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I’ve had Enough of the Freedom of Religion Crap from Trump’s Evangelical Supporters

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Every time I see men like Jerry Falwell Jr., Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, James Dobson, James Robison, Pat Robertson, or any of the host of their lesser known minions, including men who are Priests, ministers, or chaplains  defend the indefensible actions and moral depravity of President Donald Trump I want to puke. Sorry, but the first time that I heard the word puke when I was a kid I loved it. I even loved it as an adult because it is an amazingly fun word, especially when you are on a Guided Missile Cruiser steaming down the Arabian Peninsula with a category five cyclone on your beam battering the ship with 18-20 foot swells for three days, and half of your shipmates are seasick and you are not, but I digress…

When I see and hear all of these modern day Pharisees or Inquisitors all that I can think is yuck.  Likewise I totally understand why so many people, especially young people are fleeing the Church in record numbers every single year and why so many others want nothing to do with the Church even if they are okay with Jesus.

In the wake of the latest “Stormy” allegations against the President in which his ecclesiastical defenders have again gone to the mat to defend him I think that it is wise to attack the motivations of the men and women who made morality, particularly their version of it a political wedge issue beginning with Bill Clinton’s sexual immorality, which I do  not defend. But to condemn him, and to demonize Barak Obama who was not a womanizer while giving Trump a free hand and pass on things that are worse than Clinton did or than they ever imagined Obama did is simply sick. They need to be called out and condemned because they are worse than hypocrites because their already tiny moral centers have shriveled up and their hearts have calcified into the hardest stone.

The fact that Tony Perkins who is one of the most extreme proponents of this hypocrisy said that Trump “gets a Mulligan”  for his dalliance with the relatively well know porn star Stormy Daniels. The fact that Trump’s lawyers paid her off with $130,000 as he began his campaign for President seems also to be a Mulligan. Honestly I can’t imagine what he would say if there was an allegation that Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton had been accused of the same thing.

As for the President I never expected anything better from him, and maybe he is deserving of the grace and mercy of God because he is a paranoid, narcissistic, Sociopath who no capacity for self-reflection or anything else related to the care of his own soul. But as to these supposed “men of God” who support the establishment of laws that benefit them and punish people that they believe to be infidels or unbelievers while excusing the  I have nothing but contempt. To see them crowing about how their supposed “religious liberty” trumps anyone else’s civil rights under the Constitution makes me want to vomit.

These are the same people who condoned or supported the heinous “imprecatory prayers” unleashed against President Obama in which they prayed for his death while subjecting him to a Jihad that the Taliban or the Iranian Imams would have been hard pressed to match.

I am a huge proponent of Religious Freedom as the Founders intended it to be, but these modern and supposedly “Conservative” Christians don’t believe in what the Founders believed, because they are Theocrats of the same kind that our Founders fled when they came to the American colonies. These men would have found the Spanish Inquisition leaders as true brothers in Christ. They would have cheered the killings of anyone deemed to be a heretic and the total destruction of the towns or cities that they lived in. The Virginia Baptist John Leland and their other American religious freedom proponents.

Leland noted:

“The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever. … Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”

Imagine that. The man who is probably the most responsible for making sure that James Madison crafted the Bill of Rights and in particular the First Amendment would have died before agreeing to what the men and women who claim to be his theological descendent propose today.

I am actually sick of the religious liberty hyperbole of these damned Theocrats, all of them. I find that I agree with the argument of Alan Shore (James Spader) in Boston Legal when he said:

“I don’t know about you but I’m getting a little tired of the religious freedom thing. When did religion get such a good name anyway. Be it the Crusades, the reformation genocides, the troubles in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, mass slaughters in the name of Allah, the obligatory reciprocal retributions. Hundreds of millions have died in religious conflicts. Hitler did his business in the name of his creator. Religious extremism, it’s our greatest threat today, a holy jihad. If we’re not ready to strip religion of its sacred cow status, how about we at least scale back on the Constitutional dogma exalting it as all get out….

