Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cannon tries to remove his foot from his mouth

If Willard "Mitt" Romney becomes the Republican nominee for president, I want to hang Rep. Chris Cannon, who endorsed him (just like Sen. Lary Craig endorsed him...more on Craig below), around Romney's neck.
Rep. Chris Cannon's vote against a revised law to hold private contractors in Iraq legally accountable is being questioned by his congressional seat competitors.

However, Cannon asserts the bill is poorly drafted and is damaging and redundant to a law already in place to provide contractor accountability — something outside onlookers might not have seen.
Which is why Chris Cannon opposes vouchers...oh wait, never mind.
However, Cannon explained he isn't in favor of immunity, either, and that accountability has always been in place through the National Defense Authorization Act, passed in 2005.

The act expanded the definition of who could be prosecuted for crimes to include civilian contractors and employees from other federal agencies who support American military missions overseas, according to the congressional document.

For some reason, though, no one has used that old law to prosecute independent contractors, said members of Cannon's staff. So rather than trying the legislation, a new, poorly worded bill was created, Cannon said.

This proposed law would limit the scope of prosecutions to individuals who are contracted or work in an area, or in "close proximity to an area where the Armed Forces is conducting a contingency operation," according to HR2740. That could mean a crime committed in Germany, away from the heated conflict in Iraq, could go unpunished.
Even if what Cannon says is true, why isn't it a good idea to be doubly sure that these mercenaries are under U.S. Law and to send a message to these private armies--and the muslim world--that we are serious about curbing abuses like Blackwater's? I mean, even Leavitt and Chaffetz gets it.

And if the 2005 law really did cover Blackwater, why has the State Department refused to do anything to Blackwater? I don't see Cannon's name on any of those letters that went out to State regarding Blackwater.

Oh and if you are in a men's bathrooom in Washington DC, let Larry Craig know if you have found his watch. Sen. Craig lost it in some bathroom. Don't ask how or which one, he visits so many, to you know, "use the bathroom." I can never keep up with all the slang.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Utah legislators are bullies

A post a day keeps the vouchers away. I will stop writing about the badness of vouchers after Utah voters knock it down on Tuesday. But I can't avoid writing about it when the legislature pulls stuff like this:
A University of Utah report on private school vouchers released just 10 days before next Tuesday's Referendum 1 vote is raising concerns among legislative leaders, including House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy.

Lawmakers say they are more concerned about the timing of the report from the U.'s Center for Public Policy and Administration than its content. Curtis went so far as to call the U.'s vice president for government affairs, Kim Wirthlin.

Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said he did not fault Curtis for making the call. "From my understanding of what that call was, it was appropriate," the Senate leader said, adding he had talked with Curtis about his conversation with Wirthlin.

Curtis' chief of staff, Chris Bleak, told the Deseret Morning News that Curtis did not want to talk about the call. However, Curtis reportedly told KUTV Ch. 2 that the university would "create hard feelings with certain members of the Legislature" because of the report.

David Patton, director of the U. center, said the intent of the report was to provide unbiased information to people who wanted to make a decision about the voucher issue.
Maj. Leader Bramble and Speaker Curtis, the two heads of their cameras of the legislature, are trying to intimidate the University plain and simple.

And why? Because the University is trying to do a public service by releasing a study about the biggest issue on the ballot a 10 days before it is voted on. You and I dear reader, might have been focused on this battle for a year or so, but your average voter didn't have much thought about it until he was was bombarded with ads from both sides.

Since the University of Utah is trusted, even by Cougar fans, to present intellectually honest analysis, it seems fair for them to do it. Remember, the U is funded almost entirely by taxpayer dollars, which is appropriated by people controlled by Curtis and Bramble. The Huntsmans and the Eccles can't fund the U all by themselves.

