Robert Mueller

Reading up on him on Wikipedia:

He went on to study at Princeton University (receiving an A.B. in 1966), where he continued to play lacrosse; he has cited his teammate David Spencer Hackett’s death in the Vietnam War as an influence on his decision to pursue military service. Hackett was a Marine Corps First Lieutenant in the infantry and was killed in 1967 by small arms fire.

Mueller earned an M.A. in international relations from New York University in 1967 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973, where he served on the Virginia Law Review.

Mueller enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1968, attending officer candidate school, Army Ranger School and Army jump school. He then served as an officer leading a rifle platoon of the 3rd Marine Division during the Vietnam War; he eventually became aide-de-camp to 3rd Marine Division’s commanding general. He received the Bronze Star, two Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

If my friend was killed in Vietnam I don’t think my reaction would be I should go to Vietnam.

Impressive man.



Source: giphy



From the Heritage Foundation, about as conservative as it gets:

Similarly, the Framers intended the Emoluments Clause to protect the republican character of American political institutions. “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” The Federalist No. 22 (Alexander Hamilton). The delegates at the Constitutional Convention specifically designed the clause as an antidote to potentially corrupting foreign practices of a kind that the Framers had observed during the period of the Confederation. Louis XVI had the custom of presenting expensive gifts to departing ministers who had signed treaties with France, including American diplomats. In 1780, the King gave Arthur Lee a portrait of the King set in diamonds above a gold snuff box; and in 1785, he gave Benjamin Franklin a similar miniature portrait, also set in diamonds. Likewise, the King of Spain presented John Jay (during negotiations with Spain) with the gift of a horse. All these gifts were reported to Congress, which in each case accorded permission to the recipients to accept them. Wary, however, of the possibility that such gestures might unduly influence American officials in their dealings with foreign states, the Framers institutionalized the practice of requiring the consent of Congress before one could accept “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from…[a] foreign State.”

Meanwhile I read the news:

China awards Donald Trump valuable trademark deal

Donald Trump sons set for UAE visit to open Trump International Golf Club Dubai

(A fun aspect to the Trump deal is: feels like every Joe and Josephine on Twitter is rapidly presenting themselves as a self-taught expert on like intelligence practices and the Ninth Circuit and what “emoluments” means.)

A thing I don’t understand: there must be at least one or two of the 248 Republican congressmen who’ve fantasized since youth about a chance to go full Profiles In Courage.


Here’s your chance bro!  Take on your scumbag President, go down for it, live on!  Are they all too lame? (Update: a possible candidate)

Anyway.  A chance to revisit famous mills of my youth:

Wayside Mill, Sudbury, MA

Wayside Grist Mill, Sudbury, MA


Ed Harris in Westworld, Ed Harris in Walker

If you enjoy Ed Harris in Westworld, as I do, you may be curious to have a look at his role in Walker (1987) in which he plays a similarly attired character:


Harris plays the real life William Walker who went down to Nicaragua with some armed guys and declared himself president there from 1856-1857.


I went down to Nicaragua and visited some of the places Walker shot up.


I tell the story of Walker, and of Nicaragua, and of the troubled film


in my book, THE WONDER TRAIL: True Stories From Los Angeles To The End Of The World


available at Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  You’ll enjoy it.



The writing process

Back again soon!

thanks to reader Jess K. in  Australia for this one

So glad you enjoy what you find here.  We’re on a brief hiatus but look forward to a return.

If you haven’t already, try my book: available at Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  You’ll enjoy it.

If you’ve read my book, do send me a picture of it in some cool setting, on your shelf or next to some good coffee or your favorite houseplant.  I’ve been collecting and compiling these photos, they’re a joy.

Riches await in the archives, on such topics as:




Ciao for now!

Adios for now!




People are mad that Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature?  Why?  Because he does music, which is not the same as literature?  What is the difference?  More sounds? Instruments are allowed?  Hmm.

Anyway, have heard no mention in the convo about the time a literal clown won the Nobel Prize.

OK fine Dario Fo was a playwright but what he did was more than just write words down, right?

Mr. Fo attributed the State Department’s change of heart to the intervention of President Ronald Reagan, a former actor. It was, Mr. Fo said dryly, “the gesture of a colleague.”

Was reminded because heard he died.  Dario Fo obituary.

Weird vote in Colombia

Last month there was a weird and surprising vote in Colombia.  I’ve been learning myself about it, and let me share the story as I understand it:


click for source

Here is messy, mountainous Colombia.

For some fifty-two years, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, fought the government.  FARC’s origins are Communisty, with their main grievance being rich people have all the best stuff in Colombia.  In their war their crimes are many and so are the government’s.

Nasty would be a mild word for this fight.


If you’re new to Colombian history it’s easy to lump this 52 year war in with the period known as La Violencia, but no, La Violencia was a whole separate ten year time, starting in 1948, in which maybe 200,000 people died.

Here’s how we got to the vote.  The last president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, was what you might call “aggressive” in his tactics towards FARC.


Makes sense: FARC killed his dad.  His efforts severely diminished FARC if not knocked it to the ropes.

Uribe oversaw, for example, Operation Jaque, that freed Ingrid Betancourt from her FARC captors.


Wiki, Justin Hoch

There’s no doubt the USA has been helping the government on this, by the way.  Why shouldn’t we?  The Colombians helped us in our Korean War for some reason.

Colombia entered the Korean War when Laureano Gómez was elected as President. It was the only Latin American country to join the war in a direct military role as an ally of the United States. Particularly important was the resistance of the Colombian troops at Old Baldy.

Camera Operator: SFC. CHARLES M. ROBERTS - DOD ID: HA-SN-98-07069 (old version) Personnel of the Korean service corps unload logs from an M-39 Armored Utility Vehicle at the RHE 2nd US Inf Div supply point on "Old Baldy" near Chorwon, Korea. Logs are for use in the construction of bunkers. A second M-39 is in the background. Korea, 1 Oct 1952.

Camera Operator: SFC. CHARLES M. ROBERTS – DOD ID: HA-SN-98-07069 (old version)
Personnel of the Korean service corps unload logs from an M-39 Armored Utility Vehicle at the RHE 2nd US Inf Div supply point on “Old Baldy” near Chorwon, Korea. Logs are for use in the construction of bunkers. A second M-39 is in the background. Korea, 1 Oct 1952.

By the time Uribe left office, in 2010, FARC was not what it used to be.

Here is Uribe’s successor, Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos:


First secretly, then publicly, his guys negotiated with FARC in Havana.  The two sides reached an agreement that would end what Santos called the last armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

The guy leading FARC is called Timochenko:


from wiki.

According to the United States Department of State, Timoleon Jimenez has set the FARC’s cocaine policies directing and controlling the production, manufacture, and distribution of hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States and the world, including the “taxation” of the illegal drug trade in Colombia to raise funds for the FARC and the murder of hundreds of people who violated or interfered with the FARC’s cocaine policies

Santos and Timochenko shook hands at a meeting in Havana in June.

All that had to happen to ratify the accord was that Colombia’s people vote on it.  Guess what happened?:


Don’t know where CNN got this number, The Economist says 13m people voted.  Anyway, low turnout in a country of 47 million, partly because there was a hurricane.

Perhaps many NO voters thought it was bullshit that FARC murderers would get to be in parliament and wouldn’t be punished much for their various cruelties.  Says The Economist:

People who live in areas where the FARC has recently been active mostly backed the deal. “We are the ones who’ve had to live with bullets flying around us,” says Freddy Rendón, a cattle rancher in Uribe, a town in Meta, in central Colombia, where Yes won 93.5% of the vote. Those who live in more peaceful parts, including cities, voted No.

After the votes were counted, everybody was apparently surprised and nobody knew what would happen next.

Then, in a funny twist, Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize.


Maybe to give the whole project a peaceward shove from Norway.  Some cynics suggested Santos was a little too thirsty for the prize.   That’s a little vain perhaps but is it so wrong?  There is something funny about how much humans like prizes.

Santos with a bird from The Guardian, click for link.

Santos with a bird from The Guardian, click for link.

What will happen now is unclear.  FARC doesn’t seem dying to go back to fighting.  Maybe they can’t, in which case Colombian’s voters are, collectively, clever if sneaky negotiators who pulled quite a trick.

Me?  I’m rooting for peace in Colombia, a country I very much enjoyed visiting.

Popayan, Colombia, Helytimes photo.

Popayán, Colombia, in a photo taken by Helytimes.

You can read more about Colombia, what little I know of it, written at about this level, in  my book:


Only if you like tales of fun and adventure.

Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  Pick one up at South Congress Books in Austin, TX for example.


I think you’ll enjoy it.