MAY 2016

MAY 2016
Looking Over Donald Trump's Shoulder.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BLOODY JACK Chapter Twenty-Three

I think the people of Whitechapel were some of the hardest working citizens of London. Consider the ambitious John “Jack” McCarthy. He chose to live in Whitechapel, starting by renting a tiny storefront at 26 Dorset Street where he ran a grocery. 
That did well enough that in 1877 he married, and after a few years he bought the 2 story brick building, and the identical structure at Number 24, the other side of the four foot wide arched entrance to Miller's Court. He moved his family – 4 children by 1888 - into the top floor of Number 26, and re-opened his grocery on the ground floor. He kept Number 24, renting 2 rooms on the second floor to tenants, using the ground floor front for storage, and subdivided the ground rear into a 10 foot by 12 foot room, which he gave the address of 13 Miller's Court. “Lucky” 13 provided Jack with 23 pence a week in rent. That was how you made a profit in Whitechapel.
Plowing such profits back into his business, Jack McCarthy bought the doss house at number 30 Dorset street, and his business became known as McCarthy Rents. In March of 1882 he partnered in staging a prize fight at St. Andrew's Hall. But a dispute over profits lead to another fight, this one with fists, which lead to an arrest, and a fine for Jack. It is unclear if any money's were made, but Jack did not repeat his venture as a fight promoter. But it did show that Jack McCarthy was always on the look out for a profit.
On Friday, 9 November, 1888, Jack McCarthy was in his store at 24 Dorset Street, going over his books. About 10:30 that morning Jack ordered his employee, Thomas Bowyer, to walk 10 feet back to 13 Miller's Court, and collect the rent - which was 2 weeks in arrears. And he reminded Bowyer that if there was no answer at the door, to look in the window, to confirm if the couple renting the room, Mary Kelly and Joseph Barnett, were inside, hiding or sleeping off a drunk.
That same morning, in the House of Commons, Home Secretary Henry Matthews rose to announce the resignation of Sir Charles Warren as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. It would be a tricky giving this a positive spin, given how recently Matthews had voiced unlimited support for Warren.
The liberal press hated Warren as a reactionary martinet who had crushed the “Bloody 13 of November 1887 Trafalgar Square” demonstration. But the Conservative press saw Warren as a hero, and rumors were already circulating that Warren's one time Assistant Commissioner James Munro, had been colluding with the Home Secretary, to undermine his old boss.
Although Henry Matthew's boss, Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (above), was not permitted to sit in the Commons – as the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, Gascoyne-Ceicil sat in the House of Lords – Matthews knew the Prime Minister was watching him closely. 
So after reading the exchange of letters with Warren from the day before, in which Warren had resigned – again - , Henry Matthews (above) assured the Commons, “...the differences of opinion between Sir Charles Warren and Mr. Monro, had nothing to do with...parting with an officer so distinguished and so zealous in the discharge of his Office...I wish to add...The advice which I have sought from Mr. Monro was confined to the general question of the organization proper for the Department...”
It was doubtful anyone in the Commons believed that lie, but nobody had proof. So only Liberal M.P, Robert Cunninghame-Graham (above) rose to question Matthew's statement. Cunninghame-Graham had spent six weeks in jail for his part in Bloody Sunday, and he asked what Warren's use of the word "again" refereed to. “Do I understand that it is not the first time that his resignation has been placed in the hands of Her Majesty’s Government?”  The Home Secretary dodged the question saying only, “There have been previous differences of opinion which led to Sir Charles Warren tendering his resignation.” But the Home Secretary refused to provide details.
Liberal M.P. Henry Labouchere (above), who had tried as recently as march to eliminate the House of Lords entirely, asked, “What is the precise position which Mr. Monro holds now?” 
Matthews now lied to Labourchere as smoothly and as easily as a politician – which he, of course was. Matthews said, “Mr. Monro fills no office of any kind, and is in no way connected with the Department.” 
Above all, Matthiews avoided any mention of the “Special Irish Branch” of the police, which James Munro (above)  had headed while Assistant Commissioner under Warren, and which he still headed. His use of spies and political sabotage campaigns in Ireland and even in Whitechapel, must not even be hinted at. Nor could there be any whisper of Matthews' instructions to Mr. Munro and his replacement Mr Anderson , to “consult” with Matthews behind Sir Charles' back. So the lie was not revealed.  The scandal, such as it was, would end with Sir Charles' resignation.
Jack McCarthy's employee, Thomas Bowyer, was called “Indian Joe” because he had served in India. He was surviving on a pension now, and reduced to living on Dorset Street.
At about 10:40 that same morning, “Indian Joe” walked out the front door of McCarthy's grocery at 24 Dorset Street (above, left), and turned right into the narrow 4 foot wide 5 foot long alley leading to Miller's Court (above, center archway). 
The Court was a small space, little more than 10 feet wide by 20 feet long, the ground floor whitewashed and the courtyard cobblestoned.   On the left side, as you entered, was Number 1 Miller's Court, with number 2 directly above it, each the standard Whitechaple 8 foot by 8 foot room. Numbers 3 through 8 finished the left side of the court. On the right side were numbers 9 through 13, as well as a water tap, a privy toilet and a dustbin. Opposite Number 13, on the ground floor, stood a single gas lamp
Thomas Bowyer did not know the 25 year old woman who rented Number 13 (above)  as Mary Kelly, which was not surprising. Among her many aliases were Marie Jeanette Kelly, Mary Jeanette, Black Mary, Ginger and Fair Emma. 
Jack McCarthy described her as “noisy” when drunk, but  “otherwise she was a very quiet woman.” A friend described her as “ a good, quiet, pleasant girl, and was well liked by all of us." “She was not a notorious character”, said another friend. Born in Ireland and raised in Wales, Mary Kelly spoke fluent Welsh, no small accomplishment. She was handsome and well spoken, and “much superior to that of most persons in her position in life." But she was, like so many, an alcoholic.
Indian Joe” said later, “Knocking at the door, I got no answer, and I knocked again and again. Receiving no reply, I passed round the corner by the gutter spout where there is a broken window - it is the smallest window. There was a curtain. I put my hand through the broken pane and lifted the curtain. I saw two pieces of flesh lying on the table...The second time I looked I saw a body on this bed, and blood on the floor.”
Thomas Bowyer ran back into McCarthy's shop, where he told him, “"Governor, I knocked at the door and could not make anyone answer. I looked through the window and saw a lot of blood." Looking into the man's face, McCarthy's reaction was understandable. He said, “You don’t mean that, Harry.” Both men returned to the room, where Jack McCarthy pushed aside the curtain. “The sight that we saw I cannot drive away from my mind. It looked more like the work of a devil than of a man...I hope I may never see such a sight as this again.”
One writer described the discovery this way. “The wall behind the bed was spattered with blood. On the bedside table was a pile of bloody human flesh. And there on the bed, barely recognizable as human, lay the virtually skinned down cadaver of Mary Kelly.” McCarthy told Thomas to go straight to the Commercial Street police station. Pausing only to lock up his store, Jack McCarthy followed him.
At the Commercial Street Station (above), Detective Inspectors Walter Dew and Walter Beck were on duty when Thomas Bowyer ran in. Drew wrote later, “The poor fellow was so frightened that for a time he was unable to utter a single intelligible word. At last he managed to stammer out something about "another one. Jack the Ripper. Awful. Jack McCarthy sent me."” A moment later Jack McCarthy arrived, and all 4 man ran back to Dorset Street.  
Beck looked into the room, and then told his partner, "For God’s sake, Dew, don’t look."  Drew looked anyway. 
Fifty years later he wrote, “...the old nausea, indignation and horror overwhelm me still… No savage could have been more barbaric. No wild animal could have done anything so horrifying...…the poor woman’s eyes. They were wide open, and seemed to be staring straight at me with a look of terror."
The Government may have made peace with the Sir Charles Warren scandal, but Jack the Ripper had made no truce with his own demons. And he was intent up sharing them with the entire world.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I contend that democracy is a caveat emptor proposition, and if more voters realized that going into the voting booth, there would be a lot fewer jaded voters coming out the other end. Allow me to provide an example. In January of 1921, the Committee on Elections of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, chaired by the appropriately named Loyd Makepeace, from Malden, took up the case of Republican challenger John Callahan verses incumbent Democrat James Sweeney. The prize in this election was the Eleventh District in Hampden County, comprising sections of the 5th and 7th wards of Holyoke, Massachusetts, where the Irish names of both Sweeney and Callahan fit in well. For sixty years the state legislature, also known as the General Court, had been controlled by the Anglo-Protestant Republican party. The industrial revolution was beginning to change that, but the transition was not proving comfortable for anybody.
Located just north of Springfield, Holyoke (above) was one of the first planned industrial communities in America. The town drew power for her textile industry and 25 paper mills from the falls of the Connecticut River. That year the town's population topped 60,000, the vast majority of them first generation Irish Catholic emigrants. And in 1920 first term state Representative Democrat James Sweeney had sent out an aggressive campaign mailing to his constituents.
Most of it was pretty standard propaganda. “After serving you honorably and faithfully for the past year”, wrote Representative Sweeny, “I am a candidate for re-election, and seek your consideration at the polls Tuesday, November 2”.  Sweeney went on to take credit for getting state money for a new bridge across the Connecticut River, and for supporting aid for expectant mothers. But then, in bold black type, he turned to “Chamberlain's Sex-Hyiegne and Birth Control” bill.
The proposed law's namesake was Republican State Senator George Dudly Chamberlain. He was, by all accounts, the kind of a man who gave politicians a good name. An accountant, in his spare time he had created a “playground association” in his home town of Springfield, obtaining and constructing safe places for all of Springfield's children to play. He volunteered untold hours at the Boy's Club and the Young Men's Christian Association. He was a deacon of the Episcopal Church. He had recently gotten into politics because he wanted to improve education statewide, and was pushing for free kindergarten classes for all children.. But in the eyes of many Catholic voters, all of those marvelous things were marks against George Chamberlain.
The Catholic Church simply did not trust a Protestant power structure to educate Catholic children. Irish emigrants, with fresh memories of the charnel house the English had turned Ireland into, did not trust a man who could trace his blue blood back to tenth century English nobility, to John Saukerville, the Lord Chamberlain to King Henry I of England. And having tithed to their own Church schools, Irish voters felt put-upon to be taxed again to support the public schools as well. Sound familiar?
It did not matter to the Irish working classes that the bill was actually a compromise, nor did it matter that in section one of the bill the state department of education was instructed to, “...establish minimum rules and regulations...for the practice and education of health education in public schools...This shall include instruction in personal and community health...” In section four the bill required “School Committees in cities and towns...(to) appoint a supervisor of health education and necessary associates who shall...supervise and direct courses of instruction in health and of physical activity”
The bill had been voted down in the house, but James Sweeney warned his constituents that it was likely to come back, and would be supported by John Callahan . This bill, Sweeney told the Catholic voters,  meant “compulsory teaching of sex-hygiene and birth control to children, ten and twelve years old, against the parents' wishes....(it) would take the child away from the parent and put them under the direct supervision of the State....(and) would disrupt the morals of your children.”
The mailer ended this way; “My opponent is also a (in italics) sexagenarian, and in my opinion would not be able to serve your district properly. And so I make this personal appeal to your reason,...Yours very truly, Representative James F. Sweeney.” To modern, and disinterested, eyes, the mailing may seem to be crude, but it was effective. The results of the election were 3,497 votes for James F. Sweeney,  and 3, 091 for John A. Callahan, with 214 ballots either blank or unreadable. Sweeney was declared the winner by 399 votes.
Mr. Callahan was outraged. He saw Sweeney's mailing as false and malicious. First, the actual title of Chamberlin's bill had been “To provide Physical Training in the Public Schools...”. It said nothing about birth control, let alone sex.  In 1920, most Protestants felt the same way about birth control as most Catholics. And secondly, Mr.Callahan felt the use of the term “sexagenarian” was meant to imply to the uneducated and unsophisticated citizens of Holyoke, that Mr. Callahan was some kind of sex fiend, which he was probably not. So, since, under the Massachusetts Constitution, “The house of representatives shall be the judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications of its own members”, he appealed to the House to over turn the election.
A simple reading of the names on the committee would seem to have given the Republican Callahan the edge. Beside Chairman Makepeace, there was Brimblecom, Rolander, Hale, Whiting, Gradt and Winnett, with barely a hint of Ireland in the bunch. But besides being Protestants and Republicans all, the committee members were also, first and foremost, politicians. And on 27 January, 1921 the Committee, issued its findings.  First it found that since John Callahan was 62 years of age, he was, by definition, a sexagenarian. If the voters were too stupid know that was what the word meant, that was their problem - not the politicians. And as far as the other exaggerated claims made in the circular, the committee decided that to assume the voters had been mislead by the rabble rousing clap trap in Sweeney's mailing would “constitute a denial of the possession of ordinary intelligence on the part of...voters of the Eleventh Hampden District. The committee have therefore come to the conclusion that the election....was...the will of the majority of the voters...(and) thus manifested should prevail. The petitioner is therefore given leave to withdraw” which was a political way of telling the outraged Mr. Callahan to grow up and get on with his life.
The press, of course, turned the entire affair into a farce. The Boston Herald headline read, “Complains He Was Called Sexagenarian – Candidate Says Many Voters Thought It Had to Do With Sex.” A month later the Wall Street Journal got most of the details of the election right, except for the location, which it moved to downtown Boston. Thirty years later, the joke about sexagenarian was about all that remained of the story, and was even adapted to the Pepper-Smather Florida Senate election of 1950.
But this contested 1920 Massachusetts election is not a story about a quasi-maledictive phrase, its about the freedom to be stupid. Without that right, there can be no democracy - small "D".  If voters, for whatever reason, are dumb enough to elect Donald Trump, that is still a good thing -  because whether a monumental mess is made by the money class or the working class, its the working class who have pay for it and clean up any mess he makes. So  at least they should be the ones responsible for making the mess.  Look, it there aren't times when democracy scares the living hell out of you, you aren't doing it right.
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Sunday, June 26, 2016

THE FIRST DAY Chapter Twenty-Three

I wish I had been standing atop Seminary Ridge at about 5:00 p.m. on 1 July, 1863, when Lieutenant General James Longstreet arrived with his small staff. He had come to tell his boss, General Robert E. Lee, that lead elements of his First Corps would be reaching the battlefield shortly after dark. And while Lee was issuing his "if practicable" orders to General Ewell, "Old Pete" took the opportunity to scan the Federal lines on Cemetery Hill through his binoculars. Longstreet expressed his pleasure that the Federals had revealed themselves, saying "All we have to do good ground between him and his capital." But Lee rejected the idea with anger. Jabbing his fist at Cemetery Hill he said, "If the enemy is there tomorrow, we must attack him." Longstreet said he was shaken by Lee's vehemence. And that was the moment when Lee lost the battle of Gettysburg.
At first glance the idea that Lee lost the 3 day battle of Gettysburg on the first day seems odd, since Lee won the first day at Gettysburg. Sort of. The federal troops had been swept from the field in panic and confusion, and had suffered almost 900 dead and more than 4,000 wounded. But so had Lee's army. The first day's success and its cost tempted Lee to stay and fight. 
Over the next 2 days Lee would lose another 3,000 dead, 15,000 wounded, with 5,500 missing or captured. From Wednesday 1 July through Friday 3 July, more than a third of the army Lee took to Gettysburg would be lost. And over the next 2 years the 9 million citizens defending human slavery would suffer over 300,000 military dead. The defeat at Gettysburg was truly the turning point in the war.
We know Lee suffered from rheumatism, exacerbated by spending long hours in the saddle under hot suns and bone chilling rains, and sleeping outside night after night. He was also deeply worried about the whereabouts of Lieutenant General J.E.B. Stuart's 6,000 cavalrymen. But more than that, Lee seemed to be exhibiting the effects of "stable angina." - a reoccurring, short burst of pressure felt in the chest which mimics indigestion. Lee later told his doctors the condition began in 1863. The angina was caused by insufficient blood flow to the muscles of the heart. It could be triggered by emotional stress, exhaustion or temperature extremes - all of which Lee experienced during the Pennsylvania campaign. The only treatment available at the time was rest, and Lee got less of that as the battle went on.
The key position was Culp's Hill, the place Lee had just urged Lieutenant General Ewell to capture "if practicable". It dominated Cemetery Hill, the new center of the Federal line. But Ewell would decide that without support from A.P. Hill's bloodied exhausted men, it could not be taken. Shortly after dark Lee arrived at the II Corps headquarters to meet with Ewell and two of his division commanders - Brigadier Generals Robert Rodes and Jubal Early. Lee asked for a morning assault on Cemetery and Culp's Hill.
All of General Rodes' 5 brigades had suffered such heavy casualties, he felt unable to contribute. General Early was facing Culp's Hill, but had only one brigade in position to launch an assault. The rest were scattered between Barlow's Knoll to 2 miles out on the Hanover Pike, licking their substantial wounds and guarding the 3,000 Federal prisoners taken that first Day. Early told Lee the effort should be made against Cemetery Hill. Ewell (above), thinking of Cemetery Hill's 70 foot high slope, warned an assault, even if successful, “...would be at a very great cost.” Old Baldy again suggested A.P. Hill's Corps should do the heavy lifting, attacking the Federal right flank from Seminary Ridge, instead. And Lee did not press the issue. The best that Lee could get was a commitment for a morning display against Culp's Hill.
When faced with insubordination by his officers in the attack, Lee (above) had acquiesced - even though by bringing on a "general engagement" east of South Mountain, they violated his orders, and risked his army. This evening, when presented face to face with similar disobedience to continue the attack, Lee gave in again. It was true that it was late, that Lee was tired, that he was ill and that he still had no word from General Stuart. But Lee allowed his subordinates to control the battle. The only general in the Army of Northern Virginia who did not disobey Lee at Gettysburg, was Lieutenant General James Longstreet.
The intransigence of Early left General Lee with no choice but to launch his main effort from Seminary Ridge, led by Johnson's division, and supported from 2 of Longstreet's I Corps divisions. Longstreet did not approve of the attack, but he did his best to execute it. These men were fresh, but it would take over half the day to move them into position. And the delay meant any demonstration against Culp's Hill would be over long before Longstreet's men threw themselves against Little Round Top and Cemetery Ridge, on the Federal left. Which meant that Federal commander George Gordon Meade could deal with the crises on his flanks one at a time.
As the 1959 "West Point Atlas of American Wars" explained, "Undoubtedly, Gettysburg was the lowest point of Lee's generalship. He was careless; his orders were vague; he suggested when he should have commanded...(he) had become enmeshed in a trap of his own making. He had invaded the North in the hope of winning a decisive battle, yet he had scattered his infantry across south-central Pennsylvania and had lost control of his cavalry. Now, with his army half concentrated, aggressive subordinates had plunged him into a major battle. He had won a partial success against a weaker enemy, but he did not know where the rest of the Union army might be."
Meanwhile, Meade had also turned the battle over to his subordinates, because he was 13 miles to the south at Tanytown, Maryland, still learning details of his army not shared by the bitter outgoing General Hooker. Upon learning the brilliant John Reynolds had been killed, and that the puritanical Howard had taken command of the battle, Meade immediately dispatched 40 year old Major General Winfield Scott Hancock to take charge at Gettysburg. 
He was not next in line for command. But he was "Hancock the Superb" (above), "The Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac," and Meade trusted him to make the decision whether to stay at Gettysburg or withdraw to the Pipe Creek line. Hancock's presence stabilized the situation until after nightfall, when Major General Henry Warner Slocum arrived on Cemetery Hill, with his XII Corps camping 3 miles south.
Slocum outranked Hancock, and with his arrival at about 8:00 p.m., Hancock road back to Tanytown to report. Two hours earlier, with only the knowledge that two infantry corps had been defeated and badly injured, Meade had telegraphed General of the Army Halleck at the War Department, " I see no other course than to hazard a general battle". Unlike Lee, Meade (above, center) had inherited a large staff (above), some 6 General and 5 line officers. And he used them - most significantly Chief of Staff Major General Daniel Butterfield, Chief of Engineers Brigadier General Gouverneur Warren, Quartermaster Brigadier General Rufus Ingalls.
As Major Christian B. Meisel expressed in his 1995 paper for the USMC staff college, Meade's staff "...proved decisive in re-positioning supplies for the Army of the Potomac."  Specifically, "...Rufus Ingalls (abve) worked closely with the commanding general to gain an understanding of his intent. He then...developed as simple a plan as possible with corps moving along different routes nearly simultaneously..."  There would be no road blocks such as Johnson's rebel division encountered blocking the Cashtown Gap. Meade's Army of the Potomac arrived at the battle having wasted less effort to get there, with new supply depots established within reach of Gettysburg. All that had been arraigned by Ingalls and the other members of Meade's staff before Hancock got back to Tanytown.
Hancock arrived at about 10:00 p.m. and found Meade already packing up his headquarters staff for the move to Gettysburg. They left an hour later for Cemetery Hill, the logistics of a fight at Gettysburg already established. Lieutenant General George Gordon Meade walked into the little farmhouse back of Cemetery Hill (above)  at about 2:00 a.m. on now 2 July, 1863 
His lack of sleep over the previous 48 hours was obvious. General Schurz noted his "long-bearded, haggard face, his careworn and tired look." When assured by Generals Slocum, Howard, Doubleday and Dan Sickles that the position was strong, the grumpy google eyed Meade responded that he was glad to hear it, "since it was too late to leave."
In the light of the full moon, Meade (above) examined the Federal positions, and ordered modifications to strengthen the line. He took the time to reassure General Howard that he would suffer no discipline for the defeat that day. And he replaced General Doubleday with General Newton in command of I Corps - it was housekeeping for a General. And then he got a couple of hours sleep, to be ready for the Second Day at Gettysburg.
- 30 -

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