Monthly Archives: November 2014

Freiheit – Freedom

Woodgrove German teacher, Effie Hall (center), with students “protesting” the Berlin Wall

Woodgrove German teacher, Effie Hall (center), with students “protesting” the Berlin Wall

Twenty Five years ago, on November 9, 1989, the 12-foot high Berlin Wall, with its mounted razor wire, manned guard towers, and the adjoining forbidding “strip of death,” all of a sudden, was no longer the brutal towering barrier that prevented East Germans from escaping West to freedom; the wall was coming down.

Woodgrove High School students from Lovettsville, an historic German settlement, and students from Western Loudoun County, commemorated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall by “protesting” what the German Chancellor, Willy Brandt, once described as the “wall of shame.”

Students spoke of the offending wall in German and said: “Nie wieder” – Never again!; they said, “Genug!”- Enough!, just as you’d push back against a bully; and they said, as if they were standing before the original wall themselves, “Wir sind frei” – We are free. Continue reading


Loudoun High School Football Practice

Loudoun High School Football Practice

Loudoun County won’t allow our kids to measure the impact of crashing into each other on the football field – even if that information might guard against brain injuries.

Our County school system should have its collective head examined.

The NFL earlier this year said that nearly three in ten retired players will develop debilitating brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The NFL has reportedly put the same sensors in its players’ helmets as the military is using to evaluate those jarring head movements that could lead to traumatic brain injury (“TBI”).

The American Football League announced earlier this year that they were requiring helmet mounted sensors made by Brain Sentry out of Maryland.

The sensor gives an alert when a player suffers an unusually rapid acceleration of the head, making that player a candidate for a concussion or for successive concussions that must be accurately and timely evaluated to assure the player’s safety.  The sensor also counts the number of hits to a player’s head.

AFL Commissioner, Jerry B. Kurz, said, “[U]ntil we saw the Brain Sentry impact counter and tested it, we did not feel there was a solution that was practical and deployable for the AFL.”

The sensor is a light weight micro-electromechanical, tri-axial acceleromoter capable of measuring acceleration from any direction, attached to the helmet, and it interferes not at all in the field of play.

We are almost at the end of an era of “dumb helmets” – because we need more real-time objective information to guard against players of any age suffering a possible brain injury.

One report claims that the concussion rate for High School athletes in the United States has doubled since 2005, meaning either the injuries have increased or reporting has improved dramatically.

Loudoun parents went out and bought these Brain Sentry sensors – the same ones the AFL is using – to put on their sons’ helmets to assure some greater measure of safety when playing for Loudoun Valley.  The coaches had the players remove the helmets.  The players could have non-contact drills without the helmets.  But they could not have any contact drills with the sensors on the helmets.  Troubling “logic!” Continue reading

Utterly unappealing

mud-slinging campaigns

mud-slinging campaigns

This last political campaign, as conducted by all political parties, was in utter negation of what might have been inspiring, in utter negation of what might have been civil, and in utter negation of what might have been truthful and accurate.

Let’s take stock of what we’ve just endured and discourage the anticipated reoccurrence of this utterly unappealing campaign misconduct.

For starters, it should be at least a misdemeanor for campaigns to lie in the fundraising material that floods and overruns our digital and snail mail boxes.

If there really is someone who will double or triple my contribution, then go bother him for whatever you need.

For days after my final political contribution of this past election cycle, I was solicited by the same candidate for having not contributed.

Other voters received urgent admonitions about failing to vote in a previous election, and given stern school-marmish directives – “Not to let that happen again!” – when those instructing voters often got their facts dead wrong.

We’re numb to candidates being uncivil to each other.  But now those who want our support say whatever it takes to get our money.

My central complaint, however, is that not only did we have a dismal set of wannabe nominees across the nation in both parties, judging by their arguments, but also that no one addressed the most significant argument to be considered throughout this dismal election cycle – How exactly are we going to make these partisans, and the conflicting branches of government, and the objecting states, roll up their sleeves and work together after the election? Continue reading

The right to vote

voteflagThe greatest engine for political freedom is the freedom to have a say in your government, to choose who represents your interests, to vote.  Too many failed to exercise this hard won right in the recent election.

When the barons of England confronted King John in 1215 in London with force of arms, the King agreed that the Barons could overrule the King should he break the agreement he made with them.  King John broke his word the instant the Barons left London.  But the Magna Carta was an aspiration to defy the monarch and was found by Sir Edward Coke to encompass not only the nobles but all the subjects of the crown.

Our Virginia Charter of 1606 was drafted by Sir Coke and it said we would enjoy all the liberties of any Englishman.

But that’s not what happened.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the Governed,” it was because King George III governed without our consent.  Jefferson charged in the Declaration of Independence that the King “dissolved [our] Representative Houses” because they opposed “with manly Firmness [the King’s] Invasions on the Rights of the People,”  “impos[ed] taxes …without our consent,” and unilaterally decided the laws that bound us.

50,000 colonials killed or wounded was the price we paid in a revolution to represent ourselves.

In our Constitution in 1787, “we the people” pledged that we would “form a more perfect union,” and our institutions have since become “more perfect,” extending the vote to persons of color, and to women, and having Senators chosen by the people instead of by the several state legislatures.

There are nation-states where the people are forced to vote and taxed if they don’t.  Not here.

There are nation-states that intimidate and brutalize those who vote the wrong way.  Not here.

When I was a young New York federal prosecutor, we would draw duty on Election Day to respond to any allegation of voter fraud.  I never got a call.  Of the hundreds of millions of votes cast in the United States, there is only a handful of persons nationwide ever prosecuted for voter fraud.

In seeking that more perfect union, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to outlaw discrimination against voters.

In response to the 2000 election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, reforming how we vote and setting standards for voting.

We have more work to do to “perfect” our system.

But we have the vote.

The shame of course is that many don’t vote.

Apathy, skepticism, ideological opposition compromise the right of the public to say how they are governed, enabling the cynical to game caucuses and primaries with fewer voters, making forced choices in general elections, again with fewer voters.

The history of individual liberty is the fight to vote.  When we don’t vote, we put at risk our liberty.  So let us vote if we would be free!