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Does This Pose Make Me Look Guilty?

 
Replace the book he’s holding with a mug shot sign.

So … the James Comey Book Tour has had its first week. An extremely rocky voyage so far. It seems to this observer that it is about to hit an iceberg, a la the Titanic.

Just today, we have Kim Strassel at the WSJ [paywall] with 11 questions (her column had space restrictions for adding more) that an honest interviewer would ask the former head of the FBI. We have Jim Geraghty at NR [link] echoing Mike Wallace about the catty gossipiness and pointing out the yuge blanks that need filling about Hillary, McCabe, and Lynch. At The Hill … Jonathan Turley appropriately titles his article … FBI A House Of Lies In Comey Era.

And at The Federalist, we have the esteemed Mollie Hemingway [Comey’s memos indicate the dossier briefing of Trump was a setup] who takes apart the now recently published memos of this disgrace of a man and a former head of the FBI. Sad.

Ms. Hemingway makes a very effective case that this man set up the incoming President of the United States for the public reporting of the most salacious details of what Comey also testified to Congress was “unverified,” and that although he intentionally omitted it from his testimony, he knew it was produced by the Hillary Clinton campaign as “opposition research.”

Here’s Mollie’s concluding paragraph:

That [Comey’s firing by Trump] led to Comey leaking multiple memos in order to get a special counsel appointed out of revenge. That special counsel has utterly distracted multiple agencies and embroiled all three branches of government at the highest levels. All over a document that was secretly funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, contracted by a Democrat research firm with ties to the Kremlin, and authored by a shady foreign spy whose relationship with the FBI was terminated because he lied to them.

Treason, by any other name, is still treason.

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More Than 1,800 Resignations, Terminations Since Trump Inaugurated

 

Since the day Donald Trump took office, more than 1,800 resignations and terminations have occurred at media outlets (such as Vanity Fair), universities (including Harvard), at governmental agencies, and elected officials holding positions of power.

The mayor of Seattle resigned after his fifth accusation of child molestation. Oodles of people at USA Gymnastics have resigned. (No surprise there, but why didn’t this happen to these people, and I use that word loosely, a decade ago?) Eric Schmidt is gone but not forgotten. Cecile Richards resigned at Planned Parenthood, after presiding over at least 3.5 million abortions.

Here’s a Google document listing them all.

Additionally with the revelation of Zuckerberg selling off a significant portion of his FB stock once he knew he would be coming before Congressional oversight, it might be interesting to find out why this is not insider trading? At least one VP at FB also did the same thing.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

 

Ricochet alum Mollie Hemingway, as usual, is doing valuable work exposing the machinations of the deep state. Let’s not make this too complex. Let’s just look at a few verified facts surrounding the Comey memo/Russia Russia Russia! affair:

  1. On January 6, 2017, Comey met with Trump at the behest of then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. We know that Clapper set up this meeting, because Comey says so in his first memo: “I said that there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the PE about alone or in a small group.”
  2. Comey told Trump that CNN had the dossier (he called it “the reports”) and CNN was looking for a “news hook.”
  3. CNN reported four days later that “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him.” The source of the report was “multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings.” The substance of the story can best be summed up in one sentence: “The classified briefings (on the dossier) last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.”
  4. James Clapper now works for CNN.

How many coincidences are too many to believe?

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“I’m Not Politically Incorrect. You’re Just Brainwashed and Stupid.”

 

Been thinking about posting this for a while now and DC’s post from yesterday has kicked me into gear. So here we go. Was thinking the other day about these silly gender wars (and such) and “said” to myself something like this: “I cannot, will not be made to believe that there are more than two sexes. Guess I’m just politically incorrect.”

Immediately, however, another thought popped into my ‘noggin. “No you are not.”

The point is that I will no longer let the Progs tell me that I am politically incorrect. I’ll turn it back on them every stinking time and laugh as they try to defend that position.

What are some others that we’ve allowed ourselves to get tagged with?

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QOTD: Childhood

 

“My childhood in Corfu shaped my life. If I had the craft of Merlin, I would give every child the gift of my childhood.” Gerald Durrell I was a voracious reader as a child. If it came between endboards, I read it. Too young for me (I loved the Peter Rabbit tales for years longer […]

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…The Last Drop of Oxygen

 

She glared at me. I pointed to the elephant, lest my reputation as elephant-pointer be diminished away from the negotiating table … and also because I don’t like being glared at.

I see that you’re upset; you have made that clear several times over the past hour, and it’s not lost on me. It is clear that you’re not happy with something that I have said …

… I thought it was your job to advocate for your client.

You thought correctly.

And I heard you advocating for Dad.

No. You heard me point out the most obvious objection to an unreasonable offer, which would very likely lead us to trial, and quite possibly an outcome that my client very much does not want. It’s a negotiation, and sometimes that involves acknowledging a deal-breaker in order to address it head-on, and to concede on issues that are not important, in order to avoid fighting over the issues that are.

I know what I heard.

Clearly you don’t. It may be somewhat unnecessary for me to point out that we are not in trial right now, and that we’ve reached an agreement that did not happen at any time over the past 9 months, and that my client is quite happy with the outcome, however imperfect that may seem to you …

She glared harder, this time with pursed lips, and turned around with all the force of one slamming the receiver-end of a rotary phone, but without the quaint and evocative prop. Then she turned back around with an angry grin.

You know … I specifically requested that you be appointed to this case. Because I believed that you would do a good job of representing your client.

I pretended to take her literally, apparently having left diplomacy in that room with the group of newly visible, somewhat embarrassed elephants.

Thank you. I really do appreciate that.

She grunted, waved her hand in my face as if to swat away my an unwanted association, and stormed into the courtroom.

