Archive for Books

City of Spies

It might have been lifted out of a spy novel–the caller, without identifying himself, simply referred to “the interview you requested…” The instructions that followed asked me to have the front desk contact “Mr. Winter” and, when cleared, directed to his room.  So, on a hot summer day in 1962, I drove from the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to meet with a CIA recruiter.

I knew, even then, that “Mr. Winter” was not his real name, but it was kind of sexy going through the charade. “Mr. Winter” fit the profile of what, in those days, was the stereotypical CIA spook – tall, Waspish, Navy-blue suit, white shirt, rep silk Club tie and the bearing of a Yale graduate. I don’t remember a thing about the interview except that it was business-like. I never heard another word from “Mr. Winter” or The Company.

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He’s Back…

No, not The Terminator; this time it’s Sebastian Lukacs Gorka, the red faced, bespectacled, Mephistopheles-like, Hungarian troll. Truth to tell, he never left; though on May 1, 2017, under pressure, the White House announced his imminent departure. Today (August 15), three and a half months later, four minority caucuses in the House of Representatives are again calling on the White House to fire the Deputy Assistant Advisor to the President – for his remarks in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy.

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Mix Up Some New Kool Aid!

I grew up knowing America was the greatest country on the planet, that it offered its citizens the most opportunities for advancement, that its judicial system was the fairest, that it had the best education system in the world, that its elected officials (usually) respected the rule of law, and that politics was about more than money. I was proud to be an American. I still am, but these things are no longer true. We need to make a fresh batch of Kool Aid. Times have changed.

How do you fit in this picture?

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Joe Diedrich (1927-2017)

Yesterday would have been his 90th birthday. He had been in poor health for almost a year and in September when I spoke to him for the last time he acknowledged that the end was in sight. Two weeks ago I sent him an email. His wife responded with the news that he died the day after he received it.

Men aren’t particularly good at grieving though we commonly talk about it when a friend leaves us. Still, Joe wasn’t like anyone else and grieving doesn’t really describe my feelings. Regret is probably better. Regret that I won’t see him in Mallorca as planned this fall, and regret that I won’t hear more of his self-deprecating stories and biting commentary on the world.

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Herma Hill Schreter Kay (1934-2017)

Professor Herma Hill Kay died at her home in San Francisco on June 10, 2017. She was a respected teacher, colleague, and personality at Boalt Hall, the University of California’s law school in Berkeley for 57 years. After obtaining her undergraduate degree (magna cum laude) in anthropology from Southern Methodist University she attended the University of Chicago law school, and after a year as the law clerk for Roger Traynor, legendary Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, she began her tenure as a law school professor at Boalt. I never had a class with Professor Kay and can’t claim her as a friend, but we did have one funny encounter in Seattle years after I left California.

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