Thursday, November 18, 2010

Biting Off a Bigger Chunk-o-Blogging

Jerome Armstrong has invited me to write more at MyDD. I've accepted, just for the challenge. This is a chance for me to write for a much larger, national audience -- not to mention an honor, considering almost all of my political blogging heroes cut their national audience teeth at MyDD -- so I'm anxious to see where it goes. Craig and Jeff P may be posting more frequently here than usual, and we'll all double efforts to keep The SideTrack dedicated to state issues, especially as the legislative session begins.

But if things seem a bit dead here for a while, this is why. Hopefully, things won't. It's just a big adjustment, and to be honest, a bit intimidating. Also: uber exciting.

My latest MyDD post, for those interested: Nobody -- but pundits -- gives a rat's ass about bipartisanship.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dayton, Wimmer, Frank Have No Common Sense

Anyone believe a word of this?

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said legislators don’t want the federal government involved in the state’s education decisions.

But Congress wrote the law in such a way that, if the Legislature and governor don’t accept the federal dollars, the money would be sent directly to Utah school districts. That would cut the Legislature entirely out of the decision-making process, Dayton said.

“I’ve got a lot of angst over that whole issue,” she said. “They’re trying to dictate 100 percent of our policy and what do they give us, 8 percent of our budget? It’s just not an appropriate arrangement.”

The $101 million in federal aid is part of a $10 billion package passed by Congress earlier this year, aimed at helping schools avoid laying off teachers.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Gary Herbert expect to use about half of the money to cover a budget shortfall created by tax collections that have been lower than projected. They plan to send the rest to various school districts based on a formula.

Rep. Craig Frank, R-Cedar Hills, said the state shouldn’t be forced to take federal funds and sees the issue as a “good opportunity to further push back against the federal government’s intrusion into the state autonomy, and they just continue to do this.”
Go get 'em Rep. Frank (R-Embarrassment)!  But now for the reality:

These 10th-er Hacks aren't pearl clutching over getting this money, and they are devoid of a clue as to what Utah could do instead to keep schools above water.  The "opposition" to "intrusion" is tantamount to a wing-nut temper tantrum, and the truth of their "concern" is that the Feds won't just sign the check over so that they can use it for items other than teachers, schools, etc.  The "strings" they object to are the "strings" that mandate this money as education money, not "back fill the budget to cover for your failed tax policy" money.

Carl Wimmer isn't known to be a big picture thinker (or even a regular picture thinker).  Dayton is a proven reactionary.  And Craig Frank is... well, nobody cares what Craig Frank thinks.  So ignore the pomp and circumstance, and settle your nerves about all the "tyranny" that is "you can't spend this money like morons with a federal check book." 

The reality is even more shrinking of the institutes of education in this state (and as a result, less wiggle room, as today's students become tomorrow's economic foundation), or cashing the check.  And all the hand-ringing over what we'll do when even this money is gone only overshadows the fact that the 10thers, Demagogues, Birchers, and Ideologues on the righty-est fringe of the legislature have absolutely no plan for the future beyond Vouchers 2.0, and the School of Science.

We are going to cash the check.  We have to cash the check.  And Dayton, Wimmer, and Frank are welcome to lose sleep over the "strings."  Smarter folk should not.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yes to the "Utah Compact"

The Utah Compact is out, defining five principles for dealing with immigration in Utah.  The approach is conservative, complete with pledges to the free-market and defending "the family," but the political reality is that Utah is a conservative stronghold, and this compact is the first step to sane immigration reform legislation, within that reality.

Add your name.

The pledge has been endorsed by the Sutherland Institute, AG Mark Shurtleff, SLC Mayor Ralph Becker, SL County Mayor Peter Corroon, Sen. Pat Jones... just to name a few.

Add your name now.  Stealing a concise summary from Frank Staheli of what the compact offers:

  • FEDERAL SOLUTIONS — That "Immigration is a federal policy issue..."
  • LAW ENFORCEMENT —  That local law enforcement should "focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code."
  • FAMILIES — That all laws should support and foster strong families and "and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children."
  • ECONOMY —  That we should recognize and respect the significant contributions that all immigrants make to Utah's economy.
  • A FREE SOCIETY — That free societies are inclusive and that we should celebrate all cultures and history, and that "Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill."
The reaction I've heard so far from progressives in Utah has been hesitant and suspicious of the obvious conservative appeal in the pledge.  I understand.  We're jumpy, and with good reason.  But like it or not, Utah is a red state.  The compact offers a stark contrast to the rhetoric of Reps. Sandstrom and Ray and what we're sure to hear from Sen. Howard Stephenson.  A conservative approach to this issue is the only way the tone of this debate will change within a conservative legislature.  It's also a fine setup for legislation I hope we see soon from Sen. Luz Robles regarding immigration in Utah to combat the AZ approach cemented in Rep. Sandstrom's "enforcement only" bill.

