Watch for fall­ing rocks

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion -

WASH­ING­TON — Don’t breathe a word, but Pres­i­dent Trump is up to some­thing.

His in­sult­ing, toodumb-to-fail com­ments about four fresh­men fe­male mem­bers of Congress has the civ­i­lized world’s trousers in a twist, and it’s not a pretty sight.

The pres­i­dent tweeted that the four women of color, “... who orig­i­nally came from coun­tries whose gov­ern­ments are a com­plete and to­tal catas­tro­phe, the worst, most cor­rupt and in­ept any­where in the world ... now loudly and vi­ciously telling the peo­ple of the United States, the great­est and most pow­er­ful Na­tion on earth, how our gov­ern­ment is to be run.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the to­tally bro­ken and crime in­fested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

Although Trump didn’t name the women in his tweets, it wasn’t hard to guess who his tar­gets were: Reps. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Il­han Omar, D-Minn.; Ayanna Press­ley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. All the women were born in the U.S. ex­cept for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from So­ma­lia more than 20 years ago and is a nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zen. She and Tlaib are Mus­lim.

The Squad, as the four women are known, held a press con­fer­ence Mon­day to de­cry Trump’s tweets and warn that — wait for it — his com­ments were a dis­trac­tion. Then why not ig­nore them? Be­cause, pol­i­tics.

Repub­li­cans are be­ing shamed into con­demn­ing the pres­i­dent’s re­marks. Cana­dian Prime Mi­nis

ter Justin Trudeau struck a pro­file in piety and re­minded Trump that his neigh­bor to the north wel­comes im­mi­grants and that di­ver­sity makes Canada stronger. Democrats are glee­fully of­fended, with some call­ing for im­peach­ment. And, in a weird per­mu­ta­tion of op­por­tunis­tic self-flag­el­la­tion — or some­thing — Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Beto O’Rourke an­nounced that a fore­fa­ther once owned two slaves, so he sup­ports repa­ra­tions.

In other words, noth­ing much to see here. This is Trump be­ing his usual na­tivist, racist, xeno­pho­bic, shame­less self, while di­rect­ing a man­u­fac­tured drama in his usual, charm­ing way. Stage left: Com­men­ta­tor opines that Trump is try­ing to lather up his per­pet­u­ally lath­ered base ahead of the 2020 elec­tion. Stage right: Con­sul­tant avers that Trump is try­ing to make the four women the face of the Demo­cratic Party.

That cer­tainly seems to be what Trump is do­ing, but The Don­ald doesn’t care did­dly-squat about The Squad, even if, as a bonus, they’ve si­phoned the juice from his Demo­cratic chal­lengers. His modus operandi is as ob­vi­ous as O’Rourke’s des­per­a­tion: Cre­ate chaos, dis­tract the masses, look mad, take care of busi­ness.

As al­ways, one must ask, what is the Some­thing Else he doesn’t want us to see? Based on tim­ing, my best guess is Jef­frey Ep­stein: fi­nancier, sex of­fender, globe-trotting gal­li­vant, and al­leged sex traf­ficker of teenaged girls.

Mon­day was a big day for both men. While Trump was dou­bling-down on his con­tro­ver­sial tweets, Ep­stein was at­tend­ing his bail hear­ing. At the hear­ing, pros­e­cu­tors re­vealed that the con­tents of a locked safe in Ep­stein’s Man­hat­tan man­sion al­legedly in­cluded di­a­monds, cash — and a bo­gus and out­dated pass­port with Ep­stein’s photo, a dif­fer­ent name and an ad­dress in Saudi Ara­bia.

Co­in­ci­dence? Maybe. But, re­ally? What’s clear is that Trump wants to dis­tance him­self from Ep­stein, whom he knew so­cially, as pho­tos cap­ture. In one in­stance, they were re­port­edly the only two guests at a party at­tended by a bevy of young women. That’s a pretty in­ti­mate bro­mance.

It’s also clear that the very pri­vate Ep­stein has re­ceived very spe­cial treat­ment de­spite his il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the 2007 non-pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by former La­bor Sec­re­tary Alex Acosta, who stepped down Fri­day af­ter re­ports de­tailed his role in the sweet­heart deal when he was a U.S. at­tor­ney in Mi­ami.

The bo­gus pass­port opens a Pandora’s box of ques­tions. Who knows what Ep­stein was up to? Who else might be im­pli­cated? All those di­a­monds and cash sug­gest that Ep­stein was pre­pared to leave sud­denly.

Who knows? Some­body. Maybe sev­eral some­bod­ies. But 2020 is a long way off — and any­one who was ever con­nected to Ep­stein must be sweat­ing grenades about now.

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