The Lawyers Always Win

“The civil service is under greater assault than at any time since reforms of the eighteen-eighties.”

Fiona Hill, a coal miner’s daughter from northern England, earned master’s and PhD degrees in history from Harvard University. She became a U.S. citizen in 2002. Hill worked in the research department at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and as a national intelligence analyst for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. She was was an intelligence analyst under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Early in 2017 the current occupant of the White House appointed Dr. Hill to the National Security Council as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs. She served in that position until she resigned in July, 2019.

Responding to a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee, Fiona Hill testified for ten hours in a closed-door hearing on October 14, 2019 as part of the impeachment inquiry. She testified publicly before the same body on November 21, 2019. For her trouble, she received insults from the president, death threats from his supporters and six-figure bills from attorneys. Those who supposedly know estimate her legal fees at somewhere between four hundred and five hundred thousand dollars.

Other State Department career employees who provided such riveting testimony during the House impeachment hearings face similar lawyers’ fees.

The State Department announced that it will provide relief to its employees. The Department will cover attorney’s fees of $300 per hour up to 120 hours a month – $36,000.

Partners at top firms experienced in these matters charge up to $1,200 per hour, “associates” $800 or so. When one needs to engage a team of lawyers, well, it gets expensive.

The American Foreign Service Association, the union representing State Department employees, has set up a legal-defense fund. So far a bit more than $250,000 has been donated. Some public-spirited attorneys from both political parties are working for reduced fees and, in some cases pro bono. The lead lawyer for Marie Yovanovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine, said, “Unless you’re a full-time public-interest lawyer, you get only a few chances to take cases that you strongly believe in. I took the case because this is why I went to law school.”

Water, In All the Wrong Places

You start the dishwasher, expecting an explosion. Instead, you get “like four drops of water.” You hear the toilet flush ten times, “Ten times right… Not me, of course. Not me. But you. Him.”

You’re probably thinking, What’s the deal with water?

Continue reading “Water, In All the Wrong Places”

Tina Hits the Wall of Sound

“Ike Turner is one of the most dehumanized figures in rock history.”

“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” has been well-received by reviewers since opening on Broadway in October, 2019. Critics have especially praised Adrienne Warren in the title role. Warren reprises her performance in the London West End production that opened April, 2018.

A major musical number in the first act is “River Deep – Mountain High,” recreating on stage a Phil Spector production from 1966.

Continue reading “Tina Hits the Wall of Sound”

Keeping Up with the President

“It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?” — Ronald Reagan

You thought no president would be lazier than our fortieth? Even George W. Bush (43) spent much of his time clearing brush and driving a pickup truck around his Crawford Texas ranch.

There’s a quick and easy way to keep abreast of what the current occupant of the White House is doing. The web site posts the president’s rigorous schedule, updated daily. For example, here is his very busy Friday, January 17, 2020.

11:00 am The President participates in the visit of the 2019 College Football National Champions: Louisiana State University Tigers

2:30 pm The President and First Lady depart the White House

5:25 pm The President and First Lady arrive at Mar-a-Lago

6:30 pm The President participates in a roundtable with supporters (closed to press)

7:00 pm The President delivers remarks at a joint finance committee dinner (closed to press)

Fun fact: Condominiums in Trump-branded buildings on average sell for 18.2% less per square foot compared to similar units in the same ZIP code.

Wine: Good News ~ Bad News

“The industry has reached the point of acute oversupply due to diminishing volumes sold. That will lead to vineyard removals — and fallowing in some cases — and reduced returns for growers.”

When I moved to Sonoma County in 1995, it seemed every bare patch of ground — and acres formerly planted with apples, hops and other crops — was being planted with new vineyards; until 2008, that is. The wine business recovered from the recession, but is now facing another downturn.

In its annual report on the wine business, Silicon Valley Bank stated that the industry is “in the midst of a consumer reset.”

Continue reading “Wine: Good News ~ Bad News”

Failure Rewarded

Boeing Company’s board of directors decided it was time for Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg to go. Muilenburg oversaw the 737-Max disaster, with a pattern of obstructing F.A.A. oversight. Two crashes of the now-and-still-grounded plane killed 346 persons. Recently-released internal company communications display employees ridiculing the design and safety of the 737-Max. One employee derided the jet as “designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”

Continue reading “Failure Rewarded”