Friday, July 29, 2016

1675 A Paper Lunch Bag in Nixon's Sock Drawer

Leaked emails. Erased emails. Offshore hacking of political websites.  It brings back thoughts of Watergate.

Those of us who were immersed in reporting the Nixon soap opera with its cast of dark characters and secret recordings, midnight phone calls and secret meetings in parking garages still think about it all now and then.  Here’s a new thought: what would have happened if today’s technology had been available in the 1970s?

--No physical break-in.
--No book deals for Woodstein.
--No 18 minute gap.
--No one would remember Martha Mitchell.
--John Dean would be just another lawyer.
--No one would know what happened.
--Nixon would have served his full term.
--No Chevy Chase parodies of Gerald Ford.
--No long national nightmare.

What sparks all this?  The leaks of email that seems to show the Democratic National Committee aborted its neutrality to closet- campaign against Bernie Sanders.

What’s in those emails?  Plans to smear Sanders.
How is that different from a bunch of nightcrawlers --men who looked like flashers breaking into Dem headquarters to find… essentially nothing.

With today’s tech, some Nixonian in a basement in San Clemente or Key Biscayne could have found what the campaign thought it needed using a three hundred dollar laptop, had there been laptops.

And Larry O’Brien might never have known he was hacked.  No Wiki Leaks, then. No one goes to jail.  Nixon wins the election which he would have anyway.

And we’d never have known about the secret recordings.  Bring on the digital files. MP3s on thumb drives.  Even a techno-bumbler like Nixon could push a button to start the recording.  Rosie Woods could have removed the drive at day’s end, labeled it, filed it and put a fresh one in the recording device.

The secret service would be out of the loop. They wouldn’t have kept the record library. The thumb drives would have gone into Woods’ filing cabinet.  No one has ever secured a warrant to search the file cabinets in the Oval Office.  

If push came to shove and anyone found out about the recordings, any dope with a copy of Cool Edit or Adobe Acrobat could have removed any part of any conversation and no one would have been the wiser.  No 18 minute gap.

As for those thumb drives… the president could have stuffed them into a paper lunch bag and stashed them at the bottom of his sock drawer.  

No one has ever secured a search warrant for a president’s sock drawer.

--The name wasn’t famous, but the voice was. We note with sadness the passing of Marni Nixon, the often uncredited singer who was the voice of Deborah Kerr in “The King and I” (Getting to know you) Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” (I Could Have Danced All Night) and many others. Marni Nixon, ghost singer, was 86.

Today’s Quote: “I’m a New Yorker. I know a con when I see one.”  Mike Bloomberg describing Donald Trump in his speech to the Democratic Convention.

-Actually, Mike’s from Massachusetts, but he adapted about as well as any out-of-towner ever has… except maybe Paul Simon of Newark NJ who is much less talented.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to

© WJR 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

1674 YahOL -- A WessayLeaks℠ Exclusive! As

YahOL -- A WessayLeaks℠ Exclusive!

As you have heard, Verizon has bought Yahoo. It already owns AOL. Internal memos have surfaced. WessayLeaks℠ has them.  And now, so do you.

TO: Marissa Mayer, Arianna Huffington, Katie Couric
SUBJECT: Cardboard Boxes

Security will deliver cardboard boxes to your offices at 10:30 this morning, will wait until you have packed them and will help you transport them to your car in the parking lot.

Please be prepared to surrender your RFID Identification cards at that time.

Your logins have been disabled effective immediately and you have no access to our computer systems except for receiving company emails which you may forward to your home accounts in order to answer.

NOTE: All equipment, office furniture and other company supplied items remain the property of Verizon which is waiving early cancellation fees because of the unique circumstances of your departure.

Have a nice day.

TO: All YahOL Employees
SUBJECT: The New Yahoo!

Welcome to the New Yahoo, now combined with AOL and known as YahOL.  We see an exciting future as we merge the company with our America On Line division.  Our growing family of customers will soon dominate the internet world as Yahoo! and AOL did individually in their long gone prime years.

Once completed, the merger will encompass every continent as the best and most dense network ever.

And the economies realized from the combined operations will save an estimated $10 billion annually. Much of the savings will be passed along to stockholders, which include many of you loyal, longtime Yahoo employees.

The savings will derive from new efficiencies and higher productivity with a streamlined employee pool and additional income from paying subscribers.

We will be making modifications to staffing levels starting in the first quarter of 2017. Over the next six months, you may be offered the opportunity to pursue other interests and to spend more time with your family.

