"I am the Chosen One."
This chance remark by President Trump has created consternation and questions among theologians.
"Does this mean that Donald Trump is the Antichrist?" Was one anxious question.
For those of you who have not been keeping up with The Book of Revelations and the Antichrist, here's a brief recap:
The apostle John wrote a rip roaring, barn burner of an essay, full of sound and fury, on what was going to happen at the end of the world and got it published in the Bible, putting that book on the all time best seller list. The essay was called The Book of Revelations.
One of the main characters in Revelations was known as The Antichrist: He was pure unadulterated evil, the direct antithesis of Christ. He was one cruel, mean, self-centered S.O.B.
It is perhaps understandable that there would be some invidious comparisons with the 45th President of the United States.
Now historians love to rank the various presidents, but to the best of my knowledge, no reputable historian has suggested that President Trump is in league with the Devil.
I would have to ask Thunderbear the next time I met the Great Bear.
That meeting would come sooner than expected.
I had taken my wife up to New York City for her birthday. We walked from Grand Central Station to our hotel, a distance of about a mile. I found that I had to stop every block and rest five minutes. This was clearly a sign from Somebody.
When we returned from New York, I made an appointment with my cardiologist.
After some tests, he reported that I had 90% blockage in all the main arteries of my heart.
Was this serious?
Like D-Day for General Rommel.
However, unlike General Rommel, a happier outcome was forecast for me.
"Back in the old days, with this diagnosis," intoned my cardiologist, " you would be given a bottle of nitroglycerin and a rocking chair, along with strong advice that you tidy up your legal affairs."
"However, medicine marches on. We now have quadruple bypass surgery."
In bypass surgery, a skilled surgeon and his friends filet you like a king salmon, cutting through your breastbone with an electric saw, they then slice open your heart with considerably more skill than Jack the Ripper and cut out the offending Judas arteries and replace them with veins they have extracted from your leg.
The surgical team then knits your breastbone back together with Titanium wire (stronger than steel and guaranteed not to rust), which will remain with you till Judgment Day.
It is the custom for the surgical team to show up one by one to explain what they are going to do to you; sort of a medical version of Kindergarten Show & Tell.
The anesthesiologist was of particular interest.
He said the risk of dying from anesthesia was "almost negliable". (Except of course for the person who, spoilsport, actually does exactly that.)
Aside from dying, there was a slightly larger risk that I might hallucinate due to the anesthesia.
"You mean I might see a ten foot tall beer drinking flying bear?" I asked slyly.
The anesthesiologist shot me an uneasy look and said "Yeah, something like that."
After being introduced to the head surgical nurse, I was trundled down the hall to the operating "theatre" where I was invaded by various needles and tubes and suddenly felt very sleepy.
I awakened in the intensive care unit, surrounded by flashing, burping machines that were monitoring me.
I was alone except for a bear sitting at the foot of the bed. He held a bouquet of yellow roses in his right paw.
"WELCOME BACK TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING!" boomed Thunderbear.
"You were quite lucky this time!" The Bear said jovially.
"How so?" I inquired.
"When your wife went to the Shrine of St. Jude to light a candle for the success of your surgery, she chose the $3.00 candle rather than the more economical fifty cent candle. This meant that the candle burned through your entire surgical procedure, alerting St. Jude to take an interest. He noticed that your Life Card had been carelessly moved from the 90% Survival rate to the "10% that don't make it" file. He immediately corrected that bureaucratic error and you will make a full recovery."
I thanked Thunderbear and St. Jude fervently.
"It also proves that your wife thinks you're worth more than fifty cents!" The Bear added, sardonically.
I ignored the jibe and proceeded to business.
"May I ask you a theological question?
"Always open for business! " The Bear said brightly.
"Is Donald Trump The Antichrist? I inquired, fearfully.
I have never seen a bear laugh.
There was a moment of brow furrowed incredulity, then the laughter began, starting in Thunderbear's capacious stomach and rising through his chest, causing the liter beer cans in his bandoliers to shake and rattle lie an earthquake in a china shop. Thunderbear rose to his full height of ten feet and extended his 28-foot wings as he roared with laughter.
