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BREXIT

The results are in. The Leaves have carried the day. The deal isn’t done, of course. A referendum in the United Kingdom is only advisory. Final action, if any, to extirpate their nation from the European Union will only come when Parliament has voted.
Still, a referendum in a nation like the UK with an ancient democratic tradition, means a lot.

How did it happen? For the United Kingdom to exit the European Union is about like Texas and California walking out of the United States. What made them do it?

Whatever the economic and political advantages enjoyed as a member of the European Union, there were a couple of disadvantages that weighed heavily on the British people. Bureaucracy and immigration. They didn’t like the multiplicity of regulations that were coming out of Brussels. And they really didn’t like the swelling mass of immigrants disembarking from every train that arrived through the Chunnel.

Those immigrants were almost exclusively Muslims. Whatever the humanitarian motivation for receiving and harboring homeless, rootless, needy human beings, the fact has been that the Muslim birth rate in England has out paced native reproduction by a ratio of more than five to one.

Adding offspring to the surge of Muslim immigrants, the followers of Islam now represent the second largest religious minority in the nation.

Not only is the ratio of Muslims growing exponentially, but their disposition to settle in racially hospitable neighborhoods, has begun to create the phenomenon known as “no go” communities, where Sharia law is observed and enforced, so common in France and other countries.

The proportion of Muslims to the general population in the UK is just five percent, but there are three towns in which their ratio exceeds 40% and two more where the ratio is more than 25%.

Whether retreat from the EU will extricate the Brits from the influx of Muslims only time will tell. But the fact is that a united and explicit public policy will be needed to stem the tide.

Donald Trump, of course, has jumped on the Brexit vote as evidence that his restrictive immigration policies resonate with the working class. No doubt they do. Still, the Muslim population in the United States is only one percent, just a fifth of Britain’s.

But the herd instinct of Muslims has generated some very identifiable communities in our country. Among the most widely known is Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit with a 40% Muslim population in a town of just less than100,00.

Less noticed, but more dramatic, is the Detroit enclave of Hamtramck, a town of 22,000 with a Muslim majority, both in population and on the city council.

The two square mile residential community, once an almost exclusively Polish town, is now dominated by four Mosques whose bells call the faithful to prayers just before dawn, at midday, afternoon, sunset and nighttime.

I first noticed the Hamtramck metamorphous when I read that Hamtramck High School found it necessary to host an all-girl’s senior prom, in deference to the fact that Muslim girls are not permitted to dance with boys.

Whether the Muslim majority on the Hamtramck city council will be disposed to enact Sharia inspired regulations, only time will tell. I suspect that Hamtramck will not be a friendly place to open a gay bar, an abortion clinic or a liquor store.

What concerns me more is whether Hamtramck will become a hotbed of Jihadist recruiting. rivaling Minneapolis and Saint Paul as an American center of ISIS harvesting. 

I came to maturity campaigning in Detroit. I learned a few Polish phrases to endear myself to the voters in Saint Hedwig’s and Saint Cunagunda parishes. I showed them my Kelly green vest and told them that after voting for Judge Stanczyk they should vote for the Irishman, because we are Catholics, too.

I have no doubt that Muslims vote for Muslims. The important question is whether, being elected, they will put their duty to the Constitution of the United States ahead of the arcane mandates of the Quran.

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FATHERS’ DAY

I am a father. Indeed, I am the Paterfamilias of a clan that now numbers forty-one people connected by consanguinity or affinity, and within a year will grow to forty-four.
In our family, the in-laws are called outlaws, and those born to membership are called ‘the blood.’ I claim that the blood line is improving with each generation because, “the Brennans always marry up.”

To say that I am proud of my family is hardly enough. They are special and extraordinary people, and the bonds of affection and loyalty that connect them to each other are vital and visible.

In the ceremony that joined Polly and me in holy matrimony at Gesu church in 1951, Father  Norbert Clemens read these words:

And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God.

That phrase has stuck in my craw for a very long time. I am an old fashioned guy. The notion that the lifetime union of one man and one woman is the epitome of human happiness has always seemed pretty obvious to me.

It is embedded in our culture, in our music, in our literature, in theater and art, in the very language we use to communicate with each other every day.

Right now, our clan is preparing for another wedding. Our oldest grandchild, she who we long ago dubbed as ‘numero uno,’ MaryKate Radelet, is scheduled to wed Peter Stritmatter  on August 6th.

