Friday, June 06, 2008

ironic website of the week

In a break from political news discussion, I wanted to share this with my readers. Today I attended a new lawyer ethics training session for the morning. Appearantly, you are not supposed to have intercourse with your clients. Who knew? Just kidding. Of course, since we are talking about attorneys, there are exceptions to this rule: if you have pre-existing relationship of that kind. Anyway, the session also included a talk about stress and how to handle your addictions, including helpful links to sites that will provide you with more information about addictions such as narcotics, alcohol, and internet. That's right, for people are addicted to checking their blogs and emails etc. (like yours truely)--they suggest you go on a website to read about it. It's called and even has a test to see if you are an addict. I haven't taken the test, but given that I read about 300+ posts a day, a feel deprived if I go for two days without going onto my Google Reader, I am pretty confident that I am hooked.

In any event, enjoy the website and have a great weeekend.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Who can reign in the excesses of the Utah County Republican Party?
The Utah County attorney said no.
The attorney general said no.

The lieutenant governor said no.

If those three say they don't have any legal jurisdiction over the powerful leadership of the Utah County Republican Party, the question now is simple.

Does anyone?

Not really. [...]

Fast forward to the Utah County GOP convention in 2008, when a tremendously well-connected 17-year-old girl named Hannah Lockhart served as a delegate and voted to select the party nominees for state Legislature.

Was it legal for her to do so when Utah law states a voter is only eligible if he or she will be 18 on the day of an election?

The party interprets the law to refer to the general election, but a candidate who lost at the convention believed local GOP bosses at the very least bent the party's bylaws in favor of incumbent Sen. Curt Bramble. [...]


"If there's no one in control of the party, heaven help us," [Jacqueline De Gaston, the would be primary opponent to Sen. Bramble] said. "I don't know what the public can do. All the races in Utah County were settled in convention by the votes of the delegates, so thousands of Republicans have no say because they don't get to go to the polls for a primary."
In the sections I omitted, AG Mark Shurtleff and other officials correctly noted that the US Supreme Court's interpetation of the First Amendment forbids the government from getting involved in almost every aspect of a political parties nominating processees. This is why Florida and Michigan's suits against the DNC regarding their delegations were tossed (and now mooted).

However, the column hints at the lack of political will to take on the powerhouse of the state's dominant political party. Utah County is this sense is no different that parts of modern day Philly, Chicago, Providence, and New York back in the days of Tammny Hall. Remember our LG is from the Utah County machine, and Huntsman chose him to mullify any challege from the right during his 2004 nomination battle.

Will the voters of Utah County continue to hold their noses and vote for Republican incumbents, or might a primary challenger or Democrat finally break through? We will find out soon enough.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

not gonna happen, part II

The alternate title for this post is "the dream [ticket] has died." Like most of you, I watched TV last night for the three speeches by Sens. McCain, Clinton, and Obama. And out of those speeches I came away with three very distinct impressions: 1) Obama's speech was pretty good, but the bar is so high for him now [thanks to his 'Yes we can' speech in NH and his 'a more perfect union' speech in philly] that it seemed middling...except when you compared it to the other two speeches last night.

2) If Hillary Clinton honestly wanted or was seeking the VP slot on Obama's ticket, after that speech, there is zero chance of Obama picking her now. This was her chance to thank her supporters, talk about her causes, and rally them behind Obama. Instead, she pretended she won the popular vote (for someone who says count every vote, but then excludes MI voters who cast ballots intending to support Obama, as well as Caucusgoers in states were they only have estimates of how many people showed up, it's pretty hypocritical), used the phrase "stay[] the course," a Bushism none too popular with Democrats, allowed her supporters to chant "Denver! Denver!" repeatedly without calming them down, a phony "tell me what you think" to justify staying in the race and taking people's money, implied the Obama only cared about health care to run for president ("I haven't been working on this for the past 16 months, I have been working on this for 35 years!"), and implied that Obama doesn't care about her "18 million" voters. This tactlessness and selfishness was all the more evident after Obama went on for several minutes praising her, while she said maybe two or three sentences about him. The Clinton bunker was a bizzaro world were she had won and he had lost. And it was painful to watch.

