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Monkey Two: God and Darwin In Trial: Trial Week One

Monkey Two: God and Darwin In Trial: Trial Week One

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Monkey Two: God and Darwin In Trial: Trial Week One

764 pagine
9 ore
Oct 5, 2017


In 1925, the State of Tennessee enacted a law that prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools, specifically, that man came from apes. The law was immediately challenged by the ACLU and pitted two famous lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, a religious Fundamentalist and one-time presidential candidate, in a bruising contest. The case became famous, known as the Monkey Trial.

In this fictional trial, a high school teacher was fired for introducing religion into his biology class in the form of criticism of Darwinism. The trial involves expert witnesses from a variety of fields who defend and attack Darwinism, but not merely from a biology point-of-view. There are deep religion/atheism, legal, political, philosophical and cultural issues that are at stake and reflect today's bifurcated society.

The Supreme Court cases in the past fifty years on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment are demonstrated as in disarray especially in school-religion cases. The famous bioatheist, Richard Dawkins, is called out for his trenchant criticism of Christians and distortion of Darwinism to achieve his ends.

The lawyers are cut from vastly different cloth – an ex-Vietnam soldier and an anti-war conscientious objector. But the scientific and religious experts do most of the talking from the witness stand.

The present book describes the preparation for and First Week of Trial.
Oct 5, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

Ask clients, friends, colleagues and employees about Paul Adams and you’re likely to hear the same words over and over again. Integrity. Vision. Servant Leadership. Energy. Trust. Knowledge. Innovation. Achievement. Inspirational. Ethical. These are what Paul Adams brings to Sound Financial Group every day. They’re the qualities that have put him among the nation’s top financial advisers – and, at age 35, among the youngest and most dynamic as well. As president of >b>Sound Financial Group, Paul leads a growing team of financial professionals dedicated to helping clients define their financial goals and then developing unique, tailored strategies to reach them. Paul is a financial mentor and innovator held in the highest regard by both peers and clients – going all the way back to his days as a college intern at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He founded and led the Las Vegas chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ Young Advisors Team and in 2007 was chosen by Advisor Today Magazine as one of the industry’s Four Under Forty. For the past 12 years, Paul has been a member of the Million Dollar Round Table – the premier trade association for financial professionals – and earned recognition as a Court of the Table, a designation reserved for those who produce in the top 1 percent of the industry. A sought-after speaker, conference panelist and author who has published two essential financial guides – Stop Burning Your Money; and Sound Financial Advice. Paul has been on the cover of trade publications and in April 2014 was recognized by Seattle Magazine as a Five Star Wealth Manager for client service. Paul lives in Mill Creek with his wife, Kristen, and their three children – Andrew, Reagan and Vivian. He enjoys traveling, hiking and continuing his personal and professional education.

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Monkey Two - Paul Adams




Some say that litigators are born, not bred. Of course, they say the same thing about right fielders. And goalies. And presidents. And inventors. It is’ all nonsense from people who only sit on the sidelines. They are the computer game players who are too timid to play the real game of life.

I think I know something about what makes good litigators. I know this for sure: they believe in the cause they are representing. They are tough, combative – often with hard knocks of life behind them. Some call them hungry. Some have less charitable names.

I want to tell you about one man. One who served his country in its most embarrassing war. You know the war I mean: the war that tore the United States apart at its roots. The war whose residue still has the faint smell of napalm.

You love your country or you don’t – that is the way some see it. And if you risk your life for it, chances are you love it to death. Battle hardens them in return and they see the world like courtroom combatants – win or lose. There is no second place. Officers do not attend the Paris Peace conference; they attend to the men they lead in the horrible scourge of battle. The old cliché that there are no atheists in foxholes is true for them. They believe in a God because they have seen that in the horror of war there is nothing else to believe in. Tell them that religious freedom is passé, that religion is dumb, that science has transcended religion and you may have a fight on your hands. Combat veterans make fine litigators. Alf Henders is the chief protagonist for one of the parties to this litigation. I need to tell you a little about him.

A Fisherman’s Life

Alf Henders was born in the sleepy town of Moclips on the Olympic Peninsula on the Washington State coast. His father, Bonney, was from English stock, and a man of the sea like his father before him. For nearly 40 years Bonney plied the waters off the coast in pursuit of Coho salmon. Bonney himself reflected the rugged earth and the cold, often angry sea of the Pacific at 47 degrees latitude. Far from the sunny beaches of California, this was a land of bone-rattling storms, with fog so heavy that it segued into the sea – a continuity of moisture hanging in patches on the cliffs running down to 20 feet above the water’s surface. The ocean and the fog embraced one another like mother and child letting go only on rare occasions to allow filtered light to reach the broad stretches of sandy beach salted with driftwood the size of automobiles, flung there on some past stormy day.

