to consider pushing hard on Manafort with the aim at getting him to unload any inside information he might have on Trump campaign misbehavings.

A number of people associated with either President Trump or with Paul Manafort, or both, have already been prosecuted. Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos has already been sentenced after entering a guilty plea for giving false testimony. He is the one who initiated the investigatin when he bragged about dealings with the Russians. Manafort business associate Rick Gates has entered a guilty plea, as well. Manafort, to the contrary, asserts his innocence, but he is currently under house arrest on unsecured $10 million bail and wearing two ankle bracelets. The problem is, Manafort appears to have violated the terms of his bail, and will likely be off to jail while awaiting trial.

Conditions of Manafort’s bail include minor restrictions, such as not committing any more crimes. Apparently Manafort’s lawyers forgot to stress this point. Neither did they alert him that while he whiled away his time under house arrest the feds would obtain warrants to monitor his communications. Maybe that’s why he figured he could get away with collaborating with potential witnesses against him. A filing sent to federal judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia notes Manafort’s observed transgressions.

Manafort has violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1) by attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release.

Manafort and Person A — who is a longtime associate of Manafort’s — repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group.

“Hapsburg Group” is the name given to the team that sought to gain favor for the now-deposed government of Ukraine.

Manafort called Person D1 on Persons [sic] D1’s cellular phone. Person D1 sought to avoid Manafort, so Person D1 ended the call…. Manafort also sent Person D1 a text message on an encrypted application, stating “This is paul [sic].”

Manafort used the same encrpted application nto send Person D1 a news article describing the Superseding Indictment’s allegations concerning the Hapsburg group, which included the statement that

two European politicians were secretly paid around [$2 million] by Manafort in order  to ‘take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.'” One minute after sending the news article,

Manafort wrote: “We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe.” … Person D1 has told the government that he understood Manafort’s outreach to be an effort to “suborn perjury,” because Person D1 knew that the Hapsburg group worked in the United States — not just Europe.

“Suborn” is a term I would be unfamiliar with had I not watched so many trial room dramas on TV. Here’s the definition from an on-line dictionary:

bribe or otherwise induce (someone) to commit an unlawful act such as perjury.
“he was accused of conspiring to suborn witnesses”

Some of the details of Manafort’s communications are posted on-line:

Judge Jackson is expected to rule on 15 June whether Paul Manafort goes directly to jail. If he does, and if he is subsequently convicted and sentenced for his previously-charged crimes, it would be bad news of the worst kind. The man is 69 years old. He’s looking at a life sentence, even if convicted only of the jury tampering charge.

In the meantime, the President of the United States is weighing in.

The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself…I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined…and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!

Mr. President, you will be well advised to take a lesson from your former partner in  politics. Forget for a moment about digging yourself deeper, and keep one thing in mind for the future. Don’t drop the soap.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

It’s sometimes nice watching a movie you’ve seen before. This is Rear Window, but it’s from 1998 instead of Rear Window from 1954. Sixty-four years ago Alfred Hitchcock hatched his plot with James Stewart as the action photographer laid up with a broken leg, whiling away his days watching his neighbors out the rear window of his Greenwich Village apartment. Now it’s Christopher Reeve as a quadriplegic architect in much the same situation. This is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

We see the opening scene, and we know exactly what is going to happen. A car is speeding down a dark and winding road. Oh, Jesus. Somebody stop this. But the plot cannot be rewritten, and the woman fumbles with her cell phone as her car drifts across the double yellow line.

Eventually that gets around to Jason Kemp (Reeve), a prisoner of his wheelchair while he is comforted by his ex-wife, worried about her alimony.

But Jason gains enough mobility to  resume work for his architectural firm, which work he accomplishes from  his apartment. He whiles away his down time watching his neighbors out his rear window.

His firm has hired a new partner to work with him to complete the project he had been working. She’s Claudia Henderson (Daryl Hannah), and she’s almost as sexy as Grace Kelly.