This bullying is just another example of how antidemocratic and anti-empirical-evidence our legislature is. We need new leadership, and I hope vouchers next fall will give us that leadership by voting out those who wasted all our time, money, and effort on this stupid bill.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

cue the fat lady

[A]ccording to Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics[,]
"When you're the underdog, you don't need to be leading in these polls, but you have to show some momentum," Jowers said. [...]
Becker, an urban planner and the Democratic House minority leader, held virtually the same 20-percentage-point edge among men and women, according to the poll.
It seems like voters have seen through the "nice" and "reasonable guy" routine as well.
Significant margins also break Becker's way in the favorable/unfavorable category, according to the poll.
More than 60 percent of likely voters give Becker a favorable mark compared with 46 percent for Buhler.
And 27 percent recognized Buhler as unfavorable, compared with just 12 percent for Becker.
Stick a fork in Buhler, because he is done.

voucher dishonesty goes national

George Will, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post and talking head on ABC's "This Week," wrote yet another disingenuous column today about Utah's voucher referendum. I am sure it will show up in Utah papers today or tomorrow. Let's take it down one lie and smear at a time.
There [Utah], teachers unions, whose idea of progress is preservation of the status quo, are waging an expensive and meretricious campaign to overturn the right of parents to choose among competing schools, public and private, for the best education for their children.
My idea of progress is when things improve. So if vouchers will not improve our children's education--and a study by a conservative once pro-voucher think tank in Milwaukee shows they don't--then change for the sake of reform is not "progressive."

Will also conveniently forgets that this bill was pushed first by outside groups and is opposed by a solid 60 percent of Utahns--the only state that still gives Bush a positive job rating.
And every Utah voucher increases funds available for public education. Here is how:

Utah spends more than $7,500 per public school pupil ($3,000 more than the average private school tuition). The average voucher will be for less than $2,000. So every voucher that is used -- by parents willing to receive $2,000 rather than $7,500 of government support for the education of their child -- will save Utah taxpayers an average of $5,500. And because the vouchers are paid from general revenue, the departed pupil's $7,500 stays in the public school system.
So many lies in such a short space, that merits an award in rightwing shilling. First, he uses the highest public school spending number from Park City School District ($7,500) while simultaneously using the artificially low and cherry picked "average" private school tuition ($3,000). The real average private school tuition is nearly $8,000 according to the Deseret News. And the real public school spending is lower as well--the US Census places Utah again as the lowest in the nation this year with $5,257.

Again, Will "just so happens" to omit the fact that over time, the bill would raid public school money for vouchers, and the problem would get progressively worse. As others has better explained than I, schools have fixed costs that can't easily be reduced when a handful of students leave a private school for a public school.

But wait, there is still more inches to fill in his collumn, so Will manages to squeeze in a few more lies.
Utah's Office of Education reports that the state's private schools -- which are operating one-third below full enrollment -- have a higher percentage of nonwhites than do public schools.
Private schools in Utah are not at a third capacity, rather they are nearly full. From the Deseret News:
Of note, many private schools could not accommodate many more students if they wanted to take advantage of vouchers to enroll.

For example, the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Salt Lake, the largest private school system in the state with 5,407 students in 14 schools, estimates it has capacity to add only 317 more elementary/middle school students and 373 high school students.

Current capacity at its schools ranges from a high of 101 percent (at both the St. John the Baptist elementary and middle schools in Draper) to a low of 68 percent (at St. Olaf school in Bountiful,) according to data provided by the diocese.
I won't even bother with the diatribe against Teachers' Unions, only to say that he doesn't mention the out of state money coming in defense of vouchers from Amway founders etc. Oh and when you are calling someone else's arguments "threadbare," Mr. Will, you might want to make sure yours aren't full of crap themselves.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the oath

Today I did not blog until now because I have been busy with work, a job interview, and joining the legal profession.

Amid the pomp and circumstance of joining the Utah Bar, there is an important task that some 260-odd men and women did today. We raised our right hands and pledged to defend the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution, to treat each other civilly, to obey the rules of ethics, etc. I take those oaths very seriously, and this is why speak out so aggressively against things and people like Torture, NSA wiretapping, Rudy Giulliani, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, vouchers, the suspension of Habeas Corpus, etc.

America-- and the state of Utah-- was founded as a nation and state of laws, not men. I do not pledge allegiance to a flag or to a government, but to a set of rules which the people have agreed to be governed by-- our constitutions.

The republic is under attack, and not just occasionally from Al Qaeda, but from within by those that think that might trumps right and that we must throw away centuries of laws to sleep at night. Their recklessness is what keeps me up at night. I think of all of people around the world who grow to hate America and Americans, of all the people who use the policies and rhetoric of this Administration to repress democracy and peace in their own countries and regions.

