Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vermont Lawmakers Consider Measure to Withdraw National Guard Troops from Iraq

Initiated last year by Military Families Speak Out, a group of over 2,000 military families with sons and daughters serving in Iraq, Vermont lawmakers have been moved to consider a measure that would reclaim the state's right to authority over National Guard deployment, claiming that the original reasons for deployment (WMD's) have proven unfounded.

Vermont lawmakers, who passed the first state resolution calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq last year, are now pushing a bill disputing federal authority to continue using Vermont National Guard soldiers in the war.

The federal use of Vermont guard soldiers in Iraq was allowed under the 2002 authorization of the use of force in Iraq. But the justification for that permission – the threat from the state of Iraq and the need to enforce United Nations resolutions – has since expired, said Rep. Michael Fisher, D-Lincoln.

"The president no longer has the authority to command the Vermont National Guard in Iraq," Fisher said.

The bill Fisher will introduce today would begin the process of ending the involvement of Vermont National Guard members in Iraq, and has nearly 30 co-sponsors in the House, he said. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, also supports the measure and said he will do what he can to move a version of the bill in the Senate.
A spokesman for Vermont Gov. James Douglas called the bill "a waste of time," but supporters argue that longstanding effects on Vermont National Guard enrollment due to extended deployment in Iraq are a state, not federal issue.
"The question was not should Vermont guard members be mediating a civil war in Iraq," Shumlin said. "We can make cases for mediating civil wars all over the world. Let's have the debate."

"Vermont has led in the past. When we lead others follow,"
Several other states are now considering similar measures to reclaim Nation Guard troops for domestic use.

Geopolitical Cooties

Regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, we can rest assured with Barack or Hillary in the White House we will finally be done with childish "us and them" antics like this story from the LA Times.

In the report, a high ranking Iranian official attends a World Economic Forum in Switzerland, unannounced, and has a conversation with US Ambassador to the UN. US State Department freaks out.

Zalmay Khalilzad made an unscheduled appearance Saturday at a World Economic Forum discussion of Iran's controversial nuclear program, whose participants included Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Mojtaba Samare Hashemi, a top advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

...."Ambassador Khalilzad's appearance with the Iranian foreign minister and presidential advisor was not authorized," said a State Department spokesman, who declined to be identified while discussing a personnel issue. He said officials would speak to Khalilzad about the infraction.
Washington Monthly commentary sums it up best.
It's dumb enough that we have a policy of refusing to speak to Iran in the first place, as if merely talking to them would give us geopolitical cooties. But to repeatedly get bent out of shape by the mere possibility of an American diplomat saying a few words to an Iranian even in an unofficial setting is stark raving mad. Tell me again how many days are left until next January 20th?

The R2-D2 Endorsement

Robots Rally for Romney. MediaBloodHound:

“While much has been made of the historic possibility of Obama being the first black president or Hillary the first woman president,” began R2-D2, “the media has completely overlooked the third historic candidate in this race. Robots might be accepted, even beloved, in movies or on TV, but in everyday American life, they remain second-class citizens, if they’re treated like citizens at all. The first robot in the White House would go a long way to change all that. Mitt Romney is the clear choice for concerned robots across America.”

R2-D2’s backing of Romney came on the same day that movie star Sylvester Stallone officially endorsed Senator John McCain, and the National Association of Newsletter Editors with Convenient Memory Loss (CML) threw its support behind Ron Paul.

Orrin Hatch FISA Press Release: Stand Up for the Telco's or We All Die!

Orrin Hatch weighs in on the FISA debate. It goes a bit like this:

I am of the firm belief that the lawsuits facing telecom providers constitute a grave threat to national security. The potential risks from inadvertent disclosure of classified information cannot be understated. [...]
Terrorists will eat our babies!
[...] The immunity provisions in this bill are limited in scope. Not everyone will be happy with them, and that’s the whole point. I, for one, wanted to see more protections for companies and government officials in this bill.
Your United States Senator, folks.

No where in his statements reminding us of all the shit that will blow up if we aren't bipartisan in the way that benefits the President does Orrin elude to the fact that surveillance won't stop if this bill fails or no bill passes at all. Surveillance is authorized under the old FISA law, with a warrant. And that is the real objection Orrin and his cronies have in this debate; the need for a warrant before invading the privacy of Americans.

We can all be glad Orrin is here to protect our liberties. Unless he's busy protecting the telecom companies, at which point, piss off.

Russ Feingold puts the surveillance bill debate in 30 second perspective, with video; it's about the end of liberty.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where are the Ron Paul Libertarians on FISA?

Yesterday's slight victory for those who would protect our Constitution and right to privacy generated a strange backlash from The Heritage Foundation.

In what may be my most amusing moment in the FISA fight, the Heritage Foundation wet their Depends because Americans stood up in droves to say "enough!" to the lawbreaking disrespect of the Bush Administration and the rubber stamp obeisance of the Republicans in the Senate. And Congress heard their message loud and clear.

Oh, the humanity.

Yes, my friends, the Heritage Foundation finds the idea of everyday Americans standing up for the rule of law and the principles of balance of powers and civil liberties to be "hysterical." If you ask me, it's simply patriotism, pure and simple, but then my mission in life isn't providing cover for Dick Cheney's behind.
If you missed the fun, Greenwald has a recap and interview, and FDL has more on where it goes from there today and tomorrow. For me though, one little question popped out yesterday that I hadn't considered much, but now seems very relevant, especially here in Utah.
For all the talk of "freedom" that the Paul-bots claim to believe in, they sure as heck have been silent on the horrible FISA bill we're fighting to fix in the Senate right now. Same for Ron Paul. Why the silence? And the CATO people and the libertarian publications like Reason, where are they?

Here we are engaged in a huge civil liberties issue, and progressives are being forced to fight this thing alone. It's easy to talk about "liberty". It's much more impressive to actually do something about it.
It's a very timely question I am curious to hear a response to. Where is their boisterous outrage over the largesse of Mitch McConnell and Dick Cheney's immunity for telecoms and "basket warrants"? How many times have I heard my Libertarian friends decry the importance of personal liberty in opposition to the bonds of over-reaching government? Why is this issue not more visible in Utah, with all of the limited government rhetoric spewing forth so often from our representative's mouths? Why are Democrats left to fight this one alone, small government Republicans and Paul-ites?

Innovation, Personal Responsibility, and House Bill 139

Last week, Pete Ashdown announced an unfortunate but understandably necessary new direction for Xmission, and free wireless access for Utahns.

This week, Representative Brad Daw wrote House Bill 139 which will effectively put an end to public XMission Free Wireless. Sourcing from a legislator who describes himself as being in favor of “limited government”, this bill introduces civil penalties if a minor is able to access pornography over public wireless Internet. With XMission wireless never earning one red cent in profit, the potential of a civil suit hanging over its operation immediately makes it not viable. The moment this bill is signed into law, I will shut down all XMission free wireless and cease expansion of this service.

Some may accuse me of packing up my “toys” and refusing to cooperate. When this plan surfaced last year, I had a long conversation with Representative Daw expressing my concerns of such legislation. In reading the text of this bill, I see those concerns were flatly ignored. XMission has provided free Internet filters longer than any other provider in the state, but I can never guarantee that a minor can not access pornography over an Internet connection. Nor do I believe government or business is the best parent of my children or anyone else’s.

