Politician, Represent Thyself

copyright © 2010. Jerry Northington. Jerry Northington.com

For years now I have been a blogger and avid reader of political blogs.  A recent post by an immigration blogger used the title of today’s pondering.  The point of the other posting was to make politicians (and other people in the nation today) stand up for what is right against what is wrong.

In my childhood, people in my hometown did not allow other people to be mistreated the way we see on the news today.   People were allowed to live their lives and work to sustain their families without lots of questions.  When people had trouble, they were given aid.  If a farmer was ill or injured and unable to plow or harvest his crops neighbors pitched in to take care of the job and insure the success of the farming community.

 Too often today, we hear politicians and others railing about one subject or another in ways that are often empty rhetoric without supporting evidence or real substance.  The fear card is often played these days by politicians hoping for election or reelection.  The pols twitter about and change positions like a bird on a live wire.

The mental and personal deficiencies of too many politicians and other public figures today leaves them unable to represent with any degree of fairness the millions of people in our nation today.   Fear drives human beings to strange corners and unreal belief systems.  Fear drives politicians to say and do whatever it is that promises reelection and continued exposure to the public eye.

As a nation, we need to stop the current course of always blaming the underprivileged or the weak for our ills.  We need one and all to take a real stand and let others around us see just who we are and for what we stand in this life.  We must be true to ourselves first if we are to be true to any other person.  Our politicians need the same reminders and directions if they are to be fair and reasoned in their public lives.  


For Further Information on Northington Notes

I am keeping my hand in Delaware politics.  Regular commentaries will appear on the blog at


Anyone may subscribe to Northington Notes, a twice a month commentary.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and neighbors who may be interested. The list is a private one which will not be sold or shared.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to keeping in touch and joining with you in activism to address the great issues of our time.


Jerry Northington

Thoughts on Crops

copyright 2010. Jerry Northington. Jerry Northington.com

Growing up in farm country in mid-America the relationship between seed and crop was more than easy to see in our back fields.  The land was rented to local farmers who grew corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops year after year all my time at home.  Those farmers saw the proof of the old adage, “You reap what you sow.”

A few days ago I was reminded about another similar adage.  Those who sow violence (read that any who institute a violent act of any sort) may solve one problem but very likely another issue will arise.  The reaction to violence in most human cultures is more and escalating violence.

Today we live in a world of escalating military expenditures, increasing amounts of arms and ammunition, and a continual race to be the biggest of them all.  To what purpose?  What benefit does humankind see from more and more arms and armament?  Is national security made more sure by a nuclear arsenal that could turn our planet to a cinder in minutes?

My heart tells me if we sow violence we are likely to reap more of the same.  What about if we as a nation were to take on the course of sowing peace?  There are

many examples around the world of peaceable intervention leading to improved lives.  What is to stop us as a people from doing even more.

The sowing of peace can begin with each of us in every aspect of our lives.  Instead of responding in kind to that unkind word or gesture perhaps we would be better to respond with a measure of kindness and friendly words. We need not allow ourselves to become doormats accepting all the misfortune people can hand out, but maybe if we reduce the level of the adversity in the situation we can in the end spread a message of peace and reduced militarism around the world.  At least in my mind the idea is one worth a moment or two of real thought and honest consideration.


Quote of the Day:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

~ Mother Teresa

For Further Information on Northington Notes

I am keeping my hand in Delaware politics.  Regular commentaries will appear on the blog at


Anyone may subscribe to Northington Notes, a twice a month commentary.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and neighbors who may be interested. The list is a private one which will not be sold or shared.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to keeping in touch and joining with you in activism to address the great issues of our time.


Jerry Northington

If you wish to communicate with Jerry Northington

Jerry Northington, DVM


Post Office Box 7987?Wilmington, DE 19803

The Stonecutter

copyright © 2009. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the blog.

Much may be made of what seems like permanent material when a stonecutter takes his tools and begins to work.  The stonecutter aiming to break off a piece of a larger stone block hits the stone time and time again with his mallet and chisel.  A final blow is struck and the stone breaks.  The stonecutter knows the final blow was not the one that broke the stone.  It was instead the accumulation of patient effort and many blows that led to the final changing of the stone.  So it is with a nation trying to restore itself in the name of liberty and justice for all.

