Friday, July 25, 2014
Regarding the recent Arizona execution of convicted murderer Joseph Wood, it didn’t sound pretty. And, I am a firm supporter of Capital Punishment for certain aggravated (horrendous) murders. How could anyone not be? One of the demonstrators outside the prison held a sign that said, “No One Deserves to Die.” That person is (how might I put this gently) an idiot. Of course, some murderers deserve to die.
What bothers me is that Capital Punishment is inequitably applied, and unduly delayed; but this recent execution in Arizona really mystifies me. Why does it take nearly two hours to execute someone?
I’m sure most of you have faced the necessity of ‘putting down’ an old or sick pet. I have had to do it more than once. Each time, I held the pet or comforted the pet while the final injection was administered. They died within seconds without any signs of suffering. What would a loving pet owner think if his dog or cat gasped for air for two hours? What if the veterinarian said the animal wasn’t really suffering, it was merely the residual impulses of the brain stem or some other such nonsense? Nope, no one would accept that explanation.
So now we have a system of execution for humans that seems barbaric by comparison. Whether or not Wood actually suffered is questionable. That the execution appeared to involve suffering was perceived by the witnesses and is enough. What’s going on here? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel particularly sorry for Mr. Wood. But, there has to be something more to this. Is this a backdoor attempt to influence American opinion? Are we being manipulated one more time? What’s the deal on the drugs? Why, currently, are they still reportedly experimenting with various lethal cocktails?
I know, I’ve heard the back and forth about various drug companies refusing to furnish various drugs due to fear that they will be boycotted or called-out in some negative way. But, there must be a supplier available somewhere. I just don’t believe it could be otherwise.
In Oregon, we have the ‘Death with Dignity Law.’ It’s actually not used that often; but it does give comfort to some who are terminally ill. The comfort is in knowing that, if the suffering becomes too great, you will be allowed a peaceful last few moments with family. From what I’ve heard, these folks do not suffer, or gasp for breath, as they leave this world. These drugs, as I understand it, are administered orally; and there is, of course, a strict protocol involved.
I suppose this would not work with someone about to be executed. They would potentially resist taking the pills. But, maybe they should be offered that option. If I was about to be executed, I would gladly take the pills and wash them down with a glass of water – or even better a cold beer.
However, the public would not buy this. The public does now and has always held a fascination with executions. They want to see a little suffering, but subsequently they often claim they are offended by the sight. Even the people who demonstrate outside prisons, when an execution is about to occur, are participating in a ghoulish act. They just don’t recognize their true motivations. They want to be there, a participant when the lights dim, the deed is done, the final exit. Something to tell their grandkids about. Sick – in my opinion.
Monday, July 14, 2014
An editorial in The Oregonian recently criticized (shall I say ridiculed) the $56,000 spent by the City of Portland so that 14 white male administrators could attend a multi-day seminar at the Resort of The Mountain. All expenses paid to include golf I’m sure. What were these white men, these primitives taught you might ask? Besides improving their golf game that is? Well, the seminar was about diversity, with a capital D; and to drive (the Nike Covert Tour 2.0 would be my choice – but I digress) home the understanding that white men still don’t get it. What don’t we get? That we must treat everyone equally? Nope. The answer is that we must give special consideration to some. Why? Well, that’s a little subjective – although I’ve been to several of these classes myself. However, that’s why you get to play golf. The seminar begins to make sense. It even makes a little more sense if you can play golf with an African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, or even a woman American; but they were excluded from the club (I mean seminar). Presumably, if you were a white gay male you could attend, as long as you didn’t make a big issue of it – especially while putting.
OK, some will say that the Police Bureau’s white administrators, the white Mayor (Charlie Hales) and the rest of those white boys, do need some ‘learnin.’ I would ask whether or not the Portland Police Bureau has a conference room that they could use. And / or is it really necessary to hold the conference where the green fees and associated golf necessities run in the neighborhood of $80 to $100 per outing?
Post seminar, Chief Mike Reese wrote a memo to Police Bureau members regarding the conference (apparently there was a lot of police rank-and-file interest in the subject). The Chief's comments are as follows:
“Subject: White Men as Full Diversity Partners Caucus”
“I found the Caucus thought-provoking, and there were many lessons that I learned about diversity and the culture we live in. One of the most important lessons was that there still exists pervasive and destructive messages directed at women, people of color and other groups that create barriers to success.” (Quoted from Maxine Bernstein’s article in The Oregonian, 7-14-14.)