3) I honestly don't see how John McCain is going to be elected. Nor did the cable news commenters, including Fox News. Karl Rove et al were discussing how terrible he speech was before either Democratic Senator went on. First the optics of the speech. He spoke from a suburb of New Orleans, a city he helped destroy by celebrating his birthday with George Bush in Arizona and San Diego instead of telling Bush to get working on saving Katrina victims. Did he speak there to distance himself from Bush? Maybe, but Karl Rove thought the most likely reason was that McCain was in the area raising money. This shows disorganization and lack of message discipline. Moreover, I doubt the two fundaisers Rove mentioned raised even a million dollars net. Obama sent one email out just before he gave his speech, which I predict raised at least 3 Million.

Back to the messaging problem and optics. He stood behind a green background that was a harsh contrast from his suit colors. I couldn't tell if the green with gold writing was supposed to be an alusion to the military or to the environment. Commenters were similarly confused. The slogan behind him said "A Leader We Can Believe In" Obama's slogan for the entire campaign has been "Change We Can Believe in" when you enter in McCain's latest slogan into google and hit search, you get Obama campaign webpages.

The content of the speech was essentially defensive: I am not like Bush, stop calling me names. He used the word 'change' over 30 times, trying to say he was the agent of change and Obama represented the past. That's right a 71 year old white dude who has been in Congress for 3 decades from the same party as the sitting president is change, while a 40-something year old black guy who has been a senator for four years is the status quo. When you fight using the other guy's messaging, you are behind.

The delivery, as usual, was terrible. He stumbled along, clearly reading from a teleprompter and sounding like he barely believed any of it. His crowd was tiny and he got the biggest cheer when he defended Bush's policies. McCain's forte is the town hall meeting, and is much better off the cuff (although he has been prone to saying things like 100 years in Iraq "would be fine by me") than delivering some lines, but the trouble is, presidential candidates are mostly seen by voters when they give speeches (convention speeches, rally speeches, etc.), not town hall meetings.

So he didn't give a great speech so what? The very fact that he had to give his speech on the same day as Obama and Clinton's speeches shows he is being otherwise ignored. He has has had months all to himself to raise money, organize staff and field operations, organize the convention, etc. Instead, he has had to fly around to big dinners (eating up valuable time and money), had to fire half a dozen senior staff members for ties to lobbying for foreign governments (against his reform message), and fire his handpicked convention guy (again lobbyist for Myanmar's Junta)

More importantly, look at the electoral college map and what states will be hotly contested. Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, two congressional districts in Nebraska, Iowa, New Hampshire. All but the last one went for Kerry in 2004. If McCain loses any of the first 4, he has lost the election. Obama can lose the first four and still win the White House, especially if he puts the Carolinas and Georgia in play [thanks Bob Barr].

Now McCain supporters will claim he has a shot at Pennslyvannia, Michigan, Oregon, and New Jersey. Democrats would love McCain to waste his time and money in New Jersey, just has Republicans would love Obama to spend millions and days in Texas. The other three have been close but gone Democratic the last four presidental elections. And the demographics aren't getting any more favorable to the GOP here. All have Democratic governors, 2 or 1 Democratic senators (PA and OR have 1, but Arlen Spector won't be running for reelection in 2010 and Gordon Smith is in for the fight of his ife this year), and after November majority Democratic House members, as well as legislatures controlled by Democrats. I just don't see those states flipping.

The voters are just as angry with Washington as they were in 2006, if not more so. They wanted change on the war, corruption, accountability, and Bush's policies. But Republicans in Congress--including John McCain--blocked most of those proposals. Poll after poll, recruitment after recruitment shows that Democrats will pick up large numbers of seats in both chambers of congress. Democrats will have, for the first time as far as I can tell, money advantages over Republicans in races for the House, Senate, and the White House. Obama's message of change is resonnating, and McCain can't plausibly sell his brand under Obama's label when the real deal is available.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

not gonna happen

Yucca Mountain, the long proposed nuclear waste storage site in Nevada, is finally before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The [NRC] will have three years to review the application, although it could extend that an additional year if needed. The agency's primary responsibility is to determine if the design as proposed will protect public health, safety and the environment.

