WHITE SUPREMACISTS ARE NOT THE ONLY RACISTS

I had a major battle on Amazon about a book I said was racist. A lot of people said “No, it isn’t. The author is an avowed Boston liberal.” I’m sure he said he was and he probably believes it’s true, but he wrote like a racist. Every time he mentioned someone of color, he referred to his or her color.

 

Tears never ran down their cheeks. The tears ran down their black cheeks. The didn’t have hands. They had brown hands or black hands. Not once were the Natives of the region — somewhere in or around Guiana, I think — ever mentioned without in indicating their race. Their name might be forgotten, but never their race.


That is racism. Call it whatever you like. It is what it is.

Passive? Probably insofar as those who feel that way rarely attend racist rallies or carry fascist flags. But these are the friends who would never visit us when we lived in a Black neighborhood because they were sure they would be mugged or shot by our neighbors — most of whom were police officers, one of whom was a guard at a city prison, and two of whom were Sheriffs.

We had less crime there than we had while living on Beacon Hill. Far less. No one broke into our house or vandalized our cars. No one stole our cars (both of which were stolen while we lived on Beacon Hill) or tried to swipe things from our deliverers. Racism isn’t only the white-hooded, marching and shouting kind. It’s an attitude. A belief that says that dark-skinned people are more violent, predatory, and criminal. Different in bad ways. Dangerous. Gun-toting. The kind of “passive ‘I’m really a liberal’ ” racism that’s so easy to pretend doesn’t exist.

Without significant attitudinal changes, it will never go away.

 

Racism runs deep in this country. North, south, east and west and without regard for ethnicity or political agenda. You’ll find it in your household, your neighborhood, your church. Your “liberal friends” who won’t go anywhere that isn’t known as a “white” neighborhood. These are the people who prevent non-white people from being promoted at work, from getting scholarships, from getting into management positions.

The ones who are constantly complaining about “equal opportunity” ruining their work are because dark-skinned people are stealing their jobs. The same morons who never consider they don’t get promoted because they don’t work hard enough and aren’t very good, either. The same people who bitch that “political correctness” is keeping them from calling people “n#gg#rs.” Who would use that word — with or without political correctness as a measure?

Red lights in Roxbury

These folks are cops and judges. Office managers. Parole officers. Social workers. Teachers. They are your drinking buddies, the barkeeper, and the kids your kids play with. The first step to making this problem begin to go away is to figure out where you stand on this matter. Are you a racist? A nice, quiet, suburban racist? Are you? Think about it. There has never been a better time to take a good hard look at who you are and where you really stand.

Get back to me on it.

WE ABOLISHED RECREATIONAL ALCOHOL IN 1920 AND NO ONE HAS HAD A DRINK SINCE

Once upon a time so many years ago, Americans had national fit of self-righteousness.We decided alcohol was the root of all evil. To rectify the perceived problem, the nation rose up on its collective hind legs and passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. and amendment which established a legal prohibition of the manufacture and consumption of recreational alcoholic beverages in the United States. The separate (but closely related)  Volstead Act specified how authorities would enforce Prohibition, including the definition of “intoxicating liquor” — for anyone who needed an explanation.

VotedDry

The folks who needed an explanation were not your average Jill or Joe. Jill and Joe knew how to get drunk just fine, but apparently lawmakers, politicians and gangsters-to-be needed clarification. The gangsters needed to know what they had to do to cash in on this opportunity and the others, how to persecute people in the name of the law. Many beverages were excluded for medical and religious purposes. It was okay to get drunk as long it was accompanied by an appropriate degree of religious fervor. Or a doctor’s note.

That left a lot of room through which an entire generation strolled. Many people began drinking during Prohibition. Those who had never imbibed before were so titillated by the idea, they had their first alcoholic beverage while it was illegal. This, no doubt, made it more fun Whereas previously, alcoholism had no social cachet, during prohibition it became fashionable. As with most things, making it more difficult, expensive, and illegal made it more desirable and sexy. Regular folks, society leaders, and criminals all basked in the glow of illegality. A whole criminal class was born from prohibition. If that isn’t clear proof that legislating morality doesn’t work, I don’t know what is. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now. Whether the issue is booze, drugs, abortion, prayer, same-sex marriage, or term limits … law and morality don’t mix.

