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“You can’t trust her.  It’s a trap.”  Rick spat, shaking his head.

Lise looked at him, and retorted “Of course it’s a trap.  But if she has information on what the States are likely to do next, I think we have to proceed.”

“Has it ever occurred to you that she wants to kill you?  I mean, you are sleeping with her husband, and her son has clearly grown attached to you.”  Rick asked, trying to not let the concern he felt creep into his voice.

“Why Colonel,  I didn’t realize that you cared.” Lise said sarcastically.

Rick shifted his weight on his feet, a cloud rolling over his face before he growled in a low voice “If something happened to you…I don’t want to see Cooper or Jake go through that.  Ever.  You have been great for them both, and Cooper deserves that happiness.  I’ve never seen a man endure so much to finally achieve it.  He’s my friend, and I don’t want to see him hollowed out with grief over losing you, and the effect it would have on Jake.”  He looked down at the floor, clearly disturbed that he’d said this much, and maybe a little angry that she could draw it out of him to begin with.

Lise quietly contemplated him for a few minutes before asking “Colonel…Rick…how long have you been married?”

“I’ve never mentioned that I’m ma…”

“You didn’t have to.  Remember what I do for a living.”

A smirk twisted Rick’s expression.

“So you’re just messin’ with me for fun?”

“Hardly.”

“Did he tell you?”

“Cooper?  Oh no.  I’ve never asked him anything about you, and he’s volunteered very little.  But when I see you two together, I know you’ve known each other a long time, and that you both trust each other, which is a big deal, because neither of you are “trusting souls”.  But I watch you sometimes, and I’ve listened to what you’ve said about me and him, and I know that you’re married.”

Rick looked at Lise and said “Yeah.  She’s my second wife.  And after the crap I went through with the first, I never thought I’d get married again.  I think it worked so well because I fell in love with her brain first.”

Lise smiled, but didn’t say anything.

Rick shifted again and said “When I see Cooper with you, I see him relaxed.  I can see you  care, probably more than you ever meant to, and I see that the two of you can just be.  You don’t have to be talking.  You don’t have to be doing anything specific, you can just be together and enjoy each other’s company without saying anything at all.  That’s a good thing.  Maybe the only thing.  And he needs that.”

“What the hell, Old Man?” came Cooper’s voice in a hoarse croak.  “She’s MY hot shrink.  Get your own, dammit.”

Lise and Rick looked towards the bed in the center of the room, where Cooper sat grinning, squinting through narrowed eyes clearly pained by the antiseptic fluorescent lights humming overhead.

Rick stepped toward Cooper and asked “How much did you hear, Hoss?”

Cooper turned his head slightly to face his friend and said “Enough.”

Rick’s face asked the question that remained locked behind his lips.  “Yes, Old Man.  I think Nick was scared to death of you while you were cooking the bacon at the party at Mack and Kat’s house.  Does that answer your question?” Cooper said quietly.

Rick let out a chuckle and nodded.

Cooper’s smile faded.  “Good.  Because I think Lise is right.  If Teresa has even a hint of what they are planning, we need to find out what it is.”

Lise stepped to the opposite side of Cooper’s bed, and quietly took his left hand into hers.  She found herself unable to put into words all the feelings she had for this man, but realized when his eyes met hers that she didn’t have to, because she had said it all without saying a word.

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Cooper strained to open his eyes.  Around him, he could  hear gunfire, and shouting.  He could see three men dressed from head to toe in black running through the hole in the wall.  Two quickly moved toward Teresa, but the third approached him, and drew a .45, pointing it at Cooper.  “I’m gonna be famous.  I’ll probably get the Medal of Honor.” the man said.  Behind him, his two companions lifted Teresa off the floor.  One of them rasped “Forget him!  Help us with the General’s wife!”, but before he could respond, he jerked backward once, then twice, then a third time, and fell to the floor.  Cooper turned his head to see Agent Roy, crouching in the doorway, his gun smoking.  Agent Roy held his hand to his ear, and was clearly trying to get back up, but the sounds of the firefight outside intensified.  And after what seemed like an eternity, he slowly made his way across the two feet from the doorway to where Cooper was laying, watching the remaining intruders dragging Teresa out through the hole in the wall, to some unknown rendezvous.  He couldn’t determine the condition of her limp form, and wondered if she was alive or dead.  Agent Roy crouched over Cooper, assessing his condition, when he also jerked, once, and a growing bloom of crimson began expanding on the white shirt he wore under the black jacket.  Cooper said “Agent Roy, you’ve been hit.”

