Sunday, August 19, 2012


August 20 was to be the trial date. Finally. Three years after Nidal Hasan gunned down thirteen people at Fort Hood, he was supposed to be brought before the bar of justice.

But he didn’t shave, so Col. Gregory Gross, the military judge presiding on the case did what he did back in June, the last time Hasan showed up with a beard.

Held him in contempt and fined him $1,000.

Not too much of an economic burden, since Hasan is still receiving his full military pay.

Now the August 20th trial date is off. Indefinitely.

Hasan is appealing Judge Gross’s “shave the beard” order. So, of course, there will be no trial until the appellate process creeps to some conclusion about the damn beard.

Back in November of 2009, Hilary Hylton, a staff writer for Time Magazine wrote an article headlined, “How the Military Will Try Nidal Hasan.”

Ms. Hylton predicted, “Justice is likely to be speedy. The Uniform Code of Military Justice has no provision for bail, and the prosecution is required to bring the case to trial in 120 days.”

She quoted Scott Silliman, a retired military lawyer and head of the Duke University Law School’s Center on Ethics and National Security, saying that the reason the code requires prompt prosecution is to screen the process from undue influence.

“The military is a hierarchical society,” says Silliman, who insists that there must be a way to prevent the brass from interfering with the prosecution. And “brass” includes the Commander in Chief.

Of course, there’s a catch. There always is.

The 120 days can be extended whenever the Judge grants a delay.

Enter Col. Gregory Gross.

Hasan was brought before Judge Gross in June, 2012. Three years after the crime. That was just to find out whether the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. Of course, he’s charged with a capital offense, and under military law, he isn’t allowed to plead guilty.

So it would seem there wasn’t a lot to talk about in June.

But the defendant showed up with a beard. Against Army regulations.

Judge Gross, being a stern, uncompromising, defender of the Code of Military Justice, gave Hasan two months to shave his face.

And when he came back two months later, still unshaven, the mean old judge postponed his trial altogether.

Giving the defendant’s lawyers time enough to rush to the Military Court of Appeals and ask those higher ups for permission to keep the beard.

I’m sorry folks. I was a trial judge in Detroit some years ago. We had plenty of lawyers capable of jacking the court around interminably to avoid doomsday.

When you get counsel acting that way it’s time to hitch up your drawers and bang the gavel. It was time for Col. Gross to say, “Counsel, your client will be fined one thousand dollars for every day he appears here unshaven. A plea of Not Guilty will be entered on all counts. Now the bailiff will summon the jury panel and lets get started.”

Meanwhile, Time magazine and Hillary Hylton aren’t bothering to talk to Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother, Jason Dean “J.D.” Hunt was among those killed on November 5, 2009.

"I stopped holding my breath a long time ago as far as expecting to get any closure regarding the trial," says Ms. Willingham.

What else is there to say? The system was supposed to prevent interference from the higher ups.

Is everyone waiting for a signal from the Commander in Chief?

I’d like to hear Governor Romney say that he will order the trial on the day after Inauguration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I recently received an email “revealing” the “truth” about Barack Obama’s Social Security number.

According to this account, Obama has a Social Security number which starts with 04, and that would mean that it was issued to somebody in Connecticut.

Since Obama never lived in Connecticut, the theory goes that his number was not duly issued in the regular course, but was in fact stolen somehow.

The email goes on to say that Obama’s grandmother worked in the Probate Court in Hawaii, where a man from Connecticut died without collecting Social Security benefits.

So the email claims that she stole the number and gave it to Obama.

Snopes debunks the whole tale, pointing out that the French born immigrant, whose number Obama supposedly stole, one Jean Paul Ludwig, died in 1981, long after Obama’s number was issued. And besides, he had a different number.

Wait a minute, says my old high school pal, do you really believe Snopes? They’re a bunch of liberals financed by George Soros. says otherwise. Snopes is owned and operated by David and Barbara Mikkleson. Barbara is a Canadian citizen, David a registered Independent who was a registered Republican in 2000. Their site is financed by advertising.

OK. So Snopes is legit.

Still, they don’t have all the answers, and not being an official government agency, they probably can’t see all the records.

Snopes says that Obama’s Social Security number is 042-68-4425. I don’t know how they found out his number. I certainly hope they can’t find mine.

Anyhow, Snopes says that the 042 means that when Obama applied for a Social Security number he asked that his card be sent to an address with the 06814 area code.

That’s in Dansbury, Connecticut.