prohibition-6

Passing a law limiting how many times you can elect a candidate rather than voting for a better (or at least different) candidate won’t improve the quality of legislators. You’ll just wind up voting for a bunch of clowns and opportunists who don’t give a rat’s ass about government while dedicated potential candidates won’t bother to run because there’s no future in it. Take a look at our current GOP and you can see the results in full color with flashing lights. Making drugs illegal, especially marijuana, has created an entire drug culture — exactly the way making booze illegal created the underworld of crime. Now that it’s (mostly) legal, the prices have dropped and it’s not such a big deal after all, though it’s a great calmer downer for dogs. The knee-jerk “lets solve social issues by making bad laws” causes considerable pain and suffering. As often as not, you end up legislating your way into a vast sea of exciting new problems you didn’t have before and quite possibly never imagined.

Throughout history, “morality” laws have failed. Monumentally and spectacularly. You’d think we’d have already noticed this, but ignorance being bliss, we don’t.

If you never drank before, bet this picture could change your mind.

We haven’t learned anything, maybe it’s because no one recognized that history is repeating itself. Many people don’t know any history, so why would they notice?The 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and took effect a year later, on January 17, 1920. Immediately, the demand for liquor increased. Producers, suppliers and transporters were turned into criminals, but drinkers were not prosecuted. What could go wrong with that? The entire justice system — courts, cops and prisons — was buried under a landslide of booze-related busts. Organized crime went from a minor issue to a major social force. Now that is progress!

Having achieved results way beyond the wildest dreams of the amendment’s creators, prohibition was repealed in 1933 via the Twenty-first Amendment, the only time in American history an amendment has been repealed. Today, whenever I hear someone declare how we need a constitutional amendment to solve a political or social problem, I contemplate how successfully we got rid of booze in 1919.

No one has had a drink since.

THE SOCIOPATHIC CONTRACTOR – BY ELLIN CURLEY

In 1987, my ex husband and I, along with our two children, spent weekends and summers in a one bedroom cottage on my mother’s property in Easton, CT. My grandparents had lived in the cottage when I was growing up. It was fine for them but at this point, both kids were sleeping in the living room. It was time to get a bigger house. So we decided to build one on a piece of adjoining property that Mom gave me.

We hired an architect and spent nine months designing a beautiful but budget friendly house. Unfortunately, our architect was calculating costs based on the prior year’s cost per foot. And costs were apparently rising at a ridiculous rate. When we put the house out to bids from contractors, the bids were twice what we had budgeted. We couldn’t afford to build our dream house anymore!

Only one bid came in low enough that we could just barely stretch to afford it. It came from a general contractor we knew personally. Mac was a well-liked, well-respected member of our tennis club. He had even been president of the club. We knew his friends and family. We asked him why he could put in such a low bid. He said he was just starting in the contracting business and wanted to use our house as a marketing show piece. He’d do it for cost and not expect a profit.

Mac working on the house foundation

We drafted an air tight contract (my ex was a lawyer). We broke ground. We wrote checks. The house was framed out but not enclosed. Winter was coming. We had put in all the money we were contractually obligated to put in. It was up to Mac to put in his share. On paper.

Mac told us he didn’t have the money to finish the house. If we wanted to protect the structure from the coming winter, we would have to pay for everything going forward, above and beyond the contract.

We were between a rock and a hard place. We’d lose our significant investment and our house if we cut our losses and walked away. We were frantic. We ended up selling three of my thirteen acres of land to help finance the now much more expensive house. We also borrowed money from my parents and went deeper into debt. We finished the house but it took forever. I kept paying all the bills I received but contractors either didn’t show up or came but did a shoddy job. We couldn’t understand what was going on.

Me and my kids as house framed out

Until one contractor came to me, toward the end of the process. He complained that Mac had not paid him until he threatened to sue. When he did get a check for $2500, it bounced. Mac had told him that the reason he was stiffing the contractors on their bills was that WE were not paying our bills to Mac. I was shocked. I showed the contractor my canceled checks to Mac, covering everything.

I hired a lawyer. He said that this was the worst case of construction fraud he’d seen in 15 years of practice. Apparently, Mac had just taken most of our money for himself. He was doing the same thing to another family at the same time. When contractors demanded payment, he would use some of my money or the other family’s money to pay them off and get them off his back. He was robbing Peter to pay Paul and visa versa. He was paying the contractors just enough money to get the jobs done – eventually. It took a year and a half to build our house.

