Public Defender Advocate Lives On!

Walter Mondale, the Minnesota resident and former candidate for president of the United States, was a staunch advocate for providing legal services to poor people charged with crimes and I firmly believe that his legacy will live on.

I remember Mondale through my wife who took a leave of absence from her work as a copy editor at The Inquirer Newspaper of Philadelphia to work for Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman endorsed by a political party to run for vice-president. Wendy, who passed away three years ago this month, drove in a calvacade of volunteers assisting celebreties who met and supported the congresswoman from New York. She met Mary Travers – of Peter, Paul and Mary – who asked for a side trip to eat a cheese steak at Pat’s Steaks in South Philadelphia, which Mary claimed she heard so much about!

Even though Mondale served as vice president under Jimmy Carter and ran against and lost to Ronald Reagan for president, he also served as an attorney general for the state of Minnesota. It was in 1962 that he encouraged more then 20 attorney generals throughout the country to join in an amicus brief in support of a poor man from Florida who asked for but was denied the assistance of a lawyer for his criminal trial.

Clarence Earl Gideon was found guilty when he went to trial and was sentenced to five years in jail. The pool hall owner claimed the defendant stole $5 in change along with some beer and soda and $50 from a jukebox.

While in prison he used prison stationary and a prison-approved pencil to write an appeal to the US Supreme Court. (The actual hand-written appeal is on display at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia!)

Mondale convinced 22 other attorney generals throughout the United States to join in the amicus brief in support of Gideon. Some believe it helped to sway the court which decided unanimously to grant relief to the poor Gideon, who was in his early 50s and considered to be a drifter when convicted in 1961. (He had no more then an 8th grade education who ran away from home when he was in middle schol.)

The landmark decision – in a case cited as Gideon v Wainwright – lead to the creation of the vast public defender system in the United States. I served as a criminal defense lawyer for 20 years in Philadelphia and owe the creation of my job to Gideon.

Well what happened after the court case? Gideon – such an unlikely hero – was appointed a lawyer to represent him at another trial and he was found not guilty! In 1980 Henry Fonda played the part of Gideon in a made for television movie called “Gideon’s Trumpet.”

Thank you Walter Mondale for your support of the underdog and your compassion for the poor in our society.

Champion for the poor and underpriveleged

Let’s boycott Georgia firms to save the vote

Should I boycott Coca Cola?

How about refusing to fly on Delta Airlines?

Coke and Delta have been some of my favorite product choices my entire life. I can swear by the rich and delicious taste of Coke over its rival Pepsi. I always felt comfortable and reassured when flying while hooked up with Delta airlines, a pleasure I first experienced when first stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. for OCS, and later for the US Army’s jump school.

They’re both headquartered in the state of Georgia. The state where the legislature, the senate and the governor rammed through in one day the most severe curtailment of voting rights in my adult lifetime.They claim it’s to insure voter integrity – to prevent voter fraud – but we all know that the 2020 election was the most secure election in history.

We also know that black voters in Georgia turned out in large numbers for the the Democratic presidential candidate as well as the two fellows running for the senate in the run-off election Jan. 5, 2021. They supported a Catholic for president and then a Jew and a black Baptist preacher for the Senate. You can’t get much more ecumenical than that!er

So the powers that be in the “Empire State of the South” want no more liberal election outcomes in their state. They figure the only way to preserve their power and to win is is to suppress the vote of blacks and other minorities as well as younger people and the poor who generally vote Democratic.

Georgia state gov’t needs to stop voter suppression

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How can we stop this?

Get the powerful corporations with headquarters in Georgia, particularly in the Atlanta area, to speak out against these shameful and undemocratic measures. Make them lean on the government leaders and curtail any and all campaign funding for ‘em. Boycott the businesses if that is what it will take to right this wrong in Georgia. It worked in North Carolina years ago when protesting that’s state’s actions against another minority group – transgenders.

I believe people of all races and all religions would gladly take part in such a political actions.

It would simply be the right thing to do!

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(For another Georgia boycott suggestion, please check this out 😦Apartheid Georgia)

Delta Airlines and Coca Colo both came out against the Georgia law to suppress voting. See Retaliation) In addition, Major Legue Baseball announced that it will NOT play the All-Star game in Georgia. (No All-Star game.)