(Emphasis mine)

For those interested in lending their voice in opposition to what amounts to a very short-sighted and reactionary bill from Representative Daw, get involved (h/t Saintless):
I have received the following reply from Representative Daw:
I will be hosting a meeting here in the Capitol on Thursday, January 31st at 3:00 P.M. We will be discussing House Bill 139 about public wireless access. I will be in attendance along with some members of the Attorney General’s staff and members of the Xmission ISP staff. Anyone is invited to attend, and please let us know if you will be able to.

The meeting will be held in the East (Senate) Building, in the Beehive room which is just south of the cafeteria on the first floor. I hope to see you there.
Considering our legislature's attitude toward UTOPIA, and now this stifling and poorly crafted legislation, it's time we started asking our representatives who it is they are really looking out for. While this bill may be well intentioned, it creates a liability for independent providers willing to challenge the corporate stranglehold on broadband access in our state, without addressing the real issues that pose risk to Utah children who can access the internet; parental involvement and education.

Let Representative Daw and/or your own representative know what you think of stifling innovation with poorly planned legislation.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Shorter State of the Union

For those who missed it. Bookend commentary by Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann: This is probably the most irrelevant SOTU ever...
Matthews: Americans want a Washington DC that goes out for cocktails together after 6.

7:08: Harry Reid didn't smile when the Preznit cracked wise that issues require "vigorous debate."

7:14: Standing ovation from Republicans on "make the tax relief permanent" comments. More standing after veto threat number 2,145. Earmarks are driving up the deficit. Pelosi's eyebrows are raised. Dick Cheney sporting evil smile.

7:17: Veto threat number 2,146. Ignore earmarks not voted on by congress in public vote. Actually not a bad idea, but seriously, earmarks are driving up the deficit? Earmarks? Dick Cheney giving somebody the stink-eye. Probably Wexler.

7:20: Medical coverage belongs in doctors offices, not congress. NCLB is doing just great, it is succeeding, it's doing great, it's a good law, bipartisan bipartisan bipartisan. On trade; open up markets overseas. Break down trade obstacles, promote agreement with Columbia or the terrorists win. Energy security; trust in American ingenuity, find new coal power technologies. More stink-eye from Dick Cheney. This time to the left. Probably Chris Dodd.

7:28: Trust American scientists (yes, he said it with a straight face), but respect moral boundaries.

7:33: Bipartisan! Bipartisan! Bipartisan! Foreign policy is based on a clear premise, witnessed by "stirring moments in the history of liberty" experienced in the last 7 years. We are inspired. You hear me American? We're inspired dammit! "Clear September Day" seems to have replaced "9/11." Oh wait, he said "9/11." Terrorists, War on Terrah, Reject Terrah... spreading hope of freedom, etc, etc (You've heard all this before, so fill in your own details here). Adding 3,000 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan.

7:40: SURGE! Iraqi people were worried we were going to abandon them, but instead saw the SURGE! and everything was happy again. Something new here. "Grassroots Surge" in Iraq. (I thought we were just paying the Sunni's off, and worried what would happen when the money ran out, silly me) Terrorists believe the SURGE! is working, even if Americans don't. 20,000 troops coming home. Send message to people of Iran: "We have no quarrel with you." Send message to leaders of Iran: "Bring it!" "9/11." Many raised eyebrows after "end your enrichment program" pulpit pounding.

7:55: Ah, here it comes. FISA. We need to give the intelligence community the tools it needs to stop "9/11." If you don't act by Friday (PAA expires) terrorists win. Preznit seems completely unaware that it is his own veto and the Republican's fight for telco immunity that will cause the expiration to pass without a new law.

8:02: Wraps up with "we the people" and much ado about "trusting the people" to protect their own liberty (savor the irony).

Keith Olbermann wraps up much better: "This is a 'best of' speech, an oldies but not so goodies." Stories of passenger jets, hurricanes, NCLB. Dated material. "Edited highlights of the Bush Presidency, edited for time purposes." Chris Matthews reminds us of MSNBC Poll showing 62% of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Many "fat chance" moments in this speech. Guest comment: "If the President wanted to make actual news tonight, he should have endorsed a candidate."

Think Progress fact-checks the President's speech here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Onion: Bill Clinton Enters The Race

The Onion makes me laugh.

Although some have pointed out that it is unconstitutional for Clinton to run for a third term in office, he has silenced most critics by urging voters "not to worry about the Constitution for now" and assuring them he will address those legal issues immediately after regaining control of the White House.

"All I am asking of the American people is four more years," Clinton said at a fundraiser Tuesday where tens of thousands of South Carolinians gathered to stare in gape-jawed wonderment at the former president. "Well, maybe eight. Actually, you know what, definitely eight. Eight more years."

Thus far, the response among voters has been positive.

"I love Bill Clinton," said Orangeburg, SC resident Marsha Demarais. "God, he was just so great as president. Can we just make him president again right now?"

Clinton also noted that, if elected, the timing would be perfect for his family, as his wife has recently expressed a desire to move back to the D.C. area.

FISA Fight and AT&T's Personal Senator

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on the FISA debate beginning today:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is predicting the Senate will grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies as Congress takes up reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)...

"I think we will prevail," Rockefeller said on Wednesday, adding that he hoped the Senate will finish the bill by next week. The FISA legislation expires in February, and both President Bush and GOP congressional leaders have demanded new legislation be in place by that time.

"It's a pretty bad idea to appear cocky," Rockefeller noted. "I am not pessimistic."
Well, if President Bush demanded it, what can we do then? Glenn Greenwald:
For an entire year, Congressional Democrats have won absolutely nothing. They've given in to the White House on every one of its demands. Yet here is Jay Rockefeller strutting around declaring Victory and having to battle against feelings of cockiness because, finally, he is about to win something.

But ponder the "win" that is giving him these feelings of immense self-satisfaction. Is he finally accomplishing what Democrats were given control of Congress to do: namely, impose some checks and limits on the administration? No. The opposite is true. Rockefeller is doing the bidding of Dick Cheney. The bill that he is working for is the bill the White House demanded. Rockefeller is supported by the entire Bush administration, urged on and funded by the nation's most powerful telecoms, and is backed by the entire GOP caucus in the Senate.
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd has renewed his filibuster promise. Greenwald and Jane Hamsher began an email campaign yesterday urging readers to urge John Edwards to issue a challenge to Clinton and Obama for the FISA Fight. From the Inbox:

John Edwards should challenge his rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to go back to Washington, DC and fight against retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

The Republicans are not going to let Harry Reid punt and extend the Protect America Act for another 18 months so it looks like the FISA bill is going to come back up again on Monday. Chris Dodd's objection to Unanimous Consent still stands, so they will pick up in the middle of the Motion to Proceed debate.

Without the help of the presidential candidates, we are doomed to lose this fight. And all their calls for change will ring hollow if they allow George Bush to railroad this bill through a supine Democratic-controlled Senate because of their absence.

You can email Senator Edwards directly at

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Health Care Proposal Comparisons

Via Ezra, the AFL-CIO has a comprehensive description (pdf) of all presidential hopeful health care proposals.

