Sunday, December 27, 2009

the end (of the year) is neigh

For some reason, editors are forcing their writers to compose "best of" and "worst of" lists for the 2000s, even though this decade started in 2001 and ends in 2010. Nevertheless it is worth dwelling on this period because (a) it just happened and (b) the world feels like it is rapidly changing.

Through shortsighted greed, both financial and political, we ended up with a series of economic bubbles where very few people got extremely wealthy on paper and not a whole lot positive resulted from this greed. Sure, lots of marble countertops were made and stainless steel appliances, along with acronyms for financial products that did nothing but rake in fees for large banks, but people have lost their retirement funds, their jobs, and their lives in ill-conceived wars and policies that left us as a whole worse off.

I am reminded of this fact nearly every day that I enjoy a great job, with health insurance and fun co-workers. How can one not feel a bit guilty to have so many blessings while others around you suffer due to the poor choices of those in New York and Washington, D.C.? Worse still, almost none of them have been been adversely affected by their piss poor decisions.

Here is but one example of what I am talking about:

[B]etween 2004 and 2006, [Credit Suisse] was not above making more than $3 billion of senior secured "predatory" (according to one judge) loans to high-end real estate developers operating mostly in the western United States.

Within the last year, at least eight of the real-estate developments that received the Credit Suisse (CS) loans are either operating under bankruptcy court protection, have been liquidated or have been foreclosed upon. ...

The portfolio of loans was the brainchild of David Miller, a Managing Director at Credit Suisse, who was co-head of the U.S. capital markets business within the syndicated loan group. When Credit Suisse made the loans, it got paid millions in fees and then syndicated them all off to investors, who will be fortunate to get back pennies on the dollar during the various bankruptcy proceedings. (Credit Suisse currently has a minimal exposure to the original loans.)

Miller was well aware of the golden goose he had on his hands. In an August 2005 email to a colleague, Miller wrote, "[T]hese are aggressive deals and it is in all of our best interests, that the investors are protected, because if one of them should blow up, you will see these investors pull out of this land development mkt [market] and our gravy train will stop."


As for David Miller, he remains at Credit Suisse and was recently promoted to co-head of the firm's U.S. Loan Syndication business. [CS spokesman Brian] King declined to make Miller available to be questioned about the loan to the Yellowstone Club, the judge's decision in the case or whether the "gravy train" had ended.
Credit Suisse created CLOs (Collateralized Loan Obligations) that blew up in every resorts face. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs raked it in with CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations), which they proceeded to bet against at the same time. The only God's Work that goes on here is that these i-bankers were treated like gods and no one seems willing to punish them for the destruction that they wrought.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Youth in Asia

I don't always agree with Howard Dean. In fact, I still dislike him on a number of fronts since 2003. But he is making some good points, as are the people still supporting what is left of the health care bill, whenever Megolmaniacs Lieberman and (Ben) Nelson are done adding new provisions to make it even worse.

It makes one wonder if these two members of the Democratic caucus are doing this for political posturing for reelection, preening self-importance, or desire to make the bill so unpalatable that party stalwarts like Kerry can't stomach the final product. Another possibility is they want to show their superior power to that of say Brown or Sanders.

Principle clearly has nothing to do with it. Nelson said nothing about abortion until Stupak. Joe was for Medicare expansion before Liberals said it was better than the public option. Niether nixed Medicaid expansion until now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

With the announcement that Rahm Emmanuel, Harry Reid, and ultimately Barack Obama allowed Joe Lieberman to kill any hope that health care reform would include meaningful ways of controlling healthcare costs and abuses of the industry via competition, it worth remebering something.

Al Gore and John McCain are both great Americans who served our country with honor but made two terrible decisions and miscalculations of character in the name of political expediency. They picked Joe Lieberman and Sarah Palin for their VP nominees.

Once both Joe and Sarah got a taste of the big time, there was no turning back. Their need for attention and relevance and self-importance became all consuming. Joe is seeking to once again (see Dept of Homeland Security and Iraq War, 2002) destroy caucus' chances of electoral sucess in the name of poor policy. Sarah is slowly destroying hers as well (see Hoffman, NY23).

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On Scott McCoy

Senator McCoy, who I am proud to say is my state senator is resigning to focus on his day job as a lawyer. I can tell you from doing research on legislative history of statutes that he was often the loan voice of reason trying to explain to his colleagues why the bill wouldn't do what they wanted it to do. I am a sad to see him go for many reasons and wish him luck in his trial.

One of the main reasons why I am sad is selfish. To me it means that any thoughts of getting more involved in politics means giving up my practice and therefore means I should be giving up on politics. That's the decision my father made it seems but we were both bit by the politics bug. Do you think both can be done?

Another reason is not that I thought he was a maverick but that he was a good state senator. Sounds corny I know but I am a corny guy. Just ask my friends who have to endure some of my "jokes".

Friday, November 20, 2009

It is not mavericky

You are not a maverick if you call yourself a maverick.  Then you are a shameless self-promoter.

You are not a maverick if you leave your elected office less than half way into the position for no reason.  You are a quitter

You are not a maverick if you have other people write your book for you.  You are a person who falsely takes credit (and money) for other people's labor.

You are not a maverick if you don't show up to speeches or rallies you are scheduled to attend, or if you bail mid-way through a book tour event. It means you are selfish inconsiderate and irresponsible. By the way, Palin is scheduled to be at the Salt Lake Costco on December 9, from noon until 3 p.m. I know where I won't be on December 9th.

The self-described "maverick" is scheduled to visit 31 cities in 25 states, mostly Republican strongholds. Salt Lake City is her only stop in Utah, and she is scheduled to be in Reno, Nev., that evening.

Also, it is not mavericky to go to friendly territory for book signings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will-fully ignorant

You know what grinds my gears while I can't sleep at night? People who state false or misleading things that they KNOW are false and misleading, but apparently it is their job to that in DC. I can understand a dumb congresscritter or Sarah Palin making such statement because they are just repeating talking points.

But people like George Will, who is obviously intelligent and a good writer. He intentionally omits key details, misrepresents information, and many other debating no-nos to support his argument...when he clearly understands that the average reader/viewer will only agree with him if they get that particularly distorted view of reality. If said reader/viewer got the whole picture, however, they would disagree.

Such dishonesty is hard to swallow for me. It is one thing to make your case, it is another thing do it underhandedly on a weekly basis. How do they sleep?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A GOP congresscritter spoke to me: "if you are flipping the channel back and forth between football and CSPAN, and you only are hearing the majority speak, it sounds like a great bill...." I am probably one of the few people he is talking about.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Shurtleff drops out for the right reasons

Faithful readers know I get a kick out of beating up on Mark Shurtleff. And I usually don't like the "family reasons" excuse for sudden political moves (not running for reelection, dropping out of race etc.) However, after reading a few articles about the AG's situation with his daughter, I got to say my heart goes out to him and his family. Although maybe he shouldn't have ran for the Senate in the first place if his daughter's mental health was such an issue.

I also feel bad for the daughter whose struggles with depression, which would otherwise be totally private, have been splashed on the pages of the newspapers for all to read. Her suicide attempts, her therapy, her medications, a story of the AG having to forcibly take a knife away from her after she had cut her wrists at a church youth group outing.... I am purposely calling her "the daughter" because I don't know if she wants to be a spokeswoman for mental illness or it was foisted upon her because of her dad's political ambitions.

Sadly, the whole thing doesn't make me think much more of the AG as person. Although I am glad he used the family reason when it actually was a family reason. Politicans shouldn't use that excuse unless it is actually true. I just hope that his family can get through this and that his daughter can get better.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Remember in 2001 when Dems won the VA Gov and NJ Gov races a few weeks after 9/11 and then Democrats went on to win legislative and electoral battles in 2002-2004? Me neither.

Point is, you can overlearn lessons from off-year elections. This year, Obama voters stayed home in VA. What does it mean? I leave that for other pundits to read too much into.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The similarities between a section 341 meeting for chapter 7 bankruptcies and a criminal arraignment are striking. And in both cases, most of these people have no money and their attorneys don't know them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I need a hobby.