Bonney had been trolling for salmon ever since he was brought to the Pacific Northwest as a child after his own father had failed to return from a fishing venture in the treacherous waters of the Celtic Sea. For years he squeezed a living from the waters as a helper on one of the many trawlers that reached out each morning into the fog for a catch. Like other crewmen, after some time, Bonney finally scraped up enough financing to purchase an interest in the Dorry Ann, a 58-foot seiner. Back then there were no seine skiffs, no reels, or power blocks. The captain and the crew earned their keep with back-breaking work.

The fisherman’s life was hard and there was little time for dalliance – lessons Bonney passed on to his children. Growing up, Alf and his sister Chloe cherished the free time they had, reading or playing the games that their mother Angela had taught them on chilly winter days near a warming fire. By the time Alf was 13, it was time for him to help on board. Under Bonney’s tutelage, Alf became an accomplished net man over the next several years. He can keep up with the best of ‘em, Bonney would tell his fellow captains with pride. Alf was not particularly brawny, but his small frame and tight muscles were deceptive. The boy was strong.

Early on, Alf was fascinated by the physical world around him – the ocean, the majestic pines, and the tide pools swarming with life in an ecosystem of their own. He loved those occasional nights when the fog cleared, when the lackluster gray sky turned into a distant canvas of a million candles, and he was mesmerized by the thick snow blanketing the slopes in the distance. But it was not until high school that Alf learned to enjoy the physical world from land rather than from the sea.

Most of the athletic kids in Moclips and the surrounding towns started skiing at an early age, usually taught by their father or a neighbor. Bonney did not ski. Nor did Angela. Besides, they had no money to spend on such things. When Alf got a job at the local Dairy Queen, he made enough money to join the high school ski club and started traveling on Sundays to Cyclone Ridge, only 30 miles from Moclips. It was there that Alf’s keenness for danger, for the edge, bloomed as suddenly as high altitude Freesias in spring.

He had learned to face down fear long ago in rough seas. He would look at Bonney standing impassively at the wheel, one eye on the sea, one eye on the compass. According to Bonney, the sea sensed if you were frightened and would take advantage if you were afeared. The sailor who lacks confidence is fish bait, he would say. Alf began to appreciate that while one man feared a storm, another faced it down. After a few of those storms, he began gripping the rail next to his father, mimicking that expressionless stare and chewing on his own fears. After the storm subsided, Alf would be flooded with a euphoria that he did not fully understand, but proudly enjoyed. It was thrilling to stand up to nature and show her that though she was fearsome, so was he.

As soon as Alf learned to parallel ski, he began to seek out the black diamond runs, then the double diamonds. Standing on the cornice, ski tips over the edge, the first 30 feet nearly vertical he smiled at that old saw: the run is so steep that when you look down over the tips of your skis, you do not see the little town far below, you see your life pass beneath your eyes. Within the first season, there was no run he had not mastered. A year later he was a bump man. No mogul too tall, no slope too steep; the closer and higher, the bigger the thrill. When there was new snow, he was faster than the others to the top, to create those lonesome tracks that you could look up and call your own.

Alf preferred to ski alone. He liked the silence, the solitude – just the mountain and him. He told Ritchie, his neighbor and classmate, that skiing was not like football or basketball where every player depended on their teammates. If you lost the run, you disappointed no one except yourself. If you had a perfect run, you enjoyed the win, and you did not have to share it with anyone.

Bonney had always called self-reliance the measure of a man. Team sports have camaraderie, but they are not the same. He used to tell Alf: Ringo would never have made it as a solo. You don’t know who you are until you stand alone at the wheel. One night he put Alf to the test: they were in the middle of still another storm, and Bonney stepped back from the wheel and looked straight at his son as if he was seeing him for the first time. He motioned to Alf to grab the wheel. When Alf had positioned himself, Bonney told him to hold her at 80 degrees. He gave the forecast, advised on the speed, and then turned abruptly and went below. He did not come up until Alf shouted that he could see the jetty. Bonney was rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Alf understood immediately.

Years later Alf remembered the morning ski bus rides to and from Cyclone, where everyone was horsing around – flirting, shouting, laughing. Alf joined in the singing and the joking. He was a natural leader – too serious, many said – though the other kids loved it when he was willing to play with the gang. But on the return trip, when everyone was asleep having dumped all their energy on the hill, Alf would sit and stare at the sky and the stars. By then, he knew most of the constellations and would search for those he had read about but had not seen. Then his mind would begin searching beyond the stars, beyond the horizon of his years. What will I be doing next year at this time? he would think. What about the year after that? And five years beyond that?

Those answers began coming when Alf started his college career at the University of Oregon. That was, to this day, the hardest decision that Alf made. As Alf worked the Dorry Ann each summer, he had become closer and closer to his father. Bonney had only a little love left after what he gave to the sea and Angela. But he could give Alf a warm hug when they would stop for an occasional beer, and he would regale his son with tales of the sea, of his own father. Then his eyes would get misty when he described the last time that he saw him go off to sea, never to return.