I thought … what was perhaps a misguided thought … that there was a middle ground that could avoid what I saw as two distinct pitfalls. There was the well-meaning condescension of a therapist whose good intentions seemed rather to create an alternate reality. My first full-length conversation with this woman left my tongue bitten to what I imagined might look something like a chicken fried steak if it were actually bitten, held back like George Brett having just received bad news, restrained like a madman who actually happens to be right … as she described the personal philosophy of one whose trips to visit her kids at Berkeley constitute a glimpse of paradise, away from the hell of backward-thinking middle (or at least Eastern west-coast) America, and whose charitable endeavors included a trip to the pipeline protests in North Dakota. Why? Silly question; because obviously to bring an emotional support dog to the children of the protesters, and to set up shop, temporarily, to address not only the trauma of having to witness first-hand…

…the actions and borderline abuse of delusional, irresponsible, living anachronisms, hoping to bring their children up among hippies while they abuse drugs in protest of something they do not understand, on behalf of people who did not request this sort of …?

Another thick layer of enamel dust mixed with saliva, and (I could only imagine blood) in my mouth as the words fought to plow their way through the steadfastly grinding teeth, and out …

… of having to witness first-hand the desecration of sacred lands by big-oil, in addition to the trauma of the racist (because we’re all natives, man, when we fight for the natives) enforcement of federal law, and the terrible violence …

But well-intentioned, and a nice woman, and a genuine pleasure to work with, when, granted, she had no occasion to view me as one who might rather be opposed to the Berkeley set, or that tear-filled drum-circle of sacred-land lovers, or, say, the contingent of beard-oil black rimmed glasses dangling with their vegan Indian takeout in Patagonia cliff-hammocks from bridges that span the Willamette. I was doing something she liked, and – to be honest – was sincerely pleasant and friendly about it, so she was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and view my grey suede Toms as organic and hipster, rather than “the fancy black ones are too expensive to replace just yet, so I think I may be able to get away with these since I’m wearing brown slacks, today.”

In her world, a 10-year-old is emotionally fragile, and she’s not wrong, but in her world identity means, I suspect, something more than it ought, and emotionally fragile takes on that defining characteristic that neglects the capacity, often found in the most difficult of times, for a sort of emotional fortitude that may find its emergence somewhat hampered by the overabundance of support animals, jelly-bellies, and near-obsessive inquiries about “how, exactly, does that make you feel?”

The second pitfall was that displayed by the guardian ad litem who was angry with me for not “going for blood,” and not at all content with my professional judgment that the blood spilled might very well be that of my client. Namely, the tendency to substitute the child’s will for that of her own, which is admittedly her job, but to insist that it is factually the will of the child. The problem, sometimes, with placing yourself too snugly in the shoes of another, is that you react not as she would, but as you would in her place, with all your own history and experiences, good and bad. Because for however long you stand in another person’s shoes, you are still only yourself with different footwear – you are not that person.

I hoped that there might be some decent middle ground between condescension and substitution. It looked like a lot of silliness and conversation. Self-deprecating jokes, and jokes about sleeping in school, which only a 10-year-old would laugh at, knowing that every other adult in her life is not merely content, but obligated, to sacrifice honesty for the cause of “being a good influence.” It looked like a mixture of serious and merely curious questions, to which (I hoped) my own interest in any specific answers was not simply absent, but obviously absent. It looked like an in-depth analysis of after-school sports, of friendship durability between the fifth and sixth grades, and it looked like a sarcastic roll of the eyes when a smartly dressed grownup knocked on the door because everyone was waiting. And from her, an empathetic chuckle, because she realized that I really had become just as interested in observing her life as I was in planning it.

But it led me back to the now-empty courtroom, and a group of six attorneys all sitting in what was not a drum circle, but was more of a round-table, to distill all the complicated details of a handful of lives, over a few hands-full of years, into a single document of best judgment (the sort that requires a suit and a tie, and hours, and weeks, and months), backed by the force of law. It led me to the secret and fantastical desire that all of Congress should be piled in a rocket and shot into the outermost reaches of space to negotiate and deliberate and plan, right down to the smallest detail, right through to the last drop of oxygen.

Not because congressmen are lawyers, and not because any of these particular lawyers were anything less than kind, empathetic, and sincerely desiring to see the very best outcome for all of their respective clients. And not because they didn’t actually achieve the best outcome that was possible under a set of terribly unfortunate circumstances and self-imposed restraints. But because the invisible elephant shaped truth that fills the cup of my own little microcosm until it overfloweth, until the cup shatters into pieces that take everyone by surprise, is that there is one thing that we have even the faintest hope of ever understanding enough to plan for, through years of experience, of learning through trial and error, if we are exceedingly lucky – and that is the immediate space that we ourselves occupy.

Yet, instead, we pull from the most negative manifestations of all the kindhearted good intentions of my therapist and guardian ad litem, squeezing ourselves into shoes that do not fit, in order to plan for a thousand things that we cannot see, based on an incomplete understanding of only our own interests; to place a wedge of cheese, aged and steeped in hours of negotiation and debate, in the middle of a labyrinth of our own creation. A labyrinth created in vanity and in vain, having carefully considered the theoretical impact on the habitats of indigenous species, the fairness of budgeting for X without also providing for Y, and the subsequent inclusion of Y and then Z, the feelings of those who we imagine might feel appropriated or microaggressed, the contingencies and sub-contingencies; every mundane detail, every study, every fact. Every little thing except the mouse, who sits there feeling far more like a human than a mouse … and not particularly hungry for the cheese.

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Being a Pro Pilot and a Woman, Then and Now

 

Regarding the Washington Post article “‘Sully was just a hero. Why label the Southwest captain a ‘female pilot?’” … because it’s interesting and newsworthy. Sorry, not sorry. I’m glad she’s getting a ton of publicity and I hope girls who want to fly are noticing.

Like the author of the article, I too belong to The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots. My mother was my flight instructor when I got my license at age 19. Much more interesting and newsworthy than that is how my mother became a pro pilot in 1962.

My mother, Gene Nora Stumbough Jessen, had thousands of hours flight instructing at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University under her belt when she was hired by Beechcraft to help demo the new baby Beech, the Musketeer.

Beechcraft, famous for the fast, sexy, V-tailed Bonanza, didn’t have a beginner airplane. Beechcraft noticed once a fellow learned to fly in a Cessna 150, he stayed a Cessna man as he stepped up to the 172, the 206, and beyond.

