Don’t Go Back To Iraq!

I can’t believe that anybody needs to say this. There is nothing good that can be accomplished by the U.S. military in Iraq. We don’t even know what side to fight on. But MoveOn is right– we can’t just assume that Washington politicians have enough sense to make a smart decision, even after the nine-year fiasco that was the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We must make our voices heard now.

Petition by Iraq War veteran Matthew Hoh: “Tell President Obama and Congress: Keep America Out Of Iraq!”

Petition demanding a vote in Congress: “Join Barbara Lee & Scott Rigell, Stop Rush to Iraq War”

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Reminder…

Just in case you had forgotten that the teabaggers attract the true intellectual greatness of the GOP, and bring us the very best of the best from the party,

“It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a lookalike. Lucas’ look-alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011. I will NEVER use Artificial Intelligence look-alike to voice what the Representative’s Office is doing nor own a robot look-alike.”
—Tea Party challenger Timothy Ray Murray, who received 3,442 votes in an Oklahoma primary race

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Priesthood and Women

Twenty-five years ago I delivered the McDougall Lecture at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Some modest part of that essay recommended that it is time and beyond time to ordain women to both the Mormon and Catholic traditions and, by implication, all other faiths. A productive firestorm erupted that continues still. How tragic, how brutal, how disconnected to real people with real hearts, real children, dear mates to be so abused as the Mormon church discards with no more than a pious statement, or simply a sniff, their best and brightest.

I’ve said before that Mormon leadership all too often reflects an anti-Darwinism, that is, the survival of the least fit, by cultivating a culture that obeys leadership with no sense of the necessity of checking any act of leadership with one’s own brain, one’s own agency. This tendency,if unchecked, will produce at least two terrible results: poor leadership at the top and right on down the ecclesiastical ladder. Second, leadership will continue to boast of growing membership but it will be looking only at those coming in the church’s front door but not noting those exiting the back door either formally, or just by staying home on Sunday, de facto un-churched.

Mormons need not fear its loving critics. Mormonism, Catholicism, and all faith traditions really should be terrified at the prospect that huge numbers now see churches as irrelevant to their lives. People who engage their leadership quite obviously care very much about their faith, or they would not give such enormous time and energy to help, as they see it,their churches. The really scary elephant in the room is apathy. An even scarier specter is when hundreds of thousands of members, each year, determine that perhaps, just perhaps we really don’t need priests or bishops to mediate between God and all of us. We can, after all, talk directly to God and cut out the middleman and his ten percent finder’s fee. Women should hold any priesthood for which they qualify by abiding neutral rules. And priests and sisters should have the god-given right to choose marriage or celibacy, as they choose, by serious thought and by prayer.There is nothing in holy writ that requires that men mediate God to women.

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Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision: Corporations are people and have more rights than you

So suck on it.

I’ll more to say but for now, my facebook and twitter feeds are blowing. This decision is horrendous. Five men just hurt the health care of every single American woman.

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ISIS Declares Caliphate In Syria And Iraq

ISIS caliphate
ISIS declares caliphate – those little derrick symbols represent oil fields.

Osama bin Laden’s vision of a Muslim caliphate in the Middle East is now a reality, thanks in large part to the USA. On Sunday morning, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) pronounced the reformation of the caliphate—the historical Islamic state that once stretched over much of the modern-day Muslim world—with ISIS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as the man in charge.

DSWright on FDL:

Al Qaeda’s strategy of trying to force a US overreaction with the 9/11 attack has proved considerably successful in destabilizing the regional regimes that opposed establishing a caliphate and promulgating fundamentalist Islamic law. …12 million people are estimated to live under the control of ISIS already and if the now declared caliphate continues its expansion it could be considerably more.

…Apparently using the US military to topple secular leaders did little to thwart the rise of Islamic extremism. In fact, it seems to have had the opposite effect.

Add to the “no one could have anticipated…” file. Which is getting pretty thick by now.

More info:
ISIS Declares Themselves an Islamic State
The Beginning of a Caliphate: The Spread of ISIS, in Five Maps

UPDATES:
According to Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal, the proclamation of a caliphate was “a controversial move that is sure to send shockwaves throughout the jihadist world.”

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Mrs. Heimann’s Mother (reprint)

This post is a reprint from December 2007.

It feels relevant today.

***********

Some 20 years ago, I was taking an evening German course from a woman named Phila Heimann. Mrs. Heimann recounted her experiences in the US. For instance, as recent immigrants, during World War Two, her school-aged children faced discrimination from their American born peers. When asked “Are you Germans?” her kids responded proudly, “No, we are Austrians and we speak Austrian, not German!”

Mrs. Heimann introduced me to a powerful book – a photojournalists book of photos of buildings in an around Vienna. There were two photos of each site – a pre-war and post-war photo, the post war photo showing the ruins. The book was called The Pearl of Vienna in Hitler’s Setting (I think the German was Die Perle Wien Im Hitlers Fassung).

Anyway, I’m thinking about Mrs. Heimann’s mother today.

When she was 5, little Phila went with her mother to watch the troops march off to fight what we know today as World War One. Surrounded by cheering crowds, her mother was weeping. Phila asked, “Why are you crying? Everyone else is happy?” And her mother replied,

“All these men are going to die. They won’t be coming home.”

War is never good, never a grand and glorious thing. It is always and forever a tragedy. No matter what our leaders say or believe or want us to believe, war is always and forever a failure.

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June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in the streets of Sarajevo by a man named Gavrilo Princip. The Archduke’s assassination sparked World War One. That was one hundred years ago.

I wonder if we learned anything in the intervening, bloody century.

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“Justified True Belief”

Knowledge is sometimes defined in philosophy circles as “justified true belief.” Sometimes philosophers can drain the passion out of any phrase.

