Tag Archives: hypocrisy

On the pledge of allegiance – under God

Thomas Jefferson: “Erecting the Wall of Separation between Church and State is  absolutely essential in a free society.” (Photo by John P. Flannery)

Thomas Jefferson: “Erecting the Wall of Separation between Church and State is
absolutely essential in a free society.” (Photo by John P. Flannery)

At the recent Dem meeting, I was asked to lead the meeting in the pledge of allegiance.

I told the group that I do not say “under God” when I make the pledge but that I would pause when leading the pledge for anyone to say those words.

When I finished the pledge, someone shouted out, “God bless you!”

I didn’t respond.  But he was out of line.  He was, in fact and truth, objecting, in his way, that I refused to say “under God,” and would foist his wrong-headed view, in this manner, insisting that I acknowledge that our nation was “under God.”  Well, it’s not.

The Dominican Nuns in the South Bronx instructed us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and that “rendering” had nothing whatsoever to do with God or our Roman Catholic religion.

I have refused to say the words, “under God,” ever since Congress added those words in 1954 to fight communism, because congressional zeal violated what Jesus told me and what our constitution prohibited in the very First Amendment to the US Constitution; in other words, it was none of Caesar’s business what even a kid thought was the righteous relationship of god and country. Continue reading

A nation of suspects – that’s no worthy memorial

towersburningWhen we enter any public building, however responsible, respectable or harmless we are, we are likely to be patted down – like a criminal.

We are presumed to be suspect since 9-11, an unworthy memorial for those who died that day.

I was a congressional chief of staff, working in the Cannon House Office Building, when 9-11 occurred.

Police, Fire and rescue workers, and many citizens ran to help others, risking their lungs and their lives, some dying to save persons that they did not know.

Most members of Congress, in contrast, went to ground, and were not found until the all-clear signal.

Members of Congress told the nation it was safe to fly, while they stayed put in Washington.

Some Members of Congress thought to deny access to government buildings, defying Thomas Jefferson’s admonition that a government closed to the public was no democracy.

Some Members talked about dropping nuclear weapons on foreign nation-states – although they weren’t certain which ones.

Congress spoke with gusto about our freedoms as they rushed to crush them in the ironically named Patriot Act. The Benedict Arnold Bill would have been a more fitting name for betraying every person’s right to be free of suspicion. The wrongly named Patriot Act allowed warrantless searches of our information and lately we’ve learned how extensive this intrusion by NSA into our privacy was. Congress nevertheless has been debating in recent days whether to extend these invasive practices.
On the evening that Congress took up the Patriot Act, unable to stomach the debate, I went for a run before the vote, making my way from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. It was dark. I found a candle lit vigil by the reflecting pool, and stopped to hear ordinary citizens, arranged in a circle of life, discussing, in respectful muted voices, the terror but also the bravery of American men and women on that fateful day.
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Their love of the nation, the honor they bestowed on others, the hope they represented for the nation stood in stark contrast to their Congress at work, not that far away, voting that very evening to suspect every one of these good people and every other American.

We had a chance to come together after the terrible events on 9-11, to harness the can-do feeling and courage of our citizens, also to join hands across the oceans with nations around the world.

We forged instead a separation that divides our house at home and abroad.

Even now, we have to debate whether to take the Patriot Act off life support.

Even now, we war in Iraq.

This nation must set a new course in memory of who we were before 9-11.

We are all in this together, working toward that more perfect union, but so very imperfectly, and we can’t presume there’s anything exceptional about this nation if it won’t treat our neighbors better at home and abroad.

I attended a High School reunion at a Jesuit School in the Bronx, and, having nothing to do while waiting, studied a mural, of persons ministering to the young, the sick, and the old.

These are the Christian values that our pols speak about but disregard in their workaday quotidian practices.

Whether we honestly hold these values, by religious belief or political or ethical philosophy, it is the path, by which we may put an end to our inward-turning, self-centered dystopic culture of fear making us all suspects instead of citizens in the land we once proudly described as the land of the free and a home for the brave.

1984

John Flannery 1984

John Flannery 1984

In 1984, I was running for Congress, as the Democratic nominee for the 10th Congressional district, standing on the floor of the Democratic convention in San Francisco, when New York Governor Mario Cuomo challenged the convention and the nation to get on with the business of the American people.  What he said then remains as urgent today.