Many steps must be taken to insure the proper outcome.  Some are already in progress with the administration’s order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.  Detainees are humans who deserve the same rights and privileges as any other human being.  Under our system of laws a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  If we are to restore our lost standing in the eyes of the world we must begin to give the detainees the same access to trial we ask for ourselves.  Those declared innocent must have their freedom restored.  Those found guilty of crimes may serve their appropriate punishment under our laws.

If we are to become again a nation of laws rather than a nation of rules put forth by people ignoring the law we have much work to do.  President Obama has already reversed many of the executive orders left in place by the last administration.  Rules promulgated without adequate public notice are being reviewed and changed as the days continue to pass by.  Like the stonecutter working at his task, the administration continues to strike one blow at a time in the name of justice and liberty.

We, the people, are the ones who will in the end be served best of all by a return to our founding principles.  We must continue to be patient, but we need not allow these days to be the best we will enjoy.  There is always a better nation right around the corner so long as we keep pushing for change and for real improvement.


Quote of the week:

Violence is an admission that one’s ideals and goals cannot prevail on their own merits.

~ Edward M. Kennedy

War is Not a Solution

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.   Northington website or on the blog.

For the past several years I have been a member of the local peace group, Pacem in Terris.  One outgrowth of membership and action with the group was my recent political campaign.  The driving force for political action was then and remains today my staunch opposition to the ongoing occupation of Iraq.  Our nation has many issues to be resolved today.  We will not be able to address many of those issues so long as we continue to borrow and spend $10 billion a month in Iraq.

Support for the Iraq occupation has waned over the course of the years since the invasion.  The administration keeps much of the activity and the results of war from our eyes.  Our media does nothing to portray war as the real hell on earth so many of us know.  During my time in Vietnam I saw first hand the effects of war on troops from both sides, the people and the land.  War ruins the landscape and kills people without discrimination.

The major insult is not to the troops but is rather to the civilians, the women, the children, and the aged who have no part in military activity.  We must continue to remember every person on either side killed or wounded as a result of our military intervention is a son or daughter, maybe a mother or a father, perhaps a brother or a sister.  Every life lost touches the lives of the many who surround that person.  The damage spreads ripples throughout the surrounding society.

I suggest we look to peaceful means of resolving world conflicts.  The end solutions to terrorism will lie in social and economic change.  We need to begin our pursuit of those measures as soon as possible.  It

is left to each of us to insure our elected officials hear our wishes.  First of all we vote.  Then we must remain vocal and keep in touch with those we elect to remind them they serve us first of all.  Those we elect must lead our nation in the direction we choose.  Only our continued action will insure that course is the one taken.


Quote of the week:  

In war more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect.

~ Carl von Clausewitz

Northington Notes is a twice monthly e-mail newsletter and commentary.  Subscribe on the website or send an e-mail to JerryNorthington at gmx dot com with subscribe in the subject line.  

We Knew Him When


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

“We knew him when.”  These are the words countless in cyberspace will offer in January 2009.  As Congressman Jerry Northington, a Democrat from Delaware, is sworn into office, Citizen Journalists throughout numerous net neighborhoods will chortle.  Each of us who recalls when possum was but a blur in the blogosphere will reflect on when we first met the Vietnam veteran, small businessman, family fellow, and sage.

For me, it was so long ago, I do not recall the date exactly.  Jerry, whose real-life name I did not know for months, and I had our first encounter online.  We connected and communed at Daily Kos.  I know not when the Neurological Veterinarian first joined the forum.  However, I did search for his first comment on what some lovingly refer to as DKos.  While the signature is now globally changed, and thus provides a clue to who this marvelous man might be, then, in June 2006, Tuesday the 20th to be exact, the future Congressman Northington was known only as possum.

In a discussion on the Iraq war, military contracts, fraud and waste, our future Representative in the House voiced his sorrow for what he felt and continues to feel is near criminal [my words], or at least an embarrassment.  The veteran, all too familiar with military affairs, wrote a response to Republicans HATE accountability, and voted that way; and withdrawal, by Markos himself.  In this essay, kos informed readers . . .

Republicans defeated a Democratic measure calling for an investigation into waste and fraud in military contracts today as the Senate engaged in an emotional debate over the Iraq war.

By a 52-to-44 vote, the Senate rejected the proposal by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, calling for a panel like the one led by Harry Truman when he was a Senator, which uncovered many abuses in military spending during World War II.

