PROTEST – THROW THE BUMS OUT!

Judge Kavanaugh Confirmation Protest on the Hill (Photo – J. Flannery)

Judge Kavanaugh Confirmation Protest on the Hill (Photo – J. Flannery)

The Honorable William O. Douglas went to Columbia Law School, taught at Yale, and found his way to the U.S. Supreme Court as an Associate Justice, courtesy of FDR.

He was a hero of mine.  I wanted to clerk for him but he said he only took on clerks from out west from whence he came. This is not to say I would have gotten the clerkship if he got his law clerks from New York, from his alma mater and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

I wish Justice Douglas were alive today to write and speak to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  He would surely join former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, a Nixon appointee, who objected to Kavanaugh, as unfit for service as an Associate Justice because, in large part, of Kavanaugh’s express partisan bias.

Douglas wrote “Points of Dissent” when I was young but still smart enough to get his meaning.

It was a discussion of the law and facts at the time, that is, in the 60s and early 70s.

It was about the right and scope of First Amendment “free speech” exertions.

Like then, to paraphrase Douglas’ article, we are suffering under “a climate of conformity” among the political class.  It is dominated by “a narrow spectrum of social and political opinion,” almost entirely autocratic and discriminatory. It is a toxic condition sustained by slander, scapegoats, and entirely anti-intellectual.  In effect, it pushes back individual rights and freedoms presumed to exist at law and in practice, but gravely endangered.  Wrong-headed know-nothing politicians are dismantling and compromising historic institutions of government including our courts that the founders established in 1787.

Some are amazed that this attack on Justice Kavanaugh has prompted dissent.  Really?  The day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, women marched on Washington to protest Mr. Trump’s callous disrespect for women.  Mr. Trump could have chosen a nominee without Kavanaugh’s shortcomings but Trump cared more that this nominee might also protect him from the ongoing Mueller investigation. Continue reading

SUPREMELY UNQUALIFIED – Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Former Labor Committee Chair, Senator Orrin Hatch (and the author)

Former Labor Committee Chair, Senator Orrin Hatch (and the author)

A long time ago, in the 80s, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) asked, given my background as a federal prosecutor, if I would investigate whether the FBI withheld information from the U.S. Senate Labor Committee during the confirmation hearings of Labor Secretary Nominee, Raymond Donovan, then President of the Schiavone Construction Company in New Jersey, and nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

As Senator Hatch’s Special Counsel, we uncovered the fact that the FBI had consciously and purposefully withheld information they had on a federal wiretap that Mr. Donovan was “mobbed up.”

The FBI, perhaps at the behest of the White House, denied the Senators this critical information by which they could decide to consent (or deny) Mr. Donovan’s confirmation.

You’d think that, from the 80s to now, we’d have learned how important it is to run a thorough background investigation.

The current confirmation hearings of DC Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh ran aground because the Trump Administration authorized a narrow FBI background investigation, and the U.S. Senate, courtesy of Judiciary Committee Chair , set a too short timetable for the inquiry to be deliberate or effective. Continue reading

DANNY SUNSHINE – representing a long tradition

Clients_siloDanny Sunshine had an underwater face with a slight mustache and thinning hair.

I was not yet of an age to know how old Danny was, not just by the look of the man, he was adult, certainly older than 30, maybe 40 something.

I knew Danny was a lawyer.  I was a 2nd year law student who needed a lawyer.

You walked through the door of Danny’s White Plains office, and Danny was right there, sitting at a worn mahogany desk, covered with papers and files, the desk at right angles to the front door, the office was that narrow.

To pull up a chair to Danny’s desk would block the front door.

Danny said, “So what’s the matter?”

“This young lady in her Dad’s station wagon,” I started, “ran through a red light, slamming into my motorcycle, converting my BMW into a large paper weight, breaking my leg, and this is why I’m here, she’s got the nerve to sue me for what she did.” Continue reading

The Silent Victim

“Patrice” (Photo/sketch by John P. Flannery)

“Patrice” (Photo/sketch by John P. Flannery)

Some ask, “Why does an alleged victim of a sex predator wait so long to come forward?””

Patrice agreed to discuss the sexual attack she suffered 45 years ago because she thought it might be a catharsis for herself, but, more importantly, to help other victims to find their voice and come forward to help others understand why we often wait to disclose.

