Thursday, January 16, 2020

Catholics, Jews, Politics, Muslims and Murder



“Anti-Catholic bigotry is alive in the U.S. Senate” read the headline of a January, 2019 article by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. It’s getting tougher to be Catholic here or nearly anywhere else. Gerson citied tough questioning of US District Court Judge Brian Buescher when he was up for ratification in the US Senate last year. Senators Kamala Harris and Maize Hirono believed his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic mens’ organization, disqualified him because the Catholic Church considers abortion sinful and homosexual acts “intrinsically disordered.”


Senator Dick Durbin’s questions of Buescher went to the Catholic Church’s position on so-called “transgenders” who believe they’re “assigned” a gender at birth. Catholic teaching asserts there are only two unalterable biological sexes. The professed Catholic Senator Durbin was recently denied the Eucharist which the Catholic Church believes is the body of Christ and the essence of Catholicism. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois made that ruling because Durbin violates Catholic teaching by his support of abortion. Former VP Joe Biden was also denied the Eucharist by Bishop Joseph Francis Martino of Scranton, PA for the same reason.


When conservative Catholic US Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett was up for confirmation, US Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” and voted against her. Should there be another vacancy on the Supreme Court, many expect Judge Barrett to be Trump’s nominee. She was runner-up to Brett Kavanaugh, another conservative Catholic, last year.

Osama E. El Hannouny
It’s getting difficult to be a Christian, especially a Catholic Christian, in the early 21st century as these four stories reported in just the past two weeks attest:
*Illinois: (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — “Charges have been upgraded against a man [Osama E. El Hannouny] who allegedly slashed tires of multiple vehicles at churches in Palos Hills… because he didn’t like Christians. The charges against him were upgraded Thursday to 14 counts of hate crime, police said. He allegedly admitted to slashing tires of 19 vehicles at two churches because he didn’t like Christians.”

*According to breitbart.com: “Christian sites in Europe suffered a record number of attacks in the year 2019, with some 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries, and monuments vandalized, looted, or defaced.” Most were Catholic Churches. Most perpetrators arrested so far have been Muslims.

*ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - “Hundreds of Christmas cribs have been smashed, burned and vandalized across Italy in a binge of violence unparalleled in recent memory. Statues of the Baby Jesus and the Holy Family have been beheaded, stolen or hanged — in one shocking incident even impaled on an iron pole in a public square.”

*Nigeria (Morning Star News) “Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria on Wednesday (Jan. 8), the same day four students were kidnapped from a Catholic seminary in Kaduna state.” Over 6000 Nigerian Catholics were killed in 2018, thousands more in 2019. 


Five years ago, I interviewed Father Innocent Okozi who was then my parish priest in Fryeburg, Maine. I asked about the situation in his native Nigeria and he confirmed all the reports I had been reading about the murder of Catholics and other Christians in his country. Soon, I’ll be interviewing his successor priest in Fryeburg, Father Peter Shaba, also a Nigerian native, for his perspective.

Up to 100 bodies have been found in a mass grave near the Nigerian town of Damasak, after troops from Chad and Nigeria liberated the locality from Boko Haram militants.
One of my Jewish friends sent me another link last week about murders of Christians around the world. As the descendant of several Holocaust victims, he asked me where was the outrage among Christians? Murders of Christians get some media attention, but not nearly as much as there would be if the stories were about Christians murdering Muslims. My friend and I are watching closely as both anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish violence accelerates on several continents.

More Christian victims of Boko Haram
Of the four US Senators I quoted in the opening paragraphs above, Hirono is Buddhist. Harris seems unsure: “I grew up going to a black Baptist Church and a Hindu temple,” she said. Her husband is Jewish, so we must assume she has yet to choose. Feinstein’s 2000 campaign website said she was Jewish, but seems largely secular now. Durbin is ostensibly Catholic but his bishop has doubts.


In closing, I should point out that of the nine members of the US Supreme Court, six are Roman Catholics and the other three are Jews. All three Jews are reliably liberal votes and all but one of the Catholics are reliable conservative votes. Sotomayor is the odd one out. She was born to a single mother in the Bronx and attended a Catholic high school, but evidence of her alleged Catholicism is thin. She officiated a wedding for two women, and I suspect Senator Feinstein would never say about Sotomayor that: “The dogma lives largely within [her].”

