Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Utaw's Patrik Henree Kawkiss

This video had me sold on your idea of state sovereignty -- had even begun registering my own secessionist domain and website to jump on the wingnutty bandwagon -- until I realized, at about 2 minute 2 seconds, that you couldn't even spell it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Matthew Piccolo's Unfortunate Sex-Ed Op-Ed

I'm starting to believe the boys at Sutherland Institute just have a legislative opposition quota that must be met each session.  Usually you can see (if not agree, or even come close to believing) their POV in opposition to this bill or that.  But with their assault on the -- as they're saying -- PLANNED PARENTHOOD BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA "Sex-Ed" bill this session, their opposition wears a bit thin in substance, and a bit thick in brainless ideology.

Which manifests in this sorry excuse for "analysis" regurgitated by SI lackey Matthew Piccolo in the pages of the Trib several days ago titled "No need in Utah for comprehensive sex-ed reform."  In making his case that Utah has "no need for comprehensive sex ed" options for parents and teachers (and let's stress that: options for parents... we'll get back to that), Piccolo desperately cherry picks the UDOH data to make his case.  While the UDOH concludes that there has been a steady increase in STD transmission per capita among Utahns age 15-29, Piccolo bravely counters with data from only 10-19 year olds and says, "Nu-uh!, look at the 10 year olds! Everything is fine!"  Matthew concludes from his analysis of selective data

These data hardly paint the picture of a crisis. Instead, they indicate that overall our youth are doing quite well, and, in fact, are among the nation's leaders in reproductive health. Still, we should not disregard the relative few who do struggle with these problems. We should strive to help every child in need.

The solution, however, is not to require extensive instruction in contraception for all students in order to target problems that affect a small fraction of them, especially when the effectiveness of "comprehensive" education is highly debatable. Looking into why gonorrhea rates are declining might help us identify a better way.
Also highly debatable, Matthew, is the effectiveness of abstinence only.  So if we're only going to give parents and educators tools based on 100% conclusive practices, well, we're going to have to do away with health classes altogether I'm afraid.  Even "eat right and exercise" has it's doubters.  And don't get me started on all the guess work in Physics... I mean we can't even really sub-atomic particles.  What are they doing even bringing them up in front of Utah's apparently easily-pushed-around-by-learnin' children?  Huh?  Inexcusable, of course!  Or just reasonable.  Depending on whether you have a real job, or work for a think tank I guess...

But even that aside, let's take a closer look at the Sutherland "logic" on this issue.  They claim that 1) Utah's number one communicable disease, Chlamydia... wait, let me say that again... UTAH'S NUMBER ONE COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, CHLAMYDIA... is actually not "on the rise that much" if we look at the 10 year olds to 19 year olds, rather than using the foolish but well meaning Utah Department of Health's numbers of 15-29 year olds.  And 2) that no one can prove knowing how to use a condom prevents transmission of UTAH'S NUMBER ONE COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, CHLAMYDIA, so therefore it makes perfect sense to deny parents a choice for their own children.

So, let's talk about school vouchers.  Remember them?  I never get tired of talking about them.  During the school voucher "debate," Sutherland Institute and Parents for "Choice" in Education ran with the message that a school voucher system to funnel kids into private schools rather than public with a taxpayer funded "voucher" was all about giving parents choices for the the education of their children.  It was a wonderful message, just unfortunately more bullshit than fact, and voters didn't buy it, thankfully.

Now this same group of thinkers want to restrict the choice of parents.  Why again?  See above.  Focus on the bold type.  And what they oppose is a bill that simply augments current sex education law, allowing for educators to produce a "20-40min video of medically accurate data on correct use of contraception" that parents can choose to allow their children to see, if they choose.  And only if they choose.  Gasp!  The horror!  Someone bring me my salts, I feel a faint comin' on! 

Tomorrow morning, a Facebook update from SI tells me, Lil' Matty will be on the hill at 8 am, spewing this same garbage to legislative ears.  Planned Parenthood will be there too, defending what is, for all intents and purposes a very reasonable and intelligent change to current law, which will give parents more choice in the education of their child.  If you're available, stop by the Senate Education Committee meeting tomorrow morning and show your support for (Room 415).

The opposition to the bill should be ashamed of their cognitive disconnect, if not their outright misdirection on such an important issue.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dear Cherilyn...

This is not a compliment.

Eagar called: Michele Bachmann with blond hair, after recent US Senate debate. #TCOT #glennbeck #utpol #sgp #UtGOP 
Outside of the carnie circuit, at least.

Birchers!

Glad to see CPAC finally giving those poor John Birch Society folk their proper place in the "revolution."

