Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thimk, damn it! No no, thimk harder!

This painting, hanging in the lobby of a Trader Joe’s supermarket
in Manhattan, purports to be a New York street scene. But look 
closely. How did those cars get up on that sidewalk bridge?
Did they drive up the wall of the kiosk that’s holding it up? 
Was the artist thinking? More likely he was only thimking
Like Donald Trump.

Once upon a time, back in the early 1960s, there was a big, prosperous, international company that specialized in making adding machines and typewriters. Its name was IBM, an abbreviation for International Business Machines.

Additionally, the company was futzing with things called computers — room-filling assortments of big, metal-boxed vacuum tubes, flashing and flickering while they spun tapes on which data was recorded. Data got put into the machines by feeding it cards in which holes were punched at various places. The machine would “read” the data on the cards, and manipulate it ways that would enable it to retrieve information it had already been fed, or do the work of dozens of calculators.

At that time, the company had a long-established one-word slogan. It was coined by the company’s founder, Thomas J. Watson, a remarkable character who also demanded, on pain of dismissal, that all his employees always wear white shirts with suits that were either blue or charcoal. I don’t recall what the dress code said about ties, but you had better bet it was pretty conservative.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the company was desperately hanging on to its slogan despite merciless parody. Typically, the letters THIN would fill a column, with a K either squeezed into the margins, or placed above the rest of the word with a carat. Another popular parody was meant to indicate that some unthinking sloganeer hadn’t proofread his work. “THIMK,” it said.

By the mid 1960s, parody was the least of the problems with the IBM slogan. Computers were being touted around the media as eerie devices that were going to take away everybody’s job. We’d all become unemployed drones, left without income by the terrible “thinking machines” that we’d be forced to serve.

In retrospect the touting was fairly accurate.  But IBM was not about to take that kind of reputation-wrecking rumor lying down. It launched an advertising campaign in which every headline began with the words, “IBM computers don’t think.” The ads would go on to list human-helping benefits of the machines, such as helping to find rare blood to save a life, or locating a lost ship at sea. I’m familiar with this obscure corner of history because I was the 23 year old kid who was writing most of the ads.

But if computers hewed to the company line and didn’t “think,” what was one to do with a slogan that said “Think” at the bottom of the ads? Well, we got rid of the slogan. And for good measure, we generally added to the text of the ads a thought that computers would “free up people to think.”

Pretty soon the THINK slogan suffered the same fate that Grover Norquist wishes on government. It shrank away until somebody drowned it in the bath tub of history.

Now, thanks to Donald Trump,  the United States is also in danger of drowning in the bath tub of history. We are being sucked threat-by-threat into a potential war with North Korea. We are rattling our sword at Venezuela. It may have been possible to fight massive wars on two fronts during WWII when we have a draft. With today’s all-volunteer army it is not. 

And never mind just two fronts. There's still Afghanistan. There's still Iraq. Iran, too, anybody?

Eric Prince and his private war company, Academi (formerly called Xe, and before that, Blackwater) cannot save us, although if he sells the Trump administration on paying him to conduct a war he may quite possibly bankrupt the nation. 

Yet Trump shoots off his mouth — at North Korea, at Venezuela, at Iran, at….well hell, maybe we can go to war with the entire world. 

While in principle I don’t mind Trump painting himself into a corner, he has also managed to paint the entire United States into the same corner to keep him company. And all the national forests and spectacular landscapes that he turns into coal mines, all the streams and drinking water he poisons, all the social safety nets he destroys in the name of…..whatever, will not save us.

Give him a chance and he’ll shoot off his mouth — via Twitter — about any thing that pops into his head. He’ll support racists until his frantic staff grabs his arm and twists it to make him stop. He’ll create internal chaos and disorganization throughout the government. He’ll insult and alienate potential allies. 

Can’t anybody in the White House think? Or even pretend to think? Of if that’s too much trouble, at least Thimk?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Call the so-called “Alt-Right” what they really are. Terrorists. And then hunt them down and lock them up before they murder any more Americans.

