The Tools of a Tyrant

You be the judge if the tools of a tyrant are pervasive in our once more united states.

The impermeable veil that separated fact from fiction is now porous and in danger of disappearing entirely.

Lies_as_truthArguments are only as strong as the underlying facts we know to be true, and, our Chief Executive’s subalterns insist there is such a thing as “alternative facts.”

The “known” credibility of a person or entity is fatally defective if instead a poseur, a counterfeit voice, pretends that they are that person or entity we have trusted when, in fact and truth, they are not that person or entity.

We believe we know if we are being fooled but that’s hardly credible when we have been so thoroughly manipulated by info-age bots (ro-bot apps), traveling at the speed of electrons, programmed to mislead us.

On Facebook and Twitter, members freely disclose all manner of information, in a trusting manner and to an extent that Jefferson could never have imagined.

A Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia created false opinion makers on Facebook and Twitter, also bogus Facebook members to roam and troll among us as if they were legit, incendiary memes and false opinions to distribute as well among the unaware.

Christopher Wylie, a former data scientist, at Cambridge Analytica, out of Great Britain, confirms that Cambridge Analytica was created by presidential campaign supporters and associates of Mr. Donald Trump.  Steve Bannon, of the alt-right, one of those campaign supporters, set out to create a psychological warfare tool for the presidential election.  Robert Mercer, the hedge-fund billionaire, invested in Cambridge Analytica. Continue reading

Students Lead the Way

Loudoun Valley High School walked out on March 14, 2018

Loudoun Valley High School walked out on March 14, 2018

Thousands of students from across Loudoun County walked out of class for 17 minutes, a minute of silent remembrance for each of the 17 students and staff killed in a Parkland, Florida High School, by an AR 15 wielded by 19-year-old Nikolas Jacob Cruz.

The students also assembled to protest automatic and semi-automatic weapons that, according to an organizer at the Seneca Ridge Middle School walkout, Lane Thimmesch, have no practical use, and can only be used to hunt people.

The students in Loudoun County joined a massive national protest, from New York to Seattle, and many small towns and communities in between, on March 14, 2017, one month after the Florida shooting.

The demonstrators permitted to speak or carry a sign said that they’d had “enough” of “hope and prayers” and wanted “action,” demanding that elected officials protect them from gunfire and death.

In Loudoun County, among the published Student’s Rights and Responsibilities, students have a right to “freedom of expression” through “speech, peaceful assembly, petition, and other lawful means provided such expression does not cause substantial disruption …”

Ironically, we instruct our students that the “Boston Tea Party,” throwing 342 chests of British East India Company tea into the harbor waters, that “cursed weed,” was a righteous protest. Continue reading

We Hurt Those We Claim to Help

Arguing that a chronic pain patient is not a criminal for taking his meds

Arguing that a chronic pain patient is not a criminal for taking his meds

I have argued for the right of patients with relentless and chronic pain to get relief – and that means pain killers including opioids.

I have represented pain doctors who are healing not dealing when they prescribe pain killers to chronic pain patients.

But we have a national campaign and citizens up in arms who are endangering those in pain –because there is no nuance in their anti-pain medication campaign.

There’s pain in America — and our government is making it worse certain that pain medication can only cause addiction, when dependence on medication is not the same thing as addiction, and relief from pain is all that stands between many people and suicide.

We have politicians across the nation, who know less about the medical science than my Jack Russells, arguing that we must withhold opioids from chronic pain patients, despite the fact that this medication allows 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 were chasing organized crime drug kingpins who were importing hundreds of kilos of pure heroin.  We thought we were doing more than just imprisoning bad guys.  We now know that taking these drug kingpins off the street did little to push back drug use in this nation.

Now we are chasing pain patients and their doctors. Continue reading

The black hero – NY Detective John Shaft

Samuel Jackson became John Shaft

Samuel Jackson became John Shaft

“Black Panther,” the movie, has been rightly heralded as a cultural shift and a praiseworthy change for featuring a black hero as the lead, celebrated by a widely diverse and enthusiastic audience, with many moviegoers going back to watch this flick again.

A noble and courageous African nation with special gifts in spirit, science, and a unique mineral resource, kept secret from the world for fear of the world beyond its shores, headed up by an enlightened warrior king, “the Black Panther,” realizes it must share its treasures in the hope of a closer world community.

The movie serves, in the telling of this mythical action story, as somewhat of an antidote to the pathogens of intolerance infecting our nation.

