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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Friday Book Review: The True History of the American Revolution Part II


Last week covered causes for the revolution.

Today I'm covering the philosophy behind the Declaration of Independence and the war conducted under General Howe.

1. From other histories I've read of the revolution there is mention of John Locke, who was a member of parliament exiled for his subversive writing. Others mentioned are Montesquieu and Rousseau both French.

Fisher lists a progression of philosophers that came before Locke. Burlamaqui, an Italian Swiss, Beccaria, Italian, Grotius, Dutch, and Puffendorf, German.

Of all of these he cites Burlamaqui the most and the others followed his thoughts. The one name on the list he says does not belong is Rousseau. 

All these men concern themselves with natural law. To all but Rousseau they define this to mean natural legal law that allows society the pursuit of happiness for the citizens. The predominate point of their philosophy was "The people rule by consent."

This thought was validated by the Glorious Revolution when Parliament, forced King James II to flee and installed William III and Mary II as dual monarchs based on Parliaments consent to be governed by them.

Rousseau's thoughts and others of similar thought which led to the excesses of the French Revolution thought of natural law as the "law of the jungle" or the condition of tribes. Colonists living in fear on the frontier would not consider this appealing. 

2. General Sir William Howe as commander of British forces in America.

William Howe fought in America during the Seven Years War. His elder brother was a commander and treated the American militia under his command with respect. He died at Ticonderoga and was mourned. A statue was erected in his honor. 

William new the colonies and the Americans, he did not underestimate their ability to fight. He was a Whig member of Parliament as were Cornwallis. Burgoyne and Grant were Tories.

The troubles in the colonies and their disobedience to British law gave the Tories control of parliament and the government. They were for... wait for it.... Law and Order.

The Whigs being on the short end of the votes were for conciliation. They were against the harsh measures and taxes from the Stamp Act on. Not in the book, but from my term paper in the revolution class on William Pitt, he said in parliament when news came of the colonies refusing to buy the stamps, "I rejoice that they have resisted. For by this they have proven themselves the sons and not the bastards of England."

Howe said when pressure mounted to send troops to pacify the colonies, that he would not accept command.

The Tories politically could not stomp on the colonies as they wanted, there would be a backlash and the Whigs would regain power. The also feared France would come to their aid making for a bigger war. 

Howe being an officer of the Army was ordered by the King to take command in the colonies. He couldn't refuse.

He was under orders to approach the war with a combination of sword and olive branch. We'd reverse the phrase with carrot and stick.

3. Bunker Hill and Saratoga

When Howe arrived in Boston, he was under the command of General Gage. It was on his command that the Howe and General Pigot were to attack the rebel forces dug in on Breeds Hill. Colonel William Prescott moved down to Bunker Hill with part of the force.

Howe and Pigot following orders had their men line up in bright red wool coats in July with crossed white belts over their chest and wearing 60lbs packs. Gage wanted to impress on the rebels the glory of the Army by staging a parade.

Twice the two parts of the pincer movement marched to 50 yards of the rebels to be mowed down like grass. The third time Howe disobeyed orders and let his men drop their packs.

The rebels ran out of ammunition and were driven from the hill. Howe was dressed down by Gage for not following up his victory by pursuing the enemy. Howe responded by saying he didn't want to lead his men into a trap should the rebels have an even larger force waiting for him.

The books I've read mention that this psychologically damaged Howe for the rest of the war and he would not attack the rebels in a direct assault. 

Fisher correctly mentions that Howe was furious at the stupidity of Gage who all0wed 2,000 casualties needlessly. In the two battles he commanded he used the indirect approach to drive the rebels out of their position.

What I took away from Howe's decisions and Fisher points this out, is that he followed orders by using olive branch. When forced to fight he let the rebels retreat hoping they would give up. This resulted in few battle casualties for both sides.

What caught me by surprise is his evaluation of Valley Forge. We celebrate Washington keeping the army together while they were freezing and starving. Fisher points out that Howe was in Philadelphia with 20,000 troops, and they were warm and well fed. From the farms around the same area as Valley Forge. The farmers were loyalist or least got paid for their provisions. The rebels only source of food was attacking the wagons taking supplies to Philidelphia. Those caught were marched through the city in their rags and only skin and bones as propaganda for the colonists to give up. They were then sent home if they signed a loyalty oath not to fight again. Which they had no intention of keeping. Another part of the olive branch. 

