A Special Kind Of Hell, Abbey Gate……..

Military veterans, especially those that served in a war zone, earn a unique privilege in America. When we see something that confounds belief, related to the very messy business of fighting and killing, we get to speak up or choose silence. I am of the speak up variety. It marked my tenure as a soldier, as well as a trooper for some 27 years. I understand there are ways to communicate that are sophisticated and polished and there are ways to convey a message with brutish authority. I have done both. Marine veteran Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews has left me with a profound contempt for those who direct combat operations from the comfort of a ornate office after having never tasted the fog of war. I reserve my most intense contempt for Joseph Biden, the head of the snake.

Vargas -Andrews was a member of a Marine scout-sniper team at Abbey Gate on August 26, 2021, when he lost an arm and leg to a suicide bomber that he had positively identified and begged permission to kill, before the Godless creature could detonate his device. His chain of command was wracked with timidity and fear, the result of rules of engagement that are a part of every modern conflict. I am a product of the military establishment and, given what they were witnessing, am amazed at the timidity of the commanders on the ground. You should know at this point that reliable intelligence sources had identified the bomber with a high degree of accuracy and told the commanders he was headed to Abbey Gate.

Abbey Gate…..the aftermath

Before the bombing, the Marines had watched the Taliban execute numerous Afghans within a few hundred yards of their position behind shipping containers set us as a barricade. Suicide by razor wire was preferable to the torture the Taliban would have inflicted if they did not cut your throat or shoot you immediately. ( The Afghans were throwing themselves into the razor wire.) These atrocities were reported but ignored by military commanders. The bomber was not apprehended outside the gate so as to not compromise the asset who identified him, and instead was permitted to do his grisly work. Vargas-Andrews was waiting for an Afghan interpreter to arrive when he felt the flash that shredded his right arm, opened his abdomen and cost him a leg as well. The same right arm that could have placed a rifle round into the head of the bomber if someone could have been found with the courage to order the shot. I have prayed for Vargas-Andrews. His cross is heavy.

The take away is easy. The withdrawal was an unmitigated disaster ordered by a man unfit for office of any description. Our military must reflect his priorities and follow his orders, or we will cease to exist. Even the orders of the likes of Joe Biden. Timidity in a combat situation is inexcusable. Horrible mistakes were made, and the commanders will not accept responsibility. Biden will never accept responsibility because he has zero familiarity with the horrors of combat or the killing in front of Abbey gate during this evacuation. Bold, self confident commanders love bold subordinates, while self conscious, shaky commanders abhor bold subordinates, less they threaten their security. I have seen this in the Patrol and in my combat experience. Say a prayer for our military today. They deserve commanders less focused on liberal ideology and more focused on the business of fighting and crushing our enemies. Abby Gate was hell….a mishandled hell from the ground up.

As for Joe Biden. He should be made to decorate the graves of each service person that was killed at Abbey gate, after himself having been subjected to the smell, sound and sight of combat. Joe has got go in ‘24.

Have a great week.


A Tumultuous Week……

By any accounting, it has been a busy week in America. A legal giant is beginning the rest of his life rubbing elbows with the worst offenders imaginable, an election reveals the true feelings of folks relative to the crime tsunami in Chicago and ESPN continues to fuel the fires of racism. We are seeing folks cue up earlier than ever in what promises to be a white hot election cycle and our finest universities are dumbing down rather than demanding excellence. I trust my readers are news conscious, however, this week I wanted to add another perspective to the world we live in.

First up, Lori Lightfoot. After having her political butt kicked to the curb, the vanquished darling of the liberal establishment has the audacity to suggest she was defeated because she was a “black woman”. My dear Lori, what in the hell do you attribute previously winning the office in a landslide to? You lost because you never did get it when it comes to crime and governance, running an inept administration that garnered a total lack of respect. It had not a thing to do with your skin color and race.

Lori, trying to figure out what just happened

We are in the midst of the biggest standards reduction in the history of higher education. Columbia College is dropping the SAT/ACT requirement for admission to their school, one of the nation’s finest. Why you ask? It is in the interest if inclusion as they believe that testing exhibits a racial bias. Add to Columbia a number of other universities already on the racial bandwagon, Cornell, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Northwestern, and Boston University. Here is a thought from a regionally educated man residing in the Ozarks. I really don’t give a tinkers damn what color my doctor, airline pilot, engineer, or attorney is. I care about his or her competence and excellence. The current trend of pushing excellence to the back burner in the interest of inclusion is going to bite us where the sun don’t shine. Here is another flash for the admissions people; some folks are very bright, some are not, some folks are tall, some are not, some policemen are superlative, some are not, etc. You want one size fits all, go to work at a Twinkies factory, precise replication is welcomed there.

