Friday, March 30, 2007

Cheney's BYU visit reax

Like Ethan, I think the reasoning in Rebecca Walsh's most recent op-ed is flawed or missing. And just after I praised her about the Mayoral debate. Sure taught me to say nice things about the media.

However, the Church's reaction to her column is quite telling. For its aggressive attacks at critics. Touched a nerve have we?
Whatever the personal views of individual students or other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the invitation is seen by the university’s board of trustees as one extended to someone holding the high office of vice president of the United States rather than to a partisan political figure.

The Salt Lake Tribune ran two articles...

One, a prominently displayed personal opinion piece...criticizes the Church, in intemperate and disrespectful language, for inviting Vice President Dick Cheney...

The reporter’s central point seems to be that inviting the vice president — presumably this particular vice president — is inconsistent with the Church’s often-stated political neutrality.

The other article — in the same newspaper — is an editorial that urges that the vice president be allowed to speak because "this is democracy at work" and that an audience of college graduates is capable of assessing what he says. The newspaper further says that the decision was for the BYU board of trustees to make, "just as it is the right of anyone who disagrees with the choice to say so."

So far, the are whining over an overall neutral editorializing of the choice of Cheney. She used mean, bad words WAAAH! And please when you skim Walsh's column, find me some of that "intemperate and disrespectful language." I guess they are not used to being treated without kid gloves by the local media. Even though the Tribune editors fell over themselves to do so after allowing Walsh's column.

One could argue that a editorial by the paper versus a column means that the paper's true feelings like more with the Church and less with Walsh.
The invitation to the vice president of the United States is not a violation of [the Church’s political neutrality policy], any more than inviting the majority leader of the Senate would be. In fact, Senator Harry Reid — a Democrat from the opposite political pole to the vice president — has already accepted such an invitation for this fall. That invitation has been in process for many months — long before the announcement of the vice president's visit.

Even if I believe you about Reid's pre-planned fall visit, there is a big difference between a fall speech and a graduation speech. The later gets a lot more attention from students, faculty, staff, and the media than the former. Moreover, speakers see graduation speeches as more prestigious than other speeches before Universities/College, because it is. They are simply not equivalent platforms.

Moreover, Sen. Majority Leader Reid is LDS. He is the most powerful LDS politician in the US (if not the world), even if there are high powered Mormons in the Bush administration, like ex-Gov. Leavitt. Cheney, however, is not LDS. But he sure is powerful. He is more like a co-president than a vice president. More importantly, he was and still is the biggest supporter of this war in Iraq, one that only 44 percent of the Church's members agree with. And they haven't invited a war critic to balance out Cheney. Reid voted for the war, but is now leading Senate Democrats in pushing a non-binding timetable.

But wait, the Church's press release isn't done yet. It asks a question:
Is it appropriate for a university — even one that espouses a policy of political neutrality — to have as featured speakers the holders of some of the highest offices in the land? Of course it is. And whoever the visitor — the vice president, the majority leader of the Senate or the chief justice of the Supreme Court (another scheduled fall speaker) — the university and the student body will listen, evaluate and react to them as intelligent citizens capable of making up their own minds about their messages.

So now we learn that Reid will be balanced out by CJ Roberts, a ultra-conservative partisan justice nominated by George W. Bush. So much for claiming Reid was there to balance out Cheney. Moreover, when was the last time the Church allowed differing views on things like Women's Rights, Abortion and Gay Marriage, etc. to be displayed at BYU/Church functions? They have ex-communicated professors at BYU, one who taught Feminism, another who thought gay people should be able to marry and have children. I will just wait until some one posts an example.

All in all, I am pleased with the groundswell of support by BYU students, faculty, and alumni, who wish to protest Cheney's speech. I am not surprised at BYU's choice for their speaker, but disappointed nonetheless.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

conservative governance theory 101

Every Thursday morning I have a blast because I get to chat politics [and law] with a liberal, two conservatives, a moderate democrat, and an independent. It's my Election Law class, and as you have noticed, that means there are 5 people in the class other than myself (yes including the professor).

And my very conservative friend and I always enjoy sparring, this time over the Purge scandal. He seems to be of the Kyle Sampson school of thought: "Sure we did it for purely political reasons, but that's the president's prerogative." My friend claimed that USA's serve, like every other appointee, at the [pure] pleasure of the President and can be terminated for whatever reason. He then added that Clinton fired all 93 USA's in 1993 to get of the one investigating Maj. Leader Dan Rostinkowski (D-IL).

