Saturday, August 28, 2010

"The Extreme Future" by Dr. James Canton (2007)

"The enemies of the future are fast at work generating numerous threats. From hackers to terrorists to criminals to extremists to rogue states --- they all have one thing in mind: Win the battle of the future. Profit from our ruin, so to speak. This is the central challenge of our time. This one trend will define the outcome of the Extreme Future." (p. 219)

"Legitimacy is inextricably linked to operating within the rule of law." (p. 221)

"Hackers, terrorists, and criminals. Securing the future will be a challenge for nations that respect individual rights." (p. 242)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ned McAdoo and the Molly Maguires: Chapter Three

Buy "Ned McAdoo and the Molly Maguires" here:

On the evening of the day that he met Maggie Mulhearn, Archie told us during dinner of the unusual engagement.
"Who are the Molly Maguires?" Katy asked the question that was also in my mind. Given that Pop later confessed to me how he had indulged that afternoon in a celebratory pig out and snooze, in retrospect I'm surprised at how much he knew about John Kehoe and the so-called Molly Maguires when he responded to our collective curiosity.
"There are two kinds of coal in Pennsylvania," he began, swallowing a bit noisily the piece of pork chop he had been chewing. "There's soft coal. Bituminous. That's the most common and it's mined out around Pittsburgh. The second kind is anthracite, or... Ned?" He looked my way. The mashed potatoes on their way to my mouth stopped in mid air. The gravy dribbled from them back down onto my plate. This had always been one of Pop's favorite pedagogic ploys, as far back as I can recall.
"Uh... hard coal?" I ventured, hoping that logic ruled in the realm of coal mining.
"Very good, Ned," said my Father, showing no apparent pride that I had managed to guess the obvious. "Hard coal. Yes. Not so common, and today not very significant. But in the second half of the 19th century big money was being made in hard coal. By railroads such as the Reading, and by the people who owned and ran them. Naturally," he continued, "like almost everyone else on the planet at that time, the hard coal miners were exploited."
"What does that mean... exploited?" Katy questioned him.
"It means used... taken advantage of," Mom chimed in, this brief interruption in his disquisition affording the Old Man opportunity enough to shovel in a big fork-full of mashed spuds and wash them down with a big gulp of the white wine he was having with his dinner.
"Right," resumed Archie, delicately wiping some gravy from his fleshy, pink lower lip. "The miners in eastern Pennsylvania, where the hard coal was mined --- they were mostly Irish, by the way --- were required to work very long hours for very little pay. The work was exceptionally dangerous, even for a time when thousands of railroad and industrial workers were killed and injured every year."
"So who are the Molly Maguires?" Katy impatiently persisted, as she always did when Dad got into his professorial posture.
"The Molly Maguires," he went on, betraying only a very tiny bit of annoyance at this second, and apparently unwanted, interruption (his plate was clean, his wine glass empty now), "were Irish miners who rebelled against mine and railroad companies and took matters into their own hands.
"It was a secret society, the Molly Maguires, and its members shot mine owners and operators, blew up railroads and mines, and generally tried to make life as miserable for the capitalists as they made it for the miners and their families. But it was a no win situation."
"What do you mean?" asked Katy.
"I know," I said, stealing Archie's thunder. "They were all caught and hanged."
"How do you know that?" Archie inquired, a little disappointed that I had gotten to reveal the climax to his story.
"Because," I said with some satisfaction, "I just remembered that I saw the movie on the late show one night."
"Oh, yeah," the Old Man reflected, caressing the right side of his bulbous nose with a pensive forefinger. "I remember the film. Do you recall it, Karen?"
Mom had gotten up and begun clearing the dinner dishes as a prelude to dessert. "Not really," she replied. "I know we saw it years ago. But I can't say it left too much of an impression."
Mom was a Philly girl. The rest of Pennsylvania was an unknown wilderness to her, except for a couple of favorite Pocono resorts, which were the "known wilderness" in her mind. The history of the hard coal region was of no moment to her.
"Sean Connery and Richard Harris, wasn't it, Ned?" Pop turned back to me, Mom in his view having nothing useful to contribute.
"Sean Connery for sure," I responded. Connery was still a big star in the 1980s and on into the nineties. "I'm not sure who any of the other guys in it were."
"Well, we ought to rent it," Archie reasoned. In the next instant he was pushing himself ponderously back from the table.
"Don't you want dessert?" Mom sounded a bit startled, and where Archie and dessert were concerned, rightly so.
"I'm going over to Movies Unlimited to see if I can get that flick," he declared. "I'll have my dessert with the movie."
And so, a half hour later our family of four was gathered round the electronic hearth in the basement family room, watching a film released in 1970 by Paramount Pictures. The movie is called "The Molly Maguires," staring, yes, Sean Connery, Richard Harris, and a soap opera rage of that era named Samantha Eggar. Directed by Martin Ritt, a film maker with a reputation for making "message films," the movie captures the legend well enough:
The action opens with Richard Harris, playing the Pinkerton detective James McParlan, arriving at Shenandoah in central-eastern Pennsylvania, where he's been dispatched by Alan Pinkerton, who's been put on the payroll of the Reading Railroad to infiltrate and expose the Mollies. Under the alias of Jamie McKenna, McParlan takes a job down in the mines, meanwhile spreading around the local pub crowd the largess he attributes to "passing the queer" (fencing counterfeit money). The upshot is that Connery a/k/a Black Jack Kehoe, a fellow miner, initiates McParlan into his little band of desperadoes, a tight-knit band of terrorists within the ranks of the benevolent Irish social club, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Katy wasn't much interested in this hoary yarn of labor exploitation and unrest. After gobbling a slab of Mom's chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, she went to her room upstairs in search of more rewarding pursuits. The movie offered enough action to keep me interested, as the little band of Irish terrorists tore up the Reading's tracks with their black powder charges and ambushed offensive mine bosses in their victims' stables and outhouses. Mom stayed on to the end, too, though she insisted that one light stay lit --- Archie likes the room dark as a theater when he watches a video --- and she read some company documents she'd brought home in her briefcase, only occasionally casting a fleeting glance at the action on the screen.
But the Old Man was entranced. As the legendary tale lumbered inexorably to its tragic conclusion --- McParlan's betrayal of his comrades and his secret oath, their trial and execution, his rejection by Samantha Eggar (whose loyalty lay with her mine patch community), McParlan's departure from the coal fields with his pockets filled with money but his heart just as heavy with unrequited love --- Pop pumped down three big slabs of Mom's extra-moist devil's food cake (but no ice cream), sluiced down with about half a dozen cups of coffee. In fairness to my Dad, I note here that his concession to a healthier lifestyle that evening, as almost always, was decaf coffee sweetened artificially. This concession, pushed and policed by my mother, assuaged any twinge of guilt he might otherwise have felt about the three desserts.
Then, with Sean Connery and his comrades duly hanged by the neck until dead, and the chocolate cake (or what was left of it) duly sealed in saran wrap, Mom and I headed upstairs to our respective bedrooms and, gratefully, to our beds.
But not Pop. He adjourned to the sunroom at the back of the house, where he gobbled up the book he had begun before dozing off in his office that afternoon. One thing I always had to admit about the Old Man: if he could gorge himself on cake, he likewise could gorge himself on knowledge. He told me once that, when he started into law school, an attorney-friend of his father had given him a foam rubber cushion as a gift. "You'll need this more than you'll need your brains," he had told Archie, who added that he used that cushion hard during his three years of legal education. And when I started into law school five years ago, Archie wrapped that beat-up cushion, with its foam rubber showing through the torn material at the corners, and gave it to me.
I did all right in law school but I never developed Pop's power of uninterrupted concentration. Though I was upstairs asleep, still only a high school student, in my mind's eye I can see him pawing over the battered paperback book, that in the months ahead became his constant companion, sometimes in his briefcase, often in his suit coat pocket. I can see the dim lamplight illuminating the side of his jowly face, and his ever-sweaty hands clutching the book.
Archie had read nearly the whole book by the time morning rolled around and Mom gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead --- something I did see first hand --- before tiptoeing out to the garage and heading for her job at REF Group.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New movie review on The History Place

