Thursday, November 27, 2014

Militant preacher/legislator loses appeal of Navy discharge

An ex-Navy chaplain who was elected as a Colorado state legislator despite believing President Obama is possessed by demons has lost an appeal of his discharge from the Navy.
The court of Federal Claims rejected the claims of State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt for back pay and reinstatement in the Navy under the Tucker Act after he was kicked out for disobeying an order not to wear his uniform while praying in Jesus name in 2006 in a Washington, D.C., park outside the White House.
Court ruling
Klingenschmitt tried an on-the-air exorcism of Obama, though presumably God would have had access even if it was done privately.
The former chaplain is the leader of a group and hosts a Web site intent on removing the demons that possess homosexuals,
Klingenschmitt accused of a gay Democrat congressman from Boulder, Colo., of seeking to execute Christians. The claim was withdrawn.
Slate reported Klingenschmitt said gays could not be allowed on the battlefield because they would have to change their diapers after having anal sex.
The Web site did not mention this week’s decision, and Klingenschmitt, who will represent a Colorado Springs district, did not answer a request for a comment.
Klingenschmitt sought his re-instatement and back pay claiming he was removed for praying in Jesus name, which he said would be a violation of his free speech and religious rights.
A senior Navy official familiar with the case said the decision against Klingenschmitt had nothing to do with the prayer.
“Klingenschmitt received a Special Court Martial and was charged with “disobedience of a lawful order” and was convicted by that Special Court,” said the official.
“There were those within the command who thought that he should have received a General Court Martial under which if found guilty the sentencing would have been much more severe, (e.g. confinement and less than honorable discharge). 
Instead the Navy settled for removing him, and allowing him an honorable discharge. A $3,000 fine was dismissed.
 Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate, considers Klingenschmitt one of the most extreme examples of fundamentalist Christians to breach the bar of separation of church in the state.
Weinstein founded a group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has been nominated for a Nobel prize for its efforts to make sure the U.S. does not come under the influence of Christians, particularly now that the nation is threatened by Islamic jihadists.
Weinstein, a lawyer, has pressured the military to separate the military from religion, forcing numerous changes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

America the beautiful has warts

America has squandered the good will generated by the World Trade Center attacks. The Nobel prize President Obama got as a freshman president is a distant dream.

The Ferguson police shooting is the latest drama, but if it hadn’t been preceded by so many school gun massacres the world might not be so unforgiving.

After all, no other nation has the power and willingness to help with the latest world crisis, such as Ebola.

But from China to Iran, and in more friendly nations, the world is asking whether the U.S. should be giving them lessons on human rights.
The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said, "It (the U.S.) should first fix its own problems before criticizing other countries."
Seven Hong Kong policemen were arrested in the beating of a pro-democracy demonstrator, the BBC reported Wednesday. 

Traditionally, America is what it is, to use a popular expression. Sort of like the French idea that the more things change the more they stay the same.

World outrage may backfire, though there is plenty of criticism of police violence in America itself. The NRA and rightwing gun nuts have plenty of power, despite being disdained by many.

It is a commonly held belief in America that it is the greatest nation in the world, and that God supports it.

For those who think this makes us a laughing stock there is Comedy Central and other cable networks that pierce the egos of the Fox morons and their AM radio buddies.

There is no doubt America is a beautiful and powerful nation, but so are many others. Perhaps none as powerful as the U.S., other than China, but many Americans would be happy to live in Norway or Costa Rica, for example.

The police violence and lack of good medical care for many may not be as much of a spoiler as the growing income inequality.

It has truly become “Les Miserables” with TV the opiate of the masses. The tube is out of the box too, though, as “content” can come from anywhere via the net.

Many have their fingers crossed that in 2016 the growing number of minorities, and the growing number of people facing dim futures, will result in an overwhelming defeat of so-called conservatives.

In the past conservatives stood for environmental preservation, separation of church and state, and other causes now disdained by the Republican party. The GOP barely exists in California.

Marijuana is certainly going to be legalized, along with same-sex marriage. Even the ex-Confederacy is joining in the move to gay marriage. A federal judge added Arkansas and Mississippi to the list of more than 30 states where it is legal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Close encounters of the Cold War kind

NATO has confirmed Russian tanks have crossed into the eastern Ukraine as Moscow declares it is sending its bombers to Western borders as it did during the Cold War.

Kiev had reported Russian tanks crossing into its territory a week ago.
NATO commander Gen. Phillip Breedlove said: “Forces, money, support, supplies, weapons are flowing back and forth across this border completely at will and that is not a good situation,” the Guardian reported.
It is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks his country is a match for Western powers, and will not accept that it is a mid-range power.Some economists are terming the conflict as centered more on currencies than weapons, and Russia is losing that war with its ruble at its lowest levels ever.
Putin’s countrymen are being forced to pay higher taxes, which it can do without public announcements with the media unable to report such events. The collapse of the world oil price has panicked investors.
“As oil prices slumped toward $80 per barrel recently, many Russians looked nervously back at the collapse of the Soviet Union,” wrote Christopher Miller in the Moscow Times.
Russia’s Central Bank has had to intervene to stop a run on foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar.
Things are so bad Putin apparently believes shouting louder will turn things around. Thus he has created a news producer, named after the 1957 Sputnit satellite. This outdated technology contrasted with the Rosetta spacecraft that Europe was able to launch and land on a comet Thursday.
Russia’s denial of the presence of its forces in eastern Ukraine lack credibility after it sent its “green men” into the Crimea and then pinned medals on them.
The European Leadership Network earlier this week reported 40 dangerous near misses between Western and Russian planes and ships in the past eight months. The London-based group said Western militaries have chosen to challenge Russian attempts to reassert its military prowess.
“These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a wide geographical area,” said the group, in a report entitled “Dangerous Brinkmanship.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu defended his military’s actions and indicated more encounters were likely.He blamed the West for opposing Russian actions in the Ukraine.
"In the current situation, we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico," Shoigu told Russia’s military council.
The Washington Post reported Shoigu said long-range planes will conduct “reconnaissance missions to monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications.”
The Pentagon refused to take the bait, and said Moscow has the right to fly its planes over international waters as long as it observes international standards.
Russian TV said Kiev was massing troops in eastern Ukraine for an offensive. The Moscow Times quoted the Ukrainian government as saying it had redeployed troops because of a feared Russian offensive. 

Putin may think Obama is in a weak position after election losses. It is a risky gamble. The one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on is the Russian threat.
Keith Darden, an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, writes: "In some ways, it increases President Obama's leverage in his negotiations with the Russians, to the extent that those exist, because basically there is always a threat that Congress is going to act on its own.”

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The loud-mouthed American majority

What Richard Nixon wouldn’t have given for an outcome like this?  Record numbers of voters stayed home, and the silent  becomes the loud-mouthed majority.

Now we find out that Robin Williams had no weed in his system but plenty of the unproven anti-depressants America has embraced.

With the possibility that the Supreme Court may invalidate thousands of same-sex marriages, and throw out Obamacare, the government might want to consider making marijuana available on every street corner.

And there could be a drone in every backyard. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m all for killing terrorists with drones, as Key and Peele’s Obama Anger Translator argues to defend him from fellow Democrats.

Yet ahead of us, barring a dramatic change that cannot come for two years, an election turnout that was the lowest since World War 2, slightly more than a third, means the wealthy have used the Supreme Court to buy an election. Not only were there effectively no limits on campaign spending, the Republicans used Nixonian “dirty tricks” to keep thousands of minority members and young people from voting.

Certainly, there is no doubt President Barack Obama was hated by many of those who did vote. It was the only thing many of them seem to have in common. The improving economy and virtual end of foreign wars ruled them out as issues.

Obama was held responsible for gridlock in Washington. The Republicans who openly, and proudly, blocked everything he tried to do, were not held responsible.

Some Democrats were hopeful Republicans will actually try to do something, guaranteeing Hillary Clinton will be the first woman president.

Perhaps we will know more when Punxsutawney Phil pokes his head out on Feb. 2. If he see his shadow there will be more trouble, if he doesn’t see his shadow there will be more trouble.

On Saturday, right-wing tweeters weren’t crediting Obama for the release of two Americans by North Korea. They said it was because Kim Jung-un feared the GOP. Expect Russian President Putin to pull his tanks out of the Ukraine.

The economy may continue to expand, and there may be more and more “hiring signs” in front of stores.