ESPN, always on the edge of the racially infused atmosphere that surrounds professional sports has suggested that Nikola Jokic will likely be the MVP in the NBA, because he is white. No ESPN, he is a great candidate because he is as strong as a bull, can clear a lane with the precision that few have and plays at 100%, 100% of the time. He also has the numbers…….careful ESPN or you will be in the company of CNN, sinking like a rock.

If you cook over a gas stove and have a little time on your hands, you might shop around for an electric one to replace it with. The Biden Cartel has placed gas appliances on the endangered list. The unmitigated idiocy of these folks is almost humorous. China is blustering, Russia is in a proxy war with us, inflation is crushing our economy, fentanyl is available on every street corner and these clowns target gas stoves. I suspect the man hates gas. I can only guess he spent time growing up with an old, flatulent uncle.

My last consideration this week is the disgraced, (in ways that we can’t measure) lawyer, Alex Murdaugh. An OJ jury would have acquitted him, in spite of the overwhelming mountain of motive, certainly the means, and the obvious opportunity. Rest easy, Alex killed his family, as was pointed out by the superlative judge overseeing the trial. The one question that was never answered was why two guns? For me the answer is obvious. In South Carolina, shotguns must be plugged, meaning limited to three shells. When you are in the middle of a killing spree, it would take too much time to locate additional shells, load and return to your slaughter. He shotgunned the boy, ran out of ammo and reached for the rifle to kill mom. This was not brought out in the trial. In the end, it matters not as he is going to consort with the sorriest examples of humankind imaginable. As a matter of fact, he is a perfect fit, and somebody in there is going to have a score to settle.

A stone cold killer…….

You can’t make this stuff up! Have a great week.


All Hail The Pickup…….

I am back at the keyboard after a short sabbatical to address a couple of health related loose ends at the Cleveland Clinic which gave me time to reflect on what I see around me. These days, I see a heck of a lot of pick-up trucks prompting me to look into the popularity of these vehicles. Much has been written about these American behemoths (the full sized guys) and I could end this piece by suggesting it is simply utility. That doesn’t tell the story though so maybe just a little background on these ultra practical vehicles is in order.

The popularity of the pickup began to grow in the early 1900’s when the farming community discovered the utility of a vehicle configured in such a way as to carry just about anything needed to work small family farms. I can vaguely remember my grandfather back in the late 50’s hauling an entire crop of tobacco to market in a powder blue step side Ford. That was a big day in the warehouses as the buyers from the major tobacco companies walked the isles bidding on your efforts. Today’s trucks are bigger, pricier and a heck of lot nicer than in those days of vinyl, analog instrument clusters and manual transmissions on the steering column. On my daily drives to the gym, I like to take different routes through neighborhoods and note vehicles in driveways, a hold over from my policing experience. I am astonished at the number of pickups on display. Our local dealers have noted this as well, as the big three crowd their lots with the tremendous variety of trucks available these days.

In 2000, the top selling vehicles in America were the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Explorer and Toyota Camry, respectively. In 2022 the lineup has shifted to the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Toyota Rav 4 and the Ram, respectively. The Ram has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity as much for it’s opulent interiors as anything.

We’ve come a long way from a vinyl bench and 3 on the tree!

Trucks do enjoy incredible utility. You can have a tailgate that offers three kinds of access, built in toolboxes (Ram, and I love mine) and interiors that shame the competition in the car segment. Pickups are fitted out in the latest navigation systems, Bose listening, and all the latest in electronic gadgetry. The big three have frames rather than unibody, stiffer but balanced suspensions, depending on your need, and powerful diesels that can yank around 20 thousand pounds with ease, or smaller engines for the commuter. Pickups rule when it comes to depreciation, evidenced by the current pricing of used units. You sit up higher, see more, haul more and are safer in a crash as a result of the higher center of gravity. In a recent Consumer Reports polling of drivers in America, it was gratifying to note the Ram pickup was listed in three categories reflecting America’s opinion of the most loved brands. In comfort, the Ram was second behind the Genesis, sixth in driving enjoyment, and first in cabin storage. The Ram was the only truck that America mentioned! Unfortunately, it polled as the least satisfying in terms of ownership cost. I drive a fully loaded Ram 3500, HO diesel, and can confirm this ultra reliable monster costs a lot to own and operate. On the other hand I think I can see it smile when we back under our RV for another adventure. As the big boys like to say, the Ram ain’t afraid of anything.