Just as 64 years ago, there is a married couple living across the air shaft, and they are continually fighting. He’s a sculptor, producing massive steel works in his adjacent studio. She’s a blond bombshell alcoholic. When he begins to knock her around, Jason phones 911. The police come and arrest the sculptor, but he bails out and returns to the apartment.

There is a dark and lonely night, and Jason, unable to sleep, hears screams and sees the flashes of light as lots of welding goes on across the way. The next morning the wife is gone. Yeah, you’ve seen this movie before. A portage company comes and hauls off a large steel sculptor.

Jason phones his policeman friend, the one who worked the case of his fatal collision. He is Detective Charlie Moore (Robert Forster), and he is skeptical of Jason’s suspicions. As 64 years before, he checks out the disappearance of the wife and reports back that she went off to Rhode Island for a few days. He phoned there and talked to her. Then she returns to the apartment, but much changed.

It’s not the same woman. Claudia is sure of it. When she left she did not take her jewelry and her perfume. What woman doesn’t do that? Almost word for word from Grace Kelly. So Jason stirs the pot, sending anonymous emails to the sculptor (Ritchie Coster). That gets things going, and in the absence of Raymond Burr, the sculptor pays Jason a visit in the middle of the night. He has in mind eliminating Jason as a witness.

But help arrives in the form of Jason’s caretaker Antonio Fredericks (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) and finally Detective Moore.

The sculptor goes to trial, but they have not been able to find the body, because they have not been able to find the sculpture. Then Jason’s building project is completed, and Claudia cuts the ribbon. The coverings fall back revealing, the sculpture.

Not so fast. They still do not find the body, and the case against the sculptor goes on without a corpus delicti. Meanwhile, Claudia has acquired an affinity for Jason, and they two get romantic, with the expectation that in the future modern medical science will enable their relationship to become physical.

The movie ends with the camera zooming in on what appears to be the sculpture of interest. The director wants to leave the mystery hanging.

This was Reeve’s first film after his 1995 crippling accident. He ultimately died from his injuries in 2004. Wendell Corey played the cop in Hitchcock’s film, and Thelma Ritter was dynamite as his caretaker.

This is your President speaking.

Number 112 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!

I declare, this new president continues to set new levels of discourse, unseen in the office for more than a century. Will this become the standard?

Dying to Believe

Number 108 in a series

Homeopathy has stalked the human population for over 220 years, leaving disappointment and death in its wake. In The BMJ Pascal Delaunay and others write under the naive title “Homoeopathy may not be effective in preventing malaria.”

editor—The homoeopathic principle that like should be cured with like is not always advisable,1 as illustrated in this case report.

A 40 year old woman took two holidays a year in tropical countries. After experiencing digestive disorders with conventional prophylactic drugs she decided to seek medical advice from a homoeopath for her forthcoming holiday in Togo. Two homeopathic drugs were prescribed: Ledum palustre 5 CH (Boiron, Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France) as one granule daily and Malaria officinalis 4 CH (Schmidt-Nagel, Meyrin, Switzerland) as a single dose on the day before departure.

Ledum palustre 5 CH can be purchased in any French pharmacy and is usually taken to prevent insect bites or to reduce allergic reactions and pruritus. Malaria officinalis 4 CH is unavailable in France and therefore was bought by mail order. The preparation is taken “against malaria” as the doctor or patient sees fit. It is made from “African swamp water containing impurities, algae and plants as well as mosquito slough, larvae and eggs.” Furthermore, “the manufacturer, who has performed no clinical trials on this drug, declines all responsibility regarding its use.” No instructions are supplied, and the destination of the journey and duration of the stay are not taken into account.

Five days after returning to France with a fever (39°C), the patient sought medical advice from her homoeopath. Results of a blood smear test for malaria parasites were negative; haemoglobin concentration was 13.9 g/l and platelet count 160 000 per mm3. She took homoeopathic drugs with vitamins, and a few days later antibiotic treatment was started. Ten days after the first medical visit she felt worse. Her temperature had risen to 41°C and her haemoglobin concentration was 10.6 g/l and platelet count 66 000 per mm3. She was admitted to hospital, where she was investigated for bacterial infection but not malaria. Four days later she was admitted with neurological disorders to the intensive care unit at this hospital. An emergency search for malaria showed the presence of Plasmodium falciparum (parasitaemia 7%). For two months she received intensive care for multiple organ system failure due to P falciparum.

