Archive for trials

Update: Punishment Meted Out To Methodist Pastor Who Performed Same-Sex Marriage

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Rev Frank Schaefer 2

Earlier this week, I wrote about a disturbing situation where a United Methodist Church official, Pastor Frank Schaefer was tried, by the church for performing a marriage ceremony. A same-sex marriage ceremony. And one of the two participants was Schaefer's own son. You can find it here.

The fabric of families is a fragile one. There are so many issues that can strain relationships, children, parents, grandparents. So when you think of the challenges the Schaefer family had to endure coming to terms of acceptance over gay sexuality for three of Pastor Shaefer's four sons, they all deserve kudos. That's a hurdle of love and understanding if I've ever heard one.

Then, as a sign of his admiration for his father and the church, Tim Schaefer wanted his father to have the honor of  performing the service and administering the sacred vows. He wanted to celebrate with his family, his church and his God. The marriage of two Methodists who wanted to live within the law, not in sin. They were guilty of nothing more than wanting to show their devotion of love to one another, sanctified under the eyes of their God.

What was disturbing is that Rev. Frank has been tried, found guilty and now faces some very stringent punishment. Defrocking is still within the future. An ultimatum has been given. Is it just? You be the judge. Hear it for yourself from Rev. Frank Schaefer on yesterday's News Nation on MSNBC.

The United Methodist Church says it welcomes LGBT members. Isn't it time that they put their faith where their mouth is? Stop punishing men and women of belief who wish to give sanctity to marriage and keep it faith-filled.  Though LGBT sexuality isn't a choice, religion is. The Methodist Church should truly mean what they profess by acceptance, and make that both on and off the pulpit. Let those pastors who believe in ordaining same-sex marriage have their wish. Those who don't needn't be forced into performing those services. But don't leave the flock to wander unwanted. They'll just find a pasture somewhere else. True believers have faith and acceptance in their hearts. That's what Jesus would say, or so I'm told.

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We can't handle a shackled guy in federal court, for Christiangodsake, don't you KNOW that, B. Hussein Obama?!

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Afraid of own shadow

Remember back in 2009 how Republicans were screaming and panicking over the possibility of holding 9/11 trials in a downtown Manhattan, USA federal court? OH MY GOD! TERRISTS ON U.S. SOIL!

Right there in our USA courtrooms!

They'll all whisper propaganda into their ultra super duper Muslim Dick Tracy magic transmitters to signal all the other terrists to gather in New York, USA during the trials and spread their Al Qaedaitude all over Amurika, USA! During the trials! Right there!

Our national security machine can't handle a shackled guy in federal USA court, for Christiangodsake, don't you KNOW that, B. Hussein Obama?!

Gaaaa!

So the president scrapped the federal trials and moved everything to military tribunals. Even though we've had plenty of successful trials right here in the U.S.A. of plenty of bad guy terrorists that turned out just fine in which the bad guy terrorists were convicted, thrown in high security prisons, and were never heard from again.

No propaganda was spread, there was no retaliation, nobody was infected with Al Qaeda germs, and we all lived happily ever after under that big conservative thumb that keeps infringing on the rights of others.

The Hill:

Attorney General Eric Holder said he was right to push for trying the 9/11 defendants in federal court in New York.

Holder said Monday that if the trial for alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators had been held in federal court, rather than a military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay, the defendants would already be on death row.

To quote Holder, "I was right." He sure as hell was.

The Guantánamo trial for the five 9/11 defendants remains in pre-trial proceedings, with the trial not expected to begin for another year at least.  Defense attorneys have said the pre-trial classification fights will push the trial date back to 2016. [...]

“I think that had we gone along the path that I announced at that time, we would not have had to close down half of Manhattan, it wouldn't have cost the $200 million a year and the defendants would be on death row as we speak,” he said.

But that doesn't matter. Republican cowards got their way, again. And justice has not been properly served, again. And Americans pay the price, again.

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Not Guilty Match.Com

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George Zimmerman

My good buddy Matthew Clark is at it again, satire with bite. It's killer stuff -- figuratively and literally. With all of the high interest, high profile trials of late, (must be at least five 'trials of the century' in the last five years) it's about time we take a step back and inhale some fresh ozone -- now that Nancy Grace isn't sucking up all the air around us and the EPA is still funded.

Matthew and company are clever, witty and don't disappoint in this clip. Give it a shot -- oops.  Shouldn't say that around this video:

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Get Real, Gerry

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Geraldo Rivera

He's at it again. Oh, that Geraldo Rivera. From the picture you'd think he just had a run-in with Trayvon Martin, and to listen to him, you'd think he was there fighting alongside George Zimmerman, standing their ground.

Whether opening Al Capone's vault or just his mouth, when Geraldo's taken to the airwaves recently, the pollution levels have risen. He's a popular guy, make no mistake about that. And as a young reporter, he did win a very prestigious Peabody Award for his investigative reporting into the abuse of mentally disturbed patients in a Staten Island facility.  He's not without his pluses.

