Category Archives: Media

Senator Rand Gall


On Saturday, I found an envelope with the following return address and postmark in our mailbox.

It raised the following questions.

  • Since Senator Rand Paul is from Kentucky, why would he be sending a letter from Fredericksburg, Virginia?
  • If it was official business, why would the envelope have a “non-profit” postmark instead of a congressional frank?

Inside were two pieces of correspondence, a survey and a self-addressed envelope to Senator Paul (see below).  Note the return address implied either Paul wanted me to believe the U.S. Capitol (following the January 6 insurrection) had moved to Loveland, Colorado for security reasons or NAGR headquarters was exact replica of capitol building.

The cover letter from Paul to “Dear American Patriot” explained he was sending this information on behalf of the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), and at the bottom, wanted me to know it was “NOT PRINTED OR MAILED AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE.” (His emphasis.)  The accompanying letter from NAGR president Dudley Brown included six pages of the usual pro-gun arguments why I needed to stand up to national and global forces trying to deprive me of my constitution rights to own weapons of mass destruction and more ammunition than any civilian needs to possess.  Brown then asked me to complete the enclosed survey and (drum roll) “return it with your generous contribution of $100 TODAY.”

There is one more relevant piece of information.  At the bottom of the survey is the following disclosure.  “The National Association of Gun Rights, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt advocacy organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions or gifts to NAGR are not tax-deductible for IRS purposes.  Not paid for or mailed at taxpayer expense.”

There is a lot to unpack here.  First as a 501(c)(4) non-profit, NAGR is similar to a chamber of commerce or trade association which is not automatically eligible for the non-profit bulk postal rate of 16.9 cents per piece, a 50 cent subsidy over the current rate of 55 cents you and I pay for a one-ounce letter.  The U.S. Postal Service is very specific about this.  Question 11 on the USPS Form 3624, “Application to Mail at Nonprofit USPS Marketing Mail Prices,” specifically omits 501(c)(4) organizations as a choice to justify its eligibility for the non-profit rate.  (See below.)

I am sure I was not at the top of the target list for this mailing; so there is no telling how many pieces of mail were involved.  For argument sake, let’s pick a conservative number of 100,000.  In this case, NGRA would have saved $38,100.  If the mailing approaches one million pieces, the federal subsidy (something which is a thinly disguised equivalent of taxpayer expense) would rise to $381,000.  There are two reasons it is hard to determine the exact subsidy.  First, we do not know the size of the mailing.  Second, the envelope (pictured above) appears self canceled by the mailer and only has five cents worth of postage.  So it is impossible to tell whether NAGR paid the full 2021 bulk rate.

One could also argue Senator Paul only fronted this mailing because NGRA lobbies on an issue near and dear to his heart.  Or maybe it’s personal.  After all, following the attack by a neighbor in which Paul suffered rib injuries, he might want to own an AR-15.  However, you would be wrong.  Michael Rothfeld, founder and CEO of Saber Communications, the company which manages NAGR’s mail marketing has a long history with the Paul family.  He was a major fundraiser for the Senator’s father Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential run.  Of the $40.6 million in campaign donations Rothfeld helped generate for the failed attempt for the Republican nomination, $7.7 million (19 percent) went to Saber Communications.  Rothfeld provided similar services for Rand Paul’s senate campaigns.

Based on past history, would anyone be surprised if Rothfeld and Saber Communications received a substantial share of the “$100 ask” accompanying the NAGR survey?  Especially since the surveys and donations will be returned to a Fredericksburg post office box.  Is it a coincidence Saber Communications, Inc., a company with no public record of its clients, consisting of Rothfeld and two employees, is located in (drum roll reprise) Fredericksberg while NAGR is headquartered in Colorado.

Finally, a sense of curiosity demands one inquire, “Why did Paul align with NAGR rather than the National Rifle Association (NRA) which has a significantly larger membership despite its current legal and financial troubles?”  That answer may lie in an April 9, 2015 article in the Washington Times titled, “Rand Paul shunned by NRA over National Association of Gun rights ties.”  According to reporter Kelly Riddell, Paul did not receive the NRA’s endorsement “…because of Mr. Paul’s association with the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), a rival pro-gun rights umbrella group, that has angered other gun rights advocates, who accuse the group of misleading mailings and headline-stealing tactics.”  Misleading mailings?  Headline-stealing tactics?  What better surrogate for Senator Paul than NAGR?

ENDNOTE:  At an August 21 meeting of the Senate government affairs committee, of which Paul is a member, he raised the possibility of cutting mail delivery from six to five days a week and reducing the postal service workforce.  He claimed these changes could reduce the agency’s budget by $1.5 billion.  Senator, you know what else might help the USPS operating budget?  Not disguising questionable non-profit mailings by attaching your name to them.