And although he's no longer in the running, it's worth noting Fred Thompson's solution to promote high quality health care is listed as: "promote best practices."

Wow, Fred. That's deep.

Stop The Boiled Frog Madness

Vigilant media watchdog and journalist James Fallows wants us to pause in our political debate, just for a second, to clear something up:

I'm not talking about the politics of the thing*. I'm talking about the poor frog. Ms. Collins may be off the hook in attributing the frog metaphor to Al Gore -- he used it in An Inconvenient Truth, and he keeps right on using it. But he is flat wrong -- right on Global Warming, wrong on Amphibian Warming -- and so is everybody else who tries to explain things this way.

Summary of the undisputed science on this point: If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will either die or else be so badly hurt it will wish that it were dead. If you put it in a pot of tepid water and turn on the heat, the frog will climb out -- if it can -- as soon as it gets uncomfortably warm.

And he's having a contest to find a replacement for the overused fallacy/cliche.

Reid/Pelosi And Bipartisan "Leadership"

Whatever happened to the "constitutional crisis" of the fired U.S. Attorney's? What became of those contempt charges? Apparently, nothing.

In the wake of that brazen contempt for Congress, all sorts of melodramatic denunciations and bold threats issued from Democratic leaders in Congress:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called it "an outrageous abuse of executive privilege" and said: "The White House must stop stonewalling and start being accountable to Congress and the American people. No one, including the president, is above the law."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said the administration is "hastening a constitutional crisis," and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the position "makes a mockery of the ideal that no one is above the law."

Wow; those are tough words: "hastening a constitutional crisis." "The White House must stop stonewalling." "No one, including the president, is above the law."
And with the FISA debate resurfacing Thursday, what kind of leadership can we expect? None. TPM:
The Senate will have two choices when debate begins this Thursday: the Senate intelligence committee's version, which would grant retroactive immunity for the telecoms that participated in the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, or the Senate Judiciary Committee's version, which would not. Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) himself opposes retroactive immunity, he struck a deal with the two committee chairmen to hold a vote first on the intelligence committee's version, and then have a vote on Leahy's version as an amendment. Civil liberty advocates say that move slants the debate in favor of a bill with immunity.
Why all of this capitulation to the Republicans, Telco's, and the President? Because fighting would "step on their message" of bipartisan unity.

Kumba-freakin'-ya, folks.

Gerrymander: Who Represents Tooele?

Damn those (perceived) computer models (alleged)! From the KVNU For The People blog:

The Tooele Transcript Bulletin had to run a full article explaining the complicated way the city was cracked. If you live north of 600 North, your State Senator is Pete Knudson… from Brigham City. And you’re in the same Senate district as… Mendon & Wellsville in Cache Valley. Of course if you don’t live in Senator Knudson’s district, your Senator could live in Lehi, Garland or Nephi.

But the residents of Tooele have no one to blame for this but themselves. If they were more loyal to the Utah Republican Party, it wouldn’t have been necessary to split the town up into factions and attach those factions to distant, loyal GOP districts.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Not voting Republican has consequences in Utah.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ok Utah, Now Go Vote (With A Poll!!!)

So we've talked about this primary for what seems like 20 years, now it's time to start putting our ballots where our mouths are. Early voting for the presidential primary started today, for those lucky enough to live in Weber county, here's the info

Notice is hereby given that Early Voting for the Western States Presidential
Primary (WSPP) Election will be held beginning January 22, 2008 and ending at
5:00 p.m. on February 1, 2008. Early voting hours will be from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m. at the following polling locations:
Weber County Library Huntsville,
131 S 7400 E, Huntsville
North Ogden City Offices, 505 E 2600 N, North Ogden
Weber County Library Roy,
1950 W 4800 S, Roy
The Weber Center, 2380 Washington Blvd, Basement level in the
Garden Foyer1 st Floor, Ogden
The Weber Ice Sheet, 4390 Harrison Blvd, Ogden
Any registered voter living in Weber County may vote at any of the early
voting locations. All voters will be asked to provide picture identification. If your
address or name has changed, you will be required to vote by provisional ballot.
If you're not lucky enough to live in Weber county, you'll have to check your county's website for all the ugly details (and if you want to leave the details in a comment, feel free).

And, to my knowledge, for the first time ever, a poll, on the SideTrack. Ya, we're high tech.

And to all of you Kucinich/Paul/Keyes/Gravel (who the hell is Frank Lynch anyways) supporters out there, I know, I left your candidate off the poll. There was only room for 7 choices, gimme a break, it's my first poll.

Library of Congress, Now on Flickr

The Library of Congress has just completed an effort to place thousands of historical photos in an online photo album with the Flickr service.

Nice images circa WWII, and from past presidential races, with no copyright restrictions on the photos uploaded.

(h/t Radio From Hell Blog)

Online Tool: My OpenCongress

From the Inbox. Congressional watchdogging meets MySpace:

My OpenCongress is the first-ever social network designed for people who care about Congress. Now, OpenCongress makes it super easy to track any bill, senator, representative or issue area on the site, simply by clicking "track this" at the top of any page. Use your OpenCongress profile to make your voice heard: vote "aye" or "nay" for every bill in Congress, give a personal approval rating to senators and representatives on a scale of 1-100, and see the total votes for each bill and lawmaker.
In addition, OpenCongress now allows comments on pages for bills, senators, representatives, etc. as a means of sharing information and drawing a comprehensive picture of congressional goings on.

Stop Harry Reid (FISA Flood Petition)

Say no to immunity for Telecom companies:

Senator Reid's plan of action is to bring before the Senate this week a disastrous Intelligence Committee bill - one that yields to Bush's demand to retroactively let telecom companies off the hook for cooperating with warrantless eavesdropping on their customers.

We've only got a few days to convince Harry Reid to change course. The ACLU's principled demand is simple and straightforward: If it isn't constitutional, don't let the Senate vote on it.

Reid plans to move this action to the floor this week. Chris Dodd is still all over this one. Give him some love.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Krugman On The Stimulus

For Bush's plan to stimulate the economy, the money has to be spent. So if you are going to take your check, and just throw it in the bank, you're not doing you're part to help Bush out. You need to take that check and spend it, all of it, as fast as you can. This gets money flowing through the economy, multipliers kick in and build up the effect, everyone's happy. If you want the money spent, you give it to those most likely to spend it right? People Paul Krugman might describe as liquidity-constrained.

But — you knew this was coming, didn’t you? — it seems that the Bush administration wants to restrict the plan to income tax rebates. This means excluding the people most likely to be liquidity-constrained — because people having a bad year probably won’t owe income taxes that year — and shying away from any aid to direct government spending.

The point is that the debate over exactly how the $145 billion or whatever gets allocated is not, as some might think, a second-order issue. It’s probably at the heart of whether this plan has any real effect.
I know, I was shocked too when I found out the Bush team hadn't thought this one through all the way, or perhaps they did, and their real goal isn't to stimulate the economy, but rather to give money away. After all, it's not like we're fighting a war or anything.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Local Blogger Nabs Coveted Sundance Celebrity Interview

Celebrity clown crashes film festival, JM Bell gets the scoop.

The clown is on the left.