Meanwhie, in Texas where other Republicans are seeking to suppress the vote, two firms came out against the. American Airlines and Dell Corporatoon. (Vote against opression.)


More than 100 executives of US corporations met by Zoom to discuss how to combat voter infringements laws passed by Georgia and those being considered by other state governments lead by Republicans.

They included firms like Starbucks, Target, Linked-In, Levi Strauss, Boston Consulting Group as well as the

owner of the Atlanta Falcons. The April 10 meeting was led by the former chief executive of American Express and chief executive of Merck. (See Washington Post story.)

Condemn veterans who attacked Capitol

Any veteran that took part in the January 6th insurrection at the US capitol should be stripped of his or her VA benefits and labeled a “traitor.” 

There is a disturbing number of current and former military persons identified among those who broke into the capitol to overturn the election. About 20 percent of the nearly 300 arrested, according to NPR. They should no longer receive treatment at VA hospitals, get the GI Bill for attending school or obtain a mortgage loan. 

They have acted against the United States by taking part in a rebellion and should be viewed as turncoats who have betrayed their country and the Constitution that all of us veterans vowed to protect and follow upon our enlistment. 

Congressman Ruben Gallegos, a combat Marine Corps veteran, has contacted the head of the VA as well as Homeland Security and Attorney General Merrick Garland to seek action against the veterans who betrayed our country. The Democratic congressman from Arizona, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has suggested that all forego disability compensation, educational benefits, access to health care, employment opportunities and access to veteran-affiliated state programs. 

The US Code governs benefits for veterans and their dependents. Under Sections 6104 and 6105, veterans and other individuals receiving VA benefits who commit mutiny or treason or who are convicted of ‘subversive activities,’ as listed in Section 6105(b), forfeit their right to VA benefits.” 

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I would go further and suggest the government publish the names of the traitors in the newspapers and identify them on television and the radio. Contact their bosses where they work and the churches their families attend decrying them as traitors and deserters of the worst order. 

Remember that five people were killed in the attack on the Capital building. One was a police officer. 

No veteran should have taken part in such a heinous action, let alone follow the instructions of a draft-dodging coward.  

Justice demands a guilty verdict for Trump

I look forward every day to reading the news of an indictment against the former president and/or an update on all of the civil lawsuits against him.

You know they’re coming. All the highly experienced lawyers need do is to simply confirm their concrete and rock-solid facts before going to court and contacting the news media for reporters to share the information on the law with the entire world.

The criminal cases could develop in New York City, Washington DC, or in the state of Georgia. Or possibly all together, with court dates spread out over a series of months. They would highlight either fraud, the January 6th attempted insurrection, or the attempt by Trump to alter a state’s presidential election count. Charges could include collusion, obstruction of justice, inciting violence, racketeering, sexual assault, bribery, intimidation, missuse of assets, and dereliction of duty.

Would they focus once again on the Stormy Daniels payoff by Trump’s lawyer, the fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen, who was convicted and sentenced to jail? Please remember that Trump was named as “Individual-1” in that legal action.

The civil actions could focus on the 2016 Inauguration moneys unaccounted for, his groping of a former Apprentice television contestant, or a defamation case from a woman who said Trump raped her in a clothing store in the mid 1990s.

“Individual-1” facing a large number of criminal and civil lawsuits

The former president will lose despite the arguments and the millions of dollars his lawyers will charge while offering a dead-dog loser of a defense in each case. The main question I have is whether he will be ordered to serve time in jail like the former leader of France who bribed a judge was recently sentenced for his corruption. Or will Trump be given a form of house arrest like France did when demanding that Napoleon Bonaparte be exiled to the island of Elbo before escaping and meeting his Waterloo shortly after.

I believe justice requires swift and reassuring action against Trump. It has taken too much of America’s time and patience for the legal process to finally confront and hold him accountable, the worse president of the United States.

It will bring about a peace and a much-needed comfort our country has been seeking these many years.