My son on the building site

We fired Mac and finished the house without him. His partner told us that he would never work with Mac again. He also told us that the estimate Mac gave us was based on no calculations and no facts. Mac just came up with a number he thought we’d accept.

We couldn’t sue Mac because our lawyer couldn’t find any of our money. Mac was broke. There was no money to recover. No one could figure out what he had done with all the money he took from us, that didn’t go into our house. It came to over $200,000! His wife swore he didn’t spend it on his own house or family.

Years later, his wife discovered that Mac had conned her as well. He was supposed to be contributing his income to the college funds of his three kids. There was no college account. He was also supposed to be filing and paying the family’s tax returns. He not only didn’t pay taxes, for years he never even filed returns. The IRS came after his wife, who worked, and garnished her salary. That’s when she left Mac, taking her three kids with her.

Mac was obviously a sociopath. He screwed a lot of people. The building of my house turned out to be one of the major stress periods and financial drains of my life. I love my house and am still living in it 28 years later. But it is in spite of all the angst we suffered during the building process.

I recently renewed my friendship with Mac’s ex wife. We commiserate together over being taken to the cleaners by Mac. We still have no idea where all the money went. We think it might have gone into a land deal that went south. Mac always had some new money-making scheme in the works. But we’ll never know. They say that building a house is throwing money into a black hole. Well, in our case, it really was a black hole.

SEND IN THE FEDS HE SAID, AND THEN HE DID – RICH PASCHALL

The Streets of Chicago, Rich Paschall

When I was in Medellin, Colombia, someone had brought up the name of Pablo Escobar when we were out for food and drinks.  Escobar was an infamous drug lord who had lived in the Andes mountains near Medellin.  My friend commented unhappily that they have to keep telling people that Escobar was killed in the 1990s, meaning he does not live there anymore.

1931 Photo Credit: cta Historical Photo Collection
1931 –  Photo Credit: cta Historical Photo Collection

I told him I understand. We have to keep telling people that Al Capone no longer lives in Chicago.  The crime boss died at his home in Florida in 1947.  Sometimes the truth does not help you to shake your reputation.

At the present time you may hear that Chicago is the murder capital of the country, just like in the Capone days. The leader of our nation has said that crime here is “totally out of control.”  He even tweeted recently that they might send in the feds if we do not solve the problem.  While we are all dismayed at the uptick in violence in our city, one thing we know for certain: we are not in the top ten in murders per capita on anyone’s list.  We are not in the top twenty either.  Depending on who is doing the measuring and what size cities they go by, we may even miss the top 30.

I know it is hard to believe.  Google it!  You will find many news stories about Chicago, but you will also find plenty of articles about cities complaining they have a higher rate.  You will find many web sites with rankings and wonder where we are.  We’ll wait right here.  Then come back and let’s talk about this.

The murder rate was up in 2016. We have not seen such rates since the 1990s.  It was a big increase over 2015, but when you look at this on a per capita basis for large USA cities, you may ask, “What about Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis?  What about Baltimore and Dayton?  What about Milwaukee?  Can we send the Feds there, too?  Can we send them to Atlanta and Houston and Camden?”  In fact there are many cities with increases, so why does Chicago get so much more coverage than the others?

Perhaps it is because we are the third largest city in the country.  In comparison to New York and Los Angeles, the crime numbers are much higher.  It is easy to look at the three together, as many newspaper articles are fond of doing.  From that vantage point, we look very bad.

Lake Shore Drive
Lake Shore Drive

Perhaps it is because we are the center of the country.  We have the busiest airports.  We are at the crossroads of the nation.  Highways, railways and even ocean carriers move through here, making this their hub and their home.  As a center of commerce, there is no overstating Chicago’s significance.

Perhaps it is because the 44th President of the United States hails from here and the current leader — number 45 — would like to embarrass him.  Perhaps it is because Chicago voted overwhelmingly for his opponent and he is trying to make an example of us.  Or not.  This is likely a minor issue as we were already getting plenty of coverage.  But why don’t we read tweets about any of the cities in the Top 10 of murder rate per capita?

No matter where we rank, the problem has grown and something needs to be done, but send in the Feds?  Absolutely.  No big city mayor is going to turn down help fighting crime.  But there is a slight problem with the leader’s promise.  “What does it even mean?” 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale asked. “It is so vague.”  What kind of help is he sending?

