Saturday, October 13, 2007

Utahns want out of Iraq

Despite their apparent fealty to George W. Bush, Utahns want their soldiers home...the only question is how soon. Of course, you wouldn't know that from reading the Deseret News headline "Iraq exit splits Utahns: Support for war slipping — even in reddest state." The Utah Republican Party Morning News' Editor-in-Chief is not only the brother of one of the most loyal Bush supporters, but also got to attend the super secret conservative cabal meeting, wrote the distorting headline. Doesn't that sound like half want to stay indefinitely, but the other half want out soon? But in reality.
A Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll by Dan Jones & Associates found that 49 percent of Utahns do not want U.S. troops out of Iraq within one year, while 43 percent said troops should be out of Iraq by the end of the next 12 months.
[...]
The survey found that 41 percent of those polled want troops out within one year, 30 percent said two or three years, and 5 percent said within five years. A hard-core 7 percent opposed troop removal even within five years. Sixteen percent didn't know.

That means 71 percent of Utahns in the poll said they want U.S. troops out of Iraq within three years, and few Utahns would support troops staying longer.
After hearing that Bush was still over 50 percent in Utah, I was a little depressed about how Utahns seemed to be impervious to all of the horrible things Bush has done, but this poll gives me hope. In the only state in the union where Bush's approval rating is higher than his disapproval rating, they still want out soon. A plurality within a year, a super majority with three years.

Rocky, the Washington Square protesters, and the Thursday afternoon federal building protesters don't seem so radical anymore, do they?

Friday, October 12, 2007

and now for something completely different

My YouTube video of the week, a must watch:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

corruption, vouchers, and results



(screen shots courtesy of KSL.com)
Remember this investigative reporting by KSL's John Daley?
We followed a money trail that led to the likes of Wal-mart, Amway, Overstock.com and others. We followed the money, looked at contribution filings and found there was plenty of campaign cash on both sides of the voucher debate. Money on the pro-voucher side was in much bigger sums, half of it coming from out of state.
[...]
In the House there was a similar show of loyalty to the side that gave the money -- 96 percent who got money from the pro-voucher group voted for and 78 percent who got money from the other side voted against.
[...]
The biggest financial force in the voucher fight is a national pro-voucher organization called All Children Matter, based in Michigan. Its funders include the son of a former Amway billionaire and an heir to the Wal-mart fortune.

The political action committee for Parents for Choice in Education took in half a million dollars last year; half came from out-of-state, $240,000 from All Children Matter.
Now we hear more stories of [the appearance of] corruption from the same people that voted for vouchers against their constituents' desires.
At separate events, lawmakers dined at Locke-Ober and Clio, a pair of the finest restaurants in the city. The bill for the two meals ran over $10,000 combined, divided up among at 15 lobbyists who attended the National Conference of State Legislators' gathering.
On Aug. 6, a group of lawmakers, including Senate President John Valentine, ate at the posh Clio Restaurant, a contemporary French-inspired locale, where the soup will run you $14.
[...]
At last year's conference in Nashville, the legislators were treated to a dinner cruise on The General Jackson.
On Aug. 8, Comcast lobbyist Steven Proper threw his own bash, spending $3,445 feeding lawmakers at an event in the Boston suburb of Essex, his report shows.
The Utah Senate majority leader says his two-week Italian trip with two longtime friends, who also happen to be lobbyists, last month was above board and "not one dime" of his trip was paid for by the lobbyists.
[...]
About a year ago, [Sen. Curt] Bramble said, Stan Lockhart, who he regularly goes boating with on Lake Powell, called him, asking if he would be interested in sharing the cost of a trip to central Italy. Utah County Commission Chairman Steve White was actually at an auction/fund-raising event for the local Boys and Girls Club and was bidding on the trip as they spoke.
[...]
White ultimately paid $4,100 for a villa in a town about 80 miles north of Rome. It ended up that that cost was split four ways by the four couples, and each couple paid their own travel costs.

