The Ironies in Crooks’ Assassination Attempt

No one likes the idea of assassinating a President. No one. Anyone who lived through JFK, RFK will never forget. Anyone who lived through the attempted assassination of Reagan will never forget. Anyone who lived through the attempt on Trump will never forget. These weren’t just attempts to kill someone; they were attacks on democracy, civility, our culture.

This attempt on Trump, while thankfully a failure, is also filled with ironies.

20 year old Thomas Matthew Crooks used an AR-15 style rifle in attempting to assassinate the leader of the Republican party. This is the same Party that sees red when anyone attempts to control or reduce the sale or use of guns, wrapping themselves in the Second Amendment.

Which says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Republicans, the NRA, etc… like to focus on the second half, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Before the last few decades, most Americans felt the first half, “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” referred to the people in the “militia” bearing arms. 

The irony? Maybe if Republicans hadn’t pushed guns so hard and blocked any attempts to reduce their number or power, Crooks wouldn’t have had the AR-15 style rifle. Maybe the guy rarely mentioned in the news, whom Cooks did assassinate that day – husband, father, and firefighter Corey Comperatore – would still be a husband, father, and firefighter. 

The Supreme Court recently ruled that “the President may not be prosecuted for exercising his core constitutional powers, and he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for his official acts.”  

The ruling was in response to Trump’s actions resulting from the 2020 Election. Assassination used to be illegal in this country. It still is…for everyone but the President. Animal Farm – “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” – is no longer fiction.

The irony? This ruling came out just a few days before someone tried to assassinate Trump.

Biden had just started using Trump’s technique of insulting his adversary. He called Trump a “con man”, a “felon”  and a “liar” just days before Crooks pulled the trigger. This following Trump’s decades of hurling personal insults at anyone and everyone who… well, anyone and everyone.

For example:  “will destroy the State,” “Very dishonest,” “disgrace”, “a major security risk”, “Crazy,” “A joke!” “rigged,” “RIGGED,” “totally rigged!” “a Terrorist Organization,”  “SCUM,”  “Anarchists, Thugs & Agitators,” “Corrupt,” “Wacko group,” “gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs,” “Dummy”, “Drug infested”, “Vermin,” “Crooked as can be.” 

And let’s not forget his favorite:  “Fake!, Fake!!, Fake!!!” – anything and everything.

The Irony? Until a few days before Crook’s shot, Biden was old school civil, courteous, even to Trump. And now he’s the one – not Trump – asking people to be civil, to tone down rhetoric in an effort to prevent further assassination attempts.

Crooks failed. But the ironies? They’re alive and thriving.

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Stay Away From Fifth Avenue

Have you read the Supreme Court’s Ruling about Trump’s Appeal for Immunity? I have. (Plot Spoiler- he got immunity!” ).

It reminds me of mucking stalls, except the horse pucky in this case was denser and sprinkled with esoteric legal references. 

The Roberts Court came to three conclusions: Presidents are immune from criminal prosecution for official duties; they’re sort of immune from sort-of-official duties; and they’re definitely unimmune from unofficial duties.

Well, actually there were four conclusions. They told lower courts to decide which of Trump’s current criminal cases were official, which were sort of official, and which were unofficial. Which will take months, thereby giving Trump the delay he wants. 

The reason they gave for immunizing a President’s official acts was to insure that all Presidents be “vigorous” and “energetic”. 

Whew! God forbid any President be unvigorous or unenergetic. 

I’m sure that will solve Biden’s problem, right?

Oh… and perhaps to reassure us, the statement “The President is not above the law” was repeated several times throughout – in direct conflict with their ruling.

Justice Sotomayor was not reassured. She wrote, if the President “orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune”.

The concept of a President being above the law is exactly why George Washington turned down the Presidency when he was first asked. He didn’t want to be a king. He didn’t want the US to have a king.

Our government was designed to be permanently out of balance; thus three branches, not two or four. The only leveler has been the requirement that everyone, every single person – rich or poor, powerful or weak – must obey the law. That requirement has kept democracy safe for all of us since the founding. Now one of the three branches, the Supreme Court, has given another branch, the President, permission to break the law. 

Now a President can combine that power with the power to pardon those who break the law on his behalf and… goodbye democracy, hello dictatorship.

