Saturday, July 21, 2007

as if you needed another reason

(Photo Credit: AP/Mary Ann Chastain)

But in case you thought about voting for Romney because of his "values," this should dispel it.
"I support tough interrogation techniques, enhanced interrogation techniques, in circumstances where there is a ticking time bomb, a ticking bomb," Romney said.
"Our president, for all the criticism he receives, has kept America safe these last six years, and he has done it by: One pursuing the Patriot Act, which has given us the intelligence information we needed to find out who the bad guys were and get them out before they got us, and No. 2, when al-Qaida was calling America, he made sure someone here was listening," Romney said. "And No. 3 ... when terrorists were detained, were captured, he made sure we interrogated them."

So let's see, Romney supports torture, in violation of the Geneva Convention (and uses the same term the Nazis did to support torture); he supports repeated civil rights violations by the FBI; illegal warrantless wiretaps on American citizens and political enemies; and above all, Romney supports every illegal thing that George W. Bush does, just to seem tough.

But that's not tough, that's cowardice. He is afraid that people will notice that is a privileged son who doesn't really know how to use guns. He is frightened that evangelicals would notice that he prefers to take money from people buying porn and booze than ban either while he was on the board of directors for Marriot. Romney doesn't want you to know that he is a vain man who spends hundreds on makeup and hair.

And don't bother asking Mitt about how and when he changed his positions on Abortion, Gay Rights, Gun Control, Stem Cells, etc. you won't get the real answer.

Mitt, Al Qaeda doesn't call into or out of the US on a phone, they aren't as stupid as you are. The fact is, Bush's own intelligence people have admitted that we are less safe now than we were prior to 9/11. And it is because of all those things that Romney listed, and because of Iraq, which Romney also supports the president wholly heartedly on.

We all have witnessed the worst series of foreign policy mistakes in US history since 1812. On North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Israel/Palestine, western Europe, etc. the Bush team has consistently made terrible decisions that have endangered our national security. We are darned lucky we haven't been struck again in US soil. And Mitt Romney wants to not only continue those mistakes, he wants to make them worse by doubling gitmo.

He'll even thrown in a free dog torturing, just to prove how manly he really is. If you want a bully and a coward, or want to continue living in fear, then vote for Romney.

But if you have hope for America and believe in its greatness and goodness, please vote for someone who won't follow George W. Bush in lockstep off the abyss.

Friday, July 20, 2007

who's it going to be

The children, or your party, Sen. Hatch?
The Senate Finance Committee approved a 61¢ increase in the federal tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to help fund the expansion, which would add 3.2 million children to CHIP rolls over the next five years and continue services to 6.6 million currently being served.
Leavitt told Senate leaders Tuesday that the Bush administration strongly opposes the legislation.
Hatch, R-Utah, said facing a veto threat from the White House and opposition from Leavitt did not make him comfortable but he was confident the final bill was an appropriate compromise that focused on needed child health care.

For decades Sens. Hatch and Kennedy have agreed to fund CHIP via taxing tabacco. I am not suggesting that Hatch will vote against his own signature bill, rather, that we won't go the the mattresses for it. Oh and why on God's green earth would you rather have lower taxes on cigarettes than give poor children heath care? Especially when raising the price of cigarettes encourages people not to start and to stop smoking? That seems like a very free market thing that Republicans would favor. But not Mr. 26%, he wants to keep tobacco execs rich. And even though their parents might have voted for him, Bush doesn't care about poor people. Just dictatorial powers (see you can't prosecute my White House for contempt, "Justice" department, unless I say so). But then again, Chris Cannon doesn't care about poor children in his district either.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that President Bush should "drop his irresponsible veto threat" and that senators who oppose the bill should not block a vote on it.
Meanwhile, the Partnership for Quality Care, which strongly supports the bill, is hoping Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, follows Hatch's lead and can take a leadership role in the House when it takes up its version of the bill.
The organization, made up of labor unions and hospitals, started an $80,000 ad campaign in Cannon's district urging residents to call their representative to support the bill.
But Cannon does not like the idea of tying insurance to the tobacco tax, nor does he like the government getting deeper into the health care business by expanding the program, said spokesman Fred Piccolo.
Piccolo pointed to facts from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, that the cigarette tax "disproportionately burdens low-income Americans, lacks long-term stability, and ultimately results in significant shifting of health care costs onto others."
A tax on tobacco could deter people from buying cigarettes, reducing tax revenues designed to fund the program. The government then would need to get the money from elsewhere to fund CHIP, he said.

We shouldn't tax tabacco because it would reduce people smoking? Isn't that a good thing in terms of costs for people who pay for health care? Remember, this is the same guy that doesn't see the need for raising the minimum wage because "no one" is paid $5.15 an hour.

Leavitt too is paying the dishonest "I care about regressive taxation" card as well. All the Republicans that don't want this tax are the same ones that voted for or supported tax cuts for the wealthy while raising taxes and fees that impact the poor, like sales tax on food and clothing, using public pools, etc.

