Utah

Terrific (Nobody Dies)

#SomethingTerrific | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID01). [Detail of photo by John Miller/Associated Press]

Let us try a compromise: Just don’t call him “pro-life”. Or, perhaps, we should begin in the moment, as Kristine Phillips tells it for the Washington Post:

A conservative Republican congressman from Idaho is drawing criticism for his response to a town-hall attendee’s concerns about how his party’s health-care bill would affect Medicaid recipients.

“You are mandating people on Medicaid to accept dying,” the woman said.

“That line is so indefensible,” said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a member of the influential House Freedom Caucus. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

The boos instantly drowned him out.

The congressman from Idaho’s First Congressional District and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus might have discovered a new apex for the absolute value of conservative political rhetoric. To the other, tempting as it seems to wonder if e’er so thoughtless bovine excrement was spoken, we do happen to be speaking both of Congress and conservatives, so, yeah, actually, lots. Still, though, Rep. Labrador reminds without question the challenge of abiding no integrity.

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Sean Hannity (Poor Donny)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity.  (FOX News, 2016)

“I have had it. Thirteen freaking days. Wake up. This can be won. But it’s very, very hard. And I’m telling all of you who is important here. And basically every red state’s important. If you think, ‘well, my state doesn’t matter, it’s Texas,’ no, you better vote. ‘My state’s Georgia,’ well we’ve seen polls that are close in Georgia. ‘My state’s Utah.’ Who’s this idiot that’s running third party that’s killing Trump out in Utah. Who put him up? What was it? The Bush people? The Romney people? Seriously? Really? You’re going to elect Hillary because we lose Utah? What a disaster that would be for the country.”

Sean Hannity

This is just a distraction. Media Matters offers a glimpse into Sean Hannity’s not quite struggle to wear both FOX News and Trump surrogate caps. Two hats, one tongue, half a brain? Right. Seriously: What joke goes here? Are not the words, “Sean Hannity”, enough?

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity. (Credit: FOX News, 2016)

Media Matters Staff. “Listen To Sean Hannity’s Unhinged Rant Over ‘Idiot’ Evan McMullin Beating Trump In Utah”. Media Matters for America. 26 October 2016.

The New Mundane (Petty Grotesquerie)

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), left, is flanked by House Speaker Ryan (R-WI), right, while signing the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, on Capitol Hill, 18 May 2016, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

There are days when we might simply shrug and say, “Yeah, it happens.” But, you know. This happened:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hasn’t yet met with Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland for what has been a long anticipated encounter between the former Judiciary Committee chairman and the federal appeals court judge he has long praised.

But when the meeting does happen, don’t expect Garland to succeed in convincing Hatch to support his nomination, because Hatch has already declared that it won’t.

“Like many of my Senate colleagues, I recently met with Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. … Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle,” Hatch wrote in an op-ed published on the website of the Deseret News early Thursday morning and later removed. It remains available in a Google database.

The headline for Mike DeBonis’ Washington Post report is straightforward: “Sen. Orrin Hatch reacts to meeting with Merrick Garland before it occurs”.

Look, the simple fact is that once upon a time politicians used to at least pay lip service to the notion of statesmanship. Certes, the Utah Republican knows this after thirty-nine years in the United States Senate.

It seems futile to complain about such petty grotesquerie; we probably ought to be thankful Republicans aren’t calling for Second Amendment solutions to the Garland nomination. Nonetheless, it’s worth reminding that the presidential contest is neither the only evidence of Republican unfitness to govern nor any manner of surprise. Republicans have labored hard to achieve such depths. The presidential contest is symptomatic. Orrin Hatch’s continued descent is emblematic.

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Image note: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), left, is flanked by House Speaker Ryan (R-WI), right, while signing the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, on Capitol Hill, 18 May 2016, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

DeBonis, Mike. “Sen. Orrin Hatch reacts to meeting with Merrick Garland before it occurs”. The Washington Post. 26 May 2016.

Beehive Buzz

VIII. Adjustment.

Just an update to a tale out of Utah:

A Utah judge who had ordered a baby girl taken away from her lesbian foster mothers and placed in a heterosexual home removed himself from the case Monday as criticism turned into calls for his impeachment.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)

Though Judge Scott Johansen had reversed his decision and allowed the 9-month-old baby to stay with the married women recommended by state welfare authorities, there were concerns he could still have the baby removed from their home in Price later on.

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce asked for the judge to be disqualified, saying that the decision revealed a potential bias that broke the rules of judicial conduct, their lawyer Jim Hunnicutt said.

While Johansen disputed their legal standing to call for his removal, he nevertheless stepped aside nearly a week after the Nov. 10 order criticized by national gay rights groups, the state’s Republican governor and others.

(Whitehurst)

This is a relevant question, I think: For all we might hear our politically conservative neighbors bawl about liberal judicial activism, what would they call a judge who has to make stuff up in order to desperately cling to traditional family values?

Just like we didn’t hear them complaining when the Sixth Circuit decided to arbitrarily recriminalize homosexuality for the purpose of sending a case to the Supreme Court.

Then again, I still recall the cries of liberal judicial activism in Roper v. Simmons, in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the decision of one of the most conservative state supreme courts in the country.