Representative from Chicago, Luis Gutierrez, (my Congressman, by the way) is not impressed with our leader “beating up” Chicago.  “Chicago’s murder epidemic is more serious than a late night twitter threat from the new Tweeter-in-Chief,” he said.  Other Chicago leaders from local aldermen to the Cardinal are unhappy with the treatment.

Instead of vague tweets, where is the partnership with the Justice Department, the FBI, DEA?  If there are resources to send, our mayor is all for it.  We are a big city with big city problems.  There are certain types of help that would be meaningful and possibly effective.  “Chicago, like other cities right now that are dealing with gun violence, wants the partnership with federal law enforcement entities in a more significant way than we’re having today,” Mayor Emanuel said.

In a breaking story this weekend, 20 more ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents are being assigned to their office here.  A request for this help is long-standing and the Mayor mentioned it to then president-elect 45 in a December 7th meeting (apparently fearless leader forgot about it).  Federal gun prosecutions in this District fall way behind other big cities and resources were needed.  If more agents have any effect at all, we know who will take credit.

Chicago lakefront
Chicago lakefront

It is tough to be in the spotlight, especially when the light is made brighter by a guy with a Twitter account.  We are a world-class city with world-class attractions.  We have fine airports and railroad stations.  We have a lakefront that runs the length of the city with land that is open and free for all.

We have one of the largest fresh water lakes that supplies our drinking water and our summer playground.  When I stand at the Planetarium out on the lake, I see what I think, in my biased viewpoint, is the greatest skyline in the country.  If someone wants to send help, we are glad to have you.  If someone wants to wage a Twitter war, can he pick on St. Louis and the Cardinals instead?

We’ve seen what a mess “federal” intervention has made in Oregon. Does ANYONE want that in their own city? I’m sure none of us do!


Sources:

Murders Up in U.S. Cities–But Crime Rate Still Near Record Lows,” Time, December 20, 2016
Highest Murder Rate Cities,” Neighborhood Scout, Location, Inc.
Most Dangerous Cities in the United States,” World Atlas
FBI’s Violent Crime Statistics For Every City In America,” CBS local, October 22, 2015
Emanuel to Trump: Chicago Would Welcome Federal Partnership to Quell Violence,” nbcchicago.com, January 25, 2017
Rahm To Trump: ‘Straight Up,’ No Troops In Chicago,” dnainfo.com, January 25, 2017
20 More ATF Agents On Their Way To Chicago,” Chicago Sun-Times, February 3, 2017

THE NEXT TO LAST STOP – RICH PASCHALL

The Inconvenience Store, by Rich Paschall

It was a peaceful summer evening.  The sun had just set.  The air was warm and the light breeze was refreshing.  Jorge had walked three blocks from his small apartment to the local convenience store for a Big Drink and Big Sandwich combination.  He had little food at home and did not feel like making anything anyway.  It felt good to take a walk on such a pleasant evening.  There was nothing quite like summer in the city.

There were a few others in the small store but Jorge paid no attention to them.  He went directly to the soft drink machine and then on to the Sandwich Stop.  After he made his selection, he noticed there was a bit of a commotion at the front of the store.

Three young men rushed in.  They looked like they were in their late teens or early twenties.  Two were tall and wearing white t-shirts and baggy shorts.  The third was a large guy wearing a black sleeveless shirt with some design Jorge could not make out, and black baggy jeans.  The big guy was also carrying a machine gun or automatic rifle.  Jorge was unfamiliar with weapons and was not too sure.

Do Not Cross
Do Not Cross

“Don’t anyone move,” the big guy commanded.  “Don’t anyone make a sound neither, not a sound.”

One of the others told the cashier to give him all the money if he wanted to live, and the third thief looked down all the aisles to see if anyone was hiding or there might be trouble there.  The few people in the store had not moved.  The aisle checker then stopped at the cooler and reached in for a twelve pack of beer, but paused like he did not know if he should steal it.

“Just take it,” the big guy shouted, “and let’s go.” He grabbed the beer and the thief at the counter only collected a small amount of money which he put in a backpack.

As they prepared to leave, there was a small whimper from the next aisle from where Jorge was standing.  In response, the big guy sprayed the aisles with bullets.  Jorge hit the floor.  There was a sharp burning sensation in his abdomen.  His head was groggy and he could not make himself move at all.  He slowly drifted away from the conscious world.