"Peaceful protestors" don't show up in strange towns brandishing combat
weapons, bulletproof vests and camo unless they're hellbent on doing violence.
How can you categorize this as anything except extremist terrorism?
The time for equivocating is over. When the so-called Alt-Right shows up in a college town, and on a college campus, brandishing combat weapons, they are not merely “protesting.” They are terrorizing, plain and simple.

When one of their number slams his foot down on the gas pedal of his car and roars into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring many others, he is not a protestor. He is a terrorist.

These disgusting excuses for human beings are not participating in the democratic process. They are not practicing freedom of speech. They are practicing freedom to murder and terrorize.

They must lose that freedom. And they must lose their personal freedom. They belong in prison for a very long time.

Moreover, those who encourage them either directly or, like Donald Trump, through equivocation are by their actions and inaction clearly aiding and abetting terrorism. They are little Osama bin Ladens, human scum inducing others to commit murder and mayhem. They, too, must be eventually called to account.

Enough of these damn terrorists.They say they are Americans, but they display no American values. They say they are Christians, but their outlook is not Christian, it is barbarian.

Treat them like the barbarians and terrorists that they are. Round them up. Charge them with murder, with incitement to riot, and most importantly of all, with terrorism. 

Put them on trial. Then slam the iron bars of a prison cell behind them and let them rot.

Monday, August 07, 2017

“Speak English if you want to come here”

Give me your fat cats, your rich
Your money-grubbing English-speaking thugs
Send these, the well-heeled oligarchic crooks
I lift my....oh wait, wrong poem
English was the fourth language of my immigrant grandparents. They didn’t learn it until they were heaved up on our shores, victims of oppression that would have cost them their lives had they remained where they were born.

As for skills? Hah! 

My paternal grandfather, for example, had no skills whatsoever. Nor was he employable until late in life. He had to invent his own “businesses.” In fact, he virtually had to invent himself.

He was a marginal "antiques" merchant for a while, often selling stuff that he had dragged in off sidewalk trash piles. He was an equally marginal hand laundry proprietor for another while. 

But one of his sons became a division head of an international corporation. Another became a lawyer. And his grandchildren included a computer engineer, an advertising executive, a senior hospital administrator, a bank co-founder, and a plastic surgeon who, during the Viet Nam War, ran a burn ICU aboard a naval hospital vessel that saved the lives of hundreds of gravely-wounded American soldiers and sailors.

Countless waves of immigrants, driven by desperation and an unrelenting hunger to succeed, came to this nation and worked their ways up. Their jobs were menial for the first generation. But within a generation or two they were the Ph.Ds and the M.D.s at the top of the heap. They were too familiar with and too fearful of a past that they could not backslide into through intellectual sloth.

Donald Trump cannot either stand or understand this. Nor can Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, who are sponsoring onerous new immigration laws that would choke off the flow of fresh blood and brains to the United States.

By insisting that those who immigrate to America have advanced degrees and a knowledge of English first, these regressives choke off the flow not only of immigrants, but also of the drive, and ambition, and brain power that made America great in the first place.

This is not making America great. If implemented, it will continue the disgraceful process of making America fourth rate.

And then, on the evening of August 8th, I discovered this.

Friday, August 04, 2017

I-wish-I-wrote-that department

Leonard Pitts, Jr.  Bravo!
In the absence of anything original of my own left to say about Donald Trump, let me share a few thoughts from Leonard Pitts, Jr., one of the Miami Herald's great columnists:
"This has been said a million times: Donald Trump is a lying, narcissistic, manifestly incompetent child man who is as dumb as a sack of mackerel. But he is the president of the United States because 63 million people preferred that to facing inevitable cultural change. So I am done asking — or caring — what’s wrong with him. Six months in, it’s time we grappled a far more important question."What in the world is wrong with us?"

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article161473023.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Moochie we hardly knew ye

SHERIFF: "Who was that foul-mouthed man?"
OLD COWPOKE: I don't know, but he left these.
SHERIFF: A pair of silver shades?
House, you're fired!
Dang! I’m a semi-invalid. Well, a recovering semi-invalid, slowly regaining my mobility after hip surgery. But it's no fun.

