Thursday, February 24, 2011


There was a time when this was an agrarian economy, and farming brought us close to the soil and to the cycles of the growing seasons.
Citizen Thomas Jefferson used cisterns to capture rain water to nourish gardens on the mountain top he called Monticello, and he grew 18 different forms of lettuce (meat was a garnish for his salads).  Jefferson had every crop you could imagine including grapes for wine.  You can visit his gardens today and obtain cuttings for your own property.
There are those who would cover the earth with asphalt from sea to shining sea.  But we still have farmers and gardeners who celebrate all that’s green and vital to life.
There is a phalanx of award-winning master gardeners right here in Loudoun County who volunteer their time to conserve and perpetuate what Messrs. Jefferson, Adams and Washington held dear – a legacy of green growth both necessary to life and beautiful to behold.
These volunteer master gardeners are coordinated by one of this county’s special treasures, urban horticulturist, Debbie D. Dillion, with the Loudoun County Extension Office, a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. 
As for getting your county tax dollar’s worth, we pay a relatively few content-brilliant public employees including Debbie who serve as the managers, guides and catalysts for 100 or more active volunteer master gardeners who each contribute hundreds of hours of their time.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a “victory garden” that prompted 20 million home gardens during World War II that produced 40% of America’s vegetables.
First Lady Michelle Obama planted a garden bed on the South Lawn of the White House last year with a group of fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School, hoping in the bargain that our children would learn to eat healthier.
Closer to home, Master Gardeners Lisa Doseff and Holly Flannery taught pre-schoolers in Lovettsville to plant a vegetable and flower garden at the Community Center.
Holly said, “increasingly, we see contaminated food from these corporate mega-farms, our major food source; we have to do better; and there’s no question that these local home grown ‘victory gardens’ produce safer, fresher, tastier and better food.”
President Barack Obama grants bronze, silver and gold “volunteer service awards,” and certificates for those who contribute time to their community.
The President presented gold awards, for more than 500 hours of service, to Loudoun County Master Gardeners Cathy Anderson, Barbara Arnold, Margie Bassford, Elaine Hawn, Sally Hewitt, Carol Ivory, Jim Kelly, Normalee Martin, Dawn Meyerriecks, and Linda Award.   He also awarded silver, for more than 250 hours service, and bronze, for more than 100 hours, for another 81 Master Gardeners.
Ms. Dillion was excited that so many received these awards, what she described as a special “thank you to our Master Gardener volunteers for the services they provide to the Loudoun Community.”
There are some who think any government action limits freedom but I believe our master gardener program is just one more example of how federal, state and local government can enable individuals to realize their potential on behalf of their communities.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The Senator & an Admirer

When I was a kid in the Bronx, Stevie who lived in the basement of the adjoining tenement went wherever I went. 
One day when I was in grammar school, a mother told me that if I took my friends and went away from their walk up, I could come back later, as long as Stevie was not with us. 
Stevie was black and that’s the first time I understood discrimination. 
I’d seen blacks on TV being pushed around the sidewalk by high pressure hoses with great force and apparent pain.  But that seemed far away. 
Now what happened to Stevie was up close and personal.
I began to appreciate that freedom (liberty as in liberal) was constrained by equality and that also meant tolerance for others no matter their color. 
We also saw that it mattered to some if a person was Jewish, or Roman Catholic, or anything the other person was not.
 Senator Kennedy came to Fordham University when I was at the Prep there and I heard him challenge this mostly Roman Catholic audience to action.  I returned late to Latin class in a reverie.  This nation didn’t elect Governor Al Smith President, some said, because he was Catholic.  Voters feared the Pope would tell him what to do.  Senator Kennedy spoke about how his religion shouldn’t matter as a qualification for office – although it did. 
I appreciated from that day forward that the founders were right when, in the Constitution of the United States, they made our government secular, allowed freedom to worship, but barred any theocracy or religious oaths. 
Because my parents had few resources, I was grateful for Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller who funded scholarships based on performance and need.  The federal government had a program instituted by President Eisenhower, the National Defense Education Act,  that also made my education possible.  Some believed that an educated public was a national asset that made us stronger and more competitive globally.  Some now think these are wasteful federal programs.  But I’m not one of them.  I think these state and federal programs fulfilled the preamble to our Constitution that “We the People” seek “a more perfect union” and “justice,” “tranquility,” “the common defense,” and the “general welfare.”
There are those who turn a blind eye to those among us who have less, who are poor, and sick and hungry.  The Jesuits taught me that we should “do unto others” as we’d have them do for us.  They taught that the Sermon on the Mount was as good a prescription for public service as anything you could imagine.  Years later, when Stan Brand and I became friends, he told me that his client, Speaker Tip O’Neil, always felt good about any legislation he instituted that met that Sermon’s directives. 
I know there are people who think that it’s every man or woman for themselves.  I don’t agree but they have a right to think that way.  But I think they are fooling themselves when they believe they did it on their own – as no one in this world makes it alone on his or her own steam – and few do it without any help from federal, state or local government.
Lastly, though I had my fair share of street fights in the Bronx, I have always believed that the standard of civilization is how we resolve our differences peacefully, and that’s about the law, and why I became a lawyer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Governor McDonnell - Stooge
Republican VA Governor Bob McDonnell would ravage the Appalachian mountain tops in Virginia and West Virginia for his coal mining handlers, erase them from the horizon, destroy what’s green, historic and vital, and depress nature’s landscape lower than the lowest known valley, leaving behind a scarred, unusable pale-colored waste land, with acrid pools of poisonous water and toxic gas.
On February 1, 2011, Governor Bob announced at a coal “awareness” breakfast in Richmond, Virginia that he would join forces with former West Virginia’s Governor Joe Manchin and fight the EPA’s effort to prevent mountain top removal in West Virginia.
Dave Bourne, who lives in Purcellville, said, "I was born and raised in West Virginia, my family was a coal mining family and many still live there.  My relatives attended the church where the families of the Sago mining disaster held funerals.  Why doesn't Bob McDonnell mind his own business."
Perhaps it’s because Governor Bob wants to ruthlessly exploit Virginia in the same fashion as former Governor Manchin did West Virginia, and help the A&G Coal Corp tap into the 1,300 acre Ison Rock Ridge mine in Southwest Virginia, unconcerned about the communities nearby, that is, Andover, Appalachia and Inman.
Governor Bob once promised Virginia more jobs but the removal of Thomas Jefferson’s mountains with machines will dramatically reduce the number of miners, hiring fewer machine operators to do the deed, cutting job benefits and labor costs, and guaranteeing greater profits to out-of-state mining companies.
Mountain top removal despoils valuable resources forever, and impoverishes the communities.  Families not only lose work, they are displaced from their homes.  Afterwards, they can’t dig wells in poisoned aquifers.  Nor can they breathe the air.
EPA’s published code orange and code red alerts inform us, at some distance from these mining sites, that the particle pollution is so severe that the 1.5 million area residents who have lung disease (asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis), or are children, older adults and active outdoor workers really should stay inside; it’s as if the coal industry turned a key in the lock, and imprisoned the fragile, in their greed for profit.
Bourne observed that these political leaders "don't live downwind of the toxines they release into the air we breathe and they don't drink the water that's been polluted by the runoff.  I know the people who do and the terrible conditions those miners work in and where their families live.  What Bob McDonnell is doing will spread the misery right here into Virginia."
True enough if Governor Bob has his way and Ison Rock Ridge Mine dumps 11 million cubic yards of rock, dirt and poisonous metals in nine neighboring valleys in Southwest Virginia, and destroys and pollutes their streams.
Know Governor Bob by his corrupting contributors over the last five years including Cumberland Resources ($500,000), Alpha Natural Resources ($155,000), AT Massey Coal Co. ($80,000), and Consolidated Energy Inc. ($80,000).
Bourne said, "If McDonnell wanted to do something worthwhile, he'd stand up for those families in West Virginia and he'd stand up for the families of the Commonwealth.  In McDonnell's world, however, it appears political contributions are more important than what's right." 


