Immortal Medic

The medic is always there in my mind. He’s always holding the bleeding head of the wounded infantryman in his lap. I’m always circling right above them in my gunship. The medic is always screaming in our headsets to land and evacuate the wounded soldier.

“It’s just a minor wound, but I can’t stop the bleeding!” screams the medic.

The head is a most vascular part of the human anatomy. Even minor head wounds can be tough because of that.

“He’s going to die if we don’t get him out of here!” screams the medic.

But the LZ is too hot to get the Dustoff in—the medivac ship—without it getting shot down and yielding four more casualties. And our gunship is too heavy to get in and out of such a tight spot. And, besides, the living grunts below us still need our firepower.

You can say words like “the calculus of war,” but those words don’t scream, and they don’t bleed, and they don’t smell of copper and urine and feces.

And we can’t control the LZ. And the firing is steady.

“Never mind,” says the medic in a voice broken with crying. “He’s dead.”

The young soldier had bled out in the medic’s arms. I can see the medic sobbing over the body. In my mind they’re always there. Always begging to be saved.

Both of those soldiers had names, but I never knew them. At least one of them has been a name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall for a long time. They are among the nameless ghosts in my mind, the lost army that didn’t get to come home with me. But I have not abandoned them. I never will.

A good friend of mine, Jack Bunton, founder of Ram Engine, sent me this link to the virtual Vietnam Memorial Wall:

If you knew someone lost in Vietnam, you may want to visit it and think of him or her. If you want a glimpse of the world from which he or she did not return you can go here, or here


Filed under Vietnam Veterans

Speak Chrysanthemum to Tsunami

And so, in the continuing saga of the world, we have this installment: Onamazu.

Onamazu is the best explanation I’ve heard so far for why the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan.

Onamazu is the giant catfish who lives in the mud under the sea. He slipped out of the hand of Kashima, the god responsible for controlling him. For as long as anyone can remember, according to Japanese mythology, whenever Onamazu gets away from Kashima the earth quakes and all hell breaks loose.


This analysis comes from my son, Benjamin, who is an artisan craftsman in Portland, Oregon. Ben and his fellow-artisan friend Ben Pederson do wildly elegant wood and metal work—cabinetry, furniture, custom lighting; material poems to the soul’s restless quest for beauty and function—exquisitely attentive/creative house remodeling, etc.

With their friend James Hedberg, a Ph.D. physicist (a St. John’s College schoolmate of son Ben), they were in the process of launching a new enterprise. They call it Qatalogue and intend it to become a unique outlet for the creations of artisans like them, an alternative to the common denominator, mass-produced, feebly dreamed faire of big box America.

And then the tsunami swamped Japan.


Like everyone else, Qatalogue’s founders were awestruck by the sea’s remorseless power. Like everyone else, they were swept away by the Internet’s tsunami images of the great wave. In their case, however, there came a particular aftershock, an inner tsunami of grief and compassion.

(Do you suppose this could be Onamazu’s real purpose, all demons being on some mission of the psyche?)

Anyway, inaction in the tsunami’s wake felt obscene to the Qatalogiers. (My son is an Action Jackson kind of guy. Has been all his young life.)

So the two Bens and Dr. James tried to figure out what they could do to help. They decided to capitalize on Ben P.’s training and background as a fine artist. (B.P. has been exhibited in a New York City art gallery, has collectors around the world, etc.) The Qatalogiers collaborated on the creation of three “art tee shirts”, imagery of which bobbed to the surface of their imaginations in the tsunami’s froth.

The Qatalogiers are giving all proceeds from the shirts’ sales to the Japan Red Cross.

Take that, Onamazu.


The image of one shirt portrays the rascal Onamazu himself, swimming sinuously around a chisel. (“The Japanese chisel is an exquisite tool, one of the simplest yet most refined devices on earth: it is the first item on the carpenter’s bench for re-building the temple.”)

Another features the delicate invocation of a chrysanthemum, “the order of its leaves like a three dimensional rendering of a piece of music, the great mind of Nature. This is the most revered plant in Japan (they have a holiday for it, Kiku no Sekku), it stands for order, cleanliness, divinity, peace…”

Finally, there’s the shirt depicting sacred cranes above the afflicted sea. (“And over those waters float 1,000 crimson cranes, a sign of our mutual understanding, compassion, and desire to offer a hand…”)

If you’d like to lend a hand, go here and order a shirt. Order a bunch of them. Suggest your friends do the same. All proceeds go to Japan.

Speak chrysanthemum to tsunami. Let’s all do it together and raise a chorus that Onamazu can hear. And, yes, of course, Ben Shook’s old man was Qatalogue Customer #1.


Here’s the rest of the story. Well, only a little part of it, really.

In the ever-expanding catalogue of my life’s joy’s and pleasures, watching my children go forth and add their stories to the world’s—and, so, edit the world’s story—is surely the greatest.

“What do you tell your children on cold winter night’s so they will wish for tomorrow?” Chief Seattle is supposed to have said.

Apparently some white guy with a guilty conscience put those words in the great chief’s mouth, but I have to believe the great chief would approve.

Anyway, I always considered it a good question.My answer: the human spirit. It is not a human creation, and it is equal to the challenges of the rest of creation with which it must deal.

Am I saying I consider the human spirit a match for tsunamis, mercury contamination of the seas, the threat of nuclear Armageddon, yada, yada, yada?

That’s just what I’m saying.

My gut tells me the human spirit was created for the very briar patch in which it finds itself. I don’t see how it can be otherwise. Teleology 101.

Everything my three children have shown me with their lives so far reinforces that belief. The Qatalogiers’ creation of their tsunami shirts is merely the latest exhibit in my chain of evidence.

Ben Shook and Ben Pederson

Standing at the foot of his mother’s birth bed, I was the first person to see Ben Shook come into the world. I swear the first thing I saw in his eyes was a twinkle. It has never left.

Ben was born, if not with a sense that the world was mad, at least that it was extremely interesting (see his posts about a fascinating assignment he had in the Canadian Arctic:, often amusingly so. He has been my hero all his life. (His two sisters, and the kids’ mother, are my heroines.)

Ben, for me, epitomizes ideal manhood. He is sweet, but formidable. He has a warm greeting and smile for everyone. But his spirit is a force.

A few years ago, a robber made the mistake of breaking into Ben’s home. When Ben discovered the intruder in his office, the intruder thought it would be a good idea to attack Ben with the wooden sword leaning against a wall.

That wasn’t a good idea.

I once met Ben’s kung fu sensei, a man who has trained government special operators and who conducts training all over the world. He  told me that Ben was freakishly gifted. The police easily tracked Ben’s assailant by the blood trail he left as he stumbled away. The police later told Ben that earlier that morning his assailant had attacked an old man with the victim’s cane. The old man lay in a coma for a long time. Had he died (he didn’t), Ben’s assailant would have been tried for murder, said the police. Ben’s assailant needed a prolonged hospital stay to recover from the wounds he suffered at Ben’s hands, and when he recovered he was sentenced to 12 years in a prison for the mentally ill.

Last summer a black bear charged Ben, his girlfriend and his younger sister as they hiked a grassy slope at Whistler Mountain, near Vancouver, B.C. Ben put the women behind him and stepped forward. (No one then knew it, but Ben’s sister was carrying his niece at the time. See “The Angel of Fukushima,” below.) Ben told me his mind calmly calculated a move that might let him get behind the bear and apply a choke-hold. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. When it was about 50 feet away, the bear stopped, then ambled off. No, I don’t think my son scared the bear. I think the bear saw the twinkle in my son’s eye and figured the world needs that twinkle.

So what do you do in the face of a tsunami? If you’re Ben Shook, you create beauty, and offer it with love and a twinkle in your eye.

On top of everything else, Ben is a fearless musician. (Jonathan Richman, watch out.) Check out this virtuoso performance and see if you don’t agree.

As I write this, I have this image of throngs of people wearing tsunami shirts, standing at the shores of the world’s oceans and serenading Onamazu: I was dancing in a lesbian bar, oh! (You have to watch the video to understand.)

And I can picture Onamazu being lulled to sleep by this gentle lullaby and the laughing hearts from which it comes.

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Filed under Japan Earthquake

Quenching the Parched Soul

AN UNUSUAL WORKSHOP will be held in Spokane, WA, May 20-22, 2011, aimed at healing the pandemic psychological injury that threatens humanity. The injury stems from what psychotherapists like Dr. Kent Hoffman, the workshop’s creator, call our “procedural memory.”

Procedural memory is a neurological process where the googolplex of life’s earliest experiences record themselves in the cellular explosion of the developing brain. This involves a molding of living tissue that subsequently shapes perception, governing every individual’s understanding of “reality.”

Procedural memory infects our species with what Dr. Christopher Bollas, an eminent British psychotherapist, calls the “unthought known.”

Boggled Mind, Troubled History, Haunted Future

Neuroscience has discovered that the human brain contains 100 billion neurons. Neurons are living cells that think. Thought is an electro-chemical process that takes place in pulses of energy leaping across the synaptic gaps between the neurons. Each brain contains a galaxy of 100 trillion synapses. There are more possible synaptic interactions in every brain, neuroscientists now tell us, than there are molecules in the known universe.

Such discoveries bring a new view of human experience into focus. They suggest that every synaptic impulse not only molds the brain, but also serves as the microscopic headwaters of history.

From Hoffman’s perspective, the unthought known is actually a physical place where every one of us lives, a kind of cosmic hermitage.

“By the time we’re three years old, we’ve got a thousand trillion neural pathways established, all of which are experience-dependent,” says Dr. Hoffman. “The unthought known is well established by the time we’re eighteen months of age. And it pretty much drives our lives.”

Drives some of us right into a spiritual desert, he says, because it disconnects us from what truly is, the very Nature that produced us.

Hoffman calls his workshop “Thirst,” because it addresses what he has found to be the only way out of this desert. The passage: a “sacred practice” of daily meditation that leads beyond the confusion of words, even words like the ones he uses to point to the way.

Here, then, is humanity’s sublingual plotline, suggests Hoffman. It’s where the story of us comes from—symphonies and mall shootings, poems and nuclear weapons. But it is a story without words. It takes a journey without words to escape its lonely illusion.

Three Men & the World’s Babies

Hoffman’s Thirst workshop emerges from a project he and two of his colleagues, Bert Powell and Glen Cooper, launched more than a decade ago. Partners in the Marycliff Institute of Spokane, the three therapists wanted a way to bring greater leverage to their efforts at assisting with psychological healing than working with single clients.

They seized on the large body of research known as “attachment theory,” which addresses the profound role played by early childhood and effective parenting in the mental health of individuals and the civilization they form.

The Marycliff clinicians called their project “Circle of Security.” (See “4-million-yr.-old genius“.) A decade after its launch, it has become something of an international phenomenon. These days the three therapists lecture all over the world on the subject of building the kind of psychological security in babies and children that can—much more than merely reducing the need for psychotherapy later in life—greatly add to life’s satisfaction and joy.

The heart of the matter is what they call a “secure base/safe haven.” Such a psychological foundation is achieved, they say, by recognizing the extreme thirst for it that all infants and children have, and the latent genius parents have to slake that thirst—even parents whose own needs weren’t met early in life.

Bert Powell

On his office wall, in order to illustrate what a secure base/safe haven means, Powell displays the famous Jean Guichard photograph of a monstrous wave engulfing a Brittany lighthouse. The great wave represents life’s unavoidable storms, says Powell. The lighthouse represents the healthy psyche’s ability to withstand them.

The whole purpose of therapy, says Powell, is to build that kind of secure base/safe haven later in life if a fortunate childhood didn’t create it for you. The world will become a kinder and gentler place the more common such personal safe havens become, says the Marycliff team. (Note the tiny figure of the lighthouse keeper standing in the door, a secure soul in the maw of a killer wave.)

For his part, Hoffman believes that the only real hope humanity has of achieving peace and avoiding self-annihilation is spreading the “circle of security” as widely and rapidly as possible. He likes to quote Gandhi: “If we want to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.”

But how do parents whose unthought known does not include the arts of peace teach peace? That’s the catch, says Hoffman, and the reason he has launched his new Thirst workshop.

Humanity’s hope, says Hoffman, is its yearning–and willingness to act on it.

“I’m doing this for those of us, me included, who are ‘still crazy after all these years.’”

Hoffman also likes to quote Selma Fraiberg, whom he calls “the mother of the infant mental health movement.”

Said Fraiberg, “The mending of children’s lives is a very large part of the work of our profession, and it would be folly to say that all childhood disturbances of personality can be prevented.  Even in utopia, I think the child therapists will have waiting lists. But a large number of the disorders of personality that I have seen could have been prevented.  And these, in nearly every case, have been disturbances in the primary human relationships during the early months and years of life.”

As did both of his colleagues—Powell and Cooper—Hoffman had what he considers a traumatic childhood. He emphasizes that he and his colleagues have “built a firewall” between their highly scientific protocol and the spiritual practices Hoffman is about to teach in Thirst. Hoffman says that for him personally, however, science and spirituality are one.

“The meditation practices I’m about to share are what keep me sane,” he says.

When Your “Holding Environment” Holds

“None of us do well without a holding environment. None of us,” Hoffman says in his Daily Practice 1. (!resources)

A holding environment is the secure base/safe haven that the attachment school of psychology is all about.

When I first came across that notion more than a decade ago, I instantly flashed back on an experience I had in Vietnam. This is how the brain processes information—it screams through the archives of personal experience to see if the new data fit any of its schema, its frames of reference.

The frame of reference for me in this case was my helicopter company’s bunker during the Tet Offensive at Bien Hoa. VC and NVA rocketeers were trying to erase us. Their big 122 mm Russian rockets and mortars rained down, making a noise that caused me to picture giants slamming doors in the sky that were as big as the whole sky. The ground jumped and the earth shook.

Whhummp. Wooooff.

Guys in the darkness around me cried for their mothers. Literally.

Mommeee!! Mommmmiieee!!!!

I recognized some of the voices belonged to big, tough guys. Guys “I wouldn’t have messed with with a shotgun,” as the saying goes.

Two unforgettable things happened for me in that moment. First, a calm voice in my head said, “This is hard. If you get through this, nothing will ever be hard again.” After that thought registered, the voice then said: “Damn, Larry, you’re like a cat. You always land on your feet.”

Then the second thing happened. I remembered my mother, and her mother, and my mother’s older sister, my beloved aunt. I remembered them reflexively. In that instant, with sand sifting over me in the darkness from explosions that were hunting me, these women were with me. They were with me because they’re always in me. These women had loved me as though I were royalty. Without my ever even thinking about it until that moment—obviously part of my unthought known—they made me feel special and safe.

The thing is, these women had known very hard lives, hadn’t had much of a “holding environment” themselves. At least one of them, as I learned only last month, was raped when she was 16 years old.

As I sat there in that bunker, the world around me sounding as though it were ending, I knew the field phone on the bunker wall would ring and my helicopter gunship team would get scrambled and we would take off through the barrage and address our attackers. And I lusted for that to happen. And it did.

And the whole while, not knowing from one second to the next if I would still be alive, I understood that the fire breather who lives inside me doesn’t mean I’m tougher or braver than anyone else; indeed, I know for certain that I’m not. It means, instead, that I get to live with my own protective dragon because three women who didn’t have a dragon of their own installed this fierce love-fed beast in me.

More than 30 years passed before I told anyone about my bunker experience. The man I told, Garve Brakel, IT director for the City of Spokane, had been a platoon leader in Vietnam.

“What I remember about guys who died in my command,” he told me, “is that their heads were shaved, their faces were dirty, and they cried for their mothers.”

That thirst for mother, says Hoffman, and the ability of mother to be sustained and found again and again through all life’s breakage is what his work is about.

Except, it’s really not mother, per sé, that we’re looking for, he says. “We’re searching for original holding, which can be mother or father in human form.”

This is the subject of a poignant two-minute Singapore TV commercial that an audience member shared with Hoffman after a presentation he recently made in Australia. (

“Thirst is proof of water,” Hoffman quotes a Sufi wisdom saying. The emotions triggered by the Singapore video contain a similar proof that “original holding” exists, he says.

For information about quenching your thirst, go here: If you know others who are thirsty you might suggest they do the same.


Filed under Healing

The Angel of Fukushima

Her initials are W.O.W. Nickname: Wowie.

When she was still in the womb her parents took to calling her The Ballerina—she kicked a lot.

She was born when the tsunami hit Japan. Next day, reports began to circulate that the nuclear reactors of Fukushima were in trouble.

Wowie is my granddaughter. The ocean between her and Fukushima did not comfort me. There’s not enough distance between a bad nuclear accident and any life on Earth to comfort those who remember Chernobyl, those with even an inkling of Chernobyl’s meaning.

I’m not a nuclear expert, but I know a lot more than I wish I did. I know a lot more than I wish anyone needed to know about the challenge humanity has created for itself with its nuclear misadventure.

Instantly, I started researching the Fukushima accident, or trying to. I wanted to know what needed to be done to keep my Wowie safe.

But it was the same old story I first stumbled onto as a journalist more than a quarter of a century ago.


When you try to learn anything in the haunted shadow lands of the split atom you find yourself in a spooky world. Here, facts are closely guarded by a Ministry of Truth.

Tortured souls, Ministry of Truth members dispense information on the strictest need-to-know basis. They have a list of who needs to know, and the public isn’t on their list. All those trying to learn what actually goes on in the world of the split atom—what has gone on and what it might mean—are instantly placed on another list: a watch list.

Once, I was on that watch list.

At Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where the plutonium in the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki came from, along with more half the rest of the plutonium in America’s nuclear arsenal, the Ministry of Truth watched my every move.

What happens in the environment, and what happens to public health, I wanted to know, when you make nuclear weapons? What happened at Hanford?

Oh, nothing, nothing at all, said the Ministry of Truth. Here’s a press release. Move along.

But a funny thing started happening when I would go to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to attempt researching this subject. The Ministry of Truth assigned a security guard to me. He kept me within reach at all times—even when I used the urinal in the mens room. (Thank goodness the urinal’s all I ever needed to use there.)

(Hey, wait a minute, you may be wondering. How come one of the biggest nuclear weapons factories on Earth is managed by an “energy” department? That’s a tad, well, Orwellian, isn’t it? Oh, you weren’t wondering that? You should.)


Days after Willa was born, days after the Japanese tragedy, Wowie was smiling, recorded by her father’s phone camera. At that moment, Popsie (that’s what they call me these days) was scrambling. I was trying to find out what in God’s name needs to be done to protect Wowie’s brand new thyroid (if anything does need to be done, or can be done), and what needs to be done to protect the other angels in my immediate life. I’m concerned about this, because of all the experience I had with the Ministry of Truth. And because children took it in the throat after Chernobyl.


And while I’m trying to get my arms around Fukushima, all these memories of my dealings with the Ministry of Truth are hitting me like a tsunami, my own private tsunami. As we all now know, you don’t soon forget a tsunami. Because of my own tsunami experience with the Ministry of Truth, I know that expecting it to come clean about anything in the mad world of the split atom is like expecting a drunk to give up his bottle.

So, yes, I’m worried. It’s not because I understand Fukushima. It’s because I understand the Ministry of Truth. I’m remembering all my experiences with it. I’m remembering Peggy Bennett. Dear, sweet Peggy.

Peggy Bennett was the public relations woman for Rockwell, the company managing Hanford when I was doing my reporting. One day, my old colleague, Tim Connor, and I were doing an interview with several  Hanford scientists. Peggy was their keeper that day.

Before I tell you about poor Peggy’s experience you need to understand that the first thing you learn as a reporter trying to cover the world of the split atom is that you can’t do it without help. It’s way too esoteric. It’s not just a Ph.D.’s world, it’s a world of enslaved Ph.D.s and the horribly mutilated science that the Ministry of Truth has run through its million-micron filter. You must never forget that, as a member of the peasant public, you are not on the need-to-know list.

Pass through the portals of the Ministry of Truth alone and you’re just a hound dog trying to read an algebra book.

So by the time I conducted interviews like this one I had received a lot of hand-holding from generous scientists who were willing to help me. They had names like Dr. Alice Stewart, Dr. John Gofman, Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, Dr. Carl J. Johnson, Dr. Thomas F. Mancuso, Dr. Sam Milham, Dr. Thomas B. Cochran, Dr. Edward A. Martell, Dr. Allen B. Benson, Dr. William H. Houff, etc. (I’ll let you Google them yourself.)


By this time, the Ministry of Truth knew that I was getting my hands on documents I wasn’t supposed to have. Like the stack sample of what was actually released as soon as the “energy” department fired up Hanford’s decrepit old PUREX factory. (PUREX wasn’t a bleach plant. It was a plutonium uranium extraction facility.) Its restart was part of the Reagan Administration’s arms buildup.

The Multnomah County Commissioners, in Portland, Oregon, and the Southwest Washington Board of Health, on the northern banks of the Columbia River, were terrified of the PUREX restart. They asked the “energy” department not run it again. Reason: during the Cold War, Hanford made the Columbia the radioactively hottest fresh water body on earth. You didn’t want to be eating the shellfish of Willipa Bay. Hanford radioactive contamination was being measured out on the continental shelf of the Pacific Ocean.

Oh, you sillies, said the Ministry of Truth. There’s nothing to worry about. We’ll be careful.

But the stack sample referred to above explains why PUREX’s own operators were terrified. I learned of their terror from… well, never mind.

The Ministry of Truth released a statement saying that nothing but a few little “thoron daughters” had come up the PUREX stack. The media dutifully reported that. Heck, how scary can daughters be?

But the actual stack printout showed that one of the isotopes that had been released had a decay energy of (drum roll) 5.245 MeV. That, ladies and gentlemen (another drum roll) is Plutonium-239. You want to keep Pu-239, every grain of it, away from anything you don’t want to kill, for 250,000 years.


But I digress.

So Tim and I do our interview with the Hanford scientists. We take them through the documents we want their comments on. The whole while the scientists eye our running tape recorders like they’re cobras. It was one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever done—I’m not kidding—because the scientists were extremely professional, collegial, civil. They were just plain nice. And so smart. And the most fun a reporter can have is talking to nice, smart people.

Now the interview’s over. The tape recorders are off. We’re all standing, politely shaking hands. Some of the scientists have big sweat rings under their arms; some have sweat beads on their foreheads. Even so, I have the distinct impression that they almost found it a relief to talk to us. These are not bad, immoral people. They’re just slaves.

And then it happened.

“Larry, I want to ask you something,” says Peggy. “Why don’t you want to believe us?”

The scientists start fidgeting. Peggy’s question makes them nervous. They say things like, no, no, we’re happy to answer questions, this is fine, any time, really. But Peggy cuts them off.

“No, Larry. I want to know. Why don’t you want to believe us?”

Keep in mind the subject: Hanford’s radiation releases. Ever since the World War Two Manhattan Project, the Ministry of Truth has insisted that no harm to public health could possibly have resulted from Hanford’s activities.

Peggy Bennett looked exactly as you would expect someone in her position to look. Attractive, impeccably dressed, very professional. A woman of a certain age, somewhere in her 50s, I would guess.

“Believe me, Peggy,” I said. “I do want to believe you. This is just science. It’s just arithmetic. We just need you to go to the blackboard and do your work.”

Absolutely, said the scientists. Quite right. Harrumph, harrumph. We’re happy to answer questions. Any time. Stuff like that.

I’ll never know what was going through Peggy’s mind, but it clearly tortured her. She looked at me hard and said:

“Larry, I have grandchildren in this town. Do you think I would do anything to harm them?”

Her voice cracked, and tears suddenly flooded her eyes and streamed down her cheeks and streaked her face with mascara. In my memory, the mascara actually dripped onto her blouse.


We continued pressing Hanford to release the documents proving government claims that the public had nothing to fear. In report after report we hammered on our request. We spoke all over the Northwest, sometimes to gatherings of several hundred people. I addressed the annual meeting of the Washington State Medical Association one year. Always our message was the same: release the records.

Finally they did. The documents showed Hanford’s Ministry of Truth had been lying all along. Google “Hanford’s Green Run” to read about how the government secretly released thousands of curies of thyroid-killing Iodine-131 from Hanford—on purpose—just to see what would happen.

Why did the Ministry of Truth let down its guard and release the documentation we sought? Al Conklin, a former Rockwell staffer, told me years later. He was leaving Rockwell to go to work for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, he explained to me, when Hanford manager Mike Lawrence gave him a final assignment: review 20,000 pages of Hanford records in the few days he had remaining to be sure they contained no legitimately protected national security secrets. Conklin told me the assignment was a joke. He said he just sat there hitting papers with the stamp that would release them all.


Within days after Wowie’s birth, my wife flew out to help her and her parents. Early Saturday morning my wife texted  me. Wowie’s mother, our youngest daughter, was worried about radiation from Fukushima. Could I please do more research and see if I could find reassuring information?

I went to the Web site of the Institute for Policy Studies, where my old friend and trusted source, Robert Alvarez, is a senior scholar. I saw that IPS had hosted a press conference the day before, Friday, March 18. (See “Fukushima, USA” in the post below.)

That press conference was not reassuring. Again, I urge everyone to listen to it and form your own conclusions. (I also urge you to read the comment Alvarez made beneath that post and study the documents he links. This is the only way around the Ministry of Truth’s disinformation campaign, disinformation that threatens you and everything you love, and everything in the world you care about.)

Listening to the press conference, you will see that the highly credentialed and extremely sober presenters refer to the irrationality of the Ministry of Truth as addictive behavior. This did not surprise me.

What shocked me was to learn that the drunks of the Ministry of Truth are covering up dangers in the U.S. that are far greater than the dangers that caused the Fukushima tragedy. Dangers that threaten Chernobyl-dwarfing apocalypse in the U.S.

The Wowie contingent did listen to the IPS press conference. Next day, my wife told me that she had discovered our daughter—our own baby—weeping quietly alone in the bathtub. Even though Wowie’s mother is one of the most tender hearted, loving people we have ever met, she was not prepared for the intensity of the love that she felt for her baby. And now she feared what might come from the sky.

If there was anything in the world that young woman’s father could do to repair it so she didn’t have to be afraid of the sky, you’d better believe he would do it. This is DNA talking.

The irony is, I think that our daughter’s tears are not just healing, I think they represent humanity’s best hope. I think they represent the kind of spontaneous sanity that Peggy Bennett displayed, a reflexive recognition at the level of DNA of what really is true. Such recognition of truth, I believe, is our only hope.

The lesson of Fukushima makes me wonder how much time we have to recover our right minds. We have been lost, it seems to me, for such a long time.


Even though he had just completed an exhausting week, on Sunday, March 20, Bob Alvarez granted me a very generous interview of more than an hour. I wanted him to elaborate on the 2003 study that he and colleagues had done about the crisis of America’s improperly stored nuclear waste. Nuclear waste like what was afire at Fukushima.

Alvarez, a former senior policy adviser to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and a deputy assistant secretary himself from 1993 to 1999, is in a position to know what he’s talking about.

He reiterated what he had said at the press conference. America has not built proper storage facilities for its high-level nuclear waste. This deadly garbage just keeps building up at nuclear generating plants, unprotected, a catastrophe of unimaginable scale waiting to happen.

(Can you imagine what health inspectors would do with a restaurant that just dumped its garbage and trash out back?)

Incredibly, at 34 of the nation’s 102 nuclear plants, this deadly waste is stored underwater in flimsy buildings high above ground, just as at Fukushima. Noting the hideous risk of that, in 2002, 27 U.S. state’s attorneys general sent President Bush a Gregoire letter asking him to, please, clean up this scary mess.

Chillingly, their letter pointed out that “diagrams of U.S. nuclear power plants were found in Al Qaeda enclaves in Afghanistan.”

What would “evil-doers” who thought it clever to fly airliners into iconic buildings think about targets like these? That question is disturbing enough, but what can be said about the geniuses who created such tempting nuclear targets in the first place, and who refuse to remove the temptation?

Remembering my Hanford background, Alvarez emphasized the unbelievable vulnerability of Hanford’s Columbia Generating Station (CGS.)

Beyond the very real threat of terrorist attack, he notes, CGS sits in a zone that is vulnerable to both earthquakes and volcanoes. It  houses four to five times more long-lived radioactive waste than Fukushima, its latent fires of hell stuffed in a precarious, contemptuously cheap structure perched some 70 feet above potentially shaky ground. Whether loss of cooling water in this awkward garbage can resulted from an earthquake or terrorists, there is no backup generating capacity to replace the water, just as at Fukushima, Alvarez explained.

I couldn’t believe it. “There’s no backup water circulation capability?” I asked.

“No.” he said. “In fact the [CGS] spent fuel pool has basically the equivalent of a tin roof over it.”

The work of Alvarez and his colleagues shows that just this one plant, the Columbia Generating Station, has the potential to “take out” an area four times larger than the Chernobyl disaster—roughly 2,400 square miles.

The resulting contamination, Alvarez and his colleagues estimated, “could render an area greater than several states combined uninhabitable for the indefinite future.”

By what democratic process, you may wonder, did the Ministry of Truth in this “greatest democracy on Earth” impose such a risk on its own citizens, to say nothing of its Canadian neighbors ?

Alvarez stressed that he and his colleagues didn’t publish their study “just to scare people.”

The point is, he said, it’s an easy problem to fix. We’re just not fixing it. *

It occurs to me that, so long as these latent Chernobyls are scattered all over America, calling support for nuclear power “pro-nuclear” is like calling drunk drivers “pro-auto industry.”


Has this incomprehensible state of affairs resulted from addictive behavior alone? If so, then I think humanity’s only hope is for the citizens of the world to figure out how to do an intervention. Take the bottle away from the drunk. Take away the car keys.

I’m aware, however, of a school of thought that suggests humanity’s crisis is even more profound than addictive behavior. Quoting extensively from C.G. Jung, the great Swiss psychotherapist, Santa Fe, New Mexico therapist Jerome S. Bernstein argues that when humanity turned away from its natural roots—its connection to the living universe—it “wrenched its ego” from the only wholeness that can support human life.

The American Indians were in touch with that wholeness, students like Bernstein and the great Sioux Indian scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. argue. But we wiped out Indian culture, stole Indian land, banished their language and destroyed their very words for saying what they had learned over millennia about how the world works and what it means, a world in which the sky was revered, not feared. We forfeited the life-giving treasure of ancient wisdom.

I saw a poignant dramatization of that during my Hanford coverage. The “energy” department wanted to locate its first permanent high-level nuclear waste repository on sacred Yakima Nation land at what was now called Hanford. But how to warn people for the next 250,000 years to stay away? What kind of signage would it take?

“Don’t worry,” said Yakima leader Russell Jim at one hearing. “We’ll be here. We’ll tell them. The Yakimas have been here on the Columbia Plateau since the beginning of time. We’ll be here at the end of time.”

Hush settled over the room full of Ph.D.s.

As if wanting to help them from their confused state, Jim continued: “If you can believe the Creator created the first woman from the rib of the first man, you ought to be able to believe the Creator created the first Yakima from the soil of the banks of the Columbia River.”

It was one of the most reasonable, sane things I’ve ever heard. The Ph.D.s were mute. What could they say?


Wowie’s mother is an artist. She was working last summer as the personal assistant to a famous movie star, on location in Vancouver, B.C. My wife and I visited. Our son-in-law was with us, too.

“We have something to tell you,” said our daughter.

The angel was on the way.

We were sitting under a beautiful summer sky in a park by the bay, (a place that, I suppose, could be unsafe if things went horribly wrong at the Columbia Generating Station).

Every moment has been filled with anticipation since we learned the angel was coming. And now I find myself wondering: Why did the angel come when she did? Why on that day of all days, the day of the tsunami?

I’ve often wondered why certain things happen when they do. Now that I’m a grandfather, such thoughts come all the time. Its true what they say about the preciousness of time as it runs down.

I was thinking about the angel the other day, thinking about how her parents are so shocked by the intensity of their love for her, their wonder at every little twitch, gurgle and coo, when I remembered the four-million-year-old genius.

The genius is the amazing ability all people have to parent, to love their children. Even people who come from the most disadvantaged, traumatized family backgrounds can connect pretty quickly  with the genius, given the right help. It’s because the genius resides in the DNA.

That, at least, is the conclusion of a team of researchers I profiled 10 years ago. 4-million-yr.-old genius.

Their theory is that we really do know how to find our way through the stars, to come home from the lonely Diaspora we’ve been on since losing contact with our heart.

Wowie, the Angel of Fukushima, makes me think they’re right. Anyway, it’s a lovely thing to hope for.


Dear Ministry of Truth: Y’all can put me back on your watch list. The Angel of Fukushima has put you back on mine. I pray to God she puts you on the watch list of everyone of Earth.

(Yes, I’m authorized to say “y’all.” I’m a genetic Texan.)

Y’all be good now.

* Details of recommendations by former U.S. DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary Robert Alvarez for correcting America’s spent nuclear fuel crisis: “The fix involves thinning out the spent fuel pools—removing about 3/4ths—and placing it in dry, hardened casks. These are large, steel-lined concrete containers that keep the fuel cool by air convection. The casks, which have been around for decades, are more able to withstand earthquakes. Currently, the U.S. reactor fleet has about 63,000 metric tons of spent fuel rods. Only about 14% of it is in dry casks. Germany took the steps we recommended 25 years ago, because of concerns over NATO crashes and terrorism. We estimated in 2003 that this could be done in 10 years for all U.S. reactors at an expense of $3.5 to $7 billion.”


Filed under Fukushima Nuclear Emergency

Fukushima, USA

If you live in North America and you’ve been thinking the Fukushima nuclear tragedy is confined to Japan, a former U.S. Department of Energy official had very bad news for you at a Washington, D.C. press conference yesterday. And, no, the news wasn’t about how much of Fukushima’s radiation is now reaching you, or might ultimately. That’s another matter.

Robert Alvarez, one the world’s foremost authorities on radiation hazards, warned that 34 of the 103 nuclear reactors in the U.S. store their spent fuel in pools several stories above ground, just like the ill-fated Fukushima reactors.

The difference, stressed Alvarez, is that, unlike the Japanese reactors, the U.S reactors now house four times more spent fuel than they were designed for. That’s because, going on half a century into the nuclear energy age, the U.S. has yet to adopt a long-term storage solution for its nuclear waste.

The situation poses a deadly risk, Alvarez and his colleagues warned in a 2003 study. The controversial American reactors each have 5-10 times more long-lived radioactivity in their vulnerable storage pools than they do in the reactors’ cores, the study found. Heightening that hazard, the waste pools are located outside the reactors’ containment domes.

Damage causing loss of cooling water in such storage pools can result in burning nuclear waste being released directly into the environment. This is the tragedy now unfolding in Fukushima.

Such nightmarish release of radiation is what turned some thousand square kilometers around Chernobyl, an area equal to about half the size of New Jersey, into a wasteland, said Alvarez.

Estimates of when Chernobyl will again be safe for human habitation range from 300 to 1,000 years.

As if the threat of 34 Chernobyls in the continental U.S. weren’t bad enough, a recent MSNBC story sited deeply unsettling U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission risk estimates of catastrophic failure due to earthquakes.

“Each year, at the typical nuclear reactor in the U.S., there’s a 1 in 74,176 chance that the core could be damaged by an earthquake, exposing the public to radiation,” read the story. ( “No tsunami required. That’s 10 times more likely than you winning $10,000 by buying a ticket in the Powerball multistate lottery, where the chance is 1 in 723,145.”

Even worse are the odds of disaster (one in 10,000) at the Indian Point nuclear plant, just 24 miles north of New York City.

What caused this grave state of affairs, charges Alvarez, is that Congress gutted the regulatory ability of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, much as its gutting of the Securities Exchange Commission led to the global economic meltdown of 2008.

When Alvarez and his colleagues released their report on spent fuel hazards, the NRC tried to have it suppressed, he said. Congress ordered a National Academy of Sciences review. That review validated the report’s conclusions in 2004. Seven years later, however, there is no evidence that NRC has taken corrective action, says Alvarez.

Regarding the dangers to Japan, the U.S., and the rest of the world resulting from the Fukushima catastrophe, a physician with special expertise in radiation and a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told press conference attendees that at the moment there’s little that can be done but for the world to hold its breath and wait to see.

One reason no informed estimate of Fukushima-related radiation risks can be made at present is because no actual data has yet been released. U.S. and Japanese military flights have apparently taken actual radiation measurements at the site, but their findings have not been made public.

Yesterday, a consortium of citizen groups sent President Obama a letter requesting release of actual radiation measurements taken at Fukushima.

Go here to listen to yesterday’s Fukushima emergency press conference:

Go here for the Alvarez team’s report on spent nuclear fuel hazards:

Go here for the letter requesting President Obama to release Fukushima radiation data:

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Filed under Uncategorized

NAACP “Outrage”

Bye, George

I just received the message below from one of my old Vietnam gunship pilots. It objects to the “outrage” of the NAACP covering up a statue of George Washington during this year’s Martin Luther King celebration in Columbia, SC. I don’t even know if this happened. I’m a reporter and I’m supposed to check this stuff out, but in this case, I don’t care. Someone sent me this, assuming that it happened. So I’ll assume it did, too. Here’s my take.

George Washington was one of the great human beings of history, in my view. But in the vice of history in which he and his contemporaries were held, they dreamed a dream of freedom that held the nightmare of slavery within it. That was WRONG. The ideals that the founding fathers themselves fought and died for and handed down to posterity tell us it was wrong. To not denounce it as wrong is an act of apostasy.

Was the gesture of the NAACP reported here “a disgusting display of anti-Americanism,” as the email’s author fumed? Sure it was– but only in the sense that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was correct in calling Gen. George Marshall a communist. The evidence suggests to me, however, that Gen. Marshall was more like Gen. Washington than Commissar Lenin.

But that’s just me. Maybe all the NAACP was trying to do was keep the faith in breaking a toxic silence, and to make darned sure that the silence stays broken, because the body and soul of America are still healing from slavery. If so, I’m grateful to be able to add my two cents worth.

In Vietnam, in 1967-68, my brother who sent me this message and I had the honor of flying with a helicopter gunship platoon that answered to the call sign Mustang. I write a little about this in a blog post below.

“Thank you for calling the Mustangs. How may we direct our fire?” That was our spirit.

Every day was the OK Corral for us. In III Corps of South Vietnam — the Mekong Delta — every day and every night there was an OK Corral happening somewhere. We were gunfighters. We went to the gunfights the infantry invited us to. That’s how we could help keep them alive so they could come home to the American Dream. We put our snouts right in the enemy’s fire. At the end of those engagements the fingers of both dissentient parties were not still on their triggers. We were fierce. That’s what the job required. You couldn’t do what we did–put your life on the line with unalloyed commitment day after day–unless you believed in the reason you were doing it.

I was in Vietnam for only 12 months, nine of them in helicopters, 1,200 combat hours. I volunteered for the draft, volunteered for Vietnam, volunteered for combat. I fought to get into the fight. In the years since then I have countless times asked myself what I really meant to fight for in Vietnam. I always get the same answer. If the NAACP really did what the message below claims, that is a variation on the answer I get.

Freedom, man! FREEDOM!

If the NAACP really did what the message below claims, it’s easy for me to imagine the good Gen. Washington and the good Dr. King standing together somewhere inside the Pearly Gates, each with an arm draped over the shoulder of the other, saying, “Come on, people. Think about this. Work together. Get your heads out of your mess kits.”

Seems to me the NAACP is missing an “A” from its initials. Should be NAAACP–National Association for the Advancement of All Colored People, white being a color, too.

On Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 7:38 AM, ___ wrote:

Another one missed by the NY Times
Where is the OBAMA outrage?

George Washington statue is hidden at the MLK rally in Columbia , SC. The annual MLK observance at the state house in Columbia SC had an interesting twist this year.
The event is held on the north side steps of the statehouse. Prominent at that location is a large bronze statue of George Washington. This year, the NAACP constructed a “box” to conceal the Father of His Country from view so that participants would not be offended by his presence. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw this picture of the MLK Day rally in Columbia , South Carolina yesterday.  This rally was sponsored by the NAACP and they said that they covered the statue because they “didn’t want to offend anyone”.  Really? George Washington is the father of this nation.  How is he offensive to anyone?  Can you imagine what would happen if we covered the statue of Dr. King on President’s Day?  Of course, this disgusting display of anti-Americanism wasn’t covered at all by the national media and only the local paper in Columbia had a little piece on it.  It has been covered a little by the blog-world and I think the word needs to get out to the general public that this is what the NAACP is all about…..militant, hateful and racist.  In doing this, they disrespected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I bet he would be equally disgusted.  Awful.


Filed under Free Speech

Spokane’s Anarchist Mayor

Spokane's Mayor Mary Verner

Dick Adams wrote an email to the Spokane, WA, City Council and Mayor Mary Verner last week that, when you put two and two together, has the effect of indicting the mayor for anarchy. Actually, the evidence suggests to me that the mayor effectively confessed to anarchy three years ago with a surprisingly candid email she wrote to a former sheriff. Mr. Adams’s email shows what Mayor Verner’s anarchy is costing her citizens.

Mr. Adams objected  to consideration that Spokane chief financial officer Gavin Cooley is giving to “charging our city credit card” by selling $45 million of councilmanic bonds. Mr. Adams told me that he considers this an illegal use of public debt because its purpose is to solve a financial crisis caused by an earlier illegal use of public debt. Mr. Cooley is an agent of both frauds, charges Mr. Adams, which stem from the River Park Square financial scandal.

Dick Adams is hardly alone in decrying such abuse of public finance as part of a much larger pattern of government behavior in America today. A retired executive of a U.S. Steel subsidiary, Mr. Adams is well known for his financial expertise. Over the years he has been one of the closest and most knowledgeable observers of municipal finance in Spokane. Not just Teapartiers agree with him that America’s fiscal lawlessness has become nothing less than a government Ponzi scheme now threatening  the country with an historic economic catastrophe.

In this heist, never-ending layers of debt are added to sub-layers. (Mr. Adams is horrified that American citizens now owe nearly a trillion dollars to China.) Much of this debt, as in the case of Wall Street’s 2008 meltdown and its globally transmitted fiscal disease of derivatives, is directly traceable to criminal activity. The criminal enterprise involves government officials helping private interests steal money from the public. The criminals keep getting away with their crime because of the gangsterization of government. Government criminals, naturally, will not prosecute themselves for their crimes.

At the heart of the 2008 meltdown is a structural accounting fraud that U.S. government leaders embedded in the global economy with their refusal to regulate derivatives and impose generally accepted accounting principles on them. That refusal is why uber investor Warren Buffett called derivatives “weapons of financial mass destruction.” Responsible government regulation of derivatives would have mandated full disclosure of their true asset value, and that might have averted the historic economic emergency now threatening the nation. For a quick review of U.S. government culpability in this emergency, watch the PBS Frontline report called “The Warning,”

In that report, you’ll hear this exchange between a Congressional hearing panelist and former Chairwoman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Brooksley Born:

Q: What are you trying to protect?

Born: We’re trying to protect the money of the American public.

The Clinton Administration chose not to accept that mission. Neither did the Bush Administration. Nor has Barack Obama’s Administration. When President Obama, the eloquent purveyor of hope, and the U.S. Congress got around to passing last year’s “financial reform” legislation, they accepted assistance from 54 financial industry lobbying firms that spent $300 million. That trifling investment bought Wall Street the ability to keep gambling with the money of  the American people—and the fate of the global economy. (See John Cassidy’s “Annals of Economics: The Volker Rule,” in the 7/26/10 issue of The New Yorker.)

Public/Private Crime

From accounts like these, government officials and various private interests emerge as little more than glib public/private mobsters. Untouchable by virtue of the legal immunity they gain from their control of government, they’re able to enjoy their champagne while blowing raspberries at the rest of the world. In this scenario, the citizens of the world become to the public/private mobsters what the Jews of Europe were to the Nazis—compliant souls to be herded into ghettos for scheduled liquidation. The liquidation in this case, of course, is not of actual bodies based on criminal insanity of the political kind. Instead, it is liquidation of personal wealth—and civilization’s hope—resulting from criminal insanity of the economic kind. Thus have the nations of the world become ghettos for the use of organized financial crime.

Mr. Adams’s email connects to this bigger picture, because the settled evidence clearly shows that Spokane’s River Park Square scandal was the work of public/private mobsters. River Park Square is hometown civic theater to Wall Street’s Broadway extravaganza.

Supporters of RPS euphemistically called it a public/private partnership. Details of the project that surfaced in federal municipal securities fraud litigation, an IRS investigation, and extensive national prize-winning investigative reporting by my colleagues and me (see show that RPS was just carefully packaged public/private crime.

Ugly facts clearly show that River Park Square developer Betsy Cowles set out to commit crime, and that her newspaper publisher brother, Stacey Cowles, did, too. Mr. Cowles’s crime was to provide the use of the family’s newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, to package his little sister’s real estate crime for public consumption.

This whole sordid history is tediously documented elsewhere on this blog and various links cited by it. Consider the following:

For evidence that Betsy Cowles knowingly set out to break the law, see the story “Missing Man,”  Open Ms. Cowles’s infamous 3/9/95 “divide and conquer” memo. That memo proves that Ms. Cowles, a lawyer, intended to violate federal securities law by hiding from investors her plan to launder a $23 million federal loan into the Nordstrom Co. by giving Nordstrom a free new store in Spokane. To accomplish this crime, she intended to “divide and conquer” Spokane’s city government, a time-honored tactic of despots. See “Inside Job,”, for proof that the Cowleses set out to secretly access public funds in a way that violated federal guidelines, and that Spokane public officials helped them do it. As companion reading, see the story “Fraudville, USA,” Read the RPS bondholders’ 91-point Omnibus Statement of Facts. It documents the securities fraud engineered by Ms. Cowles with active complicity of a host of Spokane officials. The city admitted to its role in this crime by purchasing the bondholders’ complaint and promising to recover the $26 million it paid Ms. Cowles for the RPS garage. But then the city pulled yet another bait and switch on its citizens. It let Ms. Cowles keep her stolen money, and, with the help of the IRS, saddled Spokane’s citizens with the cost of the Cowles robbery. See “A New RPS Fraud?”,

For evidence that Spokesman-Review publisher Stacey Cowles used the family’s paper to cover up the RPS crime, begin with “All in the Family,” See also, “Breaking the News,” There you’ll find evidence that Mr. Cowles turned his paper into a propaganda machine for his family’s highly organized criminal enterprise of illegally leveraging a minimum of $100 million in public funds to refurbish the Cowles family’s downtown shopping mall—River Park Square. You’ll also see evidence that when Mr. Cowles allowed his editor, Chris Peck, to twice attack former Mayor John Talbott as a “civic terrorist” for trying to expose the $23 million federal loan fraud, both Mr. Cowles and Mr. Peck were in possession of evidence showing that they knew they were falsely accusing him. That is, they were falsely accusing a mayor who was trying to expose the truth and serve those who elected him. This is the blackest of journalism sins. It’s known as “actual malice libel.” That refers to the intentional publication of a lie. Mr. Cowles’s purpose in publishing these lies was obviously to help the Cowles family with its massive public robbery. Mr. Peck’s purpose was apparently to keep his job as a handsomely paid Cowles bagman. To do that, he was willing to also become a hit man, assassinating in front of the community the character of mayor who deserved praise for his exemplary courage. Because the evidence shows that RPS represents continuing organized crime, and because there is no statute of limitations for such crime, I happen to believe that Mayor Talbott could at any time bring a civil RICO actual malice libel case against both Mr. Cowles and Mr. Peck. RICO provides for the recovery of treble damages, because its purpose is to destroy organized crime. The former mayor was the leader duly elected by the people of Spokane to protect them from the Cowles family’s $100 million RPS fraud. The evidence of fraud is settled. The evidence of actual malice libel is irrefutable. The evidence that Betsy and Stacey Cowles mounted a secret political campaign to defeat Talbott is also irrefutable. (See, “How a publishing heiress went after an uncooperative mayor: .)  The actual losses to the municipality of Spokane resulting from the Cowles family’s criminal character assassination of Mayor Talbott and clandestine political attack on him would require forensic accounting. But that would be pretty easy.

For further evidence of my allegations that RPS was public/private crime, you might wish to review: “Open Letter to an Ethicist” and “American Serbia,” below. See also,  which is an article about a national first-place journalism award for a 10-part reporting package titled “How The Spokesman-Review Subverted Democracy in Spokane, Washington.” See also“The Casino Was Rigged,” which describes the evidence of (un-prosecuted) crime found by the IRS:

Where’s the Anarchy?

So far, government watchdogs, bought and paid for by the private interests that control their bosses, carefully trained by their bosses not to bark when such crimes are committed, have obediently not barked. The watchdogs’ complicity just adds to a history that, as Mr. Adams’s email shows, can only get uglier so long as the perpetrators are not brought to justice.

The RPS crime is the reason that the specific number Mr. Adams is questioning—$45  million—raises the specter of the mayor’s anarchy.

The new layer of debt Mr. Cooley wants to lay on the public matches almost precisely the $44.8 million layer of debt that he and other public officials charged their citizens to pay off the RPS fraud that they had perpetrated on them.

“To me, what Cooley is trying to do has the appearance of refinancing the RPS fraud,” says Mr. Adams. “This should be discussed at least until 2030, which is when the RPS bond fraud will finally be paid off.”

Mary Verner, as she is well aware, plays a central role in this “scheme.” Scheme is what the IRS called it. In this scheme, then-Councilwoman Verner helped hold open the bag into which she and her fellow public servants illegally shoveled the swag of tens of millions of public dollars. And then they submissively handed the bag over to Betsy Cowles.

“A New RPS Fraud?” shows how upset Councilwoman Verner, who is also a lawyer, claimed to be about her role in this theft. But she did nothing about it. She joined the great pack of barkless watchdogs.

It’s the email Councilwoman Verner wrote to former Sheriff Tony Bamonte, when she was running for mayor, in which she convicts herself of anarchy. Anarchy, of course, is the dog-eat-dog chaos that results from an absence of government.

Sheriff Bamonte has been a prominent enough Democrat for decades that every electoral season candidates, Democrat and Republican alike, make a pilgrimage to his home, seeking his endorsement. Mary Verner did that when she ran for mayor in 2007.

Sheriff Bamonte said he would support her conditioned on her promise to prosecute the RPS crime, particularly the death of Jo Ellen Savage in the RPS garage. Bamonte had filed criminal complaints charging that Savage’s death was first-degree manslaughter resulting from Cowles neglect. (See “Deathtrap,” and “America’s Most Dangerous Cop,” and “American Serbia,” below.) Verner made that promise, according to Bamonte and others present at a meeting in the former sheriff’s home.

Afterward, Bamonte got worried, because Verner said nothing about RPS during her campaign. He called her on it and she responded with an email that deserves a prominent place in the RPS Document Hall of Shame. “I recognize the huge issues of morality, courage, and strength of character involved in taking on the RPS issue,” she wrote in her Nov. 2, 2007 email. “I also know that if I make RPS a cornerstone of my campaign platform, the ‘powers that be’ will ensure that I do not get elected … period.” [See “Powers that Be” link in “American Serbia,” below.]  

I’ve never been able to understand what possessed Verner to make such an admission to the former sheriff credited with solving the oldest open murder case in U.S. history. Did she really think that Tony Bamonte didn’t know the loneliness of taking on “powers that be?” But there you have it in the mayor’s own words—frank acknowledgment of the existence of public corruption in Spokane more powerful than the city’s government. Frank acknowledgment, too, that she lacked the “morality, courage, and strength of character” to confront it, even as she campaigned for a job that required her to do so. It’s hard to think of a better example of the most dangerous kind of anarchy there is—criminal government. Violent terrorists and Molotov cocktail-hurling street protesters are feeble by comparison.

Mayor Verner has declined to talk with me about her “powers that be” email.  She also declines to discuss an order she purportedly received from Betsy Cowles shortly after her election.

Sheriff Bamonte says that Shannon Sullivan, a close friend of Mayor Verner’s, contacted him last year with a disturbing account. Ms. Sullivan, the woman who led the successful drive to recall former Mayor Jim West over a sex abuse scandal, told Bamonte that she was in Verner’s office when Cowles called her and ordered her to take a trip with her. Bamonte told me at the time that Sullivan said the trip involved a flight on Cowles’s private jet.

I found Sullivan’s allegation interesting, because of the IRS findings that the Cowles family controls Spokane’s government. (See “The Casino Was Rigged,” linked above.)

When I asked Ms. Sullivan about the purported Verner/Cowles plane ride, she wrote back denying she had told Bamonte about it. Suzanne Bamonte, the former sheriff’s wife, says she was present when Ms. Sullivan related this account. I provided Ms. Sullivan a memo written by Mrs. Bamonte summarizing her recollection of Sullivan’s story. I requested Ms. Sullivan’s comment on Mrs. Bamonte’s memo. Ms. Sullivan did not respond. So far, Mayor Verner and Ms. Cowles have also not responded to my requests for comment on the alleged plane ride. If they do, I will post their comments here. Meanwhile, I invite Mayor Verner, Ms. Sullivan, and Ms. Cowles to post their comments about this matter here.

Dick Adams Email

Sullivan Denial

Suzanne Bamonte Statement


Filed under Public Corruption