A come back a long time coming, huh?

I mean it goes without saying they should be taken seriously and all.

"Birchtube."  Heh.

Utah's Final Budget Numbers

I'm posting these partly so I have them archived here, and partly because I think they deserve additional attention.

Sen. Hillyard at The Senate Site and on air with us last Thursday, talking final budget numbers.

Enjoy?

(Thoughts on the budget from last year, here)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stimulus Requests: Why Would a Republican Lie?

Stumbled on this very convenient collection of the all the GOP hypocrisy on the stimulus (in short, voting against it, speaking against it, demagoguing the beejeezus out of it... then going back home and whispering "hey, can I have some of that?")

Our federal Republican delegates, in all their hypocritical glory:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) Requested $95 Million In Stimulus Money. The Salt Lake Tribune reported: “All four of Utah’s Republicans in Congress voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year, and all of them then used congressional stationary in an attempt to nab stimulus cash for the state. [...] Sen. Orrin Hatch and Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz sent the Interior Department a letter on behalf of the Provo River Water Users Association seeking $95 million in funds, while Matheson pushed for money for national parks in Utah.” [SLT, 10/4/09 ]

-Congressman Chaffetz Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46 ; Roll Call Vote #70 ]
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) Requested $95 Million In Stimulus Money. The Salt Lake Tribune reported: “All four of Utah’s Republicans in Congress voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year, and all of them then used congressional stationary in an attempt to nab stimulus cash for the state. [...] Sen. Orrin Hatch and Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz sent the Interior Department a letter on behalf of the Provo River Water Users Association seeking $95 million in funds, while Matheson pushed for money for national parks in Utah.” [SLT, 10/4/09 ]
-Congressman Bishop Voted Against The Recovery Package Twice [Roll Call Vote #46 ; Roll Call Vote #70

And the ultimate irony?  Matheson, the only member of our delegation to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requested the least amount of funds from the federal government for his district.



Unbelievable this passes the sniff test of Utah voters.  It seems more than obvious, again and again, the policies they sail to re-election on again and again they don't even really subscribe to themselves.


It's like being sold a car by a salesman that wouldn't be caught dead in the car he wants you to believe you can't pass up on.


And, sadly, I don't really blame them.  As a state, we enable their behavior with our votes.

Romney's 2012 Strategy

Just lie.

2010 Midterms: Connecting a Dot

Two quotes hitting the front page of Political Wire on separate days this week worth considering.

"To the extent the Republican Party is seen as sitting on the sidelines, rooting for failure, I don't think they will be rewarded."

-- White House political adviser David Axelrod, in an interview with The Hill, on the midterm elections outlook.
and,
Stan Greenberg: "President Obama and the Democratic Party need to urgently revisit 1994. By paying close attention to the lessons of that year -- lessons about presidential leadership, the consequences of congressional melodrama, the need for an economic narrative and for a defining choice in the election -- the worst can be avoided."

"Most importantly, Democrats must explain this election's stakes and frame the choice that voters face. This is something we failed to get right in 1994."
Dick Cheney thinks it's going to go just super for Republicans, and the Obama will be a one-termer. Considering Cheney's track record on predictions, that's good news for Democrats.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Judging the Stimulus By Job Data Alone

David Leonhardt breaks down the raw job data, and writes:

Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.

Let’s say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and had rapidly helped the economy. Let’s also imagine it was large enough to have had a huge impact on jobs — employing something like two million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now.

If that had happened, what would the economy look like today?

Well, it would look almost exactly as it does now. Because those nice descriptions of the stimulus that I just gave aren’t hypothetical. They are descriptions of the actual bill.
Read the whole report @NYT. Caution, my Republican friends... it has numbers in it.

Fightin' Words on Stimulus from UDP Chair

On the one year anniversary of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland calls out Republicans for their... how to say it... bullshit stimulus rhetoric.

Just two of the top recipients in Utah are the Granite and Jordan School Districts that received more than $100 million to keep our schools afloat. The University of Utah has received $44 million, $13.8 million to BYU; $13.7 million to Utah State University; and $8.2 million to Utah Valley University. And this is just some of the good news. All in all, we have been able to fund over 1,800 projects in Utah with the help of the Recovery Act. Other key projects and benefits of the Recovery act include tax credits for first-time home-buyers, $108 million to remove uranium tailings near the Colorado River in Moab, and $13.5 million to reconstruct the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor Center in Vernal, and $5 million for construction of a Bureau of Reclamation pipeline in Daggett County.