 - 11:20 am - FNC -
GUEST: John P. Flannery, former federal prosecutor, former special counsel, senate judiciary

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Robert Kennedy Jr. Debates Mountain Top Removal

Mountain top removal spreads toxins in the air and water, eliminates jobs, replaces men with machinery, destroys landscapes,whole communities even, leaving a wasteland and looting our children's legacy. 
About a year ago Don Blankenship, of Massey, and Robert Kennedy Jr. discussed this issue; it's worth your time to hear what they said.
Pt. 1.
Pt. 2
Pt. 3

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Michelle Bachmann, the Congresswoman from Minnesota, and leading ear-splitting spokesperson for the latter day tea party “revolutionaries” who have made it their mission to destroy what they don’t like, including Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Collective Bargaining, and more, may fairly be compared to the heartless foul-tempered Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.
For those who prefer their politicians uncivil, Michelle’s for you.
For those who like their political rhetoric long on shrill and short on facts, she’s the one.
For those who love exhortations that give flight to violence and revolution, that’s Minnesota’s Michelle.
Politifact who tries to keep our public discourse honest and accurate by uncovering false and misleading statements by pols (of all persuasions) has found our latter day Huey Long mimic’s pronouncements “pants on fire” false and “ridiculously false” more often than any other politician.
Of late, Virginia parents have been rightly upset that history textbooks in the South side couldn’t get the number of states in the confederacy right, wrongly stated that blacks fought for the confederacy, and didn’t know when the United States entered World War I. 
That’s nothing, however, compared to the historical constitutional whoppers that Congresswoman Bachmann published at her maiden presidential campaign stop in Iowa last week. 
Michelle claimed this nation enjoyed diversity at its founding and slavery was “tolerated.”  According to James Madison’s notes, South Carolina Judge John Rutledge said at the constitutional convention in 1787 that, if the constitution forbade slavery, the Southern states will never agree to the constitution.  South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun said slavery was a “positive good.”  The Congresswoman also said that the nation’s “founders” worked “tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”  Actually, the founders were long dead when slavery ended in 1865 in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  We’d like to assume the Congresswoman was taught better than this white wash at the Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University.
George Orwell said, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity… [w]hen there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims …”
Back home, where “Fargo,” the movie, was filmed by the Coen brothers, Michelle took to the air waves on WWTC-AM to say, “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back.”
There are some, like the backward parents in the movie, "Footloose," who fear harmless teenage dance music but have no qualms about inciteful rhetoric.  
Others insist that what we say doesn’t matter but, don’t kid yourself, fighting words prompt violence, first shouting down members of congress, dehumanizing them, spitting on them, threatening them on the phone and in e-writings, breaking into their offices and shooting at them – as in Tucson.
On April 5, 1968, a short time before Senator Robert Kennedy was shot and killed, he said in Cleveland that, as a nation, “we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike’ and “[w]e make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.”  He could have been talking of Michelle when he said, “Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.”
John P. Flannery