Latter-Day Saints

Even Less Admirable (The Chairman’s Daughter’s Whatnot)

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT03) questions Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. during her testimony in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on 29 September 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This is not what we would ordinarily call a profile in courage:

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz again reversed his position on Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy on Wednesday night, saying he’d vote for the Republican nominee but wouldn’t endorse him.

“I will not defend or endorse @realDonaldTrump, but I am voting for him,” Chaffetz tweeted Wednesday. “[Hillary Rodham Clinton] is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA.”

The House Oversight Committee chairman had previously backed Trump’s candidacy before withdrawing his endorsement on Oct. 8 following the revelation that the Republican nominee had made lewd and sexually aggressive comments while filming for an “Access Hollywood” interview in 2005.

(Lima)

Then again, this is Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT03) we’re talking about, so it’s not like anyone expects a lot. To that end, we should at least note the accomplishment, the e’er graceless flip-flop-flip.

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Dangerous and Unadmired

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). (Detail of photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Follow the bouncing Crapo:

Of all the congressional Republicans who’ve struggled with Donald Trump’s candidacy, arguably no one’s story is funnier than Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.). The Illinois Republican endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed Trump, then endorsed David Petraeus, then endorsed Colin Powell, then un-endorsed Powell, then said he no longer wanted to talk about it.

But if Kirk’s story is the most amazing, Sen. Mike Crapo (R) of Idaho is a competitive second ....

.... Yes, the Idaho Republican initially endorsed Trump. Then Crapo un-endorsed Trump. Soon after, the incumbent senator, up for re-election this year, said he’s an undecided voter. Yesterday, Crapo came full circle, re-endorsing the presidential candidate he un-endorsed two weeks ago.

(Benen)

This is important: Of all the unbelievable insanity we have witnessed through the 2016 electoral cycle, just how much of it is unbelievable, and why?

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A Moment Spent Dwelling on Failure

Clockwise from top left: Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O'Shaughnessy, insurrectionists who participated in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in booking photos released 27 January 2016, by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

And then there is the update we would, on balance, prefer to not give a damn about:

Anti-government militants who seized a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year conspired to intimidate government workers and steal property, a heavily armed invasion that was not protected by the U.S. Constitution, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow told a packed courtroom in downtown Portland that during the January takeover, the conspirators, many wearing camouflage and toting rifles, practiced shooting drills and hand-to-hand combat at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They also had a stockpile of some 15,000 rounds of ammunition.

“We all have a right to bear arms,” Barrow said. “This is a case about what the defendants did with those firearms.”

(Sherwood)

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Glenn Beck on Fatherhood

Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter.

And then there is this:

… a teary-eyed Glenn Beck and his studio audience engaged in something of a therapy session as they struggled to come to grips with the fact that God’s chosen candidate, Ted Cruz, has withdrawn from the Republican presidential race.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)The rejection of Cruz by Republican voters was “the last reckoning for us,” Beck declared, warning that God will now allow this nation to suffer the consequences of our decisions. America, Beck said, has become “a petulant child” that God has warned and scolded and disciplined over and over again “but the behavior is getting worse” and so punishment must follow.

God cannot allow this nation to escape the punishment that is due, he said, because “that would be a bad dad. That would be a very bad dad and the one thing I know about God, He ain’t a bad dad.”

(Mantyla)

Three brief notes:

(1) Remember, the difference between the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and other religious condemnations of America is that he sounded like he was suggesting God should damn America, while Sarah Palin’s preacher, or Pastor John Hagee, or … I don’t know, how many along the way? At any rate, they simply said God would. And Glenn Beck? He just says God cannot not. You know. Because something about a “petulant child” and how God “ain’t a bad dad”. Because, you know, it’s not the bad dads that nail Florida and Louisiana with hurricanes. And what the hell did Canada do to deserve all that? I mean, come on, sure, we know the whole tar sands thing is a bad idea, but really?

(2) Preachers and media celebrities can say what they want about God’s will, but if California needs to answer the Lord for something, so do New Jersey, Florida, and North Carolina. Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Rick Scott, and, well, Pat McCrory. Alabama must be terrified.

