A FABULOUSLY INTERESTING day here in Sandpoint. Tim Farmin and I got into my rented silver-gray Chrysler and drove to Priest River, roughly 25 miles away. It is a logging town where I know some pleasant people. We were headed for the Priest River Gun Show. The drive along the Pendoreille River was inspiring, as always: immense water views, forests, sheer cliffs, meadowlands. Just a few cars on Route 200. It endlessly amazes me that there are not more sightseers along that magnificent highway.
The gun show was in the gymnasium of Priest River Junior High, a great ’30s-’40s structure with block lettering of what I guess was Art Moderne style. The gun sellers and purveyors of knives and humorous memorabilia were amazingly cheerful. One of them opened the festivities by saying, “Here’s my favorite economist.” They could hardly believe I was there and I could hardly believe I was there. The highlighted weapon was a .50 caliber sniper rifle, the kind that the military uses in Iraq (I guess formerly) and now uses occasionally in Afghanistan. It was a beast. “You could kill coked up al-Qaeda behind a brick wall with this,” said Tim.
There were many other guns, but the show was smaller than I thought it would be. The coolest part was a display of switchblade knives like the ones that the bad kids pulled on James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and some other punk pulled on Glenn Ford in Blackboard Jungle. (I think that some of the actors in that movie went on to become quite famous.)
I bought a couple of knickknacks for Tim and me. I also bought a ton of brownies and cupcakes from some lovely ladies who were selling baked goods. “These were baked with love by a 94-year-old woman,” said the elderly lady who sold me my 40 brownies. I cannot wait to go back next year.
Then, after testing how many brownies I could eat, Tim and I headed rapidly back to Sandpoint to pick up Alex and our pals, Ray and Jeanne Lucia, who are staying with us at Seasons, the world’s most wonderful resort condo development.
We raced to the East, to Clark Fork, Idaho, to the Calvary Chapel. Sara Weaver, daughter of Randy Weaver and his martyred wife, Vicki, sister of her martyred brother, Sam, and mistress of the innocent dog, Striker, a woman who saw her mother’s head blown apart by an FBI sniper FOR NO REASON, 21 years ago in the nearby glade of Ruby Ridge, was giving a speech. It was very well attended in a modern Christian chapel with many crosses all around. They were spare wooden crosses in a spare dry-walled but immensely soul-supporting room.
The speech was preceded by a lengthy video narrated by William Shatner, which told the story of how the feds had entrapped an innocent man in a long siege, beginning with the killing of Vicki and Sam and Striker and the very sad death of a federal marshal named Mr. Deegan, and ending with the surrender to 400 heavily armed feds of one wounded man, Randy, one almost terminally wounded man, Kevin Harris, who had been the shooter of Mike Deegan, and two children.
It took the very skillful negotiating of Bo Gritz to get the siege to end. Then it took one of the best lawyers in all of history, Gerry Spence, to get Randy acquitted, along with Kevin. Now it’s been 21 years and this is the first time Sara has spoken in North Idaho. She was extremely emotional about it and so were we in the audience.
We all gave her a standing ovation (I was the first to stand) and then she spoke about how Jesus had brought healing and forgiveness into her heart, allowing her to go on with her life. She had been bound with anger and depression, but when she was able to forgive, she felt free. She said that only Jesus could have given her that gift of freedom.
I am bound to say that I simply loved her and her speech. It was powerful, uplifting, and deeply enriching of the human spirit.
She was followed by her husband, who was also a fine speaker. But one of our group was feeling a bit sick from travel, so we had to leave before I could get my question in to Sara: Could it happen again? We all know it could. The MSM media was feeding us such a bunch of BS about how the Weavers were Nazis (they never were even remotely Nazis), how there was an army of ultra-right-wing armed nuts and booby traps everywhere…and the government believed it. The FBI actually drastically changed its rules of engagement for the first time ever to tell its marksmen that they could shoot to kill anyone they saw—not just persons who were armed and threatening. This was unheard of and unprovoked. The Weavers had not started this fight: The government did.
The group at Calvary Chapel was a fine crowd and the minister was inspiring. I don’t doubt that I will be back there again. They had laid out a fantastic spread of cupcakes (the local baked delicacy) to serve as desserts but we had to leave before the eating began.
Sara noted several times that this was her first time back to North Idaho since her mother and brother were killed at Ruby Ridge, between Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, and the end of the siege.
