Saturday, October 06, 2007

I couldn't believe it

Since Bob and Jeni have rated their blogs, I decided to take a stab at it.


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I have been trying not to use swear words and the like because I don't want to offend those who are sensitive to such things so they can ignore my arguments and because using such words is usually short hand for anger we can be more articulately expressed. I just didn't know how family friendly my blog had become. Maybe I should go into lurid detail about Larry Craig to get a bad boy image.

Anyway, being in DC for the fall means that I get to enjoy federal holidays that no one in Utah cares about, so happy Columbus Day weekend. Monday's a vacation day for me.

Friday, October 05, 2007

What's the truth, SLC politico?

Since everyone is dumping on Jason Bourne/Mark Trowner these days, I wonder if we have another astroturfer in our midst. I hate to call out someone, but after poking around SLCpoliticstruth somethings caught my eye, and they raise a few red flags.

  1. Of the three total posts on the entire blog, all of them since Buhler went on the attack against Becker.

  2. All three of these posts are not only pro-Buhler/anti-Becker, but also fit tightly into Buhler's messaging. (By contrast, Jenni's or Rob's or Marshall's or my blog write nice things about Ralph and mean things about Dave, but we don't coordinate between ourselves or the Becker camp)

  3. SLC Politico seems to have sprung up out of nowhere in response to my post on Buhler's first negative attack (I added him, as I do all non-spam commenters with a blog to my link list)

Now these suspicious signs could mean nothing. SLC politico could just be a Buhler fan and not like Becker. That's perfectly fine and he is entitled to his opinion. But if he is being paid by money or resume line to blog for a candidate, that to me is problematic.

I will take whatever response SLC politico offers at face value and assume it is true. If however, other facts come to light, I will not hesitate to bring them to the fore. So please feel free to comment here folks, I only seek to rid the blog of spam keep commenters emails etc. private. And to SLC politico, inquiring minds want to know.

Buhler goes negative without facts

Previously, I had labeled as a negative attack Buhler's press conference where he touted his record of "accomplishment" in the state legislature and compared it to the lack of bills that Becker has passed, claiming he would get something done and Becker was a dreamer. Some commenters claimed that this wasn't negative or an attack, just a contrast. But those of us who can look at context knew that it was an implied attack and the beginning of more to come. Today, Buhler's latest attack builds on the first.
With former police chief Rick Dinse by his side, the mayoral hopeful on Thursday laid out his second "to-do" list, which includes the installation of "crime cameras" at Pioneer Park, if he is elected in November.
Buhler also used the stage to blitz mayoral opponent Ralph Becker, whom he criticized for not passing any crime legislation during his 11 years as a legislator.
"He makes a few very vague promises," Buhler said, "but does not explain how he'll deliver."
Buhler tagged Becker's so-called blueprint on the topic, saying the only specific part is to curb graffiti.
"When it comes to public safety, he's been absent without leave."
The whole thing is ridiculous for a number of reasons. One, as I stated before, because he was the Democratic Leader in the House, Republicans in the legislature wouldn't let him pass anything. Two, Buhler was in the Republican leadership so of course his bills were able to pass. Third, a plan to violate the Fourth Amendment but do nothing for actual violent crime doesn't strike me as something that really will "fight crime." Sure those "crime cameras" might catch people dealing drugs, soliciting sex, etc. But when was the last time a person was killed, raped, shot or stabbed in Pioneer Park? The cameras idea is a gimmick. Adding 5 cops a year will barely put a dent in the problem.

Here's Ralph Becker's response.
"I'm glad to see that Dave is coming along with some proposals on what to do with the future of the city," he said. "Unlike Dave, I have been a law-enforcement officer, I have been a firefighter, and I have been an emergency medical technician."
Becker says he consistently supported legislation focused on drug enforcement, prevention and penalties for DUIs. He also pointed to a comprehensive list of city initiatives dubbed "blueprints," which he began releasing in June.
I will say it again, Buhler is attacking so often (and grasping at straws to do it) because he is down by nearly 20 points in the polls.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yet more voucher shananigans

Or should I say unDemocratic "town hall" meetings?
[T]he target audiences of the intimate gatherings - active Republican and unaffiliated voters - suggest the meetings are more about marshaling ground troops for the Nov. 6 referendum than about fostering a genuine discussion of the pros and cons of vouchers.