His open defiance was concerning Burgoyne and his march from Canada to Saratoga. Howe was ordered to march up the Hudson River and join him, but the order did say it was his decision to remain and defend his position if he deemed it necessary.

Burgoyne marched down and found defeat at Saratoga for lack of support from Howe. My interpretation of Howe's refusal to join the Tory general, is that he wanted him to face the same problem that Gage had at Lexington and Concorde. He wanted his march to be devastating, but not a total defeat

Here I have a bone to pick with Fisher. He gives Gates credit for Saratoga. Benedict Arnold wasn't in command, but he led the battle and turned defeat into victory while Gates was hiding behind the lines. Arnold lost a leg in that battle.

4. French Alliance.

The reason for the olive branch given by the Tories is that if they went with only the sword France might come to their aid.

The Americans needed a European ally, but feared that when the British were sent home, France would claim the colonies for themselves.

5. Plan B for revolution was if the British won the war that the rebels would move on the other side of the Allegheny Mountains, beyond the reach of the British waiting for a fight in the future. I'd never considered that possibility or heard it mentioned in all my other histories.

Next week the conclusion to the war. 



Wednesday, March 29, 2023

WC: Best Non Fiction Book I've Read


This was a hard one to settle on. I read a lot of non-fictions (grammar check insisted) from theology, history, biography and science.

The one author who has contributed to all most all of those categories was Issac Asimov.

In this book he tries to explain all of history and our universe in reverse order.

He started from the time in which he started writing and worked his way backward to the Big Bang.

I followed him through most of the book as he was the greatest communicator of knowledge making complex ideas understandable.

There was only one part of the book that left me baffled. His explanation of how life began. Here he became too complex for me. I don't have enough background in biology to make sense of the vocabulary on this issue.

The book was first published in 1987. I'm sure the knowledge being generated at light speed today in all of the subjects he covered have added to what he wrote and maybe contradict some of it. It's still a very enlightening book. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Monday Musings: Love Your Neighbor

Mark 12: 28-33 NIV

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Called the greatest commandment. To Love God, and your neighbor as yourself.

Understanding the first part it is much harder said than done. It's loving your neighbor where I've run across a serious problem with what many preachers are saying. I've heard many sermons on loving your neighbor and they all interpret it that "In order to love your neighbor you first have to love yourself."

They reason that you can't love others if you don't love yourself, self-loathing is hinderance to loving others. Is it? Or is self-loathing a result of not loving others?

Jesus doesn't command "love yourself." The order these preachers are teaching is backwards.

Jesus says first you have to love God.

Point one: Loving yourself is called narcissism. We use other terms for this kind of person: Self-centered, sociopath, idiot, tyrant, despot, dictator, toddler. 

This person places himself first and has no feeling or shame concerning those around them. Others are only for him or her to use. There's no room to love others. Self-esteem is out of whack when you are the center of the universe, there's no room even for loving God. 

Point 2: If you put love in order as Christ says, and it's in the Old Testament too, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy. Loving God will want you to love others, and if you love others in this order, you feel yourself worthy of love. Love flows down. First God, then your neighbor then yourself comes naturally because you are in harmony with all around you.

Point 3. When I was in college, Dr. J. Iviloy Bishop in my New Testament History class brought that to our attention. He asked, "How do you serve God?"

Think about this question, you love Jesus, he's your savior, you want to tell others what you now believe, you want to help others in time of need so how do you serve Jesus and show your love for Him? Its not by loving yourself, it's By serving others! The psychological term for this and it's the highest point on Maslow's hierarchy of needs is Altruism. 

Sometimes it takes a tornado or the war in Ukraine for us to want to help those in need. We give for the needy in winter our food, clothing, blankets not expecting anything back in return, but because we are sharing what we have out of the goodness of our hearts. It makes us feel good.

Point 4. When you love someone, parent, friend, spouse, children the number one thought is to make them happy.

There's duty, responsibility, knowing that they love you too, but what drives you is their happiness. You want to give them something that makes them happy. Love gives.

Think Christmas, your child opens their gift, and like Ralphy in A Christmas Story, there's that BB gun. The look of pure joy on his face is the reward of giving that present. Making him happy makes you happy. It's hard for children to understand this, but the joy of Christmas in not in what you get, but what you give and how your gift is received.

