There were no clocks on CNN counting down to Jeh Jonson’s appearance in front of the House Intelligence Committee in June. The former Homeland Security (DHS) chief’s testimony did not draw curious and committed spectators to pubs and coffeehouses serving spiked java or “Im-PEACH-mints” so they could watch a heavyweight showdown like the one between a sitting president and the FBI director he fired. Johnson met those low expectations while contributing little to the discussion about alleged collusion and obstruction aimed at the Trump campaign and a rookie president. He was on Capitol Hill to talk about another president who is under fire for ordering an “influence campaign” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and defuse a related assertion. In the process Johnson reintroduced another aspect of this alleged attempt to assist the former Celebrity Apprentice host that has been relegated to the undercard of public interest by cloak-and-dagger intrigue. Continue reading
Chapter Two: The group huddled, but before anyone could cast their vote an Arco sign appeared in the distance. A purple square fronted the neighboring store, one with orange letters that spelled out Rainbow Donuts. They had arrived, but were going the wrong way and already passed the first available left turn lane. It was quiet that night, but there was enough traffic on the road to prevent a quick U-turn: a Subaru passed by, then a Kia and a pair of black-and-white cruisers with their lights on and sirens off.
Gwen pursed her lips. “That’s weird.”
A moment passed before the Nissan circled around to make its way toward Seaside Estates and those warm beds within. When the car’s headlights found its gates they shone on a pair of modest, turquoise pillars and a sliding gold-flecked gate; the push-button box mounted on the median was their way in. Mark pressed the big, square button under its speaker. The reply was unexpectedly blunt.
“Hi, yeah, I have a reservation for Edith Tilton,” Mark replied. “We’re friends of hers…she’s not here, but she called ahead, talked to Adam about this.”
The box squawked, “Just a minute,” then went silent. Continue reading
By the time staffers at Staples Center started removing the Clippers’ logo from its hardwood floor and pulling down banners writers and pundits like Bill Plaschke and Jim Rome made it clear what management should do: break up a struggling team. The former San Diego franchise has been maddeningly inconsistent — they’ve lost five straight playoff series while giving up a one, or two, game lead and seen their star forward go home injured twice. But the Clippers also won 50 games in each of the past five seasons. They can handle challenges, like a seven game series against the Spurs in 2015, won on a last-second shot in a San Antonio by Chris Paul. The Clippers’ first round loss to the Jazz did more than remind fans and reporters of their weaknesses, it’s inviting speculation about how many players will leave Los Angeles via free agency and what management will do next. Continue reading
The ringing tones that echoed from Manchester last month were all too familiar: another concert bombed, another group of innocents killed by an aspiring martyr, another round of prayers, condemnations, and public mourning. It was like something out of a nightmare, and that was before survivors and observers learned how this guided missile eluded security by attacking as concertgoers were leaving the arena. His timing couldn’t have been better — the Manchester bomber struck while his ideological brethren were making headlines in the Philippines and Egypt. The army that wears no uniform and does not represent a nation seems to be on the march all over the world, but something else echoed from the blast that doesn’t involve TNT or homemade shrapnel. Continue reading
Chapter One: The midnight-blue Nissan was cruising South on Highway 101, ninety minutes out of San Francisco, carrying a quartet of old friends and a trunk stuffed with backpacks and roll-away luggage. They were headed to the southern California coast for a week-long vacation when Zeke piped up and the first notes of Last Night faded from the Sentra’s speakers.
“How did you pull this off?”
Mark cocked his head, signaled a lane-change, and responded to his co-pilot.
“What part did I miss? My sister has a friend in the neighborhood she cat-sits for who owns this place, but can’t use it now. Brooke can’t get away either, so it fell to me…and since there are three rooms and nobody objected I brought all of you.”
“I got that, but these time shares have a bad rep. Supposedly, they make newbs sit through presentations and pressure ’em to sign contracts.”
“But we’re not fresh meat. The place is bought-and-paid-for,” Mark grinned, “if they do try something like that I’ll refer them to Claire.”
For a moment the redhead in the back seat looked upset, then those green eyes flashed and she shot back, “Okay, but it’s going to cost you.” Continue reading
It would be nice to believe a president who presided over rallies where crowds chanted “Lock her up” and recently labeled FBI Director James Comey the “best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton” discovered a genuine interest in the Bureau’s reputation and credibility. But that would require the will to forget how much the former Director’s public pronouncements in July helped candidate Trump. After months of rumor-mongering and speculation, Comey explained to a national audience how the former Secretary of State had been “extremely careless” with classified material on her personal email server. The billionaire developer suddenly had a credible, nonpartisan figure who confirmed what Republican candidates and cable news hosts had been asserting for over a year. When that credible figure refused to charge the Democrat nominee it played into Trump’s claim that the game was rigged in Clinton’s favor, something he took full advantage of. Continue reading
There was something oddly fitting about a President who prizes spontaneity abruptly deciding to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base and his April announcement that an “armada” was making its way into Korean waters to confront the North over a sanctioned weapons program. Noted critics like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were full of praise when they issued a joint statement urging Trump to “take Assad’s air force…completely out of the fight.” Cable news figures like Brian Williams were almost poetic in their praise — Fareed Zakaria said Trump “became president that night.” White House ally Ann Coulter and Capitol Hill skeptics like Rand Paul and Tulsi Gabbard were not convinced; the Kentucky Senator rightly pointed out that the White House had no authorization to use force because the United States was not attacked. Continue reading