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Tacitus' Realm / Proposed Joint Resolution No.666 Supporting Israel
« on: December 02, 2011, 10:06:05 AM »
Proposed Joint Resolution No.666 Supporting Israel

1. As you all know, we here at Mantiq al-Tayr always try to be of service. In light of the recent events in international waters in the Mediterranean where hoards of peace activists landed by helicopter at night onto the decks of helpless Israeli commando boats and beat the shit out of the commandos, killed somewhere between 10 and 20 of them, and then hauled these commando boats and their pacifist commando passengers to Tehran where they were forced to sign papers written in Farsi that said they acknowledge that Israeli hummus is nothing but a cheap imitation of the  hummus served to Hasan Nasrallah every morning; in light of all this, the whole team here at Mantiq al-Tayr has jumped to action. In order to save time for Israel’s representatives in both the US House and Senate – many of whom have been on vacation – probably in Israel or maybe even at “Man’s Country” – we have drawn up a joint House and Senate resolution condemning the violence perpetrated against Israel and supporting as violent an Israeli response as possible. This joint resolution is based on the Senate resolution back in January of 2009, sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (Likud, Nevada) and co-sponsored by 31 other Senators that sided with Israel in its self defense against the murderous women and children of the Gaza Strip.

We suggest cutting and pasting the draft resolution below and faxing it to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as well as to your own representatives and that you demand that they bring this resolution to a vote by June 8th, 2010.

Now, now, I can hear you all bitching and moaning “Mantiq, we don’t even know who are representatives are, never mind their fax numbers. We gave up on the government years ago. We’d like to help, but we don’t know where to turn.”

Once again it’s Mantiq to the rescue. First of all, here is Nancy Pelosi’s fax number:  202-225-8259

Here is Harry Reid’s fax number: 202-224-7327

And  here you can get the fax numbers of every single Representative and Senator.

Below is the proposed text of Joint Resolution 666. Fax away folks.

Joint Senate and House Resolution 666

Whereas the Freegaza movement is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and of the Jewish people;

Whereas Rache Corrie got what she deserved;

Whereas members of both Houses are on a mission from God to serve the state of Israel;

Whereas the majority of members of Congress place Israel’s interest over those of the American people;

Whereas the aforementioned members of Congress are a bunch of pussies when it comes to standing up to Israel;

Whereas the Zionist Lobby has a death grip on the entire legislative branch;

Whereas some members of the Senate, such as Charles Schumer, play roles which are “very important in the United States senate, which is for us to be shomers guardians to be a or the shomers of Yisrael. And we will continue to be that with every bone in our bodies…”

Whereas other members of the legislative branch, such as Deborah Wasserman-Schultz, “ want to be able to maximize our abilities to advance the interests of Israel”;

Whereas both chambers of the Legislative branch agree with Ms. Wasserman-Schultz  when she stated “The more advocates for Israel in America, the better.”

Whereas other members of Congress, such as Jane Harman – known to many Americans as “Mossad Jane” – are in close contact with Israeli agents;

Whereas the “Israel Project’s” advisory board is composed of one American actor and 22 members of the House and Senate, to wit:

?Evan Bayh D-IN
?Ben Cardin, D-MD
?Saxby Chambliss, R-GA
?Tom Coburn R-OK
?Norm Coleman, R-MN
?Susan Collins, R-ME
?Judd Gregg, R NH
?Joe Lieberman, I-CT
?Bill Nelson, D-FL
?Gordon Smith, R-OR
?Arlen Specter, R-PA
?Ron Wyden, D-OR
?Rob Andrews, D-NJ
?Shelley Berkley, D-NV
?Tom Davis, R-VA
?Eliot Engel, D-NY
?Frank Pallone, D-NJ
?Jon Porter, R-NV
?John Sarbanes, D-MD
?Jim Saxton, R-NJ
?Brad Sherman, D-CA
?Joe Wilson, R-SC
?Ron Silver, Actor & Director

Whereas many members of the House and the Senate have received free trips to Israel and have flown on Israel Project helicopters so as to see how serious the threat of peace in the region is to Israel’s well-being;

Whereas many members of the House and Senate are sex perverts whose pictures no doubt grace the walls of the classified spaces in the Israeli embassy in Washington DC;

Whereas Wayne Madsen has exposed one of our favorite hideouts in Chicago, “Man’s Country”, which now we can’t go to anymore thanks to White House proclivities in the same direction and man that pisses us off, now it’s back to tapping our shoes in mens’ bathrooms and we can’t tell you how much that sucks, but we digress;

Whereas many of us are being blackmailed;

Whereas we are all a bunch of cowards;

Whereas we support Israel’s murder of not only as many Palestinians as possible but also of the men of the USS LIBERTY;

Whereas we never did a f**king thing about the USS LIBERTY and never will;

Whereas the Executive Branch is riddled with Israeli spies;

Resolved,  that the Senate and the House –

(1)    express vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and racist state with ever-expanding borders, and recognize its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens by engaging in the wanton murder of defenseless civilians – men, women and children – even if and especially if these individuals are American citizens;

(2)   encourage the Israeli Genocidal Forces (IGF) to torpedo the MV Rachel Corrie the same way they torpedoed the USS LIBERTY, only this time we ask that the IGF not f**k this one up and actually sink the ship and blame it on Iran;

(3)   demand that the Palestinians who dare to live in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and inside the so-called green-line, renounce their God-given given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, just as our founding fathers would have had them do;

(4)   believe strongly that the US must commit to fighting more wars for Israel and hence recommend that the Joint Chiefs of Staff be placed directly under the command of the head of Israel’s armed forces so as make de-jure what is already de-facto.

(5) Will move Washington, D.C. to Jerusalem. Enough disingenuous hypocrisy is enough. We are Israel and there is NO light between Israel and the U.S;
(appropriate moment of grovelling and Israeli ass-kissing, holding of breath, and continue)

(6) blame Iran for EVERYTHING that has EVER happened that the U.S. simply does NOT like;

(7) cannot wait to double Israel’s annual tribute, in line with the ‘Shoah business’ slogan of ‘Six billion for six million!;

(8 ) support changing the 50 stars in the American flag to six-pointed ones instead of five-pointed ones. And how about just two wide blue stripes, instead of all them pinko red ones?;

(9) nominate Nancy Pelosi to sing the Israeli national anthem ‘Hatikvah’ to open the World Series, repeating her performance of singing it to a Jewish lobby group in the aftermath of 9/11;

(10) demand changing the name of the US dollar to the ‘shekel,’ so that collaborationist Christianity [a/k/a 'Judaism for Gentiles'] can solicit its dwindling membership to contribute ‘shekels for Shabbat,’ for Christ’s sake;

(11) recommend the US Navy string an eruv around the entire border and seacoast of the U.S., with federal funding under the ‘Freedom to Schlep Act’;

(12) will double federal funding for the U.S. Holocaust Museum to $60 million, under the Shoah business slogan of ‘six gets you sixty’;

(13) will order the Library of Congress to annex the Balfour Declaration to the U.S. Declaration of Independence;

(14) proudly proclaim May 14th, the date of Israel’s founding, as a paid holiday for Congress and federal workers;

(15) endorse Israel’s right to proclaim victimhood 365 days a year and 366 days during leap years.

2. If you would like to add items to either the “Whereas” or “Resolved” sections, post them in the comments. If they are approved by the team here, I’ll add them to the body of the resolution.

« on: November 14, 2011, 04:00:57 PM »


April 23rd 2002- April 17th 2009

News Items / Rotenberg: end of shock of 'new admissions'
« on: November 07, 2011, 08:56:31 PM »
BELOW is a forwarded email from Disability Rights International, that
Rotenberg Center has been ordered to stop shocking 'new admissions,'
which is a ....... step in right direction to closing this torture facility.

JRC Banned from Shocking New Admissions

Dear Supporters,

This week we can celebrate a major victory against torture of people
with disabilities in the United States.

The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) adopted
new regulations last week that greatly restrict the intentional use of
pain as a form of treatment - including the use of electric shock,
seclusion, and restraints on young children and adults with
disabilities. As documented by a recent report by Disability Rights
International (DRI), Torture Not Treatment, The Judge Rotenberg Center
(JRC), based in Canton, Massachusetts, has used these practices,
called "aversive treatment" for decades.

Facilities licensed by the DDS in Massachusetts can no longer subject
new admissions to severe behavioral interventions including electric
shock, long-term restraint, or aversives that pose risk for
psychological harm -- in other words, mainstays of JRC's "treatment"

No other institution in the country - or the world, as far as we can
tell - uses such barbaric practices. DRI's investigation found that
the pain caused by this is so severe and outside accepted professional
norms, that these practices constitute nothing less than torture. By
permitting such treatment, the United States violates its obligations
under international law, as defined by the UN Convention Against
Torture. DRI filed our report, Torture Not Treatment, in 2010 as an
urgent appeal to the United Nations. The top official on torture at
the United Nations agreed with DRI, and when asked by ABC Nightline if
the practices were torture, he declared, "Yes...I have no doubts about
it. It is inflicted in a situation where a victim is powerless...a
child in the restraint chair, being then subjected to electric shocks,
how more powerless can you be?"

We applaud Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on taking a courageous
stand by issuing an executive order for the Massachusetts DDS to
review their policies regarding electric shock and other severe

The resulting new policy puts an end to the use of JRC's electric
shocks on new admissions. But we can't declare success yet. While
hundreds of children will be spared from JRC's behavioral experiments
in the future, the new policies do not stop JRC from shocking and
causing psychological damage to children already placed in the center.
These children and young adults remain prisoners in a very dangerous
environment. The center has been repeatedly investigated for
suspicious deaths and physical abuse. JRC has been fined for
identifying some clinicians hired by the school as psychologists, when
in fact, they were not licensed psychologists. And as a result of an
investigation into a case of abuse at the facility, JRC's director was
forced to resign earlier this year after being charged with misleading
a grand jury about the investigation.

DRI is encouraged by the bold statement by the US National Council on
Disabilities, a federal advisory body, which cited DRI's report, as
well as the international definition of torture, to call for the use
of painful shock aversives to be brought to an end.

DRI urges the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration to
fulfill its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture. DRI
calls for a blanket ban on the use of electric shock as aversive
treatment for children or adults with disabilities across the nation.
There is nothing stopping JRC from shocking kids already in their
center -- or moving their facility to a different state to avoid the
new Massachusetts regulations. The Department of Justice has an open
investigation into the treatment of children at JRC. We ask you to
write a personal appeal to the investigators to help ensure that this
torture is put to an end once and for all, and is never allowed to be
duplicated anywhere else in the United States.

We are one large step closer.

Thank you for your continued support,

Laurie Ahern,

Eric Rosenthal,
Executive Director

Disability Rights International | 1156 15th Street, NW | Suite 1001 |
Washington | DC | 20005

More info: http://

Elan School / Survivor Stories/ Mark Levine show
« on: September 21, 2011, 12:13:54 AM »
What’s Worse than Teen-Age Drug Abuse? Drug Programs Abusing Teenagers


Don’t miss two special shows this Thursday, September 15 (7-10 pm ET) and Friday, September 16 (7-10 pm ET) featuring survivors of teenage drug-abuse programs, where the programs unfortunately abused the teens far worse than the teens in them abused drugs.

I first examined this issue almost six years ago, and the response was so powerful, I did a second show on it. Now, just since announcing this show, I’ve received dozens of responses. So I’ve devoted six full hours to it. For those of you who were not regular listeners of THE INSIDE SCOOP six years ago, I thought I’d share the links to the old stories here:

This Bush Crony Has Blood on His Hands!http://
The Bush Crony Who Tortured American Teens, Part II http://

And an example of the incredible difficulty of obtaining a successful release of a child from these gulags.

Abuse of Teenagers in Drug Programs, Part 2


Mitt Romney’s national finance co-chair and Utah finance chair ran some of the most abusive teen torture centers (aka “treatment facilities) in the country.

Mitt Romney needs to disassociate from Mel Sembler (Straight, Inc.) and Robert Lichfield (WWASP) pronto or face the consequences!

Links to US Government Accountability Office Reports:

RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT PROGRAMS: Concerns Regarding Abuse and Death in Certain Programs for Troubled Youth: 2007 Report by Greg Kutz

RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS: Selected Cases of Death, Abuse, and Deceptive Marketing: 2008 Report by Greg Kutz

Tacitus' Realm / Ron Paul vs. Rick Perry
« on: September 08, 2011, 03:53:17 PM »

Why Screening Teens for Mental Illness Is a Terrible Idea

By John Horgan | September 2, 2011


Scientific American talks sense! And Robert Whitaker’s work is breaking into the mainstream, finally, where it belongs that we might stop hurting vulnerable people of all ages.

    From Scientific American: Why Screening Teens for Mental Illness Is a Terrible Idea

    Given the recent trend toward prescribing powerful, profitable and potentially harmful psychiatric medications to children in the U.S., I fear that TeenScreen and similar programs may end up hurting more children than they help. Here’s some background information, most of which comes from Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America  (Crown 2010), a book by the journalist Robert Whitaker that I have mentioned previously.

Elan School / Radio Show Welcomes Wayne Kernochan
« on: July 28, 2011, 12:41:10 PM »
Radio Show Welcomes Wayne Kernochan


Sunday, July 31st's Bipolar Nation features: Wayne Kernochan's book "A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School."

Susan Schofield's Bipolar Nation Radio Show welcomes Special Education Teacher and Comedian, Dave Burger to the Co-Host Chair as we talk candidly with Wayne Kernochan about his book "A Life Gone Awry: My Story of the Elan School."  Back in the late 70s, the motto was "Anything Goes in the Name of Therapy" and Wayne Kernochan explains how this motto applied to him and most of the other kids who went to the Elan School in Maine.  He'll recall the horror that went on inside this school that was supposed to help Mentally Ill & Drug Addicted Children.  Instead, only the Rich Kids' who's parents paid a private fee were treated to field trips and less abuse.  However, they all had the "Boxing Ring"... where in 1982, one boy was accidentally murdered.  He'll talk about the Politicians who KNEW and covered it up.  You won't get these stories on FCC-Controlled Media... but you'll find them here, on Susan Schofield's Bipolar Nation Radio.  His story is coming up this Sunday morning LIVE at 11am PST on… also downloadable under Bipolar Nation Radio on iTunes.

