In short, one might conclude that all knowledge, wisdom, and wit are confined to those who inhabit New York City, Washington DC, or Hollywood.
As I creep inexorably toward nearly 70 years of life experience - which was gained in many cities in the U.S. and in about 30 foreign countries, I decided to put down some ongoing thoughts in a series I call "The View From the Outback." That experience has included the U.S. Marines, law school, the ATF, the CIA, Fortune 500 executive, writer, public speaker, educator, editor, and publisher - for openers. For over 20 years, I have written articles off and on for various magazines and newspapers. I've had an enormous number of letters published in major national publications. The Outback is the rural area in Northeast Texas where I have lived for the past 10 years. Each Saturday I will attempt to post a new set of musings from the Outback.
Timothy McVeigh's execution will not be allowed to be videotaped. There will be a media pool there. Authorities will (or should) be vigilant that no hidden cameras are brought into the "viewing area" or in the closed-circuit TV area(s). I would be especially careful of women with "big hair" or large brooches and men with big belt buckles. And of course, no hats allowed. We have all seen how easy it is to conceal a tiny camera for reporters on Dateline or one of the other TV shows that do that sort of reporting. Somebody will be trying very, very hard to get a tape of the execution. It would be worth a huge amount of money. As a former technical operator with the CIA, my mind is working overtime about ways to get that event on tape. There are going to be about 350 people watching the execution, either live or on closed-circuit TV. Don't be surprised if a tape shows up.
Did you see any of the retrospectives on TV about Marilyn Monroe? The thing that struck me was how large and heavy a body she had. Her torso, as seen in the nude scenes at the swimming pool in her last unfinished movie, was quite strong and robust. Her arms and thighs had plenty of heft to them. She looked great, but was bordering on being overweight. That was the standard of beauty lo those many decades ago, and one to which I still subscribe. When you look at Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal) and the others who look like they just got out of a prisoner-of-war camp, you can appreciate what "real" beauty used to be. Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Jane Russell, Anita Eckberg (my neighbor in Rome), Jayne Mansfield - where are you when we need you?
Speaking of body types. A psychologist friend of mine in Dallas used to give lectures on "body types." There are three basic body types: Ectomorph (thin, flat chest), Mesomorph (muscular, athletic), and Endomorph (large, soft, pear-shaped). His theory was that we tend to choose partners that are within our own body type. I have a large barrel chest and have always looked like what one thinks of as a middle linebacker in football or a catcher in baseball (both of which I was). In reviewing all the women I was ever attracted to, nearly every one had a larger torso, arms, and thighs than is fashionable today. Think about your own attractions. Some "experts" also claim that each body type has distinct character traits. Do a search at google.com for "body type." You will find it interesting.
We are bombarded on TV by promos that tell us that such-and-such a show is "critically acclaimed." Last week, I meant to comment that I wondered who these "critics" are that like so many terrible shows. Now, Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Entertainment) has been exposed for inventing a fake "movie critic," David Manning. The imaginary Mr. Manning hailed "The Animal," with Rob Schneider, as "another winner." You may remember that last week I suggested that Animal may be a Summer Flopbuster. And that Sony, in breaking with tradition, had paid four theater chains to run trailers of "The Animal." Now, credible journalists are noting that Hollywood is very prone to quote obscure newspaper critics in small towns if they say anything good about the company's movie or TV show. And if they can't find some obscure critic to quote, they invent one.
I finally saw "Gladiator," and was surprised that there was much more to the story than people hacking each other to death in the Colosseum. And surprised that the acting was first rate. No wonder it won so many awards. My apologies for ever doubting. Even though I once lived in Rome, I was never a student of the Roman Empire. Also saw "Space Cowboys" on pay-per- view. Loved it! The fact that I am about the age of some of the characters in the movie, and that I am a pilot (former), and have talked to folks on the Space Shuttle and MIR via ham-radio, perhaps made it more poignant for me. In addition, when NASA first started looking for "citizen astronauts" I sent them a letter with my varied qualifications. I never made the cut. The Challenger space shuttle, on which the first citizen astronaut was riding, blew up on launch - on my birthday!
