What I Learned on the Campaign Trail

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images-6I did a lot of Hillary canvassing this year. I had to, in order to stay at least borderline sane. There is something comforting in going door-to-door, with simple questions — Are you registered? Have you decided? Will you vote? Have you voted? — as Election Day approaches.

Grand strategy and weighty policy positions are important. But it’s the ground-game that does the gritty job. In our post-election wake, organizers said that Hillary’s victory margin in Colorado was largely attributable to the canvass effort. Consolation, though small.

At my advanced age, it’s an open question whether I’ll be able to pound pavements and climb stairs four years hence when Elizabeth Warren or Kristen Gillibrand challenges Trump. So, it’s vital to share lessons learned:

Dogs: With a dog at-home ratio of one-in-two, and humans only one-in-six, you are more likely to be bitten than punched. Don’t take the yapping personally. They sound like Trump supporters, but they can’t vote … yet.

Dog Owners: At least they know you’re there, even if the doorbell is broken or your first knock was inaudible. They’re usually apologetic. Use that advantage to press home your message. You may have to shout.

Doorbells: A recent study shows that Democrats’ doorbells are twice as likely to be broken as Republicans’. If you can’t hear the ding-dong, assume the worst and knock. No one’s going to admit they heard you the first time, but ignored you.

Knocking: Since most doors require a hard knock (the majority of Democrats’ door-knockers also do not work), be sure occasionally to give your favored knocking hand a break. The Party wants to shed its bloody-knuckles image.

Holding Your Clipboard: Alternating your knocks means shifting your clipboard from hand-to-hand. Now, your knocking-hand is holding and your holding-hand is knocking. In that confused state, and considering all the rest you have to remember in order not to fall down the stairs, concentrate especially on your name. If you can remember that, the rest is easy.

Holding Your Clipboard in a Windstorm: Your clipboard contains all your contact pages, which you must regularly remove from the top and re-insert at the bottom; plus reams of promotional material you are expected to slide, hang, stuff, or wedge. Your clipboard is briefly very vulnerable. One gust at the wrong moment could get you nine months for littering. Be exceptionally careful; better yet, ask to be reassigned to a large, non-gusty, apartment building.

Large Apartment Buildings: Getting through the lobby door is the challenge. Fortunately,images-1 Democrats tend to live in buildings with broken front-door locks and laid-back tenants. If only for that reason, I’m glad I’m a Democrat.

No Soliciting Signs: When canvassers swap stories after-hours, the biggest laugh-getter is the No Soliciting sign, the canvassing equivalent of the Do Not Block This Intersection sign. Ignore it but, on the very slim chance you do get yelled at, apologize and go immediately to a different floor or neighboring house, and continue your rounds unafraid. The Party has very good lawyers.

Keep Yourself Well-Watered: It does the campaign no good to have canvassers collapsing at people’s front doors (though the possibility of a sympathy vote shouldn’t be dismissed). Carry a water bottle. But be judicious. Having finally gained entry to a buttoned-up building, there is nothing more self-defeating than sacrificing it all for a pee.

Keep Yourself Well-Peed: Pee if you must. The Party may be rigorous taskmasters, but they don’t want to lose their troops to kidney failure. Before you start, have a pee-plan — the nearest Starbucks, a gas station, a 7/11. But don’t let your guilt at using their facilities induce you to buy a coffee or a Slurpee, which will keep you on an endless urinary merry-go-round and could cost the Party votes.

imagesAbove All, Have Fun: Most people are pretty nice, and some really appreciate what you’re doing. Even if it was only one vote that, otherwise, wouldn’t have gone our way, You Made a Difference!

God Loves Baseball …

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images

… and, it seems, He follows it religiously. Otherwise, why would all those players kiss their finger-tips and, gazing beatifically, point toward heaven after a decisive home run or a rally-ending third strike?

You don’t see this in hockey, basketball, football, or soccer, where God must be watching, at least for form’s sake, since He is present in all things.

Perhaps God loves baseball more.

It’s possible. He’d have to be inhuman not to be thrilled by a pitch as fast as a race car; a leap above the outfield wall to pick off a home run; an infielder’s graceful double-play pirouette at second. Why else but for love of The Game would He have created Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, and Ernie Banks (but not Pete Rose or Alex Rodriguez)?

