Monthly Archives: March 2015

The privacy snatchers

privacyImageYou may not have known that you had a Big Brother in Virginia watching you but Virginia State Police have had automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) that not only take pictures of license plates at the rate of 900 hundred a minute, no matter if it’s day or night, rainy or not, with devices that operate just fine when the police vehicle is traveling at 140 miles an hour while passing or closing.

These devices identify your vehicle, where it is, and when it’s there.  You may think that’s terrific.  But not when you consider that these devices are surveilling citizens suspected of nothing, when there’s no active criminal case, no suspect, no hint of a stolen car, no drug buy in progress.

Still, the police hoover up megabytes of data, and store it until they feel compelled to scrutinize what we may have done, with whom and when.

The First Amendment guarantees the right to associate with whomever you wish without any interference from the state that might “chill” this association.

Based on earlier FOIA requests, we know the State Police has employed these automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) to know who attended political rallies for President Obama and for Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.  That’s no proper police function.  Rather, it’s a “police state” function. Continue reading

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