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How Could They?

Why Don't They Ever Represent Me?

Why Don’t They Ever Represent Me?

A short rant about losing one of our most important freedoms, and about the only thing you can do to keep it. Good luck.

After all these years of Americans fighting for “internet neutrality”, against the corporations who want control of the internet, and finally winning an important ruling by the FCC recently, the corporations got the house of “representatives” to sneak language into a funding bill that would stop the FCC’s ability to carry out it’s own ruling.

This bipartisan effort brought Americans from every political party together in staggering numbers in a common cause to protect our freedom to be heard and participate in the course of our lives. The internet provides the most exciting innovative possibilities imaginable, by allowing everybody – not just corporations – the unfettered ability to create new ideas for our future and even our survival.

Our collective congress doesn’t seem to care if our country has an open internet as long as they secure a campaign donation, or maybe they’re just tired of not being able to control it more to their liking. There hasn’t been a peep about this from the congress or our media. I’m sure ABC, NBC, CBS, print media and the politicians liked it a lot better when they had complete control over public discourse before the internet. I don’t share that sentiment.

DO THIS! It’s designed to be super fast and super easy. It even dials the phone for you! Can’t possibly take more then a couple of minutes and it might even be therapeutic. No excuses for you, Bubba!

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How To Talk To A Brick Wall

Utah Tar Sands Panel

Utah Tar Sands Panel


The Utah Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining held a hearing yesterday morning because a Canadian energy corporation has plans to mine large areas of Utah tar sands. Under state law, a hearing must be held if residents have objections.

I was worried nobody would be there to document the proceedings, so I took my camcorder to the event. The first part of the meeting was consumed by representatives for “U.S. Oil Sands”, defending the Calgary based company from questions about it’s protection of Utah’s water resources.

The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News did stories on the matter, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one who filmed the meeting. Television crews sometimes cover things getting set up and then leave when important public events get underway.

I’m only presenting comments given by the Utah activists and citizens who showed up and elected to speak. Obviously I didn’t have a tripod. Nothing has been edited except for where the second speaker gives his name. My battery had to be changed.

Enjoy:

After the public comments, John Baza, who presided over the hearing said, “There are things that have been said here today that have touched me and I am sensitive to those.” My opinion is that the corporation will get everything it wants. Am I being cynical again?

UPDATE: Here is the panel discussion portion of the hearing. This is virtually the entire conversation. The short gaps were due to small camera adjustments. I’m still learning how to use it. :)

The man closest to, and facing away from my camera during the video and in the top picture of this post is University of Utah geology professor, Bill Johnson. He is fighting hard for Utah’s lands:

Please go to “Utah Tar Sands Resistance” to participate in stopping the destruction of our beautiful Utah lands or Donate!

UPDATE: Jill Merritt made up this handy list to navigate the first video. Thanks Jill!
speaker list 2

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune has published two letters to the editor: From July 4th and July 5th. The paper has also published a very good editorial concerning the Tar Sands hearing:

Editorial: Tar sands extraction unproven and risky

UPDATE: As I suspected, the expansion of the “U.S. Oil Sands” project has been approved. The Salt Lake Tribune reports “a partial victory for environmentalists due to requiring the company to monitor nearby springs for potential groundwater contamination and submit documentation showing the mine is in compliance with air quality regulations. Of course none of the environmentalists wanted an expansion at all, and I have my doubts that the monitoring will be carried out sufficiently.

Here’s the latest Deseret News article.

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Ken Ivory Accused of Fraud in Public Land Grab Scheme

Via Think Progress

The Campaign for Accountability (CfA) is requesting that the attorneys general of Utah, Arizona and Montana investigate Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory (R) for “solicit[ing] funds from local officials, falsely claiming the federal government can be forced to transfer public lands to the states.”

The complaints cite Ivory’s use of his role as president and founder of the American Lands Council (ALC), a Utah-based organization, to “enrich” his personal wealth and make “false or fraudulent representations to obtain money.”

Utah remains the only Western state to have enacted a law to steal our public lands, which would be utterly unconstitutional. Utah’s HB 148, signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012, violates the U.S. Constitution, the Utah Constitution, and the Utah Enabling Act.

Anne Weismann, executive director of the CfA:

“Ken Ivory has relied on his position and authority as a Utah state legislator to persuade unsuspecting local officials that if they contribute taxpayer dollars to his charity, they can help their states acquire federal land and increase revenues… He might as well be trying to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Ken Ivory and his wife pocket most of the money contributed to the ALC.

According to the AP, representatives for the Utah and Montana attorneys general offices are reviewing the fraud accusations.

More info:
SLT: Environmentalists claim Ken Ivory is scamming local officials

UPDATE:
Rep. Ivory says he’s being bullied by the Campaign for Accountability.