It seems, too, that God doesn’t simply watch. He intervenes. What’s more, so our worshipful players seem to be saying, He takes sides, blessing the stalwart home run hitter and damning the errant pitcher, even though both are equally His creatures.

How could this be? After all, this is not a case of good vs. evil (unless you’re a Red Sox fan and the Yankees are involved).

Some argue that God isn’t really taking sides. In a perfectly just world, He will, in time, bless the victimized pitcher with a crucial strikeout just as He may make the once-proud home run hitter the victim of this very strikeout. And, since pitcher and hitter are simply parts of a larger game, God assures equity by seeing to it that, at the end of the season, the combined wins of all the teams exactly equal their combined losses. What could be fairer?

Others, however, question this reasoning, asking how, but for His malign intervention, could the Cubs and Indians have gone more than a combined 160 years without winning a World Series? And, though one of them must win the 2016 Series, He still took an unconscionably long time to bend the arc of the universe toward justice!

This brings us to the question whether, beyond individual instances, God favors those players who demonstratively thank Him for His blessing over those who do not. In the long run, do the former hit more home runs or toss more strikeouts than the latter?

Statisticians have investigated and come to a startling conclusion: no matter what the measure (batting average, home run total, pitching wins and losses, earned run average and the like), players who publicly praise Him rank significantly below those who do not.

Interestingly, players in the higher-ranking group include those who credit Him, but privately, and those who credit themselves, even the publicly boastful chest-thumpers.

In other words, God uniquely punishes those who publicly credit Him with their success. If He is just, why would this be so?

Theories abound: God is not pleased to have His obsession with baseball made public; He feels he must counter the assumption that He is biased; He wants to make it clear that, in the 2016 World Series, though He wants justice for both teams, only one of them can escape its sad history.

No one knows for sure, though there is a growing body of opinion that, in those whounknown publicly attribute their personal success to Him, God sees, not modesty, but a kind of juvenile pridefulness (God loves Me best!), and THIS REALLY PISSES HIM OFF!

America the Beeeautiful

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My dedicated reader knows that I am not fond of The Star Spangled Banner. I have long unknownwished we could substitute America the Beautiful, which has a nice, singable tune, and celebrates aspects of America — especially its extraordinary physical beauty — that all of us, whatever our ethnicity, gender identity, race, creed, or political persuasion, might agree on.

Be cautious what you wish for! I was excited to learn recently that Donald Trump, seemingly agreeing with my sentiment, intends to make America the Beautiful our national anthem when he becomes president, and that he, too, finds the theme of extraordinary physical beauty compelling. His interpretation, however, is slightly different, as his changes in the words suggest:

O beeeautiful for spacious thighs, for Amber, Dawn, and Jane,
For nippled mountains’ majesties above their “fruited plain!”
America! America!  god shed his grace on Me
And crown My good with all things nude, from she to shining she.

O beeeautiful for pretty feet that, with impassioned stress,
Upon My chest divinely beat, while I look up their dress.
America! America! god bless Me, without flaw.
Confirm My soul, but don’t control, My liberty! My law!

O beeeautiful for bimbos proved more luscious than My wife,
Who more than self their master loved and foreplay more than life!
America! America! May god My gold refine
Till My success be happiness and every gain be Mine!

beeeautiful, voluptuous dream that sees beyond the years.
Mine alabaster cities gleam, and damn the human tears!
America! America! god shed his grace on Me
And crown My good with plenitude from Me to shining Me.

If nothing else influences your vote on November 8, think of what you might be forced toimages stand and sing at the beginning of the next ballgame!

 

Agony Anthem Revisited

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th-5The I Did It My Way version of our National Anthem causes me pain. I dutifully stand, eyes closed, victimized. I want to sit, with my fingers in my ears, but haven’t the courage. My coward’s refuge has been my seniors’-night-out fictional alter-egos, whose booing set off a riot at a local hockey game as a student group lacerated the Scar Strangled Banger (Agony Anthem; October, 2011).

When I first heard of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit out the National Anthem at an NFL football game, I cheered, fleetingly imagining an aesthetic ally. When I learned the real motivation — his protest at America’s treatment of African-Americans — I realized I was wrong.

But was he wrong?th-3

He certainly raised a whirlwind! How could he dishonor the two great symbols of our country — our flag and our anthem? How could he so disrespect those who defend the freedoms these symbols represent? How could he threaten football’s hallowed place in the American psyche?

