Monday, October 25, 2010

Peter Corroon a Better Choice for Box Elder County Jobs

It's been a bad couple of years for Box Elder County.

From the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2010, Box Elder County has experienced a 16.8% drop in employment, currently sits at 8.8% unemployment -- one of the highest numbers in Utah -- and has seen an overall wage drop of 5% since 2009.

In Box Elder less people have work, and those who do are working for much less.

Governor Gary Herberts salvo?  He "saved" 800 jobs at ATK, maybe... in Davis County.

Lost in the discussion over the 800 jobs (maybe) saved (in Davis County) over 20 years is a glaring set of questions regarding Box Elder and Herbert's two years of  leadership:  Why is a county sitting literally on top of both an interstate and a railway hub, less than an hour from an international airport, completely dependent only two large employers who have to shrink their workforce rapidly and repeatedly?

Just 20 minutes NE of Box Elder, in Cache Valley, unemployment is much lower, and wages have shrunk much less.  Why?  Cache Valley benefits from a diversified job market, boosted by both research at Utah State University, a highly educated workforce, and plentiful small, local businesses that have survived despite Gary Herbert's top-heavy economic "strategy" for Utah (County).

Consider a manufacturing facility building, say solar panels -- and all the research employment it brings with it -- employing 1-1.5K.  What better place could such a business be located in Utah than spacious Box Elder County?  And again: right on top of an interstate, a railway hub, minutes from two universities and an international airport. 

Jesse Harris, on Peter Corroon's plan for rural job growth in Utah, writes:
Consider which states have been weathering this economy. Most of them are primarily agriculture-based, but they’ve been making significant investments in both the technology and energy industries. Much of this development is occurring outside of major cities.
And JM Bell, on the "Herbert Effect" in Washington County, said yesterday:
Acting Governor Herbert has a list of things he wants to keep pretty much the same.
Box Elder County deserves a better plan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Let me first say there were a million reasons for NPR to fire Juan Williams... I'm surprised they waited so long.  His comments that he was afraid to fly with Muslims were, sadly, the least of his transgresses against rational thought.  But he's gone, and the world is a better place for it.  Unless you're former Utah GOP Vice-chair, and professional hack Todd Weiler.  Weiler tweeted this morning:

Well thanks for adding that "#notabigot" hashtag,Todd, because otherwise this tweet sounds exactly like something you'd hear from a bigot.  I challenged Weiler's assertion that "everyone" was thinking this by pointing out that really, only morons are thinking this.  Morons, Bill O'Reilly, and Todd Weiler.

The mindlessness of those who espouse this attitude is astounding.  They seem unable to separate the few  involved in the 9/11 attacks with, you know, 1 plus billion inhabitants of the planet (roughly 1/5 of the world's population).  And even more amazing, people who feel this way aren't making it up.  They really harbor these fears.  But consider for a second if there is much difference between someone saying "I get nervous when there is a Muslim on the plane with me" and something like "I kept my hand on my wallet because there was a black guy on the bus today."  Yep, no difference.  And you know what?  Thinking that second example would make you... wait for it... a raging bigot.  Not to mention pretty damn stupid.

Imagine if every stupid act carried out by a Christian became a condemnation of Christianity itself. That would be ludicrous, right?  Unfortunately, these fears espoused by so many are real, and every bit as small minded.

It's simple (and alas, all too human): If you are afraid of all Muslims because of what happened to our country on Sept. 11, 2001, you are practicing a form of bigotry, and as NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said when questioned about firing Williams, probably some issues you should take up with your "psychiatrist and publicist."

RedState Update summed this up best in a satirical video circa the recent childish "controversy" over the NYC Mosque (or multi-denominational cultural center, if you're fond of reality based understanding).  To paraphrase:
Jackie: "You realize that not all Muslims were behind the 9/11 attack?"  Dunlap: "Well, not all conservatives are racists... but because of a few tea parties, now we all have a PR problem."
I've issued a challenge for Mr. Weiler to accept, in an effort to broaden his horizons and expand his understanding that this a really really big world with a lot of different people in it.  I have invited several people I know working (and owning businesses... gasp!) right here in Utah who happen to be Muslim.  I'm now up to 4 takers on an invitation to have lunch with Todd, and calm some of his irrational fears about Muslims, and airplanes.