Everyone should get to believe in his God, pray to his God, worship his God of course. But to impose him on others, to victimize others in his name?  The founding fathers set out to prevent persecution, not license it…

At a certain point we have to say “enough with this freedom of religion crap. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I know, I’ll get letters….” 

I totally agree with the words of Alan Shore, enough of this politically driven “freedom of religion crap.”

Likewise I agree with Leland, this theocratic crap that Perkins and the rest of these assholes spew should be “exploded forever.”

So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under christian life, ethics, faith, History, laws and legislation, News and current events, Political Commentary

Basketball Court Update: An Activist is Born 


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

What an exciting day to be alive and to do something that matters for kids. I have written a couple of times about what is going on in my neighborhood regarding getting the kids of our neighborhood a safe place to play. Since I have shared some of the background in those articles I’ll just tell you about the special meeting of our neighborhood association board of directors which was called to discuss the issue. 

Bottom line up front the board is now looking at ways to keep the courts open and plan for an eventful multi-use facility to replace the current tennis courts. The tennis courts are seldom used and the placement of temporary basketball hoops has resulted in a number of good things, although there are some problems which can be worked out. The really good thing is that the kids now have a safe place to play and don’t have to play in the streets since our parks are mostly covered with very nice lakes. In a number of surveys residents have voted by over a two to one margin to keep the courts. 

That being said, a couple of white ladies, including the lady that got me energized about this by coming to my do to complain and enlist me to help get the courts shut down got the first words in. They were negative and one told such a bold faced lie how two blocks away she could hear the kids cursing over her television that most people were shocked. The lady who complained to me went on her usual way to complain about the kids, but other than them most people were supportive and offered suggestions to the board that were generally well received. 

I got to speak to and I have to say that I was persuasive, witty, and even entertaining; and I’m sure that I offended those ladies and maybe a couple of other self-righteous would be dictators. But as Thomas Paine said: “He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” 

So I opened my comments somewhat irreverently, with  with the phrase “May it please the court.” I then introduced myself and noted how long we had lived in the neighborhood and noted that despite the fact that I was a Navy Chaplain with 36 years of military service that I was quite the liberal social justice activist. I then recounted how when I was in Iraq Judy had approached the board about basketball courts and was told by a board member “we have to keep undesirable elements out.”  That brought a gasp from some people and some a number of people nodded their approval. What the people back then said was that they didn’t want Black  kids playing there in so many words even though those are our neighborhood kids. I was able to point out the racism without even saying that word. 

So I continued and pointed pointed out that I wouldn’t have known about the controversy if the older lady hadn’t come to my door to complain about the kids, and pointed her out. That shook her up, she didn’t expect to get called out in public. Later the old bat tried to shut me down by saying “did you say I harassed you?” So I turned and addressed her for a quick moment, and said “yes you did and I won’t have any of it.”  At that the board President told me that I was not to address her but the board members per the rules of order. SoI replied “I do apologize, may it please the court, I was addressing you until she interrupted me so it’s only fair that I be allowed to tell her to shut up.” The board President allowed me to continue and I my words were surprisingly well received by at least half of the board and probably three quarters of the people in the room. 

My only regret is that I didn’t have Judy video my speech, which was longer, more eloquent, and funnier than the others, especially with my satire and ability to respond in the moment with my rapier wit, to the board, the audience, and the old bat. Likewise I didn’t have to threaten to go to the media, the city, or anything, I just spoke the truth and it wa quite the show. The kids and their parents loved it, some people even clapped when I sat down. I am so happy that we often binge watch our collection of all five seasons of Boston Legal. I have to say that I learned a lot from James Spader’s portrayal of attorney Alan Shore. 

The board voted down two motions to shut down the courts and has decided to come back to the issue and study how best to move forward. I volunteered to help out with the kids at closing time and will get a key from the manager tomorrow, heck, I may even get my own basketball to shoot some hoops and get to know them better. 