(3) Or perhaps we ought to try something a bit more rational? Because, you know, it would be best to pay no mind to raving, bigoted stupidity, but when it’s actually functionally dangerous, we would be remiss to ignore it.

So, Glenn: What are you going to say when you wake up in Hell? Are you going to say, “Thanks, Dad, I know I deserved that!”

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Image note: Top ― Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter. Right Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Daniel Sangjib Min/Times-Dispatch.)

Mantyla, Kyle. “Glenn Beck Says God Must Punish America For Rejecting Ted Cruz Because ‘He Ain’t A Bad Dad'”. Right Wing Watch. 6 May 2016.

A Moment Unto Itself

msnbc - "55-year-old protester under tarp with gun preparing for altercation". Detail of frame from The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 5 January 2016.

This is a moment in American history.

True enough, one can take that in various contexts; it is certainly a moment in American history, but is it significant? To wit, maybe you missed the chyron because you were in the bathroom. Or, you know, were just watching something else. That you watched a game show or answered the call is certainly a matter of, and moment in, American history, but it doesn’t really mean a whole lot unless you suffer a stroke as a result.

Or, you know. Something. I don’t know.

The msnbc chyron really says―

55-year-old protester under tarp with gun preparing for altercation

―and it seems that ought to count for something.

And that really is a fifty-five year old man with some manner of grudge against society sitting under a tarp, holding a gun, waiting for someone to try to arrest him.

It seems significant. The question of meaning, however, gapes.

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Image note: “55-year-old protester under tarp with gun preparing for altercation” ― Tony Dokopouil of msnbc reports from Princeton, Oregon, where armed insurgents have occupied a federal wildlife reserve, 5 January 2016. Detail of frame from The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

O’Donnell, Lawrence. “Oregon insurgents testing law enforcement”. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. msnbc. 5 January 2016.

Beehive Awesome

Justice is blind ... just kidding. No, really, did you read the Sixth Circuit ruling? Jaded eyes, jaded eyes ....

“We all mistakes as humans. We all have our own opinions. Sometimes they come out in the wrong setting. I’m not going to guess as to where it came from. I’m just going to be thankful that he decided to fix it.”

Beckie Peirce

And then it was over.

April Hoagland, left, and Beckie Peirce smile during a press conference outside of the Juvenile Court in Price, Utah Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. The married same-sex couple said Friday they are relieved after finding out they will be able to keep a baby girl they have been raising as foster parents. They spoke after a judge reversed his ruling to take the 9-month-old child and place her with a heterosexual couple for her well-being. (Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)A Utah lesbian couple said Friday they are relieved after finding out they will be able to keep a baby girl they have been raising as foster parents.

The married couple spoke Friday, hours after a judge reversed his ruling to take the 9-month-old child and place her with a heterosexual couple for her well-being.

“We’re just happy we don’t have to say goodbye to her on Tuesday,” April Hoagland told The Associated Press. “That’s a big relief.”

(Price and McCombs)

It feels really weird to say, “Congratulations!” at a time like this, because, well, you know. Seriously, what in the world was this?

A note to the homophobes, supremacists of conscience, or however we might find to say it: No more of this, please. There is exactly no reason to take it out on children.

Be well, Utah.

Thank you.

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Image note: Right ― April Hoagland, left, and Beckie Peirce smile during a press conference outside of the Juvenile Court in Price, Utah Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. The married same-sex couple said Friday they are relieved after finding out they will be able to keep a baby girl they have been raising as foster parents. They spoke after a judge reversed his ruling to take the 9-month-old child and place her with a heterosexual couple for her well-being. (Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Price, Michelle L. and Brady McCombs. “Utah judge reverses order to take baby from lesbian couple”. Associated Press. 13 November 2015.

The Beehive Stand

VIII. Adjustment.

For all the complaints we hear from conservatives about judicial activism, what are we to think? Yet for all the jokes we might make about Utah, all eyes turn to the Beehive State. This week a juvenile court judge ignored the will of a birth mother, the recommendations of the state’s Division of Child and Family Services, the office of the Guardian Ad Litem, and, as near as anyone can tell, Utah statute when he ordered a nine month-old removed from the home of certified foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce because he alleges scientific data that he will not provide demonstrates children will fare better under heterosexual parents.

