When Clouds cross the sky, don’t ask El Sol why: part 1

los_angeles-downtown_traffic_trail_lights-0198Chapter 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

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May 27, 2017 · 10:04 pm

Trump makes bizarre decision to fire James Comey

FBI Director James Comey speaks at the Boston Conference on Cyber Security at Boston College in BostonIt 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

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May 17, 2017 · 11:11 pm

International community jarred by Trump & Kim

kim1_1170x880_acf_cropped-360x210There 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

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May 2, 2017 · 11:19 pm

California’s expensive Infrastructure gambit

201610_california_golden_fleece_award_caltransIn recent years California Democrats have been quick to brand their latest initiative as groundbreaking or visionary, thus a statewide $15 minimum wage was the result of a “landmark deal,” Senate President Kevin de Leon similarly praised SB 350’s renewable power provisions, and at a signing ceremony for the Golden State’s renewed climate change law Governor Jerry Brown said he hoped it “sends a message across the country.” What a coup it is for Sacramento to lead the way again and steal Donald Trump’s thunder by passing and signing a 10-year, $52 billion infrastructure bill before Capitol Hill Republicans managed to move a projected $1 trillion dollar investment beyond the drawing board. Continue reading

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April 20, 2017 · 8:51 pm

Supreme payback shadowed Gorsuch nomination

nuclear-option-republicans-neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-confirmation-933x445In light of his months-long campaign to block Senate hearings on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination and tie the vacant Supreme Court seat to November’s presidential election it’s difficult to take Mitch McConnell seriously when he says Democrats have “brought the Senate to this new low.” In light of the importance precedent plays in law, it’s strangely fitting to see how much the rival parties are relying on history to explain away the part they played in a “nuclear” war over protocol. Senate Republicans like McConnell spent most of last year defending their stalling by citing the “Biden rule,” which Washington lore says demands that an election-year Supreme Court vacancy remain unfilled. The former Senate committee chairman went to the floor, mindful of a bitter battle over Clarence Thomas’ nomination, and called for “serious reevaluation of the nomination and confirmation process” that at the time would likely have been dominated by “partisan bickering and political posturing.” Continue reading

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April 12, 2017 · 9:27 pm

Caught up in a Trump/Russia Tornado

trump-putinThere was an odd sense of calm on Capitol Hill in mid-March while the House Intelligence Committee was questioning FBI Director James Comey. The congressmen seemed a bit flustered, hardly surprising for a group at the periphery of an ever-expanding tornado who have been charged with separating fact from fiction; the former federal prosecutor remained calm, the experience of testifying about a months-old, politically-charged investigation is not a new one. But it was strange to see an active counterintelligence probe casually discussed in a five-hour, publicly broadcast hearing that featured a set of tin-plated questions about Donald Trump’s wiretapping Twitterstorm, the infamous dossier revealed by Buzzfeed.com, and the number of White House aides involved. Continue reading

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April 4, 2017 · 8:51 pm

Nelson DeMille’s “Radiant Angel” a timely tale

1On a quiet September afternoon, Colonel Vasily Petrov received a satchel and a pair of sealed envelopes from Moscow that contained a short, coded message: the satchel held three 9mm pistols, two submachine guns, and several spare magazines for each weapon. A year of planning and preparation had ended. It was time to commence “Operation Zero.” Outside the Russian Mission in New York former NYPD homicide detective John Corey is watching and waiting. As a contract agent for the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, his job is to follow the Russian. Corey is at turns disinterested, even cynical — at one point describing a job where “we all…take pictures of each other” — but flashes of his “detective instincts” break through the sardonic humor. His partner in this follow-up to The Panther is Tess Faraday, an aspiring FBI agent who drifts between bubbly and unsure of herself on this mission as they head for a beach house in the Hamptons. Continue reading

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March 27, 2017 · 8:06 pm