Lockhart is the lobbyist for Micron, a large computer-chip maker that has a plant in northern Utah County. Rogers carries a long list of clients and as a partner in the Tetris Group lobbying and government consultant firm is one of the most successful lobbyists on Utah's Capitol Hill.
Gee, I wonder why he is so successful. Now maybe these two men became lobbyists because they were good friends with Bramble, rather than became friends because they were lobbyists, but it hardly matters, the results are the same.

Oh and remember that Milwaukee study that showed vouchers had no positive impact on student outcomes nor did they improve public schools? Or the other study that found private schooling alone does not make a difference for at risk youth? Now there is a study from DC's vouchers system, started in 2004 by the Republican Congress and now studied by the independent, nonpartisan Government Accountability Office and it found that the lack of DC's controls lead to kids being in terrible private schools. And since Utah can't even figure out how many schools have failing grades (turns out 52% not the mid-70s as previously announced), the lack of controls in the voucher bill itself is a real concern.

But don't worry, voucher supporters will hold fake townhall meetings to convince you otherwise, in between posh dinners in Boston, Nashville, and two week vacations in Italy with lobbyists. And don't forget Hillary Clinton is some how all behind this, I mean it isn't like she is busy running for president or anything.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

some free advice for Becker

Buhler likes to point out Becker's lack of bills that became law during his two decades in the state legislature.
Buhler scolded Becker for passing only a handful of bills during 11 years as Utah's House minority leader, while other Democrats seemed far more busy. "In some years, Ralph didn't even try," Buhler said.
Becker countered that his role Utah's GOP-dominated Capitol Hill was to speak up for the voiceless in the community. And he slammed Buhler, a Republican, for being "turned out of office" after a single Senate term, while Becker was elected six times.
How about, instead of talking about Buhler getting canned by the voters, talk about why he got canned: his record.
As a state senator, he repeatedly tried to limit the power of cities to govern themselves. In the Senate, Buhler tacked a rider onto a bill governing city incorporation. It allowed businesses that owned land in newly formed cities Kearns and Magna to opt out, escaping from new taxes. One company benefiting from Buhler’s changes was Kennecott Copper. Also, as state senator, he limited the power of cities in Utah to regulate rental units.
I am sure Becker's oppo-research team can find more votes on things like social issues that SLC voters would not like, but this is just what I found on the internets in about 30 seconds.

Next time that "nice, reasonable guy" attacks your record Mr. Minority Leader, hit back with Buhler's terrible record in the state legislature.

Mitt Romney as George Costanza


This will get my rating to PG at least.
George: Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it.
Boy, does that ever remind me of someone...
Some think he was feigning his moderation then and is revealing his true self now. But it's a safe bet that Romney would have passed a lie detector test in both incarnations. And that speaks to his consummate skills as a salesman, the best of whom believe so deeply in their product that they internalize its merits -- which is why they never sound like they're selling.

(Photo Credit: Associated Press/Deseret News) "If the world ended tomorrow, would you give $1,000?...Great, I'll put you down for a thousand."

You really should read rest of the lengthy article about Mitt Romney's recent "change of heart" on cultural issues great and small in today's Washington Post...that quote was just the closer. But here's some more choice bits. On abortion:
Including NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. In September 2002, at a face-to-face meeting at Romney's headquarters in Cambridge, Romney assured a delegation from the group that, no, he would not impinge on abortion rights. And yes, he would like to see easier access to emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B. He closed the meeting by taking on a just-between-us tone and saying, essentially, You need Republicans like me. And the party needs candidates like me, because this issue is killing the party, according to Melissa Kogut, who was then executive director of the organization. He didn't expect an endorsement, he told her, but he hoped the organization would refrain from attacking him during the campaign.

Which the group did, stressing instead its support for Democrat Shannon O'Brien. Kogut said at a news conference before the election that it would be "dangerous" not to elect a leader on this issue, but that's a long way from the war she and her colleagues would have declared against an antiabortion candidate.
[...]
But two years into his term, Moderate Romney started to vanish. NARAL's detente lasted until July 2005, when the governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed pharmacists to provide emergency contraceptives to women without a prescription -- a total 180 from his avowal during the NARAL meeting. Kogut, the group's former executive director, phoned the governor's office but, she says, he never called back.