In an on-line vote that The Denver Post publishes daily with, at most, a few thousand responses, its question about Kaepernick’s action got over 62,000 responses, about 80% of them negative.

Condemnation, however, was not universal. Some pointed out that, by taking so public and controversial an action, he was, simply and courageously, exercising America’s most fundamental right — free speech — whose protection, especially of controversial speech, our flag and anthem symbolize.

In following weeks, other football players joined Kaepernick’s protest, kneeling rather than sitting, a new posture Kaepernick also adopted.

Kaepernick was not wrong to sit, and he and his fellow players were, subsequently, not wrong to kneel, just as the majority — players and fans alike — were not wrong to remain standing. All were exercising their rights and contributing to a lively debate that is the essence of free speech.

However, their choices, all of them, came with limitations. Sitting does differentiate the sitter from the standing majority, but its implication is passive opting out. Kneeling, too, differentiates the kneeler from the standee, but its symbolism of subservience is probably not the message these protesters would want to send. Standing is strong, but, like sitting, leaves little room for nuance.

There is a possible compromise: the crouch. The croucher is a standee with attitude, moving down into the middle ground, symbolizing neither apathy nor fanaticism, but rather a give-and-take attitude that is the catalyst of democracy. The croucher can dip to whatever level is appropriate to the occasion — bending the knees slightly to signal agreement but with reservation, or hunkering all the way down in a posture of strong, but not absolute, dissent.

Exceptions, like recent knee- or hip-replacements, would be accommodated. Partisans at either extreme would still have the right either to stand tall or sit tight. But the rest should be pleased at the chance for a more accurate, calibrated expression of the moderate views most of us hold. Stronger thighs and better balance are an added bonus.

I can report favorably from personal experience. Recently, I gave a crouching ovation to a performance of The Glass Menagerie, voicing my reservations at its fevered overwriting and the lead’s mannered acting, but still applauding the other actors, who triumphed over the play’s weaknesses.

th-4I was relieved not to have to sit defiantly as all about me rose to their feet, but, standing at half-mast, to be able to express my divided emotions and, by the way, getting the kinks out of legs stiff from sitting through a very long play.

I have recommended my solution to Mr. Kaepernick as a way to remain standing while expressing his views with a deep knee-bend that, by the way, should help keep him warmed up for what really counts.

I’m expecting a response any day now.

Exodus

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thIf Mother Earth is trying to tell us something about our tenancy here, she has lately been whispering rather than shouting. But we shouldn’t mistake her meaning.

In early September 2016, Hurricane Hermine spared our Gulf and Atlantic coasts major devastation. But, to the attentive, Hermine demonstrated what might otherwise have been lost in a more ferocious storm: with rising sea-levels endemic, it will take less and less outside intervention to make these areas uninhabitable.

In about the same time frame, in Colorado, full reservoirs from an above-average snow season got us through a drought-stricken summer. But, to the attentive, the situation demonstrated how little it would take to tilt the balance toward a major crisis.

Climate scientists advise us not to be distracted by big-weather events, no single one of which can be conclusively attributed to climate change. Rather, we should keep our eye on matters, like rising sea-levels and long-term droughts, that provide slowly-accumulating evidence, more conclusively linked to global warming.

In the debate over mankind’s influence on climate change, what is demonstrably happening in the air, in the water, and on whatever land is left to us, is all that really matters.  And it is when and how we abandon homes that can no longer sustain us, where we seek refuge, and how we rebuild our lives that will determine our fate.

Here in America, decisions will need to be made. East Coasters will have to start thinking about what they’ll do and where they’ll go if … when … the Liberty Bell is a National Maritime Park exhibit, a safe Senate seat is a raft, and Boston is Boston Harbor.

Seventy years ago, California would have been the favored destination of these refugees. But, if the drought there continues, the roads will be blocked by reverse Okies fleeing a new Dust Bowl.

Colorado, where I live, could be a popular alternative destination — pleasant climate, beautiful scenery, booming economy, and (at least under current conditions) enough water for all … barely. But, even absent a natural drought, it wouldn’t take too many net immigrants to tip the balance toward a man-made disaster.

