Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Appetizers with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Main course with John Kerry.  (Barf.)

Dessert with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

As Clair George once told me me:  "If I took you downtown and showed you who was in charge, it would scare the bejeezus out of you."

I'm not scared anymore.  Just highly amused.


So I rounded up all the usual (spooky) suspects to get a fix on what the dickens is going on in DC.

The consensus:  depression & disarray.

Apparently, no one in the intelligence community wants to brief the President on secret stuff because they never know if he's going to Tweet it five minutes later. 

The President is not immune from prosecution for revealing
classified information.  But it becomes difficult to prove how he learned whatever he's Tweeting about.


The old pharmacy known as "Doc's Corner,"  Wisconsin and O, where Ben Bradlee, Art Buchwald, David Brinkley and others would gather is now a...

...and, nearby, a great place for suits.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Beltane rehearsal dinner in DC.

(You know you're headed for Washington when Karl Rove is flying in the row behind you and a Cheney/Defense lobbyist is seated to your right...)


Georgetown Inn, Washington DC.  

January 22nd, 1988.

A figure with a tan raincoat draped over his arm sat waiting to meet me. He stood and smiled broadly; we shook hands and entered the restaurant for a chat over lunch.

Clair George, then 57 years old, was in the process of leaving the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  He had worked in their clandestine division for over thirty years and risen to its most coveted top job as deputy director for operations.

I was a 33 year-old literary agent; my specialty, packaging books by Washington insiders.  

I had found Clair through Jack Smith, a former CIA deputy director for intelligence, who, in retirement, had turned to penning novels.  

Clair had recently been in the news in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal; his marginal involvement in that arms-for-hostages operation had cost him his job.  You’d see photos of Oliver North and Richard Secord in The Washington Post, but Clair’s picture would always be a generic silhouette, as if to confirm the authenticity of his profession.  

Monaco, mid-1990s

The mystery photo now had a face:  Bland doughy facial features, with a nose and mouth that resembled Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness) from TV’s Gunsmoke; graying red hair, ruddy features and sparkling blue eyes.  (A decade later, those eyes, which had seen so much, would dull from macular degeneration.)  Clair was about 5’9” and had the air of a man who could fit in anywhere without being noticed, unless he chose to be.

Naturally curious, Clair was willing to meet me, wanted to know all about my involvement in the book publishing business, and what, specifically, I had in mind for him.  He was funny, charming, and disarming.

I later learned that the only reason he met me was because my pitch had amused his wife, Mary, who acted as his shield during the first Iran-Contra news frenzy.  She was his telephone call screener and front door gatekeeper.  A couple of national security correspondents from major news organizations had even reduced themselves to threats when she would not allow them through:  cooperate with me, they told her, or else.
Mary gave them short shrift as only Mary could.  Clair rarely spoke with the media.  Period.

But my pitch was this:  How about writing a Spy’s Guide to Europe?

Mary thought my idea charming.  The gate opened.

Mary and Clair had met at CIA headquarters, where, as a young woman, she had worked as a secretary.  He was immediately smitten by her, and barged into her office to say, “I need to talk to you about this report.  Over lunch.”

Mary left the CIA upon marrying Clair; some of their happiest years were spent in Paris, France, to which Clair was posted as a young CIA officer.

I explained to Clair how book packaging worked:  I would help him write a detailed proposal, which I would submit to editors that specialized in the nonfiction espionage genre at five big publishing houses.  We would, I was confident, be offered a contract, and Clair would write a book.  If he needed a ghostwriter, this could be arranged.

Clair said he would think about it.

Many months later, we met again, this time for lunch at the swank Hay-Adams Hotel, across from the White House.  

London, 1991
It was a good meeting, as Clair was fine company, with an easy laugh and great sense of humor.  But it seemed he would never produce a tell-any, let alone a tell-all.  Self-promotion was anathema to Clair.  He was the perfect spy. 

I was about to move to Monaco, on the French Riviera, in search of new adventure, so it hardly mattered to me anymore; I was happy just to have made the acquaintance of this legendary spymaster.

In time, we would travel to Europe together, on over twenty occasions, often aboard Concorde, on assignment for our clients. 

In 1990, a legendary CIA spymaster and a young writer partnered to do creative problem resolution for select clients. These included a circus, a reclusive Monte Carlo investment adviser, a mega-wealthy Italian Countess, and a New York billionaire. They took assignments based on the potential of a high Laugh Quotient with this dictum: "If it ain't funny, we don't do it." In this way, Clair George and Robert Eringer commuted to Europe by Concorde, stayed in five-star hotels, and laughed their way through London, Paris, Geneva, and Monte Carlo. The Spymaster & Me is a poignant easy, breezy read, combining humor, zest and brio.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


What I love most about my two little guys is how much they love one another.


Early 2001, with Little Liv

When I first moved to Washington, D.C. in September 1975 to attend American University (AU), Gerald Ford occupied the White House.