Every good attorney has a side obsession to relieve the stress of the job, whether it be woodworking, gardening, river-rafting, fishing, skiing, hiking, scouting, astronomy, etc. Not that if I have one I will be good, but I think you go crazy if your life is just work, eating, and sleeping.

So what should it be? I haven't blogged much lately because I haven't felt like I had anything original to say. Is there an area you would like me to blog about? Any hobby suggestions?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In a prior post via SMS, I stated that Dallin H. Oaks equated the current and former treatment of Mormons to the Holocaust. Not so, he equated the current treatment of Mormons with regard to Proposition 8 to the treatment that African-Americans in the South in the 1960s faced. I still think it is a stupid analogy, one that he should have stayed away from. And I still think that comparing the current persecution and discrimination of Mormons to that of Slavery, Jim Crow, or the Holocaust is not wise. Bagley nicely summarizes a reply I wish I had come up with.

(Copyright 2009, Pat Bagley for the Salt Lake Tribune)

As for how the Mormons were treated in say Missouri in the 1840s when there were attempts by the state government to wipe them out, well, perhaps that is closer to the Holocaust, where Hilter attempted to wipe Jewish people off the face of the Earth and murdered 6 million of them. Nevertheless, if you start talking about the Holocaust and Hitler, you start distracting from your argument that your people have been treated very badly.

Godwin's Law is a good one for all speakers to keep in mind. Hitler and Holocaust have become to mean the worst of the worst. By comparing the Missouri period to the Holocaust, you are inviting people to dismiss your argument as being over the top.

It is better to point out the fact of say the Missouri period and all can agree that what the Governor did was genocide without having to argue whether this atrocity measures up to the systematic murder of 6 million Jews.

And remember, Oaks is whining about the grassroots response to the LDS Church's heavy handed intervention into California politics, not about the events that lead up to the Saints migrating to Utah.

Telephone Townhall with Congressman Jim Matheson Today

Jim Matheson, Working for Utah's Second District









October 19, 2009

Dear [Oldenburg],


TomorrowTuesday October 20, 2009.  Telephone Town Hall Meeting

with Congressman Jim Matheson.


What:  Telephone Town Hall Meeting to discuss pressing national issues.


Who:    Congressman Jim Matheson and Utah constituents.


When:  October 20, 2009 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM


How:    To join the call at or after 7:00 PM, call (877) 229-8493.  When directed, enter the PIN # 13304.  You'll be able to listen in toll-free for as long as you like and, when prompted, ask the Congressman questions on the topic of your concern.





      Member of Congress


Please do not reply to this email, as this box is unattended.  Instead, please use the webform on my website if you have any further comments
Contact Information:
2434 Rayburn HOB | Washington, DC 20515 | Phone: (202) 225-3011 | Fax: (202) 225-5638
240 East Morris Ave. #235
South Salt Lake, UT 84115
Phone: (801)   486-1236
Fax: (801) 486-1417
321 North Mall Dr., #E101B
St. George, UT 84790
Phone: (435)   627-0880
Fax: (435) 627-1473
Carbon County Courthouse
120 East Main Street
Price, UT 84501
Phone: (435) 636-3722
Fax: (435) 613-1834
Toll-Free Number 1 (877) 677-9743

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear Elder Oaks,
No matter how badly you think Mormons have been treated, comparing their treatment with the Holocaust just makes people belittle and ignore your point. The Holocaust and Slavery (or Jim Crow era Lynchings) are two things people should never compare their situation to if they want to be taken seriously.

Oh and the Church should be criticized for their support of Prop 8. Harry Reid, the most powerful Saint, agrees with me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Join me in not watching cable news channels, makes you angry and dumb. I feel much better after stopping.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can someone explain to me why every day there is an article in a local paper that is essentially "Hatch spews partisan talking point"? Why is that news? All I have to do is watch cable news (which I have quit and my sanity has vastly improved), find some GOP hack's statement, and call it Hatch's statement. If you compare his actual statements, there is little if any difference. That's because Hatch is a partisan hack. The times he stopped being a hack was when he worked on stuff with Kennedy. Now that Teddy is dead, that good part of Orrin died with him. That too is sad. Sadder still is the local media's fawning over the old, bitter man that is our senior senator.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exchange of the day

At today's Senate Finance Committee's markup of the Baucus health care bill:
ROCKEFELLER: This is a very very important amendment, and it’s a very very bad amendment. If there’s anything which is clear, it’s that the insurance industry is not running this markup, but it is running certain people in this markup. [...]

CORNYN: With all due respect, senator, I don’t know what amendment you’re referring to —

ROCKEFELLER: I’m referring to yours.

CORNYN: — you’re certainly not referring to my amendment —

Wow, Jello Jay, I didn't know you had it in you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Still too large for an insane asylum

"South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum"

-- James Louis Petigru, 1860.

While that famous quip was made in response to South Carolina's succession from the Union in 1860 upon the news of the election of Abraham Lincoln, the quip seems to be relevant again in 2009.

Exhibit A: South Carolina Mark Sanford (R). He rises to prominence by refusing stimulus money for his state that desperately needs and wants it. The Republican-controlled Legislature overrides his veto, he still refuses to allocate the money, contorting the bill to only authorize him to accept the money. The South Carolina Supreme Court unanimously disagrees, and orders him to comply.

And then he goes "hiking on the Appalachian Trail" to see his lover in Argentina, whom he has visited in the past using taxpayer dollars. The Legislature seems to have started floating trial balloons about impeachment.

Exhibit B: US Senator JIm Demint (R-SC)
When [Glen] Beck said that we are seeing “a fundamental transformation into a new system where the executive branch is almost if not all powerful,” DeMint replied:

DEMINT: We’re just, we’re coming down to a matter of days. If we lose the health care battle, I think we’ve lost it all. [...]

And that’s why I’ve said strong things like Waterloo and other things. This is, the nation has to focus on this because the czars and other things are secondary in a way if we lose health care, the president’s going to be so emboldened, we’re going to see so much more of the growth at the executive branch level that, I don’t think we’ll be able to stop it. But if we stop him on health care then I think we have the opportunity to maybe realign the whole political system in our country.

DeMint then said that he doesn’t “care which party it ends up being,” but quickly added, “I hope it’s the Republicans.” Listen here:

Exhibit C: US Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) Yells out "You Lie!" during a joint session of Congress when President Obama says that his health insurance reform bill will not give coverage to undocumented workers. However, Obama wasn't lying and Sen. Baucus (D-MT) changed his bill to be doubly sure that no such persons could get health care.

And to tie it back to 1860, Rep. Wilson, while a state legislator in 1999, was one of only seven who voted in favor of keeping the Confederate flag flying over the state capital.

I rest my case.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

it gets more interesting (part duex)

(Image/Fair Credit: Greater Avenues Community Council)

Ah, the Avenues Street Fair, a place where you can sign petitions (single payer health care and redistricting commission), join the ACLU, buy organic clothes of Obama turned into Che, along with lots of food options. I foolishly pushed the stroller up I Street from 3rd Avenue to 9th and thanks to my new lifestyle, I was a tad winded by the time I got up to the fair.

(you can see Obama/Che in the middle of the left side. Image credit: GACC)

All of the candidates for city council had a presence there.

(JJJ's booth; Image credit: GACC)

Some had volunteers/staffers roaming the fair for potential supporters, others had a cooler full of water to lure in potential voters. State Sen. Scott McCoy had a big booth even though he isn't up this fall. I saw my friend Yossof (I didn't see the other candidates but i just glanced at the candidates' booths) and he said that my last post on the race wasn't exactly very favorable to him.

(McCoy's Booth; Image credit: GACC)

After my post, I did notice his "Vote Yo!" signs, which are eye-catching and memorable despite their diminutive size. He explained to me his micro-targeting strategy, but I don't think he gave me permission to put it on the internet, so I will just leave it at that. And before I forget, congratulations Yossof on having a little one on the way. I was too hot to remember my brain and manners.

