Friday, January 26, 2007

September 2003=February 2007?

Hotline says Wes Clark will probably form an exploratory committee in two weeks and then take his sweet time to decide whether he should really run. But beyond this revelation, they have a interesting point:
Clark recognizes that he got in too late in 2003. And he's arguably the most qualified to confront issues of war and peace in these turbulent times. Is February of 2008 equivalent to September of 2003? What an absurd question -- of course not.

But then again, when you think about it, it's hard to divine a compelling justification for Clark to take his time in a field that includes foreign policy heavyweights (Biden), a Clinton (remember how Clark was encouraged to run by Pres. Bill Clinton's friends and donors?) a Southerner (Edwards) and a breath of fresh air (Obama?)

First off, at this rate of announcements drop outs etc, it might be like September 2003. Secondly, Biden is not a foreign policy heavyweight. He is a blowhard Senator that likes to hear himself think. If he was such a brilliant foreign policy guy, why did he support the war? Why is he pushing all these non-binding resolutions and going on Sunday talks shows moving the goal posts for Iraq dozens of times? Clinton's presence really does hurt Clark in terms of his old staff and his old donors. But maybe he needs to get beyond Bill and Hill. He needs better staff than last time, he needs his own fundraising base.

I am starting to worry that Clark, being the smart guy that he is, realizes it will be tough slog to raise the necessary money with this current three-headed monster of Clinton-Obama-Edwards gobbling up all the primary cash. He may be running for VP against Richardson & Warner & Bayh. I sure hope he runs. If he does, he will have my support. If he doesn't, I will support Obama and urge him to pick Clark for his VP (visionary with no foreign policy experience but with lots of domestic policy experience coupled with a visionary with lots of foreign policy experience and no real domestic policy experience).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cannon will be primaried

Just look at the reception he got with the Utah State Legislature, filled with state Reps. and Sens. who live in Cannon's district:
[The exchange] turned heated when Cannon was questioned about immigration and the "out-of-control" spending of Congress.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told Cannon that the recent shift of control in the House and Senate on the federal level is because people are "fed up" with the inability of Congress to "run the affairs on this nation." He then asked Cannon how he planned to deal with the issues of earmarks and illegal immigration, which he called an "unfunded mandate."
Cannon responded by saying that Republican leadership made a "huge mistake" with immigration by listening to people who were "xenophobic and tried to create a wedge issue." He then said that Congress is "going in the right direction and have been savaged by people, I think unfairly."
Other notes from Cannon include a reference to Utah Valley State College and his hope that the school would be turned into a full university.
"I like the name Utah International University," he said. "It has to be a regional college, calling it more than a university will not make it a regional college."
Cannon also said that he was hopeful lawmakers would look carefully at a bill that would forbid children of illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition. "What does it cost us to have an incremental student, then what is the cost to society to have an incentive?" he said.

Sounds pretty if it was just a cranky legislature, they would be even meaner to Utah's lone Democrat in Congress:
Stephenson asked Matheson the same question about immigration and spending. Matheson said he was confident the issues would be addressed.
"I think that the message you have voiced about the concerns that Congress is not functioning and is not doing its job is something that resonated in the past election and I hope that Congress gets it," Matheson said. "I sure heard it."

Cannon saw his primary win as a condemnation of xenophobia, but it looks like immigration reform is still an urgent need of the states. And states like Utah wish (at least their legislatures do) that the Sensenbrenner bill passed.

global warming is bad for the economy

There are some delusional folks who want to believe climate change is not occurring, or that if it is, it isn't caused by humans. Then there are those who agree that it is happening but then believe that any policy changes would set America's economy back to those of Sub-Saharan Africa. But then there is this troubling fact:
The most recent glimpse of snowpack totals in Utah's six major river basins paints a fairly grim picture. After ending 2006 - and the first three months of the water year - with near-normal precipitation, Utah has seen a long dry spell shrivel snowpacks to as low as 64 percent of normal in the north and 69 percent in the south.

Now the article blames it on El Nino, which is a weather event that happens when sea temperatures are higher...gee I wonder what causes that. Just remember ZERO peer-reviewed scientific articles on the climate have disputed that humans are causing a dramatic climate change. And remember that less snow in Utah's northern mountains means less skiing. And less skiing means that less people stay at hotels, rent skis, buy meals, gas, etc. In short, our tourism portion of the local economy suffers.
Utah ski resorts, not surprisingly, are hurting.
In the Cottonwood canyons, Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton all had base totals of less than 60 inches on Wednesday.
The Park City resorts - Park City, Deer Valley and The Canyons - were all under 50 inches.
"I think we're at the point in the season where people are beginning to realize that they need to ski the mountain as it is, because we've now had a couple of long, extended periods without new snow and we're not seeing anything on the horizon," said Snowbird spokeswoman Laura Schaffer.

