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Watch Me Sound Off About Donald Trump on A&E

Last April I sat down with a TV crew to film an interview about the current resident of the White House, who was the subject of
Trump: The Saga of America’s Most Powerful Real Estate Baron, a biography by my father that was published back in 1985. Logically enough, the TV crew would have preferred to speak with my old man, but he’s only communicating via ouija board these days. So they settled for me, since I helped research the book and stay current as a political journalist.

Our interactions with Trump himself in the course of preparing that biography were limited–but interesting. They consisted of a combination of vague hand-waving about maybe cooperating, interspersed with threats from Trump himself, in his John Baron alter-ego, and from legendary hatchet man Roy Cohn. Really, there’s a certain historical cachet in having your family threatened by Cohn. Anyway, there was no doubt back then that Trump and company were nasty pieces of work. This was widely known among journalists of the day, and among the business and government types with whom Trump rubbed shoulders, and who differed from him less in substance than in style. He was more flamboyantly and openly an example of what anybody thriving in New York’s real estate and political environment was to some significant degree.

In fact, in the course of the interview I emphasized how Trump’s political style is very common for New York. It continues to this day in the festering corruption of the administrations of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Blatant corruption is so commonplace that state residents don’t even seem that bothered by conduct that would be seen as outrageous almost anyplace else. Trump differs from other New York pols primarily in being seemingly less self-aware about image than the likes of Cuomo and De Blasio, who know to present themselves as idealists while selling favors; The Donald, by contrast, rubs his cynicism in people’s faces.

We’ll see how much of what I had to say made the final cut.

The results of that interview, along with interviews with many other people, have been rolled into Biography: The Trump Dynasty, airing for three nights, beginning tonight, February 25, 2019, on A&E.

Honey, Do We Have Any Candles?

Lights out! / Public Domain

Courtesy of the January 10, 2019 Wall Street Journal:

The cyberattack on the 15-person company near Salem, Ore., which works with utilities and government agencies, was an early thrust in the worst known hack by a foreign government into the nation’s electric grid. It set off so many alarms that U.S. officials took the unusual step in early 2018 of publicly blaming the Russian government.

A reconstruction of the hack reveals a glaring vulnerability at the heart of the country’s electric system. Rather than strike the utilities head on, the hackers went after the system’s unprotected underbelly—hundreds of contractors and subcontractors like All-Ways who had no reason to be on high alert against foreign agents. From these tiny footholds, the hackers worked their way up the supply chain. Some experts believe two dozen or more utilities ultimately were breached.

Well, that’s not good. But this excerpt from a report by the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, released in December 2018, may be worse:

After interviews with dozens of senior leaders and experts and an extensive review of studies and statutes, we found that existing national plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by a catastrophic power outage. This profound risk requires a new national focus. Significant public and private action is needed to prepare for and recover from a catastrophic outage that could leave the large parts of the nation without power for weeks or months, and cause service failures in other sectors — including water and wastewater, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services—-that are critical to public health and safety and our national and economic security.

We’re going to have to hold on to hear about the outcome of the November 2018 Liberty Eclipse exercise “simulating the painstaking process of reenergizing the power grid while squaring off against a simultaneous cyberattack on electric, oil and natural gas infrastructure.”

While we’re waiting, let’s throw in this excerpt from a 2018 report by the Air Force’s Air University Electromagnetic Defense Task Force:

Most experts agree that if a GMD [natural geomagnetic disturbance] or EMP [man-made electromagnetic pulse] incapacitates an electrical grid, the grid will likely remain in a failed state from weeks to months. In turn, the ability to provide continued electrical cooling for nuclear power plant reactors and spent fuel pools would be at the top of electricity restoration priorities within hours… In a worst-case scenario, all reactors within an affected region could be impacted simultaneously. …

All non-EMP-hardened hardware and equipment have a high probability of disruption or failure when subjected to EMS [electromagnetic spectrum] phenomena at a range of wavelengths and power levels. Such failures may include long-term loss of electrical power (due to loss of emergency generators), sewage, fresh water, banking, landlines, cellular service, vehicles, and so forth.

Hmmm, he thinks as he glances at the pantry. I think I’ll buy more beans.