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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.

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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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Republican Congressman Was the “honored” Speaker at a White Supremacist Convention

Details here.

Here’s the thing – 50 or 60 years ago, a Southern pol speaking at a white supremacist convention wasn’t a deal breaker. In some ways it was almost required.

Steve Scalise delivered this speech 12 years ago. 12 years.

I’m even willing to give Scalise a tiny benefit of the doubt – maybe he was busy delivering speeches to anyone and everyone who would listen that he didn’t do any research into the groups he addressed. But, I can’t help but wonder if the group’s name didn’t maybe make him wonder? European-American Unity and Rights Organization. That didn’t give him pause?

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IG Report: Afghan National Army Logistics is Failing

“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.”
Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

After the U.S. Armed Forces left Iraq, the Iraqis had virtually no logistical capability. Iraqi Army units had been supported by the Americans, not by Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers even had to buy their own food. The inability of the Iraqi military to keep its front-line units supplied was a factor in the rapid ISIS takeover of much of northern Iraq. In at least one instance last September, surrounded government troops ran out of ammo, food and water.

Apparently there has been a effort in Afghanistan to stand up an American-style military logistics operation that can function independently of American help. So far, according to an Inspector General (IG) report, it’s not working well due to corruption, inefficiency, and a lack of trained personnel.

[T]he $57 billion U.S. investment in Afghanistan’s security forces is at risk because the Afghans cannot supply, or resupply their troops, can’t prevent their weapons and vehicles from breaking down and can’t fix them when they do.

…Much of the failure lies …with the Pentagon and its coalition partners in Afghanistan, who poured billions into buying fancy stuff for the Afghans “without building the entire end-to-end logistics system down to operational and tactical levels.” That’s the sorry admission contained in the Defense Department’s most recent report (PDF) on the state of the 13-year war in Afghanistan.

As the U.S. led NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the fighting has intensified.

Kabul no longer releases total Afghan casualty statistics in order, officials say, to safeguard morale. But Afghan officials said casualty levels for the police and army have climbed since last year, making 2013 the bloodiest for Afghan forces since the U.S.-led coalition arrived in 2001.

…As coalition forces pull back from combat ahead of next year’s withdrawal, some coalition commanders warned that the Afghan forces can’t be sustained over the long run at the current rate of attrition.

As we return the ongoing Afghan civil war to the Afghans, we’ll need to make a plan of what to do if the Kabul government loses the war.

UPDATES:
Taliban claims NATO ‘defeat’ as 13-year Afghan war draws to a close
Obama Welcomes End Of The Longest War In American History

Headline writers don’t seem to know the Afghan war is still going strong.

Media Claims Afghanistan War Ends, War Continues

Whether the gross misreporting about the war in Afghanistan “ending” was a result of incompetence or malevolence is hard to know given both are in such abundance in the US mainstream media.

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Merry Christmas, Capitalists!

Ayn Rand Christmas card

“[A] capitalist culture, with its promotion of endless wealth accrual, will never be amenable on its own terms to an ordering of priorities that reflects a Christian view of life.”
Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig

“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”
Pope Francis

“Capitalism thrives on selfish impulses that Christian moral teaching condemns, and neo-classical economic theory mythologizes a supposedly ‘natural’ free market that never existed anywhere.”
Gary Dorrien

“I am often reproached for continually attacking the rich. Yes, because the rich are continually attacking the poor. But those I attack are not the rich as such, only those who misuse their wealth. I point out constantly that those I accuse are not the rich, but the rapacious; wealth is one thing, covetousness another. Learn to distinguish.”
John Chrysostom

“It might seem like an aggressive misreading of the Bible to imagine, as the Christian right does, that Jesus was a laissez faire capitalist who wasn’t bothered by poverty or pollution, but since religion is a matter of asserting belief instead of making logical arguments, in the end it doesn’t really matter.”
Amanda Marcotte

More info:
Happy Selfish Christmas! 21 Ayn Rand Holiday Cards
Corporate America’s 5 Most Despicable and Cowardly Acts of 2014
Capitalism’s war on Christianity: How a “makers vs. takers” culture poisons our ethics
Poll: Americans See Clash Between Christianity, Capitalism
Pope Francis’s stinging critique of capitalism
Morality Should Not Be Priced in the Marketplace
5 Ways the Christian Right Perverts Religion to Push Inhumane, Unfettered Capitalism

UPDATE:
“We Won The War”: Bill O’Reilly Congratulates Himself For Having “Single-Handedly Saved Christmas”

145 Comments

Dave Irvine is right – The CIA’s Torture Program Was Not Worth It

By way of full disclosure, Dave Irvine is my cousin.

Yesterday, the Trib published an op-ed by David R. Irvine about the Senate’s Torture Report. In the op-ed, Irvine concludes:

. . . because torture failed to produce significant intelligence, why would we ever consider abandoning the interrogation practices that have proved effective over and over? This exhaustive search of the classified record shows that torture is unreliable, and that whatever we got from it was not worth the damage it has caused to our standing in the community of nations. Our use of torture isolates us from allies and puts the nation at greater risk of harm.

This argument is not new, it’s not novel but it is entirely accurate. The Bush administration bent over backwards to find ways to make torture legal, the CIA engaged in a systematic campaign of dishonesty about torture. It wasn’t worth it.

