17 October 2017

Unrefrigerated fish?

Okay, I am a cynic. Blame it on the tidal wave of contrived news, lies, and fakery coming out of our government lately. So if the following report seems like I have finally gone around the bend, have pity. Anyway, here's my take on a story in the news. (No, not Harvey Weinstein. Another story.)

A couple backpacking through a Taliban controlled area of Afghanistan while she is "heavily pregnant." Hmm. Hubby was formerly married to a woman who applauded the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11, and whose family was buddies with Osama bin Laden. Double hmmmm. Then the Boyle couple is "kidnapped" by the Taliban and get to live "in captivity" in Taliban-controlled territory, as a family, for five years, where they raise three healthy-looking children and lose a fourth in childbirth. After their remarkable rescue (I'm getting to that, I promise!) hubby tells the press that he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family and decided, "Hey, let's make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family."

Your nose twitching yet? There's more.

When the Afghan government captured a Taliban commander, and sentenced him to death, the Boyle captors threatened to kill the the entire family unless the convicted Taliban commander were freed. No surprise, a chubby-cheeked Mrs. Boyle then appeared in a video in which she urged the Afghans to "Just give her captors something," and an equally well-fed Mr. Boyle chimed in, "They will not settle this until they get what they are demanding." The NY Times, in the understatement of the year, wrote "The motivation behind the release of the video, and the timing, remain unclear." 

​Now for the denouement: last week, the Pakistani military proudly announced that

i) working with US intelligence sources, they recently discovered the entire Boyle family was being moved, all five of them crammed into the back seat of an automobile, then

ii) the Pakistani soldiers surrounded the car, then

iii) the tires of the vehicle were blown out in the ensuing firefight, then

​iv) ​the captors shouted, "kill the hostages," but

v)​ the hostages were nevertheless miraculously saved unharmed, and

​vi) the bad guys "fled on foot," also apparently unharmed.

(Mr. Boyle, in a post-release press conference, said the commendable Pakistani military "got between the car and the criminals to make sure the prisoners were safe and that my family was safe.'' How they could do that with the bad guys in the front seat and the the entire family in the back seat of the vehicle was not explained.)


After the family is rescued and transported to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad (she is an American citizen, he is Canadian), hubby announces that despite the key role the United States played in his liberation, he refuses to be transported to our shores as a matter of principle. Arrangements are then made to take them to Canada, and President Trump announces, ​“This is a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan.''

Why does this tale bring to mind the films, "Wag The Dog," and "Argo?"

Question: If they put this ​story up on the silver screen, would the audience,

a) applaud, or 
b)​ hold their noses while booing​, and escape the theatre unharmed?

A  bientot.

07 October 2017

Oh yeah, one more bit of news:

Not about Donald. About me!

Headline:  "Marty London Interviewed on “Conversations in the Digital Age” With Jim Zirin"

I just appeared on CUNY TV show “Conversations in the Digital Age” with host Jim Zirin. In the half-hour interview, I was asked about my book, The Client Decides, and my 50 years at the Bar.  I talked about my nationally prominent clients: two United States Vice Presidents, Jacqueline Onassis, and Rick Fischbein who, with a little help from me, trounced Donald Trump.  

The show will air on CUNY TV in accordance with the following schedule beginning on October 9:

  • Monday, October 9 - 9:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 11 - 11:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 14 - 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 15 - 11:30 a.m.
  • Monday, October 16 - 8:30am2:30 p.m.

CUNY TV is cablecast in New York City on Ch. 75 (Time Warner and Cablevision), Ch. 77 RCN, and Ch. 30 (Verizon FIOS). 

The show will also be posted on WNET Passport, and will be available on the CUNY TV website, YouTube, and website www.digitalage.org.

» Watch the YouTube video

A bientot.

05 October 2017

Handmaid's Tale redux?

Recent correspondence with a Trumpian friend led me to take my crystal ball -- she insists on being called Futura -- out of the closet and dust it off. Though not the latest 2017 model, she still had some modern artificial intelligence improvements: speech, predictive algorithms, and a split screen option that displayed two possible future scenarios.

Scenario I  

Futura said that obviously Mueller's Russia investigation is looking deep into the White House, up to and including the President. Bannon was right: firing Comey was a colossal mistake, which, taken together with President's own statements, has created a strong inference that Trump's motive was to obstruct the FBI's Russia inquiry. Add in the scores of misleading filings by Jared Kushner re his Russia meetings, the misleading statements by Donald Junior regarding that now-crowded meeting with representatives of the Putin's government, (the statement Junior offered up to Congress was reportedly drafted and/or approved by Senior,) the evident misdeeds of Trump associates like Manafort, Flynn, et al, and the vise tightens. 

Futie pointed out that each week had brought another turn of the screw. The no-knock search warrant of Manafort's home told us that for sure Mueller believed a crime has been committed.  Mueller's inquiry into the White House documents revealed the direction (or at least one of them) of the prosecutor's attack.  And the recent overheard conversation that the White House counsel may be hiding some documents from Mueller adds drive to the assault on the President.

I asked her how much pressure Trump could take before he fires Mueller.

Futie pointed out that this president does not have a great track record of stability. He is vain and impulsive. So on screen One, she projects that, ignoring the advice of his advisers, Trump will fire Mueller along with anybody else who threatens him. What will the Congress do? Futura predicted the craven Republican House likely would not impeach. But if they did, she said,Trump would quit in a huff before the Senate ever got to vote, and we would get Pence.


