Sunday, July 15, 2018

KAVANAGH IS BORK REDUX - by John P. Flannery






DEMOCRATIC SENATORS MUST MEET THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO SCRUTINIZE AND OPPOSE JUDGE BRETT KAVANAGH - there is a veritable forest of complex legal principles established in a long chain of insight and error going back before this nation ever existed that spell out our individual rights and liberties and the necessary restraints on a government that even contemplates imperial exertions.

Some ask how may we fairly consider the kind of judge Judge Kavanagh would be. We must require a careful examination of his many dissents, some of which appear calculated to win him a spot on the Federalists' short list to become an Associate Justice.

We know that Judge Kavanagh has a relaxed view of fundamental fairness, what we call due process, similarly of his view of equality before the law, and restraints on the power of the Executive.

It is ironic that the Justice Kavanagh clerked for was Anthony Kennedy and that he is considered a fair successor. Not so.

It is ironic because Justice Kennedy was confirmed to the Court after Judge Bork was soundly rejected for his conduct on the court and in public life.

It is ironic because the errors of Judge Kavanagh were underscored in the opposition to Judge Bork.

I make no secret of my belief that Senator Ted Kennedy, in his service on the floor of the Senate, may have accomplished more than many Senators through the history of this young Republic, and that accolade includes both of his brothers, President Jack Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. But it's true.

It was Senator Kennedy who gave an analysis of Judge Bork that needs to be the kind of analysis of Judge Kavanagh, as to the decisions Bork made and his role in the Watergate scandal.

We can't elevate a questionable judge to the Supreme Court because of his activity in the community where he lives.

We must study the work Judge Kavanagh has done to consider the result we can expect should we make the mistake of confirming him.

We can't elevate a political operative who was fine with spending four years to "get" Clinton, but has expressed the view since that Presidents are above the law, a magnetic attraction to our flawed Chief Executive, Mr. Trump.

Our Senators and elected officials have shown them to be a shadow of the courage necessary in these dangerous times.

So I offer the address that Senator Kennedy gave in opposition to Judge Bork, and invite those who still have the embers of idealism that likely brought them to public service to study this speech, and to present their views in this manner, to effect, reasoned, robust, but fair and accurate.

If this is done, then this flawed candidate will be defeated, or we shall so inform the public to rid the hallowed law of the people's house of those unworthy of the legacy of Kennedy for their failure to fight and resist Judge Kavanagh who deserves to be left where he is - and save the Supreme Court from his tortured and wrong readings of the law that makes our courts a beacon of consider judgment among the people of this nation.



[FAUX] Excerpt of Putin-Trump meeting in Finland - by John P. Flannery


DON:              English, Vlad. 
VLAD:            Hello, welcome.
DON:              Are you taping this?
VLAD             Mr. President, how could you think such a thing?
DON:              Isn’t that how we got started?
VLAD:            Well yes, in part, but comrade, we are far past that now.  We are brothers, like siblings, you might say, and, hah, like you said a few days ago, “competitors.” 
DON:              The world wants me to ask you, “Did you interfere in our American elections?”
VLAD:            Are we role-playing here?  You know very well what happened.  No one can hear what we’re saying.  It’s just us here. 
DON:              What should I say?
VLAD:            Tell them the truth.  Like you have.
DON:              Are you kidding, Vlad.
VLAD:            Of course I am kidding, where would telling the truth ever get us.  Tell them what you’ve been saying, I insist we did not interfere.  Tell them I believe it.
DON:              We have to do better.  I look weak.
VLAD:            Tell them you believe me.  Stay on course.
DON:              Can you give us any of your soldiers who did this?
VLAD:            Alive?  [Laughs]   No, of course not.  You tell them, I know these soldiers and they would never do such a thing.
DON:              Really?  I’ve already said I wouldn’t ask.
VLAD:            Good.  That’s the best.  Same old.  I’ve been doing this for a lifetime.  It’s worked for me.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Say what you’ve been saying, say this is an elaborate lie by your Special Counsel, and you say I, your friend and competitor Vlad, believe that, that it’s a lie told by an ambitious prosecutor.
DON:              Witch Hunt.
VLAD:            Precisely.  You’ve also got to do something about your friend, Rudy.
DON:              What do you mean?
VLAD:            He said your Special Counsel got the Russians, nailed them, and you weren’t involved.  He concedes my forces did what they did.  What’s wrong with him?  That’s not a good strategy.  We’re in this together.
DON:              He’s a little eager sometimes.
VLAD:            You have to control him better.  What did you promise him if he makes this go away?
DON:              Well…..
VLAD:            You didn’t.
DON:              I said if he got me out of this…
VLAD:            He wanted State …that would be a big mistake.                  
DON:              Let’s move on.  We’re making progress in NATO and across the world.  We’re closer to where we’d hoped to be much earlier.  When I told Kisylak in the Oval Office that we were free and clear, right after I fired Comey, we laughed over it, and I was sure we were in the clear.  I didn’t expect this.  Didn’t expect this delay.
VLAD:            I told you not to fire him.  There are other ways.
DON:              Tea perhaps? 
VLAD:            [Laughs.]  Hah, fake news. 
DON:              Well, I fired him, thought that was the end of it, and this f - - - er junk yard dog Rod, now that’s apt, rod, goes and puts this Boy Scout Mueller after me. 
VLAD:            I would have fired him.  Flynn didn’t tape you, did he?
DON:              We spent a lot of time together.
VLAD:            Do you have a recording device in the oval office like Nixon had?
DON:              [Ignores question.]  So how we gonna handle this?
VLAD:            I have a few things we can say we discussed …
DON:              So do I…
[END OF [fake] EXCERPT]