ARRA has been a resounding success for Utah and for all Americans, and there’s still more to come. In fact, there are still almost 200 projects that have yet to begin, and 363 that are still less than 50% complete. The state has spent nearly 60% or $1.1 billion of its $1.9 billion total funds designated for Utah. So the Recovery Act will continue to revitalize our economy and put Utahns back on their feet.

But while Democrats are working hard to rebuild the nation’s economy, unfortunately Utah’s Republicans like Sen. Bob Bennet and Rep. Jason Chaffetz squandered their chance to work together to repair the economy — and what’s worse is that they’re attempting to take credit for something they voted against. All four of Utah’s Republicans in Washington vote against the Recovery Act but still sent letters requesting federal money for projects proving that they care more about scoring political points than putting Utahns back to work.
Good stuff.  With troubling polling like this, it's obvious Democrats have lost the messaging war to Republican ridiculousness (and what does that say about the gullibility of the electorate?  C'mon people!).  It's time for Democrats to start sticking up for their policy again.  That Bobby, Orrin, Rob and Baby Jason get away with their spin on the stimulus plan -- while requesting funds from it at the same time -- is ludicrous. 

This is a nice first step to setting the record a little closer to truth on economic policy.  Track stimulus projects in your local area here.

On Economic Policy, Republicans Can't See a Way Forward

Ezra Klein explains why, despite the apparent success of the stimulus, Republicans find it so easy to attack.  In short: macroeconomics is hard, Fox News talking points are easy.

The stimulus has grown the economy 5 plus percent in one year (no marginal feat, and the most growth we've seen in 6 years) and saved or created millions of jobs...

But it is operating amid an economy that's much better at shedding jobs than any economy since the 1930s. Better, even, than the administration is at passing legislation to create jobs. The fact that the captain is uncommonly good at bailing out his boat does not mean he outmatches the ocean around him. Meanwhile, half the crew is blaming him for the fact of the waves and telling the passengers that they should never ride this cruise line again.

The president is judged against the state of the country, not against the counterfactual of the state of the country in his absence (and, luckily for the Republicans, not against the counterfactual of the state of the country under the minority's expressed agenda). That's all politics, and that's all how it goes. But people still need help, and the pity is that the Republicans can't see a way forward to helping them because doing so might help the other party in the midterm elections. Republicans opposed the stimulus -- which was one-third tax cuts -- as part of a gambit to leave Democrats holding the bag for an economy that was sure to be weak in 2010, even if their policies had made it stronger than it otherwise would have been.
Republicans can't see a way forward.  That's the key, and the message the White House needs to remind voters of going into 2010.  The congressional GOP platform seems to amount to little more than playing on misinformation, and taking advantage of lack of voter education about the nuances of economic policy (voters who are smarter than you think, when given accurate information), all while more than half of the GOP caucus is taking credit for results directly stemming from the stimulus they so oppose.  That isn't leadership, it's just politics.  And bad politics at that.

Much can be said about the Democratic Party's apparent inability, still, to challenge this oft played tactic from the GOP (pomp and bluster, rather than policy and telling the truth) and play better at the same rhetorical game, but no one -- and I mean no one -- can rationally defend the Republicans' lack of solutions to solve our economic problems.  Their strategy is for re-election only.  Re-elect us, and we'll figure something out then!  They have no clue what to do about all this other complicated thinky stuff.

That's something Democrats should be reminding voters of over, and over, and over again for the next 8 1/2 months.  Republicans can't see a way forward.

Poll: No Risk for Democrats in Supporting Their Own Damn Agenda

This seems like such a no brainer...

Right now 50% of voters say they oppose President Obama's health care plan to just 39% in support. Digging a little deeper on those numbers though 64% of respondents planning or open to voting Democratic this fall support it with only 22% opposed. The overall numbers are negative only because of 94/1 opposition among folks who have said there is no way they'll vote Democratic this fall.

It's a similar story when it comes to the prospect of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Over 54% of voters support it with 37% opposed. But among the voters Democrats need to make happy- the ones planning to or considering voting for them this year- there is 72/24 support for letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military. The total numbers are brought down only because of 59/25 opposition with folks who will never vote for them anyway.

Congressional Democrats really need to decide if they're going to let their agenda be dictated by voters who won't support them no matter what they do.
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO VOTE FOR YOU ANYWAY... stop asking them what they think before you decide you position on an issue.

For the love of...

"Congress no longer knows how to govern."

Via The Monkey Cage:

Lawmakers today understand the partisan fight, but the act of actually governing requires doing things that are not merely designed to score political points. Instead of governing, we get financial meltdowns, near-miss terrorist attacks, and the potential for many more failures of government responsibility. While Democrats and Republicans play petty politics, America awaits competent governing.