Agent Roy was gritting his teeth, and said “That’s not important right now.  We have to get you to a doctor.”

Cooper looked around for some help, and saw that Rick was back in the doorway.  Rick made his way over to Cooper and Agent Roy, and Cooper said “Get Roy out of here!  He’s been shot!”  Rick shook his head, and said “No  can do, buddy.  You’re the priority here.  And your fiancée’ would kill me if I didn’t get you to safety.”  Rick looked at Roy, who said “Get him out of here.  I’ll cover you.”

Rick started to drag Cooper to the back of the house as Agent Roy stood near the opening in the wall, and looked before firing a few shots out toward the fleeing invaders.  The sound of gunfire was tapering off, and Cooper watched as Rick dragged him down the hall, succumbing for a second time as a black hole opened beneath and swallowed him up.  The last thing he saw before darkness overtook him was a bullet tearing through Agent Roy, and the Mountie falling to the debris strewn floor.  All he could think was “NOOOOOOO!  Not for me!”

——————————————————————————————————————-

Cooper came to, with a medic checking his vitals, and Lise checking him out.  “Jake?” he whispered.

She stopped, took his hand and smiled.  “He’s safe.”

“Hell, he isn’t just safe.  He’s probably safer than he’s ever been.”  Rick said, with a grin.

“You’re friend hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for exaggeration,” said Lise “I did nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Don’t let her fool ya, buddy.  When one of the teams came in through the front door, she dispatched them all without batting an eye.  I don’t think they even had time to clap eyes on Jake.”

Cooper looked at Lise, uncertain if the tears he felt welling up were from what he’d just heard, or the goose egg on his head that was growing by the minute.  Still holding his hand, she brought it to her cheek,  tilted her head, and said “I wouldn’t…I couldn’t let them hurt Jake.  I couldn’t bear what that would do to you.”

Cooper turned his hand to stroke her cheek, more aware with each passing second of the screaming headache that radiated from the rising welt on his head.  “Where is he?”

“Safe.” she said quietly.  The visitors have gone, and no less than three teams are with him in the reinforced part of  the house.  “And Teresa?”  Lise’s smile faded.  Before she could respond, Rick said “She fell the same time you did, but she was closer to the blast.  I didn’t see a lot of blood when they took her away, but I couldn’t tell how badly  she was hurt…”

“Or if she was dead.”  Lise said flatly.

“Regardless, ” said Rick “I don’t think her visit was sanctioned.  The troops seemed more interested in getting her than they did you.”

“And Agent Roy?”

“He’s down, but the docs think he’ll make it.  I think those Newfoundlanders are almost as hard to kill as Texans.  He’ll be back.” Rick said with a smile.

“I want to know when he can have visitors.” Cooper said.

“Probably before you can, if this delays our wedding.” Lise said with a smile, but Cooper could tell that the smile was covering something, but he couldn’t really suss it out through the flashes of pain in his head.

“We’re right behind you.” Lise said as the ambulance doors shut, and it sped away from the safe house under heavy escort.

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1. I get it. Really, I do.
As a conservative, the idea that Trump could be the GOP nominee is terrible. Hell, as a human being, I find this idea repugnant. But honestly, the question for me is “When the media and the Left (BIRM) have taken their best shots at Mr. Hell Toupee, and he and his followers (I’d say supporters, but in truth, I’m not seeing much to differentiate them from Obama followers, and we all know why we use that word to describe them) have just laughed them off and doubled down, to great applause, what does National Review believe that this will accomplish?” At best, this is an exercise in preaching to the choir; and at worst, it makes as much impact as a fart in a hurricane.

2. Principles matter.
People like me are glad to see that some people who identify as Republicans are now on board with this idea have decided to join the rest of us. Perhaps if a few more self-identified Republicans had been as vocal on this point when those elected in 2008 and 2010 declined to fight the fights that matter, the fights we elected them to fight, regardless of their assessments of success in doing so, then we wouldn’t be facing the apparent possibility of a Trump candidacy, let alone the horror of a Trump nomination. Instead, usual suspects continued to support the Marquis of Queensberry Rules and the Imperial Rules of Engagement, and rendered all their talk hollow and cheap to a frustrated electorate. So when the party and its institutions point out that Trump’s prior statements and actions don’t square with his current ones, they fail to recognize that they are the pot calling the kettle black for most Americans, and most bitterly to those who until this latest election season, trusted them.