Encourage Mr. Weiler to accept.  Bigotry is an ugly thing.

UPDATE: Rep. Carl Wimmer joins the Bigot BrigadeEncourage him to accept an educational lunch request as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jimmy McMillan for President!

(h/t Marshall Thompson) NY Gov candidate Jimmy McMillan ("The Rent is Too Damn High" Party). 

update - because the rent is still too damn high

Spending Cuts Will Not Reduce the Deficit, Nor Fix Our Economy

Ezra Klein is quickly becoming one of the best at cutting through the noise -- on many issues, from health care reform, to tax policy and deficits -- generated by demagoguing teabag candidates and partisan gas bags.  In a concise post yesterday, he lays out in easily parsed terms why spending cuts are simply not the route to deficit reduction:
Our problem, put simply, is that our debt is growing faster than our economy. A lot faster. But you can't solve that by cutting spending or raising taxes. Those options will buy you time, but nothing more than that. Think of it this way: If you've got $1 trillion in debt and it's growing at 10 percent a year, you can cut $80 billion -- a huge cut in one year -- and be back to $1 trillion in debt by the next year. What matters is the growth rate, not the number.

That means the best way to solve your deficit problems is simple, at least in theory: Increase how fast your economy is growing. A one percentage point increase in your economy's growth rate is equal to about $2.5 trillion in new revenue over 10 years (not to mention it means you don't need as much social spending, as more people have jobs). To put that more concretely, whether we grow at 2 percent and 3.5 percent over the next 10 years means more to the deficit than whether we extend all of the Bush tax cuts or none of them.

The second best way to solve deficit problems is slow down how fast debt is growing. The big driver there is health-care costs, and so the honest answer on our debt problems is that we either need to wait and see how well the cost controls in health-care reform work, or we need to strengthen those cost controls and then wait and see how they work. We can raise taxes and cut spending to buy ourselves time, but the only sustainable answer is faster economic growth and slower debt growth. But we rarely talk about our debt problem in those terms, which means we rarely talk about it in a way that has any hope of solving it.
I don't expect Mike Lee or Morgan Philpot to change tact, nor that it'd make much difference in the narrative if their opponents challenged their rhetoric with a dose of intelligence.  Lee's campaign has -- obviously -- not been about winning minds, but praying on low-info voters, easily churned into wingnut rage.  But for the record, if nothing else, it's another great example of a simple truth of the 2010 race:

They understand teabagging... but not simple economics.  This isn't a war of ideas, this is Bullshit vs. the Real World.  And the real world, sadly, isn't winning in the Utah Senate race.

For those with more of a clue, early voting has begun.  Go fight Teh Stooped.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rasmussen Polls - Thumbs On The Scales

Let's say you're a pollster and you want to poll an upcoming election. The best way to get public sentiment for the race would be to ask the ballot question first, before any demographic or issue questions. Rasmussen gives an example of this with the Lee v Granato poll.

Questions - Utah Senate - October 13, 2010

Utah State Survey of 500 Likely Voters Conducted October 13, 2010
By Rasmussen Reports

1* If the 2010 election for United States Senate were held today would you vote for Republican Mike Lee or Democrat Sam Granato? (Please note that we split the survey to rotate the order of the candidate names, so while half will hear the Republican candidate first, the other half hears the Democrat mentioned first.)

61% Mike Lee (R)
28% Sam Granato (D)
4% Some other candidate
8% Not sure

2* I’m going to read you a short list of people in the News. For each, please let me know if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression.
Now if you're a pollster who wants to sway the topline number a little, you might ask a warm up question or two. Perhaps capitalize on someone unpopular, contrast them with someone you want to prop up, and then ask the ballot question. Rasmussen gives us an example of this with the Corroon v Herbert poll.

Questions - Utah Governor - October 13, 2010

Utah State Survey of 500 Likely Voters Conducted August 23, 2010
By Rasmussen Reports

1* How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

2* How do you rate the way that Gary Herbert has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

3* If the 2010 Election for Governor of Utah were held today would you vote for Republican Gary Herbert or Democrat Peter Corroon? (Please note that we split the survey to rotate the order of the candidate names, so while half will hear the Republican candidate first, the other half hears the Democrat mentioned first.)