"This is one of your jokes, is it not?" Thunderbear asked, tears rolling down his furry cheeks.
I replied in the negative.
A look of disbelief crossed the Bear's face.
"You mean to say that you believe that trashy, pompous windbag could be The Antichrist?
"Not me, of course" I added lamely, but some of my readers..."
"But Trump is a cheap crook! Your readers can't possibly believe..."
"Believe what? That Trump is anything more than a lying con man?"
"Look you really need to give the Devil his due! Just because you're Satan doesn't mean that you are required to associate with a trash bag like Trump for all eternity!
"Then Trump is NOT The Antichrist?" I asked, relieved.
"Definitely not! Along with being world class evil, you have to be extremely intelligent and personable to be the Antichrist!! Trump is not even very good at being evil! Ordinary people catch him in his lies!! He is also dumber than dirt. The French have not one but two words to describe people like Trump; Gauche and Louche. Look 'em up in your dictionary!" The Bear said acidly
"Then who is the Antichrist? Boris Johnson?" I inquired.
"Certainly better qualified; Eton and Oxford graduate, heavy-duty prevaricator and lecherous as a mink, but not sufficiently evil for the role," Thunderbear said earnestly.
"Then who IS the Antichrist?" I persisted.
"We haven't filled that position as yet" replied the Bear defensively (The Celestial Bureaucracy has a disconcerting resemblance to earthly bureaucracies.) "Therefore I don't know his/her ETA."
"But it's all spelled out in The Book of Revelations!" I insisted.
"I'm afraid The Book of Revelations was an unfortunate accident " Thunderbear said shamefacedly.
"What do you mean, 'accident' ?
"Well, you see, it looks like Saint John got a bad loaf of bread."
"A bad loaf of bread?'
"Yes, Ergot. It's a fungus (Claviceps purperea) that infects rye and barley flour. Saint John, the last of Christ's disciples was being held prisoner in a cave on the Greek island of Patmos. He probably had to eat what they fed him, even contaminated bread.
"Anyways, the Ergot fungus produces Lysergic acid or LSD. St. John experienced what you humans call 'a bad trip.' All was not lost however, St. John had the presence of mind to jot down the wild visions he was experiencing. This became the Book of Revelations, the very first Science Fiction story."
"Is this true?" I asked, dubiously.
"True as anything! The Bear replied. "UNESCO has listed Saint John's cave as a World Heritage Site; can't get any truer than that!" the Bear said decisively.
"Then we don't have to worry about Trump becoming the Antichrist?"
"Not unless he starts reading the Bible and gets ideas! Now where should I put these roses?"
WHAT TO DO?
"When in doubt, run in circles; scream and shout" (Anon)
We have all been asked to be intelligent bystanders at the end of civilization as we know it.
We are of course, referring to Climate Change or, if you prefer, Global Warming.
According to the doomsayers, we are about to lose the Greenland ice cap, which alone will raise sea level some 20 feet.
Are the other major ice caps, Antarctica, Iceland, and the mountain glaciers also melting?
Sure are, neighbors! When all the earth's ice has melted (with the exception of that in your Martini) sea level will rise approximately 216 feet.
Will that be inconvenient?
Yes, particularly if you are a Democrat; less so if you are a Republican.
Due to a peculiarity of demographics, American liberals tend to settle in coastal areas while Republican conservatives tend to prefer mountains or high plains, safely beyond the reach of the rising seas.
Indeed, liberals have rather famously endeared themselves to conservatives by contemptuously referring to most of the US as "Fly over Country".
Of the 22 major American seaport cities, 16 have Democratic mayors at this writing.
Naturally, there will be a temptation among conservative gun owners to set up batteries of machine guns above the projected new sea level to mow down liberals trying to escape the rising seas.
Fortunately, this is not going to happen. Not because of an outburst of Christian charity amongst Conservatives, but because this will be a slow motion disaster.
