Friday, December 29, 2006

the (holy) blog wars

As many of you know, I used to work for the DLC. I agree with some of their philophosy, but I can't say that I agree with every tenant of their platform. I consider myself a Democrat, but I don't consider my party's platform to be akin to a religious dogma. One can believe in transsubstantiation, so to speak, and still be a good Episopalian.

So I feel the need to defend Will Marshall of the PPI/DLC from attacks from MyDD/DailyKos/SwingStateProject folks when they talk about the need to "excommunicate" the DLC from the Democratic party. Sure, Will was dead wrong about Iraq. When we argued about it in the fall of 2002, he said it was "all about the weapons of mass destruction" that we couldn't stand idily by while someone acquired such weapons and threatened their neighbors. We agreed that Afghanistan was already mismanaged and that it was his job as a war hawk to stay vigilant to prevent the Bush Administration from mismanaging Iraq. But I didn't see the threat as imminant.

And we may disagree about free trade to some degree. I think it needs to be fair in order to be effective. Just opening up one side of the market without worrying about fundamental unfairness, social, environmental, or labor conditions is a mistake.

But that doesn't mean he deserves to be banished from the party. Like I have said before, Lieberman needed to be primaried not because he was too conservative but because his political instincts were dead wrong and listening to him would be disasterous to the Democratic party.

Will Marshall is a smart nice man, and it is perfectly fine to disagree with him. But it is quite another to be setting up minimum standards for who deserves to be in the party. That is elitism if I have ever seen it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday round-up

    We got a dog! (see above) We haven't given him a name yet. Ideas welcome but we are thinking of something German, French, or English (i.e. Spaezel, Minion, or Dudley). Anyway, my wife and I are very excited...we adopted him in Lehi this morning.
  • If you thought our dog we cute, check out a sneezing baby panda!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Quote of the Day

If that's the kind of people we got over
in Iraq, maybe we ought to get out. I
suspect that's not the case. I suspect there
are good people, just like everywhere else in
the world. Mr. Alfatlawi is not one of them.
He is a criminal of the worst kind. He preys
on people that are minding their own
business. He robbed a store where a lady was
trying to make a new store work, in the
middle of the night. They took advantage of
a widow in the Cove area, who went out . . .
to try and give assistance, and they
terrorized her. A man coming home, unloading
his baggage in his home, they robbed. A
young woman walking down the street, who was
out of gas, in the night, coming home from
work, they attempted to rob her. She didn't
have anything, so they couldn't take it.
Random acts of violence, for example, on [one
of the victims]. This is just outside the
pizza store on 13th there. They pull up and
point a gun at him and demand money. He only
has five dollars, but he gives it to them.
And on and on and on.
This is the kind of guy that ought to be
off the street for a long period of time, as
long as I can make it. Considering his
attitude, if the Board of Pardons let's [sic]
him out in other than a box, they are nuts,
because he will do this again. It is too bad
we can't deport him back to Iraq. If I had
any say-so about it, that's exactly where he
would go, and he can deal with the situation
over there. He would last about 20 minutes,
with his attitude.
But, in any event, Mr. Alfatlawi has
earned and he gets from me a consecutive
sentence on each one of these. They all run
consecutively. By my count it is 70 years to
life. . . . This guy deserves to be in
prison for a long, long time. Commitment
forthwith. You can give him the good news,
Mr. Simms.
. . . .
. . . . Tell Mr. Alfatlawi to have a
nice life.

That was Third District Court Judge Hanson on Azharn Alfatlawi, who had just been convicted of six counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary. I had heard of the judge's comments last year when he was sentenced, but now that the sentence has been affirmed on appeal in a publicly available opinion, 2006 UT App 511, I feel I can share it with you all.

This defendant by the way has a tattoo on his forehead that says "Iraqi Pride," try getting a solid lineup with that. What do you do, draw "Iraqi Pride" and his teardrop tattoo on people with magic marker?

Anyway, I urge my readers to spend time with family and friends this next week as I will be blogging little to none while I do the same. Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus , or whatever you celebrate. I will be having a Merry Christmas. Two relatives who were not going to be here for Christmas Eve will be joining us thanks to that monster storm in Denver. It is happy for us but sad for their children and grandchildren in Denver. Still, the kids of Colorado have lots of snow to play in and probably haven't been at school for days. All this light snow in Salt Lake has me thinking of them. Also, be safe next week and if you have had ANYTHING to drink, just take a cab. I don't want to see you next time I try a DUI.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday round-up

  • People in Utah can't find their local liquor stores. Why? Because listing them in the yellowpages is deemed "advertising," which is prohibited by statute. "That's stupid," said Larry Lunt, head of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, said Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the agency that regulates state liquor sales. "People don't normally know to look for liquor stores in the Blue Pages."
    Searching online also may be problematic. An Internet check of Salt Lake County liquor stores also pulled up a grocery store and a plumbing supply outlet.

  • This week's sign the apocalypse is upon us: Sen. Orin Hatch's music goes Platinum. Who are these people that like to pay money for stuff you can listen to in the elevator?
  • I will take lame political christmas songs for $100 Alex: Courtesy of Hotline. I just hope they didn't write it themselves. Feel free to voice your opinion about the song in the comments.
    The Mormon Song
    (to tune of Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song")

    Break out the Golden Plate, here comes 2008.
    So fun to guess the fate of our favorite Mormon candidate.

    Mitt Romney has been a Mormon all his life.
    And unlike Giuliani and McCain, he's only had one wife.

    When you think like pundits in town who think it can't be done,
    Here's a list of people who are Mormon, Mitt's not the only one.

    Harry Reid's a Dem who'll lead the U.S. Senate,
    And then there are Republicans Orrin Hatch and Robert Ben-nett.

    Guess who eats together when Congress is in session,
    Senator Mike Crapo, and Congressman Mike Simpson

    George Allen's part Jewish; and he won't run in '08,
    Romney lost a foe because of Macaca-gate.

    Now on the war on terror, Mitt Romney won't be soft,
    and he can form a Cabinet with
    Chris Cannon and Brent Scowcroft -- (both Mormon)

    So break out the Golden Plate, here comes 2008
    If you go to see Salt Lake, the Marriot sure is great.

    O.J. Simpson -- not a Mormon,
    But guess who is, Governor Jon Huntsman.

    Romney's got a plan to make it to the fall,
    And if he does, he'll do better than Mo Udall.

    You may be convinced that it's not that tough a fight
    If Mitt gets help from the star of Napoleon Dynamite!

    Not many Mormons are in the news biz --
    Larry King isn't, but did you know that his wife is?

    Go tell Gordon Hinkley, '08 will be here quickly,
    McCain hopes that he'll face Hillary, but hey may not be the nominee.

    So stay away from coffee, and better not drink whiskey
    Cause maybe soon we all might see,
    a Republican President named Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2008 updates

It is amazing how fast and soon presidential politics moves these days. With the most wide-open races in a hundred or so years and a front loaded calendar on both sides, candidates are entering and leaving faster than I can get around to updating the "wannabes" section of my blog (see the bottom of the right side column). But today I got around to it. You will notice that Bayh was moved from "second tier" presidential candidate to first tier VP candidate (wherein he will never be chosen). I also added ex-VA Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), who ravaged the state budget so much that Warner had to raise taxes by over $2 billion to cover the deficits, along with major spending cuts. He sees an opening on the conservative wing of the GOP, given Romney's current troubles. Oh if only the GOP were dumb enough to nominate Gilmore, Romney, Brownback, Tancredo, or Hunter. Any of the Democrats running realistic campaigns could beat them (Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Clark, Richardson).

On the Democratic side, I added NM Gov. Bill Richardson, who has made some smart moves, to the board. I told Clark to speak out against McCain's add troops plan, and Richardson did it and got lots of praise from the blogosphere. Blogs will be the invisible primary of 2007. The winner will get lots of cash, loyalty, phone banking, and some actual on the ground volunteers. It will be interesting to see how the field shapes up.

The top of GOP race is currently McCain, but there is plenty of room on the right to run because the conservatives just don't trust him. And as McCain tires more and more to burnish his conservative bona fides, the more his moderate/independent base leaves him, and makes beating him in November easier. I think a McCain/Giuliani would be the GOP's best electoral bet, but I think a red meat conservative will get the Cheney slot.

The top of the Democratic primary is really much more wide open. Atrios sees it as a three way tie between Hillary, Obama, and Edwards. Edwards has the calendar and labor going for him. Hillary has the network of Clintonistas and loyal women behind her. Obama is the media darling, the McCain of 2008. But be warned Barrack, they love to tear down what they have created. I just hope it is McCain and not Obama, who would make an excellent VP choice. All three of these dubbed frontrunners could falter at any moment, so Clark & Richardson have a good shot and squeezing in. Both would also be good VP candidates. Democrats could realistically have a woman/black, woman/hispanic, black/hispanic, hispanic/black,or black/woman(with Sebilius as VP) ticket in 2008 and have all of these tickets with a good shot of success.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

how did this happen?

Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor who dedicated the rest of his life to hunting down Nazis, was placed on a list of potential posthumous converts to the LDS faith. His foundation got wind of Wiesenthal's name being on the database and raised holy hell.
"We are astounded and dismayed," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center's founder and dean, in a written statement. Wiesenthal "proudly lived as a Jew, died as a Jew and demanded justice for the millions of the victims of the Holocaust. . . . It is sacrilegious for the Mormon faith to desecrate his memory by suggesting that Jews on their own are not worthy enough to receive God's eternal blessing."

The Church reacted properly, but they have a massive problem on their hands.
"In accordance with the commitments the church made in 1995, no church ordinance was performed for Simon Wiesenthal and his name was immediately removed from the International Genealogical Index," said Bruce Olsen, press secretary to the church's First Presidency.

Mr. Olsen and his team need to figure out who put Wiesenthal's name on this list, and make a big stink about punishing them. After all, this isn't the first time it has happened:
In a posthumous or proxy baptism, a living Mormon is baptized by full immersion in water in the name of a deceased individual. Such baptism is essential for eternal salvation, the LDS Church teaches, but it takes effect only if the deceased accepts the ritual in the afterlife.
In 1995, several Jewish groups became incensed by the practice when it was discovered that Holocaust victims were among those being baptized by proxy. They drew parallels to medieval crusades to baptize them by force. Not wishing to offend, the LDS Church removed 400,000 names...But thousands of the deleted names somehow kept reappearing on the list, prompting more talks between the LDS Church and Jewish representatives... [and] In 2002, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton met with Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch to discuss the problem, although neither would discuss it publicly.

That would have been a great meeting to be a fly on the wall on. I bet Orin doesn't really hate Hillary as much as he pretends to on TV. Here is another great quote from Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's founder and dean:
"We believe the only gatekeeper to heaven is a life of good deeds," Hier said. "He was a great Jew and will merit heaven on his own without anybody's help."

Indeed, I think Wiesenthal's deeds and sufferings merit entrance into heaven, even if he doesn't think Jesus was the Messiah. And like I said, the LDS Church has a big PR disaster here that will only get worse if the press find out who did this before Church officials do. It could be that there is some anti-Semite putting these names in the database. Or it could be someone's idea of a big joke. Or it could be a true believer, thinking that he needs to save these souls more than any others. Either way, it is wrong and the Church needs to put a stop to it once and for all. Create a list of "do not post" names of Holocaust victims so that if people try this again (and they will), the Church will be able to catch the wrongdoers in the act.

Monday, December 18, 2006

quitting and taking the ball with you

I had heard about the kerfluffle from wayward Anglican ministries in Northern Virginia that were super-conservative at there dismay that New Hampshire made a openly gay man their bishop, but I never thought they would actually do this:
Truro and The Falls Church, with a combined membership of more than 3,000, will form the core of what is envisioned as a new Fairfax-based mission of the conservative Episcopal Church of Nigeria. The head of the Nigerian church, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has voiced support for a pending law in that country that includes prison sentences for gay sexual activity.

The Rev. Martyn Minns of Truro Church, who is missionary bishop of the splinter group known as CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), said that although the dissident Virginia churches believe that homosexuality is banned by Scripture, they do not support criminalization of gay sex.

Akinola's spokesman and his advocates have said he does not advocate aggressively pursuing the jailing of homosexuals. His advocates say he is trying to navigate an explosive cultural situation in Nigeria and appease Muslim leaders.

So who attends these churches? Truro is a veritable who's-who of Washington establishment conservatives, including Oliver North and SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas. And why do they believe it is necessary to create a schism?
Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.

So why not just join other churches that aren't as amenable to human equality? Its the principle of the thing right? That and the $25 Million the property is worth in Virginia. Yet another round of conservative cry babies acting immaturely. If church doctrine changes from you, you should change churches. Like if you were a racist, and the LDS Church decided that African-Americans could indeed be religious officials in 1978, then you should leave the church. And not take your expensive real estate and go play with a nutbar in Africa. But I guess homophobia and logic aren't necessarily related.

Friday, December 15, 2006

the gift of junk for the political junkie

The New York Times' "blog" has a interesting piece about holiday gift ideas that are politically themed. (Personally, I would rather get a poster of this map to hang in my room).

Giving someone Orin Hatch's Christmas CD, or any of his CD's is a violation of the 8th amendment I believe.

For another good laugh, you could get them a subscription of the Politico, the ultimate in the Washington Establishment set of always wrong pundits/journalists, by a self-proclaimed supergroup of writers who left their jobs at big papers to start this "paper."

Here's a taste, thanks to the New York Observer
The Post “came back with an unprecedented offer for us to stay,” Mr. VandeHei said, an offer that included positions leading the newspaper’s online political coverage.
"I think we’ll show that we’re better than The New York Times or The Washington Post," Mr. VandeHei said.

Lastly, the Times suggests getting your political geek a mirror. But better yet would be a mirror with the seat of the office of the president on it. Get it for the Senator on your list.

And really, I am tired of stories talking about the fashion choices of the first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Who cares if she wears nice pearls or Armani suits? Why didn't we talk about the gigantic gut of then-Speaker Hastert, or the tacky outfits of other powerful men? It really is demeaning to women leaders, especially since many of it is coming from women reporters. Women are more than their clothes, hair, makeup, and jewelry. But it is hard to tell from the breathless coverage by the MSM. So you have 24 hours to kill on a cable news show--why don't you do in depth reporting on a single topic, or talk about the leading story on the internets, rather than become a national local news show. Do I really need to know about white power given to a teacher in NJ without any context? Do you really need to know the brand of clothes or type of pearls Speaker Pelosi prefers? Do I care?

The reason Anderson Cooper and Keith Olberman shot up in ratings these last years is because they cut through the crap and get to what really interests Americans without going into "Entertainment Tonight" mode.

To me though, the story of the day on the internets is the news that Atrios has become the CW for Democratic primary voters. And I have to say, there is a lot of truth to that. When he makes a point, it ends up sticking in the dialog on the left blogosphere. How ironic that he is now what he despises, David Broder, at least to some degree.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

when things don't work out

The whole Sen. Johnson blab-fest on the cable news just shows how DC-centric they are. I am sure everyone is talking about this in Washington, no matter how little they know about A) brain surgery and Sen. Johnson's condition and B) the law on replacing incapacitated Senators. It is the perfect event for such DC folks: there is little hard information going around, it is a small event that could have massive implications for public policy and power, and there is no other political news really to speak of until January 8th, when Romney and all the other 2008 wannabes start announcing.

Washington, it has been said, it is a town that runs on rumors. Nothing could be a better example of this adage than poor Sen. Johnson's current health. It sounds like he could be right as rain in a couple of months and let's all pray for the best.

When thinks for the GOP didn't work out this November, they are left hoping Senator Johnson dies, just like Democrats were waiting on Sen. Thurmond to die or to flip a moderate GOPer (they got Jeffords and Chafee should have joined him).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Matheson's new committee

Being the political nerd I am, I have actually been checking Jim's congressional website to see if he had announced what committees he would be on next congress. With so many more committee seats opened up to Democrats, and the new majority interested in holding marginal seats like Jim's, I figured he would get a plumb assignment.

But I never dreamt he would get one of the biggies. "Matheson has snagged one of eight Democratic seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad authority and oversees several Cabinet-level departments." The article goes on to say him had to give up his other committee assignments. That is because Energy and Commerce is one of the "exclusive" committees--so powerful that to be fair to the 'losers' who don't get to be on them, you have to not be one ANY other committee.

"It's the most powerful committee in Congress," Matheson told the Trib. "It presents a great opportunity. It affects every American." By that he explained to the Deseret News that the committee's jurisdiction covers "five Cabinet-level Departments and seven independent agencies, including the departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, [and] Transportation [as well as] the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission."

On this committee, Jim could very easily block nuclear testing in Nevada and Utah, as well as get his tax-porn and his enforce-video-game-ratings bills onto the floor. If the federal government really could effectively and legally (there's a First Amendment issue to be sure) tax porn, boy that could solve our budget deficit over night. That's because the porn industry is worth about $10 billion!

This just goes to show that it helps to have friends in high places: His chief of staff's husband is the chief in staff to incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

There goes the Senate?

Mere hours after Democrats padded their margin in the House, it seems the narrow hold of the Senate might slip away. NBC's Brian Williams is blogging that South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, who up until now was the only member of Congress with children serving in Iraq, had a stroke.

The Hotline, as usual, explains the political connotations:
If Sen. Johnson decides he is too ill to continue as Senator, Gov. Mike Rounds (R) would have ten days from the day of Johnson's resignation to appoint a replacement.

Because Johnson's in cycle, his replacement would stay on through the '08 elections.