Yes, parents all feel let down sometimes when your kid tosses that must have gift you clawed your way through a throng of desperate shoppers to get it, then they play with the box, but if they're happy with the box, your happy.

Love is giving, just as God gave his Son, but not everyone receives the gift. God doesn't force us to love him back, that's called free will. When you do accept the gift of Jesus and you know what True Love is, you want to share it, sharing it gives the giver a sense of purpose, and they love themselves for what they've done.

How can Billionaires who constantly strive for the next billion dollars no matter that they lay off thousands of workers and destroy their lives know happiness? They aren't happy with the five mansions, three yachts, Swiss banks accounts that hold more money than they could give away in three lifetimes. How can they know happiness? They're living the contest of, he who dies with the most toys wins.

“For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself. Luke 9:25.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Friday Book Review: The True History of the American Revolution Part I


Sydney George Fisher is an historian I never heard of, and now I intend to read as many of his books as I can find in Unlimited and hope more to become available. I can't afford collectors editions as he died in 1927. This book was written in 1902.

I will be reviewing only the causes of the war today. Next week I'll cover the war under the command of General Howe and tackle the war under General Clinton the following week.

I took a course in college on the American Revolution and taught it many times over 27 years of teaching history. I found a wealth of information in this book sorely lacking in understanding what made our country free from England.

Before getting into particulars, what struck me was the difference between England and the colonies on how a colony is defined. 

England used the Roman model of a colony. After taking over an area they let retired legionnaires start farming and building a colony totally dependent on Rome and trading only with Rome and under Roman Law.

The colonies defined a colony under the Greek model. The mother city-state like Athen would send people becoming a colony like Neapolis (Naples) or Syracuse and once they started to thrive became trading partners, but independent of the mother colony.

Aside, it took from 1776 to the end of WWII for England to switch from the Roman idea of a colony to the Greek idea by creating the Commonwealth.

What I learned concerning the lead up to the war from 1763 to 1775:

1. Colonies like Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts were from the start self-governing. Others were Royal colonies under the Crown had Governors and royal bureaucrats overseeing the colony. The colonials exercised power by controlling his salary other officials like judges and constables. They found a way to then compromise on different laws.

  2. After Massachusetts started hanging witches, Quakers and Baptists, King James II revoked their independence appointed a governor without the colony controlling his salary. This explains why Boston was the focal point of insurrection.

3. The main reason why England didn't enforce the Navigation Acts and limit smuggling of goods from other countries like France and Holland, was they needed colonial support against French Canada.

4. The French and Indian War was over, and Canada was now in English hands. The Seven Years War, as it was called in England, created a huge national debt, Parliament decided to enforce the navigation laws and make the colonies only trade with the mother country.

Personal point of view. There's a reason why teachers are told not to smile in class before Christman. It's easier to lighten control than to tighten it.

5. As early as 1737, John Wesley when returning from his disastrous appointment as minister in the colonies mentioned that there was strong sentiment for independence. This idea of independence didn't happen overnight. The fear of France kept the colonies close to the mother country for protection. With that removed the lower classes began agitating for independence, and Parliament made matters worse.

6. Most importantly, Parliament was divided between two polar opposite parties. Tories and Whigs, both wanting power at all costs. The Tories took control under Lord North and William Pitt, the elder, was in his dotage. 

7. The Whigs wanted conciliation, and to keep the status quo. The Tories wanted them to help pay off the national debt they helped create and treat the thirteen colonies like all other colonies the controlled. The Whigs had enough power to handcuff the Tories in the first three years of the war and to appease them appointed a Whig commander in General Howe, who as member of parliament said before fighting started that he would refuse to fight. More to be said about this next week.

 8. From 1763 to 1774 and the Boston Tea Party, there was mob rule in the colonies. It was a state of anarchy similar to the Reign of Terror in France a few years later.

9. Governors and royal officers had their homes ransacked, tax collectors were stripped and covered with hot tar then covered with feathers and run out of town on a long wooden pole called a rail. Two brothers who founded Lynchburg, Virginia led riots in which loyalists, meaning wealthy were attacked. The word we refer to as a lynch mob comes from here. The mob enforced the populace to not buy English goods. 

