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A Pervert and His Friends in High Places

Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to felony solicitation charges involving minor girls back in 2007, and is currently in jail awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges involving at least a dozen minor girls, but he’s not your average sex offender. He’s a multi-billionaire investor, and has also been friends with former President Bill Clinton and current President Donald Trump.
Flight records confirm that Clinton took at least 26 trips to far-flung locations on Epstein’s private jet, dubbed “the Lolita Express” by the media, and ditched his security detail on at least five of the flights. Following Epstein’s most recent arrest a Clinton spokesman issued a statement¬†which admitted the former president had traveled with Epstein on four different flights in 2002 and 2003, but denied press reports that he’d traveled to Epstein’s privately owned island. Clinton’s past relationship with a notorious ephebophile might have been a bigger issue in the last presidential race, when his long-suffering yet ever-protective was running as the Democratic nominee, but Trump had his own ties to Epstein.
Trump now flatly denies ever even knowing Epstein, but that’s another one of the lies he routinely tells. In 2002 Trump told New York Magazine that “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy.” He could plausibly deny having any idea abut Epstein’s sexual predilections, but he also added that “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful woman as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” There are also numerous accounts from numerous sources about Epstein’s frequent visits to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, which is near Epstein’s Palm Beach home, and two pictures in the Getty Archives of the two yukking it up together at the resort.
Both presidents seem to have kept their distance from Epstein since his arrest and guilty plea in ’07, and Trump reportedly had him banned from Mar-a-Lago around that time, but the Trump administration remains caught up in the scandal.
Epstein received an extraordinarily generous deal in exchange for his plea, getting only a one-year sentence for a crime that the federal guidelines say should have imprisoned him for life, and he was even able on six out of every seven days of the year to leave prison to work at his office. What’s more he and various friends who had allegedly joined in his underage orgies were given immunity. This sweetheart deal was negotiated by then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who is now Trump’s Secretary of Labor. The Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee is expected to have him under oath and before the cameras to further explain his decision, which will likely prove embarrassing to the administration, but for now Trump is insisting that Acosta is one of those very best people he promised to appoint.
Some leaked address books show Epstein not only had numerous telephone numbers to reach both Clinton and Trump, but also Britain’s Prince Andrew and several of Epstein’s fellow billionaires. There’s a popular conspiracy theory on the far-far-right that the world’s elites are all in on a global child sex ring, and although it’s far-fetched Epstein makes it seem slightly more plausible. The same conspiracy theorists theorize that the professors and reporters and business big wigs who oppose Trump do so because he’s going to expose the whole racket, but the whole Epstein affair and Acosta’s continued service in the cabinet make that even less plausible
At least since the days of the Roman Empire there’s been a suspicion among the common folk that the rich and powerful know-it-alls who run things are a decadent bunch, who get away with things poor perverts never would, and this is just further confirmation of that historical fact.

— Bud Norman

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A Federal Elections Commission Filing With Legs

