Archive for category Orrin Hatch

How To Talk To An Empty Chair

empty chairs

I’m actually naive enough to think that our senators would show up to hear the concerns of the citizens who showed up to a hearing in Salt Lake on March 2nd, 2016, concerning the new “Public Lands Initiative”, (PLI). I don’t know why I thought that, when the hearing wouldn’t have even taken place without being organized by “Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment”.

Jason Chaffetz gets a gold star for sending a notice he wouldn’t be present. Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop and Mike Lee didn’t even have enough decency to reply to their invitation. Lack of respect from the senators, for the overwhelming majority of their constituents was a common theme throughout the night.

It was a good turnout, and it’s too bad it wasn’t held in a larger venue then Orson Spencer Hall. There wasn’t enough room for all the people who came to the event, even though some the attendees had to stand along the wall after the seats were gone. People at the back of the auditorium were complaining about all the noise being made by the folks in the foyer.

My camera batteries weren’t sufficient to record the entire meeting which lasted over three hours. Many dozens of people submitted a request to speak. I got some good footage though, which I present here for the people of Utah and hopefully others across the nation, since this terrible initiative could affect many other states, should it pass as written.

Enjoy the passion!

Salt Lake Tribune coverage.
Deseret Morning News coverage.


How Could They?

Why Don't They Ever Represent Me?

Why Don’t They Ever Represent Me?

A short rant about losing one of our most important freedoms, and about the only thing you can do to keep it. Good luck.

After all these years of Americans fighting for “internet neutrality”, against the corporations who want control of the internet, and finally winning an important ruling by the FCC recently, the corporations got the house of “representatives” to sneak language into a funding bill that would stop the FCC’s ability to carry out it’s own ruling.

This bipartisan effort brought Americans from every political party together in staggering numbers in a common cause to protect our freedom to be heard and participate in the course of our lives. The internet provides the most exciting innovative possibilities imaginable, by allowing everybody – not just corporations – the unfettered ability to create new ideas for our future and even our survival.

Our collective congress doesn’t seem to care if our country has an open internet as long as they secure a campaign donation, or maybe they’re just tired of not being able to control it more to their liking. There hasn’t been a peep about this from the congress or our media. I’m sure ABC, NBC, CBS, print media and the politicians liked it a lot better when they had complete control over public discourse before the internet. I don’t share that sentiment.

DO THIS! It’s designed to be super fast and super easy. It even dials the phone for you! Can’t possibly take more then a couple of minutes and it might even be therapeutic. No excuses for you, Bubba!

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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


Senator Hatch Lies, Calls Obama Proposal ‘A Classic Bait-And-Switch’

Republicans are feigning shock that Obama is proposing to implement the very same policies that Americans voted for in November. In the Weekly Republican Address, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, demagogues the so-called “fiscal cliff” and falsely claims that the Obama administration proposal to raise taxes on the rich (slightly, by allowing the Bush tax cuts on the top bracket to expire) is “a classic bait and switch.”

President Obama ran for re-election explicitly on the proposal he is advocating now. Much of President Obama’s current proposal appeared in his 20-page plan, released back in October. Polls indicate 60 percent of Americans support Obama’s tax plan.

Senator Hatch says the answer is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, lower tax rates for the rich, and achieve “comprehensive tax reform,” whatever that is. Where is the Republican plan? We’re still waiting.

Oh, and by the way there is no such thing as a “death tax.” This term is the creation of Republican pollster Frank Luntz. It’s actually called the estate tax, and only applies to inherited wealth of more than $5 million (which is taxed at a 35 percent rate). Estates pass automatically without taxes to a spouse.

Paul Krugman predicts the next two years will be “one long Republican tantrum.” “Republicans are signaling that they don’t intend to make any specific proposals, they’re just going to yell and stamp their feet until Obama soothes them somehow.”

Steve Benen explains why the GOP has no proposal: “Under the rules Boehner and McConnell drew up last year, Republicans are supposed to tell the president, “Make us happy,” and Obama is supposed to keep offering conservative ideas in the hopes of guessing what they’ll find satisfactory.”


Live Streaming the Utah State Republican Convention

Will Hatch survive?

Utah Republicans eat their own!

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Tea Bagger express pulling out

Shorter Orrin Hatch: please let me be a factually challenged tea bagger!

