Archive for category Liberal

Only One Depressing Moment At The Paul McCartney Concert

I’ve lived in Salt Lake City all my life and although I’m not religious, I think we used to have a great culture and a fascinating history which includes the federal government sending troops out here to gain high ground and point their guns at the populous. It’s ,undoubtedly, a good thing that nothing came of that.

Bully for me; a lifelong friend got me a ticket to see Paul McCartney perform at [the-venue-I-refuse-to-name] last night. The Tribune did a good review and so did the Deseret News.

Disclaimer: I love what The Beatles did to improve music and politics. The concert was chaotic perfection.

If The Beatles did nothing else, they served to bridge Britain and American music. They invoked a healthy competition of creative music the world will never forget. Kudos to whatever happened between Brian Epstein and Ed Sullivan.

During the last encore, Paul carried an American Flag onstage, and other band members carried a Britain flag and a Utah Flag.

Besides the fact that the concert was un-flawed in my mind, was the fact that I was sitting next to two teenage boys who were around the same age as I was when The Beatles hit the scene. They knew the words to the old songs and the ones I hadn’t even heard by McCartney.

My eyes were drawn to a couple who looked liked they had never exercised a day in their life, who danced vigorously for the entire three hours.

Here’s the bad part, and subject of this post:

Paul asked the audience how many of us were from Salt Lake City and I raised my hand before clapping. He, then, asked how many were NOT from Salt Lake City and the response was overwhelming by twice.

I don’t like polls. :(

3 Comments

Priesthood and Women

Twenty-five years ago I delivered the McDougall Lecture at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Some modest part of that essay recommended that it is time and beyond time to ordain women to both the Mormon and Catholic traditions and, by implication, all other faiths. A productive firestorm erupted that continues still. How tragic, how brutal, how disconnected to real people with real hearts, real children, dear mates to be so abused as the Mormon church discards with no more than a pious statement, or simply a sniff, their best and brightest.

I’ve said before that Mormon leadership all too often reflects an anti-Darwinism, that is, the survival of the least fit, by cultivating a culture that obeys leadership with no sense of the necessity of checking any act of leadership with one’s own brain, one’s own agency. This tendency,if unchecked, will produce at least two terrible results: poor leadership at the top and right on down the ecclesiastical ladder. Second, leadership will continue to boast of growing membership but it will be looking only at those coming in the church’s front door but not noting those exiting the back door either formally, or just by staying home on Sunday, de facto un-churched.

Mormons need not fear its loving critics. Mormonism, Catholicism, and all faith traditions really should be terrified at the prospect that huge numbers now see churches as irrelevant to their lives. People who engage their leadership quite obviously care very much about their faith, or they would not give such enormous time and energy to help, as they see it,their churches. The really scary elephant in the room is apathy. An even scarier specter is when hundreds of thousands of members, each year, determine that perhaps, just perhaps we really don’t need priests or bishops to mediate between God and all of us. We can, after all, talk directly to God and cut out the middleman and his ten percent finder’s fee. Women should hold any priesthood for which they qualify by abiding neutral rules. And priests and sisters should have the god-given right to choose marriage or celibacy, as they choose, by serious thought and by prayer.There is nothing in holy writ that requires that men mediate God to women.

11 Comments

‘Bidder 70′ On Netflix

Bidder 70Tonight I watched the terrific documentary “Bidder 70″ (2012) by Beth & George Gage, that tells the story of what happened after Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegal BLM oil & gas lease auction in the last days of the Bush administration, December 19, 2008. It’s on Netflix now!

The message of the film is that in corporate-controlled America, the only power we have as individuals is the power of not backing down and not going away. DeChristopher provided everyone with a perfect example of how we can do that. That’s why the PTB had to send him to federal prison. Not the Wall Street fraudsters who crashed the economy. Not the greedy oil companies who polluted the Gulf of Mexico. Not the right-wing protesters who defy the BLM by riding ATVs in the wilderness. Not the millionaire ranchers who refuse to pay their grazing fees on public land. Anybody who’s onboard with the corporatist agenda has nothing to fear.

Judge Dee Benson actually admitted that he sentenced Tim DeChristopher to two years imprisonment not for anything he did (“bid-walking” in a BLM lease auction is so common they have a name for it, and it has never been prosecuted before) — it was for what he said. The First Amendment does not protect you if you go against Corporate America.