An ungated version of the piece is here.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Utah Fair Boundaries – On the Road Again

From: Curtis Haring <curtis@fairboundaries.org>
Subject: Press release for Cedar City Trip

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*

* Utah Fair Boundaries – On the Road Again*

*Tour of the State Carries on*

*February 16, 2010, Salt Lake City, Utah – Director of Operations, Curtis
Haring, announced Tuesday that he is continue his around the state "tour" to promote his groups goal of receiving 95,000 signatures by April 15 by traveling to Cedar City to speak to a group of volunteers, potential
volunteers, and interested citizens who want to learn about the initiative
being circulated by Fair Boundaries that is designed to create legislative
districts that better represent communities.*

"With a little less than two months left before petitions are due, trips
like this show that this is not just a 'Salt Lake' issue – we need the whole
state to support us and the whole state deserves to have boundaries that truly represent the people." Haring said.

Alex Francis, a Fair Boundaries volunteer and resident of Cedar City, has spearheaded the trip. "We are excited to have Fair Boundaries come down and speak to us. Often times it feels like politicians forget about us down here, but groups like Fair Boundaries know that we are here and that we are important" says Francis.

Haring will also be visiting with county leaders along the way to drop off
more petitions, receive copies of completed petitions, and meet to discuss how things are going in the individual counties that make up the heart of Utah.

"I will also be discussing our online signature campaign," Haring says.
"Never before have we seen this kind of direct democracy in our state – and the rural counties outside of the Wasatch Front can truly benefit from this form of signature gathering. Now people can be heard even if they can not easily find a physical petition."

Electronic petitions can be found at http://fairboundaries.utahpetitions.org
.

The meeting with volunteers will take place in the Whiting Room of the
Hunter Conference Center on Southern Utah Universities Campus at 5:30 PM on February 23rd.  And volunteers will continue their door-to-door efforts until the April 15th deadline.

About Fair Boundaries:

Fair Boundaries was organized in January, 2009 by a group of citizens
concerned about gerrymandering in Utah. Their goal is to certify over 95,000 signatures, across the state, by April 15, 2010 in order to place their initiative on the 2010 November ballot.  The initiative is designed to
create an 11-member advisory commission that would draw new state legislative district boundaries after the 2010 census.

Contact:

Curtis Haring, Director of Operations

Utah Fair Boundaries

Cell – 801-891-5507

curtis@fairboundaris.org



Alex Francis, Volunteer

Utah Fair Boundaries

801-380-7651

Mivida8@gmail.com



Glenn Wright, Field Director

Utah Fair Boundaries

Cell - 435-640-9284

glenn@fairboundaries.org



# # #

Help Send Holly to CPAC '10!

Utah blogger Holly on the Hill has a rare opportunity, just announced yesterday:

Woot! Erick Erickson and RedState, a nationally known conservative website, are sponsoring the bloggers lounge at this weekend’s CPAC gathering. It’s probably the largest conservative conference of the year, held in DC every February. A couple of weeks ago, they called for applications from bloggers. They specifically looked for conservative, independent bloggers (ie: not part of someone’s DC staff or another media outlet). Fitting the bill – and knowing CPAC is a BIG DEAL, I applied. I was accepted and today, have been fundraising to get myself there.
Whether you follow CPAC for the latest from the biggest conservative players, or because you can’t wait to hear what Michelle Bachmann says next, having a Utah blogger there to cover it will provide us all with an insider’s view few other states will enjoy.

Holly is fundraising for the trip via PayPal.  If you can toss a little her way (click here), please do so soon. Send the donation to “hollyonthehill@yahoo.com.”  She leaves tomorrow!

You can follow Holly’s trip at her blog, and also on Twitter via @hollyonthehill.  Congrats, Holly!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bye Bayh

Finally! Bayh has decided against a third term as a Senator from Indiana.

Mr. Bayh will announce the news at a press conference at 2 p.m., an aide confirmed on Monday. The decision was closely held by Mr. Bayh, a party official in Indiana said, and came as a surprise to Democrats in his state who had already started working on his campaign.

Mr. Bayh made his decision even after entreaties by President Obama and White House aides, including the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who urged him to run.

“After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so in Congress has waned,” Mr. Bayh plans to say in his remarks.
I don't care that this means another seat Democrats have to defend (especially considering who they'll be defending the seat against... Heh). I'm just glad to see this guy go. Bayh had a nasty habit (somehow almost exclusive to "moderate" Democrats in the House and Senate) of watering down legislation, complaining about big steps, and remembering fiscal responsibility only when politically expedient for himself -- all while bitching about the efficiency of the legislation he himself helped to strip the teeth from. He was Hot Air's favorite Democrat. Hugh Hewitt thought he was a genius. See the pattern here?

