Equal Justice? Not Yet!

UVA Student, Martese Johnson, beaten

UVA Student, Martese Johnson, beaten

We beat up a black student in Virginia – an honor student.

We hung a black man in Mississippi – his feet floating 2-3 feet off the ground.

And we’ve got a local Leesburg councilman from Loudoun County who doesn’t see the point of a diversity commission because Jesus freed the slaves and Jesus would have told us to create such a diversity commission if we really needed one.  (Listen to what he said - https://youtu.be/Texh0_bjvLk )

Well we need more than a commission in America – and a lot smarter thinking public officials than our local councilman.

Sure, it rubs some people wrong to say “we” – you and I – beat up or hung someone.  But our society’s sins of omission make us all responsible for these vile acts in Virginia and Mississippi and in Staten Island in New York and elsewhere, symptomatic of this nation’s historically “uneasy” association with slavery and discrimination, re-emerging more visibly and offensively in recent days.

The failure to act makes us all accomplices after the fact.  John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself” because we are “involved in mankind.”  Another way to put it is – a bad man is a good man’s problem – and we have our work cut out for us these days. Continue reading

The Spirit of the Irish!

Catherine McCoy and Edward Applegate, her American husband

Catherine McCoy and Edward Applegate, her American husband

My maternal grandmother, Catherine McCoy, was born in Ireland on May 9, 1897 and was baptized according to the Rites of the Catholic Church in the Church of St. Patrick, Crossmaglen, in the County of Armagh.

Even in her sixties, you were certain that Grandma Catherine must have just breezed in from Ireland the day before because, what this delicate lady described, with her slight brogue, and her blazing blue eyes, was a vivid word picture of honest hard working folk, in Irish villages and towns, helping each other and trusting in their faith to make it all right.

In fact, Catherine lived her life in America – as her Church would have it.  But life in America didn’t begin when she was Sixty – as one who heard her might suspect.  Catherine left Ireland by boat for New York and sailed the wine dark sea with her parents when she was only six years of age.

Catherine knew Ireland, in all its glorious wonder and sorrow, through her father’s eyes, from many dinner table conversations, while coming of age in America.  The spirit of Ireland, born in her, was nurtured by her parents, and defined who she was. Continue reading

Pain in America – and our vets

painInAmericaThere’s pain in America — and the government is making it worse.

Our veterans, the men and women who risked their lives in mid-East theaters of war, came home, many of them broken, in need of care, with missing limbs and post traumatic stress, prompting unrelenting pain.

Our government is withholding relief from that pain, forcing them off pain medicine, the opioids that allowed these men and women to function.

I was a federal prosecutor in New York in the war against drugs in the 1970s, along with then AUSA Rudy Giuliani, and we fought the good fight against drugs.

We did, however, chase organized crime drug dealers who were importing hundreds of kilos of heroin that we called the “white death.”

Now the government, state and federal, is chasing pain patients including vets and their doctors for prescribing pain medication.

It’s a lot safer to break down the door of a clinic Rambo-style and to arrest sedentary middle-aged doctors, than those who import, manufacture, and distribute illegal drugs on our streets.

The government should prosecute those who are dealing drugs instead of doctors who are healing patients.

The DEA is insisting that Vets return to a doctor’s office monthly for their “scripts.”  They know the vets can’t get VA appointments to get the scripts.  They know the VA’s health care system needs a pace-maker.  The back logs for VA care are horrific.  Vets have died waiting for care. Continue reading

Dominion’s 550 mile toxic gas pipeline

dominionpipelineWe all resent the fact that Dominion Power owns the elected officials and pols in both parties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, rather than having our elected “representatives” represent “our” interests.

Dominion Power dictates legislation that favors its unrestrained exploitation of our natural resources in derogation of our individual rights and liberties.

Only days ago, our leaders in both parties told us that it was a good deal for us to have a floor on electricity rates and to exempt Dominion from regulatory oversight for seven years.

Last year, the General Assembly gave Dominion a $400 million corporate welfare write-off for a plant that Dominion may never build.