38’ and 10,000#, no problem for Cirrus, the Ram

I have owned and enjoyed a variety of vehicles over the years, from Corvettes, BMW Z-cars, and Nissan 300Z’s to sedate family haulers. I have also owned a variety of trucks with a single disappointing model in the mix. I sincerely believe that as long as I can climb into a conveyance, it will be a pickup truck. Today’s pickups are not your grand-daddy’s old farm truck, but can easily slip into that role. All hail the pickup truck, a uniquely American tradition.

As a final point, where would country music be today if we didn’t have pickup trucks? Now that is something to chew on…….

Have a great week!


In Defense of Policing……

The incidents keep coming. The latest homicidal behavior by folks who are sworn to protect us has once again put the profession of policing in the spotlight. The Memphis beat down was a abomination and once again society (political leadership) has turned to some form of “police reform” as the answer to aberrant behavior by rogue officers. The problem is that we expect our police function to somehow solve the mess we see today on the streets while we turn a blind eye to the role our gendarme plays in a country that refuses to accept responsibility for their share of the violence (on the streets).

This is a police problem…..but not only a police problem

I left the profession 23 years ago. I still have family involved in policing and my prayer is they live to retire and join the masses intact, mentally and physically. What has happened in the years since I put the badge away is accounting for the mass exodus from the profession and a remarkable inability to attract applicants to a business that is rapidly losing respect of even hard core proponents of law and order. To put my observations into perspective, I doubt I could do the job today. I offer my sincere respect for those so engaged and will support and respect them. You have to wonder, though, what attracts them to this business in today’s climate. In fact, applicant pools are the smallest in 60 years.

What in the hell has happened? The current level respect for law, rule and discipline is abominable. Children are being raised in one parent environments and shuttled off to schools where discipline will get administrators sued. There is a steady decline in spirituality, especially Christianity. I can’t remember a greater disdain for authority in my 50+ years of observing human behavior. Our political leadership, where lying is a matter of daily conduct, sets the poorest possible example for citizens of every age. We are at the mercy of progressive prosecutors who refuse to prosecute out of some twisted notion of disparity and equality. We hand out money like party favors, bruising the notion that reward is the product of work. We are a culture in decline, displaying the narcissistic tendencies of great empires that are long since lost to history. Our sharply divided political environment sees todays societal problems through a prism that filters out the people’s role and sees only the police function as worthy of “reformation”.

A great starting place to address the current rather sad perspective relative to policing begins with salaries high enough to attract top tier applicants. Our selection processes need to be turning applicants away not begging them to stay. Many departments are staffed well below their authorized allotments, understandably. We have a skewed view of the role police officers play. It is not to police casinos, conduct school bus inspections and inspecting cars for safety defects. The roles need to be streamlined and funneled into aspects of policing that might require the application of force, to include deadly force, as well as more traditional police duties. Perhaps the biggest contribution to the redesign of policing would be to preclude the continued politicization of the our police agencies. The involvement of blue ribbon agencies in the furtherance of political goals is devastating and undermines the sanctity of law enforcement in general.

The debacle in Memphis is heart wrenching. The officers are going to pay a tremendous price and a life was lost. That being said, I cannot imagine going to work in the jungle they were directed to police, horribly undermanned, directed by superiors who either were blind to the frustration of that environment or, God forbid, a part of that dog eat dog culture that creeps into the hearts and souls of officers ill equipped and under supervised, left to their own devices to meet the challenge of lending dignity to folks who have no dignity.

There is no quick fix for a society in decline. There is however a strategy for addressing the abysmal reputation that is starting to envelope policing. Hire outstanding applicants, pay them well, supervise them skillfully, equip them with the best in gear and transportation and train, train train. We still don’t know what precisely went wrong in Memphis, but the evidence thus far points to an incredible lack of effective supervision as a huge contributor. Excellent officers make excellent supervisors. It has always been that way.

Policing is a profession, not a job….treat it like a profession.

