Monday, December 17, 2012

Mental Illness + Guns = Death

How 10 minutes with Chris Matthews has challenged me to fight for gun control

By Robert Hudson Westover

The recent massacre of innocent children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, will haunt our nation for years to come.

It should.

The horrific tragedy that overtook our country last Friday has perhaps convulsed the American people into taking stronger action at stricter gun control measures.

At least I hope so.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with legendary liberal commentator Chris Matthews, and the subject of getting serious action on gun control came up.

This wasn't the usual forum for an intense discussion on such a heated issue. It was a book signing for Chris Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero at Politics and Prose in  Washington, DC and that was all—no lecture and no Q&A. However, a chance meeting with my former colleague would change all that. Paula Terry and I hadn't seen each other in years but I remembered her as a staunch advocate of liberal causes.

Robert Westover with Chris Mathews
She would not disappoint.

Before my and Paula’s encounter with Mr. Matthews no one dared to get “real” with the MSNBC political pundit.

The married couple in front of Paula and me knew Mr. Matthews and Chris thanked the gentleman, who had years ago apparently enlisted him in Toastmasters, thus changing his life, while the two men worked together on Capitol Hill.

Then it was my turn.

My clever way of “gettin’ jiggy” with the liberal icon was to mention we knew someone in common. I’ve been working on a book called Lessons in Nobility based on my memories of a friendship I had with a Russian Countess, who was Hugh “Yusha”D. Auchincloss III’s aunt (still with me?) Chris and Yusha are friends and I reached out to Mr. Auchincloss last summer to let him know of my intentions to publish these memories and we have since become pen pals. As many readers know, Yusha is Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ beloved older stepbrother and since Mr. Matthews’ book signing was about JFK—I went with it.

It worked. We spoke a little bit about getting together with Yusha at the famed Metropolitan Club and I got my photo op.

But Paula really got things going.

She wanted a clearer understanding as to why we Americans don’t have a stronger legislative commitment on preventing the sales of semi-automatic weapons. Matthews answered with a question, “What politician is going to risk losing his seat for supporting gun control?”

Paula Terry with Chris Matthews
Paula wasn't giving up, “Someone needs to take stronger action,” she insisted, “Times have changed and many gun supporters have since lost their seats…”

Matthews said back, “Who?”

At this point I jumped in and said, “We need more guys like me. I’m a third generation Marine. I grew up with a profound respect for guns. I want them registered…”

“And most cops agree with you…” Matthews added and then said what I feel is going to give the vital emotional connect to reach the minds of rational folks all over our country on some type of gun control, “Mentally ill people should not be allowed to own assault rifles.”

“That’s it. That’s the tagline,” I said. And then added, “Mental Illness + Guns = Death.” (At the posting of this blog, a Google Search indicated this exact tagline has not been used or trademarked.)

Feeling erudite I added, “If we accept the argument that semi-automatic rifles fit the circumstances of Second Amendment era muskets and primitive revolvers, the fact that we experience the insanity of mass murder from the mentally ill then perhaps we should not be shocked when they are turned against us.”

By this point another fan had bravely approached with that agitated look of “get a room” on his face. Our time to move on had come, but thanks to Paula and Chris I now have a tagline that I can develop into an awareness campaign and, with God’s help, work to prevent another Newtown massacre of the innocents.  

And I think I've already begun...

Tags: Chris Matthews, Hardball, MSNBC, #newtown @chrismatthews, Robert Hudson Westover, Yusha Auchincloss, gun control #guncontrol

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New York Times Reporter, Iver Peterson, Helped Bring Awareness to Plight of the SS United States

By Robert Hudson Westover

I so clearly remember the day I met Iver Peterson. How could I forget when it was in front of the great SS United States! Filled with the excitement of touring through the interior of the massive ocean-liner, we behaved like school boys peering down dark passageways and staring into the cavernous space that is the forward engine room of the storied vessel.

Iver was interested in writing a story about the plight of the ship and the nascent organization I was forming to save her. I didn't know it at the time but Iver's story Group Battles to Save Luxury Liner Big U, and Glory of Its Day published on Easter Sunday in the entire New York Times syndicate, would bring my fledgling organization, the SS United States Foundation, into national prominence and launch a worldwide effort to Save the United States.

