Category Archives: Children

How One Lawyer’s Mistake Changed History

I have always thought that if it were not for Clinton’s sex life, Al Gore would have won in 2000, Gore probably would not have invaded Iraq, the U.S. would probably have better environmental policy, and the world as we know it today would be different and likely better (I’m not the biggest Bush fan).  From time to time it strikes me (and I define “strike” as a “holy shit!” moment which raises the eye brows to their maximum height for a solid five seconds) how one person’s libido could be so geopolitically potent.  But apparently, though Clinton’s private behavior was scandalous, it was not potent enough on its own to change electoral history.  For that, credit goes to Clinton’s lawyer.

I was only 13 when the Lewinsky scandal story broke, so it has always been, as many news stories you hear when you are younger, a collection of unanalyzed facts in my head, such as the theory that bridges crossing water are maintained by government enslaved turtles which your brother pedantically explains to you when you are four years old which makes you inexplicably sad as as you drive over bridges as an adult.   Gleeful liberation comes from taking a half-second to discover these pockets of unanalyzed thoughts and, in many cases, going through the process of having an opinion, reversing it absolutely, being strangely ashamed of your former opinion, and doing it all so nearly simultaneously that you guffaw, give a high pitched “hee hee,” and sigh happily in rapid succession.

In recent years, I subjected the Clinton scandal to a half-second analysis which left me wondering, “Why in the world did a sitting president testify under oath about his sex life?”

So I was excited that while going through a 14 lecture series by Alan Dershowitz, called “Fundamental Cases of the 20th Century,” I heard the full story.  I would recommend the series.  He deals with all the major trials, as well as a number of trials in which he personally played a role, including the O.J. Simpson trial, the Mike Tyson rape trial, Claus von Bulow‘s alleged murder of his wife Sunny, and some others.  He’s articulate and not afraid to share his opinion when he can.  For instance, Dershowitz blames Clinton’s impeachment on Robert Bennett, Clinton’s lawyer, awarding him the coveted prize of having made the biggest legal mistake in the last century.

In short, Clinton was being sued by Paula Jones, a former State of Arkansas employee, for sexual harassment.  Clinton’s lawyer instructed Bill Clinton that he had to testify under oath about his sex life, and Clinton did as he was advised… and that was the ball game.  However, Clinton did not have to give that deposition.  He could have settled (he ultimately was forced to anyway).  He could have been charged with contempt of court.  He could have easily given a public statement saying that preparing to give a deposition takes too much time, and that he was willing to settle and move on in order to get on with the important business of the country.  In other words, though it would have been a little bumpy politically for a few days, not giving a deposition on his sex life would have worked.  Apparently it is really hard representing powerful people because you have to tell them things they do not want to hear such as, “you obviously can’t speak truthfully and acceptably about your sex life.”  So I suppose it was Bennet’s lack of cajones, rather than Clinton’s overabundance of them, that led the nation down this causal train.

Incidentally, years after the impeachment, Alan Dershowitz talked to Clinton about it at a party.  Clinton shared with him that Bennett never gave any option except testifying under oath about his sex life.

Since childhood, I had always assumed the president had got into trouble for lying just like 13 year old Jeremy might get into trouble for lying.  But apparently, lying does not automatically mean you are in trouble with the Feds.

GUFFAW, heehee (high pitched), sigh.

The end.

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Captain Abraham Lincoln: An Invitation to Story

While reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln recently, I saw this little tidbit that seemed worth sharing.  It reminds me of a similar story from my own family’s history.  

Thomas Lincoln named his son “Abraham” after the boy’s grandfather, Captain Abraham Lincoln, who fought in the Revolutionary War.  Once little Abe was old enough, Thomas told the story of how his namesake died.

After the War for Independence, Captain Lincoln moved his family to Kentucky, where they lived on disputed Indian lands.  One warm day in May, 1786, Thomas recounts, when he was just six, he went out with his brothers Josiah, age 8, and Mordecai, age 14, and their father to work the fields.  Suddenly a shot rang out from the woods nearby and Father collapsed.

Thomas stood transfixed in the crackling calm of shock–staring at his father.  Josiah took off sprinting to Hughes Station, where settlers gathered in the event of Indian attack, calling for help as he ran.  Mordecai hustled to the cabin where the family kept a loaded musket.  A figure emerged from the forest and moved towards Captain Lincoln’s body, towards Thomas.

Mordecai, quick to the cabin, grabbed the musket next to the door, turned, and saw the figure for the first time, an Indian, standing above his Father.  Gasping, Mordecai yelled and stumbled towards his Father and Thomas, the heavy rifle causing him to lose his balance and fall.  Thomas, still in shock, turned to the Indian, who was now reaching towards Thomas, who Mordecai thought was about to be killed or carried off.

In that second, 14 year old Mordecai rose to his feet, took aim, and fired, hitting the Indian in the chest and killing him instantly.  Bathsheba Lincoln, Abraham’s grandmother, was left a widow with five underage children.

Thomas Lincoln’s story had a powerful affect on young Abraham.  “The story of his death by the Indians,” President Lincoln later wrote, “and of Uncle Mordecai, then fourteen years old, killing one of the Indians, is the legend more strongly than all others imprinted on my mind and memory.”

I started loving history when I realized that the figures of history are just as real as you or I.  I started feeling socially responsible when I realized the future, though unknown, is still infinitely more real than the best fiction.  Connecting the past, the present, and the future, are stories–stories that formed us before we were born, and, through the telling, continue to form us today.  For Lincoln, his Father’s account of his grandfather’s death was such a story.  For me, my Father has told me a family story with similar effect.  I have invited him to re-tell it on my blog.  I also invite any of my readers, if you have a family legend, a connection to the past, which strongly imprinted itself on “mind and memory,” please share it on my blog.  The door is open.


Fire

After I first began lifting weights and started getting pretty buff, I was ready for music camp.  My mom was always trying to get me to go to camps.  I hated going because I stuttered.  I would have to introduce myself and stutter on my name, then they would think I’m either stupid or telling a joke, which for me amounted to the same thing.  But Mom would make me go anyway.  Though it was hard, today I am thankful for her kick out the door.

One of the last nights of music camp they built a bonfire.  The flickering light emboldened me to strike up a conversation with one of the girls I had a crush on.   Anna was as gorgeous as a 7th grader could be, and I suspected that she was interested in me too.  But as we were trying keenly to entertain each other, another guy makes a move.  He walks up and makes as if to join the discussion.  At that moment I am saying something and stuttering heavily.  He chimes in with a loud, dull voice, “st-st-st-st-stupid.”

Anger rises in me.  Thoughts flutter in my brain.  “He’s mocking me…my stuttering…he’s mocking me about stuttering in front of a hot girl…he’s small and annoying.”  In a flash of rage, I see a vision of myself grabbing his belt buckle with my near arm, grabbing his collar with my other hand, pulling him towards me and, in one smooth motion, turning him upside down and throwing him into the fire.  I lean towards him with my hands tense.

I pause.  “Holy crap,” I think to myself, “I am going to kill this kid.”

I realized something about myself that day.  I was now powerful enough to do real damage.  A child can get mad, throw tantrums, and punch blindly with consequences amounting to a handful of bruises at most.  But the tantrums of men can kill.

Anyway, though I didn’t throw him into the fire, I still got the little bastard.  Anna was disgusted by him and sympathized with me.  Stuttering always gets the girls.

This is another myth.

 Also, I wanted to say thanks to all that responded, privately and publicly, to the “Loved in Hell” post.  And in other news, Alicia gets back in less than 2 weeks!