Archive for category Conservatives

Your Big Government is Bad, Our micromanaging Government is for your Own Good

Lets set the old way back machine for 2009. President Obama was all set to deliver what may well be one of the most boring and uncontroversial speeches in history, namely the back-to-school-study-hard-kids pep talk for the beginning of the school year. Conservatives, with their typical projection, decided that the evil commie marxist atheist muslim in office was going to convert all their impressionable young little mouth breathers instantly into liberal scum. Back, through the mists of time…

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What’s the worst that can happen?

This is a question that must have been asked 12 years ago when the US invaded Iraq. Well the initial predictions were positive. The war will be quick, cheap, we will be hailed as liberators, there will be peace, so on and so forth. Of course none of that happened. They were dead wrong, but even me when I witnessed the reports of chaos in Iraq, I could not comprehend that this would happen. What is the worst that can happen? ISIS can happen. The relatively new Islamic terrorist group is different from other organizations because they are successful. They have the oil fields, they are surrounding Baghdad, they have both Iraqi and American weapons in their inventory and they are gaining more ground. This is made worse by their tendency to be very destructive. So far, over 1,700 Iraqi troops have been executed. So yes, that is the worst that can happen and the Bush administration is completely at fault no matter how indirectly this is. Maybe this is a question Obama should consider, especially with an upcoming midterm and a country filled with pissed off liberals.

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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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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

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SUV’s, Pink Slime and the Conservative resistance

Back in 2008, there were very high gas prices. They skyrocketed during the Bush years and as gas prices went up, I saw fewer SUV’s and the sky was much less polluted. Utahns have responded to a problem and acted properly. Logically if gas prices go up, then you should use less. It only makes sense. Now in 2014, Gas prices are even higher. What do I see? There are even more trucks and they are larger. What happened in 5 years? Why is it that in 2014, when gas prices are higher while there is a greater inequality of wealth do we see more gas-guzzling vehicles? This scenario reminds me of a controversy back in 2012 where several republican governors went and defended Pink Slime. They defended this product which is the remaining scraps of beef ground into a fine paste and laced with ammonia. When the Obama Administration condemned that practice, several republicans ate the pink slime raw. In terms of gas prices and driving a big-ass truck, when the left keeps talking about the environment and how we have to lessen our impact, the right does the opposite. This is a backwards thinking and this is by far the scariest thing I have seen in this country. This goes beyond hurting others and goes straight into the realm of hurting themselves. All for political regression.

I get that the right does not like Obama or anyone from the [snickers] “left”, but just because you feel that they are the enemy does not mean that you do the exact opposite of what they do. Sure, there are people who are afraid of communism and socialism, but even then when Russia became the first nation to reach space, the US didn’t start digging holes to reach the mantle as a protest. Instead they got into space to better them. It’s not even a thing that the left does. I may think that Bush is the worst president we have ever had, but when he signed a bill to illegalize telemarketing, I didn’t all of a sudden support telemarketers and buy into their scams.

We are in a very interesting fork in the road. We have issues with war, issues with the environment, issues with our education, with our economy, with our GDP and we can go either two ways. The first one is that we do what Utahns back in 2008 did. We identify the problems and correct them. Or we could say that logic and reason is the devil/communism/unamerican/whatever and end up ruining our society permanently. This isn’t even a joke. Last year, the world was on the brink of total economic collapse all because they wanted to repeal Obamacare. Something that was a republican idea to begin with. We are in the 21st century. We need to act like it’s the 21′s century or we will end up in the 5th century.

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None of us should be surprised Wasatch High Officials are a bunch of sexist prudes

I suppose in all fairness, we should probably acknowledge that girls in small town Utah are all sluts. And in digitally altering their photos to make their clothing appear modest, school officials are actually doing them a favor so their slutdom won’t be memorialized. Right? Seriously? Amirite?

The contretemps over Wasatch High School’s decision to alter girls photos has gone national and as with many such stories out of Utah, has served to make the entire state look like a bunch of pearl-clutching prudes. Honestly, school officials should have known there was no way this would turn out well and have not done it in the first.

The free-range morons who run Wasatch High School have defended their decision to edit the photos. Their defense would be hilarious if it weren’t obvious that they’re serious about it. Their argument is that students were warned they should not violate dress code and photos might be edited – and that they feel bad it was inconsistently done. In other words, “Why won’t all you sluts shut up and stop causing trouble?”

The editing involved adding sleaves to sleeveless tops, removing tattoos and adding necklines that the bluenoses think are more fitting. Of course the whole sorry affair is about nothing more than slut-shaming and double standards. It’s about a religious culture that tries to convince girls to cover up lest they inflame male desire. It’s about a cult of modesty that distrusts women and disdains female sexuality. It’s about a double standard that says it’s women’s job to control male sexuality by not doing anything that might possibly make people think women are sexual beings.

That photos of boys weren’t edited at all is no surprise. Of course there’s a double standard at work. Of course it’s sexist. The problem with the girls’ outfits is entirely in the minds of school officials who deemed them too sexy, not in what the girls were wearing or what their tattoos said.

