Steve Bannon (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has been hit with an unprecedented breakdown in its operations, as agents are unanimously refusing the assignment to enter the residence of former Trump aide Steve Bannon in search of evidence related to the insurrection mounted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“There has never been a situation like this in the history of the bureau, as far as I know,” said agent James Bardwell, a 32-year veteran of the agency. “All our agents would walk through fire to do their job. But I have to say that in this case, I’m glad I’m no longer in the field. I mean, there are some things you can’t un-see. Or un-smell.”
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack subpoenaed Bannon, but he refused to appear. The House then voted to hold Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress and referred him to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, which could be hampered by the F.B.I.’s inability to gather evidence from Bannon’s apartment.
The bureau has thus far been unable to find any field operatives willing to enter Bannon’s place of residence, even though an agent’s refusal to accept an assignment could result in termination.
“I took an oath, and in my 24 years with the Bureau, I’ve had to examine some crime scenes that most people just couldn’t handle up close. But we agents are human beings, and for every person there is a line," said an agent who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I know I could be jeopardizing my career, but this is beyond the pale of any assignment I've ever been given. Haz-Mat suits have been known to fail. Nobody could make me go in there.”
Bureau commanders are exploring the possibility of using a drone or robot to enter and inspect Bannon’s apartment. The agency often deploys remote-controlled robots to defuse or detonate explosive or incendiary devices. In this case, the robot would be covered with an additional protective barrier, agents said.
UPDATE: Newly-released FBI surveillance drone footage shows the interior of Bannon's Washington DC apartment:
Back when Al Franken hosted a radio show, one of his guests was an expert on “big cats”—tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, etc.
Franken asked her, “If my house cat, my domesticated pet, were big enough, would she eat me?”
The expert didn’t hesitate: “Yes, probably.”
So much for our feline “friends.”
Now don't get me wrong; I love cats, and in the past, a few have kept me as their pet. But I am a confirmed dog person.
This is Lucy. We adopted her at our local shelter eight years ago, when she was about a year old. Her DNA is Dachshund, Miniature Pinscher and Boston Terrier. Lucy weighs 21 pounds--the smallest dog to ever live with us. Even if she were 200 pounds, Lucy would never eat me.
Lucy sleeps in our bed between my wife Janice and me every night, under the covers, snuggling and nestled against my side.
Supposedly, if you allow your dog to sleep with you, it will cause him or her to bark excessively. I do not understand the canine psychology behind that theory, but Lucy is indeed a vigilant and vocal protector of our domain.
Although Lucy does not regard me as prey (she prefers squirrels), she does appreciate my salinity. Every morning, Lucy dutifully and thoroughly licks the salty sleep from my eyes. She then progresses to a tongue lavage of my nostrils, which I very briefly endure for her sake. When she has finished the job, she rolls onto her back and bares her pink belly, upon which I plant my open mouth and produce a loud, sloppy raspberry, eliciting faint little grunts of piglet pleasure.
The whole routine is choreographed. Some might deem it unsanitary, and maybe even a bit disgusting.
The bond that Lucy and I share is so obvious that it has caused my wife to experience a tinge of jealousy. Recently Janice said that she sometimes wonders if I love Lucy more than I love her.
“Oh, honey,” I said, “don’t be ridiculous. It’s just that Lucy is so uninhibited with her show of affection. And I have to reciprocate because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Of course I love you more. I mean, she’s just a dog.”
“I’m never going to lick your eyeballs.”
"Your ocular secretions."
“Oh, of course not. Don't be silly. But....”
“But—say if every time I come home, whether I’ve been away two weeks or two hours, you would run as fast as you can to greet me at the door, wearing nothing but a monogrammed reflective pink collar, shaking your butt like crazy, and frantically paw me all over, getting so excited that you lose control of your bladder, well, then it would be a no-brainer. No contest. Definitely.”
“If I ever did that, you’d have a heart attack on the spot.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. But I’d die a happy man.”
“Well, don’t worry. Ain’t gonna happen. Besides, I wouldn’t want to make Lucy jealous.”
* * *
Lucy and I are still bonding every night, and continuing our morning ritual, and now she and Janice and I also sometimes cuddle together in a threesome on our big comfy couch in the living room, sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching DOGTV.
My vision is amazingly clear.
In November of 2018 the two little remote cabins on Trancas Creek in Malibu, where Janice and I lived from 1989 to 1997, were destroyed in the Woolsey Fire that swept from the Simi Valley to the coast.
Our neighbor at the top of the canyon, whose home also burned—the old Rindge family ranch house--sent us this photo after the fire:
Below is a shot I had taken from the same vantage point in 2009:
The light gray spot in the center is the tin roof of one of the cabins.