According to the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (Sept 2013) It will take about 5,000 years to melt all the ice on earth (about 5 million cubic miles, drown all the Democrats and raise the average temperature from the present 58 degrees to a sweltering 80 degrees).
According to the United Nations, the United States already has the wildest weather in the world due to its geography.
We ain't seen nothin' yet!
Long before the ice all melts, we will be encountering mega floods, fire storms droughts, and gigantic tornados, Nor'easters, and Hurricanes that will force us to live in concrete igloos, not to mention endure Dengue fever, Malaria, Chikungunya, and other tropical diseases encouraged by a warming climate.
Does this mean the end of civilization as we know it or the Sixth great extinction?
No, not even if Greta Thunberg says so.
It will, however, mean the end of comfort.
We will have to reconcile ourselves to spending money on stuff we hadn't planned on: Like sea walls.
Had we not been so stubborn and paid more attention to scientists, we could have stopped global warning at around 1.5 and stopped sea rise and "500 year storms" happening on a yearly basis.
So do we give up? Not unless you want the want the full 216 feet of ice melt plopped in our front yard.
There will have to be some hard decisions made. Not every coastal city can be saved; not even every country.
For sentimental reasons, historic cities such as London, New York and Washington will be armored with seawalls to preserve them.
Other cities will have to be "let go."
One example would be Houston, Texas, which is fated to become the "Venice of the West" with cowboys poling their gondolas down Independence Parkway enroute to the San Jacinto Monument.
(Fortunately for Texas patriots, San Antonio and the Alamo are a safe 650 feet above sea level.)
Most of the planet's atoll style island nations are doomed., unless of course a rather unlikely brake is applied to global warming in the form of a stiff carbon tax (say $85 per ton).
Luckily for the Polynesians, the government and people of New Zealand have committed themselves to the rescue of the people of Polynesia should the need arise (and it indeed is arising). The reason for this largesse is that New Zealand was first settled by Polynesians and then by the English and there is a conscious effort to give preference to these ethnic groups to preserve ethnic balance..
Then there is dear old Bangladesh; a country about the size of New York State. It is located at the top of the Bay of Bengal and sits on the combined deltas of three world class rivers. The world will have no choice but to help Bangladesh build a sea wall to keep the Bay of Bengal out of Bangladesh. (And northern Myanmar.)
Why won't we have a choice?
Because Bangladesh has a population of 164.5 million and they literally have no place to go other than their sea level country.
Will it be expensive? Like a trip to the moon.
Back home in America, ocean incursions will consist of shallow bays that will extend far inland. Two good examples will be the loss of the rich Central Valley of California, which will become an inland sea as well as subtracting the Mississippi Delta, which will eliminate much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
As a footnote, we will lose most of Florida.
Now that's pretty much the worst-case scenario (Don't forget the floods, fires, tornados etc.)
No, civilization won't end, and a surprising amount of flora and fauna will survive, including ourselves, but we will be less than happy.
How miserable will we be?
Well, how miserable do we want to be?
This is a slow moving disaster, and within limits, we can stop and get off if we want.
The choice is up to us.
THE PARALLEL UNIVERSE OF DONALD TRUMP
'The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter at Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware, and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our army manned the air, it ran the ramparts, it took over the airports, and it did everything it had to do".
The above quote is from President Trump's July 4th address to the nation from the Lincoln Memorial.
The speech will live forever as the most unusual speech ever given by a sitting U.S. President.
There is nothing in the annals of the United States to compare with it nor is there ever likely to be.
The President is implying that there is a parallel universe of heretofore undiscovered historical facts that accounts for the unlikely victory of the United States over the leading superpower of the 18th century ; Great Britain.
Who knew that George Washington's attack on Atlanta's International Airport caused Cornwallis and his troops to miss their connecting flight, lose their baggage and thus the war?
Parallel History is a field but little understood except by stable genius's like our President.
Parallel history is not be confused with Revisionist history in which new evidence is discovered (or purported to be discovered ) that refutes accepted theory. Peer reviewed documentation is required for acceptance.
Parallel history is based on intuition and the belief that wishing will make it so, plus constant repetition of the alleged "fact."