Over all it was a very nice first outing as a budding community social activist. As one of my friends told me a couple of weeks ago, this might be part of my post-Navy calling. I could see that and I am sure that social activism will be a big part of my life. 

So anyway, I have a couple of draft articles that I am working on and you’ll see those soon. One is about Robert E. Lee, of whose statues there has been so much controversy lately, and another dealing with how I think to best handle the statues. I’m going to hold that last one for a few days to let some of what happened in Charlottesville and other places calm down a bit so it can be read without all the current raw emotions of almost everyone including me overwhelming the message. I have some other articles that I will be producing as well on other hopefully less controversial topics. 

So anyway, until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under civil rights, ethics, faith, Political Commentary

Liberty Lies in Our Hearts: Kim Davis & Civil Rights

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Just a short post today, and I do mean that. Yesterday, I promised a short article and a Facebook friend, a lawyer said, “That was short?” I replied that it was like an “Alan Shore closing.” For those who have not seen Boston Leal and watched James Spader play that character you really need to do so; but I digress…

In Boston Legal Alan Shore once quoted Learned Hand, a Federal Judge and judicial philosopher. He said, “Liberty lies in our hearts, and once it dies there, no constitution can save it.”

In light of my last few articles where I waded into the morass of the case of Kim Davis, the Recalcitrant County Clerk of Rowan County Kentucky, who was stupid enough to trust her money grubbing, politically motivated lawyers from Liberty Counsel and is now sitting in jail on contempt of court charges; I need to clarify a couple of things.

First, I feel bad that Mrs. Davis is being used as a pawn and sitting in jail while her lawyers collect all kinds of donations to support their next cause; and that as soon as they can they will jettison her. That is a fact, because these supposedly Christian legal groups are known for this. They take a case, promise the moon, usually lose and they abandon the person they represent after they have milked the case for every penny they can get. Sadly, other than their fifteen minutes of fame most of the clients get nothing for their efforts. Mrs. Davis is paying the price for that. She is going to be in jail at least a week while her lawyers try to appeal something that there is no precedent to appeal and which has not hope of succeeding. During the time they will make still more money. The truth is to get out of jail Mrs. Davis can find a way to do her job without violating her conscience, or she can resign and allow another to do it. However, when you, like Mrs. Davis, occupy an elected office that pays $80,000 a year in a county where the per capita income is well under $20,000; an office that your mother held for 37 years prior to you taking it less than a year ago; that can be tough.

Second, I cherish the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and my philosophy of life, professional and private is guided by the premise found in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men….”

That my friends is the essence of civil rights, and for that matter the foundation to protect religious rights of all people as well. Those rights are for all, not just Christians; and it is incumbent on elected and appointed officials of the government to follow the law in order to secure those rights for their fellow citizens. If they cannot they should not hold office. People can believe whatever they want. They can believe in any God, they can believe in any secular philosophy, they can hold any political ideology, they can believe that those who do not believe like them are going to hell or whatever; but when they swear to uphold the laws of the land in a public office where they are required to secure the freedom of others by serving them in accordance with the law; they have to either find a way to reconcile their personal beliefs or resign their office.

In fact I have for over 32 years as a commissioned officer in the United States military have had to do that. If by some chance this lands me in someone’s hell, or if indeed God is that petty, vindictive and capricious as to send me to hell for following the law of the land; then I will deal with that during my eternal vacation on the Lake of Fire. But I will not allow fear of what might happen to me in eternity to interfere with safeguarding the rights of the people in my care. My God is certainly big enough, loving enough, and gracious enough to deal with that; otherwise there would not be explicit commands in the Bible to obey the government.

A final thought and clarification on the rules for commenting on this site:

I welcome comments, especially from people who do not agree with me. I get many comments on my articles from different people and welcome comments, especially from people who do not agree with me. As long as they stay on point and are civil I enjoy them.

