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July 13, 2017

Caller ID is Sure Helpful

Harry M. Covert

No sooner had the latest alleged news on the Russia stuff than my phone chimed. It's a newfangled tone on the iPhone. The calling number popped up on the screen. I was taken aback because it was from Russia. No kidding! That's what it spelled.


For that fleeting moment I hesitated and almost dropped my coffee mug. I held on. Have the Russians now hacked into the East Coast telephones and each and every cell phone?


Should I call the FBI, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine's office, The New York Times, Frederick News-Post or the cable news frauds to alert them of this horrendous and possibly treasonous international call?


Rather than shake, rattle and roll, or scream mama mia, I figured it may be a money-raising call for Vladimir Putin's re-election campaign. Don't even think it. I wasn’t going to suggest he was either a Trumpite or Clintonista. That would have been too easy, besides I'm out of that league. It is worth a column and based on facts. I've filed the phone number to prove it happened just in case representatives come to silence, or question, my sanity.


The phone number is blocked now. Maybe the Washington probers have bigger fish to fry. They want us to believe them, but there's more truth in Daniel Silva's spy novels than the hogwash spewing in the news world – or Congress. Believability? Hmm!


In my world travels I never received millions from the robber barons. Russia was never on my travelogue. In the early 1990s I made several trips to Zaire, now known as The Congo. The late Mobutu Sese Seko was general dictator and president. He did put people to work.


Good old Americans gave thousands of dollars to provide food, clothes and medicines for the people. Once we took 25 containers that arrived safe and sound in Kinshasa. There was a brief delay one morning in our distribution. The custom agent had a short memory loss and said the containers weren't there. I could see them in the yard and the shipping documents verified the numbers.


Remember charitable Americans provided the goods and transportation costs. It was amazing how the containers were found still in the yard with help from a company of Zairian soldiers, well-armed and ready to fight. The goods were distributed to hundreds soon under watchful eyes. Thanks to Mobutu.


I must confess. I was invited for breakfast at Mobutu's palace in Gbadolite. This jungle paradise is now in disarray.


We arrived for the incredible breakfast prepared by a French chef. Mobutu's cabinet welcomed me. I was introduced as Haricot Ver. Since I am monolingual, I didn't understand Mobutu's grin and pleasant welcome.


Moments after the chief of state departed, I learned my English name in French means Green Beans.


I laughed, too. The story continues a month later when I was invited to Mobutu's state visit to Washington to meet President George H. W. Bush.


Along with hundreds of others standing in the official receiving line, Mobutu happened to spot me. He broke protocol took a few steps to shake hands with Mr. Green Beans.


He probably took millions from U.S. largess over the years. That's the supposed inside, and I don't doubt it. The only thing I got was the free breakfast and a ride on his presidential plane. We were forced to make an emergency landing to refuel in the Central African Republic at two o'clock in the morning. The pilot had two briefcases full of Zairian diamonds to pay for the fuel.


Here's an addendum. On the runway were two French military planes filled with soldiers. They were there to stop a planned overthrow.


This writing has just been interrupted by another Russia telephone call. Seriously. They must be determined to invade us peace lovers. I blocked the first call. I guess I'll have to call the secret agents, the real ones.


I never met any Russkies in Zaire. Come to think it further, I've never met any to my knowledge.


Maybe a probe is warranted to determine how many senators and Congress members have taken jaunts to the Federation. We'll no doubt be astonished.


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