Friday, February 17, 2006

What is wrong with Utah?

In 49 states, 98 percent of the states that make up the United States of America, Bush is at or below 50 percent. The only one where a majority of its residents support the President is Utah with a 58% to 39% approval-disapproval rating. (source: SurveyUSA - 50 State POTUS 02/06 Sort By State )

Why? Does it have to do with the general conservatism of Utah, and its overwhelming support of him in 2004 (I believe he got around 75% in the Beehive State)? Does it have to do with Bush's religious conservatism, which match up nicely on a great many "moral values" with Utah (drinking, gays, death penalty, abortion, etc.)? Or does it have to do with the nature of the LDS religion itself and the way it manifests itself in Utah?

I have talked to many LDS people living outside of Utah who tell me that they have been to or lived in Utah and they just couldn't stand the Utah "version" of their faith. Some said it was holier than thou, others that it was overly conformist and Orwellian in feel. Could it be that a desire to follow the herd, to blindly support authorities is more prevalent in Utah and in particular LDS Utahns? I don't know and I am not going to conjecture any further, since I don't want to be accused of bigotry.

I respect the LDS religion and my LDS friend's faith and devotion to their Church. I can understand their feelings on abortion, the death penalty, drinking, smoking, and a few other things. That is not to say that I agree with their viewpoints or beliefs, although I must say that I love the restrictions on drinking and smoking in this state. I think it makes for a cleaner, safer society.

But what I don't get is their support of Bush. This is a man that routinely lies, swears, was an alcoholic until age 40, might have done illegal drugs, got himself out of war via connections, supports cigarette companies and other polluters, who has stated that he is acting on God's blessing when he lies to get us into war, and so on. I can't find much Christian in Bush the man or Bush the office. He is jealous, vengeful, hateful, hypocritical, deceitful, arrogant, incompetent, and irresponsible.

In a ward meeting in American Folk, a man got up to testify and stated that he was a green beret, and that if anyone spoke ill of the president (or his policies) or the war specifically, he would like to "finish it outside." That is, he threatened physical violence. Others have reported that similar (although less blatant) statements have been made at their local ward/stakehouse. So too have other LDS Utahns said that their meeting house is more tolerant. But the tolerant ones, at least anecdotally, seem to be outnumbered by the intolerant according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

I think it is sad that there is no room for discussion of the war when the LDS Presidency has not taken any official stance on it. Sure, they have said support the troops and support the commander in chief, but even the Unitarians would agree with that.

[Correction: on closer inspection, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Alabama approve of Bush with a 50+% rating. However, Utah's is still the highest and has never sunk.]

head of the class

So today we taught again this mornning. A large portion of that was eaten up by a test we gave as part of the mid-terms and the requirement thereof. I was amazed by how many kids got 55% or below (1/3 at least). Some questions were a bit tricky now that I think about it if you weren't paying attention in class, but really, if you listened and took notes (we let them have a 1 page cheat sheet), you should have been fine.

In fact, because of extra credit, one kid got a 103. Many kids just gave up or made up crazy answers. And spelling was out of this world. But hey, I appreciate the effort for the most part. I think we have them whipped into some sort of shape after my partner gave them a pop quiz next time.

Fridays are always joke days for me at the law school, so I too half-listened while grading the High Schoolers tests. I am happy for the nicer weather after this bitter snow days and even happier for a long weekend and positive blood test results on my kidneys. (oh and I don't have HIV or Hep, which is good too). My sister the doctor ordered lots of tests but I had enough blood to spare.

In political news, I am amazed to some degree that Harry Wittingham appologized to Cheney for Cheney shooting him in the face. Notice in the photos you see of him his face is bruised but that the side that is shown in the left side, and he was hit on the right. So who knows what that side looks like. I hope Harry is feeling fine, and can go back to being an evil GOP lawyer soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

McCain hypocrisy watch

So remember first off that McCain was a member of the Keating Five before he "got religion" and became a campaign finance crusader. It was a goal to save his own skin.

So then McCain signed up with liberal and contrarian Sen. Russ Feingold to eliminate soft money and close each and every loophole...once someone got in trouble (see the sudden desire to close the 'American Indian' loophole or 527 or sham 501(c)(3)s).

But now that he is running for president, he tossing aside foibles, hiring Bush fundraisers and pioneers left and right (today he hired Bush's NH fundraiser, someone who will be useful to prove support for a candidate inside the Granite State). More hypocritically, he letting himself be a money raising prop to people who gather funds in largely unregulated (or compared to the federal system underregulated) amounts.

In seeking to reach his goal [of raising $120 Million], Schwarzenegger is offering large donors personal access. Invitations to a March 20 dinner in Beverly Hills offer "head table seating with the governor" for two and six photos of couples with the governor for those who contribute at least $100,000 to his reelection campaign and the state GOP. The dinner's star speaker is Sen. John McCain..."The important thing is that all the rules within the state are followed, and the senator himself is not soliciting large donations," said John Weaver, a McCain strategist.

That's a pretty fine line. McCain isn't soliciting large donations for himself, but soliciting them for his friends, whom he can later ask political favors from in the primaries.