If we Coloradans don’t build a wall (which I proposed once I had moved here), we too may be forced onto the road. Where would we go? Maybe Detroit. There’s a lot of cheap real estate, and it’s 600 feet above sea level, with plenty of fresh water and no tornados or hurricanes. Much the same is true of almost any Rust Belt city within a hundred miles of a Great Lake.

This is not to mention how the rest of the world will fare. If the current migration situation is any indication, Europe, the Middle East and Africa are going to have a tough time of it. But that’s their problem. We shouldn’t let ourselves be distracted.

Mother, we are truly sorry about how we’ve treated you. But it would be really helpful ifth-1 you could, for the time being, spare us major natural disasters and possibly even sort of clear the way, like with the Israelites and the Red Sea. At least, then, we’d have time to get a bag packed and the front door closed.

Hugs All Around

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UnknownWhen you dye your hair steel-grey, as American star swimmer Ryan Lochte did for the 2016 Rio Olympics, people might wonder where you got those big blue eyes and that little tiny mind.

And then there was the sequel: the drunken escapade, the petty vandalism, the robbed-at-gunpoint claim, the proven lie, the non-apology apology, the loss of all those lucrative sponsorships.

It struck me hard. Not that I particularly care about Lochte, but I worry about the American male, and shudder at the renaissance of the idiot-hero that the noteworthy success of a mature, controlled Michael Phelps seemed to have vanquished.

Struck hard, but not without hope and a cunning plan:

Elsewhere in the Olympics, an American woman — Abbey D’Agostino — showed that being a world-class athlete does not exclude being a world-class human being.

You may recall that, in a heat for the 5,000 meter race, D’Agostino was tripped up when the runner in front of her — New Zealander Nikki Hamblin — stumbled. The two stopped to help each other and hugged before they proceeded to the finish, Hamblin across the line uninjured, D’Agostino, hobbling to dead last and collapsing into a wheelchair. They hugged again and, the following day, D’Agostino, in the crowd, cheered her former rival.

D’Agostino could teach Lochte a thing or two (assuming he is teachable). She should focus on hugging, in which, by my unofficial count, our women took 85% of the American team’s golds, more or less mirroring their official count of almost 60% of the actual American gold haul.

You might think that, even with the best teachers, guys simply don’t have the hormonal wherewithal to be gold-medal huggers. You might believe that hugging is the culmination, not the beginning, of grueling, lifelong empathy-training.

You might, but you’d be wrong. Guys, if you’ve ever engaged a friend, or even a rival, in a genuine hug, you know the endorphin rush it produces, one that no manly handshake can ever equal. From hugging can come empathy. Call it reverse-engineering, but it works.

And there’s more than mere emotional gratification in being a gold-medal hugger. There’s also victory. Consider the contrast between the American women’s gold-medal victory, and the men’s humiliating disqualification, in their respective 4×100 meter relays.

Both teams had amazingly gifted athletes, with the best training. The sliver of difference may have been a crucial empathy deficit among the men. I can only speculate, but there clearly was a disconnect between the last two runners that might, if they had been in mental/emotional synch, have been avoided and at least have allowed them to finish theUnknown-1 race, and almost certainly win at least the bronze that was stripped from them.

It isn’t ESP and it isn’t magic. Even Ryan Lochte may be teachable. Who better than Abbey D’Agostino to convince him that a hug is better than a shrug?!

Naming Rites

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cartoon_circus_huckster_CoolClips_cart0666If only we had put our foot down when San Diego sacrificed Jack Murphy Stadium to the dark forces of Qualcomm, and especially when Cleveland capitulated to the smarmy hucksterism of Quicken Loans Arena, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

The annoying scab that had been limited to stadiums and arenas became a full-blown infection in the State formerly known as Texas (because of copyright restrictions, we can only refer to the former state in this way, and will use the acronym SfkaT for simplicity). It was 2018, when, you may recall, the SfkaT hit the wall, narrowly avoiding a Congressional vote to expel it from the U.S., and then filing for bankruptcy.

Years and years of anti-tax politics had virtually emptied the state treasury, and virulent anti-Federal Government sentiment guaranteed that Washington, though reluctant to push it into the arms of Mexican drug lords, would not bail it out.

That was when, in a remarkable development, Mark Zuckerberg purchased the naming rights to the state for a billion dollars and renamed it Facebook (name used with copyright owner’s permission).