While researching the Bilderberg Group for a term paper in Dr. Abdul Said’s famed course on international relations that autumn, my letter to Ford (he had attended two Bilderberg conferences) prompted a written response from State Department flunky Francis Seidner, a "Public Affairs Adviser," who advised me to mind my own business.

The budding journalist I was (the second rule of reporting, after facts, is perseverance), I phoned Seidner to clarify his advice.  He became rather snotty after I suggested that Ford had not been elected president (which he hadn't).

I was still at AU when Jimmy Carter was running for president.  Of all the candidates (most of whom came to speak at AU), Carter was the smuggest; the only candidate selling campaign buttons instead of giving them away. 

I would later understand why, as my investigation evolved from Bilderberg to the Trilateral Commission, from whose American contingent (supported by globalists) Carter quietly garnished big money and Establishment support while the media all asked Jimmy who?

But Carter’s presidency was ill fated and Ronald Reagan replaced him in the White House in January 1981.  

Not two months later, I was in DC for an Australian radio program to cover the Trilateral Commission’s annual confab when Reagan got shot.   

And then I spent most of the rest of Reagan’s presidency in London and in the vicinity of Manhattan, where I operated as a literary agent, peddling books by Washington insiders, including former CIA Director Bill Colby and terrorism-studies pioneer Robert Kupperman.

George Bush occupied the White House when I moved to the DC-area in August 1990 and settled into the Westgate neighborhood of Bethesda, Maryland.  

I had interviewed Bush inside his suite at the Madison Hotel in April 1979 when he was running for president against Reagan and Carter.  Bush was having lunch all alone in the Madison’s cafĂ© when I approached him and explained that I was his next scheduled appointment.  He graciously asked me to sit down, the gentleman he is, and we were able to chitchat for short while before heading upstairs to do the interview.

Two years later, Bill Clinton beat Bush, and I watched the famous post-inauguration Memorial Bridge crossing-by-foot on TV inside my Westgate house.  

I was cynical about Bubba’s presidency from the start, and was delighted when another Bush replaced him in the White House.  Not that I believe in political dynasties (I don’t), but I felt that the White House needed adult supervision.  And I also felt Clinton’s national security policies were useless, based on my experience operating undercover for FBI Counterintelligence thus having a ringside seat.  

We have Bubba to thank for 9/11 and the rise of Vladimir Putin.

During the brouhaha over the Bush-Gore vote, television news reported that pro-Bush protestors had assembled outside the Vice President’s Mansion, where Al Gore lived, and were chanting, “Get out of Cheney’s house!”

I drove a straight run down Massachusetts Avenue to the alleged event and found that the vicinity outside the mansion was quiet as can be—the beginning of fake news?

When I lived in Wesley Heights, in a house known by my teenage daughter’s friends as Moon Castle because of the parties I allowed her to throw, Al Gore Jr. showed up, and I had to work out a contingency plan on where to hide him if the police came calling and discovered an underage keg party.  (I grew up in London where the drinking age is 18 and, back then, if you looked fifteen-and-a-half you qualified for a drink.)

And when I put Moon Castle on the market n late 2000, First Lady Hillary Clinton came to see it, escorted by a full motorcade that left my neighbors astonished.  Hillary apparently loved Moon Castle, and considered buying it, but the entertaining spaces were not large enough, and she purchased a house near Embassy Row instead.

I was living in Montecito when Barrack Obama got elected president.  I thought he was unqualified and that his election an Obamaration (read aberration), and little about his presidency ever dissuaded me from my first impression.

So I'll be in DC once again.  And the country that invented Reality TV got exactly what it deserved.

That said, the person most responsible for Trump’s election is Hillary Clinton, and her two-step program:  

One, in collusion with the Democratic National Committee, sabotage Bernie Sanders.  

Two, connive to edge Trump ahead of the pack on the basis that he would be the easiest Republican to beat.

All Hillary's talk about Russia and misogyny is pure bunkum.  The U.S. is ripe for a female president.  But not her.  And though Russia tried to influence our election (as we try to influence theirs and many others all over the world), he is now learning to be careful what you wish for.

But what you truly need to know about Washington is this:

Presidents come and go.

Insider Washington endures and prevails.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


The Dude discovers my trusty (and rusty) old Adler.

(A reporter in the making?)

Friday, April 21, 2017


Reilly "Ace of Spies"
Part raccoon, part weasel, part bat

Lulu (Miss Louise Brooks)


You'll never find what you're looking until you get lost.

Or, as Yogi Berra put it, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


...Hay's Corner, Portland, Maine.

For reasons not yet known.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


...and countdown to another descent into the rabbit hole...

Saturday, April 15, 2017


You can always tell who's from Montecito by how they park.

Is this you?
If yes, you are an inconsiderate jackass.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Photo:  Van Stein

Rare representation of reclusive writer, in repose.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Starbucks, Montecito.

(It must be dress-up day for Dennis.  He usually looks a lot scruffier.)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017