As it was true of President Ronald Reagan, we shall soon experience a Republican leadership in our U.S. Congress who invoke the golden rule but their actions and words tell us that what they really believe is “social Darwinism” that, as the Governor said then, means the nation “should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest,” so that “what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.”

Republicans who so easily invoke Judeo-Christian “values” believe, not what Jesus said in his  Sermon on the Mount, namely, that the meek shall inherit the earth, but that only the strong shall.

I believe, as the Governor said then, that “we can make it all the way with the whole family [of men and women, children and seniors] intact.”  This is a more worthy legacy for public service than what we’ve been getting.  Millions now have health care who didn’t.  The Republican leadership looks to deny that coverage. Continue reading

True liberty

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor asks the question

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor asks the question

You often hear the rough definition of true liberty is every person’s right to do what you want up to the tip of someone else’s nose.

Does a corporate employer who believes in faith healing invade your rights when refusing to allow your health insurance to cover any medical procedure?

If the employer is a corporation, and closely held, and three of the five shareholders are faith healing believers, while the other two are dissenting physicians, does the corporate majority determine health care for an employee may only be faith healing?

Just imagine you were denied health insurance to cover your children because it defied his faith healing belief.

Some children have died because of the misguided religious faith healing belief of parents who refused medical procedures to save their children.

Continue reading

Pasty and white

Frank Wolf, Andrew Nicholson, and Barbara Comstock.

Frank Wolf, Andrew Nicholson, and Barbara Comstock.

Andrew Nicholson, Chair of the Clarke County GOP, recently wrote a letter to the Leesburg Today. Sue Liggett, Chair of the Clarke County Democratic Committee, noticed something. She responded:

Dear Editor: I recently read a curious letter to Leesburg Today from an Andrew Nicholson of Berryville, promoting Republican candidates for Congress. To the casual observer, the letter would appear to be written by an unaffiliated member of the public. It wasn’t.

Continue reading

Seriously, Jim Plowman, … Seriously?

Frank Wolf campaigns for SPLC designated hate group leader

Jim Plowman, our Commonwealth’s Attorney issued a fake “legal opinion” berating President Obama for campaigning for Terry McAuliffe. He ends his charge with the quote below, emphasis mine. The statement was published by anti-semite John Whitbeck in a GOP 10th CD email. This is the same CD committee whose chief fundraiser is the County’s tax collector.

The very fact that President Obama is campaigning for McAuliffe raises serious questions as to whether McAuliffe’s stature in the Democratic Party is shielding him and his company from full and timely investigations by the DHS and SEC.

Virginians would be right to question whether the President’s appearance with McAuliffe produces a legitimate conflict of interest.  Principles don’t change depending on which elected office you seek.  These actions would never be tolerated at the local level and they shouldn’t be tolerated at the State or National level either.  The public deserves prompt answers to these questions.

Continue reading

Atheists Unite! (in Turkey, not here)

Atheists Unit!

The Christian Post, an evangelical Christian news outlet, reports that Fazil Say, a renowned atheist pianist is facing jail time for ”publicly insulting religious values“. His crime, he tweeted “messages that compare the Islamic vision of heaven as rivers of wine and virgins to a tavern and a brothel.

Turkey was recently placed on the “worst offenders” list by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The USCIRF is a highly politicized Congressional commission that wastes $3M annually. Its funding was recently restored thanks to a lobbying campaign by the late Chuck Colson and Frank Wolf.

Turkey is also a key U.S. ally whose military bases are used extensively in mid-East military actions. The USCIRF’s action harmed international relations and demonstrated to the world that Wolf will defy the Executive branch and national security to further his Evangelical political program. The USCIRF’s work is predominately anti-Muslim. It scans the international legal arena for statutes that grant “[Muslim] religious leaders the right to criminalize speech and activities that they deem to insult religion.

Maybe the USCIRF should start right here in Loudoun where a member our own courthouse grounds committee recently called atheists “storm troopers“. That’s how it starts, right? First brand a group a threat to the state, then, in an act that is more tyrannical than criminalization, brand their speech and activities an insult to religion, decency, tradition, the family, blah, blah, blah. Maybe the USCIRF and its backers should protect the rights of *all* atheists. No, that wouldn’t further their agenda. Atheists unite! But not here, move to Turkey.