Zuckerberg’s move caught the attention of other states, the next of which to get renamed was the Sfka Mississippi, which went for $1,999.99, and is now known as NASCAR (permission, as above).

This second case raised a storm, not just because of the exceptionally high cost relative to the state’s actual value, but because Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee filed suit, objecting that NASCAR’s (the organization’s, not the state’s) copyright restrictions on the former state name unfairly deprived Scripps of the free use of a vital spelling word. (The judge threw the suit out, citing as precedent previous dismissal of a suit brought by America’s elementary school teachers against Scripps for copyrighting the term spelling bee.)

Soon, others jumped on the bandwagon: the Sfka Connecticut (now Aetna), the Sfka Nevada (Caesar’s Palace), the Sfka Arkansas (Tyson’s Chicken Nuggets) (all permissions, as above), and others.

But regional pride and patriotism began to turn against this crass commercialism, in spite of the obvious truth that corporate sponsorship was the only way to pay for new streetlight bulbs and police services.

With an impasse looming, Missouri made the first breakthrough, insisting on retaining its historic name, but willing to sell its license-plate slogan — The Show Me State — to Hollywood, as The Show Me the Money State.

As before, others followed: Idaho and Minnesota made subtle, but immensely profitable, switches, Idaho inserting Ore-Ida in the middle of its Great Potatoes slogan, and Minnesota shortening Land of 10,000 Lakes to a simpler Land o’Lakes.

However, this naming-rights tide also began to ebb, especially in revulsion atUnknown-1 Massachusetts’ agreement to add an s to The Spirit of America in exchange for fifty-million bucks from Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and ultimately dried up after New York capitulated to major league baseball arbiters’ bribe, and became The Umpire State.

A Bear Leaps Out of the Woods …

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… grabbing my right arm just as my fishing line goes taut. Undaunted, I shift the pole to my leftimages hand while pummeling the brute with my right, when, out of the deep, the glorious Rainbow at the end of my line explodes from the stream, catching the first rays of the rising sun as he arcs, and, somersaulting back toward the ice-cold waters, insolently ejects my fly, leaving me forty feet of slack line, the eternal image of living quicksilver, an ineffable sense of loss, and a still-unresolved bear problem.

This kind of supercharged literary fodder is a staple of adventure novels and outdoorsman’s mags. But what works there would be inappropriate in the hushed precincts of, say,

The Wall Street Journal:

We’re sinking, we’re sinking! All hands on deck! We’ve got to pump, damn it, we’ve got to pump!’ cries sweat-soaked Janet Yellen from the bridge to her beleaguered Federal Reserve crew as they struggle valiantly against a third straight month of plummeting job figures.

Or Optometry – Journal of the American Optometric Association:

Rigid in the chair, my head gripped by a diabolical contraption of metal and glass, I fight desperately to make the two tiny red points of light converge, only to be assaulted by the letter E, backward, upside-down, downside-up, then the maddening pressure to decide, ‘Which is clearer, this (click) or this? Well, which (click) is it? Come on (click) come on, dammit! Spill your guts!’

Just as disorienting would be picking up Sports Illustrated and reading:

A wooden slab — ash — carefully lathed and polished into a 38-inch cylinder, which, just above the knob at one end, gradually increases in diameter from slightly more than an inch to approximately four inches at its far extremity.

A spheroid with a circumference of approximately 3.75 x 3.14159 inches, made from a rubberized cork core, wrapped with yarn, over which are sewn two interlocking figure-eight pieces of cowhide.

These are the implements — a baseball bat and a ball — with which, on April 8, 1974, in Atlanta, Georgia, Henry Louis Aaron surpassed the home run record of George Herman Ruth.

Or Rodeo News, and finding:

Billy Joe Collins, 28, of Fowler, Colorado, while riding a bull at the El Paso (CO) County Fair’s annual rodeo yesterday, remained seated for 3.7 seconds subsequent to egress from the chute. During that time, the bull executed two leaps, one reaching 4.8 feet off the ground, with a clockwise spin of 98 degrees, the second — counterclockwise — 3.45 feet and 122 degrees, which rendered Mr. Collins airborne for 2.3 seconds, during which time he reached an altitude of 8.4 feet above the arena surface and underwent a multi-planar spin that measured 345 degrees on the vertical axis and 270 degrees on the horizontal. Mr. Collins complained of not feeling well following his return to earth.

ap080422048811_c0-147-3504-2189_s326x190When we read The National Enquirer, we expect exhibition wrapped in invention. When we read George Will, we expect erudition wrapped in condescension. It’s all in the context.