One example would be the RESOLUTE desk. That would be the formidable oak desk that sits in the oval office of the White House and frequently hosts Donald Trump.
As Trump informed French President Macron, the desk was constructed from the timbers of a British warship, HMS RESOLUTE that we captured in 1814 during the War of 1812.
Is this true?
Yes, there was a Royal navy ship named HMS RESOLUTE and yes, its timbers went into the making of the famous desk, but it was not a warship and was never captured by the Americans (but it was found by Americans).
Well it was this way, neighbors.
The British had a yen for Arctic and Antarctic exploration in general and the search for the fabled Northwest Passage in particular.
The problem was that the British weren't very good at Polar exploration. Unlike, say the Norwegians, British expeditions often ended in lugubrious disaster, with lost ships, starvation, cannibalism, frostbite and mutiny.
A case in point would be the John Franklin polar expedition of 1845. The two ship expedition set out to navigate the fabled Northwest Passage and promptly vanished from the face of the earth.
Initially, this was no particular cause for alarm. The ships held tons of supplies and it was not unusual for them to be frozen in polar ice for a year or more at a time. Except for boredom, the expedition should be in no danger.
But summer passed and no sign of the expedition, either from the resident Inuit or from whalers.
Jane Franklin became worried and talked the Admiralty into sending out waves of rescue expeditions to search for her husband. Lady Jane was a good publicist and became a celebrity in her own right. ( Lady Franklin Rock in the Merced near Vernal Falls in Yosemite is named in her honor.)
One of the "rescue" ships, HMS Resolute, was prematurely abandoned, when the leader of the rescue expedition panicked and ordered everyone to trek over the ice to a depot ship.
It was assumed that HMS Resolute had been crushed by the ice and sunk.
However, this was not the case. In September, 1855 the American whaler George Henry, Captain James Buddington was hunting off Baffin Island when they encountered a fully rigged ship that would not respond to their signals. It was HMS Resolute.
Resolute had drifted more than a thousand miles from its point of abandonment.
It was in good condition and as a derelict, it was worth more than a score of whales.
So Captain Buddington cancelled his whale hunt, put the first mate in charge of the whaler, and, with a skeleton crew, sailed Resolute back to New London Connecticut, a feat of considerable derring-do with a limited crew. They arrived home on Christmas Eve.
The arrival of HMS Resolute caused a sensation in both America and Great Britain(and probably embarrassment in Royal Navy circles). The US and Britain had been having a rocky time over the Canada-US border and a group of anglophile Americans decided some peace making was in order. They convinced Congress to purchase Resolute from Buddington for $40,000, refurbish the ship and sail it back to England as a gift to Queen Victoria from the American people.
The Brits, including Queen Victoria, were mightily impressed with American generosity.
HMS Resolute served The Queen with no further misadventures until it was decommissioned and broken up in 1880.
The Americans may have forgotten HMS Resolute, but Queen Victoria had not.
The Queen ordered a desk to made from the oak timbers of Resolute and presented it to American President Rutherford B. Hayes as a token of Anglo American friendship where it has served American Presidents, off and on, for more than 150 years.
Now this version of the Resolute desk story is not as melodramatic as that retailed by President Trump but it has the advantage of being true.
Our President seems to have problems with the War of 1812. In addition to the non-existent 1814 warship, President Trump is a bit confused by the end of the war.
You see, President Trump belongs to the Johnny Horton School of Historiography.
Johnny Horton was a country Western singer who popularized one memorable song "The Battle of New Orleans" which has managed to confuse generations of Americans, including Donald J. Trump.
The President was in Tennessee firing up his base with tributes to Tennessee's favorite son, Andrew Jackson (and Trump's favorite President). The president began to quote liberally from "The Battle of New Orleans."
Which is O.K. as long as you stay reasonably within the bounds of historical accuracy, remembering that it is, after all, just a song. This would be asking too much of President Trump.
The first part of the song is reasonably accurate: The British made egregious errors, advancing across an open field against an entrenched enemy and heavy small arms and artillery fire, and soon there were "not so many as there were before" as the song goes.