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

RESTORE OUR REPUBLIC by John P. Flannery


The Fourth of July is a pageant celebrating our independence from an Imperial nation that denied us self-rule, dignity and freedom.

It’s a time of marching bands, waving flags, capped with cloud-brushing, soaring multicolored flashes of fireworks, lighting the night sky, to the sound of oohs and aahs from crowds across the nation.

It evokes the language of the declaration hammered out in a hot Philadelphia Hall, striking and revising the words of Thomas Jefferson, setting forth who we believed we were as a nation aborning.

We must reflect upon the sentiments of that grand occasion, and how we may fulfill those worthy sentiments today when our independence is at risk from within and from without, by a foreign nation state, Russia, that usurped this nation’s independence when it interfered in our elections to install the current Chief Executive.

When we declared our independence, we said we believed that we are all “created equal.” We have struggled since to perfect that sentiment, but of late, persons of color, muslims and women are hardly treated as “equal.”

We should respect the notion that “prudence” does dictate that “governments long established,” as ours, “should not be changed for light and transient causes,” but we watch critical functions in the Executive Department compromised or destroyed by this Chief Executive with the support of the Republican Congress.

We are on notice that our nation has a cancer eating away at our historic legacy, at our freedoms, and our culture, by a self-serving chief executive and a congress dominated by his partisan acolytes, serving themselves while disregarding the will of the people.

Our declaration of independence declared, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The government policy favoring the separation of migrant parents from their children defies the objection of the governed.

Our Chief Executive and Senate and House Republican leader are taking their time, as I write this, to pass legislation that is stalled because our Chief Executive wants a wall across our border, costing billions, that our Chief Executive said Mexico would fund. 

Our Declaration of Independence was an indictment of oppressive rule.

Our nation is oppressed by a Chief Executive who conducts himself as a thug.

The Declaration sanctioned Great Britain when the King had “refused his assent to laws…”

We have a Chief Executive who would be King who refuses to respect and enforce our laws especially those involving favors and emoluments from foreign nation states.

Like King George, we also have a Chief Executive who has forbidden “to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance.”  Among them are laws and regulations to sustain the health care of millions of Americans, the protections necessary for our air and water, to safeguard our public lands, to respect migrants seeking asylum, and to provide for the “general welfare.”

Like King George, we have a Chief Executive who “has obstructed the Administration of Justice …”  In regal fashion, claiming unprecedented power to do as he wishes, our Chief Executive fires those who dare to investigate or question his conduct.  Republican leaders won’t pass a bill to block any corrupt influence by our Chief Executive to fire the Special Counsel charged with investigating him.

This nation has always been concerned about civilian control of the military.  We have a Commander in Chief who abdicates this role.  Like King George, our Commander in Chief “has render[ed] the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.”

Our Chief Executive indulges in the kingly ambition our First President resisted.

What are we to do when the man who occupies the West Wing acts as a “Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant ..”