Bayh is the perfect example of "But I'm a Democrat in a conservative state!" becoming not just a political consideration, but a blanket excuse for every bad vote.

More and better Democrats, as they say.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reid’s updated jobs bill tosses ‘pathetic’ corporate tax giveaways

Click the link, watch Reid rediscover a bit of spine...



Friday, February 12, 2010

Robin Hood Tax

The Nation:

On Wednesday, British activists launched a major campaign to push Gordon Brown's government into adopting a "Robin Hood Tax" on financial transactions -- a tiny tax on bank transactions that could raise hundreds of billions for public services and for tackling poverty and climate change. "By taking an average of 0.05 percent from speculative banking transactions, hundreds of billions of pounds would be raised every year," their website asserts.

The campaigners unveiled a truly brilliant little sketch featuring British actor Bill Nighy as a smarmy banker. Nighy also took to the airwaves on the BBC's biggest morning shows arguing that a tiny transaction tax would be "small change for the bankers, but big change for the world."
Say what you will (and many of you will), but if you put your chosen ideology aside, and consider the cost/benefits of such a tax...

It just makes sense.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Breaking: Local Demagogue Candidate Endorsed By Local Elected Moron!

Via my inbox, it seems the candidate who wrote this...

The answer to an economic downturn is not a government stimulus, but a reduction in government regulation and bureaucracy. #tcot #utpol
...has been endorsed by the elected official who wrote this...
@thesidetrack I know radical-leftists like you SPIT on the Constitution, but there r some who still respect it..this fight's far from over!
By the company they keep, huh?  Hope no one feeds either of them after midnight, lest they breed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bury it in the White House Yard

John Cole offers some sage advice for the White House, going into the proposed health care summit.

I know you all won’t do it, but this really is a gimme. Set up the room with a side for the Democrats, including nameplates, one for the Republicans, including nameplates, and hold the summit no matter what. If they come, you can have the summit. If they don’t, then you can have the summit without them, and can use the time (as the camera pans over their empty seats) to promote the positive aspects of the current bill all while discussing the only GOP plan out there- the Paul Ryan bill. I’d suggest panning the room a good bit.

And if the Republicans don’t take a hit in the polls for refusing to show up, and if the media does not rip the Republicans apart, then you all can take out a shovel, beat bipartisanship in the back of the damned head until dead, and bury it in the WH yard, and start acting like you have large majorities.

RNC: "Spread the Love"

My (new) favorite Valentine's Day tradition.  Michael Steele, in my inbox:
P.S. Spread the love -- just like Obama spreads your wealth -- this Valentine's Day by sending your friends and family a GOP Valentine's E-Card from the Republican National Committee.
I don't know if it's what goes for "witty" on that side of the fence these days, or if it's the sheer desperation the gimmicky ploy implies ("We have no policy, but we have petulant e-cards!"... or "The RNC... the AOL of political parties!").

Regardless, Steele's email plea made my day, and a few of them were actually funny (pictured).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Challenging the Anti-Tax Mentality

California's money woes are well known, but it often amazes me how little understood the causes are. Any time the topic arises, any conservative within earshot will shout out the clarion call of those "tax and spend Califor-aye-yay liberal elites!" and how lucky we Utahns are to live in conservative servitude.

But the facts of the matter paint a very different picture. California suffers from a combination of a hamstrung legislature, bound by foolish process rules that give obstructionist ideologues near-veto-power influence over the sausage making process (sound familiar?), and a string of anti-tax pledges and balanced budget mandates (sound even more locally familiar?) that have in effect crippled the state's infrastructure and services. In an article on HuffPo's front page today, Bob Samuels details the history of self defeating legislation, as well as foundation of a mindset most prominent today in the tea party "movement."

