SALMAGUNDI

The Morning Call mixes things up

HELP WANTED:
A reader emailed the other day to ask if I could help spread the word about a potential tragedy-in-the-making, in the hope that this community might be able to help.  He wrote:

I am a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and served there with the 101st Airborne running combat operations. To facilitate our operations, we had interpreters assigned to us. One of our interpreters has reached out to several of us and asked for help with getting his family out. They were able to get P2 approval and were directed to go to the airport for evacuation. Unfortunately, the Taliban would not let them through the outer cordon on multiple occasions. They are now stuck in Kabul under duress and the Taliban have their information.


As a resident of Iowa, our reader has contacted his Senator, Joni Ernst, but has not had much response.  If any of you in the crowd can help – either directly or with Senator Ernst’s office – everyone involved would be eternally grateful.

Please email me, and I will pass along any info or put you in touch with the reader.

Much obliged.

MY TRAVELS:
As a few of you know, my “short-notice” trip on Monday took me to the wilds of Maine.  Literally.

I was invited late last week to make the journey to Tucker Carlson’s studio, which is deep in the beautiful and sparsely populated forests of Maine, to tape an episode of “Tucker Carlson Today.”  For those of you who don’t know, “Tucker Carlson Today,” is the Fox News giant’s long-form (usually an hour) interview show that airs on Fox Nation – the network’s streaming service.  Tucker tapes three shows a week, all on Tuesday afternoon, and then they air whenever the producers feel they fit the news cycle the best.  I was Tucker’s second interview yesterday, right after Andrew Yang.

The ostensible subject of the interview was my book, The Dictatorship of Woke Capital, but A.) Tucker is an excellent interviewer, and he takes the conversation wherever it leads; and B.) it’s his show, so he can take the conversation wherever he wants.  Among other things, we talked about how Mark Melcher basically invented the field of “Washington Research” for Wall Street; about how Melcher’s focus, in the 1990s, on the risks posed to markets by political corruption ended up getting us fired (by someone engaged in what can only be called political corruption); about our brief stint at Lehman Brothers and the accurate description of Lehman Brothers that appears just briefly in the movie “Despicable Me.”  We talked about how Larry Fink wants desperately to be famous, and how we should accommodate his wishes by making him the face of politicized capital; about Fink’s “Gnostic’ vision of himself; about Tucker’s conviction that United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is going to get people killed; and about my expectations for the 5-10-year performance of the U.S. economy.  (And let me just say, regarding this last bit: you’d better hope I’m wrong.)

It was a lot of fun, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.

I will let you know more about when it will air when I know more.

BABY, YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR:
As noted above, Tucker Carlson’s studio is located somewhere to the east (or was it west?) of The Middle of Nowhere.  As a result, getting there takes some doing – a 1 ½ hour car ride from Portland, to be exact.  The driver who took me to and from the studio was a fascinating guy, with fascinating stories.

First, he is a black man, the same age I am, who grew up and lived much of his adult life in the projects in New York.  I asked him: how’s a guy from the projects in NYC end up driving a limo in Maine?  “I got shot.  In the back.”  In 1999, when he was returning home late one night after work (driving a limo, natch), he was walking from the subway to his building and heard two men yell something.  He felt a stinging pain and then woke up in a hospital in the Bronx (where they are better equipped to handle precarious gunshot wounds – like his, where the bullet was lodged under his spine, right on top of his spinal cord).  The doctors left the bullet in him for two years, afraid to remove it.  Eventually, it worked its way away from the spinal cord, allowing safe removal.  He said, “I knew, that day, that I had to get out of that city or I was gonna end up dead.”

So…why Maine?  “I drove John Travolta up here to his house one time in the middle of an ice storm, and even despite the weather, I thought it looked beautiful – peaceful and SAFE.”  He continued: “I tried to get my family to leave the city, but they never did.  I lost my dad to COVID in January, my mom in March, and my favorite uncle in April.  The inner city – where they all live together and take public transportation is KILLING a LOT of people!”

Somehow, we got onto the subject of politics, and he said, “Let me tell you a story about Donald Trump.  I don’t know if you like him or don’t like him or whatever, but this is about him, the man, not the politician.  When I was 19, I was trying to get away from the gang life in my neighborhood.  I learned how to shine shoes and bought a box with all the tools of the trade.  One day I was outside of a big building in Manhattan when a Town Car pulls up.  Out gets Donald Trump.  I say to him ’Shine your shoes, Mister?’  He asks me why I should let him shine my shoes, and I tell him, ‘You musta just had a hot dog on the corner because you have mustard on your shoe.’  He turned to his assistant and said ‘I like this guy.  He’s observant.’  I shined his shoes, and when I was done, he tipped me a hundred dollars.  Then he said, ‘I just bought this building.  When it opens, you can set up a stand in the lobby.’  On the first day it was open, I set up my stand, and he walked in and walked right over to me to have his shoes shined.  And he tipped me a hundred bucks again.  My friends and family all ask me, ‘Did you really vote for him?’ and I say, ‘Hell yes, I did!’  Nobody else ever tipped me a hundred dollars, and he did it twice!”

LAWS, THEY SAY:
This is nitpicky and pedantic, but when you fly these days, you are bombarded with announcements about how “federal law mandates the wearing of masks” in airports and on planes.  On my flight from Chicago to Maine the other day, the pilot damn-near had a conniption because someone in the back of the plane refused to wear his/her mask “properly” – which is to say that he/she did not have the mask covering his/her nose.  The pilot threatened the flight – intentionally attempting to galvanize mob justice – that we would be diverted to the nearest airport, where the unruly patient would be removed and beaten severely turned over to local law enforcement.  IT'S THE LAW, he kept saying.

Of course, mask-wearing ISN’T a law.  It’s a regulatory rule issued pursuant to an Executive Order, which is to say that it carries the force of law but is about as far from an actual law as you can get in this country.  Federal “laws” are created by Congress and are signed by the President.  Often (always?) the application of those laws is delegated BY CONGRESS to the appropriate regulatory authorities, who interpret Congressional intent and issue rules that apply that intent.  These “rules,” however, are NOT laws, and they can be changed, altered, rolled back, etc.
In the case of the CDC rule on masks on public transportation, the “Congress” part of the deal didn’t happen.  President Biden issued an Executive Order, which means that he cut the legislative (i.e. law-making) branch of the government out of the process entirely.  This is perfectly common practice these days, but that doesn’t mean that the rule for applying the order is a law.  It is absolutely NOT a law.

Now, as we said, we know this is incredibly pedantic.  Still, when one person, whom a majority of Americans don’t trust, issues an order that is interpreted by one agency, whom a majority of Americans don’t trust, and you give that interpretation wide leeway so that pilots, of all people, can become little tyrants, the risk of non-compliance and the DILUTION OF THE CONCEPT OF THE RULE OF LAW are both profound.

So…fine, ask us to wear masks.  That’s no big deal.  But stop with the “federal law mandates that…” stuff and with the threats.  You’re doing far more harm than good.

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