If true, shame on Bill Clinton. Rostinkowski was a man who had become wholly corrupted to the core (I read a book about him in an undergraduate class). Even if true, this was on USA targeted and firing all 93. Here we had 8 targeted mid-term to get rid of 8 meddlesome USA's who failed to mount flimsy cases as Democrats (or failed to indict Democrats quickly enough) or more importantly were investigating corrupt Republicans. Moreover, 7 of the 8 were in swing states for the 2008 race, states were a corruption charge against a Democrat could hurt the top of the ticket.

The 8th? Carol Lam, who nabbed Duke Cunningham and was sniffing up another corrupt California congressmen who were also entwined in Cunningham's scandals: House Appropriations Chair Jerry Lewis, a much, much bigger fish than Duke.

My point is this. The reason this scandal is a scandal and is important is not that DOJ lied to Congress repeatedly, although that doesn't help. The reason you should care is that the wheels of government were being used to help ensure Republican victories and continued control of Legislative and Executive Branches. This gaming of the system is not only bad for democracy, it is criminal. This is what Nixon and his crew were trying to do.

My friend's response might be, "Bill Clinton did it" or "this is a partisan which hunt" or "you guys would do the same if you were in charge." Let me say right now that if Democrats did that, I would not support those Democrats and I would be joining Republicans in calling for their resignation, indictment, or impeachment. Secondly, that is not how Democrats operate.

Government to Democrats is a tool for good: more people get jobs, health insurance, good education, grow the economy, etc. To conservatives, government can never do good it can only mess things up that a free market would better solve. So what to do when in power of said government? Either a) destroy it from within by eliminating agencies via defunding or disempowering or disbembering or b) use it as a tool for patronage and political growth. If your appointees are incompetent, who cares? You wanted to prove that government was worthless right? Now it is. If your appointees are bad at their jobs but good at hurting Democrats/helping Republicans great, keep them in as long as possible.

I am not saying all liberals/Democrats are pure and true while all conservatives/Republicans are evil and corrupt, but that this is where the theory leads you to. If you believe government is only good to keep kids from having sex, but not good for lifting people out of poverty, then you elect and support a George W. Bush. If you believe that government is only good for helping people out when the private sector has failed, but is terrible at regulating morality, you elect and support a Bill Clinton.

And right about now, I think I know who the public would chose if they could do it all over again.

handicapping the WH race this far out

Here are my thoughts on how the primaries are shaping out on both the Democrats' and Republicans' sides:

  1. Edwards is ticking up, but HAS to win Iowa to have a prayer. The boost may be temporary sympathy or it may be how he handled the situation.

  2. Clinton is fighting back hard against Obama's surge, which seems to have peaked to a degree. However, her fundamental problems: her rating personality and voice, her cautiousness, etc. will not go away. I still don't see how she can hang on to her lead if Obama or Edwards win both Iowa and New Hampshire

  3. Obama has made several mistakes recently and it seems his rhetoric is not going to be enough these days, people want a plan. He needs to talk about how touting an imaginary plan is worthless and how he would get a bill on a) the war, b) health care, etc. Obama's main appeal is that he sounds moderate but votes fairly liberal.

  4. Unless Edwards drops out and/or Obama stumbles badly, I don't see anyone else in the Democratic fold getting any traction. Of those also-rans, I seen Richardson and Clark as the only ones who have a chance. Sorry Dodd, Biden, Gravel, and Kucinich.

  5. Repubs
  6. McCain is in deep, deep trouble. His comments on Iraq were mocked by journalists (his main base of support) and Generals on the field. McCain hitched his wagon to Bush's war and it isn't going away by 2008. More immediately, the revelation that he wanted to caucus with the Democrats and drop out of the GOP in 2001 will make it that much harder for McCain to convince primary voters he is one of them. I am frankly not surprised. In 2001, McCain's strategy was to run a third party maverick against Bush in 2004. Then John Weaver realized that a third party run would be disastrous, so he decided to become a conservatives conservative on most issues. But conservatives are still pissed off about campaign finance reform, tax cuts, and climate change. No matter how many pro-life votes he has they still will focus on that.