3. Endorsements of Trump from the likes of Bob Dole and Trent Lott don’t help. Seriously, the next party flunky who jabbers about the “unacceptability” of someone with principles, who has walked the walk, and demonstrated an understanding of the Trumanism “If you want a friend in D.C., buy a dog.” while extolling Trump’s “electability” should be given his or her walking papers. The mere utterance of the word by someone with Republican credentials is taken as confirmation that the label matters more to them than the content, that the win matters more than policy, and that is why “electability” has given us sterling candidates, like Romney, McCain, and Dole, whose great success in Presidential elections gives credence to this concept and the priority that the party put on it.

4. Condescension doesn’t work.

You can say that people don’t know the issues and don’t know what they are doing, and in many cases, you’d be right. But are those people going to listen to anything you say after that? Probably not.

Progressive philosophy and dogged determination have done much to dumb our neighbors down. There is no immediate miracle to reverse this. But what you can do is engage individuals and respectfully challenge their assumptions and conclusions, and when you win them with patience and a dogged determination all your own, they will do the same.

5. We are in a scary place right now…
…and the impossible choice between and inveterate liar with no regard for the lives of people who selflessly dedicate their lives for this country, self-proclaimed socialist who promises to make everything “free”, including things government has no business providing to anyone, while at the same time acknowledging that those “free” things have an enormous cost on one side, and on the other, an egotistical, brash narcissist who, like the man he seeks to succeed, also has no understanding of the limitations imposed on the Executive branch of government, by design, is frightening. Especially when this man’s exaggerated sense of self-worth impairs his ability to thoughtfully reflect on the actions of others and respond in a manner which is best for the country, rather in a fashion that would best assuage his outsized ego.

Anger, righteous anger, and a willingness that no mainstream Republican demonstrated to actually talk about issues unfiltered by the restrictions of euphemism and fear of offending anyone brought us to this point. We can talk all day long about how anger doesn’t win elections, but 2008 and 2010 are proof that this is wrong. Because of this, and the excuses and failure yielded by the trust placed in the party after the last two elections, the talk about anger not working will fall on deaf ears, closed by the empty past rhetoric of “electability” and “compromise” from suits festooned with the party label.

Until the party publicly declares ownership of this disaster, it won’t regain any credibility with anyone. And the longer we go on without this admission of responsibility, the more likely it is that we really will have to hold our noses and choose the least onerous choice on a menu of excrement, and if that happens, we will remember the people most responsible for this for a long, long, long time.

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16

Cooper and Lise walked behind the King as he entered the Library, stopping just inside the doorway, as the King announced “I’ve just been informed that dinner is served, but before we adjourn to the dining room, I have some good news to announce.  Commander Wilson has asked Major Philips to marry him, and she wisely and enthusiastically accepted.  I hope that you will all join me in toasting to the happy couple this evening, and that you will all join with me in congratulating them.”

Most of the men and women assembled in the room pressed forward to offer handshakes and congratulations.  Cooper tried to pay proper attention to the various words of encouragement, but felt swept up in the evening’s events, finally settling on the vain hope that he was not grinning like a fool in the onslaught of well-wishes.  The dinner was magnificent.  Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, two or three salads, gravy, creamed peas, and corn that was impossibly good, given the latitude and current relations with the south.  He sipped the wine at random intervals, but focused more on the water, sensing that the night was far from over.  Several toasts were called, over a pear brandy that was too sweet for Cooper’s tastes.  Lise was by his side, but frequently engaged in conversation by the Medical Corps Captain she had been speaking to earlier.  In a moment when the captain was otherwise engaged in conversation, she fumbled under the table for Cooper’s hand, and upon finding it, squeezed hard to get his attention from the King, who was regaling the front off the table with a story about a long-past dinner with his late Mother.  Cooper turned in her direction, just as she whispered in his ear “What did the two of you talk about?  What is going on here?”

Cooper pursed his lips, then whispered back “I’ll tell you later…just to do it proper justice.  But he was very adamant that any “lapse” in your judgment and integrity was his fault, and he couldn’t and wouldn’t punish either of us for it.”