Have a great week.


A Shanky’s Kind Of Week……

Older folks spend a great deal of time trading health related information with each other. For most of us, those carefree days of youth and indiscretion are well behind us, and each new twinge or minor pain conjures up images of paramedics pounding on our chests attempting to bring us from the brink and delaying a meeting with the big guy in a heavenly setting. I have a cardiac history and am no Mr. Rogers, having lived on the edge for many, many years. This past week found me at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic (these folks literally saved my life by diagnosing a shot valve, repairing it and adjusting the timing in my heart through two cardiac ablations, all 10 years ago). They are that good. Any trip to Cleveland in the dead of winter is an adventure.

Chest pain and a recent abhorrent emergency room experience locally found us on the phone scheduling the big guns in Cleveland once again. This time I spent quality time with an incredible gastroenterologist as the pains could be related to esophageal spasm, which mimics a heart attack. We return in mid February for additional tests related to the esophagus and digestive tract and a visit with a clinical cardiologist who will then quarterback an in depth look at how the heart plays into these “attacks”. Kings, Oil Sheiks and the rich and famous find their way to this clinic but they treat an old, retired police officer with the same respect and diligence as Shiek Bigshotto from Dubai.

Old person health talk aside, the pain issues are not why I write. This past summer, while enjoying a RV sojourn to Hidden Valley, my daughter introduced me to a novel way to soothe my feelings as they departed on a Niangua River float while I stayed back to guard the campsites. A recently reconstructed rotator cuff precluded me from paddling a canoe. The oil on troubled water? A bottle of Shanky’s Irish Whip, a kind of, well, Irish whiskey. Most likely, you’ve never heard of the stuff, I hadn’t but am now enjoying what I hope to be a long relationship with this spirit, in moderation of course. Some years ago, I met the definition of a “binge” drinker, someone who never drank during the week, but who tied one on Friday nights at our local Eagle’s Club. I generally finished the evening with an Irish Coffee, a concoction of Bailey’s and coffee. I still love this drink, but now rely on Shanky’s to take coffee from a wonderful beverage to a sublime treat.

Shanky’s Irish Whip

Shanky’s Whip is an Irish whiskey that features a rich cream flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel blended with a smooth black liquor. Think a good Irish Whiskey without the cutting edge that can leave your throat feeling like it has been subjected to a wood rasp. It is, at once, slightly sweet, creamy, velvety and has a long finish. It is wonderful in coffee or over ice, never biting and always pleasing to the palate. A shot of Reddi Wip Sweet Foam, from your dairy section, sets it off nicely. Shanky’s is distilled in Cavan, Ireland. It is a small batch liquor but commands a rather reasonable price. It is not easy to find, (not available in Springfield) and we travel to Mac-a-Doodles in Osage Beach for ours. I have managed to addict two of our closest friends and my sister to this nectar and we generally check with one another before going near a liquor store that carries it. As I write, I am enjoying a very good coffee infused with an ounce of this black magic. It takes my mind off such things as “lake affect” snow and a 10 hour drive through all the weather you could ever hope not to see.

My parting shot. All doctors and all troopers are not created equal. For that matter neither are all shoe salesmen. Neither are whiskeys. If you have had about all of the local talent you can take and are suffering from a serious issue, particularly heart related, check out one of the 300 cardiologists that practice at this clinic or hundreds of other specialists who make the grade as a Cleveland Clinic doctor. Even if they only confirm what your local doc has ordered, it could be a second opinion that keeps you around to read my musings for a while longer. I hate losing readers and love you all. By the way, please accept my deepest gratitude for the heartwarming birthday sentiments. Age has a few advantages, one of which is trusted friends and another is the refined pursuit of excellence, whether it be medical care, good whiskey or an old dog who gets you.

Have a wonderful week!


Boats, Bass and Crappie…..

“If it flies or floats, rent it, don’t buy it” the immortal words of some poor pilot who doubled as a water sport enthusiast on weekends. (My closest old friends know that I add another concept to be rented rather than bought, not suitable for print!) This past week I attended a small, by today’s standards, boat show where boat peddlers offered deals on the industry’s latest proffering. Over the course of my journey through life, I have acquired too many firearms, too many boats and far too many automobiles and trucks. Each was and is a passion and while I still love vehicles, arthritis has slowly distanced me from hand gunning and boats. The boat show, and my lustful leering at some of the latest floating technology stimulated a review of the what and why of boats. Sharon was carefully monitoring my thought processes for any sign that I was thinking purchase as opposed to admiring. She is pretty good at that!