  7. Romney has been hit hard by opo research, and there is lots of ripe ground. He still has many fundamental problems which have nothing to do with his religion: his recent flip-floppery on so many cultural issues. Romney seems particularly clumsy in his attempt to please what ever crowd he needs to appeal to. Again, unless he wins Iowa, I don't see how he breaks through.

  8. Giuliani is running a pretty tight ship. Despite the tough hits via opposition research, he has continued to have a massive lead in state polling and national polling. He has picked up support from key movement conservatives on fiscal issues, like Steve Forbes. And Dobson hasn't said anything negative about him, despite his glaring moral failings

  9. Thompson's balloon floating has been popped by Dobson. It seems that conservatives are dissatisfied with the current field...but can't find anyone who looks good to them. Will Mr. Law & Order be able to tap into that void?

  10. Gingrich seems to be in the same boat as Thompson, but he seems to be the last of great conservative winners. He is untainted by the DeLay-Bush years. And he stepped into Dobson's confessional with a megaphone to beg for forgiveness on his adultery. Still, GOPers should be worried about his ticking time bomb qualities.

The rest of the Republicans are not worth talking about.

Mormons at odds with Cheney, BYU's speaker

Why is Dick Cheney being invited to speak at BYU's graduation again? Many people still assume that Saints support Bush-Cheney blindly. Well think again:
A January poll by The Salt Lake Tribune showed a precipitous drop in support for Bush's handling of the war among Utah's Latter-day Saints.
In the survey, just 44 percent of those identifying themselves as Mormon said they backed Bush's war management. That's a level considerably higher than Bush gets from Utah's non-Mormon population and the nation at large, but it's also a 21 percentage point drop from just five months earlier. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
Such abrupt moves in group opinion are uncommon. Pollsters say numbers generally move gradually, unless "spooked" by something.
But what?

Um could it be the thousands of dead US soldiers, several of whom where from Utah and LDS? Maybe it was another speaker at BYU:
Speaking to Brigham Young University students on Oct. 31, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley lamented "the terrible cost of war."
"What a fruitless thing it so often is," he said. "And what a terrible price it exacts."

Hinkley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers notes that interpreting statements from Pres. Hinkley is like reading the tea leaves of Alan Greenspan's testimony. But how could he just be talking about war in general when the most obvious one of all is staring us all in the face?

And what popular Gov. and LDS Church member Huntsman? "The security situation is Baghdad is out of hand," said Huntsman. "I am less optimistic about a successful outcome."

So tell me again, why is it that an unpopular man among Mormons, who leads an unpopular war among Mormons being invited to BYU?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DC-Utah bill back on track

So House Republicans introduced a poison bill amendment last time on the DC-Utah bill, one that would repeal DC's ultra strict gun laws for a city with a history of violent crime. Thanks Texas Republicans. Maybe this is why Sen. Webb carries a concealed weapon and then accidentally left a 9-mm in an aide's bag the other day.

The great thing about being in the majority in the House is the Rules Committee. If I get to make the rule, and you get to make the bill, I don't care if your bill is about Puppies and babies, I will win the vote. Just look at the Utah Legislature and its rule about animal cruelty.

Anyway, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) promised to have the bill back up on the floor next week, with a poison bill proof rule.

Here's Rep. Chris Cannon arguing why he supported a measure he should have known would kill the bill that would give Utah more power (and give his beloved party another member):
Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, says there is nothing wrong with the attempt by Republicans to send the legislation back to committee with instructions to get rid of the district's handgun ban - a move DC-Utah bill supporters said was blatantly meant to kill the measure.
"The right to keep and bear arms protects the right to vote, and the prospect of defending both rights has put a number of moderate Democrats in an uncomfortable spot," Cannon said. But, "my goal remains the same: to get the additional clout in Congress [Utahns] deserve and defend the Second Amendment."

Um last time I checked I didn't need a gun to cast my ballot for Jim Matheson. The right to bear arms is a completely separate right. The purpose of that amendment was to give states and individuals the ultimate recourse if their government is betraying their trust-- an armed rebellion. Thankfully, we have been able to vote out most of such scoundrels and impeached or forced resigned the remainder.

