Friday, November 09, 2007

non-partisan political roundup

My latest thinking on how this blog will stay interesting without violating any ethics rules is to serve as a blog version of those political scientists that get quoted in stories. That is, what I think the impact of a news event or statement by a candidate etc. will mean to X election. I am always cognizant of my leans and so I will be extra cautious to say that something will really help this candidate or party, but sometimes it will just seem obvious to me. And I am sure I will be proven wrong once in a while.

  • Vouchers were probably a main reason why so many progressives/liberals are in SLC government after the election. Normally, off-year elections are pretty tame affairs and people don't get that excited about voting for mayor. However, the openness of this race (at least initially) and the presence of vouchers contributed to piqued interest and turn out.

    Buhler was one of the better conservatives to campaign for mayor in a while, but he got traunced by the biggest margin yet. Why? SLC voters tapped the screen 75-25 against vouchers. In some places in SL County, voters were in line for HOURS trying to vote. You never see that during a presidential year in Utah, let alone an odd-year election. This ballot issue was important to Utahns. I hope the legislature gets the message after the thumping vouchers took at the voting booth.

  • Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) seemed like a long shot for the GOP nomination, and still does. However, he seems to have tapped into something (more than just millions of dollars online) that could lead him to getting a good 20 something percent nationally if he were to run as a third-party candidate. And I think he will do surprisingly well in Utah during the GOP primary. I am predicting a 2nd or third place finish. Here's why:(Photo Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret Morning News)
    Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul served state officials, including Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., with a complaint Wednesday as part of a national effort seeking to require paper ballots in the upcoming presidential elections.
    Ron Paul does best in areas where teh federal government owns lots of land. And Utah has one of the largest percentage of the state owned by the feds. While this state is socially conservative, it is above all very libertarian on all matters not associated with social issues and very distrustful of the federal government in general. This is basically Ron Paul's ideology. Around town, the only Republican candidate I have seen any outward signs of support for (other than Romney) has been Ron Paul. His people were there at the anti-war rallys. They have signs on freeway overpasses on I-15, etc. Since Ron Paul was the Libertain Party's candidate before, and since he raised nearly $10M in the last couple of months, if I were a Republican Party leader, I would be nicer to him.

  • Here's something interesting to discuss that I won't touch with a ten foot pole:
    Past editions of that page say all of the people chronicled in the book "were destroyed, except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians." The new introduction reads much the same but says the Lamanites "are among the ancestors of the American Indians."
    Last year's change "takes into account details of Book of Mormon demography which are not known," according to church spokesman Mark Tuttle. "The change will be included in the next edition of the Book of Mormon printed by the church."

    He said the introduction page in current LDS-produced books "was not part of the original text translated by Joseph Smith Jr.," adding it was written and published in 1981. The church declined comment on who wrote that version of the page.

    Andrew Corbin, a senior editor at Doubleday, said the one-word change was specifically requested by the church for the second edition, published in October 2006.
    As all lawyers know, one word change really can make a big difference.

  • In my last semester in law school, I took a class on state and local government law. One of our guest speakers was Summer Pugh, a Draper resident mad at the proposed TRAX route that would go close to her backyard. Her group "Citizens for Responsible Transportation" or "CRT" tried to challenege the route decision, seaking move the route "out of low-density neighborhoods and closer to business-heavy State Street - or even farther west.". Her case challenging the rulings that the decision was not petition-able is now before the Utah Supreme Court. This election, CRT supported some candidates for Draper city council seats. The results were not pretty.
    Incumbent Bill Colbert, who won another term despite CRT's efforts, thanked the group for not endorsing him.
    "CRT didn't have the impact they wanted - but they had an impact," Colbert said. "They tried to hijack the race, and it backfired on their butts."
    Candidate Scott Tanner, one of the three defeated CRT-backed candidates, agrees the endorsement played a part in his defeat.
    "I wish that we weren't lumped together that easily," he lamented. "The candidates didn't want to make TRAX the issue."
    "This was an election about the 70 percent tax increase and the lack of ballparks for our kids," Pugh said. "TRAX . . . was not heavily debated."
    She added that her group simply backed a slate of candidates so its supporters would know who was open to their cause. Pugh added that CRT got its candidates through the primary election, even in the midst of a long list of 13 candidates.
    That, she said, was a sign that people want to move TRAX away from east-side neighborhoods.
    This sounds like spin to me. Anyone from Draper who can weigh in on this matter?

  • Here's a common sense piece of legislation everyone should support:
    Sen. Bob Bennett has reintroduced legislation that would prohibit nuclear testing without the approval of Congress and require extensive review before such tests could go forward.
    Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is sponsoring similar legislation in the House, though neither bill is as yet scheduled for a committee hearing.
    The measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says the White House must get permission from Congress before resuming nuclear detonations at the Nevada Test Site or elsewhere, though Bennett notes there have been no proposals to restart such tests.
    Bennett's bill says that if the administration asks and Congress approves renewed testing, the secretary of the Energy Department must provide public notice of the test, shall notify the public if any radiation is released and shall hold a town hall meeting in southern Utah after each explosion.
    It also establishes a nine-member commission - with three of the members coming from Utah - to oversee the safety, health and air quality concerns at the Nevada Test Site. And it requires the National Academy of Sciences to study the health and safety precautions currently at the Nevada Test Site.
    I hope Reps. Cannon and Bishop will co-sponsor this as well.