In 1962, Beechcraft had one professional female pilot, Joyce Case, and a new airplane, the Musketeer. Right about then my mother’s résumé crossed someone’s desk who said to himself, wouldn’t we get tons of free publicity if we had two girl pilots and their boss showing off the Musketeer across America? The message became if these little ladies can fly this airplane in their heels, hose, and hairdos, then surely you can do the same, Mr. Rancher or Executive.

Mom received a letter saying if you are the lady your photograph makes you appear to be, you have a job. She was and she did, and at age 81 she looks back upon those years as the time of her life. Read more about it in her book which has lots of very cool Mad Men-esque photos.

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If I Can Be “Semi-Spontaneous,” Does That Mean I Can Be “Partially Pregnant?”

 

Yesterday, as I was engaged in some family business, driving up and down Interstate 70, one of the ugliest, and one of my least favorite, pieces of road in Western Pennsylvania, I heard an odd report on the news. Figuring that perhaps I was hallucinating, I actually made a point of listening at the top of the next hour, just so I could hear it again. The following is a paraphrase, but fairly closely resembles the actual report:

“Pittsburgh police have announced that they are gearing up for possible riots should President Donald Trump fire special counsel Robert Mueller. The police have received a email report that there is a widespread belief that Trump may fire Mueller, and that if that occurs, extensive protests are being planned in the city. The protests are being described as semi-spontaneous and would likely happen on short notice (emphasis added).”

Three cheers (I guess) for the Pittsburgh Police for their sincere desire to keep their fellow citizens safe. (I’ve had a number of dealings with the Pittsburgh Police over the years, and they are fine people.) But I can’t help wondering if it’s typical for law enforcement to respond so directly, so publicly, and so forcefully to an anonymous “tip” detailing simply that there is a “widespread belief” that something may happen, and that if it does, all sorts of semi-spontaneous hell is going to break loose (if you want to know what I mean, just Google “Pittsburgh police Trump fire Mueller” to see the dozens and dozens of hysterical national news stories about this).

It appears that someone is planning these riots on a nationwide basis and that, whether or not Trump actually fires Mueller, the purposes of sowing dissension and confusion will have been served. I have no idea why Pittsburgh has been chosen as the public face of the “resistance,” but it looks as if, this time, that’s the case. And, of course, Mayor Bill Peduto is happy to play along, throwing gasoline on the fire.

But I’m still stuck on one phrase back in the original news report (and repeated again in many of the news stories). Apparently, no-one else finds it worthy of remark, but does the assertion that these protests will be “semi-spontaneous” strike anyone as odd?

I have no idea what that means, or how, in the event that Donald Trump actually should fire Robert Mueller, the subsequent protests could be described as anything other than the results of a well-planned, carefully orchestrated, extremely focused, and very determined political campaign carried out by the willing participants and useful idiots of the Left.

And if Trump doesn’t fire Mueller? Well, the infrastructure’s already in place for the next thing that comes along, isn’t it?

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Again with the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?

 

While not the most enthusiastic Trump fan, not a day goes by when I’m not grateful this horrid woman isn’t president.

“I knew it. I knew this would happen to me,” Clinton reportedly said, according to excerpts from a new book published in The Daily Beast. “They were never going to let me be president.”

It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it Hilly?

I guess by “They,” she thinks she means the “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.” HRC always had a boundless sense of entitlement and an equally massive sense of paranoia. But the real “they” are just people fed up by being told what to do by people like her; people who think they know what’s best for everyone and then use government to force their choices on others while exempting themselves from the law.

In reality, this woman was handed a Senate seat and was then upgraded to Secretary of State. In reality, her party cleared a path for her to get the nomination. In reality, the entire media apparatus of the country did everything it could to run interference on any impediment to her coronation. (Calling her illegal use of a private server to conduct government business, her destruction of evidence, and her mishandling of classified documents an “email scandal” made it sound like she accidentally forwarded spam from a Nigerian prince or something.)

Oh, and about that “basketful of deplorables” label she slapped on Trump supporters, turned out that was something she workshopped that bit with the people who really matter.

“The Deplorables always got a laugh, over living-room chats in the Hamptons, at dinner parties under the stars on Martha’s Vineyard, over passed hors d’oeuvres in Beverly Hills, and during sunset cocktails in Silicon Valley.”

Not so much on the high school football fields of Ohio, the working-class bars of Pennsylvania, or the dairy cooperatives of Wisconsin.

Not that she would know anything about those places.

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Quote of the Day – Line Up, Everyone!

 

“All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height.” –Casey Stengel Truth be told, my dad watched a lot of sports when we were growing up, but I don’t recall him electing to watch nearly as many baseball games as football games. That may just be the fuzzy memory of youth, of course – […]

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Stalin Lives: The Scouring of Crimea

 

Welcome to the 1930s, Comrade. The Ukrainian language is now forbidden in Crimea. That’s not all that the Russian government has forbidden there. The Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches are also forbidden. The forbidden list also includes Ukrainian political parties and Ukrainian-language media. History is repeating itself in the Russian ethnic cleansing of Crimea.

The ethnic cleansing is not restricted to Ukrainians. Crimean Tatars who returned to Crimea decades after the mass deportations ordered by Josef Stalin have been targeted as well. In 2016, the Russian government banned Crimean Tatar organizations. One activist, Ervin Ibragimov, was abducted in May 2016; his whereabouts are unknown to this day. Ukrainian activists have also been abducted and disappeared as well.

The FSB and so-called self-defense units intimidate, harass, and abduct those who are resisting the Russian occupation. They also put pressure on citizens to inform on anyone who does not acknowledge Russian authority.

Yes, Stalin, the Breaker of Nations lives on. The insatiable appetite to conquer and loot will probably not stop at the Crimea. 10,300 Ukrainians have died in eastern Ukraine in the latest Russian invasion.

