ROOT PROBLEM FOUND!!!!!
It was the USB cables. (2 different ones preventing the flash from programming), I left my default cable at the office and used another this morning. My office setup had a powered USB hub that I connected my default cable to. My experiments this morning was with a different cable directly connected to a USB3 port on my laptop.
I swapped for a third cable, and the programming worked.
I would guess that the first two cables could not push the current required to erase the flash memory. ...not the first time I've had problems with the B style connectors........
Let's call this matter closed.