How to Make a Fascist Stew

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Unknown1. Take a large slab of economy, pound vigorously until soft. With a very sharp knife, divide into two segments — two-thirds/one-third. Set aside the two-thirds segment (see below at **), dice the remaining one-third into very small pieces, sear them to a crisp in a very hot skillet, and put into a pot. In roughly equal amounts, add academic failure, ethnic tension, job loss, race hatred, and religious bigotry. According to taste, sprinkle in fear, rumor, loathing, ignorance, innuendo, incitement. Cook slowly, stirring energetically until the mixture bubbles. Maintain at this heat, stirring occasionally. When not stirring the pot, keep the lid on tight. Sample regularly until desired taste is achieved. Serves millions (however, individual portions may be very very small).  

** Gently cut the remaining two-thirds segment into silver-platter-size portions. Carefully barbecue over a mesquite fire, et voila, you have ‘La Part du Lion.’ Goes especially well with anything that sounds French. Serves a select few. Bon appetit!

Additional Notes: Fascist Stew, in one form or another, goes back to pre-history, among clans, tribes, and sects. The currently popular recipe was perfected by German and Italian chefs in the early-mid 20th century, and given a uniquely American savor in the post-Civil War South. In recent decades, it slipped in popularity, but has returned to favor in America, the Middle East, and even Europe (especially Russia). History suggests it will continue this cycle until the human era comes to an end.

2. Looked at slightly differently, there are a number of other ways to make a genuine Fascist stew, if not quite burst into flame:

Let women vote.

Elect an African-American President.

Hug a Mexican in public. Hug a Muslim in public. Hug a Mexican Muslim in public.

Buy anything made in China.

Hug an IRS official in public.images

Elect a woman President.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Server

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UnknownYou may recall that, not long ago, I offered advice to Ammon Bundy shortly before he and his followers occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon (Uncivil Disobedience; January 12, 2016). I felt I had to publicize my advice, lest I be blamed if things went to hell, which they did.

A few years before this, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton contacted me for advice on the advisability of setting up a private e-mail server. Yet again, I feel I must publicize my advice, lest I be blamed for what has gone at least half-way to hell.

Here are some of my observations:

At State Department, you will lead, and will depend on, a corps of officers who have survived a maze of tests and interviews, plus a rigorous security screening, and who would be fired if they mishandled classified information, whether intentionally or carelessly. Would they understand their boss’s being held to a lesser standard?

Such a seemingly benign system could tempt you to use your hand-held device compulsively andUnknown-2 publicly. Would Americans understand their Secretary of State’s looking like a teen-aged Facebook addict?

You have said that the server would be given the highest possible level of protection. No matter whom you engage to provide that protection, would a server associated with the U.S. Secretary of State escape our adversaries’ notice and interest, and could it be protected against their extraordinary hacking capabilities?

Would your husband have access to the system? Is there a use to which he might put it that could be an embarrassment? Even if the system could be protected against our adversaries, are you confident it could be protected against his determined attempt to use it for his purposes?

Even if our adversaries hacked the system and discovered nothing of normal intelligence value, is it likely they would refrain from revealing its existence for the very harm it could do to your image and credibility?

Unknown-1Or, if they chose not to reveal its existence, would it not be because they were gaining insight into your personality, your interests, your values, your decision-making process, which, in toto, might be worth almost as much as official intelligence?

You have said the server would be located in the basement of your private home. Have you checked for radon? Are the walls sealed against rising damp? Does your maid do the laundry there? Does the meter-reader have access? Do either or both of them speak Russian?

If made public, would your action fuel rumors that it was designed to evade public requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act? If so, could that, too, harm your image and credibility?

Conclusion: I recommend against proceeding with these plans. Instead, you might employ carrier pigeons,stock-photo-57890816-pigeons a system so old-fashioned that no one could possibly imagine that that bird, strutting and puffing on a window-ledge at the Waldorf, was on any mission other than free sex. Also, you could augment security protection by writing your messages in Pig-Latin, an encryption system so dated, yet so cunning, that no cryptographer younger than 75 could possibly unsnarl it.