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Would Richard Nixon had faced a similar dilemma if he wasn’t pardoned by President Gerald Ford? He would have been ordered to go to jail or be banished to live and never leave his sprawling mansion in San Clemente, Calif.

Trump could be banished to and ordered under penalty of imprisonment never to leave his Florida home at Mar-a-Logo. He could also be ordered to relinquish use of any Twitter, Facebook or any other social media outlet.

(For more reading on Trump’s legal jeapordy please see this NPR report.)

Stagger Lee helps me win a dicey jury trial

Stagger Lee, a song about a murder over a dice game and Stetson hat, was the number one song in America this week in 1959. Listening to it, I was reminded of how I won a jury trial by using its lyrics for my closing argument.

The song, recorded by New Orleans native Lloyd Price, told of two men who “gambled late.” One accused the other of cheating and lead to the shooting death of the other.
I represented a client who told me he was shooting dice outside of a Philadelphia bar when he won all the money from a fellow who had gambled late outside the bar.

My guy was arrested within hours of the dice game after the loser reported his money loss to the police, claiming the defendant stole it from him.
I was able to get the police report and it showed there was more than an hour delay from when the alleged crime took place and the actual call to the police. Most crimes are reported immediatley after they had occurred.

The so-called victim testified that he had not reported the incident until getting home and telling his wife that he did not have the money they needed because he was robbed. It wasn’t until his wife insisted he contact authorities about the theft that he called.

“Stagger Lee threw a seven, Billy swore that he threw eight . . .”

The witness denied having lost the cash by shooting dice but admitted under cross-examination to being in the bar, a place he often ferquented. However, he was unable to account for his delay in reporting his story.

I called my client to the witness stand and asked no questions. But I also directed him to roll down a sleeve of his shirt. He slowly rolled down the shirt sleeve exposing a colorful tattoo of two dice – a five and a two which made up the winning roll of a seven.

I then “published” him to the jury by having him stand and walk over to the jury box for the jurors to get a good look at the tattoo.

That tattoo became winner when the jury deliberated and rendered their “Not Guilty” verdict. They disbelieved the victim and accepted my analysis of the incident particularly after I told them the story of “Stagger Lee” and recited a few of the song’s verses.

It was the right thing to do and I was surprised and filled with joy upon leaving the courtroom after the verdict as the judge – James Lineberger, one of my favorite jurists – said to me “Go Stagger Lee, go!

Covid-19 virus attacks & assaults my life

I tested “positive” for Covid-19. 

Having felt sick, I contacted an Urgent Care unit in Conshohocken just outside of Philadelphia. Within minutes, a nurse scheduled an appointment and placed long-stemmed items up both nostrils after confirming my identity with a glance at my drivers’ license and a cell-phone confirmation. 

She called me moments later at home announcing the results of the test and I’ve been dealing with it since January 7th 2021. 

I had felt sick a day or two earlier and knew it was serious. It got a lot worse and I went to bed with a severe cough and sore throat and tried to sleep. 

I was unable to sleep for two or three days after the test. Yeah, two or three days. Breathing became difficult and I drove myself to the emergency room at Einstein Medical Center where I was issued a battery of tests over an eight-hour period. 

I couldn’t take the rapid probing and constant surveillance at the hospital. My PTSD kicked in and after a Cat-scan test, I began to rip out all the medical hook-ups to my arm, my wrist and stickers on my chest. 

I just wanted to go home . . . 

Which I did only to learn two days later that I had nothing severe to worry about from any of the hospital investigations. 

———————–

My breathing returned to normal. I stopped coughing and was able to sleep and have healthy bowel movements. 

I never got a fever or lost my sense of smell or taste as some people with Covid-19 had experienced. I still tire easily and have to catch my breath after going from one room to another. But I feel I am finally getting better and hope to take my butt out of quarantine in the next week or so. I know the virus could stay with me for several months, but I look forward to getting a shot or two by late spring or early summer if the vaccine could help me later. 

Until then, I’ll just take it easy and pray that anyone who gets this virus will survive and eventually recover! 

Universe conspires: All roads lead to Georgia

Today, I am a Georgia boy once again. And if we try hard enough, all of us could be Georgians!

Over the next several weeks I hope Americans join with me in offering positive intentions to convince the universe to focus and raise up the wonderful State of Georgia. 