They suffered 2,459 killed, wounded and captured including two generals killed. The Americans suffered only 333 casualties, in one of the most lop sided victories in American military history.
We start to get on historically shaky grounds when the song writer (Jimmy Driftwood) claims that the defeated British: "Ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go. They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico."
That didn't happen.
The British had been defeated, but not routed. Their retreat was orderly and well managed by General John Lambert who was now in command. They even found time to engage in a little nobility and humanity.
An anxious subaltern informed General Lambert that there were not enough boats to evacuate the hundreds of enslaved people that the British had liberated. They would have to be abandoned.
With a Churchillian shrug, Lambert replied "We will hold the beach until everyone who wants to leave, has left." and so hundreds of former "property" eventually found freedom in the Bahamas, thanks to General Lambert.
Ominously, the British didn't just go away.
They decided to re-implement Plan A.
Plan A was the capture of Mobile.
Plan A had been the original goal of the British. From a tactical and strategic standpoint, Mobile was a more valuable prize than New Orleans. Unlike New Orleans, Mobile had direct ocean frontage and also provided land access to Natchez which would cut off New Orleans from above.
The entrance to Mobile Bay was defended by Fort Bowyer, which had previously proved to be a tough nut to crack. The British struck Fort Bowyer September 18, 1814 with HMS Hermes (22 guns) HMS Sophie (18 guns) HMS Carron (22 guns) and HMS Childers (18 guns). The British commander, Captain William Percy also landed 60 Royal Marines and 60 American Indians for a land attack.
The American commander, Major William Lawrence, defended his fort ably, though he had only 160 men.
The Yanks also had all the luck. The British flagship, HMS Hermes, ran aground in front of the fort and was subjected to murderous fire from the Americans. It was abandoned and set on fire; the explosion of the ship's magazine adding to the confusion. Captain Percy gave the order to withdraw and picked up the landing party.
The British lost 34 killed and 35 wounded. The American loss was 4 killed and 5 wounded.
It was then that the British made their fateful decision to implement Plan B: The attack on New Orleans.
This was the famous battle that led to the confusion of Johnny Horton and Donald Trump and led to the second battle of Fort Bowyer.
Contrary to the song, the British were nothing if not tenacious: There had to be a victory in there SOMEWHERE.
After the disastrous Battle of New Orleans, the British arrived back in front of Fort Bowyer ready to retry Plan A.
In the interim, General Jackson had reinforced Fort Bowyer with more men, and more guns, He encouraged Major Lawrence by saying "10,000 men couldn't take Fort Bowyer." Major Lawrence now had 370 men.
The second time around, the British were dead serious.
On February 8, 1815, General Lambert landed a thousand men to invest the fort. Among that party was Colonel John Fox Burgoyne, illegitimate son of "Gentleman Johnny "Burgoyne of Saratoga fame. Burgoyne was Colonel of Engineers and his job was to dig a series of deep trenches parallel to the to wall of the fort. The trenches, or "parallels" drew ever closer to the fort as the Americans responded furiously with mortars and hand grenades.
Burgoyne lost 12 men killed, but had installed four 18 pounders and two 8 inch Howitzers within easy range of the fort. They were now ready.
The 74 gun ship of the line HMS Venguer was now in position to lend a hand in the siege as were the bomb ships HMS Meteor and HMS Aetna. The rocket launchers were set up, ready to fire Congreve rockets.
On February 12, General Lambert ordered the preliminary bombardment to begin.
It lasted a long hour. Then a strange thing happened. The bombardment stopped and a white flag appeared. General Lambert himself was coming out to parley.
The Americans took heart. There had been rumors of a peace treaty being signed. Perhaps the war was over. No soldier wants to be killed in the last battle of a war.
General Lambert and his adjutant marched to the beat of a drum to the main gate of Fort Bowyer where Major Lawrence awaited.
Pleasantries were exchanged. General Lambert complemented Lawrence on his gallant defense of the fort.