Rounds was the guy who wanted to outlaw abortions even if the mother had been raped, by the way, and the people of his state voted him down. Don't think that he is feeling particular democratic (or Democratic) these days and would appoint ex-Sen. Daschle or US Rep. Hereseth to replace Johnson. I would pick South Dakotan Tom Brokaw.

The Third Avenue prays for Johnson's speedy recovery. "Bill Press is making a very important point: GWU Hospital has a world-class stroke unit and is full of top-flite professionals," and that we have no idea how bad a stroke this really is. Let's hope it is extremely minor or just a rumor.

UPDATE: The Washington Post version of the story makes it seem like it was a relatively minor stroke.
Johnson had become disoriented during a call with reporters, stuttering in response to a question. He appeared to recover, asking if there were any additional questions and then signing off.

LATE UPDATE: CBS News: Julianne Fisher,a spokeswoman for Senator Johnson, "said the senator did not suffer a stroke or heart attack." Thank goodness. It seems like he started stuttering during the press event, and felt weird, so out of abundance of caution, his staff rushed him to the best stroke place in the area. Hat tip-- Think Progress

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Newton's First Law

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. In this case the object or object is my wife and I. Even though I have thoroughly enjoyed being back in Utah after a six-year hiatus, I find myself itching for a change. My wife is eager to move back to DC (where we lived 2002-03) since her parents now live in Richmond.

With the most wide open presidential election cycle in some 150 years, I am excited to get back to our nation's capital too. Only how do I get a job and what do I do? My rules for employment are fairly simple: a law-related job (one where my JD would actually be necessary) that pays more than I earned before law school ($28,500). In theory, that shouldn't be very hard to find.

But in practice, you either have to know someone, or have amazing grades, or know some one AND have amazing grades. I don't know that many people in powerful legal position in D.C., and I don't know if or how they could help. If you think you could, dear readers, I am all ears.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Debby Blumer: 1941-2006

(Boston Herald File photo)
I was shocked and deeply saddened today to learn (two months after the fact) that my boss from my days as a legislative aide in Boston died suddenly while driving home. State Representative Blumer was a tough boss, but rightly so. She demanded that I do the best for her constituents. She sought to listen to every constituent and hear them out, even if they disagreed with her.

During the 2004 Constitutional Convention regarding Gay Marriage, she came out strongly for equal marriage rights for her homosexual constituents. She got lots of hate mail and lots of fan mail too. The letters and emails and faxes and visits were deeply personal, people sharing their lives with her. Debby also fought hard to get as much road projects for her district as possible. And unlike most of her colleagues, Framingham's roads really did need it. She fought with the power and telephone companies to remove unsightly and dangerous polls and wires that were no longer necessary. She fought to increase funding for the poor and disabled's housing, health insurance, and more.

I might have disagreed with her vehement opposition to charter schools, but I respected her conviction and work ethic. She worked tirelessly, both in the district, on the campaign trail and at the State House in Boston.

Although she was not a tall woman, whomever replaces her in the State House will have big shoes to fill.

idiots with power

Ah the brothers Cannon. One continues to carry water for emasculated president and smear Democrats without cause or truth. The other just got himself on the Deseret News editorial board. When the Church gets all defensive about its ties to the Republican party, I think they need to look this one in the face. Why is a Church-owned publication hiring a state party chairman, whose brother is a partisan member of Congress, as an editor?

Anyway, lets go to the idiot quotations.
"As I read the report, it says the president is right," he [Rep. Chris Cannon] said. "Basically, it says the president is a smart guy."
He said the commission rejected a quick withdrawal from Iraq, aiming for 2008, but allowing for changes in conditions on the ground. [Source: Tribune

Utah Democrats claims to have found the first intrusion of Joe on behalf of Chris:
It looks like a pretty little graphic, but what stands out, for anyone with an IQ above room temperature, are Bernick's obviously false and deliberately misleading numbers in the UT-CD3 race. Take a look:

[Bob] Bernick states in the article:

"Burridge spent only $7,000. For his whole race, Cannon spent $1.16 million, a record re-election total for him."

Now, while I recognize that Bernick indicated in the graphic that the dollar figures used in the graphic for Burridge (and Pete Ashdown) features an asterisk noting that the totals are taken from the amount of money the candidates had at State Convention (May 2006) in 3 point font.

For more than a month now, before Bernick gifted this goofy, ill-considered gem to his new boss, anyone could have easily found public FEC information that as of October 18th Burridge had raised $55,000 and had spent approximately $47,000

I don't think this is as sinister. I think Bernick just asked Joe how much his brother spent and how much Burridge spent, never bothering to look it up online himself in 5 seconds. Plus, I think Burridge looks better to have done so well with so little ($7,000) than the slightly more he raised.

"I think what you can expect is, you're not going to get a shill for the Republican Party". said Joe. Sure, that is what a public expects from its editors...but that's not what it is going to get from the bunch that say the ISG report said the president was right.

Anyone who can read besides liars like Tony Snow say that the report is a repudiation of the President's policy. But then again, Chris can't do either apparently.
"You are probably going to have an impeachment proceeding with [Rep. John] Conyers leading Judiciary and you are going to have a raft of . . . legislative inquiries by [Rep.] Henry Waxman," Rep. Chris Cannon predicted on election night.
Cannon said he would be the administration's "go-to guy" to defend President Bush against the mob.
In just a month, he has turned 180 degrees.
The moderate Democrats who gave their party control will force the new majority to govern from the middle, Cannon now says, abandoning his slash-and-burn scenario.

Speaking of the Iraq Study Group, I am tired of these blue ribbon commissions dictating US policy on big issues. If these old folks really know what to do, why not have them actually in a President's administration or in Congress? Why do we even bother to have either if all they are supposed to do, according to the Washington Establishment, is to follow whatever they say.

Have our actual leaders become so incompetent that they can't think for themselves and need people to tell them what to do who aren't staffers? Not to mention the fact that the ISG report is not at all useful or informative. Where were these people in 2002 or 2003 when the war started, or in 2004 when we could have salvaged more?

I may be young and unexperienced in the ways of the world, but with my undergraduate degree in International Relations, somehow I knew before all the wise men of the think tanks and writers of serious books that a) Saddam wasn't a threat, b) he didn't have any serious WMD's, c) Bush would screw up the country post-invasion, d) all of his "experts" were idiotic ideologes.

Maybe you feel differently, but I am tired of giving morons all this power. Why do we allow people like Chris and Joe Cannon to give us the news and write our laws? Why do we allow establishment types without constitutional authority, to write legislation that "has to" be passed? Why is "bipartisanship" so sacred if one side is so dedicated to covering the butt of their partisans? Does this really have to be the way things are in Washington? A Clark would change this. Hillary has become part of the establishment. McCain is the epitome of this wrong-headed thinking (the ISG heads even basically endorsed McCain '08 by perpetuating his imaginary 30K more troops will solve everything "alternative"). Romney is a Janis-faced politician who will say anything to get people to vote for him. [Right wingers, don't worry, he was never serious when he was kissing up to the Log Cabin Republicans.] Obama says he is about change, but he might really be a consensus behind the scenes guy after all. Edwards wants to be president and loved so much, he may get follow High Broderism as well.

I say, let's dethrown these idiots with power and prevent future idiots from power and those who may listen to idiots from having power as well.

Friday, December 08, 2006

2008--who's out before they know it

  1. Evan Bayn. Dan of Kentucky Democrat and other Bayh fans will notice that I did not include him my ranking of Democratic presidential hopefuls. That is because is an afterthought, not just to me but to primary voters as well. Here is a telling example:
    "Both Senators Evan Bayh and Barack Obama will be in New Hampshire this weekend. While staff members for Bayh may have to scramble to find 50 people to show up for his three events, Obama has a guaranteed audience of 2,225," according to the Boston Globe.

    "Both Obama events are sold out, the organizers say. All 750 free tickets to attend a book signing in Portsmouth were grabbed up in just one day. In addition 1,500 people have bought tickets to see him at a rally celebrating Democratic victories in the state. People from 13 states have bought tickets to attend the rally."

    A book signing--of a number 1 best seller--versus a all but in name only presidential campaign event, and it is not even close. Sure Bayh was governor of Indiana, but that was because of his Dad Birch, who was beloved. He obviously wasn't a bad governor, otherwise he wouldn't have been such a landslide Senate winner each time. But still, have you read his presidential book? DLCers told me it was a terrible 'read,' and that they bought the book out of pity. Not too intellectual or charismatic a person either. Oh and being on some committee in the Senate does not count as "national security experience." Otherwise, Joe Biden would have a chance.