We need all who can possibly vote in Georgia to march to the poles or to drop their mail-in ballots in favor of the two candidates that would create enough Democrats in the Senate to support President-elect Joe Biden help America heal and grow stronger. 

I am confident that the former vice president will follow the dictates of my old alma mater — the Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA — and “accomplish the mission” while “looking out for the welfare” of the men and women he has been elected to lead. 

Yes, we should all focus on Georgia and create such a wonderful and spiritually-lifting vibe to win over the senate in the runoff election January 5, 2021. 

GEORGIA ON MY MIND

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John F Kennedy helped the world to focus on another state, a war-torn land, that was split during the what historians call the Cold War. He wrote his own speech stating “We are all Berliners.” Years later, the Berlin Wall came down and the world prospered along with a united and allied Germany. 

I believe the same highly focused intention can help America accomplish a similar Herculean task and provide the votes to win this war against the virus, the failing economy and the negativity of the past several years. 

Yes, today we are all Georgians and will be united for the good of all the people. I spent six months in the state training for the battlefield in Vietnam and then three more weeks to learn how to jump out of an airplane to accomplish that mission. I revere the state and feel enlightened by the words of Ray Charles “All roads lead back to you” Georgia! 

And let’s not forget what the book “The Alchemist” shared with us all: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The Universe smiled upon us and granted the Georgia blessing for all America!

Holidays are ‘downers’ for some of us vets

Holidays ain’t what they used to be when you were a kid. Particularly, if you ended up in the military and spent some of your formative years in a war zone like the Vietnam War. 

I could not celebrate Thanksgiving Day this year. It was the 50th anniversary of a comrade of mine named Victor Lee Ellinger, a first lieutenant who was shot and killed by an enemy sniper just three days before the holiday.  (See Cost of War.)

I’ll never forget the anguish I felt and the inability to properly mourn him. The holiday lost all of its meaning years later when I looked back and recalled the events of his death. There were three junior officers in our company. Victor was by far the best and I’ll never forget how the other lieutenant and I ate our Thanksgiving dinner in a rear encampment away from the “bush” just three days after the shooting. It seemed there was little if anything be thankful for that day in 1970.

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Christmas was also bad that year. I had been relieved of my command right before the holiday. As an officer, I had ordered mortar rounds to be fired upon a river bank where I was leading my platoon and suspected the enemy was waiting to ambush us. The rounds fell a long way off the target and I kept ordering the sergeant shooting the armament several clicks away to “step down” to get the mortar rounds closer to the VietCong. 

After three or four attempts the last round struck us and five of my platoon members — called “grunts” — were wounded and eventually medevac’d out. An investigation was conducted about the so-called “friendly fire” episode and I was held responsible for the mishap and relieved of my duties. 

I’ll never forget lying on the cot in a tent in a rear base camp and feeling lower then dirt that Christmas morning. Yes, lower than dirt. At least dirt could provide something useful such as transforming food to grow from soil. Me? I felt I wasn’t good enough for anything that holy day of days. 

I was given a new command and made good (See Mutiny). And was given the honor of a 21-gun salatue by my platton upon leaving Vietnam some six months later.

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Let’s not forget my birthday which is celebrated today. My 21st birthday was a most forgettable one. I was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a training officer in boot camp. We had an IG inspection the next day and I remember inspecting the barracks the night of one’s most celebrated days and feeling so very alone in the army. 

You see, I was a commissioned officer. I could not fraternize with the troops or the drill sergeants. I hardly ever visited the officers club and never hung out with any other lieutenants. I was alone that day and since then I have never wanted to mark my birthday as anything special. 

So, bear with some of the veterans you know during these days of festivities and joyful outpourings. Some of us have been marked by trauma and experience events a little differently and all we need is a single person to try to understand that . . . Thanks for bearing witness this holiday period. 

Some creep hacked into my Internet ID!

I got hacked.

Again!

Some sombitch broke into my Internet connection and must have sent dozens of messages to who knows how many people I have gotten to know through Facebook and possibly Messenger.