Here is a gallery of other photos from 2009, when we hiked down to the abandoned cabins.
In 1989, while living in Hollywood, Janice and I were fed up with hearing gunfire and police helicopters almost every night. We saw an ad for a rental in Malibu—“Stream! Trees! Boulders!" I decided to take a look. I picked up the landlady at her home in Santa Monica, and we drove through Malibu and up Trancas Canyon Road to a locked gate. There was no automatic opener; I had to get out and unlock a combination padlock on a chain. My first ride down that long, bumpy, narrow dirt road at the edge of a cliff was a bit scary. We went a mile down to a flat area at the creek bottom, where there were two 300-square-foot tin-roofed cabins about 25 feet apart, under a canopy of spreading oaks. (Now I am hoping those old trees are not fully dead, and can regenerate new foliage.) The cabins had been uninhabited for almost a year, and they were in pretty bad shape—you could see daylight through the walls. In one, the old asphalt floor tile was shattered, and there was the strong aroma of rat urine. I thought, “I can’t bring my future bride to live in a place like this.” But when I went home and told Janice about it, she was intrigued, so we went back, with our contractor brother-in-law Mike, and decided we could make it work, even though the landlady wasn’t willing to pay for any improvements.
(In a strange, small-world coincidence, a good friend of Mike's happened to be also interested in renting the cabins at that same time, and we had to negotiate with the landlady to secure the rental. Mike helped to convince her.)
The cabins were on a forty-acre plot owned by our landlady. Our closest neighbor was almost a mile up the dirt road..
The water well wasn’t working, but Mike trailered down a 150-horsepower air compressor, we ran the hose a hundred feet down the well pipe, and blew it out. All sorts of stuff came up in the geyser that erupted—wine bottles, dead rats, etc. The previous tenant had left on bad terms, and sabotaged the well. After that, the well worked great and was very productive. But we used that water only for showering and washing dishes.
I installed a solar panel array, charging a bank of a dozen marine batteries that powered our interior lighting (12-volt automobile backup bulbs) and a DC-to-AC converter for our computer and TV (although we had no reception or cable or dish; we just watched rented VHS tapes).
There was no cell phone reception. I had to string telephone wire for a mile up the dirt road to the nearest telephone pole, where GTE provided us a terminal. I strung the wire atop the chaparral (avoiding the Poison Oak) along the road, but rats and deer would nibble on the insulation, so at the first drop of rain, the wires would short out. I had to go along the line and find the short. I used a little Princess phone with alligator clips on it. I had several checkpoints along the line, to help me determine if the short was above or below. While I worked, I often sang the Glen Campbell song, “The Malibu (Wichita) Lineman.”
I also bought a propane-powered 6500W generator, that we used to pump well water into a holding tank, and to run the microwave oven. (I installed a remote generator switch in the kitchen.) We didn’t bother with a clothes washer, because the iron content in the well water would have turned everything brown, so we made trips to a laundromat in Oxnard. (No laundromats in Malibu!) I hauled in 5-gallon jugs of purified water for drinking and cooking; Arrowhead and Sparkletts refused to drive down the dirt road.
Our refrigerator was a Swedish-made Sibir that operated on propane and worked through an absorption process. I refilled 5-gal propane tanks that we used for the fridge, generator, bathroom heater, and a little wall-mounted, on-demand Paloma water heater. We could take hot showers as long as we wanted. We didn’t turn brown.
From our 2009 pilgrimage/picnic:
The creek runs right behind the trampoline, that was left there by the two young guys who moved in to the cabins right after we left, only six weeks before the road washed out badly in the "March Miracle” rains of 1997, making it impossible to haul out anything that could not be carried by hand or on one’s back. The cabin on the left was our bathroom and bedroom, the other our kitchen, living room and office.
The photo below was also taken in 2009, after the cabins had been deserted for twelve years. Neighbor--and local legend--Bill Koeneker had made occasional hikes down to tidy up.
Here are some shots from when we had been living in the cabins for a couple of years, around 1992. This is Cabin One, Cabin Two on the left:
That's my "office" on the left. That fireplace was our only source of heat. I laid the Saltillo pavers. Our kitchen:
Cabin Two: (That's the Paloma on-demand water heater on the right. It worked great!)
Janice on the tire swing that swung out over the creek, to the left. That's the new doghouse I had built in the background. I often stood on that pallet "pier" to contribute to the creek flow, until one night the pallet collapsed and I tumbled down onto the rocks below, fracturing my wrist. It could have been worse!