If enough of you accept these invitations, there will be no layoffs.  Our goal is to provide rightsizing opportunities to 123,234 people.  If we are unable to reach that goal through volunteers, we may have to implement other means of staff modernization.

Again, welcome to YahOL and have a nice day.

TO: All YahOL Employees
SUBJECT: The YahOL Network

An exciting new internet experience awaits!  We are in the process of investing $2 billion in a brand new network.  It will bring our customers and partners blazing fast speeds and HD clarity.

It will provide theater quality sound and a host of features no one else can offer including security of the highest order.

To assure this quality, we will do with our new network what we have done with our mobile phone service:  make it exclusive to our users.

As you know, Verizon mobile products are not compatible with those of other networks.  Example: VZ and T phones cannot be interchanged.  

So our new network, YahOL will not be compatible with the standard internet.  This will keep our users safe and able to enjoy content available nowhere else.

Unfortunately, PCs, IOS, Android, Chrome and Linux operating systems will not be able to use YahOL.  This may be disappointing to some users, but we will be offering a dazzling array of compatible phones, iPads, Android tablets, Windows and Mac-like computers and operating systems for every budget.  And we will be offering them at steep discounts for new and existing users.

We’re still working on the details and arrangements with various device manufacturers. Contracts are already in place with Amstrad, Compac, Packard Bell, Osborn, RCA, Tandy, NextGen and Timex.  More to come, and we’ll keep you informed.

Note to incoming YahOL employees:  Your non-disclosure forms, fingerprints and DNA samples are due in HR by the end of the work day.  Email transmission is acceptable for the agreements. Collection boxes for the fingerprint kits and DNA samples are situated in every department, worldwide.

© WessayLeaks℠ 2016
For reprint rights please contact

Monday, July 25, 2016

1673 Trump's Speech: The Odd of the Deal

You think you heard a political speech, but that’s not what it was.

It’s been a few days since Donald J. Trump (Not to be confused with any spurious other Donald Trump, for example Donald L. Trump of Buffalo NY) accepted the Republican nomination for president.

But what he really did for 75 minutes was take a page from the book he sort of wrote, “The Art of the Deal,” and opened a negotiation... with you.

Let’s get the fact check out of the way.  This and that statistic he rattled off stands. But some are out of context and/or don’t tell the whole story. And they conjure a virtual reality more like a videogame than your actual life.

Example: The crime rate is going up in some places, down in others. We didn’t hear the down part.

So give the guy credit for no bald face, fact free lies of commission, just some lies of omission.

But when you take the whole of his assessments, you get distracted from real reality and plunge back into the virtual reality of Trump: the game.  It’s kind of like Pokemon Go, but you don’t have to leave your seat.

Jobs didn’t mass migrate to China, India, Indonesia and Viet Nam by themselves.  And they weren’t sent there on the Good Ship Lollipop by bad trade agreements.  They were crated and wholesaled by American companies looking to make stuff on the cheap. And those companies are the coyotajes, the smugglers.

As for the real coyotajes, the ones who smuggle illegals into the US, business no longer is booming. It’s gotten so bad, they’re becoming Uber drivers to make extra cash.

The takeaway line from the Trump speech: “I am your voice.”  No you’re not.  The economy isn’t exactly booming, but it’s not dead, either.  Wall Street is not a closed loop, it’s a hoop with a hinge and a joint.  Re-regulation is the crowbar that can pry it open.

Race relations are so bad they threaten America’s foundation and here you are, the public address system for the David Dukes.

We keep our treaties unconditionally, not ad hoc. We don’t rearm our enemies-turned-partners like Japan, not because they’d endanger us but because they don’t need or want them.

We don’t mass-deport Mexicans or Muslims and build walls to keep them out -- which they wouldn’t.  Ronald Reagan tried to return us to an era that never was.  You are trying to turn back the clock to an era that never should have been.

You are not our voice.  And when someone finally gets you where you belong -- on the couch -- your swagger and bravado will turn out to be a cover for a deeply buried feeling of shame or insecurity.

That’s the deal we’re looking for.  But none of that is on the table.  

-“I am your voice” is another way of saying I am the way and the light, but the original in John 14:6 carries a bit more clout.

-Hillary is no great shakes either, but at least she’s not a white male supremacist aimed at throwing crumbs to women and minorities and bragging about it.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
© WJR 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

1672 Jolly Roger Ailes: Fox’s Fox in the Henhouse

Roger Ailes used to be a name.  Now it’s a complete sentence.  The Jolly Roger no longer flies above the the Fox News flagship.  And the Fox fox is out of the hen house.