It is a cruel fate for the workingman who has had mild success and is in a position to hand over his business, small and struggling but full of opportunity, only to see his son set his sights in another direction. Yet Bonney knew all too well that the life of the commercial fisherman was a dangerous one. Modern folks like to talk about the need for good communication between generations, but that depends on the subject and who is doing the communicating. It may work for wealthy professionals and their pampered children. But in working class families, communication is subtle and more honest, perhaps because the opportunities are more limited and there is less to talk about. Maybe the family is tighter, so words are less necessary. Maybe they simply do not have the words to articulate their feelings. Alf never told Bonney that he did not intend to make a life at sea. Bonney never asked if he would like to. Bonney could see Alf’s competitive nature and he was impressed with his son’s scholarship. Alf excelled in school, especially in math and science, and his passion for astronomy was evident to everyone. Time and again Mr. Douglas, the science teacher would tell Bonney and Angela that Alf was destined for a successful career in science. Oh, he’s just exaggerating, you know, Alf would tell them later. Bonney and Angela would not reply. It was not necessary.


Alf graduated from the University of Oregon in the midst of that dirty war called Vietnam. Unlike some of his counterparts, he saw a duty that, whether he liked it or not must be fulfilled. He did not believe that he was the arbiter of the righteousness of the cause. He believed in the righteousness of his country. If you lived in a democracy, he reasoned, you were already one of the luckiest people alive, now or ever. The country chose wrong leaders, true, but it had elected some incredibly good men over its short history. You could disagree with domestic policy, or foreign policy or any other damn policy, but the President and Congress had to make tough choices, and you had to live with them, or elect someone else. That was true whether you were liberal or conservative, rich or poor, civilian or soldier. Alf did not have to subscribe to manifest destiny to serve his country. At the time, he considered those who fled the country to avoid the draft cowards, but in later life tempered that view. However, he never tempered his view of Jane Fonda – who he thought a traitor who should have been hanged.

Alf was commissioned, suffered through basic training, and was chosen for the infantry based on his college degree in astronomy. Within six months, he was assigned to one of the many companies trying to stop the ceaseless flow of Northern Vietnamese troops, the ARVN, in their determined effort to recoup the South. It was not one of those distinguished outfits with high morale and a record of unprecedented bravery, nor one of the truly misfit groups that were unfortunately unique to Vietnam. Alf quietly assumed the title of platoon leader.

His company was moved into the path of the enemy infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Alf was not only baptized there in his first firefight, he distinguished himself among his men and was recognized by his superior officers. Seven months later he completed his Special Forces training and was heading back to ‘Nam.

Lang Vei

Alf was first assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam, C Company, then in late 1967, to one of the ten so-called A-team camps of the Special Forces Operational Detachments known as SFOD-A101’’s. As in his first assignment, the A-team camps comprised a small Special Forces contingent advising Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDGs). He had been in the Mekong for the past five hot, humid, grueling months and was thrilled to be going up to the Central Highlands in Northwestern Quang Tri Province, south of the DMZ by less than 25 miles. The lower temperature alone was enough to cheer him.

He hitched a ride from Dong Ha, on the coast in the central region of Vietnam, up to Route 9 then West, a battered, deteriorated excuse for a road. His ride took him to Khe Sanh, later to become one of the most celebrated Marine combat bases in the whole of the war.

From there he made his way to Lang Vei, one of the SFOD bases, located about five miles West of the Khe Sanh village toward the Laos border and the Ho Chi Minh trail. The village was a few miles southwest of the Khe Sanh combat base, whose defense was a major commitment of General Westmoreland. Some said the general was obsessed by the idea that it was a strategic target of the Peoples Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

It was early January 1968 and the winter monsoon season was miserable. Since American and ARVN forces were highly dependent on air cover, weather was a serious disability for supply and interdiction flights. Protection of Khe Sanh required manning several hills around it; in PAVN hands they would be devastating since the enemy could lay artillery shells directly on the base. There had been increasing sightings of PAVN troops since late 1967, and Marines from the Khe Sanh base were sporadically engaging enemy recon squads throughout the valley. When Alf arrived, accompanied by his NCO radioman and friend, Ronnie Biggam, all was quiet and was to remain so with only a few company-sized patrols during the following weeks. But reports that the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was planning the Tet offensive, confirmed by aerial reconnaissance, made the quiet foreboding.

Map of Lang Vei camp¹

At Lang Vei there were approximately 480 CDIG troops, almost exclusively Bru Montagnards, a French term for the mountain people who inhabited the Central Highlands. The Montagnards had occupied the mountains long prior to the arrival of the Vietnamese and Cambodians and, at the time of the war, included 30-some Degar tribes comprising a mix of ethnic backgrounds. Degars were not trusted by the NVA because they had largely converted to Western religions, and were suspected of collaborating with American and French forces. At the same time, their friendship was coveted by the Americans because the Ho Chi Minh trail was the primary supply line for the NVA invasion of the South and snaked its way through the Highlands and Degar territory. No one knew that area better than the Montagnards.