Mr. Dorgan said that military spending is the worst it has ever been “right now — right now! I think the American taxpayers are being fleeced.”

Jerry joined the hundred or so that expressed their shared distress.  As people poured out their hearts, shared personal accounts, and pounded on computer keyboards, possum penned . . .

Both my state senators voted against this bill.  I am truly embarrassed.

The now candidate did not limit his focus to the current wars even before this campaign.  Only weeks after his initial plunge into Internet Discussions possum, addressed the issue of intolerance towards the Jewish population in his home state.  Doctor Northington wrote on Anti-semitism in Delaware.

Discrimination against anyone, man, or animal, disturbs this compassionate Veterinarian.  When his daughter is affected by policies that are problematic, Jerry, the proud papa, bound by far more than blood ,speaks out.  Again, in those early days as Jerry Northington blogged at Daily Kos he offered his views on As profits drop at Aetna, cancer patients & babies face cuts, By nyceve.  The father of one young and financially dependant expresses his frustration . . .

Sadly my stepdaughter has Aetna health

coverage through her father’s work.  We constantly face medical offices refusing to take the insurance.  The list of providers is getting shorter by the day.  Like others, we are looking to move her coverage from Aetna.

Family is very important to possum.  He wrote many a tale of trials and tribulations in his childhood.  Among the earliest reflections he inscribed was The Florida Possum and Politicians.  However, this tome told little of a personal past.  The mere mention of possums in the news prompted our own critter, who is currently destined for Congress, to write a missive.  It was August of the year 2006 when Jerry Northington revealed his thoughts on elections.  Then the focus was on the debacle in the Everglade Sate.

A day before that reflection, the soon-to-be Representative invited us all into his real life.  On August 10, 2006, Jerry Northington exposed more of his history.  Sharing a war tale with strangers.

Sadly, I missed that missive and many more.  I had not yet found the fine fellow who scribed a comment titled It is the little things that count. The gentle words that might have touched my heart so tenderly, had I seen them, now strike a cherished chord.  The potential Congressman, a person of superior insight, spoke of what for me is so meaningful.  Sentimental trinkets remind us of what is very valuable, the persons in our lives.  Jerry Northington shared . . .

We sometimes sleep under an afghan knitted by my mother and a quilt hand made by my grandmother.  [It is]just lovely to think of them at those times.

Tis true.  Our friends, families, and familiars are significant and sweet.  Had I known the presumptive or possible Representative of Delaware then, I would have shared stories of my own memorabilia.  However, I had yet to stumble upon the now Congressional candidate.  It was not until November 2006 that Jerry and I would come into each other’s lives.  

Apparently, I did not respond to the first comment Jerry sent to me in a diary on veterans and their letters.  That perhaps initial introduction occurred on Veterans Day, 2006.  However, within days, long before Jerry considered a run for the House, in possum’s home net neighborhood, we spoke of the electorate.  Women voters were the topic we discussed.  Pleased by possum’s interest in my own essay, I penned by gratitude.

Dearest possum . . .

Your words mean much to me.  I thank you for expressing these thoughts.

I agree; females are not the only group that does not vote.  There are many who do not cast a ballot.  In a non-presidential election year, the majority of the population rarely employs their right.  In America, we are fortunate to have forty percent turnout.

You may enjoy this treatise as well.  It discusses the broader population.  Civics. Activism.  The Cure For Voter Apathy.

Earlier today, I was working on a project needed for the morning.  I discovered that tomorrow is President John Adams date of birth.  I offer his words,

“A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed,

praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows

is one of the earliest,

as well as the keenest dispositions

discovered in the heart of man.”

 ~ John Adams [2nd US President, 1st Vice President]

Later I learned this incredible and kind person was far more than a possum or a Vietnam veteran.  After  many an exchange, Jerry was kind enough to share his essays with readers at my cyberspace home, BeThink.org.  As time marched on, and the two of us developed a friendship, I discovered Doctor Northington was and is a person of true depth.

Even as the days together in our cyberspace communities became months, and a familiarity grew, I knew nothing beyond the fact that possum was interested in education, the environment, health care, any and every issue in a myriad of universal concerns.  When we began to converse in electronic mail, I still had not seen the stranger’s impressive résumé.  It was only after Jerry Northington chose to place his proverbial hat in the ring that I discovered the depth of this man’s background.