66% Gary Herbert (R)
29% Peter Corroon (D)
2% Some other candidate
3% Not sure
(note - I'm guessing that ras just didn't update the header of the press release, that's why it says conducted on Aug. 23rd, the title and results match the Oct. 13th poll.)

Now for the poll conspiracy theorists out there (and count me in that group), if you'll notice that each set of interviews took place on October 13th, and that each poll had a set of 500 respondents. Now these phone calls cost money to place, and Rasmussen is in the business of being profitable, so it would stand to reason that they only made one set of phone calls, conducting two interviews on each. Assuming that's the case, and assuming you wanted to really have a thumb on the scales for the second interview, you could prime the interviewee for the second interview with the questions in the first interview.
3. A proposal has been made to repeal the health care bill and stop it from going into effect. Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose a proposal to repeal the health care bill?

4* The health care plan passed by Congress requires every American to buy or obtain health insurance. Do you Strongly Favor, Somewhat Favor, Somewhat Oppose, or Strongly Oppose a federal law that requires every American to buy or obtain health insurance?

5* Should individual states have the right to opt out of the entire national health care plan?

6* Do you consider yourself part of the Tea Party Movement?

7* Is The Tea Party movement good for the country or bad for the country?

8* Generally speaking, how would you rate the U.S. economy these days? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

9* Are economic conditions in the country getting better or worse?

10* Last year, Congress and the president enacted a $787 billion economic stimulus plan. So far, has the economic stimulus plan helped the economy, hurt the economy or had no impact on the economy?

11* In reacting to the nation’s current economic problems, what worries you more….that the federal government will do too much or that the federal government will not do enough?

12* How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?

13* How do you rate the way that Gary Herbert has been doing as Governor… do you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the job he’s been doing?
That's the end of the senate poll, but if you were a pollster who wanted to fluff the Herbert numbers, it would be a very convenient way to end the interview that takes place right before the governor race interview wouldn't it?****

Is there anyone left that thinks Rasmussen is a legit pollster merely polling the sentiment of the people?

****No, I don't have any proof, I said it was a conspiracy theory, I'll prove it when they find bigfoot in area 51.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Dumb it Down

Conservatives are winning the branding battles with simplistic half-truths that catch on, if not actually telling the real story. Many -- including me, at times -- have argued progressives need to learn to do the same, without the lies. But here's an argument for "keeping it real" even if "full of shit" is winning the frame. The Democratic Strategist:

"What progressives gain in exchange for this sacrifice of the opportunity to pound in a simple message and agenda for decades is pretty important: the chance when in power to promote policies that actually work. And of all the "brands" that are desirable for the party of public-sector activism, competence is surely the best. Indeed, the most ironically perilous thing about the current political environment is that Democrats are paying a high price for the consequences of ideologically-driven incompetence--not to mention very deliberate efforts to destabilize the planet and promote economic inequality and social divisions--attributable to the last era of conservative control of the federal government.

The best news for progressives right now is that conservatives are engaged in another, and even more ideologically-driven, effort to promote their "brand" at the expense of reality. Indeed, one way to understand the Tea Party Movement is as a fierce battle to deny Republicans any leeway from the remorseless logic that will soon lead them to propose deeply unpopular steps to reduce the size and scope of government, while also insisting on policies virtually guaranteed to make today's bad economy even worse, certainly for middle-class Americans. I'm willing to grant conservatives a "branding" advantage and keep my own political family grounded in the messy uncertainties of the real world."


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Health Care Reality Check for Morgan Philpot

Via (again!) Ezra Klein:

Here's the play: Someone somewhere reports that the Affordable Care Act will require some change in the status quo. Maybe it's that insurers can no longer discriminate against sick children, and so some of them are pulling products that were only financially viable so long as they could discriminate against sick children. Maybe it's that McDonald's won't be able to offer miniature health-care "coverage" that caps annual benefits at $2,000, a form of insurance that wouldn't protect anyone from a real illness and that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley once described as "not better than nothing." Maybe it's that 3M is changing its early-retiree health-care plans, for reasons that may or may not be related to the new health-care law. Opponents of the reforms jump on the story. "See!" they say. "This is a catastrophe!" Supporters -- at least some of them -- e-mail me. "This needs a rebuttal, thanks."

But it doesn't need a rebuttal. It needs explanation, and that's what's usually lacking. And when they do explain the particular rule or regulation causing the disruption, the situation often looks very different. The McDonald's plans, for instance, shouldn't continue after 2014, though it looks like the administration is going to give them a waiver to escape the bad press. The point of health-care reform was to get people into real insurance and protect them from illusory plans that run out when they get sick.
Just a few hours spent on the #utpol hashtag, and you'll see some Utah con parlaying this same garbage Klein points to as empirical "proof" that ACA "is ruining the greatest health care system in the world." (Yeah, that guy is running for Congress.)

The health care debate from then to now has always been too driven by anecdotal "evidence," admittedly a lazy tactic employed by both proponents and supporters.  Once you inject more intelligence into the debate than the Utah Young Republicans twitter feed, you begin to understand the real objective of the reform, and the actual -- and beneficial -- challenges it brings to the status quo of our failing health care system.

It's laughable to see anyone defending the status quo, but an intelligent argument isn't the goal for Republicans at this point, if it (DEATH PANELS!) ever was. 

When Morgan Philpot speaks today, remember, it's the McDonald's health care plan -- which isn't much of a plan at all -- that he's defending.  When Shurtleff speaks afterward, remember he's a carpetbagger in search of a spotlight, always.  And when you hear these lazy attacks on the ACA, laugh.

The bill, with all of it's warts, is a start, and will never see a repeal.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Utah GOP Throws Herbert Under the Bus

Sometimes, I agree with Republican Lawmakers:

A half-dozen GOP lawmakers, all speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to alienate their party’s sitting governor, expressed disbelief and frustration at how Herbert has dealt with the Corroon challenge.

“I think he’ll have a very legitimate challenger, if not challengers. I think that is becoming more and more the conventional wisdom,” said one Republican lawmaker. “It doesn’t ultimately feel like an open and transparent campaign, and there’s an adage that says if you’re explaining, you’re losing. He’s been doing an awful lot of explaining.”

Said another GOP legislator: “In politics, people look for vulnerability, and he’s shown significant vulnerability this cycle.

“I really think Gary has bought himself a challenge,” he said.

Herbert campaign spokesman Don Olsen said he would “respectfully disagree” that the campaign has been mishandled.
Don Olsen is, of course, paid to say that.

Republicans, understandably, have circled the wagons around Gary, since he's their only option this go-round.  They feign indignant outrage over Corroon's aggressive campaign, asking legitimate and warranted questions, because they know they're legitimate questions.

But Republican lawmakers in Utah rarely, if at all, speak out of turn. That a few "anonymous" lawmakers have gotten themselves quoted throwing Gary under the bus, it's either an intentional warning to Herbert's campaign, or such a majority sentiment on the hill that Gary is incompetent, even the weakest links are being let in on the narrative.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mike Lee vs. The Educated

Several articles circulating my way this weekend from a friend, all various responses throughout this year from economists, academics, and financial experts to the question: What does/should the future of the US Economy look like?  Mulling them over, it struck me how even more ridiculous the teabagger battle cries sound in contrast to an actual intelligent discussion about economic realities and options.

Summarizing arguments made...

Stiglitz (video): Pace of foreclosures higher in 2010.  25% of mortgages underwater.  Commercial real estate underwater.  Long term national debt will be lower if we run a deficit now.  Make up for state revenue shortfall.

Galbraith: Restructure housing markets, encourage retirements.  Spend now to avoid systemic (and more expensive) problems later, long term deficit will be less.  Stimulus worked, but only offset short-sighted action by many states with balanced budget only in mind.  Good start, but time for Stimulus II.

Warren: 2,988 banks stretched, 1/2 of commercial real estate loans headed underwater. Fed approach was top down, honorable, but isn't working.  Middle class has been hollowed out.  Banks prospering won't save the economy in the face of such high foreclosure, joblessness.

Marshall Auerback: Someone should remind teabaggers and deficit hawks that there is nothing more inefficient, expensive, self-defeating and wasteful than long term systemic unemployment. 

... and to bring it all home, our resident teabagger/DeMint lackey, Mike Lee: More outsourcing and balanced budget amendments that make economic response to crisis next to impossible! Also: horseshit.

We should trust the educated.