His story was (and is) invaluable to the still ongoing effort to Save the United States. And his subsequent follow up stories kept the flame alive for many years.

Iver had a passion for the Big U because as a child he sailed on her many times. His parents were a Washington, DC power couple and in his dining room a picture of his  famous mother, Ester Peterson, riding shotgun next to President Lyndon Johnson in his convertible Lincoln Continental said it all.

No doubt the SS United States held such fond memories for Iver simply for the fact that on this ship, for a few days as it crossed the Atlantic, he could have an adventure with his family.

When it became obvious that the direction to change tactics for preserving the former national flagship, Iver said to me at Christmas party in his home, "Robert, you are a puritan...and I respect that but you're going to have to consider alternatives."

He was right.

In the end, I would turn over the Foundation to others and Iver would never pen another story about the fabled ship.

It was time for a new direction on the path that we puritan preservationists had forged.

Iver died August 1, 2012. Sadly, I just discovered his obituary in the online edition of the newspaper he wrote for The New York Times.

Sail on Iver. Sail on...

For more information about helping the effort to Save the United States go to the SS United States Conservancy. #ssunitedstates #savetheunitedstates 

This was the first New York Times story (releases across the newspaper's entire syndicate)about the SS United States since 1969 and with a readership of over 25 million (including The Dallas Morning News, The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune) it brought world attention to the plight of the great vessel.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lord Westover ıt ıs Istanbul Not Constantınople!

By Ima Somıddle Class

A Vast Estate (obvıously) -- When ın Rome do as the Roman's do - not as the sultan´s would, your GRACE! Lord Westover and the Earl of Fulton seem to be havıng too good a tıme doıng as the Sultan´s do. Try not beıng so NOBLE next tıme.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Nobility of Gore Vidal - Where did he get it?

By Robert Hudson Westover

Love him or hate him (you have no other choice) Gore Vidal had a persistent and apparent nobility about him that could never be denied--not even by those who most loathed him.

So where did he get it?

Many will attribute this nobility to the fact that he was born into a grand political family. But so was his mother and she, by Vidal's own accounts, rarely exhibited the noble traits of her famous son. 

So how did it develop in Vidal?

I think I might have the answer and it might surprise you.

My dear honorary godmother, Countess Olga Chrapovitsky Morgan, was related to Gore Vidal through marriage. Her nephew, Hugh D. "Yusha" Auchincloss III was both Vidal’s step brother and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' (as well as a slew of other well born Auchincloss children). 

Gore Vidal
It's interesting to me that the "Merrywood on the Potomac" kids (the children of family patriarch Hugh D. Auchincloss and former residents of the famed Merrywood mansion near Washington, D.C.) who most all knew and admired Olga, had such nobility about them. And I strongly feel they all got part of their awareness of their inner nobility in large part from Olga. Not that she taught them in any sort of Maria-von-Trapp-Sound-of-Music sort of way. 

No. I think it was just her day-to-day noble actions and reactions to the world around her. I say (and believe) this because I too had the unique opportunity to be exposed to the Nobility of Olga. 

And it changed my life.

Countess Olga C. Morgan with me at her home in Laguna Beach

I wish the whole world could have had this woman as their honorary godmother. To show them, as she demonstrated to so many others, that we all have a Noble spirit within us that just needs to be brought out in our daily walk and conversation—that this world can be a much more civilized world by truly (and honestly) respecting others because they're just as noble as you and me.

Admittedly Vidal fell far short of this aspect of inner nobility! (Nobody's perfect.) But he often recovered.

Case in point. From The Guardian newspaper: 

A few years ago, when I mentioned a passage in his memoirs that admits to being unable to express any open distress after the death of Howard Austen, his supportive partner for almost 50 years, he drawled: "Have you seen that film with Helen Mirren? The Queen? Our class are brought up not to show emotion."

This effortless identification with one of the highest-born figures in history was very Vidal: both in its social self-confidence and the fact that a question about emotional evasion was itself emotionally evaded through a provocative aphorism.