I have one man who frequently disagrees with me on my views of the Civil War, Reconstruction and Civil Rights. He is an honest man and pretty intelligent. He keeps his comments in line with the subject of the articles in question. He does not venture into tangents that have little to do with the articles in question. Likewise, even when he strongly disagrees he is polite and respectful. We do not agree on much, but I think that we could be friends and I welcome those kinds of comments.

Then I have other commentators. Sadly, most of these people are conservative Christians. These people seldom deal with the article itself, but decide use this site as their forum to promote or defend their denomination or their theology; most of the time in the most crude, ignorant and condescending manner possible.

As of today, I will not allow the comments of people who do not stay on point with the article, attempt to hijack this site as their forum; or who treat me with contempt. As of today I will simply disapprove those comments. If a person wants to comment they can deal with the article, if not I welcome them to start their own blog where they can spew their ignorance at will. But I will not give such people a forum ever again. I don’t have time and as much as I love bacon and pulled pork barbeque, I refuse to cast my pearls before swine.

So I am off to the Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire concert tonight. Was that short enough?

Have a great day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under civil rights, faith, News and current events, philosophy, Political Commentary

Worldwide Uncertainty & the Importance of Now

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

“Some people see things as they are and ask why? Others see things as they never were and claim mad cow.” Alan Shore

I am not an economist, I am a historian and I while I do understand some things about economic theory and history, and I am certainly no expert on markets. Like many I do get concerned when I see the stock markets around the world crashing, not so much for the rich people who are losing inflated stock value, for the rich almost without exception seem to do well in times of such turmoil, in fact they often do better because governments value their business expertise and depend on them to get countries out of the mess. But I worry more for the possible effects that this could have on small business owners, the middle class and the poor. I do get concerned for the middle class who have money invested in the markets through their 401k’s and retirement programs, as well as the poor who could lose their jobs if the companies that they work for tank.

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There are so many variables; interest rates, oil prices, housing prices, and employment rates just to name a few. There are also the factors of what is happening in China and other big yet developing markets which can have ripple effects, or even tsunami-like affects across the globe depending how bad things get. There are so many other things going on in the world economy dealing with Greece the EU and the Euro, Russian rumblings in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine, the rise of ISIL and the potential threats to oil producing countries in the Middle East, things going on with vast refugee migrations as well as economic, political, and potential viral epidemics in African countries which frankly most Americans and Europeans could care less about until they reach our shores. 

All of these things are so troubling on so many levels, and why shouldn’t they be. Not only are we looking at potential economic chaos, but there is climate change and its effects on endangered wildlife like the Virgin Island Screech Owl and the Fresno Kangaroo. Who knows what could be next?

So in light of this worldwide uncertainty I can recommend a number of things. Look at your investments, take a look at history because it always has lessons, or follow the immortal advice of John “Bluto” Blutarsky: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

crane and shore

But that being said, no matter how bad things are and how much worse they could get it is far more important to live in the moment with those that you love and care about in the now, not the future that we have so little influence over. As Danny Crane (William Shatner) told Alan Shore (James Spader) in Boston Legal:

“Let me tell you something. When you got polar ice caps melting and breaking off into big chunks and you got Osama still hiding in a cave, planning his next attack, when you got other rogue nations with nuclear arsenals, and not to mention some wack-job, home-grown that can cancel you at any second and when you got…mad cow, now gets high priority. And when you’re still on the balcony on a clear night, sipping scotch with your best friend, now is everything.”

Yes my friends, in the midst of all the craziness that we cannot control, now is everything so keep calm. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under economics and financial policy, History, Just for fun, philosophy, purely humorous

Six Degrees of Separation: The Kevin Bacon Effect, Padre Steve and the O.J. Simpson Trial

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The Kevin Bacon effect is an understanding of the Six Degrees of Separation which posit that based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, which posits that “any two people on Earth are, on average, about six acquaintance links apart.”

