Friday, June 29, 2007

I dread Romney-Clinton

Can you imagine a worse set of choices than Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton? You have a person with no core beliefs other than fulfilling his family dream of becoming president and a person who is so eager to get back there that she will try to confuse people where she stands on THE issue of the day: Iraq.

Both candidates seem to think that doing more of the same or a smaller version thereof will be acceptable to the American people. And it won't. If the major parties go this route, it could spell trouble.
The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found that 52 percent of Americans wouldn't consider voting for Clinton, D-N.Y.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, was second in the can't-stand-'em category, with 46 percent saying they wouldn't consider voting for him.

What does that mean? Low turnout, possibly. Or Bloomberg having a realistic chance in throwing the whole thing to guy who thinks tying his dog to the car makes him tough.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

illegal wiretaps and subpoenas, part deux

So yesterday I praised Sen. Hatch for voting with the overwhelming majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee to subpoena the White House for information about its warrantless wiretapping program. Unfortunately, Rep. Cannon seems to disagree with Sen. Hatch (via TPMmuckracker):
It is unfortunate that the Majority has seen fit to turn down reasonable offers of cooperation in favor of court battles that will do nothing except draw headlines and further distract the Judiciary Committee from work that needs to be done. After close to 10,000 pages of documents, dozens of interviews and testimony under oath, this investigation has not led, as the majority has speculated, to the White House. This investigation has spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work to discover politics play a part in political appointments. If the Majority had accommodated the White House in the early part of the year, we could have already interviewed these people and moved forward with the investigation.

Cannon continued, "Instead, the Majority has stonewalled and denied the Committee the ability to interview the White House staff with the intent to promulgate a myth about wrongdoing. The Majority's stonewalling has led the American people down a path of 'constitutional crisis'. We take an oath to defend the Constitution, not shred it." (emphasis added)

Where to about the fact that a violation of the law, even if the president does it, is illegal. And when the president says he can violate the law, and that no body can hold him accountable, that creates a constitutional crisis of his own making. This is because the president clearly has no executive privilege to deliberations regarding whether and how to violate FISA by not seeking a warrant from the FISA court.

Don't believe me? Check out United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974):
The impediment that an absolute, unqualified [executive] privilege would place in the way of primary constitutional duty of the Judicial Branch to do justice in criminal prosecutions would plainly conflict with the function of the courts under Art. III. In designing the structure of our Government and dividing and allocating the sovereign power among three co-equal branches, the [Framers] sought to provide a comprehensive system, but the separate powers were not intended to operate with absolute independence. To read the Art. II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of "a workable government" and gravely impair the role of the courts under Art. III.
...But this presumptive privilege must be considered in light of our historic commitment to the rule of law. This is nowhere more profoundly manifest than in our view that "the twofold aim [of criminal justice] is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer."

But wait you say, this involves wiretapping terrorists, therefore it involves the military and foreign relations, which the court said was included in executive privilege.

Let me point out that we don't know who or what the targets of the warrantless wiretapping were, let alone why. How come we don't know for sure? Because the White House won't let anyone see even the legal memos they drafted in support of this program, let alone internal memos discussing the scope or targets of the warrantless wiretapping. Since this administration has a terrible track record with being open, up front, and honest about things, forgive me if I doubt the official line that this was only targeted at terrorists. To me, there seems a very real possibility that these warrantless wiretaps were listening in on political enemies. After all, the Rumsfeld Defense Department was listening in on peace groups.

I am sure there must have been some great things about the 1970s (I was born in 1979), but the government spying on its political enemies sure wasn't one of them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Good for Orin

(Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

This rare praise of Sen. Hatch is due to his voting for oversight and the rule of law. (and praise to the AP, which finally juxtaposed spin with truth)
The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush's controversial eavesdropping program that operated warrant-free for five years.
"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation."
In fact, the Judiciary Committee's three most senior Republicans - Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, former chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa - sided with Democrats on the 13-3 vote last week to give Leahy the power to issue the subpoenas.