In the "Outback" for May 12, 2001, I noted that the eggs-are-bad-for-you alarmists were back on the scene. I pointed out that my cardiologist insisted that I eat eggs, as they are a good food source. He said that saturated fat in the diet was the major contributor to high cholesterol levels in our blood. Recently, I got a pitch to subscribe to the "Wellness Letter" from the University of California at Berkeley. Enclosed were several new takes on old advice. Speaking of eggs, they said, "Saturated fat - and eggs contain very little - plays a bigger role in raising blood cholesterol that dietary cholesterol." That is what my doctor and I have been trying to tell you. We have always been "warned" about eating shrimp, because they contain relatively high amounts of cholesterol. Once again, the Berkeley folks pointed to the more important role of saturated fat in raising blood cholesterol. And shrimp contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart. And the best news. Men who eat one-to-three chocolate bars a month live longer than those who abstain. Will the good news ever stop? I'll have another glass of wine, please.
Sleepless In Dallas, Part II
In my column of June 2, 2001, under "Bitter Pill To Swallow," I mentioned several things that can help those who have trouble sleeping. I fell asleep at the computer. Here are a few I forgot. If you don't go to sleep within 20-30 minutes, get up and go to another room to do something calming, such as read. Go back to bed when you truly feel sleepy. Turn your bedroom clock so that you cannot see the face from in bed. If you glance at the clock, you will reinforce the idea that "I can't get to sleep" and that will make it worse.
There is a window for sleep. The window appears about every 90-120 minutes in the evening. Have you ever fallen asleep in your recliner, only to get up and go to bed and be wide awake - possibly for a very long time? If you find yourself nodding off, rush to bed. You don't want to miss that window - trust me. I missed it several times in the past few weeks after I fell asleep watching TV in my recliner. A light snack before bedtime, such as a cookie or a piece of fruit, helps some people get to sleep. Try taking a hot bath about 90 minutes before bedtime. Get up at the same time each day, no matter what time you went to bed. You may drag around for one day, but your body will tell you when it is time to go to bed and get back in sync.
Biorhythms And The Body Clock
The study of Biorhythms seems to have fallen out of favor. This is a theory that each of us has certain predicable cycles each month of emotional, physical, and intellectual activity, based on our date of birth. I bought several books on it years ago and found much evidence to support the theory. I even have a handheld Biorhythm calculator, which I have not used in years. The calculator no longer works. It is not Y2K compliant! Into the trash.
One of the fascinating parts of this business is doing a "compatibility chart" with a friend or loved one. It will show how closely your cycles are in sync with each other. There is good and bad news. If you are closely in sync, you may both be able to climb a mountain on the same day, or you may both be emotionally "up" on the same day - and life is beautiful. But, you both may hit bottom on the same days. You could have some really bad disagreements on those days, or maybe jump off a bridge together. Some airlines used to schedule their pilots based on biorhythms. Maybe they still do. This is not voodo.
Do a search for Biorhythms on the Web. Buy at least one paperback from a serious researcher. You will find that the evidence that we are governed by biorhythms is pretty substantial. This all fits in with the book I am reading "The Body Clock," by Michael Smolensky and Lynne Lamberg. I will comment more about the book in a later column.
You can find online Biorhythm calculators at several places:
FBI Sniper At Ruby Ridge May Be Tried For Manslaughter
In my column for June 2, 2001, in the section "Come To Idaho - Land Of The Free," I mentioned that at Ruby Ridge an FBI sniper had shot and killed Randy Weaver's wife by "accident?". The FBI sniper, Lon Horiuchi, fired at an armed man who was running back to the cabin to seek refuge from the FBI assault. Horiuchi fired just at the man reached the door, which was being held open by Randy's wife, Vicki. She was holding her 10-month-old baby in her arms. The bullet went through the glass in the door and killed her. The FBI has always contended that her death was an accident. Now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a state court in Idaho can try the FBI sniper for manslaughter.