Friday, January 10, 2020

Shifting Political Nomenclature


THIS COLUMN RAN IN NEWSPAPERS THREE OR FOUR WEEKS AGO AND I'M JUST GETTING AROUND TO POSTING IT HERE.
“Left and Right” is the name of a small community TV show on which I argue from the right, but what does that mean in 2020 AD? Taking a long view, the best I can say is our left/right political spectrum is in flux. What political positions define the two sides? Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrats in a generation that worshiped John F. Kennedy (and into which I was born) didn’t see all Democrats as leftists or all Republicans as conservatives, but that has changed. There are still liberals in the Republican Party but are there any conservatives among today’s Democrats? I can’t name any. Can you?


JFK was a staunch anti-communist. His fellow Democrats in 1960 saw socialism as communism-lite and disdained both. That cannot be said of 2020 Democrats after a 2018 Gallup poll indicated that: “For the first time in Gallup's measurement over the past decade, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism… 57% today having a positive view… [with their] attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47%.” The same poll indicated Republicans with only a 16% positive view of socialism and a 71% positive view of capitalism.


When newly-elected Congresswoman Alexandria Occasion Cortez (AOC) proposed the Green New Deal last February there was consensus among Democrats that it was a radical-left proposal. Provisions like banning air travel, banning cheeseburgers, banning fossil fuels, rehabbing every building in America, eliminating 99% of cars, free education for life, guaranteed income without work, etc. seemed crazy to them. By spring and summer, however, nearly all Democrat presidential candidates endorsed the Green New Deal and sought AOC’s endorsement.


That most Democrats now favor socialism — and the massive expansion of government into nearly every aspect of life required to implement the Green New Deal — is more than enough to label them the party of the radical left. Now, however, political language has shifted. For example, the headline of a December 21 article in the Washington Post by Chelsea James declares: “Buttigieg shifts to center, embodying the Democratic primary’s rightward drift.” Janes cited shifting positions by Buttigieg on Medicare for all, abolishing the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court, and decriminalizing illegal border crossings. He also claimed that:“Environmentalists complain [Buttigieg’s] climate plan is less sweeping than his early rhetoric suggested it might be.”


Conservative pundit and attorney Paul Miringoff of powerlineblog.com asked last week: “Is Medicare for all the liberal position? Is decriminalizing illegal border crossings? Is packing the Supreme Court? I would have called Medicare for all socialist, decriminalization leftist, and court packing radical. I would have expected the Post, at a minimum, to call them progressive. If, instead, these positions are liberal, the political ground has moved from under our feet.”


So then, what positions would be considered radical left today? Must someone be a bomb-tosser like Bill Ayers and advocate violent overthrow of the government? The Green New Deal would put government in control of how people eat, travel, reproduce, work, and what kind of house they live in. What else is there? That looks like total control to me — somewhere between socialism and communism lite.


The Washington Post is a big voice in mainstream media, all of whom are on board with the new labels. What was radical left only months ago is now liberal. What was liberal is now centrist. So, where do mainstream media want to put yesterday’s conservatives? Are they fascists now? If so, it was a short trip from Hillary Clinton’s racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic basket of deplorable to today’s fascists. 


At the end of Barack Obama’s two-year tenure as a US senator, the National Journal labeled him our most liberal senator. As president, mainstream media referred to him and his VP Joe Biden as “centrist” and “moderate.” Until lately, it would have been very hard to call Joe Biden anything but liberal over his 30+ year career in the senate, but liberal media outlets like the Washington Post think themselves moderate too and give plenty of coverage to leftists who charge that President Trump is fascist and compare him to Hitler.


John F. Kennedy would be called conservative today and wouldn’t likely feel comfortable in today’s Democrat Party He opposed Affirmative Action, was pro-2nd Amendment, and favored major tax cuts. He couldn’t possibly get the 2020 nomination for president. He was a US Senator in 1954 when President Eisenhower implemented “Operation Wetback” and deported over a million Mexicans from the United States. Maybe it’s there somewhere, but I could find no evidence that JFK or any other Democrat opposed it. His predecessor, Democrat President Truman, deported plenty of Mexicans as well at the end of World War II.


