Friday, February 16, 2007

Utah's 4th will be voted on in two weeks?

The Deseret News reports that "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave her 'unequivocal support' to the legislation" DC Delegate Norton believes that the Utah-DC bill is certain to come up for a vote. DC Vote's Kevin "Kiger said there appears to be enough momentum that movement on the bill would likely come in March." I.e. after the week-long President's Day recess. [side note: isn't it ironic that Don Young is misquoting Lincoln on his Birthday weekend?]

House Republicans from Utah want our state legislature to be able to re-redraw the map (to screw Matheson I guess). Jim is concerned about the cost of a special election in November. A study in constrasts.

Now would you want to put something representation in charge of this bunch of clowns?
But for Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, the real driving force is a desire to allow school administrators to reject clubs they find morally objectionable without the fear of a lawsuit.
He wants schools, such as Provo High, to have the ability to stamp out gay-straight alliances, which he describes as "a place of indoctrination."
Buttars says the bill provides legal cover for such a decision and would require the attorney general to handle any lawsuits.
Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, the Senate's only openly gay member, led the charge against the bill.
McCoy described the bill as too "onerous" because of the requirements to provide detailed club bylaws and schedules to school administrators.
McCoy had no problem with the section that required parental-consent forms, but he tried to remove almost everything else. The House passed a similar version to McCoy's proposal.

McCoy is being very reasonable. Parental consent and information on clubs is fine. What is problematic is writing a bill based off an eroneous belief that gay-straight clubs are cults that brain wash teens into becoming gay. And even if that were true, the only reason Buttars cares is because he hates gay people. Afterall, he can't even call his collegue by his name, he calls him "the gay."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Trolley Square Shooter's Criminal History

The 18-year old that killed at least 5 people Tuesday night's sealed juvenile record was leaked to the Salt Lake Tribune this evening:
At age 12, Talovic was before a judge for allegedly holding a knife over the head of girl while stating, "I'll kill you," according to a source who is familiar with the case.
Two years earlier, Talovic was referred to juvenile court for throwing rocks at a little girl.
About the same time, he threatened his parents' landlord with a knife.
The first girl was not struck by the stones. And the mother of the second girl snatched her up in the nick of time, just as Talovic took a swipe with the blade, according to the source, who has seen court documents relating to the case.
...Musto Redzovic, the family's first landlord in Salt Lake City, said Talovic pulled a knife on him at their duplex apartment in 1998 or 1999. Talovic would have been 9 or 10 at the time.
"He was just a child," said Redzovic, who brushed the incident off and did not report the incident to police.
Redzovic said he believes Talovic did not recognize him and may have been simply trying to protect his family's property...
"I used to feel bad for him," said Redzovic, who believes the behavior was a direct result of the war in Bosnia. "That child must have seen some troubling things in Bosnia." The rock-throwing incident occurred on Sept. 23, 1999. During a juvenile court trial, the allegations were found to be true, although Talovic denied them.
The knife brandishing episode involving the girl occurred on April 24, 2001, and was eventually dismissed because the victim and her mother could not be located.
Talovic was also referred to court for stealing fireworks from a Smith's grocery store on June 22, 2001.
On July 9, 2001, Talovic admitted the shoplifting crime, and it was the last time he appeared in juvenile court, according to the source, quoting court records.
Court officials said they have been unable to find any juvenile court history on Talovic. The source said the records were expunged in October, when Talovic turned 18.

I wonder how much they paid this source and who it is. Whomever it is, what they did is illegal, which is why they are staying anonymous.

Again, this seems to indicate not that Talovic was a Jahidist, but rather a messed up kid. Messed up by the war, or just a violent youth who felt alienated from society? That is the question.

When bigots react

Little Green Footballs (LGF), a nutty right wing group blog, flipped out when the local newspapers didn't mention the Trolley Square shooter's religion every time they referenced him. [The link is not to LGF, because I don't want to promote their commerce in anyway, but I guess you can click through]
The blogosphere erupted with xenophobia as some posters noted that Talovic was Muslim and concluded the rampage was a terrorist act. The Tribune also has been criticized for not mentioning his religion in every story. The assumption, apparently, is that all Muslims are violent.
"I had my suspicions immediately," one YouTube poster wrote. "I'm willing to bet they will find American hating evidence in this guy's home, computer, etc. Am I racist? No. I'm a realist. We are at war folks!"

The result of LGF and like minded bigots is an avalanche of hate e-mail to Bosnians and Utah Muslims, blaming them for the deaths on Tuesday night. We still have no idea what the shooter's motive was.
"No, he was very good," his uncle, Sadik Omerovic, said Wednesday.
The shooting rampage came as a "very big surprise for me," Omerovic said. "It just happened. We're shocked."
Also a mystery to Talovic's relatives is how he got a shotgun and handgun.
"Nobody knows," Omerovic said. "We don't know who [gave] him the guns."
Omerovic said Talovic had no history of violence. "He never, never [hurt anyone]. He was very nice person."

Just because he is Muslim doesn't mean he thought he was on a Jihad. After all, a right winger named Timothy McVeigh killed hundreds of people, including infants and children, all because he had such hate for the federal government. He believed what he was doing was justified by all the horrible things the federal government does. You know, like giving social security checks to old people.

These are the same kinds of people that attacked Sikhs because they were dark skinned bearded men who wore turbans. Who cares if they are not Muslim or not even from the Middle East? Such facts were details that got in the way of Operation Infinite Justice. Such thinking is what got us into war with Iraq. Such thinking could lead us into war with Iran. Such thinking needs to stop here and now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

wednesday round up

Sorry for the sporadic posting this week.

  • I had a jury trial all day long, and the jury found him not guilty. The worst part for me as the nascent prosecutor was having to call the victim and tell her the bad news. Domestic Violence case on Valentine's, you gotta love the court's sense of irony.

  • Good for Jim Matheson for learning from his Iraq vote in 2002 and voting for the resolution against the escalation of the war (the McCain Doctrine)"At a minimum, we owe them [American soldiers] a new approach and a thoughtful approach to the situation in Iraq and the pursuit of a comprehensive strategy for success." Right on. He supports the Iraq Study Group. I have my quibbles with the ISG report, but to the extent they say it is a mess and that 20-40k more troops will only make things worse, I agree.

  • Harkening back to my post yesterday about the shooter, we learn new deals that basically affirm my suspicion:
    Sulejman Talovic, an 18-year-old fatally shot by police after Monday's rampage, was only 4 when he and his mother fled their village of Talovici on foot after Serb forces overran it in 1993...
    Talovic lived as a refugee in Bosnia from 1993 to 1998, when his family moved to the United States, they said.
    During that period, he spent some time in Srebrenica, the northeastern enclave where up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in 1995 by Serb forces loyal to late ex-Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic. It was Europe's worst massacre of civilians since World War II.
    "...I'm convinced the war did this in Utah," said Murat Avdic, a friend of the family. "There cannot be any other reason."

    His aunt disagrees: "We all suffered things in war, but, no, we didn't have anything [lingering psychologically]," Omerovic said. Even if he wasn't in Srebenica when the massacre happened, he most certainly heard about it, and he probably knew people who were murdered by Slobo's goon squads. A year after he got to America, we began bombing Serbs for Kosovars, and on TV there were horrific images of bombings, villages being torched, etc. I don't see how it could have not affected, but it doesn't excuse his behavior, even if that were the cause.

  • Is the administration insane? [Don't answer that] Why would you try to make another bogus case for war with a better equipped country when your troops are already beyond the breaking point? And when the American people believe you about as much as a used car salesman in a plaid suit? I am sure they believe Iran is behind all their troubles, but there are no real facts to support it. That is why two sitting Generals with lots of stars have said this is hype. Iran is a big player in the region because of this disastrous Iraq policy, compounded by a failure to admit failure. Arrogance and pride should not be the basis of our foreign policy.

That's it, Happy Valentine's!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A generation raised by violence

(Photo Credit: World

Everyone in Utah by now knows about the "mall massacre" at Trolley Square: six dead (including the shooter) and four seriously injured.
Killed were:
• Jeffrey Walker, 53
• Vanessa Quinn, 29
• Kirsten Hinkley, 15
• Teresa Ellis, 29
• Brad Frantz, 25

Wounded and hospitalized are:
• Carolyn Tuft, 43
• Shawn Munns, 34
• Stacy Hansen, 53
• Allen Walker, 16

The shooter was an 18-year old Bosnian immigrant, which means he was born in 1989. It also means that if he grew up in Bosnia, he lived through two genocides (assuming he stayed until 1999). He might have seen people being brutally murdered by their neighbors for no real reason at all. I am not saying this to excuse his actions, far from it. I am speculating like this to show the consequences of allowing children to be victims of and witnesses to massive violence and war.

This is the second time in a few months that a young man from the former Yugoslavia acted out with random violent rage. The first time, Salt Lake got lucky, and no one was hurt [the SLC library bombing]. This time, obviously, was far worse.

Those who grew up in many parts of Africa (especially Rwanda 1994 and Sudan now) risk being tomorrow's Yugoslav violent youth. The same holds true for those who are growing up in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.

As awful as last nights shooting was, worse may be still yet to come if we don't stop letting violence raise another generation of young people.

Another hurdle for Utah's 4th

(Cartoon Credit: © 2001 Clay Bennett)
The Washington Post reports that several members of Congress requested a Congressional Research Service report on the constitutionality of the DC-Utah bill, and the CRS report said it was unconstitutional. Here's why this is a big deal:
The report by the Congressional Research Service is not binding, and its conclusions reflect what some prominent legal scholars have been warning for years. But it could carry extra weight because the service generally gets high marks for its nonpartisan advice to the House and Senate.
The report lands at a time when the D.C. voting rights effort has been gaining momentum. The new Democratic majority in the House has vowed to move quickly on such legislation.

Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution, said the report represents "a creature of the Congress . . . saying this doesn't really pass constitutional muster. That has to be taken seriously and will certainly be used by those who oppose it."

The question, however, is highly debatable. Ken Starr, "a former federal appellate judge and onetime independent counsel [who investigated Bill Clinton for years]," and Viet D. Dinh, a former assistant attorney general, had analyzed the measure and found it constitutional."

It all depends on how you interpret the case law:
One is a clause that limits House membership to individuals chosen "by the People of the several States." Courts have determined that the phrase excludes the District, the report says.

The second relevant part of the Constitution, the "District Clause," grants Congress broad authority over the city. The bill's proponents note that the Supreme Court ruled in 1949 that Congress could use its powers to give D.C. residents the same rights as other citizens.

That case, National Mutual Insurance Co. v. Tidewater, concerned the right to have a federal court hear lawsuits involving people of two states.

But the research service says that ruling was narrow. Six justices wrote that the congressional powers over the District weren't big enough to justify making "structural changes to the federal government," the report says. Giving a vote to the District would be such a change, it says.

So what does this all mean? Well for those who were leaning against voting for the bill, the CRS report gives them another excuse to vote 'nay.' There is no doubt that someone will sue to challenge the constitutionality of the bill, assuming President Bush would sign it.

I would hope that DC residents would protest outside the homes of every Justice to drive home the point that they are American citizens and should be able to have the same voice in Congress that their fellow citizens a few miles away enjoy. Of course, Justices like Clarence Thomas don't live in the District.

How Obama got his groove

Notice there was no "back" in the title. That is because I am talking about how his 2000 primary lost to Rep. Bobby Rush made Obama the rock star that he is today.

The Salon article is written by a reporter who knew him back when he was a terrible politician. Barack was a typical, haughty self-entitled Haaaarvard guy. In other words, George W. Bush without the backslapping ability. He tried and failed to be cool and "black." He talked down to people, let them know that he was making a big sacrifice, that he could be making hundreds of thousands in some big law firm, but instead he tried to fix their city. Obama tried to run on his resume rather than on his personality AND his resume.

But a funny thing happened after only getting 31% of the vote. He learned that he needed to work with people to get things done. He learned from critical reporters and colleagues in the State Senate. He learned how to convey his big ideas without sounding intellectually superior to you, but without "dumbing it down." And he learned to use his natural charm and looks to his advantage, and to use his upbringing in the "white world" to his advantage as well. By 2004, he won a crowded Senate primary easily. By 2006, he was charming the country, raising money for Democrats and selling his second best selling novel. By 2007, he was a presidential candidate. In other words, he learned fast.

From reading his first book, the one he wrote before he was full time politician, you get the sense that this is a very introspective person. And from hearing bits from his second book, it seems he now very carefully examines himself and what he does. He is afraid of going back to that 2000 Barack, he is trying to learn the ways of running for president. Of being a movement candidate who is disconnected from the movement. The man has enormous potential to unite the country and win in a landslide against a reactionary same old Republican nominee. He just needs to be comfortable being who he is, and allowing the masses that want him to be president to carry him to the white house.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rep. Greg "Icarus" Curtis

(Credit © 1971 Frank Wright)

Lee Benson, identical twin brother of US District Court Judge Dee Benson, makes many excellent points in his most recent Op-Ed column:
[C]ould somebody please explain how Real Salt Lake survived to play another season in Utah while work now begins on its $110 million stadium?
After months and months of economic due diligence and political leaders behaving like true public servants, following the lead of public opinion polls against the deal, Real was denied taxpayer help with its stadium and thus its future in Utah.
Overnight, a deal that had been studied upside down and sideways for nearly two years by the county and declared "too risky" by Corroon was declared "a solid investment" by Huntsman.
What was that all about? Other than proof positive that a governor trumps a mayor?
I don't get it. Why is RSL so special? With a few exceptions, the Jazz being the most prominent, other pro sports teams on the verge of collapse have looked for government assistance and gotten basically the same reception as someone trying to butt in line at the airport magnetometer.
And no matter how great soccer is as a sport, no matter how many American kids play it at least until they're 14, RSL is no Jazz and the MLS is no NBA.
Major League Soccer is a second-class league with a reputation for losing money that averages 15,000 fans a game — 2,000 less than when it started 11 years ago — and is hanging its latest hopes on a benchwarmer from Europe married to an aging pop star who is being offered a salary that, with bonuses, could exceed the payroll for the entire rest of the league.
Forget Real Salt Lake, there's no guarantee the league will be around in five years.

Benson puts the blame on the Governor, who flexed his political muscles for this to happen in such a short time. But I think Huntsman was trying to cover for Speaker Curtis, who has been pushing for this from day one. And despite seeing his proverbial wax melt in November and barely survive, he decided that public be damned he was going to waste millions of tax payer dollars on a stadium. And vouchers. And tax cuts on the rich. And an abortion test case. But spend a million to prevent cancer in women who might be sexually active? No way.

I expect that next time, Curtis' most recent trips to the sun will be rewarded with a nice salty bath in the Great Salt Lake. At least I hope that the voters of Sandy will see how unrepresentative of their district and values their Representative really is.