I never realized how essential to a successful wedding the role of a grandmother can be. Fed X is on our doorstep every other day with another pair of shoes for Polly to try on.

Her dress, of course, has been the subject of discussion, apprehension and concern for months.

A couple of weeks ago, the Brennan clan gathered at our daughter Ellen Campbell’s house for a bridal shower. They don’t get together often, but when they do, it’s really party time.

The highlight of the evening came when Peter was presented with the forty year old Jodhpurs, originally purchased for ten cents as a Christmas present from Bill to Peggy. They have been used to celebrate weddings, graduations and anniversaries and to initiate new outlaws for decades.

Peter didn’t try them on, as was usually expected. Truth is they are getting a bit too shaggy, and about all he could do was to shove his arms into the pantlegs.

I could not help thinking as I Iooked around that room soaking up the noisy chatter and hearty laughter, that these will someday be known as “the good old days.”

And I can’t help but wonder whether, when my grandchildren are my age, they will preside over families as large and robust as ours.

Candidly everything I see and hear in the public arena suggests that 2066 will see a very different world than 2016. We have already been introduced to some initiatives that suggest the pace of change is accelerating.
Robots, intelligent electronics, computer chip implants and who knows what devices yet unmade will be as commonplace in that day as I phones are today.

And every bit as dramatic and revolutionary as scientific advances, we can expect social evolution to continue apace and even accelerate.

The whole idea of marriage and family may well be passé. I can’t help but wonder what will then provide “the greatest measure of earthly happiness allotted to man in this veil of tears.”

Continue reading FATHERS’ DAY

JUDGE GONZALO CURIEL

Judge Gonzalo Curiel sits in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. He has the unhappy task of presiding over a pair of class action lawsuits brought by former students of ‘Trump University’ so called, an enterprise conceived by businessman Michael Sexton, who had the happy fortune of selling billionaire Donald Trump on the idea of cashing in on his image as a successful real estate mogul.
Trump was so impressed with Sexton’s idea that he took a 90% share of the deal, leaving Sexton with nothing but a paltry $250,000 job as the CEO.

Sexton’s idea was simple. Trump is a celebrity. He is on television alternately praising and firing eager young apprentices. He has written 18 books, mostly telling how he made so much money. Sexton saw that Trump was perceived as a cornucopia of business acumen.

Who wouldn’t want to study at the feet of the high mucky-muck of money making?

Apparently nobody told Mr. Sexton or Mr. Trump that freedom of speech does not include calling yourself a university without the proper state authority, any more than one can call himself a ‘lawyer’ or a ‘doctor’ without a license and charge people money for their services.

And, of course, the ‘feet’ of the high priest of the real estate business would have to be multiplied by dozens of surrogate slippers on the carpet in order to satisfy the groundswell of demand that would erupt as soon as the chance to become an aspiring “Trumpeteer” in the real estate market became known.

Which quickly led to the hiring of salesmen who were adept at selling people on the business of selling other people on the business of selling yet other people on whatever they may be selling.

If that is a ponzi scheme, of course, then so is every college, university, and sales manager in America. Still, it was a departure for Mr. Trump from his normal pursuits, and it has provided his political opponents with a position on high ground from which to lay siege to his Presidential prospects.

And Donald Trump, with his insatiable appetite for conflict, has taken the bit in his mouth and clamped down real hard.

The Judge is a Mexican. The plaintiffs’ lawyers are all Hispanics and Democrats to boot. They are all in cahoots to embarrass, harass, annoy, and ultimately defeat and destroy me, he says. They all hate Donald Trump.

Yea, verily, they are the enemy, says the Donald. They are the bad guys, out to destroy us … we are the good guys.

Unhappily, whatever legal merits the Trump U. plaintiffs can assert, it is certainly true that Hillary and company are rubbing their hands in delight as the Trump U case overtakes the email server case in the public square.

Politics has always been a harsh and unforgiving business. In the early days of our nation men still repaired to the field of honor to resolve personal disputes. Political discourse was spicy, vigorous, indeed nasty at times, but there was always the ultimate challenge to “choose your weapon.”

Alexander Hamilton and his son both died from wounds inflicted in  duels. In those days, you didn’t call another man a liar, a cheater or a thief without expecting a challenge to settle with pistols or swords.

No doubt before November, Trump will infer that Hillary’s Wall Street speechifying was a form of prostitution and she will respond by suggesting that everyone knows that Donald Trump is a rectal aperture.