Still, the idea counts for something. Can you really say you “know” something if you are wrong? Being raised Mormon I was always bothered when people gave their testimony with the phrase “I know this is true” because it was clear to me that they did not “know” anything of the sort. They believed. They may even be right. But unless it was proven true, they couldn’t actually know. They simply had faith that they mistakenly called knowledge…..

Over at MotherJones.com, Chris Mooney has an interesting article about some of the research on how political ideology and views can affect our reasoning ability. There has been a fair amount of research in the area of late, and I find an awful lot of it fascinating, I also find a lot of what is written about it to be misled for what seems like some pretty basic reasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Safety is not part of “pro-life”

SCOTUS has destroyed the buffer zone that protects women and those escorting them in clinics from protestors. Given the cases of domestic terrorism in USA of the “pro-life” protestors hurting and even killing abortion seekers and providers this seems backwards at best.

Interesting to note that the SCOTUS has a buffer zone.

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10 Circuit Issues a Very Direct Ruling

Read the whole thing here (courtesy of the SL Tribune) – and yeah, emphasis added:

May a State of the Union constitutionally deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of the State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry?

Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not do so. We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.

The ruling (which I’m still reading) has lots of interesting issues – one of which I find relevant. Some people argue that the Windsor ruling should not be relevant because it stated marriage has traditionally been left to the states. This ruling reads, in part:

The Windsor majority expressly cabined its holding to state-recognized marriages, id. at 2696, and is thus not directly controlling. But the similarity between the claims at issue in Windsor and those asserted by the plaintiffs in this case cannot be ignored. This is particularly true with respect to plaintiffs Archer and Call, who seek recognition by Utah of a marriage that is valid in the state where it was performed. More generally, all six plaintiffs seek equal dignity for their marital aspirations. All claim that the state’s differential treatment of them as compared to opposite-sex couples demeans and undermines their relationships and their personal autonomy.

And:

Of course, the Windsor decision dealt with federal recognition of marriages performed under state law. But with respect to plaintiffs Archer and Call, who were married in Iowa and whose marriage Utah will not recognize under Amendment 3, the analogy to Windsor is particularly apt.

As I read this, the 10th Circuit is arguing that the issue in this case and Windsor are similar enough that Windsor is directly relevant. IOW, even though Windsor recognized that states have historically governed marriage, they still cannot violate the federal Constitution.

The 10th Circuit also recognized that the right to marry is separate from the decision and right to procreate.

Appellants’ assertion that the right to marry is fundamental because it is linked to procreation is further undermined by the fact that individuals have a fundamental right to choose against reproduction. “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 453 (1972) (emphasis omitted); see also Griswold, 381 U.S. at 485-86 (recognizing right of married individuals to use contraception).

There’s also a moving passage about the ways in which our awareness of rights evolves:

The drafters of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments “knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” Id. at 579. A generation ago, recognition of the fundamental right to marry as applying to persons of the same sex might have been unimaginable. A generation ago, the declaration by gay and lesbian couples of what may have been in their hearts would have had to remain unspoken. Not until contemporary times have laws stigmatizing or even criminalizing gay men and women been felled, allowing their relationships to surface to an open society

I’m sure there will be much commentary and lots of hysterics from conservatives.

If I were Governor Herbert I’d be asking myself a question – “Do I want my name on the case that legalizes same sex marriage in the US?”

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House GOP Could Force Government Shutdown Over EPA Carbon Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed coal regulations have angered Tea-GOP right-wingers who deny climate science.

Via The New Republic:

A standoff with Senate Democrats and the president over funding for the EPA and Interior Department could set the stage for a budget showdown, risking a partial government shutdown. Here we go again.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the House Appropriations Committee may include a rider to the bill that’s necessary to keep the Department of Interior and EPA open after the fiscal year’s end in September.

…A partial shutdown to the Interior and EPA might seem like it would cause less damage to the GOP than the full-scale shutdown of 2013. But remember that includes national parks, which was one of the most visible and unpopular consequences from last year’s shutdown. And the EPA is charged with a lot besides fighting climate change, like protecting our drinking water and overseeing cleanup of toxic waste sites.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has warned the Tea-GOP not to shut down the government over climate change. But really, if they do it right before the midterm elections it might do more good than harm.

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The Sergeant, The Senator, and Treason

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.The president, of course, whatever Congress may think, may pardon the sergeant. (These vital paragraphs were somehow deleted from my essay a week or two ago, making the older essay mostly meaningful, but rendering its title incoherent. Dear editors of OneUtah, please place this essay in as the first paragraph in the previous piece). ed firmage xoxo

[Copied and pasted to your earlier post -Rich Warnick.]

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‘Bidder 70′ On Netflix

Bidder 70Tonight I watched the terrific documentary “Bidder 70″ (2012) by Beth & George Gage, that tells the story of what happened after Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegal BLM oil & gas lease auction in the last days of the Bush administration, December 19, 2008. It’s on Netflix now!

The message of the film is that in corporate-controlled America, the only power we have as individuals is the power of not backing down and not going away. DeChristopher provided everyone with a perfect example of how we can do that. That’s why the PTB had to send him to federal prison. Not the Wall Street fraudsters who crashed the economy. Not the greedy oil companies who polluted the Gulf of Mexico. Not the right-wing protesters who defy the BLM by riding ATVs in the wilderness. Not the millionaire ranchers who refuse to pay their grazing fees on public land. Anybody who’s onboard with the corporatist agenda has nothing to fear.

Judge Dee Benson actually admitted that he sentenced Tim DeChristopher to two years imprisonment not for anything he did (“bid-walking” in a BLM lease auction is so common they have a name for it, and it has never been prosecuted before) — it was for what he said. The First Amendment does not protect you if you go against Corporate America.

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