The Montagnards were welcome at Lang Vei, and Alf immediately took a liking to these courageous men who fought alongside the Americans throughout the ugly war. Alf also got on well with Captain Burklund, the Special Forces camp commander and his small band of two dozen Green Berets. The camp was heavily equipped, as Burklund demonstrated: 105 mm Howitzers, recoilless rifles, and other heavy automatic weapons. He had carefully planned the fire support, including coverage of Route 9 immediately to the North. He also explained to Alf that their mission was intelligence collection, as General Westmoreland was convinced the PAVN would be moving south and concentrating its divisions above Khe Sanh. Westie saw a set-piece war, and given the enormous American firepower, he welcomed it. He was not about to withdraw from Khe Sanh. Years later, he was highly criticized for the defense of Khe Sanh, which many believed was a diversionary tactic to clear the way for the Tet Offensive.

In January, the PAVN had crossed the Laos border and decimated the 33rd Laotian Elephant Battalion overrunning their camp at Ban Houei Sane. Stragglers from the 33rd were now reaching the Lang Vei camp. The news was highly disturbing. Alf and Captain Burklund listened as several of the 33rd troops reported that the PAVN had attacked the Sane village with armored equipment. Alf later recalled that the reports were dubious; rumors had circulated for months, as they always do when troops are expecting trouble, that the Russians had supplied the NVA with their light tanks. But no unit in the whole battle area had ever seen or heard such heavy armor. On the other hand, Ban Houei Sane was only nine miles away, and if the PAVN had mobile armor, the weaponry at Lang Vei was not capable of stopping an attack. Burklund requested supplies, both for the camp and the Laotian refugees who had fled Sane.

One week later, Alf led a patrol comprising three platoons that had encountered enemy troops. In the ensuing firefight, one CDIG was killed and four others injured. Alf returned to the base trying to assess the situation with Burklund. Alf told Burklund: If there is a major buildup of PAVN, there’s a good chance that a direct assault would overrun the camp.

Burklund agreed, but pointed out that tactical assessment kept giving them the same answer – neither Khe Sanh nor Lang Vei had any real strategic importance. Our position is near the Laos border, he said. It would be easy enough for the Tet assault to avoid a direct confrontation with Highlands American forces by passing through Laotian territory, where we couldn’t venture. But then again, General Giap, like Westmoreland may also be ready for a major confrontation: a massing of arms that could lead to a decisive military victory.

Alf nodded, but he was anxious. There were obvious inconsistencies in intelligence regarding the importance of Khe Sanh. He thought back to Washington, and wished he were skiing.

But trouble was coming. The NVA attacked the Khe Sanh village on January 21, 1968. Burklund had offered troops to reinforce any attack on the base, but Colonel Lownds refused any help. The result was that the village, directly in the path of potential reinforcements for Lang Vei, was occupied by the PAVN.

They saw an impending disaster. Burklund requested help from the Mike Force, a detachment at Ban Me Thuot with a contingent of Montagnards, battle-hardened fighters of the first class. They were airlifted into the Lang Vei camp where the troops continued running patrols, watching and waiting.

On February 6, at 18:00 the Lang Vei camp was subjected to a full-scale artillery and mortar attack. Alf understood immediately that it was the prelude to a mass ground attack – one that would likely occur that night, since the PAVN often attacked under cover of darkness in order to deprive the defenders of air support. At one o’clock on the morning of the 7th, the NVA 202nd Armored Regiment, fronted by 12 Russian PT-76 amphibious tanks, reached the perimeter wire of the Lang Vei camp. The first two were taken out by Special Forces Communicator James Holt, firing a 106 mm recoilless rifle; he was battling a third when his ammunition and life ran out. The NVA advanced, taking control of portions of the camp. Special Forces non-commissioned officers fired mortars at maximum elevation and zero charge on areas of the base that had been overrun by NVA. Within 30 minutes, the entire outer perimeter had been compromised. Then two tanks had attacked from the South and breached the inner perimeter while the same occurred on the North.

Map of Northern Quang Tri Province²

Based on earlier intelligence reports from the Laotians, the Lang Vei camp had been earlier supplied with Light Anti-tank Weapons (LAWs) – rockets that were capable of knocking out a tank. They turned out to be like gnats attacking elephants, though over the course of the day, the camp destroyed five more of the Russian tanks. It was ironic that while they had reported a tank on the other side of the Quang Tri river a week earlier, headquarters at Saigon had dismissed the report: You guys are just trying to make yourselves look good. The NVA haven’t got tanks. But by late January, aircraft had also spotted five tanks and had even taken out one of them.