News Items / Creating juvenile zombies, Florida-style
« on: May 31, 2011, 03:04:35 PM »
Creating juvenile zombies, Florida-style


By Fred Grimm
[email protected]

They’re children of the new Florida ethic. Zombie kids warehoused on the cheap in the state’s juvenile lock-ups. Kept quiet, manageable and addled senseless by great dollops of anti-psychotic drugs.

A relatively small percentage of young inmates pumped full of pills actually suffer from the serious psychiatric disorders that the FDA allows to be treated by these powerful drugs. But adult doses of anti-psychotic drugs have a tranquilizing effect on teenage prisoners. Prescribing anti-psychotics for so many rowdy kids may be a reckless medical practice, but in an era of budget cuts and staffing shortages, it makes for smart economics.

Florida fairly inundates juvenile offenders with this stuff.

The Palm Beach Post reported last week that the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been buying twice as many doses of the powerful anti-psychotic Seroquel as it does ibuprofen. As if the state anticipated more outbreaks of schizophrenia than headaches or minor muscle pain.

The Post found that Florida purchased 326,081 tablets of Seroquel, Abilify, Risperdal and other antipsychotic drugs during a two-year period for the boys and girls who occupy the 2,300 beds in state-run residential facilities. (Most of the state’s juvenile offenders are held in jails operated by for-profit contractors. Records revealing the quantity of medications that private companies pour down their prisoners’ gullets were not available.)

Such drugs, meant for adults, are known to send children into suicidal despair, along with risking heart problems, weight gain, diabetes and facial tics. Yet, the DJJ and its contract psychiatrists push them willynilly onto their young wards.

It’s not as if state officials have been unaware of the risks facing children prescribed “off label” uses (unapproved by the FDA) of these pharmaceuticals. Even as the state doled out Seroquel like candy to kids in DJJ jails, the Florida Attorney General’s office was entering into a lawsuit with 36 other states against drug manufacturer AstraZeneca for promoting dangerous, off-label uses of Seroquel for treating both the young and the elderly. (AstraZeneca agreed to settle the lawsuit in March for $68.5 million and to stop marketing the drug for unauthorized uses.)

It was as if the schizophrenics most in need of Seroquel were roaming the halls of government, not the juvenile jails.

“This is the face of all these budget cuts; what happens when you eliminate social workers and prison guards,” said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. He suspects that DJJ has compensated for the staff shortages at state lockups by pumping “the most powerful drugs known to man into children who have not been diagnosed for psychiatric problems.”

Finkelstein says he assigned two of his staff attorneys last week to visit juvenile lock-ups and investigate what he calls the “zombification” of young offenders who had been represented by his office.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi opened her own investigation last week. Bondi’s staff attorneys are interested in the Post’s report that psychiatrists prescribing off-label uses of such astounding quantities of the profitable anti-psychotics for DJJ prisoners (at taxpayer expense) had been greased by drug manufacturers with some $250,000 in gifts and speaking fees.

The DJJ drug scandal seems all the more maddening considering that it follows a similar uproar just two years ago after the suicide of a seven-year-old Margate foster child. Young Gabriel Myers had been given adult dosages of three anti-psychotics before he hung himself.

The Gabriel Myers Task Force, made up of child advocates, state officials, political leaders and judges from across the state, spent a year investigating whether the Florida Department of Children and Families had administered dangerous drugs as “chemical restraints” for troublesome foster children.

Foster kids, as it turned out, weren’t the only victims of the on-the-cheap ethic. But don’t think of children reduced to zombies. Think of all the money we save on prison guards.

Psych Hospitals / Carney fires 29 in abuse incident
« on: May 30, 2011, 10:31:17 AM »
Carney fires 29 in abuse incident


Hospital says probe into sex assault on patient led to purge
By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff / May 28, 2011

Carney Hospital fired the staff of its adolescent psychiatry unit Thursday, after an investigation into an employee’s alleged sexual assault of a patient uncovered serious patient safety problems.

Hospital president Bill Walczak said he hired former attorney general Scott Harshbarger and his law firm a month ago to investigate the assault allegation and conditions on the 14-bed locked unit for extremely troubled teens.

When he read Harshbarger’s report Thursday, Walczak said he decided to replace the nurses and other staff on the unit.

The report described “serious concerns about patient safety and quality of care on the unit. It was not functioning properly. It was recommended by them to start over on the unit,’’ Walczak said in an interview. “We will have top- notch employees replace those who left. My goal is to make it the best unit in the state.’’

He would not provide details of the alleged assault or patient safety concerns, or comment on why the entire staff was dismissed, given that the allegation involved one employee and one patient.

Walczak said he was told about the accusations a month ago, soon after the incident allegedly occurred, and immediately reported it to state mental health officials and put the unit’s staff on administrative leave.

The hospital did not notify law enforcement because attorneys told its executives that it is up to the patient and his or her family to report the incident to police.

Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesman David Schildmeier said the Dorchester hospital fired 29 employees, including 13 nurses who are members of the union. He said he could not comment about what happened because the MNA had not yet received information from the hospital.

Marylou Sudders, a former state mental health commissioner, said replacing the entire staff is “an extreme measure’’ that may indicate “there was a culture of not reporting or not being assertive in protecting patients. It’s an extraordinary measure to fire everyone. It says to me they have a serious issue and are dealing with it seriously.’’

Walczak said the state Department of Mental Health, which licenses hospital psychiatric units, investigated the allegations this month. He said the hospital submitted a “plan of action’’ — including capping the number of patients on the unit at six for now — which the state accepted, allowing the unit to remain open. The hospital would not release the action plan, in part because he said the investigation is ongoing.

State officials would not provide any information to the Globe yesterday or release its reports on the matter.

“We are working with the hospital to make sure everyone on the unit is safe and that it’s operating properly,’’ said Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jennifer Kritz.

Walczak said the unit has not accepted many new patients during the past few weeks, and that nurses and counselors from other areas of the hospital are caring for four teens who remain there. Steward Health Care, which bought Carney and five other Catholic hospitals in the Caritas Christi network last year, has given the hospital $1.5 million to renovate the unit as a result of the investigation, which Walczak said will make it safer and improve care.

Harshbarger declined to be interviewed yesterday, but he released a statement echoing Walczak’s comments.

“Given the serious nature of what we learned while investigating the recent incidents, and recognizing the importance that Carney leadership places on patient care and safety, we have concluded that the unit cannot continue to function as it is currently composed. In our opinion, it would be prudent to replace the current personnel in order to ensure quality care for these vulnerable patients,’’ he said.

Sudders, the president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said safety is especially important on locked units because patients are not free to leave.

Lisa Lambert, executive director of the Parent Professional Advocacy League, which works on behalf of mentally ill children, said only the sickest patients are placed in locked psychiatric units and the teens there are often in danger of harming themselves or others and have “more significant and acute mental health issues.’’

In most units, staff are required to check on the teens at designated intervals.

“A lot of times the adolescents there can’t manage themselves or their moods or actions. Parents expect they will be in a place that is safe for them. That is a huge letdown and disappointment when it’s not.’’

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at [email protected].
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

lol....child abuser Danny Bennison is now shocked at Child Abuse? PRICELESS!!

Tacitus' Realm / Circus Clowns And Sideshow Freaks
« on: May 03, 2011, 09:55:46 AM »
Circus Clowns And Sideshow Freaks


In my worst nightmares, when the lights are swallowed by the smog of some nefarious gloom and the air itself becomes a stale sarcophagus into which I am entombed, and the grim hands of putrefied fate sink their wretched grip into the thick of my neck and all seems irrevocably lost, I merely recall that soon I will awaken to the horror of a terminal America infested by career criminals and certifiable morons, and suddenly, my off color dreams don’t seem so bad. Ultimately, there is nothing worse to me than a public majority that takes everything they hear from the mouths of political warlocks at face value. Even the fear of death is truly a pittance compared to the threat of being enveloped by a stampeding herd of frightened, stupid, human cattle.

Is this melodramatic? Not at all. When a man is aware, and by aware I mean honest with himself, he inevitably suffers the pain of being certain while the rest of the world enjoys the bliss of false assumptions. We live in a culture that inflicts great punishment on those who know, and lavishes enticing but short lived rewards on those who ignore. In such a place as this, meaning disappears, and countries die.

The first century satirist, Decimus Juvenalis, grief-stricken by the destruction of the Roman Republic at the hands of a succession of emperors and tyrants, wrote: “The people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddle no more and long eagerly for just two things — bread and circuses." At that time, the autocratic rulers of the empire were highly visible. Even celebrities. They played the hollow Roman Senate like a pipe organ and created elaborate events, moments of pageantry in the otherwise terrifyingly bleak lives of the citizenry, and of course, the people were thoroughly distracted while their economy, their government, and their land crumbled around them.

Today, our autocratic rulers in the form of a corporate oligarchy keep rather hidden from the prying eyes of the commoners, but they wield the same power as the emperors of old, with the same obvious results. America is ripping apart at the seams. Our currency has been destroyed. Our treasury is indebted beyond the point of any return. The cost of our daily survival is quickly rising beyond any average person’s means to pay. And, our political system is a never ending parade of googly-eyed muppets singing and dancing to the tune of the false left/right paradigm. Yet, where has our attention been lately…?

Apparently our impending doom is not as entertaining as the Osama Bin Laden Show, which has been written and choreographed like a bad Tom Clancy novel, or a contrived episode of ‘24’ (Jack Bauer finally shoots Bin Laden square in the head with his hawk-like vision and badass marksmanship while Osama in typical TV land fashion uses a woman as a human shield. Sorry to spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen the final episode yet). Or how about the battle of “wits” (I say this knowing full well the irony) between Barack Obama and Donald Trump, two soulless rock-em’ sock-em’ robots in a fake duel for fake polls, fake votes, and a fake presidency. Let’s not forget about the “Royal Wedding”, the eagerly awaited international event that featured a throng of throwbacks from the Dark Ages prancing around in Nutcracker outfits and partying to the tune of millions in British taxpayer dollars.

Do any of these things really matter? Not in the slightest. How long must we endure this hokey carnival ride before we finally start focusing on legitimately important issues? That’s really up to us…

Day after day, we allow ourselves to be conned, befuddled, and frightened by a cast of clowns and freaks. Why do we do this? How can we stop the madness? First, we have to understand how the propaganda works, before we can diffuse it. Let’s examine some of the tactics of disinformation being used today, as well as the purpose behind some of America’s most prominent distractions.

“The Boogeyman Is Under Your Bed…”

A collapsing dollar, state funding on the brink, a still irradiated Japan, gasoline price spikes, and, the only thing that has lately been able draw people outside of their television and microwave fajita saturated cocoons is the orchestrated hoax of Osama Bin Laden’s death. No independently corroborated physical evidence? No independently corroborated video? Body dumped at sea in less than a day without independent verification of the identity (apparently to avoid his rising from the grave as the invincible Zombie Bin Laden)? No problem! We fully believe every word the Obama Administration says without question! Lets go do keg stands on the White House lawn, yeehaw!

A boogeyman is a very powerful tool for corrupt governments. In fact, every despotic regime in history has concocted one fantasy villain after another in order to maintain their psychological stranglehold on the populace. Killing one only means a replacement is soon to be introduced. While many Americans are intelligent enough to at least express some concerns about the obviously deceitful manner in which the Bin Laden death has been handled and promoted, there is still a significant swath of the population that has invested themselves so completely in the Bin Laden myth that they will support the official story without question.

Sadly, villains often become the drivers of history. Most events on the human timeline are merely reactionary movements of states and peoples to counter a dangerous antagonist, whether actual or fabricated. Very rarely do people act in concert to change the shape of their society or their surroundings without a symbolic devil to spur them on. This is not to say that there are not real ghouls to be dealt with in every generation, but problems surface when we become ADDICTED to the idea of villains. We become so lethargic when it comes to putting in the effort of determining our own destinies that soon we start to need monsters to inspire us to take action in life. We welcome governments to conjure enemies for us because it makes us feel as though we have purpose again. As though we are a “team”. Just look at the deluded lemmings that roamed D.C. enthralled at the unconfirmed and unsupported claim of Bin Laden’s death. A civilization caught in this circle of pure reaction usually devolves into something utterly pathetic; a people without principles feeding on each other for comfort.

Interestingly, the fermentation of amoral or destructive behavior is found most often in power structures, like governments and corporate institutions, where the desire for overt control can be satisfied. It is at the top of the pyramid that we find the bottom of the barrel in terms of humanity. So, it is not strange at all to consider the fact that elitists seek to create monsters out of thin air, like the “axis of evil”, terrorists, lone gunman, homegrown extremists, barter networkers, or Amish dairy farmers. They know that people seek out dragons to slay and so provide proxies and facsimiles. If they didn’t, the masses may turn their attentions towards a real threat, like the elites themselves.

Again, this is common sense and a consistent tactic, one which has been admitted to openly by establishment authorities for decades. The true boogeymen are not under your bed, they are not your next door neighbors who participate in activist groups, they are not right wing extremists, they are not even men in caves in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The only monsters worth so much attention and dedication are those that are closest to us. To find them, we have only to follow where all our money goes, where all our votes are misspent, and where all our decisions are made without our consent.

“If You Didn’t Vote, You Have No Right To Complain…”

Perhaps the most effective scam of all time is the construction of the false left/right paradigm. Anyone who does not understand this fundamental fallacy of our political system will never be able to understand the bigger picture of how our government works or why or “elected” officials do the things they do. If you cannot accept the fact that both major parties are essentially the same, supporting the same primary legislation and differing only in rhetoric, then you will probably attribute the constant failings of our leadership to “greed” or “stupidity”. This is simply not the case.

When Obama went back on his election year promises to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and pull troops out (there are still thousands of troops and private contractors in Iraq too, for those that bought the second pullout lie), for instance, or when he decided to support the Patriot Acts after criticizing them, this was not because he has a bad memory, or even because he wanted to win your vote. He made promises and then nixed them because that’s HIS JOB; to perpetuate the false idea that the Democratic Party is anti-war, and different from the Republican Party.

When Bush Jr. ran on a platform of limited government and conservatism, then tripled the size of the Federal Government, it was not because he is an idiot man-child. It is because it was his job to pretend as if he cared about traditional conservative values, while instituting socialist globalist programs under our noses.