Historians might argue that with a big turnout in 2016, as often happens after mid-term political changes, the pundits can play tapes of Nov. 4 backwards, like the Beatles “Revolution No. 9.”

For those who disdain the views of Andy Borowitz, who wrote in the New Yorker that the voting means “this country has a lot of dumb fucks in it,” he has been proven right before.

Just today he predicted a convention of Navy Seals who shot Osama Bin Laden will meet in San Diego.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gone President

Following a script that might have been written by Gillian Flynn’s “Amazing Amy,” the nation has rejected the party that brought it out of the depression and wars initiated by the Republican Party.

Unemployment was way down. Growth up significantly. Troops had come home.

For some reason this made the country’s first black president hated. It can be argued whether President Barack Obama was the target of racism, but the opposition party’s incessant attacks on him were there for everyone to see.

Even members of his party stayed as far from him as they could. They still lost.

Some said the attention paid to Ebola and ISIS terror had diverted the attention of the public from Obama’s successes.
Comedian David Letterman said: “This is what happens when we have the midterm elections. The Republicans, of course, have turned against Obama, and the Democrats have also turned against Obama. That’s a lonely, lonely gig being president, ladies and gentlemen.
“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”

An Associated Press story said Republicans, having taken control of the U.S. Senate, would now confront Obama. The writer must have been in a different country the past six years. The GOP has missed no chance to thwart Obama, even shutting the government down.

Other members of the media criticized Democrats for pointing out how Republicans sought to take away the rights of women on  abortion and contraception. But they had done just that.

Now that they no longer have Obama to use for target practice they likely will find themselves facing the wrath of a public that has now been fooled twice.

Hillary Clinton will have a bag of tricks, and no job holding her back. The Republican Party remains on a different page than the majority of America.

Marijuana was legalized in four more locations Tuesday: Guam, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal in a couple dozen states. A judge added Kansas to the growing list of states where same-sex marriage is allowed. The Republicans have played no role in this, making themselves even more irrelevant.

Nor can they claim any credit for stock market records and a significant drop in unemployment.

Just as in the end of “Gone Girl,” the story cries out for a sequel. The nation’s first female president would fit the role well.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Republican attacks on black president electing Hillary Clinton

With the nation’s economy recovering strongly, the Republican party is doing everything it can to destroy the legacy of the first black president.

They may succeed at gaining control of both houses of the U.S. Congress next week, though the failure of pollsters to recognize how things work now may limit the damage.

Cell phones are the hottest commodity in the United States. Machines are set up at supermarkets to buy used ones because so many people cannot afford to buy them at retail prices.

Many cannot get credit from the providers of landline services.

They may well help facilitate the American Spring that should be expected next year.

Just as President Barack Obama hasn’t been able to budge Congress, even when he had a majority, the limit edge Republicans get will only make their followers unhappy when they are unable to deliver.

Once the dust clears, the GOP doesn’t dare take away the hard-won abortion rights of women, voting rights of minorities, same-sex marriage rights of gays or the impending legalization of marijuana.

At the same time, the economic recovery will continue. Voters who elected congressmen and women who did everything they did to slow the growth likely will be questioning their decisions.

President Barack Obama, in his last years, may well step up the attack of the Republican-controlled banks that created the recession. Prosecutions do not need Congressional help.

If the GOP tries to intervene, more than it already has, to protect banks, they will be building support for Clinton as the first woman president. If the will of women is ignored in this mid-term, they can be expected to be even more determined in 2016.

Thousands and thousands of Americans who lost their homes know who was in power. They know money was spent on a phony war in Iraq at the same time taxes for the wealthy were lowered.

Those who sought to bring Obama down will have to ask themselves whether racism was involved.

Just as pollsters are likely to learn that their methods exclude cell phones, at least to a certain extent, the nation is learning, slowly but surely, that computers and software meant to reduce their workload have enslaved them.

Science that is allowing people to live longer, means they will be dealing with illnesses not covered by their medical coverage. Can TV shows and NFL football cover all these shortcomings?
In France, though it was only apocryphal, royalty told the poor to eat cake if they have no bread. In America it will be let me eat Big Macs.

As the bloody French revolutionary Robespierre said: "they (the rich) will conspire until hope is wrested from crime."