Just then the King erupted with laughter, causing Cooper to turn his head back in the sovereign’s direction.  Lise looked down at the table, struck dumb at the turn of events before it really dawned on her that she was going to get to stay with this man who had come to occupy so many of her thoughts.  As she thought about how they spent the morning, she could feel her cheeks flush again, as she thought to herself “I hope he doesn’t think he’s sleeping alone tonight.  Actually, I hope he doesn’t think he’s sleeping at all.” and let a small smile come to her face at the last.  Under the table, she squeezed his hand again, more gently this time, and tried to send her intent through her eyes as he turned to her again and smiled, before adding a remark to the conversation taking place to his left.

———————————————————————————————————————————

As Cooper, Lise, and Rick were taking their leave for the evening, the King thanked them for coming, then said “Gentlemen, I need to speak to this young lady for just one moment.  She will join you in the car presently.”

After Cooper and Rick left the room, the King looked at Lise and said “I know you’re worried about your career.  You shouldn’t be.  Yes, you violated rules and a professional code of conduct…and I let that happen.  I asked Cooper to convey that message from you, but this night was as frantic for him as it was for you, and when I thought more about it, I realized that you should probably hear this from me.”  He could see that she was searching for words, and decided not to give her a chance, opting instead to continue with his royal deference, and add to the joy of the evening.

“I am also withdrawing the electronic surveillance from Cooper’s bedroom and bathroom.  I know all I need to know, and that is that the two of you belong to together.  While the world around is chaos and tumult, I expect happiness for the two of you.  You both deserve it, and frankly, we all could use more examples of this in our lives.  But you should go now.  They are waiting, and I suspect that neither you or Cooper will be sleeping much tonight.”  He allowed himself a knowing smile as she said “Yes.  Thank You, Your Highness.” and hurried to the waiting car.

—————————————————————————————————————————
As the car door shut, Rick Gearheart started to chuckle quietly.  Cooper, sitting opposite him, suspected he knew the  source of his friend’s amusement, but decided to bite anyway.  “What’s so funny, Old Man?”

Rick shook his head. “You’re the only guy I know who gets invited to his own shotgun marriage in the same day he has sex with the bride to be.”

Cooper searched for a witty retort, but all he could come up with was “Hey, I’m just a guest here.”

Both of them smiled in the silence.

As they could Lise approach the car, Cooper said quietly “Besides, I think I’m actually getting a good deal here.”

Rick suppressed a laugh as Lise sat down next to Cooper, turned to him, and said “I’m ready to go home.”  Her eyes said considerably more when they met Coopers’, however, and he realized that she was going to thoroughly interrogate him when the two were alone behind closed doors later.

As the car pulled away from the residence, the thought sprang into Cooper’s head “How am I going to tell Jake about this?”

 

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15

Cooper Wilson took a deep breath, and wondered if he could still get a drink before he went in to see Lise.  “Probably not,” he thought “I’m sure they’re holding dinner so the King can make the announcement.”

He walked in, and saw Lise talking with a Medical Corps Captain, and instantly realized that this was going to be far easier than he’d allowed himself to imagine.  She turned her head and saw Cooper smiling in the doorway.  She excused herself and walked across the room to where he stood, grinning at her like an idiot.  “Are you ok?” she asked.  “C’mon, ” he said, taking her hand and pulling her down the hall.  “Why?” she asked, “What’s wrong?”

He opened the door to the study, and pulled her in.

“I don’t think we’re supposed to be here.” she said, looking around nervously.  Cooper was looking down and fumbling in his pocket.  “It will be fine, Lise.” he said, followed by an “A-ha!”

As he knelt down and took her left hand into his hands, she brought her right hand to her mouth.  “Lise Philips, I can’t promise that a life together will always be a bed of roses, and I’m afraid I don’t have many prospects, but I would be honored if you did me the honor of being my wife for however long that life together might be.”  Unable to speak, she nodded her assent, eventually squeaking out a “Yes!  Absolutely!” He slipped a band of white gold, with a half-carat marquis-cut sapphire, bordered on either side by a quarter-carat princess cut diamond on to her ring finger and stood before her.