Our wedding ceremony was held on the cabin grounds under the oaks, in 1990, with 100 guests. Legendary Malibu Judge John Merrick officiated. He had married Sean Penn and Madonna four years earlier, and he told me that he liked our wedding better. We had a barbecue and served a few crawfish I had caught in the creek. A Cajun band, Lisa Haley and the Zydecats, performed. The accordion player, Joe Simien, showed us how to cook the crawfish.
According to Freeman Kincaid Jr., son of the original homesteader, the cabins were built in the early 1920s by Angus Campbell, a Scottish Canadian who was a highly decorated veteran of WWI. Campbell was so disgusted with the human race that he wanted to live far away from other people. The cabins still had their original tin roofs—the manufacturing stamp was visible. Later, the cabins were used for hunting expeditions organized by the owner of the Malibu Trading Post, which was located at the corner of PCH and Trancas Canyon Road, where now stands a Starbucks and other establishments. In the 1930s, Hollywood celebrities would go deer hunting in Malibu. Freeman's sister Evelyn Kincaid, who lived up the road from us, and whose father in the 1880s homesteaded the 150 acres that included the cabins, told me that Clark Gable and Frank Capra had stayed in those cabins on guided hunting trips.
We felt as if we were living in our own national park. Every night we fell asleep to the sound of the rushing water (and chanting Chumash spirit voices?) and the rhythmic, gentle cacophony of a hundred croaking bullfrogs. And often the yipping of coyotes in the distance. More than one spring, the heavy rains made the creek a raging torrent, so loud in the cabins that we couldn't hear our TV.
There were mountain lions around—after a rain we would see their huge tracks on the dirt road— but we always had at least five or six big dogs (a "six-pack of curs") loose on the property, so the cougars didn't come near the cabins. I did buy a .38-caliber pistol, and I used an air rifle to (illegally) kill rattlesnakes, which were plentiful. Our dogs were bitten a few times, never fatally, however, because we always rushed them to the vet for antivenom. It’s a wonder we didn’t all get Lyme Disease, from all the ticks.
Evelyn Kincaid used to regale us with stories of the old Malibu and her family’s interactions with the Rindges and the Deckers. The Kincaids had a sort of rivalry/feud with those other pioneer families. However, when the Kincaid home burned down in 1934, the Rindges were kind enough to let the Kincaid family stay in a line shack of theirs, near Trancas Cyn. Rd and PCH, where the Malibu Garden Center operated until recently. Now there are many shops in the location, behind Vintage Grocers.
David K. Randall’s The King and Queen of Malibu is an interesting and colorful chronicle of the pioneer era.
We found on the property about a dozen 15-gallon nursery pots with soil in them. Neighbor Freeman told me, “They weren’t growing Petunias in those!”
Apparently the property had a rep with local law enforcement, so much so that I didn't dare cultivate any cannabis there. One time I watched a police helicopter hover about six feet over our tall tomato plants in our garden, the pilot suspiciously checking them out, almost blowing them over with the rotor wash.
We learned that some fraternity boys had been previous renters there, and threw some epic parties, at least one of which brought out the cops, who almost drove off a cliff trying to get down to the cabins. One bizarre, tragic story was that at one party, someone had a flak jacket, and a drunk kid put it on and had someone shoot him with a pistol. The jacket wasn’t bulletproof, and the wound proved fatal.
Janice and I also hosted a couple of big parties—“Moondances” coinciding with a full moon—where about 30 or 40 friends danced into the wee hours and camped out on the grounds.
I found all sorts of Chumash Indian artifacts and tools. An archaeologist who was exploring Trancas Creek told us that the place had indeed been a Chumash site.
During the eight years we lived in Malibu, we saw just about every celebrity there is. I had a casual chatting relationship with Martin Sheen when we would run into each other in the Pavilions parking lot. We mostly discussed politics. Janice often flirted with Emilio Estevez in Trancas Market. Bruce Springsteen almost ran over me—the bumper of his Ford Explorer brushed my leg—while awkwardly pulling a uey in the Trancas Market parking lot, grinning and struggling at the wheel, as his bride Patti and uniformed nanny (holding the infant Evan) were wide-eyed in horror at The Boss's terrible driving. I saw Robert Downey Jr. fall on his drunken ass getting a twelve-pack out of the cooler at Ralphs. I don't know if Sean Penn was trying to pick a fight with me, or hitting on me, when he stared at me in Malibu Lumber, and then speed-walked past me while I was standing in line, brushing against my arm.
When Mick Fleetwood emerged from his "Fleetwood Manor" across from Zuma Beach, he would tool around town in his red convertible, always grinning maniacally.
You name him or her, and we had an encounter. Johnny Carson, Nick Nolte, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Sam Elliott, Peter Falk, Neil Simon, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, and on and on. But in Malibu, you don’t make a big deal out of star-watching. It’s not cool.
