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Chapter One Of New Richard Nixon Novel “Jackson Place” By John Taylor

July 24, 2014

JacksonPlaceCover

It created a smile along with a knowing assurance that this book would be crafted cleverly when the main character–other than President Nixon–is named Miss Weissman.    One just has to love the irony.

There are many ways to observe the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon.  Today I started a new book that puts a twist on the historic event by taking us down the thrilling road of asking ‘What if Nixon didn’t resign’?  If you enjoy history, politics, and the events that made the life and times of Richard Nixon so compelling then I urge you to read Jackson Place by John H. Taylor. 

The former chief of staff to Nixon for six years following the resignation in 1974, and also the  one-time director of the Nixon Library has a most unique vantage point from which to draw readers into a stem-winder of a book.

Enjoy how it all starts with Chapter One.

People sometimes tried to sneak into the White House. Tonight, Emily was sneaking out.

As she opened the door of the northwest gate, the one closest to the West Wing, she smiled guiltily at Carl, the handsome uniformed Secret Service agent who always flirted with her. She only had trouble with high heels when she was nervous, and she had never been more nervous in her life. Stepping over the threshold of the little guardhouse, she tripped and almost fell flat on her face.

“Are you okay, Miss Weissman?” he said, jumping to his feet and peering over the reception desk. As she recovered her balance, he looked at her calves and ankles with an expression of deep concern.

 
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“Eyes front, officer,” she said, smoothing her pleated skirt down the front of her thighs. Carl studied this maneuver as well. “I’m just going out for a second. Be right back.” She opened the door facing Pennsylvania Ave.

He called after her. “Strange night to go out,” he said.

“Strange night, period,” she said, waving so Carl could see she had her wallet and ID. The door clicked shut behind her. The sidewalk was crowded with protestors and tourists, who were all dappled with long summer sunset shadows. The mood was momentous and festive at the same time. She felt dozens of eyes glance at her for a minute. Nobody recognized the short redhead in the navy blue dress.

She smiled to herself. Maybe they wondered if she was the secret love child of the president and his notorious redheaded secretary, Rose Mary Woods.

Then she realized that in two and a half hours, they would know exactly who she was.

It was 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 8, 1974, the day the White House had reliably informed its press corps and the world that President Richard Nixon would announce his resignation.

She turned east, crossed 15th St., walked half a block south, and entered the Old Ebbitt Grill, inhaling air conditioning and the smells of cigar smoke and frying cheeseburgers. She walked quickly along the bar, hoping she didn’t run into anyone from the office. A flight of stairs at the back led down to the rest rooms and a small row of phone booths.

She entered one of the booths, closed the folding door, and took a deep breath. Then she dialed home, reversing the charges. Her father answered, which he only did when he was expecting a call or was worried about something. Otherwise it would ring until Elijah came back or her mother finally picked up. He told the operator he would pay for the call.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call for your anniversary on Tuesday,” she said.

“Your mother was a little disappointed,” he said in his kind voice. Emily could picture him in his plaid sweater and corduroy slacks as he sat at the kitchen table with the Detroit News. Her mother was probably still at the sink, washing the dinner dishes. “I told her you were busy, getting ready for tonight.”

She closed her eyes. Busy didn’t quite capture it. She had been conspiring fiendishly to shatter her colleagues’ lives and plunge the nation into chaos. She wondered if her parents would ever speak to her again. She said, “Did you guys have fun? I hope you took mom out.”

“Top of the Pontch, after work,” he said proudly. They couldn’t quite afford it, but Emily’s mother loved the view of the Detroit River from the restaurant in the Pontchartrain Hotel.

“Well done, dad,” she said. When he didn’t respond right away, she said, “I wish I could tell you more about what I’ve been up to.”

They had gotten used to Emily not being able to talk about work. “We trust you,” he said. “At least it will be over soon.” Sidney and Marian Weissman had despised Richard Nixon for their entire adult lives. They’d voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and George McGovern in 1972. In 1969, they’d even gone to a demonstration against the Vietnam war at Wayne State University, during the October Moratorium. She had been in college in Ann Arbor and had called her father and asked if the Revolution offered a senior citizen discount.

She’d always been more conservative than her parents. They had raised her with a heart for justice and those in need. She’d just drifted toward the political center. They’d finally come to terms with it. But they couldn’t hide their disappointment when she told them she was going to work in the Nixon White House at the beginning of the Watergate summer of 1974.