A saw another friend from church who is now a 3L at the University of Utah in full Kenyan garb. She explained that she has been selling stuff at this booth for 7 years now. I said she should have stolen Lisa Allcott's Obama cardboard cutout since he is an adopted son of her native Kenya. [That's right Birthers, ADOPTED. He was born the in 49th state of the union, Hawaii] Then I realized that all of the people I saw and recognized at the fair were associated with law school and felt like a big dork. Even while I was trying to feed my baby after leaving the fair, I saw Prof. Medwed.

Yossof reminded me and I will in turn remind my readers that tomorrow is election day for the city is runoff day! Feels like it will be a low turnout affair, even less than 2007. Becker started to pull ahead right about this time and understood that his target audience was Democratic primary voter, and it took him over the top. Who will it be this year? Without polls, the only metric I have to go by without putting in some serious effort are signs I see walking the dog/baby. That portends a close race, but it is completely unscientific. Best of luck to all of the candidates.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

deja vu

In the beginning of the year, Obama demanded a big stimulus and that Congress pass it before he was sworn in. They delayed a few months, it got watered down, GOP talking point line items were removed, it got a bit smaller, and the Maine Senators and soon to be Dem Spector were the only GOPers who voted for it. But it passed.
Call me crazy, but it seems like the same thing is happening again: getting watered down, slightly smaller, delayed past pre-Aug. Why won't pass by 60 votes and be signed into law?

Friday, September 11, 2009

the lessons of 9/11

My parents will never remember where they were when they learned President Kennedy was shot, and my generation will never forget where they were when they learned of the terrorists attacks in the morning of September 11, 2001.  We will never forget the clear, sunny skies, and the feeling of losing something beyond the lives of those who were murdered by Al Qaeda.   

President Bush stated that the lessons of that horrible day were that Americans are no longer protected by having the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans between us and our foes, and that we must be vigilant to prevent future attacks.  And for the most part (Pearl Harbor) I agree with him.

But there is another big lesson that was learned.

Americans and America at times is accused of being hopelessly selfish and demanding of instant, ever increasing demands for gratification.  Yet there were countless tales of people carrying others down hundreds of flights of stairs to safety while the Towers burned. Of firefighters and policemen and -women who weren't even called to the scene, yet stopped to lend a hand.  And of course, the courageous and selfless actions of the passengers of Flight 93, who stormed the cockpit and stymied another airplane strike aimed at Washington, D.C. 

While certain parts of America reared its ugly head in the weeks that followed (e.g. the assaults on Sikhs because of the religious turban the men wear), the aftermath of the attack also showed that Americans can be kind and selfless to strangers.  The Red Cross received millions of dollars, the blood banks were overwhelmed, and volunteers were turned away from clearing the rubble in lower Manhattan.  Many of my generation enlisted in the armed services or applied to a military academy.  

I would like to get that feeling back.  Along with the knowledge that the world was behind us, mourning with us, and vowing to help us exact revenge.  Much of that good will was squandered.  Even the organic urge for service was converted into a plea to go shopping and take a vacation.  

We know we have it in us.  It just takes a dramatic moment or a leader to actualize it.  Many were hoping that President Obama would be that leader.  So far, his feet are firmly planted on the ground, either by choice or by the realities of the legislative process.  Yet glimmers of hope arise, when, like Wednesday night, Obama gives a rousing speech and reminds those of us who voted for him why we waited for hours in line to do so.  

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Senator Reid, call their bluff

All this talk about 60 votes versus 51 votes in the Senate misses a big point. Let the minority filibuster health care reform. Let them read the phone book for insurance companies. Let the Nelsons and the Liebermans of the Senate vote against cloture and make them read the OED. How many times can you talk about "socialized medicine," "death panels," and "a thousand pages long" during that pajama party? Go ahead pompous windbags, I dare you. If Harry Reid wants to get reelected he will stand up and make these self-proclaimed moderates put their butts at their desks for days straight and stand in the way of the people who want their health care not to suck.

it gets more interesting

So my local city councilman Eric Jurgensen decided to not run again this year because his family business was facing some serious legal troubles. And while these city positions are technically non-partisan, it was pretty clear that he was a Republican (although he voted very liberally, at least for a Utah Republican). There are many people running for this open seat race, including a classmate and friend of mine from law school--Yossof Sharifi. Yossof is running as a libertarian. There are two obvious Democrats in the race--LIsa Allcott, whose signs and mailings say Democrat on them--and Stan Penfold.

Penfold was the director of the Utah AIDS Foundation, his black on yellow signage is a subtle sign that he is indeed supported by Mayor Ralph Becker. A number of other prominent Dems support Penfold as well, including former Congresswoman Karen Shepherd.

Allcott has more cash behind her, and has a raft of endorsements from the Democratic establishment as well, including Peter Corroon. And although Penfold is a gay man and ran the Utah AIDS foundation, Allcott has the support of the Utah Stonewall Democrats and Equality Utah (although these gay rights groups appear to be supporting both Allcott and Penfold).

These two appear to be the front runners, but it could be that they split the Democratic vote and someone else squeaks into the runoff (that's Yossof's plan). Both Allcott and Penfold have been sending mailings and flyers. I have had door knocks from Allcott's campaign (once with her personally, another with a staffer/volunteer) and Penfold has called my parents house for me twice, once even with a colleague from work. And while I have seen some signs for the other candidates, Jennifer J. Johnson and Phil Carroll, I have not seen any other forms of on the ground presence from them (and nothing from Yossof).

I wish all of the candidates the best of luck and will be following this race closely.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In thinking about Teddy K, it is important to note that we learned of his flaws in real time, unlike his slain brothers. Also unlike RFK and JFK, he was able to live a full live and achieve much more than inspiration. He has effected lives from South Africa to Poland to Norther Ireland. And while his dream of universal healthcare is yet unfulfilled, it shall never die.

Friday, August 21, 2009

SC Sen. Jim DeMint has joined the illustrious company of fellow SC Sens. John C. Calhoun and Strom Thurmond in advocating for Nullification. Calhoun wanted to keep Slavery alive, Thurman wanted "Segregation forever," and DeMint wants to keep our broken health care system. What is wrong with South Carolina senators?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Shurtleff is shameless

So if you are a politician, and you took money from and appeared to give favorable treatment to a ponzi schemer like Utah outgoing AG Mark Shurtleff, one would think that you wouldn't criticize your opponent for his choice of contributors, lest people be reminded of said lax prosecution of ponzi schemer (although to be fair, Rick Koerber had friends in the legislature too) But if you are Shurtleff, such naked displays of hypocrisy are not troubling.
Shurtleff's campaign, in a news release, said that Bennett's top five donors received $178 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.

The attorney general is "using TARP to demagogue without understanding the issue," said Jim Bennett, the Senator's son and campaign spokesman. He referred additional questions to Utah Bankers Association President Howard Headlee.

The American Bankers Association was Bennett's fifth-highest donor, Shurtleff's campaign said, although the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics lists the association as Bennett's ninth-biggest contributor.

Headlee said those donations came well before TARP.

"Unfortunately we find ourselves in the middle of a fierce campaign," Headlee said, "and we're concerned about any attempt by any candidate to tie our financial support to specific issues."
So Shurtleff is going to pitch his campaign tent with TARP (sorry, couldn't resist a pun)...let's look at their contributors in detail:
Shurtleff received much of his money through huge donations (much larger than allowed by federal law in Senate races) from corporations, which by law cannot give directly to federal candidates. The cash usually came from local groups interested in his local work as attorney general, ranging from local law firms to payday lenders.

Bennett, meanwhile, received the lion's share of his donations from national political action committees interested in national issues, with donations coming in the smaller amounts authorized by federal law.
EnergySolutions. Its PAC gave Bennett $6,000, and the corporation gave Shurtleff $10,000.

CitiGroup (banking and securities). Its PAC gave Bennett $5,000 and gave Shurtleff $1,000.

JP Morgan Chase (banking and securities). Its PAC gave Bennett $2,000 and gave Shurtleff $1,000.

