Tensions suppressed during the elders’ lifetime often emerge when their estates are adjudicated. If the deceased weren’t rich, these tensions go unnoticed except by members of the families involved. If they were rich –and powerful to boot, like financier Richard Blum and Sen. Dianne Feinstein– the tensions can erupt into the media. DiFi is still among the living, but the inheritance fight has already begun.

The DiFi saga as reported by Tim Arango and Shawn Hubler in the Times August 3, concerns “an increasingly bitter legal and financial conflict that pits her and her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, against the three daughters of her late husband Richard C. Blum, who was a wealthy financier.

“In one legal dispute, the family is fighting over what’s described as Senator Feinstein’s desire to sell a beach house in an exclusive neighborhood in Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco. In another disagreement, the two factions are at odds over access to the proceeds of Mr. Blum’s life insurance, which Senator Feinstein says she needs to pay for her growing medical expenses…

“She was rich in her own right in 1980 when she married Mr. Blum… Her main residence is a 9,500-square-foot mansion in the upscale San Francisco neighborhood of Pacific Heights. Their vacation homes, until recently, included the 36-acre Bear Paw Ranch in Aspen, Colo., which sold in March for more than $25 million, and a seven-bedroom Lake Tahoe compound that sold in late 2021 for a reported $36 million. Current holdings include a property on the Hawaii island of Kauai and a home in Washington, D.C.”

Dianne Feinstein, née Goldman, had three husbands. First was a San Francisco lawyer named Jack Berman. They married in 1956 and divorced in 1960. Next came Dr. Bertram Feinstein, a surgeon at Mt. Zion Hospital (and father of Katherine, the only child to whom Dianne gave birth). Dr. Feinstein died in 1978. In 1980 Diane married Richard Blum. It was his third marriage, too. He’d had three daughters by his first wife, a woman named Andrea Schwartz. (The current dispute is what the Jewish people call “a shonda for the neighbors.”) Katherine’s adversaries are Annette Blum of Santa Monica, Heidi Blum of Switzerland, and Eileen Blum Bourgade of San Francisco.

Poor-mouthing is customary in fights like this, no matter how obvious the opulence of the combatants. Sure enough, the Times now informs us that although Blum “was often referred to in public accounts as a billionaire, people familiar with the family’s finances dispute that characterization and say that Mr. Blum’s wealth was less than some heirs had expected. Mr. Blum’s friends said that the pandemic cut deeply into his investments, particularly his extensive holdings in hotels.”

Katherine Feinstein’s suit contends that her mother has “incurred significant medical expenses” and that despite Mr. Blum’s “intent to support his spouse after his death, the purported trustees have refused to make distributions to reimburse Senator Feinstein’s medical expenses.”  As the word purported suggests, Katherine is challenging the legitimacy of the two gentlemen appointed to administer Blum’s will –his longtime lawyer and the CFO of his private equity firm. They, of course, deny withholding disbursement to the ailing Senator. They question whether Katherine has actually been granted power of attorney by her mother and whether she is “acting out of personal interests and not out of those of her mother.”

The trustees’ lawyer got in a dig with political implications, telling the Times, “Nor has Katherine made it clear, either in this filing or directly to my clients, why a sitting United States senator would require someone to have power of attorney over her.” They also got in a sanctimonious reference to Katherine’s having been adopted by Blum. “While my clients are deeply concerned, we all remain hopeful that this is simply a misunderstanding that can be quickly resolved, rather than a stepdaughter engaging in some kind of misguided attempt to gain control over trust assets to which she is not entitled.”

The piece ended by citing smooth Willie Brown stating the obvious while staying true to the Democratic National Committee:  “Willie Brown, a former mayor of San Francisco and a longtime friend of the Feinstein family, said that the feud over finances probably reflects longstanding animosity between Katherine Feinstein and Mr. Blum’s three daughters. ‘There would not have been any issue, frankly, if there was mutual love between all the people,’ he said.

“Mr. Brown continued, ‘I frankly would rely upon the clarity of thought that the daughter has demonstrated in the past.” He called Katherine Feinstein a ‘brilliant woman, a brilliant judge’ and said she ‘would not have taken whatever steps she has taken without some serious need to have that done, frankly, on behalf of her mother.'”

Who but a man who is almost never forthright needs to use one frankly per sentence? Brown also gets mileage out of honestly and to be honest, etc… Somebody ought to create a dictionary in which words are defined only by pictures of individuals who personify the trait.  A picture of The Donald, for example, could accompany the term “sore loser.”  This dictionary can have more than one graphic per term. The definition of “bullshit artist” could depict hundreds of faces, but none would be more suitable than Willie Brown’s.

A Conspiracy Theory: Your correspondent has no evidence whatsoever for the following assertion (but has been watching politicians in action for many long, sad years). The reason Dianne Feinstein won’t resign her Senate seat is that Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged to appoint a Black woman if and when the seat became available. Rep. Barbara Lee, who is running for that seat in 2024, is obviously the appropriate candidate to fill it if DiFi resigns. But the DNC doesn’t want uppity Barbara Lee to have the incumbent’s advantage over their golden boy, Adam Schiff. So Rep. Katie Porter, a political progressive and a woman, was induced to throw her hat in the ring. She will take votes away from Lee and her presence in the race virtually assures Schiff’s ascendance.  Porter’s DNC handlers saw to it that she announced her candidacy before Lee had made hers official. What did they promise her in return? Time will tell. Remember, this is totally made up.

My will is easy to decide
For there is nothing to divide
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan
“Moss doesn’t cling to a rolling stone”
My body, ah, if I could choose
I would to ashes it reduce
And let the merry breezes blow
The dust to where some flowers grow
Perhaps some fading flower then 
Might come to life and bloom again
This is my last and final will
Good luck to all of you, Joe Hill