The Utah Compact is a chance to ensure that the legislative outcome of this debate is rational, inclusive, and in words of Sutherland Institute President Paul Mero himself: humane.

Sign the compact.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Political Cognitive Dissonance

I've been meaning to post something about the elections for the past week, but really don't find anything that noteworthy to say that hasn't already been said.  So, some of what I think are the best already-been-saids:

Drew Western:

The president and his advisers misinterpreted both the meaning of his election and polls showing that Americans wanted ‘bipartisanship.’ The reality is that people who are out of work couldn’t care less about who is bickering with whom in Washington. They care about what is happening to their lives and families.
Gail Collins:
I spent the election in southern Ohio, which was full of signs telling people to vote against Nancy Pelosi. She made an easy target — San Francisco liberal, first woman, and I will admit that she has a strange, semi-robotic way of talking. But I want to give her a going-out-of-power salute. She stood up for her principles. The health care bill would never, ever have become law if she hadn’t given the alpha males the spine to keep going. I know you’re not crazy about it, but I believe it’s going to be Barack Obama’s great legacy. And although nobody will ever give her credit for it, Pelosi moved a deeply reluctant House forward on ethics issues.
Greg Anrig:
The most reliable finding in political science literature is that voters punish incumbents when elections occur during a period of high unemployment. That conclusion was reaffirmed Tuesday, and it will be again in two years if the president and Congress follow the likely path of fixating on deficit reduction rather than job creation.
Ezra Klein:
One reason I don't like playing the pundit's game of offering strategic advice is that I don't believe anyone really has a handle on what works in American politics. I certainly don't. What we can say is there are certain patterns in American politics -- presidents tend to lose seats in their first midterm election, and the economy seems to drive a lot of votes -- and they tend to afflict lots of different presidents who seemed pretty capable at one point, and in many cases, won the next election and retired as masters of the political game. And since I think policy is a much less uncertain field, if I were in the House, I'd much rather lose my seat after making America a much better place than lose my seat after either failing in my efforts or never trying at all.
 And best of all, Hertzberg:
As for "the American people" themselves, it seems clear enough that their rejection of the Democrats was, above all, an expression of angry anxiety about the ongoing economic firestorm. Though ignited and fanned by an out-of-control financial industry and its (mostly) conservative political and intellectual enablers, the fire has burned hottest since the 2008 Democratic sweep. By the time the flames reached their height, the arsonists had slunk off, and only the firemen were left for people to take out their ire on. The result is a kind of political cognitive dissonance. Frightened by joblessness, "the American people" rewarded the party that not only opposed the stimulus but also blocked the extension of unemployment benefits. Alarmed by a ballooning national debt, they rewarded the party that not only transformed budget surpluses into budget deficits but also proposes to inflate the debt by hundreds of billions with a permanent tax cut for the least needy two per cent. Frustrated by what they see as inaction, they rewarded the party that not only fought every effort to mitigate the crisis but also forced the watering down of whatever it couldn't block.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Corroon's Volunteers, In Their Own Words

Back at the Peter Corroon Campaign HQ after visiting 6 staging locations, a Crown Burger, and checking in with the Mayor's friends on Main St. Magna.

The faces here at HQ have changed, but -- surprisingly for 4pm on election day -- the number of empty seats in a very large phone bank area have not.

I talked to several volunteers going on break here and at the various remote locations throughout Salt Lake County, and two themes keep repeating in their answers to my questions:

A genuine excitement over what they are doing here, and a respect for the way the campaign has treated its large volunteer staff.

My favorite comment from a vol who's name I didn't catch: "An architecture has been built here that will have long arms in years to come. The training I've gotten and the experience make me feel a duty to stay involved in this and future campaigns."

Polls are open for another four hours. Find your polling place, and take a few friends.

Thanks to the Corroon Campaign for letting me invade their space today.

Staging Location Five, Labor Hall

Canvassing organization, and calling groups at Labor Hall and Magna Local 392. Too many people coming and going to count.

There's something about Labor offices, and the old timers often staffing them that almost make me feel sorry for anti-union Republicans.

They don't get it. Some Pics:

Staging Location One

Staging location one, Foothill Blvd.

About 75 people here now, at tables lining the walls. Site manager says each person will make between 250-300 calls per shift, and this group is
the first on three shifts.

You do the math.

Election Day

Spending the day stalking the Corroon Campaign, trying to get an inside look at what I'm told is one massive GOTV effort by Utah standards. I'll post updates here as often as possible, also on Teh