“These types of organizations have just destroyed Western public lands through this kind of litigation and bullying tactics,” he said. “They’re so afraid of the success that the transfer of public lands movement is having that they’re stooping to these kinds of bullying tactics because they can’t tolerate basic political debate.”

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Gun Shoppers Learn the Truth – Guns Are Unsafe

Via Media Matters:

States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV) released a video debunking the notion that gun ownership makes a person safer. (Research has demonstrated that owning a gun increases the risk of death or injury.)

SUPGV conducted a “hidden camera social experiment” to record the reactions of potential gun buyers at a fake gun store they had set up in Manhattan. When prospective purchasers inquired about a firearm, the clerk informed the customer of tragedies — including mass shootings and unintentional shootings involving children — that involved the use of that particular model of firearm. Hidden cameras recorded prospective gun buyers’ shocked reactions.

Each firearm (actually a replica) in the fake gun store was tagged with a history of tragic accidents or mass shootings associated with that model.

More info:
GunsWithHistory.com
NRA Affiliate Is So Scared Of This Gun Safety Video That It Wants A Criminal Investigation

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Tell Congress: Reject the ‘No More National Parks’ Bill

Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

Via CREDO Action:

The way the law works now, presidents can use the Antiquities Act to quickly set aside public lands for protection and conservation through national monument proclamations, instead of going through the difficult congressional process of designating a national park. In fact, it’s often the first step to creating a national park – the Grand Canyon was first proclaimed a monument under the Antiquities Act by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The power to proclaim national monuments is a presidential privilege that has literally shaped America’s landscape and its history, but Republicans in Congress now think it’s time to end all of that. Last month, Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill that would strip the president of this authority. H.R.4988 (the MAST Act) would overhaul the Antiquities Act, making it nearly impossible for presidents to declare new national monuments. It’s a cynical attempt to forever block the president’s ability to protect our public lands from corporate drilling and mining.

Stop the MAST Act, it could be a big win for the Tea-GOP right-wing agenda. We can’t allow that to happen. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Stop Republicans from blocking new national parks.

More info:
The Highs and Lows of the Antiquities Act

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Do This NOW!

If you’re reading this, you know you support “Net Neutrality” and wouldn’t want OneUtah to have any more problems then it’s got now or had in the past.

The internet is abuzz with news that the Chairman of the FCC seems to be hearing Americans of ALL persuasions concerning our desire not to give away the promise of the internet, to be a forum for everybody and not just another movie, advertising or propaganda channel.

I don’t wish to cast any negative aspersions on the good chairman, but he DID used to be a lobbyist for the opposition to a free internet. Now isn’t the time to be pacified into thinking we’ve won.

You might not be a fan of Daily KOS, and I’ve had my issues with that blog myself, but they have provided a simple page which provides you with a way to easily make your comment to the FCC. I am happy that it doesn’t provide the text of your comment, which would most likely not get read and possibly get discarded automatically by the recipient.

Go here to construct and send your comment.

For all it’s worth, here’s mine:

I consider “net neutrality” to be the biggest issue today. The invention of the internet has allowed knowledge and ideas to flow in ways that were unimaginable to anyone just a few years ago. If the largest corporations are allowed to control this powerful tool, it will become just another advertising platform for wealth creation and people will lose interest. Personally, it would devastate my trust in what America used to stand for and lessen my interest in democracy itself.

I was nice, no?

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Mythical Religious Persecution Narrative and a New Jim Crow

Earlier this week, a story spread like wildfire about two pastors threatened with jail time and massive fines for not performing gay weddings. Attorneys from the right wing ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pastors. The story was breathless, controversial and inaccurate.

The pastors in question run a for profit business that as recently as two weeks ago was very clear that they offered both religious and civil ceremonies. They run a marriage mill, performing something like 1400 weddings per year. Oh, and the big error? The city of Coeur d’Alene had not threatened them with fines or jail time, there have been no complaints filed against them. The couple in question asked the city attorney what would happen if they failed to comply with the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and refused to marry a same-sex couple; the city attorney spelled out the possible legal consequences. End of story. Not really. I’ll let Jeremy Hooper explain:

When I first learned about the story of Idaho’s Hitching Post, which was suddenly the far-right’s latest marriage “victim” for supposedly being threatened by the city of Coeur d’Alene for not marrying a same-sex couple, I thought the whole thing was too coincidental to be true. I didn’t focus on it in my last post on the subject since I had the much more newsworthy discovery that the business had changed its website so that they could seem much more faith-driven than they had been operating in the past. But a part of me was wondering how the same business that went to the press back in May with its preemptive marriage fears, well before Idaho had marriage equality, could now be in the spotlight in such a major way. it just seemed too perfectly orchestrated.

