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The Supreme Court Is On A Big Roll For The People!

It's just not right!

It’s just not right!

Thank goodness Obama got elected and was able to get two honest jurors on the supreme court. Everybody is stunned to see decision after decision coming down on the side of ordinary Americans for a change. Scalia is just beside himself and even mentioned “hippies” in his dissenting court opinion about gay marriage. Bizarre.

First came the ruling against segregation in housing. Then “Obamacare” was saved in a decisive vote. I can only remember one other such vote in over a decade, since we started to see all these 5 to 4 politically motivated votes coming out of the court. Then the stunning “marriage equality” decision.

Today we hear about a ruling which actually allows citizens to be included in redistricting discussions. This is really big! I hope something can be done in time for the next presidential vote, but I doubt it.

This should be a clarion call for people to get out and overwhelm the voting system by – you know – voting, so we can prevent a Republican president from stacking the court with partisan hacks again. If McCain and Romney had taken over the white house, none of these rulings would have been possible.

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I’d like to thank the Mormon Church

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This is not a joke. I actually want to thank the LDS church for the legalization of gay marriage. After all, their meddling in politics (Which I should add is against the law) led to Proposition 8 being overturned and later, their Amendment 3 was struck down by the courts, making Utah the first domino piece to fall. In all seriousness, you cannot say that any of this could have happened without Utah legalizing gay marriage. For that, the real hero is Judge Robert J. Shelby.

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Big News From Ben & Jerry’s

I Dough I Dough ice cream
Where is Glenden these days? Anyway, Ben & Jerry’s celebrated today’s history-making Supreme Court decision on marriage equality with ‘I Dough, I Dough’ ice cream.

The Court majority held that the Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

We’re reminded today that freedom isn’t free. Basic constitutional rights are hard-won after years of struggle. Plus, the Tea-GOP made a big mistake in 2004 by putting same-sex marriage bans on state ballots (it was a GOTV strategy by Karl Rove to boost George W. Bush’s re-election chances).

Utah was one of 11 states that enacted a redundant constitutional amendment (same-sex marriage was already illegal in Utah), thus running afoul of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Battles are often won by taking full advantage of an enemy blunder.

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No on Fast Track and Secret “Trade” Deals

***UPDATE***

I hate uttering these words but WAY TO GO NANCY PELOSI. She helped defeat Fast Track today in the House but backers vow to fight on. We need to keep the pressure on to defeat these trade bills even without Fast Track authority.

Paul Ryan on the other hand has destroyed his political career.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/president-obama-is-all-in-on-trade-sees-it-as-a-cornerstone-of-his-legacy/2015/06/12/32b6dce8-1073-11e5-a0dc-2b6f404ff5cf_story.html

*** end update ***

The US House of Representatives may vote as early as tomorrow on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) aka “Fast Track”. This will make it easier to pass three “trade” deals that are currently being negotiated in secret involving the Pacific Rim and transatlantic countries. TPP and TPIP particularly. Few Congressmen have actually read any part of them and those who have are sounding the alarm that these deals will not just be bad for US jobs and small businesses but also undermine our sovereignty, impose Internet regulations and put in place everything Hollywood wanted in PIPA and SOPA and more.

TPP and TPIP are both “living agreements” which means an un-elected international committee will have the power to add to the agreements that will effect US law without any Congressional input and give multinational corporations their very own court system to take money from tax payers. Basically a blank check that tax payers will be forced to cover.

The vote for Fast Track is happening with blazing speed because the current GOP is beholden to the national Chamber of Commerce, Hollywood Executives, multi-national corporations along with Big Pharma. who stands to gain perpetual patents on their products. Theses “trade” agreements were written by and for multi-national corporations as the sole beneficiaries. Speaker John Boehner and Paul Ryan are strong arming GOP Congressmen so they need to know the people are behind them in voting no.

Call your Congressmen and tell them to vote no on Fast Track and these power grabs pretending to be trade deals. These votes may be the most critical and far reaching votes in our lifetime.

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Hastert Indicted For Treason?

DennisHastert_indicted

Well, all I can do is speculate, since they won’t tell us why he’s being indicted.

As usual, I had NPR on this morning when I heard that the former speaker of the house, Dennis Hastert, had been indicted for undisclosed reasons. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of secret, public indictments before. Have you?

From USA today:

The indictment did not specify the nature of the misconduct. A spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor in Northern Illinois declined to offer further detail about the alleged wrongdoing by the former speaker.

Hastert who was brought in as speaker of the house to replace Bob Livingston who had replaced Newt Gringrich a couple of weeks earlier, when it became known that both men, who had been attacking Bill Clinton during the hyper-media frenzy about his famous extramarital affair, were exposed for having more serious adultery. The kindly looking Hastert was billed as, sort of, a Jimmy Carter like moralistic figure that was going to bring dignity and moderation back to the mess on capitol hill.

Even though the media won’t, I think I can give you some background on what is actually happening here and why this is much more serious then most of us who haven’t been to my favorite website, BradBlog.com. know.

Brad has been reporting on this story since 2006.

Here’s a paragraph from a story posted there in 2008:

It appears that these arrangements aren’t the typical ‘Revolving Door’ retirement packages, but rather specific quid pro quo deals. People like Hastert and Grossman and the others quite literally sell out their government while in office on the specific promise that they will be rewarded when they leave.

To make a long story really short: the indictment that must not be known is most likely about Dennis Hastert being bribed by Turkey while in office, and taking a lobbying job there after leaving office. If you want the long version, it’s unfolding in the real American news media at BradBlog right now: HERE.

Pertinent video primer from 2008:


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UPDATE: What, they couldn’t let this out this morning? Is this a cover story cooked up to make this go away? Couldn’t happen in America. :)

UPDATE: Although this sixty minutes story doesn’t cover Sybil Edmonds’s allegations against Hastert in the previous video, it’s obvious she has credibility.

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People Who Believed the Media About Ebola Were The Least Informed

Ebola hysteria
Remember this?

Media Matters for America asks a great question: Where’s The Media’s Ebola Mea Culpa?

Before the 2014 elections, broadcast and cable news aired more than 975 segments raising the alarm about the (extremely unlikely) danger of an Ebola epidemic in America. The story was quickly dropped after Election Day. One survey found that the people who were paying the most attention to the Ebola story were the ones least informed about it.

Eric Boehlert:

I’d suggest the news media’s collective malfeasance ranks not far behind the run-up to the Iraq War in terms of a fundamental failure to inform the public about a life-and-death issue. Thankfully, Ebola did not plunder the U.S. Treasury and cost thousands of American lives like the Iraq War did. But Ebola did require leveled-headed journalism, which was often missing.

Faux News Channel led the way, but most other media followed them with nonstop unfounded hysteria timed right before an election. When do we get an apology?

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When Racism Died a Little in Utah

Villa Theatre in it's heyday

Villa Theater in it’s hey-day


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I don’t know what it is about fried chicken restaurant chains and Salt Lake City, but we somehow played host to the birth of two popular ones last century. Obviously, Kentucky Fried Chicken is still around, but the other one, which was also opening outlets around the country is gone. I’ll get to that later.

I’m old enough to remember what the original KFC, which is still located at 3900 south State Street, looked like. It featured a very large painting of a butt naked child with the caption, “Come As You Are!” Probably something you wouldn’t see today.

The picture above is obviously not a chicken restaurant. It’s the facade of the old Villa Theatre, which was later changed into a rug outlet, at great expense, to keep the structure similar to what it was. The theater was actually pretty famous for it’s day and as late as 2001, was named on a list of ten great classic Theaters in the United States by USA today.

When I was six years old the Villa theater was showing “South Pacific”, and I remember very well how the songs from that movie were being played and sung all over town. The Creators of the play that the movie was based on ran into trouble because of a song in the play called “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, but demanded the famous anti-racism song be included in the production.

From Wikipedia:

Rodgers and Hammerstein risked the entire South Pacific venture in light of legislative challenges to its decency or supposed Communist agenda.

And…

James Michener, upon whose stories South Pacific was based, recalled, “The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.

Also from Wikipedia:

In 1958, the [Villa Theatre] became famous for showing a 10-month-long run of South Pacific, drawing Patrons from as far as Idaho and Nevada.

If I recall correctly, another great anti-racism movie, (West Side Story), played in Salt Lake for almost 2 Years. I always like to accentuate the good in my community because I’ve lived here all my life. After the Villa put up their huge Cinerama screen, which, at first, required three different synchronized projectors to play a film, I saw some great ones, including my favorite: “2001 A Space Odyssey”. I was buzzing with excitement after that one.

The Villa theatre was a place of wonder, but just down the street was the other national fried chicken chain that had it’s birth in Salt Lake.

My family had a get together and we were going through some very old pictures, when I saw something unbelievable.

If you want to look at something really ugly, CLICK HERE for page two.

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Taking A Vacation From The Blogosphere

Norwegian Getaway
Eastern Caribbean map

I rarely get out of Utah anymore, so this will be a change of pace. Have fun complaining about my carbon footprint, but I haven’t been on a plane in years and catastrophic climate change is unstoppable now anyway.

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Where is Cliff? Sailing in The Bahamas

It’s impossible to describe this place. Even pictures do not do it justice but this movie made by some new friends of mine provides a good overview.

I’m sailing with a friend and great script writer from Berlin, Germany, Daniel Karl Krause, on a robust old lady called Gypsy Spirit – a Gulfstar 37.

We are headed for the Virgin Islands then further south.

If heaven exists, this is it.

Peace and love,

Cliff

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Draft AUMF ‘Intentionally Fuzzy’

Countries bombed by USA
Source: The Daily Mirror

The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.

George Washington

Via MSNBC:

President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for new war powers to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The draft resolution (PDF) asks Congress to enact a three-year Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. The resolution notably restricts the use of American ground troops and seeks to avoid a prolonged conflict.

Obama announced his plan to launch airstrikes against ISIS back in September, and the White House’s AUMF resolution seeks to formalize the U.S. military campaign to “degrade and defeat” ISIS.

The draft AUMF has already been criticized as imprecise. For example, it defines the enemy as “ISIL [sic] or associated persons or forces.” But that would include the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels (armed by the U.S.), who routinely fight alongside ISIS. Like the 2001 AUMF (which would remain in effect), there is no geographical limitation in the new draft AUMF. Potentially it could authorize attacking Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Asked today if he agreed that language was “fuzzy,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied with a firm yes, saying it is “intentionally” fuzzy “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief.”

I left the Army with the rank of captain, but it doesn’t take a four-star general to realize you can’t fight a war intelligently unless you know who the enemy is, and where to find them. Oh, and by the way this draft AUMF is probably a violation of the U.N. Charter – though that’s somewhat debatable.

UPDATE:
Hill Progressive Leaders Come Out Against Obama’s AUMF: ‘Too Broad’

“The devastating and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us that when we give military authority to the executive, it should not be a blank check,” Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said.

“Unfortunately, the authorization proposed by the president this week is too broad. In order to ensure meaningful limits on executive branch authority, an AUMF should at a minimum contain a clear objective and geographical limitations. It should also include an enforceable ban on the deployment of ground troops with exception for only the most limited of operations, unambiguous language, and a repeal of the 2001 AUMF,” they said.

UPDATE:
State Dept. Official: US Can’t ‘Kill Our Way Out Of This War’ With Islamic State

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Bruce Babbitt: Uninformed, Misguided Politicians Are Attempting To Abolish Public Lands

The future of Utah public lands?
The future of Utah public lands?

Speaking Thursday at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt slammed Utah’s illegal and unconstitutional attempt to steal 31 million acres of our public lands. The federal government ignored Governor Herbert’s December 31 deadline to close down land management agency offices and turn over control to the state.

Associated Press:

“Our public land heritage really is under attack,” said Babbitt, speaking at a Conservation Alliance event. “We’ve really got a crowd of uninformed, misguided politicians who are attempting to dismantle or abolish public lands and the agencies that administer them.”

Salt Lake Tribune:

“The sponsors of this are fronting for the oil and gas, coal and tar sands industry,” he said…

“Public lands belong to all Americans,” he added. “They are used for energy production right now in a careful, responsible way. But for whatever reason, Utah politicians are saying we have to do it faster and do more, cast off environmental regulations and put all our heritage at risk.”

…Babbitt cautioned Westerners Thursday against dismissing today’s land transfer movement as just another retread of past Sagebrush Rebellions.

“This is different,” Babbitt said. “The money is coming nationally, from the fossil fuel industry, and married to the ideology that is being pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council and others, who are wrapping this into broad-scale attack against the federal government.”

The Utah legislature has appropriated $2 million of OUR money to sue the federal government in support of their insane ALEC-inspired raid on our national forests, national wildlife refuges, and BLM public lands.

UPDATE:
Utah is lone cowboy trying to wrangle public lands
Despite numerous invitations from Utah lawmakers, no other states have signed on.

149 Comments

Robert Reich: Low Unemployment Won’t Lead to Higher Pay

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:Low wages

Jobs are coming back, but pay isn’t. The median wage is still below where it was before the Great Recession. Last month, average pay actually fell.

…Insecure workers don’t demand higher wages when unemployment drops. They’re grateful simply to have a job.

To make things worse, a majority of Americans have no savings to draw upon if they lose their job. Two-thirds of all workers are living paycheck to paycheck. They won’t risk losing a job by asking for higher pay.

Insecurity is now baked into every aspect of the employment relationship. Workers can be fired for any reason, or no reason. And benefits are disappearing.

…Since 1979, the nation’s productivity has risen 65 percent, but workers’ median compensation has increased by just 8 percent. Almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top.

This is not a winning corporate strategy over the long term because higher returns ultimately depend on more sales, which requires a large and growing middle class with enough purchasing power to buy what can be produced.

But from the limited viewpoint of the CEO of a single large firm, or of an investment banker or fund manager on Wall Street, it’s worked out just fine – so far.

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