He then got down to business. "Sir, I propose to move on your works with a veteran force of 3,000 men. You will be overwhelmed. Once my men are over the ramparts I doubt if I can control them as they had many comrades among those killed at New Orleans. However I will personally guarantee the safety of your command if you surrender now."
(Now what would YOU do, neighbor?)
We can only speculate what Donald Trump would have done had he been in the shoes of Major Lawrence.
As for Lawrence, he understood the situation. Andrew Jackson was not going to relieve him, so he reluctantly surrendered,
With Fort Bowyer out of the way, the British fleet and transports entered Mobile Bay. They planned to land on the Mobile docks the next morning.
Fate intervened, however. On February 13, 1815, the fast dispatch sloop of war, HMS Brazen entered Mobile Bay with the good news hat the Treaty of Ghent had indeed been ratified and the war was over.
The point of this exercise being that no matter what Johnny Horton and Donald Trump say, the British won the last battle.
DONALD J. TRUMP NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Yes, neighbors, sooner or later, there will be a Donald J. Trump National Historic Site and yes, the National Park Service will be charged with its care and interpretation.
Do we have to?
Yes, friends, someone has got to do it and Congress will point out that the NPS is "it".
It will do no good to suggest that the NPS has no historic sites or memorials to Presidents Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding or even Richard Nixon and a host of others.
You see, for better or worse, Trump has millions of devout followers and they all vote and they all have guns. So yes, Donald Trump will get a memorial.
It is the custom of the NPS to consider the home of the honoree as the focal point of the national historic site. Such was the case with FDR, LBJ, Harry Truman, Grant, Eisenhower and so on. There is much merit in this approach. The historical personage often imprints him/herself into the fabric of the house. You can tell a lot about a person by reading their house.
So it is with the over the top confection known as Mar-a-Lago, a 1920's effort at conspicuous consumption that is now the private home of Donald Trump.
Although Mar-a-Lago accurately reflects the greed and bad taste of the 45th President, it is not suitable as a national historic site.
Aside from the ruinously expensive cost of maintaining the house, there is another problem with Mar-a-Lago.
Thanks in no small part to the President's negative opinion on global warming, sea rise will be difficult if not impossible to stop and sea front property like Mar-a-Lago, will be doomed.
Perhaps New York's Donald J. Trump State Park could be donated to the NPS and resurrected as Donald J. Trump National Historic Site?
No can do, as Jerry Rogers would tell you.
The 436-acre state park was the result of one Trump's questionable real estate deals. He had planned a golf resort, but when that proved unfeasible, he decided to donate the land to the New York State Park System as a tax write off (He claimed the land was worth 100 million dollars.) The only proviso being the usual megalomaniac one of insisting on at least two signs identifying it as Donald J. Trump State Park.
Other than the name, it has no particular provenance or relationship to Donald Trump and thus would be ineligible as a historic site
How about the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC?
This structure has the advantage of being government property, albeit under long-term lease by Trump. It has the disadvantage of reeking of "emoluments" as condemned in the Constitution.
However, when given lemons, make lemonade. The NPS already takes daily tours up to the clock tower of what is now the Trump International Hotel and the clock tower could be modified to accommodate exhibits on the life of the 45th President.
Then of course there is always Mount Rushmore. I believe Trump has (jokingly) suggested this venue himself.
If you ask the folks at Mount Rushmore, you will receive a very polite letter stating why this is not going to happen. It has nothing to do with the character of the 45th President or the lack therein. In fact it has nothing to do with any presidents past or future. The NPS forbids Democrats as well as Republicans, Reagan as well as Obama. The agency's objection is two fold.
On the other hand, could Donald Trump be commemorated at the local level rather than tasking the NPS with the onerous job of "Honoring" an extremely unpopular (to some) political figure.
Well neighbors that is what will eventually happen.
Consider Rapid City, South Dakota.
Like many a small to middling sized small towns, Rapid City has searched for a way to get tourists to tarry a bit in its downtown business district. Now it was true that Rapid City has the advantage of being "The Gateway" to the fabled Black Hills, a tourist trap of monumental proportions; reptile gardens, dinosaur replicas, live bear exhibits, Mount Rushmore, limestone caverns etc.
