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Archive | January, 2014

Obama threatens: Hawaii, keep quiet!

The death of Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy precipitated by a plane crash was ruled an accident. Birthers say it was murder, ordered by Obama to keep her quiet about the President’s birth certificate (or lack thereof). But accidents do happen and sudden cardiac death is a common cause of death.

Aerial view of the HAARP site, looking towards Mount Sanford, AlaskaYou may recall that birthers have said that the reason that the State of Hawaii has been 100% consistent in support for the story that the President was born in the state is because of secret threats to state officials to drown the islands in a tsunami triggered by a government research project called the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), blamed by conspiracy theorists for everything from the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia, to floods and droughts, to chronic fatigue syndrome. Now does anybody believe that 6 inches of snow and 50 mph winds in Hawaii are just an accident? Obviously Obama is reminding the people of Hawaii of what will happen to them if they tell the truth about his birth certificate.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled critical thinking.

Altered states

I listened to the President’s State of the Union address last evening. To my ears it was unremarkable. It was a “glass is half full” description of the country offering motivation to move forward, but I doubt that the speech will in and of itself change anything. It certainly was in stark contrast to the right-wing view that the country is mostly destroyed by Obama’s policies and will be completely destroyed before he leaves office. Obama urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and pass immigration reform—and to stop voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act after 40 unsuccessful tries, but significantly, there was not a single allusion or joke aimed at birthers.

What I found remarkable, and what prompted me to write this article, is that there was not one Republican response to the speech, but two, and three if you count the one by Rand Paul. I’m not buying Paul’s description of the three responses as “complimentary.” What they signal to me is that not only are Republicans not willing to work with Democrats, they are not willing to work with each other. It suggests that the old saying “cooler heads will prevail” is no longer valid. The book Double Down: Game Change 2012 that I’m reading now talks about the deep division in the Republican Party over the Romney candidacy, and Romney’s loss to Obama has to strengthen the position of the more extreme elements on the right.

My high school Civics teacher described politics as a pendulum that swung back and forth between a liberal and conservative consensus. The farther political events move from the center the greater the accumulated reaction resisting it, just as the acceleration towards the center is greater as the bob moves to its extreme positions. What is impossible for someone like me to see is how far the bob will swing in the current cycle before it heads back. An NBC poll says that the 28% of the country thinks we are on the right track, and 63% on the wrong track. That would suggest acceleration, but it doesn’t say what direction the acceleration is in.

I think the next few years will be interesting.

Are retired military officers violating the UCMJ?

When you see some nut case birther with a military title ranting against Obama on the Internet, you will see a little “(ret.)” after their title, to indicate that they are retired. Military law demands that officers respect the country and its leaders. What about retired officers?

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) does not only apply to those actively serving in the armed forces, but also to “Retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay.” Article 88 of the UCMJ further states:

ART. 88 – CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

This topic received some attention in 2006 in the context of criticism of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld by 6 retired generals. Fred Kaplan argued in a Slate.com article, “Could Rumsfeld Court-Martial the Retired Generals?” that the answer to that question is “yes.” There is no exemption for someone who claims to be speaking as a private citizen. Limited criticism in the context of a political debate is permitted, as indicated by the Manual for Courts-Martial:

If not personally contemptuous, adverse criticism of one of the officials or legislatures named in the article in the course of a political discussion, even though emphatically expressed, may not be charged as a violation of the article.

This brings us to shocking remarks recently made by Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (ret.) at the Surprise Tea Party in Arizona, as reported by several web sites including Raw Story that includes a video link for the appearance.

“I had a call this afternoon from Idaho, the gentleman said, ‘If I give you 250,000 Marines to go to Washington, will you lead them?’” Vallely said as the group laughed and gasped. “I said, ‘Yes, I will, I’ll surround the White House and I’ll surround the Capitol building, but it’s going to take physical presence to do things.”

I was looking for something that one could label contemptuous. Certainly the call for the resignation of the top members of the government (Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner and Pelosi) borders on contempt, as does his comment: Obama is “intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing the U.S. as a superpower….” Vallely wrote in an email to supporters: “I have already achieved a level of ‘no confidence’ in Obama as a leader.”