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Decisions, in the Course of Wisdom

 

I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life. I’ve filed most of them away and only occasionally pull one out as a personal testimonial if needed. Scars have a way of making a point. Good decisions do as well, though sometimes it takes a while to become evident.
The best decision I ever made, started with a day full of bad ones. For one thing, I cheated on my girlfriend. This is always a bad decision. I’ll own that. I told her I was going over to “some friends place to watch movies.” I’m sure she suspected otherwise, but I didn’t care. I stuck to my story and was off.
A few hours later I was across town in another girl’s apartment. I found myself sitting on the floor, looking into the eyes of a young woman who knew the score, and didn’t like it. She had the courage to challenge me, while still holding my hand. She was wise enough to require me to make a decision, and let me know that this would be the first night of our relationship or our last.

The choice was mine.

I don’t know how long I thought about it, but the decision came to me in bright bold font. Kiss her. I did. I thought I was done making bad decisions.

Not so.

It was easy to coast along, living together, instead of getting married. It was easier for me anyway. She was withering inside. I figured there would always be plenty of time. Why rush? But on a beautiful Thursday afternoon, my pitiful indifference was interrupted by the sickening crunch of a Saturn coupe being bent in half by a half-ton truck.

The car spun around in a cloud of glass, smoke, and blood. A few minutes later, an ambulance was taking away that courageous young lady I loved, while I and my blood-sprinkled shirt were being given a citation for making another bad decision.

She still bears the scars and deals with the ankle damage I caused that day. But she gave me something too.

Later that night I was sitting on the tile floor, helping her take a painful bath, and was overwhelmed. I’d almost lost the only thing that really mattered to me, and I’d squandered my days with her up to this point.

Once again, it was time to make a decision. Once again, it was crystal clear.

As I delicately pulled tiny pieces of glass out of her ears, and hair, I asked her to marry me. If you ask her, she will probably tell you that out of her drug-induced stupor she said yes.

I still keep a small piece of fabric from the T-shirt I used to stop her bleeding that day; a personal memento to hammer home this piece of wisdom: never put off your heart’s desire, because in a split second, the opportunity could be gone forever.

A footnote to that first kiss. It was twenty-two years ago today.

Happy anniversary my Goldberry, my friend, my love.

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DNC Uses a Lawsuit to Keep the Lie Alive

 

From the Washington Post:  “The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. “The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials […]

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High Noon All Over Again

 

Victor Davis Hanson has recently published a piece on NRO titled Donald Trump, Tragic Hero. VDH makes a compelling argument about “tragic heroes” from Sophocles’s Ajax to Sam Peckinpah’s Pike Bishop. He mentions also Fred Zinnemann’s Will Kane, the sheriff from High Noon.

I rarely wish to argue with VDH but I must argue this one. The other tragic heroes are the true losers. They either die a violent death at the end or they live on in a hopeless outcast existence. They are completely outside of the value system of civil society. Thus their fate seems inevitable even to them. However, Will Kane is quite different.

It is Kane whose values are the values of civilization. It is the corrupt townspeople who have given up on civilized values and have given in to a murderous band of killers. Kane fights them all as a gentleman. He gives them much more respect than they give him. Even his young new wife, who has the highest of motives, “a better way for people to live,” is selling him out because he won’t bend to her way of thinking.

In the climactic ending, however, Will is victorious, he vanquishes the gang, his wife has come over to his reality, and finally, he spits in the face of a corrupt town. He leaves them his “tin star” in the dirt. They can find somebody else to wear it but it will never be Will Kane and the town will never regain its self-respect. Kane rides off in the carriage with his new wife, a symbol of civilized life, a victory over evil and corruption. It’s the town that may face oblivion.

I’ve been working on a piece about High Noon for some time. I wasn’t sure about it. I felt a little embarrassed to make so much of a simple American Western movie. OK, perhaps the most intellectually sophisticated American Western movie ever made but still in the end just a simple American Western. Now, Victor has made it easy for me. He is right about all the other tragic heroes but Will Kane is not a tragic hero and High Noon is not a tragedy.


The famous American Western movie High Noon came out at the zenith of the fighting in the Korean War. Director Fred Zinnemann, an Austrian Jew, had lost both of his parents in the Holocaust. Many thought that High Noon was about McCarthyism. Zinnemann himself disagreed.

I saw it as a great movie yarn, full of enormously interesting people… only later did it dawn on me that this was not a regular Western myth. There was something timely — and timeless — about it, something that had a direct bearing on life today. To me it was the story of a man who must make a decision according to his conscience. His town — symbol of a democracy gone soft — faces a horrendous threat to its people’s way of life. Determined to resist, and in deep trouble, he moves all over the place looking for support but finding that there is nobody who will help him; each has a reason of his own for not getting involved. In the end, he must meet his chosen fate all by himself, his town’s doors and windows firmly locked against him. It is a story that still happens everywhere, every day.

The story is about a Western town that is totally corrupt and run by a gangster. A local man becomes sheriff and with the help of the good forces of the town defeats the gangster and sends him to state’s prison. Now only a few years later the gangster is being let out of prison. He is returning to the town for revenge. The people with eyes set on a bright and easy economic future think it would be best if the sheriff just gets out of town. The sheriff is getting married but his wife is a Quaker. She wants to leave town with him too. She can’t understand resolving the situation with violence. The sheriff wants to stay and fight the gangster a second time. Only this time all of the people he relied upon have a reason why they won’t help him.

It all happens very fast. The wedding is in the morning. Immediately after the wedding, the news hits town that the gangster has been released and will be coming in on the noon train. The main action of the film occurs as the sheriff desperately tries to get support and put up a fight. He is rejected completely, even by his new bride.

What if High Noon isn’t about McCarthyism or internal American politics. Rather it is about the Korean War. The gangster originally represents the Fascists. The sheriff representing the United States with a broad allied coalition, like in WWII, defeats the gangster the first time. Now the gangster is back in a new form that represents the Marxists. This time everyone is reticent to fight them. Even with the UN tacitly along for the ride, the Korean War was totally on the back of the United States, the sheriff alone.

Some say the 1950s were an era of “conformity.” I don’t think so. With 65 million dead in WWII, the Holocaust, and the Bomb, people just wanted not to think about the madness for a while. The men had come home and the women weren’t working in the factories anymore. The baby boom was on. People just wanted a little joy. A better way to live.