10. The majority of the population was intimidated by these mobs and feared being called a loyalist or working for the Crown, judges, tax collectors, constables, etc.

These ugly facts are mentioned, but not explained even in college textbooks. I leave this week with the one man most responsible for starting this war, Samuel Adams, and the Boston Tea Party.

When the ships arrived on all the ports with the British East India Company tea, and since the warehouses were full of tea they couldn't sell, they lowered the price to undercut the smuggled tea in the colonies that came from Holland and the Dutch East India Company.

By law if a ship came into harbor and didn't offload its cargo, the ship was impounded, and the cargo sold at auction after 20 days. Before that time was up the ship could request to leave the harbor, but the governor had to approve it leaving.

Most of the colonies if the governor was loyalist allowed the ships to leave, if they favored the rabble they confiscated the tea, either way England did not collect the tax and the Company lost its cargo.

Governor Hutchenson of Massachusetts refused to let the ships leave. Adams waited until the 18th day and staged what became known as the Boston Tea Party.

Parliament played right into his hands by quarantining, or virtually laying siege to Boston until the city paid the damages. This is what led to Lexington and Concorde. From that point on Sam Adams fades from history and his cousin John Adams come to the fore.   


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

WC: A Famous Book I've Never Read and Why


Today's challenge is: A Famous Book I've Never Read and Why.

I can list a number of them.

19th Century classics that are harder than hell to read or turned into multiple movies in the past hundred years:

Moby Dick, A Christmas Carol, The Three Musketeers, War of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Time Machine, Wuthering Heights, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer, Lord Jim, The Hounds of the Baskervilles and other books by the same author.

There are some 19th century authors I enjoy, Edgar Allen Poe and Lew Wallace.

Books I tried to read and quit because they sucked:

Ulysses by James Joice

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

There's an award-winning short story by Phillip Jose Farmer, Riders of the Purple Wage; I couldn't get past the first page. It was in an anthology of Hugo award winners.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Monday Musings: I Am That I Am


I may not do this every week. Sometimes I get an idea in my head and need to say something or vent.
Sermon yesterday at church the pastor preached on the Origins of God. He used the part in Exodus with Moses at the burning bush. Moses asks who he is to say that sent him and God answers, "I Am that I Am." KJV. 
He went on to preach that in a place of many gods that the people needed to know God's name. It's "I Am."
In Hebrew is YHWH pronounced Yaweh, and changed in translation to Jehovah.
Somehow everyone accepts this, but as a teenager after having read The Cross and the Switchblade, even watched the movie starring Pat Boone and Erick Estrada, I read a number of David Wilkerson's books. They were popular at the time, and he came to Albuquerque, and I heard him in person.
The only book of Wilkerson's that truly touched my life in a meaningful way was this one. Man Have I Got Problems.
I was in high school, and I really did have problems, all teenagers have problems!
It's a short book, it read like a sermon, and he helped me look at problems in light of Paul's ordeal in a storm on the way to Rome. He described all the different measures the crew on the ship would take to keep the ship afloat. Ride into it, batten down the hatches and ride it out and when nothing worked jump overboard but know that God is always with you. The best advice I've ever heard a preacher give. 
Then he said something that has always stuck with me. Mentioned this passage in Exodus and said, something to the effect of that going to the Hebrews and saying "I Am" sent me wouldn't get him very far. But if he said, "I am deliverance," the people would understand.
Retired English teacher in me can say with authority that the verb "am" is a transitive verb, it needs a direct object to make the sentence or idea have meaning.
The great "I am," as it's called is God saying, "I am what you need." The Hebrews needed deliverance from slavery, they needed to be rescued from Pharoah's army, they needed food and water in the desert etc. God provided that for them.
In my life this helped me through tough times. Going through a painful divorce, God was my comfort. Changing my life goal of being a missionary, I became a teacher and treated my students as my mission field. Other problems I've faced, and God was always there to deliver me and my family through those times.
This is the meaning of "I Am."
I've heard many preachers speak from this passage and this is the only book or sermon that explains this.
It was shortly after I read this book that David Wilkerson came to speak and his sermon was on the Second Coming and what he called, "The Evacuation."
What a shame that someone who had done so much good in pointing the masses to the Love of God, and how that can change their lives, to turn away from that and focus on fire insurance and doom and gloom.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Friday Book Review: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus


A lot of academics denigrate this book as "Pop Science."