Reagan Outdoor Advertising. The company gave Shurtleff $5,000. Corporations cannot directly give to federal candidates. But the company's principals, William and Julia Reagan, individually gave Bennett a combined $4,800.

Union Pacific Railroad. Its PAC gave Bennett $2,300, and the corporation gave Shurtleff $5,000.

Frank Madsen (former top aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch) gave Bennett $500 and gave Shurtleff $400.

Former U.S. Rep. Howard Nielsen gave $2,000 to Bennett and $100 to Shurtleff.

Hy Saunders (a developer) gave $2,300 to Bennett and $100 to Shurtleff.
So Shurtleff attacks Bennett for taking money from TARP recipients like CitiGroup and JP Morgan Chase...which also gave money for Shertleff. I guess he is mad that they gave him less money than they gave Bennett?

Next time, I hope a reporter doesn't just copy and paste a press release, then go on to, and then call the other side and call it a day. I pieced this together with google in a manner of minutes.

And they wonder why journalism is not as respected as it once was.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What to focus on during the health care "debate"

The August break, which could be the make-or-break period for health care, is almost half over. And while it is fun to watch the crazies turn out and get in Congresscritters' faces, it is all a big distraction. My sense is that the behavior of these "grassroots protesters" may be great theater for the press to cover, but all it is doing is annoying the members of Congress that are holding town halls. It isn't changing minds of the members of Congress whom they are protesting. Congresscritters are more scared of the TV ads being run in their states/districts.

Rather than go over plowed ground, let's talk about what people that care about health care should be focusing on.
  1. What does the House bill look like?
  2. Right now, there are three house bills that made it out of committee that make up the health care reform bill. It will be up to those committee chairs, the Rules Committee, and the Speaker and other Democratic House leaders to merge the bill. This bill will not tell us what the final bill will look like, but it will be a sense of what the most liberal version of the bill possible will likely be.

  3. When does the Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" finish its bill?
  4. If it is before October, there will be enough time to merge that bill with the HELP Committee bill and vote on it in the Senate. If it continues to dither, who knows what will happen.

  5. Who sits on the Conference Committee?
  6. That is, will strong liberal policy makers, like Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Waxman, be named to that merge the differences between the House and Senate bill (and create a new bill all together)? Or will a milquetoast "bipartisan" Democrat be named like Sen. Baucus? How many "gang members" will be on the committee?

These pieces of information will tell us what health care reform will actually look like, and whether it stands a chance of happening this year. Personally, I think something will get passed. It might not be like the Clinton or Edwards plans, or really like the Obama plan during the primaries, but it will be a hell of a lot better than the do-nothing plan.

Here's an NYT chart that explains it all:
Here are the possible areas of compromise, according to that article:

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Orange Herbert

Remind me again why Jim Matheson passed on taking on the not-quite-yet Governor Herbert?
[A] new Deseret News/KSL-TV poll...found [that] only 39 percent would vote for Herbert if he's the GOP nominee in next year's special gubernatorial election.

Even more respondents, 42 percent, said whether they'd vote for Herbert would depend on who else was running or that they didn't know yet how they'd vote.

The statewide poll of 402 residents was conducted Aug. 3-5 by Dan Jones & Associates. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
Call me crazy, but 39 percent sounds eminently beatable. Of course, if you are a Democrat thinking of running, that's also a problem. Because maybe another candidate will emerge from the GOP convention/primary.
33 percent said the governor should be moderate. Only 12 percent of respondents described Herbert as moderate but 34 percent said they didn't know what his political ideology and philosophy is.
Those 33 percent are called "Democratic Voters" So is Carroon going to take the plunge? Will Matheson do an about face? Will anyone step up to the plate if it appears Herbert will be pushed out by someone really crazy?

Jim Matheson seems to attract terrible GOP candidates to challenge him. Then again, Carroon had his share too. I say let the games begin.

Friday, August 07, 2009

In 2006, Democrats told Americans to put them back in control of Congress so that they could pass legislation, like ending the war. But very little happened. The excuse during the 2007-08 period was essentially "Well, you can't do anything without 60 votes." After Specter switched parties avoid losing in the GOP primary and Coleman threw in the towel this spring, the Democratic Caucus had 60 votes. Now there excuse is this: Kennedy & Bryd are sick so it is really only 58.

The American people voted to give you control of the Congress and the White House because they wanted change, not because they wished Congress critters would get along.

Grow a pair and get some bills passed. No more excuses.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

how to keep TEA baggers from crashing your town hall meetings

Jim Matheson, one of the handful of Democrats who voted against health care reform has the solution to the problem of hecklers at Congressional Democrats' town hall meetings.
At least Matheson won't have any organized state GOP opposition on the matter, says Republican Party state chairman Dave Hansen.

Across the nation, some local Republican Party leaders are organizing supporters to attend Democratic incumbents' town hall meetings during the August congressional break to voice opposition to the majority party's health-care reforms.

Hansen says the Utah GOP is staying out for now because "Utahns are pretty ginned up" in opposition to parts of national Democrats' plans.

"They will be going to town hall meetings anyway."


But here's the kicker: Matheson, Utah's only congressional Democrat, won't be holding any town hall meetings. He gave them up a year or so ago and now only uses high-tech telephone conference call meetings. And he only does those when he's back in Washington, D.C., while Congress is in session
Way to do your research!

And one more trouble for the state Republican party in getting anti-reform folks to show up:
It's also because the state GOP Web site is down, and GOP leaders so can't communicate with lots of people.
Here's where I laugh, say something about Twitter, and point out that local ISP XMission's owner/founder, Pete Ashdown, is a Democrat. Maybe Hansen should give Ashdown a call so he can unclog the intertubes.

Matheson is being "targeted" by the national Republican party, but the local guys didn't get the memo:
"It is a light (advertising) buy on a few local stations," said Hansen, who heard the first ad Tuesday morning.
I am sure Jim is shaking in his boots while all of the big guns are busy running for the open Governor's race and challenging Bennett to a game of who can out conservative the other.

Matheson is seen by all sides of the health care reform debate as an important vote on the House floor apparently:
The liberal group has started running some pro-Obama health-care ads in Utah, as well, representing the opposing view.

Heyrend said one national group, Conservatives For Patients' Rights, is running a cable TV ad against Matheson.

Another national group, Tea Party Patriots, has started e-mail campaigns against Democrats nationally, including giving out dates, locations and times of town hall meetings along with talking points, she said. And a third group, FreedomWorks, is e-mailing out talking points and scripts to challenge Democratic congressmen and Obama at their public meetings, said Heyrend.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Deep Thought

In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a leading prez candidate to be. Back then many GOPers wanted to change the constitution for him so the Austrian-born steriod-using-weightlifter-turned-action-movie-actor could run for president. In 2009, a majority of Republicans are birthers.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Utah Dems Carrooned on a Deseret Island

Jim Matheson, Utah's lone Democrat in Congress, decided he would rather stay put in the House. This bums me out, because this was his best shot at the Governor's Mansion. And the Senate could have been a good shot too if Bennett lost. Heck, Jim outraised Bob Bennett thus far. But I guess Jim is having too much fun giving Henry Waxman a hard time being courted by President Obama to take a risk and lose his plum committee assignment. So now Utah Demcocrats have shifted their gaze to Sal Lake Co. Mayor Peter Carroon. Carroon actually represents more people than Jim Matheson. I wouldhave to see who got more raw votes last time. Anyway, Carroon has been positioning himself for a while now, with that loud tax fight woth the County Council. Plus he gets to keep his job and his cousin Howard Dean can raise big bucks for him out of state.
Still, Peter is definately Plan B. Let's just hope he steps up to the plate and gives still LG Herbert (or whomever else the GOP electorate chooses) a good run. As a friend and semi-retired Dem operative said to me today: "I'm tired of losing."