Even so, I'm trying to heal. Why, just yesterday, I took my cane and my shopping cart and lurched six blocks  to Trade Joe's to restock my empty larder. Then I lurched home again. Then I lay down in agony.

In between, because I’m homebound and sometimes in a bit too much pain to concentrate on what’s left of my pathetic business, much less blogging, I need entertainment — lots of entertainment. 

Donald Trump obliged beyond all expectations with Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director who turned into a flash-in-the-pan former communications director, likely at the very moment I was buying cheap bananas and a big box of Joe’s O’s. 

Well, The Mooch’s short-lived career, like a dud rocket that gets halfway off the launch pad and then explodes rather spectacularly, was entertainment, too. But then some wet blanket of an ex-Marine, General John F. Kelly, became White House Chief of Staff. He fired The Mooch, who had been threatening to fire everybody, thus cutting the level of late night merriment in half.

Worse yet, Kelly  is threatening to restore some semblance of normalcy to the executive branch.

Good luck with that, unless Kelly can sew The Donald’s mouth shut with fishing line and confiscate his cell phone. All the same, Kelly has thrown a pall of grim earnestness over what had been America’s best source of yaks since late night TV was invented.

If the high mucky-mucks at Disney had any courage (that’ll be the day!) they’d commission a Donald Duck movie called, “Donald In The Oval Office.” The plot? A cranky duck becomes President of The Ducked-Up States of America. He appoints as his closest advisers his nephews, Huey, Louie and Dewey. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean, Porky Pig begins launching nuclear missiles.

Will America survive? Will this nation, and its president, turn out to be everything we're quacked up to be? Hollywood, do your stuff!

Meanwhile, I’ve been speculating how all this could have come to pass in the first place. And again, Hollywood may be able to supply the answer. Here’s a transcript of events as I imagine they happened:

DIRECTOR: Roll Camera. Sticks!

SLATE BOY: Mr. Trump Goes To Washington. Scene one, take ten thousand, nine hundred and eighty-five.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: You freaking leaker, I’m going  fire you. I’m going to fire everybody. You're all fired. I told you not to leak but you’ve leaked all over everything. If I don’t fire you today, I’m going to fire your ass tomorrow.

DIRECTOR: What? Cut! Cut goddamn it! Who is this guy?

SCARAMUCCI: What the f….? I was doing great. I hit my mark, I read my lines….

DIRECTOR: Those aren’t lines from this movie.

SCARAMUCCI (WAVES HIS SCRIPT): Sez who? Here’s my lines, right in the script.

DIRECTOR: That’s the script for Deplorablefellas. This is Mister Trump Goes To Washington. You’re in the wrong movie!

SCARAMUCCI: Isn’t this Sound Stage 2?

DIRECTOR: No, this is Sound Stage 15. Somebody hustle this guy out of here.

And so they did.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why this blog is taking a short break

My arthritic right hip is the only thing that has ever caused me more pain than my ex-wife’s matrimonial lawyer. Finally, I’m almost on my way out the door for hip replacement surgery.

I've already had  enough dental implants to put a periodontist’s kid through Hotchkiss and Harvard. Add those to the hip surgery and I'll have more installed replacement parts than a 1953 Chevrolet in downtown Havana. 

I’m told I’ll be too doped up to write for a short while when I return home, and after that too busy learning  new skills, such as how to get in and out of a  bath tub without undoing the surgeon’s work, and how to put my socks on. 

So for a while, blogging will have to take a back seat to physical therapy, which also involves someone coming to my apartment and forcing me to do exercises that will help me to walk, bend, twist, sit, and perform other amazing feats that I used to take for granted. 

(A friend who has been through this whole routine told me he had an excellent physical therapist, and that he would be happy to recommend her. “What’s her name?” I asked him. “Mistress Pam,” he said.)