We can trace the origin of the current tea party movement to the late 1970s when California led the way to a new form of tax rebellion by passing Proposition 13, which capped property taxes and required that new taxes could only be raised if 2/3rds of the state legislators voted for the increase. Since this time, not only has the limit on taxes reduced the available money for education and other public programs, but this proposition has determined the structure of Californian politics. Republicans in the state have learned that they can be elected to office by simply attacking any hint of raising taxes, and not only are they able to label opponents as "tax and spend" Democrats, but Republicans, who represent a small minority of the voters, have also paved the way for tax breaks for the wealthy and the deregulation of several industries. This anti-tax, pro-business ideology helped to land Ronald Reagan the governorship and later the presidency, and of course, Reagan, gained his conservative credentials by opposing the Berkeley student movement as governor; we are now witnessing a similar opposition between a conservative governor and a progressive student body.
Samuels also explains the growing opposition to this status quo within the student body of Berkely and other universities, which first grabbed my own attention in the form of a student strike in defense of custodial staff. Samuels writes:
In opposition to this anti-tax, anti-government populism, the students, faculty, and unions have been calling for the need to change the way the state votes on taxes and budgets. Led by the Berkeley professor George Lakoff and his California Democracy Act, the UC coalition has been arguing that the state should not be held hostage by the Republican legislative minority that has taken a pledge to never raise any taxes. While no one wants to pay more taxes, students have understood that the recent increase of student fees (tuition) by over 41% in one year is the same as a tax hike. In fact, while the wealth in California has become concentrated at the top, the richest Californians have seen their tax rates lowered. Meanwhile, since the state cannot raise taxes, and it must pass a balanced budget by a 2/3rds vote in both houses of the legislature, the only thing the Democrats can do currently is to cut the funding for education and other vital social services.

While pushing for higher taxes and more state funding may not seem like a radical gesture, the UC coalition has extended its political actions by tying the legislative stalemate to the larger issues of privatization and corporatization. Although the UC President Mark Yudof and the Board of Regents would like the students and the faculty to blame the state for all of the university's problems, the coalition has directed its anger in multiple directions and has effectively criticized both the state and the UC administration. For instance, when students protested the most recent move to raise students fees, they not only called for the legislature to restore the system's funding, but they also protested the regents decision to support compensation increases for top administrators.
While budget troubles in Utah haven't come close to those brewed up by legislative short-sightedness in California, it doesn't take much of a stretch to see the similarities in trajectory.

It's encouraging to see voters in Oregon, Maine, and several other states rejecting (soundly) the mindless anti-tax/spending cap proposals, but it's glaringly obvious that our own legislators have yet to see the light.

Feel good anti-tax pledges and running the state government like a business (focusing solely on bottom lines and balanced budgets) isn't governance in the long term. And even businesses have to invest in their own future from time to time. As Utah grows, and the complexities of legislative challenges do as well, our legislators are going to have to accept a harsh reality: in poll after poll, when faced with actually losing the services government can provide -- as opposed to just talking about how much we all hate taxes at rallies and speeches -- voters always choose to pay more to get more. Free market rhetoric, in such scenarios, quickly becomes meaningless rhetoric. "Let me keep my paycheck!" quickly becomes "Hey, why aren't you insuring the bank where I cash my paycheck?!" when it really comes down to it.

Ideology will eventually/always have to give way to pragmatism. Effective governance, and at least a moderate assurance of quality of life and opportunity costs money, and is more dependent on federal and state government than the John Birchers and Patrick Henry Caucusers would have you believe.  And it's not really a matter of "if" voters make the realization themselves, but "when."

That's the real lesson Utahns should be learning from California.

(Crossposted)

Elections matter

Ezra Klein:

The GOP spent much of yesterday scrambling to answer Barack Obama's invitation to a televised White House health-care summit. They came up with a dodge. "We know there are a number of issues with bipartisan support that we can start with when the 2,700-page bill is put on the shelf," volunteered Mitch McConnell. "The best way to start on real, bipartisan reform would be to scrap those bills," said John Boehner.

Well, the best way to get to write the underlying legislation is to win the previous election, or maybe the election before that. And the second best way to write legislation is to have enough votes to block passage of the legislation the other party writes. But Republicans didn't win those elections and they don't have those votes. They've got the second-smallest minority in the Senate since the 1970s and they're down 40 seats in the House. It's neat how they think positive thoughts all the time, but the situation is what it is: They can write the legislation when the American people say they can.
Now if we could just remind Democrats that the American people said they could...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

AFA Suit: Hate Crimes Laws Violate Our Religious Freedom!

Seriously? Rawstory:

Filed by the Thomas Moore Law Center -- which bills itself as the religious answer to the American Civil Liberties Union -- the complaint claims that protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people "is an effort to eradicate religious beliefs opposing the homosexual agenda from the marketplace of ideas by demonizing, vilifying, and criminalizing such beliefs as a matter of federal law and policy."

The suit was placed on behalf of American Family Association of Michigan president Gary Glenn, along with pastors Rene Ouellette, Levon Yuille and James Combs.

Claiming "there is no need" to extend hate crimes definitions, Thomas Moore chief counsel Richard Thompson attempted to minimize the impact of violent crimes against homosexuals.

"Of the 1.38 million violent crimes reported in the U.S. by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered as motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation," he wrote on the group's Web site. "The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin."
I'm not sold on the effectiveness of hate crimes legislation at deterring bigots and morons from committing crimes against another human being solely because of their race, sexuality, or even religious beliefs.  Sometimes I even wonder if hate crimes legislation is a "feel good" non-solution, and that money could be better spent on educating people out of bigotry.