A summary statement on the subject of boats is easy. They permit you to fly up and down a lake in pursuit of one of the greatest delicacies known to man, crappie. To test your competitive drive, bass offer a world class challenge and change of pace, but I would not class them as a delicacy. I have not put a knife to a bass in many years, instead I fight with them, poke holes in their lips and turn them back to do bass things. I have owned 10 bass boats, 1 johnboat, and 1 pontoon boat. A brand review would reveal Fisher, Ozark, 2 Rangers, 3 Champions, 1 Xpress, a Javelin and a Triton. My inventory today is limited to an Osagian canoe and a couple of “Botes” we have yet to pick up in Florida. The Botes are inflatables, designed for lazy drifts down our beautiful rivers. My total boat experience is paltry when you consider there have been just under 300 bass boat manufacturers in America, many of which are still in production, and I personally know about so few of them.

Mr. Ranger, my last boat.

What has this experience taught me? First, a boat is simply a hole in the water that you fish out of. Secondly, I have yet to see a fish of any description indicate a boat brand preference. Next up, boats feed an addiction for fishing equipment that has more than kept up with inflation. The 50 buck reels of 1975 are easily 300 bucks today. Baits that you hid from your wife at a couple of dollars apiece are well over 10 dollars today, with “swim baits” hand painted replicas of bluegill, going for 50 dollars apiece at the show. When I reduced my lure and tackle inventory earlier this year in a garage sale, I needed a shot of Shanky’s Irish Whiskey to keep from crying over my return on investment. With whisky bolstered courage, I remarked to Sharon that it was better to spend on tackle than frequent a tavern nightly. I am not sure she agreed as her gaze passed over the outlay for sale.

In the end, you can’t put a price on the sound of a transom slapping the water on a ramp at daybreak when the crappie are on the bank. The conversations with friends deep in a Truman Lake cove and the anticipation of that tap that signals a fish who has let his appetite override his desire to avoid a cooker full of hot peanut oil, is priceless. Deer on a bank, carefully watching you or an old momma goose in a broken snag scolding you for getting too close to her brood cannot be valued in monetary terms. The sound of an Evinrude or Mercury coughing to life is sweeter than a violin virtuoso at a concert, but only to the ears of a boat owner and outdoorsman. Arthritis has taken a rod out of my hand for all but a few hours at a time, but it has done nothing to clear the memories of hours in a boat and a beautiful, blue backed crappie coming over the side. An occasional boat race was icing on the cake for a guy who considers the smell of an old two stroke oil burner sweeter than that of cologne on a prom queens neck.

If the Lord granted me a mulligan, I would find another blood red Champion with a big Merc on the transom and head to the ramp, rods carefully arranged on the deck, with a friend worthy of the experience. We didn’t know what we had then……..and that is a sin. To my younger friends, don’t get so busy with life, you don’t take time to live along the way. You’ll get old one day, God willing, and today is what you’ll have to remind you of your life in review. Will you smile or frown?

Make it a smile.

Have a good week…..



Do Not Be Fooled……

In 1960, 39% of licensed drivers in America were women, with that number growing to 40.8% in 1965. We were starting to see the fork in the road, relative to male and female roles, merge into blurry intersections requiring lots of signage to get through. Gender specific roles still exist, of course, but one needs to tread carefully if one is prone to broad generalizations regarding the women in our lives. I like it that way and would not change a thing. It wasn’t apparent at the time, but I married Beth Dutton, of Yellowstone fame. Let me explain.

First of all, I married a country girl, raised on a farm where you are toughened by the reality that folks eat animals that must be killed. You learn that getting dirty, I mean really filthy, is a daily occurrence. Grain dust and dirt are unforgiving companions and gun grease on your hands means you are maintenance inclined with your machinery and equipment. Sharon’s father was hard as flint. He was a night hunter, kept hounds, and raised more than one coon to train his pups with. When it rained you got muddy and when it didn’t you got dusty. His vocabulary was colorful, a huge understatement. When little Sharon mashed a toe, he reached for pliers to pull the offending nail out. He was, by today’s standards, a Neanderthal. Sharon can handle a very big 350HP tractor pulling monster equipment as well as any man out there. This is an environment that will make you tough, irrespective of your gender. All this aside, she will fool you into thinking she is refined, articulate and a work of feminine art. Appearances can be deceiving, just ask the car salesmen who have crossed swords with her.