A particularly obvious example of personal excess is a million dollar state grant to Dominion’s CEO, Thomas Farell, to make a civil war movie.

Unsurprisingly, Dominion has no hesitation about planning a 550 mile 42-inch wide pipeline, called the Atlantic Pipeline, from Harrison County, WV, through Virginia, and on to North Carolina, full of fracked and toxic liquid natural gas, 1.5 billion cubic feet a day, at a pressure of 1,440 psig, extracted from the Marcellus shale fields in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

In order to build this pipeline, Dominion shall destroy swaths of forests and private property, compromise wildlife and historic venues, and, when they’re done, if we don’t stop this juggernaut now, there will be toxic liquid natural gas (LNG) spills and leaks. Continue reading

Rude Rudy

rudeRudyRude Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, and unsuccessful Republican Presidential nominee, says President Obama doesn’t “love” America, and then he said his remarks are not racist because Obama had a white mother.   Sounds crazy – and it is – but it’s also true.

Rudy has terminal West Wing envy. And not very good political judgment.  Or good manners.

Rudy was hosting a reception at the formerly chic mid-town NY watering hole, “the 21 Club,” on West 52nd Street, for Governor Scott Walker – so the Governor could find some open checkbooks for his nascent presidential campaign.

That fund-raising reception may have also been calculated to position Rudy for a cabinet post should Republican Governor Walker win the 2016 Presidential sweepstakes.

But Rudy’s gotta hate and, seemingly, no one more than President Obama.

At this “private” gathering, Rudy said, “I do not believe that the President loves America.”  Rudy also said, “I know this is a horrible thing to say.”  Then, why did you say it Rudy?  Because it was “private.”  You’d think he would have learned something from “the Mitt.”

Rudy later unwisely added that his remarks about Obama’s upbringing should not be considered racist because the president was raised by “a white mother.”

It sounds like something a comic like Jon Stewart would make up.  But no, it’s true.  Rudy really said that. Continue reading

Evolution and education

scottwalkercbsnewsWithin one day of the 206th anniversary of the death of Charles Darwin on February 12th, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), testing the waters to run for President of the United States, “punted” on the question of whether he believed in Evolution.

A British Moderator asked Governor Walker, “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution, do you accept it, do you believe in it?

Mr. Walker said, “I’m going to punt on that one [question] as well.  That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other, so I’m going to leave that up to you.”

The moderator responded, “Really?”

Another possible Presidential wannabe in the 2016 sweepstakes, former Governor Mike Huckabee, was one of three Republican presidential contenders in the May 2007 Republican primary debate who said he didn’t believe in evolution.

We have High School students across the nation who know better than that. Continue reading

St. James’ movie on political $ prompts debate

pay2playSt. James UCC advertised that they were convening a “non-partisan” viewing of a movie at 7 PM last Tuesday to consider how campaign finance compromises democracy and representative government.

David Weintraub said, “Wherever you are on the political spectrum there seems to be pretty broad agreement that the way campaigning is done is negative, distasteful and drives people away from engagement.”

David publicized the movie, “Pay2Play,” among other ways, on Facebook, at Lovettsville 20180.

Frank McDonough led the charge, however, posting an FB dissent, testing how “broad” the agreement actually was about the perils of campaign finance, claiming the advertised movie was too liberal, and attacked David, saying: “I have followed your editorials in many local papers for a few years. I am reasonably sure that I have never agreed with any of them.”

Warner Workman, Jr., said, “I would much rather be lied to a[nd] feel good than hear the truth.”

Frank said, “As far as your Pastor [Don Prange] I have never met him, either but imagine my surprise when my family in Charleston WV called to tell me that he had been arrested there at a UMW rally.”

David responded, “I am very proud of my pastor. It’s easy enough to sit in church and wring our hands and say ‘Isn’t it awful how those people are treated?’  To put your own body on the line, as in the very robust Christian tradition of the civil rights movement, back to Abolition and beyond, takes courage and commitment to the life and teachings of Jesus.” Continue reading

Don’t go near the water!

oiledgull

U. S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine along with Governor Terry McAuliffe have endangered Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks and, more generally, our Atlantic coastal waters.