When the early morning attack on the 7th began, as Sergeant John Early later reported, a trip flare bathed the perimeter in light. Two tanks were seen plainly visible, as was a horde of NVA rising and charging soldiers, so many that they were nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Sgt. Nicholas Fragos, a medical specialist in a tower, radioed Burklund shouting that there were tanks in the wire, which Early confirmed. Burklund quickly rounded up the LAW teams while Alf called the fire direction center and tried to convince leadership that there were tanks on their doorstep. The Mike Force was withdrawing under heavy fire. Alf finally got Khe Sanh artillery to lay rounds around the Lang Vei perimeter and strikes by an F-4 Phantom and an A1-E Skyraider offered some minor relief. Alf saw that the LAWs were ineffective against the tanks which were now within the perimeter; he and others began attacking the tanks with phosphorous grenades and when that failed, they mounted the tanks and tried to pry open the hatches. But by 03:00, the tanks rolled over the tactical operations center post and the adjoining bunker where two more of the Special Forces team were blown away by tank fire. While some of the CDIG were defecting, Alf was directing the few remaining Special Forces guys to withdraw and escape.

Colonel Lownds never provided the relief that was part of the agreed plan, which made escape perilous. When Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ladd, commander of the 5th Special Forces Group arrived at Khe Sanh to assist in its defense in the middle of the Lang Vei attack, he reportedly said he was astounded that the Marines, who prided themselves on leaving no man behind, were willing to write off all of the Green Berets and simply ignore the fall of Lang Vei. Lownds initially refused Ladd the use of the helicopters at Khe Sanh to assist until Westmoreland himself ordered the Marines to allow Ladd and his men to attempt a rescue. In the afternoon of the 7th, one medevac became available, which met Alf and the survivors – of the 24 Berets, 10 had been killed and 11 wounded. An escape column was proceeding East toward Khe Sanh and the rescue came in under heavy NVA fire. Alf and Ronnie struggled to reach the chopper as it impatiently awaited their run from the jungle brush into the landing zone. One of the Special Forces troops, Captain Bob Bloughman, jumped out of the chopper just as Ronnie was hit with automatic rifle fire and fell to the ground. A mine exploded near Alf shattering his leg; stumbling, he dragged Ronnie toward the chopper. A trooper on board grabbed Alf and pulled him onboard and it was the last that Alf recalled for several days.

Walter Reed Hospital

At first they told him that he would never be able to bend his knee, let alone walk, ski, or play tennis again. But that was a diagnosis of Alf’s leg, not his heart. He was at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington, D.C. for two years as they replaced bone with plastic in nine operations. Years later, as he grew older, a slight limp would appear when he arose from a chair. The hospital staff watched it heal, and watched a soldier rejoin the society that he had cursed when he was hit in that open clearing where he was picked up. He had left Ronnie there, one of many who died, with the last remains of his decimated platoon. The shock from the mine had left him partially blind, but his vision returned a year before his knee. A medic told him how lucky he was to have a going-home wound but Alf only had two words in response. Later, Alf realized just how fortunate he really was. He spent a year in physical therapy and was walking with a slight limp, which was improving every day, and he was alive.

It was at Walter Reed that Alf met a smart aleck therapist named Rose. Are you just going to mope around, soldier, or would you like to get well? she said when they met for the first time. Alf was in a funk that morning, blaming everyone from Nixon to his prosthetics manufacturer for his nagging pain. He had been badgered by better, but not prettier. She was on the short side of five feet, with flashing black-brown eyes and a smile that was as wide and full of teeth as any model’s. She wore her hair pulled back – a pile of pitch black, long luxurious tresses that glistened in the early morning sun on the deck of the hospital’s North wing.

What happened to Captain Queeg’s mother? Alf asked, referring to his last ogre of a physical therapist.

She’s gone to sea. Rose grinned.

Rowboat in a storm, I hope.

Don’t be so mean, Rose said. She was probably a sweet caring nurse at one time.

During the Spanish American war.

I’ll bet Teddy would have loved her. Rose laughed and said, Okay, wise guy, enough of the smart talk. Let’s get that knee cranking.

For the next three months she was there, five mornings a week, always chipper and smiling. Only once did her smile fade and her tone became serious when Alf casually asked her how she had ended up in Washington D.C.

Rose began by telling Alf she was from an old Cuban family. Her father’s father and his father before him had manufactured cigars for over a hundred years. They lived in Havana and life was good – servants, cars, and a huge sailboat. To demonstrate, Rose threw out her hands wide, reaching maybe four feet. Alf almost laughed, imagining a tiny boat equipped with a three-foot mast and a deck the size of a washboard.