For what it’s worth.


Florida Man


Proponents of a ban on assault weapons often make this argument.  If you are someone who thinks there are that many people out to get you you need an AR-15 to defend yourself, you are probably an individual who should not have access to such lethal armaments.  Perhaps the same should hold true for people who are constantly being sued for libel and then propose new restrictions on the press.  Or those who question others’ morals yet are the subjects of multiple questionable personal relationships. Consider the following example.

In investigation of Rep. Gaetz's alleged sexual relationship with minor, feds looking beyond Florida, sources say - ABC NewsIt is hard to think of Matthew Louis Gaetz II as a U.S. congressman.  Every time he appears on television, I think I have accidently turned on a rebroadcast of Paul Sorvino as Reverend Willie Williams in  “Oh, God!” or am watching auditions for the Joe Pesci role in a remake of “Good Fellas,” both of which give me the creeps.  Yet, somehow this native of Hollywood, Florida and product of Niceville High School (no April Fools joke), Florida State University and William and Mary Law School has found a home on the “Redneck Riviera,” otherwise known as the Florida western panhandle.  Voters in Florida’s 1st Congressional District have thrice elected him to fill the seat once held by repentant former-Republican Joe Scarborough.

ImageThe last 12 months have not been kind to this Trumpist wunderkind. Least among them was the announcement last November he had tested positive for the coronavirus, the same health crisis he mocked on March 7, 2020, donning a gas mask on the floor of the House chamber.  For the record, two days after this picture was taken, one of his constituents was among the first Floridians to succumb to COVID-19.  In an effort to minimize any pushback related to being a long-time COVID denier, Gaetz explained he had actually tested positive for anti-bodies, not the virus itself, a precursor of the verbal Rorshach images he would employ in other embarrassing situations.

Let’s start with the mysterious case of Gaetz’ sudden acknowledgement in June 2020 that he had a Cuban-born “son” to refute Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who, following George Floyd’s death, suggested that many of his colleagues could not understand what it was like to be a black father who wondered if a son or daughter would return home safely every time they left the house.  The disclosure came during an interview with (drum roll) Tucker Carlson although the 17 year old had never been mentioned in Gaetz’ official biography or anywhere else.

Gaetz explained the boy was the orphaned brother of a former girlfriend and had lived with him for six years, even after Gaetz’ relationship with the boy’s sister ended.  When asked during a People Magazine interview if he had legally adopted the boy, Gaetz explained why it was unnecessary.  “Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork.”  Too bad the congressman does not feel the same about birth certificates and gender identification.

In an unintentional effort to prove T. S. Elliot wrong (“April is the cruelest month” from Waste Land), June continued to plague Gaetz as we now know from reports he is the subject of a Department of Justice investigation related to possible sex trafficking.  The examination is part of a larger inquiry into a Gaetz political ally, former Seminole County, Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg.  Greenberg was indicted (drum roll reprise) last June of multiple sex trafficking charges and misuse of the government data.  (Synchronicity runs deep in the Sunshine State.)

Gaetz chose (this drum is getting beaten to death) an interview with Tucker Carlson to refute the New York Times report the DOJ investigation included his having paid expenses for a 17 year old girl.  At one point, Gaetz said he had never travelled with any 17 year old, adding, “It is a verifiable lie.  People can look at my travel records and see that is not the case.”  And any travel payments were merely evidence of his generosity to friends.  However, even I, without the advantage of a William and Mary law degree (To paraphrase Gaetz, “Paperwork doesn’t matter.”) know there is a no legal distinction between “travelling” with someone across state lines and paying for them to travel unaccompanied across state lines when it comes to sex trafficking. HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE: In December 2017, Gaetz was the only Congressman to vote against the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act which also passed the Senate by unanimous consent.

Gaetz’ legal entanglements do not stop there.  During the Carlson interview, he volunteered he and his father were cooperating with the FBI to thwart an attempt to extort his family in exchange for making any legal or political problems disappear.  He went so far as to accuse Pensacola lawyer David McGee, a former federal prosecutor, as being behind the extortion plot.