The Energy Department informed key members of Congress and the NRC of its plans on Monday. A truck is to deliver tens of thousands of pages of documents to the NRC offices in Rockville, Md., this morning to back up the application, which itself covers 17 volumes.

President Bush gave the go-ahead for the Yucca waste repository, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, six years ago. It is being designed to hold 77,000 tons of waste, mostly used reactor fuel from nuclear power plants.

About $6 billion has been spent in research and engineering at the Nevada site to determine whether it can safely hold the highly radioactive waste for as long as a million years.
However, as long as Senators from Nevada get to place holds on any bill or nomination, Yucca Mtn. won't store nuclear waste. This is especially true if Harry Reid holds onto his position as Democratic Leader (he is up for reelection in 2010 I believe). These senators can make life difficult for the next president, Energy Secretary, and NRC head by holding hostage appointments, funding etc.

Moreover, as long as Utah's own Jim Matheson is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which writes those departments paychecks), the NRC/DOE will be very reluctant to approve the plan. Gov. Scott Matheson, Jim's dad, died of cancer, cancer that was caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear testing in Nevada. The federal government lied to the people of rural Nevada and Utah, claiming that no harm would come to them. Jim's mission in Congress has been to prevent all nuclear storage out West (whether by the feds or by Energy Solutions) and to prevent all nuclear testing, especially the new "tactical" nuclear weapons that the Bush Administration would just love to try out against the Iranians.

As Nevada and Utah grow in population, they will also get more seats in the U.S. House. Right now, both have three, but in 4 years, they will each have 1-2 more seats...right about the time the NRC will approve or deny the plan. Moreover, Nevada's population growth has meant that the state is purpling, and will be a swingable state for Obama in 2008 and will be contested in the next presidential elections as well. McCain has previously favored Yucca. Look for Obama to run ads in Nevada harping on that issue this fall. And if Obama's electoral college victory comes thanks to Nevada, he will owe it to the Silver State to deep six Yucca Mountain.

Monday, June 02, 2008

treasurer fight

I disagree with folks that say that general elections are nastier than primary elections. Karl Rove used John McCain's adoption of a Bangladeshi girl to insinuate that McCain had fathered a illegitimate child with a black woman. Does anything between Bush and Gore or Kerry come even close? On the Democratic side, Kerry and Gephardt aides ran an ad with bin Laden's face all over it saying that Iowa Democrats couldn't risk putting Howard Dean in the White House. [The only thing close to this in a general election is the Georgia Senate race between triple amuptee and Vietnam Vet Sen. Max Cleeland and now Sen. Saxby Chamblis]

Now here's Utah's latest nasty primary:
Rep. Mark Walker, R-Sandy, is accused of offering current chief deputy treasurer Richard Ellis a position if Walker were to win, with the implication that Ellis should drop out of the race. But Walker, who won the Republican nomination with 58 percent at the convention, said his meeting with Walker was to dispel rumors that he would fire Ellis and his office if elected.

Walker said he became aware of rumors that Ellis' staffers were worried they would lose their jobs if he were elected. Feeling that was unfair to everyone involved, he met with Ellis to dispel the rumor. He said he told Ellis that he respected the good work the office had done.

Ellis says unequivocally that Walker broke the law and requested on Friday that the Lieutenant Governor's Office investigate the issue. Statute prohibits a promise of employment, and Ellis said an intermediary told him that if he were not in the race he could be a deputy.

"I don't want it to be a 'he said, she said' situation. That's why I want it investigated," Ellis said.

To complicate the issue, it appears that a mutual acquaintance and vice president of public finance at Zions Bank relayed messages between the candidates. Walker stresses that even though he knew Ellis was a candidate, his intent in meeting with him was to dispel harmful rumors. Ellis insists that a job offer was made. But except for the single meeting, the communication between the two passed through the intermediary via e-mail.
So either this is a game of telephone where 'I won't fire you if I win' is misunderstood as 'I will get you hired if you drop out.' Or the subtly of the message was conveyed loud and clear, and this is another case of an unethical state legislator. But in either case, it just got to be a biter primary campaign.