Let's say the GOP 2008 primary is between George Allen and John McCain (which CPAC straw polls show are by far the most liked candidates) and that McCain took NH but Allen took SC, the rest of the other states have been pretty even but now it is Super Tuesday and California is the biggest prize. Don't you think helping out Arnold get re-elected (let's hope CA voters aren't that dumb twice) would mean that the Governor would endorse and work for McCain?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

a peek inside the mad house

From Hotline on Call:

We heard Mike Allen refer to this on Larry King Live, and this morning, The Note offers up this nugget: "Sources close to the Vice President say that there was actually a statement prepared either by Cheney, or with his help, to be delivered Sunday morning after the accident. It was something the White House suggested -- and might have been prepared with some White House help. But it was determined by his advisors and by him that morning that it was too 'convoluted,' and might not be the best way to proceed. They decided it might be best to have somebody who actually witnessed the accident explain what happened. For some reason, they thought that would seem more 'credible,' hence, the involvement of Katherine Armstrong. They now see that this was likely bad judgment."

Here's what Allen said last night: "And, Larry, the vice president and one of the staff members actually had worked up a statement that they considered releasing on Sunday morning but it was so obtuse and elliptical that it was decided that that would just cause even more of a frenzy, so they waited to do it this way."

So they couldn't even swallow the lies that they were preparing to give on the story. I wonder what it said, because the story that they did come out with via a lobbyist and an appointed ambassador, was pretty pathetic. Maybe they thought saying the same thing through a different source really would be more believable.

Meanwhile, when did the President hear about it? What about Scotty? Was Scotty's communications team crafting the story? Was Karl Rove? These folks are pathalogical lairs. Forthcommingness and honesty is just about the last thing that would come to mind.

Sure, Clinton's first reaction was to duck the hard truth about his womanizing nature, but he didn't shoot anyone in the face, neck, and chest. Nor did he lie to go to war in Kosovo or Haiti. As far as I can tell the CYA of the Clinton White House was on unnecessary non-scandals that were turned into scandals by zealous GOPers like Barbara Comstock. The CYA of the Bush White House involve Iraq, outing a CIA agent for political gain, information on key legislation (Medicare plan B, Energy policy, spending bills for Iraq/Afghanistan, etc.), warrantless domestic spying, Katrina, and much more.

Dick Cheney firmly believes that the executive can do whatever it wants and doesn't have to share any information. In fact, information sharing is a sin or necessary evil in the Cheney world view. And this was just the latest example.

Monday, February 13, 2006

friendly fire

by using this title, i can link together various semi-related topics.

Like Dick Cheney accidently shooting a 78-old friend from 30 feet away while the Abassador to Switzerland looked on. And then no one wanted to report it, except the campaign donor whose land they were on at the time 18-hours later. Oh and the man is still in intensive care. Much has already been said about this, and even my sleepy East High students knew about it and asked me what happened.

And now for the main thrust of my article, I ask that there be no more pieces from bloggers on how DINO one primary candidate is, and how the other is so much better, without laying out any policy positional differences. The number one offender of this is Michael in Chicago on MyDD. I have no way of judging other than money and polling at this point which candidate is better for Henry Hyde's seat. But just because the D-trip supports Duckworth over Celigis (sp?) doesn't mean that Duckworth is enherantly worse. There may be reasons to support Duckworth other than the fact that the bloggers liked the other canidate last time (fundraising ability, appealability to more voters, etc.). Same goes with Sharrod Brown and Paul Hacket.

I personally like Hacket in this one more than Brown, if only because Hacket got in first and didn't pretend like he wasn't going to enter the race only to enter in later. Brown just strikes me as more of a stereotypical pol than Hacket. Of course, whatever Ohio democrats decide is ok with me. Ditto for IL primary voters.

It is just completely unproductive to smear candidates without actually having any real policy discussion. I am fine with people not supporting Casey in PA because of his abortion stance, or is support of Alito (again on abortion most likely), but you can't deny that he stands the best chance against Santorum based on polls.

Again, go ahead and bash Lieberman and Cuegular (sp?) for their support of Bush policy's and contrast the differing positions of their oposition.

But don't bash John Morrison in Montana because the DLC named him as a new dem of the week (I did) or because he was a member of the DLC's 100 to watch a couple years in arow. The DLC supported Morrison because he looked like he would run for governor or senator down the road, and was vaguely in line with their political philosophy. I haven't heard much about Tester's positions other than his support by (1) Kos and (2) Pearl Jam. I like both, but that doesn't do it for me. Morrison supported ways of increasing health insurance coverage for Montana's children, he knows about water issues and western issues and can explain it to easterns in a way that will get positive changes made in Washington. Tester is an organic farmer whose district was republican in the state senate. That's about all I know of him. That, and as Kos points out, he has a donkey and the word "democrat" in his web banner. Who cares?

Oh and Morrison is currently polling ahead of Burns, while Tester is behind Burns (and Morrison has more money than Tester).

Whomever wins these contested primaries will need our support come November in order to have a chance of taking back either house of Congress. So please, if you prefer a candidate, state your reasons why in policy terms, not conspiracy/slur terms.