"We felt completely played," she recalls. "We just couldn't believe it, given what he'd said to our faces."
On gay rights:
Romney also awed the state's Log Cabin chapter, meeting with the gay Republican group in October 2002 and wowing attendees with opinions on domestic-partnership benefits in the workplace (he was for them) and discrimination based on sexual orientation (strongly against).

He spoke against gay marriage, one attendee recalls, but it sounded as if he could countenance civil unions when he said, "Just don't use the M-word." He emphasized themes of tolerance and respect, and by the end of the meeting Log Cabin members were pretty dazzled. After Romney left, the group unanimously voted to endorse him.
[...]
By then, some Log Cabin Republicans were saying they'd been snookered.

"He shakes your hand, looks you in the eye," says Richard Babson, a Log Cabin member who attended the Romney meeting. "It's hard for me to know what Mitt Romney's first principles are on a given day."
The environmentalists:
Environmentalists, meantime, were amazed to discover that this uber-capitalist seemed pretty much a Greenpeace fantasy. Once elected, he brought environmental activists into the fold, among them Douglas Foy, the formidable president of the Conservation Law Foundation, who was given a newly created Cabinet-level job. And not long after he was sworn in, Romney went to the oil- and coal-fired Salem Harbor Station power plant and threatened to shut it down if its owners didn't meet a deadline to slash nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions.

"If the choice is between dirty power plants or protecting the health of the people of Massachusetts, there is no choice in my mind," he said at an impromptu news conference, in February 2003, while hard-hat-wearing workers at the plant jeered.
[...]
If the gay-rights crowd sounds bitterly disappointed, the state's environmentalists sound like they'd gotten punk'd. By the end of his term, Romney had announced his support for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He'd supported an easing of regulations on power-plant cleanup, including Salem Harbor, the site of that confrontation. And he'd pulled out of a historic seven-state agreement designed to reduce greenhouse gases, an effort he'd initially championed.

"Hearts were broken," says Seth Kaplan of the Conservation Law Foundation. "That's the best way I can put it. And when someone is an unexpected advocate, like Romney was, it builds up your hopes and breaks your heart even more."
The Republican party:
[Mitt's change occurred during] the elections of 2004, when Romney backed a slate of Republican candidates, hoping to loosen the Democratic hold on the state legislature. When the GOP gained not a single seat, he seemed to abandon interest in a second term and set his sights on a run for the presidency.

That's not to say he gave up on the governor's job; in 2006, for example, he signed into law an ambitious health insurance bill that mandated coverage for all Massachusetts residents by July of this year. But he began traveling regularly outside the state for campaign-like, get-to-know-me appearances, more than 100 trips in 2005 and 2006, the Boston Globe reported. He stopped selling Massachusetts and started to make it the butt of jokes, telling out-of-state audiences that his job made him feel like "a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention."
The business community:
"Everyone knew that rebuilding the economy here would be 40 miles of hard road, and Mitt bailed out after five miles," says Howard Anderson, a professor of business at MIT and a longtime investor in Bain Capital who has known Romney for years. "At some point, we in the venture capital community became skeptics, and that eventually turned into rampant cynicism."
[...]
"It's as though he's let the market dictate his ideology, which is something no one who knew him in the private sector ever saw coming. Not a hint."
So let's look at the political ideological market and Mitt, by election:

In 1994, it was a banner year for Republicans, with large sweeps in the US House, US Senate, state legislatures, and governor's offices. President Bill Clinton was at his lowest popularity. Mitt was voicing liberal positions against Ted Kennedy running for the US Senate.

In 2002, Democrats listened to Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt, offering up the disastrous Department of Homeland Security, losing the fight over unionizing its employees, and trying to bribe Seniors with prescription drug coverage...and they got trounced. Only one new Democrat was elected to the US Senate, and that was because the sitting senator had an affair with his wife. Mitt Romney espoused the liberal-to-moderate beliefs quoted above and won his Governor's race.