My own experience is that homeopathy is immensely popular in France, where there seem to be shops touting homéopathie on every street. The most notorious exponent of homeopathy in the late 20th century was Jacques Benveniste, who late in life came to propose that powers of homeopathy could be transmitted over the Internet.

This is your President speaking.

Number 111 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“John Brennan, no single figure in American history has done more to discredit the intelligence community than this liar. Not only is he a liar, he’s a liar about being a liar.” Dan Bongino on

Mr. President, I believe you have answered your own question.

Quiz Question

This one is on the Internet, so no fair going to Google.

Three people are gathered in a room, and the puzzle master sticks a number on the forehead of each. Each can see the numbers on the foreheads of the other two, but nobody can see what’s on his own forehead. Here are the conditions of the three numbers, A, B, And C.

  • A + B = C
  • A > 0
  • B > 0
  • C > 0
  • All the numbers are different.

All there contestants are have perfect logic, and all know this fact and also the conditions stated above..

The puzzle master turns to person number 1 and says, “Look at the other two, and tell me what number is on your forehead.” Person 1 looks at the other two, and he sees 20 on one and 30 on the other. He says he is unable.

Same for person 2. He is unable.

Same for person 3. He is unable.

The puzzle master returns to  person 1. He announces what number he has on his forehead. What is that number? Post your answer in the comments section below.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

You knew it was coming sooner or later, and here it is: Escape From New York, the poster child for bad movies and now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. It’s by science fiction writer John Carpenter, and  it stars Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, a hard-boiled former special forces guy turned bad and now headed for the slam. This came out in 1981 through AVCO Embassy Pictures. I will give just a few highlights.

It’s the bad new days, and America’s crime rate has soared 400%. The government response is naturally to construct a bigger stalag to hold them. They have chosen Manhattan Island, making viewers wonder why the idea took this long. The rule is, you go in, you never come out. The opposite shorelines are walled off and manned with guards carrying furious firepower. We see an escape attempt by boat thwarted through the use of air-to-ground missiles.

Snake is being prepped to enter the land of lost and forgotten men (and women).

But wait! Drama develops. The President’s plane is hijacked and flown into a Manhattan skyscraper. Remember,  you saw this plot device first here. Before impact the president, with a mysterious valise chained to his wrist, is ejected inside an escape pod, and the prisoners capture him alive.

Well, the government has to get him back, because in 24 hours he will participate in a conference that will save the world from nuclear annihilation, and the critical item is an audio tape the President carries inside the valise.

Snake lands a glider atop on of the World Trade Center towers and makes his way to the street below, where it’s Mad Max on steroids, which answers the question of whether this scene was stolen from Mel Gibson, or was it the other way around. It turns out that Gibson’s dystopic setting came later, in 1985, and so was possibly inspired by Escape. The two films share other plot devices.

Of course, Snake does not immediately confront the President’s captors and hustle him back to the land of the midnight nuclear attack. There has to be some excitement first. And there is. Snake runs into a litany of prior acquaintances, who persistently ask upon spying his face, “I thought you were dead.”

Possibly Mad Max producers got a load of their ideas from this movie. Here Snake is compelled to defeat the reigning ruffian in a gladiator fight to the death before a screaming mob of social outcasts.

But he wins the fight, rescues the President, and, with the help of others, including a cab driver played by Ernest Borgnine. He escapes across the heavily-mined 69th Street Bridge (originally designed for railroad traffic) and delivers the President and the tape, which was so desperately needed to save the world. The man, now cleaned up and re-suited, stands before the TV cameras and delivers his presentation. And he plays the tape. But Snake has substituted the right tape for one he found inside the escape cab, and the man can only stand and grimace as “Bandstand Boogie” belts out to his audience.

No bad deed ever goes unrewarded and Escape from L.A. came out in 1996, the year prior to the setting of this movie and with Russell again playing the role of escape artist.