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Arizona, USA
March 10
Cynthia Dagnal-Myron is an award-winning former reporter for both the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star whose articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Salon, Working Mother, Orion and many others. During her Sun Times years, she traveled with and interviewed the top rockers, film stars and other celebrities of the 70’s and 80’s. And dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once. Her latest book, "The Keka Collection," is available at and Barnes and Noble--Kindle and Nook versions available. Her latest short story, Deadline, is a Kindle book availabled here:

NOVEMBER 18, 2012 2:32PM

McCain's Crusade: Lemme run it down for you, Big John

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Here's the thing, Big John.

Anyone who has ever held a position of power of any kind has had to do what Susan Rice did the day she read the only information she had about Benghazi, at the time, to the press.

You know it.  And we all know you know it.

Which is why you look so incredibly foolish beating up on her, and her boss, as if just saying it’s a scandal over and over and over again will convince people it really is a scandal.

Week or so ago, your whole party found out that strategy didn’t work.  And sorta decided to stop doing it.

Did you miss that briefing, too?

But…for those who might not know how these things happen--every day--let me explain from the perspective of a retired assistant principal of one of Tucson's biggest middle schools.

And as a former reporter for the Chicago Sun Times, who used to receive hastily written press releases that were later updated to include all the information that wasn’t available before our deadlines.

It’s…just…what happens

And here’s how it happens in the public school world:

You get a call, or an urgent “CODE RED” radio alert from your campus monitors, or see police/fire engines/district officials burning rubber into the parking lot of your school.

Something's wrong.   VERY wrong.

So you race from your office to:

The soccer field, where the entire student body is cheering on a mob of combatants in what has to be the biggest brawl the kids have ever instantly uploaded to YouTube from their cell phones...


The place the custodian found the fake/real/smoke bomb...


The place where the 6th graders found the gun...


The classroom where a kid was passing around a very sharp knife Dad uses on hunting trips and it fell, blade end first, from one kid’s hands and skewered the foot of a kid he was about to hand it to…


The hallway where a possibly rabid dog that got into school when the kids were coming in that morning is now growling and slobbering his way toward the girls bathroom...


The nurse’s office to question the kid who handed out pills to a bunch of other kids who took them even though they didn't know what kind of pills they were and are now giggling and speaking in Zen riddles as the nurse tries to find out who they are so that she knows who to call...


The boy's locker room where someone found a big old bag o' weed/bottle of water that turned out to be vodka hidden in the paper towel dispenser...


The classroom where an angry parent who bypassed the front desk and walked right in on the teacher he was really, really angry with, baseball bat in hand…


The room where a piece of the wall fell down and big old ugly black splotches of mold were found and pics of which are now on Facebook…

Catching on?  Sure you are.   So let’s up the ante.

Let's say the local news media were really listening to their police scanners that day, and soon every newspaper and TV news crew in town is also in front of the school, demanding answers.

You also know you'd better put something on the office answering machines pretty quick--after you clear it with the big wigs downtown who have sent the Press Liaison to make sure you don't make the district look bad.

Despite the chaos, you and the Liaison interview everybody on the scene.  You also get written statements.

You go from classroom to classroom looking for more eye-witnesses.  Again, you also get written statements.

You talk to the teachers/custodians/cops/firemen/paramedics/bomb squad/swat team/district security...everyone who has had anything to do with figuring out what happened and how.  

And from all this, you get a pretty good idea of what happened, though everyone says it could be days before the whole story is nailed down.  So the Liaison writes up a press release to be sent home to parents and read to anyone you're authorized to speak to without the Liaison in attendance.  

The statement is cleared to be used by the district Legal Department after a few lines are added that make it clear that these are preliminary findings, and that the investigation will probably take quite a while.

And that's that.

UNTIL you discover, after the whole thing has been thoroughly investigated, that a great deal of what you said in those letters, press releases and verbal statements...isn't quite right.  Or was...totally wrong.  Or something in-between the two.

Should you have waited?  Could you have waited?

Districts, like other organizations, have rules.  And most of those rules are based partly on what's good practice for the safety of all concerned...and partly on what happened one time before you started doing it the way it’s done now.