Monday, July 27, 2009

taking his ball and going home

What is Sen. Hatch doing these days? He announced (no real surprise) that he is voting against Judge Sotomoyor for SCOTUS, even though he voted for her--twice when appointed by Pres. H.W. Bush as for the S. District of NY and by Pres. Clinton for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. And then there is the other powerful committee he is on--the one that is addressing our health care crisis, albeit frustratingly slowly, the Senate Finance Committee.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch pulled out of a bipartisan group seeking compromise on health reform [last] Wednesday, saying they were going in a direction he just couldn't support.

His decision is a blow to what has been called the "gang of seven" in the Senate Finance Committee, the last group of lawmakers attempting to craft a proposal that would have some level of Republican support.

"It is a matter of honor that I don't want to pretend that I am helping them with something I just don't agree with," Hatch said. "What I don't want to do is mislead my colleagues."
I don't know if it was a "blow" to the "gang" and I guess I respect him for being honest, unlike Sen. Conrad (D-ND) who seems content to blow up health care reform by going on Sunday talk shows and being a member of this "gang" wherein his fellow Senate Democrats, who hold 60 votes, are being shut out. The gang, in fact, is now three Dems (Chairman Baucus Sens. Bingman and Conrad) and three GOPers (Sens. Grassley, Snowe and Enzi). But fine, Utahns keep sending Hatch back to the Senate so that our state will have clout. What better way than to involve yourself in an important piece of legislation?
The Utah Republican has a long list of concerns with how the bill is coming together, including the requirement that businesses either offer insurance or pay a fee to the government that would be used for health subsidizes for the poor, known as the employer mandate.

"I really believe that is going to cost a lot of low-income people's jobs," he said.
Sen. Hatch, do you know any low income people who have health care via their employer? It is pretty rare. Without an employer mandate, employers will just dump their employees from their health care plan and force Uncle Sam (and John Q. Taxpayer) to foot the bill. Don't believe me? Go into a Walmart some time. That's what they do. In fact, Maryland had a pass a bill a couple years back to prevent Walmart from adding to the state's medicaid bill by doing this trick. The only other way to ensure that everyone gets covered (therefore the health care costs are more fairly spread and shared) is to do an individual mandate, but I suppose Hatch is against that too.
Hatch also dislikes the idea of expanding the number of people in Medicaid and a plan for a government controlled insurance option saying: "I know that it is just a constant push to get us all to a single-payer system."
I suppose offering subsidies so that these same low-income people can get health insurance something that Hatch was previously so concern about (150-200 percent of the federal poverty limit are the cutoff points I have heard discussed) is a horrible thing. And a public option, which would effectively set minimum standards of coverage and force private insurance companies to compete for insureds would also be terrible somehow.

I say "compete" because in many if not most markets, a single HMO holds a dominating share, sometimes even a monopoly. For instance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield controls 83% of the market in Alabama. No wonder Alabama's senators are opposed to the public option.
"Sooner or later I think the president is going to have to realize that they are trying to build a bridge too far here, without the appropriate materials," he said. "They are going to have to sit down and realize that we have to do the art of the doable, not an expansion of health care we can't afford."
I'll tell you what we can't afford, Senator, it is the status quo. Nationally, health insurance premiums have doubled in the past ten years. Doctors are drowning in private insurance companies' red tape. Patients are literally dying because private companies are denying coverage for "experimental" procedures. Maybe you can afford to wait, or do half measures Sen. Hatch. That's because you have a choice of health insurance options provided and paid for by the US taxpayers. Why can't I have your health care? Why are you against that?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sen. Bennett for $9,000, Alex

It seems that $9,000 from a literally radioactive local company can get you favorable treatment from a embattled and still sitting U.S. Senator.
A Utah-based nuclear waste disposal firm fighting to allow the continued importation of foreign radioactive waste for disposal here has chosen who it is backing in the state's crowded Republican field for a U.S. Senate seat.

EnergySolutions Inc.'s political action committee has donated $9,000 to Sen. Bob Bennett's re-election campaign this year, snubbing fellow Republican Mark Shurtleff, who received a $10,000 donation from the company last year on his way to winning his third term as the state's attorney general.

Bennett is seeking his fourth term.

"EnergySolutions' PAC is funded by EnergySolutions employees and we are a very strong supporter of Sen. Bennett," said company spokeswoman Jill Sigal. "The EnergySolutions PAC supports pro-nuclear members of Congress and pro-nuclear candidates."
Would those employees also include management? What percentage of that money comes from management versus the lowest-paid employees, 90%?

So while Rep. Jim Matheson, who father developed cancer and died because of nuclear testing in Nevada, attempts to ban foreign nuclear waste from coming into Utah, Sen. Bennett is non-committal. Must be waiting for a few more checks to clear.
Bennett has not signed on as a co-sponsor to [Sen. Lamar] Alexander's bill [the Senate companion bill to the Matheson-Bart Gordon bill in the House].

In a one-sentence statement to The Associated Press, Bennett didn't say whether he supports a federal ban on importing radioactive waste. Instead, he said he would review a court decision saying whether a regional compact system Utah is a part of can ban foreign waste at a private dump.

In May, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ruled that the compact doesn't have authority over EnergySolutions' Utah facility.

Utah has filed notice saying it will appeal the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

"I will carefully review the court's decision after the arguments have been made and the parties present their evidence," Bennett said.
What about the Democratic candidate for Senate, Sam Granato? Not much better.
"(Granato) is concerned that EnergySolutions is a business that is here in Utah that employs a lot of people in the Tooele area, and he doesn't want to turn them into the boogeyman like a lot of candidates have for political posturing," [Granato Campaign Manager Rob] Miller said.
Does that mean that Granato is doing a preemptive strike against Matheson? Is he worried Jim will get into the Senate race last minute after all? Why else would you make a not-so-subtle attack on Jim Matheson, the state's leading Democrat?

Personally, I think it is only fair that those who use nuclear to power their communities store it themselves near themselves and not outsource it to poor and/or rural areas. If you don't want it in your backyard, why should a private company get to trampse it through ours?

This stuff has a LONG half-life, longer than humans have been around and longer than we will probably be around. It isn't "political posturing" to be concerned about how this stuff can be safely transported through Utah (and other states) and safely stored for millienia. A private company interests are not aligned with these long-term needs. Rather, they want to make a buck and keep shareholders happy, which are extremely short-term interests.

Winning a Senate primary (and ultimately a general election) is only a slightly longer time horizon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reports show that unless we adopt something like the health care bill(s) in the US, thousands of Utahns will lose their health care next year. Yet I don't think anyone doubts that Reps. Bishop and Chafetz will vote against it.
Rep. Matheson has a number of issues with the bill, and since he sits on a key committee considering the bill, Pres. Obama invited Jim and his fellow Blue Dogs on key committee to the White House for a charm offensive.
Why is it so hard to convince our delegation (I am sure Hatch won't support it, Bennett might vote for some useful amendments) not to harm its constituents? Everyone living out in the real world knows that our health care system is broken. Insurance companies are doing harm and making life miserable for doctors, patients, and hospital staff in exchange for no real benefit. Coverage is illusionary and prohibitively expensive. Please stop standing in the way.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The end of a McEra

Robert Strange McNamara died today at 93 years of age. Every piece of news on the matter I have seen or heard first describes his role as the architect of the Vietnam war (he was Kennedy's and then Johnson's Secretary of Defense). And then describes his actions, and/or the war in general, as a mistake. That to me isn't news. What is news is that for the past 10 years, McNamara has been attempting to make amends for his past deeds by trying to learn why and how he and the rest of Washington sent hundreds of thousands of young American men to their deaths and millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians. By writing books on the subject, sitting down for interviews, by attending conferences with his counter parts at the time of the war.
In 1995, he took a stand against his own conduct of the war, confessing in a memoir that it was “wrong, terribly wrong.” In return, he faced a firestorm of scorn.

“Mr. McNamara must not escape the lasting moral condemnation of his countrymen,” The New York Times said in a widely discussed editorial, written by the page’s editor at the time, Howell Raines. “Surely he must in every quiet and prosperous moment hear the ceaseless whispers of those poor boys in the infantry, dying in the tall grass, platoon by platoon, for no purpose. What he took from them cannot be repaid by prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late.”