  • Romney's doing a fullcourt press on religious conservatives:
    Parents who home school their children should get a tax credit to help offset the expense of teaching, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Wednesday.
    "I also believe parents who are teaching their kids at home, homeschoolers, deserve a break, and I've asked for a tax credit to help parents in their homes with the cost of being an at-home teacher," he said.
    Romney supports giving parents more educational options, through charter schools or vouchers, but he said legislation should be done on a state level.
    While homeschooled children make up a tiny fraction of the over all number of children (like 1-2%), the vast majority (97%) of them are homeschooled on religious/moral grounds.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

political joke of the day

I got this from an email someone forwarded me. Note that I am not saying that anyone group is like this or that, it is only playing off stereotypes for humoric effect. That is, it is a joke people, get over yourselves.

Now that's out of the way, on with the forward:
The Pope took a couple of days off to visit the Rugged Mountains of Alaska for some sightseeing. He was cruising along the campground in the Popemobile when there was a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods.

A helpless Democrat, wearing sandals, shorts, a "Save the Whales" hat, and a "To Hell with Bush" T-shirt, was screaming while struggling frantically and thrashing around trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10-foot grizzly.

As the Pope watched in horror, a group of Republican loggers came racing up.

One quickly fired a 44 magnum into the bear's chest. The other two reached up and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious Democrat from the bear's grasp.

Then using long clubs, the three loggers finished off the bear and two of them threw it onto the bed of their truck while the other tenderly placed the injured Democrat in the back seat.

As they prepared to leave, the Pope summoned them to come over. "I give you my blessing for your brave actions!" he told them. "I heard there was a bitter hatred between Republican loggers and Democratic Environmental activists but now I've seen with my own eyes that this is not true."

As the Pope drove off, one of the loggers asked his buddies "Who was that guy?"

"It was the Pope," another replied. "He's in direct contact with Heaven and has access to all wisdom."

"Well," the logger said, "he may have access to all wisdom but he sure doesn't know anything about Grizzly bear hunting! By the way, is the bait holding up, or do we need to go back to Massachusetts and get another one?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

a new beginning

Rep. Steve Urqhart (R-St. George) wrote a half congratulations/half insult to my post on swearing into the Utah Bar. Since I am having a particularly good couple weeks, maybe I won't rub it in that his voucher bill lost in every single county in Utah...nah.

Rather than gloating or congratulating (Mayor Becker has a nice ring to it), I write today about how this blog will have to change during the next year. And why.

Two hours before my swearing into the bar, I had a job interview for a judge. When I landed in D.C. and turned on my cell phone, I had a message from said judge telling me I was hired and he needed me out here ASAP. So I ended my internship two weeks early (thanks to my awesome boss at the Campaign Legal Center), packed up all my belongings, and paid through the nose to fly back to SLC two days ago.

As a staffer for the judicial branch, I cannot comment anymore on things that might come before the court or be partisan in general. Had vouchers passed for instance, there was a very good chance that my boss would be ruling on whether or not the bill violated the Utah Constitution.

Thus, I may focus on the horse race or policy aspects of the 2008 elections, but I will (hopefully) refrain from supporting one side or the other. It won't be as much fun, but this job is important to me.

As far as standing for something, Rep. Urquhart, I stand for the Utah and United States Constitution. Great minds can differ about many aspects of interpreting this august documents, but we all can agree that it is they who are to be exhaulted in our system of government, not particular persons or factions.

My career goals are to help as many people as possible as much as possible to make their lives better. Oh and make enough money to support my family. In that order. To me, that can be through the courts (on the inside or outside), or the legislative process (again from within or externally), or the executive branch (local, state or federal), or though NGOs/non-profits.

So if you have thoughts on how to make things better in Salt Lake, in Utah, in America, in the world, drop them into the comments section.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Utahns take back their state

News to legislature: we the people of Utah, are a co-equal branch in the lawmaking process. Moreover, if you do stuff we don't like, we will vote it down (and hopefully) vote you out of office. Listen to us.

62% of Utahns.

P.S. I won't be blogging on local political issues much anymore given my new job I just started today. But it is good to be back.

Monday, November 05, 2007

only six percent of UT GOPers want to help the poor

I make this claim by putting together two sets of information. Number one:
a new Tribune poll found that a mere 6 percent of Utahns cited helping poor students as the reason they support vouchers.
Data point number two
The Utah Republican Party State Central Committee passed a resolution supporting school vouchers at its quarterly meeting Saturday. The committee is the governing and policy-making body for the Utah Republican Party and consists of 175 county leaders from across the state.
The Utah Democratic Party has opposed the voucher proposal.