By Jim Castagnera
Special to The History Place

The premise of this action film, starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, is the existence of Soviet sleeper spies inside the United States. This might seem a stretch, had just such a cell not recently been arrested in North Jersey. On June 29th, the Associated Press story led off like this: “They sometimes worked in pairs and pretended to be married so they could blend in as the couple next door while working as spies in a throwback to the Cold War, complete with fake identities, invisible ink, coded radio transmissions and encrypted data to avoid detection, authorities say.”

The AP piece went on to say: “Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz, speaking Monday in federal court in Manhattan, called the allegations against 10 people living in the Northeast ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of a conspiracy of Russia's intelligence service, the SVR, to collect inside U.S. information, the biggest such bust in recent years.”

The big difference between Salt and the real deal is that the latter group apparently never amounted to a hill (make that spill) of beans. To the contrary, their modest accomplishments on behalf of Mother Russian weren’t sufficient to support an indictment for espionage. The best Uncle Sam could do was squeeze out guilty pleas for representing a foreign government without properly registering as its agents.
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Salt on the other hand depicts a cohort of highly trained sleeper agents, groomed since early childhood to pass for bona fide Americans, and honed to human weapons of mass destruction, by a diabolical spymaster and then planted with adoptive parents around the U.S.

Sadly for the spy master, in 1990, or thereabouts, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, the Soviet Union spun apart, and America was declared the winner of the Cold War. A less determined villain might have retied to a nice Dacha and, after a few years, scratched his creations from his Christmas card list.

Not this guy. He arrives in the States with a plan to activate his creatures and precipitate a nuclear exchange calculated to resurrect the USSR, phoenix-like, from the radioactive ashes.

Beyond the oppressively loud soundtrack, the James Bondish chase scenes, and the indefatigable super-hero acrobatics of Ms. Jolie, there lurks a sobering back story: Fixated since September 11, 2001, by radical Islamic terrorists and a war on terror being prosecuted on two fronts, most of us have lost sight of the thousands of thermonuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles still presumably in good operating order in Russia, the Ukraine, and who knows where else.

Salt is the seasoning to the North Jersey spy cell story. At this more sinister level, it is a cautionary tale about how Russia (and “Red” China, as arcane as that label may sound at first blush) remain not only major economic, but also geo-political, opponents.

Who can say for certain that the relatively innocuous nature of the North Jersey cell is typical of the humint assets the late, great KGB planted stateside? We are well advised to keep one eye on our old Cold War opponents, while the other is cocked toward the Middle East.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.

Jim Castagnera, a Philadelphia journalist and lawyer, is the author of "Al Qaeda Goes to College: Impact of the War on Terror on American Higher Education" (Praeger 2009) and Handbook for Student Law (Peter Lang 2010).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Martin Henn, a philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin, has considered the major pronouncements of the late-great Bush administration on treatment of terrorists in the context of Western civilization from Aristotle down to the prsent day. Dr. Henn explains his purpose as follows:

"I seek, then, to demonstrate how high officials of he Bush administration, eager to suspend longstanding humanitarian treaties and War Powers Resolution limits to the exercise of presidential powers, have established by means of policy directives... a series of repressive and patently unconstitutional measures decreed into law in the days, weeks and months following the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001...." (page 4)

For example, relying on his own translation of the ancient Greek, Henn quotes Aristotle on the futility of torture in reaching truth. "[T]hose under compulsion speak the truth no less than lies, persistenlty refusing to tell the truth, but then easily inventing lies so as to make the torturing stop the sooner." (p. 24) While more a pragmatic than a moral or ethical motive for eshewing torture as an interrogation method,the citation shows how deeply rooted in our Western traditions is the tendency to criticize, if not always condemn, torture.

Dr. Henn points to Edmund Burke, the great conservative Irish statesman, who protested British suspension of habeas corpus with regard to colonial privateers, incarcerated in English prisons indefinitely, during the American Revolution. (page 263)Burke maintained that "all ancient, honest, juridical principles and institutions of England are so many clogs to check and retard the headlong course of violence and oppression. They were invented for this one good purpose, that what was not just should not be convenient...." (page 263)

When I first entered the practice of law nearly three decades ago, one met in the profession real Renaissance men and women, such as a partner at my law (Philadelphia's Saul Ewing) who had published more than a dozen novels. The advent of the billable hour and ever-increasing emphasis on the bottom line changed law from a profession into a business. In my view, law school education has become ever more short sighted. While I fully appreciate the need to prepare law students --- who often are paying outrageous tuitions --- to earn a good living, little time and interest remains for more profound, if less remunerative, inquiries.

In other words, in our world of 30-second sound bites; instant information on the Internet; the imminent demise of the daily newspaper and perhaps even the book (or at least their absence from the daily lives of average Americans); the quick buck (and an obscenely big one at that) for investment bankers, entertainers and athletes, and CEOs... it takes a philosopher, rather than a lawyer, to provide the long view.

Terrorism is America's test case in the 21st century. Terrorists challenge us to prove that Western civil libertarian values are resilient, even in the face of severe threats to national security.

Professor Henn seems skeptical about how well we will meet this test. He notes that the Obama Administration, during its first year in office, posted something less than a stellar record. The jury, we might say, is still out, as U.S. combat troops leave Iraq but fight on in Afghanistan; as the Attorney General continues to toy with the possibility of bringing charges against Bush-era civil-liberties miscreants; as Guantanamo remains open but with a diminished prisoner population.

I predict that the real test will come if (or when) a new terrorist attack causes casualties on American soil. Had this year's Times Square bomber succeeded, for example, the Obama Administration's stated determination to better Bush II's human rights record, would have been sorely strained.

Martin Henn's new book reminds us that we are the custodians of a two-millennium tradition of civil liberties, hard won and slowly worked out, marked but two steps forward, one step back along its rocky road. Jefferson called America the world's last, best chance. Islamic extremism --- or what Harvard's Samuel Huntington called a clash of civlizations --- is the challenge that will determine whether the potential envisioned by Jefferson will be realized or abandoned in the 21st century.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ned McAdoo and the Molly Maguires: Chapter Two


"Is Violence Ever Justified?"

by Maggie Mulhearn [2]

The African American activist H Rap Brown has called violence "as American as cherry pie." Nowhere has this claim enjoyed greater cachet then in labor-management relations. The Pullman Strike, the Haymarket Riot, the Homestead Strike, the bombing of the Los Angeles Times Building... these murderous confrontations characterized the war between labor and capital around the close of the 19th and the start of the 20th centuries.