By then he wore the expression of a haunted man. He could be seen in the streets of Washington — stooped, his shirttail flapping in the wind — walking to and from his office a few blocks from the White House, wearing frayed running shoes and a thousand-yard stare.

He had spent decades thinking through the lessons of the war. The greatest of these was to know one’s enemy — and to “empathize with him,” as Mr. McNamara explained in Errol Morris’s 2003 documentary, “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.”

“We must try to put ourselves inside their skin and look at us through their eyes,” he said. The American failure in Vietnam, he said, was seeing the enemy through the prism of the cold war, as a domino that would topple the nations of Asia if it fell.

That wasn't the only war he which admitted to wrongdoing even.

In the film, Mr. McNamara described the American firebombing of Japan’s cities in World War II. He had played a supporting role in those attacks, running statistical analysis for Gen. Curtis E. LeMay of the Army’s Air Forces.

“We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo — men, women and children,” Mr. McNamara recalled; some 900,000 Japanese civilians died in all. “LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He — and I’d say I — were behaving as war criminals.”

“What makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?” he asked. He found the question impossible to answer.
To my knowledge, no one ever accused the former president of Ford Motor Company of incompetency.
Chester L. Cooper, a senior official at the State Department when McNamara was at Defense, wrote in "The Lost Crusade" that McNamara's brilliant staff and his "unique ability to grasp and synthesize a vast mass and variety of information made him the best informed official in Washington." But McNamara's insistence on dealing with Vietnam in the same way he dealt with other issues led him into miscalculations, Cooper said. Cooper summarized McNamara's approach in a memorable portrait:

"His typical trip involved leaving Washington in the evening and, after a 24-hour journey and a 13-hour time change, arriving at Saigon at eight in the morning. The Secretary would emerge from the plane and suggest graciously that his fellow-travelers take a half-hour or so to wash up and then join him at a 9 o'clock briefing at MACV [Military Assistance Command Vietnam] headquarters. There, for the next three hours, they were expected not merely to add up figures but to absorb a rapid-fire series of complicated military briefings. . . . . While we less adaptable beings desperately attempted to make sense out of the mass of information, McNamara queried every apparent inconsistency and was usually well ahead of the briefers."

He and his "whiz kids" were supposed to use their knowledge from running big complex companies and all of the modern management tools of statistical and systems analysis. In the end, all of his brains and skills didn't help him from dragging the U.S. deeper and deeper into an unnecessary war that had nothing to do with communism or the balance of power.

But the fact that a man who has been characterized as a monster chose to face many of his mistakes head on and in public is a very admirable thing that his family should be proud of and that Americans should reward in their their public servants.

Sure it took him 30 years to admit to some, but not all of his mistakes, even though at the time he was coming to realize the folly of the war.
When Mr. McNamara held a rare private briefing for reporters in Honolulu in February 1966, he no longer possessed the radiant confidence he had always displayed in public. Mr. McNamara said with conviction, “No amount of bombing can end the war.”
On Sept. 19, 1966, Mr. McNamara telephoned Johnson.

“I myself am more and more convinced that we ought definitely to plan on termination of bombing in the North,” Mr. McNamara said, according to White House tapes.

He also suggested establishing a ceiling on the number of troops to be sent to Vietnam. “I don’t think we ought to just look ahead to the future and say we’re going to go higher and higher and higher and higher — 600,000; 700,00; whatever it takes.”

The president’s only response was an unintelligible grunt.

Yet the path towards making amends wasn't a smooth one:
An incident that reflected the temper of those tense, bitter years occurred in November 1966, when McNamara traveled to Harvard for an informal discussion with undergraduates. He was mobbed by about 800 jeering students, who blocked his car and cried "Murderer!"

The secretary, never apologetic, climbed atop his car, in shirt sleeves despite the New England chill, and told the crowd: "I spent four of the happiest years of my life on the Berkeley campus, doing some of the things you do today. But I was tougher than you, and I'm tougher than you are now. I was more courteous then, and I hope I'm more courteous today."

He also tried to do the right thing as head of the World Bank.
As he had done at the Pentagon and Ford, Mr. McNamara sought to remake the bank. When he arrived on April 1, 1968, the bank was lending about $1 billion a year. That figure grew until it stood at $12 billion when he left in 1981. By that time the bank oversaw some 1,600 projects valued at $100 billion in 100 nations, including hydroelectric dams, superhighways and steel factories.

The ecological effects of these developments, however, had not been taken into account. In some cases, corruption in the governments that the bank sought to help undid its good intentions. Many poor nations, overwhelmed by their debts to the bank, were not able to repay loans.

The costs of Mr. McNamara’s work thus sometimes outweighed the benefits, and that led to a concerted political attack on the bank itself during the 1980s.

He did more than get dams built as president of the World Bank.
He spent a year, for example, thinking about what to say in a 1982 speech at the University of the Witwatersrand, in apartheid South Africa. Then he told his audience that America's "century of delay in moving to end our shameful discrimination toward black Americans . . . was without question the most serious mistake in our entire history, and the hard truth is that all Americans will continue to [pay] a heavy price for it for decades to come." He urged South Africa not to make the same mistake.
I read his last book, Argument without End and attended a Q & A when he came to speak at my college (because Prof. James Blight was the co-author). He came across as a brilliant man seeking repentance and trying to tell the world how to avoid another Vietnam. Yet he did not speak out against the Iraq War in 2002 or 2003. The closest he got was this:
“We are the strongest nation in the world today,” Mr. McNamara said in “The Fog of War,” released at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “I do not believe that we should ever apply that economic, political, and military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn’t have been there. None of our allies supported us. Not Japan, not Germany, not Britain or France. If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we’d better re-examine our reasoning.”

“War is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend,” he concluded. “Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.”

The real question to ponder today is not McNamara's legacy, whether he was a great man or an arrogant one, but whether, in 30 years or less, Donald Rumsfeld will be making the rounds apologizing for his immoral actions and incompetence. McNamara was still a young man when LBJ kicked him upstairs to the World Bank; he still had 42 years left to live after leaving the Pentagon. In contrast, Rumsfeld is 77 years old. If he is so lucky to live as long as McNamara, he only has 20 years to confess to his crimes against humanity. His memoir, slated to come out next year, sounds like a defense of his actions, not catharsis. Will anyone within the Bush inner circle have a McNamara-style change of heart and desire to come to terms with that they did? Sadly, I doubt it.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

nothing to fear but lack of fearmongering itself

Today is the day when we celebrate the birth of America, even though the Declaration was actually passed by the Continental Congress a few days before that.

Yesterday, we watched a spectacle too oft repeated these days: the self-implosion of a GOP presidential hopeful. First Bobby Jindal, then Mark Sanford, and now Sarah Palin. But someone else wants to grab our attention desperately and no matter what your politics in the U.S., you can agree with me that this guy is crazy.
North Korea fired a barrage of short-range missiles off its east coast Thursday, a possible prelude to the launch of a long-range missile toward Hawaii over the July Fourth holiday.
The AP tries to scare us. Long range missiles? Aimed at President Obama's home state on America's birthday weekend? But wait, did you catch the key word, "toward"? How long is "long range"? Let's ask the Posrt:
Military officials told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that they appeared to be Scud-type missiles and described them as more dangerous than the short-range weapons fired Thursday.

Government sources in Japan and South Korea told reporters that the missiles may have been Nodongs, a mid-range Scud.

North Korea has more than 200 of these missiles, which are capable of striking nearly all of Japan. They are regarded by the Japanese government as a serious threat, and it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years buying two U.S.-made anti-missile defense systems.
Scuds, the legendarily inaccurate missiles Saddam used during the first Gulf War. This one too is extremely crude for 2009.