Please don’t get me wrong. I love law enforcement. They do incredibly dangerous work minute by minute and do it superbly and never get enough credit. But at Ruby Ridge, the feds screwed up badly. Just so you know.
After we left the dusty parking lot of Calvary Chapel, we drove through the dusk to Ivano’s Del Lago, where there were no bees. We sat by a window and looked out at the darkling lake. The orange lights along Dana Martin’s dock were the only illumination on the deck save for candles on the tables.
We were all in a sobered mood after Sara Weaver’s speech, and I especially after the death of my cousin, Jeffrey Weiss. But our food was grand and there was a cheery atmosphere at the bar near our table, and we left feeling buoyed by our own company and by the lake and the message of forgiveness.
When we stepped out in the back to get the car, we were dazzled by the bright stars. More stars, more distinct stars, than I have ever seen before. Lit up better than a planetarium. Just swell. The Milky Way was like an immense but thin cloud over our heads. Even in Malibu I could not see stars like that.
When we got home, I watched Gatsby for the 18th time, and then went to bed. Out of my window, I could see those same bright stars, the brightest I have ever seen, one of the innumerable gifts that God has given to us—and the power of forgiveness is among the most mighty. I went to sleep with a smile on my face, I think.
ANOTHER GLORIOUS DAY here in Sandpoint. By the way, I hope people have realized who got us all screwed up over Syria. It was our next president, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was secretary of state when the Syrian rebellion started. She was the one who told Obama to butt out when U.S. intervention in even a small way would have meant victory by moderate rebels. She made sure the struggle got so intense that at the end it was only the two last rats standing—Assad and al Qaeda—so that no choice was a good choice for the U.S. Hillary Clinton, architect of Benghazi, major liar before Congress, always looks a bit under the weather. The thought of her as president is terrifying. Obama is like Marcus Aurelius compared to Hillary.
I don’t dislike what Obama is doing now, asking Congress to vote for an attack on Syria. It is high time the war-making power went to where it’s supposed to be: in Congress. Yes, Obama made a foolish mistake with his “red line” threats. But now he’s acting sensibly even though he’s eating crow.
And—to be fair—we have learned to be very cautious about rashly entering wars in the Moslem world. Yes, Assad is a mass murderer. But killing him would only make for more troubles. Maybe we really should just arm the “moderate” Syrian rebels with .50 cal machine guns and not use cruise missiles. Or maybe we should—at this late stage—just stay out. Let’s stay out for a few years until we have an adequate national defense.
It’s all way too much for me. I do know that every day we are killing about 2,500 completely innocent babies through abortion. Let’s close down the abortion mills if we really believe in protecting innocent life. Okay, enough on that for a moment.
Ray and I took a lovely walk on the beach. We passed by dozens of well-wishers who wanted photos or wanted to ask me questions. What fun. We met adorable high school girls at the refreshments stand. I want to be back in high school and have some cute girlfriend. Junior high school would be even better. But I was a tremendous goofball nerd. There was no reason at all any girl would like me. Incredibly, one girl, Bunni Serbin, and another girl, Susan Jacobs, did like me. Gosh, they were charitable.
I didn’t really become cool until I became a member of the Columbia chapter of Alpha Delta Phi and had a really cool girlfriend. We had parties like small-scale versions of the ones in the 2013 movie of The Great Gatsby. In high school, I was not anywhere near cool enough to deserve a beautiful heartthrob. Anyway, I have made up for it in a huge way by having a simply perfect wifey.
Well, after that walk, we took my old pal, S. and her fiancé, L. to an early dinner at Bottle Bay. S. is a teacher at a high school in a northwestern city. Incredibly, she is employed to teach ONE GIRL, a single mother, how to keep house. Not math. Not geography. Not constitutional law. Not history. She’s teaching one girl, a single mother, how to make a meal and make a bed. The taxpayers are paying for this. Plus, the school has a state-of-the-art child care center for ONE CHILD. This is amazing. The generosity of the taxpayer is magnificent. We can pay for this nonsense but we cannot pay for an adequate national defense? How crazy we have become. Billions for day care but not enough to defend the nation.
After dinner, I had a call from my pal X, a prisoner in a southwestern state. I asked him how his daily life was. “It’s like being in Somalia,” he said. “No one has a machine gun but everyone has a sharp little shiv.”
X is the kindest, nicest guy on the planet. For him to be in prison is just plain state sadism. There is a lot of sorrow in the world and governments make way too many mistakes. Small government, small problems. Big government, big problems.
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