Predating --- and prefiguring --- these well-known incidents in America's labor history are the enigmatic events that occurred in the hard coal region of central-eastern Pennsylvania from 1865 through 1876. Sometimes archaically called "the Molly Maguire Riots"(there were no riots as we understand that word today), this protracted conflict accounted for 16 murders, followed by 20 hangings... or what one might call state-sanctioned homicides.

Since the days when 20 so-called Molly Maguires were marched to the gallows in Pottsville, Hazleton and Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania between 1876 and 1878, historians and writers have quarreled vehemently over whether these men were organized terrorists or innocent victims ala Sacco and Vanzetti. Detractors point to a long tradition in the west of Ireland of Whiteboys, Ribbonmen and other vigilante groups, which tradition is said to have spawned the killings, beatings and arsons in the anthracite coal fields after these self-same nightriders, or their progeny, immigrated to the U.S. Conversely, left-leaning commentators have contended that the hanged Irishmen were labor leaders and politicians targeted by the mining interests for liquidation.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the Molly Maguires really were what the Pinkerton detectives and the county prosecutors claimed they were: a secret society, founded in County Donegal to terrorize landlords and their agents, and transplanted to the Pennsylvania coal fields, where they launched a reign of terror --- murders, assaults, and arsons --- in the 1860s and 1870s. If all of that were true, would it not also have been justified?

No American ever raises doubts about the justice of the Boston Tea Party. If those Boston patriots were morally entitled to dump the private property of English merchants into the ocean, then the equally-aggrieved Irish coal miners of a century later surely were entitled to rip up railroad tracks and burn down an occasional colliery.

Though the 19th century Catholic Church condemned the Molly Maguires, no Christian ever doubted Jesus Christ's justification in throwing the money lenders out of the Temple in Jerusalem. Arguably the early Christian church was a band of conspirators striving to displace the state religion and the official gods of the Roman Empire, as well as the Jewish faith from which their cabalistic schism had sprung. So was the Church not hypocritical in condemning the Mollies?

And is not even homicide sometimes justifiable? The law has always recognized my right to defend my home against intruders, even to the point of using deadly force. And if a man may fire his gun to protect his family from another who is intent on entering his home and wreaking deadly harm, he ought to be able to fire that same gun at the man who is intent on slowly murdering his family by means of starvation wages.

No less a legal mind than the great Clarence Darrow made similar arguments in defense of violent union behavior a little later in the last century.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

In April I reviewed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” for The History Place. I noted that this Swedish film, based on journalist Stieg Larsson’s novel of the same name, presented a modern-day murder mystery grounded in a little-known Swedish past pock marked by Nazi sympathizers who belied the Scandinavian nation’s reputation for neutrality.
The sequel, “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” dramatizes the second of the late Larsson’s enormously popular trilogy. In this second installment, the emphasis has shifted from serial killers and other mass murderers to human trafficking and Cold War espionage.
When a journalist and his girlfriend/scholar --- who are jointly seeking to expose the exploitation of trafficked women in Sweden --- are murdered execution style, Lisbeth Salander --- the “Girl” of the books’ titles --- is accused of the double homicide. Soon her court-appointed guardian is found kneeling beside his bed with a bullet to the brain and Salander is sought for this third execution as well.
The books’ other protagonist, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, is one of the very few who believe Lisbeth to be innocent. The two work independent of one another, but in surreptitious contact, to bring the real culprits to justice. Each, I might add, has a very different notion of what is meant by “justice.” Blomkvist not only wants the killers arrested; he also wants an exclusive expose for his muckraking magazine. Salander wants to kill the killers.
Without spoiling the story for those who haven’t treated themselves to the book, let me say that the linchpin of the criminal conspiracy underlying both the human trafficking and the executions, one Zala, is a Cold War relic. His background, gradually revealed as the film’s plot unfolds, exposes another aspect of Sweden’s underbelly.
Just as we may tend to think of World War II Sweden as a neutral nation, notwithstanding extensive Nazi sympathy and collaboration among at least some elements of the Swedish upper crust, we also may mistakenly believe that Sweden was a disinterested observer on the sidelines of the Cold War. Indeed, as a Vietnam-era veteran, my impression of Sweden during the 1960s is of a haven for U.S. Army deserters.
While that impression is accurate so far as it goes, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” postulates a Swedish security service that was absolutely delighted to embrace a KGB defector. In exchange for Zala’s valuable revelations, which the Swedes could trade to the U.S. and British intelligence for return favors, his Nordic hosts not only provided him with money. They also protected him from the justice system when he ran amuck.
For those whose stereotypical Swede is the secretary in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” the “Girl” films are eye-openers. In them, we glimpse a Sweden --- past and present --- plagued by the same official and unofficial corruption and perversity which critics of American society love to lay at our feet.
The “take away” from this pair of films is that the Sweden of WWII, of the Cold War, and of the 21st century global economy is not, and never was, merely a land of lilting blonds and IKEA furniture, untainted by the darker currents of world history. Rather, we are granted a glimpse of a Sweden that had its Nazi sympathizers, its Cold War spies, and now its hands in the global trafficking of human beings. And all this in the context of a rattling good yarn!

A piece about exploited workers --- often terrorists in the making

Workers Don't Suffer
'Foreigners' were exploited by big business in the Pennsylvania coal fields a century ago, as they are exploited in the 21st-century global economy
By James O. Castagnera

Lawrenceville, NJ

"These men don't suffer. Why, hell, half of them don't even speak English." This is the best-remembered sentence from the closing remarks of George F. Baer to the Anthracite Coal Commission in February 1903. President of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad (later reorganized as simply The Reading Company), he was known to the world as Divine Right Baer. The nickname was attached after he wrote during the Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902:

"The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for -- not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men of property to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country, and upon the successful management of which so much depends."

Baer's Reading was part of a J.P. Morgan trust, which by 1902 controlled 96% of all the hard coal in Pennsylvania. And Pennsylvania anthracite at that time was the principal source of home heating on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Divine Right Baer, or "George the Last" as he was labeled by Clarence Darrow, was right about one thing: the majority of the miners who dug his coal did not speak English. An influx of Southern and Eastern European peasants had shifted the dominant ethnic composition of the hard coal counties of central-eastern Pennsylvania from the English-Welsh-Irish configuration of the Molly Maguire days to a feisty brew of Slavs, Italians, Hungarians, and Poles. They might not know much English. But these most-recent arrivals to America's shores brought a tradition of tight-knit extended families and villages. Unionism, while something new to their experience, was hardly alien in its fundamental concepts and goals. Though most couldn't afford to buy, and were equally unable to read, his books, they came to idolize United Mine Workers' President John Mitchell ... Johnny Da' Mitch.