For the record, Gaetz has not been charged with any crime nor have any of these stories been independently substantiated.  That is best left to DOJ and local prosecutors.  However, it does explain why Gaetz may need an army of defense lawyers and public relations specialists to address the reports.  Not to mention (but I will) many of his House colleagues have failed to come to his defense.  Gaetz admitted as much, telling The Daily Beast:

The last time I had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, I was 17. As for the Hill, I know I have many enemies and few friends. My support generally lies outside of Washington, D.C., and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are two notable exceptions.  Ohio congressman “Gym” Jordan who told CNN, “I believe Matt Gaetz.”  And Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene who compared the reports to “conspiracy theories and lies like Trump/Russia collusion.”  With friends like these…

On this opening day of the 2021 baseball season,  I can hear the man or woman behind the table as you enter the stadium, “Get your program!  Get your program!  You can’t tell the players or the Matt Gaetz scandals without a program.”

For what it’s worth.


Beholding a Drudge


Vernon Jordan, ex-Clinton adviser and civil rights activist, dead at 85 | Fox NewsToday’s post is another stroll down Memory Lane on Dr. ESP’s own “way back machine” (with apologies to Jay Ward, who created “Peabody’s Improbable History”).  This time the triggering event was the March 1 passing of businessman, civil rights activist and Bill Clinton advisor Vernon Jordan.

During Clinton’s second term, Jordan took on the additional role of “presidential fixer” when White House staff expressed concern a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky was spending too much time with the president.  In April 1996, Lewinsky was reassigned to work at the Pentagon although sexual encounters with Clinton continued through March 1997.  When Lewinsky left her Pentagon job in December 1997, Jordan was tasked with finding new employment for her, preferably in New York City.

On January 12, 1998, Linda Tripp turns over recordings of conversations she had with Lewinsky about the Clinton relationship to Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who then receives permission from Attorney General Janet Reno to expand his investigation.  Re-enter Vernon Jordan who had been unsuccessful in finding new employment for Lewinsky and was in regular contact with Clinton about the still “under the radar” federal investigation.

So, you may ask, why is this post listed under “media” and what does the title “Beholding a Drudge” have to do with it?  On January 16, 1998, Tripp invites Lewinsky to meet her at the bar at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City (across from Reagan National Airport).   Upon her arrival, Lewinsky is met by FBI agents who take her to an upstairs room, offer her immunity and question her about the Clinton affair and her potential obstruction of justice when she coached Tripp to submit a false affidavit about other alleged Clinton sexual encounters.

Drudge Diagnoses Hillary Clinton on Twitter and More NewsAs “luck” would have it, a little known political gossip columnist Matt Drudge is tipped off about the FBI intervention and breaks the story on January 19 via the on-line Drudge Report, a news aggregation service he started in 1995.  Why and for whom was this lucky?  In a most bizarre and perverse turn of events, in my opinion, Matt Drudge may have been single-handedly responsible for saving Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Immediately following Drudge’s exposé, which included a charge that Newsweek reporter Mike Isikoff had the story but his editor chose not to run it, Jordan terminated all communications with Lewinsky.  Why is this significant?  Jordan had been a “trusted mentor” to whom Lewinsky turned for guidance in navigating the potential public relations and legal firestorm if her affair became public knowledge.  Imagine Jordan was unaware Lewinsky had accepted an immunity deal in return for her cooperation in the Starr investigation.  Might her cooperation agreement have included recording future conservations between Lewinsky and Jordan and subsequent conversations between Jordan and Clinton?

If you think a Republican-led Congress had an impeachment field day over a perjury charge predicated on the meaning of the word “is,” imagine if there was evidence of further obstruction of justice including attempted witness tampering after the FBI’s involvement.  Democrats would have been in the same position as Republicans last month when they had to defend the indefensible.  As well they should have been.

Sadly, the story does not end there.  Even without further evidence of wrongdoing, I was among the minority of Democrats who believed then, and still believes, Clinton should have resigned.  Not because of the over-hyped perjury charge.  Rather due to his liability as a potential national security threat (can you say “kompromat”) and his setting a new precedent for reckless “presidential behavior.”  In hindsight, one has to consider the possibility Drudge’s premature outing of the initial FBI encounter with Lewinsky may have also resulted in Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

While Republican defense of Trump under the premise “what aboutism” is often unfounded, in this case, there is reasonable justification.  How could Democrats give Clinton a pass and attack Trump for being a sexual predator?  How was Trump’s response to his accusers any different from Hillary Clinton’s claim on the “Today Show” that Lewinsky was a pawn in “a vast right-wing conspiracy” against her husband. (Ironically, the January 27, 1998 interview was conducted by Matt Lauer.)  Or do we conveniently forget New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd “slut shamed” (before the phrase became part of our vocabulary) Lewinsky, calling her “a ditzy, predatory White House intern?”