How far left will Democrats and their mainstream media go?

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Recognizing Talent And Lack Of It



Lots of talent goes unrecognized. After Tom Brady played what was probably his last game as a Patriot last Saturday, most believe he is (was?) the best quarterback ever, but few saw that talent early in his college career. Coach Belichick saw it though, and it has paid off handsomely for football fans all over New England. It’s been quite a run for Patriots, but it couldn’t last forever.

Maine's Dave Mallett
Often I’ve observed musicians playing locally who are very talented, but had to continue struggling with small gigs here and there while working other jobs to support themselves. I’d see others on television with great notoriety but lacking the talent locals demonstrated. How did they gain widespread fame when the locals were unknown beyond a fifty-mile radius? Marketing? I suppose it’s all good so long as the performers and those listening are enjoying themselves. 
Museum of Fine Art Boston
There are those to whom talent is ascribed but who seem totally lacking in it. Wandering through art museums, for example, one must question the judgement of curators who display absurd objects purported to be “art.” As a boy, my mother would take my siblings and me into Boston to the Forsyth Dental Clinic where fillings and braces were free. Some days I’d have hours to kill and I’d spend it at the Museum of Fine Arts just across the Fens. Most of what I saw was amazing work but in other stuff I could discern no artistic merit. At only eight or ten years old, I knew it was junk.

Alleged Art at MFA Boston
It’s been a half century, but I see about the same proportion of art and junk hanging at the Portland Museum of Art today. A fine museum, it has collections by truly great artists including Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many others. And then there’s alleged art by others whose names I cannot recall because I am profoundly unimpressed when viewing their stuff. I felt they were trying to con me. As a kid I trusted my instincts — never thinking, as some others did, that there must be something there I just wasn’t bright enough to see.


Are art “experts” only pretending when they claim to see talent others cannot? Are they like the adults who pretended to see beautiful clothes on the emperor? In that iconic children’s story, the tailor who created the emperor’s “clothes” knew he was a con artist, but the emperor and his subjects on the street who watched him process in the nude didn’t trust their instincts. When they pretended to see beauty, it was out of fear of being seen as stupid because they couldn’t see what they believed everyone else could.


And then there are poets. No doubt there are many talented ones out there, but I’m not sure they comprise a majority. All through elementary school, high school, and college I was encouraged to “appreciate” many different poets. Some I actually did appreciate, but not many. As an undergraduate I had a leftist professor of English who declared Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” the best poem of the age. Drifting leftward myself in those days, I tried hard to see the genius he insisted was there, but never could.


My parents sent me to a Catholic prep school in Lowell, Massachusetts when Lowell native and writer Jack Kerouac was at the height of his fame. Several times I tried to read his books, but just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I quit reading after about forty pages into three or four of them. Seeing a drunken Kerouac in 1968 on William F. Buckley’s PBS program “Firing Line,” didn’t impress me either. That Allen Ginsberg and he were close friends only made it worse.

Ginsberg and Kerouac
Very recently, however, I got another insight into Kerouac from an unlikely source. On the 50th anniversary of his death, The American Spectator did a tribute to him. A quote: “On the Road was really an autobiographical expression of Kerouac’s longing and searching for something — that something was God. Historian Douglas Brinkley, the editor of Kerouac’s diary, reported that nearly every page carried a prayer, an appeal to Christ for mercy, or a sketched crucifix. ‘Kerouac was trying to make everything holy,’ said Brinkley.


In its obituary, the New York Times quoted Kerouac from one of his last interviews in which he declared: “I’m not a Beatnik, I’m a Catholic.” Uncomfortable with his literary fame and its cooption by sixties leftists, his drinking got worse. It killed him in 1969 at 47. Lately I’m seeing Kerouac as a conflicted soul who, if he had been able to reconcile his tortured life with his understanding of God and achieve sobriety, might have displayed a more authentic genius than the world had hitherto witnessed.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Left & Right Wednesday, December 18, 2019



Mark Guerringue again sits in the left chair.

The producer asks us if we think Mitch McConnell can administer an impartial Senate trial and if not should he recuse himself? I say, yes, he can. He’s a partisan, but he can be fair as much as anyone can, but Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over things.

Mark thinks this impeachment is much more partisan than previous ones, especially Clinton’s. He thinks Trump is guilty and cited reasons why including seventeen high government officials who testified before Schiff’s Committee. I begin picking apart some of that testimony but Mark interrupted me to say he didn’t want to talk anymore about impeachment — except to say one more thing. Then I respond to that and he responds to me… and on it goes.

We move to the Horowitz Inspector General report, which Mark says admits there’s no proof of shenanigans by the FBI and other Obama intelligence agencies. I counter that it says there was no documentary or testimonial evidence, in the first paragraphs of the 400-plus page report, but the rest lays out plenty of evidence, some of which I begin to cite. Then Mark interrupts again, but I go on.
Mark then brings up a discussion from a previous show about American oil production. Mark said I credited Trump with increasing production and he produced a chart showing steadily increasing production from 2008 when Obama took office to 2020. I accept the data on his chart and tell him that what I said on a past show was that Obama attempted to restrict hydrofracking activity by petroleum companies but was unsuccessful. He also restricted drilling on federal lands. Nonetheless, oil and gas production increased anyway. Trump, however, has cut restrictions on drilling and production has continued to increase at the same rate.

Mark then brings up a discussion we had last month about the Daleiden Trial in California. Daleiden was sued by Planned Parenthood for secret video and audio taping of conversations with abortionists at public conventions by Planned Parenthood. Then-Atty General Kamala Harris seized Daleiden’s computers and videos not yet released and criminally charged him. So, he was facing both civil and criminal charges for his actions, the only journalist in California ever to be so charged. I had claimed it was legal to secretly record a conversation if they were about crimes. Mark claims I was wrong about that.

I bring up how dangerous it is to wear a MAGA hat in public, especially in a “blue” area like Portland Maine. I had a 21-second video cued up of a 14-year-old Florida boy on a school bus being beaten by eight black kids for wearing a MAGA hat. Mark said he didn’t want to see it, but something went wrong with my laptop signal anyway so I couldn’t show it. He said I was looking for trouble when I wore my hat in Portland, and I found it. I said my objective was to show how intolerant the left is — that I should be able to wear a hat in support of the sitting president of the United States in an American city without being assaulted.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Diminishing Beauty



Beauty literally stops me in my tracks. It can annoy my wife when she’s in the car because I’ll hit the brakes unexpectedly, pull over, and reach into the back seat for my camera. It might happen anywhere and if I don’t capture that right away it can fade in minutes or even seconds. Photography is about light after all, and light is often transitory, especially with scattered clouds and a storm either building or breaking up. A shaft of light will illuminate something against a dark background and I have a brief window in which to get the shot. By the time I’ve stepped out of the vehicle, turned on the camera and framed the image, a cloud may have blocked the sun and the opportunity passes.


When I am successful though and I pull up the image later on my computer, it’s a great feeling. The photos I like best all convey whatever feeling I had when I saw the scene. If the photo kindles a similar feeling in others it will sell. The ones I’ve been paid for are images of things — landscapes, street scenes, coastal scenes, loons, sunsets, and so forth. Images of my loved ones are among my favorites but I don’t put them on the website. One did get on accidentally once when I was re-sizing a batch of coastal scenes and a shot of my grandchildren looking for crabs on a beach got mixed in somehow. I didn’t realize it until someone ordered a collection of photos and I pulled up the full-resolution version of that shot from my computer. Now it hangs in a northern Maine nursing home.


Shots of my grandchildren when they’re young convey an innocence that has universal appeal. Young children are genuine; they lack pretense. With a zoom lens they don’t usually know I’m photographing them. They see me with a camera so often that they’re seldom self-conscious about it. When they become teenagers, however, that natural, unaffected demeanor fades. They’re not sure who they are themselves and that uncertainty comes through in photos — especially when they know I’m shooting in their direction. Almost never do I ask people to pose because I much prefer candid shots.


All imagery interests me, but especially other photographs. Again, my taste runs toward candid. We’re all bombarded by photos of men and women with physical beauty, but when photographed for advertising purposes they lose their charm. Subjects are paid to be pretentious. In my eyes, that disingenuousness comes through more strongly than anything else the advertiser intends. It’s worse when the models’ affectations have a sexual bent which is increasingly the case.


Often we see photographers following subjects in revealing dress and snapping away as the models try to look alluring. They strike various poses with ostentatious “come hither” expressions. Such scenes are meant to convey the alleged glamour of high fashion but it never works for me. The fakery is so obvious I can never get past it. It must work with most viewers though because that sort of advertising is ubiquitous. Some could be called soft porn, and it is always pushing limits of propriety.


And pornography which no one could call soft has become dangerously widespread with the internet. Images depicting sex without love would define it, and in my youth, Playboy Magazine was considered porn. It might not be labeled such today because still photographs of the Playboy type have given way to digital video. It’s a plague the young and old contract with the cell phones in every pocket. As with drugs and alcohol, pornography is addictive. Continued use requires stronger doses to reproduce the initial thrill and teenagers today produce their own with cell phone cameras. Our culture is increasingly coarsened in the process. Porn destroys relationships from teenage romances to marriages and professional counselors warn us there’s no end in sight.


Consumers are mostly male but females are catching up. A 2011 article the UK Guardian claimed one in three users were female and 17% of women were addicted. Porn actors degrade themselves and watchers degrade themselves vicariously. How widespread is pornography? Statistics vary: anywhere from 15-75% of Americans use it regularly. Extensive revelations of Jeffrey Epstein’s rich and powerful associates abusing underage girls seem to mirror trends in porn users toward child porn, the only kind that’s still illegal.


For how long will it remain so? That depends on how much society values the innocence of youth. Will Epstein Attorney Alan Dershowitz prevail in his arguments to lower the age of consent? Will Republican congressmen persuade Attorney General William Barr to prosecute internet porn producers more vigorously? There are forces at work both pushing and pulling.


Beauty, defined as: “a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense,” is becoming endangered when seeing images of fellow human beings. Beautiful landscapes, however, remain plentiful.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Left & Right Wednesday, December 4, 2019



Jim Wilfong again sits in the left chair. He's a former Maine legislator and worked in Washington for three administrations in the SBA (Small Business Administration). We open with a question from the producer asking if we'd like to see the White House participate in hearings by the House Judiciary Committee on impeachment. Jim would, citing the House's constitutional power of oversight. I wouldn't, citing rules made by the Democrat Chairmen of two committees rigged against the president and his supporters and denying him due process rights. Jim contends the impeachment process is more political than judicial given that there's no jury of peers, and "Politics ain't beanbag," as Harry Truman said. That leads to a discussion of Harry Truman, his association with Irish gangsters out of Kansas City, among other things. Nonetheless, we both agree that Truman was a man of honor who respected rules, and that trust is the currency in virtually all dealings short of war. I contend that even Irish gangsters had rules which they strictly enforced. Then we discuss the erosion of trust, especially between citizens and government, and that the impeachment process is exacerbating that erosion. Jim says our situation in that light is analogous to the 1850s just prior to our civil war. I cite the red/blue map of the USA as being red in the interior and blue on the urban coasts. In a smaller way, more urban southern Maine is blue while the rest of Maine voted for Trump. Jim picks up on that. He believes the divide coincides with an economic divide, that poor, rural people tend to vote red and also join the military. The producer's second question of us asks if Trump was being childish when he abruptly left the NATO meeting after a video of other leaders ridiculing him surfaced. Neither Jim nor I saw the video or were aware of any impetuosity on the part of Trump. We discussed NATO and the changing nature of war today. Though NATO was formed to counteract a WWII-type invasion of Western Europe by the Soviet Union, few military experts expect any such wars now. Instead, they expect things like proxy wars such as we're seeing in the Middle East. Ideally, we both agree, use of diplomacy is best when backed up by threat of, or use of, economic sanctions as America is doing now with Russia, N. Korea, Iran, and others. It's most effective when backed up by the plausible threat of, and use of military force. In that context I cited a new book about Jeffrey Epstein which purports that he was an Israeli agent, among other things, and that he had a handler in Mossad. It also claimed that he was closely associated with Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. I recall a visit to Israel a decade ago and seeing evidence everywhere of that nation being in near-constant state of war. Citizens are hyper-vigilant and many walk around with AR-15 slung over their shoulders, including what looked like 15-year-old girls. They probably were older, but they looked very young. When French President Macron claimed NATO was brain-dead, we speculated about what he may have meant. Jim guesses that he thinks NATO is stuck in a Cold War strategy and needs to change. Jim ponders motivations for US involvement in Middle Eastern proxy wars and suggests it involves control of strategic resources, which puts us in competition with China. I point to a former NATO official who is now a retired admiral in the US and speculates that Russia should be wary of China's designs on Siberia. We touch on with several other issues but end with using the next show to examine changing definitions of left and right, the title of our show. What issues define left and right? We will research the question.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Addictive Recidivism


Cumberland County Jail
Everyone in prison was once in a jail; that’s how the system works. Someone is arrested and arraigned, then is either bailed or left in jail until trial. If found guilty, they may go back to jail if the sentence is short — less than a year, say — or to another correctional facility if it’s longer. The longest sentences are served in state prison, or federal prison as the case may be.


In the Cumberland County jail where I volunteer once a week, I’m assigned to a pod with a capacity of 85. It’s usually full but not always. The inmates wear either orange or blue depending on their level. Blue designates trusty status, which is earned. Trusties can work in the kitchen, the library, or around the grounds either raking or shoveling snow depending on the season. Work reduces their sentences according to a formula.

Those wearing orange in my assigned pod are awaiting trusty status. If they abide by the rules for a designated period they get their blue outfits, but they can also lose them by mouthing off to a corrections officer or some other violation. If it’s severe enough, they’re moved to a more restrictive pod to start all over again. Be careful not to “lose the blues” as inmates put it.

Chaplain Jeff McIlwain workin with female inmates

There are women in the jail but I don’t work with them. Sometimes I see individuals or groups of women in the corridors dressed in blue or orange and escorted by a corrections officer (CO). Once in a while, I recognize a former student, either male or female. If he or she looks away I don’t say anything. If they maintain eye contact, I’ll greet them. I’ve never conversed with a female inmate though because the opportunity never arises.


Every Thursday afternoon I arrive at the jail, empty my pockets into a locker, go through the metal detector, don my badge, sign in, and wait for 3:30 when I walk through the first of many sally ports and corridors to my assigned pod. All movements are monitored at all times by cameras wired to banks of monitors in a central location. Heavy steel doors unlock ahead of me with a metallic clang and lock again as they close behind me with another clang. You can never forget where you are or who is in charge — and it’s not you.


Each week there is about a 20% turnover on my oval-shaped, two-tier pod. I’ll report to the control center in the middle where there’s almost always a different corrections officer on duty. Sometimes it’s a woman in charge of 85 guys. On Thursdays and Sundays inmates can shave and razors are distributed while inmates are in their cells. Sometimes that cuts into the hour I have for Bible study because I have to wait for the CO to collect all the razors, one cell at a time. Then cells are unlocked and inmates flood the common area where they play cards, make phone calls, do pull-ups, or just walk around.


After my arrival, the CO announces Bible study in the small classroom and anywhere from three to twenty stroll in. Usually, about two or three are repeats from previous weeks, but sometimes they’re all first-timers. That makes it hard to plan a lesson. Some will come in with little knowledge of what the Bible is beyond that it’s some kind of holy book. Others will have studied the Bible for decades and know more than I do. Usually the latter are from the south and are often black. 


I never ask why they’re in jail but they often tell me. Once I had only two guys, one white and covered with tattoos, the other black and strong-looking. Both were addicts in their late thirties and had been incarcerated since sixteen on drug charges. They knew each other at the Maine State Prison and were together again at the Cumberland County Jail awaiting trial on drug charges. The black man knew his Bible very well. His mother taught him, he said.

They were afraid of being released and going back on drugs. Both wanted to get clean but were critical of rehab programs. Neither knew how to turn on a computer or use a cell phone and needed to learn those skills and others. “We’ve been away so long we’re out of touch,” said one as the other nodded. Rehab has to teach us those things and whatever else has changed out there. Then we need a transition house or we’re likely to use again, they said. Both were easy to like.


At least 75% of inmates I’ve encountered over three and a half years were addicted to drugs or alcohol. Many were in and out of jail or prison for most of their adult lives. Many had co-occurring mental illness of some kind as well.