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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.

73 Comments

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.

12 Comments

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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26 Comments

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

11 Comments

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.

22 Comments

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.

10 Comments

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.

40 Comments

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

15 Comments

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