When a hypocrite and a bottom feeder like Donald Trump, a confessed liberal on taxes, health care, and trade, a man who stooped to using eminent domain in an effort to steal an elderly woman’s home so he could pour a limousine parking lot on top of it, is suddenly presented as the new hope of the Republican Party and limited government, I think its time to pack up our preconceptions about there being any such thing as a two party system.

In the end, most political leaders are more like circus clowns, meant to amuse us. They bumble about the center ring spraying seltzer water at each other and cracking each other’s skulls with rubber mallets, but who really cares which clown wins this slapstick contest? They may make us feel as though we have a choice, and thus a voice, in our government, but at bottom, it is the ringmaster that decides the course of the show. The clowns are a sidenote. Not voting for either of them seems to be only the option left, or, voting with one’s conscience for a candidate that’s not an establishment favorite (aka Ron Paul).

“War Is Necessary To Perpetuate Freedom…”

War leads to many things, but rarely does it ever lead to people being more readily free. WWI (a fabricated war) led to the implosion of Germany and the subsequent rise of National Socialism (a banker fabricated political movement) which led to WWII, which then destroyed most of Europe making way for the construction of the EU (a banker fabricated supranational union), basically a more subversive and insidious form of socialism with even greater control and unaccountability. Most wars are planned like cross country vacations; you may deviate here and there, but eventually you’ll find yourself at the destination mapped out for you before hand. The vitriol brewing in the Middle East today is no exception.

Wars not only break down and then centralize sovereign systems, they also rally the masses to support governments they otherwise might oppose. Wars create fear, not to mention the thrill of tribal victory. Wars collectivize societies, dissuade and shame individualism, and bring everyone under a single banner and a single philosophy. Where I might be applauded today as a writer for speaking out against the nonsensical involvement of the U.S. and the EU in an internal civil war in Libya, I may be attacked tomorrow if a terrorist bombing occurs in Libya’s name. Where I might point out that only a year ago and despite his disturbingly violent nature Gaddafi was the globalist go-to man for the African Union, and supported widely by the UN for purchasing African Union memberships for poorer nations with Libyan oil money, others might say that I am undermining U.S. solidarity in the “war on terror” by being factual. Wars have the ability to turn the common man into a mini-tyrant, not to mention a censor for the establishment.

In the end, if you want to distract the public away from the horrifying strife of economic collapse or even hyperinflation, the only conceivable avenue is war. Nearly every engineered financial disaster in modern history has been followed by an engineered conflict to muffle the cries for new management. In America’s case, these wars are always preempted with calls for the “spread of democracy”, making the target country more than a target, but a monster (as discussed earlier) and making us the knight in shining armor off to rescue the poor helpless villagers of the planet. We play out the myth then find that we have again only furthered the aims of globalists, and weakened ourselves in the process.

The Show Must Go On

The world that we experience through what is often termed the “mainstream” is, quite simply, an illusion. The life many live is not real, but an elaborate production. A rented life. A life they do not own.

Is this not the stuff of “conspiracy”...? That is the wrong question. Is this the stuff of fact? THAT is what we should be asking ourselves.

It is time for the American people to stop fooling around with what is “probable”, or “more likely”. Occam's Razor (the misinterpreted version of the principle) has never been applicable in terms of human systems, and especially not those dominated by a handful of men, as most usually are. The “simplest explanation” for a social situation is rarely the correct one, and is completely up for interpretation. I would replace the word “simplest” with the word “practical”. What I deem as practical (the influence of elite minorities over the flow of historical events) may be considered outlandish by others because their perception is skewed by their lack of knowledge. Perception changes with knowledge. Practical explanation changes with awareness. The underlying truth, after all is said and done, is constant. The truth does not change, we change.

Propagandists have always understood this condition, and the science of manipulating perception with diversion, bias, and fear, is ever present today. Whether it’s a faux attack on an Al-Qaeda compound containing a Bin Laden body we’ll never see first hand, a sham of an election with marionette candidates, or a war in Libya that is never officially categorized as a war, you will be lied to by government, and these lies, whether you accept it or not, will eventually hurt you, or someone you care about. Recognizing the distraction is the first step in dismantling disinformation. Knowing what we are facing is the key to undoing the damage done.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

From ‘Propaganda’ by Edward Bernays (named one of Life Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th Century).

You can contact Brandon Smith at: [email protected]

Psych Hospitals / Psych History
« on: April 21, 2011, 06:51:30 PM »



Special Action 14f13
There is not a great deal known about T4 in comparison with other aspects of Nazi Germany and the Second World War; what little is known is difficult to verify and amongst the accounts there is conflicting or contradictory data. T4 in fact was the Führer Chancellery and the initials "T4" came from the full address which was Tiergartenstrasse 4, Berlin. However, it is important to bear in mind two factors when attempting to appreciate the lack of information.

T4 was the source of orders and measures which were "Geheime Reichssache" [Secret Reich Matters] and those involved who served as tools in its execution were bound by silence. The euthanasia programme was considered to be one of these, and this is one of the reasons why there is so little information, with much of it conflicting, concerning its workings and its relation with the Chancellery itself. A second factor to be borne in mind is that the whole thing was planned with great care prior to the signing of the authorisation by Hitler and in fact meetings involving top German psychiatrists had been taking place some months prior to the date of his authorisation. As it was a very thorough programme, the creators were sufficiently foresighted to take steps to cover their tracks and conceal the evidence. One of their more brilliant ideas was to finally assign the personnel who had been trained in the euthanasia institute, and who later went on to much bigger things, to theatres of war where their survival was most certainly to be minimal. Many of the personnel were assigned to the Jugoslav front where Tito's partisans had a reputation for never taking prisoners, and a great many of them died there.

The "Project T4" was fully integrated into the organisational structure of the Reich and fell under section IIb. "Mercy-death" of the Chancellery of the Führer [KdF]. It was divided into two departments the administrative one headed by Philipp Bouhler, a shadowy figure (once described as one of the dictators of the dictators) and the medical section headed by Hitler's personal physician Dr. Karl Brandt.

In the middle of 1939 the end-phase of the administrative preparations of the euthanasia programme was started. It dealt almost entirely with keeping it secure and secret. The German people were under no circumstances to become suspicious and the project was to roll without any interference. It was therefore necessary to disguise the activities as much as possible.

Questionnaires had already been prepared by the psychiatric committee and advisers, and in October these were sent to the mental institutions of Germany. These questionnaires required answers to a number of questions including name, marital status, nationality, next of kin, whether regularly visited and by whom, who bore the financial responsibility and how long in the institution, how long sick, diagnosis, chief symptoms, whether bed-ridden, whether under restraint, whether suffering from an incurable sickness or complaint, and whether a war injury or not. And, what was the race of the patient. These questionnaires were prepared and sent out by one of the front groups which operated under T4.

In classic psychiatric style four front groups had been set up to shield the actual source of the operations in T4 from scrutiny. The idea being essentially that T4 itself would issue orders to the front group who would then carry out the necessary measures. Anybody seeking to trace back the administrative chain, say from a hospital where patients were being taken to be murdered, would arrive at one of these four front groups and the chances of getting any further back than that were very small.

The front group which sent out the questionnaires, had them returned and handled them, was named Realms Work Committee for Institutions for Cure and Care. This became the Headquarters for the whole of the organisation and was started for this purpose.

There was a parallel organisation, another front group devoted exclusively to the killing of children, for obviously some specialisation was needed in this area, and the front group catered for those who had knowledge and experience of children. It was known under the ambiguous name of Realms Committee for Scientific Approach to Severe Illness due to Heredity and Constitution. In association with these two organisations were the Charitable Company for the Transport of the Sick which transported patients to the killing centres, and the Charitable Foundation for Institutional Care which was in charge of making the final arrangements.

The decree of the Reich Ministry of the Interior of August 18 1939, which introduced the requirements for registration of "deformed new-born" was a great advantage to the children project. At first this applied only the children up to the age of 3, but after 1941 this project included youths to the age of 16.

These four cover organisations safeguarded the project T4, the Reich Chancellery, and the euthanasia committee from unwanted discoveries. Those who took the initiative were very secure and if anyone had attempted to retrace the administrative chain, let us say from an institute whose patients were moved to killing-institutes, he would probably have reached one of the four cover organisations. The chances that he would get much further were very small.

Ironically the relatives of the patients were charged with the cost of the killing, without however being informed as to what they were paying for. The questionnaires having been sent out were completed by the psychiatrists, doctors in charge of the patients in the asylums. When the questionnaires came back they were evaluated by the psychiatric and professional members of T4 who were mainly leading professors of psychiatry in German Universities. The whole business was in keeping with the euthanasia programme in that no one was ever actually examined in person, in direct violation of any normal medical approach or standards, especially when one considers that life or death hung on the decision of the psychiatrist evaluating. Processing of the questionnaires was done very rapidly; for example one expert between November 14th and December 1st 1940 evaluated 2,109 of them.

At the beginning of the euthanasia programme and for some time during it, Jews were very carefully excluded from amongst the people who were being accorded a blessed release from their sufferings. The reason, apparently, was that such a worthwhile fate was obviously not to be given to Jews, that only Germans could benefit by such a humane measure. That the euthanasia programme was such a haphazard stab at resolving the social problem as an emergency measure was shown by the approach and organisation of the whole thing.

At the time the questionnaires went out, or perhaps even earlier, a number of mental hospitals or convenient buildings were being converted for their later use and were to be the killing centres and schools for murder. Death chambers were erected in the buildings disguised as shower-baths and crematoriums both of which were identical to those later to be established in the Jew-killing centres in Poland.

There appear to have been six principal death institutes and murder schools, and these were Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim (in Austria), Brandenberg, Bernberg, and Sonnenstein, the hospital of the super-expert Dr. Nitsche. The system seems to have worked in the following fashion.

On the basis of the replies to the questionnaires, the Institute from which they had been returned were notified that a number of patients were to be moved, allegedly to make available beds for the war wounded, or to be moved for better treatment. A number of reasons were made known or put around as the reason for removal. These patients were collected by the front organisation Charitable Transport Company for the Sick, which then took them to one of these killing centres, where they were exterminated within a few hours of their arrival. As a further camouflage they were not always taken directly to the killing centre; on some occasions they were taken to an intermediate hospital where people were led to believe that they were there to be placed under observation.

The total number of victims of the euthanasia programme is difficult to determine but as there were 300,000 to 320,000 mental patients in 1939 and only 40,000 in 1946 it would seem that the figure of 275,000 deaths mentioned in the Nuremberg Trials was reasonably accurate.

The victims were not confined to mentally incurable patients; as the programme progressed and gained momentum other undesirables were included. It was obviously too great an opportunity to be missed to not include anyone else who wasn't worthy of life. Amongst those caught up in the dragnet for the murder institutes were psychotics, schizophrenics, patients suffering from infirmities of old age, as well as epileptics, and other patients suffering from a variety of organic neurology disorders, including the various forms of infantile paralysis, parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis and brain tumours. We also know that children were disposed of similarly, when the orphanages and reformatories were searched for further candidates.

It should be borne in mind that according to one expert at least 50°/o of the patients murdered would, if allowed to survive, have been able to recover and lead useful lives.

As we have seen, T4 went into a great deal planning to disguise its operations and those of the killing centres as ordinary mental hospitals and this was testified to in the Nuremberg trials by Viktor Brack, the chief of the whole section II of KdF and therefore one of the main persons responsible for the smooth execution of the euthanasia program. At the Nuremberg trials, he testified that patients walked calmly in with their towels and stood with their lithe pieces of soap under the shower outlets waiting for the water to start running.

I have been able to find more material on some murder institutions than others, but the following account could be taken as fairly representative of the other five murder institutions. Hartheim was situated near Linz which was in turn also close to Hitler's birthplace in Austria. It was an old castle dedicated as an asylum to the poor, feeble minded and stupid in 1898. Hartheim, in company with the other institutions, not only served as a murder institute for the disposal of mental patients, but also functioned as a murder school for personnel. The medical directors in charge of Hartheim were two doctors, Dr. Rudolf Lohnauer, an Austrian who later became an expert in 14fl3 of which we will hear more later, and Dr. Georg Renno. They took their orders direct from T4 and were responsible for the "medical" training of personnel. The training of staff was designed to harden the personnel psychologically to the experience of having to exterminate and observe the deaths of tens of thousands of people, day after day, week after week, apart from any technical training they were given. However, from later activities in the operation of the death chambers and crematoriums, it was obvious that they were being schooled for bigger things in the workings of the Third Reich. Most of the personnel concerned in these later activities had passed through one of these murder schools.

The administrative official in charge at Hartheim was Captain Christian Wirth, a former policeman, who had been selected by T4 to supervise the training. Apart from being paid for disposing of unwanted mental patients, and to train personnel, these institutes also provided scientific testing grounds for the perfection of the murder techniques as devised by the psychiatrists on the euthanasia committees of T4. The deaths of the victims were clinically studied photographed and perfected. In the war crimes trials that took place after the war in Germany, it was proved that in the death camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, special photographers also took pictures of people being gassed, just as they had at Hartheim and other institutes. In addition, experiments took place with various mixtures of gases in order to perfect the most effective one. During these tests, psychiatrists with stop-watches would observe the dying patients through the peepholes in the cellar door, which served as the gas chamber in Hartheim, and the length of the death struggle was clocked down to one-tenth of a second. Slow motion pictures were made and studied by the psychiatric experts at T4 in Berlin. People's brains were photographed to see exactly when death had occurred. Nothing was left to chance. The psychiatrists were very thorough.

The actual training of the students proceeded in an orderly progression of familiarisation. At first they watched the experiment as observers, as their training progressed they graduated to participation in the actual murders by conducting the patients into the chambers, releasing the gases, watching during the death struggle and finally ventilating the chambers and removing the bodies. The selection of the students was conducted by the high ranking Nazi officials who were personally and directly responsible to the Führer Chancellery.

The whole operation was shrouded in very tight security. Everybody involved realised that there could be no slip-ups - there could be no leakage of information, because they weren't dealing with sub-humans and Jews; these victims were Germans and Austrians and the reaction of the public would be very strong. And in fact, when the programme later became obvious to the inhabitants in the vicinity of the murder institutes, there was an outcry against it.

