Friday, 29 January 2010

Utah Citizens' Candidate (continued)

At 11 AM MST, KCPW's "Politics Up Close" will be covering the Utah Citizens' Candidate campaign. Have a listen here, and make sure to attend the event tomorrow at Utah's Downtown Public Library.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Utah Boom-Sticks

Last night I had the good fortune to take a concealed-carry permit class from a gentleman who will remain nameless, primarily because I don't want to hurt his business. He's an Iraq veteran, a pretty cool guy, and such an upstanding citizen that even the most PG-13 gun/sex puns from our group of students made him blush like the Bishop of Boston.

Now as our concealed-carry instructor was a gun enthusiast and veteran, I expected a certain amount of the politics that I would look down my long, elitist nose at, being the arugala-snarfing, wine-quaffing elitist that I am, but there was very little about his presentation that was political, actually.

I did notice one thing, however, and I am not accusing Anonymous Instructor of any type of bias in any way. I am quite sure this was a subconscious phenomenon (although a lot of his rhetoric feeds into a post I'm working on regarding the so-called "Bad Guy" mythos).

Of the Goofus and Gallant video clips that he showed, one was of a white man who fired a shotgun so badly that he almost took his face off. The others?

1.) A black DEA agent who was so gol-durned dumb that in a gun safety presentation he damn near shot his foot off. 2.) A black crackhead who attacked a lady's van in Las Vegas (on the subject of: "Does this require lethal force?") 3.) A black bank robber who was driven away by a heroic concealed weapon holder. 4.) Two or more references to "homeboys" when it came to possible home invasion scenarios, with a strong implication that these so-called "bad guys" would be black.

That ain't right. Even in Utah.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

R.I.P., Howard Zinn

R.I.P., Howard Zinn.

If you don't know who Howard Zinn is, I highly recommend you pick up any of his books, probably starting with this one. We've lost a great historian.

Boys Will Be Boys (continued)

It turns out that James O'Keefe, the goon who was arrested yesterday for allegedly attempting to wiretap Senator Mary Landrieu's phones, was scheduled to speak at a Salt Lake County Republican fundraiser. From the Trib:

Salt Lake County Republicans are scrambling to line up a new keynote fundraising speaker after the arrest Tuesday of their scheduled first choice, filmmaker James O'Keefe, on charges of attempting to tamper with the phone system of a U.S. senator.

"The allegations and arrest today certainly change our plans," county GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said in a telephone interview with The Tribune. "We'll be announcing a new speaker shortly."

As of Tuesday night, the party's Web site,, still advertised O'Keefe as the guest speaker for the Feb. 4 Lincoln Day Dinner. His topic was to be "his national exposé of ACORN's unethical behavior, his changes in Congress and [how he will] inspire our Party's passion for a grassroots comeback."...

"We're disappointed," he said of O'Keefe's arrest on felony charges. "He doesn't necessarily represent the Republican Party."

The SL GOP hired someone who is apparently willing to commit a felony for partisan purposes to lecture ACORN* about "ethical behavior?" Actually, that sounds just about right for the Republican party.

* - and about ACORN, a little background information is always nice to have.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Plus ça Change (continued)...

From Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls:

But why occupy ourselves so long with Korobochka? Mrs. Korobochka, Mrs. Manilov, the life of management, or of non-management - pass them by! Otherwise - marvelous is the world's makeup - the merry will turn melancholy in a trice, if you stand a long time before it, and then God knows what may enter your head. Perhaps you will even start thinking: come now, does Korobochka indeed stand so low on the endless ladder of human perfection? Is there indeed so great an abyss separating her from her sister, inaccessibly fenced off behind the walls of her aristocratic house with its fragrant cast-iron stairways, shining brass, mahogany and carpets, who yawns over an unfinished book while waiting for a witty society visit, which will give her a field on which to display her sparkling intelligence and pronounce thoughts learned by rote, thoughts which, following the law of fashion, occupy the town for a whole week, thoughts not of what is going on in her house or on her estates, confused and disorderly thanks to her ignorance of management, but of what political upheaval is brewing in France, of what direction fashionable Catholicism has taken. But pass by, pass by! why talk of that? But why, then, in the midst of unthinking, merry, carefree moments does another wondrous stream rush by of itself: the laughter has not yet had time to leave your face completely, yet you are already different among the same people and your face is already lit by a different light...

"thoughts learned by rote, thoughts which, following the law of fashion, occupy the town for a whole week..." Paging Joe Klein, David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Bill Kristol, Maureen Dowd, etc. etc.

Boys Will Be Boys


Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.
Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

O'Keefe's previous hijinks were quite a hit in the conservative community, and managed to bring down a storm of opprobrium upon ACORN.

Here's hoping that Mr. O'Keefe has now learned that there is a boundary between hilarious right-wing pranks and felonies. Then again, what's a felony or two between wingnuts?

Utah Citizens' Candidate

On Saturday, January 30th, Utah Citizens' Candidate will be holding a public meeting. What is Utah Citizens' Candidate? I'm so glad you asked!