Emily heard Marian say something. Her father said, “Your mother asked about Irwin. When does he plan to take the bar? You still seeing him?”

Sitting in the darkness, twirling the phone cord with her free hand, she smiled. Sidney’s Irish Catholic bride had become a card-carrying Jewish mother, always wondering about her boyfriends and their professional prospects. Her last year of law school in Cambridge was a breeze. Irwin Fried had been a pleasant distraction. But he was too serious and not sexy, and he didn’t like the Rolling Stones or baseball. “Tell mom sorry,” she said.

“I didn’t like him, either,” he said. “So we’ll see you soon? I assume you’ll get some time off.”

Emily said, “Dad, I need you and mom to watch tonight.”

“Like we’d miss it? Your mother and I have been waiting to see Nixon get what he deserves ever since Alger Hiss.”

Emily and her father had been having this argument since she was in high school. Hiss was a New Deal-era diplomat whom a friend, Whittaker Chambers, had accused of being a Soviet spy. As a young congressman from California, Nixon had ridden the case to political superstardom. “Nixon was right,” she said. “Hiss was guilty. Besides, you were grateful for Vietnam. Remember we said a prayer for the president because of the draft, because Bennie didn’t have to go.” Benjamin was her little brother, now in his last year of college.

“He should’ve ended it four years ago,” he said.

She pressed. “He ended it.”

He relented. “Blessings on him for that. Blessings on you, too. You’ll come see us soon?”

“Please, dad. Just watch.”

Character Front And Center In Montana John Walsh Senate Race

July 24, 2014

There is a time for politics.  And then there is a time to just state plainly what needs saying.

Such as now when it comes to the matter of Sen. John Walsh.

There is no way that anyone with an ounce of honor can stand aside and pretend it does not matter that Walsh substantially plagiarized his master’s thesis at the U.S. Army War College.   How one could do something like this and then not confess the fact in some way over time is just staggering for me to think about.

But then I, like most of my fellow citizens, have (and we all say so with humility) a dose of honor. Some more, some less.

But there is no way that Walsh can look his constituents in the eye knowing full well that as has been reported roughly two-thirds of his 2007 thesis on Middle East policy was lifted from previously published works, either verbatim or by giving credit in the footnotes but not using quotation marks, and then ask for their votes.

As a way to address this matter a spokesperson for Walsh said that while the plagiarism happened it was not intentional.

No.  Just plain no!

I write many words here each week, and when it comes to lifting copy I add a link and also italicize the portion written or spoken by someone else.    There are no shortcuts here or when writing a thesis.

Simply put there is no room in the United States senate for someone who plays so loose with basic common sense let alone the obligation to accurately cite the sources that are used when writing a thesis.

I know full well what the lack of a Democratic victor in Montana come this November means for national policy making in Washington.

But the matter at hand when it comes to Walsh is not something that can be accepted, forgiven, or abided.

That is just how I feel, and I suspect I am not alone.

Venturing Into Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s Mind

July 24, 2014

I am truly at a loss as how to rationalize the actions by Wisconsin’s Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen  when it comes to the issue of appealing a federal judge’s ruling that our state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

First, let me state the obvious.

This blog is loaded with issues that have two sides.  Some are policy driven such as how electoral districts should be drawn or how best to fund our transportation system.  Some issues on CP are highly controversial such as how best to stop gun violence.  But even with the most divisive matters there is always some way to at least see the other side’s perspective, even if it is only a glimmer.

But when it comes to the overall thrust for appealing the federal judge’s ruling and now the latest procedural tactic that Van Hollen has undertaken leaves me unable, in any fashion, to understand his thinking or why his actions have merit in his own mind as he proceeds forward.

The latest ploy by our attorney general concerns fighting over how many federal judges should hear the appeal.

Both Wisconsin and Indiana are having their state cases heard in mid-August.  The gay couples fighting the cases filed briefs early this week stressing they feel a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is how the proceedings should be conducted, as would be customary.  Van Hollen and his counterpart in Indiana want the full 10-member court to hear the cases.

I find it telling that Van Hollen knows the odds are so against him with a selection of any three of the judges that he hopes somehow to have a better hand with all ten hearing the cases.  Instead of trying to find better odds Van Hollen might try to find a more constructive use of his time on the taxpayer’s dime.

The fact of the matter is there is not one–NOT ONE- logical argument for continuing the ban, or fighting for its continuation.  As has been shown in other states there is also not some written code of conduct that requires an attorney general to carry water for every half-baked idea that has been proven to have defects and harmful consequences, as the 2006 Wisconsin amendment has demonstrated.