The KKK is presently emerging from history’s slimy dark shadows to recruit newly discovered bed-sheeted members to its hate-filled agenda of bigotry, lies and violence.

National “leaders” insist, in irresponsible reveries of indifference, that there’s nothing wrong with white supremacists waving lit torches, brandishing hand guns, crushing innocents who protest peacefully, or ranting unceasingly their hate-filled propaganda.

“Black Panther,” the movie, may fairly be said to invoke the Reverend Martin Luther King’s oft-repeated message that we are headed toward a better day in the long curving arc of history. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing

Guns_AR15_Bushmaster_ARImagine that you are Scot Peterson, 54, at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, north of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and you’ve been the School Resource Officer at that school for 9 years, you know the teachers and students, you care about them, and you know a great deal about law enforcement; you’ve been doing it for 33 years; you’ve been honored for your valor as an officer.

You have just called in, at about 2:20 pm, that you were outside the school on the west side of the building, and a boy, Nikolas Cruz, 19, you knew from the school, is inside the school with a weapon that is firing rapidly.

You can only imagine the possible pain and suffering.  You have four children yourself from your first marriage, and were re-married just last year.  You know what this massacre means to these families.

You likely know that at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, 20 year old  Adam Lanza, took his mother’s Bushmaster XM-15 rifle and fired 300 rounds, drawing upon 10 thirty-round large capacity magazines, and in four minutes, 154 bullets struck and killed 20 children between 6 and 7, and six educators.

You are not armed with a semi-automatic weapon as you crouch outside the school.  You don’t know what armor the shooter has.  You can’t be sure if the shooter is at the other end of the school, or know that he went to 5 class rooms on two floors executing innocents, or how much ammunition he had or has, or how powerful a weapon he has.  You may have guessed he has an AR-15 from the sound, certainly he’s got at least a semi-automatic.

It didn’t feel like Valentine’s Day.

Not to Scot.

Nor to anyone else. Continue reading

Joe

Joe and Jo Ellen Keating

Joe and Jo Ellen Keating

What’s a good life?

Yeats said, “It’s an Irish curse, to dream things the world has never seen.”

Joe Keating dreamed things and fought to make those imaginings a reality, stimulated by an expansive curiosity, by his gift to tell a story, and joy at tapping out an apt phrase or declamation, motivated by his love of others, and his many passions, and in this way, he enriched not only his own life but those around him.

Joe was a bear of a man, strong physically, with a broad smile, a kind word and a great hug for friend and stranger alike.

Cate Magennis presided over a celebration of Joe’s life this past Saturday.  In preparation for the gathering, Cate asked Joe’s wife and partner in so many adventures for 35 years, his Jo Ellen, what might be Joe’s favorite scripture.  Joe Ellen simply rolled her eyes in reply. Continue reading

“Covering” Time Magazine – Rudy Hoglund

 “Rudy” Hoglund sketches Desiree Valentine – there are a thousand Time covers in Rudy’s past.

“Rudy” Hoglund sketches Desiree Valentine – there are a thousand Time covers in Rudy’s past.

Rudolph “Rudy” Hoglund, the former Art Director for Time Magazine, responsible for designing 1,000 covers in his long career with Time, has been camping out some days of late at Lovettsville’s Back Street Brews Coffee and Tea House.

Rudy sits with a sketchpad at hand, and several other pads and implements in a nearby soft satchel, returning to one of his first loves, Rudy says, “just drawing things.”

Desiree Valentine, one of his first subjects said, “I agreed to be one of Rudy’s subjects because he’s a very special person, and he has such an intriguing background.”

Maureen “Mo” Morris said, “his story is just fascinating.” Continue reading

Hate Literature in Lovettsville

A sample of the hate literature

A sample of the hate literature

The Southern Poverty Law Center has made it clear that “The Ku Klux Klan, with its long history of violence, is the most infamous — and oldest — of American hate groups. Although black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics.”

The KKK has found its voice in Charlottesville, Virginia and has been emboldened to circulate its hateful literature under dark of night in communities to the North, in Lovettsville and also Brunswick, this past weekend.

If Freedom of Speech is the KKK’s defense for its hate literature, the citizen’s response, in social media and public statements, is to speak up freely and warn friends and neighbors of the menace they know the KKK to be.

One comment was as direct as you could imagine: “So this racist crap storm has now hit my little town that begins with LOVE as well as our neighbors in Brunswick, MD. … If you are not outraged and remain silent, you are part of the problem. Gloves off racist cowards!!! Your hate is not welcomed here.”

