Darkness and Wonder in the City of Lights: Paris

Just spent ten days in Paris. It’s a wonderful city and my favorite destination even though flying internationally is hardly a joy.

Most poignant memory of it is the last night I was there. I was coming back around 10 p.m. from sitting outside at the La Rotonde brasserie on Rue du Montparnasse and turned onto Rue de Rennes. Earlier that day I had said goodbye to my 4-year-old grandson who was heading home. I had spent a lot of enjoyable time with him taking him to the wonderful playgrounds at the parks and gardens.

I noticed a woman who had her head covered with a shawl which made me believe she was a Muslim sitting on the sidewalk against a building. It is not usual to see people sitting on the Paris streets with cups in front of them looking for a handout or some who are standing with their hands out. Walking by her I glanced down and saw a young boy around the age of my grandson quietly sitting next to her.

“I Like to Be in America” Trump and the Puerto Rico Crisis

How many know that when we took over Puerto Rico we changed the name of the place to Porto Rico? We put it under the command of the Army  whose leaders found the new name easier to spell. That was during the Spanish-American War when we liberated Cuba and gave it to the Cubans to run. We’ve seen how they eventually found a warm embrace with Russia. I don’t suppose we would have been happy if Puerto Rico was another Russian ally.

I also assume you know that during that war we took over the Philippines using as a military tactic concentration camps and  ethnic cleansing even though you were not taught that in school as something Americans did. We were particularly interested in the Philippines because it was a good base for our ships doing business in the Asian area then called the Far East but also we believed we could enlightened the benighted Filipinos to the great benefit of Christianity since at the time they were all Papists.

You Fight 16 Years and What Do You Get

Apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Lyrics to 16 Tons

You fight 16 years and what do you get,

Another day older and deeper in debt                         

St. Peter please help us ‘cause you want to know,

The generals plan to continue the show.

The President Trump says we are going to fight on to victory.

The Secretary of State Tillerson says we are not going to achieve victory but we’re going to fight on because we want the Taliban to know they will not achieve victory.

The generals say we’re going to . . . .

We really don’t know what the generals say. Why would we listen to them anyway They’ve had 16 years to figure out what to do and they haven’t. Right now it looks like they are losing. Why would one believe that they could do things better now than they have done before?

Anyone who lived through the Vietnam War remembers how the generals were always telling us the solution was right around the corner. Was it Westmoreland who saw the light at the end of the tunnel? Little did he know, or at least he didn’t say, the light he saw was the headlight on a North Vietnamese/Viet Cong freight train barreling down the track. As it roared along we’d have 58,000 plus American names to put on the Vietnam Wall in DC.

The Deep State: Do You Like It? Do You Hate it?

I have to admit I did not know about the Deep State until the last couple of months or so. It seems to be something that washed up on shore along with the Trump Administration.  All I seemed to know of it was that it is so well buried that people like me cannot see it.

I wonder if any of you have seen it. If so, could you tell us what it looks like? Never mind that, can you tell me if you have heard about it. If so can you tell me what it is supposed to be because for the love of Mike and Madge I couldn’t figure it out even though the word was being bandied about a lot lately.

I set out to find out.

I heard that Glen Greenwald a columnist had a recent article about it. I followed him a bit a few years back until his red tails began to show under his suave words during the Snowden incident. Glen was the type who saw a million warts on the American system of government while he stared starry eyed at dictators especially if they were followers of the red flag. He moaned whenever something happened in America that was less than perfect.

Let Them Stand! Understanding Monuments

Hard not to have thoughts about the many situations roiling our country. One is the  “tear down Confederate monuments” uproar that follows on the Confederate flag brouhaha of some years back and the Charlottesville Tiki march of a few days ago.

One thought incorporated into supporting their removal is to note that  “the vast majority of monuments date to between 1895 and World War I.” Or, put another way, during the long era of Jim Crow. (1877 to 1964?).

Obviously the monuments could not have been put up much before 1860 or before the end of Reconstruction in 1877. After that it would take another chunk of years to raise funds etc. as the South rose out of the ashes of defeat. That it took time is never an argument against memorials which seek to recall things to mind. The DC Korean War memorial came 40 years after.

Another idea supporting their removal is “The monuments were put up as explicit symbols of white supremacy.” that quote is from an article that noted: “The group responsible for the majority of these memorials was the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC)”  Juxtaposing those two thoughts suggest an oxymoron. It seems to me that daughters of soldiers are mainly if not solely thinking of honoring the sacrifice and lives of their forebears. White supremacy was the least of their thoughts.

The Second Boston Massacre: Victim: Free Speech

It will be called the Boston Model. It will be the way  for those in power to pretend they support free  speech while starving it to death. It reminds me of several things. One is the time the Democrats changed the rules in the Senate allowing federal judicial nominees other those to the Supreme Court to pass with a majority vote perhaps thinking they would always control the Senate. This is like that. Others will follow the Boston Model and it may be used against the people who are not the flavor of the month.

It reminds me of the pussilanimity of the Boston’s academic community. None spoke out against this suppression. It reminds me of Orwell’s “all animals are equal but some are more equal. “ All speech is free but some less free.

It may have been different in Boston for the planned free speech gathering there on Saturday, August 19, but for Charlottesville, VA. After the clashes between the white supremacists and those opposed to them that lead to the unfortunate death of one woman, Heather Heyer, run over by a supremacist and the ham handed much belittled response to it by Trump, the planned Boston free speech gathering took on a different hue.

John Connolly Week: (10 of 10) – You Ain’t Gonna Win Here!

The Florida appeals decision in Connolly’s case reminds me of the story of this well-educated black man John Jackson who went to vote in Florida during its Jim Crow days where blacks were not allowed to vote unless they passed a test.  The test consisted of three questions: the first he had to name the generals who were in the Mexican American war who would become presidential candidates; next he had to identify of all the Confederate generals in the Army of Virginia who fought against Grant; and the last test was to read from a book that sat on the examiners desk and explain what it means.

He passed the first two easily. When the book was shown him he looked down and saw that it was written in some type of ancient language with which he was not familiar. He said: “I’m not quite sure what it say literally but I can surmise that the gist of it is that no black man is voting in Florida this year.”

When I read the Connolly appeal upholding his conviction I felt that no way is Connolly going to get his freedom in Florida. I was astonished that majority judges could agree on the garbage that it contained. I could see the federal forces lurking over their shoulders as they voted.

In Memoriam: Quincy Police Detective Peter Gallagher – A Great Friend

In my career as a prosecution which mainly involved working with investigatory police units doing electronic surveillance I was fortunate that with a rare exception to work with fine, honest, courageous, dedicated men (women officers were not part of these special units).  I was proud to have known them especially to see from the inside their high ethics in work and in life. I mention a few who come to mind and apologize to those of equal ability, who I omit.

Some sought to continually understand the law to improve their skill like Paul Stone and Bill Brooks. Peter was not one of them. Others were effective leaders like Charlie Henderson, Dave Rowell, Jim Sharkey and Rick Zebrasky. Peter was not one of them. Some were relentless planners and tacticians like Dick Bergeron, Mark Cronin, and John Naimovich. Peter was not one of them. Some were highly skilled in certain areas like Brian Howe (homicides) and John Gallagher (white collar). Peter was not one of them.  Others were all around detectives skilled in all aspects of the work like Steve Lowell, John Sprague, Dave Brown, Paul Snow and countless others. Peter was more like them.