But that aside, this mock-victimhood from Christian conservatives is just silly.  From the latest Sutherland Institute press releases to Pat Robertson's manufactured shock at public backlash for his comments on the Haiti situation, these people need to get over themselves. It's possible, my self-righteous friends, that it really isn't about you at all!

Perhaps rather than just a conspiracy against the poor down-trodden Christian WASPs of the world, people are just trying to make the world a more fair place? Perhaps rather than an indepth plot against you and the principles you (in word at least) pretend to espouse, they just want to do what is right?

Bitching about that only makes you look more self-serving, spiteful, and petty.  All things Christ advocated against, if I understand correctly. And I'm looking, but I'm unable to find the section in the New Testament where Christ says "Go out and beat up a gay person to prove your faith!"

It ain't in there.

Fiscal CONSERVATISM? You've GOT to be joking!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rep. Carl Wimmer Increases Legislator Productivity, Answers Own Questions

Carl Wimmer blocks us on Twitter -- apparently because we're big meanies, and he's very sensitive that way -- but we still manage.  And it's good we do, because picking through his recent nuggets of Twitter genius, Mr. Wimmer actually gets to the bottom of all the "fiscal responsibility" and "Deficit Panic" that is all the rage, since screaming at townhalls became sooooo August 2009.

Carl, on January 7th:

Carl, a few weeks later:
That would be a no, Carl.  Next question?

Now if we could just get him to vote against his own lawsuit begging message bills, we'd be getting somewhere.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Conspiracy!

Reps. Noel and Gibson are apparently off their meds.

Sometimes I wonder if the legislative session isn't an excuse for some to be quoted by a newspaper saying the most ridiculous thing they could come up with.

It would be embarrassing if it weren't so entertaining (kind of like American Idol).

You should totally strip mine this state

Pyrah does a helluva Gary Herbert impersonation...

Nah, see, it ain't like that. I was all like, "Hey, thanks for the money," and they were all like, "No problem." Then I was all like "Energy is awesome. You should totally strip mine this state."

Health Care Reform as an Economic Issue

TWI's Mike Lillis:

Indeed, officials monitoring the nation’s health care spending provided further evidence that health reform isn’t simply a moral imperative, but an economic one. In 2009, Americans spent roughly $2.5 trillion on health care, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — a figure representing 17.3 percent of the nation’s economy, up from 16.2 percent the year before. And things are projected to get much worse. CMS economists project that health spending will jump to $4.5 trillion in 2019, representing 19 percent of the economy.

Washington Post columnist David Broder points out today that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which currently represent 41 percent of federal spending, are projected to consume 60 percent of the federal budget in just 20 years — “crowding out almost everything else the country needs from government.”
The President's words on health care reform of late aren't illuminating. Alternating advocating "getting the job done" and "moving on to jobs," I'm not sure where this heads from here. It's unclear if the administration is giving Democrats cover to run away from health care entirely, or just running interference while they wrap it up.

It's my guess that the strategy is to create the appearance of the White House moving on, while the House/Senate slowly, cautiously, and warily push a tiny-intsy-little-bit of reform through, with a promise to "fix it later," while no one is looking.

As strategy goes, the damage is done on health care. If the Democrats are going to lose their majority for it, that's not fixable. Luckily, I think that notion is just wishful thinking on those who have no more than TEA parties and Mark Rubio to get excited about. I also think a great many are misinterpreting what the country is frustrated about, which is probably closer to "get something done!" than "you're all not tea-baggy enough!"

Democrats have plenty of time to rebound from the current polling, and a jobs bill, combined with aggressive financial reform (while the GOP complains they haven't seen their Wall Street payoff for "services rendered" yet) is a way to make it happen while actually spending some of this political capital they seem unaware what to do with.

But as Lillis points out, moral and ideological imperatives aside, there is an economic aspect lost in the hubbub on health care reform. Rhetoric aside, we can't afford, as a country, to leave this one alone.

How's that for bipartisan?

Bayh and Lincoln

Dumbasses.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Krugman's "I Told You So" Moment

He's been saying it all along.  TAP:

That's the policy the administration has followed, more or less, since it launched a massive fiscal stimulus in February 2009, a program that has unequivocally benefited the economy. Indeed, the budget proposed this week includes some $300 billion in spending designed to reinforce the labor market -- and even then, White House economists expect the unemployment rate at the end of next year to be approximately 9.8 percent, virtually unchanged from the current rate of 10 percent. By the end of 2012, they expect it to drop to 7.9 percent, still higher than when the president was elected.