In Philadelphia, in 1787, our fore fathers opted to provide for a single executive. That’s what they wrote into our Constitution. New Jersey wanted an executive council.

Maybe we should reconsider.

Continue reading JUDGE GONZALO CURIEL

UPDATE ON TERROR

Every so often, I write a  blog about the Fort Hood Massacre.

Maybe you have forgotten about it. On November 5, 2009, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan murdered thirteen of his fellow soldiers and wounded more than 30 others at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

His murderous attack began with a shout of ‘Allahu Akbar,’ an Islamic cry meaning “God is great.”

Hasan was convicted of premeditated first degree murder by a military jury  on August 23, 2013. Five days later, another military jury recommended the death penalty.

That death sentence has never been carried out.

I Googled Nadal Hasan just to see what is currently happening. Very interesting. Apparently there has been nothing in the newspapers or other media about the case since 2013.

I did find a statement to the effect that the jury’s recommendation of the death penalty is just that: a recommendation. It is not a sentence of death.

Hasan has not been sentenced to death. The jury’s recommendation was sent to the “convening authority” the military officer who ordered the convening of a general court martial to try Hasan for murder.

Apparently, under the code of military justice, the “convening authority” has the last word. He may accept the jury’s verdict and direct that it be carried out. Or he may modify the verdict, giving the defendant a life sentence or some lesser punishment.

It as been three years since the matter was referred to the “convening authority.” As far as I can tell, the “convening authority” in this case was Lieutenant General Donald Campbell, who was the commander of the III Corps and the officer in charge of Fort Hood in 2009.

General Campbell was later placed in command of U.S. forces in Europe, and in 2014, he retired from active duty.

His successor at Fort Hood is Lieutenant General Sean Macfarland, who is not only the commandant of Fort Hood, but also the officer in charge of all U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I can find nothing General MacFarland has said about the Fort Hood Massacre except a comment that a recent change in the definition of eligibility for the awarding of the Purple Heart might provide some “closure” for the victims and their families.

That “closure” includes a substantial amount of money which the government will pay to the Fort Hood wounded and the families of those who were killed.

The Purple Heart has traditionally been award to members of the United States Armed Forces who have been injured or killed by enemy fire in battle.

The Army originally classified the Hasan killings as “workplace violence.”

Apparently, the army has now concluded that Hasan’s allegiance to Allahu qualifies him as an ‘enemy’ thus marking his victims as soldiers killed in battle.

Hasan has written to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the ISIS jihadist militant organization, requesting that he be admitted to citizenship in the ISIS caliphate and recognized as a soldier in its armed forces.

Enough already. An American jury has spoken. Nidal Hasan is not a prisoner of war. He is not an enemy soldier. He is a criminal. He is a convicted murderer. To elevate him to the dignity of a foreign citizen fighting for his country is preposterous. It’s insane.

General Sean MacFarland is now the “convening authority” in the Hasan case. When will the American media ask him the simple question, “Are you going to approve the death sentence for Nidal Hasan or aren’t you?

And maybe the candidates for President should also be asked whether they will continue President Obama’s refusal to bring Nidal Hasan to justice.

Does anyone doubt that the Commander in Chief is ultimately responsible for the shameful failure of the Army to carry out Hasan’s sentence?

Continue reading UPDATE ON TERROR

A HAPPY BIRTHDAY

In April of 1958, in his 58th year, my Dad got sick and went to the hospital. No one in his family ever went to the hospital except to have a baby or to  die.

He was in a corner of a large ward, enclosed in an oxygen tent. I remember trying to reach under the tent to touch his hand. He told me to “Gowan home.” It was the last thing he said to me.

I don’t remember ever telling my Dad that I loved him. Not that day. Not ever. I know that I did love him, and I was always sure that he knew it. As little ones, we were expected to kiss our parents good night. I remember once refusing and stomping upstairs in a snit. Dad followed me up the stairs with vigor and discipline.

When our voices changed, the boys shook his hand, and occasionally we men could hug each other or punch a shoulder affectionately.

All that changed for me when I married Pauline. She had buried two brothers, both parents and a grandmother, and she knew the value of loving people and saying so.

In due course, she even nudged my very proper and reserved mother into saying, “I love you, too, dear.”

So you can understand that as we reared six children, watched them marry and welcomed their spouses and the nineteen grandchildren they have spawned, the phrase “I love you” has been a commonplace expression that knows no age, gender or geographical boundaries.