Figure I’ll be back early-to-mid-to-late August. Give or take a little.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Kid Rock for Senate? In a country that already has Ghengis Trump for President, what could possibly be weird about that?

Come to think of it, maybe he'd enhance the
dignity of the Senate
So I gather that the social networks are figuratively setting the Internet on fire with news that Kid Rock is suggesting he will run for the Senate. 
Kid Rock isn’t saying where he’d run, although presumably that would be Michigan, where he lives. On the other hand, I don’t imagine he’d do too badly in Idaho or Wyoming, either.

I mean, why not Kid Rock? American government, and consequently American politics, has turned into a puppet and clown show anyway. Which brings me to Howdy Doody.

Candidate Howdy Doody,
 back in the day
In case you’re not old enough to remember, Howdy Doody was the string puppet hero-in-a-cowboy-suit of children’s television starting around 1947. And one of his compadres was Clarabel The Clown. 

I became aware of the puppet and clown act as a little kid, watching Howdy's show on a nine-inch TV screen with a magnifying glass in front of it, at a friend’s house. I had to watch it at that venue because it would be another three years before my father decided that television was actually a thing, and invested in a TV set of our own.

I bring up Howdy Doody because one year — I forget which year — the doofus puppet decided to run for president. These days, the phrase “doofus puppet running for president” is pretty nearly a tired redundancy. Just look at the White House and Russia to see what I mean. But I digress.

Howdy even had a campaign song. I heard it so many times that I committed it to memory — which was easy for a kid with less than a decade of living under his belt and not many channels to switch to in those days.
Howdy Doody for President  
He’s America’s choice
He will never be hesistant 
To fight for the rights of girls and boys.
Or should that be pronounced, “girls and boyce?”

And wouldn’t you know it, Howdy Doody did no less for America than Donald Trump, which is to say, nothing — although Howdy's gifts for self-promotion were no less Trumpian than Trump’s.

So far in this century, nearly all of the clowns and puppets running for President, or Senate, or the House of Representatives, or other offices, have done so on the Republican line. They’re often easily identified by their puppet or clown names. I’m talking to you, Florida Representative Yoho, as off to work you go. And you, Reince Preibus. And you, Governor Butch Otter of Idaho.

Not to mention other political officeholders and wannabes like you, Young Boozer, state treasurer of Alabama. And you, Twinkle Cavanugh, President of the Alabama Public Service Commission. And you, Judge Lawless of Michigan. And you, Candidate-for-Sheriff Shotwell, of Washington State.

But let’s get serious for a moment. Whether or not Kid Rock makes it to the White House, a lot of people are wondering whether Donald Trump Junior will make it to the clink for various un-American activities relating to trying to find some actual, genuine, evidence-based dirt on Hillary Clinton, by taking secret meetings with Soviet agents.

I don’t think so. In fact, I suspect that if Donald Junior is ever indicted for anything, his father will instantly pardon him, thus sparing the nation from a trial during which all kinds of new clown acts and puppet shows could be introduced to the public.

The big question is, when the time comes, will President Donald Trump pardon himself? And if so, what will Senator Rock do about it?

Monday, July 03, 2017

Now it comes out that the origins of the Trump fortune are in human trafficking — and why that’s yet another reason to celebrate July 4th

In 1885, a young man named Freidrich Trump, arrived as an immigrant in New York City.

What happened next? Well, let's quote directly from The New Yorker Magazine,  discussing a book called "The Trumps," by Gwenda Blair. The New Yorker tell us:
Then, suddenly, in 1891, Friedrich was off to Washington State before going to the Klondike regions, where he pursued a colorful career providing food, liquor, and women to miners—a period that is well-documented by Gwenda Blair.

“…and women?” Did she just say "and women?"

Yup. Probably with miners lined up just outside the tent. Step inside, pay your two bucks, drop your drawers and have a go at it. Taking off your muddy boots before you get into bed with poor Achin' Annie? I'm going to guess that was optional.

But surely the money was cleaned up by….um…time, right? Isn't time the great money launderer? Passed through a filter of the decades, smoothed, and pawed, reinvested and lovingly handled by three generations of Trumps, the dirty Trump money became clean again, right? 