“Look, we all know that Planned Parenthood does 400,000 abortions a year or more, and yet that’s supported by the federal government. They claim that money isn’t, uh, they don’t use federal funds, well, about 95 percent of all they do, from what I understand, is abortion.”

Facts: your words have no relation to them.


Orrin Hatch: Jesus Would Never Tax The Rich

Via Raw Story: Senator Orrin Hatch took to the floor yesterday to complain about President Obama’s citation of The Bible to justify progressive taxation.

Speaking to a group of mostly-conservative politicians at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, the president proved that conservatives do not have a monopoly on using religion to advocate for specific public policies.

“And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe at a time when folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone,” Obama explained. “And I think to myself, if I am willing to give something up as someone who has been extraordinarily blessed, give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy — I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.”

“But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,” the president added.

That was from the Gospel of Luke (12:48). Whatever you believe, there’s a Biblical quote to go with it. A sputtering Hatch set the record straight:

“Just this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, the president took what has always been a non-partisan opportunity for national unity and used it to promote his political agenda,” Hatch complained. “He suggested to the attendees that Jesus would have supported his latest tax-the-rich schemes. With due respect to the president, he ought to stick to public policy. I think most Americans would agree that the Gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.”

“In 2008, the president declared that his nomination was the world historical moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” Hatch recalled.

“Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water, and he did not occupy the Oval Office.”

Probably Senator Hatch would prefer Matthew 13:12:

Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

That fits Republican tax proposals like the one from presidential candidate Willard (“Mitt”) Romney. Raise taxes on the middle class to pay for more tax cuts for the rich, who are already enjoying the lowest tax rates in decades. And let’s not forget the corporations now wallowing in abundance while the middle class struggles with unemployment, flat wages and foreclosures. Corporate taxes are at a 40-year low of only 12.1 percent, but Republicans want to cut taxes for corporations too.

Another Republican running for President, Rick Santorum, recently encountered a “what would Jesus do” moment when asked about children whose parents can’t afford the exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs (up to $1 million a year). Santorum’s own daughter is ill with a genetic disorder, but he evinced no sympathy whatsoever for the plight of middle class kids.

Imagine how heartless our politicians might be if they weren’t such proud Christians!


Let’s Take Senator Hatch Seriously

Orrin Hatch Senator Orrin Hatch doesn’t want to extend the payroll tax cut, which reduced employees’ Social Security contributions from 6.2 percent of taxable wages and salaries to 4.2 percent. If Congress does not continue the payroll tax cut or replace it with a comparably sized temporary tax rebate, declining consumption and related economic activity will decrease employment by almost one million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Failure to continue the payroll tax cut would reduce the average family’s disposable income by $920 next year, making another recession more likely. What is Senator Hatch’s explanation for wanting to raise taxes on the middle class? From the Salt Lake Tribune:

“I cannot support extending tax policies that were intended to be temporary and that have proven to be ineffective at creating jobs or stimulating economic growth,” said Hatch, R-Utah.

Interesting. Especially when you consider that the Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich, extended last year by the Democratic Congress, are (1) intended to be temporary and (2) have proven to be ineffective (over an entire decade) at creating jobs or stimulating economic growth. So let’s take Senator Hatch at his word. We have his pledge to vote against any attempt to extend the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts next year. If Congress doesn’t pass another set of tax cuts for the rich, that alone will go most of the way toward solving the long-term deficit problem and reducing the National Debt.

UPDATE: The GOP cannot explain why tax cuts for the rich do not create jobs.

As Center for American Progress Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden found, “in the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now.” In fact, “if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher.” The GOP… simply has no explanation for these facts.


Just In: Payroll Taxes Are Taxes

As we all know, right-wing Republicans are very concerned about fairness. Specifically, as Senator Orrin Hatch said last May, they think the tax system is unfair because it doesn’t tax poor people enough. More than half of taxpayers didn’t have any federal income tax liability in 2009, which means most Americans are freeloaders, right?

Actually, no. Less than a quarter of the nation’s households don’t contribute to federal revenues, and the majority are students, the elderly, or the unemployed. A increasingly large proportion of taxes are paid by low- and middle-income Americans in the form of payroll taxes, sales and excise taxes. For example, the federal government collects 18.4 cents on every gallon of gasoline sold.