In our present era of comic book characters and space fantasies, we have forgotten what simple storytelling with strong character development is all about. Zinneman does a masterful job pulling us in and making us care about characters quickly sketched by only a few scenes. One character, played by unknown Mexican actress Katy Jurado, has a few scenes playing opposite the powerful screen presence of Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Yet, she not only holds her own playing the strong character Helen Ramirez but almost steals the movie from the stars.

The problem is that war isn’t that kind of choice. If you are being attacked there is no “better way for people to live.” You must defend yourself and what is yours. It isn’t about choosing to use violence or not. If you are moral you don’t start wars; the other side does. Your only choice is whether to allow everything you hold dear to be destroyed or take up arms against a sea of troubles and thereby end them no matter how unpopular it is.

Nobody wanted to fight the Korean War. Maybe Mr. Zinnemann’s subliminal message, consciously created or not, was that we must fight this newer tyranny and defeat it just as we defeated the older one. Perhaps we will be forced to face this choice again. Justice isn’t always popular but it’s Justice just the same.


Scenes

 

Cooper and Grace

Cooper & Katy

Grace & Katy

Final Shootout

 

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Wisdom Is Where You Find It … Mostly

 

I am always fascinated by sayings, quips, quotes, and even song lyrics and assessing their truth and/or embedded wisdom. You know sometimes you hear something and think to yourself “ain’t that the truth!” And other times you say “huh?” Below are some of my favorites and some thoughts on each.

“Never jump off anything you cannot jump back on!” CW4 R. Rod. This sign was behind his desk. He was a small unassuming man that the NVA put a price on when he was in Vietnam because he was so effective. Having jumped outta a few planes in my time and based on his rep I believe him.

“Many times I’ve wondered how much there is to know.” Over the Hills and Far Away Led Zeppelin. Noodle on this – it is absolutely true. And of course, as I get older, the seemingly less I know.

“Don’t play with knives!” There is a story here that is not mine to tell but suffice it to say I have carried a fair amount of knives in my life and playing with them inevitably results in bloodletting or worse @bossmongo.

“Don’t confuse the issue with pertinent facts.” Longtime favorite. As we “discuss” issues with our left-leaning brethren such as immigration, deregulation, the economy, investigations, the media, global warming, abortion, etc. Bringing facts to bare usually results in an emotional response designed to make you feel bad and inferior and them to feel good and superior.

When I was in my military training we’d always hear “mind over matter” men. Usually followed by “I don’t mind and you don’t matter!” Mind over matter works but only if you know your “why” otherwise all the mind in the world (or muscles for that matter) aren’t going to help when the going gets rough.

“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Luke 10:27. As with many true statements or wisdom, this is simple in principle and difficult in execution.

Never travel without a swimsuit and a sweatshirt. This is my own after much travel. I spent 3 months in SE Asia that by the third month I needed a sweatshirt at night due to the temperature variance despite being in the jungle. And you never know when you might find a pool or a hot tub no matter where you are or how cold it is.

“You never know who you are talking to.” My dad in reference to being respectful to and careful of people.

Feel free to add to and/or share your thoughts Ricochet.

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Yer Not Dead Yet, So Embrace The Suck, Cupcake

 

I’m not dead. Kind of came close there, though.

01 April: It was a small cut. Teeny-tiny. Itsy-bitsy. Common, and not worth a mention (see background below). Slavered on some neosporin, covered with a band-aid, and that was that.

02 April: Went to work. It was all good. Had just come back from overseas, had a ton of stuff to catch up on, as well as mountains of paperwork to push forward to fulfill all the obligations my overseas trip had incurred..

03 April: Started to feel like I was coming down with the flu. Chills, shaking. One of my government leads asked, “hey, you’re not on our malaria watch list, are you?” No. Gotta be the flu. Going home. “Well, get gone, son.”

04 April: Woke up early, as always. First things: take Princess Leia, the most ADHD German Shepherd on the planet, for her walk (just because I feel awful, no excuse for shorting Leia of her daily two mile promenade). Noticed that it was hard to hold the leash; my left, dominant hand was a little swollen and moving it during the course of our walk was exceedingly painful. I had a 0800 oil change/maintenance appointment, so after walking Leia, went to that. Hand kept hurting more, swelling more. I’m not a 50-pound brain, but flu symptoms plus swelling and pain near a cut (itsy-bitsy though it might be) could be an infection. Best to snip infections in the bud. Texted the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Mongo “hey, I’m headed to the ED, you want to meet me there?” She is an exec at our local hospital. She texted back, in a CoC paraphrase, “what in the wide, wide world of sports are you talking about?”

I checked into the ED, feeling a little feverish and a little woozy (feeling like I was on a tilt-a-whirl while someone lambasted me with a flamethrower). They drew blood. They looked at the itsy-bitsy cut. They noted the swelling.

Doc: We’re sending you up.

Me: Up? Like what, upstairs, you’re admitting me?

Doc: No, up to Miami. You need to be there, post haste.

Me: Okay, so I drive myself up? So I can stop by mi casa and pick some stuff up?

Doc: No, you’re going by ambulance, stat.

Me: So, can the ambulance stop by my house so I can pick up some stuff?

Doc, takes my good hand, looks into my eyes: You are going by ambulance now. Right now. I’m hoping if you get that level of care quickly, we can save the hand, maybe even all the fingers.

What the…?

I don’t know the order in which all these diagnoses came in, or even where I was, but: When I got to the ED, I apparently was in full-blown sepsis and renal failure (again, what the…?). The itty-bitty, teeny-tiny cut on my forearm was infected by both a MRSA staph and a strep-b. That’s right, pendejos, you goin’ take me on, send both of your best, you cock-a-roaches.

Got up to South Miami Hospital. They were waiting for me, and immediately started plugging and pulling stuff. My IV tree looked like a bags-r-us clearance sale.

Met the first member of the Team that would be taking care of me (Team = hospitalist, infectious disease doc, hand surgeon), the hospitalist.

Hospitalist: I’ve reviewed your records. Your diabetes (type II) is so controlled, you don’t even really have diabetes anymore. You’ve slid down into pre-diabetes status, but you must know–

Me: Yeah. If I backslide into my evil ways, I’m right back into diabetes.