Little Sharon, bottle feeding the ‘coons
Teenaged Sharon with an earlier and smaller tractor on the farm.

I carry Sharon’s lunch when we shop for “her car”. She begins her association with the poor devil who thinks she is a cultured lady and knows nothing about the car business, helping her. She usually begins her dialogue with a warning. “When we get to the bottom line, if my husband enters this conversation and is able to reduce the price by a single thin dime, I am out of here in a heartbeat”. She means it and has walked. When a store clerk miscalculates a sale price, Sharon, the professional teacher, is more than happy to help with the math, one time. She will ask for a manager at the drop of a hat, knowing full well where the buck stops. Disrespect her, and you will pay a price.

A recent experience prompted this writing. Sharon was talking with a dear friend and related how she responded to an error code on our clothes dryer. She called an appliance repairman, ascertained what the code meant, and then moved the washer and dryer to gain access to the vent hose on the dryer. She then unscrewed the face plate on our exterior wall, assembled a fiberglass extension rod with a brush, and proceeded to clean out the line. She then reassembled the vent hose, at both ends and the error code went away, just as she anticipated. The friend asked where Steve was. Uh-oh. My Sharon will point out rather quickly that when Steve is needed, she will call him, but Steve isn’t needed for 90% of what happens around a house. Two years ago, I went to the deer woods for a few days, and Sharon tore out all the racks and shelving in our master closet, patched and textured the sheet rock and repainted the walls, getting everything ready for the design and installation of new racks. I was involved only in the installation of the new, much more substantial racks, my only contribution. This lady will cut grass, hook up the Rv, trim hedges, prune trees and haul rock in a wheel barrow. She can dress a limit of crappie with the smoothness of a surgeon. She thought nothing of tying onto our Airstream and delivering it to a waiting doctor in coastal Mississippi where she closed the deal with him and returned home with a check, a trip I could not make because of a back issue.

Where does Beth Dutton come in? Sharon goes about life as any educated lady would. She is pleasant, conversational and usually a step ahead of those she is associating with. She can turn into a wolverine when others might withdraw and cry out of frustration. She cannot stand to be high hatted, despises a liar and is profoundly practical. She is loving and is moved to tears over human tragedy. Just don’t disrespect her and avoid, at all costs, lying to her. She can handle the truth as she is a country girl with an education, and country girls get it.

Beth Dutton channels her inner being……and I wouldn’t change a damned thing!

Have a great week.


The Gladiator and The Centurion….

This past Monday, two events helped frame America’s conscience. A professional football player, Damar Hamlin, suffered a life threatening cardiac event in front of millions of fans, on both live television and in a packed stadium. On this same day, a small town Chief of Police was shot dead by a menace to society with little, if any audience. The media has reported on the progress of the stricken player on virtually every newscast since he went into cardiac arrest while the killing of the officer has garnered scant mention and little interest. Our response to these two events leaves me fairly seething with anger. Here is why.

Damar Hamlin is a young and talented multi-millionaire who has agreed to risk his health as a professional entertainer on a stage where serious injury and long term brain damage is a likely event. While death is not guaranteed as in Ancient Rome, he can be rightfully compared to the Gladiators that entertained the Roman legions with violence, death and dismemberment. Football is an inherently dangerous sport and we are consumed with the violence that elicits oohs and ahs when the contact is violent. It is also a beautiful athletic endeavor wrapped in the most successful marketing scheme since the introduction of the Mustang in 1964. Young Damar was generous and respected in his community, an ambassador for his trade, but still yet……a millionaire entertainer who understands the risk when he suits up.

Sometime during that same day, Brackenridge, Pa. Police Chief Justin McIntire was shot and killed by a thug named Aaron Lamont Swan, Jr., who was later that day shot and killed by other police officers after a protracted chase. McIntire was 46 years old and much loved in his community. Police officers also understand the risks associated with their profession, but America considers the 33 officers shot dead in 2022 as nothing more than a footnote in history, paling in comparison to a cardiac event suffered by a single NFL player. While officers understand the risk they are taking, their reward is not adulation and buckets of money, rather the safety of those in their communities. It is work that is neither glamorous or entertaining. Chief McIntire and most police officers do not have the deep pockets of an NFL player, but he clearly placed the lives of others ahead of his own interests, a very noble gesture. Rather than millions, the Chief gave himself, a nobility that far surpasses the notoriety on a gridiron.