A judge getting caught faking it as he goes in order to exercise his right of conscience to deny equal protection in his own courtroom? If that isn’t an example of the sort of judicial activism our conservative neighbors constantly complain about, then … er … well, it would be one thing to say, then it is no longer clear what, exactly, they are complaining about, except, you konw, something about the day ending in -y.

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Whitehurst, Lindsay. “Utah judge removes himself from gay foster parent case”. Associated Press. 16 November 2015.

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 Downing Downer (Doobie Doo Double Down Downer D’oh! Mix)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), in January, 2015. Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite.

Of all the ghosts that might haunt a would-be candidate, London is something of a heavy metaphorical monkey. And why not mix metaphors, since five months later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s trip abroad still haunts him:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says British Prime Minister David Cameron confided in him that he was concerned about the direction of American leadership. But there’s a problem with the Republican’s tidy critique of President Barack Obama: Cameron doesn’t remember it that way ....

“I heard that from David Cameron back in February earlier when we were over at 10 Downing,” Walker said. “I heard it from other leaders around the world. They’re looking around realizing this lead from behind mentality just doesn’t work. It’s just not working.” ....

As Zeke Miller makes clear for Time, while this sort of halfwitted pandering might or might not play in Deer Valley, it certainly didn’t impress Downing Street:

Walker, who has taken several trips overseas in recent months to study up on foreign policy in preparation for an all-but-certain presidential bid, told a roomful of Republican donors Friday that world leaders, including Cameron, are worried about the U.S. stepping back in the world. “The Prime Minister did not say that and does not think that,” a Downing Street spokesperson told TIME.

There is always something of a fun question, each cycle, about foreign leaders and to what degree they should involve themselves in our American elections. And the question certainly has its proper context. Still, though, it also seems an obvious and appropriate question: If you wish to drag Downing Street into an American electoral process, why do so in such a clumsy manner? After the Chatham gaffe, Mr. Walker seems prepared to double down on the D’oh!

Seriously, if one wishes to name drop a foreign government, at least do so in a way that doesn’t move them to publicly call bullshit.

Because, you know, really, it doesn’t do your foreign policy credentials any good to go out of your way to offend our nation’s international neighbors and partners.

Then again, this is Scott Walker.

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Image note: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), in January, 2015. Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite.

Miller, Zeke J. “British Leader to Scott Walker: I Never Dissed Obama”. Time. 12 June 2015.

The Pigskin Preposterous

We call it ... football.

“As soon as I adopt that quitting attitude, I’ll have it for the rest of my life.”

Daijail Arthur

Talk about burying the lede.

Okay, time out: This probably means more to me than it does to you. A’ight?

Jeré Longman reports, for the New York Times:

The Louisiana high school football playoffs opened last Friday, but it hardly felt encouraging as the East Iberville Tigers boarded a bus for a five-hour ride north toward certain defeat. The team was 0-10 for a second consecutive season, so overmatched that four players decided not to make the trip.

This left a squad of 15 suited up for the Tigers’ Class 1A playoff opener here, including a freshman quarterback, two eighth-graders — a safety and a lineman — and a seventh-grade receiver.

The inclusion of winless teams in the playoffs is an unintended consequence of a much-debated action that Louisiana’s principals took before the 2013 season to split public and private schools into separate playoff tournaments for football.

Each state is left to make its own bylaws. In a number of states, the football playoffs have expanded for several reasons: tension between public and private schools over recruiting and scholarships, inclusivity and aligning football with the postseason tournaments in other sports.

One result is that teams with losing records routinely enter the playoffs because there are not enough competitive teams to go around. A quick survey found winless teams in the 2014 postseason from Texas, New Jersey, Utah, South Dakota and Missouri. Virginia had two playoff teams with 1-9 records.

There is so much wrong in those paragraphs that it is hard to know where to begin. This is not necessarily a result of Longman’s reporting; rather, the buried lede speaks more of our society. To that end, we might make snide remarks about market demand, but that would only further obscure what really is a very, very important issue.

Let us return to the second paragraph:

This left a squad of 15 suited up for the Tigers’ Class 1A playoff opener here, including a freshman quarterback, two eighth-graders — a safety and a lineman — and a seventh-grade receiver.

Please tell me this paragraph is a joke.

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Republican Dysfunction

USCapitol-bw

Again, remember that one side of this argument pushes the idea that government just doesn’t work … and when they get elected their purpose is to prove the thesis:

A week into the lame-duck session, Senate Republicans are finding all kinds of ways to block President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees — even if that means obstructing their own nominees in the process.

Last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) delayed Senate Judiciary Committee action by a week on nine judicial nominees for no evident reason. That group includes three Texas nominees with strong support from Texas Sens. John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R). Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is refusing to submit his so-called “blue slip” to advance a Utah judicial nominee he’s previously praised as “well known and highly regarded.” And Republicans are forcing four Georgia judicial nominees with strong support from Georgia’s GOP senators to each wait an extra day before they can get confirmed.

(Bendery)

Two brief notes:

• Those who wish to object on the grounds that the president, and not the congress, nominates judges, please account for the blue slip process else your protestations will be significant of ignorance.

• Those who wish to complain that government just doesn’t work ought not have voted for Republicans, unless it’s not really a complaint but, rather, an antisocial hope.

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Bendery, Jennifer. “Senate Republicans Use Lame Duck To Block Their Own Judicial Nominees”. The Huffington Post. 18 November 2014.