When, by the end of September 1902, about 125,000 anthracite miners out of a total workforce of perhaps 135,000 had rallied to the UMWA's call to strike for a wage increase and a shorter day, a nervous Theodore Roosevelt bullied and badgered J.P. Morgan, whom he was suing under the Sherman Act for anti-trust violations in the groundbreaking Northern Securities case, to bring the mine and railroad owners into mandatory arbitration.

The UMWA hired Clarence Darrow, destined to be the nation's most famous trial attorney. He in turn trotted 239 witnesses in front of the commission. Under Darrow's careful questioning teenage breaker boys recounted how they urinated on their fingers to warm them after hours of picking the slate from the coal in the dead of winter. Widows recalled how their husbands had died in debt to the company store for the powder, tools and lamp fuel they needed to do their hazardous jobs. Crippled men otherwise in their prime testified that they had received not a dime in compensation for their terrible injuries down in the pits. So affecting was this narrative of injury, illness and exploitation that the commissioners finally asked that the "spectacle of horrors" cease.

On March 22, 1903, they awarded the miners a 10% pay increase and an eight-hour day.

In the century that has ensued the American march of progress seems hardly ever to have abated. And yet the exploitation of immigrant labor remains as great a blemish on the body politic as ever it was at the turn of the last century. Consider, for example:

• New York taxi drivers -- predominantly Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and African -- must provide for their own tools, not unlike the Slavic and Italian coal miners of 1902. Like the miners, they are considered independent contractors who must rent the cabs they drive and buy their own gasoline, so that they begin their 12-hour shifts on New York's mean streets perhaps $100 or more in debt. At the end of a bad day (or night) they can go home with less money then they had at the start of the shift.

• Mexican mushroom workers in Kennett Square, the nation's fungi capital west of Philadelphia, have been battling for years to win recognition of their union and collective bargaining agreements with the growers, such as Campbell's Soup. Considered agricultural workers, though mushroom growing in huge sheds is more like factory work, they are denied the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. Only as these workers gradually evolved from migrants into immigrants have they realized limited gains under Pennsylvania's labor laws with the help of public service lawyers and academics from the Comey Institute for Industrial Relations at nearby St. Joseph's University.

• Mega-rich Ivy League schools, notably Harvard and Yale, have come under criticism recently for resisting unionization efforts by their lowest paid employees -- janitors, cafeteria workers, and grounds keepers -- despite these universities' public protestations of political correctness and commitment to diversity. This nearly-invisible sub-stratum on campus is comprised predominantly of recent immigrants and lower-class African Americans.

• Meanwhile, trafficking in human beings for slave labor on plantations, in sweatshops and brothels, and as illegal, cheap labor in the US as well, is a major "service" industry in the global economy of the new millennium.

Clarence Darrow, who branded the mine and railroad operators "Goths and Vandals" and who in another famous case (Leopold and Loeb) described the world as "one great slaughterhouse from the beginning of time to the present," was too great a cynic to be surprised by these facts.

But we who can look back from America's lofty height, as the world's one last Superpower, to the suffering, turmoil, and ultimate justice of the Great Strike and the Anthracite Award of 1902-03, might well wonder why the prosperity and power we now defend against foreign terrorists still rides in large measure on the backs of immigrant and foreign labor.

Or perhaps, preferring not to wonder about the persistence of this evil, we might make our motto, "Why, hell, they don't suffer. Half of them don't even speak English."

Iraq War winners and losers

As the (allegedly) "last" American combat soldier left yesterday, a lot of questions might be asked. The first might be, who are the winners and who are the losers?

Check this website for "The Ten Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers":

Search for blackwater company

The mosque at Ground Zero

As the controversy heats up over plans to build a mosque within two blocks of the World Trade Center memorial, I'm reminded of a piece I wrote several years ago, which last year was reprinted in my book "Al Qaeda Goes to College."
Creeping Sharia on College Campuses?
By Jim Castagnera
In a handful of instances, at least, our institutions of higher learning have gone perhaps a bit too far in adapting to the demands of diverse campuses, where pro-Muslim views and values seemingly must be accommodated. Some have called this arguably excessive tolerance “creeping Sharia.”
“Sharia is the body of Islamic religious law. The term means ‘way’ or ‘path to the water source’; it is the legal framework within which the public and private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islamic principles of jurisprudence and for Muslims living outside the domain. Sharia deals with many aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business, contracts, family, sexuality, hygiene, and social issues.”
Beginning in February 2008, Harvard University’s Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center began setting aside 8:00-10:00 AM and 3:00-5:00 PM for women only. The reason… to accommodate Muslim women, who typically cover their heads and most of their bodies, but who wanted to dress more appropriately for their workouts. Not surprisingly, views varied in response to news of Harvard’s trial policy.
“It’s about expanding the range of choices. Women, for all kinds of reasons, don’t want to exercise in front of men. It’s a minority of women, but there are. This modesty business sometimes comes from religion, sometimes from culture. They just don’t want to be ogled by men when they’re working out,” Hussein Ibish, executive director of the Foundation for Arab-American Leadership told the Today Show’s Matt Lauer.
Retorted author Michael Smerconish, “Political correctness has run amok again at Harvard. Six individuals out of 6,000 [students] complain,” Smerconish told Lauer. “Those six had access [to the campus gyms] and Harvard’s response is to institute a discriminatory practice where now half are closed out of the gym.”
A few months earlier, the University of Michigan touched off a small firestorm of protest, when it installed footbaths in some washrooms to accommodate Muslim students wishing to perform ritualistic ablutions prefatory to daily prayer. Prior to the project’s completion, for example, one critique complained,
DEARBORN -- The University of Michigan-Dearborn plans to spend $25,000 for foot-washing stations, making it easier for Muslim students to practice their religion but sparking questions about the separation of church and state.

The university claims the stations are needed to accommodate Muslim students, who must ritually wash their bodies -- including the feet -- up to five times each day before prayers. But critics hit conservative blogs and radio airwaves Monday to argue public money shouldn't cover the cost.

I have been in airport bathrooms when someone will come up, paying no attention to right or left, and start performing his wudu, while water flies all over the place as that person places his feet, one after the other, in the sink and washes them. While these -- to many -- nauseating public ablutions take place, most people hasten away without going near even the empty sinks.

There is no god-given right to come to other countries and inflict one's behavior, in fulfilling some kind of faith-based mandate, in public places. The nurses who were arrested for singing Christmas carols behind closed doors, in their own apartments in Western apartment complexes, in Saudi Arabia, were not inflicting this on anyone: it was the religious police checking up, as they do everywhere they can. But, for example, the slitting of a sheep's throat, and letting it bleed to death on the street, can and should be banned -- whether or not this is considered "part of Islam."

If Muslim students wish to have foot-washing sinks available, then they can certainly pay for them. After all, there is hardly a mosque or a madrasa in this country that does not receive, when it needs it, all kinds of financial support from those who, across the seas, batten on the unmerited oil trillions, and by this point have used, collectively, more than one hundred billion of it (the estimate for Saudi Arabia alone) to pay for mosques, madrasas, armies of Western hirelings, and propaganda of every sort.