The cashier gasped and as the big guy got to the door he turned and sent a few shots in the direction of the cash register.  The convenience store worker had already hit the floor and shots went over the top of him and heavily damaged the display behind the counter.

As the thieves got to their car, the police were pulling up to the lot.  The cashier had set off a silent alarm when the trouble started and the response had finally arrived.  There was an exchange of gun fire as the young men were able to get in the car and out of the lot, with a squad car in pursuit.

police car

Two officers wearing bullet proof vests had their guns out and cautiously entered the store.  The cashier saw them in a monitor high on a wall and shouted, “Help them, help them.”

One officer carefully went around the counter to find the cashier lying on the floor.  He approached slowly with his gun pointed at the young man.  He had to be sure it was not a trick.  Finally he helped the trembling cashier to his feet.

The other officer looked down the aisles and immediately called for medical attention for multiple victims.  He searched the aisles before going over to one of the victims.  By the time he checked to see if the first one was alive, more police were in the store and in the parking lot.  One ambulance came onto the lot closely followed by another.  A police officer outside was now obviously taking charge of the scene and ordering onlookers away.  Paramedics rushed into the store and observed pools of blood in two different aisles.  There was a lot of damage caused by the bullets of just one man.

The next thing Jorge was aware of feeling was the burning of his stomach.  It was the sharpest pain of his life.  His head was heavy and he could not open his eyes.  It seemed, however, that he was now lying on his back, rather than face down on the tile floor of the convenience store.  In his stupor he could not tell where he was or even if he was alive.  He drifted off again.

Three adults were taken to The Resurrection Hospital.  It was the closest trauma center.  The Catholic hospital had become familiar with treating gunshot wounds.  It seems they saw someone every week who had been gunned down.  The victims may have suffered from a gang dispute, domestic violence, armed robbery or were just innocent bystanders.  The increase of guns had brought an increase of  gunshot victims to the Emergency Room.

Sometimes the medical staff could do little more than call the chaplain to say a prayer.

Back at the convenience store was one more victim.  A ten-year old boy was going to be taken directly to the morgue.  He would not whimper again.

JUSTICE IS BLIND, DEAF, AND FREQUENTLY DUMB AND RACIST. OTHERWISE, IT’S JUST FINE. – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #77


It’s another round of provocative questioning from Fandango. Today’s question involves blind justice. 

I have never believed that our system of justice was genuinely just. I don’t think a lot of our laws are just and didn’t think so even when I was a child.

How could a country founded on slavery have real justice? We had to have a war to free those slaves, but that wasn’t enough. Everything we’ve tried to do to create equality has failed. Blind justice? Deaf, dumb, racist — and for sale for the right price. It has always been obvious that those who have enough money get away with murder. The poor were lucky to escape prison for smoking a joint.

Now, of course, smoking joints is mostly legal, except at the federal level where it is still a crime and there are tens of thousands, maybe millions of pot smokers in jail for something that’s now legal. Then there are millions of poor people, colored and pale in prison because they couldn’t afford a decent lawyer.

It doesn’t mean that none of the poor or brown or black or tan people didn’t commit a crime. Maybe they did, but considering all the other issues — poverty, color, being in some other way “different” or in the wrong place,  it’s hard to tell. Add that to district attorneys who are determined to get guilty verdicts because that’s how they get promoted. Here and everywhere in this country, our system of justice is “pay as you go.” I know that race is a big issue, but I think the real bottom-line evil is money. Rich folks don’t have to obey the same laws we do. If, by some chance a very wealthy person gets nicked by the cops for something — like massive fraud, for example — they have that special color that enable freedom for even the worst criminals: money, which in this country, is green.

A really rich black person will win over a very poor person of any other color person because money almost always wins. We are shocked to our boot straps when the rich lose in court.

Americans believe that greed is good, that there’s no such thing as too much money, that we all deserve as much as we can get any way we can get it. It’s not in our constitution, but it’s deeply part of our culture.

If we don’t get past it, we will wind up a species without a planet, let alone a government.

WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Considering how the world has changed, I suspect more of us have become aware that “winning” isn’t everything and sometimes, not even a good thing. It all depends on what you won. And there can be a lot of emotional conflict about whether what you’ve done is winning or not.