Then think about all the jobs that can come from developing better wind turbines, solar panels, water turbines, hydrogen fuel cells, electric motors and batteries. And more efficient gas-motors, and hopefully some day hover boards! These are jobs that will not end up in India and China for decades, these are jobs that can only be accomplished in a research heavy US with its Universities and private businesses.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hatch: no I'm the partisan hack

Yesterday I told you about a silly speech that Sen. Bennett gave to his fellow crazy Utah Republicans in power and the silly coverage by LDS Church-owned and GOP-controlled Deseret News. Well today, Sen. Hatch one-upped his colleague:
Even most Utahns - always Bush's strongest fans in the reddest state in the nation - are not backing the president on the war in Iraq.
Tough crowd.
Not the same crowd that welcomed him in 2002 with 76 rounds of applause during his 48-minute speech, or an America that, at the time, gave his job performance an 83 percent approval rating.
This time, Bush clocked in at 49 minutes, but only got applause 57 times - a dozen times from the Republican side only.
Hatch, who watched from home still nursing an injured shoulder, said Bush “enjoyed” giving the speech, even with a not-so-receptive audience. “I think he stuck it to them,” Hatch said. “How can you disagree with anything he said?”

I will tell you how one can disagree with nearly everything Bush said. It is called fact-checking. Much of what Bush said was based off of distorted information at best, all intentional misrepresentations.

Secondly, even the MSM nearly universally agreed that Bush's speech was a dull retreat of last years and other speeches, whereas Sen. Webb's response knocked their socks off.

Disagreeing with your party's president on principle? That is impossible to fathom for water-boy Orin. Sen. Chuck Hagel is one of these principled Republicans. He is conservative, but he is mad about Iraq and willing to call BullSh!t on Bush where most Republicans cower in the corner, or blame Cheney (ala McCain) an easy out since Cheney is not running for president and couldn't care less what anyone else thinks.

If only Republicans had Sen. Hagel to choose from, along with the usual bootlickers in Congress and in state houses, GOP primary voters would have a choice of conservative who is against the war or moderate who is for the war, or conservative who waffles on the war, or conservative who is for the war. If those were the choices, then we could truly see where the party is at.

Oh and thank you John Kerry for not running for president again. I appreciate what you did in 2006, and while you were my third choice in 2004, you got pretty dang close for a liberal senator from Massachusetts. Now if we could only get Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, and a few others to drop out, we would be somewhere.

I still don't get the point of protest presidential candidates.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bennett: I want to be the political hack

As a poly sci professor in college argued persuasively to me, Senators compete against the other home state senator for niches*. One tends to be the "bacon" senator, the other the "statesman" or "lawmaker." Some divvy up issues: Barbara Boxer get the environment while Feinstein gets abortion. For the longest time, Orin Hatch was the lawmaker, drafting bills with the likes of Ted Kennedy on cigarette taxes (towards children's health care), while Bennett was Utah's own "Senator Pothole" touting every nickel he got for the beehive state.

But lately, Bennett is encroaching on Hatch's other domain: political hack. Orin likes to ask compliments or softballs during his "questioning" of Republican officials--be they Appointees for the judiciary (see Anita Hill hearings through ScAlito) or executive appointees (see this month's Gonzales hearings). He also likes to go on talk shows or other media outlets and make the most disingenuous arguments in favor of whatever conservatives want to be true be it that Hillary and Bill killed Vince Foster or that Obama is a radical Muslim (not that he made either arguments, but ones like them). Now, Bennett is trying to be his own mini-hack:
The Democratic takeover in Congress, Bennett said, has put in jeopardy some funding for the state, including for agriculture-related programs at Utah State University and for scholarships at the University of Utah.
The decision by the new Congress to continue spending at current levels, the state's junior senator said, "means that new initiatives will disappear ... quite frankly there will be some problems in the state of Utah as a result of that."

I am sure this bogus stuff has nothing to do with the fact that the former Utah Republican Party Chairman is their editor in chief, nothing.

But to the meat of his contentions. Democrats (and many Republicans) in the House voted to lower college student loans (Utah's House Republicans voted no, claiming it hurt loans paid off during college, which no one does). If the USU programs are valid ones and not Iowa rain forest studies or $300 million bridges from one hamlet to another in Alaska, then I am sure it will be included in appropriations. Democrats will be cutting GOP pork, not projects in GOP districts just because they are presented by republicans. Oh and who's fault is it that funding is frozen at its current levels? Why the Republican controlled 109th congress who failed to pass 11 of the 13 appropriations bills last year and then passed a CR (continuing resolution) during the lame duck session. It is like the guy who ditched you when the bill came at the nice restaurant and then complaining to others that you didn't order appetizers.

* Wendy Schiller, "Sharing the Same Home Turf: How Senators from the Same State Compete for Geographic Electoral Support." 2002. In U.S. Senate Exceptionalism, ed. Bruce Oppenheimer, Ohio State University Press.

Monday, January 22, 2007

YouTube-ization of announcement speeches

I don't know about you, but I am already tired of the the internet videos of candidates announcing their candidacy for the presidency online. Edwards did it, Obama did it, Hillary Clinton did it, Richardson did it, and who cares about the other Democratic announcers thus far? It is a bit condescending to me as a blogger that this is their nod to the netroots. "Look, I put it on the internet, now help me raise some money!"

It makes one wistful for Kerry's announcement tour to stand behind various objects (boats, people, etc.)...OK well not really.

Fact is, the announcement process is really ridiculous and farcical. Everyone knew that these folks were going to run (even if I tried to con myself into thinking Hillary would hold the trigger at the last moment). The real news is when these people decide NOT to run. It doesn't matter if they pose in their living rooms, their hip lofts, their office, behind the USS Constitution, or in the lower 9th ward.

I know all this pomp and circumstance is to generate buzz and free press. I will tell you who has no need for free press: Hillary Clinton. I listen to a podcast of the leading nightly newscast in Germany and Hillary made that news, no mention of Obama or McCain or anyone else save Bill.