The late Chief Justin McIntire, shot dead by Aaron Swan, Jr.
The late Aaron Lamont Swan, Jr. Shot dead by the police.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a marketing genius on a level with Lee Iacocca, has announced that a tribute to Hamlin will be made before the start of every game this weekend. The Monday night game featuring Hamlin’s unfortunate medical emergency was suspended because of the anguish suffered by the players. Various coaches, keen on promoting the NFL brand, talk of the terrible pall this event has cast over their squads. Goodell has said, “this has been a very difficult week……we continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin……..and appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family…..” Let me assure you that when an officer is cut down, the anguish is real and deep, but the police do not suspend their day and go home to worry. They suit up and mull over the death of a fellow Centurion while wrapping themselves in image armor and carrying on the business of serving and protecting.

To put all of this in perspective, consider this. If football were to be banned, nationally, today, America would keep doing what America does and we would find another pastime. If policing were to cease to exist today, America, as we know it, would also cease to exist. Yet, we shower todays Gladiator equivalents with love, adulation and gobs of money. If I were to ask you to name a famous gladiator from Ancient Rome, most would immediately recall the great Thracian Gladiator, Spartacus. If I were to ask the same question about a famous Roman Centurion, you would be thunderstruck. Some things never change. How profoundly sad is the esteem we accord our Centurions of today.

Have a great week


Thanks For The Memories 2022…….

When we look back at 2022, it is easy to get lost in a destructive political climate, Covid and inflation. Despite these seemingly overwhelming considerations, good things did happen, both in and outside of America. First and foremost, if you are reading this you have checked the grim reaper at your door. Congratulations on your successful year staying upright and taking nourishment. More than a few of our friends will not be here to welcome the challenges that 2023 will offer. The following thoughts represent a smattering of the good things over the past year.

On 02-22-22, at 2:22 AM, in delivery room #2, the Spear family in Burlington, NC, welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world that weighed precisely 122 oz. (7 lb, 10 oz.). She will have a conversational topic for the rest of her life as this alignment of numbers is exceedingly rare! Now that is timing…..

He searched the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds for nearly 10 years before stumbling across the biggest diamond to ever be located in this fabled hunting ground. Adam Harding located a 2.38 carat beauty on April 10, 2022. Is this a big deal, you ask? Sharon says it certainly is to women, adding that men do not have the appreciation for big diamonds they have.

For all you molecular physicists out there, the James Webb telescope launched by NASA in 1990 finally slipped into an orbit of the sun this year, a short jaunt of just over a million miles. It is sending gorgeous pictures back to earth, one having been named the “Pillars of Creation” located in the Eagle Nebula which is some 6500 light years from earth. The photo of that cloud like formation I have attached to this piece is thought to be the birthplace of stars. So you’re pretty good with algebra and trigonometry…….you have nothing on the folks doing this stuff. Hats off to the rocket scientists that have seen the fruits of their labors come home this year.

“Pillars Of creation”

Critters are prime indicators of the health of our planet. This year marks the growth of our humpback whale population from less than 10K to a new high this year of 80K. That is a testament to man’s ability to care for and respond to the needs of critters.

On January 7, Canada enacted a new law banning “Conversion Therapy”, which is an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in any way. Like it has always been before the new focus on programming sexual identity, the Canadians leave it to the individual to work through this business on their own. Good for Canada. Is America watching?

The end of 2022 marks the halfway point in the most destructive and divisive Presidential Administration in modern history. This Administration is led by a inept consummate serial liar of epic proportions. The good news here? Only two years to go……and a Republican House of Representatives. Thank you, America.

This year, rabid Cincinnati Bengals’ fans donated 26,000 meals to a Kansas City food bank after spanking our Chiefs to get to the Super Bowl. That is a generosity exceeded only by the Chiefs organization sending 300K to a Buffalo Children’s Hospital after the Chiefs beat the Bills. A very positive side of the NFL, not often recognized.