Obviously, after so much familiarity with the deaths of the victims, the students became insensible to the cries and pleas of the murdered. In the process of their being hardened, the students were observed closely by their teachers who noted their reactions and made reports on their progress as pupils. If the students were able to observe and participate in the murders of their own nationalities, even though they were deformed or mad and were of German or Austrian nationality, how much easier it would be to do the same to "sub-humans". Students who didn't complete the course because they cracked, couldn't go o in with it or were unsuitable, were sent to the war front where the Commander in charge of the unit would assign them to a suicide squad. This would account for the lack of people with conscience willing to come forward to testify to what had been involved in.

The total number of victims at Hartheim is difficult to estimate but at the Dachau trial in 1947 testimony was given that from 30-40 unwanted humans were treated in the cellars every day. As Hartheim was in operation for about three years that would account for about 30,000 people. Hartheim also had another purpose. It served as a safety valve when executions taking place in nearby concentration camps such as Mauthausen and Dachau became more than the staff could manage. Victims were sent to Hartheim and "dispatched" there. Later, towards the end of the war Hartheim became just another place for extermination, its staff and personnel having been assigned to other duties. It was well situated for use in the euthanasia programme lying near a railway, but not too close, and around the castle were a few little houses and farms. It was 17 kilometers from Linz and from there only another 23 kilometers from Mauthausen.

Schooling of the personnel produced perfect murderers who were used to the smell of burnt flesh, had been taught how to trick people being led to their death, and how to steel themselves against the crying and pleading of the victims. Pupils were naturally rewarded, not only with alcohol and women, which were always kept handy for them, but also received medals. Usually, these were the Iron Cross Second Class and, unlike other awards which had noted in the register the reason for their being given, in these cases " Geheime Reichssache" [Secret Reich matter] was noted in the appropriate column.

One of the murder institutes, Hadamar, achieved some notoriety at the time of the euthanasia programme. In December 1939 a member of the Court of Appeals of Frankfurt-on-Main wrote to the Minister of Justice complaining about the situation. He said that among the population there were constant discussions over the question of the destruction of the socially unfit, especially in places where there were mental institutions. Vehicles used to transport the mental patients from the institutes had come to be recognised by the inhabitants. With busloads of victims converging on Hadamar, things had reached such a state that even the children were calling out as the buses passed that "they are taking some more people to be gassed".

The writer had obviously found out enough to be able to describe in his letter that there were stories circulating about transported victims being immediately stripped to the skin, dressed in paper shirts and forthwith taken to a gas chamber where they were liquidated with hydrocyanic acid gas, and the bodies reported to be moved to crematoriums by means of conveyor belts, six bodies to a furnace. He also went on to recount rumours about future victims and believed that these would include the inhabitants of Homes for the Aged and others. Interestingly, the psychiatrist in charge at Hadamar was Dr. Adolf Wahlmann an active member of the German mental hygiene movement, who had demonstrated cardiazol-shock treatment to delegates from the European Mental Hygiene Reunion (which took place in Munich in 1938).

This was not, however, the only letter of complaint, and many more followed when the never-ending smoke that fined the skies in the vicinity of the institutes for murder indicated that something was obviously terribly wrong. Various members of the communities (usually people with some standing), sent complaints to whoever they thought would be in a position to act. The main source of complaints appear to have come from the Church, and protests were raised by various Bishops and Cardinals usually addressed to the Ministry of Justice. The Bishop of Limburg for instance addressed a complaint to the Ministry concerning the institute of Hadamar, and it was very similar to the one by the member of the Court of Appeals, mentioned earlier, when children were calling out as the vans arrived, only now parents were even threatening their children that if they weren't quite bright, they would be put in the oven at Hadamar.

Obviously, with the mounting protests and complaints, the whole operation was receiving far too much publicity and it was at this point in about December 1941 that a change in procedure occurred. And here we come to another of the myths with which this period is littered. It was commonly believed that as the protests grew they came to the ears of the Führer who ordered an end to the killings. However, be that as it may, the killings did not stop. They simply took on a different form. Many of the writers and articles dealing with this period state that the programme ended. What actually happened was that the same aims were procured by different means. The gas chambers were no longer used and the crematoria also fell into disuse. These were replaced by lethal injections and even starvation, the bodies being disposed of by mass burial.

As far as the psychiatrists were concerned it was business as usual, and the euthanasia programme continued throughout the war. And in Bavaria it continued even until a few days after the war when children were still being murdered. If Hitler did order an end to the euthanasia murders, their continuance only goes to show how determined the psychiatrists were to pursue their own aims regardless of his wishes.

Special Action 14f13

After the State had been relieved of the ghastly burden of so many of these undesirables, mental patients and useless-eaters, the operation, still under the direction of eminent mental health psychiatrists in T4, was expanded under the code of 14f13. From being limited to mental hospitals and institutions it now embraced German and Austrian inmates and Jews in concentration camps who were sick or invalid, usually as a result of the conditions extant in these places. The starting date for the operation of 14f13 appears to have been some time in December 1941. Special commissions composed of psychiatrists attached to the Berlin staff of T4 were dispatched to the concentration camps to clear the medical bays and sick quarters by way of selection of ill and undesirables. Patients selected were usually despatched to one of the six killing centres and disposed of there.

At Auschwitz around this time about 800 patients in the infectious block were sent to death chambers. Testimony was given at Nuremberg after the war by the S.S. camp doctor at Dachau that at the end of 1941 a commission composed of 4 psychiatrists under the leadership of Professor Dr. Werner Heyde, SS Standartenführer and lecturer in neurology and psychiatry at Würzburg University, arrived at the camp and immediately proceeded to their business. They selected several hundred patients incapable of work who were thenceforth transported to the gas chambers and disposed of. The decision for selection rested upon the incapacity of the prisoners to perform work. Jews were disposed of much more easily by the declaration that they were enemies of National Socialism.

Evidence is shown in a letter written by Dr. Fritz Mennecke, a member of this commission dated November 25th, 1941, which he wrote from Buchenwald, another concentration camp which they visited. The letter was addressed to his wife and gave a brief account of his clinical duties on the commission during the day:

"At noon we took time off for lunch then we continued our examinations until 4.00 p.m. I examined 105 patients whilst Muller took 78 so that we finished off the first lot of 183 questionnaires. The second lot consisted of 1200 Jews who were not examined and it was enough to pick out from their documents the reason for their arrest and enter it in the questionnaires."
Apart from the people already covered, the action was extended to include adults and children in many Polish asylums. However there is little evidence available to me at this time regarding these particular murders, and this is a very fruitful area to be examined in the future. Apart from the psychiatrists themselves involved in the programme, others also took advantage of the rare opportunity of so many specimens offered them. One of these was a brain specialist Dr. Julius Hailervorden, Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Dillenberg, Hessen-Nassau, who had the good luck to be able to obtain hundreds of brains from the killing centres for use in his laboratory. These brains were from mental patients in various institutions who had been killed by carbon monoxide gas. He freely admitted that he himself had initiated this collaboration in the euthanasia programme and stated:

"I heard that they were going to do that, and so I went up to them and told them, `Look here now, boys (Menschenskinder), if .you are going to kill all these people, at least take the brains out so that the material could be utilised.' They asked me: `How many can you examine?' and so I told them `An unlimited number-the more the better.' I gave them the fixatives, jars and boxes, and instructions for removing and fixing the brains, and then they came bringing them in like the delivery van from the furniture company. The Charitable Transport Company for the Sick brought the brains in batches of 150-250 at a time... There was wonderful material among those brains beautiful mental defectives, mal-formations and early infantile diseases. I accepted those brains of course. Where they came from and how they came to me was realty none of my business."
The development of occurrences up to this time shows plainly that there were no limits to the enthusiasm that the psychiatrists in Berlin felt for T4. How patriotic they must have considered themselves when they then decided to put their brave teams into action in the East, to help the wounded in ice and snow. As Dr. Fritz Mennecke told his wife in a letter on 12th January 1942.

"Since the day before yesterday a large delegation from our organisation, headed by Herr Brack, is on the battlefields of the East to help in saving our wounded in the ice and snow. They include doctors, clerks, nurses, and male nurses from Hadamar and Sonnenstein, a whole detachment of 20-30 persons. This is a top secret. Only those persons who could not be spared were excluded. Professor Nitsche regrets that the staff of our institution at Eichberg had to be taken away so soon."
This quote speaks for itself, when one considers who was "helping" the wounded in ice and snow. It becomes evident that the German soldiers in the East had to fight three fronts: the Russian Army, the partisans and the enemies in their own ranks. As if the war-killing had not been enough, now special committees were put into action to relieve the wounded German soldiers from their painful existence. The soldiers thus were not only in a fix strategically, but also morally as well; if they were wounded, how would they be "helped"?

Elan School / Duck in a Raincoat TEXT
« on: April 07, 2011, 09:41:15 AM »

*Permission granted to re-post on Fornits

FOR PERMISSION: 1-340-693-8883 OR EMAIL:  [email protected]

Chapter Eight

Cosmic Convergence

I had never been to a racetrack, had not even bet on a horse at a county fair before the call came. It was a frosty morning in March of 1984 and I was trying to gather the last of the winter wood, the stuff that hadn’t made it to a neat pile before the snow and ice embedded it in the earth. I was out of breath, pulling and kicking, wishing for an early spring thaw in front of my barn.
A woman named Martha Amesbury told me they liked my resume. The track was opening in six weeks, and they had nobody to run the in-house advertising department. An interview was set up for the next day.
Had I actually sent my resume to a race track, I wondered. My previous experience had been primarily in advertising and marketing higher education, historic preservation,  and healthcare. This certainly was a switch. Images of Edward G. Robinson, stoggie cigars, and of course the Mafia danced through my mind. I felt a wave of apprehension--and a ripple of excitement.

Route One  in Scarborough Maine is a congested two lane highway going both north and south. It is the main thoroughfare for summer tourists heading to cottages on Pine Point or Old Orchard Beach. Some of the more moneyed folk also travel this way to their elaborate homes on Prouts Neck, or to  the elegant Blackpoint Inn. Dotted with recently developed industrial parks, land on either side of Route One is a premium location for developers who needed to escape the City of Portland, ten miles to its north.
Scarborough Downs is located just off this highway with a half mile private road leading to its vast parking lot. Situated on 500 acres, it is one of the last large undeveloped tracts of land north of Boston. It even has its own seasonal turnpike exit off the Maine Turnpike I-95.

Though I’d lived in Maine for three years then, I had never bothered to venture down that road to the track. It was wet with melting snow that day, and full of pot holes as I navigated my small car in the direction of the glass grandstand  which  looked like an ugly red and white monster standing alone, surrounded by asphalt and no trees. Inside everything was painted a patriotic red white or blue. Trash barrels were painted all three colors. Cheap wood paneling covered some walls in this cavernous building that, I realized with a shiver, was unheated. I carefully walked at least 500 feet, weaving my way around what appeared to be empty flea market tables, before I spotted a door behind the closed betting line that I had been told would be the office.
My eyes and nose were assaulted by the smokey haze coming from two small rooms. The first one, which I later learned was used as the admissions and program office during the race season, had a counter to its immediate left. Behind it were two desks, side by side facing the same direction. Two non-descript men were sitting there talking on the phone. Straight ahead of me there was another, smaller room with its door open. A women talking on the phone was seated at a desk facing the door. No one stirred when I entered, so politely I waited, feeling oddly out of place, dressed in a tailored brown wool suit and white silk shirt, primly carrying my portfolio.
Suddenly everyone  looked up, all eyes focusing above my shoulders. The energy in the room had changed.
“Hi Joe,”  the voices rose in surprising unison, a mixture of enthusiasm and anxiety.
“How ya doin' guys.  We gotta get the heat cranking in here. John why don’t you go find out why it’s so cold...You must be Maura, .’m Joe,” he said, hand outstretched for the obligatory business gesture that seemed incongruous in that environment. “This place is crazy, I apologize for the mess here...” he continued, leading the way to the other office where the woman at the desk was still on the phone.
He was taller than I imagined, younger looking too, and on first impression seemed friendlier and much more accessible than I had anticipated. “I used to have a suite of executive offices, but my clubhouse burned down in December, so we’re going against the wind, ” he announced. “...Thanks for coming today. I guess Martha’s told you that we need someone really good this year to do advertising...”  
I was struck by the conversational, almost confidential tone of his voice in addressing me, a complete stranger.  There was none of the initial stiffness of other interviews, when one  is being sized to specifications.  This man is very smooth, I thought, not at all overt in his assessment of me. But instinctively I felt on guard,  that big tests lay ahead.
It was much later, when I thought about that first meeting that I realized how disarming his 'I’m not checking you out' tactic was for me.  It was  a little like a professional pickpocket who doesn’t outwardly focus on his prey, but nevertheless intently observes every move.
Martha, the woman behind the desk, got off the phone  and Joe closed the door while simultaneously greeting her. She was about 30 years old, plain with a thin face and short brown hair, casually dressed in a turtleneck and slacks.  She seemed tired, but friendly, yet her eyes were strangely opaque. “I guess you know Martha,” Joe gestured, and then addressed her as he took off his full length leather trench coat. “You know there’s no excuse for freezing here...ya gotta push those guys to get the heat going,” he began.  “ I know,”  she responded. “ I got  a cold already. John said the heat is  coming up now, the valve was stuck this morning, and he forgot to fix it,” she explained.  A ripple of annoyance crossed his face, and his eyes seemed to contract. “Forgot,” he repeated coldly, then focused on me with  kindness of expression.
“Running a race track is no picnic,” he explained. “You’ve got all types of people who go here, and who work here. Some have one tooth in their head, others drive BMW’s, but you’ve got to appease them all.”  He was standing, looking like an actor, leaning against the door as he spoke, hands in his pockets. “ Joe, sit here,” Martha interrupted as she got out from behind the desk and sat on a bench beside it. “No, No I can’t sit down,” he impatiently responded, and then-- regarding me about to take my place on a metal chair beside Martha--stopped. “You sit at the desk,” he gestured benevolently with a swish of his hand. “I want you to be comfortable.” Dutifully I placed my portfolio on its surface and tried to casually assume the unusual position of interviewing for a job sitting in an executive office chair, behind a large oak desk, while the owner of the company stood standing, and the corporate controller sat shivering on a bench in front of me.