When she finally tore her gaze away from the ring, he took her in his arms, kissing her passionately. When their lips parted, she rubbed her cheek against his and whispered in his ear “Don’t have many prospects…HA!”

“Is everything alright in here?”  The King’s voice interrupted their quiet embrace.  Lise jumped away from Cooper, smoothing out her jacket, and skirt, and blushing as she said “Yes, Your Highness.”  Cooper tried not to laugh as he watched his wife-to-be squirming in the presence of the King.  “Is that true, Cooper?  Is everything “alright” in here?”  Cooper laughed as he smiled at Lise and replied “Yes, Your Highness.  You were right.”

“Of course I was right!” the King exclaimed, sporting his own smile at Lise’s confusion and discomfort.  “Miss Philips, I intend for us all to be toasting to your nuptials and your happiness many times this evening.  And although it will be short notice, I expect an invite to the wedding you’ll be having later this week.”

At the last, she turned to Cooper with a questioning look, and he muttered “Later.” through a smile…the only response he would offer at this time.  Her nervousness about their future melted away, only to be replaced with a million questions and little prospect of a chance for answers for hours.

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14

The ride to the Imperial Residence was a short one.  Rick made some small talk about the United [Progressive] States’ latest offensives, but neither Cooper or Lise picked up on any of the openings he made in the small talk.  Instead, they sat next to each other, like they had so many times before, the only thing different being that Cooper’s left hand held Lise’s right, their fingers intertwined, as they each looked out opposite windows.  If the driver noticed, he had the good sense not to acknowledge it.  Rick silently reminded himself to never play poker with any of the RCMP on the detail.

When they arrived, they found much of the general staff already waiting in the drawing room.  Lise was certain that her immediate superior’s gaze was on her for a second too long, as if to surreptitiously say “I know about the two of you.”  Shortly after their arrival, they all took their seats around the long rectangular table, two high-ranking medical staff officers taking seats between Cooper and herself.  The room darkened, and a three-dimensional hologram appeared over the table as a brigadier explained the latest intelligence on their neighbor to the south.  Lise found it impossible to concentrate on the briefing, her thoughts focused instead on a larger than life separation scene where she would be approached by MPs, who would read her the charges, and then take her away in handcuffs, to a trial and prison, where she would never see Cooper again.

After what seemed to her to be an eternity, the hologram turned off, the lights came back up, and the King rose to address the assembled personnel.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I realize that some of that was a bit grim, but I also wanted you here for something a bit more cheerful.  Two of the gentlemen here once had a feast on this day annually with family, as one of their former nation’s most popular holidays.  Mr. Cooper, Mr. Gearheart, we would be honored if you would have Thanksgiving dinner here with us this evening.  Rick smiled and Cooper nodded his head slightly.  “We’d be the ones honored, Your Majesty.” the two said, almost in unison.

“Excellent!” exclaimed the King.  “The dinner is not yet quite ready, and the table must still be set, so we should all retire to the Library for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.”

The mass of uniformed men and women rose and milled out of the room in and into the library, where they separated into clusters all around the room, talking, eating, and drinking.  The King made his way around the room, talking to the various groups, while Cooper, Lise, and Rick were cornered by an Air Marshall and his adjutant, who both asked endless questions about what Thanksgiving had been like before the Purge.  Lise couldn’t pay attention to the conversation, and instead, brushed her hand against Cooper’s as she looked around the room, just in time to see the King talking to her superior, Colonel Rafferty, while both looked first at Cooper and then at her.  Immediately, she could feel her heart climb up into her throat, and start beating as if she’d run a marathon.  She grabbed Cooper’s hand and squeezed it urgently as both Colonel Rafferty and the King turned their backs to them.  Cooper turned to see the look of panic in her eyes as she turned her back to Rafferty and the King and in a shouted whisper said “THEY KNOW!”

Cooper wasn’t sure that there was anything that he could say that would help her to dial back, so he simply smiled back at her and squeezed her hand lightly, as he turned to see the King walking over to their corner of the room.

“Major Philips, you look ravishing this evening.  I’m both startled and gratified that this can happen.  It’s good to know that no matter how ugly we make the uniforms, women can’t help but to let their beauty shine through when they wear them.”

Lise uttered words of thanks which were barely audible as she tried not to meet the King’s gaze.

“However, there is still some business to discuss this evening.  Cooper, if I could have a private word with you?”