Hospitalist: Yes. And please know, if your diabetes were uncontrolled, we’d be having a very different conversation, and most likely, none of your outcomes would be good.

Me: Thanks, doc. Now, am I going to keep my hand and fingers?

Hospitalist: Probably.

Me: What about my kidneys?

Hospitalist: Looking good, so far.

Me and my IV tree got ensconced in a hospital room. I was told to stand by for my Infectious Disease guy and my Hand Surgeon guy to pop in. Intell was, both docs were awesome. And they were.

The Infectious Disease guy looked and sounded exactly like the Most Interesting Man In The World, and, as we were warned by the staff (who absolutely loved him), he was followed by his coterie of med students. All female. All hot.

ID guy: This is very, very bad. But I think you will be okay, my friend.

Me: Thanks, Doc. Anything I should know or do?

ID guy: Concentrate. Be well.

Oookay.

Later on that evening, the Hand Surgeon showed up. He was, as advertised, awesome. He does surgery in the morning, office calls in the afternoon, hospital rounds in the evening. (Internal dialogue: Hey, Doc get a life–Hey numbnuts, he’s getting a life, yours–Hey Doc, keep doing what you’re doing)

HS: Look, I’d sleep better tonight if I just took you upstairs and cut and drained the infection right now.

Me: Okay, Doc, let’s do it!

HS: Of course, then we’ll have to deal with both the wound and the surgical incision, and it’ll expose all the tendons that run from the forearm, through the wrist and into the hand. They tend to dry out a little bit. But we can usually get most of them back.

Me: Okay, Doc, go pound sand!

Lovely and Talented Mrs. Mongo: Is there anything we can do that’s a little more conservative (she’s the smart one)?

HS: Well, tell you what: If you can get in the shower and break up all those blisters, and clean the wound out to the point it’s draining properly, then I won’t have to cut.

Me: ‘Kay.

HS: So tonight, get in the shower, debride as much as you can. Tomorrow, eat breakfast, then don’t eat or drink again. I’ll come in tomorrow night. If the wound isn’t draining properly, then I’m driving, I take you upstairs, and I cut.

Me: ‘Kay.

That was my first four (out of ten) days in the hospital. I had a couple of bandage changes every day, but I was the guy responsible for cleaning out all of the smegma to the point that the infection could drain and the wound could start, maybe, healing.

I ain’t gonna lie, the pain was exquisite. I’d’ve tapped out, ‘cept for the fact that the only other option was laying my tendons open to the elements, “drying out,” and hoping I could get most of my function back. Yeh. Hand me that scrubber pad, please.

I was in a two bed room, but I was the only occupant. The lovely and talented Mrs. Mongo showed up and stayed for the long haul. Even though there was no one in the other bed, Mrs. Mongo had to sleep in that retarded little visitors chair that pulls out into a “bed” like pad on the floor.

Probably the most joy I got out of the whole hospital stay was that first night, looking down at Mrs. Mongo, asking, “How’s that chair doing, honey? ‘Cause my, oh my, this must be the most comfortable hospital bed, ever. It’s awesome. You sure you’re comfortable down there?” The next day, they’d declared my room an infection hot zone or something, so they weren’t going to put another patient in there. Too, Mrs. Mongo’s corporate contacts had gotten a waiver for her to be able to sleep in the unoccupied bed. God bless her. She stayed by my side the whole time and was my rock. Still, after moving from the floor to the bed, I thought she got a little bit lippy. Could be me.

After a couple of nights, lying there in the still of the dark morn, I mentioned to the Lovely & Talented Mrs. Mongo, “You know, this would be a great opportunity to go for the vaunted and rare ‘hospital notch’.”

L&TMM: Dude, you’ve got two infections going on. No way.

Me: What if I could get clear of one of them? You good, then?

L&TMM: Still dirty, Boss. Not happening.

Dang it!

The infection wasn’t a “flesh eating” bacteria, but it looked like it. I’d post pics, but someone might stumble across this post during a lunch hour or a snack break, and a pic would put you off your feed for a while; you’d probably puke, too.

I’m good now. Cleared to go back to work. I’ve found (I was told, too, but I’m a moron and have to push limits, all the time every time) that I’m in that cycle of feeling really good, doing too much, then feeling really bad. Intellectually, I know I should put my feet up and chill/rest/heal. Constitutionally, I have to fight every limitation, always. Getting better despite myself.

Lessons Learned

  • If you’re a type II diabetic, keep your disease in check. Keeping it in check is simple. Not easy, but simple. Do it.
  • If you get stuck in-patient in a hospital for some awful, complicated stuff, they’ll assign you a Team. That’s very cool, but ask up front who the Team Leader is. We spent a couple days with docs only comfortable with talking about their specialty, but not willing to speculate on others’ area of expertise. Understandable and professional. It’s on you, dear patient, to overtly determine with your “team,” who is the Main Muldoon? The guy that can answer the vector of our efforts comprehensively? I had great people taking care of me. And I’m sure that, separately, they were all taking care of many people with varied maladies. Fine. Good. Go Forth And Heal Stuff. But I still want one person that can talk comprehensively talk to me about what’s going on and what’s next. “Unity of Command” is one of the principles of war, it should be one of patient care, too. Make sure everyone understands you want one guy in charge of your care. Everyone else reports to him, he walks into the room with the consolidated team recommendation.
  • I have some “go bags” in the back of my car. Nineteen car pile up with multiple injuries? Check. Zombie apocalypse? Check. SJW/BLM/#Resistance! revolution? Check. But, I was a little unprepared for an unexpected stay in the hospital. Some board shorts, tee-shirts,flip-flops, chargers, etc. would’ve been handy. So if you’re going to self-report to the ED, have a bag in the trunk in case it’s not an in-and-out op.

Background

@dajoho dispenses wisdom with his admonition, “don’t play with knives.” He says this truthfully, but also, I think, with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. Some guys can’t help it. Like me.