Here's one of those things that happens when you don't get that news on school voice mail, home and out to the press and everyone else really fast:

Little Bobby hops into the car after school beaming at Helicopter Mom, who would never dream of letting Little Bobby put up with the thugs on the school bus.   She's right not to let him, too, but...anyway...

As they're pulling off, Bobby says, "Mom!  There was a kid with a GUN in school today!"

After Mom nearly runs over a few other kids in the crosswalk she couldn't see through the "red" in her eyes, she does a U-turn, though that's a no-no, too, while speed dialing the local and district superintendents, the president of the school board, several TV news reporters she's on a first name basis with.  And...President Obama, too, just...for good measure.

After parking in the principal's parking spot by the door to the administrative building, because she's sure this principal won't be one after all those people she's speed dialed realize what an incompetent boob s/he is...

She stomps into the front office demanding to know why she was not informed that her Precious was in peril until her Precious told her himself!   She wants to talk to the police, she's called her lawyer and she's not leaving until she gets a full account of what went on.

And just as she's saying that, the office phones begin to ring incessantly, and four other parents arrive with their own precious babies in tow.  And fire in their eyes.

If you can prove that all the precious babies have a letter from you in their backpacks under the candy wrappers, old chewing gum and big cans and bottles of AXE and stuff…dated that very day…

You’re kinda covered.  Even if you have to change the “facts” a few days later.  Because you acted on the INFORMATION YOU HAD AT THE TIME, and in a timely matter.

That's where the rules come from.

And that's also why Susan Rice read something that wasn't quite right that day you're still Mau -Mauing about for the press, John.  

You know you know.

Cause you explained it back when Condoleeza--the other Rice--was so wrong about those WMDs. why you're so wrong this time.  

And you know what you're doing.  There's an impeachment some folks are begging and signing petitions for.   There are even states which, like you, cannot stand having that Obama fella in the White House another day, let alone another four years, and are trying to secede.

Ain't gonna happen, though.  He's here to stay.  Barring any unforseen events caused by the most rabid of the aforementioned people who cannot stand having Obama in the White House.

God forbid.

You lost twice, dude.  And that has to smart a bit.

But…chillax a minute.  Think a few more minutes.  And see if you can't find something more constructive to do with your time. your age, let's admit it, is kinda precious.  Like those kids I was talkin’ about a little bit ago.

The first law in the Leadership Skills for Dummies handbook is:  "Caca happens."

The second law is:  "Thou shalt step in it sometimes.  Maybe lots of times."

The third is, "Rest assured that somebody who wants your job or just doesn’t like you for any number of reasons, some rational, some…not so much, will smear some of it around just to make trouble."

And the fourth is, "If you've done the best you can with what you had...keep steppin'.  The caca will rub off in time."

If you keep steppin', the people who watch you take it all in stride will be very impressed.  And may just decide that the caca flinger is the real problem.

Take a lesson, John.  That last thing?

Already happenin' to you...



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Of course he knows better. Doesn't stop the yammering though. I am sorry that you bear the burden of having John McCain as your Senator. I feel your pain. Mine are Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. The universe has a sadistic sense of humor sometimes.
I once had respect for him. sigh.
If it weren't for the OS exodus to Our Salon, I'd comment that this was a great post.
Myriad, I hear ya'. But...I just spent a half hour trying to get OS to let me respond to these posts. And the night I wrote this, I also spent hours trying to get it posted, when it only too me a few minutes to get it posted at...the "other" site. So I can no longer even send people to OS to read things, or post the link, because the hang time turns them off, and stops some sites from accepting the link.

I'm glad you heard me, even so. I post in both places: on OS out of gratitude for letting me find my voice again, and on the other site, for letting me continue to use that voice in a way that allows me to reach out to those who aren't as patient as I might wish them to be.

I hope you'll keep reading me anyway, though.

And to the rest of you, yep. I liked McCain 'til now. I've noticed that he's gone kinda quiet for the past week or so, though. Maybe he realized how strange he sounded!

Kathy? I feel your pain, too. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul BOTH? Yoiks!