They support foul and dirty development in the waters offshore, fighting for the right of the toxic fossil fuel industry to drill for gas and oil.

They are most reassuring.  You know that soft tonal incantation politicians hone to reassure us that all will be just fine.  It makes you scream.  You want to shout, “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.”

We can still remember the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.  The BP spokespersons enunciated in soft oleaginous tones, “It will be just fine.”  But they weren’t even close.

The White House closed off drilling in the Atlantic Coastal waters after the disastrous BP spill.  Anything else would have been unreasonable.  We witnessed in relentless television and print and digital coverage how the Horizon disaster killed tourism, how few flocked to oil-stained beaches wanting to see mired birds dying, and how the fishing industry had nowhere to go but down.

Now President Barack Obama has reversed field, caving to pressure from the fossil fuel giants who want oil and gas drill rigs in place from Virginia to Georgia.

We are still unsafe because the reforms in the industry range from moderate to nothing at all when it comes to avoiding the risk of an oil spill or a blowout. Continue reading

Sniper Chris Kyle – hoorah?

chriskyle

The “American Sniper” movie and autobiography by Chris Kyle that spawned “the movie” are taking unrelenting twitter fire.

It’s an Iraqi dust storm obscuring what’s accurate about the sniper’s character and what he did in the war.

It also tears open the mortal wound inflicted on the nation’s psyche by a war that many believe never should have been.

Chris Kyle, a Texan who believed in our country, was at a loss to make something out of his life as a private citizen.

Chris joined the military to find his home among the elite as a Navy SEAL, finding purpose and joy in combat, and becoming legend – as an historic sniper.

Chris put aside family, fear of risk to his life, suffered swimming that he hated, skirted sharks and sea lions, endured humiliating and abusive training exercises, and combat hardship, in ways few people on earth can imagine. Chris finished four tours in the mid East conflict in Iraq, coming home at the end in the fog of fear and anxiety, suffering what war inflicts on the best of warriors, indeed the shock of war that few escape.

The best indication who Kyle truly was is found in his “autobiography” that sounds in several different voices.

In person published interviews with Chris allow you to pick out what most resembles Chris’ own voice from among the “others” who helped him write his bio.

If I had not read the entire book, I would reduce Chris’ code as a warrior to the fun of killing savages, as stated in the first few pages.  But what’s said afterwards is more nuanced. Continue reading

We’ve got to do better

MLK: “Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

MLK: “Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

There’s a big difference between condemning religious fanatics slaughtering a dozen unarmed political French cartoonists for satirizing the prophet Mohammed, and endorsing the content of their satirical expression that is plainly offensive to the non-violent Muslim faithful.

It’s a corollary of free speech that coercion against anyone based on what they express by cartoons, prose, or the spoken word is a fundamental violation of “free” speech.

On the other hand, there is hardly anything more destructive of comity in a world so ready to war, than the express or implicit endorsement of satirical disrespect for the founder and prophet of any religion.

Some say: “What does it matter what they publish?”

Since when have we endorsed freedom without responsibility?

How many are comfortable with disrespectful satirical attacks against their own religions and distasteful remarks that may include Krishna, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Lao-Tsu, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Fox, John Huss, John Wesley, Swedenborg, the Bab, Baha’u’llah, Brigham Young, Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, or Gandhi?

One million magazines containing these disrespectful images were sold following this grisly slaughter.

We convened a million person march in Paris to protest killings calculated to still freedom of speech but we’re apparently unable to parse the separate question, whether we approve of disrespect against those religious having nothing to do with the killings.

Nor is this just about timing.

There should be some cultural and personal standards of conduct that are sensitive to a non-believer’s disrespect.

Is this offense, making light of a religious leader, and a prophet, anything like the throwback who just has to use the offensive racist N-word?

I think so.  Continue reading