2 Comments

the UN, NATO, and the trip-wire

I’m so sorry to write this missive as a lead article (for 15 minutes) but I don’t remember how to find the comments and respond to them. The lonely little side-bar response to my article I’ve not seen, except for half a sentence. It seemed to be saying that the old days are gone now, and so we need NATO and the JN. I agree. With NATO, it is the trip-wire provision that we go to war, automatically if any NATO nation is attacked, regardless of who the attacker is. This takes not only the United States Congress, but the president, as Commander in Chief, from the decision to go to war. I support both the UN and, if handled correctly, NATO. But President J. Reuben Clark and I oppose the automatic going to war. Just like the fools, the ancient general staffs of all sides in WW I. No one wanted that war. There was no Adolph Hitler in that war that destroyed the entire 20th century. Better to have shot the general staffs, who came to deserve exactly that. What President Clark called for, and I, are what the United States has always done, before NATO. That is, to have treaties of peace and friendship with our allies and then, should hostilities commence, such treaties would call for all parties to go to war, or not, as their constitutions provide. In this way, we don’t declare war against a nation, and surely all the people, have not yet been born. How, pray tell, do we justify going to war against, and for, people not, or no longer, live on earth. With a few caveats, ditto for the UN. No provision of law allows the UN to overreach Congress in the decision for war or peace. For anyone interested, read my book with the late Francis Wormuth, To Cain the Dog of War. It is by odds the best book ever written on the way we go to war. Every single war we’ve ever fought, including our wars against the Indian tribes, is there analyzed. Francis did not live to see this book in print. I worked two years after his death to finish it. And I updated it 4 or 5 times, alone. I still put my dear friend’s name first, because I am honored to be linked, now, forever. Something like Mormon marriage through time and eternity. ed firmage xoxo

2 Comments

The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

3 Comments

Veterans Hospitals..the Truth

The yammerings of the Republicans, and even some Democrats, about VA hospitals, show no trace, not even a trickle of a trace, of institutional and personal memory, let alone history. This is always true, for most people and all institutions. None have historical perspective beyond that of a Snail Darter. Remember, dear friends, that George Bush the Less, and Dick Cheney, the Dark Lord; and Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, started two wars of choice that will fill up to overflowing for at least fifty and likely a hundred years, all our hospitals. The impact of wars, so easy for stupid, venal, misinformed people to start and , in a sense, impossible, ever, to stop , is obvious. World War One is still very much alive, after destroying the twentieth Century, the Century of Total War. And the Bush administration severely cut the funding for our VA hospitals. All hospitals are effected by this avoidable tragedy, the greatest of our time. Our jails, our mental homes, our suicide prevention systems; our broken families and children without mothers and fathers, shooting crime statistics up into the stratosphere, ripple on forever.

The entire world, out into and through the cosmos, suffer from this violation of all that is decent and good, not to mention the laws of war. If the Nuremberg principle were applied to us and not just Nazi Germany, this dark band of brothers would all be in jail, or executed for the hundreds of thousands of murders that they accomplished. George W. Bush placed us squack in the middle of a civil war in Islam, which has been going on time out of mind.(we had our civil wars of religion that followed 400 years of Crusades from the 10th to the 14th centuries, the Renaissance and Reformation and the Enlightenment which gave us a rule of law community not shared by any state in the Middle East, except Israel; and no secular state in the Middle East except Turkey, thanks to Ataturk. The Treaties of Westphalia and Utrecht ended religious-based states in Europe and North America, and in their place we have had, with never a backward step, secular states, thank God (and I’m not being ironic), territorial nation states without any church in charge. (Utah is another matter.) Islamic civil war is not our business. It took us many centuries to build these rule of law communities throughout Europe and North America. Do you really think that Afghanistan will somehow, willy nilly, become democratic? Really? or Iraq?

Now, a huge portion of the Middle East, very understandably, see us as their premiere enemy. And much of Africa. And most other Islamic nations. Add to that what the Dulles brothers did in Iran, in deposing an popularly appointed tradition, conservative ruler, Mohammed Mossadeq, to put the Shah back on his throne and his bloodthirsty killers over the military and the police (the CIA’s war; just like Laos; just as we now do in Pakistan, way way before the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Pakistan is the most dangerous nation in the world, because it is the Islamic nuclear missile state and George Bush’s wars threaten always to bring any reasonable government down. I’ll bet World War Three starts there); and what we did in murdering an African head of state (both CIA assassins); and one Latin American democratically elected president assassinated under Nixon’s orders,why not see America as the Great Satan? There is blood on the hands of this dark band of brothers, and Karma, dark amoral Karma, that has nothing to do with God.

