About the sniper, let's listen in on a make-believe conversation among three people at a local gathering spot....
No. 1: "...What he wants is to demonstrate his control of events. Numbers of dead and wounded, schedules hanged, cultural paralysis, curb-to-curb coverage, pictures of devastated lives, aerial shots of traffic backed up for miles - that's what he wants. Control - the feeling of, 'Wow, all of that's because of me.'"
No. 2: "I beg your pardon. We women - we. ... Why do you say, 'he'? Maybe it's not a man."
No. 1: "A woman might be an accomplice, the driver of the getaway car, but not the shooter. If they get into killing, the ladies tend to do it not with guns from a distance but with knives - up close and personal."
No. 3: "Yeah, but what you're saying is it's really terror. Like al-Qaida. Those guys get their jollies out of the big picture - you know what I mean? Horror shots of infernos and buildings coming down and people jumping. This guy gets off on controlling and changing how we conduct our lives - whether we live or die."
No. 2: "'I am God.'"
No. 3: "- 'Your children are not safe anywhere, at any time.'"
No. 1: "Good point. And toying with the cops, goading the cops, outsmarting the whole bunch - the cops and the FBI and the military and the ATF. It's a grim and fatal game, all the time frustrating everyone, instilling fear everywhere. And he's winning."
No. 2: "This guy may be a terrorist but he's also delusional, a homicidal maniac, a psychopath. Ego's his thing. He wants the credit. Oh, and he's a coward."
No. 3: "Yeah - all of those things. But smart, too."
No. 1: "I dunno. Maybe not so smart. Sooner or later they're gonna get him. And when they do, I hope they give him a week max before they fry him. A week is even too long after what he's done. And I certainly don't want him making a lot of lawyers even richer, or to pay for feeding and housing him in some Hilton-type place for the rest of his life, or to hear from the hummers more moans and groans about the death penalty for a cretin like this."
No. 3: "It usually takes longer to get snipers. I just read that they never catch 40 percent of 'em - as opposed to clearing 75 percent of all homicides. And sometimes snipers just quit, probably when they've gotten their jollies or think the cops are getting close, like the Zodiac killer in California. They never got him. And think about that non-sniper guy, the Unabomber - it took them 18 years."
No. 2: "I sure hope we don't have to have saturation TV coverage of this for 18 years."
No. 1: "Eighteen years of broadcast babes - the news bunnies - might not be so awful."
No. 2: "But 18 years of bad rugs and bad plastic faces and vapid voices would."
No. 3: "Right. And all of 'em giving too much air time to self-appointed grief counselors and social psychs and speculating shrinks."
No. 2: "Authorities estimate there are 5,000 al-Qaida members in the United States. Maybe this is a couple of sleeper al-Qaida cells - or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad."
No. 3: "Wouldn't THAT be nice. Sure would help clear the decks on what we ought to start doing in Iraq and the Middle East."
No. 2: "So maybe the fear we're feeling is something like the fear the Israelis feel day in and day out."
No. 1: "Terror. That's what it is - not knowing whether you're going to be shot or blown up at the bus stop or Home Depot, pumping gas or leaving Ponderosa. And the kids at school. In Israel you see uniformed men and women with Uzis at many intersections and near schools."
No. 2: "You don't suppose it's going to come to that here, do you? Don't you suppose it will end soon? It's got to."
No. 3: "God knows."