Say what you will about throwback press baron Rupert Murdoch, the guy bleeds ink and saves newspapers.  And he does it with what passes for grace and charm within the limits of his Aussie beginnings.

You may think he’s an unrehabilitated tool or leader of a nasty worldwide swing to the right. And sure, he embraces and promotes conservatism on every continent.  But Murdoch is about money and influence more than he is about politics and sensationalism.

He’s also fiercely loyal to the people he hires to work that Murdoch magic.  Until the magic stops working.

So when he hired failed NBC executive and onetime Republican operative Roger Ailes, he knew what he was getting.  And Ailes’ Fox News succeeded beyond even the wildest of dreams.

Wait.  “Failed” NBC-ling?  Yes.  As head of what was then called “America’s Talking” cable which no one watched.

So here’s Jolly Roger cast adrift.  And Murdoch wants a TV network and who better to start one than Ailes?  He had all the right assets.  He knew TV and did it well, he was well connected with his previous Republican politician employers.  And he had a good idea: build a right wing monolith.  Or build a better mousetrap and bait it with hot babes and snarling old white male scolds.

The problems may have begun when Ailes started responding to the babes in his bait bucket and they didn’t respond back. Well they did respond if you include filing lawsuits.  Most were settled without publicity and on no disclosure agreements.

Fox TV is kind of like early MTV. Softcore porn, fancy, glitzy sets and graphics, controversy and you can mute the sound and still enjoy it.

So through all kinds of controversy, Murdoch sticks by his man.  Until it starts to look like the mousetrap might soon stop luring in all that money.

And now, with charges of sexual harassment swirling and the disclosure that similar suits had been settled out of court, with Murdoch’s presumed heirs calling for Ailes to walk the plank, Rupert has no choice but to cut his losses.

The Jolly Pirate, the fox in the Fox henhouse, the guy who built a money machine and vacuumed up almost every conservative talking head and right wing thinker in America can go upstate, lick his wounds and count his severance check, said to be $40 million all told.

Today’s Quote: “Bury your mistakes.” -- Rupert Murdoch, newly named interim CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business News TV.


-Rupert is 85 years old and will mind the store only until the dust settles but you can bet the cubiclistas in the newsroom will be sitting up straight again when he’s in the building and watching.

-The NYC tabloids especially Fox’s co-owned New York Post downplayed the story and the Fox News website wimped out and posted nothing more than the company press release so far down on the page it looked like they tried to hide it.

-Today’s Wessay™ was made possible by a grant from the Mixed Metaphor Foundation, a can of worms in a grammatical minefield and a Pandora’s Box of empty barrels.

-About Trump’s convention speech:  Like Nixon, only less charming.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
© WJR 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1671 A Magnet and a Melting Pot

It’s true.  One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.  It’s also true that one bad barrel can spoil the whole crop.  What happens when the entire crop is destroyed?  You burn it.  And sometimes you have to fell the trees too.

All of which brings us to gun ownership.  You may think that’s a stretch, but it isn’t.  We certainly have the one spoiled item in the barrel.  We pretty much have enough spoiled barrels to end a lot of lives. Do we have to burn the crop?

No, not really.  But we do have to do is stop fooling around.  When a constitutional right -- like gun ownership -- imperils other rights, it’s time to rethink things.

All constitutional rights come with restrictions, even gun ownership.  The “right to bear arms” does not include missile launchers of any size. No one will sell you an F-18 jet fighter, an aircraft carrier or a torpedo for your recreational submarine.

Maybe we should restrict private ownership to small caliber handguns and rifles or shotguns that fire one missilette at a time.

As a public service, the Wessays™ Secret Mountaintop Laboratory has designed a gun collection vehicle.  More properly, it’s a  modified version of a standard garbage truck with a high powered electromagnet in front and a blast furnace in back.

It’s to use thus:

Stop in front of the house of guns and turn on the magnet.  The guns will come flying out of the house.  Sort the findings.  .22s and such? Consider them catch and release.  

Larger weaponry goes right into the cauldron. Melts on the spot.  When it cools, the charred wood of stocks and decorations can be filtered out and the metal recycled.

Now don’t get your teflon- coateds in a twist, boys.  This post is tongue in cheek.  Sort of.