Neurological Veterinarian, small businessman, and future Representative Northington has quite a tale to tell.  With each passing day, the news of Jerry Northington offers a more comprehensive picture of the person behind the prose.  Today, we can read of this thoughtful scholar and superior Congressional challenger in the news.  Jerry Northington discusses offshore oil drilling, the space program, and policies such as No Child Left Behind.  We can hear him on the radio.  Perhaps, Jerry will visit a town near you.  Then you can meet the person I finally became acquainted with face-to-face almost a year ago.  You too might have an opportunity to chat with the Congressional hopeful as I have many times now.

I wish to offer but a few chance moments in the present.  Please peruse the links listed below.  Share your thoughts.  Contribute to the campaign if you can.  Please, if you have friends or family who are constituents in Delaware, invite them to consider, and perhaps cast a ballot for Jerry Northington in September and then again in November 2008.  Be among those who can chime in, “We knew him when.”

We refer to him as Jerry, for now . . .

Power and Fear

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

For years now I have talked about power and how people may be attracted to power and the people who hold that power.  It has been said

Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In the aftermath of the tragic hurricane in Myanmar (Burma) a few short weeks ago I was reading a long ago speech about power and fear.  In 1990 Aung Sang Suu Kyi gave a “Freedom From Fear” speech beginning with the following words:

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

For some reason that way of thinking had not occurred to me.  I always attributed the desire to keep power to the addiction of always being in charge and being somehow worshipped, but the thought of fear being the driving factor makes more sense.  People as a whole are driven by fear as much or more than by most any other feeling.

Another Burmese activist, Bogyoke Aung San, said

Don’t just depend on the courage and intrepidity of others. Each and every one of you must make sacrifices to become a hero possessed of courage and intrepidity. Then only shall we all be able to enjoy true freedom.

We in the United States today would do well to take heed of those words and the advice contained within.  It will be by our actions as individuals coming together in the greater collective that will restore our nation one day.  Fear of failure or of power in the hands of others must not sway us from our goal.  True freedom for one and all is a goal we must not let fall from our vision.

Aung San continues saying

…the burden of upholding the principles of justice and common decency falls on the ordinary people. It is the cumulative effect on their sustained effort and steady endurance which will change a nation where reason and conscience are warped by fear into one where legal rules exist to promote man’s desire for harmony and justice while restraining the less desirable destructive traits in his nature.

In nations where just laws reign there is no need for ongoing resistance and protest.  

In the United States today we see the erosion of justice as we find our rights taken away one by one.  We are subject to invasions of privacy far beyond what our Founding Fathers imagined might be possible.  We must stand together to see an end to this falling away from our founding principles.  We have lost much already.  We must stand steady and true to ourselves and to our nation if we are to keep what remains and restore what is lost.

Aung San again

A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.

This I submit is the greatest challenge facing we citizens of America today.  Too many are apathetic or fearful.  We have nothing today to fear but fear itself.  We must overcome our fear and move to bring power back to the people.

Today power resides in the hands of a privileged few in our nation.  Too many of our political leaders are mired in the quicksand of the system.  We need new ideas and new leaders to show the way into a future which benefits all of humankind.  We will not find that new future if we continue to allow power and fear to be in control today.

We must act together.  We will stand together or we will fall apart.  The choice is ours to make each and every day.  Every one of us has within our reach the power to make a difference.  We must not let fear stop us from taking the actions we know to be right.  We talk to others every day.  We can protest on the streets, write letters to editors, and live a life free from fear.  

Those who find themselves in any position of power and especially those in elected office must learn to live with the responsibility power brings.  Elected officials have a special state of accountability and must not let themselves become attached to the power to the detriment of their voting public.  We, the voting public must be the ones to hold our officials accountable for their actions.  Fear of power or of losing power must not be allowed to rule either side of the equation lest we lose our freedom in the end.


A Day in the Life of a Guantanamo Detainee

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Imagine for a few moments how your life would change if you were suddenly charged as an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay as a detainee.

You’d be transported under conditions of sensory deprivation to maximize your disorientation.

Brooke Anderson, Flickr, Creative Commons (reenactment)

Carlos Ferrer, Flickr, Creative Commons   (reenactment)

Carlos Ferrer, Flickr, Creative Commons   (reenactment)

If you were really unlucky you’d end in Camp Delta.

Lorri 37, Flickr, Creative Commons

In any event there would be guard towers all around the place.

