Archive for category Authoritarianism

Police Shot Darrien Hunt 6 Times In The Back

Last month, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by police in Saratoga Springs, Utah, while carrying a toy sword. The Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy confirms that six bullets hit Hunt in the back. Contrary to what was implied in the original police report, a toxicology analysis concluded that Hunt had no drugs in his body.

Susan Hunt told the Deseret News: “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.

“Those stupid cops thought they had to murder over a toy. This is my baby. This is my family. And they ruined my family.”

Again, we have to wonder what they were thinking. Why shoot an unarmed citizen who is running away? Assuming the police believed they had no choice but to use deadly force, why not shoot ONE TIME?

Finally, somebody needs to educate the police about cosplay.

At the time of his death, Hunt was wearing an outfit that bore a striking resemblance the Japanese anime character Mugen, from the series Samurai Champloo. The weekend prior to his death, Salt Lake City hosted the annual Comic Con event at which attendees dress up as comic book characters in a practice known as “cosplaying.”

UPDATE:
Prosecutors won’t file criminal charges in this case. Darrien Hunt’s family plans a civil suit against the police.

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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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Colorado students learned their civil disobedience lessons…

Colorado students and teachers alike have been staging walkouts over the new conservative version of history that is being forced on schools by the rightwing school board. And this story is just full of irony. For one thing, among the subjects being removed is all mention of civil disobedience. Thus the students are teaching the topic to the school board. At least a thousand students walked out of class Tuesday, at three separate schools. More followed Wednesday and still more were planned for today.
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“Justified True Belief”

Knowledge is sometimes defined in philosophy circles as “justified true belief.” Sometimes philosophers can drain the passion out of any phrase.

Still, the idea counts for something. Can you really say you “know” something if you are wrong? Being raised Mormon I was always bothered when people gave their testimony with the phrase “I know this is true” because it was clear to me that they did not “know” anything of the sort. They believed. They may even be right. But unless it was proven true, they couldn’t actually know. They simply had faith that they mistakenly called knowledge…..

Over at MotherJones.com, Chris Mooney has an interesting article about some of the research on how political ideology and views can affect our reasoning ability. There has been a fair amount of research in the area of late, and I find an awful lot of it fascinating, I also find a lot of what is written about it to be misled for what seems like some pretty basic reasons.

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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

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Republicans Eat Their Own Liver

Liver; Leader? What’s the difference?

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t seem to be doing the trick for the radical righties, so they’ve decided to throw him over the balcony like an inquisitive reporter.

Think I’m crazy? Watch this:

h/t goes to BradBlog. Where else?

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Anthem For The White Cry Babies

I don’t watch them, but from the little I’ve been forced to see while at the grocery store, I’d say this includes the fake reality referred to as “The Duck Dynasty”. I don’t care if you got your creds from the Jerry Springer show or get a million, making your own country look foolish; white trash will always be what it is, and nobody will ever stop assholes from having opinions.

I hate having to write that last paragraph, because – well – I’m an old white man and I feel I’m getting blamed for turning this country into a worldwide farce, when I’ve done a lot to try and stop it.

Personally, I prefer to pay attention to attractive young people with new ideas, but instead I get these bearded, stinking, fakes who are out for a buck and getting helped by – of all things ; The Arts and Entertainment channel?

Jesus! Help us now!

The Anthem: :D

Personally, I believe the loss of Ted Nugent’s reality show left a terrible void which had to be filled with…

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I Don’t Trust Obamacare or the TPP

Even if I come out ahead at 61 – and doubt I’m going to -, I don’t like it, because it has come out that young people will be expected to pay for something they can NEVER afford – Hell; how are they going to feed their own children when our political system cuts their children’s food security a little-bit-at-a-time! A “health” system which is built on profit can never succeed because there’s too damn much money in it!

The same logic goes for war profiteering.

I think Tom Tomorrow goes a bit more lightly on Obamacare in his latest column, but I think it’s a masterpiece.

You may need to left-click on the cartoon to read it.

But also, note that Obama is working to keep secret a meeting at The Grand American Hotel in Salt Lake City tomorrow, (Tuesday November 19th, 2013), and all next week. It may weaken China, but I think we have the right to know what is going on, because it has the potential to greatly weaken America too. This treaty, called the “Trans Pacific Partnership” – TPP -, seems highly dangerous to everybody except huge corporations.

Let’s get down to the Grand American Hotel in Salt Lake City this week and try to find out what’s going on!

555 South Main Street. BE PEACEFUL! BE ROWDY! NO GUNS!

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Jason Chaffetz Presides On Viral C-Span Video

I had to put this video up on OneUtah, because it’s all over the internet, might have set a record for a C-Span broadcast going viral and features one of our own. I respect the fact that representative Chaffetz didn’t try to lie, gavel or shout down Chris Van Hollen, even though he was forced to verify, multiple times, that the congressional body he was elected to, did something surreal.