That “interview” as I remember it,  lasted about two hours with Joe at center stage,  alternately sweeping the conversational canvas with big bold exclamations and short simple statements. Occasionally he would look to Martha for confirmation of some factual point. All the while I was his audience of one, and felt pampered to be present at such a show.  Contrary to most job interviews, my performance didn’t seem to be the main attraction.  I intuitively sensed that the role of this man’s audience was the actual role I was auditioning for, that my responses to his manner were more important than anything else. When I seemed enthusiastic, he seemed pleased and would become more of an exhibitionist, buoyed on by my behavior.
Pacing around the office, he was describing some of the avant-garde advertising ideas he had in the past, relishing their uniqueness, when he observed that Martha appeared cold.  Without warning he stripped  off the white silk scarf that hung loosely around his neck, and placed it on her legs in a dramatic motion of chivalry. She appeared charmed, but uncomfortable, and my smile of amusement at his act made him full of himself.  He seemed genuinely surprised, I thought, by my self-possession, and ability to remain unfettered in his midst.  Was this a test? And am I passin?,  I wondered as I tried to remain calm and conversational.
Frankly, I found him rather refreshing that day, after spending   hours earlier in the week being interviewed for a corporate relations position by a five member search committee who fashioned their questions from some interview technique textbook.  He was charming, not the usual CEO, or even close. He seemed to genuinely enjoy running the racetrack and described in detail ads he thought of that included one called KEYSTONE COPS in which he ‘rented’ Monument Square in downtown Portland, Maine to stage a hold-up on horseback during which a rider was lassoed, dismounted and taken to Scarborough Downs for harness racing. The stranger the better. He believed in getting people’s attention, he said. He confided that he loved advertising and never begrudged spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on it.
After hearing all this I gestured towards my portfolio, anxious to demonstrate the uniqueness of my own capabilities lest he believe my approach would be too sedate for his taste.  
He acted impressed as I turned the pages and gave the standard sales presentation about my diversified skills as journalist, organizer, and creative conceptualizer, my degrees in communication. I wanted to demonstrate that I was capable of the kooky creative he seemed to enjoy,  yet had enough good taste and judgement to remember the bottom line, and work for it.
“What’s this?” He queried suddenly, seeming unusually on guard as he probed a photo of the regatta dock being placed into the water by a huge crane with mini TV news vans parked in the foreground. “That’s the historic moment of gaining access to the Merrimac river from the center of Manchester,” I explained. “How did you get the crane there?, ” he asked,  suddenly somber. “That’s a story in itself,” I began, about to relate my calls to Cianbro Corporation that resulted in their donation of the crane and its operator. But I was abruptly cut off, silenced by his stare. “Cianbro,” he announced ominously pointing to their thick black letters on the crane in the photo, “is a name we don’t mention here. They are not our friends,” he declared. “Oh...,” I said, censoring myself mid sentence, “then lets move on to the next page.”

Whether I took the job at Scarborough Downs because of, or in spite of that unusual interview doesn’t really matter now.  It was, in hindsight, inevitable considering the combination of economic necessities and career considerations I was facing. The stars were set for some strange configuration. Yet I was unaware then of the aspects in Joe Ricci’s life that made my appearance at Scarborough Downs nothing less than a cosmic convergence...
Three months earlier my husband had fallen down a flight of stairs at work.   My father, a writer, had died suddenly the year before, and I had taken time from my advertising and marketing work to organize his files, and catalogue his incomplete manuscripts. Consequently, I had no full time clients, and after my husband’s injury, we basically had no earnings . We needed a guaranteed income, and for the first time in many years I was actively pounding the pavement looking for a weekly paycheck.
Before the call from Scarborough Downs, I had two other serious interviews, and had been called back for a second interview for the director of corporate relations post with Maine Development Foundation located in Augusta. The job at MDF involved raising money by securing incorporators for the foundation. It was a jobcrammed with business breakfasts, 'power lunches,' social soirees. And with an injured husband, and a six year old son I wasn’t sure I could handle all that as well as the three hour round trip commute to Augusta from my home in Limington. Scarborough was only thirty-five minutes away, near the beach for relaxing walks after work (I thought) and offered opportunity for creativity that MDF did not. I was to be in charge of a six figure advertising budget, and didn’t have to even worry about raising the money for it.

Driving home from Scarborough after the interview, I replayed the meeting in my mind. I hadn't expected him to offer me the position on the spot when Martha had said earlier there had been other candidates coming. I was surprised by my own response when Joe cocked his head and asked whether I wanted the job, stating that if I did it was mine. ”I’ll give it a shot,” I answered with a smile. “And we’ll see what, place or show.” He was impressed with my racing  analogy, but I confessed “That’s all I know about betting or harness racing !” When I was leaving, he walked me out the door to the cold cavernous grandstand. “I’m really glad you’re going to be working for us.,” he declared. “You have too much pizazz to work in Augusta.

One would think I had lived in a cave not to have known more about Joe Ricci than I did during that afternoon in March of 1984. But I had spent a year and a half of three years in Maine working on projects outside the state. I was aware that the track’s clubhouse burned down the previous December. I also remembered months earlier passing by my television and being struck by the image I’d seen on the screen. It was unlike anything I’d ever witnessed on Maine news. This man was sweating profusely, shouting, almost snarling on camera about the attorney general and the governor trying to put him out of business. I couldn’t comprehend what he was talking about, only that he was very angry. “That man desperately needs public relations,” I remarked to my husband.  Ithen shook my head and walked away.  Only much later did I realize that was my first look at Joe Ricci.
Scarborough Downs racing season ran May through September, and by March there was a frenzy of fitful activity as personnel were recruited.  More than 250 employees were needed, making it the largest seasonal employer in the state. That year the usual pre-season preparations were complicated by the clubhouse fire that destroyed all the executive offices, the Downs Club Restaurant, and upscale betting area. All that remained was the dilapidated red, white, and blue grandstand, and many fans and former employees were betting that it would be a terrible season.  The feeling was that ‘high rollers’ accustomed to being pampered in the clubhouse would never settle for mosquito ridden bleachers. I was told the clubhouse was to be rebuilt, but nobody knew when.
In the interim, devising office space, and a temporary restaurant were management‘s concerns. After a week of sharing both desks and phones with two other employees in the smoky office I visited for my interview, a temporary space, consisting of card table and phone was set up for me in a large boiler room down the hall behind the betting line. It was from this vantage point that I watched potential employees pass by my door enroute to interviews.
I had six weeks to conceptualize a seasonal ad campaign for print, TV, and radio, lay-out the print ads, produce the broadcast spots, and make all the media buys. Working fourteen hour days I felt I could make the production deadlines, and get ads on the airwaves in mid April. But my confidence was tested when I found out Joe also wanted me to plan the track’s first ever ‘Opening Day Extravaganza.’  He wanted a fabulous event complete with a parade including elephants and camels, stunt airshow with skydivers and children’s activities.
Each day closer to the season opening brought more people and increased activity to the grounds. Some regulars like the track announcer Lyod Johnson, and mutuel manager Bob Leighton had been there for years, returning every spring like the swallows at Capistrano.  Lyod, a short wiry man, a  chain smoker with poor false teeth and dark rimmed glasses appeared with cigarette and coffee cup about four and a half weeks before the opening, smiling,  a bit cynically, at all the hubbub.
At that time new offices had been set up for the season in a big red storage shed across from the grandstand. Inside the door was a small reception area with desk and phone for the receptionist.  Directly to the left was a much larger room, used for accounting. To the right of the receptionist desk was the office of the general manager that would be shared with the assistant general  manager.  It was without any doors,  and necessary to pass through to get to the conference room on the other side. My office was behind the reception area. Another office was beside mine, and one had to pass by my desk to get there. That room, I was told the day an expensive new oak desk was delivered, would be occupied by Joe’s friend, Linda, who handled personnel scheduling and payroll for the mutuel cashiers.
Llyod stopped by to drop off some papers at accounting, and poked his head in my office to  “to check out the new recruit.” “This is a crazy place,”  he warned, regarding me as though I had been a naive in-law who ignorantly married into a clan of lunatics. He said he’d been there since 1979, the year Joe had bought the track, and that in that time he’d  called the races, done a handicapping column for the newspaper and wrote articles of his own about upcoming races etc. for the back of the daily racing program. He said he had even been general manager for a season or two. “I’m one of the oldest employees,” he confirmed, “ because I mind my own business up in the crow’s nest (the roof of the grandstand, where he viewed and called races) and I’m out of Joe’s way when he gets into one of his moods. “
The office environment at the track was organized chaos if such a thing could exist.  The general manager for the season hadn’t been decided on by mid March, and the only one who seemed to have any authority was Joe, but he made sporadic appearances to the premises. I had spoken with him only half a dozen times during my first weeks on the job. Suddenly appearing out of nowhere he would be standing in a doorway, or poke his head through a door enroute somewhere. His gold tone Mercedes SL sports coupe would often be parked on the lot, but there would be no sign of him. One time, he breezed in and saw me writing copy. Looking down at me he exclaimed with finger pointed toward my left hand: “I didn’t know you were long?”  “Nine years...” I responded. “Oh...” he smiled, “...I was married for nine years too, home every night, the whole bit... but it became a noose around my neck and she kept pulling it tighter and tighter.” Without another word he turned and walked away.
It wasn’t too long before I had a handle on Joe’s style of getting business done, and realized I’d need to abandon some of my professional expectations to survive. Meetings were called on as little as a half hour notice, and everybody was alerted that attendance was expected. Other appointments were not an excuse. Then after people’s plans had been changed it was not uncommon to have him appear an hour or two late, or perhaps not at all.  The exception was when a meeting took place at his house, and everybody was to be there at the appointed time or risk his wrath.  
John Fortin was employed off season doing odd jobs around the track, and taking care of the snack bar at the weekend flea market held every Sunday until racing resumed. He was a genial, easing going guy about thirty years old. I’d chatted with him, and Debra Therrien around the office in those first weeks in March. Debra had been handling the two hundred flea market vendors, scheduling space, and processing their payments. She seemed very capable with a no nonsense approach to each task at hand. In the course of a day I’d seen both John and Debra do everything from ordering racing gear and hamburgers to fixing pipes, and scheduling job applicants for interviews.  It was my observation that those two held the place together during the winter, along with the Scarborough Downs controller named Don Nason who approved purchase orders and paid bills. What struck me as strange about all this was that none of them seemed to act on their own instinct. Every action seemed proceeded by an order from the other end of the phone, and I learned that these instructions were from either Joe or Martha who had offices a half hour away at a place called Elan in Poland Spring, about 20 miles from the track.

I had met Joe’s business partner, Dr. Gerald Davidson, once when he wanted to use the phone in my office. The absolute antithesis of Joe in looks and countenance Dr. Davidson was at least six inches shorter and, in his late sixties, twenty-five years older. He spoke in  slow drawn out phrases, and with  graying hair and a hunched stocky frame, looked like someone’s academic uncle. How odd, I thought when he introduced himself to me as Joe’s partner. I couldn’t even imagine the two carrying on a conversation at a cocktail party.
I had been on the job about a month before meeting Dr. Davidson at the Downs and during the next two years I never saw him there again. I wondered what it was that joined these two men as partners...what common ground they shared...

Chapter Nine

Stage Set

One afternoon in early April I had lunch with a TV salesperson named Bob. It had been our first meeting, though he had been hounding me for at least two weeks to get together. Bob was an aggressive salesman, in his forties, fit and tan, looking more like a sailing instructor than anything else. We ate at the Snow Squall restaurant near a marina  in South Portland, and he talked candidly about Scarborough Downs which was one of his major advertising accounts. Bob said he liked my predecessor, “...but he drove her crazy,” he confided. ‘He’ was obviously Joe, and I was curious. “The last time I saw him...” he continued,”...was one night out near the entrance of the track, armed with a shotgun. He was convinced someone was trying to take over the place, and then use the Down’s land for an ethanol plant. God is he intense!”
He went on to mention the hatred that Joe had for Ival Cianchette, President of Cianbro Corporation who was also an owner of rival Lewiston Raceway, and told me how Joe believed Ival was behind this ethanol conspiracy.  I realized then why Joe reacted as he did to the Cianbro crane in my portfolio. “Ival Cianchette” I repeated, feeling the familiarity of the name before realizing a strange coincidence...  
I had seen that name on the Maine Development Foundation’s collateral materials the executive director had given me, the week before I turned down the offer for the corporate relations post. Ival Cianchette had been the foundation chairman. How bizarre I thought,  thinking about the lines “Two roads diverged in a wood...” from the poem by Robert Frost. No wonder Henry Bourgeois, MDF executive director, had paled when I told him over coffee at the Sheraton Inn that I had decided to do some advertising work for Scarborough Downs, rather than accept the foundation’s job offer.