They call Democrats spineless for holding a 30 hour whine session about the fact that Republicans are holding up majority votes for withdrawing troops from Iraq, yet Republicans can't stand up to their heartless, drunk with power president. I think who the real whimps are has shown themselves by falling all over themselves to parrot talking points and voting in lockstep.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Good thing he has immunity

I wouldn't bet money on this AG's legal opinions to be worth anything when the subject is remotely politically heated. So it is a good thing he has immunity and shelters state officials that follow his advice, because his track record is lacking. But you will find suckers just about anywhere.
The Utah Attorney General's Office released an opinion today stating that there is a "substantial likelihood" that the school district division law, which allows only some residents of a district to vote, would hold up in court.
The opinion, requested by [Speaker] Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, may influence the final votes needed as politicians decide whether to put the division of the state's two largest school districts on the ballot this fall.
"It's really based on this idea that cities, as political subdivisions of the state, have a duty to their citizens," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

I haven't read the opinion, but I wonder why Shurtleff is doing his best impression of Gonzales these days. That is, he tells the Republican powers that they want to hear, regardless of whether it is good/sound legal advice.
Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth is not so sure [about Shurtleff's opinion].
"I think there's enough doubt here that it needs to go to court," Applegarth said.
Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy all have voted to let their residents decide whether to break away from the Jordan School District. In a separate movement in Granite district, elected leaders are poised to vote on putting the question to Holladay, South Salt Lake and Millcreek township voters in the coming weeks.
Several west-side officials contend that SB30, passed during the 2007 legislative session, is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment's guarantee of one man, one vote. As the law is written, only voters in cities proposing to split from a school district would vote on the issue.
The Taylorsville City Council told the mayor Wednesday night that he had its unanimous support in allocating funds for a lawsuit to challenge the law. Other west-side cities are preparing to take similar action to pool their resources for the legal fight.

I agree with Shurtleff that the standard of review is the whole ball game, but I don't think necessarily that he will get the "rational review" standard. There are minority populations in some of these areas, which might trigger strict scrutiny.

Anyway, today is ethics and evidence for me. Can you believe that they test ethics every year on the Utah bar exam? And really you will get tripped up if you try to be too ethical, you have to be sorta ethical, sorta ruthless for your client.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ban fireworks, says Huntsman

(Photo Credit: © 2006 Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News)

And I agree with him. It's lunacy to let people light combustible things that are designed to send sparks all over when it is this dry.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed an emergency declaration Tuesday calling for local officials to ban personal use of fireworks in their areas because of wildfire dangers.
"With our state already coping with unprecedented loss of life and property due to record wildfires, extraordinary measures are called for," the governor said in a news release. "We must work together to protect life and property in these unusual circumstances."
The Utah Division of Air Quality immediately seconded Huntsman's call. The division noted in a news release that fireworks are a hazard "not only because of wild land fire dangers but also because fireworks pump fine-particulate pollution in the air, prompting an unhealthy spike in air pollution that makes it difficult for people to breathe."
Because of the severe fire danger, such a ban is already in effect for most federal and state lands, including national parks, the governor said. "I am asking local leaders to join me in taking a step beyond those guidelines already put in place at the federal and state levels."
The possibility of extending the ban has local fireworks vendors worried.
"Will it affect our business?" wondered Anthony Abdullah, sales manager of Phantom Fireworks, a fireworks distributor in Evanston, Wyo. "It very well could."

Let's see what is more important, firework distributors making money in Wyoming (where people go to buy illegal fireworks) OR peoples lives, property, and air quality?

Provo, "banned" the fireworks before the ink from Huntsman's pen was dry on the page.
The council met Tuesday night but by law couldn't pass a resolution banning fireworks because it hadn't given prior notice that it would consider a formal action.
Instead, the council unanimously called for Provo residents to voluntarily abstain from using fireworks from July 21-27, when the law allows them

Yeah that will work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Utahns support nuclear energy

Who knew? The Natural Resources Defense Council certainly hopes you don't put two and two together.
Voters in Utah's 2nd Congressional District say climate change is the nation's most pressing environmental problem and that immediate action is needed to address it, according to a new poll by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
Half of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s 24-member Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change voted last week to endorse nuclear energy. Utah currently has no nuclear power plants, given the sensitivity of the issue in a state that has fought high-level nuclear waste storage, received nearly $1 billion in compensation payments for victims of nuclear-testing fallout and endured about $1 billion in cleanups from previous nuclear-energy activities in the state.
David Tuft, director of NRDC's climate change project, said the group included nuclear power as part of its survey but was not releasing that data at this time. He noted that nuclear energy is not part of the climate-change legislation Congress is currently considering.
A Salt Lake Tribune poll last summer showed that Utahns were roughly split in their belief that global warming is occurring. Baldwin said as more businesses tackle climate change and as Huntsman gets more active on the issue, it has become more visible to the public.