  2. Al Gore. I saw him on Oprah the other day...and he was the Al Gore of February 2001. Fat, tired looking, boring and uncharismatic/unfunny. I think people forget how great a job the filmmakers of 'An inconvenient truth' were. They made a long slide show by Al Gore interesting. And not just the slide show. The movie was about the man who nearly was president...about what it is like to find your purpose after suffering the most public loss in the history of mankind. Al, it seems to me, never wanted to be a politician. He loved learning about stuff, and really cared about the environment first and for most. There were other wonky things he loved, but clearly running for President wasn't one of those. Al Gore, Sr. wanted to be president and I believe that Al Jr. ran to fulfill his father's dying wish. After Al ran one of the worst campaigns ever, he was relieved of his duty to run.

    He still wants to be relevant and listened to, and he has some good things to say, but he is not going to run. Al would have made a great president. I volunteered for him the weekend before the elections in NH. I loved the movie. But I cannot and don't have to support him in 2008. Al Gore for EPA chair 2009!

The Biden's, the Gravel's, the Vilsack's, the Brownback's, the Kucinich's, they are too obvious and too fun to watch fall flat on their faces.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wes Clark 2008

That's right, I know it is a bit early, but I am fully behind the General. All signs point to Clark entering into the 2008 race soon. "I think it was clear that I got in too late last time," Clark told the Associated Press.

I do too, but what also hurt Clark was that a Senator for Massachusetts somehow claimed he was electable with foreign policy experience. Great work Iowa Caucus goers. He needed more money (although he did pretty well on that score), better staff (just say no to Gore 2000 staffers like Chris Lehane), and more experience with being in the public limelight of presidential politics.

Clark learned how the game is played: Iowa is the key normally in a front loaded calendar like this. But if Vilsack hangs on until January of 2008, he will moot Iowa. Some have said that he is just doing this for Hillary. That's gotta hurt. Anyway, if Vilsack doesn't do an 11th hour endorsement, the key will be 2nd and 3rd place in Iowa.

Those folks will have a leg up in NH. Since no New Englanders are running this time (it seems Kerry finally got the hint), NH should go to that 2nd or 3rd placer. Meanwhile, Nevada will happen. Look for the media to down play the Silver State because they know the best B&B's in the Granite State by now and have their reservations already set. Next, the calendar swings to SC. If it is still neck and neck, I would bet on Edwards winning this with Hillary/Obama (it is either one or the other in my book) and Clark on his heals.

I think Clark has a strong chance. Here is what I recommend: hire the veteran campaign staffers of Virginia, Montana, and Missouri, get on a plane to Las Vegas right now to protest along side those striking Nurses, do an interview with MyDD mid-2007 (not Josh Marshall), hire as many veteran IA and NH staffers as you can right now, speak out against the fetal pain bill in the lame duck, make a statement to the press that you don't like Democrats talking bad about straw men 'liberals,' have your son go on talk radio again and tell it like it is, poo-poo McCain's mythical 20k-more-troops-will-solve-everything plan.

If he does those things, he will shore up his weaknesses from 2004 (lack of support on Domestic Issues) and burnish his key strength (4 star general who WON a ethnic/religious based civil war involving Muslims with allies). Good luck, General.

Utah's 4th dead

No lame duck 4th seat for Utah. So says outgoing Majority Leader John Boehner (unfortunately pronounced "BAY-nor"). But California Republican Dana Rohrbacker has an idea that I would support:
Rohrbacker has introduced legislation, and will reintroduce it next year, [his spokesman] said, that would allow residents of the district to vote in Maryland federal elections and also give Utah a fourth House seat to balance another Maryland seat essentially for the district.
Some scholars have said the measure could violate the Constitution's directive that members of the House come "from the several states." Other Constitutional experts disagreed, saying that Congress has broad discretion over the district.

I like it...Retrosecession, but only for voting, since Maryland clearly doesn't want Washington in there state to deal with, but Maryland Democrats would love to have their statewide office seats secured. Of course, there would be that little problem of the Electoral College, and that constitutional amendment that gives DC three EC votes.

I guess D.C.'s representative would not count towards Marylands EC votes, D.C. voters vote for US Senator from Maryland would not subtract their EC votes either. Still a bit awkward. But better than nothing.

Maybe Pelosi will allow this as an Amendment to the Davis bill if it is revived in the 110th Congress.

making their moves on Utah's 4th

And the first politician out of the gate is surprisingly a Democrat: Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley, head of the Utah AFL-CIO:
Mayne [], for example, had tried to get his hometown completely into the new 4th District, so he could run for an open congressional seat in the future. But his house stayed several blocks within the 2nd District.
Mayne [] said he is still seriously thinking about a run for Congress. That could mean a move, into the 4th District, or running in the 4th District while living just outside the boundary (which is legal) or challenging the lone Utah Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson, in the 2nd District.
"I really wanted to be in the new district. I think I could win that," Mayne said, noting he would be able to raise a lot money for the race through his union ties. "I'm going to be a threat in any district if I choose to run."

Mayne previously called the Mathesons and my Dad part of the "white wine Mercedes set" But that doesn't necessarily mean he would challenge Jim in the primary. He probably wants Jim to clear the field for him. On the GOP side, I think Mayne's colleague Mike Waddoups (R-Taylorsville) wants in too, having tried and failed to get all of Taylorsville into one district or another. Meanwhile, another Republican played Constitutional Scholar:
On the House floor, Rep. Julie Fisher, R-Fruit Heights, offered an amendment that would have adopted Plan L, but not place it into law until after Congress either gave Washington, D.C., back to Maryland (where its residents could vote as a citizen of that state), created a D.C. state or changed the U.S. Constitution to specially allow D.C. to have a voting member.

I shouldn't mock, I am glad someone is engaging constitutional analysis, but I doubt that is the real reason they voted no.

Utah's 4th, Iraq, and 2008

This will be a random collection of thoughts, as always. Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was writing an appellate brief and wanted to get a draft out.

  • Utah and DC's seat deal remains valid in theory. The New York Times picked up the story, which makes it seem more likely this is going to happen after all. But the local papers are the ones with the actual news. Buried in the first couple paragraphs of the Deseret News' article yesterday was this gem on the "bipartisan" bill:
    The map passed the 23-4 in the Senate without any amendments, even though several changes were discussed during a nearly three-hour, closed- door GOP caucus.
    Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Pete Knudson, R-Brigham City, said there was interest in the proposed changes, but no one wanted to jeopardize the bill's passage by tinkering.

    Did you catch that part about GOP only amendments in a closed door three hour caucus? Somehow, I have a feeling that Sen. Waddoups got what he wished for during that meeting [final passed map in PDF]. Meanwhile, Democrats and the rest of the public had no input on this process, let alone a record of what traded what for what, or how much support there was for various changes. This is why Jim Matheson and Roz McGee is right redistricting, especially of state legislative seats, needs to be done by an independent commission, not self-interested politicians who are salivating at the chance at running in the new 4th and fancy themselves a member of Congress. I sure hope Jim rains on their little parade.

  • Can you honestly tell me that you thoroughly read all the articles and books coming out daily about how messed up Iraq is? I wrote two papers in college about the Kurds and yet I can't stomach more than "X people died today in ___ when a ___ exploded" or "___ found ___ bodies ___ killed execution style" I can imagine that most Americans can't manage to read those articles or listen to the news in much detail about it either. Every day we are reminded how horrible life must be over there. Knowing the details just makes it all the more overwhelming and impossible to deal with in my book.
    That is not to say that we should whitewash the reporting. But don't expect everyone to read through all the extremely gory and depressing details.

  • We are mere weeks away from candidates announcing their candidacy for the 2008 presidential race. What's that you say, Gravel, Biden, and Vilsack have already announced? Don't worry, they will reannounce in D.C. events (Sunday talk shows, the National Press Club, etc.) over and over again before they drop out in a few months. Here's how it looks to me for the GOP side in order: McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Brownback, Huckabee. On the Democratic side, it is very fluid. I expect that if Obama is one of the first out of the box announcing (and has some serious staff/implied endorsements on his side) Hillary will NOT RUN. I still think everyone in Hillaryland but Hillary wants to run for president. Maybe she would like to be President, but she knows better than anyone of the candidates what it takes to win and how tough it is to run. She has lots of money (13.5 M) but money only buys you name recognition and maybe improves your image. Everyone who votes already knows who she is and already has a strong opinion about her. I see the race like this: Obama/Hillary, Gore?, Edwards, Clark, Richardson, Vilsack, Dodd, Biden, Gravel. On the Veepstakes, I see Romney, Giuliani, and Huckabee for the GOP and Warner, Obama, Clark, Vilsack, and Richardson for the Democrats. As always, my dream ticket is Clark-Warner, with Obama as AG and maybe as a Supreme Court Justice for the next opening.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

as the 4th district turns

In this episode, we will go more into the chances of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis' (R-NoVA) DC-Utah House seat bill. ex-Sen. ex-VP candidate Jack Kemp and Mr. Davis believe the bill still has a chance:
"No one in our leadership has indicated to me that this is not possible," [] Davis [] said [] Friday. "The stars are aligned. The time is now."
"There remains a strong possibility of enacting the DC Voting Rights Act during the lame duck session of Congress," Kemp said. "Conversations I have had with House and Senate leadership about the bill have been positive and encouraging."

"No one [told] me [it's] not possible" and "strong possibility" are not exactly ringing endorsements of the bill's chances. That sounds like much less than the 50% that some pundits (like UVA's Larry Sabbato) have given the bill. When the media asked the Democrat most interested in the bill, this is what D.C.'s delegate told the Tribune:
Eleanor Holmes Norton[] says incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised her continuing support of the bill if the GOP doesn't take up the measure next week. Pelosi is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
It's unclear, however, whether Utah will still be part of the legislation under a Democratic-controlled Congress.

So it sounds like D.C. could get its vote early in January and Utah might get nothing until 2012. But that's OK with the Tribune, whose headline reads "Utah voters' case pales in comparison with D.C.'s:"
While Utah has three U.S. House members and two senators, the district's nearly 600,000 residents have no vote in Congress, which, in addition to its other powers, controls the district's budget and laws.
"The people of Utah have expressed outrage over the loss of one congressional seat for the last six years," Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. testified before a congressional committee in September. "I share their outrage. I can't imagine what it must be like for American citizens to have no representation at all for over 200 years."

There is some interesting history about DC's attempts to get a vote that I didn't know about either
In 1978, Congress sent the states another constitutional amendment that would allow the district to have a House member, but only 16 of the required 38 states ratified the change, and it expired in 1985.
The district also called a Constitutional Convention in 1980, a state constitution was drafted for "New Columbia," and it was submitted to be part of the union. But it was all for naught. The amendment didn't pass.

And of course, almost all of us know why nothing has happened in terms of D.C. getting Congressional voting rights:
Mark David Richards is a political sociologist who did his doctoral dissertation on the history of the District of Columbia. He says for much of the time the district has been seeking full voting rights, the opposition derived, at least in part, from racial undertones. Blacks make up 62 percent of the district's population, according to the 2000 census.
But now, Richards says, some of the opposition to granting the district voting rights is pure politics - if the city gained a House member or senators, there's little doubt the Democrat-filled city would elect only those with donkeys on their campaign signs.

With Democrats in control of Congress, I don't know why they don't try the Davis bill or something else that gives DC a vote. Retrocession the District (save the National Mall and other Federal buildings) back to Maryland would work, but Maryland doesn't want to deal with the mess that Congress has made of DC. Why not just pass a bill to allow D.C. voters to vote in MD's senate race and give DC a vote in the House. Under the constitution, Congress can do whatever the hell it wants within the 10 miles square of the District (Art I, Sec. 8, cl. 17).

I will keep on this story dear reader until the Davis bill fails or another DC bill is brought up in the 110th Congress.

Friday, December 01, 2006

much politisan manuvering about nothing

Thomas Burr of the Trib starts his lede with this non-shocker: "Even as Utah state lawmakers prepare to head into special session to pass a four-seat congressional map in hopes of getting another House member, it's doubtful legislation dealing with the issue in Congress will make it to a vote next week."

Rep. Ben Ferry, R-Corinne, the one committee member who voted against Plan L, has proposed his own Plan M [PDF] because Plan L created a urban 2nd District. "Having a rural component in every district is very important," said Ferry, a Box Elder County stockman. "You try to have comprehensive seats . . . so representatives are aware of rural concerns."

Rep. Ferry, being aware of, caring about, and doing something about are three different things. If you jam in some rural voters into the 2nd on principle, it doesn't mean that Congressman or -woman will do anything for rural Utahns. So Plan M is dead on arrival right?
Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, has said he also will propose another map at the special session because Plan L divides Taylorsville.
"We are open to any proposals," said Sen. Curt Bramble, a chairman of the 11-person Redistricting Committee. "But when you have a 10-1 vote coming out of committee - that is sending a pretty strong message."

That is saying no more than yes. Speaker Greg Curtis agrees most lawmakers are going to look to the committee, which labored over computer-generated maps, for guidance. "[Ferry] is going to have an uphill battle," Curtis said. "He's going to have to convince members of the committee why his map is better than the one they adopted." So OK that means this Plan M is for naught. But Waddups wants some changes But then again, so is the whole process:
A senior GOP aide told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday that it's "unlikely" the House would take up a bill that would give Utah a fourth congressional seat that likely would go to a Republican in order to balance a proposed seat for the District of Columbia, which doesn't now have a full-voting representative.
"There's simply too many Republicans who have problems with the bill to bring it up at this late of an hour in the session," the aide said.
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, signaled similar concerns on Thursday. Asked if the bill had a chance at passing, Cannon said, "It is very dicey, I would say."

So I guess I have to applaud the legislature's committee for listening to that woman in Park City and including Park City with Salt Lake and its 'burbs. At the same time, the whole thing was sham partisan map. They are using 6 year old data, creating 3-safe GOP seats and one safe Democratic district. Except Jim could bust their whole scheme.

It will be interesting to see if Huntsman cannot only keep the legislature in line to pass Plan L but also convince the House and Senate in the US Congress to pass this in the Lame Duck. Personally, i think the chances are less than 50%.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More on plan L

So this bill is "bipartisan" according to the Tribune because the committee listened to people in Park City who complained about being lumped into rural Utah when they are a cosmopolitan city linked to Salt Lake City and Vale, CO than Mexican Hat, UT..."including a Park City woman who complained about being in the 'hellhole' of the 1st Congressional District. "

But this article does include a new tidbit of information from the past that might link to the future:
After the 2001 redistricting, Matheson contemplated suing the state after Republican lawmakers gerrymandered him into a district stretching from Salt Lake City to St. George. Wednesday, Matheson spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend declined to comment on the new map, calling it "extremely hypothetical."

The Deseret News points out the Utah Republican hypocrisy:
For a decade, GOP lawmakers have argued that there should not be a single U.S. House district in Salt Lake County — that all Utah congressmen should represent both urban and rural areas of the state. But under Plan L, Matheson's 2nd District would take in northern Salt Lake County, Park City and surrounding suburbs in Summit County and North Salt Lake and part of Woods Cross in Davis County.

Oh and by the way, you, Utah Taxpayers, paid for a likely charade
Finally, all the work and cost of paying for the committee's work and a special session may be for naught.
State officials are rushing to get a four-seat plan before Congress so that a lame-duck session next week can consider a special bill that would give Washington, D.C., a full-voting House seat (the current delegate can't vote on final passage of legislation) and give Utah a fourth seat.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The new map

In the end, the Legislature's special committee decided on a plan whose map was never released to the public...Plan L(PDF).

L looks somewhat similar to previous plans. The new 4th district will be Southwestern Utah (Tooele, Juab [save the Eastern jug end where everyone lives], Millard, Beaver, Iron, Washington Counties). However, the 4th also would include Southern Salt Lake County-- South Jordan, West Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, Talyorsville, Sandy, and parts of West Valley. The new 2nd will be like the 1990's 2nd (Northern Salt Lake County, with the Park City part of Summitt County, and a tiny sliver of Davis and Utah Counties [Woods Cross and Alta respectively]). The new 3rd will include Eastern Utah "centered" around Provo (Morgan, rest of Summitt, Daggett, Wasatch, Utah, Duchesne, Uintah, Carbon, rest of Juab, Sanpete, Emory, Grant, Piute, Wayne, Garfield, San Juan, and Kane Counties). The new 1st will be centered around Ogden (Box Elder, Cash, Weber, 99% of Davis, and Rich Counties).

"We've had a significant amount of public input," Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, committee co-chairman told the Tribune. "There's been a great deal of discussion about the public perception that this is a majority party whitewash. That we are simply trying to gerrymander Republican Party seats. Nothing could be further from the case."

Um I say that is complete Bull. No member of the public asked for protecting Matheson, not even Matheson. The number of people wanting a mix of urban and rural districts were solely Republican partisans. Why don't you ask the people living out in the rural areas if they want to fight for attention with Provo, Salt Lake County, or Davis/Weber Counties? Of course they never had a hearing in rural areas, the closest they got was in St. George, our fastest growing city.

clueless in washington

two idiot senators that think they will be president in two year squwalked today:

"When it comes to the field of Democratic Presidential hopefuls," Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) "has clearly decided that there is still a niche to be filled by someone like him," the New York Observer reports.

"While he thinks that Hillary Clinton can be President, he also notes that she is still in the midst of forming her Iraq policy. And as for John Edwards, John Kerry or Al Gore, well, they’ve already run."

Says Dodd: "I sort of have a unique position because I have experience, but I’m sort of a fresh face. I know that’s kind of silly. I’ve been in the Senate 25 years."

"Twenty years ago, I made a mistake. Twenty years ago, I learned a whole hell of a lot getting up off my knees."
-- Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), quoted by the Providence Journal, about the plagarism of a speech during his 1988 presidential campaign.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bush's other other foreign policy failure

That is, not Iraq, not Afghanistan, but Russia. Bush hired a "Russian expert" for his National Security Adviser (Stanford Provost Condi Rice). He met President Putin and looked into his soul and discovered that he was a "good man," his adjective that means "someone who agrees with me" essentially.

