Tag Archives: lawyers

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

Padre Steve Might be a Mad Cow Carrier and Can’t Give Blood…He’s “Mad” as Hell and isn’t going to take it anymore!

I am guilty yes guilty my friends.  I have about a one in a zillion chance of having the dreaded variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease but if your believe those who promote conspiracy theories and unscientific assumptions I am probably something like Typhoid Mary just waiting to unleash death and destruction on millions of unsuspecting God fearing beef eating Americans by donating blood.  That is my alleged crime and while it is not a ‘crime’ in the truest sense of the word it might as well be as it ostracizes me and hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of veterans and their dependants from a civic duty that many of us did before all the media hype that surrounded the decision to ban us from being able to give blood.  It is discriminatory, exclusionary and for that matter bad public policy.

Now my dear readers what is my crime and the punishment that has been inflicted on me?  I was in the military and lived in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s for a period of about four years. That my dear reader makes me ineligible to donate blood even if I am otherwise healthy and willing to give in time of need.  However the rule is rather arbitrary in nature. It specifies that living in most of Europe for 6 months or more if you are in the military is enough for a person to be a risk.  However the rules tolerate those who go on beef eating and haggis hogging binges for limited amounts of time while wearing kilts in Great Britain. It is an absurd standard to hold anyone to as the fact is simple, if you didn’t eat high risk cattle you have almost no chance of contracting or carrying the disease.

I readily admit that in that time in Europe I did eat beef. Mind you dear reader it was always well cooked and I certainly never ate Haggis.  However I am now and have been for many years treated as if I had some exotic and deadly plague like I was infected with HIV or Hepatitis B, diseases that are proven to be transmitted through contaminated blood products. I my friends am the poster child of what it is to be discriminated against based on special interest groups and media fear mongering.  That absurd fear mongering got our wonderful Food and Drug Administration and other government regulatory agencies to take draconian measures to stop something that in the scope of infectious disease is rather low on the threat scale.  I say that such action is not based on legitimate public health concerns but on a political agenda that uses fear to accomplish what it never could at the ballot box.

Now mind you Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) or the real “Mad Cow” disease is no laughing matter but statistics underlying the incidence of the disease in the United States of vCJD show that if there is a threat it is very limited and that the chances of the Cubs winning the Worlds Series are better than getting this dread disease. Even statistics of a supposed “second wave” of vCJD in Great Britain estimate about 70 persons over a period of years during a “second wave” of vCJD might die, at worst case the number is 600.  In fact in Britain only one case of transmission of vCJD though blood products has been confirmed and if all people who had eaten beef lived in and eaten beef in Britain were barred from  donating blood the British would likely have to convert oil tankers to bring blood in from around the world. But they are not while people in the United States who lived in Europe, not even Great Britain are banned as a class from donating blood and the vast majority of these Americans are military members and their dependants.

I am a supporter of stringent policies on infectious diseases but if in Britain, the very epicenter of a disease that reared its ugly head in the early 1980s people can and do donate blood and the incidence of the disease is miniscule and is scientifically regarded to having more to do with genetics than eating beef.  Yet the Federal Government responding to fear mongering press reports and conspiracy theory maniacs have banned an entire class of people from donating the gift of life to those in need.  It is absurd and dishonest and plays into the hands of fear mongering power seeking special interests groups that claim the public good while discriminating against a whole class of people whose only crime was to serve their country.  Bill O’Reilly and Steven Colbert do you hear me?

Before this I was almost a religious blood donor I learned it from my dad who I think had his golden bucket from the Delta Blood Bank in Stockton. In fact he took me to donate for the first time and I continued because it was the right thing to do. I donated until I was branded with the scarlet letter of being a potential carrier of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and have been refused ever since.  This is also true for hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of healthy military members, veterans and family members who ate a steak in Germany or some other western European country because we might have eaten a significant amount of “Bully” British Beef or perhaps a butt load of Scottish Haggis even though the chances of having these delicacies is significantly lower in good old Deutschland where people would rather eat Argentinean beef than beef from a country that they thought they should own by now and where the vast majority of the beef is well rather “brown-shirted” if you get my drift.  If the CDC or FDA has banned a whole class of patriot Americans from donating blood at least do it based on a preponderance of evidence and not speculation and paranoia.