It sold millions and John Gray went on to write numerous other books on the subject. This one changed my marriage and led to a happier home climate.

The first mention of the book I heard of it was at a teacher's meeting. A guest speaker was a family court judge, and she was trying to explain to us teachers how to respond to students when their family situation was in turmoil.

The fact is that all the years I taught many of my colleagues went through divorces and the turmoil in their lives and how it affected their teaching.

I went to the bookstore, and it was only in hardback and thirty dollars. I passed.

When I bought the book, it was because I started teaching Sociology and Psychology, taking the course over because I was department chair and the outgoing dept. chair retired.

I was teaching straight world history and after going over the same thing five times a day for three years I was putting myself to sleep. Repeating is not teaching. I was worried about the subject matters, but it rejuvenated my teaching.

The only courses I had in psych and sociology, was in college over twenty years earlier. I was scrambling to learn the subject matter and there was a chapter on marriage, children, divorce in the sociology book. In psychology there were chapters on aging, and it included the adult years of marriage and parenting.

I read the first chapter and was impressed. He diagnosed every argument my wife and I had for years.

I read the chapter to my wife, and she read the next chapter to me, and we alternated through the book. 

It was a game changer in our marriage. It didn't happen overnight, and we still have disagreements, but our marriage has been much happier ever since. I understood that when my wife came home from rush hour traffic, she was stressed. I headed off the argument by asking her to tell me about her day, that way she could vent about the problems in the office and driving without setting her sights on me.

I made out an outline of the book and while I was reading the book to the students, school wouldn't spring for a classroom set, we then would discuss the thoughts. It made for the liveliest discussions for the whole semester. Word got out about using the book and my enrollment in the classes grew.

With my wife and all the girls in my classes they agreed with what he said about how men should listen and not try to fix what they were complaining about.

When it came to what was said about how women need to be less critical of their husbands and understand them and their need to go into their cave until they had a solution to the problems, it was always met with skepticism and derision. 

Men should listen to their problems and be supportive, but not being critical of what men were facing and how they found a solution to their problems. Criticism doesn't help!

They were glad that the book explained to men how to understand them, but not so much about understanding men. They all felt that understanding the male ego was that men were babies.

I miss teaching those classes and the one on street law. They kept me on my toes, and I enjoyed teaching world, U.S. and New Mexico history more. I never liked teaching economics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

WC: Favorite historical personage to read about.


Tomb of King John of England 

Today's challenge is favorite historical personage to read about.

I've narrowed it down to the two men that I feel made a significant contribution to history, not because of what they accomplished, but because they were failures. Sometimes a failure affects the future more than a success.

First is King John of England. He's important because there are:

Three Good Things That Come From the reign of Bad King John.

1. He lost all land on the continent.

He alienated two of his most influential nobles by stealing the younger noble's bride while she was on her way to be married. The two brothers took a dim view of this. They switched their allegiance to the King of France taking other influential nobles with them. With one stroke he lost the southern part of France. Momma, Eleanora of Aquitaine, was not happy losing her birthright to the son of her former husband. 

Then he murdered his nephew Arthur, who was the rightful heir to the throne, and he was just to be regent. This lost him the northern part of France. King Phillip of France made the split permanent by making nobles choose which side of the channel they sided with.

This is significant as the King of England was now tied to the island. The Angevine Kings spent more time on the continent than the island. They are buried there. John is the first Norman king to be buried in England.

2. He is the father of the British Navy. 

John wanted all the land he lost to France back. To do that he needed a navy. England did not have a navy until then. It took a few centuries, but England built its worldwide empire with the navy.

3. The Magna Charta. This alone makes his failure significant to all history. The concept that the King is subject to the law and is not the law. Trial by jury of peers. Milestones in jurisprudence, even though he fought it to the day he died.

The second historical person that changed history by his failures is Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. 

He had many accomplishments, but he failed three times and that made all the difference to the future.

1. He tried to get Henry VIII elected the Holy Roman Emperor. He fell a few votes short. Carlos I of Spain became Emperor Charles V. The man who held the Pope prisoner when Henry wanted a divorce.