More of JM Bell's Sundance escapades at KCPW and

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Party Cloudy with a Chance of Orwell

Your Department of Homeland Security:

The Department of Homeland Security's penchant for illegal covert domestic propaganda begets a twist on the "video news release" concept to produce meteorological articles with "apparent conflation of winter storms and terrorism." The government's propagandists disingenuously claim simply to be supplying "just facts that reporters can put into their own words," since having "just noticed that staffing has been a little down at newspapers”:
We let people know that it’s important to be prepared for any kind of hazard.... Not that we’re expecting a terrorist attack, or anything like that.... But anything can happen anywhere.
Ives puts it more succinctly: "Partly cloudy with a chance of Orwell."

Gut Reactions and Bandwagon Voters

David Brooks likes to tell us what we think. FAIR:

Acknowledging that "nobody really knows how voters think," the expert pundit nevertheless offers his bold speculations on the matter. Brooks is less enlightening on psychology of voters than on the convoluted justifications commentators invent to explain why they fail to cover the election in a way that would be even remotely helpful to voters. Brooks claims that voters base choices not on policy differences, but rather on gut reactions: "After seeing a candidate for 100 milliseconds, voters make certain sorts of judgments based on expressiveness, facial structure, carriage and attitude."

The election is thus really about image--which just happens to be an aspect of campaigning that political journalists love to report on. Note that one of the puzzles that Brooks poses to show the idea that make "cold, rational decisions"--"Why have primary victories produced no momentum for the victors?"--suggests that it's irrational for voters not to be swayed by the bandwagon effect.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Metered Broadband

Yesterday Time Warner announced they will begin testing new metered pricing for broadband customers referred to as "Pay-Per-Download" plans. Rather than a set monthly rate, customers will pay fees assessed by usage.

“We want the network to maximize returns for all of our customers,” said spokesman Alex Dudley, adding that a small number of users currently consume a disproportionate share of bandwidth. “Ninety-five percent of our users would not be the extreme users who are driving this.”

Once the test starts, new customers will be offered a choice of four plans that allow them to download set amounts each month—5, 10, 20 or 40 Gigabytes. As with cell phone service packages, those who go over their allotment will be charged extra. Time Warner hasn’t yet determined the price of each tier. The test will start later this year with new subscribers in Beaumont, Texas.
From a Net Neutrality perspective, this could be a good thing, as it allows providers to better manage their networks for profit without restricting access or high-bandwidth applications. From an internet usage point of view, perhaps not so much. I don't relish the idea of my internet connection rekindling the annoyance of managing "daytime, nighttime, and weekend" minutes with the old AT&T mobile services.

Critics of the test argue that though it may provide a work-around for providers to manage while remaining Net Neutral, it doesn't address the growing need for investment in infrastructure.
“Telling consumers they must choose between blocking and metered pricing is a worrying development,” Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, said in a statement. “The best answer to any capacity crunch is to build the kind of high-capacity networks available in the world’s leading broadband nations.”

Public Knowledge’s Sohn agreed that any long-term solution to bandwidth problems requires improving the infrastructure. “The ultimate goal has got to be a fatter pipe,” Gigi Sohn said.

God Bless Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani should be President of the world. From TPM:

Rudy Giuliani's new ad, running in the West Palm Beach area, uses actual video footage from 9/11 to promote Rudy's candidacy -- and includes this surprising line about the terror attacks:

"When the world wavered, and history hesitated, Rudy never did."
When history hesitated? That whistle you hear is the last vestige of Rudy's integrity escaping the lead balloon of his campaign.


Bush announces his stimulus plan this morning. The market reacts.

Investors had already pulled back from a big early gain, with the major indexes trading mixed as Bush began to speak. By the time the president finished announcing a plan for about $145 billion worth of tax relief, the indexes were well into negative territory.

"It's disappointed in the size of the economic growth package. Wall Street's showing its displeasure," said Kim Caughey, equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. "Honestly, I think the institutional investors understand the limits to the government's ability to enact economic change."

Not to worry, though. Sean Hannity says "go back to your teevee shows, everything is fine!"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

GDP Comparisons: Iranabama and Perutah

Utah = Peru? GDP comparison humor a la Yglesias:

Via Tyler Cowen, a neat map that renames US states after countries that have similar GDPs to the state in question. Note that Iran, allegedly about to embark on a campaign of world domination, has the same approximate level of economic output as Alabama. Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia is like Tennessee, Israel is like Oregon, and Turkey is like Washington. I don't like Alabama's odds in a big for hegemony against those three. Puts things in perspective.

Telecom Immunity Debate Revived

Brace for the cave-in?

Contrary to the completely erroneous claims by the Wall St. Journal Editorial Page that Senate Democrats intend to enact an 18-month extension of the Protect America Act without telecom immunity (false claims that produced some premature blogospheric declarations of victory last week), Reid has spent the last two weeks making abundantly clear that his intention is to bring to the Senate floor as early as next week the Bush-compliant Senate Intelligence Committee bill, and has further made clear that it's his expectation that that bill -- complete with warrantless eavesdropping powers and telecom immunity -- will pass. Because the Protect America Act is scheduled to expire in early February, it will be necessary to extend it by 30 to 60 days, but that is seen by the Senate Democratic leadership only as a tool to enable them to work out a deal with the House to ensure that a bill acceptable to the President is sent to the White House promptly.
Chris Dodd is still promising filibuster, should the Senate leadership capitulate, but is being shunned by his own caucus for standing up to Republicans and Harry Reid. Amazing.

Changes at The SideTrack

We are testing a few new toys here, so for those of you who subscribe to the RSS feed, please forgive the occasional random post you may see over the next few days. We're ironing out the bugs still.

And yes, that was a picture of Craig playing Guitar Hero at Best Buy. We can never go back there. I can't say I blame them.

Once we've finished, we will hopefully be able to offer a more interactive approach to our political pontifications and boisterous bitching.

More on this later. For now, check out JMBell's peerless coverage of the Sundance Film Fest (he still has spots available for interested sponsors), and stop by the VetVoice project and chat with the troops.

Neighborhood Leader Program

Facilitate change.

Through the partnership between the state and national Democratic Party, new grassroots tools will be available this spring enabling every Democrat to make a real difference in the November, 2008 election. This new effort is known as the NEIGHBORHOOD LEADER PROGRAM, and will feature a suite of online tools including targeted lists of voters and political materials activists can personalize to share with their neighbors.
Our goal in Utah is to have 800 people or more join the initial 100 people that signed up in the fall. By joining this effort, these 900 people would be committing to knock on 22,500 doors this year. For those that think such an effort can't produce the results we need here in Utah, just remember the 20 vote difference between our Democratic candidate in 2006 and the current house speaker.

To learn a little more about this important effort, or to sign up, just click here and send us an email with your name, address, and phone number. Together, we can develop a grassroots program in every county in the state that will put the Republicans to shame!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lab-Coat Uprising

Angry mob of scientists storms the Capitol:

In Washington, more than two dozen scientists have come to Capitol Hill this week to protest the Bush administration’s alleged interference in science linked to the environment. Members of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Endangered Species Coalition are calling for congressional probes and better oversight of how the administration interacts with government scientists. The administration has been accused of censoring reports highlighting global warming and of gutting the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Coalition says at least fifty different species decisions have appeared to be motivated by politics rather than environmental science.

Bill Maher, Jay Leno, and The Kucinich Three

Checked in on The Tonight Show since Bill Maher was going to be on.