While not all of us can or should become lawyers, all of us should personally pledge to defend this state and country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, who seek to subvert our constitution for their own personal or ideological benefit and to the determinant of the people for whom the government was created.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Huntsman backs away slowly

The other day I posted how Huntsman is trying to do a half hearted support of vouchers so that if it fails, which it will, he won't face blowback from the voters next fall. But since PCE people are dumb enough to think they can change public opinion which is overwhelmingly and firmly against vouchers, they are confused at Huntsman's coyness.
If you own a television, you've probably seen the commercial of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. at a Capitol news conference endorsing Utah's school voucher program facing a Nov. 6 referendum.
What you don't see is the part of the news conference in which Huntsman tells Utahns it is OK to vote against vouchers.
"Whatever you think is right, whatever you can justify, is the right answer for you," Huntsman says in the portion voucher supporters edited out.
The governor's "lukewarm" support for vouchers - he refuses to take time to tape a real commercial, saying he will not be used as a "poster boy" for the issue - puzzles political observers and has allowed him to be claimed as a champion by both sides.
Silly "political observers," Huntsman is like any other politican who got stuck on the wrong side of popular opinion. He doesn't want to go down with the ship. Romney was happy to trumpet his support from Sen. Larry Craig, until Craig's arrest report leaked.

Of course, rather than admitting that Utahns don't want their terrible bill, voucher supports are going to blame the lukewarm messenger.
Voucher spin doctors edited his comments as best they could and now are using them in their latest TV ads. But if it turns out to be too little too late, they may blame Huntsman for not stepping up sooner.
Hark back to the Republican convention fight of 2004 when Lampropoulos emerged as the delegates' preferred leader for several months leading to the convention. Lampropoulos was the top voucher drumbeater among the candidates. He not only talked the talk, he opened his wallet and contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the cause. He also gave Parents for Choice in Education free office space at his campaign headquarters.
Huntsman, meanwhile, told delegates at many a chili-and-fruit-punch backyard meeting that he supported vouchers. But his comments were carefully crafted, coming with conditions and certainly not with the born-again zeal Lampropoulos offered.
As the convention neared, Huntsman grabbed the momentum and appeared likely to come out of the convention as the front-runner. The mystery was who would be the runner-up and also qualify for the primary.
There still could be consequences for Huntsman. Pro-voucher business leaders continue griping about the governor's tepid support - which might have been one reason he finally agreed to show up at the press conference - and have approached some former Republican gubernatorial candidates about a possible run in 2008.
Really, please do primary him. I would love to see the Utah Republican party pick a crazy over Jon Huntsman, Jr. If they pick $100,000 to PCE Lampropoulos, maybe the Dems can convince Jim Matheson to run for Governor.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

major voucher supporter is a bigot himself

Remember how Patrick Bynre, CEO of, called people who opposed vouchers bigots?
The NAACP demanded an apology Friday from the founder of, who said Utah minorities who don't graduate from high school might as well be burned or thrown away.

Patrick Byrne's comments were posted on YouTube. The video clip was from a debate Tuesday at the University of Utah law school, where he was speaking in favor of vouchers, public aid for families sending kids to private schools.
On YouTube, he says: "Right now, 40 percent of Utah minorities are not graduating from high school. You may as well burn those kids. ... If they do not get a high school education, you might as just throw the kids away."
So what would you do when caught on tape saying something racist? First, you pull the video off YouTube, then blame the internets.
Byrne said he had no intention of apologizing and claimed his comments were taken out of context.

"These folks have been selective in their editing," he told The Associated Press. "I very clearly said the system is throwing away 40 percent of the minority kids because they're not graduating. I'm saying that I'm against throwing kids away.
This is the face of the voucher movement. His hundreds of thousands he gave to PCE is the biggest local donor to the cause. He was one of two people who came to debate at the law school on the subject. If he didn't speak for voucher supporters, they have a funny way of letting him speak for them.
Williams noted that Byrne didn't mention white children who don't graduate. Utah is 83.5 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black.

"It says he's not sympathetic to the minority community and he means exactly what he said," Williams said of Byrne's lack of an apology.
Maybe he got so upset and called people bigots because of his own bigotry he is trying to hide.