Whether the critics are correct or not, one is hard pressed to perceive a non-sectarian school setting aside such accommodations for Mennonite or Orthodox Jewish constituencies.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

America's Homegrown terrorists: The Case for Profiling

While the “War on Terror” typically is taken to designate the actions, foreign and domestic, directed at Al Qaeda and its allies (e.g., the Taliban), and although the attacks of September 11, 2001, were (and remain) unprecedented, America’s homegrown terrorists pose a far more serious threat to public safety and the commonwealth. These native sons and daughters fall into three principal categories:

--Disgruntled individuals with an ax to grind. They are exemplified by the government scientist who the FBI now believes perpetrated the Anthrax attacks, which followed close on the heals of 9/11, in 2001;

--The obsessed, represented by the radical animal-rights activists.

--The mentally disturbed, characterized by those who have committed individual acts of murder and mayhem on college campuses, most notably the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007.

The threat posed by these homegrown terrorists to plague our democracy, challenging our ability to remain a free and open society, will remain long after radical Islam has been eradicated or otherwise pacified. To better understand these three varieties of domestic terrorists, they may be viewed as comprising three breeds within a single species. If that is a fair assumption, then preventative measures, found to be effective in one arena, may be applicable in all. These may include advanced profiling procedures.

The Anthrax Attacks

In the weeks, months, and, inevitably, years following the 9/11 attacks, Rider University was impacted by the resulting “War on Terror” in a wide variety of ways, as was all of American higher education. The first such impact was felt as early as September 18, 2001, when letters postmarked from Trenton-area post offices and containing anthrax spores arrived in the offices U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschel, and several news media organizations, ultimately killing five people and making another 17 or so ill. [Is there a definite number for those made ill?]

The FBI visited the biology labs on every college campus along the Route One corridor between New York and Philadelphia, including Rider’s single science building. Nothing suspicious was found there. Nor was anything suspicious found in any other university lab in the region. However, the nearby Hamilton post office, which had handled some of the letters, was closed, not to reopen until three-and-a-half years later.

The FBI also intensely investigated Uncle Sam’s own bio-weapons facilities, including Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. The investigation proved to be one involving needles and haystacks, but eventually FBI suspicions focused on a bio-weapons researcher named Steven Hatfill. Indeed, after years of investigating, the agency’s only “person of interest” was this Fort Detrick alumnus. Although never indicted, Hatfill’s scrutiny was enough to make him a leper to his profession, essentially unemployable.

After pursuing the wrong suspect for some six years, the government finally admitted it was trailing the wrong guy. In June 2008, Hatfill received a $5.85 million settlement.

With Hatfill off the (exceedingly short) FBI hit list, old leads were reviewed, witnesses revisited, and a new suspect emerged. On July 29, 2008, amidst rumors that this time indictments would be forthcoming, another Fort Detrick denizen, 62-year-old Bruce E. Ivins, killed himself. Attorneys representing Ivins in the government investigation, put their client’s death down to a fragile personality that succumbed to pressure.

“The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people,” Bethesda criminal-defense attorney Paul Kemp commented of the client he had represented for more than a year. “In Dr. Ivins’s case, it led to his untimely death.”

The publicly available evidence against Ivins was circumstantial but somewhat compelling. Of some 33 years as an Army scientist, Ivins’s last 18 were spent at Fort Detrick and apparently were devoted in large part to anthrax. Between December 2001 and April 2002, Ivins secretly swabbed and bleached some 20 work areas that he claimed had been contaminated with anthrax by a sloppy lab technician and then kept his cleanup under wraps. When those illegal activities came to light, he claimed he couldn’t recall whether or not he had gone back to re-swab the contaminated spots to insure that no spores remained. A former co-worked commented in the media, [pls name the co-worker] “That’s bull. If there’s contamination, you always re-swab. And you would remember doing it.”

If Ivins was guilty, one irony in the case is that he had earlier helped the FBI analyze the anthrax sent to the senators’ offices. The newspaper reports indicated that the second round of FBI investigations benefited from better genetic technology that made a match between the spores sent through the Postal Service and those with which Ivins had worked, but unless the Department of Justice has some direct evidence yet to be made public, it can’t be certain that Ivins’s death closes the case. What, for instance, may have been his motive? Reports read by this author to date don’t seem to say.

On the contrary, the Washington Post reported on August 1, 2009 that in 2003, “Ivins and two of his colleagues at the…U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick…received the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of anthrax vaccine.” That doesn’t sound like the same man whom five years later the DOJ was ready to indict. And yet, added the Post, prosecutors were considering including a request for the death penalty.

Closure of this case, which is older even than the war in Iraq, would add a note of finality to at least one ugly incident in the eight-year-old War on Terror. We probably aren’t there yet, but if Ivins is guilty as charged, two motives may explain his mad acts, at least as to the extent that they were directed at Senators Leahy and Daschle:

--He believed they were bad Catholics because of their pro-abortion stance, and
--He blamed them for blocking funding for work on an anthrax vaccine.

The Animal Rights Radicals

Expert David DeGrazia identifies three gradations of standards subscribed by activists:

• Sliding-scale model: “Animals may be used in research only where their use is consistent with giving their interests appropriate moral weight in view of the animals’ cognitive, emotional, and social complexity.”

• Utilitarianism: “Animals may be used in research only where their use is likely to maximize the overall balance of benefits – factoring in likelihood of success – over harms, where all parties’ (including animals’) interests are impartially considered.”

• Strong animal-rights view: “Animals may be used in research only where (1) their involvement does not harm them or (2) their involvement is in their overall best interests (therapeutic research). This view might also permit animals to be used in research where (3) their involvement poses only minimal risk to them.”

Clearly, the third level is the most demanding. Indeed, the definition proffered by DeGrazia masks the extreme nature of this last position. The devil, as they say, is in the details. For example, whether what a scientist does to his animals harms them or not depends entirely on the definition of the word “harm.” If one includes under harm the mere caging of an animal, then it is virtually impossible for a research scientist to work with animals in his lab. Similarly, if one deems the anxiety caused to an animal by the mere handling of that animal to be “harm,” then, once again, the definition would make it well-nigh impossible for a researcher to work with any such animals.

On February 24, 2008, a U.C.-Santa Cruz breast-cancer scientist and her family were enjoying a birthday party, when a loud knock came from their home’s front door. The researcher’s husband responded and was greeted by six masked visitors, one of whom smacked him on the hand before they got back into their car and drove off. This was not the first such incident at Santa Cruz, where the cancer researchers use mice in their labs. Earlier intrusions included graffiti, such as “murderer” and “torturer,” and strewn garbage in front of other scientists’ homes. Similar assaults were reported in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

UCLA’s Dr. Edythe D. London, who uses primates to study addiction, has been a particular target of ALF adherents. Her house has been both firebombed and flooded.

UCLA’s Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women’s Health describes Dr. London’s work as follows:

Dr. London's research has advanced the study of substance abuse and the development of new approaches and probes for studies of brain function. She has edited several books and authored over 200 original research articles and over 60 reviews. Her most recognized accomplishments involve PET scanning of human subjects who suffer from addictions. Dr. London's group was the first to show a relationship between drug craving and activity of brain regions that link memory with emotion. She also showed that drug abusers have structural abnormalities in prefrontal cortex and deficits in decision-making tasks that depend on prefrontal cortex function. Her work influenced other researchers to look toward the frontal lobe for an understanding of the compulsive self-administration of drugs despite detrimental effects, which characterizes drug addiction. Most recently, she and her colleagues have developed new probes for external imaging of those receptors in the brain where nicotine binds to produce its behavioral actions.