A Facebook friend recently posted that around 85 “...million gun owners killed no one yesterday.” So we can assume about 26% of Americans own guns.  That’s a lot of people.  Maybe they should busy themselves ferreting out the rotten apples.

If not, there’s always a magnet and a melting pot.
Today’s Quote: “(Donald Trump) didn’t write a postcard for us.” -- Former Random House executive Howard Kaminsky who oversaw publication of “The Art of the Deal” and was quoted in the New Yorker Magazine article about Tony Schwartz, who ghost wrote the book and now regrets it.

--The Little Local Bank was pretty good until the Medium Regional Bank took it over a few years ago. Now it’s been taken over by the Extra Large Regional Bank which seems ready to act too big to fail. The search is on for the right credit union.

--Former President Carter has quit the Southern Baptist Church after 60 years because he says it demeans women.  While in office Carter may have been one of America’s five worst presidents. But since his term ended, he’s redeemed himself with every word and deed except one, backing the wrong side in the palestinian war of aggression.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please send comments to
And send death threats to Midtown North. They’ll know where to find me.
© WJR 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

1670 I Did Nothing Wrong and I'll Never Do it Again

If it looks like a pyramid scheme, is structured like a pyramid scheme and rewards people like a pyramid scheme, it’s a pyramid scheme, right?

Not always.

After long hours of investigation, the Federal Trade Commission has ruled that the “nutrition supplement” company, Herbalife, is not a pyramid scheme.  But it has fined the company $200 million because it doesn’t like … what?  The shipping charges?  The hairdos of the honchos?  Oh, yeah: misleading people into thinking they could sign up and make a decent buck.

Okay, what, exactly is a pyramid scheme?  It’s when you sign up to sell stuff but you really don’t make any money except by recruiting new salespeople.  You sell; those above you in the pyramid get a cut.  Your recruits sell and you get a cut (along with everyone else higher up.)

Rarely does anyone make a go of things.  And there are good reasons. More often than not, the products are something you buy anyway.  Are you really going to trade your one-a-days for some expensive pill from a company you don’t know anything about? No, why would you?  Nutritional potions are the mainstay of pyramid schemes.  But you can get to sell prepaid legal services that way too. Just ask Jodi Arias.  And there probably are other goods and services that use this template.

The granddaddy is Amway.  And their products tend to be good, although pricey.  But like the Corleone Family, Amway has gone legit.  Which means they actually have some guy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island or East Acne, Idaho whom they can prove makes a real living selling its magical laundry powder without needing food stamps, welfare or Medicaid.

But about Herbalife.

The whole dustup was started by a stockholder with a big stake in the company, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Holdings.  Ackman has shorted the stock and complained publicly and to the FTC about what he calls a phony get-rich-quick scheme.  And while the commission’s action doesn’t make Ackman right, it doesn’t make him wrong, either.

The Commission orders bar Herbalife from making inflated claims about income potential, forces creation of accurate reports on actual sales and the profits of its chains of independent sellers.

The company now has the legal right to say it’s not a pyramid scheme.  And implicitly, the FTC has “approved” its business practices. $200 million is a steep price.

You might think the pyramid will collapse and/or become Herbalife’s tomb.  But you’d be wrong. The new restrictions apply only to the company’s US business. So easy money fantasies won’t die in Europe and Asia.

Today’s quote: “The settlements are an acknowledgement that our business model is sound and underscore our confidence in our ability to move forward successfully…” -- Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson (quoted by Bloomberg News.)

Today’s other quote: “Herbalife’s false and misleading claims continue.” -- Bill Ackman's website.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to

© WJR 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

1669 Ruth Bader Hindenburg

Note to readers:  This post was written before Justice Ginsburg made her ill considered apology for her ill considered act.  Sorry your honor but you were right the first time and you’re wrong now.


Oh, the Humanity!  A little old lady from Brooklyn has caused a fire worthy of the Hindenburg.  Not only did Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set the blimpish windbag Donald Trump afire, she did it without so much as a match and a cubic yard of hydrogen.

Ginsberg had the gall to do what pretty much any little old lady from Brooklyn might do and that is call Donald Blimp a “faker.”  Probably she had a better word than faker in mind.  But the dignity of the court, don’t you know.

The first to pipe up were the hangers on who cite the federal code of judicial conduct which bars judges from taking political stands.

Turns out, the code does not apply to Supreme Court justices who not only can rule until death -- and in some cases after death --  but can say anything they want.  Justice Ginsburg was not on the bench when she spoke.  But it wouldn’t matter if she were.