Viki's death and that of her 13-year-old son were tragic. The real tragedy is that there never should have been a "siege at Ruby Ridge" in the first place. In Ruby Ridge, Idaho, Randy Weaver's "crime" was sawing off the barrels of two shotguns (for subsequent sale), at the suggestion of an undercover ATF informant. Then, ATF agents confronted Randy with a potential Federal gun violation and said they wanted him to become an informant for them from within the Aryan Nations - although Weaver was not a member of the organization. Randy refused. The gun-violation warrant was issued. Randy Weaver had been entrapped (suckered into violating the law). He resisted being tried for a crime for which he felt he was not guilty - and for which he felt he could not get a fair trial. It was not a sensible thing to do - or the right thing to do - but feelings run strong in many parts of Idaho regarding the perceived abuses of Federal law enforcement.
The thing that riles people, even former ATF agents like me, was that Randy Weaver was not causing any problems in his area, and apparently posed no threat to anyone. He had served as an Army Green Beret. He had no prior criminal record. Once, he even ran for Sheriff. He got targeted by the ATF for a "sting" because he had attended one or more Aryan Nations meetings. He sawed off a couple of shotguns at the suggestion of an ATF undercover man. For this, the ATF, the U.S. Marshals, and the FBI waged "war" on the Weaver cabin at Ruby Ridge.
It is hard to comprehend the extent to which the U.S. government went to "get" Weaver. They had about 400 law-enforcement people in the area, about 250 vehicles - including an armored personnel carrier, and helicopters. U.S. marshals encountered the family dog in the woods and shot it (one was carrying an automatic weapon with a silencer). But, Weaver's 13-year-old son, Sam, who weighed about 80 pounds and could not have been mistaken for any adult at the cabin, saw the dead dog. He fired some shots in the direction of the U.S. Marshals (he did not know who they were at the time) from his .223 cal. semiautomatic rifle. There is no testimony that he hit anybody. The marshals fired and wounded Sam, who then turned and fled back toward the cabin. As he was fleeing, he was shot in the back and died. There was no warrant outstanding for the young son, Sam. In any case, there was no justification for shooting a fleeing person in the back.
The FBI sniper, Lon Horiuchi, said that one of the men retreating to the cabin raised a weapon as if to fire at the government helicopter overhead. Horiuchi's shot killed Vicki Weaver. The FBI says it was an accident. One of the men riding in the government helicopter that day said that they purposely kept away from the area of the cabin. So much for the "protecting-the-men-in-the- helicopter" theory. Lon Horiuchi was trained to hit a 25 cent piece at ranges of 100 yards and up. Yet, he shot through the glass in a door and hit the woman who was holding it open, rather than the man he had originally targeted for the shot. Somebody was obviously holding the door open. It happened to be a woman who was holding an infant in her arms. A case can be made that the shot was reckless and without regard for the consequences.
As a former Federal agent, I can tell you that the "deadly force" policy was always to shoot only when you or someone else was put in jeopardy of serious bodily harm or death. In general, agents understood that to mean that you shot only as a last resort when you thought you were in imminent serious danger. But, the FBI at Ruby Ridge changed the "rules of engagement" and everyone interviewed said they understood the new orders to be "shoot any armed male" in the area of the cabin! More than one agent said he believed it meant, "If you see them, shoot 'em."
Randy Weaver finally surrendered and stood trial. The trial lasted 36 days. Of the many counts, including murder, he was convicted only of failing to appear for his original court date on the gun charges and violating the terms of his bail. He was not convicted on the original gun charge brought by the ATF regarding the sawing off of the two shotguns. Jury members interviewed said that they thought Weaver was "entrapped" by the government to commit the crime. He was sentenced to 18 months and a fine. With time served waiting for trial, and 58 days for good behavior, Randy served only a couple of more months. Ironically, during Randy's trial, the FBI was making the final assault on the compound at Waco, Texas.
