Sunday, March 3, 2019

Seeing the Future But Not Always the Present

I watched or listened on the radio to 90% of Michael Cohen’s Wednesday appearance before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The most significant part I missed was Cohen’s closing statement. Here’s how John Dean, White House counsel under Richard Nixon and the man who famously told him that the Watergate coverup represented a “cancer” growing on the presidency, described Cohen’s parting words: 

“He thanked the members, and again accepted responsibility for his bad behavior. He then told the legislators, ‘Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.’ This was the most troubling—actually, chilling—thing he said in his five hours before the committee.” (

I couldn’t agree more. But I was not surprised by Cohen’s dire prediction, as back on January 30 I postulated the same possibility, er, probability. Here’s how I put it: 

“But with 2020 looming and his polling numbers down, Trump is now in a position to do real damage to the republic should he lose reelection. He would continue, after all, to be president for more than two months until January 20, 2021, a lame duck in name but not in power to respond to emergencies. 

“It is not a far reach to think Trump would invoke executive powers to declare a rigged election created a national emergency. Consider the border wall contretemps a potential test case before the Supreme Court of his authority to enact executive rule.” (

I take no pleasure in being among the first to counsel wariness about our democratic future. But it is reassuring to know others are similarly pre-occupied. I only hope they are preparing plans to insure my forecast does not come true. 

Wannabe-in-Chief: His detractors have likened him to a would-be dictator, what with his cozying up to actual despots like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, taking their word over the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies and diplomatic corps. 

But now, Donald Trump has added multi-hour oratory to his autocratic repertoire. Appearing at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference,  just hours after flying home from a fruitless summit in Hanoi with the North Korean potentate, Trump emulated authoritarian leaders like Fidel Castro in delivering a two hour-plus highlight reel review of his campaign, presidency and bouts with unsatisfactory staffers and runaway investigators (

Sadly, Trump’s performance was not the most troubling part of CPAC. Rather, it was the fawning, sycophantic, hyperbolic approval he received from an audience that in the past cherished American values but now has been hoodwinked by a wannabe absolute monarch. 

My Blindspot: Of course, my vision is not perfect. Case in point—For more than 30 years I had my hair cut at Young & Classy, a salon on Central Avenue in Scarsdale. After Young & Classy closed down more than a year ago my haircutter Rosie moved to a different salon. I followed her there.

A few months ago Gilda accompanied me. While I was getting my hair washed Rosie told Gilda that the spa and massage parlor next to the Young & Classy location was raided by police because it turned out to be a front for a den of illicit sexual activity. Throughout the day men could be seen coming and going from the storefront next door. 

Who knew? Who knew that right next door, while I was getting shorn, other men were getting…pleasured? 

Illegal massage parlors have been in the news a lot lately, since the arrest of Robert Kraft, owner of the seemingly perennial Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, as part of a roundup of patrons. Kraft denies soliciting sexual activity while a customer of Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. 

Sexual indiscretion of another kind, the extra-marital kind, has engulfed another billionaire, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the world’s richest human. His affair and breakup of his 25-year marriage have become fodder for tabloid journalists and, to his extent the actions could have an impact on Amazon’s businesses, also for mainstream news outlets (

In case you’re wondering, here’s why I have not previously commented on Amazon—unlike many other retailers, I met Jeff Bezos only once or twice. Actually, to say I met him would be a stretch. I was part of a large press and securities analyst pool. Basically, the only takeaway I have from Bezos is the sound of his laugh. It is among the strangest noises one could hear. It is more than a hacking sound. It is loud. It reverberates. There is nothing infectious about it. Were it not for his billions and his obvious brilliance there would be multiple reasons to distance oneself from the sound.