A Nodog has a range of 500 to 1300 kilometers depending on whether it is a Nodog-1 or -2. And remember it is about 3800 kilometers from Tokyo to Honolulu, and from North Korea you have to add another couple hundred kilometers. Which explains this paragraph of the AP story:
The head of the U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Victor E. "Gene" Renuart, said in an interview with the Washington Times this week that U.S. missile defenses are prepared to knock down any incoming North Korean missile.
Now to be fair the Taepodong-2 missile could hit Sarah Palin's house in Wasilla (making her a foreign policy expert). But the other reason Northern Command is prepared to knock down any long-range missile from North Korea is this:
In 2006, North Korea launched its most advanced Taepodong 2 missile while the U.S. celebrated Independence Day, though the rocket fizzled shortly after takeoff and fell into the ocean.
The April 5 [2009] launch of a Taepodong-2 required 12 days of preparation on the launch pad, which was fully observable to U.S. satellites. Short and medium-range missiles, however, can be launched with little notice.
So they can try to hit a major city in Japan and risk not only pissing off but hitting U.S. military forces stationed on the archipelago, or they can try to hit the U.S. directly, but it takes so long for those missiles to warm up, we can blow them on the launch pad with ease if we felt like it. No need for "Star Wars" here. The Axis of Evil, in short, is no excuse for the so-called National Missile Defense.

This is all a long way of saying the AP article, which was picked up by the Tribune, among others is all about scaring us despite the fact that the only think North Korea is capable of is starving its own people while building crappy weapons.

Friday, July 03, 2009

the imaginary middle

I have grown tired of those who claim to represent the ideological center but in actuality only represent their need to be the center of attention and action. Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my Conservative Republican friends who agrees with me on this point, as well as who the phony centrists are.

So, to name names and get particular, by phony centrists, we mean Sens. John McCain, Kent Conrad, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and SCOTUS Justice Kennedy. These people continuously create imaginary divisions and problems so that they can be the solvers of said problem and the beltway media can fawn over them about how statesmanlike, bipartisan, centrist, important and powerful they are.

There are countless examples, but here are a few. Thanks to a prior vote earlier this year, Democrats can pass health care reform within the budget process, which means they only need 50 votes and their can't be a filibuster. Moreover, the budget framework already passed (which created 50 votes only possibility) set aside $634 billion as a "down payment" on health care reform. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee bill to cost $611 billion. Using my amazing math skills, this means that if this bill is passed as is, there is $24 billion of wiggle room when you merge the Senate Finance Committee bill into the HELP bill and only 50 votes are needed to pass the HELP bill. Yet Sen. conrad wants there to be some sort of fake compromise to axe the public option, claiming the health care reform legislation is in a "60 vote environment." Sens. Snowe, Specter, and the other Maine Senator who just does whatever Snowe does changed the Stimulus Bill to cap it at some arbitrary number so that they could be "fiscally responsible."

Justice Kennedy's need to be in the middle often results in unreadable and incomprehensible opinions that cause confusion for lower courts and attorneys. Other times, the opinions just make no sense and are internally inconsistent.

The problem is not just bad policy is the result of their pomposity but the fact that these folks are only representing themselves and there is not a silent majority of folks in the middle that agree with them. They oppose or alter widely popular things just so they can have their fingerprints on them and get written up in the big papers. Enough already.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What a crazy week of news: a governor that skipped out on his state, staff, and family to go see his lover in Argentina; the US getting to its first FIFA finals and only losing by one goal to Brazil; the sudden, odd death of Michael Jackson; and now Billy "shouting about made for TV products" Mays found dead in his home. The only "normal" pieces of news were continuing protests in Iran and the House passing a watered-down cap-and-trade bill. I wonder what next week will bring.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Is it wrong to that I have SNL's Andy Sandberg's "I ran" music video stuck in my head ever since the protests started on June 12?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I wrote that this morning before we learned of Stanford's year long affair with an Argentine.
Stanford's whereabouts are answered...sort of. A reporter for SC's big paper, the State, cornered him getting off a plane from Argentina. So either he lied to his staff, or they lied to us about the whole hiking in the Appalachians thing. I think the former is worse.

When asked what the hell he was doing in Argentina for 5 days without telling his staff, the LG (or transferring power), let alone his wife and kids, Stanford said he walked along the coast. Only where he went (Buenos Aries) is along a river, not the ocean.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The story of where's Mark Sanford got stranger. The governor's staff settled on the story that we was "hiking on the Appalachian Trail," which is sure to become an internet euphemism. The story seems wrapped up. Except for that nagging tid bit about Sanford's cell phone's last whereabouts was in Atlanta, which is 80 miles from the trail.

The word surfaced that the SC star car Stanford took was at the Atlanta airport and a federal agent saw him boarding a plane there too. Where was he going?

Meanwhile, when asked if she had heard from her husband, Jenny Stanford said she was "busy being a mom" and no. Sounds like someone is pissed.

This story just get stranger all the time with more questions than answers. Stay tuned for the startling conclusion. I know I will.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Since last Thursday, South Carolina Governor (and Presidential aspirant) Mark Sanford has not been seen in public. That's odd, but odder still was this:
First lady Jenny Sanford told The Associated Press today her husband has been gone for several days and she doesn't know where he is.
Jenny Sanford said she was not concerned.

She said the governor said he needed time away from their children to write something.
Remember this weekend was Father's Day, an odd time to want to be away from your children.

So what did he write about while on sabbatical from his family and his job? From his Twitter account comes the following:
# SC's government structure fundamentally flawed http://www.postandcourier.c... #sctweets #gopabout 13 hours ago from web

stimulus discussion shows need for restructuring in SC - #sctweets #tcot5:48 AM Jun 21st from web
What is he talking about?

Well the South Carolina Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Gov. Sanford had to stop posturing about the Stimulus Bill and take the money that the Legislature approved of taking (overriding Sanford's veto). Yes, the structure of South Carolina's government, with its popularly elected legislature overruling its popularly elected governor and having the appointed judiciary interpret the South Carolina Constitution and statutes, just like every other state in the country, is completely out of wack and needs restructuring.

Or maybe the Governor needs a vacation from his vacation. Maybe running away from your staff, security detail, your wife and children on Father's Day weekend and not telling anyone where you are so you can go off and tweet about how bummed you are that the other branches of state government think you are out to lunch isn't a great idea.

But hey, I am not a leading candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2012, what do I know.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

on the unfolding revolution in Iran

Sixteen days ago I was commenting on the twentieth anniversary of Tienanmen Square. I said that "[T]he world will change again, but when?"

Turns out, last Friday was the answer. The people of Iran were shocked that their government would so blatantly overturn their will for the election of president. If leaked results from the Interior Minitry are to believed, then
Mr Mousavi had won 19.1 million votes while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won only 5.7 million.

The two other candidates, reformist Mehdi Karoubi and hardliner Mohsen Rezai, won 13.4 million and 3.7 million respectively.
A far cry from the landslide 63-30 official results for Ahmadinejad over Mousavi. But the people of Iran, half of whom are my age (30) or younger knew that the official results were a sham.

They have organized using online tools, and have kept the world informed via Twitter, YouTube and listsrvs. The videos and pictures and tweets coming out of the "Islamic Republic" show a brave people facing down thuggish government directed goons who delight in beating to death men and women for merely protesting.

The world watches with its heart in its throat. We pray for the Iranians to have their voices heard, for the police forces to put their batons down, and for the election to be annulled. While we sit comfortably thousands of miles wishing we could help. But we are neither as brave or as able to lend a hand because the government would like nothing more than to claim this organic uprising to be the product of a Western plot.

Like Obama, Mousavi is a vessel that these young Iranians have poured their hopes and dreams into. Now they are going to have to fight for their dreams on the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, and on the internet. Mousavi and Obama are but men, but the ideas of the revolution of 2009 cannot be beaten away or tear gased out of existence. Governing through fear only lasts so long. The people of Iran overthrew a government 30 years ago, we just might be watching them do it again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jim, please decide

Jumping the gun, the Desert News ran with the headline "Utah Governor Gary Herbert questions whether climate change debate is 'over'." This might lead you believe that a) Gary Herbert is governor already not Lt. Gov. who is supposed to be governor any day now b) that Herbert sides with the thousands of scientific studies that confirm that our climate in rapidly changing and warming and that the cause is (at least to some degree) human activity. But you would be wrong on both counts.
"I've heard people argue on both sides of the issue, people I have a high regard for," Herbert said. "People says man's impact is minimal, if at all, so it appears to me the science is not necessarily conclusive."
This is GOP code for "I don't want to hear the bad news that hurts my friends in the polluting industries." Case in point comes a few sentences later in the article.
"What are we doing to bring people together? Is there a hidden agenda out there?" Herbert asked. "Help me understand the science."