Cooper responded “Certainly.” and turned to the Marshall to offer his excuses, before following the King into his study.

As he walked in, a servant appeared, as if out of nowhere, and walked out through the entrance, shutting the door as he left.

The King stood behind a desk in the corner, and said “Cooper, I have a problem.”

Uncertain if he was a bit more loose than usual due to the day’s events, or the whisky he’d been sipping in the other room, Cooper responded “Your Majesty, you’re fighting a war against an enemy who loves death more than life, and what remains of my former country is about to become another front in that battle.  I’d say you have several problems.”  He immediately regretted the flippant nature of these words right after they left his lips, but if the King was offended, he didn’t show it, instead permitting himself to smile.

“Cooper, I know about you and Major Philips.” said the King, letting the implication of the statement sink in.

“Oh.” was the only response Cooper could muster.

“Oh?” asked the King.

“Well, to be fair, she thought you knew.  I guess she expects that the King’s eyes are really everywhere, and it would appear that I’ve been naive about that.”

“Those eyes are not in as many places as I’d like for the comfort and security of us all.”

“She’s convinced that her career is over, and that you, or more accurately, your subordinates, will take her career from her, and toss her in jail.”

“Is that what you want?”

Cooper stiffened, wondering what he could say.   After what felt like an eternity, he found himself saying “I understand the need for discipline and integrity in the work that we do, Your Majesty.”

“That wasn’t the question I asked.”

Cooper hesitated.  The King noted his obvious discomfort and volunteered “If there is to blame for Major Philips’ conduct, it rests with me, Cooper.”

Cooper’s eyes blinked, then narrowed as the unasked question clouded his face.  The King leaned back in the overstuffed chair and sighed.  “Cooper, I’m older than both you and the Major.  I’ve been reading her reports from the beginning, and if there is one thing I’ve known a lot longer than either of you, it’s that she’s been hopelessly in love with you almost from the start.  And I let it go, because I believed that it was actually adding to the insights spelled out in her reports.”

The King stood up, and walked over to the sideboard where a decanter half full of a clear, rich brown liquid sat, and he poured two finger’s worth into the pair of glasses sitting next to the decanter.  “And while I don’t expect that you will discuss everything that you and I speak about here this evening with her later tonight, I do expect you to tell the Major what I said about this being my fault and not hers.”  The King turned to face a stunned Cooper, and handed him one of the glasses.

“I’m sorry, Your Highness.  Am I to take it that the Major isn’t going to be cashiered out and sent to prison?”  Cooper stammered as he took the glass from the King.

The King could barely conceal his amusement.  “Is that what you want?” he asked, a mischievous smile dancing on his lips.  “Honestly, Cooper, I can’t believe how slow you’re being about this.  No.  She isn’t in any trouble at all. ” The King paused, then smirked.  “Let me correct myself.  She isn’t in any trouble with me.  She’s got you, and I suspect that will be the source of some…challenges.  But in that, she’ll be no different from any other wife.”

Cooper’s throat closed around the whisky he had just started to swallow, causing the burn of the alcohol to spread 365 degrees in his neck.  Coughing, Cooper choked out “Wife?“.  The King’s smile grew larger, and he laughed “Yes, “wife”.  I can’t very well have the head of my chaplain corps “living in sin”, now can I?”

“B-b-b-b-but…” Cooper stammered again.  The King took a sip of his whisky and said “I know, I know. “But I haven’t asked her.” is what you want to say.  Cooper, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  She’ll say “Yes.”  And it will be my pleasure to announce your engagement at dinner.”

Cooper, who had only just recovered some of his composure, jerked his gaze back toward the King.  “At DINNER?”

The King said “Of course.  I’ve already sent for a respected jeweler, and instructed him to bring rings in your price range, so you can pick one, and ask her before dinner.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’m aware of what you can afford, even if you’ve probably never given it a thought.  It has something to do with signing the checks, I suppose.”

Cooper remained silent as he took another pull on the whisky.

The King lifted his glass to his lips, and before taking another sip, he said, with a touch less volume, “And you should probably be married as soon as possible.  No longer than a week.  The way you two are, I expect you’re going to be a father again very soon.”

Cooper’s eyes bulged as it took all of his strength to keep from spitting out the drink he just started to sip.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I want to talk with you tonight, because as the song says, “Let us not talk falsely now, because the hour is getting late.”