In January of 1997, when Janice was expecting with Casey, we moved out of the cabins, to Ventura. The cabins would have been no place for a newborn, with the road washing out regularly, and the abundance of scorpions, snakes, and mountain lions, and a rapidly-flowing creek to fall into. Two months after we moved out, a huge rainstorm totally washed out the dirt road. The landlady couldn’t afford to have it bulldozed, and Edison no longer maintained that road as it used to—they accessed their power line towers via another fire road. So the cabins sat uninhabited. Bill, whose trailer was just up the road, said that a couple of times, homeless people squatted there, but they didn’t last long. It's too long and treacherous a hike up and down the creekbed.
Janice and I don’t regret moving to Trancas Canyon; those eight years were so colorful and rich. It was sort of a magical place, a bit of paradise in a way. More than twenty years later, we both still have strange dreams about the cabins and environs.
It would take a book to chronicle all the adventures and strange and memorable happenings we experienced during our time on Trancas Creek. Maybe I’ll have to work on that.
Although it will be a sad pilgrimage, we will hike down to the cabins again, to survey the ruins.
Here’s to a true Paradise Lost.
Copyright 2022 Ken Bash
Update: Here is a gallery of photos from my hike down to the cabins after the fire. https://kbash.smugmug.com/Family/Trancas-Canyon-cabins
President Trump recently threatened to pull all federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from California.
His comments came after he decried the state of law enforcement there at a roundtable with state and local officials to address ideas to stop gun violence in the wake of the Parkland school massacre.
"We're getting no help from the state of California. Frankly, if I pulled our people from California, you would have a crime nest like you've never seen in California. All I'd have to do is say 'ICE, Border Patrol, leave California alone,'" he said. "And you know what, I'm thinking about doing it."
"You would see crime like nobody has ever seen crime in this country. And yet we get no help from the state of California. They are doing a lousy management job," he went on to say. "They have the highest taxes in the nation. And they don't know what's happening out there. Frankly it's a disgrace.”
Well, it can’t be denied that Trump has a lot of experience with the issue of crime, but allowing more immigrants into California might actually reduce criminal activities, considering that immigrants commit fewer crimes than US-born citizens.
Immigrants commit crimes and are incarcerated at a much lower rate than U.S. citizens, according to two separate studies released in March of last year. A study by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice research and advocacy group, found that "foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens."
Another study, by the libertarian Cato Institute, compares incarceration rates by migratory status, ethnicity and gender.
"All immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives relative to their shares of the population," the Cato study reads."
The Sentencing Project study even goes so far as to suggest that increased immigration "may have contributed to the historic drop in crime rates" since 1990.
So, yes, please, Barky McBosley, get ICE out of here now. Thanks!
But besides committing fewer crimes--certainly far fewer than The Bilious Biped itself--there are plenty of other things that immigrants do that Dolt 45 does not, such as:
Oh yeah, save lives. Like 15-year-old student Anthony Borges, credited with saving the lives of at least 20 of his fellow Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School classmates. His friend said the two hid as soon as they heard shots, but that Borges “took the initiative to just save his other classmates.” Anthony was shot five times in the process, through both legs and his back. Borges and his family are all immigrants originally from Venezuela.
Those 20 classmates and their families and loved ones, and we, are very thankful that ICE had not rounded up Anthony and his family.
Washington, DC -- President Donald Trump said that he looks forward to meeting the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots when the team visits the White House in April.
"I'm especially excited about the opportunity to meet with the amazing Frederick Douglass," Trump said.
"Freddie has been doing a fantastic job with the Patriots, and he's getting recognized more and more. It's such a joy to watch him with the football, such a joy. And boy can he run. Just incredible."
In an apparent effort to boost attendance, Trump said that the first 25 Patriots to come to the event will receive a football jersey bearing the name "TRUMP" and the number 45. Trump will personally autograph each of the jerseys, he said.
In years past, the Super Bowl-winning team has presented the current chief executive with a jersey bearing his name and number in the succession of U.S. presidents.
At press time, at least six Patriots had said they intend to boycott the White House visit.
"This is a top quality, limited-edition jersey, and it's available on a first-come, first-serve basis only," Trump said.
Trump's daughter Ivanka plans to market official replicas of the jersey as part of her clothing line, he said.
"And if you go to WhiteHouse.gov, right now, we are also offering official NFL footballs, autographed by me, at a fantastic price. Also travel mugs."
Trump urged all football fans to visit the web site. "These items will be going like hotcakes, believe me."
When asked if proceeds of the sales would benefit a specific charity organization, Trump said, "We're definitely looking into that, absolutely. So far we haven't found one that's truly legitimate, however."
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