Well, not exactly.

Freidrich’s son was named Fred. And guess what?
His son, Fred, took advantage of New Deal policy, using government subsidies and loopholes to construct hugely successful housing developments in the 1940s and 1950s. The profits from those enterprises paved the way for Donald's roller-coaster ride into the new century.
Far be it from me to spoil your July 4th barbecue with a litany of  Donald Trump’s lies, foreign emoluments, ruinous bankruptcies, not-so-blind trusts, inappropriate social behavior, the mass ripoff that was Trump University.

Suffice it to say that only in America could the grandson of a poor immigrant pimp grow up to be a rich, crooked President.

Celebrate that, America! Happy July 4th.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Meet some of the members of the new Republican death panel

Republican Death Panelist Paul Ryan

Republican Death Panelist Mitch McConnell

Republican Death Panelist Donald Trump

The Republican Congress, Senate, and Donald Trump are coming for Grandma. 

They’re coming straight to the nursing homes of America, where 1.4 million Americans, mostly elderly, all of them frail, are being cared for.

And they’re going to see to it that Grandma and Grandpa — and there’s a good chance this will eventually include you when you get old — will die a ghastly death, impoverished, uncared for, homeless, and suffering.

The victims of the new Republican Death Panel aren’t “freeloaders” or “welfare cheats.” These are honest Americans, hardworking in their day, who held down jobs, raised children, taught school, ran small businesses, served in the military, often lived frugally to save for their old age, and tried, each in their own way, to make life in America better.

They are now in nursing homes because they can no longer care for themselves and, in most cases, there is nobody able to properly care for them.

To get into nursing homes, they first had to spend down their life savings for their nursing care. Then, when they were virtually broke, Medicaid took over and began paying their costs.

Now the Republican health care “reformers” want to murder them. Oh, they’re not going to do it by putting a pillow over their faces and smothering them. Or by pumping some fiery poison into their veins. Or by shooting them. That would be relatively merciful.

No, the Republicans have a crueler idea.

They’re going to force the frail elderly out into the streets, where they can die slowly in the gutter. The death panelists won’t do it directly. Like the Mafia don who never goes out and shoots anybody himself, but simply says “I wish Joey the Mouth would disappear,” and then feigns innocence when Joey is found at the bottom of the river wearing concrete shoes, they’ll enlist, or force, others to do it for them.

They’re going to do it by cutting the Federal contribution to Medicaid, forcing the states, which cannot afford Federal-size contributions, to try to cover nursing home costs. But the states won't be able to do it. Not most of them, anyway.

The eventual upshot will be that many older people who fall ill and cannot care for themselves will not be admitted to nursing homes. And many people currently getting cared for in nursing homes will be forced to leave. Since their life savings have already been “spent down,” they will have no place to go. They will be pushed out into the streets. And there they will die.

That’s when the Republican death panelists, led by Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan, whose work will be signed and approved by Donald Trump, will blink innocently and say, “Not my fault. All I did was cut Medicaid overhead so the rich could have a tax break.”

It’s time to call out the defunding of Medicaid for what it is. And what it is is murder, pure and simple. Murder of the poor to give more money to the very rich. Murder, bloody murder!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Damn you, Donald! I was hoping finally to take a vacation in Cuba this winter and you just went and ruined it.

I've had two bucks invested here since 1957
Yes, this is partly about how Donald Trump wrecked the loosening of America’s ban on travel to Cuba. But for me it’s more than that. And it’s personal. And it's old. The story goes back sixty years. 

In 1957, I was an Antioch College student in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Back then, there were only two drinking spots in town, and the students pretty much stuck to one of them. It was called the Trail Tavern. It’s still there today, a centuries-old building on the main drag that once served as a hiding place for escaped slaves on the underground railroad.

So one night, I was sitting at the bar in the Trail Tavern and a classmate of mine, one Bennett Kremen, sits down next to me and begins raving.