I had heard of this before but really hadn’t given it any real thought, until yesterday. It was then that I realized just how close our lives are connected with others.

Late Wednesday night CNN host Anderson Cooper sent out a Twitter “tweet” regarding the murder accusations against South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar the “Blade Runner” Pistorius.

Cooper’s tweet and the following comments which are show here can be found on my Twitter feed to the left of this article on the page.

Cooper sent this out: Anderson Cooper 360° @AC360

What do you want to ask @thatmarciaclark and @MarkGeragos about the Oscar #Pistorius case? Tweet your questions @AC360

Of course Mark Geragos and Marcia Clark were important attorneys involved in the O.J. Simpson trial. Geragos was the initial defense attorney for O.J. and Clark the led prosecuting attorney for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.

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Now anyone that knows me well knows that I am a natural smart ass with a somewhat twisted sense of humor. My wife Judy can attest to this, and some people appreciate it while others do not find it as amusing. So I do try to be judicious about what I say and who I say it to. For me Twitter is fun, I do not take my comments on it seriously  nor for that matter the comments of most other people. Most of my comments are actually retweets of comics strips that I read on a daily basis. So I can sympathize with Babe Ruth who in 1922 was suspended by American League President Ban Johnson for using vulgar language to an umpire. Johnson wrote Ruth:

“Your conduct was reprehensible to a great degree, shocking to every American mother who permits her boy to go to a game. A man of your stamp bodes no good in the profession. It seems the period has arrived when you should allow some intelligence to creep into a mind that has plainly been warped.”

I admit my warpness and to me Cooper’s tweet was a target of opportunity. Without any malice towards the prosecutors of the Simpson trial, I tweeted out a comment more designed to mock the seemingly incompetent police and prosecutors dealing with the Pistorius case.

Steven Dundas @padresteve

@AC360 @thatmarciaclark @markgeragos “do you think SA prosecutors will make OJ prosecution team look like the dream team?”

I follow a lot of people and organizations on Twitter. I have tweeted to famous people before. Most of the time there is no response but when there is it is usually polite and often appreciative of my humor or observations. I don’t think that I have ever received a hostile comment on Twitter, as opposed to Facebook where I have had plenty. Thus I didn’t expect the reply I got from Marcia Clark.

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marcia clark @thatmarciaclark

MT:“@padresteve: do you think SA prosecutors will make OJ prosecution team look like the dream team?” No DDA wants to look that sleazy. Fool

The comment amused me and of course being a smart ass I had to reply.

Steven Dundas @padresteve

@thatmarciaclark Still testy after all these years and still can’t handle a joke. Call me a fool? Stay classy Marcia…

Later in the day after work I checked my Twitter feed and saw this comment.

marcia clark @thatmarciaclark

@padresteve Dish it out but can’t take it, huh Steven? I call ’em like I see ’em. Class is wasted on you – pearls before swine, baby

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Now I was even more amused because I realized that Ms. Clark was taking this far more seriously than me. Hell, during the trial I wanted her team to win because I thought that O.J. was guilty as hell. I also thought that she was kind of attractive in a very aggressive sort of way, though I was disappointed in the way that she handed the trial. I began to feel like I was James Spader’s character in the TV Series Boston Legal Alan Shore, tweaking a high strung opponent without being really nasty.

So I finished the exchange with two tweets:

Steven Dundas @padresteve

@padresteve @thatmarciaclark LOL Marsha. You’re fun, obviously bitter & angry but fun. Dream team was sleazy but made you look bad.

and

Steven Dundas @padresteve

@padresteve @thatmarciaclark BTW no hard feelings, you gave me the most fun twitter exchange in a long time and I wanted you to win.