In the United States we often run short of blood but we exclude by default one of the healthiest and giving groups of people in the world from giving. There are times in every major medical center that blood products run in short supply because of supply and demand.  Most donations centers have on hand no more than a 3 day supply for normal transfusion needs and if a major catastrophe involving vast numbers of traumatic injuries occurred, the supply would be gone in no time and people would die for the lack of blood.  Unfortunately in the world of potential mass casualties caused by terrorism or natural disaster this is a more likely occurrence than a mass outbreak of vCJD. Quite often there is more demand than supply and red blood cells have a short shelf life of 35-42 days at refrigerated temperatures and plasma can be frozen but has a shelf life of only about a year meaning that those stocks are also limited.

So rather than looking at statistics and solid data military members are banned from donating blood unless they choose to dishonor themselves by lying about it.  I have never done that as much as I wanted to give blood.  Heck we have an Armed Service Blood Center in our very hospital whose outreach director is one of my former Lieutenants from my days as a company commander in Germany.  I may be at times “mad” but my “madness” is both genetic as from a bit of PTSD, but my blood is a-okay high test 104 Octane B positive blood and I cannot donate when I want to because the debate is being driven by anti-beef eating, anti-military food Nazis who use this ‘cause’ to spread fear and increase their power relative to the rest of us.  Just take a look at their websites which are populated with hyperbole even more hyperbolous than what I spout.

I contend that I and hundreds of thousands of veterans and military members have been damaged by the zealotry of the “Mad Cow” fear mongers and their media accomplices which did its best to spread panic about this incredibly rare disease by showing infected cattle lurching around barnyards. Now it is true that this is a heinous disease but incredibly rare and for the most part has been controlled even in docile cows.

My argument is that there is a terrible need for blood products and a whole group of people are being discriminated against on the basis of media hype and pressure by special interest groups.  I know by saying this that it makes me a target and that once this post gets some hits that I will have one of these anti-beef eating, anti-military and national security ignoring bozos will post nasty things about me. So far as they don’t call me a Dodger fan I will be civil despite the fact that they won’t rest until none of us can give blood because we ate beef once in our lives.

I wish that some bold law firm would take this up as a class action suit naming the FDA, CDC and every major television network that spread the fear which drives the decision to bar an entire group of healthy people from giving blood.  This may seem callous and insensitive but I say let’s stick it to these guys and let them see the shoe is on the other foot. Let’s kick their vegan asses back to the planet Vegan where they belong. It’s late tonight but tomorrow its cheeseburger time for Padre Steve, pass the condiments please and get my stein ready.

So until the next time I say peace and may the law be with us. Maybe there is a reason that some of my classmates in seminary said that I should have gone to law school.  Maybe that’s what I’ll do with my GI Bill when I retire go to law school pass the bar and be a Priest-Lawyer, but not a Canon Lawyer, no money in that is there? So let’s go out and win a billion dollars or so from these oppressors of individual liberty and the common good.

Anyway Peace Out my brothers and sisters, have a burger or steak tonight.

Love ya,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under healthcare, laws and legislation, national security, Political Commentary

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…Reflections on the Islands of Unhappy Travelers

The 80’s group Blondie had a hit called “Island of Lost Souls.”  I love that song; it is kind of quirky and fun.  However, there is a time when you run into a place where the song seems more true than not. Airports are one of those places, they tend to be some of the most angst and anger filled venues known to man, excepting of course Fed-Ex Field where Dan Snyder is doing his best to destroy the Redskins and drive off their fans. However, I digress as I couldn’t care a whit about the Redskins because they are a football team, though I have sympathy for the fans that have been banned from bringing signs into the stadium.  With that exception and maybe the U.S. Capitol building and the set of any Cable Television talk show where politics is being debated the airports have to be pretty close to the top of the hate and discontent list.

I had to travel to Florida in the spring for chaplain conference.  Since I came back from Iraq I do travel a lot less well than I used to and to make matters worse conferences of almost any kind at best come close to pushing me to the edge.  Sleep tends to be difficult for me, especially before I travel on commercial airlines and endure the hell of airports.  The night before I travel, I try to anticipate every contingency, going through my packing list and ensuring I have everything that I need. Then after I go to bed I get up an hour later to make sure that I indeed get everything. Once I am sure that I do I go back and check the multiple alarm clocks that I have set just to make sure I don’t miss my flight.  I know why I do this. Before Iraq I traveled a lot and got good at it.  However in Iraq a did a lot more of this and got into a routine of checking, double checking and even triple checking to make sure that I had everything that I needed.  Over there I knew that if I forgot something, even something simple that it would not be available the places that I was going or places that I might get marooned.  I have carried that experience back with me.  I pack and lay out all my clothes the night before I go to work.  I actually use the same pack that I carried on every mission in Iraq.  It is an excellent piece of gear, made by Blackhawk.