Was Barack Obama then living in Dansbury Connecticut?

Snopes doesn’t think so.

In fact, Snopes says that the President’s Connecticut Social Security number is “something of a curiosity.” Then Snopes tells us that Obama lived at an address in Hawaii with the zip code 96814.

06814 versus 96814?

Well, the zero and the nine are right next to each other on the typewriter. Could be a typo.

Could be. Maybe it was. Probably was.

Still, the man is the President of the United States. Someplace in the bowels of the federal government’s archives, there has to be a record of the address to which Barack Obama’s first Social Security card was mailed.

Wouldn’t you think?

I have no doubt that if a Hawaiian branch office of the Social Security Administration mailed a letter with a Hawaiian street address and a Hawaiian city in a Hawaiian branch of the U.S. Post Office, that the Hawaiian postal clerk would assume that the 06814 zip code was a mistake and he would route the letter to the Hawaiian address.

Conjecture? Yes. Theory? Admittedly. But it shouldn’t be.

Frankly, I’m a little weary of the whole Barack Hussein Obama fairy tale. The President and his campaign managers seem to revel in the narrative of mystery that surrounds him.

Birth records, academic records, travel records, everything is secret. They love it. They love the speculation, the intrigue.

They love to keep the birthers digging. Maybe they hope the diggers will discover that there were angels singing, “Peace on Earth …”

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I should be upstairs watching the golf tournament. Tomorrow, I’ll wish I had been. All the guys will be talking about it and I won’t even know who won.

But here I am at the computer, Googling for a fare thee well, and all because someone took the trouble to post a detailed comment on my last blog.

So here’s what I found out:

NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

The agency operates in two locations: Gaithersburg, Md., (a 578-acre campus) and Boulder, Colo., (a 208-acre campus). NIST employs about 2,900 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support and administrative personnel..

NIST has an annual budget of nearly a billion dollars.

Derek Israel, the correspondent who commented on my blog, insisted that a final report determined that WTC 7 collapsed because of fire. Period. No mystery, nothing strange or questionable.

So I dug up the report. It came from NIST. Here were its goals:

•Investigate the building construction, the materials used, and the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the disaster;
•To serve as the basis for:
o Improvements in the way buildings are designed, constructed, maintained and used
o Improved tools and guidance for industry safety officials
o Recommended revisions to current codes, standards, and practices, and,
o Improved Public Safety.

And here were the Specific Objectives:
1.Determine why and how WTC1 and WTC2 collapsed following the initial impact of the aircraft and why and how WTC7 collapsed.
2.Determine why the injuries were so high or low depending on the location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, occupant behavior, evacuation and emergency response
3.Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7, and,
4.Identify, as specifically as possible, areas of current building and fire codes, standards and practices that warrant revision.

Pardon me, but I find all that stuff bureaucratic gooble de goop. “How and Why the building collapsed?” Not “Did it collapse or did it implode?”

They found no evidence of a blast, and no reason to suspect that a blast occurred.

Still, the Executive Summary of their report starts with this:

“This was the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building due to fire. The fires in WTC7 were quite different from the fires in 1 and 2. WTC7 was not doused in jet fuel. Large areas of floors were not ignited simultaneously. The fires were similar to those in several tall buildings where the automatic sprinklers failed. Those other buildings did not collapse, while WTC7 succumbed to its fires.”

Finally, the Executive Summary concludes:

“However, the reader should keep in mind that the building and the records kept within it were destroyed and the remains of all the WTC buildings were disposed of before Congressional action and funding was available for this investigation to begin. As a result, there are some facts that could not be discerned, and thus are uncertainties in this accounting.”

Not mysteries, folks. Just “uncertainties.”


American fascination with mystery is boundless.

Whether it is Harry Houdini’s remarkable tricks of legerdemain, the claimed sightings of UFO’s, the Kennedy assassination, an alleged complicity of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the ‘real truth’ about Mitt Romney’s income taxes or Barack Obama’s academic record, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for juicy narratives based on speculation and inference.

I’m sort of a common sense, practical kind of guy. Time spent in the judiciary has steeled me against snap judgments, and infused a benign skepticism into my skull.

I try not to jump to conclusions, especially when we’re speaking off the reservation about something mechanical, electronic, technical, scientific or just plain hokus pokus.

And there’s a theory in the law that public officials are presumed, at the outset at least, to do their jobs.

Whatever the faults of the Warren Report, I tend to believe that Chief Justice Warren and his colleagues gave it their best shot and honestly believed their conclusions were accurate.