So now because Marcia Clark took the time to call me names because I was a smart as I have just one degree of separation between me and the O.J. trial and just two from O.J. himself. Thinking about this tonight as I gave my dog Molly a ride to Petco to get her treats I realized that I was connected to other famous people. I met Madeline Albright in 2005 which means that I am one degree separated from former President Bill Clinton who appointed her to her offices, and to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W Bush through Colin Powell who I met in 1985. The Defense Meritorious Service Medal that I was awarded in Iraq was signed and approved by General Ray Odinero who President Obama appointed to be Chief of Staff of the Army. Following the Bacon Effect I am connected to some of the most powerful people on the planet. How cool is that?

So anyway, for new readers please don’t take some of what I say too seriously. However, if you are a high strung former Los Angeles prosecuting attorney who has thin skin and not gotten over blowing one of the biggest criminal trials of the last century don’t take it personally. I wanted you to win and you were not helped by numbskull criminal investigators, a racist detective, incompetent coroners and the DA office that allowed the change of venue. It was a perfect storm of incompetence and reasonable doubt that led to O.J. getting off.  Besides Karma caught up with O.J. even though the glove didn’t fit and you still get asked to talk about other criminal cases on CNN and write books. Life isn’t that bad, so learn to take a joke, otherwise you will be one.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Law School Here I Come: Padre Steve Plans his Post Navy Chaplain Life

“We have geniuses in this country. True pioneers of innovation. Steve Jobs, Steven Wozniak, Steve Ballmer…if we could just round up some of our best Steves!” Alan Shore (James Spader) Boston Legal

Padre Steve has decided that his post-Navy Chaplain life will be as an attorney. Yes he is going to be rounded up as one of our best “Steves.” Now I know that according to Shakespeare King Henry VI was reported to have said “first kill all the lawyers” Obviously he was talking about the bad ones or the ones that gave him bad advice.

I had the honor today of being a character witness for a military officer accused serious crimes on what appear to me based on the testimony that I heard seem at best spurious     case and evidence.  I have a tremendous respect for the legal tradition in our country. I think that it is one of the very few things that keep us from becoming a tyranny.  I respect the courts, our legal tradition and those that honestly seek to best represent their clients within the confines of the law and legal ethics regardless of their ideology or even dare I say… (oh say it Padre we dare you) well….okay….I guess…their faith and tradition.

The trial is not over as the jury has not reached a verdict but if I was the prosecutor I would not have taken the case to trial and if I did I would have done a lot better than the government prosecutor and I certainly would have done a kick ass job on defense.  I do hope that my friend’s attorney git his point across and that he will be acquitted but one can never be sure, thus when I see things like this I realize that my talents could be used in the courtroom as well as behind the pulpit and altar.

Back when I was in high school I had to take a debate class. One of the debates I had to do was to put the death penalty on trial. At the time I was a death penalty advocate and believed that is was a mistake for the Supreme Court, or simple The Gladys Knightless Supremes to strike down the death penalty statutes.  In the class I had to take on something that I strongly believed in. However I was able to destroy the arguments of my classmate who was defending the death penalty and I realized that even though I thought that the Gladys Knightless Supremes had made a mistake I also realized that I had reservations about the death penalty. I found in that class that I could take the facts of a case and use them with historical, legal and theological arguments argue for almost anything.

Thus when I was a company commander and staff officer in the Army I was pretty much a “hanging judge” kind of guy I could always see the other side. It didn’t mean that I had to agree with it, but I could see it and if I worked hard enough could even see the legal precedent that backed up the other side.

Now the fact is that I have very strong beliefs, thus the whole “Passionate Moderate”  thing does have a foundation. I am not wishy wash but can use any facts and precedent at hand to argue for almost anything. I guess that I would have been either high on King Henry IV’s  “enemies to be killed” or must “keep close to my side list.”  Regardless as I entered the hallowed halls of the courtroom, gave my testimony and then listened to he rest of the arguments bereft of a full day plus worth of sleep I knew that I could do better than either the prosecution or the defense with the evidence or lack thereof at hand. It is no wonder that some of my seminary classmates asked why I was in seminary and not law school.

