Book 2 Chapter 177

 Air Force One landed at Andrews at 1800; I had worked the whole flight. It seemed the more paper I read and approved, there was five more added to the pile.

            I did get to read through Andrew’s speech for the fundraiser. They were winding down and I was happy about that, even though my mates and I now enjoyed doing them. The last one was the end of August at the convention. I was the keynote speaker.

            The convention started on a Sunday with the plank committee putting together the platform for the party on a host of ideas and programs. The platform was to be finished on Monday and voted on Tuesday or Tuesday evening.

            The platform was certainly going to be a cluster fuck, to put it mildly. There were still four candidates closely tied in delegate votes and none were backing down; in fact all talks had stopped. Usually at this stage of the game they traded support for high spots in the prospective administration.

            The platform makeup was usually controlled by the prospective candidate with things that would not cause the candidate a problem with the voters.

            It was a quick ride in Marine One to the landing behind the office. I liked landing at the office; there were no reporters and no crowds there and it was a security plus that the Secret Service liked.

            I had fun with the boys. They were anxious to show me their garden tomorrow afternoon. Sunday we were going fishing again. Tomorrow was meeting with Andy and then time in the gym that I desperately needed. I worked out in the White House gym but my mates worked out much harder than the Secret Service would let me.

            Air Force One took us to Arkansas for the fund raiser. It was a round robin trip. Meet privately with the large donors first and then get them pumped up and another ‘in the mood to vote’ speech. Then the return trip to Morton Field. We were home and ready for bed by 2300.

            We went to bed early with play time with my mates lasting several hours. After breakfast we went to the farm so JJ and RJ could show me their garden. Everything was growing beautifully. With the temperatures and rains their sweet corn was growing like crazy; in just a couple weeks it was twice as tall as they were. They were proud little boys as I heaped praise on them for their garden; there was not a weed or blade of grass anywhere in it. I was sure the pop pops were helping. The boys did check the rows of potatoes for bugs while we were there.

            At 1000 we met Andy and Paul Drake in the meeting room by the command center. I filled them in on what was happening and when in the Persian Gulf and what I thought they needed to do to honor the contracts we had with the OPEC six when the operation began.     

            We talked until lunch. At the end I listened while Andy and Paul made plans to fit the possible scenarios. I left with confidence that Andy would have everything under control and well planned when it counted.

            We spent four hours in the gym working out at a nice easy pace for me. The agents that were working out with us didn’t think so but that was their problem, not mine.

            Sunday we left the dock at 0500. Today we were going off Rock Hall – the commercial guys had been catching a lot of fish there all week. By the time we got there the bait had been cut and the lines rigged, ready to drop into the water.

            It was no story; there were plenty of fish there and they were hungry. We caught our limit of rockfish and flounder in two hours. We then smothered them in ice.

            We decided that since it was so early and a gorgeous day, we would take boat ride to the top of the bay to Havre de Grace and sight see along the way. We had brought lunch in case fishing was bad and were going to need all day to catch a few.

            It was a four hour cruise and was refreshing and relaxing. Even with the cruise we were back home at 1600.

            There was still time for one more thing I wanted to do and that was shoot some targets at the gun club. It had been a month since we had practiced and we were due. I practiced with the Glock and m16. It felt good to shoot again and by the time to go, I was back to my old scores.

            My mates and I had another good night together a little pillow talk about business and a lot of intimacy.

            I left early for the White House. I had a busy day of appointments after the daily updates from my staff and the joint chiefs. Everything was going as planned – all ships for round one would be there in time. Even the Fordson task force would arrive on time. It had rushed the fitting out and left the base in two days, not three. The crew was eager to get into the fight; they were obviously tired of sitting at the dock.

            Today five carrier task forces were going to transit the Suez Canal. That would raise eyebrows in Egypt, Israel and the Red Sea countries. Five were already in the Indian Ocean or off the coast of Africa heading there and two more were arriving from the west coast today.

            My next unscheduled meeting was with the Chinese Ambassador Sing Yung Sue. He insisted that he see me immediately. After the normal round of pleasantries, ”My government sent me to remind you that Iran and China have agreements in both trade and military,” he said.