To wit (Gridley is the city attorney):

“Their lawsuit was something of a surprise because we have had cordial conversations with them in the past and they have never disclosed that they have recently become a religious corporation,” Gridley wrote.

Gridley wrote that the city will not prosecute legitimate nonprofit religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies or other exempt organizations or anyone else as a result of their lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

In addition to exempting those groups, Gridley wrote that the anti-discrimination ordinance states that it “shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence regarding the freedom of speech and exercise of religion.”

When contacted by The Press for comment, Don Knapp said the Hitching Post is not operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation. He also said he does not know ADF Attorney David Cortman.

Let’s be clear – almost everything you’ve heard about the case is wrong. No complaint has been filed against The Hitching Post. If they are a legitimate religious organization, they are exempt from the city’s ordinance. (It’s worth noting that they have been an ordinary, for profit business up to this point and have a history of performing both religious and civil ceremonies; they have not been, up to this point, a church or religious organization.)

The facts haven’t stopped hosts of religious people sanctimoniously declaring that “no one should be forced to do something that violates their conscience” and “no one should be forced to participate in a same sex wedding.” Utah legislators have obviously seen the story and are alreayd discussing a bill that would allow people to declare they have a religious objection and exempt themselves from participating in same-sex weddings (if history is any guide, the bill will pass, but will be so overly broad it will fail constitutional muster and be struck down, leading to all sorts of public hysterics over activists judges and repeated sharing of bathetic overhyped tales of bakers and florists and photographers and poor picked on pastors). It’s clear that a great many religious persons oppose same-sex marriage, and believe their opposition is entirely based on theological reasons and fear that at some point, some legal change will force them to “accept” same-sex marriage.

I don’t want to minimize the difficulty marriage equality presents for many religious persons. People do not lightly give up tradition or traditional teachings about sexuality and relationships.

Until very recently, most people casually accepted the idea that something was “wrong” with gay and lesbian persons. The idea that sexual minority persons are not inherently sick, immoral or incapable of forming long-lasting, stable relationships is relatively new in our society. The idea of same-sex marriage is also relatively new (although the Boston Marriage is a fascinating bit of history). Many socially and religiously conservative persons continue to embrace the belief that gay persons can become straight through therapy and prayer, that being gay is a choice and a bad one.

For some persons, the idea of a same sex couple marrying seems absurd at best. These individuals define marriage as a man and a woman and exclude anything else (one suspects Utah State Rep. Kraig Powell is such a person). It’s not uncommon in discussions to hear someone declare that marriage is between a man and a woman and anything is fake and the law can’t make “real” what isn’t real. The “love the sinner hate the sin” motto employed by religious persons reveals more than most people think – for many religious persons, gay people are less than straight people and same-sex couples are less than heterosexual couples.

With the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the various cases coming to them, the number of states in which same sex marriage is legal increased dramatically in one week (at JoeMyGod, Joe observed that there had been 9 separate marriage equality maps in the week of October 6).

Religious conservatives have very visibly and vocally expressed their dismay. We’ve heard all the usual buzzwords about out of control judges, judicial activism, and the usual predictions of coming tyranny. Religious conservatives are asking “What next?” with a combination of weariness and trepidation.

There is a challenge for religious conservatives. They’re being asked to acknowledge and live with the reality that same sex marriage is legal and to recognize that means some changes on how they conduct their business. I am certain there will be some lawsuits when religious business owners try to refuse family insurance coverage to same-sex spouses. We will, no doubt, hear paeans to the free market and dreamy invocations that gays can just go elsewhere for jobs and services. Thus far, the courts have not be amenable to such arguments. From a legal standpoint, a marriage is a marriage. Treating married couples differently will not be acceptable.

Religious conservatives are also going to have to face activism within their churches. Although legally there’s no reason to fear that churches will be forced to recognize same-sex marriage, gay persons can be incredibly effective activists. Churches will feel pressure to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

The Hobby Lobby case was probably the most high profile but it is one of many in which the religious right is trying to carve out a separate public and legal sphere for itself in which the devout serve solely the devout and can refuse to serve the sinful masses – a modern Jim Crow – using religious freedom as the rationale. I get this – I’ve read Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity: Disgust Shame and the Law – it’s about fear of moral contagion. Although it’s emotional appeal is undeniable, I think it will ultimately fail of its own weight.

This afternoon, I read that The Hitching Post has re-incorporated itself as a religious corporation. The ACLU and the city of Coeur d’Alene agree that in keeping with their newly filed corporate status, The Hitching Post is a “religious corporation” and exempt from the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. IOW, the whole brouhaha has basically evaporated.

The public spaces from which religious conservatives can exclude gay people are going to become increasingly constrained. The option of declaring one’s self a religious corporation isn’t going to be available to a great many religious conservatives. If, however, claims of religious freedom and religious conscience become publicly linked with discrimination – against women, gays and lesbians, “immoral people” – then very quickly the mythical “war on Christianity” will become a very real public disgust for anyone claiming to be Christian and for Christianity itself.