But I am a Priest and historian, but not an attorney, or at least yet. I wish that I had been one of the opposing attorney’s today. I could have kicked ass because I am that much better than the two attorneys that I saw at work today. I would have had the jury hanging on every word I said.  The problem that I have seen is that many younger attorneys have no understanding of precedent, history or tradition thus no-matter what their ideology they always look bad when someone goes back to precedent, history and tradition and they either lose or make their cases more difficult.

But why can’t I be both? Al Sharpton is a minister, attorney and TV show host or at least two of the three, he did show up on Boston Legal so that should count for something, but I digress…. I don’t have the Rev’s hair but I do have an attitude and passion for the underdog and others have done similar things in life like the great Saint Thomas More who lost his head in dealing with the many wives of Henry VIII.  He didn’t get a TV show or appear on Boston  Legal, but still is considered a Saint, but again I digress, it must be the lack of sleep and my completely screwed up body clock since I am on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

Heck, I could be a Priest, Attorney, Historian and maybe even MSNBC host if I do tis right. So I think that it is high time that I take my GI Bill while I am still on active duty and start a law program so I can pass the Virginia or North Carolina Bar so I can practice law on the weekdays when I am not celebrating the Eucharist and preaching the Gospel. I think I want to do is civil rights and religious liberty law as well as to defend military personnel that I think are wrongfully accused.  I think I could kick ass in any courtroom.  The Priest version of William Shatner’s Denny Crane, or perhaps James Spader’s Alan Shore….

Now it is time to get the education to make sure that I can do this and either make sure that cases like this never see a courtroom or get cut to pieces when they show up.

Pray for me a sinner because if you don’t nobody else will.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, Loose thoughts and musings, Military

One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out: Federal Prosecutors blow the game in Clemens Mistrial

Roger Clemens leaves the Courtroom after the Mistrial- Photo Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

First it was the lengthy and painful investigation and trial of Barry Bonds where Federal Prosecutors came up short on their primary charges. Today it was the rapid mistrial called by Judge Reggie Walton as the prosecutors opened their case against Roger Clemens on the first day of Clemens trial.  To me they looked like the prosecutors thatAlanShore(James Spader) made fools of in the television series Boston Legal.  This was supposed to be a “slam dunk” for the government and instead it was a debacle.

Assistant US Attorney Steven Dunham opens his case -Dana Verkouteren / Associated Press

 Today lead prosecutor and assistant U.S. attorney Steven Dunham went against the Judge Walton’s ruling by introducing evidence of former Clemens team mate and friend Andy Petitte’s wife that Petit had told her that Clemens had admitted using HGH. Walton had already deemed the video admissible in rebuttal. Instead Dunham introduced it invoking Walton’s ire and lead defense attorney Rusty Hardin asked for a mistrial.

Rusty Hardin argues for the Defense-Dana Verkouteren / Associated Press

Walton granted the mistrial even though prosecutors argued that the judge could simply instruct the jury to disregard the evidence.  Judge Walton remarked “I don’t see how I un-ring the bell,” in that they could not know the effect of the evidence in jury deliberations.  Walton noted that “Government counsel should have been more cautious,” noting the cost to taxpayers already incurred and that “I think that a first-year law student would know that you can’t bolster the credibility of one witness with clearly inadmissible evidence.” A direct comment that the prosecution’s case hinged on the testimony of and evidence supplied by former Clemens trainer Brian McNamee.

Counsel Approach the Bench Judge Reggie Walton takes control and declares a mistrial-Dana Verkouteren / Associated Press

The government considered Pettitte’s testimony essential because he is viewed as “critical witness” because of his honesty and good reputation.  This was even more important after Wednesday’s opening arguments where Hardin managed to turn the trial into one of the reliability of the prosecution and its key witness, McNamee.