Field Artillery, shotgunning game birds and internal combustion engines of all persuasions have been destructive to my hearing. Thankfully, the VA has accepted their share of the responsibility and covers the costs of very expensive hearing aids. Some 30M less fortunate Americans can now take advantage of a change in the Food and Drug Administration’s rules that permit folks to buy quality hearing appliances over the counter. This rule change will save hearing challenged folks an average of $2,800.00 per pair of aids. A golden opportunity……

The great state of Missouri is still, well, the great state of Missouri. We have slipped a bit but still remain the pragmatic, energetic people that we are known as. We believe it when we see it, remain conservative in style and recognize a shyster when we see one. Folks did not put a glove on the 2d Amendment here, where we interpret, literally, our Constitution. This resolve will be tested in 2023, but I am confident we won’t move on this issue. We didn’t give liberal progressives much consideration in 2022, something to be very proud of.

Sometime today, raise a toast to America, still a world leader and military powerhouse. Remember the work and efforts of our uniformed services, folks that lend dignity to the world stage and particularly to our country. We owe them…for a great year. Sure, it can always be better, but by any reasonable account, it has been a hell of a ride in 2022.

Happy New Year!


What Happened To God……

A big day for Christians

I watched a reporter on a big city street in America stop folks and ask a few fundamental questions about Christmas and the Lord. It was sobering to say the least with a good number of folks not having a bit of knowledge about the origins of Christmas and Christianity. As a career police officer and combat veteran, I have seen folks embrace the Lord virtually every time a death has or is occurring. Unfortunately, for many, it is their only association with Christianity. It is Christmas Eve and I think it is fitting to comment on the state of Christianity as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ…….in an age where the significance of our faith is being relegated to second or even third class status. Why, you ask, is this happening?


Trumps victory was driven in large part by white Christian men who overwhelmingly supported his candidacy. Some 85% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump, who championed “Religous freedom” in his platform, really a cover for a large segment of the electorate. He and his followers have been under perpetual attack from day one of his Presidency, bruising both entities significantly. A recent poll of pastors across America showed that churches are riven by political conflict within the congregations, resulting in shrinking memberships. Crime across America is a Christian concern as is abortion. The latest push is to change the wording in old Christmas hymns to reflect a woke perspective, which is not playing well with Christian Conservatives. Politics, in general, do not lend themselves to Christian principles and we, as a people, exist in a very political atmosphere. Churches across America are splitting as a result of disturbing trends related to homosexuality, same sex marriage and abortion up to the moment of birth. Each of these issues has figured prominently in recent elections. The indoctrination of very young children into the world of gender change politics is a decidedly anti-Christian concept.

In 1980, nearly 90% of Americans claimed to be Christians. Today, 43% of Americans claim to be Protestants, and some 20% adhere to Catholicism. To illustrate the trend, in 2009, the numbers were 51% and 23% respectively. The big drop, according to Pew Research has occurred since 2012 as professed Christians have declined by some 12%. It should be noted that over this same period, the number of “nones”, folks who have no faith, has increased by some 12%. In the world as a whole, Christianity trumps all other religions, claiming some 31% of the earths 7.3 billion people. Christians still have the numbers but their influence is shrinking. There are many factors with politics being only one of them.


Another influence in the decline of Christianity is our media, which openly disdains organized religion, often explicitly ridiculing the concept. The influence of today’s media and social discourse is incredible. This power is particularly destructive in the younger generations. Our so called silent generation, those born before 1945, is comprised of 84% Christians. Next up, the baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, are comprised of 76% Christians. Generation X, from 1965 to 1980 see a 67% Christian population with Millennials, 1981 to 1996 enjoying a 49% grouping of Christians. The older populations saw a favorable view of Christianity fronted by the media with the youngest group seeing a generally unfavorable image of Christianity portrayed by the media. The youngest generations are being immersed in the political world as well.

It is Christmas Eve, a joyous time in America with family and generosity taking center stage. As we approach the big day, ask yourself what it all really means. It matters not if you are a saint or a sinner, we mustn’t lose sight of what this Holiday really represents. It is not just another day off with food and revelry taking center stage. It represents a celebration of a way of life that is falling out of favor. We can’t keep sliding away from the Christian tenets of honesty, caring and commitment that has shaped this country from the beginning. This piece is a thumbnail sketch of where God lies, generally speaking, in the business of living in America. Don’t be a household that fails to even mention the Lord on this most Christian of holidays. Most importantly, do not be one that ridicules those of us who are, indeed, Christians. History has shown that we should not be trifled with…….

Merry Christmas!