The tragic fiasco at Ruby Ridge, along with the all the people who died in the compound at Waco during the FBI siege and subsequent fire, became a rallying cry for many, including Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh is quoted as once considering assassinating the FBI sniper, Lon Horiuchi, for his deadly role at Ruby Ridge.
In case you have forgotten, in 1995 the government paid Randy Weaver and his three surviving children $3.1 million for the killing of his wife by the FBI sniper and a son by a U.S. Marshal. You remember, the 80-pound kid who was shot in the back.
If FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi stands trial for manslaughter in Idaho, I predict that he will be convicted. For reasons that are unclear, the Ninth Circuit court declared that if a trial is held, it should be by a judge not a jury. Maybe the idea was that if a jury was used they could sleep through the entire trial, wake up to hear the judge's instruction and say "We don't need to move to the jury room to deliberate, your honor. Guilty as charged. Give him the maximum sentence." You may not have paid much attention to the Ruby Ridge case, but those who live in Idaho did.
I implore you to read "Ambush at Ruby Ridge," by Alan W. Bock. The evidence of official misconduct is so overwhelming that virtually no case can be made that the U.S. government behaved properly at Ruby Ridge.
Seeking revenge for Ruby Ridge and Waco is no excuse for blowing up buildings. But, I can understand the rage. I am a former Federal agent who is proud of my service - in the days when we acted responsibly and respected Constitutional rights. Even today, I am still outraged by both Ruby Ridge and Waco. You should be, too. Read the Ruby Ridge book! Then, if you can calm down enough, read "Armageddon in Waco," edited by Stuart A Wright (Univ. of Chicago Press) or one of the other books about Waco.
The above article on Ruby Ridge was posted on the FreeRepublic Web site (www.freerepublic.com). One of the comments in response to the article (by DoughtyOne) was in part: "Richard C. Rhodes, the author of this editorial, also agrees with you that the BATF needs to be brought under review and probably disbanded."
I am not a member of the Free republic Web site, and do not know DoughtyOne (unless he is a friend under alias). I challenge anyone to find a written suggestion by me that the BATF should be disbanded. The last thing I remember writing on the subject was in a letter-to-the-editor in the October 5, 1981 issue of The Wall Street Journal. There was some talk in Washington about disbanding the BATF and transferring its functions to the FBI. I suggested that most of the laws administered by the BATF had a useful purpose, but supervisors often made criminal cases where none were indicated. Transferring the responsibilities would only bring us a new cast of characters. What was needed was closer supervision and a redefining of the mission.
I agree that the BATF has needed strict review and oversight for a long time. In addition to their role in Ruby Ridge and Waco, they have done many things to legitimate dealers and law-abiding gun collectors and gun owners that are simply inexcusable. They have had a penchant in recent years for making a mountain out of a molehill with regard to honest mistakes on forms, mistakes in record keeping by dealers (who had shown no propensity to deal illegally in firearms) and so on. They have confiscated gun collections rather capriciously on several occasions.
Catching gun criminals ought to be the primary firearms enforcement activity of the BATF. And tracing every gun used in a crime to identify the sources of illegal guns. And prosecuting the thousands of felons who applied for guns but were denied them after a background check was run. Probably 10 percent of criminals account for most gun crime. Chase them around, instead of trying to find a dealer who forgot to check a box on a form or tyring to deny honest citizens an opportunity to visit gun shows (read S. 890 carefully!).
Matters are made worse by bills like S. 890, which is ostensibly to close the "gunshow loophole" regarding background checks. The Senate bill S.890 is a Trojan Horse that would regulate every phase of gun shows and those who attended them. Salted through the bill are phrases like "as the Secretary may require by regulation." Too often, gun bills give the Secretary of Treasury (in essence the director of BATF) broad mandates in preparing regulations. This is a blank check. The "Sporting Purposes Test," is a figment of the imagination of someone at BATF who used "as the Secretary shall prescribe by regulation" verbiage. This regulation has been vigorously used to restrict the sale of many types of guns. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that we have the right to bear arms to shoot ducks. The right is one of self protection, from those who would harm us, and those who would take away our freedoms - the Federal and State governments. One of these days the Supreme Court will face up to the issue. They have been dodging it for decades.