I’m a big fan of Pencak Silat. Not at all competent, but the art is mesmerizing. Unlike most martial arts, Silat started as a knife art, and then built in open hand techniques. Most of the other arts I’m familiar with are exactly the opposite. Particularly, I am drawn to the kerambit. It’s the most devastating, integrated-system blade I’ve stumbled across. Love ’em. The Door of Death is festooned with kerambits.

Play with knives, you’ll get cut. No biggie. The Lovely and Talented Mrs. Mongo has seen me do the kerambit “twirl” probably 30K times since the start of this calendar year. This was the one time I actually cut myself. Cut length: about 1mm. Cut depth: about 1 mm. Ate my lunch.

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What’s the Dumbest TV You Watch? I’ll Tell You Mine

 

Do you watch any television shows that you’d be embarrassed to let people know you watch? Since I use an alias here at Ricochet, I’ll boldly come out and tell you one of mine, Family Feud. Yes, the insipid game show which began on the networks and moved to syndication and has been around since the invention of the cathode tube (or more precisely 1976).

I know what you’re thinking, Family Feud makes even The Voice look like a part of the Golden Age of Television. But I have my reasons. They may not be good reasons, but what excuse did you have for watching Downton Abbey after the death of Matthew? (Sorry, spoilers.)

But let me explain myself and perhaps you’ll feel a little better about your mindless viewing. Anyway, here is what I find interesting about this particular piece of real estate in the vast wasteland.

  • It’s a game show where it might hurt your chances as a contestant if you’re smart. I find this fascinating. Since the answers on the show are culled from a survey of random Americans, it’s best to be of average intelligence. Any brilliant single is tossed, but the stupidest answer agreed upon by two people will be on the board. In the initial showdowns between families, you need to think of the most popular answer. Which means if you have the puzzle Homer ________ , “Homer Simpson” will beat “Homer’s Iliad” every time, just as “Marion Anderson” doesn’t a chance against “Pamela Anderson” for a guess on female entertainers. Even more amazing, you might need to come up with a factually incorrect answer, such as “Whale” in answer to “Name a big fish.”
  • The changing hosts say something about our time. I’m not really sure what it says about our changing times, but it’s something. Can you imagine Richard Dawson trying to kiss every female contestant on the lips these days? (He must have spent too much time with Bob Crane.) Ray Combs sadly took his own life after his 1988 to 1994 run, so that might not speak well of those years. Louie Anderson was hired during the whole Clinton/Lewinsky thing, which somehow seems about right. Next came Richard Karn (Al Borland from Home Improvement) and then John O’Hurley (Seinfeld’s Mr. Peterman). Now the show finally has its first non-white guy, Steve Harvey. Again, I’m not sure what these changes mean, but surely a thesis paper or two could be written about them.
  • The really dumb rituals. The audience reads aloud the answers when they are revealed. The audience also shouts in unison the largest prize winnings, “twenty thousand dollars!” Best of all is the handshakes between family members before each round. There is something reassuring about feuds that start with handshakes.
  • You can watch the show in Spanish. If you are willing to travel, you can watch the show in many other languages as countries throughout the world have adapted the show for their cultures. This can be very helpful for your language studies. But here in the U.S. of A., you can watch on Español channels. (Sadly, the prize winnings are less on the Spanish language networks.)
  • Family Feud has provided good fodder for other TV shows. In the early days of Saturday Night Live, there was a great skit with John Belushi was a Family Feud contestant whose only answer to every question was “Chicken Necks.” I believe Steve Martin played his farmer father who could think of nothing but romaine lettuce. On SNL, they continue to do skits about the show with Kenan Thompson playing Steve Harvey. There is also a great episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where the gang plays on the game show “Family Fight.”
  • It had (and has) a home version of the game. Sure they have computer and DVD versions. But the one you want is the classic old edition with the plastic sliders with the cards with red ink that was hidden by red plastic. If you find a game in good condition, I’m sure it could make you good money on Antiques Roadshow.
  • More interesting polling questions. Wouldn’t you rather have a pollster ask you about your favorite red food or annoying things husbands do than who you’d vote for Lieutenant Governor?
  • Really dumb answers. For instance, when someone was asked to name something in an operating room, a contestant answered, “An operator.” This in itself makes viewing worthwhile. Or when a person answers “Nixon” or “Adolf” when the question is to name one of Santa’s reindeer. Or when the question is to name a three-letter animal and they answer “frog” or “alligator.” (Though I guess it is true both of those words have three letters, and then some.) Not surprisingly, there is a constant stream of internet posts about dumb answers on the show.
  • You can do most any chore while the show is playing. You can fold laundry and not worry about having any trouble following the plot. It seems the show is always one of the choices at the gym in front of the exercise bikes and I’d certainly choose it over CNN every time.
  • But I have a much more personal reason to think fondly of the show. About 35 years ago, my father had a stroke. He was in the hospital and most of the time he wasn’t very responsive. But for some reason, when Family Feud came on (still the Dawson years), he perked up. I hadn’t remembered the show being a particular favorite of his before the stroke (he tended to turn the channel to any sport available, up to and including bowling). But during those long days and nights in the hospital, it was a joy to see him liven up and try to answer a question about favorite dog breeds according to 100 people surveyed. My dad recovered and enjoyed many active years before passing away in 2003. Maybe this is the only real reason I stop at Family Feud when I’m flipping channels and have difficulty shutting it off until after the fast money round.
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Dear Comrades,

 

I’ve been away for some time to work with the Russians in a plot to overthrow our democracy. The Federalist is a gateway to the hearts and minds of the American people, We craft our propaganda as we drink vodka, eat pickles and repeat. Toasting, ‘IwlIj jachjaj… Sorry, that’s Klingon…. the closest I know to Russian.  […]

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The Lie at the Birth of the Environmental Movement

 

The environmental movement is frequently charged by those on the political right as being a front for advancing an agenda unknown to the eco-movement’s rank-and-file membership. That the true goals of the leadership of the movement are separate and distinct from those of the grassroots members. A new documentary film accidentally shows that it has been like that from its inception in the late 1950s and early 1960s and exposes the lie at the birth of environmentalism.