This is an interesting turn of events since Orin used to be his usual GOP cheerleader self on the issue of Bush's law-breaking wiretaps. Take it from Glen Greenwald, the blogosphere's resident expert on FISA.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Orrin Hatch spent the first two minutes of his time "questioning" Gonzales by lauding Gonzales' extreme integrity and diligence during this Grave and Epic War on Terrorism that America faces, explaining that everything they've done is critical to protecting us and describing the time in which Gonzales is Attorney General as one of the most difficult and important in history -- Hatch emphasized that he means not only U.S. history, but in the history of the whole, wide world. That is really what he said. He did not ask one question about anything the DOJ is doing with regard to this Most Important Matter Ever.

Hatch then spent the rest of his time (all 6 minutes) demanding that Gonzales and the Justice Department devote much more of its resources and attention -- including FBI agents, other law-enforcement resources and a new task force -- to enforcing anti-obscenity laws against people in the U.S. who produce pornography, particularly those who sell it over the Internet, and urged that whole new laws be created to criminalize Internet pornography. [...]

Or, to put it another way, the Terrorists pose such a grave danger to our Republic that it is the most threatening and important time Ever, justifying whole new expansions of government power and total government secrecy in order to protect us and to win this War because the Terrorists want to kill us all, and our law enforcement resources should therefore be poured into imprisoning people who make adult films and putting an end to pornography. That's what Orrin Hatch said today.

Additionally, this subpoena also has the benefit of having Dick "Forth Branch" Cheney seek to avoid the document request by again claiming he IS the executive branch. Don't worry though, he won't comply with any executive order that would require him to share information or power with any agency, office, or person.

(Photo Credit: AP/Eric Gay)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More 2008 logos

A thoughtful reader pointed out that of all the presidential candidates with a real chance (being generous to include McCain and Richardson) that I forgot Fred Thompson, who is basically in this race already. Without further ado...

Fred Thompson GRADE: C+

Sorry it is so long, but the main page (this is the blog page) doesn't have a jpg you can pull thanks to CSS. Here's my problem with the logo: Fred who? I know he is famous due to Law and Order (and has been the best DA on the show since the first two guys) but he isn't a household first name to the extent that Hillary and Rudy are. Moreover, I don't like the navy and gold color with underline motif. It says, "we have to be enthusiastic! Otherwise, people won't join this late campaign." And was Fred in the Navy? The colors seem to suggest such. Compare that to Wesley Clark's 2004 website and logo which alluded to military service well, but had a bad domain name (because there was some dude named Wesley Clark who wouldn't give it up)

"Four stars? Oh yeah, he was a FOUR STAR GENERAL." It was about as subtle as a sledgehammer (unless you were dumb enough to think the stars were supposed to match the 04 part of the site), but that was one of his main selling points. And it almost worked.

Even assuming this isn't Thompson's final campaign logo, what a terrible domain name. JoinRudy was bad enough, but ImwithFred? That's fine for a state convention button, or a fan site (unofficial or astroturf) but not as your official website. The color change between I'm and With and Fred again smacks of desperation when it is just trying to be for emphasis. I can easily see a mocking site called "" with the word against in gold instead. Or it could be a paid-for attack site by a Romney or Giuliani. The whole thing is a lazy slap job that reinforces the whispering campaign that ex-Sen. Thompson lacks "fire in the belly" and won't really campaign hard (aka will lose and GOPers will blame it on his lack of effort)

And remember this isn't some fly-by-night candidate. He, like Wes Clark in September 2003, was supposed to save the party from certain electoral doom due to the terrible candidates available. After all, he is second in Iowa and first in South Carolina already.

too little, too late

"What me, principled?" © 2007 Deseret News

After endorsing Romney in 2002 for governor of Massachusetts (and using his "liberal street cred" to bless Mitt as a moderate-- "Take it from this liberal Democrat: If you want an amazing leader, vote for Mitt Romney."), now Rocky wants a do over at the presidential level.
Anderson scolded his "great friend" and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney for what he called caving to handlers and flip-flopping on stem-cell research, torture policy, abortion and the Iraq war.
The two men had backed each other during past election bids despite their partisan divide.

"This is not the Mitt Romney I knew, and it really saddens me." he added. Really, you think you knew this guy? You were part of the bait and switch with Massachusetts voters.
"But you can see very clearly what's happening - it's so transparent," Anderson said. "A year before the presidential race, all of a sudden he's got these new positions on these issues.
"If Mitt Romney would be himself, true to himself, true to the people of this country, I think he would be a great president. But he has fallen for these handlers and flip-flopped on these issues and, I think, is misleading us in terms of his positions."
"He told me, going into that [governor's] race, that Roe v. Wade is working," the mayor said. "And he felt that it was important that women have choice."

So did Ann Romney, when she gave money to planned parenthood, a family planning group that includes abortion as an option for women.

So who does Rocky support? NM Gov. Bill Richardson, who is so principled he said he is both a Yankee and Red Sox fan.
He told the Deseret Morning News last month that Richardson "is genuinely a good man with tremendous values. He's very effective — better experienced than any of the other candidates."
Richardson has a "real respect for international law and diplomacy" and has been "one of the best state leaders in the country on responsible environmental practices," the mayor said.

Good luck Bill, it sounds like Mayor Anderson's golden touch is about to kill your mini-surge.

Monday, June 25, 2007

logo wars: presidential edition

I love to comment on signs and logos by candidate, and since the SLC mayoral one was so well received (and the Obama one was well received) I am going to do as many presidential candidates as no particular order

Romney: GRADE F

I'm sorry but what the heck is that supposed to be, an eagle? It has a brain washed patriot feel to it that I can't stand it. The man isn't about liberty since he wants to regulate your personal life but let corporations do as they please.

Giuliani: GRADE B+

This one keeps it simple stupid. Rather than scaring people with his hard to spell and pronounce name, you keep the "All-American" part of the name. Moreover, it reminds people of that movie about the kid that wanted to play for Notre Dame. It lends itself to chants of RUDY! at the convention.

H. Clinton: GRADE B-

The difference between using "Hillary" and "Rudy" is this: Sen. Clinton's logo is as cautious as her campaign. Everyone knows her by first name, and using Clinton would be confusing to some. Remember, assume those who star in "Jay walking" vote. So she really doesn't gain anything by going first name. Moreover, it hints at the vibe that Sen. Clinton is a being phony about how personal voters can get with her. Plus, I am just tired of this modified version of a flag in her banner.

Edwards: GRADE B

The use of green is welcome change from the over use of red, white and blue. I don't think German candidates use gold, red and black in their logos, so why do American candidates have to do so? But the moving star reminds me of A) Gore's 2000 logo and B) after school cartoons. The whole thing seems to lack seriousness to me.

Richardson: GRADE B-

Another boring flag waving logo. If you are trying to get out of the pack of "who else is running for president" candidates, you need to do lots to distinguish yourself, starting with your logo. His campaign is rumoring that he will raise more than Edwards and is in third place (13%) in Iowa head of Obama. If both hold up (Obama is running some ads in Iowa now), Richardson will create a second tier with him and Edwards on it, with Hillary and Obama in the first tier.

McCain: GRADE B+/A-

The use of black, white, and yellow is striking. I think the way Ralph Becker is doing is a better way to do it.

The image pops more in yellow than black. But then again, black used this way reminds me of night and death, which is exactly accurate for McCain's candidacy at the moment. He could really make a splash by bowing out and endorsing his lazy friend Fred Thompson.