I just don't see how eliminating gun bans in DC has anything to do with allowing their delegate a vote on bills. Maybe the brothers Cannon can explain that one to me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

throw the bums out

The AG has rendered its legal opinion on the voucher bills and the petition, which I signed, on the first bill.
a second law passed earlier this year amending the state's original voucher law could stand on its own, allowing the state to award public funds to help parents pay for private school tuition. So a referendum petition drive under way to repeal the first bill would merely nullify the sections of the bill that don't appear in the second version, HB174.
One section, however, includes language providing "mitigation monies" that keep public schools from losing money when students leave. Other sections limit state oversight of participating private schools and declare the program "neutral with respect to religion." A voucher program without those sections would be more vulnerable in court, the opinion said.
"Without this language, the act may be more susceptible to an establishment clause challenge," the opinion said. "However, these possible constitutional challenges to HB174 will not doom the bill's ability to stand on its own in creating a voucher program."

Gov. Huntsman pledged to hold a special session if 92,000 valid signatures are on that petition. Legislators who received donations from out of state voucher groups and then voted for a bill that the people don't want, like Speaker Curtis, better be begging Huntsman to hold a special session, because if they don't they might very be out of a job next November.

Call me a Political Science nerd, but I always thought that representative government should represent the people in their district or state or nation. And not whomever rights the biggest checks for their campaign. I have a feeling that at least 92,000 Utahns feel the same way, and many more who will show up to the polls to end this corruption by making this a two-party state for once.

horay for BYU students

A while back I urged Y students to organize against VP Cheney's graduation speech. I got my wish:
An online petition at says, "Cheney has made misleading statements about the tragic war which continues in Iraq, levied outrageous partisan accusations against his Democratic opponents, and used vulgarity on the Senate floor. He has been linked to serious scandals involving botched intelligence reports, no-bid contracts awarded to friends and political donors, and perjury convictions handed down to his own staff."
Because of such actions, the petition says, Cheney should not be given a platform "for his controversial political agenda."
The petition asks that the school refuse Cheney's offer to speak, or at the least, provide a prominent Democrat with a similar schoolwide platform.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the online petition had nearly 200 signatures. Most signers identify themselves as current or past BYU students.

Good job Cougars! I salute you, even if I will never root for your teams.

tuesday round up

While I am waiting for the repairman to arrive at my home, I thought I would get my series of random thoughts off my chest...
  • I like Elizabeth Edwards more than I like John Edwards. EE seems genuine, smart, and capable, while to me JRE seems calaculing and smarmy. Like Kos, I dream of a Elizabeth Edwards vs. Libby Dole NC Senate race. She would make a fantastic senator.

    Her cancer is really horrible. I have had several family members and family friends be in similar situations (the got cancer, they beat it, only to find a few years later that it was back with a rengence) and it never ended well. I only can pray that it is different for her...and WH spokesman Tony Snow.

  • The Congressional Research Service changed its mind on the Utah-DC bill...sort of. "Based on the authority granted to Congress under the Constitution to regulate congressional elections and relevant Supreme Court precedent, it appears that federal law establishing a temporary at-large congressional district would likely be upheld as constitutional." [PDF] Now if they could only get over the DC part, we would be in business.

  • Bennett's intellectual dishonesty tour is now stopping in Campaign Finance Reform:
    Right now, Senate candidates' disclosures are filed in paper form to the secretary of the Senate, then scanned and sent to the Federal Elections Commission, creating a delay for the public to see the information in the run up to the election.
    The Campaign Finance Institute said that as late as three days before the 2004 election, the antiquated reporting system hid from the public 85 percent of the donations made to U.S. Senate candidates in the three months before filing
    The government watchdog group Democracy 21 also complained Monday that Bennett was operating to defeat the measure.
    "If you start to turn this bill into a Christmas tree with all sorts of controversial amendments, you're going to kill the legislation," says the group's president, Fred Werthheimer. "And Sen. Bennett has to understand that."
    Democrats want the campaign finance legislation to get a straight up or down vote in the Senate without being encumbered by controversial amendments.

    Bennett's amendment would allow candidates and parties to coordinate advertisements is exactly what McCain-Finegold sought to prevent. That to me is a controversal amendment, no matter what Bennett says. Bloggers have been pushing this bill sincec Matt Stoller had to comb through Lieberman's last minute donations, finding lots of Republican supporters.