Of course we should do more for our veterans. But these tragic events play out, literally, forever. Remember: the Great Depression of our time began under Bush the Less. It had been building ever since Ronald Reagan created street people by refusing to fund mental homes and hospitals and put these people in jails and on the streets, so he could raise the military budget three and a half times over. He ran deficits like no Democrats before him. Then came the crash that remains very much with us still. So many millions of unemployed we don’t even count, because they’ve given up, and have taken themselves out of the workforce. How can the Republicans do this with a straight face? Well, they now are consummate liars, after decades of practice. Some in the Democratic Party do this too. Neither party has a monopoly on lying. BUT this is not to say there is equivalence. With the Tea Party, now absorbed within the Republican Party, truly inexperienced and terribly undereducated people rule the day. I believe the Republicans will gain seats in the House and narrowly take the Senate. All because most people and all institutions lack any trace of historical memory. ed firmage xoxo

20 Comments

bisexual and polygamy cases

All twentieth and twenty first century human rights cases owe their start to Brown v. the Board. Race and color cases led to ethnicy, alienage, sexuality and gender cases of the past 20-30 years and back again, to the founder of the feast, Brown v. the Board. Just as Catholic and Mormon and Jewish case law led the pack in the nineteenth century, see, e;.g., Reynolds v. United States, making polygamy illegal. In other words, the skunk at the garden party, i.e., the group on which we project our own fears, the projected scapegoat, makes the great law of the time.
Now, with gay rights, including marriage, almost assured de jure, with much to be done de facto, we will turn by the very nature of case law, to the polygamous and bisexual cases, just as from Brown, we went to color, alienage, ethnicity,nationality, gender and sexuality. It simply follows. Scalia saw the connectlion early on between polyggamy case law and homosexual case law. To him, this was the most hated thing he could imagine. I saw the same thing, before he did, and I applauded.

Now, consider the linkage between bisexual rights and polyggamy. With gender and sexual case law in place, i.e., no preference for male over female rights, both polygamy and bisexuality are linked and therefore acknowledged. That is, one man AND one women can choose to mate with male or female, polyganously or monogamously, at his/her choice. This will be the cutting edge of human rights for us all, in the coming decades. As was said as Utah faced statehood with a polygamist elected to the Senate, I think by Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, the greatest biographer of John Marshall ever (and Lincoln, but Beveridge died befoe the last valumeJ): ” I’d rather be a polygamist who didn’t polyg than a monogamist who didn”t monog.” Horray!

I’ve been very sick for a long time and it’s good to have a brain once again ed firmage xoxo

7 Comments

Bigot as the Idaho Sadz (updated)

Idaho is the latest state to join the wonderful world of marriage equality.

A federal magistrate struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban and ordered the state to begin offering marriage licenses Friday morning. The Judge’s decision in this case is every bit as thorough as Judge Shelby’s Utah decision:

Judge Dale’s Idaho decision reads, in part:

“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” the judge wrote in a 57-page decision.

“… Idaho’s marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love,” Dale wrote.

Bryan Fischer, AFA spokesbigot, found the decision a personal affront:

The sting of this is in fact personal for me, as I am a co-author of Idaho’s amendment. I worked diligently in late 2005 with other pro-family leaders in the state to carefully craft its language. Then together we worked with the Idaho legislature during the 2006 session, meeting with lawmakers and lining up testimony in committee hearings.

Fischer ranted the ruling a “mish-mash of sentiment, emotion and an utter absence of rational consistency.” He then called on Idaho’s governor to go full on George Wallace:

He [Idaho's governor] should fulfill his oath of office, an oath he took before God, to uphold the constitutions of both Idaho and the United States by flatly refusing permission for any city or county clerks in the state of Idaho to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The people of Idaho have spoken, he should say, and I will fulfill the promise I made to them to uphold their constitution.

This would not even be civil disobedience, since there is no “law” to disobey. A judge’s ruling is not a law – it is a ruling and a ruling only. Such an act on his part would in fact be the ultimate display of civil obedience, obedience to the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and would be the first step in returning America to the rule of law rather than the rule of men.

