Monday, November 13, 2006

The Cheney Shooting Accident

The following is a letter I wrote to a blogger friend (on February 19, 2006) concerning the Cheney/Whittington Shooting. The Blogger had concluded one of her own writings with the statement that Dick Cheney was a "mean man".

Dear Barbara,

I thought I’d write you a note about your Cheney remarks.
I think your original thoughts on the subject made a lot of sense
One of the Veep’s bird hunts was done near here at a place called the “Rolling Rock Country Club”.
At the time one of our local TV stations had video of the guy and his pickup camper who supplied the birds (in this case pheasants) in advance of Cheney’s party. He even allowed himself to be interviewed.
Cheney according to estimates got about 70 pheasants that day. Whether he actually knew how easy the hunt was going to be I’m not certain. People go out of their way to please others in this world that some in positions of power are never aware of.
One thing I am pretty certain of. Persons my age and older who are still in politics are not mean people. Politics is a tough business. Unless you’ve gotten into it specifically to line your pockets with money your primary motive to get involved and stay involved is you believe your value system is better than someone else’s and you by being involved insure your value system is involved in the decision making of our society. Everything else fails that test.
It is very easy to vilify ones perceived opponents. For the Democrats this incident would seem to be a goldmine, especially the opportunity to push for stronger gun control laws. Their leadership though didn’t see it that way. Here is the official Democrat talking point position (based primarily on the political fear that angering gun owners would be political suicide in all but a handful of states, Mass, Wash, Oregon etc). “If you can’t be funny or really don’t know anything about hunting, keep saying over and over again ‘Cheney shot a man in the face’.” If you search the Democrat true believer blogs you will see in their commentary “Cheney shot a man in the face.” It’s true and its vivid. Even my favorite radio personality Tony Kornheiser EVERY day last week in his opening remarks kept saying “The Vice-president shot a man in the face!” That’s the way this game is played.
Away from the world stage all men are human beings. I’m under the impression from reading your writings that you haven’t always worked with or known the nicest of men. I believe if you worked directly for or knew Dick Cheney socially you would find he is one of the nicest, kindest men in the World. I realize that is a dichotomy from the public persona the media has presented of the man. I've heard a lot of people who bitterally oppose the VP on political issues laud the Cheneys for their contributions and charitable activities in the Washington DC area.
The other day I heard someone espousing one of those Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories. This one had at its heart that “Jack Ruby once worked for Richard Nixon and he was Kennedy’s enemy.” There is something basically wrong with that theory. Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon were each others best friend in Congress and the Senate. The friendship started when they were Congressmen and had offices next door to each other and began eating dinner together on nights when they worked late. Politically they were in sync on about every issue of their time until the Presidential race.
I’m certain that Cheney didn’t enjoy his dinner that evening, didn’t feel good about what happened and quite frankly had exactly the same feelings you think he should have had…and he probably wished he was at the Hospital too Saturday night …unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards.
I’ve heard a number of the other network commentators discuss the interview Fox’s Britt Hume conducted and they seemed to be in agreement that Britt did a good job and asked the tough questions. The exception was CNN who for the first time is starting to be beat in cable ratings by third place MSNBC and is openly complaining about the exclusivity given to FOX News. The VP has gotten away with managing his own news (even clumsily lately) why stop now..
Anyway, I can’t make you like someone you intuitively distrust. Maybe we can disagree on this one little thing..

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Coach Dick Bower...

It’s nice to see that a person who was inspiring to me in my youth is still alive and kicking.
Renowned swimming coach Dick Bower was in this area in late June conducting swim clinics for age group swimmers and coaches.
Coach Bower taught me how to swim when I was 14 years old (I’m not making this up). By the age of 16 I was swimming in competitions, in my seventeenth summer I was teaching youngsters the same skills.
Dick Bower was my high school’s first swimming coach. During the winter of 1963 our team stopped Mt. Lebanon HS’s national record streak of dual meet victories at 56 defeating them twice and winning our first WPIAL championship. We won the WPIAL again my senior year.

Coach Bower is shown above with two active local age group swimmers at one of his clinics held locally. (Photo by Mark Rauterkus)

He’s made his home in Louisiana for the past 30 + years moving there initially to coach at Tulane University and then forming his own US Swimming Age Group Team which competed nationally at all levels during the 80’s.
Dick Bower still swims competitively himself, in fact according to the results of a recent Senior Olympics he is one of the top three freestylers in the World 75 or over! I’ve seen his times and he can still beat me at that stroke.
I sometimes wonder if he knew it was me who won one of the last “Masters swim decathlons” held in the southern US in 1983. Probably not..I have a really common name.