Prior to 9/11, Bush was pushing for missile defense, and demanding that Russia join them in withdrawing the conflicting portion of the ABM treaty. Condi was scheduled to give a speech on September 11, 2001 about Rouge states (aka Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) and the need to protect ourselves from such threats (via missile defense). Obviously, she never got her chance.

While the US and its friends were having their adventure in Iraq, and ignoring Afghanistan, Russia was falling deeper and deeper into a thuggish dictatorship. Those who have the most connections to the Kremlin via bribes or whatever get to have the key businesses and all political and business transactions take place with force always in the background. Corruption is unstoppable. Those who try are beaten or killed, or threatened or acid is poured on their faces.

Those who try to buck the will of the Russian government/mob are killed or attempted to be killed. There is no freedom of press, no rule of law, no real democracy.

Clearly, Mr. Bush, Vladimir Putin is not a "good man" unless he really is someone whose methods and policies you agree with and aspire to.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Romney's failure as governor

The Washington Post's Sunday paper reviews Romney's 4-year stint as governor of Massachusetts and generously calls it a "mixed" record. It reality, it was an utter failure. As a legislative aide from 2003-04 in the Massachusetts State House, I speak from experience.

Here are a list of his duds:
  • raising taxes-- by "closing what he called 'loopholes' in the corporate tax code...along with higher local property taxes..." and hiked fees for essential state services.

  • "Romney failed to develop the warm personal relationships with Democratic leaders that Weld had enjoyed with some of their predecessors. The Democrats had no compunction about rejecting Romney's initiatives, including his push to reduce the state's top income tax rate." He had no clout on Beacon Hill, the Democratic legislature overrode daily and did whatever they wanted.

  • "Romney mounted a major his midterm election in 2004. He campaigned and financed races in dozens of districts, spending $3 million, and when the returns came in, Republicans had two fewer seats than before." And don't forget his handpicked successor was creamed by Deval Patrick who campaigned against the Romney legacy

  • "left the state politically polarized" on key issues of Abortion, Death Penalty, Gay Marriage, Stem Cell Research, etc. He governed like he was governor of a Southern Red State rather that a Northeastern Blue State.

  • "His plan for health care...was tweaked and substantially expanded by the legislature, and in the final analysis, the negotiations that led to success were managed more by the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate than by the governor."

He never would have been famous to those the-Church-should-be-the-State GOPers had he not been governor when the SJC ruled on Goodridge so he could be against it. He was a loser from day one in office. The whole governorship was a big PR spin, like his "cleanup" of SLC's Olympics. Everyone but him worked their butt off to make it a great games. And he takes all the credit?

I dream of Romney being the Presidential nominee. Too bad it won't happen. He will get crushed in the SBC belt.

much to do about nothing

Another story about Utah's "congressionally mandated" reredistricting, another slow news day burial.

According to the Tribune"The day after the hearings, the committee expects to select a final map to be debated by the full Legislature during a special session Dec. 1."

Now the G proposal will be presented to the public after all, because get this, Utah Democrats think that the public should have input on the map process. What a riot. Utah Democrats also think claims that rural-urban mixed districts are better should be vetted by Utahns; crazy huh?

Meanwhile, Matheson is calling for an independant commission to draft these maps rather than a hyper-partisan legislature. Enid replies with a not so veiled threat: "Jim Matheson's never going to get a better district than he is going to get under these circumstances," said the acting Utah GOP party chairwoman.

Sources close to Matheson tell this blogger that Jim, like Sen. Bennett, doubt that the Davis bill will pass before the lame duck expires. So I may have been front-paged on MyDD for nothing. Oh well, them's the brakes.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend. And come home safe.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

plan G from outer space

As expected, the committee assigned with the task of drawing a 4-seat map released those maps when they were sure no one was looking--the day before Thanksgiving.

(Graphic credit: Salt Lake Tribune for more detail, click on this PDF by the paper)

All four plans share common elements. Sandy, parts of West Jordan, and most of Southern Salt Lake County not be part of the new 2nd district. Proposals I and J include Park City into the 2nd district. Davis and Weber Counties remain the "heart" of the redrawn 1st, although Proposal A gives the new 2nd district a tiny piece of Bountiful. All but Proposal G place Southern Salt Lake County in the new 4th District, and even then G places half in the new 4th and half in the new 3rd.

So which map would be the best for Democrats? Proposals A and G would allow Jim Matheson to run in the new 4th district and allow a Peter Carroon-type Democrat to run in the new 2nd district. Proposals I and J would be more difficult for Jim to run in their 4ths because of the inclusion of Washington County (St. George). Similarly, Jim would have a tough time running in their new 3rds because the parts of Salt Lake County, along with Carbon and San Juan (Moab) Counties would some how have to overcome Utah County (Provo). Thus, if I or J are adopted, I would expect Jim to stay in the 2nd district. But if A or G passed, I would press Jim to run in the new 4th and find a suitable Democratic candidate for the new 2nd.

Here are the redistricting hearing times and locations. If you live nearby, please attend. (Graphic credit: Deseret News)

So what are the chances of each proposal? The Deseret News gives us the scoop:
Senate Republicans, however, have insisted that the 2001 proposal known as "Plan A" continue to be considered. The committee's other two proposals, "Plan I" and "Plan J," were put together behind closed doors during a break in Tuesday's meeting.
The committee rejected a proposal by the minority Democrats, "Plan G," that would have created two largely urban districts from most of Salt Lake and Utah counties and two largely rural districts from the rest of the state.
"This really is a snapshot of what the state is," said Senate Minority Whip Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake. But Republicans disagreed, arguing that the state is better served when all members of Congress represent rural constituents.

Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City, stormed out of a meeting after G lost according to the Salt Lake Tribune "They always say they want input from the Democrats. Why have Democrats on the committee if you are going to ignore what we have to say?" "The governor said this was going to be a fair and nonpartisan process or he would use his veto," Biskupski said. ''He can't pretend this was nonpartisan.''

"If you are going to take three plans on the road for public hearings that are the same and not include the option from the minority party, it's obviously a partisan process," Biskupski said. Newsflash! Redistricting is a partisan political process, News at 10. Even though no political affiliation data was inputed into the mapping program, everyone on that committee knows where Democrats do well, where Jim's base of support is, and where Republicans do well. Let's not kid ourselves with this "non-partisan process" crap.

The interesting thing will be if Biskupski is correct and Huntsman indeed vetoes ones of these other plans for being overtly partisan.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Utah Republicans carve up map like Turkey

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. I have been writing a paper for a class and my topic is the Allen-Webb senate race. Boy, did Allen have some great quotes. "For folks to think I would know what sorts of genus of monkeys are in eastern Asia ascribe a lot more intelligence to me than I actually have."--August 17. Now to the Turkey meat, thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune:
"With such a large population concentrated in Salt Lake County, it is very difficult to do it in two parts," [State Rep. Dave]Clark said. "Every possible division into four districts will be considered."

That is the biggest hint I can think of that the legislature doesn't like Huntsman's proposed map. And here was Huntsman's retort:
"We are allowing the Legislature to do its work," said Huntsman spokesman Mike Mower. "But the governor will have the final say. Our goal is to make sure it is fair."

The Deseret News provides a helpful graphic showing when open hearings will be held for this ultra-important process involving democracy

That's right, when no one will be able to attend. I am sure this is the bare minimum required under open meetings laws. So if they do make a map that both a GOP legislature and a GOP governor like, what happens next? The Deseret News explains:
"It would be a clean slate," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the co-chairman of a special legislative redistricting committee. "We'd have to elect four new congressional representatives."
Just how that election would be structured, though, remains to be seen. Bramble, the incoming Senate majority leader, said lawmakers would likely wait until the 2007 Legislature meets in January to figure out the special election process.
But Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, said he wanted to see candidates go through the regular nominating process at political party conventions. Committee members were told, however, that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. could speed up that process.

Meanwhile, leaders in both parties are pouring over 6 year old census data (which the state argued was inaccurate to begin with to the Supreme Court) to draw up their own fantasy maps. With a special election next year, Salt Lake City will have a "non-partisan" mayoral race and two to three Congresscritters to vote on. It seems like it won't be such an "off year" after all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

more like this please

The the Salt Lake Tribune has a fantastic headline, and I want to reward good behavior: "Reid proof that good Mormons can also be Democrats"

Many folks think Democrat and Mormons don't belong in the same sentence, except with "hate" or "aren't" in between. Well, Majority Leader Harry Reid seeks to change all that, but first he has to overcome the culture of the church members themselves.
Despite the fact that Reid held weekly Family Home Evenings and sent three sons on two-year missions for the church, and all five of his children were married in LDS temples, some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints question his faith because of his politics.

What more can the guy do? He is pro-life, but votes for against anti-choice judges out of party loyalty. He drinks neither alcohol, coffee, tea, or soda. The Democratic Party has lots of religious diversity and religiosity.
Same for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who noted that Reid is a Mormon, Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin is a Catholic and Charles Schumer, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, is Jewish.

Abortion and gay rights are the big two 'values' issues that tend to keep Latter-Day Saints opposed to the Democratic Party. But the party is home to many pro-lifers, like Senator-Elect Bob Casey, and many pro-traditional marriage members too, like Tennessee's U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis. True, these folks are in the minority in the party and that the presidential candidates must be pro-choice and pro-gay rights to be the nominee, but it doesn't mean these folks can't be proud Democrats in the State House, the Governor's Mansions, the House and the Senate. The reverse can't be said for Republicans who are much more homogenized.

What unites Democrats is caring for people: raising the minimum wage, supporting the right to organize labor, improving health care, reducing taxes on the poor and middle class, caring for the elderly, equal rights for racial/ethnic minorities, and so on.

What unites Republicans is lower taxes. It used to be smaller government, but then congressional Bush Republicans decided to pork their way into "permanent power." I guess it is still smaller government social programs, but it also includes eliminating premarital sex, no gay sex, no gay marriage, no division between church and state, and no social welfare for the poor, the elderly, the young.

Since there are 3 Casey's for every one Rudy G's, and Democrats love to squabble between themselves, I say welcome to my LDS brethern who are tired of giving their social services away to tax cuts for the rich, who are tired of politicians professing their 'faith' in order to humor you for votes but never deliver, who talk about gay marriage and abortion all day long, but never address the root cause of abortion (poverty, lack of sex education, lack of contraception, rape, incest, abuse, misfortune).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

fairly benign redistricting, and other oxymorons

More on the Utah redistricting plans from the Deseret News this morning(for a brief synopsis read my dairy on MyDD):
Instead of Huntsman's preliminary idea, committee leaders said, the state's most populous county may be divided among three of the four districts. A redrawn 2nd District could include Summit, Daggett and Morgan counties as well as Salt Lake City, the city's Rose Park and other parts of Salt Lake County.
"These are not set in stone. They're meant to be the starting point for discussion," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, co-chairman of the redistricting committee. "We've come up with something that looks fairly benign."
But even as Bramble was drawing his new map, House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, warned that any plan that split the county into parts of three districts would only come if Salt Lake County was the "population center of at least two of the districts."

Translation: get Matheson out of my Sandy district, I nearly lost my election to him. Here is the committee, tell me with a straight face this won't be a hyper-partisan 'screw Matheson again' map.

Jeremy Roberts, a Salt Lake County GOP activist, wants a GOP party resolution that says that "only states should have voting representation in the U.S. House and Senate — and so it is unconstitutional to let the District of Columbia have a House seat." Ergo, one for Utah, none for D.C. I am sure it has nothing to do with the white, Republican nature of Utah and the Black, Republican nature of D.C....nothing at all.

Here are some more hints about where the committee is thinking of going:
Only about half of strongly Democratic Salt Lake City is in the existing 2nd District.
As for the rest of Salt Lake County, Bramble said some westside portions should go to a redrawn 3rd District along with a sliver of Tooele County. And the rest of Salt Lake County — including Sandy — could be part of a new 4th District "centered" in St. George.
Curtis, who went through the bruising redistricting in 2001, has said that the 2nd District — now held by Utah's only Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson — must be a mostly Democratic seat. Otherwise, Democrats in Congress will not go along with the proposed deal that would give the District of Columbia one voting House seat and give Utah another House seat."

Again, translation for Speaker Curtis: Matheson is unbeatable, so let's give him a safer House seat, so he won't take out other Republicans.
Matheson in recent elections has won more than 60 percent of the vote in this part of his huge geographic district, which also takes in eastern and southern Utah. In the 2006 election, Matheson got more than 70 percent of the Salt Lake County vote. Matheson also has a bit of northeastern Utah County, where he has been beaten by his GOP opponent.

Matheson is already safe, as his victory in November proved. He will never be seriously challenged again unless there is another 2002 like year, but that was the magic combination of a very GOP year and redistricting where Jim had 33% new constituents who didn't know him. He got crushed in Washington County and still eked out a win. Now, he places respectably in Washington County, thanks to all his hard work getting federal money for the St. George airport and other items.

Friday, November 17, 2006

friday roundup

  • Joe Cannon is leaving the post of Utah Republican Party chair, making current Vice Chair Enid Greene chair until the next party elections. A failed 2004 Lt. Governor candidate, a failed Congresswoman, and now UT Republican Party chairwoman. The party has a corrupt, but at least competent person at the helm now. However, I am sure she won't last. Utah Republicans have a habit of kicking out women from leadership positions in their party, just ask Governor Walker.

  • An opponent to Joe Lieberman (CFL-CT), called the Secretary of State of Connecticut and found out that even Joe wasn't a member of his own "Connecticut for Lieberman" party, so he joined, made himself party chairman, and created the party rules. Here are the highlights (courtesy of My Left Nutmeg):
    a. If you run under Connecticut for Lieberman, you must actually join our party.
    b. The party will nominate people for office who have the last name of Lieberman and/or who are critics and opponents of Senator Lieberman.
    c. If any CFL candidate loses our party's nomination in a primary, that candidate must bolt our party, form a new party and work to defeat our party endorsed candidate.
    d. We in the CFL intend to run the same candidate for three different jobs at the same time, ie. House, Senate and Governor.

    The brilliant idea is to 1) hold Lieberman accountable, 2) expose "Connecticut for Lieberman" as a sham party, 3) lock out Lieberman from both CFL and Democratic party, making it impossible to Joe to run for reelection in 2012, unless he creates another fake party. The CT legislature will probably change the election laws to prevent sore losers from creating their own parties and running again against their primary opponents, either by changing the date of party formation to before party primaries (currently it is the day after) or simply not allowing a losing candidate to run again.

  • SLC mayoral race in 2007 is wide open. Ten candidates have filed for this "non-partisan" election. The winner will most likely be a Democrat, but that hasn't stopped Republicans from trying. Democrats in the minority in the state and county legislature have opted for a chance in the greener pastures of the old city and county building. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I may decide whom I like after learning more about what the candidates propose to do, rather than who they are. Kirk Jowers, Hinckley Institute of Politics told KSL, "There is a lot of pent up excitement to run for office. It's the same thing you'd find if Hatch or Bennett decide to hang it up. There's a lot of people who have been waiting for this moment."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Zombie 4th seat

It won't die...thanks to ultra-powerful Gov. Huntsman. By December 4th, the bill should be passed out of the legislature and used as a bargaining chip for the DC-Utah bill still pending in the lame duck Congress.
"We've been assured by the governor that this will be a fair process with a fair result or he will veto it," said state House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake. He said minority Democrats will agree to a special session.

Not that Becker has much choice in the matter...I don't think Dems even have the power to block a quorum.

Gov. Huntsman's map was basically fair: a safe Democratic seat in exchange for 3 GOP safe (save Matheson) seats. But the state legislature isn't going to play nice. Here is the old map the legislature passed in 2001:

"It's open. We're not pushing any particular map," said Senate President John Valentine.
"We've been committed all along to making certain at the end of the day that a fair map is adopted," said Huntsman spokesman Mike Mower.

Watch the sparks fly.

wait for 2008

I know the press would much rather be talking up a potential Hillary-McCain 2008 race...but 2006 races aren't over yet. There are 7 House seat that are still undecided, and amazingly enough no Congressional Democrats lost this cycle. Currently 30 seats have been picked up, but any or all of these 7 could go blue.

In Utah, the story is the same: many Salt Lake County races are still close to call, including State House Speaker Greg Curtis'. The GOP believe that Jim Matheson's walking of Curtis' district--combined with his prominant position on a stadium Real Salt Lake--lead to his near or actual loss.

Right now, Speaker Curtis is up on 46 votes. "There also are 600 paper ballots - requested by voters leery of the new electronic machines - that have yet to be tabulated, explained Jason Yocom, chief deputy clerk." If you were wondering if Jason Yocom was related to outgoing D.A. Dave Yocum, you were right, Jason is his son.

Moreover, Utah Democrats have another chance in the Salt Lake County Auditor were the Democratic candidate is behind 344 votes. For that race, Jason Yocum has a "stack of provisionals had passed 7,700 along with more than 3,000 absentees." Those are just the prominent races.

There are actually 4 other state house races that are too close to call. Here are the closest of the close.
* HOUSE 22: Deena Ely, R, leads Carl Duckworth, D (i), by 25 votes.
* HOUSE 29: Janice Fisher, D (i), leads Phillip Conder, R, by 75 votes.
* HOUSE 36: Phil Riesen, D, leads Susan Lawrence, R (i), by 103 votes.
* HOUSE 45: Mark Walker, R (i), leads Laura Black, D, by 32 votes.
* HOUSE 49: Greg Curtis, R (i), leads Jay Seegmiller, D, by 46 votes.
* SALT LAKE COUNTY AUDITOR: Sean Thomas, R (i), leads Jeff Hatch, D, by 344 votes.
* JORDAN SCHOOL BOARD NO. 6: Tracy Cowdell leads Lynette Phillips (i), by 27 votes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bush's final days and Utah's 4th

Mr. Lame Duck thinks he can push John Bolton (an utter failure at the UN, despite what a commenter thinks), Daddy's CIA chief for Def. Sec. and a 4th Seat for Utah in exchange for D.C. through in the next couple weeks. Forget about it.

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah — who remains in U.S. Senate leadership until Dec. 31 — warns there is little likelihood that the compromise plan will make it through the lame-duck congressional session.

Governor Huntsman is worried of those new Democrats in Congress:
"They could move forward unilaterally and take care of voting rights in Washington, without any kind of commensurate increase in representation for Utah," the Republican governor said. He called that prospect a "worst-case scenario."
"We have an open window. And it's going to close very quickly," Huntsman said.

So Huntsman is turning up the heat on the Utah legislature, and they aren't playing ball
"We were being asked by Congress to have an up-or-down vote on a map drawn in the back room," Senate President John Valentine said Tuesday. "We're just not going to do that. . . . We really felt like it was important to have the process include public participation. We were not willing to just play Whac-a-Mole with the Congress."
Instead, state legislators may hold public hearings on the proposed map and then vote on it by Dec. 4 as a way to advance the tandem Utah/D.C. plan.
At least one member of the statehouse circulated a letter Tuesday calling the proposal the "fourth seat slippery slide," slamming the idea as one that would eventually hurt Utah and boost Democrats.
"In return for a Western, Republican Utah seat for possibly four years [until we get it legitimately in 2012] we give Washington, D.C., and the Eastern Democrats an extra seat forever," said outgoing Rep. David Cox, R-Lehi. "That doesn't seem like a fair trade."

Dang! A State Representative who is a Republican is either reading my blog, or came to the same conclusion independently (given my traffic, I will opt for number 2). Moreover, Democrats would lock up the 2nd district, Matheson or no Matheson, and free up Jim to run in the new 4th or the new 3rd. My dream is that he takes out Chris Cannon and we get a progressive Democrat to represent the new Second. And then when Hatch or Bennett dies, he wins the open Senate seat.

Meanwhile, the DC democrats are dumb enough to think this will hurt Matheson. Jim can win in almost any district in the state now fairly easily. His ads and person are known statewide and is approval ratings are second only to the nation's most popular governor. What is Matheson's official line?

Matheson, who favors a nonpartisan redistricting commission to make any district changes, says he will vote for any bill that gives Utah a fourth seat now, regardless of how the Legislature's redistricting may affect him personally.

Utah over his political career, principle over personal. That is why Jim won with the biggest margin of all the Congressional races this year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

abstinance makes the heart grow fonder

Sorry for the lack of posting of late. I don't really have much of an excuse, other than I didn't feel the need to comment on anything in particular because the commentary from the big Kahunas was vastly superior to what I would have written (and more often with better spelling and grammar, sorry).

I am excited about the incoming Congress and their boldness already to stop Bush from legalizing his warrantless eavesdropping on international and domestic calls, and their reluctance to allow Mr. Gates to become Defense Secretary without a meaningful hearing (meaning, after the lame duck session).

However, I am saddened by my own personal job situation where there is little certainty and not much I can do but wait and pass the Bar. I do love Utah and Salt Lake County, but if a job prospect opens up in the Washington, D.C. area, I will return to our Nation's Capitol. That year I spent there was some of the most fun I had, despite living in a tiny studio with a 45 minute Metro commute and a slow paced job. Too bad many of my D.C. friends from then have moved on to other cities and jobs. But now my in-laws live only two hours away from D.C. and I am excited to be back in national politics in person rather than just over the internet.

If it weren't for D.C., I would have never been able to help launch the part of the Clark movement. If it weren't for blogs and Yahoo! groups, I would have never met Matt Stoller and Stirling Newberry when I moved to Boston.

As much as I love pontificating on the internet and meeting my internet idols, I long use my legal education towards domestic and international policy and politics. Wesley Clark is going to decide whether to run again by January, and if he says yes, I will be there again, where ever I am. A Clark/Warner or Clark/Obama ticket would be excellent and help Democrats take swingable Southern states like Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. Evan Bayh is a nice man, but he will never be nominated President and as VP would not help carry Indiana. Plus, Clark, Warner, and Obama are exciting because they are not only electable, but principled and charasmatic, and intelligent but not Al Gore 2000/John Kerry 2004 condescending intelligent.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Utah Democrats make strides in 2006

Despite having about the worst night of any state party (although Idaho Democrats must be sad that Bill Sali got elected rather than their Larry Grant), Utah Democrats did have a ray of hope for the future: early voting.

Check out this graphic by the Salt Lake Tribune:

That's right, Utah Democrats kicked butt in SLCo. early voting.
" 'The Democratic Party clearly outstrategized or outworked us on that early voting,' said House Speaker Greg Curtis.
His Democratic opponent, Jay Seegmiller, enjoyed a 60 percent to 40 percent advantage when the early voting
." In the end, Curtis hung on to win by 64 votes.
" Out of 55 congressional, legislative or county races, Democrats held the early voting lead in all but 10, and in five of those races Democrats did not field a candidate. Out of those 45 races where Democrats held an early voting lead, they ended up losing 17. "

Well that is something to hope for. Democrats will always outwork Republicans in Utah...they have to in order to have any hope. Republicans just have to plaster the word "Republican" and or put an elephant on every thing to get ahead.

Friday, November 10, 2006

last ditch "bipartisanship"

Many bloggers have noted how Bush's first "bipartisan" effort was an attempt to ram through Gates and John Bolton and retroactive authorization of wiretapping that is currently illegal under FISA. However, another little noticed Bush effort before he turns into a pumpkin on January 20th, Bush wants to push the bill that would give Utah a 4th seat.

Of course, he pretended he never heard of the bill, but the White House spokeswoman said otherwise.

While in theory the bill would be politically neutral, a newly Democratic House could allow D.C. to vote without adding a seat for Utah.

Bush wants to go back to his Texas model, but the Democrats in the Texas legislature were like the Democrats in the Utah legislature: very conservative and in the minority. The trouble is, while there will be a big Blue Dog block in the House, the liberals will be in charge and opt for popular populist bills first, regardless of what Bush wants.

Get your popcorn ready for January, it will be interesting to see the sparks fly.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the morning after

Needless to say I am very happy. My predictions were fairly accurate, I forgot about TX KS FL AZ and CA...I got too optimistic about CT and believed the hype, but I hope Lieberman learned his lesson from August and won't stray too much from the party line.

Sen. Bob Bennett says he thinks Rumsfeld will resign before the next congress takes over. I am fairly confident that Democrats' leads in VA and MT will hold up under possible recounts. What a night, what a sweep! The biggest surprise to me was Carol Shea-Porter, who had maybe a $100,000 and won her more Republican NH district. She will now have lots of "friends" in the Senate and statehouses. What an incredible grassroots candidate, very impressive. I am sad that Eric Massa looks to have lost in NY-29, but it is close and he is not yet conceding...good for him.

Here in Utah, it looks like the wave never breached the Wasatch mountains. Judge Lewis is probably gone. It looks like Miller won the DA's race (and might have done something ethically and legally questionable). Winder is the new Sheriff in town and Kennard graciously invited him to the high up meeting today.

I am pretty tired, but this makes up my temporary depression after the results of 2000, 2002, and 2004 to some degree. I really need a new hobby; I get too sucked in.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

final predictions

Hatch 60-37 Ashdown
Matheson 63-36 Christensen

Winder 55-44 Kennard
Gill 49.7-49.3 Miller (expect a recount)
Bradley 52-48 Auger

US House:
PA- 4 seats
CT- 2 seats
NY- 3 seats
IN- 3 seats (net, Julia Carson loses)
KY- 2 seats
NE- 1 seat
KS- 1 seat
CO- 1 seat
NM- 1 seat (Madrid wins)
WY- 1 seat (Trauner wins)
ID- 1 seat (Grant wins)
CA- 1 seat

CT: Lamont 51-40 Lieberman (9 for the R)
VA: Webb 55-45 Allen
MD: Cardin 51-49 Steele
MI: Stebenow 53-47 Boshard
MN: Kloblar 55-45 Kennedy
NJ: Menindez 56-44 Kean Jr.
TN: Corker 50.1-49.9 Ford Jr. (recount)
MO: McCaskill 52-48 Talent
MT: Tester 51-49 Burns
[the rest aren't close]

GOV: (only pick ups mentioned)
MA, NY, OH, CO, AR, IA, AK (recount)