However the problem with being a "gateway" is that people drive through without stopping.
The Rapid City fathers proclaimed a "historic district" of some of the late 19th and early 20th century buildings. That worked about as well as the "historic districts" of hundreds of other small towns with an aging infrastructure. Better than nothing, perhaps, but still no barnburner of a tourist attraction.
What Rapid City needed was a gimmick that would grab and hold the visitor, turn him/her upside down and shake the shekels loose; something original.
One Don Perdue provided that gimmick.
Don Perdue is a local businessman, a well to do manufacturer of furniture. Although he is a devout Republican, he has a creative and imaginative mind.
"How could you get thousands of tourists to linger in the Historic District ?" That was the question.
Mr. Perdue came up with the answer.
For some strange reason, South Dakota possessed more than its share of sculptors.
Perhaps it's the influence of Mount Rushmore or the ongoing statue of Chief Crazy Horse; perhaps not.
Perhaps the sculptors could do some sculptures in the Historic District?
What kind of sculptures?
How about modern art?
Don't be ridiculous. Folks that visit the attractions of the Black Hills are meat and potatoes type guys and gals; South Dakota, like most of the big square states, went heavily for Trump in 2016. They generally don't like modern art; nor do the Midwesterners who are the patrons of the Black Hills.
Then how about a patriotic theme?
Mr. Perdue came up with the idea of putting a life size bronze statue of each of the 44 presidents of the United States on the various street corners of the Historic District.
Brilliant! This was one of those classic "Now why didn't I think of that" moments and is why you and I are not wealthy.
Rapid City was to become "The Presidential City " or the "City of Presidents" and would be voted the most "Patriotic small town in America." People are proud to spend their money there.
The life-sized statues are scattered at random throughout the Historic District. The statues are posed in friendly postures so that visitors will be inclined to take "selfies" of them and thus provide free publicity for the attraction. The chamber of commerce and other businesses provide maps of the locations of the various presidents. The presidents are not ranked: George Washington gets no better billing or place than Chester Arthur. People have fun tracking down all 44.
Now the presidential sculpture garden didn't just happen. Each sculpture cost around $50,000 give or take a few grand. Don Perdue and other city fathers embarked on donation programs to raise the funds for the statues. In some cases, Perdue had to front the money himself to keep the project going.
Today, Rapid City has the 44 Presidents, from George Washington to Barrack Obama in place.
Umm. What about the 45th, Donald J. Trump?
Well, the City Fathers are a bit coy about that one. They would like for him to complete his term or terms, before his statue is erected.
They are also aware that some citizens hold Donald Trump in less esteem than, say, Franklin Pierce. They realize that some folks are able and willing to take direct action against a statue of President Trump.
What to do?
South Dakotans are nothing if not resourceful; here is one proposal to prevent vandalism.
First, locate the statue not far from a police sub station.
Second, make the Trump statue interactive; that is, Trump would be seated in a replica of a Rapid City bus shelter. There would be room on the bench for someone to sit down beside the statue of Trump. The statue would be turned toward the empty seat as if Trump was earnestly explaining his method of governance to whoever was sitting for a "selfie" beside him.
So, how would this prevent midnight vandalism of the Trump statue?
Ingeniously, neighbors, ingeniously.
According to this solution, the rear panel and roof of the bus stop would be hollow and would contain a pull down steel slat security door (locked and unlocked by police at appropriate times). This would prevent vandalism by night and enhance the statue's interactivity during daylight hours.
So the NPS may be off the hook on this one; with public affairs able to tell the Concerned Citizen that while Mount Rushmore's space is all used up, they can still catch a selfie with their hero at a bus stop in Rapid City, South Dakota.
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Recently, one of the administrators of one of our local universities approached me with the idea of purchasing THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THUNDERBEAR.
Turns out that he wanted six copies. I was a bit flattered and asked him "How come?"
He said that if you know a person's likes and dislikes, then a book is probably the best gift.