All of which is by way of telling you that as I acknowledged and celebrated the 87th anniversary of my birth there has been a tsunami of greeting cards, emails, text messages, tweets and face book postings in which all of my wonderful relatives augmented by their multitude of friends, not to mention the few of my own who are still living, which have unabashedly expressed warm affection for this old judge and wishes for his continued health, happiness and good humor.

This blog, then, is by way of expressing thanks to all of you.

I have told this story before, and I’ll tell it again. Some years ago, I was in the airport in Newark, New Jersey, walking from one gate to another at some distance. Coming toward me on the concourse, I saw a young family, Mother, Dad and a little boy who could not have been more than two or three.

They stopped me and greeted me warmly, the husband saying that he was a graduate of Cooley Law School and was happily and successfully employed, I seem to recall, as general counsel for a department of the New York State Government.

He was effusive with praise as he introduced me to his wife and his little boy, who looked up at me wide eyed and obviously impressed with his father’s words of appreciation and admiration.

We chatted for a few moments, then said goodbye as I was about to continue toward my gate. But just as I turned to leave, the little boy looked up and, in a most endearing bit of childish talk said, “I wove you!”

I was an encounter I shall never forget.

It has reminded me so many times in the intervening years of the importance, indeed the necessity, of expressing our love for other human beings.

So now, as I stack up the cards, and file away the emails, text messages and  phone calls that lifted my spirits yesterday and helped to remind me that 87 isn’t 90, so I don’t have to hang it up just yet; I simply want to say to all of you my dear ones; Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for all your good wishes and your “I love you’s.”

I love all of you and I love each of you.

You are in my thoughts, my prayers and my heart, now and every day the Lord gives me on this beautiful Planet.

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WEALTH AND POWER

There is a symbiotic relationship between wealth and power. People use wealth to get power and they use power to get wealth. The object of both is the same: they enhance freedom.

The more money you have, the more power you have, the more you can do, and the more you can control what other people do.

Typically, people in government have money. Of the 55 men who met in Philadelphia to draft our federal constitution, 39 were lawyers. Others included wealthy farmers, land speculators, and merchants.

From the very first days of our nation’s history, members of  Congress have had sources of income in addition to their their compensation as Senators or Representatives.

The same is true today. Thirty-five percent of the members of the House and fifty-one percent of the Senate are lawyers. Other occupations include teachers, physicians, professors, business owners and executives.

Congress has been called a millionaires club. Forty percent of the members of the House and fifty-seven percent of the Senators report having a net worth in excess of one million dollars. This compares with just over three percent of the population generally.

The Presidential election of 2016 is shaping up to be a contest between wealth and power. Hillary Clinton would be a poster child for the politician who uses power to gain wealth. Both she and her husband have worked the speaking circuit to gather six figure appearance fees. Their charitable foundation has been notoriously benefitted by their political preeminence and power.

The Clinton’s are reported to have amassed a net worth in excess of 15 million dollars.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is obviously a candidate bent on using wealth to gain political power. He has outspokenly claimed to have spent his own money to gain the Republican nomination.

Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would feel about his candidacy if he doesn’t win.  He answered bluntly that he would consider the whole process a waste of time, money and effort. Trump is, at the core, an entrepreneur. He considers the money he has spent getting the Republican nomination as an investment, not an expense.

I can’t help musing over how Donald Trump might profit by being elected.

Federal law requires office holders to disclose all of their assets, unless they are placed in a blind trust, managed by an independent financial institution.

I doubt that the law requires office holders to disclose all the assets of members of their families. Indeed, there would be a strong constitutional challenge to any federal law that would require a person to disclose their assets just because a relative was elected to federal office.

Assuming that the Trump financial empire is the property of members of his family, it is doubtful that full disclosure can be required.

Of course, Mr. Trump has never been very secretive about what he or his family owns. The name “Trump” is notoriously featured on his real estate holdings, and his food, beverage and clothing lines.

The Obama and Clinton administrations have been fairly well known to steer government spending toward favored contactors, but not to family members. Jimmy Carter’s younger brother Billy attempted to cash in on President Carter’s fame, but Billy Beer never prospered and lasted only a couple of years.

No doubt there would be a public outcry over news that members of the United States armed forces were eating Trump Steaks or wearing Trump socks.

Be that as it may, I will gladly predict that if Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, he will not leave office impoverished.

Indeed, we can expect that Trump University will be revived and accredited.

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia; an achievement he insisted be noted on his tombstone.  It’s what Presidents do.

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