Is that person not, as we found King George, “unfit to be the Ruler of a free people?”

In our declaration of Independence, it was well said that “[A]ll experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

We must resist this Administration’s objective that appears calculated to destroy all that was good about this nation.

Our Declaration of Independence plainly stated that “whenever any form of Government becomes obstructive …it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it … to affect their safety and happiness.”
The Declaration further said “[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the governed] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.”

In this young Administration, we are far past that threshold.  Whether by indictment, resignation or impeachment, it must be done.

Our character as a nation, our cultural DNA, is of rugged independence, as lovers of freedom, with a can-do spirit, and an extended hand to help others on a journey, still underway, to secure for every person the rights that we declared paramount, the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”



# # #

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

PROTESTING CRUELTY AND INTOLERANCE by John P. Flannery

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Maxine Waters was right about impeachment and right about speaking out against the agents of violence and intolerance.
How many defended her against the thug in chief's abuse. Is it because she's black? Or because she's a woman? Or because she says with such clarity what we all know but so many don't want to confront.
Many think what is happening to America won't reach them. Think again. This nation is at risk, everything it stands for, or at least has stood for in the past.
If the law was followed and the truth told and people weren't being hurt daily by the crude disrespect of those working in the West Wing, maybe we could be less restrained.
If our elected representatives did anything, that would help. But change is only coming from the people. From protest, and from court cases. And because of the indifference of a large segment of the government, including many of our elected "allies," and how long it will take for elections to have any effect on our ever expanding national dystopia, drifting further and closer to fascism daily, we have to act in small and large ways.
So many clear thinkers speak to how a restaurant ownere should have conducted herself. Too few are bothered by what Ms. SS and Mr. T said after SS was asked to leave a small family restaurant.
These two malevolent monsters said what "they had to say" - and it was lying and mendacious. Hardly civil, most rude.
In Mr. T's case, it was a transparent effort to use the bully pulpit, and the expansive megaphone taken from the people in the electoral college, so that he could crush a small family business.
It must be encouraging to many that that restaurant now has three weeks of reservations. But not those critical of this quiet lady. You can't get in there for awhile. Could it be the food. No, it's because this woman had courage and she handled the situation like a lady, the lady she is.
What many are saying is don't stir things up, that it's ok for the thuggery of our government to persist and we should suffer these bad actors, endure the indignity, when they are among us, and act like what they say and do the rest of the time is just fine with us.
Some wonder how Germany happened. It happened because people did what many are advising we do now and here.
Listen to any speech Trump gives today, what is said at the press briefing today, and what any spokesperson for the Administration says tpday. Lies, hateful acts and corruption.
Everyone must open their eyes, and open their mouths, and speak their mind.
Jesus said if you are tepid I shall spit you forth from my mouth. You remember when he threw the money lenders out the temple. Jesus showed passion on every level.
Be like Jesus. Cut out these bromides, these excuses to do nothing, get some gumption, and fight for the american dream, object and protest, lest we never awake from this political nightmare.
Why do we find a woman at the head of a protest these days.
Don't American men have any balls? JPF

Monday, June 18, 2018

A DAD’S DUTY by John P. Flannery



            When younger, a child, your child, is the Gerber creation, a puffy cheeked, but still inarticulate goo-gooing charmer, consuming your every eager and cherishing attention without end or complaint.  And you wouldn’t have it otherwise.

There are the parental touches, for comfort, amusement, the cooing assurances, the baby talk, the light play, washing, dressing, cleaning, among the many acts that introduce your child to a world of sensation, of caring and of love.

            Anything less would be neglect, and we know random or failed attention to a child’s needs in any familial or institutional setting prompts, among other things, poor impulse control, social withdrawal, problems with coping and regulating emotions, low self-esteem, pathological behaviors including tics, tantrums, stealing, self-punishment, and poor intellectual functioning.

            Good parents, Dads and Moms, prepare their children for the world coming at them.

            And here’s the rub.  It is never over.  They are always our children no matter that they become adults.

            Children pass through us but never quite escape our concern.

We make them when they decide to mimic our good character but they can hardly hear or take seriously what we say if we don’t do what we say.

            My first neighborhood was in the South Bronx, not a great place, but we didn’t know any better, and took the bad with the good, spending our time, in the streets, playing stick ball, running the back alleys, and engaging in a fair ration of fist fights.