Anyway that day was a hellish travel day. The weather across the east coast was crappy.  My first flight was delayed an hour, my second flight as well. If that was not bad enough the good folks at Delta airlines failed to have people at gates and jet ways when gate changes happened, leaving people to miss flights and nearly miss vacation cruises.  On our connecting flight at Atlanta’s Harts-Jackson Field was delayed, in my case that was a good thing as had it been on time I would have missed it.  While in line waiting for the flight announcements were periodically made, each one either delivering a later flight time or excuse for the delay.  The excuses often were inconsistent.  I began to think that they were lying to us.  Now I’m not saying that an airline would lie, but it seemed to my little pea brain that the excuses conflicted and each new excuse contradicted the last pathetic excuse.  I hate bad liars.  Let’s face it, if you are going to lie be consistent and strive to make it believable, politicians, lawyers and TV evangelists are great at this.  Unfortunately the people lying to us were not very believable.  However it may have been that they actually believed what they were saying which would be as George Costanza once said: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

As I waited that day I surveyed my fellow disgruntled travelers.  I was deep into a PTSD induced ass kinking anxiety attack.  By the time this was going on time I had taken both of my extra meds as well as my 8 AM and 1230 PM doses of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  Normally I’ll wait until dinner for a beer, but I knew that I needed a bit more on that trip.  I try not to self-medicate and over the past year have gotten a lot better in not doing this. However there as something about airports and airline travel that almost inevitably pushes my buttons and so I will do this to take the edge off and keep me somewhat sane until I can get to my destination and hide.

I went to a conference in Orlando in the summer of 2008 shortly after my PTSD diagnosis and that about put me over the edge. If you have PTSD the Gateway to the fricking “Happiest place in the world” is the portal to hell.  Thus only a few months after coming out of a combat zone I discovered that Orlando during the height of the summer pilgrimage to Wally World to see Randy Rodent and Doofey is not a fun experience.

Thanks be to God for her good care during this trip.  She ensured that my doctor had given good drugs and the airport pubs provided good beer not to mention a Chili Dog with mustard.  Thus by the middle of the afternoon I was doing far better than most of my fellow travelers.  It definitely sucked to be them.  It was then that the Blondie song came into my mind.  Atlanta’s airport was not the Island of Lost Souls but the Land of Unhappy Travelers.  I listened to some of the folks around me as they lamented their situation and it sounded like “Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Atlanta had become the vortex of very disgruntled travelers who had missed flights, been bumped from flights or delayed endlessly.  If you don’t believe in the Catholic in the doctrine of Purgatory just try Atlanta on a day like that, which is about 362 days a year.  I looked around, and though barely holding on myself I was able to find some gallows humor in the midst of this agony.  I looked around the people around me and said “Ladies and gentlemen it is my distinct displeasure to welcome you to the land of unhappy travelers.”  I actually got a few laughs.  I then made a comment about the airline, which I had not flown in a couple of years, saying “I’m glad to see that some things stay the same, our airline still has same crappy service that they had a few years ago.”  As we started boarding we boarded by zones as some airlines do.  I personally prefer the first come or first signed in first seated way that Southwest does things, unfortunately the government contract was no longer with Southwest. As they announced “boarding zones one through five,” I commented, “Yep, you guys in zone 92 still have a while to wait.  On each flight we had bad weather, turbulence and on one flight the air condition did not start kicking in until we were getting ready to land.

When I got to my destination I heard stories even worse than mine, all focused around the vortex of doom that swirled around Atlanta.  The only place that I thought it could have gone worse was Washington Dulles, where my experiences have been nearly all bad. I survived but by the time I got to my hotel my ass was kicked. At the end of the day I had survived.  A few beers and a bit of wine with good fellowship with friends made things better.

Saturday I get to fly again and make my third trip to California to see my folks.  I am already making my list and getting mentally prepared for the trip.  I get to fly though Chicago O’Hare and on the way back LAX and O’Hare.  Thank the Deity Herself that Atlanta is not on the itinerary. I’ll do my best to at least find the humor as I pass through these islands of unhappy travelers, so pray for me a sinner.

Peace,

Padre Steve

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