He had stepped out of the discussion during a presentation by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on the latest research. "The indications are not only that the climate is changing but is changing more than what were thought to be doom and gloom predictions," Chu said, warning the future could be bleak.
Actually it is the governor-in-waiting, not the science, that is still out. Dr. Steven Chu is not just the Secretary of Energy but a Physicist and knows what he is talking about. Herbert, on the other hand is willfully ignorant.

The reason the Western Governor's Association is even talking about climate change while they are here in Utah is because of Govs. Huntsman and Schwarzenegger. Which brings me to the title of this post.

Jim Matheson has been toying with the idea of running for Senate because he might face some loony or AG Mark Shurtleff and not incumbent Bob Bennett. And even if he isn't, Harry Reid probably has been calling him repeatedly to convince him to run. He has probably also been thinking about running for governor since Herbert is become less and less of an incumbent with each passing day that Obama dithers with sending his nomination to the Senate. I am sure it is no fun to be a moderate Democrat when folks in the leadership is yelling at you to get out of the way and vote more liberally than you are inclined to, given your district.

Plus as governor, Matheson would actually get to do something. And instead of being 1 of 100 senators, you get to be 1 of 50 governors, and go toe to toe with those lovely folks up on Utah's Capitol Hill.

But really, Mr. Matheson, we Democrats need you to decide to have a fighting chance at any of the three offices you are considering. 2010 is not too far away and money needs to be raised. If you decide not to run for governor, then everyone focus on pushing SL Co. Mayor Peter Carroon to run rather than waiting to see what you do. And then people can go work for Sam Granato, knowing that you don't need their help. But if you do choose to run statewide, money and staffing will come out of the woodwork to help you. But please, the sooner the better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

VP Joe Biden (still sounds odd to me) toed up to the line about Iranian election fraud by saying he was "suspicious" ... The reformers need to do this themselves though (in order for the movement have credibility within Iran), with help from the outside world but not the US leading the charge. So it seems like Biden might have actually struck the right balance and not said to much...this new Joe Biden is going to take getting used to.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What were the old guard thinking by rigging the election results in Iran? People are rioting in the streets, the internet has been shut down and none of this is out of joy for Mr. A's "reelection". This regressive stunt will do more for reform than the inauguration of the actual winner would have.

Monday, June 08, 2009

buying a justice to buy justice

Two years ago, Justice Clarence Thomas visited my law school while I was in my Third Year and when asked what decision, if any, he regrets, he stated that Republican Party of Minnesota v. White was the case he said he regretted because he believes now that the elections of judges has gotten a bit unseemly.

Yet Justice Thomas voted with the other three extremely conservative justices that it was A-OK for a coal mine owner to spend $3 million to elect a new state supreme court judge (replacing another justice), who became the deciding vote in overturning a $51 million verdict against said coal mine company.

The other 5 members of the Court thought that this conflict of interest was grounds for mandatory recusal.

This marks the latest time that "umpire" Chief Justice Roberts has called a strike for the big corporation and a ball for the little guy (in this case, the owner of a smaller mining company had sued the bigger mining company for driving him out of business and won, so the big CEO drove a justice up for election out of business, calling him a child molester). In fact, Roberts so far has always voted in favor of the government or the big company. The worst was for Exxon Mobile.

And it also marks the latest time that Justice Thomas says one thing and rules crazy conservative another way. He is a nice man, but makes for a terrible justice.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It has been twenty years since the revolutions of 1989 ended in the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in Tienamen Square. Sure, the Berlin Wall might have fallen a few months later, but the limits of the revolution were set. it is not unlike the pushback that happened after the tide of revolution that started in America reached the shores of Europe.

While the New World Order that George H. W. Bush promised in the wake of 1989 never happened, the world was indeed forever changed. But not how things were expected to change. The lack of the Soviet Union was a destabilizing force for two reasons: 1) countries imploded from Europe to Africa to Asia, allowing for civil wars, genocides, fundamentalism, tyrants, and terrorism; and 2) America's dominance turned to arrogance, culminating in George W. Bush's folly of opting to invade Iraq because he could.

The world will change again, but when?

Monday, June 01, 2009

I used to think the phrase "culture wars" was a phrase by the Pat Buchanan's of the world to rile up a portion of the American populous. But it appears that a smaller subset of that group took it literally and are at war with those they disagree with.

If you haven't heard, a doctor in Kansas who performed abortions despite being aggressively targeted by radical anti-abortion groups, the former attorney general and talking heads for decades was murdered on Sunday at his church.

The instigators, like Bill O'Reilly, refuse to apologize for demonizing the doctor and others like him. Is it really any surprise that one of their followers took it too far? Even if their conscience is clear, their hands remain dirty.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I love going to Starbucks in heavily Mormon areas (yes they do exist). They are so clean, new, fast, and uncrowded.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I have say for once the big papers have live up to their billing. The stories about the process of selecting Sotomayor have been very well researched and very interesting reading. The stories about what other attorneys think of heran and GOP oposition plans, however have been less than inspired.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I went to a target today that has crammed because of remodeling and it still felt better than a Wallmart. Those places sap my soul.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The tortured debate about torture has grown stale and tiresome. It is pretty obvious from the evidence that it does not work in the sense that you don't get reliable information from torturing people, just like it is obvious that there are US prisons that can handle the actual guilty people from Gitmo. Yet emotionally, it seems that torture is somehow justified and must work (just ask Jack Bauer)...and that it is scary to think of inviting Al Qeada onto American soil even if it is a supermax in the hinterland. Thanks to Dick Cheney, torture is now something like abortion, where you have an opinion and no one can seem to sway you and the other side must be not just wrong but immoral.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Californians, please redo your constitution rather than just take a bailout. CA's system has the Reaganesque fantasy revenue side, lead by prop 13 combined with the fantasy budgetary quotas on the spending side. Add to it non-competitive races, too short of term limits, and super majorities to pass budgets yet simple majorities for referenda to radically change finances, plus a recession and you get this ungovernable-multibillion-dollar-deficit mess of a state. I say time for a constitutional convention to change the all of aforemented parts of the structure that caused this disaster.

without Jim

The biggest environmental bill since the Clean Air Act passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee yesterday...with a nay from Utah's Rep. Jim Matheson (D-02). The vote was 35 to 25, with one Republican, Rep. Mary Bono of California, voting in favor of the cap-and-trade bill. Some Republicans on the committee thought that requiring the bill to be read aloud would be be a good way to stall--and thereby kill the bill. This prompted committee Democrats to hire someone like this guy to do the reading:

All fun aside, at least Jim had constructive criticisms, perhaps suggested changes that could make passage in the U.S. Senate more likely:
Matheson plans to propose an amendment that will help small refiners meet the new requirements. Small refiners, of which there are a handful in Utah, Wyoming and surrounding states, produces less than 205,000 barrels of oil a day.

"These are just some issues I'm really concerned about," he said.

But Matheson, considered by many to be a key swing vote, said he is not philosophically opposed to the ideas in the bill and believes with some changes he could support it.

"We've got to deal with our energy independence challenge and we've got to deal with our climate change challenge," he said.
To me, this bill is good and we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but I think a lot more needs to be done.

Even if we humans were to stop putting CO2 up in the air tomorrow, rather than reducing the amount we put up, there still would be WAY more CO2 in the atmosphere than has been there in at least 650,000 years, as far back as we can measure. We need to figure out a way to dramatically absorb all of that CO2, something like limestone or bacteria, otherwise we are well on our way... Not to being America's Next Top Model, but to becoming Venus.