            ”So China sanctioned the attack on our destroyer and now wants to cover for them,” I said.

            ”No no we knew nothing in advance of the attack. We were as surprised as you,” he said.

            ”Then why haven’t you condemned Iran for the attack? Why did you block the UN resolution condemning Iran?” I asked.

            ”We have agreements with them,” he said before I cut him off.

            ”Now would be an excellent opportunity for you to withdraw from those agreements. If you had no part in the attack, they have given you a perfect excuse to make an exit.”

            ”The only thing I see is a lose – lose scenario for China if it interferes with US retaliatory operations against Iran. China can lose the two hundred billion in exports to Iran and its cheap oil deal or lose the one trillion plus exports to the United States.”

            ”The oil will always be for sale – the Iranians can’t drink it. It just won’t be the sweet deal you forced on them. But if China interferes in any way, I will stop all Chinese made products and products made with components from China from being shipped to America within minutes. I can guarantee it will be decades – if ever – before you ship anything to the US.” I said.

            ”You cannot survive without our exports to you. You will buckle and beg us to ship our products to you,” he said.

            ”We are the United States – our citizens and manufacturing will step up to the plate. It may take a few months but China will be a distant memory. You seem to forget there are any number of countries willing to take your place as a supplier.”

            ”Central America , South America, Africa, the European Union, Canada and Mexico – our next door neighbors – are only a few of those willing to replace you. Even Russia is looking at manufacturing exports and I know I can work deals with them,” I said.

            ”Just one interference is all it will take. What is your government going to tell the one hundred and fifty million workers that suddenly have nothing to manufacture?,” I asked.

            He stood to leave, ”I will relay your comments to my government,” he said.

            Troy escorted him out of the building as Connie finished up her notes. When Troy came back I called for General Ingram to listen to the audio of the meeting. The discussion ended on a positive note; the general consensus was China would stay out of the picture.

            ”We still need to settle the reporter problem,” General Ingram said.

            ”How many do you think need to be with the fleet?” I asked.

            ”I would put one on each carrier for now. It is easier to put them on a carrier than other ships.”

            Next was a call to Melinda, ”I need you to come to the White House ASAP. I have some questions I need to ask you.”

            ”Don’t you have that backwards? I’m supposed be the one to ask the questions,” she said with a giggle. Then added ”I will be there in ten minutes.”           

            While I was waiting I called Hanna, ”Hey girlfriend, what are doing for the next few days?”

            ”Nothing pressing have you got something in mind?” she said.

            ”You and Jed each pack a duffel bag, when it is finalized I will tell when and where, don’t forget the passports,” I said.

            Melinda had arrived and was brought back by one of the agents.

            ”Are you up for an adventure for a few days? ” I asked.

            ”Where are we going?” she asked.

            ”Can’t tell you and you know that. I also need ten more of your news friends. Same set up, reporter and camera person, they can’t be told where they are going or for how long and they cannot tell their bosses they are leaving. It will all be apparent soon enough. Do you think you can quickly find that many? There is very little time left; I know this is very short notice,” I said.

            ”Give me a few minutes, let me make some calls,” Melinda said.

            A few minutes later Melinda returned.

            ”It was tough but I have ten news teams. Where do we need to meet?” Melinda said.

            ”Reagan International Airport at the general aviation terminal. A Navy plane will make the flight. Time is of the essence and is going to be tight. They need to be on the plane in ninety minutes, ” I said.

            What I didn’t tell her was that all bags would be checked and all phones collected before the flight and would not be returned until they were on the ground in Saudi Arabia.

            They were landing at a military airport where they would be split up in groups of four and put on Navy greyhound flights to the carriers. One more problem solved for now.

            The afternoon was one problem after another; I was more than ready to retire to the living quarters at 1800. I ate a light supper before doing a video call home. I talked an hour with my mates and the boys. Vicky indicated everything was ready with the JBG ships in the gulf. Andy and Paul Drake both had left for Saudi Arabia. Tomorrow was going to be busy.

            It was later than normal when I went to bed.

Edit by Alfmeister

Proof read by Bob W.

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