Is this twisted tale just one more example of the “butterfly effect?”  Did the 1995 flashing of an intern’s thong in the Oval Office set the stage for the election of a reality TV host two decades later?  Does this make Matt Drudge an unwitting asset of MAGA World who has since fallen out of favor with the movement’s leader? Or is this a morality tale with no heroes?   Or as Carl Jung would suggest, a series of unrelated events which become a synchronistic narrative?

Or, was Vernon Jordan’s passing just one more opportunity for a blogger in search of a topic to consume one more morning while waiting for his second Pfizer vaccine dose to fully kick in?

For what it’s worth.


Real Time Meets This Is Us


SPOILER ALERT:  If you plan to and have not yet watched either last Tuesday’s episode of “This Is Us” or “Real Time with Bill Maher,” you may want to wait before reading this post.

I do not know about you, but the attraction of NBC’s “This Is Us” is its ability to remind us of the challenges we all face in relationships.  For example, last Tuesday’s episode provided a tri-generational perspective on fathers and sons.  We first see another backstory example of why Jack Pearson constantly vows to be better than his own father.  At the other end of the spectrum, we witness Kevin Pearson telling a complete stranger about his self-imposed pressure to live up to his father’s example even though a flashback suggests Jack, at times, can emulate the same paternal behaviors he swore not to repeat.

Which brings me to last night’s edition of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”  No one has made more fun or criticized Donald Trump than Maher, targeting his narcissism and his willingness to ignore facts.  Yet, last night, if I had not known better, I could have sworn the host was channeling the former president.  The opening monologue could only be described as “Bill Maher’s Greatest Hits.”  Just like every Trump rally, the content was neither new or clever.  He spent the first couple of minutes telling the audience (aka HIS cultists) how wonderful they are.

Image result for adam kinzingerNext came an interview with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of ten GOP representatives to vote for impeachment and, with Liz Cheney, is trying to retake the party from the Trump cultists.  Maher’s response to every one of Kinzinger’s comments was, “Well, okay.”  This is how you respond when you either have not listened to what someone has said or do not care.  Remind you of anyone else?

But the most disturbing illustration of Maher morphing into Trump came during the panel discussion with Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of the blog Daily Kos, and former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt. First, he had to again talk about the difficulties he is having trying to activate the solar energy system at his home.  In the middle of a pandemic, Maher became the “it’s all about me and my problems” celebrity.

Then, in the middle of a conversation about whether cable news only invites guests who will say what the audience wants to hear, Maher interrupts and says he has the only show that offers opposing views.  He might as well have said, “Cable news is a carnage, and only I can fix it.”

The difference between Jack Pearson and Bill Maher?  Jack had the presence of mind to catch himself, look at the impact on his own son, and modify his behavior.  Trump just went plowing on.  Ironically, the ensuing discussion about the need for a sane middle-right party resulted in TOTAL agreement among the panel despite the fact there was a counter argument to be made.

Did Maher, Moulitsas and Schmidt not watch or read the news this week?  I do not want to take credit for this observation as Joe Scarborough has made the point repeatedly since the Georgia senate run-off.  He contends all the GOP rehetoric about an untethered radical left is unfounded.  As former red states elect Democratic senators and representatives, the moderating forces that used to be in the GOP now are the Joe Manchins (WV), John Testers (MT), Kyrsten Sinemas (AZ) and Mark Kellys (AZ).  They are the ones who are proposing alternatives to better target COVID-19 relief and putting the brakes on loading up the relief bill with non-germane provisions.

Additionally,  the panelists’ premise was also disproved by an exchange on “Morning Joe” earlier this week when Scarborough and a guest questioned whether the Biden administration was siding with teachers’ unions over the CDC when it came to school re-openings.  The gist of the criticism?  Biden said they were going to make decisions based on science, and in this case, it appears they are not.  It does not matter where you personally stand on the issue.  Anyone who believes that is not a legitimate question needs to check their objectivity credentials at the door.

One more data point.  A day after Schmidt resigned from the Lincoln Project following allegations of sexual misconduct against co-founder John Weaver, the panelist’s introduction included no mention of his former association with the anti-Trump group. This was followed by Maher telling his guest, “I’m not here to prosecute you.”  Instead Maher, who as mentioned above chided shows that play to their audiences, read a quote from New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioning the use of fund raised by the Lincoln Project.  Is it coincidence Maher chose AOC as the dissenting voice, as opposed to Meghan McCain who had also challenged Weaver’s and Schmidt’s motives?