“You’re one of the people Joe wants at his house in half an hour. “ John Fortin informed me as I walked in the door from the revealing lunch with Bob. “Oh,” I said feeling put out since I had at least a dozen phone calls to make that afternoon, trying to find camels and elephants. “Just where does Joe live?”  “In Falmouth,” he answered looking tense, “ but you’ll never find the place on your own. Debra and I are going too, but we'll wait for you. You can follow us in your car, but we have to leave now!” he insisted with a great deal of anxiety as if the room would explode if we didn’t leave that second.
It was about a half hour drive north down the Maine turnpike to the Falmouth exit, and then a series of twists and turns up a trecherous mountain road to the stone wall that signaled Joe’s home, a white stately residence not visible from the street. Just before the house were two small buildings, a garage, and a guard shed where a man dressed in regular clothes permitted our passage.
Two dogs, huge Rottweilers, started barking loudly as we drove in. They lunged forward at the car wheels, and I quickly navigated my way to a parking space and turned off the engine. Outside the door, the dogs still barked, and I was squeamish about relinquishing the safety of my car. John and Debra had emerged from their vehicle and were diverting the dog’s attention. I made it to the front entrance hall out of breath, and was met by a woman in her fifties, kind looking, and gracious. “I’m Anne the housekeeper...” she offered, realizing I was a new face. “The meeting is in the dining room to the left...” she said pointing across the marble foyer, decorated with dark antiques, and a bowl of exotic flowers.  Entering the room I noticed Joe, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, leaning on an ornate mantle. Beside him was a long table with two chairs at each head, and about four chairs on either side. The seats were full of people, some whom I knew, or had seen around. Others were strangers.  Debra and John had already seated themselves. Joe stopped mid sentence when I entered, and smiled. “How ya doin'?” he asked cheerfully, but before I could answer he continued his discussion with Martha about transforming one of the bars in the grandstand to a restaurant.  I found an empty spot at the table and sat down.
A svelte blonde woman, impeccably groomed in designer clothes, and model perfect makeup emerged from what appeared to be the kitchen. She was carrying two large goblets filled with a dark liquid that she placed in front of Debra and John. Others seem to already have drinks in various glasses in front of them. “I’m Linda...” she volunteered as she nodded in my direction. “Can I get you something to drink? We have soda, juice, Poland Spring” “I’m Maura...” I responded, “Water would be great...” “With Lime?” “Please...” I answered.
It was not too many meetings later that I fully understood the unwritten ritual of imbibing during meetings on Blackstrap Road. If an afternoon  meeting lasted past 4pm which they nearly always did, bottles of red and white wine, and champagne would be broken out, with glasses refilled promptly by Linda. She had shared the house with Joe for the past four years, after Sherry and her sons moved out, and acted as official hostess at these meetings. After the glasses were filled the conversation often would turn into a rap session, with Joe the focus of attention, drinking sake as he told stories,  amusing everyone. Often times it wasn’t until after 6:30pm that people started going home, always after providing a suitable excuse for their exit, particularly if Joe was still performing.
I often wondered whether there was any similarity between these encounters with his employees, and the therapy groups he ran for troubled adolescents at Elan which I knew very litle about.
Joe had no friends who were not employees either at the Downs or Elan. His employees were his public and private life, the source of both business and pleasure. One person close to him observed that it was Joe’s protection to have only friends who were on his payroll, as their economic dependence assured a loyalty ordinary friendships didn’t guarantee. “No doubt about it, people were paid to tell Joe what he wanted to hear.” she said. She reported that one time during a meeting he had casually asked no one in particular whether he was getting fat. One employee observed that he did seem to have added a couple of pounds, and the next day that man was fired.
The mood was somber that afternoon on Blackstrap Road, and I could feel the pressure in the room. Debra and John sat tensely in their seats with notebooks opened and pens perched ready to take down instructions. Martha, sitting near the head of the table where Joe had obviously been sitting before he began to pace, was less rigid, but stone faced. Don Nason the controller for Scarborough Downs sat upright, calculator and accounting sheets in front of him. Linda had assumed her position at the other head of the table opposite where Joe had been sitting, and was staring up at him with an expression I couldn’t determine.  It was a simple stare, set like a mask.
There were three other people in the room. Bobby Leighton, overweight in his fifties with a head of bushy white hair, came across as sincere and too eager to please, bobbing his head often in agreement. That season was his twenty-ninth one at the Downs. He had been there every summer since 1955, when Joe was only ten years old growing up in Port Chester, New York.  Bobby had been a math teacher in the Portland public schools and an athletic coach. He found the job at the Downs a perfect way to earn money during the school vacations. When Joe bought the track five years earlier he had benefited greatly from Bobby’s expertise in the mutuel department. Like Llyod Johnson, he had also once served as general manager at the track a couple of years previous, and then began teaching at Elan when the track was closed for the season. I had seen Bobby a few times at the track, but he hadn’t been in on a regular basis yet. The other two men, both about thirty, I hadn’t met. One, seated directly to my left smiled at me when I entered the room, and had introduced himself as Eric when Joe had been talking to Martha. He had good aura I thought, and seemed enthusiastic about being there at the meeting. The other man it soon became apparent was Joe’s lawyer, John Campbell, whose suitcoat and tie set him apart from the others .
Joe had been silent for a minute while Martha was updating him with some cost estimates.  He was pensive, and then interrupted her, addressing all of us seated at the table. "You know guys, we’re in deep shit. This season if we don’t do something quickly we’re going to take it in the neck.” His voice rose and his speech became more rapid. “You’ve gotta understand we’re under siege, there are people who don’t want us to succeed. They tried to burn the track down! It was just a miracle that on the night they picked, the wind was blowing in a different direction, and the grandstand was spared. We can’t afford to let anything ride this year. We’ve got to give 100 percent effort. Otherwise no one in this room is going to have a job in a few weeks. I’ve brought in Eric from Elan to be the new general manager out there...” he said gesturing toward our section of the table. “And Maura is working on an opening day that’ll blow people’s minds.” He than started to lighten up, as he addressed me, and asked me to tell everyone what I had lined up.
Going through my litany of theatrical productions by the Children’s Theatre of Maine, and other  activities including face painting, juggling acts, etc., I emphasized the stunt airshow and skydivers, parade with antique autos, stiltwalkers, clowns, and high school marching band,  saying it was almost confirmed that I had an elephant and camel coming from Florida for elephant and camel rides for the kids. I also mentioned that I’d located a post horn and had contacted the lead trumpet player for the Portland Symphony who agreed to do the ‘call to post,’  dressed in morning coat, hat and riding boots. “Great, great...” Joe said seeming pacified. “How are your ads coming?”  “Good...” I responded hoping he wouldn’t ask me then about the nature of the TV spots that I was still working on.
During my interview I had asked him about my having creative control of ads with the final product approved by him. He readily agreed, saying I would learn that he left competent people alone. “It’s when people screw up, that I step in and fix the mess...” he said.
“I’ve got a media blitz prepared and am targeting spots to be on TV and radio by third week in April,” I volunteered. “I had lunch today with someone from WGME-TV, and gave him my media buy.
“You know what?” Joe interrupted, his face suddenly taking on a tougher look, “I’m seriously considering not putting any ads on TV this season. The media in this state is a joke. They’ve done nothing to help me...just made me look foolish on the news...Why should I give them anything? How about if we take what we’d spend on TV, and use it for radio? That’ll fix ‘em...not one good story about my credit’s ruined, my reputation.  I’ve lost my children because they think their father kills people for a living. And its not news? Yeah...You call each of the stations and tell them that Mr. Ricci has decided not to do anymore business with them because they’re not really a TV station.
What da ya think?”  He turned to me, waiting for my reaction.
All eyes in the room were focused on me, eager to hear my response. I knew only snatches about the lawsuit he had against a bank that cut off his line of credit. There was an article from the April issue of Venture magazine about the case. Someone from Elan had dropped it off at the Downs. I made myself a copy that morning and had planned to read it that afternoon in order to fully comprehend what was going on. But I knew very little about Joe or his lawsuits.
“Well...” I began, “It’s very frustrating I imagine, but it seems to me this year of all year’s we need to utilize all the media outlets we have to compensate for the loss of business from the clubhouse. To exclude television, a major part of our advertising budget I think is certain suicide. Why not instead use the fact that we are a major advertiser as clout...a means to gain access to the airwaves? I worked at a TV station in Boston, and the assignment director there in the fifth largest market in the nation was a young guy, overwhelmed with just filling the nightly time slots.  Stories had to be packaged and handed to him. I think we need to get the facts out about your case, and show them how newsworthy it is. I think abandoning TV is going to hurt us more than anything. Why not work on a mutually beneficial relationship with the news directors? I can help with that.”
My face was flushed, and if one can feel shock on the part of his or her peers without looking at them, I felt it that day. None of them, I had previously noticed, ever said more than a sentence or two to him without stopping to take his pulse, see how he was reacting. Their opinions would be couched in disclaimers, negating their observations, or they’d start, and stop, and hestitate...waiting for him to jump in. I had passionately forged ahead oblivious to how he was receiving my message until I finished.
Joe was staring at me. “You know what?” he simply said in a monotone  his eyes void of expression, “You’ll go far in this company.” Then he changed the subject, and never mentioned not advertising on TV again.
Eric Moynihan, the new general manager at Scarborough Downs was chosen for the job in 1984 because he had worked at Elan for three years. A psychology major in college, he understood Joe’s mood swings, and the frustration about his bank case which had been the topic at Elan since it happened. Eric had survived a mass exodus by Elan employees during the previous two years,  and was an easy going personality who was loyal and attentive.  He had the ability to know enough to sit silently when Joe was on a rampage, and laugh with him when he was in a good mood, though he admittedly didn’t get to know Joe very well while he was at Elan. Being in education his activities were often separate from the rest of the therapy program, and he had in fact only recently come to Joe’s attention for the work he contributed preparing Elan’s licensing application for the state board of education.
Eric had been working as assistant headmaster at Elan’s Pinehenge School and attending graduate school nights at the University of Southern Maine studying for his masters degree in secondary education administration.  He hoped to be a high school principal, and was getting all A’s in his courses. In fact he had sent Joe a memo only a month earlier expressing his desire to become certified as a secondary school administrator since none of Elan ‘s  personnel at Pinehenge School had such certification. It was a deficiancy the state licensing people had mentioned in their review of the school’s application.
Eric’s transfer to Scarborough Downs had been ‘arranged ‘ for him.  Just a week before the move was to happen, he was called into a meeting at Elan with Joe and Martha, and told he was going to be the new general manager at Scarborough Downs.
Nobody ever discussed this dramatic career move with him, noting that it was just assumed he’d take the racetrack job, which raised his salary from $18,000 to $25,000 overnight. Married with three young children, this boost in income seemed a Godsend, something he couldn’t refuse. Graduate school was put on hold.

In mid April Eric and other operating officials had moved into the ‘red shed,’  and the 1984 harness racing season was taking on a shape of its own. Personnel had been hired, fresh paint applied, food ordered. Racing offices had been set up near the horse paddock in what was known as the back of the track, a usually muddy, barren area a quarter of a mile from the grandstand that the betting public never saw. These offices housed the racing arm of the downs operation which that year included new race secretary Karl Jannotta, his assistant Don Knapton, presiding judge Dick Herman, program director Mindy Fitzgerald, and a variety of support personnel and associate and patrol judges needed for each racing meet. These racing positions required special licenses along with expertise, and it was common to have racing officials work a number of meets in different parts of the country in the course of the year. It was a gypsy’s existence, but the pay was generally good, and the sport was in the blood.
The back of the track was spotted with newly arriving trainers and grooms, and an occasional driver who would stop by the track kitchen, a dark, barracks like building near the horse stalls in the paddock. Horse trailers were arriving, along with bales of hay and other provisions for the tack shop.  The magnitude of the behind the scenes preparation for opening day was enormous, and I began to view harness racing as a theatrical spectacular with a varied cast of characters. ..Joe, of course, was the producer, director, and star of the show.

Chapter Ten
Duck In A Raincoat

Joe’s house mate, Linda Smeaton, began coming into the office during the second week in April for meetings and training of mutuel cashiers.  She said she’d usually be working evenings from 6-10pm, so any meetings in her office wouldn’t bother me, as the space we shared was small, and afforded little privacy. She was very cordial, but aloof, and everyone clearly knew that she came and went as she pleased, always looking picture perfect in carefully coordinated designer clothing. She was tall, long legged and model thin, often wearing her hair in a single braid down her back. Occasionally Joe would visit her in the office, and they’d close the door, or talk in hushed voices. Guarded, was the word used to describe her, and it was difficult for me to know what she was guarding; whether it was her relationship with Joe, or her own inner core, that she feared someone might penetrate. We always spoke in simple pleasantries,  until one day when I had been scheduled to show my first TV spots to the entire staff. A VCR and monitor had been set up in the conference room and Joe was scheduled to arrive at 11 am.   That day Linda breezed by my desk smiling as if amused by something she knew that I did not.
“We’re going to get to see your ads today?”  she asked,  still smiling. “I guess everybody is, “ I said, not certain I liked the idea of this peer screening before Joe saw and approved them.  “Well,” she continued, “...Joe is so nervous...I’ve never seen him like this...You know he’s never done this before...“ she continued in a confidential, yet still amused tone. “Done what?” I asked, genuinely wondering what she was talking about.  “Let someone have so much leeway...power. In the past he was always involved in the ads, and had to personally approve them every step of the way. Last night he was saying, he hadn’t even asked you what the ads were about, and they were already produced. He was walking around wringing his hands.”  
That was the first inclination I ever had that what Joe said he felt and really did feel were often opposite emotions.  (I learned later that it was only when he was completely under the influence of alcohol or drugs that he could be counted on for brutal honesty) Just the day before, he had calmly told me on the phone that he had complete confidence in what I was going to produce, wasn’t worried a bit.
Fortunately the ads went over big. I had opted for the weird approach rather than risk boring Joe and the viewing public. The ads were funny, a little bit of MTV, but also effective in getting the message across that opening day was for the whole family. Never before had the Downs gone after that family market.  The ads also helped dispel some of the stereotyped seediness often associated with racetracks.
Whatever messages the public got, it worked. That May 4th, all previous opening day attendance records were broken, as more than 5,000 people passed through the entrance gates, a virtual miracle without a clubhouse.
Not knowing how to read a race crowd I was nervous from the time the gates opened, with cars, trucks, and campers,  creeping up the road. I kept hoping that as far as my eyes could see from atop the roof of the grandstand, the long line would continue. I’d hired ‘Cousin’ Bob Walker, a local radio morning jock to narrate the parade that began at noon. Neither of us had ever been to a race or narrated a parade before, so it was a compatible coupling as I outlined the names and organizations involved and Cousin Bob announced over the public address system their appearance on the track.
Then came stunt pilot Jim Parker flying in his smoky Cessna, swooping and swirling before two paratroopers jumped from another plane and landed on a bulls eye Downs logo placed on the infield. It was a superb spectacular, and it finished as scheduled at exactly 1pm in time for the national anthem and the official racing post parade.
There had been some complaints from racing officials, particularly judge Herman, an austere ex-lawyer who served as presiding judge, that such show biz shenanigans would jeopardize the first day of the meet, but it did not happen. The drivers had the track in time for warm up, and on the other side of the grandstand, near the parking lot, children’s activities, and elephant and camel rides commenced the same moment the bell rang for the opening of the mutuel line. Parents could bet with the peace of mind that their children were being entertained in special tents, guarded by security guards. It was a novel Sunday afternoon at Scarborough Downs, and its success signaled the beginning of Sunday family day at the races.