The State of Utah does not seem inclined to agree, and is fighting back:

Utah state officials are challenging a decision made by a Utah judge to a take a baby away from lesbian foster parents and place her with a heterosexual couple for the child’s well-being.

Utah Division of Child and Family Services officials said Thursday in a statement that they will fight the ruling at the appeals court if Judge Scott Johansen doesn’t rescind his decision.

The state agency said the judge went against its recommendation that the 9-month old baby should stay with April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, a married couple in Price, Utah.

In his decision, Johansen mentioned research that shows children do better when raised by heterosexual families, state officials said. However, the American Psychological Association has said there’s no scientific basis for believing that gays and lesbians are unfit parents based on sexual orientation.

(McCombs and Price)

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Hatred (Beehive Betrayal)

Foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce of Carbon County say the baby they've fostered, loved, and raised for the last three months will be removed from their home and sent to heterosexual foster parents because a judge said the baby would be better-off. Hoagland and Peirce, who are legally married, were interviewed in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, November 11, 2015. (Source photo: Steve Griffin/Salt Lake Tribune)

This is a fair question: Why do angry grown-ups take it out on children?

No, really, after all these years of hearing homophobes wailing, “What about the children! Won’t someone please think of the children!” just what are we to think about the astounding temper tantrums in which allegedly responsible, sober adults―judges, legislators, governors, whole churches―aim to harm children in order to make some sort of stupid point? To the one, by the time we get back to Utah, we’re not surprised. To the other―

A married Carbon County couple says they plan to fight a judge’s order that would force them to give up their infant foster daughter simply because they are lesbians.

(Dobner)

―oh, come on!Say what?

You are not ....

What? What can I possibly say?

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A Thought for the Future

Per msnbc:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has instructed local church leaders that same-sex couples are apostates and that children living with them can’t take part in church activities until they’re adults and leave home, the church told NBC News on Thursday night.

And, really, what can anyone say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints did not just say for itself?

This is worth reminding: Never alienate the next generation.

No, really. Even if basic decency is too much to ask of Church leaders, one would expect them to at least be smart enough to not do to the future of their congregation what they just did.

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Johnson, M. Alex and Tracy Connor. “Mormon Church bars children of same-sex couples from baptism, blessings”. msnbc. 6 November 2015.

The Depth of Sickness

Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, August 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

That we do not dispute this or, really, any other aspect of David Frankfurter’s analysis only adds to our horror:

The social context may be just as important for understanding this new policy of sexual enslavement. One thing learned from the study of the small religious movements that have sprung up in the West over the past few centuries is the systematic restructuring of sexual relations that leaders have often demanded at an early point in the movement. This may involve group celibacy or polygamy, the exclusive sexual rights of the leader, or free sexual relations. It can often mean dissolution of prior marriages.

From the Jewish Frankists to the Mormons, the Shakers, the Branch Davidians and others, there is a pattern of inverting or eliminating prior sexual and emotional bonds to establish a new order, administered through the leader and his acolytes at the most intimate level.

This could easily apply to Islamic State’s sexual enslavement policies. The group is declaring its own institutional domination over both the bodies of women it has captured and the sexual gratification of its recruits — as an explicit feature of its new religious utopia.

This is why.

The thing is that this isn’t just Daa’ish or Boko Haram; they are just particularly ugly, heavily-armed manifestations of a terrifying proposition―deliberate conditioning of females for sexual abuse. I wonder if they would put down their rifles in exchange for a reality television show: 3,000 Slaves and Counting.

Unfortunately, that’s not simply a crass joke.

Neither is the common bond between Western purity cult and Daa’ish; assertions of moral and, in some aspects literal, ownership of females is not some random phenomenon that happened within the Daa’ish experience, but, rather, a driving purpose of patriarchal societies. In the end, it is very possibly the reason why.

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Image note: Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, August 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

Frankfurter, David. “The true motives behind Islamic State’s use of sexual slavery”. Reuters. 8 September 2015.