Saving The Great Swamp: Battle to Defeat the Jetport is a new one-hour documentary about the events, people and politics behind the struggle to preserve a rural area of New Jersey between 1959 and 1968. The fight began when the powerful Port of New York Authority announced plans to construct a huge 10,000-acre “jetport” 26 miles west of New York City in a little-known place called the Great Swamp. In the name of progress, entire towns would be obliterated, the aquifer and wildlife destroyed, and a way-of-life threatened for thousands of people.

That is from the film’s website. I had the opportunity to watch it last night. They portray it as a David vs. Goliath tale but they gloss over the real story. One of the towns threatened by the Port Authority’s proposed Jetport was Harding Township, NJ, home to very old, very white-shoe money and multi-million dollar estates. Forget about Meyersville, Green Village, Long Hill, and the rest. The middle-class residents of those small towns counted for little. Harding Township mattered. The film shows how the monied elite in gated estates created the environmental movement for their own ends. To quote one of them — Chairman of the Board of Remington Arms Marcellus Hartley Dodge Sr. — “They want to put an airport in my backyard. We have to find a way to stop them.”

At the dawn of the jet age, it was anticipated that the existing airports in the NYC area — Newark, LaGuardia, and Idlewild (now JFK) would be unable to handle the new larger, faster, and heavier jets. The powerful Port Authority of NY and NJ wanted to build a fourth major airport in the region with four 12,000-foot runways and state-of-the-art facilities to cope with the new technology and increased traffic. The “Jetport.” They chose an area 26 miles west of the city in rural NJ. An area with the unappealing name of The Great Swamp.

The proposed site sat cheek by jowl with Harding Township. The Port Authority had ample powers and, under eminent domain, could take the land they wanted. Even the phalanx of lawyers deployed by the Harding estates were powerless to stop it. The attorneys did discover that the only group the Port Authority couldn’t take land and property from under eminent domain was the Federal Government.

If only there was a way to get the Federal Government to preempt the Port Authority by claiming the land. But why on earth would the Feds want The Great Swamp? Thus was born the wetland, the pristine aquifer, and the “grassroots” movement to protect them. The fight to keep the “Jetport” out of Hartley-Dodge’s backyard morphed itself into a fight to “save The Great Swamp.”

The residents of Meyersville and Green Village were early adopters of the new environmentalism. Whatever. They didn’t want the Jetport either. And if it looked like environmentalism could stop it … they were on board. Under this emblem, groups were formed. Rallies were held. Money was raised. Congress was lobbied. All in the name of securing wildlife habitat. Along with a bankroll provided by Hartley-Dodge and other Harding residents, land in the Great Swamp was acquired. And when 1,000 acres were in hand, they were quietly donated to the Department of the Interior.

In November 1960, by an act of Congress, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was established on that land. Because this result was still challenged by the Port Authority, the eco-push continued, culminating in The Great Swamp Wilderness Act of 1968 which established the first “wilderness area” designated within the Department of the Interior.

Wilderness. 26 miles outside of NYC. An area with roads and houses and farms. Not what you’d think of as “Wilderness.” But there it is.

Don’t get me wrong. I live not far away. I’m a beneficiary too. But it’s interesting and illuminating to see how it was done. And why. And to discover the most important environments being protected were the manicured estates of the monied elite.

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On Gender

 

You want to know the truth? I don’t much care how others re-define “gender.” Not a whit. Now as to a person’s sex, I can pretty much discern that without much effort. Can I be fooled? Probably, but rare is the circumstance where that matters.

Here’s another thing: society segregates people by sex for sound reasons. When the two sexes mix, children are the inevitable result. Society loves and needs children, no doubt, but children present a huge commitment and expense; 21 plus years of learning and support. So we don’t mix the sexes capriciously. We separate them, guide them, teach them and try to ensure that our children are ready for the commitment childbirth represents when (and if) that time comes, whether planned or a surprise.

More heresy: girls and boys are generally both predictable and different. It works. Get over it.

Back to the initial question: gender. Some people have decided that for some reason we all need to acknowledge a whole new subset of “genders” based on various sexual preferences and proclivities. They’ve decided that this is important. Why is this important? I don’t care what a person’s sexual preferences and proclivities are. In fact, I’d prefer not to know. These are not subjects for polite company.

So dear reader, let me suggest the obvious. No one is trying to hurt anyone’s feelings here; gender, as it is now being re-defined, is not important; just keep your sexual preferences and proclivities to yourself. Expect to be addressed as you present yourself, by your sex.

Anything more is vanity and inanity. If you find that harsh, it’s not. It’s just the truth.

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George H.W. Bush Visits Little Beirut

 

Little Beirut was Portland. When President George H.W. Bush visited Portland I was assigned stairwell duty for his overnight stay at the Portland Hilton. Stairwell duty isn’t very exciting, but you follow orders, so there I was. Half an hour after I settled in for a long night the Officer In Charge (OIC) paid me a visit and told me “we have something else for you to do.”

He had my replacement take my place and we walked down the stairs to the lobby. I was introduced to a Secret Service agent and was told I was assigned to the Secret Service Counter Sniper Team. My partner for a good part of the night was going to be a Secret Service agent. I was handed the keys to a police car and we got on the road.

My partner filled me in what our job was when we started our tour. He told me that if the snipers on the roof of the Hilton spotted something that might be a threat, our job would be to go to that location and assess a potential threat. He carried not only a sidearm but also had a small suitcase that carried a weapon that had more firepower than a pistol. Once the word came over the radio that President Bush was in for the night, our shift would end as well.

During our shift, he asked me about my training and experiences on the street, and I asked him about President Bush. He respected President Bush and said that he respected his agents. If the agents advised him that something he might want to do would be dangerous for him, or dangerous for the agents, he would take their advice. He treated them with respect and respected their judgment. His highest compliment was that what the public saw, and perceived, that the President was a gentleman, was true; he was exactly the same in his private moments.

After our shift ended, I and the other police officers assigned to the Counter Sniper Team were assigned to monitor the main entrance outside the Hilton. Marlin Fitzwater, White House Press Secretary, was on his way into the Hilton. He spent half an hour with us outside the entrance asking about police work and our families.

All in all a good shift, respect was shown and given in return.