Learning the post positions of the personnel at the track was more complex than understanding those of the horses. Some employees were hired via applications, others were people  Joe had met in restaurants or bars. Often  he’d walk up to a female store clerk or waitress and say “You’re pretty.  I own Scarborough Downs. Would you like a job?” There were also those who were friends of people Joe liked. Still others had more complex long term relationships, with him and these factors affected their performance, and their longevity.
On opening day there were many neophytes, and some who stated they’d worked there for many seasons. I made my way around the first level of the grandstand, past the long row of pari-mutuel ticket sellers known as the main line. The previously barren building was packed with people all wanting to win. The Winner’s Circle Pub  was rowdy with periodic screams of elation or anger, depending on whose horse had come in.  Ascending the stairs to the mezzanine there were more concessions and bars, one with a big screen blaring a baseball game and another long row of ticket sellers. The new Seahorse Restaurant was also located at this level and looked surprisingly elegant with white tablecloths, and lots of greenery.
A suave looking man, maitre’d Dave Coombs, stood stately by its entrance. He  was a high school teacher turned weight trainer and actor. In his late 40's he had deep tan leathery skin, silver hair, and mustache. Not tall, he nevertheless carried himself in a manner that he did not appear short.  Stopping in the restaurant on the second floor of the grandstand I was astonished to see Dave, dressed in tails, white pleated shirt and red bow tie playing Maitre’d as if he’d been at the Ritz rather than The Seahorse Restaurant. He‘d been at the track for years, at the The Downs Club Restaurant, and was disturbed by the fire, but hopeful that some of the regulars, known for their generous tipping, would continue to show up. He was pleased that many had already arrived, credited my ads with bringing the crowd. I stayed chatting with him for a few minutes, observing him addressing diners by name, and flashing white teeth, as he welcomed them back for another year.    
On each side of the Seahorse Restaurant there were rows and rows of bleachers which I scaled to the top and then climbed an additional set of stairs up to the roof to visit Lyod. He was calling a race when I arrived in the crow’s nest for the next race, and he greeted me with a nod, removing his headsets after letting out his final guttural “EEEEEEAH” as the horses crossed the finish line...”How’s it goin down there?” He inquired with his unique style in which his lips didn’t seem to move. “Is Joe OK?...He drunk yet?”  Lyod complimented me on the earlier show, and remarked that it was an amazing opening day crowd. “Joe should be really pleased...” he commented, “...unless he finds something that he enjoys being pissed off about...”
Throughout the rest of the afternoon I crisscrossed the grounds, eager to understand all aspects of the operation. I noted six concession stands staffed by teens outfitted in red or white Scarborough Downs crew shirts, three bars with cocktail waitresses dressed in provocative fashion,  ticket takers, and mutuel sellers in pinstripes with  garters on their arm.   Horsemen and women were wearing  jeans and muddy boots, and drivers dressed in their bright colored silks.  Eric looked collegiate in his tweed suit coat and tie. There was diversity among the workers themselves, and between the workers, and the fans who came attired in everything from jeans to jodhpurs. In the Seahorse sat Linda adorned in a flowing cream colored dress. and wide brimmed straw hat, sipping champagne.   Contrasting this scene was a 200 pound woman in the grandstand, wearing a man’s white T-shirt, institutional checkered pants, and rubber tongs, swigging on a bottle of Bud. Diversity wasn’t the name for it. It was a world within a world.
Martha appeared near an ice cream concession, and, dressed in beige chinos, and a soft sweater, she looked more relaxed than I’d seen her since March. She said the handle was good (total amount of money being bet) and that Joe was pleased. She also informed me that there was a meeting for all the managers in the Winners Circle after the last race, and I should be there.
It wasn’t until 6:30pm that the races actually ended. I was on the phone and arrived late for the meeting. When I walked self-consciously in the door, everyone erupted in applause. “Yaaaay Maura!” Martha mock yelled. “We broke our opening day record, and your stuff was great.” Others nodded in unison. I took the only empty seat which happened to be across from Joe. He stared. “You did a good job...” he said a little annoyed I thought by all the upbeat hoopla. “But now we have to figure out how we’re gonna succeed the next 122 days!,” he added with an anxious look. Eric was seated beside Joe and Martha, and we all talked and ate pizza, discussing things about the day. Soon I made my excuses as most others had done, and left wearily weaving my way across the parking lot to my . I calculated that I’d worked sixteen days without a day off, and wondered if I had to make it through the next 122 days in the same fashion....

When I got to my car, one of the few left in a parking lot that had been crowded, hours earlier, I searched for my keys. Not in my pockets, or my bag. Peering through the locked door in the darkness, I spotted the silver reflections, left in the ignition that morning. Embarrassed, I decided to quietly go to the security office and borrow a coat hanger, hoping I could make my getaway before Joe, Eric and the others learned of my plight. Ten minutes later, two security guards tried in vain to break into the car which seemed impenetrable. They had given up, and suggested calling the state police for a special tool, when Joe appeared on the scene. “I know all about breaking into cars, “ he boasted, with a bravado brought on by alcohol.  Upon further investigation, he realized, however, that entry couldn’t be accomplished without damaging the lock.  He also noted that the paint was already scratched from the ‘coat hanger’ approach by security. “Let’s do it right,” he concluded, annoyed by the hack job that had already been done. “Go to your dealership tomorrow and get a replacement key.”  I agreed and said I’d call my husband and have him pick me up. “No, no...” he countered. “...that’ll take too long, and you’re tired and anxious to get home. Take my car,” he said, handing me his gold keychain emblazoned with the initials J.R. “I’ll get a ride home from security as I live much closer than you.” I protested, seeing his Mercedes glowing in the distance, the only other car then left on the lot, with the exception of the bulky security vehicle. “I insist,” he pressed. “Come on.  I’ll show you how it works.”
Sitting in the leather passenger seat while he turned on the lights, demonstrated the wipers, directionals, adjusted the driver’s seat, pressed the electronic dial on the radio and got some music, I wondered if I was awake enough to drive, let alone be trusted with that special machine.  Yet twenty minutes later I was easily negotiating country curves along the darkened roads to Limington 25 miles away, replaying the day’s images in my mind. Just before I beamed up the window on the driver’s side, and drove away in gratitude, Joe whom I suspected had consumed quite a bit of alcohol. stood on the asphalt, looking solemn.  He instructed me to take my time coming in the next morning.  “You did a good job today,” he said. “You’ve really got your shit together, more than most, and I’m a good judge of that, because  I usually deal with people who don’t.”

The winter flea market at Scarborough Downs was a big money-maker with over 200 vendors paying $20 each for a table every Sunday between October and when the racing season began in May. The track owned hot dog and hamburg concession at the market also brought in lots of cash as the thousands of bargain hunters who shopped there were a captive audience. This flea market had become a Maine institution before Joe bought the track in 1979,  and was the place to be for a variety of antique dealers, craftsmen, and purveyors of surplus merchandise.
This ended every year in May because the grandstand was needed for race fans. But Joe had an idea to simply move the market outside in the summer during the racing, thereby protecting his high profit venture that required very little overhead. The only obstacle to the success of this plan he thought was that the town of Scarborough  had passed a local ordinance prohibiting outdoor markets and concerts. This infuriated him since he believed the town had conspired to contrive the ordinance with him in mind.
When I arrived on the scene in 1984 Joe was more adamant than ever to proceed with his outdoor flea market plan, and had instructed his lawyer, John Campbell, to sue the town of Scarborough over what he considered the violation of his right to free enterprise.  John had written only a legal letter when Joe decided he couldn’t wait for the matter to proceed at a snail’s pace, causing him to forfeit another season of revenue. He decided to simply stage the market, and let the town sue. It would take them awhile if they even got an injunction, he reasoned, and in the interim he’d be raking in the profits. “ We’re talking at least $50,000 a season the town has already stolen from me!,” he exclaimed. “And that’s about $200,000 since I first wanted this, maybe more! We’ll countersue for the lost revenue after the town sues,” he proclaimed.  John Campbell was not thrilled that Joe was going to break the law, but it was agreed the market would begin in June, four weeks into the racing season. My job, I was told, was to "promote the hell" out of it with ads on TV, radio and in print. Joe assumed that the majority of winter vendors would jump at the opportunity to sell their wares year round at  Scarborough Downs.
Flyers were sent to all these vendors, and many of them returned notes, explaining that they had seasonal shops to retail their goods in the summer and didn’t need an outlet.  Others sent well wishes, but stated summer commitments at different locations. Only three previous vendors were interested, and just three newcomers.
Then a questionnaire was mailed to all area vendors, and everyone who had ever rented a stall space at the track. The responses were revealing. The concept didn’t seem as popular as Joe assumed, even with a 50% reduction of the table fee. Despite the results of this market research Joe would not be deterred from a plan that he was convinced was going to bring in an extra $2,000 a week.  “Offer them free tables for the first three weeks,” he ordered.
On the designated opening day of the market, four vendors arrived to set up at 7am. When the few vendors realized they were the only ones, they were miffed, and stayed only a couple of hours, after suffering through cars driving by, but not stopping, because of the few tables. One person who did stop was a Scarborough town representative who informed me that it was against the law, and people could be arrested.
The following week Joe agreed to the plan I had to use the old covered horse paddock, closer to the grandstand for the market. The stalls were open, to the air, but the roof made it exempt from the town ordinance prohibiting open air markets. The vendor showing, was, nevertheless still poor. Weeks went by, and thousands of dollars were spent in charming ads that received compliments, but no vendors. The throngs of people the ads brought in at 8am were consequently resentful, and stopped coming. It was a vicious circle, buyers but no vendors, then no buyers, because they’d been there already and thought it paltry. Yet Joe was determined. “ I said I wanted you to push the market!,” he exclaimed one day during a meeting. “You haven’t put enough ads on TV...Do it please!”
During the next ten weeks an excess of $10,000 was spent on advertising for the market, more than double the amount spent to promote the winter flea.  Total income from this enterprise was barely $400. In August it died a quiet death, and Joe never mentioned the $200,000 the town of Scarborough had stolen from him again.  
The experience with the market illustrated Joe’s tenacity, and determination to hold on to a belief despite logical reason to abandon it.  It was a classic case of tell me the facts only if they support my theory.
Consequently many people near Joe often manufactured facts or feelings they thought he wanted. They would no more contradict their boss than say the emperor had no clothes. And yet sadly, the illusion of honesty, of open dialogue continued.
Fortunately Joe was not always wrong. He actually had good business instincts, and is credited with really improving harness racing in Maine during his first years of ownership, before his excesses took over, and he began systematically destroying the things he built.

In 1979 when he bought Scarborough Downs the harness racing industry in Maine according to former Maine Harness Racing Commission executive director, Thomas Webster: “...was controlled by a very small group of people and it was mired in Maine traditions.”  Webster, who spent twenty years as executive director of the commission, credits Joe with bringing fresh ideas and changing the way a lot of things were always done.
“Joe wanted to expand from eight races a card (racing program) to fifteen, and that was unheard of, and he took a lot of criticism for that,” remarks Webster noting that throughout the country all tracks eventually began expanding their programs. Webster also credits Joe with helping to bring in better quality horses to Maine by offering larger purses for special races, and with raising the expenditures for advertising. Yet he also questions many of Joe's motives.“Joe comes on with all the subtly of a plane crash...”he once told a reporter. Webster says he didn't let Joe's actions get to him, since he grew up in the streets of Chicago, and has met people like Joe Ricci before.
The Maine Harness Racing Commission is the governing body for harness racing in Maine. The commission, comprised of five commissioners from different regions of the expansive state meet once a month in Augusta, Maine’s capital. The part-time commissioners all have other jobs. Thomas Webster was the only full time member who was in the commission office daily.
 Despite public perception to the contrary, harness racing is an extremely regulated industry with legislation that clearly defines track operations outlining explicit rules and regulation for the staging of races and pari-mutuel wagering. Rule violations by drivers, horse owners, or trainers sometimes results in severe penalties and fines.  The wagering of money is regulated with a systematic ‘slicing of the pari-mutuel pie' that disburses percentages of the handle ( total money bet by fans) among the state, horsemen and women, horse owners, and the racetrack.  The more money bet or handled, the bigger everyone’s share. Hence, it doesn’t matter to the racetrack whether a fan wins or loses on a particular race as long as people keep placing bets. Popular belief among track operators, however, is that having more people win a little is better than having a few win a lot, simply because more people then have money to wager. It is for this reason that a good race secretary is essential to the track since he or she pairs the horses in a race, making it competitive. A non-competitive race is not only boring, but bad for the handle as well.  
In 1984, Maine's two major tracks operated during different months of the year. Lewiston raced October through December, and then February through April.
Joe objected to closing down his operation in October, and believed there was enough business to run year round, but the commission disagreed.  He thought the commission was just protecting the older Lewiston Raceway, located 40 miles to the north,  and argued that two separate markets of racing fans existed in each area. He filed law suits challenging the commission’s authority, but the charges were dismissed.  Undaunted, Joe always was pressuring his lawyers about other options, angles for legal challenges to the racing commission and Lewiston Raceway.

In the first few years of his ownership his reputation for ruffling feathers became widespread, but Joe claimed he was just cleaning up harness racing, bringing the sport out of the dark ages. He appropriated the virtues of honesty and integrity,  and made them his own.

Chapter Eleven

"...just feeling aggressive."