Nice try Mr. Tuft. Good work on getting the lede you wanted in there though. The whole point of this poll was to pressure Jim Matheson to vote with other Democrats on binding climate change provisions. Now that Rep. Matheson is on the Commerce Committee, he has a say on whether our cars and trucks will have increased full efficiency, whether the US will further subsidize ethanol [please say no], or how much will go into solar and battery research, if the US will have more nuclear plants etc. Since Rep. Matheson used to be an energy consultant and is from the west, his colleagues will listen to him more than other new committee members.

Rep. John Dingell, the octogenarian chairman who is from Detroit and for decades has been an SUV maker's best friend, is considering offering a bill that calls the environmentalist's bluff--a carbon tax and major gasoline tax hike. Sen. Chris Dodd supports a carbon tax but none of the other candidates for president do. Most Democratic candidates support raising the CAFE standards (average fuel efficiency) and other more moderate efforts to address global warming.

Climate change is a real issue and it needs serious solutions, not just statement bills like Dingell's (that say environmentalists lack support) or Dodd's (that says I am liberal so vote for me Iowans). Recently nuclear energy has been given a second look by environmental politicians and policymakers in Europe as well as the US because it is carbon-neutral (and radiation-not-neutral).

Nuclear's fundamental problem is the end waste has a more immediate, localized, and long-term danger. Where do you put it? NIMBY How do you transport it out of your backyard? Who will accept it? (Nevadans don't want it, but impoverished Native American tribes do)

This is a serious problem with no easy answers. But pretending you didn't get informaiton supportive of nuclear energy really is dishonest, even if I might be inclined to agree with NDRC. I just hope Jim will vote for solutions that seek to make a real impact on climate change and not just a feel good measure like hydrogen fuel cells or ethanol.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why McCain isn't going to be this cycle's Kerry

All of Senator McCain's media whores routinely reference John Kerry as an reason why we shouldn't count out John McCain, who now as less than $700,000 in his presidential campaign account (compared to Giulliani's $12.7M, let alone Obama's $34M). John Kerry was at 9 percent in the polls two weeks before Iowa and in third place in New Hampshire, yet ended up winning both and nearly sweeping all the primary states after that (Clark won Oklahoma, and Edwards won South Carolina) and of course ended up getting his party's nomination in 2004.

However, those "journalists" who have been in love with St. John McCain have seemingly forgotten that Kerry put a mortgage on "his" Beacon hill home late in 2003 so that he would have $9M to spend in Iowa (and later New Hampshire). Kerry flew a helicopter barnstorming around Iowa, which isn't cheap and was a good stunt.

After having an adulterous affair with her, John McCain married his current wife, who like Kerry's is an multimillion dollar heiress, "who inherited a lucrative Budweiser beer distributorship from her father, the late Jim Hensley. Her assets are value in excess of $24 million." Unlike Kerry however, he isn't going to tap their "joint assets"

McCain flatly ruled out such a move: "I value my marriage too much. I have never thought about it. I would never do such a thing, so I wouldn't know what the legalities are."

Can we please stop talking about how McCain will magically ressurrect his DOA campaign now?

SPED vouchers don't necessarily work either

Isn't the definition of fiscal conservatism and small government not spending money on new government programs without at least being able to know if the money is being put to good use? Utah has one of the highest rate of overall taxes and fees of any state, yet our public education is not making as much progress as we would like. Maybe it is because we are wasting some education money on ideologically appealing funding rather than reality-based funding.
As Utahns prepare to vote on whether private school tuition vouchers should be made available to all students, the state's special-needs voucher program has quietly expanded. The two-year-old program has grown threefold since its inception, but demand has yet to outpace available funds.
A legislative audit of the program, which could spend as much as $2.4 million on more than 400 students this year, should begin this fall. But because Utah doesn't track the achievement of voucher recipients, the report likely will focus largely on participation.
Utah['s SPED voucher schools] do not have to provide any special services to students. They simply must explain their services to parents.
Voucher supporters say parents are most qualified to choose the best schools for their children.
But a lack of data can undermine their ability to make informed choices. A 2005 survey revealed many parents of Florida's [program, which is similar to Utah's] felt they didn't have enough accurate, comparable information to choose a school.
Plus, "parents sometimes insist on choosing poor-quality schools," noted the Education Sector report, citing several examples of schools that remained popular despite poor academic performance. "This suggests that accountability to parents alone is insufficient to protect the public interest or ensure taxpayer money is used well."

Your tax dollars at work. I guess they would rather go to a Jazz game on a lobbyist dime than draft a bill to collect the necessary data and do the necessary oversight.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday morning dog assisted blogging

Poe helps me read the new TPM so I can study for the bar (he's not so good on trusts and wills). (Yes, that's me with Rep. Jim Matheson in the background.)