The Roberts Court has done more to damage our democracy than any other entity since the beginning of the Republic. Their Citizens United decision took election choice away from the masses and gave it to the wealthy. The Dobbs-Jackson decision took birth choice away from women and gave it to male dominated religions. Now, the Immunity Decision has eliminated equality for all under the law. 

I don’t know if McConnell intended this outcome as he recruited and promoted conservative judges through his 17 years as Senate Leader. I don’t know if Trump made any mafia type deals as he added three conservative Justices to the three already there during his first Presidency.

What I do know is Sotomayor is right.  

And Trump’s brag that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters” doesn’t sound like horse pucky any more.

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Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

What Biden could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done, if he had been thinking, was, at the beginning of the debate, told the audience he had “a cold”, “a sore throat”, “I lost my voice” – whatever – and “please bear with me.”

Or…if he had been thinking, he could’ve, should’ve, would’ve simply called in sick. “Hey, I’m on antibiotics and God knows what else, and have pretty much lost my voice. How about rescheduling for next week?” If you and I can do that, so can a President

… Well, that may not have flown.

But what he shouldn’t have done, couldn’t have done, wouldn’t have done if he had any sense was go on LIVE TV in a state so weakened he was bound to make Trump’s 30 lies in just 90 minutes, (not to mention 6th grade sneers and insults) look good.

Granted, Biden snapped back the next day. Granted it was just one TV performance. But boy, was it devastating for Biden fans. Which is a real problem.

Not for Biden fans, for all of us.

Ever since the Kennedy-Nixon Debates, the country has used TV performances to judge our politicians. Interestingly, radio listeners that night thought Nixon won, while TV viewers thought Kennedy won. (Nixon didn’t think he needed makeup because he was so good looking on radio).

It makes you wonder where the country would be if TV performances hadn’t shaped so many elections.

You know one of the least watched TV channels? Congress’ channel, C-Span. You know why? Because it’s boring. TV is a medium of entertainment. 90 per cent of politics, particularly as performed by Presidents, is non-entertainment. It’s boring.

A few examples:

* Endlessly negotiating with other politicians – and being civil – with people you wouldn’t nod to in the street;

*Becoming expert in subjects ranging from nuclear weapons to health care, inflation to immigration, Oligarchs to Evangelicals, Wall Street to Main Street…;

*Learning about all kinds of weaponry, from trench warfare to cyber-warfare;

*Knowing the military, economic, and political capabilities of China, Russia, Taiwan, Israel…well…everywhere;

*Mastering subjects like foreign affairs, foreign cultures, foreign religions…

*Herding cats (otherwise known as dealing with Congress);

*Saying “mother may I?” to secret service agents 24/7, whether it’s taking a walk or going to Europe;

*Never. Ever. Being off-duty (even when you’re sick);

*Having wisdom and experience;

*Through it all maintaining integrity, dignity, and compassion.

TV debates have been fun to watch, well…except for Biden fans this week. But debates only reveal the TV performance side of the candidates. They show very little of how a candidate would actually function as president.

Maybe we should look less at their TV performances and more at their job performances. An elections is, after all, a job application and there’s far more to the job of President than TV performance.

The last thing we want to think about on November 6th is what we would’ve, could’ve, should’ve done with our vote.

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Malvern’s Favorite Uncle

You know that great neighbor or uncle you had? The one who was always there when you needed him and never took credit?

Towns have people like that, too. Well, not all towns, but one that I know quite well:  Malvern Borough, PA. 

Established in 1889, Malvern is a small town of about 1.3 square miles and around 3,000 people lying at the end of Philadelphia’s Main Line. It is a blue collar (fast becoming white collar) coda to the train line that first carried Philadelphia’s railroad barons to their summer estates and currently carries their progeny to and from careers in the city.

In 1974, nearly a hundred years later, the IRA started bombing London, the top speed limit across the US was lowered to 55 mph to save gas, and Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal. 

Not a great year. 

Except for Malvern. For Malvern it was a great year, because on February 8th of that year Ira Dutter, Jr came to town via St. Petersburg, FL, Wilkes Barre, PA, and Paoli, PA and started working in Malvern’s Public Works Department.  

The Public Works Department of any town maintains sewers, fixes potholes, clears streets of winter snow (no matter how treacherous the weather), maintains parks, and takes care of sudden emergencies. In other words, they keep the town running. 

