Archive for August, 2014

Death by a Thousand Cuts

August 14, 2014

From a local news story. Chronicle-Telegram 8-12-14

“It’s a tragic case because this is a  guy who’s never done anything wrong in his life,” said Dan Wightman, a defense attorney  to Joseph Satava III.

What could Satava allegedly have done? First time DUI? Minor misdemeanor shoplifting? Child, animal or spousal abuse? Possibly, any number of things so minor it shouldn’t have been featured across a front page headline.

No, Mr Satava has been accused of embezzeling 2.9 million from a state wide insurance company since 1997. If Mr Satava had picked up a pack of gum and either knowingly or unknowingly didn’t pay for it, and the state put him on trial, that would be tragic and a miscarriage of justice.

Systematically bilking a company that I pay premiums to is well…criminal.

Lying to your family is the first cut of thousands to end your life.

I’ve needed lawyers in my life. I have railed against lawyers in my life. When you need one it’s good to have one.

Mr Wightman’s statement is not a single cut of thousands, but an ugly gash across the throat. Is there any wonder why our society regards lawyers poorly?


Mr Wightman gets paid for it.

It’s a funny business, if I lie to my customers, I lose customers.


He Ran Out of Days

August 6, 2014

One morning, I sat in bed drinking my first cup of coffee. Matt Lauer of the Today Show was interviewing Bill O’Reilly from the Fox Network. They were kvetching and laughing at each other.

My wife walked into the room, glanced at the tube, and said, “I wonder if anyone’s told him he’s lost his biggest fan?”

We both knew who she meant. One of the worst things anyone could do was to call her parents during the O’Reilly Hour. If she wanted to talk to her mother, that was fine, but my wife had better call during a commercial break. Heaven forbid if the ringing telephone and the monumental physical effort of reaching for the receiver broke Dave’s concentration of hanging on O’Reilly’s every word. The mantle of conservative dogma had settled firmly on my father-in-law’s shoulders.

Months back, I was listening with one ear to a conversation my wife was having with her mother. Bobbi held the receiver to her chest and asked, “What is roe-goo?”

“The stuff that holds fish eggs together?” I shrugged my shoulders. “Or spaghetti sauce. Spell it.”

“R-O-G-U-E. They’re reading a new book, going roe-goo.”

Now I knew we were in trouble. They were reading Sarah Palin’s new book. “That’s pronounced, roe-ga, as in rogue elephant or roguish good looks.”

Bobbi looked at me and raised her eyebrows. “She doesn’t know what that means.” She turned back to the phone, “Ma–!”

“It means going it alone or outside of the mainstream.” I muttered to no one listening. I remembered watching video of Palin wading out into a stream and blowing away a salmon with buckshot. If she used dynamite it would do less damage to the fish. My father-in-law loved fishing and hunting. The vision of a little slip of a woman in hip waders and a shotgun killing really big fish must have really got his juices flowing.

I went back to my paper. I’ve only known Dave for twenty years. He hasn’t liked any President in that time. Clinton was a cigar philanderer. Bush plunged us into a war, and Obama, well, I can’t imagine Dave thought there was any connection to him other than they were both male. If it wasn’t for Michelle, he probably would have wondered about that also.

Dave took a tumble a week or two back. He was life-flighted to Metro General because he sustained head trauma and resultant multiple brain bleeds. He hit the mark with the cognitive tests of name, date, year, and so forth until the doctors asked him, “Who is the President?” He thrust out his chin and pursed his lips. “George Bush,” he answered shaking his head.

Bobbi said from his bed side, “Dad, tell the truth.”

I can only hope I have as much grace in the end as my father-in-law had.


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