Archive for category Privacy

Edward Snowden Shows Up In Park City, Utah

edward snowden
Well, only virtually, but it is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever heard. The obvious weight of the event makes the audience eerily silent through the first part. In fact I wasn’t even aware there was an audience until Snowden gets applause for the first of many statements that are undeniably illumining of our times, in ways you haven’t thought of before.

He’s had a lot of time to think about what he did, by breaking the law with the knowlege his life would be changing, forever. Personally, I think the guy is brilliant, obviously brave, and very hard to refute, even considering the stunning scope of his actions.

He points out that fewer of our leaders have been calling for his head since his revelations first came out, and that’s not really an exaggeration. There’s still one man, James Woolsey, who very recently called for him to be hung and even blames him for the terrorist attack in France.

In a presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was not much more forgiving then Woolsey. Bernie Sanders said he should pay a price for what he did, but also acknowledged that his actions have had positive effects. Surprisingly, Snowden agrees with Sanders and has even said he would stand trial, and be willing to go to prison, providing he gets a fair and transparent trial. Humorously, he has documents that state the only thing our government has guaranteed, is that he won’t be tortured.

Interviewer Doug Fabrizio, tests him pretty hard on his insistence that handing the top secret NSA documents to the media for careful release to the public was a safe way to go, and, indeed, top officials testifying have admitted that nobody has been put in danger. Pretty amazing.

Be sure to carfully listen to the whole show. The points Snowden makes at the end are compelling and irrefutable.

Radio West, 11-07-2015


The Mind Your Own Business Act

I love the fact that Alan Grayson was able to get back into congress along with Elizabeth Warren. NOW when I get the old, “they’re all the same” refrain, I can say, “well not exactly”.

Alan names his amendment to H.R. 1960 the, “The Mind Your Own Business Act”. When was the last time you heard somebody in congress come up with a plan that didn’t have an Orwellian name? Republicans are always so proud of people on their side who just come right out and say what they think. It’s usually crazy as hell, but they say it anyway. Alan shoots from the hip too, but it sparks something in your brain that says: this really makes sense. Also, for years, Republicans were prohibited from disagreeing with anything a Republican in the hierarchy said. Grayson can say he disagrees with Obama’s stance, because he’s a Democrat. That’s my hope.

MSNBC is supposed to be “the liberal channel”, so why is the host of this segment trying to “get something” on Grayson for insinuating the Nazi’s would have loved to have a “Total Information Awareness” type of system that is going in to full gear, very soon. Grayson answers a question with a question, but it’s a good one, which the host, basically, answers by saying, ‘I’m the one asking the questions here’.

The question Grayson asks is,

How do you feel about the fact that the Government is keeping a record of every single phone call that you make?

I’m totally perplexed at the media coverage Edward Snowden is getting at this late date. He’s not the only whistle-blower on this matter. We have known for many years the government had planned to collect, and has been collecting as much information about every one of us as they could. Now that they are close to having the ability to get EVERYTHING, we get polls that tell us Americans WANT to have all their private information collected to…


Keep us safe.

If the government is serious about keeping me safe, they’d stop spending so much money on secret surveillance, prisons and war. What I really need to keep me “safe” is single payer healthcare and “food security”.

I think Grayson’s best quote in the video is this:

Martin, you are completely missing the point. The point is that we’re taking measures that are not correlated in any sense with our safety, and even if they were it would be beneath our dignity as human beings. That’s what this is all about. All right, listen. You could always make people safer by taking extreme measures. If, for instance, we lowered the speed limit to 10 miles per hour, people would be safer. If we outlawed knives and forks, people would be safer. If we made everybody fly on the airlines naked, people would be safer. None of those things corresponds to my sense of human dignity, and I think I’m not the only one who feels that way….

If you’d like to support congressman Grayson’s amendment, you can sign up here.


Children are Often Oppressed in Religious Households

“Children are often oppressed in religious households”; when I read that line in Mark Galli’s op-ed over the weekend, I literally stopped reading mid-sentence.  Here’s the whole passage:

But the fact that children are often oppressed in religious households suggests that there is indeed something in religion which tempts parents in this way. That temptation is the inherent human fascination with law and control. People become religious for many reasons, good and bad. One for many is that their lives are completely out of control morally and socially, and they see in religion a way to bring order to the chaos. Religion as inner police. Such adherents are attracted to religions, or denominations within religions, that accent discipline and obedience. This happens — surprisingly — even in Christianity.

Read the rest of this entry »


An Epidemic of Hostility Toward Religion or an Epidemic Christian Cry-babies?

The Family Research Council (a group the SPLC identified as a hate group for its ongoing use of lies, distortions and untruths about glbt persons) and Liberty Institute, another right wing organization, recently released a study which they claim documents more than 600 instances of hostility toward religious liberty:

Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield tells OneNewsNow what his group hopes to accomplish with the study’s findings.

“We want to raise awareness of the issue. A lot of people think that hostility because of people’s religious beliefs and attacks on religious liberty are things that happen elsewhere in the world, not in the United States,” he notes. “We just want to show that it actually happens with increasing and alarming regularity here in the United States.”

Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford and FRC President Tony Perkins are presenting the study before the Republican Party Convention platform committee to raise that awareness.

I’ve been very skeptical about claims made by the religious right concerning discrimination against and bigotry towards Christians.  However, this report is based on an audacious claim – 600+ incidents of hostility towards religion?  Documented and published?  As a matter of due diligence I figured I owed it to myself to check out the report.  I downloaded the report.  It’s 135 breezy pages long consisting of short summaries of instances the authors identify as hostility to religion and citations (either the case information or links to online news reports).  The report is helpfully broken down in sections based on what type of hostility the authors deemed to have occurred (i.e. public expressions of faith, in schools, workplaces, about monuments and public displays, etc.)

I picked a few cases at random. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Aren’t American Women Angrier?

Given that the Republican party has been indulging in some of the most absurd antics imaginable and are actively pursuing policies that hurt women, I can’t figure out for the life of me why American women aren’t unbelievably, publicly, and undeniably angrier.

EJ Graf – pondering something similar – posted at The American Prospect:

My world has changed since I first came out in the Mesozoic era. Back then, I thought women were easily on the road to full equality, and could rest. Making it possible to introduce “my friend” without fear was far more exciting. That’s flipped. Now it feels as if I’ve won as a lesbian, but that as a woman, things have been utterly static and sometimes worse. Toy aisles are far more gendered than when I was young. There is less access to abortion than when I was young. The gendered wage gap has been effectively stagnant for about fifteen years. I could go on. I deeply hope that the ferment of the past months means, as Linda Hirshman suggests, that the women’s movement, that sleeping beauty, is reawakening.

Is there a point at which American are going to get fed up with a government that is too often actively hostile to their interests and needs, that allows men to pontificate about women’s lives and pass laws that affect women’s every day freedoms?  Are we at or past that tipping point?


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Utah Women Offended By Store Window Selling Bras

Back in 2008, pondering yet another Utah scandelette over the sex, I wrote:

There’s a tendency to believe that if the speaker in question  . . . means what she says in all seriousness that we are required to treat it seriously. But some claims are simply unserious. Treating them as if they are meaningful or serious does not make them so. It also makes it difficult to sort out what to do in response to the truly serious – i.e. teens in Davis county texting each other nude pictures of themselves.[snip]

Not all concerns about morality are of equal value or weight. That an adult would be so offended by a window display in a shopping mall that she feels she must write a letter to the editor is laughable. Like the people who were mortally offended at Janet Jackson’s boob during the Super Bowl (and who demanded that such family entertainment not be besmirched by boobs) the complaint does not deserve to be treated with any seriousness.

I was reminded of that post when I heard the story on KSL of the parents in Kaysville who were upset because a local shop window displayed lingerie – near a movie theatre.  Some daft person from a group calling itself Women for Decency was mentioned in the article: Read the rest of this entry »


Who Really Killed Dr. Tiller? Murder in the Name of Christianity.

A few things are empirically true about the murder of Kansas Doctor George Tiller this past summer. The murderer, Scott Roeder and his supporters are angry, extremist, fundamentalist Christians.

While all major Christian institutions have condemned the murder, they have also disavowed the tactics of militant anti-abortion folks who legitimize their behavior under the banner of Christianity.

Even Bill O’Reilly, primary provocateur of record, has clearly and explicitly condemned Scott Roeder and the slaying of an innocent man in the name of Christianity. But O’Reilly did not act alone. He was encouraged, CHEERED in fact, by a small number of militant Christians with a clear history of harassment and violence in and around Wichita Kansas. Apparently, bloggers played a major role, some of them even falling over themselves to take credit.

That is why Richard Okelberry’s history of militant anti-abortion speech, long-standing attacks on Dr. Tiller and his  explicit refusal to condemn Tiller’s murder demands closer scrutiny as to the role he played in this horrific affront to human decency and Christian values.

Note: Richard Okelberry hails from Lincoln, Nebraska less than 200 miles from Roeder’s home.

By his own admission, Okelberry began sending letters about Dr. George Tiller at last as early as March 2006. In a post titled (surprise) “Tiller The baby Killer” which features a faked photo of Tiller in jail, Okelberry writes;

Scott Reoder ProvocateurI also sent copies to Planned Parenthood, the areas premier abortion provider, as well as several state representatives and a few nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts…One of those copied was Mr. Bill O’Reilly from the Fox News Channel and the Bill O’Reilly Show. Richard Okelberry March 24, 2006

It is well know by now that up until the time of Tiller’s murder, O’Reilly or guest, had mentioned Tiller (as the Baby Killer) at least 28 times. In the same post Okleberry implicitly claims to have encouraged Bill O’Reilly:

While I have no idea whether or not my correspondence had any effect, I can tell you with all certainty that Bill O’Reilly has now picked up the ball and is running for the ”in-zone.” In fact he has launched an all out campaign against the infamous Kansas doctor that he calls, “Tiller the baby killer.”

In the days following one of Okelberry’s letters O’Reilly said on the air:

“No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. But now so does Governor Sebelius. She is not fit to serve. Nor is any Kansas politician who supports Tiller’s business of destruction. I wouldn’t want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day.

By any measure, this is a veiled death threat.  While O’Reilly has consistently shocked the world with his bullying, cruelty and recklessness, he is not known for originating death threats.  One can only assume that he was referring to threats made by others?  But who?  Who among O’Reilly’s sources was using the term Judgment Day in reference to Tiller?

I think the answer is clear.  This is a Christian term which, in its most popular context, means death, deserving of death to be specific.

Lets take a moment and consider the vitriol in Okelberry’s writings. In this post of less than 500 words attacking Obama and Sebelius, Okelberry refers to Tiller as a “baby killer” no less than SEVEN times.

Militant Anti-Abortionist“…Gov. Sebelius, even threw a party for the infamous Tiller the Baby Killer (George Tiller)…to thank Tiller for his sizable blood money….Tiller the Baby Killer isn’t just your run of the mill abortionist….that will pluck the dead remains of a fully developed baby at 9 months…Tiller the Baby Killer and his wife…”

George Tiller was murdered 90 days later.

While it remains unclear exactly what role his vicious anti-abortion advocacy played in encouraging the cold-blooded murder of George Tiller by Scott Reoder, it is clear that Ricard Okelberry petitioned Bill O’Reilly to villanize a great and brave Doctor who risked his life everyday to protect the health and in many cases, the lives of women. Richard Okelberry bragged about it.

As a prolific contributing author to a popular local Utah blog called KVNU’s For The People, Okelberry’s response to Tiller’s murder was expected to reflect some contrition.  As one who wore his Christianity on his sleeve, we all expected some remorse, at the very least a clear condemnation for this unchristian act.  Instead, in a post entitled Mass Murderer Dies at the Hands of Radical (which was subsequently removed), we got:

Mass Murderer Dies at the Hands of RadicalMy first instinct after hearing of the shooting Sunday was to write an essay on the topic.  Instead I decided to take a moment to allow those on both sides of this issue make their case.  I was not surprised to find some on the right rejoicing over the death of Tiller.

Should we also look at the charitable record of his murderer to justify his actions?  Both of these men were evil and murderous.  They are both GUILTY!

This is the first death of an abortionist at the hands of a pro-lifer in over 20 YEARS!  This is not a pattern, but merely an incident.  Young men living on the South Side of Chicago are far more likely to meet a violent end… in that community, than any abortions is [sic].

In addition to his uncompromising position against womens’ reproductive health rights and flaunting disregard for law, all under the guise of religion, Okelberry has been advocating for the most vile, sickening law enforcement practices imaginable.  Follows is only one example of the kinds of punishment he imagines for young pregnant girls.

I do want to point out that when a 15 year old girl does have an abortion, the genetic material contained in the discarded fetus should be collected by law enforcement and used as evidence of a crime. What crime you ask? First degree, unlawful sexual assault of a minor child is a felony in Nebraska. Richard Okelberry March 24, 2006

The lengthy record of Okelberry’s writing reflect nothing short of the ugliest kind of misogyny and a total disregard for democracy, privacy, law,  Christian doctrine and the Christian community.

Okelberry’s actions and posture on this issue constitute nothing less than the promotion of violence, immorality, misogyny and intolerance through the fraudulent usurpation of Christianity.

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Before Piss Tests; There Was Woodstock!

A very large group of the worlds most pampered, mostly white, youth descended upon Max Yasgar’s ranch forty years ago to watch a mixture of races perform. Although originally, the concert was organized to make money for investors, it became obvious that there was no way they had the resources to gather tickets. The concert became free for lack of walls.

I imagine all participants who attended had the ability to return to their jobs, accepting their employers weren’t angry enough about the incident to take action.


You can download the directors cut of the movie in iTunes by going to the store and typing “Woodstock” in the search box at the top right. It really is a great document of a much different time. I saw it when I was 17 years old, but didn’t really understand what was going on. I enjoyed it much more with the retrospective time gives.


Waddoups’ BIG BROTHER alcohol database

waddoupsJust as you think there might be a slim chance of making Utah liquor laws more reasonable, you wake up in the morning and read this (

A proposal to scan the driver licenses of bar patrons and keep it on file in a state law enforcement database is a good start, says Senate President Michael Waddoups, but he wants to see the program go further.

Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, says he wants to see the database idea start with private clubs, but extend to restaurants that serve diners beer and liquor.

That would greatly expand the scope of the data collection and create a new requirement for restaurants, which are not required to have people sign up as members in order to serve beer and liquor. There are fewer than 400 clubs and taverns and nearly 1,100 restaurants licensed to serve alcohol.

So Senator Waddoups wants a record maintained of people who are doing a perfectly legal activity? And why? Get ready to spit your coffee:

“In a restaurant, if they’re serving alcohol, the person ordering the alcohol should show the ID,” said Waddoups, who was receiving a demonstration of the license scanners after the Legislature’s budget meeting Friday. “At some point, the restaurant would feed [the information] into the central database.”

That way, he said, if the restaurant patron left the restaurant and went to a bar, the bartender could know the customer may have already been drinking and might need to be watched more closely.

Okay, I go back to my original belief that they need to administer IQ tests before people can serve in elected office.

Not only is this new idea extremely burdensome to businesses, it certainly would be found to violate individual rights of privacy. Let’s see now, what other legal activities can we keep track of people doing?

And tourists? Well, they’ll stay away in droves once they find out we’re going to keep their names in our Big Brother law enforcement database of bad evil people who drink a glass of wine with dinner.

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If you read only one article this week, read this one:

Suddenly, the doctor was at the door to my mother’s room again. He waved me out into the hall. He needed a medical directive. Immediately. Her vital signs were tanking. If we were going to put a tube in her, and put her on machines that could breathe for her, it had to be now. Right now. So it fell to me to walk back into my mother’s room, tell her she was going to die, and lay out her rather limited options. She could be put under and put on machines and live for a day or two in a coma, long enough for her other two children to get down to Tucson and say their good-byes, which she wouldn’t be able to hear. Or she could live for maybe another six hours if she continued to wear an oxygen mask that forced air into her lungs with so much force it made her whole body convulse. Or she could take the mask off and suffocate to death. Slowly, painfully, over an hour or two.

It was her choice.

“No mask,” she said, “no pain.”

Her nurse promised to give her enough morphine to deaden any pain she might feel after my mother made her choice: She would take off the mask. She would go now. I told the doctor and then ran sobbing—no longer trying to hold it together—into the waiting room to get my stepfather, my sister, and my aunt. Things were worse than they were five minutes ago. Get in here, I said, get in here now.

We said our good-byes—doesn’t that sound dignified? But her mask was still on and her body still convulsing. Good-byes reduced my affable stepfather to wracking sobs; good-byes sent me and my sister falling to the floor beside our mother’s deathbed. We held a phone up to my mother’s ear so she could hear one of my brothers shout his good-bye over the whir and thump of the oxygen machine, while we tried desperately to get my other brother on the phone . . . [Snip}

Then my mother was ready. The mask came off, she held tight to our hands, and the morphine went in. Her grip slackened. My mother was still alive, in there somewhere, beyond our reach. Was she in pain? We don’t know. She couldn’t talk to us now, or focus on us, but she was awake, her eyes open. She gasped for breath, again and again, and we sat there, traumatized, waiting for her heart to stop, waiting for the very first sound that I had ever heard—my mother’s heart beating—to go silent.

People must accept death at “the hour chosen by God,” according to Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church, which is pouring money into the campaign against I-1000.

The hour chosen by God? What does that even mean? Without the intervention of man—and medical science—my mother would have died years earlier. And at the end, even without assisted suicide as an option, my mother had to make her choices. Two hours with the mask off? Six with the mask on? Another two days hooked up to machines? Once things were hopeless, she chose the quickest, if not the easiest, exit. Mask off, two hours. That was my mother’s choice, not God’s.

Did my mother commit suicide? I wonder what the pope might say.

I know what my mother would say: The same church leaders who can’t manage to keep priests from raping children aren’t entitled to micromanage the final moments of our lives.

If religious people believe assisted suicide is wrong, they have a right to say so. Same for gay marriage and abortion. They oppose them for religious reasons, but it’s somehow not enough for them to deny those things to themselves. They have to rush into your intimate life and deny them to you, too—deny you control over your own reproductive organs, deny you the spouse of your choosing, condemn you to pain (or the terror of it) at the end of your life.

The proper response to religious opposition to choice or love or death can be reduced to a series of bumper stickers: Don’t approve of abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t approve of gay marriage? Don’t have one. Don’t approve of physician-assisted suicide? For Christ’s sake, don’t have one. But don’t tell me I can’t have one—each one—because it offends your God.

Fuck your God.

At it’s core, it’s about choice isn’t it and the Religious Right wants to make our choices for us.


Attack of the Unhinged PanderBear

“We are here to stand up for the unborn, to stand up against the dogs of hate who defend abortion on demand,” Wimmer said. [snip]
The supporters said the cost of the fight will not be an issue. Wimmer said that a group based out of Washington, D.C., which he would not identify, has committed to doing all of the legal work defending the bill for the state.

Cause, you know, that can’t turn out badly for Utah. **cough**Vouchers**cough**

What is Carl Wimmer smoking? “Dogs of hate who defend abortion on demand”? Is that some kind of free association quote from the AmTaliban Weekly Reader?



The news that Bristol Palin, age 17, is five months pregnant has, to say the least, focused attention on questions of sexuality education (her mother, Republican VP candidate, current Governor of Alaska, is on record supporting abstinence-only), and reproductive freedom (the Governer opposes abortion except in the exceedingly rare circumstances it is necessary to save the mother’s life). The Palin’s claim that Bristol “chose to keep the baby.” As Ann at Feministing points out:

In reality, Bristol’s actual “choice” was probably not whether to terminate the pregnancy or carry it to term, but whether raise the child herself or put it up for adoption.

Debra Haffner says:

Read the rest of this entry »


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