            My Dad was a plumber, electrician, and carpenter and had a sky blue Belvedere Plymouth blessed by a local parish priest.

            My Dad had no use for bullies and there were some adults who would manhandle kids, not that often, but it did happen.

            Coming home one day, my Dad was driving down the street looking for a parking spot and heard me shout, he saw a man grabbing me, yanking my arm.

            I heard the Plymouth screech and saw my Dad leave his car in the street, run between two parked cars, and tear down the sidewalk, shouting to this thug to “let my son go,” but he didn’t respond, kind of froze, and, in that still moment, my Dad grabbed him by the neck with his left hand, pushed him hard back against the brick building, and punched him straight in the face with a powerful right.

            We didn’t have a police officer on that street; it was the South Bronx.

            I don’t live in a place like that today.

            But you have to ask yourself, what would you do to keep safe your son or daughter under similar or worse circumstances?

            Children are being murdered and abused yearly in large numbers in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. 

Would you try to bring your son or daughter from such danger in Central America, overland, past gangs, and stifling poverty to seek asylum in America, believing that’s what our American law promises -- if your claim of danger is genuine?

Would you believe it was a bait and switch if, when you arrived at the American border, after making such a hopeful pilgrimage, that you were arrested for a misdemeanor, denied bail, and your children taken from you?

 We know when you separate a child from his or her parents, toxic stress is a likely effect, disrupting a child’s brain development.

Jesus once cursed lawyers who lay grievous burdens on others while not lifting a finger to lighten the load.  (Luke 11: 46).  But to burden children and family when no law requires this imposition is unforgivable.

We cannot celebrate ourselves as parents, on Father’s or Mother’s Day, if we do not welcome strangers, escaping grave danger, and resist confinement for those truly aggrieved and at risk, and separated from their children.

Scripture cautions, if this is how we treat the least of us, it is the same as abusing Jesus himself, the Son of God, and may expect no better than everlasting punishment.  (Matthew 25: 34-46).

Every Dad and Mom knows that, if we are to be judged by our own children, it’s what we say and do to make this right.

Monday, January 20, 2014

DRINKING WATER - WASTED, POLLUTED AND AT RISK by John P. Flannery

How long before the faucet dries up? (Photo by John P. Flannery)

We’ve all been taught that we are mostly made of water, how we need it to live, to drink, to clean, to grow anything we eat, to nourish the trees that produce the air we breathe, and yet our world right down to the county level where we live fails to protect this precious life resource – like we could survive without water.

300,000 men, women and children in West Virginia found that the water in their home faucets from the Elk River made them ill and smelled something like licorice.  It was the scent of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.  A negligent coal mining company, Freedom Industries, earning 30 million dollars last year, had 13 tanks all sixty years old and one 35,000 gallon tank leaked 7,500 gallons of this chemical through cracks in the containment wall into the Elk River. Incidentally, the wastewater treatment plant’s intake pipe took in the tainted water even after it had notice of the chemical spill, and pumped it out to its customers.  Needless to say, the treatment had not removed the chemical waste.

In Virginia, on January 8, 2014, State Senator Charles W. Carrico, Sr. (R-40SD), perhaps eager to mimic West Virginia’s careless regulatory system, offered a bill, SB 217, in the General Assembly that, if it passes, shall increase the likelihood that we’ll have coal waste in our rivers polluting our drinking water.  Presently, the Director of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy must provide a copy of any application by the coal industry for a permit to discharge sewage, and industrial waste from coal surface mining operations to the State Water Control Board.  When that happens, the Water Board may object if the discharge impermissibly pollutes our water.  Senator Carrico seeks to strike any notice the Water Board may receive and preclude any objection they might interpose.

70% of the earth is water but only 2.5% of that water is fresh water that we can use, and less than 1% of that fresh water is liquid – meaning not frozen.

The water that we drink comes from our rivers, lakes, reservoirs and, if you have a well, from under the ground in an aquifer if there is one close enough to the surface to reach by drilling.  The water we have is limited. 

If you want to think of how that is true, then consider how, if you are on a well, you’re sticking a straw into the same pool as your neighbor and his neighbor and so on.  The more straws, the more risk there’s not enough for “you all,” not if you draw water from the aquifer faster than it can recharge; then you have to ration, or do without. 