My ex-husband, Larry Kaiser, was a young litigation attorney in New York City in 1979. His law firm assigned Pro Bono Appeals cases to junior associates as part of a public service program.

Larry was given the appeal of a defendant, Eric Michaels, who had been convicted, in a second trial, of rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. His first trial had been declared a mistrial. It was clear that the defendant was rightfully convicted. He had definitely done it. So Larry had to look for a procedural irregularity that he could exploit to try to get the conviction overturned on appeal. That was his job, unsavory as it was.

Larry discovered that the trial judge, Judge Arnold Fraiman, had declared a mistrial for a questionable reason – he and several jurors were scheduled to leave on vacations. I believe the judge even had his wife and his packed suitcases in the courtroom. If this was seen as an abuse of discretion by the appellate court, it would invalidate the guilty verdict of the second trial. The entire second trial would be considered invalid as a violation of double jeopardy. You can only be tried once for any crime or crimes.

Larry was drowning in work so I helped him write this Pro Bono brief. It was very much a joint effort. I was practicing law at a small New York City law firm at the time. We won the appeals case and Eric Michaels was released from prison.

One morning shortly after the appellate verdict was rendered, I was getting out of bed and I heard Larry yelling from the living room. He had just opened the New York Times and found his case on the front page! The misconduct of Judge Fraiman was considered a big enough deal to warrant a prominent story. This was particularly true because his misconduct resulted in the release of a convicted rapist. The District Attorney of New York had described Eric Michaels’ crimes as some of the more vicious crimes prosecuted by the state in years.

Judge Fraiman was now in the spotlight. Larry was interviewed by several newspapers. Over the next few days, reporters dug into the Judge’s prior cases. And they discovered that the exact same thing had happened before. Judge Fraiman had previously declared a mistrial for the same reason – he was due to leave on vacation. His prior mistrial declaration had also been considered inappropriate by an appellate court. And again, an appellate court had released another guilty defendant back onto the streets because of Judge Fraiman’s actions in court.

This was now a really big judicial scandal. The story stayed in the news for a while and destroyed Judge Fraiman’s reputation. I think he may have been censured by the judiciary or by the Bar Association.

Larry always had mixed feelings about this case. He had won a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times.On the other hand, he helped get a rapist released from jail. This is often the plight of lawyers in the criminal field. It was also a prime reason I didn’t go into criminal law.

Winning isn’t everything.

CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #75 – CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS


Have you ever committed a crime? If yes, tell us about it to the extent you feel comfortable doing so. If not, is there a crime you might like to commit (i.e., fantasized about committing) if you knew in advance that you’d never be caught or prosecuted for it?


Some of the police are trying to remain under cover.

Can I be arrested for thinking? All through this pandemic, watching our world crumble, the economy collapse, and so many good people dying … and you wonder why the really evil ones are still doing fine.What happened to Karma? Are those people really demons and thus immune to the diseases of humanity.

I have committed no crime, but some days, I really, really, REALLY want to. I’m sure I’d feel fine about it and probably, so would you.

 

SHARING MY WORLD SUCH AS IT IS

Share Your World – 6-23-2020


Questions:


Have you ever ‘dined and dashed” (i.e. eaten the meal and then run out the restaurant door without paying)?

No. Who does that?

Have you ever been in a car accident and either left the scene of the accident (providing it was a fender bender and not serious) or denied culpability for causing it when you did, (if it were minor or serious)?

No but I’ve been the recipient of that behavior not once, but at least half a dozen times. It isn’t okay, kids. Really, it isn’t.

(Oldie which has been asked many times before)   Have you ever found a wallet or purse or some money (over $20) in the street and just taken it, thinking ‘finders keepers, losers weepers?   Or would you be ‘good’ and hand it in?  

No. I once found a twenty on the street and gave it to a homeless guy.

What was the last thing you stole or shoplifted?   If you never ever considered doing that, tell us your secret! 

I think I was a young teenager. I took a  pair of undies, then I went and put them back. I’m not built for the criminal life. 🙂

I’m glad I’m not supposed to act happy or appreciative. I’m kind of miserable and don’t think I could come up with an answer.

WHAT WE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN – RICH PASCHALL

From the battleground, by Rich Paschall

With the continual unrest across the country and the prospects that in some places it will not end soon, many may be asking themselves, “How did things get to be like this? When did our country become so racist, so divided?”  I have an unfortunate answer for those who would be asking. It has always been this way.