Normally I find Maher very entertaining, and Leno the complete opposite, so I expected a wash that would put me gracefully into sleepy time.

Instead I was treated to three separate instances of the show, during Maher's interview, being interrupted by three individual (embedded) Kucinich supporters who would stand, shout loudly about censorship (with clever chants of "NBC, stop the hate, let him debate!"), then be roughly escorted out by security, off camera of course. The look on Bill Maher's face was worth waiting through Leno's monologue.

Hilarity, I tells ya. What some people don't define as supporting a candidate, huh? Now Kucinich looks like a dumbass to all Jay Leno viewers (let's be honest though, probably not his biggest demographic) and he still didn't get to debate.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

McConnell Drafts Plan for Sweeping Internet Surveillance

This is ugly.

In news from Washington, the head of the nation’s spy agencies has revealed the government wants the authority to read all information crossing the Internet in the United States including personal email messages. The New Yorker Magazine reports National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to rewrite the rules about online surveillance. He told the magazine the debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will “be a walk in the park compared to this.”
The information comes from an article The New Yorker has prepared, but not yet published. One proposal of the plan is to reduce the number of access points between government and the internet, from 2000 to 50. From Raw Story:
"Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the autority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search," author Lawrence Wright pens.

“Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation, he said," Wright adds. "Giorgio warned me, 'We have a saying in this business: ‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.'"

A zero-sum game is one in which gains by one side come at the expense of the other. In other words -- McConnell's aide believes greater security can only come at privacy's expense.


Ten years from now.

Iraq’s defense minister has said foreign troops will likely need to stay in Iraq to help defend its borders for at least another 10 years. During a visit to the United States, Abdul Qadir said “Regarding protection from any external threats, our calculation appears that we are not going to be able to answer to any external threats until 2018 to 2020.”
(emphasis mine)

George W. Bush. Nation Builder.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Unity that Matters

I really dislike the bipartisan talk. I've mentioned it a few times, I'm sure. The simplest way to explain it is that when you are the underdog (i.e. Democrats in Utah), you don't shoot for compromise, you shoot for majority, and accept compromise. In the Presidential race, it is no different for me. Shoot for a Democratic majority, and accept reaching across the isle to get things done if it comes to that. It doesn't get me to the ballot box, if you will.

But there is a type of unity that matters to me in 2008. And right now it is the main reason for me to get behind Obama's message of unity, despite my dislike of his use of the "bipartisan" word; the very prospect of a Democratic majority.

Clinton has so far campaigned heavily on the "first day in office" message, asserting that she will be able to make things happen the second she has the keys to the oval office, while the other candidates would have to work harder to pass legislation. She bases this on her experience in Washington, which we can assume means in the relationship between the White House and the House/Senate body. Unless Clinton plans to pursue Dubya's goal of the empirical presidency, her argument seems to be she would win the fight against an obstinate congress, while others may struggle and fail.

But what if the obstinate congress can be rendered a non-issue? With Obama or Edwards as a nominee, we could expect more luck for Democrats in down ticket races for House and Senate positions? Might the Republican hatred/fear of Hillary drive conservative voters to the polls to fill congress with Republicans? An obvious yes for Democrats in Utah, but nationally, how much is the "day one" argument worth if your own candidacy creates the very battle you claim to be able to rise above? Would we not be better served by a candidate who could better foster an overall Democratic majority?

Just questions I have while I should be preparing my taxes.

Most Appropo Campaign Ad To Date

(h/t The Big O)

All joking aside, this is, in fact, the choice we face in November. We will be sick of the word "change" by then (especially now that The Chameleon has flip-flopped on even this) but that is exactly what we will be casting a ballot for; creepy ancient rich establishment prone men with a penchant for wars and corporate monopolies, or new leadership with vision.

No pressure!

Still Policing a Failed State

When, occasionally, the media gets around to reporting on the Iraq occupation these days, the most prevalent message seems to be that violence is down in a few areas, and therefore the surge was a success. The Republicans and conservative pundits are all too eager to leave it at that. Who can blame them. It's a political win for Bush, and therefore a chance to save the party in 2008.

But let's step back to the spring of 2007, and the battle over troop withdrawal strategies, when the Republicans weren't talking "stability" so much as "winning." Remember? The Democrats were the one's who wanted us to fail, right? And the GOP, Bush Dogs, and Mikey O'Hanlon were all about the winning, and this mastermind strategy of a troop surge that would quell violence long enough to allow the Iraqi government an opportunity to stand up and make political progress in the region. With me so far? This all ringing a bell?

So where does it stand today, you ask? Well first, lets just say yes, the violence is down. And that is inarguably a good thing. Further proof that throwing enough American soldiers at the enemy will indeed allow us, through their bravery and willingness to stand in the line of fire for their country, to control any situation. It is a testament to the strength and prowess of our military. And for that they deserve the respect of every one of us.

But what of the "winning" our fearless leaders promised we "cut and runners"? Where has this "strategy" lead us? Well, that's the bad news. Violence levels are down 60% in the past 6 months, but they are down from 2007 levels to mid-2005 levels (over 800 killed, 6,000 wounded). The world is also dealing with 2.5 million internally displaced refugees. And 2007 still goes on record, en total, as the most violent year of what is turning out to be a very, very long war. The sum of our progress has been to return levels of violence in the 4th year of the war to that of the 2nd year.

And what of political progress? In the last report provided by ambassador Ryan Crocker, he provided no evidence that tactical progress had any effect at all on political progress. The Iraqi government has failed to produce oil sharing legislation, eliminate militia domination of local forces, and made very little progress in the build up and training of Iraqi forces. All of which were "goals" of the President's surge strategy.

In 2008, we will have no choice but to begin drawing down our troops out of necessity not strategy. When this happens, the iron fist we have applied to police a failed state loosens, and without any changes in Iraqi leadership, we leave an Iraq that would be no different with our withdrawal this year than it would be if we had pulled back our men and women in 2005, 2006, or 2007. The strategy, in effect, is to lull us into a sense that Bagdad is peaceful, and therefore the surge was a success simply because 2006 was pure hell.

So tell us all again, oh sages of military strategy in the Bat-Shit Crazy Republican trenches, how well the President's plan worked, and why so many have died. Success! they say.

I guess it all depends on your definition of the word.

"These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism," he said. "They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."

On a day when the top half-dozen U.S. national security and intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill to talk about the continued determination of terrorists to strike the United States, their statements underscored the unintended consequences of the war in Iraq.

"The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists," Goss said in his first public testimony since taking over the CIA.

Steve Olsen and Ralph Nader On Family Values

A long time ago I was given a copy of Steve Olsen's Why Utahns are Democrats, and Just Don't Know It Yet by a friend. It was a small pamphlet of a book, but it struck a cord with me, and served as a key element in an increased hope for Utah, and a reinvigorated drive for local political activism. Today Mr. Olsen, channeling Nader, added to what I hope will one day become a larger body of published work that will reach many voters through it's simplistic reality.

