Friday, June 13, 2008


Could things really be changing within the FLDS? First, they promise to stop underage marriages (but not plural marriages). Next, they voluntarily meet with "the anti-Christ":
In what may be a historic turning point, an FLDS church spokesman spent four hours Thursday with representatives of the Utah Attorney General's Office - a meeting both sides described as a small, first step toward more open communication.
It was the first formal conversation between a representative of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Attorney General's Office since Warren S. Jeffs took over as leader of the church in 2002.
So does this mean that Jeffs no longer has his hands on the reins? Are saner heads prevailing? Or is all of this a PR move to get law enforcement off their backs while the FLDS plot another strategy? Only time will tell.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.

--Article I, Section 9, clause 2

Last year, I said that the Military Commissions Act violated the U.S. Constitution. This morning, 5 United States Supreme Court Justices agreed with me. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote, wrote this:
The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part
of that law.
BOUMEDIENE v. BUSH, 553 U. S. ____ (2008) (Slip Op., at 70). [134 page PDF]

Showing that watches Faux News and listens to talk radio, Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent that
America is at war with radical Islamists. [citing all terrorist attacks against Americans from Lebanon in 1983 until, of course, September 11,2001] ... [Terrorism by radical Islamists] has threatened further attacks against our homeland; one need only walk about buttressed and barricaded Washington, or board a plane anywhere in the country, to know that the threat is a serious one. Our Armed Forces are now in the field against the enemy, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, 13 of our countrymen in arms were killed.

The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed. That consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic. But it is this Court’s blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the
decision today.
Scalia, J., dissenting (Slip Op. at 2).

The threat to America posed by these terrorists, I would counter, while serious, is nothing compared to the threats posed by the Soviet Union from 1945-1989. Literally thousands of nuclear missiles were pointed at us and could kill hundreds of millions within minutes of their launching. If left unchecked, the Axis powers during World War II could have invaded America. Many of those in GitMo are horrible criminals, but others are there simply because someone in Afghanistan or Iraq offered them up to the Americans get the reward money. And now, thanks to the Administration's attempts to keep us safer, they have turned these innocent individuals against America and hardened the hearts of many in the Arab world. In short, they have made us less safe.

No president is above the constitution, even if the Congress acquiesces out of fear. No one man or woman in our system of government to label a person an "enemy combatant," ship them off to a U.S. territory, and throw away the key. The Great Writ, which has been part of our law since before the founding, is a necessary tool to ensure that injustices can not fester forever.

Today is a truly great day for our Judiciary, our Constitution, and our Republic. "God Save the United States and this Honorable Court!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

delaying means denying

Today I want to write more about the brouhaha over the state treasurer race, not because it is another juicy example of Utah Republican infighting with claims of corruption, but because it is part of another pattern in American politics and policy-making. That is, LG Herbert's decision to postpone a ruling on challenger Ellis' complaint until after the June 24th primary is par for the course.

The New York Times sat on a Pulitzer prize winning story about Bush's violation of FISA for over a year because the editors didn't want to influence the 2004 presidential election. Thanks to Sen. Pat Roberts, the Senate Intelligence Committee sat on its Phase II report for nearly 4 years. Phase II of course, told us that the Bush Administration--including the President himself--knowlingly distorted evidence and knowingly relied on bad evidence to push for the Iraq War in Fall 2002-Spring '03. Why the delay? The purported need to take the politics out of the decision. The commission set up to investigate the intelligence regarding WMDs was delayed, you guessed it, until after the 2004 election. Bush stated at the time that politics needed to be taken out of the equation, so the delay was necessary to avoid a blame game. I could go on and on with examples.

But the point here is this: by delaying a decision on Ellis' complaint against state Rep. Walker, LG Herbert is in effect siding with Rep. Walker and more importantly, depriving the voters the ability to make their decision based upon important information. Here's a more elegant version by the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board:
Herbert says he has gathered information about the job-offer charge, but he has delayed making a decision to refer the matter to the attorney general until after the primary. Herbert issued a statement, saying, in part, "I am concerned that any action on my part at this time could influence participation in or the outcome of the June 24 primary election."
That may be so. But Herbert should not let that influence the timing of his passing information to the attorney general. Voters know what they know. Justice delayed is justice denied.
If Walker wins the primary despite the controversies, any delays of the investigation by Herbert simply leave his candidacy under a cloud longer. If he loses, the issue of his being a legal candidate becomes moot.
Herbert should do his duty and let the chips fall.
The claim that delaying an investigation or report helps remove political machinations is a farce. In fact, the opposite is true: political machinations cause the delaying of an investigation or report. The idea that ensuring that politically damaging information is released after its ability to cause political damage is sound public policy is simply laughable. Now if only more reporters would have the gall to point this out to elected officials who seek to delay.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

11th hour conferences

Have you ever gone to meeting where people who will no longer be in charge of you organize the meeting and try to make big decisions that bind their successors? You would have if you had ever been involved in anything dealing with an executive branch, whether local, state, or federal.

Most of my readers I am sure have heard about the supposed negotiations between still-President Bush and Iraq PM Nori Al-Maliki to sign some sort of rent to own contract for hundreds of military bases in Iraq. If you dislike President Clinton's 11th hour roadless rule, his creation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, or his pardons, you owe it to yourself to be upset at Bush's attempts to bind the hinds of President Obama or McCain with regards to the nature of US presence in Iraq.

But I bet you haven't heard of the million dollar meetin' at Snowbird on Federally owned lands, including National Parks and Forests with outgoing secretaries.
The national meeting, set for July 16-17 at Snowbird, will bring together more than 400 park superintendents and other top Park Service officials to hear from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Park Service director Mary Bomar, Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and others.
Park Service spokesman David Barna said, "It's really almost ridiculous that we don't do this more often." He noted that it's been 20 years since the last such gathering and said, "We're planning two days of meaningful work. This is not politics."

President Bush came into office pledging to eliminate a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog in the park system, fixing decrepit buildings, roads, trails and sewer systems. He will leave office in January with a to-do list longer than the one he inherited.

At the same time, park operating budgets have been shaved, and some public services, including educational programs and visitors centers, remain curtailed. The administration has fought with conservationists over snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles, clean-air standards and firearms in parks.

"Their actions have fallen significantly short of their commitments," said Ron Tipton, vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association.

A May 29 posting on the Park Service's internal Web site for employees says the July meeting will focus on goals such as how to reconnect Americans with their park system, develop new leaders for the system and highlight plans for the system's 100th birthday in 2016.

Those plans include a controversial proposal to raise private money to undertake projects in parks, including building new facilities and launching new programs. The Bush administration says that will mean new resources for the parks, but opponents say it will invite increased commercialism.
So some say this is a propaganda tour, others that it is a chance to legitimize things the Administration would like to do anyway--like letting extractive industries into national parks and forests. And Adminstration spokespeople say it is just a necessary meetin'. Go on up to Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort in July and let us know which one, if any, it is.

Monday, June 09, 2008

[Rick] Perry's House [is in] Pa[in]

[Photo Credit:]

No, I am not talking about the sitcom on TBS, but rather, the suspicious fire at the Texas Governor's mansion in Austin.

[Photo Credit: Harry Cabluck/Associated Press]

I am sure I am not the only one else wondering if this has something to do with the FLDS and Gov. Perry's handling of the raid (as well as his half-hearted admission that mistakes were made). That is, could the fire-starters have been zealots on either side of the raid of the polygamists' compound? I wouldn't be surprised, would you?