2. He tried to become Pope. He fell a few votes short.

3. The King's divorce. He failed making Henry VIII divorce Catherine and split with the Catholic Church founding the Church of England. Ireland is still suffering from this split. Wolsey fell from grace and mercifully died on his way to the Tower.

The great what if of history, what if Wolsey succeeded all three times?

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Friday Book Review: Ultimate Punishment

This is the ultimate indepth and concise book on capital punishment. I'm going on a diatribe on the subject today.

1. When I was in college, it had only 1,500 living on campus. Jim Vanderbilt was a trainer for the college team my freshman year. Sophomore year he was just a regular student, but he was popular on campus. He married and transferred to West Texas State University between Amarillo and Plainview. The whole campus was shocked when the news broke, he was arrested for killing a state senator's daughter. None of us could believe it.

At the trial a number of women in Canyon, TX, testified that he abducted them at gunpoint and drove them around, then released them. They all said it was something sexual. A good number of women at Wayland said they remembered walking around the campus, and he would ask if they needed a ride and would give it to them. The didn't think anything of it, he was just being nice.

Jim signed a confession with the promise of the death penalty off the table. State senator daddy wouldn't have it. At the trial the police officer that witnessed his confession read it to the jury. He was convicted after thirty minutes deliberation and thirty minutes to return the death penalty.

That trial was easily overturned and at his second trial was given a life sentence, the state appealed and on the third trial he was given the death penalty again. He died of pneumonia, ten years later while being transferred to an appeal's hearing. 

2. For a good number of years, I taught the high school class street law. When I retired, I went to work for an attorney. 

We had a client needing a will, who was a well-known attorney, in fact my friend idolized this man. In the 1970's six members of a motorcycle gang were convicted of raping and killing a young woman. They were all given the death penalty. While they were awaiting the appeals process a young man in North Carolina became saved. He confided to the pastor of his church what he had done. The pastor counseled him to come forward and confess to his crime. The pastor helped him contact the defense attorneys handling the appeals of the six on death row.

This attorney that was our client flew and interviewed the young man and took his deposition back to New Mexico. The young man was extradited and in court confessed to the crime of raping and killing the woman ten years earlier. He was given a life sentence. The six wrongfully convicted men were then released from death row. This is a prime example of why capital punishment is meted out mostly on "the usual suspects." 

3. I had a student whose brother was involved in a headline murder case and the DA sought the death penalty. The leader was given life and her brother ten years. She was a bit of a basket case that year and my heart felt for her and family. At age 13 all girls are having trouble adjusting to their body changing, this just added that much more on top of it.

A rather long-winded way of saying I've had dealings with those involved in and with the death penalty.

I read Scott Turow's Ultimate Punishment when I first started teaching Street Law. I knew the topic would come up, and teaching at two inner city high schools with a strong gang presence with many of those students were in this class looking for loopholes when they got caught. At times half of my classes' students would be on parole and I had to deal with their parole officers. My one liner for them on the right to remain silent was, "The Bible says Samson slew 20,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Most of those in prison used the same weapon." 

The whole book Turow practiced sophistry. He argued on each issue both pro and con with equal logic and reasoning. It's not until the last sentence of the book that he gives his opinion, and I'm not going to tell you what it is.

Those predisposed to eye for eye, life for life would agree with his con reasons. Those predisposed to anti-death penalty would agree with his pro.

One statement I felt tilted the scale to anti-death. He went to Germany, which does not have the death penalty, and asked one of their prominent judges why they don't. The answer was, "We will never give the state the power to execute someone again."

I personally have many reasons against capital punishment, and it vexed me that some of his arguments for it were valid to a degree.

The major point for being against it in my book is the cost. His reason for capital punishment was if it was only used for the "worst of the worst, and act as a deterrent that the cost shouldn't matter." A wet juicy raspberry on that logic.

Here's the history of the death penalty in New Mexico in the 20th century. There was only two persons put to death, the first was in 1959. He was the only one executed in the brand-new gas chamber. It was never used again.

The second one was Terry Clark. It reeked of politics. Terry Clark was arrested for raping a nine-year-old girl, while he was out on appeal of his conviction for raping an eight-year-old girl. We now have the Dena Lynn Gore law requiring a convicted felon be incarcerated while on appeal.