The division of authority and power between black and white Americans goes back to the beginnings of the colonies.  In 1565 the Spanish explorer who founded St. Augustine Florida brought African slaves with him. African slaves were brought to the British colonies by 1619. Massachusetts legalized slavery in 1641. Companies were set up to deal with the slave trade as if the people brought here were just commodities.

Landing of Negroes at Jamestown from a Dutch Man-of-war, 1619. In this image, the Dutch sailors, who have captured slaves from a Spanish ship, are negotiating a trade with the Jamestown settlers for food. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

In 1705 the Virginia Slave codes stated that anyone brought in to the land who was non-Christian could be a slave. Apparently, they thought this included Native Americans. Well, there is a whole host of regrettable “milestones” along the bumpy road to becoming a nation.

It’s no secret that the authors of the Constitution struggled with the idea of slavery. The Southern colonies were much more dependent on the free labor to work under the hot sun. Their booming agricultural economy relied on the slaves they had bought. Rather than have no country, the compromise was to allow this system of racism and slavery, mostly in the South. When slavery was put to an end by a horrific civil war, the racism did not end. In fact, in many places, it has not ended yet.

With a war ripping America apart in the 19th Century, you would think things would change by the 20th Century. Unfortunately, the story of the first 65 years of the 20th Century is one filled with white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Klu Klux Klan. They terrorized black citizens and any white person who would dare to stand up for them. Whipping and lynching were a way of life in some communities. By the way, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky seems to be blocking an anti-lynching bill in 2020. You read that correctly. 2020!

All the racism and discrimination in schools and housing and employment were put to an end, on paper anyway, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. It did not, however, put an end to the racism taught in the home and in certain school districts across the land. With no national standard and decisions on curriculum made in every community, school boards were free to incorporate whatever version of history and sometimes religion that they approved. Even some local pastors perpetuated the myth that some people are superior to others. You still hear it today.

When children hear hate and lies as they grow up, in the home, in school, and in church, these lessons become the beliefs that they cling to in adulthood. Racism is taught. It is the only way people will grow up to be such haters. It is passed down through the generations.

Many police departments, big and small, have officers who believe they must keep “those people” in line. At one time that meant black, but with racism spewed by many of our national politicians, it could also mean immigrants, non-Christian religions, gay, or any other “non-conforming” groups.

Those who do not see it, do not care to see it. It is an ugly part of our history some would like to hide away, but like the Nazi atrocities of World War II, we can not hide what has been going on, nor should we ever forget.

When there have been protests and riots in the past, they usually die down after a few days, but this time they continue, as a nation weary from a pandemic and unemployment looks on. One thing that keeps the people fired up is the childish and hateful tweets of the orange one in Washington. His tear gassing of protestors to have a picture taken of himself in front of a church holding a Bible, could not have been more ridiculous. Does anyone think he has ever read it? Any of it?

In a scary development reminiscent of a sad time in the 20th Century, Attorney General Barr deployed a special detail of police in black shirts, without any identification, to patrol the area around the White House. If you can not identify them in their helmets and dark glasses and no uniforms, are they free to commit crimes on behalf of the WH?

Some people ask, how can anyone follow Trump? Don’t they see what kind of person he is? I even wondered that here in “What We Don’t Understand.” Some people even think of his followers as some sort of cult, and perhaps some of them are. But here’s the thing. They are him. They are just like him. They grew up with racism in their hearts and they finally have a leader that will allow them to express it. It’s not that they don’t see it.  They do see and they are pleased. The more he tweets and lies to them, the greater he is in their racist eyes.

Those who were taught racism will be hard to win over, but perhaps we can at least silence them again. If the orange one is to return for another term, however, …

Sources: “Bill Barr Deploys His Own Army Of Federal Correctional Officers,” by Emily Goodwin, Daily Mail, dailymail.co.uk June 4, 2020.
Civil Rights Act (1964),” ourdocuments.gov
Slavery in the United States,” en.wikipedia.org
See Also: “What We Don’t Understand,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com May 12, 2019.
Black Like Me,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com June 5, 2020.

WHERE’S THE BIG CHANGE? – By Marilyn Armstrong

When Harvey Weinstein got nailed, everybody dumped all over him. Which I’m sure he deserved. They even tossed him out of the Hollywood Important People Club, ignoring all the other sexual predators who have been operating there since Hollywood became Hollywood.

