Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday round-up

  • Utah is bound to get another seat, either in the next couple of months, or in 2012. However, under current projections, it wouldn't get a 5th seat in 2022. But don't loose sleep yet. "We have confidence in the projections we produce," Robert Spendlove, manager of demographic and economic analysis for the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, said. "However, this is 15 years away and there is a wide margin of error ... when you're talking about tenths of a percent." By the way, Spendlove is a terriffic name for a guy working in a budget office.

  • Jon Huntsman Jr. is backing McCain, but Jon Sr. is backing Romney. Romney needs the Huntsman's money men given the cash gap between McCain and the rest of the field (which he created with his Campaign Finance Reform by favoring members of congress over governors). It will be interesting to see if Jon Jr. comes back to Daddy or continues to assume that McCain will win it all. Someone wants to have a cabinet post after all.

  • Great lede by the Tribune, pointing out the utter hypocrisy of what Rep. Bishop and his Republican colleagues say: "Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, say[s] Democrats are shutting them out of the legislative process, but their protests do not appear to match the record of the GOP-run House. ...Bishop served as a member of the House Rules Committee, which under Republican control brought more bills to the floor under "closed rules" than any previous Congress.
    In 1994, as speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, Bishop criticized proposals to open the legislative process, specifically the Rules Committee meetings, as shallow, and compared them to taking the doors off bathroom stalls." There's a lovely image.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mitt "Multiple Choice" Romney

The DNC's blog has a scathing list of quotes by Mitt about his position of the day on hot button issues. Here they are, for your enjoyment:
Romney’s Position On A Woman’s Right To Choose Is:

A. Abortion Should Be Safe And Legal. “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country… I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.” [Romney Kennedy Debate Transcript, 10/1994]

B. Not Pro-Choice Or Pro Life. “I've never used either title, pro-life or pro-choice, in the past. I said I don't favor abortion.” [Fox News, 2/26/06]

C. Firmly Pro-Life. “I recognized that we had so cheapened the value of human life, through the Roe v. Wade mentality, that I could no longer stand on the sidelines, if you will. I had to take sides. And I call myself firmly pro-life.” [CNN, 10/17/06]

D. All of the above.

Romney’s Position On A Constitutional Amendment To Ban Same-Sex Marriage:

A. Full Equality for Gays and Lesbians. “As we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent [Ted Kennedy].” [Boston Globe, 10/17/94]

B. Against Constitutional Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage in Massachusetts. In 2002, Romney condemned a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban both gay marriage and domestic-partner benefits in Massachusetts, despite the fact that his wife and son supported it. [Boston Globe, 3/22/02]

C. For Federal Constitutional Amendment To Ban Gay Marriage. “Massachusetts is the front line on marriage, but unless we adopt a federal amendment to protect marriage, what is happening here will unquestionably enter every other state.” [“Transcript of Romney Address to Liberty Sunday,”, 10/16/06]

D. All of the above.

Romney’s Position On The Bush Tax Cut:

A. Refuses to Publicly Endorse Bush Tax Cuts. Romney refused to endorse tax cuts at the heart of President Bush's economic program in 2003. Romney’s spokesperson said that it’s “just not a state matter.” [Boston Globe, 4/11/03]

B. Brags About Support for Bush Tax Cuts. During a November 13, 2006 press conference held in Arizona, Romney outlined differences between himself and McCain. Romney said “he was quicker than McCain to endorse President Bush's tax cuts.” [East Valley Sun, 11/14/06]

C. All of the above.

And now, for super-duper double bonus points...

Romney’s Governorship Was A Failure Because:

A. Goals Unmet. “Romney himself admits that a number of his goals remain unmet. His inability to lower the nation's highest unemployment insurance rate, to secure merit pay for teachers, and to reinvigorate the Republican Party were among the frustrations he listed.” [Editorial, Boston Globe, 12/26/06]

B. Highest Property Taxes in 25 Years. Romney’s cuts to local aid forced Massachusetts property taxes to their highest level in 25 years. [Quincy Patriot Ledger, 12/16/05]

C. 3,000 Jobs Lost. Romney oversaw a net decrease of more than 3,000 jobs in Massachusetts. [BLS, Seasonally Adjusted Employment Statistics, 12/2002 – 10/2004]

D. All of the above.

If you guessed (D) All of the above you can go to the head of the class!

Is there something in the water in Massachusetts that gives statewide politicians Foot-in-Mouth and I-was-for-it-before-I-was-against it diseases? At least John Kerry waited until after he got nominated before taking such idiotic multiple stances.

Utah's public ed: still terrible

There is a new story out in today's Salt Lake Tribune that has Utah at the 20th in the country in overall "offering children a chance at success" rather than looking at hard numbers like test scores, class size per pupil spending, something we lag far behind the rest of the country on.
Instead of repeating past analyses on K-12 practices, this year's report compared hurdles kids face long before school-age years, as well as opportunities available as adults.
Factors such as parental education, employment, income and English fluency were considered. So were the percentage of adults statewide who hold college degrees, work full-time jobs and earn above-average incomes. School factors such as preschool and kindergarten enrollment, reading and math skills and graduation were also compared.
Utah scored well above average for home conditions kids experience before school. The state scored below average for preschool enrollment and about average for kindergarten enrollment. Elementary reading skills were above the national average and middle school math achievement was on par with the nation.
High school graduation rates were well above average, but after that, Utah's scores fell. Attendence and graduation from college were about average. But the percentage of Utah adults making average salaries and holding full-time jobs was below the national norm.