“Junior”, as Ira Dutter is called by his coworkers, quickly became Malvern’s Public Works Supervisor and held the job for 50 years – through 7 mayors, 5 managers, and who knows how many elected officials. Junior and his  Public Works crew has done it all so smoothly most Malvernites don’t even notice. 

Oh, and in his spare time he became a volunteer firefighter for the Malvern Fire Department, then Chief Engineer, then Chief. Later he became Chief Engineer of Paoli’s Fire Department, then their Chief for 20 years. 

As with your favorite uncle, he is so averse to accolades he wouldn’t be interviewed about his Malvern career for this column. There was even some concern that he may not attend the retirement dinner Malvern threw in his honor (over 100 people attended and lauded and applauded him). 

So I had to go around him and talk to people who worked with him all those years: borough managers and road crew members who know him best. Here’s what they said (anonymously, of course, because, well… accolades):

“Always made sure the job got done…” (Borough Manager)

“A perfectionist. Things had to be exactly right. If you built something and there were two bolts left over that was a problem.” (Road Crew)

“He wowed neighboring towns with his work.”  (Borough Manager)

“Had confidence in you… he showed me the 3-wheel street sweeper, had me hop in with him and drive it about 100 yards – I knew nothing about it. Then he got out and said ‘I’ll see you’ and walked off!” (Road Crew)

“Every time I asked him to do something, his response was always ‘no problem’. Every time!” (Borough Manager)

“Always here…checking street lights, for example, always answers his phone, Never turned people away, did whatever was asked of him.” (Crew member)

“He exceeded expectations. His willingness to take on additional responsibilities is unmatched by anyone.” (Borough Manager)

“His priorities were 1) Sewer, 2) Roads, 3) Parks. Whenever it started snowing, we would be called in and work 8 or 38 hours, whatever was needed.” (Crew member)

“In the middle of the night or whenever, he would be there.” (Crew member)

“The Borough is very fortunate.” (Borough Manager)

Yes, indeed. (Borough Citizen)

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February is such a pain!

It comes in like the hottest cheerleader at the prom: vivacious, stunningly beautiful, yet cold, and totally out of reach – a complete tease.

The snow and ice in the first weeks and the crisp but freezing temperatures only occasionally allow a few warmer days. The grey skies, the frigid rain and sleet that follow the soft snow of January, hold the promise of relief from December’s and January’s spirit-breaking cold. Every February, up pop snow drops, delicate little white flowers that promise an early spring. Then, just as I consider putting the shovels back into the far recesses of the garage, February breaks those promises every stinking, bone chilling year, with a snow-storm. 

March is a lot more honest. It starts out cold and wet and then, slowly and unfailingly, introduces longer days and more sun, along with leaf buds and flower buds here and there. But, instead of retreating back into winter cold and darkness, February-like, it adds more sun and more buds until, “Hey, Spring is here!” 

(Of course, March ends with “Hey Mr. Handsome! Oh, sorry! Not you Henry. I was talking to that hunk behind you” moments, too. Why else have April Fool’s Day?).

And then there’s Ground Hog day.  Imagine, the first country to travel to the moon, the country that invented the telephone, Hollywood, and the internet, asking a Ground Hog – who can’t even speak English – how long winter will last. Really?

And don’t get me started on Valentine’s Day. Several hundred years ago, so the story goes, a really nice cleric named Valentine, defied the powers that demanded fealty and fighting from young soldiers and instead encouraged yummy-mummy times between the soldiers and their girl friends. The cleric got sent to purgatory, but that’s nothing compared to today. 

Today’s Valentine’s Day requires, not just the young, but all men, to pony up romantic gifts for their girl friends. And if the gifts don’t meet expectations, no more yummy-mummy times, just sad eyes, followed by couch purgatory. I can’t swear to it, but I’ve heard there’s clear evidence that this is the real cause of lower birth rates in many parts of the world.

February is such a pain in so many ways. What other month has an extra “r” after the “b”, an “r” that is completely superfluous? It’s “Feb-U-ary”, not “Feb-Ru-ary”, for crying out loud. 

All of which is probably why February is the shortest month of the year. This Feb 28th I am going to hoist a few in honor of our forbears and thank them for ending the gloom of winter after 28 days instead of 30 or 31. Attaway, you guys!

Wait! It’s 29 days long this year? What!! Are you kidding!? That stupid ground hog!

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)