His brother informed on him. Here's where politics comes into play. It's 1986, outgoing democratic governor Tony Anaya had delayed the death sentences of all those on death row. He was morally against it. The newly elected republican governor Gary Johnson, yes that asshole running for president as a libertarian, on his campaign promised to execute them by lethal injection. Tony Anaya after the election used his power to commute those sentences to life. We did not have life without parole.

The attorney for Terry Clark told him at the arraignment to plead guilty, and request sentencing before Gary Johnson took office. If he was given the death penalty Anaya would commute it.

The judge delayed sentencing until after Johnson took office. This made Terry Clark the only person in New Mexico on death row for 28 years. The only reason he was executed was that Terry Clark asked for no more appeals. He wanted it over. He was executed by lethal injection. It took 28 years of appeals when he confessed to the crime!

It's never been given to the general public how that many years of appeals cost the state. All appeals on capital punishment are paid for by the state. I would dare say considering how much attorney's fees and court costs both state and federal for both sides would be in the millions. How can fiscal conservatives justify that much expense? 

At the time of his death the expense for inmates was twenty-eight thousand dollars a year. If he lived to be a hundred the cost to taxpayers would have been less than a million. 

The number one cause of death in California's death row is old age. Texas and Florida may have a conveyor belt death penalty process, but even those they execute have been detained for at least 10 or more years accumulating huge costs. Case in point Jim Vanderbilt.

New Mexico recently passed a law for life without parole and abolished capital punishment. The republicans are screaming about it every election cycle. 

Friday, March 03, 2023

Friday Books: Token Black Girl


This was a recommended book by Amazon. The author's name is a derivative of Prescott. Thought I'd give it a read.

I've read a number of Michael Prescott's mystery novels, and I'll always give another author with my family name a read.

Danielle Prescod has lived a life in an affluent neighborhood and attended private schools. She was the only one or one of very few blacks at the schools. 

As the title suggests in trying to fit into the social fabric of her environment, she assumed the role of subservience. She was included but could never be a threat to the other girls. She was along for the ride, but always in the back seat.

She pointed to TV and movies and the stereotype of the token black done for political correctness. Hollywood always has a token minority, be it black, Hispanic, Asian, gay, and now I'm noticing transgender. It is a way trying to break fight racism, sexism and different lifestyles to the masses. At the same time, it creates a stereotype that's hard to break.

From earlier in Danielle's life, she had a self-loathing for her skin and body type. She was not alone; she was following in her mother's and other black women's examples. Getting her hair worked on was an ordeal. Her mother helped her use chemicals to straighten her hair with the accompanying pain from them burning her skin and eventually destroying her natural hair and needing to wear wigs. 

She became anorexic and bulimic trying to have the perfect fashion model body. A size 2 meant she was too fat and her backside too prominent.

Working in the fashion industry discards were free, but they were all size 0, and to wear them meant skipping meals for days at a time. Dressing in the latest styles were a must, but she couldn't afford to buy them.

One remembrance was being at an afterparty, and she was required to wear the designer dress with very high heels. She was assigned to the door to show the arriving guests to the reception line, as if they couldn't fine it themselves. She stood in the line not able to move hours in agony, without showing it because of the shoes.

When allowed to join the party, she dashed home, put on a jogging suit with fashion trainers and returned to be asked why she changed clothes.

She finally realized once she turned thirty that no matter how hard she tried, she never fit in, or was acceptable to the crowd. She was only window dressing her entire life. This freed her up to start eating healthy and to leave the industry.

For the most part she left her love life out of the narrative. There was only one mention of a boyfriend and then it was too much information, but she made a valid point.

I read Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, and Wifey by Judy Blume. The focus of those books was how unfair it is being a woman. Daughters of the West Mesa by Irene Blea, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough has a not-so-subtle theme along those lines. All have given me understanding in what it's like to be a woman and mother.

Token Black Girl was similar is the unfairness of a person's life, but not as a woman, but as a black woman. The unfairness of how in order to fit into the socio-economic crowd she had to be subservient, never be a threat, never show her true feelings, never to stand out, she had to destroy her natural hair and starve herself to fit in and look and act like them. She thought she had two choices, be imitation white or ghetto.

It's hard for me to relate to Danielle Prescod, but from her words I could empathize with her struggle and gain enlightenment into the thoughts and struggles of her life. I'm glad she finally gave up the struggle and decided to accept herself and stop trying to be something she wasn't.