“Man,” he says, “I was just down in Cuba. There’s gonna be a revolution down there. Everybody thinks Batista has the country under control, but I was up in the mountains, in a place called Oriente, and they’ve got a whole army of revolutionaries. You should see the shit they’ve got. They’ve got jeeps. They’ve got howitzers. They’ve got trucks. They’ve got rifles. They've got mortars. They’ve got machine guns. They’re going to take over that country, man!”

“Uh oh,” I thought, “Crazy Benny is at it again. Maybe he’s been smoking a bit too much loco weed.”

That same week, a group of Cubans visited campus, representing some guy nobody ever heard of at the time called Fidel Castro. It wasn’t until about seven years ago that I ran into Kremen again and he admitted that he had brought the Cubans back with him, from his vacation.

At any rate, I sat in a dormitory common room while the Cubans had their say. They were planning to get rid of Fulgencio Batista, the dictator of Cuba, they said. Yeah, well nobody loved the guy. He was the kind of person Theodore Roosevelt defended with undisguised disgust when he said “They may be sons of bitches but they’re our sons of bitches."

I was only half listening to the Cubans. I wasn’t particularly political at the time and I had some books to crack. But I do remember them confirming what most Americans already knew anyway. Batista was an S.O.B., a brutal dictator, who had built an economy based on sugar prices supported by the U.S. Government, gambling casinos, and whorehouses. The visiting Cubans told us many illustrative atrocity stories to convince us of what we already knew. One story was about a Batista opponent whose eyes were gouged out in prison by Batista's police. I believed it. Batista was not a nice guy.

At they end of the talk, they told us they were collecting money for their cause and passed a hat around. That's not a metaphor. It was a real hat. I tossed in two dollars.

Now two dollars was not a huge sum, but it bought a lot more than you can get for two bucks today. With two dollars, I could have bought coffee every night in the college coffee shop for maybe two weeks. Or I could have purchased perhaps five hamburgers. Most important of all, two dollars was two-fifths of my weekly spending money. 

All the same, as six decades of inflation have done their work, two dollars increasingly sounds like a cheesy contribution. Which is part of the joke I’ve been cracking for the last twenty years or so.

“One of these days I’m going to go down to Cuba to see what I got for my two bucks,” I’d say at cocktail parties. Sometimes it elicited an amused chuckle.

Then President Obama loosened up some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba. And I started thinking about actually going there. I’m under no illusions about the government. It's a police state. It treated Batista’s brutes with the same brutality they had treated others. Far too many Cubans died in front of Castro's firing squads. Some may have been innocent, or guilty of very little.

And yes, from what I know, the Castro government’s major achievement was turning desperate poverty into genteel poverty. But if true, I see that as an improvement, quite an improvement considering we've embargoed their economy for half a century. The people became better fed. They certainly became better educated. They have access to medical care that many Americans could wish for, even as the Cubans have to watch what they say, and to whom they say it.

I was hoping to travel there inexpensively. I hoped to sleep at Air BnB homes, where I could guardedly converse with Cubans about what they liked, and didn’t like, about their lives and their government. This was going to happen this coming winter.

And then along comes Donald Trump. For no good reason, other than to break something because President Obama made it, and to please a handful of aged Cuban refugees who can’t let go of their hatred for the dead Fidel, Trump slammed on the brakes.

Obama caused “illegal tourism” to Cuba, Trump declared in one of his typically incoherent rants. He was going to stop the illegality.

Can you still go to Cuba? From what the Washington Post reports, yes, if you have relatives there. Or if you get on a Cuban tour bus and let  yourself get shuttled from site to site by government guides feeding you the party line. But hell, if I’m going to do that I might as well stay home and read about it on the Internet. Thank Donald Trump.

Once again, the problem child in the White House has acted like a six year old who goes to a classmate’s birthday party, breaks all the toys, throws the birthday cake on the floor, and then whines that all the other kids are being mean to him. In this case, the breakage was of less restrictive travel to Cuba. So I may never see first hand what I got for my two bucks.