  • Rebecca Walsh is a pretty good Op-Ed columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, pointing out things that other want to ignore:
    With a pack of 10 politicians jockeying to replace Rocky Anderson, the candidates have to distinguish themselves somehow. For some, their history in office could be problematic; others have no record at all. So campaigning this year has become an exercise in creative résumé-writing.
    [ex-House Minority Leader] Ralph Becker...hopes voters remember him railing ineffectually against the machine, fighting the good fight on Capitol Hill. Of course, he talks less about getting squashed like a bug by the Republicans year after year.
    Dave Buhler, one of three conservatives in the campaign, is betting residents will forget he ran for mayor once before... He never said the word "Republican" in the debate. "I prefer bipartisan," Buhler said. "Obviously, I'm not hiding it."
    ...Republican Keith Christensen hopes Salt Lakers will forget some of his decisions [on the City Council, like light rail]
    ...suggested renaming Pioneer Park to allow wine to be poured in nearby restaurants and voted twice against protecting gay city employees from discrimination. The mayor named Christensen his heir apparent...
    Meghan Holbrook is asking left-leaning Salt Lakers to focus on her thankless, six-year job as chairwoman of the state Democratic Party and disregard the fact that now she's a lobbyist for Zions Bank.
    Perennial candidate John Renteria believes residents won't count how many times he has been a loser at the ballot box... [H]e has switched his party loyalty between the Democrats and the Greens.
    Nancy Saxton, a Democrat, wants voters to forget about her financial troubles and spats with Anderson and some of her City Council colleagues. "No one's ever accused me of being one of the good ol' boys," she said.
    Jenny Wilson is...banking in part on her name - her father is beloved former Democratic Mayor Ted Wilson - to propel her into office.
    And J.P. Hughes - a proctologist, Grand Old Party member... [is] hoping Salt Lake City voters will be charmed by his role as the affable jester in the race and vote for a Mormon Republican with no political experience.
    So Monday's debate progressed as...spin. The Republicans didn't mention their party. The Democrats hitched on to Anderson's love for the environment and distanced themselves from his "impeach Bush" protest tour.
    And Wilson reminded the crowd: "You may know my father."
    Groan. Jim Matheson never did that when he was running, nor did Scott Jr. Jim just talked about the values his family instilled in him with family photos, a far more subtle approach than Jenny's.

  • Romney finally has a good idea that I can support. And it is an idea that only a Republican would come up with: " Participants in 'Students for Mitt' will get 10 percent of the money they raise for the campaign beyond the first $1,000. While candidates often offer professional fundraisers commissions up to 8 percent, campaign experts believe the Massachusetts Republican is the first to do so with the legion of college students who have historically served as campaign volunteers." Because Young Republicans always ask not what can I do for my country, but what is in it for me?

  • My beloved PILO put on that mayor's forum/debate last night and they did a heck of a job.

That's all for now...the repair people still haven't come but you know 1-3 really means 2:59 or 12:59.

Monday, March 26, 2007

representation--Utah Republican style

Rep. Chris Cannon found another opportunity to make a fool of himself...this time managing to do it on Fox News.
"You got 3,000 pages already released and many more now that indicate that there was a great deal of staff work going into this and they had a culminating meeting where it was talked about, among some other things.... This is highly consistent with what the attorney general said in the past," Cannon said. "I don't think there's anything new here."

He says this despite the fact that those documents Directly contradict the Attorney General's sworn testimony before Congress. Rep. Cannon seemed to care about perjury when it pertained to Clinton's extramarital oral sex, since he was a House Impeachment Manager in 1998-99. I know this is old news but I have a larger point to make.

Rep. Cannon and both Sens. Hatch and Bennett revel in every opportunity they get to defendant this sorry excuse for a president. They go on TV, radio, and in the newspapers spinning and gushing about all the President's men and women. In fact, they seem to spend more time and get more press doing that they do getting federal money for Utah or passing bills that align with Utahn's interests (like better student loans, making health care more affordable, making child care more affordable, etc.)

That is, these Utah Republicans represent their party over their state. These Congress-critters are more interested in Utahns who move to Washington to join the Bush Karl Rove, Kyle Sampson, and Jay Bybee [folks who are an embarrassment to the Beehive State, the Republican Party, and America] than they do to the people that still live in Utah. I think we should send them back to Utah perminantly so they can readjust their values and start representing their constituents in Washington rather than representing their partisan pals in Washington to their constituents.