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Proof: I’m a Communist!

me and kruchev

I have no idea what sort of fowl play was going on there, but that’s me on the left; a dead ringer for Nikita Khrushchev.

Later in life:
trib photo me

The jury is in.

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People’s Climate March Livestream

Because cable TV news has this event blacked out, even MSNBC. It’s happening in Manhattan, right under the noses of the media elite, and they won’t report about it.

Tom Engelhardt: Is Climate Change a Crime Against Humanity?

From two scientific studies just released, for example, comes the news that the West Antarctic ice sheet, one of the great ice accumulations on the planet, has now begun a process of melting and collapse that could, centuries from now, raise world sea levels by a nightmarish 10 to 13 feet. That mass of ice is, according to the lead authors of one of the studies, already in “irreversible retreat,” which means — no matter what acts are taken from now on — a future death sentence for some of the world’s great cities. (And that’s without even the melting of the Greenland ice shield, not to speak of the rest of the ice in Antarctica.)

UPDATE: OK, MSNBC is now reporting that well over 100,000 marchers are on the streets. They have a reporter doing a live shot now (10:30 am).

UPDATE: Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For People’s Climate March In New York City

NEW YORK — More than 400,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just days before many of the world’s leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit.

64 Comments

Surprise! Federal Charges Brought Against Illegal ATV Ride

Venomous
Salt Lake Tribune photo

Did anybody actually think that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was serious about enforcing the non-motorized trail restrictions in Recapture Canyon? It took four months, but yesterday acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen brought charges against the five organizers of last May’s illegal ATV ride.

These guys are innocent until proven guilty, and even if found guilty the penalty will probably be a small fine. However it’s nice to see the rule of law kick in once in a while.

The BLM closed the canyon to motorized vehicles in 2007 after some locals constructed an illegal ATV trail, damaging several archaeological sites. The closure has been a sore point with the southeastern Utah off-road crowd.

Note: I know one of the accused, and he’s a great guy. If he did break the law it would have been intended as a sincere act of civil disobedience, and I respect that even if I don’t agree with all his opinions about public lands.

UPDATES:
Prosecutors say Utah ATV protest riders knowingly broke law
Utahn who organized ATV ride through Recapture Canyon wants to keep mention of guns, militias out of trial
Recapture Canyon defendants keep talk of guns out of trial

36 Comments

The Bacon-Christian Connection . . .

The blogosphere has been chuckling – okay laughing uproariously – at Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association. Fischer, you see, recently declared “proof” that America is a Christian nation because . . . bacon.

“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation?” he asked. “One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.” “So the sheer fact that we freely allow the sale and consumption of bacon,” he continued, “is absolute proof that we are, in fact, a Christian nation”

The part that fascinates me is that Fischer offered this bon mot as if it were an actual argument. I can’t help but wonder – are there conservative Christians out there for whom this argument is persuasive?

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Fox’s Manufactured Benghazi Scandal by the Numbers

Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly highlighted a report from Media Matters, detailing the depth and breadth of the right’s bizarre Benghazi! obsession. Ed noted:

Short of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Watergate hearings, I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like it in modern electronic media. And we wonder why in the strange alternative universe of the conservative movement, jabbering about Benghazi! is like discussing the weather.

From the Media Matters report:

Media Matters reviewed Fox News transcripts and identified segments including significant discussion of Benghazi on The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren between September 11, 2012, the night of the attacks, and May 2, 2014, when House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the attacks and their aftermath. This report does not include The Kelly File or Fox Report because they did not run for the full period of the study.

Key Findings
?1,098 total Fox News evening segments that included significant discussion of Benghazi — an average of about 13 segments per week
?In 18 of 20 months studied, Fox ran at least 20 Benghazi segments per month, with a high of 174 in October 2012
?382 segments aired on Special Report, the network’s flagship news program
?478 segments invoked the talking points used for Susan Rice’s 2012 Sunday show appearances
?281 segments alleging a “cover-up” by the Obama administration
?144 interviews of GOP members of Congress versus only five interviews of Democratic members of Congress and Obama administration officials
?120 comparisons to Iran-Contra, Watergate, and the actions of the Nixon administration
?105 attempts to link Benghazi to Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential ambitions
?100 segments promoting the lie that the administration issued a “stand-down order”

Media Matters points out that Fox’s talking points have been repeatedly refuted by actual facts but that hasn’t stopped the sludge from flowing. The right’s obsession with Benghazi is a perfect example of the mighty wurlitzer at work. It’s depressing – people on the right have an almost religious belief that Benghanzi! was some sort of scandal and that if they just keep digging the nefarious, black-hearted truth will emerge.

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