Old baseball player

But like an aging former all-star baseball player, due to age and complacency, he's lost a step. He strikes out more often. He gets caught stealing. He commits more errors.  But like all of us, he's not going easy. He's going to go kicking and screaming. He's going to try every trick in the book to stay as long as he can.

Ring, Ring, Ring!

screech-on-the-phone-with-violet-350x294

That's the call from Dustin Diamond (Screech) beckoning in all aging hasbeens. Gerry's news gaffs are getting more notice than his reporting of the news. That's a bad sign. His "hoodie" remarks are an example of his losing a step. His hitter's "eye" is gone. He's got trouble handling the curve ball and he just can't seem to catch up to the "heater." His batting average is below the 'Mendoza' line.  (for non-baseball aficionados, that considered bad.)

Over the past year he's almost become a laughing stock and brunt of jokes everywhere for his biased and even bigoted statements about the Zimmerman-Martin trial. Let's face it, for a Jewish Puerto Rican dude, he's certainly had to withstand a lot of taunts and snide comments over the years.  He should have learned by those injustices to  become more tolerant and understanding.

Let's underline should.

In the clip below, not only does Geraldo preface his statements with how open minded he is about his Black counterpart on MSNBC, the Rev. Al Sharpton, but he ridicules those who he works with about how little they think of the Reverend Al. That's not a good practice to have to justify your standing by calling those around you biggots and jerks. A smarter man would say  his co-workers are bright, but I'm even brighter. Being the 20 watt bulb in a box of 10-watters isn't exactly making you a tanning salon bulb. Perhaps it's refreshing to see Rivera understands the zoo and clown circus atmosphere he works in. But then he shows that he's one of them when he opens his mouth and basically stops just a silly millimeter short of actually blaming Zimmerman's trial for Travon Martin's death on Rev. Al. Yes, watch this report at 0:38 when Gerry puts the blame on Mame -- Sharpton -- for this even coming to trial. Once again, Gerry's making news, not reporting on it.

Rivera is a lawyer and he knows that investigations take time. Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots player accused of murder wasn't arrested or charged for over a week after the police began questioning him. An arrest is serious move. And Zimmerman, guilty of innocent deserved an investigation before being charged. Had he been held that first night, Rivera would probably have take the "rush to judgment" claim as his rallying cry. The fact is the press is trying Zimmerman and they're doing it through race colored eyes. Why not just let the jury do their job.

Maybe, if we were covering some of the real injustices like the Farm Bill stripped of food assistance monies, or comprehensive immigration reform being broken into pieces so it will have a path to citizenship being removed, or the over-reach of states in mandating unreasonable ambulatory care levels at abortion clinics in order to remove women's right to choose, we'd all be better off.

Peabody Award

So Gerry, go back to your roots. You once cared about the mentally handicapped and it brought you acclaim. Why not go back to reporting on real shocking news -- how America's rights are being systematically taken from them. Then you can go make room on your mantle for another piece of hardware -- No, not the Al Capone Appreciation Award from Fox and Freaks, but another Peabody. I bet you have it in you. You have potential. You've proven that. Now shed the phony outrage and really tackle some bones with meat on 'em.

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F-Bombs Away

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F bombs

If you were watching the opening statements today at the George Zimmerman trial, you heard the prosecutor's opening statement quoting the defendant,"F---ing punks. These assholes always get away."  That, in case you didn't know were Zimmerman's words.  This was followed immediately with another use of the "F" word.

Immediately MSNBC broke away to an apology by self-important Chuck Todd for their not bleeping out the two uses of profanity.  Really?  In this day and age?

It used to be you couldn't show a married couple on TV sleeping in the same bed, they needed separate beds. We couldn't say the word, "ass" unless it was preceded with the word "jack." Then there was the word "Hell." It used to be bleeped out during a movie, but the announcer was okay with saying, "Stayed tuned for more of  ' To Hell And Back' after these messages." Softening standards led to not if you could say "hell" but how many times in a show.

"Bitch" and "bastard" were verboten as well.  And God forbid, you said "shit."  And let's not forget Janet Jackson's "nipplegate" scandal.  It was so bogus that the FCC even dropped it's fine on the network because it was stupid. Face it, profanity and nudity are part of life.  And now they're commonplace on TV. Remember the outrage when they showed Dennis Franz's naked backside on NYPD Blues?  Now anything less that full frontal nudity is allowed.

Isn't it time we got over the phony outrage?  This is news coverage.  As a news event, why are we facing censorship?  Don't we have a right to know without an arbitrary censor deciding what crosses the line?  News should be truth.  No one's harmed by the utterance of these words.  Let's stop kidding ourselves that children hearing these words will be corrupted. You don't think they hear this every day at school?  Stop making an issue out of it and maybe they wouldn't use those words and phrases as much.