Yes, Chief, I’m glad you’re learning these things. In fact, I would have thought that someone at your pay-grade would already know them. And, incidentally, who was the very expensive consultant who taught you these things? What is his or her background? Or was this just more about getting in touch with your feelings?
Post Script: Yes, I’m having a little fun with this. I hope the Chief and Mayor did learn something. I don’t really care about the $56,000. I don’t live in Portland, and don’t plan to ever live in Portland. Although, in many respects, it’s a nice city.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I enjoy writing this blog for many reasons. It’s like a journal, but not as solitary. And, there are rewards, mostly esoteric I suppose.
Once in a great while you touch someone and it causes them to respond. Sometimes, they agree and elaborate on their personal experience. Other times, they explain to me why I’m wrong. In either case, it makes me a better, more informed person.
In blogging, you have to have something you want to say, something you almost have to say, even if no one is particularly interested to hear it. I hope that someday my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will read these posts. I would like them to know more about me than just some yellowing photo in a cardboard box.
I wish my grandparents had kept a journal, I actually know so little about what they thought, what concerned them. Oh, I heard little bits and pieces, funny stories, tragic stories; but not too much about what they thought day to day. I will tell you one of those stories:
My grandmother inherited the family farm in Wisconsin. The stipulation was that she and my grandfather were to care for her parents (my great grandparents) until they died.
This was a fairly large farm; and, like all families in those days, everyone (including the children) were pretty much involved in work from dawn to dusk. The kids did go to school – a one room school house. The family went to church every Sunday. My grandparents worked very hard. My grandmother had a crippled finger which was bent in a strange way. “Oh,” she said. “Pa and I were loading frozen hogs on the wagon, and one of them got dropped on my hand.” “Never had a chance to get it fixed properly.”
They raised their seven children. All of them grew to adulthood and had their own families – all, that is, except Tillie. Tillie had graduated from high school and was a recent enrollee at a teaching college for girls in a nearby town. She was experimenting with lipstick, something she hadn’t done growing up. The story goes that she had unknowingly obtained some contaminated lipstick from a friend or acquaintance. She must have had a small crack in her lip. The lip became infected. She was placed in a hospital. My grandparents went to the hospital. The infection progressed unabated. My grandparents did the only thing they knew what to do. They prayed, and prayed. Tillie died. She had just turned eighteen. My grandparents never attended church after that.
As to what my grandparents believed in, as they aged, whether or not they believed in God, I really don’t know. It was something that they avoided talking about.
My mother was eight when Tillie died. Mom remembered the last day she saw her. Tillie was leaving for boarding school. My mother told Tillie, who was dressed for the occasion and anxious to begin her new life, how pretty she looked. Tillie came over to my mother, hugged her tight and kissed her.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
As a former FBI Special Agent assigned to the Weatherman Squad, Berkeley Resident Agency (mid-1970s), I’d like to make a few more comments regarding Megyn Kelly’s recent interview with Bill Ayers.
It would be interesting to know how much the Fox Network paid Ayers to appear, because he certainly did not do himself any favors. Ms. Kelly, with her rapid fire, no nonsense, interviewing technique, shredded Bill and his lame rhetoric – rhetoric that he had rehearsed over and over these many years.
During my three year assignment in Berkeley, I became an expert on the Weatherman, which subsequently evolved into the Weather Underground. I read all their communiques, analyzed their speeches and comments, charted their family, friends and acquaintances; and conducted related investigation.
Of the Agents I worked with, their feeling at the time was that Bernardine Dohrn was the real leadership and principal motivator/instigator in the Weatherman. She was considered by our group as somewhat sexy, but definitely sociopathic. Ayers, on the other hand, we often joked about; stating our belief that he joined SDS and the Weatherman so that he could finally get ‘laid.’ Our mistaken belief, at the time, was that Bill was not a sociopath - meaning he might have second thoughts about some of his activities. However, his persistent efforts over the subsequent years to alter the truth about himself and the Weatherman organization has changed my opinion on that. He continues to demonstrate that he has no real regrets, no sympathy for the harm he has done and continues to do. He appears to actually believe that he has caused no harm, and that sympathy or empathy toward others is not required. He does, in other words, demonstrate a true sociopathic personality.