In 2004, with Kerry on the ticket in Massachusetts and gay marriage on the ballot in most states, Romney ran against gay marriage and pushed GOP local candidates and lost every single race.

After that, he moved to New Hampshire and Iowa, even though he still had a job as a Governor of Massachusetts. But to those of you who think Willard Mitt Romney lied to Bay Staters to win an election, it's not a lie if you believe it.

fake townhall meetings anyone?

Your Utah state legislature at work. In less than a month, Speaker Curtis and his fellow voucher voting Republicans will have egg all over their face when their bill to create vouchers is repealed by Utahns. Rather than work on finding out what their constituents actually want and making laws around those ideas, these Republicans are trying to sell something Utahns don't want by threatening a recession.
Still, Giles and Ann Florence, Salt Lake school teachers who attended the meeting, weren't comforted by the lawmakers' assurances about vouchers or even how the so-called town meeting was put together. The gatherings are being organized around the state by the Informed Voters Project, a political issue committee of lawmakers who support vouchers. Democrats are not invited, nor is anyone from the organized voucher opposition.
The Florences complained they spent all day trying to find one of the meetings, calling newspaper and lawmakers' offices, before they found a listing in The Tribune.
They found the town meeting at Daybreak development's community center a disappointment.
"There was no open discussion - it was definitely loaded in favor of vouchers," Giles Florence said. "It was not a town meeting." The voucher discussion began with a slick promotional film, paid for by the Milton Friedman Foundation, that presented the voucher program as necessary to prepare Utah for an expected onslaught of 155,000 new students over the next five years.
The short video that included cameos by Hughes, Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, and Senate President John Valentine made a case that Utah's recent prosperity is not assured and an economic downturn similar to one in the mid-1980s is possible. "Then, Utah is really in trouble," says Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, in the film. "Everyone agrees something has to be changed," says Tilton.
Utah's stalled voucher program, which must survive a referendum next month to be implemented, is the change needed, the film maintains, because it would reduce the number of students in classrooms while leaving additional money for public schools.
The meeting ended with these legislators handing out copies of the poorly drafted bill and a plea that this bill is not saying bad things about public schools. If you are having to sell your bill or program by saying what it doesn't do, or what other people say about it isn't true, you are already in trouble.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

2008 round up

  • Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Joe Biden (D-DE), both of whom have no shot at winning their party's nomination (or a general election were they to succeed), are campaigning together in Iowa for Biden's dumb soft-partition plan. It is dumb because it is A) too late to partition the country now; B) the one thing the Iraqi Parliament has done is vote this proposal down; C) it smacks of colonialism. [More on Biden's idiocy later]

  • The only reason Rudy has been successful thus far in the GOP primary is because Republican primary voters like bullies on their behalf. All he does is make negative statements about Democrats, especially Hillary, and they lap it up. A-holes for Giulliani.

  • I get "breaking news" from the New York Times sent to me via my Google Reader. And the most laughable breaking news of the day was this one: "A Senate Star Sparkles Less on the Stump"...and that "senate star" is Joe Biden. Anyone who has heard him speak at committee hearings or on Sunday talk shows knows he is a pompous windbag that is an exemplar of what is wrong with Washington. Here's a taste from a resent trip to Iowa:
    The senator explained that he had just barely caught the direct flight from Washington to Des Moines that evening, “since neither Hillary nor Barack will lend me their G5 jets,” and that there had been no time to change. “I got in the plane — I was meeting with President Talabani, you know, he’s the Kurdish leader in Iraq, and I literally ran from that meeting in the Capitol.”
    [...]
    Mr. Biden may sometimes seem a caricature for long-windedness in Washington, but he goes over well with Iowans, who sit nodding through his stories-within-stories about the Senate and his meetings with presidents and world leaders.
    [...]
    “I think I have the ingredients,” Mr. Biden told a crowd of around 50 people who gathered to hear him speak in Burlington. “I could be wrong, to state the obvious, and if I’m wrong, then you’ll have to watch me on the Sunday shows and in the Senate. But if I’m right, then you may have the chance to really, really change the world.”
    Iowans are just polite and Joe has all the ingredients of a electoral disaster. Go name drop at a cocktail party in the Beltway and leave these poor people alone.