I awoke to this criminal tresppass early this morning by glancing at my I-phone at 4 am just to see if a new president had been announced. I saw six contacts from people I used to work with at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. They all told me I was hacked.

Prior to that, I had got messages through Messenger asking if I had sent the receivers a video of some sorts. I tried to open the video displayed but it was to no avail. Among the contacts was the spouse of a fellow I served with in the Vietnam War and my old union boss for whom I worked as an organizer for The Newspaper Guild.

I felt violated, intruded upon and kicked in the gut.

This had happened before but I didn’t have some many friends and associates contact me as a result of this invasion. It hurt man. Really hurt.

I changed my Facebook password after being unable to log in yesterday. A week earlier, I was informed by a representative of McAfeeTotal Security that hundreds of my computer thingamajings were either closed or damaged somehow. I had them sweep my computer to repair the damage. The hacking must have occurred as a result of the culprit’s actions.

Feeling violated and intruded upon when some creep hacks you!

My old laptop computer had stopped working last week. I then turned to a refurbished one I had gotten more than a year earlier when the glass on my old laptop got cracked. A heavy object fell onto it from the back seat of my car when I was driving to a writer’s workshop. But I continued to work with the cracked glass until it completely died last week.

Perhaps the refurbished laptop computer already had some junk in it. I wouldn’t know because I am not tech savvy.

In any case, I want to apolgize to anyone who got any hacked messages from me. You can still send me any money if the hacker requested it and you would like to help out this aging disabled veteran who had to overcome being a laballed a hack writer . . .

Just don’t expect any replies or “likes” on your Facebook submission.

Protesting – a really great democratic right

I have protested more in the past several months than I had ever exercised that American Constitutional-right in my entire life and feel really good about my actions!

I protested the attempted curtailment of postal services at the Conshohocken Post Office and knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds at the Montgomery County Courthouse in protest of the police killing of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, I took part in a rally against the current president by waving banners of Biden-for-president in West Conshohocken that was created by a Hispanic youth from Norristown who was but 19-years-old.

And, as a former combat infantry platoon leader, I felt honored to have joined forces with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at the courthouse steps in Norristown to protest gun violence a few months ago.

Today is the anniversary of the world’s largest protest ever. It was on October 15, 2011, that global protests were held inspired by the Arab Spring, the Icelandic protests, the Portuguese “Geração à Rasca”, the Spanish “Indignants”, the Greek protests, and the Occupy movement. Global demonstrations were held in more than 950 cities in 82 countries. The protests were launched under the slogan “United for Global Democracy.”

I had taken part in only three protests prior to my most recent activities. I felt it was my duty to speak out and assert my right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution which says the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

My first protest occurred in Philadelphia outside the former Inquirer building. I was a union organizer representing The Newspaper Guild and proudly marched in the job action against management.

My next two protests also took place in Philadelphia a block away from Independence Hall as I joined a bunch of Buddhists protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet. I carried signs and smiled and waved at motorists who honked in support while passing us in the rain that poured on both occasions.

Protesting the actions of the postmaster general in Conshohocken

I feel that protesting is a form of duty, if you know what I mean. As an issue arises, I believe the universe is providing me a way to show my feelings.

It was most rewarding to join my fellow public defenders outside the county courthouse in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. I also took pride as a veteran to outwardly protest the use of assault rifles in America.

Like I said. It’s a way of doing my duty for God and country. You ought to try it sometime!

Soldiers I knew were no ‘losers’ Mr. Trump

First Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was no loser, Mr. Trump.

He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper during the Vietnam War and I forced marched my platoon to come to his aid only to find out we got to him too late to help.

He was no “sucker,” having enlisted the same year that you miraculously developed bone spurs on one of your feet, getting your fifth deferment to keep you out of the military and any chance of being in harm’s way. It was the same year I was drafted and later commissioned to lead a bunch of other young men into battle.

I was livid when I saw the news report of you disparaging the men who were killed in combat. An Atlantic Magazine’s journalist,  Jeffrey Goldberg, citing multiple anonymous sources who had firsthand knowledge of the conversations, reported Thursday on the comments. They were confirmed later by another reporter and responded to by Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president.

Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was the pride of Staunton, Va., and his remains are interred with his mother and father in a family plot where I laid a wreath, saluted him, yelled at God for taking him away and cried my heart out.

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Now I learned that you would not even honor the hundreds of US Marines who gave their lives during “The War to End All Wars” in France. You refused to go to a cemetery near the site of the Battle of Belleau, blaming the rain for the cancellation. But Goldberg said that you rejected the idea because you feared your “hair would become disheveled in the rain,” and because you “did not believe it important to honor American war dead.”

Goldberg added:

In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Goldberg said later in the article that Trump had also referred separately to John McCain, the late senator and war veteran, as a “fucking loser.”

Veterans and the families of veterans will make you pay a price for these cowardly assertions. You, Mr. President are not even worthy enough to tie the laces of their combat boots.

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Update: On Veterans Day — 11-11-2020 — it was reported that four out of five military election ballots opened in Allegheny County of my home state of Pennsylvania were votes for President-Elect Joe Biden. And while most military personnel are rather conservative and usually vote Republican, service members did not forget what Trump said, and he paid for his disrespect to the troops.

The Masking on America’s Streets Today

I want to unmask my true feelings about the Masking of America and how to get people to care enough for one another to be a little more considerate while walking outdoors.

First off, you should always honor social distancing and stay at least six feet away from persons. And you should always wear a mask when entering a business establishment, supermarket or one of my favorite places, a Target store.

But you don’t necessarily need to wear it when exercising by walking on the street, pushing a baby carriage, or attending to your dog outside in suburban areas like the town I live in , Conshohocken, PA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t address whether people should wear face coverings while exercising outdoors; it only specifies what people should do when they come into contact with others. For the time being, whether or not you choose to wear a face cover when you’re outside is at your own discretion.

Unlike going to the supermarket where it might be harder to keep six feet of distance in narrow aisles, “people generally do not need face coverings while walking in their neighborhoods and practicing social distancing,” said Judith Lightfoot, DO, chief of infectious disease at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey.

In rural and suburban neighborhoods where the foot traffic is light and people honor social-distancing guidelines, some people choose to walk without face coverings. You may feel comfortable doing this because you’re outside in fresh air, and you aren’t coming within six feet of anyone else in your travels.

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Now for my real gripe. Everywhere you look in America, it seems, there are discarded gloves and masks in streets and parking lots, left behind by people who couldn’t be bothered to find a nearby trash bin.

I counted seven masks on a walk a few weeks ago and I called the borough government to complain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly where each discarded piece of crap was located except for the local library where kids usually play. It was removed within hours. The next day I carried a plastic rubber type of glove my son gave me and I picked up ten masks and got rid of ‘em properly.

discarded mask.jpg

People who discard their masks should be fined for their disregard for others

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In New England, someone abandoned their gloves in a cart at Costco, leaving an employee to fish them out and sanitize the cart before it could be used again.

It got so bad in New York City, that Ryan McKenzie, a restauranteur who lives in Manhattan, began cleaning it up. “I couldn’t believe what I saw so I went to the store and bought a grabber and for the last two hours in three square blocks of the East Village, this is what I found,” he told HuffPost. “It’s abhorrent and needs to be brought to people’s attention.”

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In the wake of complaints, local authorities are reminding folks of the penalties of littering.

After receiving so many reports of gloves and masks left behind in Parsippany, New Jersey, the local police department issued a warning on Facebook: “Clean up and properly dispose of your used gloves and wipes. If you do not, you can be charged and fined up to $500.”

In Yorktown, New York, the current fine of $500 for littering will be doubled to $1,000 for the first violation for anyone caught improperly discarding face masks and gloves.

Let’s hope our fellow Americans can pick up after themselves before a discarded mask or a  glove cause the virus to spread to you or me.