That happened after Dunham on Wednesday morning showed a capped needle, a syringe and three cotton balls which the prosecution said contained steroid residue and Clemens’ DNA. It seemed to be a strong start, but then Dunham was warned about the testimony of Petitte’s wife.  Then he elected to reenact Clemens’ Congressional testimony using an FBI agent and a former Congressional staffer leading a columnist to write “by mid-afternoon the jury had to despise Dunham.”

Hardin on the other hand held the jury in his hand weaving a trail of government investigators canvassing the country to find evidence with which to convict Clemens and only having McNamee’s testimony with which to attempt to send Clemens to prison.  Hardin put the prosecutors and McNamee on trial showing a map of 72 locations across the country where the government went to prepare 229 investigative reports.  Hardin pushed the prosecution hard and gave the jury a lot to think about regarding the evidence and the reliability of their chief witness.  I think that this is most likely why Dunham introduced the Pettitte video most likely hoping to make an impact on the jury while having Walton simply let them off with a warning.

The play didn’t work. It was like a pitcher having been warned for throwing at a batter doing it a second time and getting tossed from the game. However in this case with wasn’t just the pitcher tossed it was the end of the game.

Judge Walton: “I don’t like making orders and lawyers not abiding by them. This clearly runs afoul of my pre-trial rulings.” AP Photo

Judge Walton has scheduled a new hearing for September 2nd to determine if there will even be a second trial.  Given Walton’s statements today one has to seriously believe that he will not order a new trial. A gag order imposed by Walton is still in force and it is believed that Walton considers that a case of double jeopardy exists and that Clemens may be immune from further prosecution. If there is a second trial it probably will not take place until 2012.

In the end it is another case of over eager government investigators and prosecutors spending millions of taxpayer dollars to target high profile athletes.  The fact is that for baseball the Steroid Era is over.  It is likely that hundreds of players took varieties of performance enhancing drugs.  The evidence of this is the marked decline in home runs and run production as well as injuries to older players that were less frequent than during the era.

As for those implicated as users they will be judged by the fans, their fellow players and the sportswriters who vote players into the Hall of Fame.  Those innocent will be under as much scrutiny as those that have admitted or actually tested positive.  Those that used whether they ever tested positive or not cheated, but cheating  in sports is something that is not the job of government to police or Congress to investigate.  Those that love the game of baseball will view records set during the era with suspicion because that is what baseball fans and writers do. We examine statistics and records; we live and die by them.  But the fact is that baseball records are often products of their times.  There were few home runs in the “dead ball era.” Many of the great home run hitters played in hitters parks and were surrounded by a strong supporting cast that forced pitchers to pitch to them.  Many players that held records played in a shorter season, 154 vice the current 162.  The National League doesn’t play the Designated Hitter which has extended the careers of many hitters whose defensive skills are declining to the point that they are a liability in the field and would have had to retire in previous times.  From their inception until last year players used amphetamines to increase their alertness.  That was legal and baseball did nothing about it until last year.  In days past pitchers used the spitball, cut or sanded balls to get an edge.This was illegal but many did it and Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry admitted this even before being elected to the Hall of Fame.

What I have never thought right was Congress calling hearings and grilling ball players while the country was at war and suffering from a terrible economic downturn.  That was a waste of time and taxpayer money.  The one good thing is that it forced Baseball to get its act together regarding PED use, testing and enforcement.  I am glad for that.

As far as the prosecutions they have been terrible a waste of taxpayer money and the results bear that out.  It is time to end this mindless pursuit, let the players live their lives in retirement and let the fans, writers and their colleagues judge them.

Rusty Hardin and Clemens after the Trial Photo- Mark Wilson, Getty Images

As Clemens left the courtroom he was hounded by reporters and photographers, some even trying to get his autograph he had to push his way through like someone trying to escape a Zombie attack. As he did so an inebriated man waving a cane shouted “Leave the man alone! Leave the man alone!”  Maybe it is time that we do, not only with Clemens, but Bonds and all the others that Federal investigators, notably Jeff Novitzky and prosecutors have investigated for years on our dime.

“Leave the man alone!” I second that.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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