Some must have seen this on C-Span and aren’t being tabulated on the YouTube site, however, the exchange between the representatives has only been posted for three days on YouTube and has already picked up over 2,500,000 viewings. Probably more then any cat video to date, but I’m not sure.

If this exchange is being played by any American television news organization, I would be stunned.

Glenden just put up a post which links to an article by Eric Idle, where he says:

If one party can shut down the government, then the social compact to rule is broken.

Actually Eric, it’s just one man. My apologizes to our long time friend, England.

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The US Needs to Start Unraveling the Homeland Security Mess

A good place to start is repealing the disaster that is the Patriot Act.

However, a proposal before Congress right now would limit the scope of the NSA’s information gathering.

The amendment [pdf] basically defunds the NSA’s dragnet collection of every bit of metadata on all phone records as well as other bulk records that have not yet been revealed. The amendment still would allow the NSA to collect information under the original intent—and understanding—of the law, that is information actually related to actual investigations.

Of course NSA supporters are pushing back, including, unfortunately, the Obama administration.  Like too many people in positions of power, the administration and the President seem to in the grip of fear about terrorism and have convinced themselves that any means necessary to keep us “safe” (what that means) are acceptable.  They are mistaken.  Such an attitude only feeds a creeping tendency toward authoritarianism in our culture, one which seems to be growing stronger because too few people in elected office see it as a threat.  We see it in the militarization of police forces, in spying on Americans, in the absurd theatre that is the TSA striptease in airports.  It is fueled by fear and it fuels fear.  I believe it is dangerous.

 

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David Gregory vs. Journalism

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Edward Snowden has been called a “traitor” by politicians, and he’s been formally charged with violating the Espionage Act. But that’s not enough for David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Witness this incredible exchange from yesterday’s show, as Gregory in effect accuses Glenn Greenwald of espionage:

GREGORY: Final question for you…. To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?

GREENWALD: I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources.

If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said, “Investigative reporting has come to a standstill,” her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced.

GREGORY: Well, the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regards to what you’re doing. And of course anybody who’s watching this understands I was asking a question; that question has been raised by lawmakers, as well. I’m not embracing anything. But obviously, I take your point.

Later, Greenwald tweeted, “Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?” and, “Has David Gregory ever publicly wondered if powerful DC officials should be prosecuted for things like illegal spying & lying to Congress?”

Jane Stillwater:

An American spy agency that currently has all of its greedy tentacles tightly wrapped all around every single household in the entire world — and not in a good way — has just accused EDWARD SNOWDEN of being a spy. How ironic is that!

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald HuffPo interview:

“My critique of the D.C. media has long been that instead of being adversaries to government power — to the government and political power — they’re servants to it and mouthpieces for it.”

Greenwald said that Gregory was doing the work of the Justice Department by putting “together a theory in public about why I, as a journalist, should be prosecuted,” along with or “call[ing] into question that I’m a journalist at all.” That interview, he said, exemplified the “critique that they’re so in bed with the circles of political power over which they’re supposed to acting as watchdogs — that they really have become nothing more than just appendages.”

UPDATE: 10 Questions for NBC Host Who Shamelessly Suggested Greenwald Be Arrested for NSA Leaks

UPDATE: (Almost too funny for words) Head Of NSA Claims He Doesn’t Know “Who Wikileaks Are” – If I know something the NSA doesn’t, maybe we need better spies?

UPDATE:
Snowden Coverage: If U.S. Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?

The Edward Snowden leaks have revealed a U.S. corporate media system at war with independent journalism. Many of the same outlets — especially TV news — that missed the Wall Street meltdown and cheer-led the Iraq invasion have come to resemble state-controlled media outlets in their near-total identification with the government as it pursues the now 30-year-old whistleblower.

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Sean Hannity Suddenly Concerned About The Constitution

Via Media Matters, the funniest thing I’ve seen today. I don’t watch the Faux News Channel, but sometimes it can be very entertaining.

Sean Hannity is warning that data mining and surveillance are “very clear violation[s] of the Fourth Amendment,” a drastic change for the Fox News host, who was a loud defender of National Security Agency surveillance during the Bush administration.

To be fair, some Democrats have also switched positions out of pure partisanship: Mika Brzezinski: ‘I’m Probably Guilty’ Of Hypocrisy Over NSA.

Seriously, every President takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Doesn’t matter who the President is — the job is the same. Some have claimed that widespread surveillance of Americans is OK now under President Obama because the FISA Court issued a warrant. But the Fourth Amendment does not allow a blanket warrant to search everybody for everything.

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