Highlights of Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July is upon us and I wanted to share some independent facts that many Americans may not have learned in history books or in their classrooms.*

The Declaration of Independence was first printed in a German-speaking newspaper and not an English one. The Colony of Pennsylvania had a large German population and when people of what became the Keystone State voted on which language to use, German lost by only one vote. Continue reading

Change Confederate generals’ names now

As a veteran of several military bases, I would vote to change the names of all the facilities named for generals who fought for the Confederate army during our nation’s Civil War.
I offer such action with a heavy heart because of the link I still have with the facilities that helped to create the soldier I had become and the lessons learned in the US Army. Continue reading

D-Day Paratrooper falls prey to Covid-19

An American hero has fallen to the Coronavirus and the world may never see the likes of him ever again.
Ninety-eight-year-old George Shenkle, a card-carrying member of the “Greatest Generation” took part in the invasion of Normandy more than 75 years ago, freeing our universe from the evil of the Nazis. He served as a paratrooper with three combat jumps – including both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge — and got a purple heart in return for the wounds he received after hitting the ground and running into enemy fire and explosions. Continue reading

An Officer and a Gentleman Recalled

I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant 50 years ago and looking back I see it as one of the greatest achievements of my life. Also, one of the luckiest ones and I’m so glad to still be around to tell about it.
Yes, by an Act of Congress I was made “An Officer & a Gentleman.” I don’t know where that title came from  —  Great Britain I guess —  but I tried to live up to it’s “ideal” while in the army and when discharged and choosing different career paths in my life. Continue reading

Seeing a Divine Hand in the Worst of Times

God works in mysterious ways.
Put another way, the Universe will conspire to bring about what you really want and need in life, even though you may not know it when the Divine Intervention takes place.
Or even like it. The intervention that is. And on first blush, it may even seem bad but you realize on reflection it had to have happened for you to progress in life. Continue reading

Karma enlightens Groundhog Day movie

Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis. Continue reading

GI Bill to celebrate its 75th anniversary!

I would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI Bill which is marking its 75th anniversary on June 22, 2019.
My father, who was born on a small Greek Island, never went beyond sixth grade. My mother, daughter of Hungarian refugees, was the first in her family to graduate from a high school in New Jersey.
And I had barely made it through Dobbin’s Tech, a trade school, having transferred from a Catholic high school after I got caught playing hooky and ordered to go to summer school for religion. No one – including myself — saw college in my lifetime.
Continue reading

‘Welcome Home’ this Veterans Day 2018

One hundred years ago peace-loving people throughout the world commemorated the “War to End All Wars” by institutionalizing a holiday that morphed into Veterans Day in America.

World War I, as historians have named it, did not end all of the wars and in 20 years the nations of the earth faced the worst world war mankind has ever known. Continue reading

‘False in One, False in All’ never failed me!

“False in one, false in all.”

That’s the jury instruction I’d request a judge to provide when a witness at a trial said one thing one time and another thing at another time. Also, when one or more witnesses said something different than what the first witness had sworn to tell the truth about while sitting on the witness stand. Continue reading

Blast from the past: the nuclear bomb desk

I will never forget my old wooden desk in grade school and the drills we held in order to protect us from a nuclear blast. The nuns from St. Ludwig’s Catholic School ordered us to get out of our seats and to curl up beneath the desks where we practiced the silence of Benedictine monks. Someone had pulled down the shades over the wide windows of the second-floor room and we sat for long minutes that felt like hours. Continue reading

Dreams of a boy’s fun from a coonskin cap

He doesn’t play with me like he used too. I’d be the first thing he’d grab and put on his head when he went outside and pretend he was Davy Crockett. A coonskin hat was meant for little boys and those wanting to be “king of the wild frontier.” But he has seen me less and less since that white plastic ball entered his life and got him swinging at it. Continue reading

August 22 — we’ll never forget Patty Ward

Patty Ward, a Specialist 4 with a helicopter gunship, was shot down 50 years ago while flying to the aid of US Army soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was one of four men who died when their helicopter was hit and crashed.

Patty was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in connection with helping to rescue other grunts wounded in another battle. His family in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia received the medal posthumously. Continue reading

Guidance from Above seen from a distance

Are there moments in our life when we can see God’s fingerprints or the Will of the Universe directing us along our path? I’m talking about seeing such a Divine event as it is occurring or upon hindsight years later.

That’s the question raised by a group of my friends at the Spiritual Sharing Circle that meets once a month at the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Continue reading

The printer’s life for Ben Franklin and me!

“Here lies Ben Franklin — a printer” is the message gracefully displayed at the gravesite of my favorite Founding Father in the City of Philadelphia.  He was ambassador to both England and France as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and contributor to the US Constitution. He was also an inventor, a philosopher and creator of the first library, the first zoo and the first fire company in the New World. Continue reading

Memorial Day cries out for those who died

Memorial Day always brings back memories of the Vietnam War and one of the soldiers  I served with who I called a friend and a true “comrade-in-arms.” He was Victor Lee Ellinger, a fellow who lived in Staunton, VA. He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper while leading a platoon some 50 miles outside of Saigon. Continue reading

Name that Tune; Five of my Favorite Ones

Songs have a way of taking me back to a time of my life that provided milestones for the path leading me to where I am today.

We all have them, those cherished ones that we hold dear. Some of which may cause a tear to flow, a shit-eaten’ grin to form. I recently thought of five of ‘em and simply wanted to share them with “old folks at home” who might also remember them. Continue reading

Father Koenig’s life lessons at St. Ludwig’s

Father Koenig put the gloves on me when I was ten years old and directed me toward the kid who was my same size but some two years older. That kid – Billy McLaughlin –  kicked my butt. But I never cried or gave up as I swung wildly at him in efforts to land my own punches. Continue reading

Big Moose bar helps wayward boys to grow

My mother hit me upside the head when she caught me drinking beer in the Big Moose bar up the street from where we lived.

I was 16 years old at the time and sipping a Ballantine beer with a friend from Dobbins Technical High School. Someone must have ratted me out as my good friend Joe Walsh and I — both young white guys — drank in the African American bar in a section of Philadelphia called Brewerytown. Continue reading

Laughing & writing about ‘off limits’ stuff

Laughter. It’s good to hear in most of life situations. It can be contagious and cause people to drop their serious attitudes and see a more lighter side of things.

You need it. particularly when times get tough. And if you hang out with the type of people who laugh a lot, you might even hear some gallows humor. You’ll find it among soldiers, cops and nurses as well as ditch diggers, new priests and first-aid workers. Continue reading

Love Beads cover my wicked cool protest

“Wicked cool” is what I thought I’d be when I was 17 and was about to attend a Greek Orthodox wedding for one of my cousins in Queens, NY. I refused to wear a tie to go along with my suit. Instead, I put on “love beads.” You know, the ones that hippies were wearing in 1960s. I was a hippie wannabe. I wanted to protest the institutional requirement to look one way when I wanted to express myself another way. That is, to be in love with everyone  and to share that love with all for whom I was going to come into contact with. Continue reading

Expressway of a heart leads to equanimity

I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.

For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em. Continue reading

Satsang opens world of ‘loving awareness’

I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of  life.

Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.”  According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading

Thích Nhất Hạnh sees the suffering in us

Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.

I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading

100 nations represented at Contoveros site

flag.pngSomeone from 100 different countries has viewed this site and my flag counter can attest to number of nations represented here.

I started to write a Blog some seven years ago and hooked up with a link that not only counted the number of persons viewing Contoveros, but determined which country that person was from. I placed the flag counter at the top of my Blog so that anyone — including myself — could readily see it on linking into Contoveros.It’s at my home site. (See Flag Counter for the latest count up to this minute. Trinidad is the latest country added to my list!) Continue reading

Giggling at somber times can enlighten you

Alexander giggled like a schoolboy as 40 of us met in a service Sunday and quietly tried to meditate for some 30 minutes.

Wait a minute. He is a school boy. Alexander was all of 14 years old yesterday while attending the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia along with his mother. I was sitting next to the youth and about halfway through the gathering, a sound erupted from the other side of the room. It sound like someone adjusting a metal chair on the wooden floor, but to a young mind like that of Alexander, it also sounded like someone farting. Continue reading

Meditation starts as you travel through life

I learned to meditate while riding on a train.

I had tried sitting mediation alone and with others, but was successful only once, and I really don’t know what I was doing. I was following a guru – a 15-year-old teacher from India — before I had turned 30 and I mingled with aspirants in an ashram in Philadelphia. I never touched Nirvana or reached the level that others seemed to rise to. Continue reading