All of this said, prosecutions under Article 88 are extremely rare, and unlikely to impact Vallely, but it does point out the lack of respect he shows towards the military.

Obama smear author D’Souza indicted

imageI only touched briefly on Dinesh D’Souza in an article mainly about Joel Gilbert. D’Souza wrote two anti-Obama books, the The Roots of Obama’s Rage and a 2012 follow-up, 2016: Obama’s America. The latter is also the title of a film that earned $33 million in 2012. The books claim Obama has some anti-colonial rage inherited from Kenyan roots that drives him to do everything possible to destroy the country. From the book description at Amazon.com:

Obama came into office with an eight-year plan for America, argues D’Souza. In almost four years, he’s crippled our economy, healthcare system, and global stature through invasive big-government policies. If he’s re-elected in 2012, he will be able to finish the job, and destroy America’s future.

A federal grand jury in New York indicted D’Souza last week charging that he used straw donors to funnel money to a US Senate candidate Wendy Long in violation of campaign finance laws.

  • Count 1 charges a violation of Title 2 USC Sections 441f and 437g(d)(1)(D) and Title 18 USC Section 2 by reimbursing others to make political contributions in the amount of $20,000. If I read the statute correctly, the maximum penalty for this count is 2 years imprisonment and a fine of 3 times the amount of the contribution (in this case $60,000).
  • Count 2 charges a violation of 18 USC Sections 1001(a) and 2 by causing the submission of false representations to the FEC by a campaign committee. Violation of this section carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

D’Souza was released on $500,000 bond and asked to surrender his passport and agree to travel restrictions.

Under the “too good to be true” category, D’Souza is scheduled to debate none other than Bill Ayers this week on the topic “What’s So Great About America?” at Dartmouth College. The debate is at 7: 30 PM EST and will stream live.

For information and a trailer from D’Souza’s film, America, scheduled for release this July 4, visit the Hollywood Reporter.

This is the first shoe to drop.

Update (5/20/2014)

D’Souza pled guilty today.

McInnish decision not overdue

Despite what seems a long delay, the Alabama Supreme Court decision in McInnish v. Chapman is not overdue.

The original appellate brief in the case was filed on March 26, 2013, or 307 days ago. According to Table VI of the “Supreme Court of Alabama Annual Statistics For the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2013,” the average pending days1 for a case requiring an original decision2 was 315. Alabama Supreme Court opinions are announced each Friday at the Alabama Judicial web site.

This particular case has some level of complication in that a number of amicus briefs were filed. See my article, “McInnish v. Chapman in brief,” for reference to those.

The appellant’s attorney is Larry Klayman.


1According to the Statistical Report:

The number of days pending in this Court includes the time necessary for preparation of the record of appeal and the filing of briefs. These events occur before the assignment of the case to a Justice for preparation and circulation of a proposed opinion. The number of days pending also includes the time expended while awaiting special concurrences or dissents of other Justices after a majority of the Court has concurred in the release of a proposed opinion.

2An original decision is one on a case not previously heard by an appellate court.

A titter from Birther Report

I got a laugh over at Birther Report. They have this article titled: “Must Hear: CSU Criminology Professor Dissects Obama’s Manufactured Background.” It’s about an associate professor of criminology at California State University Fresno named Jason Kissner who went on the Peter Boyles talk radio program to spin some theories about Obama’s early life. Kissner also wrote a somewhat similar article for The American Thinker last May. Here’s a bit from the Boyles show to give you the flavor of what he was saying:

She’s [Loretta Fuddy] associated with this Subud1 cult which was rooted in Indonesia and subsequently spread to places like Hawaii in the 1960’s, and interestingly enough, it’s also tied to Chicago…. … Three locations that have been connected to Obama’s life, clearly, in a very pronounced way. Then you find that Ann Soetoro also has connections with this cult….

The commenters at Birther Report are skeptical, saying things like:

… absolutely no evidence

What’s his proof?

What is funny is that these skeptical remarks aren’t directed to his really far out conspiracy theories, but rather at his opening comment:

I do think he [Obama] was born in Hawaii.

🙄


1The Subud spiritual movement is said to have about 10,000 members worldwide.

One cannot fail to notice the striking similarity between the symbol for the “seven circles” of Subud, and the Obama campaign logo.