Joe was adept at involving both his employees and his troubled adolescents in his causes. Specific job descriptions or duties meant nothing to him when he wanted a recruit for a particular project. He’d shuffle people around on his private game board, moving Eric from his educational post at Elan to Scarborough Downs, Bobby Leighton back and forth, along with Martha, his secretaries, accountants, janitors and lawyers. Even Elan residents sometimes did maintenance work at the track, and lawn care at his house. Former Downs' Club chef, John Fortin, was willing to quit rather than cook institutional style meals at Elan, but most stayed, losing their identities in a  Ricci Reality that was confusing.
Joe had contempt for traditional families, because he claimed to have been abandoned by his own parents. Consequently, he found a surrogate family in his band of employees and adolescents. And it was clear he wanted them to spend more time in service to him than to their own parents, spouses, or children.  Joe also understood the need to sweeten the pot and could be extremely generous to loyal comrades, offering exotic vacations, cash bonuses, cars,  flowers, clothes, wine, and for those who shared his appetite for drugs, marijuana and cocaine.
Joe’s enemies were supposed to be his employees’ enemies, and a ‘we vs. they’ mentality was always present.
Being the newest upper echelon employee in 1984 I was fed a series of stories portraying the dishonorable, and sleazy practices of rival Lewiston Raceway, and its primary stockholder Charlie Day. Joe depicted Charlie as a greedy operator who had contempt for fans, horsemen, and employees, and his track as a second rate operation that impugned the integrity of harness racing.
Settling in to that first season at Scarborough Downs was a little like trying to take a nap on a roller coaster, but a certain rhythm nevertheless developed. I’d get to the track about 8 am each day, and leave about the same time every night, except for Saturdays which I  faithfully spent with my family.  Yet even on that day off it was impossible not to think about the place. My husband, son, and I would be riding in the car, and I’d be switching channels on the radio, checking on the placements of my advertising spots. If a guaranteed placement did not happen on the hour as ordered we’d pull over,  and I’d call the DJ on duty and ask what happened.  It was more than devotion to my job, it was an  obsession.  And this feeling was fueled by Joe’s bunker mentality, his belief that people were trying to put him out of business.  I wanted to be the quintessential team player then because I was still unaware of Joe ‘s personal vices, his extreme neediness, and his ruthless modus operandi.  
Whether my ignorance was a result of my own naivete, or careful cunning on his part is debatable.  Being the new kid on the block, I was sometimes systematically excluded from impromptu after meeting socializing, and the side Joe presented to me was often markedly different from the stories I began hearing. Yet there were indications, hints of his darker, more insidious personality, and in retrospect I should have known.
According to numerous people Joe used cocaine nearly every night in 1984, and presided over a series of after hour employee parties where it was openly consumed, sometimes as the track’s own uniformed and armed security officers stood guard.
Shortly after the track opened for the 1984 season, Tony Aliberti, harness racing columnist for the Lewiston Sun Journal Sunday  wrote a column outlining many  problems at Scarborough Downs. It was full of petty stuff like the tuna sandwiches were too small, programs not up to par etc. Joe was angry about the piece, and Tony was immediately banned from the track. If he dared to show up, he was to be escorted off the property by security guards.
After Tony’s negative article I decided to write a rebuttal, claiming that it was unfair for him to judge the track so harshly, especially that season as it was fighting back from the fire. Borrowing a sports analogy I decided to appropriately title the piece: Interference on the rebound is a foul. I had written it one morning but  hadn’t mentioned it to Joe. I planned to show it to  him later  at a meeting,
When I left my office early that afternoon to go to lunch, I took the finished copy along for final reading, throwing my rough drafts, ripped and wrinkled into the waste basket under my desk. Upon returning a half hour later I was surprised to find Joe and Martha in my office. Martha was sitting in a side chair, while Joe was seated behind my desk.  In front of him was a roll of scotch tape, and about ten scraps of paper taped together which formed a crude page. It was the contents of my waste paper basket!  Surprised to see me, Martha made a hasty exit, while Joe made light of his violation of my privacy. He smiled and said he "liked to put together puzzles", and the one in front of him was quite interesting. Without missing a beat, I simply handed him the finished copy of the article, remarking that my final draft was much easier reading than the ‘trashy’ version on the desk. Yet inside I felt violated, and made a vow to keep my guard up, lest I lose my sense of self.
I wo

Elan School / It's About TIME
« on: April 05, 2011, 05:03:43 PM »
Increasingly, Internet Activism Helps Shutter Abusive 'Troubled Teen' Boot Camps
By Maia Szalavitz Tuesday, April 5, 2011

For the last 40 years, teens with drug problems, learning disabilities and other behavioral issues have been sent to residential facilities to endure "tough love" techniques that are widely known to include methods of outright physical and psychological abuse.

Whether labeled as boot camps, emotional-growth schools, behavior modification programs or wilderness programs, these organizations have operated without federal oversight, and state regulation of the schools ranges from lax to nonexistent. Now, however, individual critics of the programs are using the Internet to find each other and mobilize, and are bringing change.

Consider the Elan School, in Poland, Maine, which has long been known for its extreme practices. On April 1, Elan shut its doors after four decades in operation, blaming negative publicity online for recent declines in enrollment. "The school has been the target of harsh and false attacks spread over the Internet with the avowed purpose of forcing the school to close," Sharon Terry, Elan's executive director, told the Lewiston Maine Sun Journal. The paper reported:

    Despite several recent investigations conducted by the Maine Department of Education that Terry said have vindicated the school, "the school has, unfortunately, been unable to survive the damage."

Elan is just the most recent in a growing list of victories for opponents of tough residential programs for troubled teens. In the last three years, some 40 other private institutions like Elan have closed, and others have been condemned by state investigations, as activism online — mostly led by survivors of such programs and their parents — has increased.

Last month, the Oregon Department of Human Services released its report on the August 2009 death of Sergey Blashchishena, a 16-year-old student at the Sagewalk wilderness program in Bend, Ore., which was run by Aspen Education, the largest chain of behavioral health centers for teenagers in the U.S. Blashchishena died of heatstroke on his first day at the program after being made to hike in 89-degree weather, carrying a backpack that exceeded the weight standard for adult infantrymen. He was not given medical aid when he began to show signs of heat exhaustion.

Online activists widely posted stories about Blashchisena's death and encouraged former program participants to send information to investigators. The state's final report substantiates findings of neglect against the program and two of its staff members.

Also in 2009, an investigation by TIME found that girls at another Aspen program in Oregon, Mount Bachelor Academy, were being forced to do lap dances and other inappropriate sexual acts as part of "therapy." A state investigation of the school would later confirm that "sexualized role play in front of staff and peers, requiring students to say derogatory phrases about themselves in front of staff and peers" and "requiring students to reenact past physical abuse in front of staff and peers" did occur, and that the practices were "punitive, humiliating, degrading and traumatizing."

(More on Are Lap Dances an Appropriate Part of Troubled-Teen Treatment?)

In this case, again, Facebook groups, websites and email lists allowed program survivors and their parents to find one other; they uncovered information about earlier state investigations into Mount Bachelor that had been stymied by lack of access to victims, and they were able to pool new information to help current investigators see the pattern of abuse.

Both Aspen programs are now closed, and just last month the group announced the closure of five more programs as well as the consolidation of another three around the country. In a press release, Aspen blamed the economy, saying, "This transition reflects the reduced demand for therapeutic schools and programs in today's economy."

While it's certain that the economic downturn has contributed to the programs' financial troubles — tuition can cost $6,000 a month or more, over several months to years — activism online has also clearly played a significant role. The Elan School was simply the first to cite Internet activity as a direct cause of its closure.

"This movement couldn't have happened without the Internet," says Kathryn Whitehead, founder of CAFETY, the Coalition for the Safe and Effective Treatment of Youth, and a former student at another abusive program that recently closed. "The Internet has been absolutely critical because survivors are spread out across the U.S. They get sent to a program and then they have to go home. When you connect to other program survivors, you recognize that this is a large-scale problem, not an individual program's problem. That has been critical in bringing people together. It's an incredibly effective organizing tool."

What's more, unlike in the heyday of troubled-teen programs, the Internet now allows the instantaneous sharing of information about the current and past goings-on at the schools; in previous eras, those details were scattered in the archives of local newspapers or government files.

When activists looked up local newspaper accounts of the Elan School from 1975, for instance, they found that psychologists who visited Elan had been quoted as saying it was "bizarre and degrading" and that "the whole concept of the program seems to be a brain-washing technique."

Elan was among the most notorious of the country's emotional-growth schools. It was there, in the late 1970s, that Michael Skakel, cousin to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., allegedly confessed to the 1975 murder of his 15-year-old neighbor in Greenwich, Conn., Martha Moxley — a crime for which Skakel remains incarcerated. Skakel's parents had enrolled the boy at Elan to treat an alcohol problem after he was arrested for drunk driving in 1978, several years after the murder.

But what is less known are the techniques commonly used to prompt such confessions at Elan — tactics that were employed at the school for decades, according to former students, often with knowledge of state authorities.

Take "the ring," for instance. In this disciplinary tactic, two students are encircled by a ring of their peers, their arms tightly meshed to prevent escape. Dozens of students and staff members congregate around the ring to spectate, packed into a bare room not much bigger than a studio apartment. At the only exit to the outdoors, which opens directly to the Maine woods, a teenage sentry is stationed. Sentries guard interior doors as well.

One of the student "boxers" inside the ring has been designated to "fight on the side of good." He's there as a representative of the school. The other has been labeled as the bad guy: he is there to accept punishment for breaking one of the school's many strict rules.

As the match gets underway, the ring of teens, typically aged 13 to 18, participates by hitting, pinching or trying to trip the bad guy; maltreating him is not only not encouraged, it's the point. Refusing to participate in jeering or bullying is suspect, and teens who stay quiet risk becoming victims themselves.

Between one-minute rounds, the victim is taunted by spectators and denied water and crowd support. Until he surrenders and accepts whatever label or rule he had rebelled against, fresh opponents are brought in to break him. When he does finally break, the damage is both physical — he's typically bruised and bloodied — and mental. Similar "rings" were also held for girls.

And that's only one example tough love, Elan style. Such accounts of torture and neglect date back to the 1970s, and many came to light as part of the sensational Skakel murder trial in 2002. Witnesses describe kids being systematically slammed against every wall of an entire dormitory. They detail grueling days of sleep deprivation, beatings and psychological humiliation. Students were consistently left in charge of other teens, and instructed to beat them if they did not comply with orders.

Based primarily on testimony from Elan classmates, who said they heard Skakel confess to killing Moxley, the Kennedy cousin was convicted. At Elan, Skakel was made to wear a sign for weeks saying "Confront Me About Why I Killed My Friend," and he is said to have confessed to the murder only after a session in the ring. Confessions gained by the police through methods similar to those used at Elan are illegal. "Basically, they tried to erase you," said one woman who attended Elan from 2002 to 2004.

Jeff Wimbelton led the online charge to close Elan. (The name is a pseudonym; for professional reasons, Wimbelton does not wish to be identified.) Now in his 20s, he attended the school in the early 2000s, having been sent there following an arrest for running away from home.

Wimbelton says he witnessed the brutality of the ring at least 20 times during the two years he was enrolled at Elan, and was himself made to fight "on the side of good."

Although the state of Maine was aware that this violent ritual was being conducted at the school, it did little more than encourage Elan to stop voluntarily. Yellow Light Breen, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Education, told the Sun Journal in 2002 that:

    ...his department was aware of the "ring" treatment at Elan and that it was a "real issue" 10 to 12 years ago. "We pressed them pretty hard and they agreed not to do it," he says. "We were certainly led to believe it ceased several years" ago.

    Also, he added, in the last year, the DOE has banned the use of restraints and so-called "adverses," like being hit, pinched or being subject to loud noises.

Wimbelton says that despite Elan's claims that the ring was stopped in 2000, he saw a ring session as late as 2001. Other former students corroborate his story.

In 2007, the continued use of so-called aversive therapies despite a lack of evidence of their effectiveness — and despite significant evidence of their harms — spurred me to write an op-ed piece about Elan for the New York Times. At the time, Elan was one of two out-of-state programs using punitive treatment at which New York State youth with conditions like autism, learning disabilities or behavior problems were eligible to receive state-funded treatment.

My piece prompted a state investigation. As the Sun Journal reported:

    David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the Maine Department of Education, said the agency has "investigated Elan a number of times based on reports of abuse and other deficiencies, and never found any evidence." He said that New York officials also have investigated, and never found evidence of abuse at the Poland school.

But that's not what New York State officials told me. In a letter to Elan following the investigation prompted by my Times op-ed, regulators said that Elan used "sleep deprivation," excessive isolation and restraint, and "coercive and confrontational" counseling that was conducted by untrained students, who often used foul language. They asked that these "health and safety" issues be resolved within seven days.

It's not clear why Maine's investigators failed for decades to find abuse at the school, while New York's officials saw disturbing treatment during their first visit. It could be because Maine announces its inspections in advance, while New York sends investigators to programs unannounced.

Wimbelton was inspired to act after reading media reports about the 2007 investigation of Elan and the later comments of recent graduates. One woman wrote in the comments section below my Huffington Post article about the investigation that her nephew had committed suicide after being enrolled at Elan. Another woman who had attended the school from 2005 to 2008 commented there that she was "traumatized."

"Reading that comment, it was like a fuse went off in my brain," says Wimbelton, who had assumed that Elan had reformed its ways since he had attended. "I thought, I can't believe this is still going on. I have to do something to stop it."

He waged an online war using every weapon he could think of: Facebook pages, tumblr blogs, websites and other social media. When Wimbelton posted about Elan on Reddit, the post received thousands of votes and generated enormous traffic. He encouraged others to post their stories too. People responded, posting and cross-linked their missives enough so that anti-Elan sites soon began to rise to the top of Google's search results, offering parents a very different view of the program than that on the school's own website.

Wimbelton even looked up the local media's coverage of school sports, which listed the names of Elan athletes. With a little online sleuthing, Wimbleton was able to find the names of the parents of the kids; he called them to try to warn them about what went on at the school. Upon hearing Wimbelton's story and reading the links he sent, the parents of four such children decided to withdraw their enrollment, he says.

"The fantastic thing about the Internet has been that individuals can post their own personal experiences — it's not a one-sided marketing tool," says Whitehead.

Elan insists that it has done nothing wrong, and that the 40 years worth of stories from dozens of teens has misrepresented its curriculum. Indeed, there are some former students who thank the school for its tough tactics, crediting them for saving their lives. But since there has never been a controlled study of the program's methods, it's impossible to know whether they could possibly be broadly effective.

"It's surreal," Wimbleton says of the school's closure. "There were times I thought it was a lost cause. How in God's name was that allowed to go on for so long?"

"It's fantastic news," says Whitehead. But she notes that about 400 private, unregulated programs still operate, locking down teens and using harsh, humiliating and confrontational approaches as therapy. Legislation to regulate these programs passed the House following GAO investigations and Congressional hearings in 2007 and 2008, but the bill is still awaiting introduction into the Senate and passage of new regulations appears unlikely.

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