Killing Lincoln

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard have made a killing on their series of “Killing” books: Killing Patton; Killing Reagan; Killing Jesus; Killing Lincoln; and Killing Kennedy.  I have read three of the five and am now on my fourth.  All I can say is “wow.”  Each of these books has been on the New York Times bestseller list.  And each has received favorable review.   

For me, Killing Lincoln was the most fascinating (65 weeks on the NY Times bestseller list; more than a million in print).  The reader is literally perched on a tree limb in some of the battle scenes.  He is a fly on the wall in the White House during meetings of consequence.  And she is a silent eyewitness to the tragic events that unfold at Ford’s Theater on that fateful Good Friday evening in 1865.  

As mentioned, I’m halfway through my fourth in the “series.”  And I’ve pre-ordered O’Reilly’s upcoming Killing the Rising Sun (also with Martin Dugard) which is due for release on September 13th.  If you’re looking for some armchair adventure – or a gift for a friend – you can’t go wrong with any of these offerings.  But my first pick – so far – is Killing Lincoln.       

Just Between Us Girls

In 1973, three men entered a small family-owned health food store in Evanston.   They pulled guns on the father, mother and 14 year old son. One man began pistol-whipping the mother viciously. Shattering her skull in several places. Another turned on the boy and brutally beat him. The father for some reason was left unharmed. The three took money, some product and wallets and walked out the front. They got into a car driven by a fourth man and drove away.  The mother and son were unconscious – the mother near death.

Two men were caught.  Isaiah S. pleaded guilty to armed robbery and attempted murder and was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison.  Darvie T. wanted to go to trial.  The case was assigned to Judge Saul Epton where I was tasked as an Assistant States Attorney.  We didn’t have much in the way of evidence against Darvie, so my partner and I decided to go talk to Isaiah – the one who plead guilty.  Early one Sunday morning, we drove with two Sheriff’s police to Stateville.  And we had a chat with Isaiah.

Long story short, Isaiah volunteered to testify against Darvie in exchange for a “reconsideration” of sentence.  No obligation.  We checked Isaiah out of Stateville and started the drive back to Chicago.  Isaiah was in the back of the squadrol – cuffed.  As we drove back from Stateville, Isaiah asked if he could “say something.”  “Sure Isaiah” we responded.   “Just between us girls, it wasn’t Darvie who was there — it was his brother.  But I’ll say anything you want.”  We talked and Isaiah volunteered the whole story.  Darvie was not one of the four.  But Isaiah was willing to testify against him.  On the chance of a more lenient sentence.  What to do?  There was no option.  

That Sunday afternoon, we brought Isaiah to Chicago Police HQ at 11th & State where he was on a polygraph for nearly five hours.  His story passed with flying colors.  Next day, when Darvie’s case was called, I just said “nolle” (nolle prosequi).  And the case was dismissed.  The right thing was done – for the right reason.  As was always the case.  

Oh – and Isaiah?  Yeah – we’d told him if he testified a judge might reconsider his sentence.  He had told the truth.  So we kept our word.  And his sentence dropped by a year at each end.  The right thing was done – for the right reason.  As was always the case. . . . .         

Alfred E. Neuman for President

As a kid, I was allowed to read “Walt Disney Comics & Stories” (the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck offerings).  Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker comics were okay too.  But Mad Magazine was strictly verboten.   I think my parents were afraid I was going to emulate – and turn out like – Alfred E. Neuman — the poster boy for Mad.   It made me all the more desirous of sneaking copies home and hiding them under my bed in the small – locked – toolbox where I hid enough Black Cat firecrackers, M-80’s and Cherry Bombs to take out Tehran.  I found Mad Magazine (launched in 1952) hysterical!  Still do.  The satire is classic.   

Alfred E. Neuman made his Mad Magazine debut in 1956.  His famous motto?  “What me worry?”  That same year, there was a write in campaign to have Alfred E. Neuman elected President.  His campaign slogan was “You could do worse. . . . and always have.”  With our current Presidential choices, I may just vote for Alfred E. Neuman.  He’s definitely smarter.   And doesn’t have the baggage.  Either that or I will vote for my dog Daisy.  Daisy is loyal, has integrity, doesn’t bite and is house trained.  It’s really a toss up.  Seriously. . . .

How About It?

Earlier this week, I went to the local fitness center. Nothing heroic. A little Stairmaster and some weights. In the locker room, there’s a guy shaving. He’s got the water running full tilt. He turns around and talks.  Minutes drag by.  Water runs.  Quarts.  Gallons.  He never rinses his razor except at the end.  So clean, safe water just pours out.  Going into the sewer.   Every time I see him – and a few others – it’s the same thing.  Good water.  Wasted.   

Clean, safe drinking water is abundant for those reading this post.  But friends, clean, safe drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce in our world.  Look at Africa.  Flint,  Michigan.  Drought in California.

I have posted before on my idea — JUST TURN IT OFF (see July 23, 2011, and May 1, 2014).   It’s a registered trademark.  I own the domain name.  And I’ve circulated cards bearing this admonition.  But I’d like to do more.  And for you to do more too.  And there’s no heavy lifting.

Water is precious.  Rather than leaving it run – JUST TURN IT OFF.  And turn it on as needed.  Save a gallon for the future.

In the shower, turn on the water then JUST TURN IT OFF and soap down.  Then turn it on to rinse and enjoy the hot water.  Save gallons for your children.  And their children. 

Electricity burns fuel.  Fuel generation causes pollution.  When not using a light in your home – JUST TURN IT OFF – and make a difference.     

This is like recycling.  Saving trees.  Reducing carbon emissions.  Saving a gallon of water a day is not much.  But – just think if everyone did it. . . . .