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Surrender Your Constitutional Rights: Visit Texas

This amazing dash cam video and subsequent video of court proceedings well confirms the long tradition of utter lawlessness  in the state of Texas.

“I verbally objected to an unconstitutional search of my vehicle in Electra, Texas. Police officers Matt Wood and Gary Ellis maliciously responded by issuing me two false citations. I got a copy of the dashboard-camera video at the pretrial hearing. It showed all. City attorney Todd Greenwood demanded I give my copy of the evidence back, and tried to have me arrested when I refused.

Todd Greenwood then compared rural Texas to the movie Deliverance, and warned me “What’s written down in the Constitution is one thing, and the real practice is another.”

 

Texas Sucks!

You can help:

We petition the Obama administration to: Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government. Sign it!

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Mike Lee Storms The Beaches of South Jordan

Mike Lee, sophomore senator from the embarrassed state of Utah, gets a full, ten minute standing ovation with chants of “we like Mike”, “we like Mike!

With children and mothers all around, this man, who stood up against labor laws which have prevented children from child labor got a longer standing ovation then president Eisenhower probably ever got at a speech.

Watch as much as you can stand:

The YouTube videos of Sir. Lee saying that anti child labor laws are unconstitutional no longer exist, but there are at least two websites that are trying to provide them:

Thinkprogress and Huffington Post.

I was present at a “tea party” “event” at the State Capitol, took pictures, and gave this account on this blog. Mike Lee was there, running for office. There was so much wind blowing and the dust was so thick that all of us almost choked and an American flag hit me so hard, I almost got knocked out.

Seriously!

But there is a better account of the scope of the deceit. I only observed three buses, but the original Tea Party, which was a TRUE grass roots movement, got the story right:

We should band together!

Update: The Deseret News had this story: Hundreds rally for Sen. Mike Lee despite low approval numbers
From the article:

“I do not approve of him and I do not think he is fulfilling the best interests of his constituents,” said Mel Walker, who held a sign that, at one point, was ripped from her hands by Lee supporters.

Sounds about right. I lost numerous “IMPEACH BUSH” signs in that manner.

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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 Republican Base is the Identified Patient in our National Family System

The American right has transformed from conservative to reactionary to revanchist in an incredibly short period of time.  Today’s Republican base voters feel a toxic mix of anger, frustration, and isolation.  The general perception of America outside their communities is almost entirely negative.  They are keenly aware of themselves as the last holdouts against a rising tide of racial pluralism and cultural tolerance.  The forces at work are complex, but at the same they are the same enemies liberalism has always opposed – the forces of social order which presume that some people are ‘more equal’ than others.  Today’s Republican party has been transformed from a political party to a fundamentalist movement with all that implies about in group and out group dynamics; organized around the ideas of Constitutional purity, American exceptionalism, and traditional culture, this political fundamentalism movement is motivated by fear, anger and loss.

On October 3, Democracy Corps published Inside the GOP, their findings from a series of focus group discussions with Republicans.  They identified the GOP’s three key constituencies – evangelicals, Tea Partiers and moderates and held focus groups in various cities around the country. The memo as a whole makes for depressing reading – it describes a group of Americans who see themselves as socially, culturally and political isolated, a faithful remnant fighting to restore the America they understand and value against a devious and largely victorious enemy.  The average member of the Republican base feels besieged, angry and frustrated.  Their sense of isolation within contemporary culture cannot be overstated.  Tellingly, the members of the focus groups reported that the focus group time was a unique experience of being around like-minded people: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Shutdown is a Constitutional Crisis

So says Jonathan Chait.

In a merciful twist of fate, Juan Linz did not quite live to see his prophecy of the demise of American democracy borne out. Linz, the Spanish political scientist who died last week, argued that the presidential system, with its separate elections for legislature and chief executive, was inherently unstable. In a famous 1990 essay, Linz observed, “All such systems are based on dual democratic legitimacy: No democratic principle exists to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature about which of the two actually represents the will of the people.” Presidential systems veered ultimately toward collapse everywhere they were tried, as legislators and executives vied for supremacy. There was only one notable exception: the United States of America.

Linz attributed our puzzling, anomalous stability to “the uniquely diffuse character of American political parties.” The Republicans had loads of moderates, and conservative whites in the South still clung to the Democratic Party. At the time he wrote that, the two parties were already sorting themselves into more ideologically pure versions, leaving us where we stand today: with one racially and economically polyglot party of center-left technocracy and one ethnically homogenous reactionary party. The latter is currently attempting to impose its program by threat upon the former. The events in Washington have given us a peek into the Linzian nightmare.

Both House Republicans and the President lay claim to democratic legitimacy and there is no system to resolve the dispute.  So we’re left with a slugfest.

Sanford Levinson’s book, Our Undemocratic Constitution, lays out some of the inherent problems with the US system.  He argued:

Significant distortions and outright failures of American politics are produced because of-and not merely in spite of-the structure of the government imposed by the Constitution, whatever the contribution of other factors like the mode of campaign financing. [snip]

However divided we are as a country these days, what paradoxically may unite far more than a majority of Americans are deep feelings of inefficacy with regard to being able to participate in what are ostensibly institutions promoting self-governance, as well as feelings of dismay at the actual legislation that is passed (or not passed).

The point is incredibly simple - our system of government as designed includes too many veto points to function if a minority is able to block one of those veto points.  What we’re seeing, right now, is the result of that system in action.  The shutdown, in which a minority of the House Republicans are able to take the entire nation hostage, is a result of a governing system which diffuses both power and authority.In a parliamentary system, the head of government is chosen by the majority party (or governing coalition) from the legislative branch.  The head of government is empowered to enact a specific policy platform and is able to do so because he/she is the same party as that which dominates the legislative branch.  The US system, with two, equally powerful houses of Congress, and a separately elected President, includes multiple points at which a minority party can frustrate the will of the majority.

Our current governing crisis is a covert Constitutional crisis.  House Republicans essentially argue that the polling shows the ACA is unpopular and therefore they are on the side of the people.  That’s simply the convenient, current argument.  The deeper battle is informed by a Republican party controlled by movement conservatism which denies the legitimacy of any Democratic president.  It’s not just that conservatives deny Barack Obama’s legitimacy, the denied Bill Clinton’s as well.  As a result, what we’re seeing play out in DC right now is a slow motion attempt to strip a Democratic president, any Democratic president, of presidential power by a Republican congress which refuses to acknowledge the validity of the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.  It’s not about any specific policy.  Any and every policy supported by a Democratic president is considered inherently invalid and illegitimate.

At Americablog, Becca Morn argued:

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of AMERICAblog that many Republicans have never accepted the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. They’ve been cooking polls to make themselves and their policies seem more popular than they are. When the overwhelming majority of legitimate mainstream polls say their GOP candidates are going to get trounced, they deny the polls are accurate. When they lose elections, they cry fraud, and if there’s any way to tie up the election results in court, they’ll do so.

The Democrats, whatever their many and manifest flaws, don’t do this. Crooked Democratic ballot box shenanigans pretty much ended with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Democrats don’t need to cheat. Republican candidates and policies are unpopular enough, all the Dems really need to do is turn out enough legitimate voters.

Which is, of course, why the Republicans are pulling out all the stops to prevent Democrat-voting demographics from being able to cast a ballot. Their claims it’s because there’s rampant fraud are absolutely bogus.

Everyone is familiar with the ridiculous “birther” conspiracy theories about Barack Obama. Anybody who isn’t as loony as Orly Taitz or ego-maniacal as Donald Trump knows those allegations are total rubbish. Unfounded. Ridiculous. Would not last ten seconds in a legitimate court of law. Nevertheless, the persistence of this meme is an important insight into the psyche of the political opposition.

Birtherism, along with other lies — such as referring to Obama as a Nazi/Communist/Socialist and/or secret Muslim — plus the constant lies about Obamacare “death panels” and the like are how the GOP leaders and their wingnut media lackeys keep the rubes both afraid and entertained. While Louie Gohmert and Michelle Bachman and Sarah Whatshername might actually believe the nonsense crossing their pouty, poxy lips, some ‘serious’ Republicans will dance around with birther language, but they don’t buy the snake oil they’re peddling.

The constitutional crisis is grounded in the refusal of conservatives to accept the outcomes of elections with which they disagree.  The result is that conservatives are attacking the constitutional system they claim to venerate.

And so the crisis grinds on with enough Republican believing the nonsense to keep the government shutdown and to cause yet another crisis at the next opportunity.  It’s not about any actual policy or bill or program.  Movement conservatives have defined American-ness in such a limited way that there is no way for them to accept a black Democratic president as legitimate.  And in the face of a system which seems to refuse to accept their arguments about his illegitimacy, they believe they have only the most extreme tactics available to them.

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The Age of Disruption: Impact on the Military Industrial Complex

Watching conservatives oppose military intervention in Syria has been entertaining to say the least.  We all know that if the occupants of the White Hosue were a Republican, they’d be cheerleading for the most ruinous attack possible, telling us that Assad is the moral equal of Pol Pot, Hitler, Mussolini and Jeffrey Dahmer all rolled into one.  Not so long ago, however, most of Washington DC would have joined in supporting an attack.  A few years ago, an attack on Syria would have been a foregone conclusion, there would have been sporadic opposition but it would have happened, and at least inside the “establishment” would have been regarded as necessary and possibly even good.  A great many Democrats supported action against Iraq in 2002 and 2003 (despite their doubts of its success) because the necessity of military action was accepted, common wisdom even if their instincts told them it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan were/are simply to big to be ignored, even by hawkish political insiders.  When someone as reliably dim and possessed of the conventional wisdom as George Will doesn’t favor a military strike, you know something has shifted. Read the rest of this entry »

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