Another remark spoke to the context of these hateful literature drops – “It’s as if these groups feel empowered by a national figure or something.”

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that KKK Propaganda flyers were reportedly located on various streets of the New Town Meadows community in the Town of Lovettsville, alongside driveways, near mail-boxes and on sidewalks in the community.

All of the flyers were placed in plastic bags containing birdseed.

The baggies circulated

The baggies circulated

There was another drop in the area of the 39000 Block of Catoctin Ridge Street in Paeonian Springs.

Lovettsville Realtor Kris Consaul argued the community should not treat this literature drop lightly just because the KKK has been “leaving their recruitment flyers in sandwich baggies weighted by birdseed.”

“Each one of those KKK Flyers,” Kris said, “contains the weight of the thousands of black bodies hung by a noose from trees and telephone poles. Each one of those flyers carry the weight of enraged whites screaming, no, snarling at black children going to school. Each one of those flyers carries the weight of burning crosses and terror in the night.”

Kris said, “I’m going to join our neighboring towns and communities in the ‘Love Your Neighbor’ Orange Ribbon Campaign. The first amendment covers my right to respond to cowardice and hate with courage and love. I invite you to join me.”

Councilman Nate Fontaine said, “The material does not reflect the values or thoughts of the people of Lovettsville. We are a close knit, caring community who will always support the people of our town and surrounding areas.”

(Anyone with any information regarding these cases or with possible surveillance video, are asked to contact Detective Joseph Hacay at 703-777-0475.)

A Caring Heart – Stephanie Burget

Stephanie Burget

Stephanie Burget

Stephanie Burget doesn’t just work on Lovettsville’s Octoberfest, and that’s fun for her, but from her youngest years she has cared to ease the way for those ill or at risk to be healthy.

This was most evident in her education at the University of Maryland where she earned her Masters in Public Health, followed by tours of duty and service in the Peace Corps and with USAID.

Of course, in order to attend Cornell undergraduate and the University of Maryland, Stephanie had to teach to underwrite her education and her dream of making a difference. Continue reading

ABOUT THIS POLITICAL BIZ – Charles “Charlie” Smith

Charles E. Smith and Laurie Hailey at Lovettsville’s Bonnie’s Country Kitchen

Charles E. Smith and Laurie Hailey at Lovettsville’s Bonnie’s Country Kitchen

Bonnie’s Country Kitchen is a bustling gathering of friends and neighbors on a Saturday morning, catching up on the week’s gossip, family news, and chowing down on some fresh eggs and bacon, or pancakes, and as much coffee as it takes to get going.

This past Saturday, Bonnie’s was hopping, on this unseasonably warm and comfortable January Day, the tables full, persons leaning into the food on their plates and so they could hear their table mates, sitting back every once in awhile to say hello to a friend or neighbor coming through the front door, heads craning to catch a glimpse who that was.

There was a lot of animal hunting camouflage, an array of woods’ designer clothes,  some winter beards to ward off the frigid air, ordinarily the rule this time of the year, and some hungry and tired families from warming themselves against the colder air hours earlier when they were out in the fields hunting.  There was not a lot of talk about what they snared.

“I cleaned off the camouflage I put on my face earlier,” Charles “Charlie” Smith said, matter of factly, “as he took another gulp of Bonnie’s finest java.

“See ya Billy,” half rising to great a friend, Charlie explained, “I was supposed to go turkey hunting with my grandson, Jackson Rippeon, he’s 17, but he was behind in his school assignments, so we’re going quail hunting together on Sunday instead.”

“Get any turkey?,” Charlie was asked.  “Not today,” said Charlie.

Charlie himself was born in Brunswick, went to Brunswick public schools, Frederick Community College, and the University of Baltimore, graduating with a BS in 1973.

“My Dad, his name was Joseph, was told by his stepfather that the men in ‘this family’ don’t graduate from High School,” Charlie said, “but my Dad wanted both his children to graduate college.  My older Sister, Jo Anne, she was an A student.  I was more athletic.  I was good at baseball and soccer.  But we both did graduate.  That was one of the things he wanted for his children.”

“See ya buddy,” Charlie said to another passerby, like a seasoned politician, which he is, or Charlie might say, he was.

“In politics, you have two masters,” Charlie said, “there’s the elected position, and perhaps you shouldn’t be paid much to serve, and there’s your job or business, and the balance is not an easy one to hold.” Continue reading