One good local example of this is Purcellville’s public water system.  In the summer, they put up warning signs to ration water use.  Unrestrained development increases the uncertainty there’s enough water for everyone.  Recently, the Town of Purcellville annexed a new development called Autumn Hill/Mayfair of 257 single family and town homes that presumably will suck up hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a year more in a public water and waste system that already rations water. 

There’s this misunderstanding that the water above and below ground are unrelated and separate.  Some pour all manner of poison on their grass, rather than safer pest control methods, unconcerned that what we do above ground, affects our streams, and the waters that run underground in our aquifers. 

Others are unconcerned to maintain their septic systems that can discharge pathogens and present a public health hazard if not well maintained. 

Driveways, sidewalks, and pavement prevent rain water from soaking into the ground, so we have storm water runoff that picks up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants that can find their way into rivers, ponds, streams.

We can put a man on the moon but we can’t keep our water clean here on earth.

Monday, January 13, 2014

SAVING FOR A “RAINY DAY?” – NOT REALLY! by John P. Flannery



Saving for a “rainy day” (Photo by John P. Flannery)

A recent poll said that 40% of our friends and neighbors have made their New Year’s resolution – to save more - in savings accounts, automatic transfers, savings bonds, and certificates of deposit.

We once did save at a decent rate.  Our national saving rate was 12.2% in November 1981.  But the rate fell like a stone starting in 1982 and went as low as less than 1% a number of times between 2000 and 2010.  Easy credit meant you didn’t have to save – so some wrongly thought.

The rate climbed back up when the 2008 recession hit, going from 1.3% in January 2008 to 4.2% in December of 2009. 

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, says our current rate of savings is an anemic 4.2%.  See http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/pi/pinewsrelease.htm .

The dilemma for families that want to save is that they likely owe in debt at a higher interest rate than what they can get saving their money.  From 1990 to 2008, the nation’s citizens were convinced, Benjamin Franklin’s advice to the contrary notwithstanding, that being a borrower was not so bad.  Unfortunately, if a nation’s citizens don’t save, then the nation has to borrow from other nation-states who do save.

If you haven’t checked lately, the return on a savings account is not that much more than if you just hid your money in a mattress.

Nevertheless, the best advice is to save for that rainy day – what we were taught in High School.
One economic theory on savings is to save while working to smooth consumption during retirement – that metaphorical “rainy day” that trumps almost all others.

What’s quite alarming is that a typical working age household has only $3,000 in retirement account assets.  Even a household near retirement, and that’s about 38 million people, who have no retirement account at all (no IRA, nor 401(k)), has saved only about $12,000.  The median savings for people with a retirement account is $100,000, but that larger sum won’t go that far for our graying population retiring at age 67.  The Center for Retirement Research (http://crr.bc.edu/ ) estimates that the gap in savings needed to retire and the savings in hand nationwide stands at $6.6 trillion.

Before anyone goes blaming folk for not saving, there’s a lot that can make you choose to spend and not save, an uneven ability to earn (in a changing market), worse than that, unemployment, disability, disease, the lost value of real property as an asset to leverage your resources (remember 2008 when many discovered a house does not always appreciate in value), an employer’s failure to make good on a pension retirement fund (promised and then withheld), not to mention the drive among some elected “hot shots” to cut federal and state retirement payouts (after the fact), reducing anticipated payouts in social security, as well as questionable cuts proposed for Medicare and Medicaid.

Nor is our government making saving easier.  You all know how the feds have discussed eliminating the mortgage interest deduction – as if it wasn’t enough that the bank crisis devalued the asset many relied on to “smooth” their glide path toward a secure retirement. 

The feds are now looking at cutting back on 401(k)s as a tax deduction to reduce the deficit (no thanks to the Simpson-Bowles bipartisan commission).

If retirement is the biggest and longest “rainy day” in our lives, we have to save more, but those of us in the middle class also have to protect the mortgage interest deduction, retirement accounts, federal and state retirement programs, social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

We also have to fight for our fair share in wages and salary of the profits we make possible for the so-called “job creators” who are long on excuses for making few new jobs and hording what they get in profits.

We also have to question imperial wars abroad that compromise our nation’s ability to invest and grow at home.

In the bargain we shall not only save for our own retirements, we might just save the nation.