#GoreVidal @GoreVidal

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why do I care about the natural world?

By Robert Hudson Westover

My love of the great outdoors was instilled in me many years ago when my parents loaded up the car and took us kids on an epic camping trip to a pine covered area of Northern California near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

It was here, surrounded by the splendor of the natural world, in a secluded campsite near a stream that we sat around a campfire and Dad explained to us how lucky we were to have this great outdoors wilderness—owned by all Americas--that we can come to whenever we want.

I never forgot that trip.

Later in life I was further inspired by the tireless environmental conservation work of HRH Prince Charles and tangibly through my honorary Godmother, Olga C. Morgan and her work with Green Peace.  So at an early age I began working on environmental issues. However, this was on a voluntary basis and included things like urban and wilderness area trash clean ups and informally educating inner city kids on the importance of green areas.

I didn’t start making my living in conservation until 2005 when I landed a job with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and now the U.S. Forest Service.

Since then I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to some of the most brilliant minds in environmental conservation including several winners of the IPCC Noble Peace Prize for climate change science.

Now I blog and tweet regularly on environmental issues. Below are some of my blogs (and articles) on climate change and sustainability dating back to 2006:

With New Interagency Agreement US Forest Service Works on the Loss of Whitebark Pine in Yellowstone Region

Friday, March 23, 2012

Noble world in shock after Lord Westover “punked” by comedy competition

From FNN -- News Flash -- News Flash
Gentlemen clench fists and ladies clutch pearls across Noble Diaspora
Fainting couches and dueling gloves fly out the doors of retailers

The Vast Estate (obviously), March 23, 2012 – In what can only be called the most shocking event since the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, His Grace, Lord Westover, was informed by a producer [so called] of the Funniest Feds competition that he will be put on “a waiting list” in case one of the selected contestants drops out. Read more at:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The DNC's man!

At the 2000 Democratic Convention in 2000

After my failed run for Congress in 2000 I was hired as the Democratic National Committee's national spokesperson for their free ISP (it was a big deal in those days!). My goal was to get a million CDs distributed before the Presidential election in 2000. I succeeded and had a great time doing it! For more info go to:

Making Gay History!

I was the first openly Gay man to seek a national office in the state of Virginia's history. Had a lot of terrible battles but in the end was highly respected on a national level for my effort. I then got to work for the Democratic National Committee during the Gore 2000 campaign as their spokesperson for

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We Are Not Amused!

The Vast Estate (obviously) March 12, 2012 – Royal watchers were shocked (and absolutely horrified) by the news that His Grace, Lord Westover, attended and actually auditioned for a spot in an obscure comedy contest called “Funniest Feds” To read more go to:

His Lordship in comedic attitude 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Green Hawaii

The first stories of Hawaii were told to me by my grandmother who visited there in the 1950s. She wasn't the first family member to be there, that distinction was held by my great grandmother. It seemed only natural that my family would visit the most remote archipelago on earth since Hawaii's closest continental landmass was the west coast of the United States -- a region of the country my ancestors pioneered in the mid to late Nineteenth Century. And since the 1930s, we have lived, visited and loved these beautiful islands.

Classic postcard set sent to my grandmother in the late 1930s by my grandfather

My life-partner, Tom, and I will be going to Hawaii on our tenth trip there together (not including the year we lived there in 2003). We'll be staying at the Hilton Hawaii Village resort on the island of Oahu. Since I work in environmental public affairs, I will be taking particular interest in the sustainability programs this and other Waikiki resorts have to offer. You can keep up with what I'm discovering about "Green Hawaii" on my twitter at #mrclimatechange and my follow up postings on this blog. Until then, Aloha!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

World War II Veteran Talks About Heroes

My Grandfather speaks about his service as a Marine in WWII and the Korean War.

WEB EXTRA: World War II Veteran Talks About Heroes: George Westover talks about heroes.

My Grandfather and I also appeared on the History Channel's The Story of Veteran's Day (2004) as well as being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on Flag Day.

Patrick K. O' Donnell's recent best selling book "Give Me Tomorrow" is based on George Company, my Grandfather's unit, that fought so fiercely in the Korean War. For more info on the book go to: