Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

Dick Boggs

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

When I was a medical school junior, we had a rotation on the Neurology service at LA County Hospital. One of my classmates was planning a career in neurology but the reason it was so popular with the students like me who were interested in surgery was that we got to do tracheostomies. A number of patients with severe neurological lesions would require respirators or had trouble with airway secretions requiring a tracheostomy. This was our one chance to do surgery, even a minor procedure as things go. It was good practice and I later did a lot of tracheostomies, some quite difficult and rushed.

Our resident was a very interesting guy named Dick Boggs. He was tall and looked a lot like Orson Welles did when he was young and making “The Third Man.”Boggs was quiet and aloof but let us do trachs and work up any patient we wanted to. I had some very interesting cases. One was a woman who showed all the signs of alcoholic neuropathy, which is very similar to diabetic neuropathey. It was a popular rotation for juniors. Boggs was popular among the residents and was elected the president of the Interns and Residents Association, which under his leadership took on some of the characteristics of a union.

At the time, intern and resident pay was very low and, aside from a new dormitory that was built for single house staff, we were on our own. I was married with one child, born in March 1965, so I was really on my own. My wife quit her job as a teacher in January 1965 and I was working after hours doing histories and physicals at private hospitals for $7 per hour. Fortunately, my tuition was covered by scholarship but living expenses were tight. We lived on $200/month contributed by our parents, $100 from my father and the same from Irene’s parents. Half of that went for the rent of our two bedroom house in Eagle Rock, near Pasadena. I’m spending some time on details to emphasize what Boggs accomplished for us all.


The White House Insider Series

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Roger Simon has links to a series running on another blog that is alleged to be interviews of a White House insider in the Obama administration who has become disenchanted. The interviewee is, of course, anonymous and there are doubts about the authenticity but it rings true to me. I will make comments about some of the statements.

The first installment is here.

White House Insider on Obama: “the President is Losing It.”

Quite a title.

When I asked this insider if the media gave candidate Obama an assist throughout his campaign, it elicits a sly smile. Sure – we definitely had people in the media on our side. Absolutely. We went so far as to give them specific ideas for coverage. The ones who took that advice from the campaign were granted better access, and Obama was the biggest story in 2008, so yeah, that gave us a lot of leverage.

Could Obama have succeeded without the media’s help? Yeah, I think so. As I said, on the campaign trail he is very-very good. The opposition didn’t have near the energy, or the celebrity attraction that Obama brings. Plus, the country was burned out after eight years of Bush. We knew that going in. We knew that if we won the Democrat nomination, we were likely going to cruise our way to the White House – and that is exactly what we did.”

This sounds authentic to me. I’m not sure Obama could have won without both the press and the flow of anonymous money that has yet to be explained but he was good with a teleprompter and Bush was unpopular.

But after Obama was sworn in, things began to change? Almost immediately. Obama loved to campaign. He clearly didn’t like the work of being President though, and that attitude was felt by the entire White House staff within weeks after the inauguration. Obama the tireless, hard working candidate became a very tepid personality to us. And the few news stories that did come out against him were the only things he seemed to care about. He absolutely obsesses over Fox News. For being so successful, Barack Obama is incredibly thin-skinned. He takes everything very personally.

And you state he despises Joe Biden? Oh yeah. That is very well known in the White House. Obama chose Biden for one reason – to have an older white guy with some international policy credentials. Period. If Biden has all of this international experience that Obama found so valuable, why has he buried him under the pile of crap that became the stimulus bill? What does Joe Biden know about budgets and economics? Not much – but Obama didn’t care. Give Joe a job and get him the hell out of my hair – that pretty much sums up the president’s feelings toward Joe Biden.

Read the rest. This is only the first segment.

What about Hillary Clinton? Obama is scared to death of Hillary. He doesn’t trust her – obsesses over her almost as much as he does Fox News. He respects her though, which might be why he fears her so much as well. He talks the game, but when it comes down to it, she has played the game on a far tougher level than he has, and Obama knows that.

I include this only because I think the anonymous interviewee is a Hillary staffer. Watch his comments on the Clintons. For example:

How about Bill Clinton? I never heard Obama say anything about Bill Clinton personally, though I was told he has cracked a few jokes about the former president since getting into the White House. I have heard that Bill Clinton does not like Barack Obama. That really started when Obama played the race card against him during the primary campaign. Apparently Clinton was apoplectic over that and still hasn’t gotten over it. If there is one thing I have learned in this town – don’t make an enemy of Bill Clinton.

So if Obama doesn’t appear interested in the job of president, what does he do day after day? Well, he takes his meetings just like any other president would, though even then, he seems to lack a certain focus and on a few occasions, actually leaves with the directive that be given a summary of the meeting at a later date. I hear he plays a lot of golf, and watches a lot of television – ESPN mainly. I’ll tell you this – if you want to see President Obama get excited about a conversation, turn it to sports. That gets him interested. You start talking about Congress, or some policy, and he just kinda turns off. It’s really very strange. I mean, we were all led to believe that this guy was some kind of intellectual giant, right? Ivy League and all that. Well, that is not what I saw. Barack Obama doesn’t have a whole lot of intellectual curiosity. When he is off script, he is what I call a real “slow talker”. Lots of ummms, and lots of time in between answers where you can almost see the little wheel in his head turning very slowly. I am not going to say the president is a dumb man, because he is not, but yeah, there was a definite letdown when you actually hear him talking without the script.

That sounds like you are calling Obama stupid to me. No – I am not going to call him stupid. He just doesn’t strike me as particularly smart. Bill Clinton is a smart guy – he would run intellectual circles around Barack Obama. And Bill Clinton loved the politics of being president. Obama seems to think he shouldn’t have to be bothered, which has created a considerable amount of conflict among his staff.

The second installment is here and just as interesting.

So you still wish to keep your name hidden from the public? Why? I intend to remain working in this town for a bit longer. A public disclosure might complicate that just a bit given who is in power right now. But I won’t be the last one from the current administration coming forward. After the midterms, there will be a number of us speaking about what is really going on in the Democrat Party, if for nothing else because it’s such a damn mess right now.

What do you mean “it’s a damn mess”? I mean just what I said. The Democrat Party is the most chaotic I have ever seen it – and that goes back almost 30 years.

So who is to blame? We all are. By we I mean those of us who were working within the party power structure the last ten years or so. We got so caught up in the hate Bush mentality, we let the party get hijacked by our own far left. That was disaster the moment it happened. The disaster that will be the midterm election in 2010 started in November of 2006 when Pelosi and Reid took over the Democrat Party. Those two have only brought trouble to the Democrat Party since day one of that time.

This again rings true to me. And this is a revelation to me.

What scares you more as president – Sarah Palin or Barack Obama? (Hands to head) Oh boy. What a choice! People would kill me for saying this – actually you know what, there are more and more of us Democrats saying what I am going to say in one form or another… Sarah Palin understands America more than Barack Obama. Yes, she has a minority of our far left who hates her, and some in our media are part of that group, but overall, she seems to get America. Americans aren’t a complicated people, and neither is Sarah Palin, so that probably works in her favor. But President Obama is just out of touch. He really doesn’t understand what America is. What it’s about. Or who it is. And that is a real problem for him – and the Democrat Party at this moment in its history.

Are you saying you would vote for Sarah Palin over Barack Obama? No, I don’t think I could do that. As much as I admire Palin’s ability to connect with the American people, I just can’t stand her politics. I am a pro-choice Democrat. I support unions. I support welfare programs. Sarah Palin understands America, but that doesn’t mean she understands the best parts of America. That being said, I think President Obama understands hardly any of America. That is probably a big reason he appears so lost these days.

That is quite an interesting admission if the interview is legitimate. The third segment is here.

Why is he doing this ?

I am doing it for me, for my party, and for my country. In my own small way – maybe it’s insignificant, maybe not, I want to see Democrats move ahead of this mess that we are in right now. It is a mess of our own making, so we need to be the ones to clean it up. If we don’t, this country is going to continue hurting, and too many people out there are really hurting these days.

Ok…but how does giving me some apparent insider information going to help the country, or help your political party? Simple – it lets others know it’s time to start talking. It’s time to get the word out. It’s time to challenge the inept status quo that is currently running things. People are scared – hell, I’m a bit scared myself. But enough is enough – this political train has got to get back on its tracks. And I’ll tell you this, my talking to you, and your little blog stories, is already helping. More people are ready to talk. It’s already happening. And more is coming. The media won’t be able to ignore it anymore. This administration, the leadership in Congress, they need to account for how they have totally mishandled the responsibilities given to them. That accounting is coming soon enough in November – we are going to get what we deserve. But I am still hopeful it is not too late to save 2012.

He is talking about Congress and I agree that somebody has to.

We are literally killing our political futures out of some need to keep supporting an administration that has in no way, shape, or form shown itself to be worthy of that support.

Those are strong words – but what exactly to do you mean by that? What do I mean!? (Voice rising) What I mean is exactly this – we got Congressmen and Senators running for re-election right now whose political careers are about to be ended because they supported a president and a Democratic Party leadership that told them to do so. They trusted they would be politically protected, that the American people would agree with the agenda. Well guess what? That hasn’t happened. Good people, good Democrats, are being tossed aside like so much trash – and this White House DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN. In my eyes that is absolutely unforgivable. You just don’t do that to your own people. And some of these politicians are talking. They are – but for the most part the media is ignoring them because they don’t want to hurt the administration. To that I say enough! Do your damn job. Report what is going on within the Democratic Party. We need to clean up this mess, and it starts by getting the truth out there. That is my motivation.

The shift of independents to the Republicans is evidence that he is correct. Hell, I don’t even trust the Republican party after the past ten years. The 1994 revolution petered out in politics as usual. Tea party people are cringing in anticipation of the new “Contract” that the Republican leadership is preparing to release tomorrow.

This White House doesn’t give a damn for the concept of loyalty, dedication, sincerity. This White House is the most self-centered, arrogant, and ignorant…they just don’t care to know what they are doing. And when they do it – consequences mean nothing to them. NOTHING. And that is not to say it’s all bad at the White House. There are some very bright people working there. But you know what, those people have been marginalized, pushed aside, and are now leaving. You watch – the exodus from this White House will prove to be of historical proportions.

The exodus is already starting. It will be interesting to see how large it gets. Even the interviewee is frightened of what Obama could do to the country.

For most of the last year, you want to know what question keeps playing in my head?
What question was that? WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE DONE? Now that may come off terribly disrespectful to the president, but so be it. What have we done? We were led to believe this man was one thing, but everything I have seen, heard, and understand, points to the indisputable fact he is not what we hoped for. Not what we were promised. Maybe he might have been. Maybe a full term or two in the Senate and he would have had the experience and maturity to handle the job of President of the United States. But right now – the man is simply not up to the task, and yet it is loyal Democrats who are paying the price for his incompetence and incoherence. The health care bill? Do you know I was told he has never read the bill? Not one part of it? NOT ONE. Sounds like something you would hear on one of the talk radio shows, right? And I wouldn’t normally consider such a possibility, but this came directly from one of those good Democrats who might now see their political careers ended because they supported that bill and now its being used against them like some political sledgehammer. How is that supposed to make someone who put their career on the line feel? Betrayed. A whole lot of us are feeling betrayed these days and it just pisses me off.

As for all the accusations that the Congress hadn’t read the health care bill ?

they pushed it a bit further – suggested the president could do some town meetings and answer questions about the bill, alleviate all the concerns and fight back against the conservative chatter that was being put out there. Guess what they were told regarding that? They were asked one question – did they read the bill? This Congressperson admitted they hadn’t. Like a lot of them, they had voted for it, but hadn’t read it. That was a mistake, sure, but the thing is over 2000 pages, right? Well, after admitting they didn’t read the bill they are told in a laughing way mind you, “That’s ok – neither has the president, so you can’t expect him to take on a bunch of town meetings on it, right?” So that was it. Nice, huh? Bye-bye, thanks for playing, and good luck with the -explitive- storm coming your way this summer.

Anybody who has been around legislatures knows that bills are written by staff and lobbyists but you could at least expect them to read it before voting. Why healthcare ?

Was everyone on his staff on board with the president pushing so hard for healthcare? Absolutely not. There were some who voiced concerns. Some who pushed for a more clear economic agenda. Apparently Obama wanted none of it – he was obsessed, absolutely obsessed with getting some kind of healthcare legislation. And the ones who did voice concerns…they are, or will be, among the first to go. And it’s coming sooner rather than later.

And now, what may be the motive for this interview.

Any ideas as to an acceptable alternative? Hillary Clinton perhaps? (Smiles) The Clinton angle was not missed in your last two articles, was it? I make no attempt to hide my admiration for President Clinton. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton cannot run for another term as this country’s president. As for Hillary, I do not know her as well, but I do admire her – a lot, and now regret not having been a part of her own run for president. My ties to the2008 Obama campaign feel more and more these days like a dishonorable victory.
But would you like to see her run in 2012 if President Obama, as you put it, fails to improve? Yes. I would support Hillary Clinton over Obama in 2012 if the need was still there to help ensure President Obama was given only one term. But Hillary Clinton is not the only possibility for the Democrats. We are a party with many fine leaders – many, many potential candidates for president who I would gladly support.

Personally, I think Hillary is no more competent than Obama to be president and I think she is just as far left but it is interesting to see the developing split between the progressives and what is left of the Democratic Party.

Read all three installments. I have only posted the sections that most interested me. There is a lot more, including some about Michelle that is interesting.

Frank Flanagan

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

When the second world war ended, and the boys began to come home, my parents held parties for all of them who came back to Chicago. Many were friends of my cousin, Bud Kerrison, a B 17 bombardier who served in North Africa. Bud flew 50 missions; the 8th Air Force flying out of England only had to complete 35 missions because their loss rate was higher. His friends, some of whom were from Chicago, had similar military records and had served with him in the same theater. In addition to his Chicago buddies, a bunch of friends from other cities came to the parties and quite a few of them stayed. Why ? Bud had two beautiful sisters and they had a large number of beautiful girlfriends.

Here are Bud and Marion with me in the middle.

There were quite a few marriages that began with my parents’ parties and my mother kept in touch with many of these couples until she died 55 years later. There were a lot of beautiful girls and they all stayed married to the guys they met at the parties.

On of the friends of Bud who stayed on was great big guy named Frank Flanagan. His father was Chief of Detectives in the Philadelphia PD and, as some say, if cut, Frank would bleed blue. At that time, and for years afterward, the Chicago PD was corrupt but, as in any big city department, there were pockets of career officers who maintained the honor of the position and were respected even by the corrupt among them. One such was the father of Pat Neary. She was a beautiful girl with a Irish smile. Her father was an Inspector of the Chicago PD and a great guy. I was about 8 years old then and was fascinated with a tie clasp he wore that had suspended from it a tiny revolver. The tiny pistol worked mechanically and the trigger could be pulled and the cylinder would revolve and the hammer would fall, just as with a real pistol. He told me it even shot tiny bullets but I fear that may have been an embellishment. There are such tiny working guns, so maybe he wasn’t exaggerating after all.

Many of those girls from 1946 stayed beautiful into old age. I haven’t seen Pat in 20 years but she was trim and beautiful with a slight Irish accent the last time I saw her. She had three beautiful daughters.

Marion still looks pretty good at the age of 92. That’s her son Kerry who is 65. She lives alone in a nice condo and goes to the movies with my sister every week.

Anyway, Pat and Frank got married and lived happily ever after, except for one small problem. The Chicago PD pay scale was lousy. They could not afford a house for years and Pat drove an old clunker of a car. My father used to show up with piles of toys for the kids but no one doubted that the purpose of the low salary was to keep the policemen susceptible to bribery. Frank put up with it and there was never a whiff of anything improper about him. The crooks in the department knew this better than anyone else and so a little conspiracy was launched to protect Frank, and probably others like him, from the hustlers. The Mafia had a stranglehold on Chicago and the one place where someone like Frank was least likely to run a foul of organized crime was hit and run accident investigations.

Frank became chief of Hit and Run. A few years later, Life magazine ran a special feature on him as the first crime lab in Chicago law enforcement history began to get results. They developed means of identifying paint chips recovered from accident scenes and then identifying the make, model and year of the car the chip came from. That is no big deal now but it was revolutionary then. The rate at which hit and run crimes were solved became phenomenal. The Life Magazine feature began with a photo of Frank answering the telephone with his signature greeting, “Hit and Run, Flanagan.” He went on to Homicide and thrived as a good Homicide detective.

In 1960, everything changed. The city was hit with a monumental scandal when it was discovered that a burglary ring was run from a police district on the North Side. Corruption had taken over the department and Mayor Daley was faced with a desperate need for a respectable figure to take over the department and clean it up. He found him in a Harvard Professor named Orlando Wilson. Daley was desperate and this gave Wilson enormous power. He could have just about anything he wanted.

In 1960, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, in the wake of a major police scandal,[6] established a commission headed by O.W. Wilson to find a new police commissioner.[7] In the end, Daley decided to appoint Wilson himself, as Commissioner.[8] Beginning on March 2, 1960,[4] Wilson served the Superintendent of Police of the Chicago Police Department until 1967 when he retired.
Reforms demanded at the outset by Wilson included establishment of a non-partisan police board to help govern the police force, a strict merit system for promotions within the department, an aggressive, nationwide recruiting drive for hiring new officers, and higher police salaries to attract professionally qualified officers.[8]

Wilson began searching the department for honest and competent men. He found Frank Flanagan in Homicide and made him Chief of Homicide. Among the big homicide cases investigated by Frank was the Richard Speck case, in which Speck raped and murdered 8 student nurses in one night. It was a huge sensation in Chicago for years.

Here is a copy of a Chicago police newspaper (pdf) with a story about Frank and a photo of Pat and his three daughters. Pat is still beautiful there, 18 years after they met at my parents’ party. The two stories about Frank are on pages 4 to 7.

I got stimulated about this after reading a post at Patterico by Jack Dunphy. Dunphy (a pseudonym) wonders what is wrong with Chicago? Crime is out of control and nothing is being done, or at least it seems that way. The details of the sickening situation are here. My brother-in-law is a retired CPD officer. He was retired by the time the situation as described arrived but he was constantly frustrated in the promotion process as affirmative action was in full flower then and only blacks were considered for promotion. If there were not enough blacks applying, some white officers would be considered. The linked article does not mention race but you can be sure it is a huge factor. My brother-in-law finally gave up and stopped taking the sergeants’ exam, a disservice to my sister, but he was sick of watching the list posted every six months.

Frank died a few years ago and, unfortunately, had no sons. He and Pat (still with us but ailing) were the products of a tradition of police families. Maybe if there was a Flanagan on the force, things might be better. In addition to his police service, Frank was the commanding officer of an Army Reserve unit in the city. He retired a full colonel. There aren’t many like him. Among other things, he was a big, hearty, friendly guy and he never lost his Philadelphia accent.