The whole thing is a sham
The public meetings have not been widely publicized. The Salt Lake Tribune, for instance, had to ask for a schedule of gatherings, and was given an incomplete list. The explanation? Organizers are able to lock down the schedules of busy lawmakers only about a week in advance of any given session.
"If their goal is to really try to inform all potential voters on this referendum - it seems like it's not the most effective strategy," says University of Utah political scientist Matthew Burbank. "They are talking to a very narrow slice of those voters.
"But if they are trying to put some pressure on people they think should be supporting this, but apparently are not - then it may be somewhat effective," says Burbank.
And filled with trickery and astroturf
Orem resident Ada Wilson said this week she received an e-mail because she was actively involved in "politics and policy here in Utah," from an organization calling itself Utahns for Public School — not to be confused with the anti-voucher coalition Utahns for Public Schools.

But some people did.

And after a closer look, the fact that the e-mail sender clearly wasn't anti-voucher at all had some recipients scratching their heads.

The e-mail said, "If you support our cause to defeat this pro-voucher movement we would ask you to reply to this e-mail so we can build an action list of anti-voucher supporters."

It asked recipients to provide a personal e-mail address, name and contact number and then visit another Web site,

That site is an anti-union blog clearly not aimed at defeating vouchers.
Here's the real reason Republicans have for supporting school vouchers: "Children in private schools will be protected from the liberal brainwashing currently occurring in our public schools." Really? I thought private schools were liberal, isn't that why the right keeps railing against people who go to good private schools, claiming liberal professors brainwash them? They have got to keep their arguments straight.

If you have to resort to lies, deception, self-contradictory arguments, and desperate pleas for help from conservative bloggers, you know you are in trouble in November. [Oh and the research shows, vouchers make things worse, not better.] [Oh and Utahns don't want them:]

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oyez I barely got in

Today's post is about my first (and hopefully not last) trip the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

This morning, I woke up for good at 5:45 AM (I never really got much rest last night, but that is another saga). This way, I could ride into downtown with my host, who leaves the house at 6:30 AM and gets into the office at 7:00 AM. His office is at Metro Center (G and 13th Streets), so I decided to walk from there to SCOTUS...with a pit stop for breakfast at Starbucks.

By the time I got to the Court, it was 7:55 AM and there was already a pretty serious line; I was number 72. And this was for a case that I thought was pretty obscure and uninteresting to normal folks. New York Bd. of Elections v. Lopez-Torres is a case involving New York State's crazy election system for judges.

My Aunt Lucy is a Supreme Court Judge in Bronx County (remember New York's Supreme Court is their trial court; confusing, I know) and she knows Judge Lopez-Torres personally and told me the facts of the case. Here's what happened: The Democratic Party bosses wanted her to make some moron her clerk, even though he was totally unqualified, he was a party hack/relative of a party boss. She said no. Accordingly, the party bosses used the state's cockamamie judicial election system to keep her off the ballot, although she did get on the Working Family's Party ballot. Since New York City is indigo blue, she lost her reelection in 2002. Judge Lopez-Torres is now a King County [aka Brooklyn] Probate Judge and has a much better job in terms of money, hours, etc.

Anyway, back to the oral arguments before the court. I barely got in, and Lopez-Torres' attorney's grandson was the last person allowed into the court. Another attorney from my non-profit sat along the side with me and we could only see about half of the justices around the large marble pillar. The place is pretty intimidating. Huge ceilings with marble relief, brilliant judges and attorneys, the deafening acoustics, and a very tall bench. Before arguments started, Chief Justice Roberts admitted attorneys into the Supreme Court Bar. This is the one bar membership that is worth it. Two other attorneys in our office left 10 minutes to 9AM and got in before we did. Plus, you get nice seats, you guessed it, behind the bar with the attorneys arguing the cases. ex.-Solicitor General and Bush v. Gore arguer Ted Olson sponsored someone and did the arguments for the Democratic and Republican Parties.

OK let's get back on point.

Unfortunately for Judge Lopez-Torres, all of the attorneys I talked to (and I) think this could be a 9-0 loss for her and the reformers. Justices Souter, Stevens, Ginsburg, Alito, Scalia and CJ Roberts all seemed skeptical at best of Lopez-Torres' argument. Thomas of course will do whatever the other three members of the four horsemen of the apocalypse decide, and did not ask a single question or even clear his throat. Silly cases were interrupting time he could be going on a book tour or RVing around the country.