Obama: GRADE A-/A

As I have said before, I really like this logo because it is an iconic summary of his campaign message: optimism and change. "A new day is beginning," it seems to say. This helps me overlook the annoying use of flags and flag colors. Plus, it is an "O" --a unique shape for most logos and immediately reminds the viewer of the first letter of the candidate's last name, something very useful in finding them on the ballot. This makes Hillary and Rudy seem not so helpful, especially if he is listed as "Rudolph" in some states. You can double the size of one "O" and then stack two more on top of another for a quick and dirty "'08" sign, useful to mix it up at a convention.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Vouchers won't fix Utah's schools

Conservatives who believe that free markets are a panacea have recently attempted to use Utah as a guinea pig to prove their point about public schools. Previously, the Republican-controlled Congress did the same for DC, whose ailing public schools are in as bad a shape as Utah's, but for different reasons. The results were underwhelming, to say the least.
Students in the D.C. school voucher program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, generally performed no better on reading and math tests after one year in the program than their peers in public schools, the U.S. Education Department said yesterday.

...[The] only [] exception[] to the conclusion that the program has not yet had a significant impact on achievement: Students who moved from higher-performing public schools to private schools and those who scored well on tests before entering the program performed better in math than their peers who stayed in public school.
A Republican-led Congress created the $14 million-a-year program in 2004. The five-year initiative provides $7,500 vouchers each year to 1,800 students, from kindergartners to high school seniors, who attend 58 private schools, most of them Catholic schools. ...

... [T]he initiative is one of the few government-run voucher systems in the country. Milwaukee and Ohio have similar plans, and Florida and Arizona offer vouchers to special education students.

In studies of those programs and others funded with private money, researchers tended to find little improvement in test scores after one year, said Paul Peterson, director of Harvard University's program on education policy and governance. He said it takes time for students to adjust to new surroundings.

"Kids lose ground when they change schools. Even if they may be in a better school, they're not going to adjust to that right off the bat," he said. "It doesn't happen overnight. It's a slow process."

That's right the Bush Administration's own Education Department, with NCLB brainchild Margaret Spellings at the helm, says vouchers don't work.

But don't worry, that won't stop Utah Republicans from making dishonest arguments about Vouchers and NCLB.
Utah once challenged No Child Left Behind, threatening to defy the No Child law and forfeit $76 million in federal aid. The Legislature, however, adopted a softer approach, telling state education officials to give precedence to Utah's own assessment standards over federal mandates.
[Scott] Parker [Rep. Rob Bishop's Chief of Staff] says Bishop has been trying to help the state receive waivers from the Department of Education for certain aspects of federal law and to allow Utah to try some pilot programs. But he said the voucher opponents are sending mixed signals by challenging the law.
[state school board chairman Kim] Burningham says Bishop and others are playing politics with the November vote.
''I guess the logic is that the arch conservatives are supporting vouchers nationwide and when we oppose them . . . it therefore weakens other conservative efforts like opposition to No Child Left Behind,'' he said.

NCLB has to do with testing and de-funding schools that underperform. Vouchers are PARTIAL tuition grants for children to go to private (often religious) schools. While an NCLB shut-down/defunded school makes children go elsewhere for their schooling, it has nothing to do with the use of public monies for private schooling. And exemptions to the testing standards has nothing to do with how to use public monies for education. This is just an attempt to confuse the issue.

Good thing our schools are so bad that people might not be able to understand how the Rep. Bishop's of the world are trying to make them worse. I say worse because if you spend more money on something that makes no difference you waste that money that otherwise could have gone to hiring more teachers, better/more teacher training, building more classrooms/schools, buying better/more textbooks, etc.

I think we all can agree that NCLB needs to be massively reformed, if not scrapped altogether. Since states/counties/school districts/schools don't want to lose funding, they have opted to teach to the test and/or make the test easier. Either practice defeats the original purpose of the bill, which was to RAISE standards and make sure our children were being educated properly. Countries like Germany & Japan score much higher on tests for not just math but in virtually every category. Maybe it is time to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and rather try to adapt their practices into the US.

I will give you a hint: they don't use vouchers.