Quit worrying about disbanding the BATF. Spend your energies in reading gun legislation proposed by the Congress and voicing your concerns to your Senators and Congressmen. And write the heads of the Senate and House committees that oversee enforcement and tell them to "set some strict marching orders for both the BATF and FBI - and check up to see that they are being followed." Write the President and tell him of your concerns about our basic freedoms being ignored in many cases by Federal law enforcement agencies. Write letters-to-the-editor about bills before they become law - and then too late to debate. Federal agencies will only do what they can get away with. That is, what the Congress and the White House allow them to get away with. It matters not who enforces the gun laws. There will be abuses unless the marching orders are clear and the oversight is strict.
Why would anyone want to disband the BATF and give the enforcement responsibilities over to the FBI? Given their track record in recent years, does the FBI need, or deserve, any more responsibilities? As inefficient as our system is, there are some checks and balances by having enforcement spread among many agencies. I always harken back to the KGB in the Soviet Union. Our turf wars may be ugly at times, and they may not lend themselves to efficiency. But, at least we avoid a United States KGB.
In 30 years or so of following gun laws and enforcement, it is obvious that the Liberals never focus on real efforts to curb crime with their gun bills. Their thrust always is to deny access to guns by law-abiding citizens - no matter how hard they protest. The emphasis is on style, not substance. The not-so-hidden-agenda of the Liberals is to disarm the civilian population. That worked great in Germany, Russia, Cuba and elsewhere. Great for the dictators.
Bush Family Versus The Sheen Family
Jenna Bush has been taking a lot of heat in the media. Responsible news organizations have reported on her "buying drinks" and that she had two violations of the liquor laws in Texas. Unless I misread the many accounts, Jenna was first ticketed for taking a sip or two from a beer that had been ordered by a friend. In the second case, she was ticketed for presenting false identification in "an attempt to order a margarita." It is not as though she was caught drunk on her behind in a public place. But you would never know it from the media coverage. So far, all I can tag her with is taking a sip or two of beer. My Grandfather used to serve me beer for breakfast with pancakes when I was about 5-years old. I never have had a drinking problem - even with the "terrible example" from Gramps.
Of the perhaps 50 reports I have read or seen on TV, the best response came from Robert Novak, the highly-regarded columnist and TV political commentator. He scoffed at the big deal being made about Jenna. He said, "When I was in college, I violated the drinking laws about 1000 times. And I violated the fake ID thing about 300 times."
So, this is all much to do about very little - in the grand scheme of college drinking. But, compare what has happened to Jenna and the fallout of the affair to the First Family to the public reaction to the Sheen's of Hollywood. Martin Sheen has called President Bush a "white-knuckle drunk" and a "moron." He is nearly revered on talk shows for his portrayal of The President on his TV show. When his son, Charlie, was in serious trouble with drugs and alcohol, nobody in the media seemed to want to cast Martin in the light of being a poor father, which he probably qualifies for. And when Charlie Sheen was charged on several occasions with assault and battery of women in his life, nobody seemed prone to tar and feather him and run him out of town. In fact, he is a star on a hit TV series, where he plays a kind of "bad boy" bachelor. Snicker, snicker. Good old Charlie. Boys will be boys.
Now, Charlie Sheen's 16-year old daughter has been arrested for burglary at a clothing boutique in Malibu. There will be no repercussions for the Sheen family, neither to father Charlie or Grandpa Martin. After all, they are "stars" on TV. What kind of culture do we live in where a girl who merely tried to buy a drink (and failed) is having doubts cast about her possible "drinking problem"? But drug use, heavy alcohol use, and abusive behavior toward women by Charlie Sheen are overlooked. As will be the arrest of his daughter for burglary. That is more than a double standard.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Richard C. Rhodes
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