So Trump says she should resign because her mind is shot. She’s “mentally unfit,” he says. Right. When and if she develops that hole in her head, she will still be smarter than most of the rest of us.

Blimp wants her to recuse herself from any Supreme Court case involving him.  What noive! What case involving him would be worthy of consideration by the court?

What Justice Ginsburg did is not all that unusual. Scalia did it all the time.  So did Brennan, and Thurgood Marshall.  

Poor Ruth.  She’s not even Mexican.  Although she is Jewish and in Trump World, that might be almost as bad, even if his daughter is married to a Jewish guy and has converted. (These things can be undone.  Being born a Jewish woman in New York cannot.)

But Trump isn’t the only critic.  Even Ginsburg’s supporters are piling on. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times editorial pages have joined in.

Senators Murphy (D-CT) and Durbin (D-IL) don’t like what she said.  And White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says “She didn’t earn the title Notorious RBG for nothing.”  

The failed Republican candidates for the presidential nomination don’t like it.  And McConnell and Ryan are livid.  Big surprises.

We are so used to public figures of stature and power giving us doubletalk that when one doesn’t, it’s a cause celebre.

We love it when the little guy speaks truth to power.  How about cutting the judge some slack. It’s power speaking to power.

Today’s Quote: "He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. ... How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that..." -- Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “clarifying” her position on Trump a day or so before re-clarifying with an apology.

--It’s hard to understand the RBG hysteria because every word out of every Supreme Court justice’s mouth is political, even if less direct.  Instead of yelping about “crossing the line” or weaseling that “I would say the same thing no matter who she was talking about,” one can learn something here.  If someone of that stature takes that step, maybe there’s something to it, even if they later say they didn’t know the gun was loaded.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

1668 Venezuela Under Water

It was only in the high 80s in Caracas the other day. That’s low for this time of year when the temperature often rises above 100.

So a relatively mild day for Venezuela’s new national pass time, standing in line.

With the country’s dependence on slumping oil prices, luxuries like bread and toilet paper are scarce if available at all. It’s like the Soviet union in the post war
years.  Bread lines. We hear stories about people eating cats and pigeons.  When they eat at all.

This is the story of Junior Perez, 25, one young man in a population of more than 30 million.  Word spread earlier in the week that there would be toothpaste available for the first time in awhile. Limit two tubes per customer.  So Junior got onto the line.  And waited.  And waited. And waited along with abuelas on portable lawn chairs and petroleous who had nowhere else to go because they don’t work much these days.

Along come a couple masked guys with guns and they notice Junior is using a cell phone.  Imagine, a cell phone and it appears to be working.  So they do what any masked guy with a gun would do, they command Junior to turn over the phone.

But Junior treasures his phone -- who there wouldn’t? He declines the command and starts running toward the pharmacy door.  The gunmen, being gunmen, fire.  And they hit Junior in the back and he goes down.

He’s not dead.  Not yet.  

The gunmen have the phone.  And at this point you’d expect the line -- at least that part of it -- would kind of break up to help Junior or get out of the way.

But it doesn’t.  No one moves.

Junior, on the ground along with most of his blood, dies.

The gunmen are going through Junior’s pockets to see what other treasures they can extract.
Still, no one moves.

These days a case like this is not unusual.  More than two dozen people including a toddler have been killed while on line in the last year, the AP says.

And it quotes a pharmacist who was waiting for his own ration of toothpaste thus:

“These days you put the line before everything… you get what you need and you don’t feel sorry for anyone.”

When baby needs shoes or Imodium, safety comes second even in a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates.

Over in the Palacio de Miraflores, president Nicolas Maduro doesn’t know what to do. His mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez left the country in economic ruin, appropriating factories and depending on oil for every nickel in the treasury.

Oh, one more thing:  Venezuela is paying its bondholders on time and in full when all it would have to do is default and use the money for toothpaste.

All investment carries risk.  And if you bought into Uncle Hugo’s delusional and unworkable scam, you don’t deserve to be rewarded for your bad choice.

-Obama makes pretty speech in Dallas, signifying nothing.
-Police chief gets standing ovation from crowd at Dallas Memorial, signifying something.
-Bernie endorses Hillary sending many of his supporters into anaphylactic shock.

-Shouldn’t something called “headlines” be placed at the head of a post and not near the end?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to

© WJR 2016

4745 An Ounce of Cure

  Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.   While “n...