The Citizens' Candidate is pleased to announce a grassroots effort to elect a new Congressperson for Utah's Second District. This is a citizen-led initiative that seeks a representative who is answerable to the people; the initiative is being introduced by a coalition comprised of citizens who have committed themselves to working for justice on climate change, healthcare, LGBT, labor, immigration, peace, and environmental issues.

The Citizens' Candidate initiative began with a Craigslist help-wanted ad for a "Courageous Congressperson." We have received several applications and will continue accepting applications until January 15th. A final candidate will be chosen through public interviews at the Salt Lake City Library on January 30th.

Many Utahns are concerned that Congressman Jim Matheson has sold out every progressive constituency to corporate interests. The Citizens' Candidate is about taking our political system out of the hands of corporations and putting citizens back in control. The candidate elected through answering a Craigslist ad will always remember he or she is accountable to the public interest.

Matheson is a truly awful excuse for a Democrat, and this effort to oust him and replace him with a halfway decent candidate - especially one vetted and selected by a grassroots coalition of voters - sounds fantastic. Here's how things are going down on Saturday at the Downtown Salt Lake Library's main auditorium from 10:00am - 12:30pm:

Applicants to be interviewed will be pre-selected by a panel of seven representatives speaking on behalf of Climate Change, Peace, Health Care, GLBT, Labor, Immigration, and Environmental communities. Utah voters of the 2nd district to attend and vote.

Public interviews of the top Citizens' Candidate applicants will take place on Saturday the 30th at 10:00 am in the Downtown Salt Lake City Library Auditorium. Following interviews, ballots will be distributed to district 2 voters in attendance, counted, and the Citizen's Candidate announced.

Since the Citizens' Candidate is about voting your hopes rather than your fears, the voting on January 30th will be done through instant runoff voting to guarantee a majority winner.

As a proud resident of the Fighting Second, I am jazzed about this opportunity to kick Jimbo to the curb. Will we succeed? Maybe not. Is it worth trying like hell? Absolutely.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Murder At Gitmo?

Harper's has an exclusive advance publication up at their website from the upcoming February 15 issue. Story by Scott Horton:

Late on the evening of June 9 that year, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners...

According to the NCIS documents, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.

As always, Glenn Greenwald is all over this. His interpretation of this story and it's lack of coverage in the American media:

Despite all of this, our media persists in sustaining the lie that the torture controversy is about three cases of waterboarding and a few "high-value" detainees who were treated a bit harshly. That's why Horton's story received so little attention and was almost completely ignored by right-wing commentators: because it shatters the central myth that torture was used only in the most extreme cases -- virtual Ticking Time Bomb scenarios -- when there was simply no other choice. Leading American media outlets, as a matter of policy, won't even use the word "torture." This, despite the fact that the abuse was so brutal and inhumane that it led to the deaths of helpless captives -- including run-of-the-mill detainees, almost certainly ones guilty of absolutely nothing -- in numerous cases. These three detainee deaths -- like so many other similar cases -- illustrate how extreme is the myth that has taken root in order to obscure what was really done.

Andrew Sullivan is also following this, and now Dalia Lithwick asks the pertinent question at Slate ("Why aren't we talking about the new accusations of murder at Gitmo?"):

Some torture stories are just too horrible to contemplate, while others are too complicated to understand. But Scott Horton's devastating new exposé of the possible murders of three prisoners at Guantanamo in 2006 is neither: It's simply too terrible to allow to be true. Which is why it has been mostly ignored this week in the mainstream American media and paid little attention by the usual crew of torture apologists on the right...changing what we allow ourselves to believe about torture would change the way we have reconciled ourselves to torture. Nobody in this country is prepared to do that. So we have opted to ignore it.

The circumstances described by Horton's article are so egregious it boggles the mind. The bodies of each of the "suicides" had their throats removed before they could be examined by non-military medical personnel. Every suspicious detail in the NCIS report is glossed over, and so much of the report is redacted that it's ludicrous.

This should be front page news in every paper in the country.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Happy Meal

om nom nom

Friday, 15 January 2010

Ridin' Dirty

Utah Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, Republican of Syracuse, has been busted for drunk driving.

Monday, 11 January 2010

We're Number One! We're Number One!


SALT LAKE CITY -- Northern Utah currently boasts the worst air in the nation, and it's not even close.

Sunday, Salt Lake City's air quality index was 142 compared to San Francisco's 67 and Las Vegas' 23.


How bad is an air quality index of 142? Spangler said the air is considered "deteriorating" when it has an index higher than 35.

A storm is predicted to hit the Wasatch Front Wednesday.

"If it's not very strong and it doesn't have much of a punch, then it might lessen a little bit -- but if we don't have a really good storm it will just continue to build," [DEQ Spokesperson] Spangler said.

Pardon me while I unpack the rebreather.

UPDATE: h/t to Kyland, who pointed me to this amazing little graphic. From AirNow:

Monday, 4 January 2010

"Our Founding Fathers Would Support This All The Way..."

...but then again they owned slaves.

Following up on my last post; today the NY Times expands on the type of vile, unspeakably evil bullshit that Jason "Jackboot" Mitchell apparently supports:

Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

"Correctional rape," ladies and gentlemen. This is the cause that Jackboot Mitchell and his ilk have decided to throw their lot in with.