Man About Town

Saturday afternoon, and I head over to the Red Arrow for lunch around 2:30. I had tried an hour or so earlier, but it was absolutely full, jam-packed, so I went for a walk in town and scouted some churches for possible attendance tomorrow. By 2:30 there is room at the counter and I dive immediately into a mug of their excellent hot cocoa. It’s a good thing that the Red Arrow does not have a liquor license…

A man two seats away asks what brings me here, and we begin to chat. He’s here with his pal, a fellow named something like Arnold – he corrected me on the pronunciation and I didn’t really get it; I get names better when I can picture them spelled. But Arno or Arnauld or similar is a dentist from the Netherlands who’s got an interest in American politics, so here they are, visiting like me.

The name of the one nearer me is Charles, Charles Duffy, and he’s from the DC area. They’d been to see Nikki Haley and liked her. He said they also had gone over to Trump’s campaign headquarters – which are a few blocks away – to see it, and there was Matt Gaetz whom they met. They urged me to go to the HQ, as clearly you never know who you might see there. From Charles’s remarks it seems he is not a big fan of Trump or of Congressman Gaetz – who is a Floridian, a bigtime Trump acolyte, and defender of the ‘stand your ground’ law when he earlier served in Florida’s legislature. Just to show that no one is all bad, Gaetz also has been accused of sex trafficking, and paying for sex with minors; reportedly the House Ethics Committee in June 2023 reopened its investigation into allegations of “Gaetz’s sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, and other misconduct.” I might have to drop in at Trump HQ to meet this paragon.

We get to talking about what we do, and I give them – gratis! – the name of my blog site, in case they have, for example, a five-hour plane ride with nothing else to do. Charles informs me that he’s in fact a trial lawyer for the Department of Justice – civil tax division. He thinks it’s ridiculous to talk of the DOJ being ‘weaponized’ against someone, as the great mass of people there are career lawyers like him; they don’t function out of personal animus. I don’t pursue it, and I’m glad that, by the same token, he does not feel professionally threatened by the prospect of a second Trump administration.

I got a photo of myself with my Dutch dentist friend – Charles, camera shy, is just at the righthand margin:

Netherlands Arn, and I, with Charles at edge

At this point we were – of course – joined by a presidential candidate. There is a hierarchy among candidates, with the ‘real’ ones – Biden, Trump, Haley, even DeSantis – at the top, and next the real but quixotic or odd ones – Ramaswamy, Robert Kennedy Jr., etc. – and the third-party hopefuls, and then, somewhere below, the amateurs. Even among these, however, there are levels of seriousness or effort or weirdness. So the man I met last night, Democrat Mr. Prascak of the robotics, was definitely down the amateur scale. This one today, a Republican, is one level above that: he comes across as substantial and engaging, he has a website (but who doesn’t?) and he travels. This is Peter Jedick, who is well-known and well-liked at the Red Arrow, and who hails from Rocky River, Ohio. Find him at

Best of all, the back of his card says “Do Not Donate.” With the proud claim, “Peter Jedick is the only candidate who is not accepting donations.” A welcome relief and much appreciated! My fingers get tired deleting the six to ten emails I get every day from Trump and Friends of Trump and Relatives of Trump and Congresspeople in Thrall to Trump asking for money. (For a terrifically astute businessman with billions of dollars, DJT is awfully eager to get my twenty bucks; perhaps he anticipates writing a check soon for a large civil judgment.) But Jedick is my kind of guy: someone asks him about Ukraine, and he says we should send troops — yes, US troops, boots on the ground — to throw the Russian army back into Russia. Sign me up!

Peter’s other card – one simply must have a personal card in addition to one’s candidate card – describes him as ‘author, historian, public speaker.’ Maybe he’s a college professor, or a retired one. Or he could be an electrician or a dairy farmer for all I know; we don’t talk long enough for me to get his background. But he’s a nice fella and if they awarded votes on personality he’d do well.

Peter Jedick with Arn and me

Having filled my quota of presidential candidates for the day, I looked around for members of the press. Surely I could not get through lunch without running into someone or other from the fourth estate. (It’s good to keep these archaic terms alive; they carry history.) And right on cue, here she comes! I was happy to say hello to the lovely and talented Jen Psaki, former Biden press secretary, and now analyst for MSNBC. I am no good at taking selfies (it looks so easy in the commercials, but I have no practice) but at least I didn’t miss our faces entirely:

Jen Psaki and geezer

She was accompanied by a sound man with a boom mike, and asked most everyone at the counter a couple of questions. She seemed interested to hear about the blog – she’s polite to everybody – and I felt safe giving her my opinions of Trump and Haley (it’s part of her job not to beat people up, and she’s not very big anyway).

My later evening was passed unsuccessfully, cheering on the Packers to their loss to the 49ers. And after that, it was even less successful, as I skimmed the brief filed by Trump with the Supreme Court in his appeal of Colorado’s decision to disqualify him from the ballot. There are perhaps three or four decent arguments why the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision must be reversed, and the appellees – the other side – will have to defeat all of them to get the Colorado decision affirmed. I can’t see the Supreme Court taking such a massive step as to strike a major party’s leading candidate from the presidential election. Of course, I’m always swayed by the last brief I’ve read; they (almost) always sound so convincing — so I am reacting to that. Maybe when the appellees’ brief is filed, I believe it’s due February 1st, I might be re-swayed the other way. But I am not hopeful.

So we carry on, having a good time and enjoying the belief that here in New Hampshire, democracy works, even this year. But I have the recurring (and yes, very trite) image, lifted from dozens of movies from silent days to today, of a couple of people in a little canoe or rowboat, drifting happily down a scenic river. They do not know — but we in the audience know — that the river leads to a massive waterfall. It’s still far away. A lot can happen in nine months or so, but is anything likely to change this hapless course? The romantic in me thinks that in the applause at Friday night’s rally, I could hear the distant falls.

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