There is no sense to wasting taxpayer dollars or the court’s time to conduct what seems to be a water-carrying exercise for a politician who is intent on keeping his conservative bona fides in case they are needed for some future campaign.  If fighting this battle is required from the right-wing so to prove something than perhaps Van Hollen needs to respond that it is a price too high to pay for the sake of his credibility and sense of decency.

But perhaps I am making Van Hollen out to be a bigger man than he really is.

Perhaps Van Hollen has already crossed his ethical and moral Rubicon and now feels there is no way to step backwards.   If that is so then all should be sad.  After all, history can ask who is proud concerning the last person who legally defended a whites only water fountain.  There is no pride about such things, only regret.

I noted on the local news Wednesday night that in the latest Marquette Law School poll 56% of Wisconsinites agree with my neighbors that they would vote to repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage.   So one has to ask can Van Hollen really be proud of the banner he is now carrying?

Pictures To Smile Over

July 23, 2014

From our gardens today.

a1 a2 a3

A Good One Wins National Election, Joko Widodo Has The Common Touch

July 23, 2014

I am truly pleased that Joko Widodo has prevailed in the Indonesian elections.  There was never a time when I thought it possible he could win as the odds seemed stacked against his victory.

Jokowi, as how the nation has come to know Widodo, won more than 53% of the vote, or some 8 million more votes than his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto.

Throughout the election be the story about his race come in words through newsmagazines or with video from a source such as PBS one thing was most evident.  Joko Widodo  was smart but not taken with himself.   Humble and yet sure of a desire that his nation could have a most open and transparent election, and that a person without a military title or a long pedigree could win.

And Joko Widodo did just that.

If we are use to beaming and often self-congratulating politicians I urge my readers to take note of Widodo only wearing a slight smile as he stood to hear the final results of the election tally.

I am sure the world has not heard the last of this man who may be able to teach all the world a thing about leadership and humility.

Come On Gary George!

July 23, 2014

I can not say surprise is the emotion that comes from reading the latest antics from congressional candidate Gary George.

Even though I was taken aback that George would mount a challenge to Congresswoman Moore I also had hoped at some level he might have found some inner compass to better guide him if he indeed did want to venture again into the public arena.  That is the eternal optimist inside that hopefully will never cease to drive me.

Whatever limited hope I had in that regard, however, has simply vanished after the latest news was reported about someone I once admired.

More than a week after convicted felon and former state Sen. Gary George was expected to disclose who is funding his longshot bid for Congress, he has still not done so.

Until George files the report, voters will not find out who, if anyone, is backing his longshot bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Milwaukee Democrat.

In an abrupt phone interview Wednesday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, George declined to explain himself, telling a reporter he had no time to talk and would only take questions by email.

“I’ve got to go,” George said.

By email, George’s campaign was more pointed.

“This is what you want to right (sic) about? Seriously? Keep up the good work, you are so on top of political issues,” an unidentified campaign representative wrote in response to a reporter’s questions.

Tight Race For Wisconsin Governor Says Marquette University Law School Poll

July 23, 2014

If you are a politico in Wisconsin then one thing is most likely true.  You (and I) have been waiting for the latest polling numbers from the Marquette University Law School for quite some time and pondering what they will show.

I was a bit surprised this weekend when one of the women who walks by our home for exercise mentioned her interest in what the poll would show in the race for governor.  She had never been one I would have pegged as overly political but her conversation was just another sign of the heightened level of attentiveness people are giving to an election with real serious consequences.

It is not clear to me if the Trek campaign flap is too new of a topic for the average voter to have absorbed for this poll.  But it seems fair to suggest that internal numbers for  Scott Walker were weak enough that he felt it in his interest to take up the Trek fight that has created more controversy than (one can assume) positive gain for his cause.

While the attack on Trek is pure politics the fact Walker has undertaken such a tactic might very well provide insight into what his campaign fears is jelling among the voters. After all it was Walker’s job creation agency, WEDC, which held Trek up as an example of a good Wisconsin company just a year ago

Marquette’s previous poll was conducted in May. It showed Republican incumbent Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke tied among registered voters.  And with results today there shows a continued slugfest will unfold for every voter across the state as the poll results are tight.

Today’s Marquette Poll Results:  Among registered voters if the 2014 election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Mary Burke or Scott Walker?

Burke 44.8
Walker 45.8

 Among likely voters, Burke led Walker, 47%-46%.

 

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