Sexual predators are everywhere. They are in our homes, our churches, our schools, our sports teams. The number of adults and children raped by family members, boyfriends or girlfriends of family members is astronomical. Add to that the kids hit on by coaches, teachers, scout leaders, priests, pastors, bosses, dates, and total strangers. We even have one in the White House.

This was an ongoing horror show when I was a kid with a pedophile father. It has not gotten better. Victimized men and women still can’t talk about it. The weak laws and pathetic prosecution of these crimes make it unlikely a child who tries to report an adult will be believed. We automatically assume a middle or upper-class person with no criminal record can’t really be a criminal has never been true.

Not true. Never was true.

Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein – A real pair of winners.

No criminal record usually means “never caught in the act.”

Is this going to change soon? It’s nice that Weinstein got whacked, but all the other Hollywood guys who do the same thing and have since … forever? I couldn’t believe everyone was so “shocked.”


SHOCKED? SERIOUSLY? REALLY?


Aw, c’mon. You’re kidding, right? Not only do laws need changing, but attitudes need changing. Given the state of the world, not to mention judges who are determined to not ruin that poor young lad’s life by making him do time for rape? Call me cynical, but I don’t see justice happening. I don’t even see a hint of it happening. Especially not in this bizarre world in which we live.

I do not see a single substantial change in the way unwanted sexual advances and/or rape are dealt with today than they were 50 years ago. We have supposedly better “laws” but we don’t observe them. We don’t even pretend to follow them. The courts don’t follow them, the police and prosecutors ignore them.

Women know it. And that’s why we don’t report problems. We don’t report date rape and we don’t report rapist fathers or mom’s boyfriend who can’t keep his hands off us. Or the boss who turns our working life into a living hell. Why bother? It won’t change anything and we aren’t going to save other women from the same fate.

The beat goes on.

I COULD BE THIS YEAR’S SINGULAR SENSATION – Marilyn Armstrong

This has been a heavy news year and I can’t imagine anyone arguing this point. No matter where you stand, the news hasn’t just been The News. It has been … NEWS.

Giant hurricanes. Massive flooding, Russians trying to steer our election. A moronic president and his equally moronic cabinet. Destruction of everything we believe in or at least an attempt to destroy everything in which we believe.  Mass shootings. More mass shooting. Fires sweeping entire states. Sex scandals that will eventually include every man in Hollywood.

With all of that going on, there has been hardly any reporting of gruesome crimes and criminals. Usually, we are demented about serial killers and torture … but we haven’t had anything that could top the mass dementia that has taken over our government. That’s why I was thrilled to find this headline from overseas:


Italian lodger tells police he is ‘guilty’ of cannibal murder. 

I bet our newscasters would be thrilled to have a shot at something really juicy. Since the demise of Jeffrey Dahmer, there hasn’t been an incredibly disgusting, gory serial murderer to liven up the news cycle. It’s been all politics, government scandal … and tweets.

TWEETS! Do you believe it? I don’t. It must be fake news.

That got me wondering. Who among the outside world would I like knowing was reading our stuff? I know a few of my favorite authors drop by if I review one of their books. They are polite and send thank you notes. It makes me feel all warm and cozy, knowing at least some of the things I write is getting read by people who care about it.

But how cool to be followed by a cannibal? What a coup! That would definitely come with bragging rights!

While Garry was working, we occasionally got phone calls late at night from convicted serial killers, sometimes critiquing his performance. Turns out, they watched him on the telly. Who’d have guessed serial killers watch the news … and have phone privileges? They also sent Christmas cards and occasionally, letters.

Perpetrators of gruesome murders currently on trial used to wave and wink at him in the courtroom. I’m sure other reporters were jealous.

From my perspective, it was intensely creepy and occasionally, downright frightening. It also made me wonder if these weirdo’s fondness for my husband and his work might encourage one of these “fans” to drop by for an unexpected visit. They clearly knew how and where to track him down. And if they found Garry, they’d find me. They were his fans, not mine.

On second thought, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I’m could be a big hit in prison. If seven or eight thousand of my followers are actually incarcerated, that might explain those thousands of nameless followers who never leave comments or even a “like.”

By any chance are you a big literary agent? Just asking.