Aside from HBO's Big Love series generating big laughs at the expense of tens of thousands of women and children who languish in polygamy cults up and down the Rocky Mountains as American Justice looks the other way[ Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/02/2006 | Putting polygamy in the spotlight ] -- the show is believed designed to clear the air for a successful 2008 US presidential bid by Massachusetts Republican governor Mitt Romney.
Romney is one of the most prominent members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which says it has banned polygamy. So far, however, Romney has not made any public remarks condemning the widespread practice. He has instead joked about it.
So does Romney have the stuff of national leadership? Do we actually want a man as president who jokes about polygamy but fails to champion its demise, knowing how polygamy continues to ravage his own Mormon people?
It will be fascinating to watch Romney's presidential campaign maneuvers. Perhaps he will even attempt to distance himself from the LDS church as D.P. Sorensen satirizes in the Salt Lake City Weekly [LINK]. Sorensen jokes that he and Mitt were missionary (and drinking) buddies and that Romney has now made him his fiduciary third party, putting "his testimony into a blind trust". What that would mean in terms of media questions to Romney about religion is anybody's guess.
However, even Romney's Hollywood good looks do not conceal his fundamentalist leanings. For instance, he has recently announced that he opposes the 1973 Supreme Court's decision Roe v. Wade on abortion. Meaning he will play to his Mormon base in a presidential election.
As we know, the Mormons helped to push Bush II into the Oval Office through campaigning, cash and the legal savvy of Latter-day Saint Timothy Flannigan (the father of 14 children), who organized the Bush v. Gore argument and was rewarded with a White House counsel appointment.
While Mitt's mother may have been an MGM film actress, Mitt's Y chromosome comes from his father, the late Michigan governor George W. Romney, who was born and raised in the Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico polygamy colony between the New Mexico and Texas borders. (One account cites his birthplace as nearby Colonia Dublan.) Ancestry of Mitt Romney
Map of Mexico/US border area showing Casas Grandes (Near upper right corner) & Juarez – Click for big version - source desertexplorers.org
It is unclear exactly how today's Mexican polygamy law reads.
Child advocate Jay Beswick, who for many years lived near the fundamentalist Mormon polygamy epicenter of Hildale, Utah-Colorado City, Arizona (Big Love's Jupiter Creek) says: "There's something on the books. Canadian polygamy author Debbie Palmer's investigated it. She said it's not enforced."
Beswick says there are about three million Mormons in Mexico right now. He cites religious writer John Hart who says the goal is 30 million by 2020.
Romney family now in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua. - source desertexplorers.org
Ten percent of each Saint's annual income (no questions about where it comes from) goes to the LDS treasury to remain a fully active member. This pool of money has enabled Mormons as a group to gain an economic edge in this country with few noticing. Romney's tithes to the LDS treasury as a result of his years in investment banking would have to be cumulatively substantial.
For an excellent read about how the Mormon money works see Sally Denton and Roger Morris: The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America:
". . .as a handful of insiders knew, a special private plane began leaving Las Vegas every Monday morning for Salt Lake City, carrying to the LDS headquarters millions of dollars earned and tithed in the city."There are also Romney's ties to the LDS chuch school, Brigham Young University, though the Romney Institute established in his father's name.
And then there is the question: Will Romney pledge to cut LDS deadwood from America's intelligence community? The Mormon church's connection to the FBI and CIA are by now notorious. J. Edgar Hoover started the FBI with Mormon agents because they could keep a secret not because they could necessarily get the job done.
I recall one icy intel fellow grilling me in the Provo, Utah courtroom prior to one of the sessions at the Tom Green bigamy trial. Pretty obvious who he was, but I sensed he hadn't seen much of the world aside from his missionary work in Scandinavia.
Author Alex Schoumatoff expands on the LDS-intel link in his book, Legends of the American Desert:
"One afternoon in the summer of 1983, I sat in the VIP gallery [of Salt Lake City's LDS church] with two fidgety men in their thirties and an old man, who turned out to be William Casey, then director of the CIA, and his Secret Service guards. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation recruit heavily from the Saints, who make ideal operatives because they are extremely patriotic and have an aptitude for surveillance technology."Thus, it is no coincidence that Bush's incoming FBI Director Robert Mueller moved Darwin A. John, the LDS church's Chief Information Officer fairly quickly into the spot of CIO for the FBI. John has since left the FBI CIO spot, but continues as an adviser.
The downside of such compromise is apparent when, Warren Jeffs, a fundamentalist polygamist Mormon leader (FLDS) with a $50,000 reward on his head for sexual assault on a minor not only has not been seen for four years, but has recently built another polygamist compound, this time in Custer, SD -- adding to existing cults in UT, AZ, ID, TX and BC.
Neither Romney, nor Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt -- the former governor of Utah -- has publicly taken George W. Bush by the hand and rubbed his nose in the polygamy problem nor visibly put pressure on the FCC to pull the Big Love show from broadcast.
And how about LDS notable General Brent Scowcroft, as foreign intelligence adviser so concerned about Bush II's adventures abroad but not a whisper about the polygamy tragedy at home?
LDS celebrity Orrin Hatch, who also ran for the US presidency on the Republican ticket, has even entertained the FLDS polygamists in Hildale, playing the piano while assuring them that their lifestyle is okay with him. The long-time chairman and now ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has never brought a serious session on polygamy to the committee during his many years in charge.
Romney knows exactly how tightly the lid has been fit to conceal the polygamy problem -- locally, on the state level and federally. On the local level, the twin towns of Hildale-Colorado City, for instance, are organized as the United Effort Plan (UEP). UEP is "unofficially" represented by attorney Rodney Parker.
According to Jay Beswick, Parker represented both the now-unseated Hildale polygamist judge Walter Steed and convicted Colorado City polygamist cop Rodney Holm. Parker is with the law firm of Snow, Christensen and Martineau, which also represents the State of Utah. Rodney Parker is also the registered agent of the FLDS Corporations and Twin City Academy, Inc. in Hildale; all the above in good standing in the State of Utah.
Parker previously served in Bush I's administration as Associate Deputy Attorney General "on the immediate staff" of the Deputy Attorney General of the US in Washington, D.C.
Harold G. Christensen, Counsel at Snow Christensen, served as Deputy Attorney General of the US in both Bush I's and Ronald Reagan's administration. Martineau's official biography reveals that he was born in the Colonia Juarez polygamy colony where Mitt Romney's father grew up.
That Mitt Romney has publicly joked about polygamy instead of citing that 170 countries of the world now recognize polygamy as a human rights violation under the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women -- a document the US has signed and is morally bound to -- we can only assume means the status quo's okay with him as well.
We don't need more criminal negligence in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, the beginning of the end of Mormon polygamy starts with the cancellation of its glamorization on Big Love.