If you have ever listened to Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, you know their shtick consists of constantly harping on just a few (mostly negative) issues. As one wag put it, even if you agree with Hannity, tuning into his radio show is a waste of time, since after 30 minutes you have heard everything he has to say; the rest is just ad nauseam repetition. One of these themes is: Liberals are out to destroy the American family.
Open discussion and encouragement of independent thinking around the dinner table led to a life of not being afraid to challenge the status quo. Observing parents deeply involved in the civic affairs of a community led to a lifetime of community service. Living with a father and mother who were unafraid to speak their minds led to political involvement. Being raised by parents who taught the habits of self-reliance and frugality led to insights how the expanding American consumer culture was weakening families and usurping the authority of parents. Teachings about fairness and justice and a love of reading led to a lifetime as a muckraker in the true American tradition, defending average Americans against the powerful and the privileged.
Those of you who can recall the ugliness of the Religious Right politicking for various candidates throughout the 1990's may, like me, bristle at the phrase "Family Values," flashing back to images of Pat Robertson and Newt Gingrich, debate over gays in the military and a woman's right to choose, and -- of course -- Bill Clinton and "the cigar," which conservatives used as vindication of their claim to represent the American family against a liberal assault.

What Mr. Olsen illuminates in his discussion of his own upbringing and the thesis of Nader's book is a challenge to that preconception that few can (intelligently) argue with. The traditional conservative movement that won Utah over in the 1960's is gone, replaced by a Republican Party that protects corporate greed and empirical government far more than the interests of a work-a-day family in Cache Valley or Happy Valley. There may have been a day when the Utah GOP stood for "defending average Americans against the powerful and the privileged," but that torch has been passed now, as the Republican Party has succumbed to privilege, elitism, and the hubris of power. Need example? Simply scan the headlines. You won't find perfection on either side of the isle, but it is fairly easy to spot the cancer of unchecked power. We have been sold the idea that gay marriage and a lack of flags in classrooms are destroying our families, when in fact, as Olsen and Nader argue, it is the loss of protection for the "little guy." Tax breaks for the wealthy, nation building over-seas, wire-tapping, immunity for telecommunications companies, corruption, and an assault on individual liberty, corporate welfare. Those issues belong, wholly, to today's Republican Party. Is this what we stand for as a state? Is this how we want to define ourselves? If so, we are well on the way. Just sit back and enjoy the ride (fall?). If we want a better future, we should be electing better representatives. Perhaps it is too soon to expect Utahns to come out in droves to turn our state blue (one can hope, still) but we should at least be shooting for better Republicans (Chris Cannon people! Seriously! How many times now?!) as a progressive "baby-step" to protecting our true interests.

Respect is due for Mr. Olsen in his consistency of message on this. He is waking us up, one reader at a time. The more quickly we return to a class of representation in state and national houses that better reflects who we are, the sooner we will see real protection of our values.

Family values.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sexy Politics

Turns out Fred Thompson supporters get laid more often. You don't need to know this. But I do now, and I rather not shoulder this burden alone.

# More people under 40 have sex at least once a week than vote for president once every four years.
# 25% of all Republicans and 35% of all Democrats have had more than 10 sexual partners in their lifetime -- a higher percentage than vote in congressional and local elections.
# 55% of Republicans have sex at least once a week, compared with just 43% of Democrats.
# 14% of Thompson supporters and 12% of Obama supporters claim to have sex "almost every day." Just 5% of Clinton and Giuliani supporters have sex that frequently.
# On average, Republicans say they were 18.4 years old when they first had sex. Independents were 17.6 and Democrats were 17.5.

The Billionaire's Guide to the Candidates: Obama Edition

Heh. "Block the Vote"

Front and center on Obama's website is a shocking link that reads "register to vote." What's worse—this link works. It goes right to a user-friendly voter registration form. Appalling! Obama has pledged to impose "harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud." How on earth are we supposed to win elections without fraud and voter suppression? I mean, we don't have a real majority! We're billionaires, for crissake.

Utah GOP Roundup: Herding Cats

Trying to keep Republicans in this state honest is too big a job for just one blog. Luckily, there are many. Just a quick recap of this weeks "keep it real" events.

The guys at KVNU speak to Rep. Craig Frank about gerrymandering (more on this later, for now familiarize yourself with the phrases "computer modeling" and "you've got to be kidding me!")

Mark Shurtleff wishes we would all just stop paying attention to what he does (second comment in: priceless)

Stan Lockhart reminds us that despite what they do and say, they are still the good guys, and we should all go home and watch teevee.

Orem Rep. Steve Sandstrom reaps the benefits of his voucher flip-flop in the form of a challenger.

Pigs in space.
I wish I had time to write at length about each one of these topics, as they all deserve more attention than our local media are giving them. I hope the links, for now, are enough to keep these topics alive.

Utah is waking up.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Navy Officials Back Down on Strait of Hormuz Incident Claims (UPDATED)

Anyone's guess is as good as any on this one. Dubious, to say the least.

On the audio (mp3) of the radio communication, a voice slowly pronounces the words "I am coming to you," and then as the American tries to communicate, says, "You will explode after a few minutes."

But since then, the American version of the incident has undergone a revision. The radio threat, the Navy now admits, may not have come from the Iranian boats after all. The voice, a number of observers have pointed out, seems to come out of nowhere and doesn't have the expected engine noise in the background, and in fact, The Washington Post reports, the accent doesn't even sound Iranian.

All of this is within the scope of past experience with Iran (just ask their neighbors), but isn't it a bit troubling to lack confidence you can trust what US officials are saying about this as well?

Thank The President.

UPDATE: Things get really weird.

Janet Reno Keynote Speaker for Utah Planned Parenthood Event

And they need your help to make the February 12th event happen:

We are a little over a month away from one of the biggest, most progressive, most amazing events that this state has ever seen. The event is our 2008 Annual Dinner and we’d love to have you volunteer.

This year our keynote speaker is United States Attorney General Janet Reno. The event will take place on February 12th at the Downtown Marriott located at 75 S. West Temple. We need your volunteer support for the following activities:

* Check-in tables
* Ushers to help guests, help deal with crises, etc.
* Volunteers to encourage and collect donations and bid money from the centerpiece auction

If you would like to volunteer for this fantastic opportunity or have further questions please email us at or call 801.328.8939 by February 1, 2008.
Planned Parenthood is also hosting lobbyist training for local activists in Ogden and Provo at the end of January.

We Dig, You Decide

In today's WaPo, profile of, a political service created by young voters for young voters, and it's 2o year old founder, Will Ruben:

The site's motto: "We dig, you decide." Hence the gopher.

Ruben and his staff of 25, most of them Harvard students, read debate transcripts, watch YouTube videos and scour news sites to collect content. Though users can make submissions of their own, such offerings are carefully filtered.

"It's impressive what they've been able to put together," says Lee Rainie, director of the Washington-based Pew Internet & American Life Project. "Back in the pre-Internet era, these students would have just attended town hall meetings, stuffed envelopes, maybe made some phone calls to be involved. These days they're starting their own Web sites."
Voters under 30 are showing an ever increasing role (if numbers from 2004 and 2006 are any indication), and younger voters turned out in droves (1/5 of Democratic caucus goers) during the Iowa caucus.

Independent Film, Lurkers, and Gerrymandering (Alleged)

There were a few things I caught cycling through The Bloghive (and elsewhere) yesterday, but I was distracted and missed them. Perhaps you did too. In any case, they deserve a second mention.

JMBell gets a very cool gig, and a great idea on how to fund it (the mighty advertising dollar!). You can pitch in a few bucks here if you choose.

Loralee discriminates against Lurker's (I was shocked as well). But comment and you could win $$.

Poor (Perceived) Rep. Craig Frank (Alleged) of Pleasant Grove. He just can't get a break. Bob once again finds an actual gerrymandered district. What's a Republican line-tow-er to do? Well, how about a challenger...

Misty shows us the power of small donors

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Obama and the Angry With Bush Vote

So much for the bipartisan-hand-holding-love-fest.

Did Obama's message of conciliatory unity cost him the New Hampshire primary? Sure looks like it. According to exit polls, 30% of Democrats identified themselves as "dissatisfied" with the Bush administration. Obama narrowly won those voters, 39%-38%. However, among the 62% of participants in the Democratic primary who described themselves as "angry" with the Bush administration, Clinton won 39%-34%. And thus, we have Clinton's 2.6% margin of victory almost precisely.
Voters are angry. They respond to the message of change, but talk of merging ideologies into cooperative progress with Bush's Republican Party seems to fall on deaf, frustrated ears.

I hold Obama to a higher standard than I do Hillary or Edwards. I have wanted to see he or Edwards succeed in nomination since this time last year, and Edwards fell out for me when he chose public funding. I have only three criticisms for Obama, but for me, they are often hangups. One, I still am not convinced what sort of general election campaign we could expect from him, considering his social security reform messages last summer (completely unnecessary talk, for a Democrat) and the insistence on bipartisan messages without first enforcing the Democratic identity. Two, his failure to seize the opportunity, with Chris Dodd, to reinforce a progressive ideology and protect our Constitution with the FISA filibuster. Those were votes in your pocket, man, and for a very important battle. Where the hell were you? His absence (thankfully) didn't effect the outcome of the showdown, but I worry that he didn't see it as an opportunity to show leadership. On FISA, his actions were inline with Clinton's. I expected her absence, I found his disheartening. Third, and probably most important (and also an encapsulation of the former two) is what appears to be an inability or unwillingness to cohesively promote a campaign of change while more aggressively working toward a stronger Democratic Party brand. Dean started the work in 2004, and Obama can/should finish it. Will he?

This isn't to say these are concrete problems with Obama, only that he hasn't expressed these ideas properly, often enough, or (exampled in the FISA showdown) at all. We may be looking at a very long primary which would widen the fissures in the GOP yet prove an opportunity for Democrats to further explain themselves and the party to voters (something they have been waiting to do since the 60's).

He/She who misses the least opportunities to define the identity and contribute to a political realignment instead of bipartisan promises will grab the nomination.

The Real Import of Kerry's Obama Endorsement: "The Database"

While the gas bags ponder John Kerry's endorsement of Obama with headlines like "Kiss of Death" and "Swift Boat Endorsement," they miss what I think is the most important aspect of Kerry joining the Obama camp.

During Kerry's presidential campaign, he amassed somewhere between 2 and 3 million email addresses of prospective voters, donors, and activists throughout the nation. An email list that first took root under Howard Dean in 2004, who then endorsed Kerry.

That database now belongs to Barack Obama.

The Tom Brokaw Bitch-Slap

As the polls were closing in New Hampshire Tuesday night, and district reporting began drawing a clear picture of a Hillary win, Chris Matthews, part of NBC's election coverage team that night with Tom Brokaw sitting in, decried the unfairness of all polling information predicting a different outcome. Matthews went so far as to infer, mid-election reporting mind you, that an "investigation" into polling techniques was needed. Brokaw politely disagreed. (emphasis added)

"You know what I think we're going to have to go back and do?" Tom Brokaw, now in role as NBC sage, said, referring to future races. "Wait for the voters to make their judgment."

Responded Matthews: "What do we do then in the days before the balloting? We must stay home, I guess."

"No, we don't stay home," Brokaw said. "There are reasons to analyze what they're saying. We know from how people voted today, what moved them to vote. You can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

"But we don't have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed and trying to stampede, in effect, the process."
Matthews had no response. Because he's an idiot.

The Immigration (Non) Issue


Hey look, John McCain, the cosponsor of the hated McCain-Kennedy immigration bill just won the New Hampshire primary. And Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa and is nominally the national frontrunner, has at best a pretty mushy immigration record.

It may just be that like last year and in the special elections early this year, the anti-immigration vote is confined to the limits of Fox News?

The sound you hear is Republican consultants rushing to find a wedge issue before November.
This sentiment is further evidenced by last November's local and state election where, nationally, immigration failed to be the galvanizing (ne, distracting?) issue the GOP strategists have promised their candidates it would be.

Immigration is a proxy issue in a vacuum, fueled only by the economic uncertainty never addressed by the same political leaders talking the most about our immigration "problems."

BREAKING: There's Still A War Going On

I dislike posts titled "BREAKING" because they are usually the exact opposite of the overused adjective. But I dislike even more the way in which war can so quickly becomes yesterday's news.

About 151,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the three years following the U.S.-led invasion of their country, according to World Health Organization (WHO) research published on Wednesday.

The new study, which said violent deaths could have ranged from 104,000 to 223,000 between March 2003 and June 2006, is the most comprehensive since the war started.

[...]the United Nations agency's estimate exceeds the widely-cited 80,000 to 87,000 death toll by the human rights group Iraq Body Count, which uses media reports and hospital and morgue records to calculate its tally.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Candidates and Fancy Electronic Doo-Hickies

eWeek published a summary today of the presidential front-runners, and their promises and policies on technology issues such as Net Neutrality, H-1B visas, and broadband penetration.

Obama, Edwards, and Clinton have all made promises to support and promote Net Neutrality legislation. The Republican's? John McCain: No. Rudy/Mitt: Net Neu-whaaa?

Surprisingly, all six candidates support a permanent ban on internet connection taxation.


I hate having to admit I occasionally agree with Newt Gingrich.

In 2006, the Republican model of massive focus on fundraising and negative attacks on opponents lost six out of six close incumbent Senate races.

In Iowa, the best-financed Republican candidate who used the most consultants lost to an underfinanced but idealistic populist.

So here are the bullet points for going forward:

* Message beats money.

* Enthusiasm beats paid staff.

* Hope beats negativity.

* People are smarter than the consultants.
But sometimes (rarely I swear), I do.


Isn't it ironic. Don't you think?

A bipartisan group of former top lawmakers and government officials convened yesterday to discuss the "excessive partisanship" in politics today. But rather than support an independent candidate for president, "several leading participants took pains to say that they had no intention of abandoning their own parties in the election."

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Jonah Goldberg, douche bag.

Imagine the Democrats do rally around Obama. Imagine the media invests as heavily in him as I think we all know they will if he's the nominee -- and then imagine he loses. I seriously think certain segments of American political life will become completely unhinged.
Certain segments? It's okay though, Greenwald handles it.

But maybe Goldberg is on to something?
Fox's O'Reilly and Obama Aide Scuffle at Rally
All of this while Edwards attacks Obama as too conservative, and Hillary attacks him as too liberal. Is it civil war, or a primary? Who knows?!

What's a voter to do but grab supplies and a helmet on the way to the basement, to simply wait it out while the professionals decide the future of America.

Jonah Goldberg, scaring rich white people since 1992.

Huckabee: The "Vertical" Candidate

WTF? indeed.

Can anyone explain what the hell that means? Vertical? I guess if you're main opponent was Fred Thompson you might push the fact that you spend most of your time standing up. But seriously, is there something I'm missing here? Or is this the weirdest campaign I've ever heard?

I mean, at a minimum it's setting the bar for his presidency pretty low, right?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Invest in Utah's Political Future

As political activists all of us have at one time or another helped to drive donation traffic to campaigns and candidates. Most of us have even donated a few bucks ourselves. We do this to help fund change, in the most basic way we can.

Right now, we have an opportunity to make a difference in Utah's political landscape by supporting not a candidate (yet!) but a person who has brought much to the table, and helped to open the door for blogger/media relations throughout the state. JM Bell has written with candor about his current situation, and the circumstances that compound it. It is a place many of us have been first hand or in which can see ourselves through a few short degrees of separation.

Whether you enjoy his Crosspoint material, the rapier wit, or podcasts from directly, Jeff creates, with his blogging, multi-media, and community involvement an avenue of communication and interaction that is growing fast, and, quite simply, wouldn't exist without him.

So be it a t-shirt and mug, or someone with interest in his skills, our collective attention here is a chance to invest, literally, in the future of Utah politics. Contributing to a good candidate is a way of exercising our democratic rights, and so is supporting those who raise the bar on public discourse and the dissemination of information.

If George Washington were here today, he would be wearing on of these. If Bob Woodward (pre-sell out days) worked for the SL Trib, he'd be drinking from one of these. If Hannity knew what was happening to his "Great American" he'd be out in the streets clothed only in his pride, and Militant Progressive attire (and you can't buy pants at the Jeff's online store -- picture it).

As Ethan said, you know him, now go buy his stuff. Support open dialog and grassroots politics. It's the patriotic thing to do. Keeping in Utah should be a goal we can all get behind.

Rep. Craig Frank: Nothing To See Here

Jeremy and Bob and Marshall are already on this one, so just a quick recap. Rolly writes a column, Craig Frank questions the accuracy of his numbers, and in doing so sugar coats a gerrymander that placed him in his seat.

In his commentary, Stan points out some of the dilluted and misleading statistics Mr. Rolly used to try to flush out the perceived gerrymandering , which allegedly took place during the 2001 redistricting process.
Perceived. Alleged. Here is the definition of gerrymander, and here is the definition of gas bag, and here is a district map.

Taking a look at the district map, and ask yourself were these lines drawn for better representation or for political gain? (hint: Cache Valley divisions seem a little odd, don't they? And how well represented Tooele must feel!). Then ask yourself does Craig Frank think I am this stupid?

Yes, he does. And to make matters worse, he "speaks for his constituents on the issues," claiming that voters "sent" him into service, when in fact he was appointed to fill a hole, and has simply toed the line since. Frankly (no pun intended) he could've voted for himself and won this seat. He goes on to further "represent," claiming in the comments that more than 40% his voters supported school vouchers, and therefore want change, ignoring the majority of voters who made it clear the change they want does not include the vouchers Frank so vigilantly supported. Whalla! Representation!

Where does all of this bring the fightin' 57th? Simply put, Frank has a challenger in reformed Republican, now Democrat Bryan Horn that the district may want to get to know.

Some snippets:
Horn on abortion: Supports a ban, except in the case of rape, incest, threat to the mother. Not great here, but to his credit he ads "I will fight to increase sexual education programs in the classroom..."

Horn on marriage: "I believe every American is entitled to the God-given rights promised in the US Constitution, regardless of sexual orientation. I support legislation granting domestic partnerships in Utah."

Horn on education:
"Our school system is considered of the finest in the nation. This achievement is due in no part to the actions of our government, but rather by the integrity of Utah's teachers. [...] Utah ranks last in the nation for teacher pay and per student funding. I pledge to reverse this trend and invest whatever is necessary..."

Horn on immigration: I pledge to draft legislation that will aggressively crack down on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. [...] We have created incentives to draw undocumented workers to our state. I believe it is a crisis that must be stopped. [...] I do not desire to break up families, but lawlessness cannot be fostered.
Despite falling a bit right for my tastes, Horn seems to hold a strong Democratic identity on many issues, while remaining largely in line with the values Pleasant Grove. More simply put; Horn is viable and electable.

Admittedly, a rally of vocal support from leftist bloggers may do more damage to Horn's campaign than good, considering his district, but this by no means should hold us back in engaging him on the issues, or even throwing a bit of coin is way.

Craig Frank wants you to believe he serves by mandate, and represents the people of Pleasant Grove, who chose him above all others. Reality begs to differ. He wants you to think our leadership would never gerrymander for political gain above accurate representation. Maps beg to differ.

As a parting example, let me finish with a comparison. Consider candidate Bryan Horn's statements above on education leadership, then ponder this missive from Frank,
...I reiterate that Utah will probably never catch up to 50th; because, every time we (#51) put a half billion into education, so does Arizona (#50). Everyone’s running the same race at a similar pace.
Pleasant Grove can do much better.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Obama, Huckabee

Young Turks are calling it for Obama by 6 points, Huckabee riding on top of the GOP by nearly double that.

It developed strangely. With 23% reporting, the Dem's were nearly tied at 32.9 (Edwards), and 32.3 (Clinton, Obama). As larger precinct numbers came in Obama's numbers stretched into what (by caucus standards) is a very firm win.

With 84% of the final reports in, Clinton and Edwards are still tied for second in what Newsweeks Richard Wolffe is calling "the race to avoid third [place]."

What is most interesting about Iowa is the breakdown of the Republican candidates. With 65% reporting, Huckabee is way out in the lead. Arguably, Huckabee has knocked Romney down a few pegs while McCain, despite fourth place in Iowa, continues to rise overall. McCain could be on his way to a dream competition, with Romney and Giuliani fading, where he simply waits out Huckabee's surge, and sidles comfortably into the nomination.

On Air America, Matt Stoller is warning us that the Dem candidates are still running media campaigns more than principled, and could still betray the progressive movement.

Caucuses are fun.

UPDATE: 56% on the Democratic side were first time caucus goers.


Susan Klopfer makes media waves when she abandons here volunteer efforts for Clinton and crosses over to Obama efforts in Iowa. The Obama camp makes a video of her switch. Clinton makes a response video of her own Obama converts. National headlines are made. And where is she now?

"It got more hits than Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. It got the all-time highest over that weekend," Klopfer said of the video's YouTube hits.
But when Klopfer showed up at a John Edwards house party this morning, it was because she was on the verge of switching again.

"In both of those people I didn't see the experience that I'd like to see and kind of the groundedness that I'd like to see," she said of Obama and Clinton, "so I'm really looking at Edwards, and I'm still really looking at (Bill) Richardson."

Klopfer said she went to see Richardson last night in Mount Pleasant last night and was impressed by him.

"Probably I'll caucus for Richardson," she said after Edwards spoke. "My guess is he won't be viable, and then I'll probably scoot right over to Edwards."
While I wish the best of luck to Susan and her efforts to find a candidate, the attention this and the caucuses themselves receive may not be the greatest way to kick off determining the new leader of the free world.