During the stated interview, I took a few notes:
Ayers said in the interview: That during the period in question, there were about 20,000 bombings; and that the Weatherman “took credit for twenty.” He was attempting to give the impression that the Weatherman were pretty much small potatoes compared to all the other bombers operating. First, I’m not sure where he got the 20,000 figure. More importantly, he said, “Took credit for twenty.” “Took credit for” are the operative words. He has used that phrase many times in the past. The FBI was quite certain that the Weatherman group were responsible for many other bombings, including, in all probability, the bombing of the Berkeley Resident Agency on March 27th, 1975. An Agent, who was stationed in the office, could have easily been killed that night. The Red Guerilla Family publicly took credit for that bombing. A group unknown to us. The case was never solved, but we strongly believed the Weatherman or their immediate affiliates were behind it.
In the interview, Ayers stated how corrupt and violent the Chicago Police were and currently are; that they torture suspects to get confessions. On the other hand, he said, in his smirky, self-riotous way, that he “hangs out” and chats with police officers at the local coffee shops in the neighborhood. My advice to the Chicago Police is your reputation is already less than stellar. So, ‘Stop hanging out with a domestic terrorist, and spend more time helping your honest citizenry.’ Furthermore, ‘Stop torturing confessions out of people.’ For those who don’t appreciate sarcasm, I don’t actually believe the Chicago PD tortures people. However, I do wonder about the IQ of their officers who find it good fun to hang out with Ayers.
I wish that Kelly would have asked Ayers if he would be willing to take a polygraph regarding some of the statements he made during the recorded interview. Just to set the record straight.
This might surprise some of you, but the part that bothered me the most was how Ayers continues to denigrate the American military and those who served honorably, particularly in Vietnam. I would ask Ayers, what is wrong with you? At least, let that part of your rhetoric die-away. It so obviously demonstrates your sociopathic personality – no empathy. What about the families who lost loved-ones in Vietnam? Can’t you at least allow those families something, some peace, some semblance of pride? Have you no shame? Of course, I know the answer to that.
Bill, you suggested that a monument, perhaps more than one monument, be erected to honor American military deserters; that they were, in fact, the true heroes. Your Vietnam deserter brother, the one you called a war hero, is he as nutty as you? Does he consider himself a war hero? And, does mental illness run in your family?
I’m sure you got ‘laid’ many times as a member of the Weatherman. It sort of went with the territory didn’t it? So, I guess it paid-off for you. But, time moves on little buddy. Even Bernardine has, I’m sure, grown tired of you long ago. And, she is not the only one.
Post Script: One last thing. I don’t happen to believe that Barrack Obama’s 'friendship / acquaintance / barely-knew-him' relationship with Ayers is a big deal. We all know that most politicians would willingly lie down in a bed of snakes if it would help them get votes.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Well, I watched the second part of Megyn Kelly’s interview of Bill Ayers. It was much of the same.
I was particularly disappointed in the comments of the two formerly undercover FBI Agents; especially, Willie Reagan, who seemed completely ill-prepared to appear on television. I tend to fault the production crew. Although, maybe I’m wrong about that. Willie didn’t appear to understand Kelly’s questions and mostly rambled incoherently, unable to make a single point in his allotted time. Did the production company brief him on the questions to be asked and that the on-air time would be limited? Was not he asked to keep his answers succinct, straightforward, and informative? Did he disregard the production crew’s advice? Disappointing.
When in Berkeley, in the 70s, I handled (was the contact Agent) for a ‘beard,’ as they were referred to at the time. In that capacity, I attended meetings with Reagan and other undercover Agents. Reagan was something of a legend. However, during my meeting with him and others, I was not that impressed. I later commented to the Agent that I was handling that Willie has been ‘under’ too long. Nonetheless, Reagan did, allegedly, obtain some good information, and endured some very difficult and stressful times. If he now suffers from some sort of post-traumatic issue, I wouldn’t be surprised.
I must say that Megyn Kelly did a pretty good job. Bill Ayers has been preparing for decades to answer all the tough questions. Megyn Kelly had to commit much of her information to memory to sustain a rapid fire interview. I commend her efforts. She must be a very smart cookie.