Archive for category Ed Firmage

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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The Perfect Storm

Several events may well cause the perfect storm of chaos and catastrophe. The use of nuclear weapons will occur again. And probably sooner than later. Terrorist use of a single nuclear weapon, placed with know-how, could paralyze a nation. Use of several tactical nuclear weapons (the small stuff) by one state against another would produce Nuclear Winter for at least four years. Use of their big brothers, ICBM’s, would result in Nuclear Winter for decades. See in mind’s eye the simultaneous burning of the world’s major cities and forests, together with nuclear debris, including us, swirling above any who remained, for decades, blotting out the Sun. Think of one volcano and times it by a few thousand. We turn down the heat and turn off the lights and among other things, photosynthesis stops. Huge numbers of life forms die, never to return, vegetable and animal.

And no, this is not the solution for global warming. We will live, I fear, to see both simultaneously, likely in my short life-span. No weapon ever developed was not eventually used; and likewise used by non-state actors, terrorists and other criminals. We are drenched in nuclear weapons, especially tactical, poorly secured. If you want to build your own, there certainly is no nuclear secret and we are submerged in huge amounts of enriched uranium and plutonium. We have long passed the tipping point of inevitability on the use of nuclear weapons; and I believe we are very close to that tipping point regarding global warming.

Add all this to a looming water shortage throughout the West and Southwest, with huge and unreasonable burdens placed upon the Colorado River, our aquifers, and all our river systems. When rivers and lakes and dams become dead pools it’s too late. Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles will sustain themselves only by dehydrating the West, and even then deserts will claim their own. When even one of the above little list of horrors actually happens, we almost surely will be propelled into a double- dip depression.

There we have it. The spread and ultimately the use of nuclear weapons; global warming; a devastating long-term recession morphing into a world-wide depression; and finally a huge life-threatening shortage of water in the West. And if I am right–then we shall surely see two or three, perhaps even all these four horsemen of the apocalypse cutting huge swaths of death and destruction throughout the world. We now face, fellow citizens, such cosmic catastrophes of biblical proportions that human civilizations that we now enjoy may never be known again. Even life itself, world-wide, is at risk. We cannot avoid some of these calamities. But we may still mitigate them, and dodge others, if we act now.

Ed Firmage

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Ed Firmage is the Samuel Thurman Professor of Law, emeritus, at the University of Utah, and the author, with Wormuth, of To Chain the Dog of War: the War Power of Congress, published by Illinois Press; and editor of a casebook on International Law. He has published hundreds of articles and chapters on war, weaponry, arms control, disarmament and human rights. With others, he helped defeat the basing of the MX missile in the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah.

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Terrorists Bring Deadly Nuclear Weapons Material to Utah

Depleted uranium is obtained during the process of destroying nuclear weapons. Depleted uranium was used in the first Gulf War. The United States coated with depleted uranium, 1000 anti-tank artillery projectiles and the Brit’s 100. A depleted uranium missile cuts through a tank like a hot knife through butter. At the moment of impact the missile so coated turns what was a tank into thousands of shards of radioactive porcelain, which spreads over the vast sands of that sad state, virtually forever. Now, in Gulf War II, the numbers are hugely greater. Iraqi and now Afghanistan’s people are literally, cooked. Young Iraqi and Afghan women, in their sandals, trudging though the sands, will die terrible deaths. Their children, those who live, may well be born with savage birth defects. Afghan and Iraqi peoples will suffer through endless centuries for our wars of aggression. Birth defects in Fallujah have already increased ten fold.

In simpler times, a state would declare war and thereafter the war would end. Now, we make wars upon whole nations though a very small number of combatants are our supposed enemies. These the macabre gifts that keep on giving for hundreds of years, thousands of years, and in the case of depleted uranium, for millions of years. We are, in effect, making wars that will never end. Thousands of years from now, we will still be slaughtering people in these two wars of choice gifted us by two presidents named George Bush.

Now our leaders want us to accept millions of tons of depleted uranium here in Utah. Depleted uranium is in fact already here. Much more is on the way. We are now being told that foreign waste will be on the way too. And we find that the state of Utah has no real choice in this matter. Our two Senators from Energy Solutions, Hatch and Bennett, protect their money spigot by lamenting that our cause is just but they can do nothing for us, pointing to Utah politicians. Police power, that is, the power and the obligation to protect our health and well-being, does reside here and the Governor should stop all trains with depleted uranium and demand that the train turn right around and go back where this deadly poison came from. But real power is with Hatch and Bennett. The Commerce Power of Congress will trump anything the state can do to preclude entry of this most toxic of poisons. These two villains are bought and paid by Energy Solutions. One of our congressmen has been a paid employee of Energy/Solutions. Hatch and Bennett are the only people who have the law…the Commerce Clause…by which all these issues will be judged and determined.

If Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen had planned this idea of bringing nuclear material into our country’s innards he would be captured and imprisoned. Just how do the owners and all who profit by destroying our land, water, and all life forms, and the politicians who make this atrocity possible, stay out of jail when quite obviously they are among the most successful terrorists in our history?

Ed Firmage
Salt Lake City, Utah

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The Collapse in Household Wealth

At Washington Monthly, James Galbraith has an excellent article, No Return to Normal, in which he argues that the financial and economic disasters of the last two years are so deep, so pervasive, that the economic assumptions we have long thought of as normal simply do not apply. Galbraith writes: Read the rest of this entry »

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Deja-Vu All Over Again

The savagely wrong so-called bailout bill now passed by both houses of Congress, like the Iraq war, which is not incidental to our economic melt-down, is the worst thing we’ve done since waging the wrong war with the wrong people in the wrong way. Same crowd of fools and knaves. But this time we get to bail out the scoundrels who financed the fools into the White House. Big oil, big banks, big Wall Street liars and cheats and criminals. Bush-Cheney-McCain. This gang of three (And Sarah Palin) have now bankrupted the Republic, not easy to do, but then we’ve given them an encore. And Ronald Reagan for eight years, privatizing everything that moved. Social Security would have been privatized too, by Reagan and Bush, if the Democrats had not stopped these “fiscal conservatives” (in a pig’s eye).

The House got it right the first time. This bill, now law, with President George Bush’s authorship and signature, is a disaster for us all: Main Street, State Street, and South Temple. This law is not Adam Smith nor Lord John Maynard Keynes.. No Wealth of Nations here, no wealth of nations left. This is a bastard child of the Reagan administration, the last two years of the Clinton Administration and in that critical time, the last two years, huge mistakes by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, a good Republican who voted for Bush though he was reappointed by Clinton. And then the fatal decade under George the Less. These crooks and liars should be tried and thrown into jail for as long as it takes to restore our Republic. In other words, when hell freezes over. Or when Envirocare/EnergySolutions ‘ so-called “depleted uranium” disappears. It has a two million years’ half-life.

This abortion of a bill protects the platinum parachutes of the super-rich, bails out the banks, insurance companies, investment companies, the Chinese, who own most of the U.S. now; the Robber Barons of the Middle East big oil states who own that part of our money not already pledged to Russia for her oil.

One David Young, president of Paragon Wealth Management in Provo, is quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 4, 2008, as saying this bill will do little at first, but “in the long run, it should be effective.” Wrong again, in Happy Valley. This is precisely the opposite of my own belief, at least. This will at most cause a bit of a rally for a week or so; and then we will fall deeper faster to almost total ruin.

There is blame all around: both presidential candidates and their running mates. Endorsement of both Republican and Democratic members of both Houses. It must be said, however, that George Bush had this misbegotten bill in his desk for several months before he steamrolled Congress, again, just as this worst of all presidents did in waging our very own war of aggression against a state with whom we were at peace. Way to go, Bushie.

Ed Firmage
Salt Lake City, Utah

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Are There Non-Egregious Bush Crimes?

Everyone except a few bloggers has probably forgotten, if they ever knew, that last April Barack Obama made a half-hearted pledge to prosecute at least some of the crimes committed by the Bush administration. In response to a question from a DailyKos blogger, he answered carefully:

What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.

So this is an area where I would want to exercise judgment — I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General — having pursued, having looked at what’s out there right now — are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it’s important– one of the things we’ve got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing between really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in cover-ups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law — and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.

Never mind. At the recent Netroots Nation convention, close Obama adviser (and University of Chicago Law Professor) Cass Sunstein backed away from the notion of going after any Bush officials, or Bush himself, for crimes such as torture and unlawful surveillance. The exchange with Sunstein was detailed by The Nation’s Ari Melber. Melber wrote that Sunstein rejected any such prosecution:

Politicians, legal experts and progressive activists grappled with Republican abuses of power at the third annual netroots convention on Friday, debating how an Obama administration might restore the rule of law. Cass Sunstein, an adviser to Barack Obama from the University of Chicago Law School, cautioned against prosecuting criminal conduct from the current Administration. Prosecuting government officials risks a “cycle” of criminalizing public service, he argued, and Democrats should avoid replicating retributive efforts like the impeachment of President Clinton–or even the “slight appearance” of it. Update: Sunstein emailed to emphasize that he also said and believes that “egregious crimes should not be ignored.”

Are violations of the Constitution, torture and illegal surveillance therefore non-egregious crimes? What would be an egregious crime, then? Sunstein didn’t say. How about “planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.” That was the principal charge at the Nuremberg Tribunal.

See below for video and an update…
Read the rest of this entry »

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The Texas Raids: The Alamo Defenders Circled Around Sara, Shooting at a Metaphor. Speech Given Before the Utah State Bar, Continuing Legal Education, at the Downtown Marriott Hotel, Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let me simply say that we are now exactly in a perfect storm, where United States v. Reynolds meet Loving v. Virginia meet Lawrence v. Texas meet “Sarah” v. …well, we’re not quite sure who. Sarah v. Texas? Sarah v. United States? If Lawrence is to gay and lesbian brothers and sisters; and to polygamists, what Brown v. the Board was to people of color and ethnicity, as I believe it to be, this indeed is a time of legal revolution. Not to put too fine a point on it, as Dickens would say in Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the eternal feeding trough for lawyers through generations, gays and polygamists are in bed together. Along with those of us who are serial monogamists or anyone like me, and Douglas and Black, who don’t want the state, the police, under the marital or any conjugal bed.

Please colleagues, don’t forget procedural due process. I stated this circumstance as best I could, in much better days, in the Reynolds Lecture, Ends and Means in Conflict. This was published in several law reviews and religious journals, circa 1987. Our fellow citizens hate us for these laws that seem to them to be trivia: protecting a murderer by having taxpayers pay the fees of defense counsel. And protecting whatever is left of the Fourth Amendment, in this manic lawlessness of this administration, and their lackeys on the bench.

If Texas police can invade an FLDS Temple, have absolutely no doubt that they can do the same thing in Salt Lake City. Or New York. Or Los Angeles. Any of you who give a tinker’s damn about your own synagogue, mosque, temple, chapel, parish or ward, take notice. As W.H. Auden warned in the opening days of World War Two, writing as I recall in New York as Hitler’s armies swept into Poland, you’re next. If you don’t protest when the state comes for the Roman Catholics. And you don’t care much for Protestants. And you’re really not interested in the aristocracy in the military. And you never liked big industrialists either, then don’t be shocked as the shock troops knock on your door. We know this is next. It always has been. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing many times and still you expect a different result.

St. Thomas More lost his head. (As Rudyard Kipling, who died as I was born, noted, if you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, you’ll be taller than they are.) He had been sheriff, like our Texas brother; but More was sheriff of London and later Lord Chancellor, circa. fifteenth and sixteenth century, when Cardinal Woolsey introduced him, fatefully and fatally to Henry VIII. A young rogue, a varlet, an opportunist, was seeking position with St. Thomas More. More, of course, was Roman Catholic and remained so, in all faith and fervor, to the end. He finished the race, as St. Paul so often analogized to the Olympics. Roper, a good man and close to More, told him that he should do for the royal toad or he would surely have More’s head. St. Thomas said that no harm had yet been done. Thomas didn’t believe in pre-emptive war. More said that procedural law, like large oaks, peopled Great Britain, Ireland and Wales from stem to stern. “Would you have me tear asunder the great forests of procedural protections?” “Yes, I would tear down every tree in England to get” the toad. ” Then where would you be, Roper, when the winds roar, where would you hide?” Well, this was St. Thomas More.

A warning about metaphors. We kill each other for and by metaphors. We launch Crusades with entire civilizations in murderous self-slaughter. We excommunicate over a creed that has god in a bottle. From the tenth through the next several centuries, Crusaders slaughtered Roman and Greek, Catholic and Orthodox. And millions died, between civil war in Christianity and holy war (what a oxymoron) between Muslim and Christian. What a waste. Our local version was called the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

So the Judge in Texas says “Sarah” is a metaphor, even though she likely doesn’t exist. Good God, have we all gone nuts? Is it something in the Water in Texas? We have Bush in the White House and a very able woman trying her best in a very difficult case. But Due Process of Law hasn’t been repealed by this administration, just ignored. I hope for the resurrection: the resurrection of the Fourth Amendment searches and seizures protections. In the First Amendment and freedom of speech, including religious speech–like prayer anywhere and anytime we wish and without guards of any faith monitoring them, to see if we lie to God. I believe in freedom of religion. Don’t assume we are all brain dead, judiciary, telling us this “isn’t about religion.” Again, it must be the alkali in the Texas water. I truly pity this able judge in this Solomon-like cutting of the babies in half. And then quartering them, cutting them off from their mothers, not to mention their fathers. Nursing mothers denied their babies. This sounds to me like the slaughtering of the innocents. And of course I recognize that the innocents are being terribly hurt and surely permanently damaged by people on both sides of this slaughter.

I said “both sides” of this slaughter of the innocents. I misspeak. We must remember, daily and then again, that there are as many sides of this centuries-old story as there are people. The murderous slaughter of the truth by CNN and Fox, in their 24/7 repetition of their mangled one-dimensional bit of truth with a thousand parts error, mirror their lethal progenitor, in one and only one respect. Joseph Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment in Germany in the thirties and forties of the twentieth century, gave us the heart of the problem. Tell a lie often enough, long enough, and everyone, finally, accepts it as true. BY NO MEANS AM I EQUATING THIS STORY, THIS HUGE TRAGEDY, AS IF THIS NATION WAS ANALOGOUS TO NAZI GERMANY. I know as I state this disclaimer, that I will face a pasting in letters to the editor, not a few from the Bar. Nevertheless, the principle and the principle only, of telling a lie until it is the accepted truth lies at the heart of advertising and the political process that this year, is nastier than I have ever seen, in life and in history. In canon law and scriptural history leaders were chosen by casting lots. How much better than this utter debasement of American democracy.

We must realize that there are several major groups of Mormon polygamists, each hugely different from each other. All are based, really, upon a notion that surely possess a huge truth. Hundreds of millions of people on every continent practice polygamy. And monogamy and every variant and position known to humankind. Criminal law will never change this.

BUT criminal law can do what I believe every member of this panel believes, and insists: there must not be physical or mental abuse of anybody, particularly the innocents, our own children. The abuses of patriarchy or for that matter, matriarchy, must cease now. Torture is forbidden by what was just said and must be said and said again. And this law must be enforced.
At the same time, we all know that there will be offenses of the law, in civil and religious law, in every system known to humankind. The central issue here, of course, is whether any particular system fosters criminal conduct, offense, especially upon children, women and girls, and young men.

This is the crux of the matter. I don’t know the answer. But I strongly suspect that isolation fosters incest. The most dangerous kinds, because it fosters every other kind, are the intellectual and spiritual incest that warps the minds and the souls of those who think they hear the voice of God in the desert and then act when they hear only their own sick minds. But here, too, we must be careful. For all the millennia of human experience, the human has sought God in the Desert. The numinosity of the burning bush.

Paul, some historians tell us, was manic. He fell off his ass and said he saw god. In another of his epistles, he says he only heard god, on the way to Damascus to persecute another hated sect. This story of Israel in the desert attempting to find or build or find Zion, or Shangri-La, echo down throughout time. But for the Mormons, Zion was a tangible sensuous place to be made in the here and now. Don’t wait for Enoch or angels, build Zion where we stand. Mormons of the nineteenth century failed in their dream. They were simply swallowed up. Daniel Boorstin, one of America’s great historians, from the University of Chicago and a graduate in law, wrote words that hit this then young Mormon bishop, on leave in New York and Geneva with the United Nations, like a punch in the belly. He said how different the story of New England, or America, would be if the Puritans had been located in some American Swiss-like city, in a valley encircled with American Alps. He said that the oceans opened Puritan minds and made them into Yankee traders, with each new idea from Europe and Asia and Africa opening our minds and forming our souls . If they had been in an American Geneva, where I served long ago, how different, how isolated and how insulated and how narrow our minds. This is the setting, unless we are very careful and very respectful of our own tendency toward insanity rather than spirituality in God’s open spaces of the American West.

On a completely different scale I admit, remember the Japanese Relocation Cases, that blighted our human rights during the last just war, perhaps, World War Two. Tens of thousands of Japanese Americans, innocent all (no Japanese American was ever convicted of any crime against her country in World War Two. No national ethnic group can match this. Several German Americans spied. Not so the Japanese. ) Now, I know the limited meaning of this comparison: crimes have been committed by polygamists, not to mention monogamists. But the land at issue, seized and dealt with by courts, is enormously valuable. Just how far will we go to eliminate communal ownership of land and wealth and the sources of production and supply, to protect our perfect version of selfless capitalism?

And now back to the beginning. Each polygamous person and every sect in the world, monogamous and polygamous, is marvelously different. Like everyone in the world. At least, stereotypes and stigmas are not ever to be taken literally. At worst they play a fundamental role in every holocaust ever endured. Our commonality as human beings is a huge truth. Parallel and always necessary in this life is the beauty of the utter originality of every human being and our utterly subjective perception of truths, however objective or subjective they may be. Gerard Manley Hopkins, in his own person the truth of what I’ve so inadequately tried to explain, was a gay man in the most austere and monolithic religious Roman Catholic order in nineteenth century England, a Jesuit. He was quite possibly the greatest English writer who ever lived, except Shakespeare and the translators of the King James Bible. In Pied Beauty, he said:

Glory be to God for dappled things–
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh fire-coal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings,
Landscape plotted and pieced–fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise Him.

Here is Brigham Young’s, the theocrat of all would-be kings, we’re told, own two-volume set of Blackstone’s Commentaries of the Laws of England: in four books; with An Analysis of the work. By Sir William Blackstone, Knt. one of the justices of the court of common pleas. In Two Volumes. From the nineteenth London Edition. With a LIFE OF THE AUTHOR. AND NOTES: CHRISTIAN, CHITTY, LEE, HOVENDEN, AND RYLAND: AND ALSO REFERENCES TO AMERICAN CASES, BY A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK BAR.” Published in New York. Year? Why 1847. Year One for Utah’s Mormons. Taken from tithing in kind, from the Presiding Bishop’s Storehouse, in Utah’s own Christian Socialist system. Brigham put in a Mormon scrip to honestly buy these volumes, for his own reading, and housed until his death in his office, obviously well read. Blackstone’s Commentaries were very probably the only books, other than the King James Bible, had by most homes of the West. And for that matter, until very late in the day, in most homes in America most surely, Blackstone contributed more than all but a handful of people, living or dead, to the democracy, and the rule of law, in our Republic. I was given these volumes personally, by the last granddaughter of Brother Brigham. So much for stereotypes.

I propose in conclusion that instead of seizing DNA we provide something that will really work. An amnesty open to all polygamists who are not guilty of a very specific non-metaphorical crimes: rape, torture, child-and spouse abuse, fraud other than that we force upon a people denied the protection of due process of law honestly to buy or make their bread for over two hundred years and counting. In all reality our polygamous sisters and brothers are immigrants, many of whom wish to come home. Why can’t we do for these our fellow citizens what President Bush and John McCain, for a moment at least, until shot down by their own Party, proposed? So courageously and honestly? The clock and the law would start now. With the last and by far the largest and worst-led polygamist group, the Jeff’s group, with Warren Jeffs now in jail? I believe all polygamist groups of Mormon descent, “get it.” I have met personally, in my home or theirs, with all polygamist leaders of Mormon descent. Times have changed. Come home. To your churches, your cities, your government, your fellow-citizens.

The criminal law is far too brutal to bring this change. St. Paul knew the limits of the law. So does every lawyer and every criminal here, or in jail. Only the civilizing communion of the secular (thank God) polis; and the parish,the temple, the mosque and the synagogue, can democratize us all. In the secular city, thank God and Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson, and Abigail and John Adams, of the Village Square.

The Mormon Zion, like all that have gone before and will yet be birthed, cannot be made with our hands. We must always try and we will always fall short. Finally, with Joseph and Brigham, and St. Paul and St. Augustine; with the Dalai Lama and Sally Hemings and Fawn McKay Brodie and Thomas Jefferson, we wait for better times. My grandfathers, Joseph Smith by temple sealing, Brigham Young and my grandmother, Zina Diantha Huntington Smith Young by my particular DNA, as if that mattered, thought, like St. Paul in First Thessalonians, that the Second Coming would surely be in their lifetime.

It would seem that we must wait for angels, after all.

God bless us, every one.

Edwin Brown Firmage bio, website
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. A.

Further reading;

Firmage – The Pox Letters

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The Growth of Human Rights: The Skunk at the Garden Party

The debacle of the clash of civilizations in the Texas raids upon the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints continues past the point of severe justice. Whatever Samuel Huntington thinks, no one wins such wars.

Savagery exists now, played out with the goading of the news media, in 24/7 mode, driven to make news of the most lurid kind, pouring blood into the water. CNN outdoes Fox in idiocy and sheer fabrication. Their local authority here, the most savage of all, did not learn his facts nor his law in my class in constitutional law, nor from the table of his loving mother and father, my dear friends. Watch out, national talking heads, Look over your shoulder. He has a lean and hungry look.

I’ve lived through seven decades of this drama, and written about the story of polygamy since its Mormon expression. I say “Mormon” expression, because hundreds of millions of people in almost every country and culture on earth practice polygamy, just as huge numbers practice, or at least preach, monogamy. I know and have lived through almost half of the Mormon story. Realizing that Mormons didn’t invent polygamy seems to be an understanding that none of the electronic media, and those who unfortunately rely upon such media for their information, find beyond their reach. My conclusions, for what they’re worth, from two hundred years of the Mormon experience, and my work in most countries of the world, from Tibet and India, China, almost all of Europe and the United Nations, in New York and Geneva and the White House:

First, “family” is an ever-defining fluid thing. Blood? Adoption? Choice? In-law or outlaw? I remember two months in Rome with a Franciscan sister, Rosemary Lynch, Franciscan to the core, still alive in her ninety-second year and, with the Death of my dear friend, Sister Mary Luke Tobin, at ninety-eight years, of the Sisters of Loretto, the only American order of women Religous without European antecedents, for most of a century headed by Luke, and the only woman with speaking rights at Vatican Two (four women there, to balance off 1800 men), arguably the most famous revered and profoundly loved living woman in Christianity. Luke and Rose and I had met as we all battled the existence and the basing of the MX Missile in the Great Basin of the American West. I was giving a series of lectures, several a week, to all the Congregations of Women and Men Religious, headquartered in Rome. I was a year or two away from a divorce that would shatter me after thirty-three years and eight children. Blessedly ignorant of what was just around the corner, I asked Rosie if she ever missed having a family, a husband, children. She treated my naive Mormon question with all the thoughtfulness that is so lacking in today’s national dialogue on the same question. She said, “dear Ed, I have children. Thousands of them. I have biological brothers and sisters, and hundreds of brothers and sisters of the faith, and of scores of other faiths, particularly in the Muslim world, as my father Francis Assisi was especially concerned about his Muslim sisters and brothers, and echoes of Francis still resonate within the Muslim community.”

Rosie’s sister Franciscan for decades, Klaryta, was born of Polish parents, one tortured and murdered by the Germans and one by the Russians as World War Two reached its savage end, after 50,000,000 people had be slaughtered in another clash of civilizations, stretching that word past civilized meaning. Klaryta works mainly with German and Russian immigrants in her ministry, along with many thousands, now, of immigrants here, with or without papers.

As the present drama of FLDS polygamists plays itself out to its bitter end, probably decades from now, if measured by the damage already done to these women, children, men, of all ages, and after growing in my own experience of “family” these past three decades, I see violence as evil and the law, for all but the most limited and heinous of crimes, the least worst alternative. The American culture is reaching out, now, to immigrants of all sorts. This is not without pain and loss. But the gains are enormously greater. These Mormon Fundamentalists should be seen as immigrants, really. ( More on this later in this piece.)

In this country right now, if we were facing abuses in Muslim polygamy, even after 9/11, we would be giving far far greater care to the human rights, the constitutional rights, the international legal human rights, of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Can’t we see these Mormon Christian people in Texas, Utah, and Arizona as similarly situated and protected? Mormons didn’t invent this polygamous system. Think about it, talking heads of CNN. Place this wherever in the world. Hugely more compassion and, just perhaps, a bit more factual reporting would be done. Not just never-ending vitriol. Have we no shame?

When my grandmother, Zina Diantha Huntington Smith Young, and her Husband, Brigham Young, came to this valley of the Great Basin, Brigham claimed an area slightly larger than the rest of the United States. Native Americans were here, as were many of Spanish and Mexican descent. When Zina crossed the Mississippi, frozen but not quite, wagons fell into the freezing water. Zina wrote in her diary of seeing their Nauvoo Temple desecrated and burned by the mobs. Brigham had gone ahead with a few of the men, toward their Zion, the Great Basin of the West. Babies were born and died. They had been forced by murder and rapine into the wilds. When they left Nauvoo, slightly larger than Chicago at the time, they were headed for Mexico and Texas. A war of unmitigated aggression by the United States began against Mexico, as the Mormons were on the march. Brigham was asked to enlist Mormon young men to go to war. The Mormon Legion completed the longest forced march of the American infantry, in response, ending in California, whether owned by Mexico, the United States, Britain, Russia, or Native America. It was all fluid for many decades. Thus the United States seized over one-third of Mexico. And now we are enraged when thousands of Mexicans remained in what was their land, and millions return to a land by all justice they still own.

Zina married Joseph Smith when she was twenty. She loved him very much. She shared his bed in this “spiritual marriage.” So did Emma, but not at the same time. When Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob, Zina, then twenty-three, married my great-great grandfather, Brigham Young. From that union I came to be. I remember going with another Zina, my grandmother and the wife of Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor of the Mormon Church in an earlier time, to see “aunt” so and so, many such, all surviving wives of polygamist men long dead.

In every century before the twentieth, in every land in the world, marriage in the teens existed. John Adams had to threaten his son, John Quincy Adams, with a caning and worse if he did not stop seeing the woman, or girl, his loved, then fifteen.

The Fundamentalist Mormons of four or five clans have been frozen in time, to some extent, by being marginalized, like gays, or at an earlier time, marriage between different racial or ethnic groups, sent into the badlands: geographically, intellectually, socially, politically, and by the hardness of our hearts and the vacuity, the stupidity of our brains. I have known the leadership of all of these groups and I have enjoyed their company in my home and at their table, for seventy years. I have taught many polygamous young women in my forty years teaching constitutional and international law. Many have visited my home and told me why they, as women, favored the polygamous life. Most wanted children, and obviously, and all wanted a career outside the home. Their sister wives, by tending the children, made this possible. I have not met one woman in sixty years of more or less adult life who wanted divorce, or a monogamous life. Obviously some did, but I never met them, and I’ve met hundreds of polygamous women. For whatever reason, in the study of law, in my own experience, my students have almost all been women. So much for stereotypes.

From all that I’ve seen, written, and read of polygamy in the nineteenth century, the system was at least as much matriarchal as patriarchal. Zina ran the home, the farm, raised the children, and presided in most of the healing, today what we would call “priesthood,” since Mormon women then, and now, believe they hold the same through Temple endowment. ( Yes, just like the one raided and pillaged in the name of Texas law. If Texas can do that to Fundamentalist Mormons, when will it be your turn? In your sacred house? church, temple, mosque, or the temple of your home and your body?) Brigham was left to decide upon the foreign policy between Zion, in his Great Basin Kingdom, and Spain, Mexico, Canada, Native America, and yes, the United States, smaller but more heavily populated. So much for polygamy as a device for geometric Mormon catch-up. Even when Mormon evangelical preachers recieved tens of thousands of converts, with tens of thousands of Mormons in Great Britain and Canada; and all would come to Zion at Brigham’s call, more Mormons lived in Canada and England by far than resided in the United States, and though many thousands of emigrant saints marched on foot, in wagons, on oxen and horseback, pulling handcarts whose ruts still remain in the Momon story dug deep into the land of the West Brigham lost, by a nose.

I beieve, strongly believe, that all the leadership of the few Mormon fundamentalist groups now understand that underage marriage is out. Their own precepts forbid abuse, torture, and fraud. Of course all this occurs. But their own legislation forbids all such. The law, with its complete lack of the capacity for subtlety, for fine-tuning, is no place for massive sweeps of thousands of people, hugely most having committed no crime. If this were any of the other candidates for the honor of being skunks at the garden party, there would be national outrage over this criminal misuse of the criminal law. Now, Mormon men and women: lead. Really lead, and in the right direction. Your concept of Zion is flawed. Preserve the parts most holy. This, of course, was the chief givt of St. Paul to the Saints of his time. How could he hold onto the central holiness of the Lord, and still preach a gospel that spoke also to the gentile world?

Leaders in every century face this awful delimma. For the Christian, the model is always taught by St. Paul. It would surely seem to me that such centrality of belief is certainly not found in marriage to underage women or girls. Or young men. Eighteen is still too young, in my book. Consent demands enough years to have real meaning. Mature leaders, men and women, suck it up and follow the myth of Arthur, in Camelot, his Zion. When Arthur learned of Gwenievere and Lancelot, he could have had them killed, but at the cost of Camelot. He said: “This is a time when violence is not strength. And compassion is not weakness. And we shall live through this, together. May God have mercy on us all.” Thus the myth survived. As St. Paul told the faithful in Jerusalem, just before its destruction by the Roman General, Titus, in 70 A.D.: “Here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.'”(Heb. 13-14) All people of the Book, in fact every religious group of which I am aware, including the Tibetan Buddhists with whom I work frequently with His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, in exile in Dharamsala, India, must balance his desire to return to Tibet, over against his exile in India. His heart has broken .Hence his compassion. The story of exile and return, the holy city and the diaspora, plays out in every age and in every community. Brigham, like many thousands of millenarians through time, thought their diaspora would end early in his lifetime. With St. Paul in First Thessalonians, he had to revise and provide for the next generation.

I don’t doubt the Texas ‘judge’s kindly intent. Nor the sadness and the professional care of the police, the Texas Rangers, and surely not the loving kindness of Baptist mothers and fathers who have stepped in to help, as saviors. But kindly intended but ill-informed people can produce havoc and death. Hence, the Buddhist admonition that “if you see the Buddha on he way, kill him.” (Please, my Fundamentalist friends, continue to maintain the moral high ground of non-violence. This buddhist koan is not meant to be taken with fundamtalist literality.) I have very little hope that the sterility of the capacity of the state to match the loving kindness of these children’s real mothers and fathers, sister-wives and all. I’ve lived in this culture. I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of diaries of polygamous women and men. They were no more perfect than am I, or anyone else in the human story. But blood and loving care from sister wives and husands will continue to nurture children far better than Family Service for all but a tiny few. And foster homes are even more seductive in that they may in fact be better than state offices, but that is dying from faint praise.

The Jeffs group’s few thousands are, of course, the last to get it. The last to understand, fully, the change in national acceptance of teen-age marriage, as girls and boys become, unevenly, women and men. This is so because they have been the most persecuted and, by choice or force, those who have found themselves in the badlands of the American West, or for that matter, in Mexico and Canada, where my mother Mary, was birthed by a Zina with another Zina as mid-wife. This was in Cardston, a polygamous community in Alberta Province, though my grandparents, and of course my parents, were monogamous.

Whether or not polygamy was “inspired below a man’s belt,” as my grandfather Brown said to me, as I recorded his lfe, or god-or-satan-sent, really doesn’t matter, now. If indeed polygamy, the Mormon version, was such a mistake, then the Latter-day Saints don’t need another mistake for the next millenia, at least, to render them forever a sect in the eyes of others, really doesn’t matter, either. For here it is. The real question is what do we do about it in this time and this place.

The Texas disaster was the perfect storm. It would have happened, tragically, some place, some time soon. I have no doubt, now, that every fundamentalist polygamous sect of Mormon descent now understands the rules and the consequences of violating them. From this point on, as long as this matter runs its course in the criminal legal system, the only thing that will be accomplished is to punish, likely forever, every person touched by this tragedy. And believing in Karma as I do, I believe savage hurt will come to all who touch this issue with hatred. We batter each other by metaphors. We go to war for metaphors. We launch crusades with metaphors and myth. We have a Mormon Mountain Meadows Massacre, of over one hundred and twenty people. Or on the grand scale, we launch holy wars of five hundred years of Christian slaughter of each other, Roman v. Greek, and huge numbers of Moslems, slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands in the name of metaphor.

And now the Texas judge tells me that “Sarah” is a metaphor? What a ghastly admission of the absolute failure of the Texas system of justice. Is “Texas Justice” to justice, what “military music” is to music? Or for that matter, what “military justice” in this time of a Texan in the White House, is to lady justice? Blind she may be. But she isn’t heartless or brain-dead.

Now is the time for education. By the best the media, as our bully-pulpit for educating us all; by people, our citizens who don’t need lawyers or judges to tell them what their hearts already know. This is not justice. It is the current skunk at the garden party providing us with the test, the very creation of our human rights, the role skunks at the garden party always play. Mormons, Catholics, people of color, immigrants, Muslims. We all get our turn. That is the meaning of karma. Thank God for the skunks at the garden party. How we respond to such people at once creates and defines human rights.

Rulon Jeffs, the father of Warren Jeffs, was my uncle by marriage, and came to be the prophet leader of his people, the largest polygamous sect to separate from the Mormons when they abandoned the practice. Uncle Rulon married my favorite aunt, aunt Zola, my mother Mary’s sister and daughter of Hugh B. and Zina Card (Cardston…back to polygamy)Young Brown. When Rulon decided to follow his father into polygamy, grandfather Hugh Brown took aunt Zola by the hand, just as did John Adams to his son John Quincy when he wanted the hand of a fifteen year-old girl, and accomplished their divorce. But I grew up loving and admiring Uncle Rulon. I asked him to review my chapters on polygamy, in my book, Zion in the Courts: a Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which he kindly did. We met in Chuck-a-Rama, not for the food, but as a way of hiding in plain sight. Of course, many scholars, in and out of Mormon culture, also vetted this volume, including my orthodox Mormon former student and now law professor, with an endowed chair, the only endowed chair, in that Roman Catholic university, Collin Mangrum. I spoke with many people of all of the polygamous groups in the American West. Rulon, a tall patriarch of the old school, lived in body and in office too long. He became senile at the end time, and huge mistakes occurred. Now, those chickens have come home to roost. Truly I pray that such energy can run its course with as little damage as possible. That prayer is doomed to fail, I believe.

Texas, Utah, polygamy, and gay rights, are entertwined inexorably. We return to my question to Sister Rosemary Lynch, in Rome. What is family? A group of men and women Religious? Gays? Polygamists, Mormon or by the millions, otherwise? Serial monogamists? ” Spiritual”polygamists who don’t polyg? Or monogamists, perhaps in the Senate or the White House, who don’t monog? God only knows, and she seems silent at this moment.

Four cases, four of several hundred, come to mind. In Loving v. Virginia, so aptly named, people loved and married, in violation of miscegination laws forbidding inter-racial or inter-ethnic marriage. The Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s laws and similar laws in every state in this nation. Before that, as a young man, before Brown v., the Board, I remember well when Ralph Bunche, of the United Nations, and Nobel Laureate, was denied a room at the Hotel Utah, which stately old Hotel now houses the overflow of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ bureaucracy, then and now the owner of Hotel Utah . Lawrence v. Texas is a harbinger, I hope and believe, in the movement toward marriage or civil union between gays and lesbians. Lawrence v. Texas is for gays, and for us all, what Brown v. the Board was to people of color, the flagship of all the human rights flotilla in the United States from the twentieth century, to now: after race, ethnicity; after ethnicity, gender; after gender, sexuality, alienage, and so on. Now, citizens, Loving meets Lawrence meets the U.S. v. Reynolds, the case forbidding Mormon polygamy. These strange bedfellows, not to put too fine a point on it, are all in bed together. Mixing our dangerous metaphors, untangling this rope of many colors and strands is not ethically or intellectually possible, no matter the parsing of the law or the facts.

And don’t forget Dantean greed. There are millions of dollars in land, held by some of the last Christian Socialists, though Mormons, Fundamentalist or mainstream, would wince at the term. Brigham hated capitalism. He thought that was a nice word for greed. In a sense,” Sarah” v. Texas is a case, like those in Utah and Arizona, where millions of dollars in land are at issue. In a very limited sense, and different by an order of magnitude, this is similar to the Japanese Relocation cases of early World War Two. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans lost their land to greedy folk in California and elsewhere. Never mind that no Japanese American, anywhere, anytime, was disloyal. But perhaps in Texas, “disloyal Japanese” is merely a metaphor. And perhaps such stretched hermeneutics is why “lawyers and hypocrites” is hypnenated in the New Testament. And why, for Robert Frost, America’s greatest poet, “the hearse horse snickered as it drew the lawyer away.”

Finally, a suggestion. I said earlier that polygamists, residing in the badlands of the American West, and beyond, are in fact, immigrants. Let’s do the one good thing George Bush the Less suggested in his eight years of horror. He, along with John McCain, briefly, proposed an amnesty for the millions of people who are here without papers. I wonder if Native Americans considered the fact that all those Europeans lacked papers? Or the Mexicans and the Spanish and the Native Americans that were forced off their land by another war of aggression, in the last century? Perhaps we might just extend amnesty to polygamists who just happen to be our neighbors? Surely DNA testing would find, in the polygamist community exactly what it would find in the monogamist community, that is, a lot of in-breeding. Something like Clarence Darrow, in the Scopes Trial, said to his hero, earlier. Like Rulon Jeffs, William Jenning Bryan died too late. His brain and much of his soul had departed before his body gave way. Darrow said to Bryan: when Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, just who did those boys marry? A damned good question. Let our sisters and brothers come home, with total amnesty regarding the age of anyone’s marriage. This needn’t and shouldn’t include cases of forcible rape or torture. Of course these people fear forcible DNA samples. Just as hundreds of millions of other people would. In this and in any community.

In the life story of St. Thomas More, an underling of great pretension and little capacity approaches Sir Thomas and prays for employment. He is rejected by the Saint, due to the supplicant’s obvious venality and the lack of a shred of character. Roper, a hot-blooded intimate of St. Thomas More, senses the threat to the Saint from this viper. He proposes that Thomas do him in, regardless of the means. In the jurisprudential world, the ethic of means, not so much ends, occupies our interest. The right to counsel. To keep your home and hearth free of the state. To keep the police from placement under the marital bed. Like the polygamists, we don’t like the state to trespass into our homes, at will and by the entire community being judged, as a metaphor. Thomas says to Roper:”Our island is dotted, and preserved, by a whole forest of mighty trees. Trees that protect the potential malefactor until the actual commission of a crime. Would you have me violate such laws?” To which Roper responds, more or less: “I would cut down every tree, every old oak, every law in England to get this man before he gets you!” Thomas says:”And what would you do then, Roper, when the winds howl? What would you have to protect us all, with all the trees down?”

The palpable violation of many rights guaranteed by the American Constitution: our Bill of Rights, our Fourteenth Amendment, in “Sarah” v. Texas is obvious and huge. Similar restraints on the state exist in International Law. Thank God for the skunk at the garden party. Changing metaphors in this savage game of metaphors, what will we all do when the winds howl, and our own time to be the one left out, the marginalized and stereotyped. wilthout the great oaks protecting our homes and churches from the secular and savage state: For those not allowed within the civilizing city? The town square?

Let us let in our sisters and brothers, without reproach. Religious leaders, grant amnesty and forget the savagry of excommunication. Political and civic leaders, open our businesses and government offices without discriinataionl Never force a polygamist to lie to preserve his job securityl Ditto the military in revision of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” form of slippery ethics and law.

NOw is the time for mercy and justice to kiss.

Ed Firmage
Samuel Thurman Professor of Law, Emeritus
University of Utah College of Law.
Salt Lake City, Utah

Website: ed firmage.net
email: ed.firmage@comcast.net

11 Comments

The “Christian Nation” Lie

When I first invited Ed Firmage (website, bio) to write for OneUtah, I asked him to write about this new canard of the religious right. Professor (Emeritus) Firmage is a preeminent Constitutional Scholar and a kind of Born again Mormon turned devout Christian.

Until Dubbya, I had never heard this new idea that the Separation clause actually meant the opposite of what it said, and that the Founding Fathers were all Christians.

Ed confirmed for me, this was a novel and recent interpretation, but has never given it any shrift, I imagine because as one who could make or break law students based upon their academic understanding of the Constitution, the very idea is so utterly vacant of merit, it doesn’t deserve his attention.

Since then, however, the talking points (shall make no laws = shall not prohibit full gov’t endorsement) are being repeated by not only semi-illiterate bible thumping high school dropouts, but also by educated pundits via the MSM.

So, this morning, I stumbled upon this most excellent and concise review of THE FACTS appropriately entitled “Romney’s Founders.”

Mitt Romney’s recent reflections on the role of religion in American politics implicitly called to mind a disturbingly distorted version of history that has become part of the conventional wisdom of American politics in recent years.

That version of history suggests that the Founders intended to create a “Christian Nation,” and that we have unfortunately drifted away from that vision of the United States. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is worth noting that the Declaration of Independence does not invoke Jesus, or Christ, or Our Father, or the Almighty, but the “Laws of Nature,” “Nature’s God,” the “Supreme Judge,” and “Divine Providence,” all phrases that belong to the tradition of deism. The Declaration of Independence is not a Puritan or Calvinist or Methodist or Baptist or Protestant or Catholic or Christian document, but a document of the Enlightenment. It is a statement that deeply and intentionally invokes the language of American deism. It is a document of its own time, and it speaks eloquently about what Americans of that time believed.

The Constitution goes even further. It does not invoke the deity at all…

As a life long student of American history and politics, I can think of nothing more un-American, more un-patriotic, than the FREEKING ignorant LIE that the Founders intended a Christian Nation.

14 Comments

Impeach this Boob

I’ve written on the law of presidential impeachment for appoximately thirty-five years. Some of these writings are available on OneUtah.org I’m so dreadfully tired of preaching to the choir. And such a choir. We seem, dear friends, to be a quartet. I’m even more sure you’re tired of my rant. But today’s news, and yesterday’s, now that Romney has had he fifteen minutes, tells us what we already knew.

George Bush is a liar. His only possible defense in a criminal proceeding, or the felonious acts of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” must be that he lacks the mens rea, in his case, the intelligence to have a mens rea, or motive, that was criminal. He may just be so dumb, so lazy intellectually, and so protected by his staff who all know he has the intention span of a snail darter, that just maybe he didn’t know that Iraq did not cause 9j/11; or that Pakistan, not Iraq and Iran, is our true threat, with hundreds of nukes. That these folks, and not Iran or Iraq, produced 9j/11.

But we now know he did know. We know, as we said during Nixon’s impeachment, what he knew and when he knew that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program years ago. His Vice President, Dick Cheney, knew.

Of course, it is just possible, in this most unique White House in American history, that the real chief of the United States Empire, formerly a democratic republicn state, Dick Cheney, didn’t bother to tell Bush Lite. Why tell him and not the janitor? I’ve enjoyed the White House bathroom, with my fifteen minutes, in this case determined by a bladder and what very little remains down there following prostate surgery. The janitor, and the Secret Service agents who sidled up to me as I wandered the catacombs of the White House, obviously kept a clean beautiful John.

I’ve worked for two men who were number two. My grandfather, Hugh B. Brown, counselor to President David O. McKay, and a liberal Democrat; and Hubert Horatio Humphrey. I’ve heard the vice presidency described as a “bucket of warm spit,” by a fellow Texican of our boob. John Adams just stayed home with Abigail, much of the time, never leaving Massachusetts, which would have been very good advice to Mitt Romney. Jefferson did the same, staying much of the time in Virgina. For the first time in American history, we have a Vice President who governs an empire, while occupying and challenging Bush with the colored pencil and coloring books in the George Bush Presidential library.

But by employing the Ten Commandments of politics, all these cynical folk know the first and only commandment that concerns them. Protect your ass. So of course Cheney protected his butt by telling Stupid.

So: he lied regarding 9/11. He lied thereafter, with reports of such dazzling progress in Iraq that with our surge, this year will see far more deaths than any previous year. He lied, as did successive American presidencies since Eisenhower…or really, the Dulles brothers, Allan and John Foster Dulles, regarding the threats from Iran. This, among other things, was a topic in my interviews with Bill Moyers.

Bush the Less has enjoyed a few days’ relief by the focus, with all sexual innuendoes that would stun Freud and Jung, on the non-starter non-story of the year, Mitt’s Mormonism. Who cares?

But now the heat is on again.

Just how many lies over three decades (including deluding Texicans about life, love, and oil) can George Bush tell? How many “wolf wolf’s “before we impeach this criminal, then try him for war crimes. Then throw him in jail for the rest of his life. Or better yet, let him really be Commander-in -Chief, like the first George, George Washington. Place him on the proverbial White Horse of Imperial Military lore, at the tip of the Surge. And then like Uriah the Hittite, married to Bathsheba, after King David impregnated her (“knew” her, in the quaint King James Bible of Mr. Bush), retire the army Bush has destroyed, and let him atone for lying to the National Guard. And the American people.

When you boil down all the impeachment material in American history, presidents are impeached on only three grounds: lying to the American people on war and peace; total incompetence; and so mismanaging the national economy that we will be paying for our disastrous choice of Bush and Cheney, in 2000 and 2004, time out of mind. The children of our children’s children, squared and tripled, will be paying for our sins. Truly, as the Bible says, the sins of the fathers will fall upon the heads of the children, now, to the end of time. This is all I know of original sin.

Bush qualifies for immediate impeachment, conviction, and removal. Then the application of the criminal law. And then life imprisonment or exile.

Let us impeach this ignorant liar while the dogs of war are savaging the world, but somehow, by the grace of God, we’ve not gone nuclear. Please, impeach Bush, Cheney, and their mafiosi. Convict them in the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding. (A certain wry justice there, since the Supreme Court stole the American presidency from Al Gore.) Cheney and Bush, in that order, must go. They are a stink in the nostrils of hundreds of millions of suffering people, world-wide.

Ed Firmage
Samuel D. Thurman Professor of Law, emeritus,
University of Utah College of Law
Salt Lake City, Utah,
USA

20 Comments

Senator Joe Biden and Governor Richardson…It’s About Time…..

The United States of America has not selected or elected a senator to be president, in three decades. Now is the time. With the advent of Pakistan, a REAL threat: with hundreds of nuclear weapons and no real democratic tradition or, for that matter, democratic government, however onion-skin the garments of government, into our world of Bush-created era of total war, onto the stage of make-believe enemies, here’s a real one. Grade A nuclear threats from the real enemy, not the Bush-created nightmares in Iraq and Iran. So:

It’s time for our best and brightest. Joe Biden I’ve known personally for many years. I’ve testified often before his Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate. He knows more, by a hundred miles, than any candidate in either party. About war and peace. The United States Constitution. The conduct of foreign relations and the art of keeping our country safe. He’s the best in his Iraq war- ending with honor, or whatever honor we can muster, as we bring our girls and boys home.

His running mate? Quite naturally, one of the best, perhaps the very best governor in our country, Governor Richardson. I don’t think I’ve met him. But as an executive who’s been at the top: the top in bringing peace as a presidential diplomat; in governing a major western state, New Mexico; and our nation’s first real candidate of Hispanic tradition, Richardson is as good as it gets.

The order could well be reversed. But the United States Senate, not a governorship, is where the aaction is in foreign relations. Whatever else a president may do or should do, keeping the peace and protecting the nation, and the world, is job number one. Richardson would be great as presidenent. And in this blood-drenched world, as a running mate to any American president, he just might well get that chance. But: Biden for President. And Richardson for Vice President.

Dear friends: this is a match made in heaven. The day all hell broke loose in Pakistan, about two weeks ago, I knew instantly that this is Joe Biden’s day. And Governor Richardson. Joe for President. And our most experienced executive diplomat and governor, Richardson of New Mexico.

My vote in Utah is a waste. Along with every other Democrat. BUT our votes mean just as much as anyone else’s, in our nominating process. Let’s hear it for BIDEN AND RICHARDSON. I give the government in Pakistan about one month’s life expectancy. Then the largest pile of nuclear weapons not governed by any real government will be upon us. This time, we’re not calling “wolf, wolf!”

ed firmage
salt lake city,
Utah, USA

9 Comments

Mitt Romney, You’re No Jack Kennedy

I expected very little from this public relations bull-shit, and I got less. My grandfather, Hugh B. Brown, as chairman of the Democratic Party when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, travelled to Southern Utah to speak to a very large group of Democrats (back when the good guys had the majority, even in Utah, now the reddest state in lthe Union). He saw a manure pile, very high. He knew a genuine religious podium when he saw, and smelled it. He mounted the manure pile, and commenced: “Fellow citizens. I salute you from this Republican Platform!”

Mitt Romney, you’re no Jack Kennedy. You’re no Hugh B. Brown. Given your new positions on gays, women, war, and an evident hatred for truth and peace, I don’t recognize your Mormonism. I didn’t think I’d live to see the day when George Romney’s son would stand to the right of the racist, sexist, most homophobic, war-loving religious leadership in the United States of America. You bring the Jihad home. We need a good Muhammad-like Muslim to run for president. She may just be sufficiently suffused, as a person of the Book, to let Mitt into her Cabinet. She may have the heart to forgive you. I’m a novice at forgiveness.

In any event, Pace e’bene. Shalom. Saalam. May the Peace of Christ be with you, this day, and always.

Ed Firmage
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

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