Today’s Chart of the Day on TPM shows that the proportion of federal revenues from payroll taxes has more than tripled since 1950 (from 11% to 36%), while income tax revenues stayed flat and the corporate income tax shrank.

Tax chart

So when Sean Hannity goes on another rant like this, remember the facts.

“If half of Americans now don’t pay taxes, and the other half are the beneficiaries of the tax that the other half pay, at some point you say, OK, you got a full voting block and it seems like the Democratic Party … caters to that.”

The Republicans crashed the economy, putting millions of Americans out of work and leaving millions more underemployed, and now they want to complain that not enough of us pay income tax? If people earned enough money to owe income tax they would pay!


Have You Been To Jail for Justice? Peter Yarrow Spoke and Sang for Tim DeChristopher in Downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday

Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary came to Salt Lake City for Tim DeChristopher’s sentencing. We thank him for his support and wisdom.


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Senator Hatch Doesn’t Understand Income Taxes

Utah’s own Senator Orrin Hatch took to the Senate floor today to invoke the memory of Thurston Howell III. Howell was included on Forbes Magazine’s 2006 list of the 15 richest fictional characters.

Breaking out an image of the character Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island, Hatch said those with incomes of over $200,000 shouldn’t be lumped in with “Warren Buffet or Gilligan’s Island’s resident millionaire.”

And you know what, Senator Hatch is right. We need more income tax brackets to keep all the members of the top 2 percent of rich people from being lumped together. The millionaires and billionaires totally deserve their own marginal rates! It would be a mark of distinction, with bragging rights. If we restored progressivity to the income tax, then it would really mean something to be able to say you were in the top bracket. You know Thurston Howell III would hate being mistaken for somebody just scraping by on $200 K a year.

Of course, Senator Hatch wasn’t saying that. He was trying to explain his remarks from last week about how the poor and middle class have too much money.

Senator Hatch

GRAPH: As Wages Stagnate, The Typical American Family Is Working 26 Percent Longer Than In 1975

This just in from Senator Hatch:

You are invited to participate in the Salt Lake County Tele-Town Hall Meeting this evening, July 12, 2011 from 6 pm-7pm. You can do so by calling in at 1-888-886-6603 Ext.16885# and staying on the line to ask me a question. I will also be calling out to thousands of residents.

The meeting only lasts for one hour, so a limited number of questions may be asked on the air. However, if I cannot get to your question, I invite you to stay on the line after the meeting ends so that you can leave a message for me. I will make sure to respond to each message within the next few weeks. I appreciate your input and hope you will participate.

UPDATE: Poll: Could A Democrat Get Elected To The Senate From Utah?


Senator Hatch and Rep. Bishop Want to Reverse the Outcome of The Civil War

Civil War 150

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — William Faulkner

I was one of the few who watched C-SPAN coverage of the ceremony at Fort Sumter to mark the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the Civil War. There is a shadow over the sesquicentennial, because the political climate in America still contains many echoes of the issues we used to think were settled for all time by the worst war in U.S. history.

Via TPM we learn that our own Senator Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop want to revisit the question of states’ rights with a constitutional amendment. Here’s how the plan would work, from an op-ed Bishop wrote in Daily Caller:

[I]f two-thirds of the states collectively find a federal law or regulation abhorrent or misguided, they should have the power to repeal said law or regulation. The law would then be sent back to Washington for further consideration, at which time Congress may choose not to act again on the matter, or they may vote to override the states’ repeal and pass it in finality.

“American society itself is so diverse, so organic, so varying in its geography, culture, and demographics that we see the same fatal conceit when government tries to manage it from one central location,” Bishop wrote. “That is, unfortunately, what we have done over the past 80 years.”

Look, if two-thirds of the states are unhappy with the Union they can call a constitutional convention. This proposed amendment is absurd. But it underscores the way some people insist on re-fighting the Civil War.

UPDATE: A TPM commenter points out a major flaw:

Total Population of 16 most populous states = 209,696,126
Total Population of 34 least populous states = 98,450,632
— Numbers from 2010 census.

I think it’s pretty self-evident from those numbers that there are numerous myriad paths to a two-thirds majority of states that would constitute a minority of the population.

UPDATE: Rep. Rob Bishop (R-GA) told reporters at a press conference Thursday announcing the introduction of the so-called “Repeal Amendment” that the proposal isn’t nullification.


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