  • Go Log Cabin Republicans!

  • Is Obama '08 Daschle '04? Just look at these facts...
    the major former Daschle staffers now in Obama's orbit:

    *Pete Rouse: Rouse served as Daschle's chief of staff for 20 years before the South Dakota Senator's defeat in 2004. Shortly afterward, he was selected to serve in that same post for Obama.

    *Robert Gibbs: Obama's communications director, Gibbs served in that same role at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2002 cycle. He was handpicked by the Daschle operation for that job.

    *Steve Hildebrand: Daschle's campaign manager in 2004 (and South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson's in 2002), Hildebrand accompanied Obama on a recent trip to Iowa and has been reaching out to potential staff behind the scenes. Hildebrand also ran the Iowa caucuses for then Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

    *Anita Dunn: Dunn, a longtime Daschle aide, has been tasked with straightening out Obama's Hopefund PAC through the end of this year. She will not be a part of any Obama bid as she is committed as a senior strategist for Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D).

    *Todd Webster: Webster is a former spokesman for Daschle and the brains behind www.runobama.com, a draft site for the Illinois Senator that has collected some 11,000 signatures urging him to run.
    Don't forget his finance team [larger image here]
  • I bought Wes Clark's new "presidential candidate book" and have just finished the introduction, but I am reminded again how terrible it was for him to have entered in so late that he missed Iowa, got crappy Gore '00 staffers and based his strategy on beating Dean in the February 3rd states. He would have been a terrific president. It also reminds me about how saddening it was to see him endorse Hillary this early. It would have been career suicide for Clark to support Edwards and maybe Obama should she win it all, but some how I was hoping for more.

    Clark's loss in 2004 broke my political heart and I am still not ready to fall for any of these candidates yet. Although Obama is appealing, he is listening too much to those Daschle people who feed into his inner cautious streak.

Utahns say no to vouchers

When Utahns finally get a say, and not a few rich guys with crazy ideas that fund Speaker Curtis' 23-vote reelection campaign, the answer is an overwhelming no to vouchers.
Sixty percent of Utah voters say they would likely vote against a voucher program, according to a Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted for the Deseret Morning News and KSL-TV. In comparison, 34 percent said they would vote for vouchers, while 7 percent were undecided.

The poll of 409 Utahns was conducted last week and has a margin of error of 5 percent.
[...]
In July, the Deseret Morning News reported on a similar poll that found that 57 percent of those surveyed would most likely vote against the voucher program and 36 percent said they would vote in favor of it.
So people have made up their minds already. But the best quote of the day goes to PCE, in all of its delicious irony.
"We're convinced that as parents begin to understand who is behind this and who supports it and the merit of the program itself, they are going to vote for this," said Leah Barker, spokeswoman for Parents for Choice in Education, a pro-voucher group.
Who is behind vouchers? Overstock.com's CEO that pushed an unconstitutional intellectual property law for his company, out of state partisans and anti-public school nutters. And don't forget astroturf bloggers. Who is behind the anti-voucher movement? Utah teachers and their union, who asked for money from the national union. Contrary to the ads you see and hear, that has nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi, Moveon.org, or gays getting married. Now maybe gay people (who might want to be married) gave money or are teacher's union members, or maybe one of Moveon.org's 3 million members gave money, but really it is Utah's teachers that are opposed to it.

And as to the merits of the program, we have a study in Milwaukee, which has had vouchers for a few years now, that shows vouchers have made no improvement in student achievement, which is of course, the whole point of vouchers right? Or is it just to make schooling like health insurance, privatized.

I went to a private school (Rowland Hall-St. Mark's) from 5-PreK to grade 12, and it was great for me and my ADD with the small class sizes. But RHSM's current tuition is $14,710 for grades 6-11 ($15,040 for 12th because of graduation expenses) and $12,450 for full day kindergarten to 5th grade. That to me seems unaffordable for those who would get the $3,000 voucher. Now maybe Rowland Hall is at high end, but it is also one of if not the best school in the state. And don't our children deserve the best.