By contrast, on March 13, 2008, the ALF [pls identify ALF and its web site]website (Animal Liberation Front, posted the following anonymous notice: [Pls remove the box around the type below.]

“At the start of last week, in Irvine, CA, a van owned by UCLA went up in flames. For all of those affected you have the UCLA primate vivisection program to blame.

“It is unacceptable for us to see, hear, and know what is going on in our animal labs without taking action. Every time we pass someone like Arthur in the hallways and have to witness his stomach churning grin or watch Joaquin double checking the door locks on his little red Mercedes we have to choke back a crippling amount of disgust and hatred. It is becoming almost impossible to hold back. Then we hear the monkeys wailing and screaming and we find the strength to stay put.

“We are driven to show the world the compassionless support that UCLA gives to these monkey killers and to do anything we can to end the needless suffering that the primates are forced to face.

“The end of UCLA vivisection is coming. We urge you to start switching over to non-animal protocol without haste.

The Mentally Ill: the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre

In the Virginia Tech killer’s case, reports indicated that police first investigated the future mass-murderer in November 2005, following up on another student’s harassment complaint. [pls provide first name, age, etc.] Cho was directed to the university’s Office of Judicial Affairs. The complainant declined to press charges, saying that Cho’s unwelcome attentions were merely annoying, not truly harassing.

A month later another female student filed a complaint against Cho with the university’s police department. This time, after the campus police interviewed Cho, another student called to claim that Cho appeared to be suicidal. This call resulted in issuance of a detention order. The troubled young man was subsequently evaluated at Carilion St. Albans Behavioral Health, an independent mental-health facility. Following this counseling intervention, say police, they received no more student complaints about Cho. [This poetry class incident would appear to be before his evaluation at St. Albans, so would you place it in its chronological order?] Earlier in the fall of 2005, a Virginia Tech poetry professor had had Cho removed from her class. Nikki Giovanni told media she found the young man’s poetry so intimidating and his presence so menacing that, when two students who shared her anxiety stopped attending class, she moved to remove Cho. Describing Cho as “mean,” Giovanni told CNN, “I knew when it happened that that’s probably who it was.”

These facts beg the questions: In the fall of 2005 should Cho have been removed from more than just Giovanni’s poetry class? Should he have been kept in custody – institutionalized – when he was taken to the mental-health facility?

A May 8, 2007, editorial in the Roanoke Times complained of “No Teeth in Mental Health Laws in Virginia.” The piece went on to contend that Cho’s fall 2005 release from custody was inappropriate because he was diagnosed as “depressed and imminently dangerous.” In eerie emulation of the 1966 University of Texas tower-massacre, where a University of Texas psychiatrist’s had suggested that tower-sniper Whitman make an appointment for the following week, Cho was ordered to pursue outpatient treatment and then released. As with Whitman, Cho’s next appearance on the radar screen was with gun in hand.

Is Profiling One Answer?

Is it possible to identify those individuals who are primed to become the next Ivins, freelance ALF sympathizer, or Cho? Our justice system takes a dim view of profiling. When the police use profiling, it’s condemned as racist. When customs service does it, it’s similarly assailed as discriminatory and unconstitutional. Still, it’s being done. Travel & Leisure Magazine reported in January 2007, “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently began rolling out a new security program, Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT), at dozens of airports around the country.” Time Magazine explained, “TSA employees will be trained to identify suspicious individuals who raise red flags by exhibiting unusual or anxious behavior, which can be as simple as changes in mannerisms, excessive sweating on a cool day, or changes in the pitch of a person's voice.” Although such techniques invariably arouse the ACLU, should those charged with protecting our campuses from domestic terrorism be encouraged to adopt them?

Some experts have emerged who claim to be capable of raising profiling to a new level of sophistication and reliability. For example, Consultant Dan Korem’s book, Rage of the Random Actor: Disarming Catastrophic Acts and Restoring Lives makes the following claims on its dust jacket:

In the early 1990s, Dan Korem, a critically acclaimed investigative journalist and author, identified the Random Actor profile. He used it to solve the riddle of why there were mass shootings as the Post Office, but not at UPS. And why mass company shooters work in accounting or on an assembly line, but not in the art department.

In the mid-1990s, he used the same profile to predict student-led terrorist incidents in American schools. He even identified Denver suburbs as a candidate for a bombing massacre two months before the attack. After Columbine, he warned that adult-teen Random Actor killer cells would appear; in 2002 the Muhammad-Malvo “sniper” duo opened fire in DC and Maryland suburbs, He also believed that suicide bombers had the Random Actor profile, and he was right.

[You might want to mention here how Korem explains why USP and not UPS and how he predicted Columbine.]

Mr. Korem’s book presents in great detail his carefully considered method of identifying potential terrorists of the “mad” variety such as Cho. The depth and breadth of his study illustrates the sophistication to which profiling may aspire. While an article of this length cannot adequately capture techniques that Korem devoted some 500 pages to explicating, a few of his indicia can be ticked off here:

• Potential “Random Actors” often threat to and/or attempt suicide.
• “Random Actors” only rarely are African-American or female.
• “Random Actors” are often into the “bunker syndrome,” shutting themselves off from the people and society around them.
• Many “Random Actors” are the products of broken homes.
• Obsession with weapons is a common characteristic of “Random Actors.”
• Some “Random Actors” have claimed adherence to a fabricated or “hinky” religious doctrine.
• And some have been pedophiles.

Can we afford to ignore tools of such sophistication and potential?

Recognizing that the major types of campus terrorists have much in common, campus security experts are increasingly answering “no.”

For example, many colleges and universities, making an about-face from their pre-VTU passion for student privacy, have organized cross-divisional committees charged with tracking troubled members of their student bodies. Borrowing a page or two from Korem, they monitor students who have isolated themselves in their dorm rooms rather than mixing with friends outside the classroom; have engaged in cutting and other self-destructive behavior; have self-identified with college counselors or psychologists as having violent thoughts or impulses; or who have had either classroom or other campus confrontations bordering upon violent outcomes.

Prevention is now the watchword and profiling is no longer a “four letter word.”
No Right to Remain Silent: The Tragedy at Virginia Tech60 Minutes - Gun Rush (April 12, 2009)60 Minutes - Gun Rush (April 12, 2009)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buy my book, "Al Qaeda Goes to College"

Available from Amazon.

Recalling the 2001 Anthrax Attack

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I plan to use this blog to recall some of the events of 2001, beginning with the anthrax letters that followed close on the heels of the WTC/Pentagon attacks:

Beginning a mere week after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, envelopes packed with anthrax spores started turning up in people’s mailboxes. Two of those people were sitting U.S. Senators, Daschle of South Dakota and Leahy of Vermont. The National Enquirer in Florida and TV network offices in New York also were targeted. The envelopes were all postmarked in the Trenton/Princeton (NJ) area.