USMarine0311, Flickr, Creative Commons

You might be allowed to exercise, or maybe be gathered as a group in an enclosed pen.

ManilaRyce, Flickr, Creative Commons

Your day would not begin or end with regularity.  From the LA Times the story continues:

It’s a dreary winter afternoon, but the scene could be any time of the day or night. The hour for rec time is one of the few unpredictable features in a day in the life of a detainee.

Reveille is at 5 a.m., when guards collect the single bedsheet allotted to each detainee. That precaution has been in effect since June 2006, when three prisoners were found dead, hanging from nooses fashioned from their bedding.

When they do leave their cells, prisoners are shackled and escorted — to and from showers, recreation pens, interrogation interviews, and a meeting or two each year with their lawyers. They leave their cells in the “hard facilities” of Camps 5, 6 and the new 7 for no other reason, unless they are found to need medical or dental treatment when corpsmen make periodic rounds.

Once a man has refused nine consecutive meals, he is considered a hunger striker and brought to the detention medical center. His head, arms and legs are strapped to a “restraint chair” while a tube is threaded through his nose and throat into the stomach. A doctor-recommended quantity of Ensure is administered.

Under those circumstances forced feeding is one more nice way of saying “torture.”  Put yourself in the prisoner’s place and imagine the pain and distress of being strapped down and having a tube forced into your body.

A schoolroom was added to the predominantly Afghan camp last year to teach basic written Pashtu and Urdu to the illiterate.

Leather-and-steel shackles protrude from the floor beneath each desk where prisoners’ ankles are tethered during classes.

mushroomandrooster, Flickr, Creative Commons  (reenactment)

Lights are kept on in the cells 24/7 for what military jailers said were security reasons.

The full story has many more details than my excerpts.  You should read the entire article.  And put yourself in the  place and time as you read.  Then remember this is our nation at work.  We, the citizens of the United States are represented by the actions of every day in Guantanamo.  We cannot let this continue.

jemstaht, Flickr, Creative Commons

The United States needs to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible.  All detainees deserve the right to a fair trial or release.  We cannot continue to hold human beings in the conditions of Guantanamo if we as a nation hope to hold any measure of moral high ground.



copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

In the first 90 days of 2008 the United States reports 103 troop deaths in Iraq.  Since the invasion we have commemorated the 5th anniversary we have commemorated 5 years and more than 4000 soldiers lost.  Today we hear of costs near $12 billion per month and estimates of $3 trillion overall before all is said and done.  

Meanwhile our mainstream media continues to play down the ongoing failure with barely a mention any more of the deaths let alone stories of the families and friends left behind.  The death count also fails to reflect the numbers of US contractors killed in country.  No mention is made of the many thousands of life altering injuries such as limbs or eyes lost.  Nor do we hear much of the many minds broken beyond repair.  Suicides related to service time are also not counted and often not mentioned.  Coalition losses are not counted in the total.  The Iraqi losses count many thousands more, yet those are dismissed often without a thought.  Every death rends the fabric of humanity a bit more.

activefree, Flickr, Creative Commons

Recent news of increasing violence in Basra is characterized by President Bush as a “defining moment” for the Iraqi forces.  The time is defining alright, but not in the way Bush meant.  US and British troops are being put back into the fray once again.  There are increasing reports of US air attacks in which civilians are killed.  Bombing a populated area always results in casualties among the innocent.

While the ground war continues day by day and our losses mount, the insanity of Guantanamo Bay continues.  Several hundred detainees remain confined in legal limbo.  While the military would have us believe the prisoners are held in relative comfort

US Navy, public domain

we know better.  Reports of abuse may be found most any day.  Justice is a fleeting hope for the detainees as the only court on the horizon is a military proceeding in which the rules of evidence favor the prosecution.  We know the prisoners spend their days in shackles.

US Navy, public domain

Even transport for medical reasons or for exercise may result in the shackling of a detainee.

US Navy, public domain

US Navy, public domain

Razor wire surrounds the compound.

US Navy, public domain

Pictures of Camp Delta suggest conditions far removed from the reality we know exists today.