(Update)
Alvin McEwan posted about this same issue and observed:

Fischer is so indicative of the hubris of folks on the other side of the marriage equality issue. In 2004, they sold an ugly bill of goods to Americans. Didn’t they realize that one day, they would have to defend the laws against marriage equality that they passed back then?

Apparently not.

You just can’t pass a law and not be able to defend it in court, folks. It’s un-American.

Alvin’s point is spot on; conservatives seem to not have considered that the rhetoric they used to support anti-gay marriage laws and amendments would need to stand up in court. And as we’re seeing, the arguments against allowing same sex couples to marry are unpersuasive in a court of law.

3 Comments

What Happened To Gary Care?

Gary Herbert is the governor of Utah. Many fast food workers are moments away from having to spend more then they can afford to get any healthcare. Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen our governor out there every day to promote his plan to give them the Medicaid plan that might save their lives.

It’s probably too late to prevent the fast-food workers from signing up for the plan, even if Herbert came clean and rejected the Republican plan to oppose Obama at any cost.

Americans shouldn’t have to give up everything they have if they get sick. We should care for our fellow veterans and people by paying taxes. Grover Norquist can go to hell.

We need single-payer healthcare; NOT something that was dreamed up by the “Heritage Foundation”, or the “Americans For Tax Reform”. We need REAL organizations in our country, but who has time?

Update: I changed the post a little, because I have procrastinated on signing up for Obamacare, and it actually looks pretty darn good. I would still prefer single-payer, of course.

Update: I take it back! They are saying that Obamacare is working now, but I can tell you it isn’t! I have spent ten hours listening to music that fades out and skips like a broken record. Maybe I should have told them I was 22 instead of 62, but I can’t get through.

14 Comments

Best Political Cartoon of the Last Forty or Fifty Years

Modern “conservatives” pull over “the thinker”.

thinker

Says it all, don’t ya think?

16 Comments

This Commentary NAILS It!

The battle isn’t between the “conservatives” and “liberals”, it’s between the pro-corporate and the pro-worker Democrats.

Sorry conservatives, you have “Blown in the Wind”. You have no political capital whatsoever and that’s why you are openly stealing elections because even YOU can’t trust the corporate voting machines. You are going to win the house again because of your gerrymandering, but the youth are onto you and your time will soon be up. Averse to what George-the-lesser thought, stealing elections doesn’t give you any political capital, and the so-called millennials understand that.

Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Thank you, MSNBC:

PLUS:

If this dude is a comedian, he better find another job:

31 Comments

Are conservative Christians harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws?

Are conservative Christians harmed by compliance with nondiscrimination laws?   It’s a more complex question than it appears at first blush.

I’m glad I don’t have to adjudicate any of these cases.  Like people who want to ban books, conservative Christians who raise objections to non-discrimination laws as they apply to glbt persons are acting from a place of good intent, even if I disagree with their conclusions.  Book banners want to protect children from ideas they believe children aren’t ready to deal with; conservative Christians who object to complying with nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious freedom perceive themselves as the aggrieved party being asked to violate their conscience.

US law has long recognized the right of individuals to request exemptions from certain laws and practices based on questions of conscience and religious faith.  As I understand it, Quakers are not exempt military service, they are however exempt from participating as combatants.  A number of years ago, I helped a friend draft a statment requesting status as a conscientious objector and be granted exemption from combat duty (he was a veteran and member of the reserves at the time).  His statement was lengthy, thoughtful and carefully written; he was granted conscientious objector status and ultimately was not recalled to active duty.

US law has, also, long recognzied the right of individuals to be free from discrimination in the public square, which includes small businesses which are public accommodations.  Businesses are public accommodations, which means they are subject to generally applicable laws and those signs that many small businesses post that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” should have a huge asterisk that qualifies that statement.  You can’t legally refuse to serve someone because of their race, gender, religion, national origin and so on.  Increasingly, that list includes real or perceived sexual orientation.  To put it in simple terms, business owners have to make business decisions for business reasons not from animus toward a group of persons.

As more US cities, counties and states adopt nondiscrimination laws covering sexual and gender minorities, and as more states legalize same-sex marriage, I believe there are going to be more cases like that of Elane Photography and Masterpiece Cakeshop, in which small business owners seek exemption from nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religious objections.

What happened in these cases is instructive. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: