Friday, February 23, 2007

waiting for Wes

About this time 4 years ago, I was trying to find other people who had heard of Wesley Clark, or convince them that he was the one. I had read the article in Time Magazine in the fall of 2002 and his story was intriguing enough (First in his class at West Point, Rhodes Scholar, 4-star General) to ask for his book on the Kosovo campaign for Christmas. I was telling everyone I knew that he would run, and that he would win.

All my friends thought I was crazy. Then I met folks on Yahoo! groups and went to the first Clark MeetUp in April 2003. We were all sure then that Clark's announcement was mere weeks away. It wasn't until I was at MeetUps in Boston and a trip or two to New Hampshire that I was able to witness Clark's announcement in September. Then my friends were amazed at me. But by February, my dream had died because some morons in Iowa thought John Kerry was the most "electable."

Since then, it has become increasingly clear that we need real leadership in foreign policy, someone who has a track record of working with statesmen from other countries to come to difficult solutions. If Wes Clark had been nominated, I believe he would have won. And we would have troops in Darfur and Afghanistan, not an increase in troops in Iraq. The agreement with North Korea would have moved along faster, Israel would be allowed to talk to Syria, and the Middle East peace process would actually be underway.

Last time, Clark didn't get into the race until Bob Graham got out, and he ended up with some of Graham's staff. This time, Tom Vilsack has dropped out. Perhaps now Clark can now start running and take Vilsack's staff (at least for Iowa).

As great of a president as I think he would be, I am growing impatient waiting for Clark to announce one way or the other. The race seems to be a three way one at the moment, with Edwards a distant third. Can Clark raise the millions needed to compete with Clinton's machine and Obama's movement? Can he distinguish himself from the other foreign policy heavyweight in the field (Richardson; Biden is just a blowhard)? Can Clark get the necessary staff? Last time it was all Clinton/Gore people.

Now Hillary is stuck with those clowns. Meanwhile, Obama has the anti-Clinton staff: Daschle's people and Gephardt's people. These are folks who were miffed by President Clinton use of congressional Democrats as foils for his "Third Way." House liberals in particular provided a nice contrast for Bill to seem reasonable and moderate between House Republicans and House Democrats.

A Clark/Obama or Obama/Clark or Obama/Warner/Clark (Clark as Sec. State) ticket would be excellent. Obama has no foreign policy experience other than living in the Philippines as a young child and visiting his family in Kenya (and going to Africa as part of his "book tour" last year).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chris Cannon is an idiot

(Photo Credit Deseret News)
part 345: The Trolley Square shooter.
Cannon was on KSL News- Radio's "Doug Wright Show" Wednesday morning talking about terrorism and the troop surge in Iraq. On the call-in show, he indicated that peace in the Middle East could mean being able to move away here in the United States from "a kid shouting 'Allah akbar' as he shoots people in Trolley Square," to people thinking more about religion, God and "judgment."
Such changes would lead to a worldwide society that could then have the same opportunities found in the United States, according to Cannon.
A spokesman for Cannon told the Deseret Morning News the congressman was referring to something he heard on the Fox News Channel, where a host claimed "some witnesses" reported hearing Talovic say "Allah akbar" near the end of the shootout.
However, Salt Lake City police insisted Wednesday no evidence has been uncovered so far that points to Talovic's religion being a motive in the killing spree.

First mistake: listening to Fox News as if it were gospel. Second mistake: opening is big dumb trap. He won't let silly facts get in the way of a good anti-muslim creed.
Internet blogs, conservative talk shows and others have zeroed in on Talovic's religion as the motive for the crime.
Members of Utah's Muslim community said they do not recall ever seeing Talovic or his family at any services. The Muslim Forum of Utah said Talovic lived a "hermit type of lifestyle" and was not known to be religious. The Islamic Society of the Greater Salt Lake said only a few Bosnians and Serbs attend mosque regularly.
Slavojub Josipovic, with the American Bosnian and Herzegovenian Association, said his wife is Muslim but he is not. He said many Bosnian Muslims are more secular and "don't practice too much."
"They are more open. They lived together with Christians and other religions for hundreds of years," he said. "In Bosnia, we celebrate everybody's (religious) holidays."
Josipovic said the war made things more "difficult."
"They tried to separate us," he said. "By religion, different nationalities. It is so mixed in Bosnia you cannot put borders between people."

So it is probably all the violence Talovic witnesses, not his technical Islamic faith. "It's a possibility that we may never know. Unfortunately, he may have taken that [his motive] with him," SLCPD Det. Robin Snyder said.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ID laws=voter suppression

(Photo Credit Frantz Rantz © 2005)
In a surprise to no one but the New York Times the Old Grey Lady discovered that all these new voter ID laws supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats actually lowers turnout. [H/T VoteLaw]
States that imposed identification requirements on voters reduced turnout at the polls in the 2004 presidential election by about 3 percent, and by two to three times as much for minorities, new research suggests.
Tim Vercellotti, a professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study, said that in the states where voters were required to sign their names or present identifying documents like utility bills, blacks were 5.7 percent less likely to vote than in states where voters simply had to say their names.

Dr. Vercellotti said Hispanics appeared to be 10 percent less likely to vote under those requirements, while the combined rate for people of all races was 2.7 percent.

And who'd have guessed it that Blacks and Hispanics vote for Democrats more often than Republicans?

Why do Republicans hate democracy so much? The amount of fraud surrounding elections , if there is any, is much less than the 2.7 percent for all people, and among Blacks and Hispanics I am sure it is less than 5.7 and 10 percent.

Why does it have to be such a pain to vote? I say, make everyone (men and women) register for the Selective Service (the never-will-be-draft) when they turn 18, which at the same time will register them as a voter. If such registration is good enough for the military for an emergency draft for a war, then it should be good enough for people to vote for their congressmen or president. Such a law would also get rid of the inherent sexism of the current fake draft. Women are just as capable of serving in the military as men. Some women cannot do some jobs, but neither can some men.

Another way of ensuring the integrity of elections (which Republicans claim to care about) while making it easier for people to vote would be a vote by mail system like Oregon has. Oregon also has the highest turnout of any state. Vote by mail would also have the advantage of a paper trail for recounts if necessary. They could all be optical scanner sheets. Everyone in America knows how to fill in bubble sheets. Vote by mail would prevent voter intimidation by race or socioeconomic status. And it would also prevent Democratic operatives from bribing homeless people to vote for cigarettes. Administratively, it will be slower than the current electronic counting system but should be about as fast as the old stock cards and the same speed as absentee voters.

This also would save the state the money and time and hassle of finding and training poll workers. Most poll workers are senior citizens now, and lack of knowledge or training by a couple dozen of them caused the bulk of problems we saw in 2006 and 2004. Moreover, as these folks become too frail for poll working, it will be difficult to replace them given the terribly low wage they are paid and that even government employees have to take a vacation day to do it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Utah's legislature: double standards edition

Remember how the legislature couldn't spare $1 million for HPV inoculation? Or how they feel too much money is being spent in schools?
A bill asking for $30 million to lower class sizes - consistent with Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.'s budget request - passed a House Education Committee Monday. But HB94, sponsored by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, suffers a political disadvantage compared with the more modest HB149 sponsored by Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Cottonwood Heights.
That bill carries a $5 million price tag and comes with accountability requirements demanded by some legislators.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, has long voiced concerns that class size reduction money comes with no strings attached. He's lamented that some schools still have 30 or 40 kids per class even though the Legislature spent $74 million to reduce class sizes last year.

But they can spare money for a quasi-private, quasi-religious failed business:
A year after Republican leaders slipped a $2 million dollar bailout for This Is The Place Heritage Park into the state budget without discussion or debate, the public-private operation has its hand out again - this time for an additional $100,000 in annual funding.
House budget Chairman Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley City, was startled to see the $100,000 request on the Department of Natural Resources budget for the park that celebrates the Mormons' arrival in the valley.
The foundation, which took control in 1998, had convinced wealthy donors to build more than 35 pioneer-period buildings, but neglected to set aside money to maintain them.
The park's attendance has never matched expectations.
The state, which owns the park, found itself in a corner.
The DNR did not want to take over what had become a 450-acre money pit. But any hope of the foundation surviving would require a massive infusion of taxpayer money.
The state already pumps a yearly $700,000 into the park. It also has gotten hundreds of thousands in county Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) funds.

I am sure that if this park had nothing to do with the LDS Church, it would have been left for dead years ago. Your tax dollars at work, bridging the church-state divide.

Ethics is for suckers. And those suckers are Utah voters apparently.
Today, the Utah House passed a lobbyist gift bill that would require more disclosure of legislators who take gifts from lobbyists paid to influence them.
Rep. Greg Hughes speaks Monday on a measure that would increase disclosure requirements on gifts from lobbyists. The measure passed in the House, but Hughes backs a bill that requires full disclosure.
Rep. Greg Hughes speaks Monday on a measure that would increase disclosure requirements on gifts from lobbyists. The measure passed in the House, but Hughes backs a bill that requires full disclosure.
However, the GOP majority in the House exempted all meals up to $50 from the disclosure measure — a disappointment to the reform-minded lawmakers who want to curtail such gifts.
A Deseret Morning News examination of all gifts given to legislators in 2006, published last month, found that lobbyists paid for $67,196 worth of meals for the 104 part-time lawmakers — or on average $646 per legislator.
But by far most of those meals were less than $50, so lobbyists didn't name which legislators took the free meals.

This week's posturing bill: the Pledge of Allegiance
A resolution, HJR12, which reaffirms the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance unanimously passed the House Government Operations Committee Monday. The intent of sponsoring Rep. Kerry Gibson, R-Ogden, is to ensure that the pledge remains the same as it has been since 1954, when the phrase was added.
"This nation was founded on a belief in God," Gibson said. "This needs to continue to be part of our pledge."

I am glad such an urgent need is being met in the few days our legislature is in session. Since the Founders were Deists, not Evangelical Christians, and since the Pledge is a recent creation to combat those godless communists, and not secularism in America, this is a joke. As a child, I always felt that the Pledge had a very facist feel to it and I never really liked it. And the Supreme Court wussed out on addressing the issue last time, taking the standing angle to avoid having to hold that forcing children in public schools to say "One nation under God" every day does not establish religion.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Shurtleff lies to Washington County

Oh let me count the ways our AG (Aspiring Governor) Mark Shurtleff distorted, fear mongered and lied in his keynote speech for the Washington County Republican Party's Lincoln Day breakfast at Dixie State College.
  1. "I'm sad to say that your representative, who likes to say he's Republican in his heart, voted with (Democratic House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi," Shurtleff said. "This Democratic resolution in the House and Senate right now condemns our president and our soldiers." Let's look at the text of the resolution shall we?
    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—

    (1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

    (2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

    Um no before House stated its disapproval with the President's escalation (which by the way something like 60% of the American people disapprove of), they first said that they support the troops and will continue to do so. Might I remind the Republican rhetorics that their party and president has continually underfunded veteran's benefits...and failed to supply adequate armor and protection for the current soldiers. So much for supporting the troops.

  2. "There are some good questions about whether we are executing this war properly, and I don't think that we are, but the Democrats are calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities and negotiation of a settlement," he said. Again, let's look at that resolution...or Obama's [calling for redeployment starting in May and ending a year later], Hillary's [redeployment starting in 60 days], Biden [editing the AUMF], and Dodd's [who cares].

  3. "Washington County continues to support the president and fight the good fight, and for that I am grateful. If nothing else, when we think of what happened at Trolley Square, it shows us we have to fight a war here (at home), too." Reality check: " a new SurveyUSA poll finds President Bush's approval rating in the Beehive State is 51%, a drop of 10 points from the beginning of the year and 4 percent since just last month.

    Meantime, his disapproval is up six percent since last month to 46%. Utah, Idaho (at 52%) and Wyoming (at 50%) are now the only three states in positive territory." This was almost a year ago, since then, Bush's approval rating nationally has gone downhill. More people strongly disapprove of him and his Iraq policy than last year.

Here's a terrible headline: "Homosexual stereotypes may be helpful" with an even stupider topic: the snickers ad.

Matheson might be approving of an at-large 4th district. "If the desire is to move something, you look for the path with the most bipartisan support and the least controversy," says Rep. Jim Matheson's spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend. "That's the path of least resistance."