Rose described the games she and her three older brothers had played on their front lawn, which was bigger than a football field. A man in black livery drove them to school each morning and would wait for them each night. When she was six, her mother became ill. Her father took her mother to see the best doctors on the island, but he was not satisfied with the prognosis, so they traveled to America to get a second opinion at Johns Hopkins. That news was not good either. Her father returned preoccupied and worried and his manner changed from sweet to strict. I thought it was only because of my mother’s health, Rose said. She died from cervical cancer only a few months after that, and with her went the world into which I was born.


It was from Rose that Alf learned something about silent tyranny that day – a lesson on the dangers of government overreach which would affect his outlook for years to come.

It turned out that father was not only overcome by the loss of mother, Rose said. There were storm clouds over Cuba and by that I mean Castro had seized power. Three years after the passing of my mother, Daddy lost everything stripped away by this madman. Rose was visibly angry, her voice rising in pitch and volume. Castro was a putrid, rancid man with megalomaniac ambitions but lacking the vision to see beyond the end of his bayonet. When the true Cubans tried to free us in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs invasion – the one sabotaged by your President Kennedy – Daddy was picked up by the Castro gangs and was suffocated in the truck trailers where dangerous old men were put to death. There are those who praise Castro and describe him as a great benefactor of the people of Cuba. I hate them. They are ignorant.

Staring straight ahead as if hypnotized in recalling her past, Rose continued: I was only nine when Daddy died but he had made sure I would be able to leave Cuba. The year earlier, he had sent me and my brothers to live with the family of one of our maids in Matanzas. They idolized Castro, which caused me much pain and confusion, but they needed money. Daddy paid them to take me on a trip to Washington where we met my Uncle Ernesto who lived in Miami and operated the warehouse distribution center for the cigar business. Uncle Ernesto brought me into his family and raised me like one of his own daughters. My brothers disappeared – I never heard from two of them again and Emilio, the youngest, was indoctrinated by the Castro provocateurs that haunted the Central American republics for the next 20 years. Later, I heard that he had become a leader in the Sandinistas and was killed in Nicaragua. Taking a deep breath and pausing to conclude her story, Rose flatly said, I have no real memory of Emilio beyond early childhood and because of that, I hate to say it, I am not sorry if he died fighting for Castro and his hoodlums.

Alf was sympathetic. So how did you get here?

Uncle Ernesto sent all his children to the best schools he could afford. My father had been suspicious of Castro’s intentions and his capabilities as early as the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. He had begun to transfer more of the money not directly employed in the cigar business to purchase property in California. Uncle Ernesto said father was always most comfortable in California when he visited the United States – not just for the climate, but for the Hispanic influence. Fortunately, his real estate investments did very well and there was plenty of money available for my education and upbringing, though the bulk of his funds were later channeled into efforts to free relatives and strangers from Castro terrorism.

I found California much to my liking too, so when I graduated high school, I decided to go to the University of California. My uncle’s brother-in-law lived in Los Angeles and had an accounting firm there. He was an incredible man, more than I knew at first, because he turned out to be a leading collector of money from Cuban exiles living on the West Coast – funds that he then distributed to impoverished Cubans who escaped the island.

Rose had graduated with a degree in nursing, then obtained a degree in physical therapy. She had taught and practiced at the UCLA medical center for four more years and when the United States began sending troops to Vietnam, she became attracted to the military.

At this point in her story, Alf found himself focused on her delicate hand movements that rose and fell like hand signals from a conductor and complemented every word. Rose, finally snapping out of her distant stare, felt embarrassed thinking that she spilled her life story on a patient that asked a simple question of how she ended up in Washington D.C. Clearing her throat and gaining Alf’s full attention, she concluded I think I saw the Viet Cong as brothers of the Castro monsters so I applied for a position at a military medical center and that is how I ended up here as a physical therapist at Walter Reed."

She smiled at Alf, and he smiled back.

Mrs. Alf Henders

A year later they were married, fittingly, at the hospital chapel. She was a practicing Catholic and Alf was willing to accept any religion she believed in, though he never let on that he had no real commitment to the faith that was in the marrow of her bones. Then again, he never suspected that she knew he went through the motions for her, not her God. It was a beautiful détente.

Alf still had one year left in his commitment to the Army, which provoked the only genuine dispute the two ever had. His company commander had been promoted to colonel while Alf was recovering at Walter Reed. Colonel Burklund was now in charge of strategic planning for the eventual withdrawal of troops and was faced with the painful decision of seeing that some good could still result from the American blood that had been spilled there.

Burklund was a realist. He had already decided that the American press and the intellectuals had placed the seal of death on victory. They wanted out, the Vietnamese be damned. If the Cong won, Burklund thought, the future of the country would depend on Russian support. But if the Russians left them hanging, an internal force might still be able to gain some freedom through the push for pro-democratic leaders. They needed a core, and that was Burklund’s mission. He wanted Alf to be a part of it.