So, I suppose, should the folks who authored the so called 9-11 Report be given a nod that they did the best they could.


Still, I get this email from a friend who insists that I visit:

And so I did. He also sent me some links to video taken on 9-11 in which the building known as WTC 7 is shown imploding into its own footprint.

You’ve seen implosion footage I’m sure. When they brought down Kerns or the J.L. Hudson Company building. Those are big events for the gawking public.

A whole building falling right down into its own basement. BOOM. Just like that.

WTC 7 was a 47 story steel and concrete office building. It was a part of the World Trade Center complex, located about 300 feet from the twin towers.

It was not hit by an airplane.

Tenants in WTC 7 included offices of the Department of Defense, the Secret Service and the CIA as well as other government agencies.

The South Tower collapsed just before 10 AM. The North Tower went down at 10:28 AM.

There were scattered fires in WTC 7 caused by the intense heat and falling debri from the Towers. New York firefighters were in the building, trying to contain them and evacuating all civilians.

Mayor Giuliani had a crisis office on the 23rd floor of the building, but he had set up his operations down on the street, closer to the Towers. If he had any staff in WTC 7, they were evacuated.

At 4:20 PM all firefighters were called out of the building. It was being reported that building 7 was in danger of collapse. Fire department leaders established a safety perimeter around the building and kept everyone away from it.

By 5:30 PM there was no one in the building. At that moment, more than seven hours after the Towers had collapsed, WTC 7 came down.

It came down in 6.6 seconds, just six tenths of a second longer than an object would take to free fall from the 47th story.

In the demolition industry, it would have been a perfectly executed implosion.

Experts tell us that to do a thing like that would take weeks of preparation. It’s not the kind of event that can be orchestrated in six or seven hours of panic.

Conspiracy theories abound. I don’t subscribe to them. I like to think there is a perfectly logical explanation.

But it does seem a little curious that the so called Nine Eleven Commission, which was supposed to tell us what the heck happened that day never even mentioned WTC 7.

Perhaps it was, as they say, unrelated collateral damage.

But still….

Saturday, August 11, 2012


There’s a slang expression in the military, R&R, shorthand for “Rest and Recuperation.”

During the Korean War, it often meant 15 days in Japan. A rejuvenating get away from the 24 hour a day, 7 days a week stress of battle. A little time to take a deep breath, think about the mission, and get back to basics.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the Republicans realize what they will offer to the American people this autumn.

R&R. Romney and Ryan.

Time to get back on track. Time to take a hard look at the big picture. Time to get ready to return to the battlefield of democracy, the day to day grind of making our unique federal republic work the way the Founders intended.

Paul Ryan is a lot of things that Mitt Romney is not.

Young. A federal office holder. A Washington insider, if you will. Clearly conservative. Catholic. Pro Life. Midwestern.

But I don’t think Ryan was chosen to give Balance to the Republican ticket.

I think the choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate tells us something very important about Mitt Romney.

He knows how to choose people. He knows how to build a team. His focus is not just to win the election. He is preparing to govern the nation.

The debate over President Obama’s insistence that “you didn’t build it” is missing a very subtle distinction, which gets lost in the shouting and the sound bites.

Of course Henry Ford built Ford Motors, and Bill Gates built Microsoft and Steve Jobs built Apple. But how did they do it?

They built a team.

The genius of good leadership is the capacity to build a team. To surround yourself with good people. People who share the dream. People who believe in the mission. People who bring innovation, discernment, commitment, and courage to the table.

More than anything else, that’s what Mitt Romney will bring to the Oval Office.

In picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he believes in America.

He believes in an America that isn’t afraid of hard choices.

He believes in an America that will do whatever is necessary to protect and preserve our heritage of liberty.

He believes in an America that can and will overcome the bitterness and pain of partisan bickering; an America that can survive the divisiveness of campaign name calling. Of lies. Of denunciation and demonization.

Paul Ryan is a class act. He slings no mud. Hates nobody. Disagrees without being disagreeable. He’s what they call a policy wonk. A guy who reads every word and debates the real issues. Ryan won’t be a political hatchet man, like some VP candidates in the past.

But he will bring a lot of substance to the Republican ticket.

The next 86 days will be a cacophony of political debate. Lies and rumors will cackle all over the Internet. Mountains of money will be spent trying to capture the attention and the support of American voters.

Whoever wins will have the unenviable task of reuniting the nation.

Abraham Lincoln said it best:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.