The FBI visited the biology labs on every college campus along the Route One corridor between New York and Philly. The bureau also intensely investigated Uncle Sam’s own bio-weapons facilities, including Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. The investigation proved to be one involving needles and haystacks.

Eventually, FBI suspicions focused on a bio-weapons researcher named Steven Hatfill. Indeed, after years of investigating, the agency’s only “person of interest” was this Fort Detrick alumnus. Although never indicted, Hatfill’s POI status was enough to make him a leper to his profession, essentially unemployable. At last, the government admitted it was trailing the wrong guy. In June 2008, Hatfill received a $5.85 million settlement.

With Hatfill off the (exceedingly short) FBI hit list, old leads were reviewed, witnesses revisited, and a new suspect emerged. On Tuesday, July 29th, amidst rumors that this time indictments would be forthcoming, another Fort Detrick denizen, Bruce E. Ivins, killed himself. Attorneys representing Ivins, age 62, in the government investigation, put their client’s death down to a fragile personality that succumbed to pressure.

“The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people,” Bethesda criminal-defense attorney Paul Kemp commented of the client he had represented for more than a year. “In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death.”

The publicly available evidence against Ivins is circumstantial but somewhat compelling. Of some 33 years as an Army scientist, Ivins’ last 18 were spent at Fort Detrick and apparently were devoted in large part to anthrax. Between December 2001 and April 2002, Ivins secretly swabbed and bleached some 20 work areas that he claimed had been contaminated with anthrax by a sloppy lab technician and then kept his cleanup under wraps. When those illegal activities came to light, he claimed he couldn’t recall whether or not he had gone back to re-swab the contaminated spots to insure that no spores remained. A former co-worked commented in the media, “That’s bull. If there’s contamination, you always re-swab. And you would remember doing it.”

The newspaper reports indicated that the second round of FBI investigations benefited from better genetic technology that made a match between the spores sent through the Postal Service and those with which Ivins had worked.

If Ivins was guilty, one irony in the case is that he earlier had helped the FBI analyze the anthrax sent to the senators’ offices. However, unless the Department of Justice has some direct evidence yet to be made public, we apparently can’t be certain that Ivins’ death closes the case. What, for instance, may have been his motive? Reports I’ve read to date don’t seem to say. Au contraire, the Washington Post reported on August 1st that in 2003, “Ivins and two of his colleagues at the… U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick… received the highest honor given to Defense Department civilian employees for helping solve technical problems in the manufacture of anthrax vaccine.” This doesn’t sound like the same guy whom five years later the DOJ was ready to indict. Yet, added the Post, prosecutors were considering including a request for the death penalty.

Could it be that Ivins and/or colleagues and/or co-conspirators concocted the anthrax attacks in order to enhance the priority of the work they were doing? Perhaps this is no more farfetched than the anthrax attacks themselves. The criminal justice system has recorded earlier cases of health-care workers, who brought their patients to the brink of death in order to come across as heroes when they saved them. Conspiracy theorists have long contended that the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 and the Tonkin Gulf incident of 1964 were contrived by the American government to precipitate wars with Spain and North Vietnam, respectively.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Books about the Molly Maguires

Here is a great site for finding books about the Mollies.

Books about the Molly Maguires:

Ned McAddo: Chapter One

It's the summer of 1987 and I'm seventeen years old. We're careening along Interstate 90, heading west through South Dakota. I'm driving, Mom is riding shotgun and keeping careful tabs on the quality of my driving. "Slow down, Ned. Let him pass you." "Watch out. Is that a motorcycle I see ahead there? Why don't they make them wear proper helmets out here?"
I'm doing my best to ignore her, as well as my fourteen-year-old sister, Katy, who is providing us with sporadic dramatic readings from something she just purchased called the "I Kid-You-Not Road Atlas."
"Hey, Ned-o," she says, "Listen to this. In Nebraska it's illegal for a barber to shave a customer's chest hair."
I reach for the volume knob on the radio-tape player and turn up the sound another notch. Though Mom is only allowing us to listen to classical music ("Both for my sanity and so you two cultural Neanderthals learn something during all the hours we'll be cooped up in the van."), Brahms in both ears is better than Mom in one and Katy in the other.
"Neddy, are you listening?" Katy is sprawled across the middle bench of the Plymouth Voyager that Pop drove brand-spanking-new from the showroom just three days ago. "In Arkansas it's illegal to blindfold cows on highways."
"Oh, my God," exclaims Mom at that moment. "Is that a cow up there on the road?"
"No, Mom," I respond. "It's just another biker."
"Well, don't pass him. Your father says motorcycles are liability lightning rods." Whatever that means, I think to myself.
"In Gainesville, Georgia, it's illegal to eat chicken with a fork," Katy plows on, giggling softly from time to time as well. I give up trying to ignore the two females in my life.
The Old Man, however, is having no such problem. Having curled his bulk into a big ball on the back bench of our new van, he is quietly snoring away, oblivious to Katy's dramatic reading of unusual American laws and Mom's running commentary on road conditions and the quality of my driving.
Like the van, the trip was Archie's idea. Both were the products of a new prosperity which had visited the McAdoo family of Havertown, Pennsylvania, in the wake of my Dad's successful settlement last August of a somewhat sensational (at least locally) lawsuit. The case involved AIDS discrimination in employment... something of a novelty in those days; the Old Man had successfully represented the plaintiff. But the real news was that the guy killed himself in the midst of the litigation. No matter... Pop's publicity was excellent.
Always a solo practitioner, Archie had experienced a steady stream of new clients, including a labor union which had obtained his continuing counsel on employment law issues in return for a fairly handsome monthly retainer. So busy had he become that he had hired a part-time law clerk, a third year student from nearby Widener Law School, whom he had high hopes of being able to hire on a full-time basis after she graduated and passed the Pennsylvania bar.
And seemingly despite, rather than because, of Pop's notoriety as the successful advocate of a gay HIV victim, Mom's Christmas present from her employer, Regional Econometric Forecasting Group, at the end of 1986 had been a promotion from controller to chief financial officer. In short, the "long green", as Archie had taken to calling it, was rolling in. And, so, my Dad had decided it was time for the famiglia McAdoo to take a "real vacation."
In fact our family vacations to date had all been of the classic Havertonian variety: a week, two if we were really lucky, at the Jersey Shore. The more affluent your folks, the closer to the beach was your rented house. The McAdoos usually had a pretty long walk to the shoreline. Only in the past four or five years --- and then only because Mom had been promoted in 1982 from head bookkeeper to controller at REF Group--- did Katy and I discover how awesome it is to have a door that opens right out onto the dunes, the beach and the breaking waves. But, Mom, ever the frugal faction in her sometimes fractious marriage to my Dad, had continued to insist that a substantial portion of her salary be socked away for our college educations and their retirement at some indeterminate time beyond that.
Consequently, even with Dad's substantial fee from the HIV settlement, and the significant, steady increase in his income after that, Mom initially had resisted Archie's idea of a "real vacation to show the kids America."
Archie had lobbied hard and long. But I don't think his alternating rounds of cajoling and badgering would have moved Mom, if Maggie Mulhearn hadn't come into the picture. I think it was in mid-January that she approached Pop about representing her. Since the beginning of the New Year, Archie occupied a four-room office suite in a reconditioned old house, just a few blocks from our home. It had once been a branch location of the Haverford Township Library, and was now a 'professional building' of sorts. Another solo practitioner, Bernard "Bail Bond" Brennan, and an Indian chiropractor, Dr. Something Singh, occupied the two other, somewhat-larger suites in the building.
It was for the best that Maggie Mulhearn had turned up there and not in Pop's old office at home --- which had now reverted to its intended function of dining room, complete with antique table, chairs and sideboard, Mom's Christmas-cum-Promotion present to herself --- because Maggie Mulhearn, when I got a look at her a couple of months later, proved to be a Celtic heart-stopper.
Flaming red hair, which was either naturally curly or permed into the most romantic mane of bouncing ringlets my teenaged eyes had ever seen, topped a flawlessly smooth, white complexion. A prominent nose flanked by two big, radiant blue eyes, and underlined by full, pouting lips came together to create an effect far greater than the mere sum of the parts. Maybe much of the beauty came from within. I know now that can sometimes be the case. Back then I didn't analyze, I just appreciated.
Maggie Mulhearn was one of those Irish women who freckled, rather than tanned, in the summer, and then held onto some of those freckles on her nose and high cheekbones all year long. The freckles made her look adolescent --- and therefore just that much more attractive to little 'ol teenage me --- though she was 26 or 27 when she approached Archie in the winter of '87 with her unusual project.
Maggie Mulhearn, as Archie recalls vividly her telling him during their first consultation, was a direct descendant of Black Jack Kehoe. Film enthusiasts, like my Mom, remembered that the famous Scotch actor Sean Connery had played Black Jack in a 1970 film called "The Molly Maguires." In that movie, filmed by Paramount Pictures in a little Pennsylvania coal town about 90 miles north of Philadelphia, Kehoe is portrayed as the leader of a secret society that is remembered for wreaking murder and mayhem on the coal mine owners and supervisors who exploited their Irish miners and laborers in the 1870s.
"That's not true," Maggie Mulhearn had earnestly explained to Archie, her big, sincere eyes starring straight into his, until (he told me much later) he had to break the spell by turning and making a note on his legal pad.
"My great great grandfather was a labor leader and a politician," she continued. "The capitalists framed him because he and his union were becoming too powerful. His political organization was gaining too much influence in the mine patches." The mention of "capitalists" led Pop to detect a rare 1980s leftist concealed beneath the affluent --- in fact, independently wealthy --- Ms Mulhearn.
After allowing the ebullient Maggie to chatter on about Pinkerton detectives and biased juries and agents provocateurs, Archie finally tore his watery, middle-aged eyes from her seductive gaze and inquired, "What would you like me to do about all this? To me it sounds as if you have the material here for a very good book, Ms Mulhearn. Perhaps you should take a stab at writing it. Or maybe you could find a journalist, or maybe an historian at one of the local universities, who would have an interest in writing all this up. But that's not me... I'm just a lawyer." I can see Dad, who hates to tell a client or potential client --- especially one as attractive as Maggie Mulhearn --- “no,” shifting uneasily from one big buttock to the other and staring at his legal pad or his size 12-trip-D shoes as he says this.
Maggie Mulhearn at this point in the consultation became perhaps a little impatient with what was, however unintended by my Father, a rather patronizing statement of the obvious. Just as clearly I can see her leaning forward and putting her determined face so close to the listener's that in this instance my slightly embarrassed Dad had no choice but to meet her eyes with his own limpid gray pools.
"I know you're a lawyer, Mr. McAdoo," she pressed on. "And a very good one from things I've read and heard lately. And it's a lawyer I want and need. I don't want my great great grandfather's story told again. I want him pardoned."
For some reason he could never quite articulate, Archie felt compelled to write her words down on his legal pad, very precisely. As I've said, I think he couldn't stand to stare into those extraordinary eyes for too long and used his note taking as a means of escape from them.
"Well, justice, they say, is blind," my Dad replied lamely, not knowing what to make of this beguiling, insistent young woman, who seemed determined to retain his services to somehow reopen a case that had climaxed in an official execution some hundred and ten years earlier. "Sometimes it loses sight of the truth, and eventually the truth is lost forever."
"That's just it," insisted Maggie Mulhearn. "Do you mind if I smoke?" She pulled a pack of Lucky Strikes and a cheap Bic butane lighter from her purse and lit up before Archie, a bit surprised that such a "wholesome" (his word) "girl" (also his) smoked (unfiltered cigarettes at that!), could say no. "That's it exactly: I want the world, and especially the justice system, to remove the blindfolds and see my great great granddad's innocence. And you're the lawyer who can do it... I think."
At last Archie turned away from his legal pad, swiveling his creaky oak sheriff's chair so that he faced his would-be client squarely. He turned so abruptly toward her that his reward was a face full of exhaled cigarette smoke.
"Oh, dear. I'm so sorry," said the persistent Ms Mulhearn.
"That's all right," my Dad half gasped. "Look, I still think a good historian is..." He was stopped in mid sentence by the check which she apparently had drawn from her purse along with the cigarettes. Made out in large green letters, the draft was for ten thousand dollars on the First Pennsylvania Bank.
"Perhaps this will express my seriousness, Mr. McAdoo," she stated flatly, holding the beige colored check with its Kelly green ink, almost directly under my Dad's bulbous nose... which no doubt could very nearly smell the money. "I am authorizing you, as my lawyer, to travel wherever you feel in your judgment you should, examine whatever relevant records you can locate --- starting with a good deal of material I have in the trunk of my car right now --- and when you have satisfied yourself of Black Jack Kehoe's innocence, institute whatever proceedings, or lobbying or whatever is required to have him pardoned."
Well, you've probably guessed that Pop took the check and the... what? The case? Not really. "Assignment" is what we have always called it, down to the present day. He also walked out to Maggie Mulhearn's car... it proved to be a Porsche ... and took custody of two cardboard boxes that she had jammed into its tiny boot. The boxes, appropriately labeled "Jameson's Irish Whiskey" and obviously obtained from a liquor store, were not filled with spirits. Or were they? The boxes, when Archie opened them after his new client had departed, where stuffed with books, articles and notes written in a neat, rather large penmanship that matched the handwriting on the green and beige check.
Archie walked the check down to the bank, then stopped on the way back at MacDonald's and wolfed down two Big Macs, a large order of fries and a strawberry shake in hearty celebration of this latest windfall from his new found reputation. On the way back to the office he distractedly munched one of Mickey D's apple pies.
Back in his office, seated not in the hard sheriff's chair but rather in a cracked-leather easy chair in the corner near the window, he idly browsed through the materials in the first Jameson's crate. Selecting a battered paperback, "The Molly Maguires" by a college professor named Wayne Broehl, he began reading. But soon the combination of warm sunlight streaming in the window with its western exposure, and the fairly massive amount of pure MacDonald's fat in my Father's stomach, sent Archie swirling downward into a somnambulant state from which he could not pull out. Broehl's tome resting in his ample lap, the great, crusading lawyer of Stanley Avenue, Havertown, Pennsylvania, snored rather delicately as he slept the remainder of the afternoon away.