The second scenario projects that by 2020, Trump has so far withstood a not-yet-completed Mueller inquiry (it took three and half years before they got the goods on Nixon), and so in June of that year, the president does the following:

 i) appears on Fox and Family and declares himself "The Greatest President Of All Time,"

 ii) follows this up with a series of victory-lap rallies where his partisans hysterically chant, "Four More and Then the Wall,"

iii) pardons all his former campaign chairs, cabinet members, children, in-laws, and Putin's mishpoche, and 

iv) tweets that The Donald is ending the run of this Reality Show while it is still Number One in the ratings. He is retiring.

Futura then shows the Pence/Cruz ticket winning an electoral college victory over the Dem's Biden/Bernie ticket, despite a six million popular vote deficit. (This fantasy is not so fantastic. We have a growing problem not contemplated by the Founders, who did not plan on party politics and current population shifts towards the cities. Today, 70 percent of the population elects 30 percent of the Senate. Gerrymandering and population shifts lock in a House Republican majority despite a substantial Democratic popular vote victory. It happened in 2016 and will happen again in 2020.) 

In both scenarios, with Pence at the big desk in the oval office, the Gorsuch nomination begins to look like it is the result of a left-wing conspiracy. The president's next confirmed appointments to the Supreme Court are disciples of Judge Roy Moore, and perhaps Senator Moore himself. The result is a kind of Handmaid's Tale redux: Pence's Indiana ban on Planned Parenthood goes national, and is OK'd by the Supremes. Wade, Griswold, Windsor, Obergefell, and Lawrence are reversed, with the result that states are again free to ban abortions and criminalize the use of contraceptives (even by married couples) as Connecticut did until its statute was struck down by the Court in 1965. The states will also be free to ban same-sex marriage and once again make consensual homosexual conduct a felony. The result is the Court effectively amends the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of Constitution so that certain religious views trump the Bill of Rights.

When my elbow accidentally nudged Futura to the edge of the table, I did not try to stop its crash to the floor, and quickly took the smoking fragments out to the curbside trash bin.

Remember the days when the biggest argument against impeaching Nixon was that Agnew was Vice President? The smart guys figured it out, got rid of Agnew, and then got rid of Nixon. What we need now is more smart guys.  We need a Pence scandal. Something big. Bigger even than Pence getting caught lunching with a woman when his wife was not present.


N.B.  I drafted this piece two weeks ago and put it aside.  I wondered if the "Handmaid's Tale" reference was a bit over the top. But a couple of days ago, I went back to my draft after reading a frightening item in the NYTimes. It reported on the nomination of a law professor, Amy Coney Barrett, to a seat on the Seventh Circuit, and noted she was "often mentioned as a potential candidate for the high court, especially if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to retire."

Though the candidate did not reveal it on the questionnaire she submitted to the Senate, she is a member of "small, tightly knit Christian group called 'People of Praise.'" There are 1,800 members in the world. The article continues:

Some of the group’s practises would surprise many faithful Catholics. Members of the group swear a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another, and are assigned and are accountable to a personal adviser, called a “head” for men and a “handmaid” for women. The group teaches that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family... .
The group believes in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings ... .
If, at this point, you need to lie down for a bit, please do so. Only after you recover should you consider reading the entire article. You will probably then need to lie down again. Or have a double scotch. Or both. Here it is:


Me, I'm going out to the trash and see if I can repair Futura and apologize to her.

ontinue reading the main story

28 September 2017

Connections: From the Shtetl to Trump and Intentional Divisiveness

Last Sunday's NY Times Travel section featured a story about the writer's journey to eastern Europe to visit the shtetl of her forbears. The article inspired to me to click on an embedded website that contained records of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. As I already knew, the name "London" was not an Ellis Island anglicization, and I punched it in. There were hundreds of "Londons" listed as "murdered" in the camps, a majority of whom came from the general area of Poland/Russia where my grandparents lived.  A chilling reminder of how lucky I am they came here when they did.

Is that a contributing reason for my emotional patriotism? Maybe.  Perhaps my military service adds passion to my convictions, though I was never in combat. But the fact is, I actually get a bit teary when I hear God Bless America, and am offended when I go ballgames and see men fail to take off their hats during the National Anthem.

So, when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, I was troubled.  I am wholly sympathetic to the plight of people of color who bear the brunt of racism in this country, but I wished Kaepernick would have found another way to voice his disapproval. The National Anthem and the US flag are important emotional symbols to me and I did not want have to deal with a personal conflict between my strong views about racial equality and freedom of speech on the one hand, and my sentimental attachment to national symbols that are personally important icons. The conflict for me is not new: I was vigorously opposed to the Vietnam war and participated in anti-war rallies, but was upset when activists chose to express their anti-war views by burning the flag.

I am not surprised that a fair number of normally anti-Trump progressives, some outspoken, some not, are troubled by current developments.

Bottom line, flag waving is powerful stuff. I suggest Mr. Trump is underestimated by his critics. His attack on those who kneel at NFL games is neither buffoonery nor the product of a disordered mind. Further, it is naive to believe his statements are simply a serving of raw meat to his base. Trump's divisive statements are a mean-spirited, calculated, and, I fear, effective political appeal to many outside the group that constitutes his core supporters.