A simple admonishment to your child that this isn't acceptable conduct or vocabulary for them is sufficient. I raised two kids and I'm sure when I stubbed a toe or hammered my thumb, they heard plenty, but vituperative speech was never a problem.

So TV networks, it's time you get over it?  It's 2013.  A comic the other night gave the definition of a "virgin as the ugliest girl in fourth grade." Maybe if we left Puritanism behind and explained things earlier to kids, we wouldn't have half the problems we have right now. Instead of $30 Billion for addition and unneeded border security, why not education? Innocent people will die with border patrol. Lives will be saved with education. Put some priorities on things.

The F-bomb was dropped a few times... When are we going to stop the phony outrage?

The bigger crime MSNBC and Fox News and the other outlets propagate is their giving coverage to stories by extremist that they know are lying. Now that's real pornography.

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Elizabeth Warren speaks truth to power on her first day on the Banking Committee

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elizabeth warren banks

Via the Facebook page New York Communities for Change:

Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke truth to power at her first Banking Committee hearing when none of the witnesses could give an example of the last time a Wall Street Bank was taken to trial. LIKE & SHARE if you want Senator Warren to be your valentine!

There are so few Congress members who are truly willing and able to use their voices so clearly on our behalf, and who would take risks for us by confronting those who so many others are either beholden to, cowed by, or both.

Warren killed it. Again.

Ironically, Politico is reporting that Warren is staying out of the spotlight the way Hillary Clinton did (and Al Franken, come to think of it). But keeping a low public profile is quite different that making herself heard loudly and clearly when it comes to direct challenges:

"Since taking office, Warren has kept the lowest of profiles, speaking only to select Massachusetts media outlets while shutting out the national press save for a smattering of interviews, most notably with the liberal-friendly Huffington Post. For a left-leaning icon and national media darling, the role of silent senator is a sharp departure from her rousing campaign and outspoken consumer advocacy."

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"Too much like Bush"

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I came across two separate articles in the L.A. Times today, one an op-ed by David K. Shipler, and the other an editorial. Both discuss President Obama's national security policies, specifically regarding military commissions.

I am posting without much comment, since I've opined about this repeatedly.

Shipler:

The commissions lack the seasoned body of precedent that guides civilian courts, so their procedures will have to survive litigation by defense lawyers. But once the commissions gain stature and become the "new normal," every future administration will have a ready instrument to arrest, judge and sentence wholly within the executive branch, evading the separation of powers carefully calibrated in the Constitution. The judicial branch has no role except on appeal, where only the federal court for the D.C. circuit may review a verdict and sentence after the trial. [...]

Restraint usually dies during spasms of fear over national security. [...]

Provided the offense is committed in the context of "hostilities," defined as "any conflict subject to the laws of war," commissions may try a noncitizen on charges that include spying, seizing property for private use, taking hostages, rape, sexual assault, hijacking, mistreating a dead body or improperly using a truce flag or distinctive emblem, as well as murder, torture or material support for terrorism. [...]

[T]hey still allow certain hearsay and statements coerced during combat or capture. So the military commissions' findings may be less reliable.

The editorial:

So Obama eventually backed down. Why? Partly because public and congressional opinion had quickly moved from hostility to a trial in New York to hostility to a trial anywhere in the United States. But Obama cooperated in dooming civilian trials. First, he provided cover to his critics by retaining the option of military commissions for some detainees, an inconsistent policy that encouraged critics to urge a military trial for Mohammed and the other Sept. 11 conspirators. Second and more important, Obama was maneuvered into signing a defense authorization bill that barred funding for transferring any Guantanamo inmate to the United States....  [B]y signing the legislation, Obama guaranteed two outcomes: The detainees wouldn't be tried in a civilian court, and Guantanamo wouldn't be closed. [...]

[C]ongressional resistance plays a role. [...] With Guantanamo, Obama is unwillingly perpetuating a state of affairs from the Bush administration. But he has voluntarily continued another Bush policy that he had criticized on the campaign trail. This involves the "state secrets" doctrine, which allows the government to shut down a trial on the grounds that it would betray sensitive information. [...]

A final example of Obama adopting a Bush national security policy is the president's signing of an extension of three sections of the Patriot Act. [...] Obama could have held out for... amendments.

Both articles should be read in full. I whittled them way down to give you only the gist of the main points they make. Please follow the links to each to see the fuller picture.

I do understand the Congressional resistance, but between the two pieces, a few arguments were clarified that were a little fuzzy until now.

One point I do want to make. While I am critical of President Obama, I also make a habit of expressing my appreciation of him whenever I feel he deserves it. I will be voting for him in 2012, because the thought of any potential Supreme Court nominee hand picked by a Republican in the White House is beyond disturbing and is not an option.

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