US Navy, public domain

In 1970 I came home right off the helicopter pads of Vietnam only a few days out of the field.  I came home a changed person.  In 1967 I enlisted in the US Army filled with the patriotic vigor only the young seem to possess.  I came home well aware of the terrible tragedy war represents.  I saw first hand how war affects the people on both sides as well as the havoc wreaked across the land.  Since those days I have stood firm in my opposition to war for almost all reasons.  Today I stand opposed to the ongoing occupation of Iraq with every fiber of my physical and moral being.  The costs are far too high in both dollars and blood.  We as a nation can ill afford to continue one more day let alone the years predicted by most in the administration.

Today the reaction of the public in our nation reminds me of a line from a song

a nation blinded by its disgrace

Today I am ashamed of my country’s actions.  Recent years have seen a drift in this nation our Founders would never have imagined.  We have watched the atrocities of Abu Ghraib along with the aforementioned Guantanamo Bay and all the damage done in Iraq.  And yet we as a nation continue to survive.

CID image

Is there any hope for us?  Of course there is.  So long as good people stand to fight the good fight our nation will survive this trauma the same way we have survived so many past times of trial and tribulation.

How are we to resolve the morass?  We must withdraw ALL our troops from Iraq.  The Iraqi people do not wish our presence to continue.  The international community does not support our continued occupation.  The time has come to end the occupation and let diplomatic maneuvers replace military force.  We must act to bring stability to the entire region through the cooperation of all nations around the globe.  We stand to be much more successful if we use the carrot rather than the stick approach.

If we withdraw will there be blood shed in Iraq?  Of course.  Will the situation be made worse than the one we see today?  Maybe or maybe not.  Who can predict that future?  The one indisputable fact remains the longer we continue as an occupying force the higher the cost to our nation.

We who believe the war is wrong headed must stand steadfast in our opposition.  The blind stubbornness of the administration will ruin our nation forever if we fail to fight.  We cannot afford to lose this one.  There is no room for failure.

Out the door, people.  Hit the streets.  Talk to every person you encounter.  Tell everyone you can corner the truth.  Show them the images of war and of Guantanamo.  Let them see the facts for a change.  It is only by our continued action and ongoing protest that we stand to win in the end.  

Peace to one and all.

Please remember I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the website and consider a contribution  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

The American Legion Reply, Part II

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

A few days ago I wrote about my interaction with the American Legion.  I wrote at first to complain about the organizational support of FISA revision to include telecom amnesty.  The ongoing correspondence between myself and Mr. Steve Robertson of the AL continued into today.  While the correspondence has been amicable, we reached a cavernous divide in our thinking.  As of this moment much of my original and continuing concerns is not addressed.  The entire discussion is too lengthy for a diary, but I will try not to slant my coverage.  Representative parts are being chosen to the best of my ability.

My first comments to the AL were brief and spoke to the erosion of Constitutional rights if we allow retroactive amnesty for illegal acts in addition to the continued erosion of our right to privacy included in the bill.  The initial reply was soon revealed to be a form letter sent to all of us veterans who sent a reply in accordance with McJoan’s first posting.

Mr. Robertson responded to my concern about the failure to address a single one of my expressed concerns.

We only received 20 emails opposing S. 2248, so the same response to assure consistency in our official reply.  You must have been involved in some kind of an organized grassroots campaign to defeat S. 2248 in order to know that the same response was sent to others.

What a fine observation he makes.  I admit to being a political activist concerned with our Constitutional rights and wary of governmental invasion of our rights to privacy on all levels.

Then he continued saying

However, when I received another email in response, each was answered independently in an attempt to address specific concerns.

From here we continued a discussion today.

The first reply included

These measures are remedial at best however, do not provide the tools our intelligence professionals need to protect the Nation or the certainty needed by the intelligence professionals and their private partners.

To which I replied

What tools are missing?

In the same reply I asked again for factual support to the initial claim of terrorist acts prevented in past with information gained by surveillance.  My questions continued

Given the fact the government has a window of 72 hours before a warrant is required how does the current FISA act limt surveillance in any serious way?

The reply came quickly

Besides, it makes no sense to impose FISA requirements in the context of surveillance of targets located overseas.  Meeting the current emergency authorization and going through the FISA Court within 72 hours for every overseas foreign intelligence target, would quite simply overwhelm current resources and manpower, especially those linguists and analysts dedicated to covering al-Qa’ida and other foreign threat.

Maybe I am wrong but it seems to me if the Attorney General has enough information to justify surveillance that should satisfy the FISA Court without further ado.  Mr. Robertson chose to ignore that suggestion.

No real answer to most of my questions was provided.  My final piece of the conversation included my thoughts about telecom amnesty

Such amnesty is not acceptable under any circumstance if we are to hold to our democracy for the future.

 I went further to worry about the Fourth Amendment and Constitutional protection against the provision of laws with retroactive clauses.

The end result was an amicable parting.  No definitive or qualitative addressing of any of my real concerns was forthcoming.  Maybe some such will be part of the future, but is not part of today.


Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

The American Legion Replied Today

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Originally written on February 28, 2008

The American Legion is asking its members to use their power in moving Congress to pass the Bush legislation giving full telecom immunity from prosecution for their cooperation in illegal wiretaps.  McJoan had a front page post at Daily Kos telling the sad tale.  In accordance with McJoan’s suggestion we veterans contact the American Legion, I sent an e-mail letter outlining my objections to the bill and requesting a reconsideration of their position.  A reply came to my mailbox moments ago.  Excerpts from their letter along with my thoughts and observations follow over the fold.

The letter begins with the usual platitudes:

Thank you for your honorable military service and for sharing your views and concerns with The American Legion.

I doubt they found any pleasure in my strong words about their stance.

The Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community are taking all the steps possible to try to keep the country safe during this current period of uncertainty.

The fearmongering goes right on.  Most of the uncertainty in these times is the direct result of administration mistakes around the world.  Many of the steps being taken by the Justice Department are illegal and immoral.  

These measures are remedial at best however, do not provide the tools our intelligence professionals need to protect the Nation or the certainty needed by the intelligence professionals and their private partners.

Private partners is the appropriate concern in this sentence.  The only concern is for protection of the telecoms from prosecution.  They have no real interest in providing increased intelligence capability.  There is plenty of latitude provided by laws in place today without extending retroactive immunity to the telecoms.  


The American Legion believes S. 2248 would modernize FISA, ensure the future cooperation of the private sector, and safeguard the very civil liberties we all value.

The only liberty being protected by this extension is from prosecution and that extends to the telecoms.  Citizens are in no way served by the bill.


Since enactment of the Protect America Act, the intelligence community has obtained information about efforts of an individual to become a suicide operative, efforts by terrorists to obtain guns and ammunition, and terrorists transferring money.  Other information obtained, thanks in large part to these new authorities, has led to the disruption of planned terrorist attacks.

I am about as likely to believe those lies as I am to accept any others put forth by the administration.  Let us see the proof or stop passing along false or misleading information.


Currently, FISA’s requirements impair the ability to collect information on foreign intelligence targets located overseas.

Huh???  How can that be?  There are no real limits once the FISA Court issues a warrant.  In very few instances have those warrants been denied to date.

… the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires “probable cause” and  where the civil liberties of Americans are implicated.  However, this is illogical to require a showing of probable cause for surveillance of overseas foreign targets who are not entitled to the same Fourth Amendment protections.

So long as the interception is on American soil and may involve an American citizen I believe the Fourth Amendment applies.  I would prefer we extend the rights of Fourth Amendment protection to all communications around the world.  In that instance the FISA court could issue a warrant allowing the signal interception once the government proves the worth of the intelligence gathering in the first place.

The letter continues with lots more blah and blah about needs for intelligence gathering and is signed by Steve Robertson, Director ?National Legislative Commission.  The entire piece is one fine bit of propaganda.  Anyone interested in the full text can e-mail me for a copy.  Jerry at Northington08.com

Our nation has a history of surviving hard times as well as enjoying good times.  We are a resilient nation of diverse human beings.  Together we as a nation are the best in the world, but we must work together.  We are all in this political, geographical, and societal stew together.  We maintain our individual characteristics and yet we share a basic sameness in our humanity.

The future is in all our hands, fellow citizens.  There are definitive choices to be made today.  We, the voters, will determine the future.  I, for one, trust you will choose wisely in following your heart to support the person you feel most likely to bring a future of well being to our world.  If we can get some movement toward substantive debate and question and answer sessions that allow us to determine the exact nature of our choices, our choices will be so much more easily made as we are able to make informed decisions.

I say bring on those historians, social scientists, and natural science experts.  Let them ask real questions and let the media report the answers.  Let us see an end to the fluff and fun of what passes for interviews today.  Let us hear questions and answers of real substance for a change.  That is one change I support with every fiber of my being.  How about you?

Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-01.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed and is most deeply appreciated.