Those complicated financial statements that presidential candidates are obligated to file with the Federal Elections Commission every month are usually dull reading for all but us most inveterate political buffs, and unless they contain some notorious name among the contributors or some fishy expenditure they typically get but a few column inches and a couple of ritual tsk-tsks about all the big money in politics, but this time around in this crazy election year there are enough angles apparent in the figures to keep the story going for at least a few days.
The latest filings indicate that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton raised $19.7 million in the month of May, which is not bad but not so garishly good by recent standards to justify any more than the usual tsk-tsking about big money in politics, while presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump raised $3.1 million, which is undeniably awful by recent standards and yet unlikely to earn the self-described billionaire any plaudits for keeping big money out of his campaign. At the end of the month the Democrat had $42 million in cash on hand, which is pretty good by recent standards, while the Republican was reporting a paltry $1.3 million on hand, which is about what you’d expect for a House seat candidate in a flyover district and probably less than the monthly advertising budget of that Mack Weldon underwear outfit that lately has had intrusive ads popping up at every internet site we visit. The Republican Party and its “Super PACs” report a similarly large lagging behind their Democratic counterparts, and that gaping gap alone is enough to fuel at least a couple extra days of media coverage.
Trump and his so-loyal-he-could-shoot-someone supporters are already saying that the round-the-clock coverage his megawatt celebrity brings and his boisterous and violence-plagued rallies and the devastating insults of his widely-followed “tweets” will easily make up the difference, and after it sufficed to vanquish a promising field of 16 better-funded and far more qualified opponents in the primary races we can’t dismiss the possibility that they might once again be right. Still, the difference between $42 million and $1.3 million in cash on hand is is newsworthy, especially by Trump’s bottom-line way of looking at things, and it raises a lot of questions that Trump’s numerous opponents on both the left and what’s left of the erstwhile right are already asking.
Thus the Trump campaign will surely be on the defensive for a while, fending off questions that call into doubt all its grandiose promises, and while both the crazed left-wing Democrats and the last redoubts of old school conservatism are unleashing their resources they’ll have to hope that Trump’s phoned-in appearances on the Today Show and MSNBC’s obscure “Morning Joe” and the more obscure-yet Alex Jones’ “InfoWars” conspiracy channel radio can counter it. A few million dollars worth of air time on the popular reality shows that persuasively reminds voters about how the presumptive Republican nominee really did once mock a handicapped person for the amusement of his boisterous rally-goers will likely have some effect, and although a similar few million dollars could buy enough air time to persuasively remind all those reality-show viewers that the Democratic nominee has done countless things that were at least as disgusting it doesn’t seem likely to happen. Why not is hard for the the Trump campaign to explain.
The reality is that there are far more targeted swing state voters watching those reality shows than there are watching Trump’s phoned-in interviews on morning shows and afternoon cable fare and lunatic-fringe radio programs, and that the failure to financially make up the difference undermines many of the campaign’s claims. One is that the presumptive Republican nominee possesses 10 BILLION DOLLARS, with the capitalization always added, and that he would patriotically tithe a cool billion or so of it to Make America Great again, the capitalization once again added, so the latest FEC filing calls that into question. We were never swayed by the argument that influence-buying billionaires have so thoroughly corrupted the political system that we should only vote for self-funded candidates, the only one on offering being a self-described billionaire who openly boasts of all the influence-buying he’s done over his checkered career, and at this poorly funded moment it’s no more persuasive to anyone who’s been paying attention that 10 BILLION DOLLAR figure is not to be taken seriously. The most reliable sources estimate Trump possesses less than half of that amount, one author who claimed it was far less than a single billion wound up winning a prolonged libel suit, which included Trump’s sworn testimony that his estimation of his wealth depended on his daily feelings of self-regard, which range from yuge to very yuge, and by now it should be clear to even his so-loyal-he-could-shoot-someone supporters that he wouldn’t part with a tenth of it even if he did have 10 BILLION DOLLARS just to Make America Great Again.
Which calls into question whether he really is the organizational and economic and deal-making genius that earned him that apocryphal 10 BILLION DOLLARS and will surely Make America Great Again, and already the left is having fun with a hash-tagged “Trump So Broke” internet meme, which includes some admittedly funny insult comic shtick about how he can’t afford a decent haircut and how his next trophy wife will come from Mexico, and worse yet there’s the more dour reluctance of what’s left of erstwhile conservatism to support his candidacy. As much as a majority of the Republican is still hoping for another nominee, the presumptive nominee is still sneering that he’ll do fine without them, yet he’s apparently depending on the hated party “establishment” that he and his so-loyal-he-could-shoot-someone supporters have vowed to burn down for a field operation and some respite from the paid-media blitz, and there’s still a slight chance that the inevitably “establishment” delegates will make another choice.
For now we’ll continue to hope so, because that presumptive Democratic nominee is so indisputably awful that a just few million more from the party’s rank-and-file and billionaire donors might just prove effective on behalf of someone other than Trump.