Can we turn the lights down please?  I would rather that those who are watching have more reason to concentrate on my words, rather than the size of my pores which are being illuminated with the light of multiple suns.  Ahh, thank you.

*walks to the front of the stage, sits down on the edge with legs dangling off the side*

That’s better.

By now, I’m sure that you have all come to understand that an organization that calls itself “Islamic State” has declared war on the West, which includes US.  I know that there are no shortage of voices who will trip over each other in their hurry to tell you that IS represents an “extreme” or “militant” version of Islam, and still others who are just as eager to tell you that they don’t represent Islam at all.  Frankly, I’m going to leave it up to each one of you to make your own determination as to whether any of these voices are correct.  I’ve done my research.  I’ve noted certain patterns, and methods of operation.  But you, each of you, deserves the right and luxury of being able to make your own investigations, and draw your own conclusions, without the constant drumbeat of people who either don’t trust you to come to the correct conclusions, or cannot fathom of conclusions differing from their own without condemning them as some form of “-ism”, “bigotry”, or other object of “offense”, not worthy of consideration, and totally devoid of merit.

Tonight, and in the coming days of this election, you will hear candidates of all leanings, from both of the major parties who will tell you that if you will only elect them, they “will keep the Homeland safe.”

This is a lie.

The fact is that they can’t “keep us safe”.  The reason is two-fold.

First, too many of our nation’s resources have their gaze, and their suspicion fixed on American citizens, as part of an institutional culture that routinely rejects the sovereignty of individual Americans and regards the exercise of their sovereign rights as threats to the state…a state which is being morphed into an end of its own, rather than an expression of an ideal set forth in the Declaration of Independence.  This is why you will increasingly refer to “the Homeland”, rather than “America”, despite the fact that Americans need no “reminder”, subtle, or otherwise, that America is our home.  At the same time, we have trained those who are supposed to be looking out for our nation that we cannot possibly act in a prudent fashion to secure ourselves from external threats, or keep from transforming these external threats into internal ones.

Secondly, we face a foe which loves death more than they love life.  They are ruthless.  They are determined.  And they are patient.  This means that even if all of the government’s considerable resources were trained in the right direction, the odds are still against us, and successful attacks will succeed.

If we are to rely on only our own agency to combat this, then the only path to victory is a terrible resolve, to either make the death they love so horrifying, so terrible, that they will chose life in the alternative, or to fight this evil to every last man, woman, and yes, child, because they have enlisted even their own children in this conflict.

We are in a moment of decision, when we need to have clarity in our deliberation, and the wisdom to understand that leaders take responsibility not only for the successes of their subordinates, but for their failures as well.  While it is apparent to me that this should disqualify many of the candidates running for office, I understand the temptation to want to believe that a specific candidate who talks tough can be a savior.  The best leaders lead by example, and first, we need to actually elect a leader who believes in the American people, and who can remind them of their own genius, and their goodness, and inspire them to live them, rather than deferring to a government that is poorly equipped to assume a moral responsibility that runs contrary to too many of its own purposes.  For too long, we have compromised with evil, and clothed it in the mundane as we have made it part and parcel of our daily life.  This will lead some among us to believe that compromise is a laudatory and worthy goal, and will seek to make it happen.  The best outcome we can hope for with this is a temporary peace, and an arrogant complacency which will make us subject to an eventual defeat.

The election season is one that demands, and receives, a degree of suspension of disbelief that would be unthinkable in any other aspect of our lives.  We would never accept the brazen lies told to us by politicians from friends, co-workers, lovers, or family, and yet we expect it, hell, we want it from people who have continually demonstrated that they are utterly unworthy of our trust, which we freely give every time, like Charlie Brown expecting Lucy to not pull away the football.

We don’t need the puffery, the exaggerations, and the flat-out lies.
We don’t need someone who doesn’t like us to wag his finger and tell us who we are and who we aren’t, when he’s only interested in who he wants us to be.  We know who we are.  And we need a leader who is one of us, not someone who has contempt for who we are, and who cynically seeks to exploit us because that is who they are.  We just have to decide if we are going to chose a leader who represents our qualities, and if we want to win the conflict that is being brought to us, or if we will be “fundamentally transformed”, and chose to be the last ones eaten by the alligator.

Good night.

*fade to black*

 

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