Justice Kennedy worried about the burden of getting a slate of delegates versus the burden of getting a delegate (NY's system has delegates that pick the party's nominees, the delegates ALWAYS do whatever the party bosses want and are drawn from their own crazy districts with their no real constituency) but that was about it in favor of Lopez-Torres. Justice Stevens put up the hypothetical of a law that let the party pick its nominee however it wanted and the party let the bosses choose. Lopez-Torres' attorney conceded that that was constitutional, and in practice that is what the delegate system does. Justice Souter called Lopez-Torres' argument amounted to a right to win, Lopez-Torres reframed it as a right to compete. [Transcript of oral arguments is here]

In short, the whole thing was a disaster for those who want an independent judiciary in New York. [FYI My title is a pun off of the word Oyez. The clerk of the court always says "Oyez Oyez..." at the beginning of each oral argument to announce the Justices arrival] The AP agrees with me that the Second Circuit will likely be reversed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cannon's fodder

Way back at the beginning of the year (January to be exact), I said that U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Provo) would be primaried, and a serious challange at that. No more "the devil made me lose" oposition.

(Photo Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News)

No comes word that fmr. BYU placekicker and Huntsman campaign manager Jason Chaffetz is going to lay out the rational case about why Cannon needs to go.
"As I looked at the federal delegation," Chaffetz said, "I recognized how poorly the Cannon office was operating, how poorly they were representing their constituents. I've seen it up close and personal. ... I was the one who got to go with Gov. Huntsman and sit down with (U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret) Spellings and tell her why No Child Left Behind was wrong for Utah, because Chris Cannon wasn't. He was supporting it."
While Chaffetz said Cannon is "fundamentally and principally wrong on immigration, top to bottom," and promised a policy speech with a seven-point plan on the issue before the convention, he said past campaigns against Cannon have struggled to avoid single-topic challenges and promised to better negotiate that mire.
Chaffetz also attacked Cannon for being the only member of the Utah delegation to support a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain and a June 15 vote for a $34 billion Homeland Security appropriation that was opposed by 148 House Republicans who sided with President Bush. Bush had asked for $2 billion less.
Lest you think I am pro Chaffetz lets remember that being a kicker for BYU is about the only association he has with the 3rd district. While he lives in Alpine, no one bothered to tell him that Chaffetz lives in Jim Matheson's district. [Thanks Redistricting!] But then again, maybe they did...because Chaffetz thought about running against Jim in 2006, but realized he would lose big. So much for prinicple.

That's not the only one who will be going for Cannon's job.
Cannon will have to fend least one other challenger, former Juab County prosecutor David Leavitt. The three will face off May 10 at the state Republican Party Convention at Utah Valley State College, though others could still join the race.

Leavitt, who filed to run last spring, announced Monday that his campaign has raised more than $100,000 since starting its fund-raising efforts in August. Chaffetz said he has raised "tens of thousands of dollars."

(Photo Credit: Sam Chapman)
David Leavitt is HHS Sec./ex-Gov. Mike Leavitt's brother, who previously lost his job as Juab DA after prosecuting polygamist Tom Green.

Either of these two men though, would be light years better than Cannon, even if they are conservative. Because they have a brain.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yet another Romney flip-flop

("I once caught a fish this big." Photo Credit:

Romney changed his mind about something, number...who can keep track anymore? This time, its on his campaign fundraising.

Willard "Mitt" Romney January 8, 2007:
Ron Kaufman, a top Romney adviser who attended the event, said it [raising over $6.5 Million in a single day] sent a powerful message to potential supporters who might have wondered whether Romney would simply run on his personal fortune.

"As self-funding, big-spending candidates have proven, it doesn't get you anything," Kaufman said. "The bottom line is: The way to be a candidate for president is prove you can put the organization together, prove to the voters that you've earned the right to be a serious candidate for president. You've got to earn it; you can't buy it."

After that event, Romney punctuated that message, telling reporters that it would be "akin to a nightmare" if he were forced to contribute much of his own money to his presidential effort.
Now here's Romney again, September 27, 2007:
To date, the venture capitalist has contributed $9 million to his campaign, nearly a quarter of his overall contributions.
"I'm not beholden to any particular group for getting me into this race or for getting me elected. My family, that's the only one I'm really beholden to, they're the ones who let their inheritance slip away, dollar by dollar."
In noting that he had "contributed significantly to the campaign," Romney added: "I presume I will again."
Oh and remember that nightmare quote? "While saying he reserved the right to do so, and in fact having already done so by the time he made the comment, he explained he wanted to build a broad apparatus of donors."

Why the lying, why the change? Well, we will see shortly that his fundraising has continued to drop off considerably compared to Giulliani's, let alone Obama's or Clinton's. Moreover, his massive lead in New Hampshire, where I thought he was least succeptable to losing, has evaporated.

It used to be he could stick to a position for a couple years, but now it is only a matter of months.