Patrice said, “these public attacks on victims, charging, that they’ve been ‘waiting too long’ to come forward upset me.  These victims deserve to be heard loud and clear, and not to be ostracized.  It’s not so easy to come forward.  Maybe only the victims know this.”

“I think of my own sexual assault,” said Patrice, “and my efforts to process what happened to me so long ago.”

With some difficulty, Patrice described what happened to her.

“I was a freshman in college living at home in a suburb of New York City and commuting to school each day,” said Patrice, “and, of all places, the sexual assault, holding me, not letting me escape, preventing me from getting away, occurred on a public bus, in January 1973.  I wasn’t raped but I was grabbed and restrained by this offending stranger.”

“I did come forward in my case,” said Patrice, “and the police were called when I arrived back home.  The process became progressively more hurtful.  They interviewed me, took my statement and had me look through mug shot books.  It was like you saw on tv but I couldn’t find any mug shot.”

“I never thought that something like this could happen to me in my hometown,” said Patrice.

“Amazingly, that wasn’t the end of it,” Patrice said, “later that day I went to a local pizzeria with my sister to eat and calm down. While eating, I looked up, and across the street I saw my attacker  and he was waiting for the bus.  I lost it and freaked out.”

“My sister called the police.  They caught him on the bus where he’d just attacked three other women.”

“I did what some have not,” said Patrice, “I pressed charges against this man. I was required to attend a hearing the next day.  Before the hearing I met with the Asst. DA and was questioned over and over again about what happened, including what I was wearing, like I invited the attack with my student blue jeans and long winter coat.  I was asked if I had provoked my assailant, and worse.  It was humiliating and degrading.”

“At the hearing,” said Patrice, “it was disclosed that my attacker had a history of attacking women going back to the 1950’s, including the 3 women he attacked that day.  Unfortunately, the other victims declined to appear at the hearing that day.  My attacker was not sentenced to any punishment for his crime.  Instead, he was remanded to a psychiatric facility for 3-6 months.”

“It was as if I’d been a victim twice,” Patrice said.

“Following the assault, I had and continue to have panic attacks,” said Patrice, “I get claustrophobic in crowds and tight spaces.  I had been trusting.  But no longer.  I was leery of strangers, anyone outside our immediate family.”

“I was only able to tell my story to acquaintences around 2012,” said Patrice.

“As compared to others,” said Patrice, “my attack was not a rape or a kidnapping.  Still, it was terrifying.”

“I’ve learned that men get away with this gross misbehavior,” said Patrice, “and we have had an array of powerful and public men, treating women as objects, uncovered of late, who forced themselves on women, like they may do whatever they want.”

“It is clear,” said Patrice, “that some women are coming forward to call out men in the public eye or who are in transition, in or about to assume significant positions of trust.  More women sense that they have an obligation to endure the scrutiny lest unworthy men are assumed to be otherwise.  But victims are wary.  They see how they are treated.”

“It is tempting to many,” said Patrice, “to disbelieve the charges of sexual misconduct when we see what these men have accomplished in their professional lives, or how they appear in the family Christmas photo, but that’s a mistake. Women need to find their voices. Our society must learn to listen to these charges of sexual misconduct from these victims, no matter how long it takes, and foster laws and practices that make it more dignified for the silent victims to come forward.”

The Region Worries About Pollutants From WV

Will ill winds carry pollutants from West Virginia to Virginia and Maryland?

Will ill winds carry pollutants from West Virginia to Virginia and Maryland?

Citizens and public officials from Virginia and Maryland are concerned about an 150-million-dollar 135-acre WV insulation manufacturing plant in Ranson that may hurl pollutants up two 200-foot high smokestacks that will fall upon the citizens of West Virginia but also Virginia and Maryland as well.

The citizens of Ranson, WV, where the factory is to be located, following a June 2018 ground-breaking, are up in arms protesting what this could mean to the health and wellbeing of their children attending nearby schools and daycare facilities.

The plant is scheduled to run 24/7, and is located directly across Route 9 from North Jefferson Elementary School, and within 10,000 feet of T.A. Lowery Elementary, Jefferson High School and Wildwood Middle School.  These four schools have about 2,744 students.  Parents are talking about removing their children from school and moving. Continue reading

Back to Nature

Acadia

Acadia

I went for a trek in Acadia in Maine, along the Northern coast, in a light cool rain – and no one was on any of the paths through the woods.

You could hardly be closer to nature.

In the difficult places, in the woods, you have to pause to walk, to move more carefully, to pick your way.

I found inch high purple orchids, slightly agape, hanging in an array, against a seeming wall of wide green leaves and stems.

We have sights like this here at home but not everyone appreciates what we have.

There were large patches of soft green-white moss beneath my foot fall in Maine, and tender fibrous growths clustered on obstructing over-hanging limbs.

Where there wasn’t moss on the forest floor, there was what had once been vibrant flora, flattened dead tree limbs, pressed moist leaves and branches, fallen by age or wind or the brush of a deer, or even another human passerby.

We don’t have to go anywhere to have something like this in Western Loudoun but too many don’t appreciate what we have. Continue reading

RESPECT

The Queen of Soul Sung a Song of Respect (Sketch by John Flannery)

The Queen of Soul Sung a Song of Respect (Sketch by John Flannery)

Respect is the mutual appreciation of the worth, of the virtue, of the character, of another.

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” sang in a glorious voice, the notes climbing to the heavens, a demand for a “little respect,” “just a little bit,” “whip it to me,” she sang, “sock it to me,” she cried out, holding her arms wide, as if to embrace everyone within sight, unable to stand still, moving, always moving, as she sang.

Aretha spelled out loud and clear what she wanted, so there could be no doubt, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, imploring everyone to know and understand, “what it means to me.” Continue reading

Oysters and you!

Jessy Diaz preparing some oysters at the King Street Oyster Bar

Jessy Diaz preparing some oysters at the King Street Oyster Bar

What do folk like to do on a Friday evening, perhaps downing a “happy hour” beverage and that iconic bivalve, an eastern oyster, from the Chesapeake Bay?

Don Peterson, from Brunswick, Maryland, said, “I didn’t like oysters when I was a kid.  But I went down to Jacksonville Beach, in Florida, and found I like them, and like them best, raw, and I eat them as white as you can get ‘em.”  Some favor the Blue Water Daquiri and Oyster Bar in Jacksonville.

Closer to home, Magnolia’s at the Mill in Purcellville, get its oysters from the War Shore Oyster Company, according to Magnolia’s floor manager, Julie Dalrymple, and they almost always “get them once a week and serve them as ‘specials’.”

Lovettsville’s Market Table Bistro gets their oysters from Chincoteague and further up the east coast from Nantucket, according to Eddie Johnston, the “front of the house” manager at the Bistro.  Continue reading

Enemy of the People

Alexander Hamilton – the first Federalist

Alexander Hamilton – the first Federalist

The Bill of Rights including the First Amendment, protecting freedom of speech and press, was written to protect us against the wrongs that might otherwise be done against citizens, by an oppressive government or by a willful majority against a weaker minority or individual.

The U.S. Constitution replaced the colonies’ Articles of Confederation, declaring the Articles ineffective, making it necessary, the Federalists insisted, to re-create our government, so that we might survive as an independent nation.

We formed a government divided into three departments, each with specified powers and responsibilities, separated one from the other, a federal government.

But the Constitution, created in Philadelphia, said nothing about the individual rights reserved to the people.

Some called the Constitution a “gilded trap” created by the aristocratic elements and charged it was anti-democratic.

An anti-federalist from Massachusetts wrote under the assumed name, John DeWitt, “[t]hat the want of a Bill of Rights to accompany this proposed system [of federalism], is a solid objection to it ….” Continue reading

Mike Pugh – In Defense of a Meadow

Mike and Sian Pugh in the Meadow he’s defending – an echo of American Gothic?

Mike and Sian Pugh in the Meadow he’s defending – an echo of American Gothic?

Mike Pugh is from Kansas where, as a young man, he worked a fair amount of his time haying.

Despite his work in the fields, he didn’t consciously consider how he might be forming a partnership with nature that would stay with him.

This connection with the land became clear when he came to Western Loudoun County where many are struggling to preserve the land’s rural character.

Mike didn’t expect he’d become a combatant in a debate to preserve what he found. Continue reading