Oh, about Bennett Kremen. In the early 1970s he traveled around parts of the United States, doing total immersion journalism. He worked in factories. He froze helping to build an arctic oil pipeline. He hung with students. He dug into Americans' lives and their thoughts, and turned it into a book called “Dateline America: dispatches from an altering nation.”

It got a friendly review from Kirkus. It got a snarky review in the Harvard Crimson from some college kid named Nick Lemann, who is today Dean Emeritus of Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism and a writer for the New Yorker. Go know.

Kremen pretty much gave up on journalism after that and went on to do other things. So far as I know, he has not been back to Cuba again. And thanks to Donald Trump, I am likely never to get there in my own lifetime. Another reason I so relish watching the Trump Administration implode into itself.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Listen up, White House staff: lawyer up right now while the lawyering up is good!

I don't know what it is with Catherine. I told her to
lawyer up, but she said, "No, I'll just use King Henry's
lawyer and save some money."
Hello, suckers. Yes, I’m talking to you, the the people on the White House staff who work for President Trump.

The New York Times on Sunday reported that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, has been dispensing reassurances to some of you. Some, including the Times, would or might call it advice.

Says the Times of Kasowitz:
His visits to the White House have raised questions about the blurry line between public and private interests for a president facing legal issues. Mr. Kasowitz in recent days had advised White House aides to discuss the inquiry into Russia’s interference in last year’s election as little as possible, two people said. He told aides gathered in one meeting who had asked whether it was time to hire private lawyers that it was not yet necessary, according to another person with direct knowledge.
Right-O. Imagine that in an entirely different case, this one fictional, Muggsy Banks, who specializes in savings and loan society holdups, stations a driver and a lookout man outside the local S&L, while Muggsy goes in with a drawn pistol, and emerges with several large cloth bags with dollars signs printed on them. 

They all drive away, but suspicion falls on Muggsy Banks. Banks immediately lawyers up, hiring the notoriously ruthless attorney Thelonius Writs, for personal representation.”

“Hey, Mister Writs,” asks the driver, “Ya think we should get our own lawyers, too?

“Don’t waste your money boys,” says Writs. “At this point it’s really not necessary.”

Next thing you know, Lookout Larry and Denny D. Driver are indicted, tried and convicted of Bank Robbery and find themselves doing 25 years in the slammer. This occurs after Writs gives each of them questionable advice, and meanwhile arranges for Muggsy Banks to testify against them. Muggy gets off scott free.

Just remember what the Times article is telling you, White House staff: 
Mr. Kasowitz's advice to administration staff may benefit the president more than the aides themselves, the experts said. The conversations Mr. Kasowitz has with aides could shape their testimony before Mr. Muller has a chance to interview them, should they be called as witnesses.
And furthermore:
Under ethics rules, Mr. Kasowitz could not interview any official who had hired a lawyer without that lawyer’s permission, meaning it would be in his interest if administration aides did not hire their own lawyers, experts said.
And still  furthermore: 
Since asserting influence in the White House in recent weeks, Mr. Kasowitz discussed establishing an office on White House grounds in the Eisenhower executive Office Building, where much of the presient’s staff works, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations. Such an arrangement would have Mr. Kasowitz and his team frequently crossing paths with potential witnesses.
Please keep in mind: 
“The president’s private lawyer is representing only his interests, not the interests of the United States government or the individual interests of the White House Staff," said Robert F. Bauer, who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama.
So —White House staffers, you face a stark choice. Do nothing, and put your fate in the hands of the man who represents only Donald Trump, the same Donald Trump who declared bankruptcy and let his investors drown, and who sold the wonderful benefits of attending Trump University to a bunch of gullible suckers.

Or protect your own hide, take a second mortgage on the house, and pay an initial retainer for your own lawyer, now, before it’s too late.

Don’t say The New York Crank didn’t warn you.

P.S. to Vice-President Mike Pence:  Mike, according to various news outlets yesterday, you've evidently followed my advice. Good for you! Always happy to have Republicans in the Trump administration among my faithful readers. You ought to listen to me more often.