This has raised an obvious question among observers: Why isn't more being done to attack the problem of jobless recovery, especially with midterm elections right around the corner?

There are a couple of reasons why. In Congress, even Democrats have become leery of further spending and worry more about the attacks of Republicans than the results of their policies, despite recent polls suggesting Americans see job growth as a greater priority than cutting the deficit. And even if Congress is serious about creating the conditions for job growth, it's not clear that those policies would take effect by next fall, thanks to the slow-moving policy process. Bet Democrats are wishing they approved a bigger stimulus now.
This isn't just a chance for progressives to gloat, though, it's an opportunity for this administration to start making policy as bold as it really needs to be, realizing you're going to own it either way.  The attacks from the GOP are predictable and lack any resounding merit (if they did, the polls would look different than they do already... it's not like the TEA partiers haven't been at this almost a year now).  Do what needs doin'.  And find a far off closet to stick Evan Bayh in until 2013.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gingrich Bucks GOP, Makes Sense While Speaking

I'm sure this is just a software glitch, one that will be rectified without delay.

But until then, enjoy The Newt, making some actual sense:
If somebody is zero threat to the United States and wants to come here as a student, or as a business-person, or as a tourist, it ought to be easy, not hard to get a visa. We currently have a system where it’s pretty easy to sneak into the country illegally, but fairly hard to get here legally. Now that doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t understand the model we’re currently using, and that needs to be fixed.
This of course should lay to rest any speculation that he was considering a presidential run.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ethics Reform that Isn't

I tried to be optimistic about the ethics "reform" the legislature is scrambling to assemble in an attempt to head off the UEG initiative, and in response to general public pressure over their tepid "reform" offered to date.

Details from the Daily Herald squashed that optimism today.

The resolution includes plenty of protections for state lawmakers that would keep potential wrongdoings out of the public eye. The ethics commission would meet behind closed doors and all documents associated with ethics complaints would be private unless the commission came to a near unanimous agreement to forward the complaint along to a legislative committee.

Complaints also couldn't be filed for 60 days before a primary or general election, eliminating four months out of the year for the public to have their grievances heard in election years.

The proposal also limits who can file an ethics complaint. It would only allow registered voters to do so, and two or more people would have to join together to file a complaint. State lawmakers filing a complaint wouldn't need to have actual knowledge of wrongdoing, but the public would.

"I think it's unacceptable. It's a sham," said Utahns for Ethical Government spokeswoman Dixie Huefner. "It appears very removed from public scrutiny."

The ethics commission, consisting of three retired judges and two former legislators, would have no disciplinary power. It would only have the ability to forward complaints to a legislative ethics committee.

That committee would also have no disciplinary power. It would only make recommendations to the House or Senate, which could expel, censure or clear legislators of wrong doing.

Those legislative hearings would be open to the public, but no cameras or recording advices would be allowed.

The ethics commission would have no jurisdiction over former lawmakers and those who have resigned.
This isn't reform. This is redirection of the entrenched protections that get the body into trouble in the first place.

Sign the UEG petition here, if you haven't already.

Poor Judgement

Well, disappointing, if not surprising.

While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
It's easy to forget when you like your President, hard to ignore when you don't. But across the board, party to party, majority to majority, we will regret allowing the "We'll make it legal" precedent Bush set -- and the Obama DOJ is upholding/defending -- to stand.

The incremental differences -- and admittedly higher integrity -- of this DOJ to the last are important, and shouldn't be ignored, but the trend toward absolution of the executive office has only slowed, not stopped.

Pentagon: "Climate change... an accelerant of instability..."

This is really going to piss Rep. Carl Wimmer off.

Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration. While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world
.

Putting a Little Canada in US Banking System

Krugman:

Above all, Canada’s experience seems to support those who say that the way to keep banking safe is to keep it boring — that is, to limit the extent to which banks can take on risk. The United States used to have a boring banking system, but Reagan-era deregulation made things dangerously interesting. Canada, by contrast, has maintained a happy tedium.

More specifically, Canada has been much stricter about limiting banks’ leverage, the extent to which they can rely on borrowed funds. It has also limited the process of securitization, in which banks package and resell claims on their loans outstanding — a process that was supposed to help banks reduce their risk by spreading it, but has turned out in practice to be a way for banks to make ever-bigger wagers with other people’s money.

There’s no question that in recent years these restrictions meant fewer opportunities for bankers to come up with clever ideas than would have been available if Canada had emulated America’s deregulatory zeal. But that, it turns out, was all to the good.

So what are the chances that the United States will learn from Canada’s success?