Truth is, the real problem is that kids in Park City get a much better education that those on the west side of the Valley. If we actually want to improve education for all of Utah's kids, we need to base funding on a state-wide funding mechanism, build more schools and hire more quality teachers.

Instead, our Republican-controlled legislature is content to resort to ideological gimmicks that won't solve the problem and will probably only make it worse. And this same Republican-controlled legislature is threatening to take your child's ball and go home: when Referendum 1 fails, they will decrease funding for Utah's schools. I am glad Utahns are at least standing up to these bullies.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Becker lays out his agenda, again

Rather than attack his opponent, Ralph Becker opted to summaries the highlights of the many blueprints he has perviously offered on different policy areas.
Under the 180-day outline, Becker pledges to appoint a first-of-its-kind education-partnership coordinator. If elected, he also would create the mayor's monthly school summit and develop a scholarship program.
Becker wants to build green, complete a capital bikeway system, require a review of so-called carbon footprints and finish work on the Jordan River Parkway.
He also hopes to bolster community engagement and better relations with the Utah Legislature, where he has served as a lawmaker for the past 11 years.
Becker also vows to pass a broader nondiscrimination ordinance and change city policy to allow an employee to name a domestic partner as a beneficiary.
To benefit downtown, the Utah House minority leader hopes for form a cultural district for the arts, create a year-round public market, add bike rentals and lockers at the transit hub and initiate a downtown circulator system for public transit.
Naturally, Buhler supporters have rated down the story and have filled the comments section with attacks on Becker that mirror Buhler's, even though these aren't new plans but a summary of pre-runoff plans.

If Buhler truly wants this to be an election about ideas, let's compare Ralph's blueprints to Dave's policy proposals and see which one is more appealing to more SLC voters. But I get the distinct impression Buhler wants it to be able how "ineffectual" Becker has been and not about what each proposes to do while in office.

Rocky finally wises up


(Photo Credit: Reason Magazine)

Although it might have been a tar baby strategy all along to endorse Keith Christensen and slam Jenny Wilson to help Wilson and Ralph Becker, this time Rocky for sure is staying away from something he supports on purpose.
No bully pulpit speeches. No public campaign. In fact, Anderson's input can be summed up by his three-sentence sound bite in the Prop. 1 brochure.
"Our resources and facilities are stretched to the breaking point," the mayor writes. "Our need for improved facilities is dramatic and urgent."
So where is the urgency?
City Hall insiders can't explain the mayor's quietude. Meantime, police and fire officials, who avoid public criticism, privately wonder about Anderson's support.
Who ever these unnamed sources are must be dense.

Rocky is a polarizing figure.
In a Salt Lake Tribune poll conducted earlier this month, 54 percent of Salt Lakers rate Anderson's performance as "good" or "excellent." That's virtually the same tally as the 53 percent approval he received in January 2006, the last time The Tribune asked residents to score Anderson.
But the numbers at the extremes have grown. More than a quarter (26 percent) rate the mayor's performance as "poor," up from 17 percent in the earlier survey. And 25 percent now say mayor is doing an "excellent" job, compared with 17 percent last year.
In addition, nearly half (45 percent) rate the mayor as only "fair" or "poor," up from 36 percent in 2006.
Fewer residents - a mere 1 percent - are undecided in the latest poll...
As such, the minute he goes out on the rustings supporting something, whatever that is sees its negatives go up. And it is a lot easier to vote down something like a bond initiative than it is to approve it. Ergo, Rocky's finally shutting his trap. You are welcome police and fire officials and "City Hall insiders."

Mr. Anderson has also thankfully stayed away from Becker, only to heap scorn on Buhler, which thankfully won't have as much of a chance to back fire as his dissing of Wilson. In any event, Rocky has thankfully discovered that he can be useful only in the negative or by working quietly behind the scenes.