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The Torture Report is Every Bit as Bad as Feared – and then some

Frankly, I can’t decide what’s worse – the deliberate embrace of torture or the accompanying incompentence (they have no idea how they spent some of the money, they lost prisoners, they had no idea how many prisoners they had).

I’ve been trying to absorb the report itself. Here are the 20 key findings of the Senate committee:

#1: The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of
acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

#2: The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

#8: The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

#9; The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.

#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

#12: The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program
was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early
2003.

#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and
played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s
Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced
operations related to the program.

#14: CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been
approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

#15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of
individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for
detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its
enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

#16: The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation
techniques.

#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and
significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management
failures.

#18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and
objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and
Interrogation Program.

#19; The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and
had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation
from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

#20; The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’
standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

Abuse of power, lying, systematic dishonesty, corruption and failure.

18 Comments

Report: Police Killings Rank Second In Utah Homicides

Hunt police shooting protest

The Salt Lake Tribune:

Through October, 45 people had been killed by law enforcement officers in Utah since 2010, accounting for 15 percent of all homicides during that period.

A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.

Is this a problem? Until recently, I believed that the rules governing the use of deadly force in self-defense were the same for law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens. The media attention that has been focused on the issue of police shootings of unarmed suspects has revealed that, in practice, wearing a badge allows far more latitude. Police officers hardly ever face criminal charges for using their guns.

There has been very little effort to systematically track shootings by police. Fatal Encounters and the Deadspin Police-Shooting Database are two efforts to remedy the lack of data.

More info:
Police Shot Darrien Hunt 6 Times In The Back (October 29)
Equal Justice Under the Law – NOT (August 14)
Why Cops In Britain And New Zealand Don’t Carry Guns

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Erick Erickson to Tea-GOP: ‘Shut. It. Down.’

Via Media Matters.

Faux News Channel political analyst Erick Erickson, an influential voice among Tea Party Republicans, is calling on the new GOP Congress to push for a government shutdown. In a November 18 post to his RedState.com website headlined “Shut. It. Down.”, Erickson says that the 2013 shutdown provides an excellent model for Republicans to follow now that they control both houses of Congress.

He thinks that President Obama will get the blame for another Tea-GOP government shutdown.

Block Obama. Let him show himself again to be the petulant man-child Americans have started recognizing. And this time, when he shuts down the government, keep it shut till you have your way and then hold public hearings to show how Obama selectively shut things down to hurt the voters intentionally.

Bring. It. On.

UPDATE:
Erickson To GOP: Shut Government Down — There Are No Consequences!

“[T]he voters did not elect the GOP to do any part of their own agenda,” he wrote. “The GOP did absolutely nothing but run on ‘we are not Obama.’ If that is the image they rebuilt, then they need to not be Obama and need to not fund Obama’s agenda.”

UPDATE:
Heritage vetoes Republican ‘rescission’ plan

Republican leaders on the Hill may be looking for a way out of the hole they dug for themselves, but finding a solution that the right considers acceptable will probably be even more difficult than it was the last time the GOP shut down the federal government.

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Are Our Public Lands Up For Grabs Now?

High in the Morning - Maynard Dixon

Tea-GOP Congresswoman-elect Mia Love regarding our public lands: “I support returning ownership back to the state of Utah.” The premise of this statement (not to mention the grammar) is completely wrong, because the public lands in Utah have always been in federal ownership since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The State of Utah did not exist until 1896, nearly a half-century later.

State-level land grab attempts such as the Transfer of Public Lands Act (the 2012 Utah law that demands the federal government hand over public lands to the state by December 31, 2014) violate both the U.S. Constitution and the Utah Constitution. However, the U.S. Congress has the ultimate power over all federal lands. The Property Clause in Article 4 of the Constitution says: “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States…”

Now that the Tea-GOP controls both houses of Congress, will Mia Love get her wish?

Claire Moser on Think Progress:

For the Republican Party, the growing internal debate over whether America’s public lands should be seized and sold represents a choice between the conservation values of Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and the power of a special interest-driven agenda. Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar observed in August that the RNC’s endorsement of land grabs would “cause Teddy Roosevelt to turn over in his grave.”

With the debate escalating over whether public lands should be seized or sold, candidates who dodged the issue but won on Tuesday will likely soon have to say whether they are with the party of Teddy Roosevelt or Cliven Bundy.

President Obama has the power (delegated by Congress to the chief executive in the Antiquities Act of 1906) to proclaim national monuments on public lands. He has already done so 13 times to protect more than 260 million acres of land and water, which is more than any other President. And he says he is “not finished” with national monuments.

There is a proposal for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument in Utah. The Tea-GOP has it coming. Will President Obama bring it?

More info:
The Sagebrush Gang Rides Again? (February 2012)

UPDATE:
Is possible San Rafael Swell state park another Utah land grab?

8 Comments

Election Turnout Sucked

Mid-terms have lower turnout than Presidential year elections. Nevertheless, turnout for 2014 was the lowest it’s been in decades – approximately 37% of eligible voters actually voted. By the time all the absentee ballots arrive, that figure may rise to 38%. The last time participation was this low was in 1942 (when people, it can be argued, had other things on their minds).

41 Comments

WaPo/ABC Poll: 1 Percent Say U.S. Economy is ‘Excellent’

Washington Post-ABC News poll Oct. 23-26, 2014
The 1% says economy is excellent
Mr. Burns

1 Comment

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