Burklund knew Alf as a hands-on fearless soldier, capable and smart, and committed to the cause that the United States had undertaken, right or wrong. He knew that in his short time there, Alf had made contacts within the Vietnam liberation forces and he hoped that Alf could work through them to forge a group that would remain loyal to the United States – the kind of people they could trust to establish a grassroots force that might survive the end, whatever that might be.

Alf had enormous respect for the colonel. He could not say no, but his wife could.

You are a fool, Alf, she shouted. You want to die? Haven’t I lost enough lives? My father? My brothers?

Back to Vietnam

What could Alf say that would help? She had lived through so much death. And he knew that going back was flirting with the haymaker. Behind the lines or in front, there were more killing machines than rice bowls. The only time you knew that someone you trusted merited that trust was when they were dead, killed by the Cong.

But Alf was the kind of man who committed to something and finished the job. There’s work to be done, he said. Maybe if it is done sooner rather than later, it will save more lives. I have mine. I want the other guys to have theirs.

Alf had never seen Rose cry. He wanted to cry with her. He wanted to take her into his arms and assure her that he would be back. But he understood that she was as familiar with death as he. Perhaps more, as recent death is more easily borne than earlier death that lingers in the memory for years and years until it becomes a part of your every-waking thought – never intrusive, just a background noise that colors each scene and echoes in each voice. The younger you are, the deeper that death imprints on your mind.

Alf left a week later, and Rose remained at Walter Reed. Rose’s letters were warm and forgiving, showing cheer as time went on, and even playful humor. She never mentioned that confrontation, not while he was there and never after. For his part, Alf did as he was bid. He was a lot more cautious than his last trip which he often thought about. It was as if he did not want to disappoint Rose by returning dead.

The end in Saigon came quickly and faster than Colonel Burklund had anticipated. They did what they could but it was time for them to leave. The next day as they headed back to the United States, they both had the same thing on their minds – what were they going to do with their lives now.

Alf had degrees in geology and astronomy, though he told Burklund he had been thinking about going oil exploring.

What in the Hell would you want to do that for? My daddy was an oilman and the only thing true he ever said to me was: ‘Son, don’t be an oilman – be one of those damn lawyers like your uncle Jake.’ So that’s what I did before being pulled into the Army. I’m giving you the same advice – Alf, be one of those damn lawyers like me.

They both laughed, but Alf did not reply.

Give it some thought, Alf. My old office – where I’m headed once I muster out – is right on K Street, inside the beltway. We need a tough, young guy. Especially one who loves his country.

Burklund drifted off to sleep and Alf stared out the window. He had Rose to get back to and with her by his side, he felt he did not need a plan.

Alf Henders, Esq.

After persistent prodding and a powerful letter of recommendation, Burklund finally talked Alf into giving law school a shot. Three years later, Alf graduated near the top of his class at George Washington School of Law. After his first year, he clerked for Burklund, who was restoring his reputation as a take-no-prisoners trial lawyer.

Burklund represented some of the biggest oil companies in the country. He may not have become an oilman like his father, but he had enough passion for the industry to defend it, and he gave it his full commitment. His philosophy was that of a criminal lawyer: even bad people needed representation. It just so happened that his bad clients were rich and powerful. Alf joined Burklund and followed in his footsteps, assisting his former colonel in everything: big antitrust cases, foreign corruption and bribery suits, and even a manslaughter charge against a vice president’s wayward kid. No matter the cause, there was a right to representation. Alf told himself that a thousand times.

But over time, it sounded increasingly tinny. He liked the courtroom, but he did not like the way that law elided into politics in Washington. Everyone seemed to be on the make, and the make was power. Money was trash; it came with power but was not worth seeking on its own.

Alf began to understand the Vietnam war more and more each day. He settled into a split life. He loved the sweet smell of napalm in the courtroom: words and actions that blew the other side out of the water. He watched and learned how the judge or jury reacted. He developed a sense for the dramatic, but learned how easy it was to go too far. He found that surprise was as valuable in the courtroom as on the killing fields. He learned to bluff – and to call. He began to see that a witness was not a man or woman, but a collection of words waiting to be loosed. The questions that enticed the right words were the tools.

The other part of his life was the time he spent with Rose. Every minute not in the office was for her, and interruptions to their time together were not suffered lightly. They could be alone in a crowd. They could catch sight of one another from far across one of those receptions where you met the right people, and with a wink they were out the door and heading for a quiet walk through their little neighborhood where Washington was forgotten until Monday morning. If Alf had planned his life, he thought, he could not have done as well.

California Dreaming

Then seven years later, Rose received a call from her Aunt Sarah that Uncle Paulo had passed on. It seemed there was some trouble with the IRS. Large funds had passed through the accounting firm, redirected to accounts in Mexico and in Costa Rica and other Central American countries. The IRS was claiming millions of dollars in back taxes. Sarah did not think they had more than a few thousand dollars in the bank, let alone millions. She had signed income tax returns, but who knew what that meant? Could Rose and Alf come out to see her in Los Angeles?

