. . . when you’ve got not only New York City cab drivers, but also friends who work for the White House?
I’ll get back to my latest taxi conversation — along with a video from Pinky & The Brain, and a plea for an environmental VETO by Governor Cuomo — but first, my White House insider’s report.
So, Friday I was texting my friend who works for the Executive Office of the President. We’ll call this friend “X.” X has been through a few different administrations, in what I’ll call a production job. X’s office is a few blocks from the West Wing, but X works for the President. That is, if the current President would get it together enough to put X and colleagues to work. Talk about your human waste.
Here’s our conversation, starting with X answering my question: “How it’s going down there in DC?”
Wave to your tax dollars, everybody! People you’re paying for are patiently waiting for the Transition Team to give them something to do!
It’s nice having a good friend like X. I’ve seen the Oval Office (during Obama’s time), and even sat in the President’s box at the ballet once. POTUS and FLOTUS were out of town that weekend, but talk about cool!! I remember when X and I stepped into the box from the Presidential private lounge (stocked with champagne and M&Ms), and all heads turned to look at us. And then turned away, unimpressed.
Anyhoo, on to my next topic. I got some nice feedback on my last taxicab political chat, so I thought I’d share a new one.
FYI, I don’t normally take taxis to work, but I sprained my ankle last week at an immigration-ban protest downtown.
Uh, okay, that’s an alternative fact. I sprained my ankle texting while walking to meet a friend at the Winter Antiques Show on Park Avenue. My foot slipped off a curb, and it started swelling within minutes. BUT I was texting her about the protest, which we were gonna hit after looking at pretty paintings.
Also, the ankle was just an excuse for taking a cab to work for a few days — truth is, I tend to run late.
So I’m heading up the West Side Highway to work a few days later in said cab, trying not to poke my eye out with a mascara wand. The news is on the radio. They play a clip of Trump’s speech from the National Prayer Breakfast that had just happened — not the part where he asked them to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose Apprentice ratings were a “complete disaster.” But this: “The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out. Okay? That’s what I do. I fix things.”
The cab driver laughs out loud. Which makes ME laugh out loud, and we start talking.
He’s from Ghana. I ask him what kind of government they have in Ghana. “Democracy — by election,” he says.
I let him tell me more, trying to navigate my way through his somewhat thick accent and the traffic noise. “Our last president was very bad, but he lost the new election. He lost by HUGE numbers. And he didn’t want to leave, but they made him leave.”
I respond. “Sounds like what just happened in the other African country where the president didn’t want to leave — um . . . ”
“Gambia,” he fills in for me. “In many countries in West Africa, so many things like this happen — Mali, Niger . . .”
“What is it about West Africa?” I ask him. “Is it a lack of resources . . . ?”
“No, Ghana has a lot of resources — oil, gold, diamonds — but they [the politicians] keep it for themselves. It’s pathetic.” It takes me a second to understand his pronunciation of the word “pathetic,” and then he continues.
“The First Lady was a greedy, greedy woman.” He tells me that she opened a bank, took people’s savings, and then let the bank fail, keeping the money. And that the former President has legal indemnity for a certain amount of time, but the former First Lady doesn’t, and should be prosecuted.
The closest thing I can glean from my research (i.e., Google) is that the President, First Lady, and Bank of Ghana all knew about a scheme by a financial services company called DKM that lured a large number of people in the region to invest in it by promising a 40%-50% return, and then syphoned off the money before the company collapsed.
So the First Lady didn’t exactly open a bank (and I may have misunderstood my driver), but she and the President apparently kept their knowledge from their citizens — and she’s the one who legally has no indemnity, whereas her husband does. She also may have introduced people in the region to the company, giving them confidence to invest.
Anyhoo, you don’t need to go to those links, but I don’t know, man. Some of this is ringing a lot of conflict-of-interest bells. Oh, and my favorite part of our conversation was when my driver compared Donald Trump to Pinky & The Brain, the premise of which had managed to escape my awareness until now. “The Brain is always trying to take over the world, but they always mess up by doing stupid things!” he explains.
Doing stupid things? Like announcing a Muslim immigration ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day? (Thank you, federal judicial system, for thwarting that.) Or trying to repeal Obamacare? Getting Mexico to pay for the Wall? Or telling people to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, everybody; you can buy it online”? Hang on, that last one was Kellyanne Conway. But same same.
I mean, check out this 58-second snippet of teleprompter-free nitwittedness, when Trump’s ban was banned:
And even when he is using teleprompters, he still sounds like a stoner winging a class presentation that he forgot to prep for. Try reading the following quote from a Trump speech about the tornados that ravaged parts of the Southeast . . . in Spicoli’s accent from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
“Already we’ve approved Georgia, and Mississippi . . . [thinking] . . . and others are rapidly on their way, so . . . FEMA’s done an incredible job of speed. And they need speed. Homeland Security is in the business of saving lives. And that mandate will guide our actions, Mr. Hand.
(Everything but “Mr. Hand” is verbatim.) Trump/Spicoli goes on without a beat:
“The Department of Homeland Security has many, many different divisions, but one of the most important missions of DHS . . . is its law-enforcement mission. This is a LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. But, for too long, your officers — agents — haven’t been able to properly do their jobs. You know that, right? Do you know that? Absolutely. But that’s all about to change. And I’m happy about it, and I know you’re happy about it. . . . We are going to re-stall [um?] the rule of law in the United States. Now let’s go get some tasty waves.”
Did I miss something between the “thoughts & prayers” for tornado victims, and prioritizing the “rule of law”? Did he just say the latter is more important? I think he just said that. ‘Cause I transcribed that myself; it’s 1 1/2 minutes in. Wave to your tax dollars!
Also, he thanks “the ICE and Border Patrol officers in this room today, and honor their service . . . and not just because they unanimously endorsed me for President. That helps. But that’s not the only reason.”
Meanwhile Bannon — I mean Trump — just managed to get a renowned racist appointed as U.S. Attorney General. And nobody’s gonna be getting any smarter with Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Narf!!*
Shoot, I REALLY wanted to ask you guys to help me get Governor Cuomo to veto the law that Albany passed to BAN the plastic bag fee in NYC. Ack. Well, call Cuomo here and leave a message that you support the Disposable Bag Fee, and that you’d like him to veto the law prohibiting said fee. Make sense? Here’s the number: 1-518-474-8390. Do it right now — it’s super easy!**
I need to go play in the snow now. Hopefully I won’t slip on the ice and kill my ankle. Or that the Genius-in-Chief doesn’t kill the whole lot of us. Please share your thoughts here! (And follow this blog below.)
*(from Pinky & The Brain)
**(update: sadly, Cuomo signed it; but we shall overcome)