Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Like the young king, Henry VIII, I was too busy yesterday, attending my usual five-times daily Mass to catch up with Thomas Schaller’s opinion piece (“The Problem is not Islam but Orthodoxy,” Baltimore Sun August 24, 2010). 

The Eighth English Henry solved his compulsory Mass attendance problem by announcing that no one in England ought to go to Mass, ever. It has taken a while, but Henry’s no-mo’-Mass dream is coming true in England, where the immigrant Catholic and Moslem communities are vibrant but where the Anglican Church is to religious attendance what a skeleton is to a living body. 

Speaking of living bodies, Henry’s against Anne Boleyn’s gave special urgency to Henry’s no-mo’-Mass rule. Cynicism is everywhere.

Which brings me to Mr. Schaller’s  proposal that we honor the victims of Sept 11, 2001 by building what Mr. Schaller calls “a place” that “celebrates the idea that we ought to divorce our public behaviors from our beliefs in God – and for good measure, respect those who don’t believe in god at all.”  

Brilliant. But Mr. Schaller forgot to announce how much he will personally kick in for such “a place.”

The failure to actually give cash undermines the idea. An unwillingness to put up personal money to get something done highlights the likely future of philanthropy in a non- religious society. Since we are taxed, why put up any personal money for “a place” of any kind?

Speaking of “place” the free-floating quote attributed to Jesus in Luke’s Gospel begs for context. As with many ancient texts, the original setting of a given statement often is not apparent in the final version, committed to writing decades later. 

Jesus stated, according to the Gospel of Luke and Schaller, “bring them here and slaughter them before me.” 

Did Jesus really say that? 

More likely, this parabolic summation is the stark (and therefore memorable) sermonic highlight from an ancient Christian preacher, who wanted to explain to his tiny flock why their present dreary circumstances are as nothing compared to the cosmic culmination which awaited them. This would not be the last time when vindictive gibberish would be memorialized in a sermon.

By the way, just as Mr. Schaller was kidding about building a secular “place” in lower Manhattan, I was kidding about going to Mass five times a day. I check my Inbox that often but, since I am as secular as the next guy, that’s about it. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010


'The judges are honest'
An old oaken maxim
With the bark coming off.
We knew it wasn’t true.

Know it now, in despond.

Our clients were too poor
To win vindication
From one with hand held out
To old pals with money. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The Baltimore Sun reported (August 17, 2010) that Andy Harris, First District GOP candidate for Congress, says that the locally-approved construction of an Islamic community/prayer center in lower Manhattan is "blatantly disrespectful" because it will be located close to Sept 11's Ground Zero. 

Mr. Harris is entitled to an opinion. Here are one or two follow-up questions that ought to be asked:      

What is the role of Congress in a local zoning issue? 

Should the feds spend tax $$ to fight a construction project that is in conformity with local zoning? 

Ought there be a moratorium (or federal law) banning the building of Christian churches near the bombed federal building in Okla City - since Timothy McVey was a self-identified Christian?

Does Andy Harris know that many Sept 11 victims were Muslim? Has Mr Harris troubled himself to find out if their surviving relatives and friends agree that the proposed construction is 'offensive?' Might a community /prayer center near Ground Zero be consoling to them? 

Should local zoning regs forbid houses of worship (synagogues, Baptist churches, etc) if non-communicants might be 'offended' at their construction?  

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Who is the integrity terminator in Maryland?

It's a competition between Senate President Mike Miller and Chief Judge Robert Bell, with O'Malley and Gansler jostling for third and State Senators placing friendly bets. 

In March 2010, the Maryland Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the O'Malley recommendation for a judgeship in Anne Arundel County for the son of Senate President Mike Miller. 

Recall that three lawyer members of the judicial appointments commission resigned, objecting to a lack of qualifications in the nominee and also to improper interference with their deliberations over Mike Miller III for a judgeship. When Miller III was not recommended at first, Governor O'Malley simply asked cronies on the commission for more names; Miller III appeared on the burnished new list. Presto! Brand new judge! 

Both before the Senate voted and subsequently, I asked a number of elected officials to look into the possibility of nepotism and other misconduct in this appointment.

Before the vote, I wrote, via their official e-mail, to members of the Maryland Senate. Not a single Senator acknowledged or responded. 

E-mail and Certified mail to Governor Martin O'Malley remains unanswered. 

E-mail to Lt. Governor Anthony G Brown remains unanswered.

Registered mail to Attorney General Douglas Gansler remains unanswered. 

E-mail to the Maryland ACLU remains unacknowledged. 

Public service in Maryland includes not responding to integrity-inquiries. This is necessary because office-holding in Maryland also includes getting your relatives and your political pals' relatives on to the public payroll.

Chief Judge Bell has written back that the appointment of Maryland judges is none of his business. 

Judge Bell did not offer to refer my inquiry to anyone whose business it might be to keep unqualified people off the bench in Maryland or to see that the judicial appointments process was not tainted by undue influence. 

Judge Bill did not indicate how officers of the courts Judge Bell is supposed to supervise are to balance their concerns for the integrity of the appointments process with the reality of appearing in the court of a judge the lawyer had declared was not qualified even to be a judge.

The Maryland judiciary, increasingly, is larded with the relatives of Maryland elected officials. Who cares? Whose job is it to put a stop to this? 

Are elected officials the custodians of judicial integrity in Maryland? 

Nope. The office-holders are the very ones elbowing others aside so their  children, spouses, in-laws, can suck the public teet.   

Is the Maryland State Bar Association the custodian of judicial integrity in Maryland? Forget about it. For the well-connected attorney, there is no better judge to stand before than one who is grateful to the lawyer who engineered the judicial appointment.

Is the Maryland ACLU the custodian of judicial integrity in Maryland? Naw. Why should the ACLU question the integrity of the judicial appointment process? After all, Senate President Miller, known as a vindictive shouter, can de-fund any number of projects and programs, that the ACLU wants to tout. Looking away while Bozo the Clown puts on judicial robes is a small price to pay . . . 

In Maryland, judicial integrity is a pretty low  priority for everyone, including, sadly, Chief Judge Robert Bell.