Of course, we’ll be there next Wednesday, Alf said without hesitating. Burklund was very understanding : Alf, you stay there as long as you need. And remember that we have friends in high places. I know how you feel about influence other than in the courtroom, but we’re here to help. I know you’ll stand tall.

And he did. It was messy, but Alf saw to it that no one was hurt. The IRS closed the case four and a half months later. The FBI said they were not interested; the foreign elements kept it outside of their jurisdiction. Alf never knew whether he was better than he thought at settling affairs or if he was a benefactor of an unknown source and he did not really care, so long as Rose and her family were safe and secure. He knew that Rose was paying back some of her debt and getting satisfaction from what her uncle’s money was doing.

When Alf and Rose returned to Washington, they sensed that something had changed. They had spent more time together in L.A. than usual and now those 14 hour days and begrudged weekends preparing for trial did not seem quite so normal. They began talking about Alf shifting to a less consuming practice.

We really don’t need the money, Alf. I can make more nursing in private practice than for the government if you think we need it. You could work less. And maybe even relax on a Friday afternoon. You might even be less grouchy on Monday mornings. But she smiled.

The only reason I’m grouchy on Monday mornings, assuming that fact to be in evidence, is that I can’t spend as much time with you, Alf said.

Is that your jury persona I’m hearing?

He grinned back.

Seriously Alf, I know it is insane, but I felt at home back in L.A.

Sure, Rose, maybe you could get a job in the psychiatry department at the medical center, he teased. Surely they have reduced rates for their own. But he gave it a little thought. If you are thinking about California, how about Eureka?

Too cold.

San Clemente.

Bad surf, she joked.


So windy!


Too many wine snobs.


Too expensive.

Have you been thinking about this seriously behind my back?

Rose laughed. She looked at Alf with that I’m-just-a-sweet-young-thing look and Alf knew that she had been doing more than thinking about L.A.

Have you picked out a house yet?

Rose just smiled demurely and nodded her head up and down.


Sherman Oaks.

Within a month, Alf was turning in his resignation to Burklund.

Alf, I hate to lose you, but I know you will be at my side at every trial, in and out of court, for the rest of my days. I won’t say goodbye. I know a few people in L.A. myself, you know. And Alf. . . .

I know, sir. And thanks to you I will stand tall.

Alf walked out of Burklund’s office and for the first time that he could remember, he had to push away what could have been a tear. He smiled to himself – standing tall and crying, sir.



Now I need to tell you about another litigator, cut from different cloth, but equally suited to the courtroom. To love your country you do not need to die for it. Nor approve of the fools who lead us into wars based on specious reasoning and misguided pride. You can be a nationalist and still not accept every cockamamie governmental policy or pronouncement. You can be a critic and still love your country. Indeed, you criticize because you love your country.

Yet often it takes a precipitating event to develop this awareness, this balance, and a clear view. For one stellar advocate as I will relate, it was the war in Vietnam that led him to a mature view of America. But he was not tempered by the fires of war, or at least not the kind of war involving bullets and bombs. He lived through different fires in the 1960’s, the kind where cities burned in riots as citizens turned against an oppressive and imbalanced government. While some might see death as the great, unfortunate equalizer, this man pursued equality in life. His passion was for his fellow human beings: the poor, the minorities, and the oppressed. A love for justice above politics. For fairness above class advantage. And a desire to fight the grasping of entrenched, self-seeking institutions – corporations, NGOs, religious entities, scientific bodies, armed forces, and political parties.

One of the avenues for checking the unbridled lust for power is the court of law. It requires steely nerve to facedown these centers of power before judges who typically are products of these same institutions. It calls for people who will step up and be counted. Abe Stein was one of them.

Vietnam – Another View

One April morning in Upper Manhattan, Abe Stein exited the 116th Street subway station and headed toward the philosophy department at Columbia University, where he was in his third year studying political science. The air in Morningside Heights was stuffy, acrid, and smelled of warm garbage. The tension from the confrontations of the last few days was palpable.

1968 was already shaping up to be a very rough year. This was the era of anarchy, or at least as close to anarchy as this nation had ever experienced. Martin Luther King had been killed earlier that month. Students for a Democratic Society, affectionately known as the SDS, had been agitating on campus for months. Matters had come to a head after the university had taken a local park as land for a segregated gymnasium, angering the Harlem black community and those fighting segregation. The Beatles had revolutionized music in 1964, but by 1968, the industry was starting to take a darker turn to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Petula Clark and Bobby Goldsboro were still topping the charts, but as Bob Dylan had said a few years earlier, the times were a-changing.

It was the second day of the sit-in at the office of Grayson Kirk, the President of Columbia University, and the Vietnam war was at the front of Abe’s mind. One of the many targets of the SDS was the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a consortium that had

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