I suspect that the professor is right. Most middle class folk have long since satisfied their physical needs and gifting them with an object that will clutter up their lives is not doing them a favor.
A book is something different. They can always loan it out or outright gift it to another friend.
The trick is in knowing the literary tastes of your friend.
I warned the professor that he must never, ever tell the giftee that THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THUNDERBEAR is funny.
Because people are very sensitive about their sense of humor—or the lack of it.
If you tell someone that a book or a movie is "Hilariously funny" and they do not find it so, they will resent you. Therefore it is best to suggest that THE GOSPEL is a study of federal bureaucracy and the environment that the giftee might find useful.
With a twinkle in his eye, the professor assured me that he planned to gift THE GOSPEL to the department heads of his University.
"After careers listening to the outlandish explanation and excuses of both college students and college professors, my department heads have developed keen senses of humor; they will appreciate THE GOSPEL" the Professor said with a smile.
And so it is. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THUNDERBEAR makes the perfect gift, IF you know your friend's tastes. If you do, it is the perfect gift for birthdays, weddings, Christmas, Hanukah, "get well" presents, and so on. We suggest that you purchase 6 or more copies to stockpile against the day when you need a gift in a hurry and can't think of a thing.
If your short-term memory is not what it used to be, here's how to order:
THE BEST WAY: If you live in the Washington DC area or are passing through, simply drive out to 2011 Hermitage Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902 and give me a check for how many copies you would like to have. (The GOSPEL sells for $14.95.) The reason this is the best way is that in return for your custom, you will be given ONE free beer or glass of wine. No other author has made this offer; not Hemingway, not Faulkner, not Twain. The catch is that you must have worked for a Federal or State land management agency to enjoy the beer or wine benefit. Should you choose this route, give me a call at 301-933-6931 to make sure I will be home.
THE SECOND BEST WAY. In which we rely on Uncle Sam's post office. Here we must add postage and handling charges, which amounts to $3.00 or $17.95 per book. So send a check for whatever amount to PJ Ryan, 2011 Hermitage, Wheaton, MD 20902.
THE SAFETY MESSAGEYes, here it is! What you have been looking for! The all important Safety Message that allows you to use your government computer to search through THUNDERBEAR in order to obtain up to the minute safety information vital to your job. (And remember, Safety is Job # 1 in the DOI Land Management agencies!)
Today's Safety Message deals with surgery, or more specifically, the anesthesia that normally accompanies major surgery.
The anesthesiologist is a major part of your surgery. If you have ever had adverse reaction to anesthesia, it is your job to inform the anesthesiologist, preferably before you pass out.
One of the major adverse effects of anesthesia, is hallucination. It can lead to destructive behavior.
Fortunately rare, hallucinations are generally sorted out in the Intensive Care Unit where you will be taken immediately after surgery. The key point in the ICU is that there will be a staff member watching you.
If all goes well, it will be assumed that there are no complications and that the anesthesia has worked it way through your system and there will be no reactions.
You will then be placed in a normal hospital room or ward for further recovery and discharge (The sooner the better, according to the hospital, as most hospitals are portrayed as being veritable sumps of infectious diseases and the quicker they can get you discharged and back in the safety of your own home, the better for all concerned (Especially for the bottom line of the hospital; in house care is expensive)
While in the normal hospital room, you will be provided with a buzzer to notify a nurse or aide if you feel poorly or need anything.
The problem is if you are hallucinating, you do not want to press the buzzer because you believe that the hospital staff (or a big furry monster) is plotting against you.
While you are hallucinating, you can be quite dangerous to yourself and others.
Statistically, hallucinations will not happen: Maybe in less than one percent of surgical cases.
These statistics are the rationale for the hospital to cut corners (and expenses) by leaving you alone.
Things can get quite messy if you land in the "less than one percent" that hallucinates.
The solution to this safety problem is quite simple.
You bring along your own safety team; relatives or friends who agree to sit with you and to press the button to summon staff should you start doing something destructive.
PJ Ryan can be reached at: