Smokey and the Bandit and the Manhattan DA

In the 1977 action-comedy “Smokey and the Bandit,” Burt Reynolds plays a bootlegger named Bo. Everyone calls him “Bandit” because the name “Bo” was apparently too informal for his friends.

The script was so trite that the actors made up much of the dialogue as the cameras rolled. The alleged plot centers on a rich Georgia businessman’s offer of $80,000 to Bandit to drive to Texas and back to fetch him a semi full of Coors beer. In both the movie and real life, you may recall, Coors was illegal east of Texas at the time.

Of course, the illegality of Coors was an accidental marketing coup for the company. The beer’s mystique of illegality partially offset its taste of water. Gerald Ford used to smuggle a few cans back to DC from his vacation house in Vail. Before that, President Eisenhower regularly had the Air Force airlift cases to the White House.

So, you see, the movie is a true story.

Except the cross-country car chase. Bandit gets a truckdriver to drive the semi, played by two Kenworths, while Bandit drives a car, played by a black ’76 Trans Am – four, actually – fitted with 455 engines.

I know what you’re thinking but, no, the Trans Am was not transexual. But it was indeed black. With a lower case “b.”

The filming was hell on wheels. But until the stunt men beat them to death, those black Trannys could really go. In one scene – filmed long before computer generated images – they jumped a river with the aid of an Evel Knievel booster rocket attached to the rear. The things they put in the rear of that Tranny.

Bandit’s scheme was for his Trans Am to act as a “blocking car” for the semi full of Coors. He would commit multiple illegal mayhems along the way to distract the cops from the semi full of Coors illegally crossing state lines – the true crime.

Bandit succeeds wildly and wildly succeeds, with the help of an unplanned accomplice. Shortly after Bandit loads the semi with Coors and starts back to Georgia in the Trans Am with the semi in convoy, he picks up a damsel named Carrie played by Sally Field.

Carrie is distressed about her impending marriage to a creep, so she has run away from her wedding. Minutes into her dash, Bandit encounters her on the highway. Bandit rescues this runaway bride, and she hops into the Trans Am. In the passenger seat while they’re tooling along at about 90 mph, she acrobatically swaps her wedding dress for jeans.

It’s not clear why this bride in a wedding dress had a pair of jeans handy.  But you would, too, if they fit you as well as they fit the 30-year-old Sally Field in 1977.

Carrie is a New Age type and Bandit is, well, not. They have nothing in common except, halfway into the movie, bodily fluids. Rumor is that it wasn’t all acting.

It turns out that Carrie’s groom, whom she’d abandoned at the altar, is the son of a fat, stupid, southern hick sheriff named Buford T. Justice, overplayed by Jackie Gleason. Furious that his son and Carrie won’t be honeymooners, he sets out to retrieve her.

Sheriff Buford T. Justice – everyone else calls him “Smokey” but he invariably calls himself by his full name and title – spots her in the cisgender black Tranny and gives chase. All the way back to Georgia.

Sheriff Buford T. Justice announces to anyone who will listen that, among sundry other crimes, Bandit has feloniously violated the Mann Act. For readers who are not lawyers or perverts (ah, but I repeat myself) that’s the 1910 federal law that criminalizes the transportation across state lines of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

That is fairly, um, broad, especially since the law offers no definition of “woman.”

I’ve always thought this law, named after the sanctimonious and probably felonious Illinois congressman who sponsored it, James Robert Mann, was inaptly named. He should have gotten another congressman to co-sponsor it, such as Iowa Congressman Frank Wood, in order to call it the “WoMann Act.”

Or Massachusetts congressman William Lovering in order to call it “LoverMann Act” or Mississippi congressman Thomas Sisson in order to call it “SissyMann Act” or Indiana congressman William Cox in order to call it, well, you get the idea.

Also, I’ve always wondered about the precise meaning of the word “Act” in this context, which is also undefined.

In any event, this law against interstate debauchery always had the intended effect of terrifying my young psyche. I made a point of never dating across state lines, though as it turned out my precaution was unnecessary.

I won’t spoil your viewing pleasure by telling you how the movie ends. But there were a few sequels, so you can guess that the stars made out OK.

The latest sequel was released just this spring. Fat, stupid, southern hick Sheriff Buford T. Justice is played by a fat, stupid, northern hick District Attorney named Alvin Leonard Bragg.

He’s after Bandit again, played by a certain former reality TV star. Bandit has graduated from running liquor to running for president and from driving a Trans Am to driving a golf cart.  

The charge in this sequel is not a Mann Act violation, but something more like the Mann-ure Act. In fact, it’s hard to figure out what the charge is. There’s the hush money that Bandit paid to a porn star to keep quiet about their affair but nobody says hush money is illegal – it’s not. Maybe it’s illegal here because Bandit used his own private money for his own private affair rather than using campaign donations.

All I can deduce legally – and bear in mind that I’m a lawyer – is that when you’re running for president and you buy women and other personal things, you’re required to use either campaign donations or maybe a charitable foundation.


The part of Carrie originally played by Sally Field, who is now 76, is played by a young woman named Melania. Carrie still looks pretty good in jeans. Carrie and Bandit still have nothing in common – this time not even bodily fluids. The relationship between them is strictly acting.

Alvin Leonard Bragg, DA brags in front of the cameras over and over that he’s gonna get that Bandit, by gosh, and he’s chasing him hard but hardly catching him. As in the original movie, you sense that he’s making everything up as the cameras roll. He’s every bit the pompous, ridiculous, overplayed ham of Sheriff Buford T. Justice. He truly outdoes Jackie Gleason.

At his next press conference, I’m half expecting him to bellow “Awt Cawney!” 

Bandit these days has a mixed reputation as something of a storied, charming rascal, sometimes without the charm, though I personally think the stories of pee-pee tapes and Russian collusion came straight out of Hillary’s sick and sordid imagination or perhaps is just a classic case of her projection.  

Alvin Leonard Bragg, DA’s relentless, comedic chase is rallying the audience ‘round Bandit. His Mann-ifest violations in earlier movies were inartful, even for a bootlegger, but at least the chase back then was mostly honest and entertaining, if stupid. This time, Bandit is being chased just because Alvin Leonard Bragg, DA craves the limelight and the worship of zany Democrats.

Alvin Leonard Bragg, DA won’t catch his target – Bandit is far too fast for him – but BraggaDonkeyO will generate a box office hit for them both. The next sequel is already set for 2024. The word on the street is that in the next sequel it will be Bandit who is the chaser.

Watch for my book in the coming weeks, titled “High Attitude – How Woke Liberals Ruined Aspen.”

Is the British system better?

Britain was blessed, cursed and obsessed with a controversial politician named Boris Johnson who had a good brain and mostly good policies but a bad personality. For the latter, he’s been canned. His own crew have jumped ship, effectively dragging their captain overboard with them.

Don’t feel sorry for Johnson. He’s a bit of a jerk, he got caught up in some ridiculous little scandals, he got very little backing from his friends whom he backed very little in their own times of need, he had a habit of saying attention-grabbing but inappropriate things, he’s a second-rate womanizer, and he has funny hair.

Sound familiar?

Johnson was a conservative, or a “Tory” as the Brits call them. You might therefore suppose that the outcome of this political fall would be that the opposing party, the Labour Party, or what we Americans would call the Democrats when we’re feeling charitable – or the Socialists, Marxists, Communists, Stalinists, Maoists or Chavistas when we’re not – now comes into power.

Wrong. When a British Prime Minister resigns before his term has expired, his successor is chosen by the majority party in Parliament. Today, that’s the Tories, the same party that chose Johnson.

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Of masks and men; the weird religion of COVID masks

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Daily COVID deaths and new cases are down to pre-pandemic levels in America. Even the CDC says masks are no longer required for vaccinated people. Heck, even school teachers are returning to the classrooms – sans masks – now that their demands for more money and less work have been met.

Weirdly, however, many people are still wearing masks. In fact, I often see mask wearers driving around alone in their cars. What’s up with that?

A little historical context is necessary. Dr. Fauci originally told us that masks were not effective. It turned out that he never really believed that. He was lying in order to conserve the masks for people he thought deserved them.

Then when masks became plentiful, the good doctor said they are effective after all and so we should wear them. He himself took to wearing two at a time, both over his mouth. I rather wish he’d worn half a dozen.

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Unfriend the social media monsters for two reasons – them and us

As for them:

Twitter and Facebook candidly play political favorites. They censor ideas and content on the right while permitting countervailing ideas and thought on the left

Events of last week compared to events of last summer drive this home. Social media has been clamping down on complaints about a stolen election, to the point now that Facebook says it will censor all references to “Stop the Steal.”

Meanwhile, Twitter has altogether banned the President of the United States from its platform.  Their justification for this is that his tweets threaten our country.

In contrast, neither Twitter nor Facebook banned Antifa or Black Lives Matter last summer when they were actively advocating the overthrow of the government. They chanted “No USA at all” and “Burn it Down” as they attempted to do precisely that. They failed, so far, but they did kill and maim a number of people and destroy billions of dollars in property.

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Go away mad or go away sane, Mr. President, but do go away

A month and a half ago, the GOP had a lock on keeping the Senate. Polls suggested Dem wins in places like Maine and Iowa but, when the votes were ultimately counted, GOP Senators Susan Collins and Jodi Ernst won handily.

In Georgia, the two GOP incumbents did well, but didn’t quite exceed 50% in a multicandidate race. Under Georgia law, that meant a runoff was necessary between them and their Democrat challengers.

The GOP – and the oddsmakers and pollsters – thought the GOP incumbents would win easily. Georgia hasn’t elected a Dem senator in the last generation. Moreover, both Dem candidates were fairly weak. One was tied to China and the other was a Reverend Wright wannabe, Fidel Castro sympathizer and wife abuser. 

But the Dems won today. The Senate goes to the Dems along with the House of Representatives and the Presidency. So what happened in the two month interval between the time it seemed the GOP had a lock on the Georgia runoffs and the runoffs themselves?

Trump happened, that’s what.

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Bitchin’ on Facebook is not “fighting for the cause”

I’d love to see President Trump somehow get a second term. He’s done a lot of good, I voted for him twice, I actively campaigned for him and I predicted he’d win.

But I see now – in fact, I’ve seen for over a month – that due to a combination of bad luck on COVID, bad campaigning, bad personality and bad fraud, he won’t serve a second term after all.

I’m disappointed, but that doesn’t make me a traitor. I have not turned against Trump, but simply recognized that he has lost.

Manifesting my disappointment through denial and fantasy will not help. Reality cares nothing about my feelings of disappointment. What reality cares about are my real actions to obtain a different outcome in the future, not my fervent wishes for a different outcome in the past.

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Biden should pardon Trump

After four years of “resisting” President Trump with meaningless recounts, rogue electoral voters, groundless impeachment and specious claims of Russian collusion, not to mention unending name-calling and harassment of him and his family, the Democrats now urge the country to heal, to come together, to unify.

Behind them, that is.

In fairness, that’s what the winner always does in politics. The winner smears his opponent right up to election day. Then he forgives the target of his smears for being smear-worthy, and graciously invites him and his supporters to unify behind the smearer. This is politics, after all, where hypocrisy is an art form.

At least they’re mostly competent and honest about their hypocrisy, unlike their intellectual and ethical inferiors in what used to be called journalism.

This time, however, a unique opportunity presents on the political stage. But it will require elements that are missing from both journalism and politics. It will require compassion, cleverness and courage.

Joe Biden should pardon Donald Trump. You say Trump has done nothing to be pardoned for? Fine, I agree. But it would be compassionate, clever and courageous for Biden to pardon him anyway. Here’s why.

It would be compassionate because it would spare Trump and his family the angst of being unjustly prosecuted in the criminal justice system for what are really political matters. Prosecuting one’s vanquished opponents is what they do in banana republics, not in the United States of America.

I know there’s an element on the left that aspires to banana republic status, complete with Mao jackets, bread lines and firing squads. But most of us don’t.

If Biden wants us to unify behind him, what better way than for him to offer the first step? I’m old enough to remember when sports involved sportsmanship. The winner always offered his hand to the loser. It’s what ladies and gentlemen do, or at least they used to.

A pardon would be clever because it would put Trump in a difficult position of accepting or rejecting the pardon. Accepting implies that he did something wrong. But rejecting means he might then suffer a prosecution by politically motivated people. After the bias of the Mueller team which at the time of their appointment were highly regarded professionally, and the incompetent pettiness of Michael Flynn’s judge, no one doubts the existence of such creatures.

And it might indeed serve to unify some Trump supporters behind Biden, or at least serve to convey the message that Biden wants a respected and effective presidency, not distraction, vengeance and blood.

But a pardon would also require Biden’s courage in resisting the clinical hysteria of the hard left. They would protest in the streets, mostly peacefully of course, by setting fires in what used to be called arson, collecting reparations in what used to be called looting, and destroying property in what used to be called riots.

College classes would be cancelled because students would think they’re too distraught to attend, or at least that’s what their lefty professors would tell them to think.

Denied the blood of Trump and his family, the left would go after the blood of his supporters, and they’ve already put together lists. Hell hath no fury like a compassionate liberal who’s angry that he’s been denied his pound of flesh and equally angry that he’s been forced to admit that he wants it.  

The old empty suit that is set to assume the presidency of the United States is a lot of things, or used to be, but courageous is not one of them. He won’t stand up to the leftist mob that now constitutes the Democrat base.

But what a compassionate, clever and courageous move that would be.

Election post-mortem

Democracy is not necessarily the best, fairest or most effective form of government. Bear in mind that two and a half millennia ago in the first democracy, Socrates was sentenced to death by 500 Athenians.

In our own representative democracy, we just had an important election. Here are some observations on the state of our democracy. Spoiler alert: It’s better than in Athens, then or now.

First, most of the media and pollsters are both biased and incompetent. This is a very serious problem. If people don’t trust the media, and they don’t, for good reasons, where are they supposed to get the news? If they don’t get the news, on what basis are they supposed to vote?

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Trump will win again, then comes the hard part

The polls are wrong again, and this time we have advance evidence beyond Trump’s say-so.

Polling has always been an inexact science, and now it’s harder than ever. It’s hard to get a representative sampling of actual voters by making random telephone calls to people whose willingness to participate and trust of media pollsters are skewed politically.

Look at an example separate from the presidential race. In Maine, four-term Senator Susan Collins is up for re-election for her fifth term. In her last two elections, she won by 23 and 37-point margins. Yet polls show her behind this time by about 5 points.

Those polls cannot be right. She’ll win by at least 4 points, suggesting a huge error in the polls – an error of at least 9 points.

Other factors are uniquely Trumpian. First, Trump’s approval ratings are higher than his polling numbers. If both are accurate, then many people who approve of his job performance nonetheless want to fire him.

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The triumph and tragedy of Trump

First, the triumph. Against all odds, he won the presidency with promises to shake up a sclerotic Washington establishment. He did that and more.

He moved the U.S. embassy to the ancient capital of Israel over objections from the establishment who predicted a violent reaction from the culture of complainers that passes for Palestinian people. That move proved the first step toward an outbreak of Mideast peace.

Along the way, he put out of business the beheading barbarians called ISIS, cancelled the agreement that would have made Iran a nuclear power within a few years and coordinated with our ally Israel in thwarting belligerents throughout the region.

While the left was figuratively canceling good Americans who said politically incorrect things decades ago, Trump was literally canceling terrorists who were torturing, raping and murdering Americans.

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