Image result for bill maher gel hairImage result for eric trump haircutTo recap, Bill Maher hosted a panel during which all the participants shared the same opinions after ignoring any information that might refute their position and side-stepped the touchy issue that led to Schmidt’s Lincoln Project resignation.  Could there have been an agreement (you know, an NDA) between Schmidt and Maher to not raise the subject?  So much for Real Time being “the only show” with the testicular fortitude to broach unpopular viewpoints.  Just as Jack Pearson sometimes reneged on his pledge not to be like his father, Maher seems to be guilty of following in an elder’s footsteps.  Except it does not involve his actual father as Trump, who to my knowledge, did not sire the Real Time host, though Maher and Eric seem to have genetically similar hair.

For what it’s worth.


National Buffoons’ Vacation


With apologies to John Hughes (screenplay) and Harold Ramis (director), I present selected scenes from my forthcoming sequel to “National Lampoon’s Vacation” featuring Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Kevin McCarthy, Lauren Boebart, Matt Gaetz as themselves and Marjorie Taylor Greene as “the girl in the red Hummer.”

Opening Scene/Side-by-side pictures of McCarthy and Gaetz on election night 2020.

Announcer:  You’ve just been re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  What are you going to do now?

McCarthy and Gaetz:  We’re going to HAWLEY WORLD!

Cruz Home Family Room/Cruz shows Boebart, McCarthy and Gaetz the trip route to DC.

Cruz:  Gang, I wanna make sure we get the maximum amount of fun time at Hawley World without missing any of the good stuff along the way…I’ve got the whole thing broken down into: total miles, miles per gallons, number of Proud Boys, MAGA nation and members of QAnon we can recruit on the way…With me so far?

McCarthy:  Don’t ask me.  I’ve never heard of any of these people.

On the Road/A girl in a Hummer (Taylor Greene) approaches the Cruz station wagon.  She glances over at Ted with a sexy smirk. Cruz steps on the gas to keep up as she passes them.

Boebart: Ted, you’re going eighty miles an hour!…Slow down!

Cruz:  Why?  We’re making good time. [Through the windshield, Cruz reads the Georgia license plate on the back of the Hummer — “1776.”  Cruz sings to himself.] You say you want a revolution…

Motel Courtyard/Cruz runs into the girl in the Hummer.

Taylor Greene: Enjoying your family road trip?

Cruz:  This is highly confidential.  Actually, I’m a U.S. senator. Have to be in Washington by the 3rd. That’s when the new session starts.

Taylor Greene:  Too bad you’re part of the Washington establishment.  I’m in the mood for some fun.

Cruz:  Establishment?  No way.  You probably think those people I’m with are my staff.  I’m my own man.  I take them with me when I’m back in Texas.  They sort of complete the establishment disguise.

The girl walks over to the pool and yanks off her top revealing a QAnon tattoo.  She then drops her jeans and dives in.

Taylor Greene: Wow! This feels great. Are you going to “go for it?”

Cruz kicks off his loafers, whips off his shirt and drops his pants.

Cruz: I’ll be right there. [Then to himself] This is crazy.  This is crazy. This is crazy.

FINAL SCENE/Station wagon pulls up to the entrance of Hawley World.  But the gate to the Hawley World castle (AKA U.S. Capitol) is barricaded.  Cruz stares at a huge cardboard cutout of Donald Trump.

Cruz:  I watch his goddamn rallies on TV every night.  I read his Tweets.  I buy his cheap merchandise.  I sit through his shit briefings.  I was supposed to be the chosen one.  And now this kid Hawley steals my thunder.  They owe me.  Right?

McCarthy:  Don’t ask me about Hawley.  Maybe we should wait and hear directly from him.  I don’t know if I’m even pronouncing his name right.

Cruz spots Hawley entering the Capitol.

Cruz:  Hey, Hawley.  You might find this hard to believe, but we’re big fans of yours.  It’s just that we were expecting to “stop the steal” and now it looks like it won’t happen.

Hawley:  Not true.  “Stop the Steal” Day at Hawley World is not until Wednesday.  It’s going to be huge.  Lots of people from all around the country.  And there will be several brand new attractions.  Senate and House balcony bungee jumping.  Jewish laser tag. Capture the false flag. Whack-a-cop.  Hide and go seek with the vice president and house speaker.  And special guest appearances by Rudy Giuliani, Donald Junior and the conspirator-in-chief himself Donald J. Trump.

Boebart:  That’s great!  How can we ever repay you?

Hawley:  I’m sure I will think of something.  Give me four years.

As the scene fades out, a red Hummer pulls up to the barricade.  On the passenger-side door, there is a magnetic sign with a picture of an AR-15 and the motto: EDUCATION COMMITTEE OR ELSE!

UPDATE:  After submitting the script to several major studios and indie producers, I’m afraid it has been universally rejected.  One studio head summed it up by saying, “Where do you come up with this stuff?  No way anyone would ever believe it.”

For what it’s worth.