— Bud Norman

The Anger on the Left

Just the other day ago or so we were composing an admittedly angry yet sincerely jocular essay about the most recent Democratic presidential debate, and with some literary license we described a fantastical world where the candidates frankly admitted their plans to guillotine the handful of nefarious and unnamed billionaires who are standing in the way of their otherwise easily obtainable utopia of social justice. We thought it an amusingly Swiftian exaggeration of the sore and sorry state of modern liberalism, but once again the more humorless and literal reality of the fact-based press has overtaken our most ambitious attempts at satire. The latest news from The National Review, which is still considered a far-right publication by the left but is now regarded as a stuffily establishment press by the even angrier further-right, and is still as always a reliable factual source, finds a Missouri Democrat who is a happy to be quoted that he’s “OK” with “bringing back the guillotine” for the benefit of a few billionaires, and that he also doesn’t mind naming which ones he has in mind.
That’s just one cherry-picked quotation, to be sure, but we don’t doubt that even in this cold and barren winter there are plenty of cherries on the trees to be picked if that’s what it takes to convey how very angry these liberals are these days. That Missouri Democrat was weighing on behalf of the embattled University of Missouri “professor” of “communications” who was caught on video “rounding up some muscle” to evict a student journalist from public space that had been illegally seized by a “Black Lives Matter” protest on her campus, which is understandably angry about the black lives lost to wrongful police conduct but somehow sanguine about the far greater number of black lives lost to the un-policed rampant in too many black neighborhoods, and which has spawned similarly acrimonious protests over Halloween costumes and ethnically incorrect Asian cuisine on the cafeteria menu and various other “micro-aggressions” among the most prestigious and pampered student bodies, not to mention all the angriness about that “culture of rape” that has has somehow spread from the church-going redneck jurisdictions to the liberal domain of academia, and there’s been plenty of quotable angriness to go around. That’s just the college kids, too, and you should hear what the more hard-strapped high-school-drop-out wing of the Democratic party and its post-graduate Starbucks baristas are muttering about these days. We hear them all too often, given the sorts of dives where we go to watch ‘Shocker games and hear rock ‘n’ roll shows and to catch up on the latest events with a gray-ponytailed hipster but more or less conservative friend of ours, and it somehow exceeds even the angriness we find when in the relative comfort of our right-wing extremist friends.
It’s mere anecdotal evidence, of course, and we further concede we run in some atypical circles, but in our experience the talk of revolution and even guillotines is not uncommon and often seems more than rhetorical among liberals. We still recall the lithe and comely young hipsterette at a local dive who expressed her eagerness to fight it out in the streets with such nasty Republicans as ourselves, the countless comments by politically correct guests at locally swank cocktail parties about how certain Republican women weren’t really women at all, and all the threateningly indignant comments by the most unexpected people about how Bruce Jenner really is a woman, although maybe not because he or she might be a Republican, and all the things confessed in in honesty before the speaker realized when we were one Them, not to mention that a self-described socialist’s call for “revolution” is currently threatening the liberal “establishment” candidate at a time when that label is as odious to the left as it is to the right.
This seems peculiar from our geographical and ideological perspective, where our grievances are stated from a long-fixed position and can thus be objectively measured by the dangerous distance our country has been dragged leftward over the past seven years, but even in our anger we try to be empathetic. Those angry folks on the left are judging events by the distance of their ever leftward-drifting hopes against the evermore elusive reality of the socially just Utopia of their dreams, and they’re still so infatuated with the hopes of the change that the past seven years would bring they can’t help look for scapegoats and demagogues, and as always there are plenty available on both the left and right, so we try to be understanding enough to avoid any thoughts of guillotines.
We caught the first half of an important conference ‘Shocker game at a notorious dive just across the street from the local university and on the edge of a very rough part of town, and were reminded of the times when one of the more annoying regulars the was disappointed to learn that we don’t want Donald Trump executed or, at the very least, tortured, and further surprised to learn that we didn’t even wish execution or torture on President Barak Obama, and that we merely wished them both happy lives outside the sphere of public influence. Given the current rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum, we’ll give that psychopath some benefit of the doubt. We were somewhat hearted by a brief conversation with an old friend of ours, a delightful woman and locally legendary hard-rock drummer who is currently featured in an all girl punk trio with of her longtime best friends’ daughters, and although that single and hard-working and hard-rock drumming woman was coming from the Democratic side of the demographic divide she seemed to share our hope that some sort of center will hold. She agreed with us that the Democrat’s “establishment” candidate should probably be jailed in some humane prison, and that our party’s “anti-establishment” front-runner should be banished to real estate investments and reality television, and we both admitted that our hopes aren’t high even for our necessarily angriest anti-establishment candidates.
Although we hold out faint hope that the future of our Republic will be favorably decided at the ballot box by an informed public choosing between red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism and the compassionate Judeo-Christian tradition and a stifling socialistic bureaucracy and all that insistent post sexual-revolution social justice stuff, we acknowledge it will likely come down to which side can best harness all the anger that is clearly brewing out there. We’re not at all certain how that might work out, and at this point we’ll settle for the center holding.

— Bud Norman