Utah parents do the best for their kids as they can. Our streets are safer than most other states, and the LDS Church's focus on family pushes families to prioritize their children. Yet, college graduation and attendance is going down, incomes are down and education's share of the budget is too.

Huntsman will supposedly push for a major increase in spending this year, and if true, I support it. But we saw that his first priorities are to cut taxes for his wealthy friends (and himself) as well as spend money on construction projects rather than his state's public education.

We need to build more schools and classrooms, hire more teachers, build up respect for the teaching profession and for education in general. Maybe we need to even build a new University so that folks who go to the U of U don't feel like a number and slip through the cracks...although that will probably be a couple decades down the road and Utah State could probably pick up the slack if they were properly funded.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Is Utah's 4th back?

This AP report seems to indicate that the same bill will be passed in the next couple of months by the Democratic House.

More when I know it.

Cannon: fodder?

What me, govern?

It looks like Chris Cannon, fresh off a tough primary challenge in the summer, is already being seriously challenged. And the best part is, Gov. Huntsman is (to a degree) behind it.
Jason Chaffetz moved to Utah as an agnostic Democrat.
Now, more than 20 years later, the former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. wants to run as a Mormon Republican for Congress
The 39-year-old businessman said he is a "frustrated conservative" who is "hungry and excited" about winning over voters by going back to Republican values and principles.

What are those principles pray tell, because it seems like Republicans in Congress have none.
Chaffetz said the Republicans, who lost control of Congress to the Democrats in November, "had a chance to make some major changes and they didn't do it."
"The country saw the Republicans acting in an unethical way, and the country made a change," he said. "It was the fault of how Republicans acted, and we'll pay the price."

So I guess he wants Republicans to be ethical, something we all can get behind (except Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, the CA GOP delegation, etc.) But what about being the party of small(er) government, of fiscal responsibility, being tough on crime, good at foreign policy. I count no on all of those thus far.

"Chaffetz said he and Cannon have very different views on immigration, nuclear waste and education. But he declined to go into any details on his policy ideas, saying he'll be talking about them along the campaign trail."

We all wait with baited breath. This just goes to show that Republicans in Utah smell blood in the water. "If a crazy man like Jacob can get 44.2%, imagine what I, a sane competent Republican can get against Cannon?!" Now that big brother isn't watching over him at the state party convention, watch the sparks to fly in 2007-8.

Iraq is a hard place

First off, I wanted to say Happy New Year's and Merry Christmas etc. to everyone and to apologize for not writing over the last week. It was really great to just stay away from the computer and hang out with family and friends. This vacation really recharged my batteries. During the break, I watched episodes I-III of a documentary called "Off to War" about a small town National Guard Unit from Clarksville, Arkansas.

The camera work was not that great, but the story was incredible. If you had shown this to people around 2000, they would have been blown away. Here were patriots who grew increasingly frustrated with the futility of their mission. They all realized that they were pissing Iraqis off, they were empathetic of the people, yet angry at Iraqis when their colleagues would be injured or killed by mortor attacks of their base.

A couple of my classmates in law school have served in Iraq and I have had a chance to briefly talk to one of them about what it is like. He told me about how they lived in their bases, only met interpreters, and saw other Iraqis only from the gun turret he was stationed at. He seemed to be in favor of either the Bush/McCain/Lieberman escalation or outright withdrawal. He told me that right now it isn't working and either we need to step it up and finish the job or get the hell out of there. He believed that either way we are damned. That leaving would be disastrous to stability of the county, but that our presence wasn't really helping matters at the moment.

And like the guys in the film, my classmate was doing a job he had never really been trained to do. I just don't get where McCain will get these extra troops that will supposedly be able to solve all our Iraq problems. Many service members have gone on multiple tours of duty, they have reduced the age intelligence and psychological barriers to entry, yet recruitment is at a extreme low. It is incredibly dangerous out there, and Guardsmen don't get the same protections and benefits that even reservists get.

In the film, they were welding rusted metal plates on to their 1970s trucks and stuffing old flak jackets in the doors when they ran out of metal. they were stuffing sandbags and placing them inside their cars and around their trailers at the bases.

As it went on, the film made me prouder of those men and women that serve over there and angrier at the folks that put them over there. Despite their poverty and lack of education, these young men and women quickly figured out what was going on and were given an impossible task to do. Can you imagine a foreign army toppling the government of California, and having to deal with race riots that makes the Rodney King reaction look like tea party on a daily basis? Oh and with only 140K troops.

A solution can only be achieved politically, and we have squandered 3,000 US troops and untold thousands of Iraqis trying to solve it militarily. The Iraqi "government" is unwilling or unable to take control of much of anything in their country and the whole place is starting to look like one of those war torn African countries. I highly doubt that adding 20-30K troops will do much of anything and while Iraq will spiral out of control more without us there, it can't get much worse without the US in the cross hairs.

The whole movie just illustrates the utter insanity of the whole war. It reminds me of World War I, a bloody drawn out conflict which had no real purpose and accomplished nothing other than dead bodies then and more dead bodies later.