Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Al Franken's Email

Nothing to ad, just liked this email.

From: Al Franken
Date: March 30, 2010 3:07:24 PM MDT
To: Jason Williams
Subject: The OTHER really important new law
Reply-To: info@alfranken.com

Al Franken - U.S. Senator, Minnesota

Dear Jason,

Passing health reform was an amazing accomplishment. The reconciliation bill President Obama just signed made a good bill even better, but today I want to talk about another new law that's been overshadowed a bit by health reform.

Today Franni and I were honored to be there in person to watch the President sign sweeping federal student aid reform into law. We just cut out the big bank middlemen for federal student loans. Now aid to help kids afford college will come directly from the government.

This is a very, very good thing for students across the country. For the past 40 years under the old system, the federal government paid banks massive subsidies to get them to lend to students. On top of that, the government guaranteed the loans -- so there was no risk for banks, just loads of taxpayer-subsidized profits.

This was corporate welfare masquerading as private enterprise, and we just put a stop to it. For Minnesota students who already have direct lending from the U of M, we shored up Pell Grants for those at risk of having them cut by as much as 60%, or of losing them altogether.

For Franni and me, this issue is personal. She and her three sisters were all able to attend college on a combination of scholarships and Pell Grants after their mother was widowed when Franni was just a baby. So we know the power of America's middle class comes from being able to provide a bright future for kids, and that means a college education.

I came to Washington to fight for those who haven't had a voice on issues just like this one. Health reform is a great thing, but it's not the only bill that was signed into law today that will markedly improve the lives of our constituents and strengthen our middle class.

Thank you so much for reading. Today, America's students got a leg up - that's something we can all take a moment to celebrate. We've got more to do on this issue, and thanks to your steadfast support we're off to a running start.

All the best,

Al
Al

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Racists

There, I said it.  But, I mean, c'mon!  How long are we going to keep ignoring this garbage?

"These people could be anybody. I wouldn't put it past the Democrats to plant somebody there. They're trying to label the tea party, but I've never seen any racial slurs."

-- Dale Robertson, self-proclaimed founder of the Tea Party, quoted by the Washington Times.

The only problem? The Washington Independent caught Robertson at a Tea Party rally last month holding a sign with a racial slur.

Diminished Standards

In honor of the Tea Party Express blazing it's way through Utah today on the fumes of ignorance, one of the best segments from one of the most clear cut indictments of the GOP in recent memory.

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.

If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests — a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.

With a freer hand, the Republicans would have done more damage. George W. Bush tried to undermine Social Security. John McCain was willing to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the Oval Office and thought Phil Gramm would have made a crackerjack Treasury secretary.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shurtleff's Lawsuit is About Shurtleff's Career, Not Legal Viability

Not much new to ad to the point. Just want to remind everyone of that.  

Thinly disguised John Bircher Rep. Carl Wimmer may actually believe in the lawsuit, but he also believes snow in his driveway discounts all global warming science so... well, you see reality isn't an obstacle for his conclusions in general. But Mark Shurtleff? 

No, Shurtleff is smarter than his lawsuit would have you believe. He knows it's a fruitless waste of taxpayer money. But it gives him those oh so coveted -- in Utah, at least -- teabagger street creds.

This is about Mark Shurtleff's political career and nothing more.

For an update on how these suits are playing out politically in other states see:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

American Constitution Society on the Individual Mandate

ACS's Simon Lazarus does a great job of explaining why Mark Shurtleff
and pals may be in need of a refresher course on Constitutional law.

Download and enjoy:
http://www.acslaw.org/pdf/Lazarus%20Issue%20Brief%20Final.pdf

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Utah County?

I had to double check the location on this one, but yep, this is happening in Utah County.

Utah County politics have turned so far to the far right that moderate Republicans are changing parties to run as Demoncrats. Lifelong GOPer Linnea Barney is running as a Dem against state right-fringe Sen. Margie Dayton. "It wasn't long before I realized that the moderate, mainstream resident of Utah County didn't have a voice in the state Legislature." 
And it's about time someone gave Dayton a challenge.  Bad bad bad legilsation coming from her, three sessions running.

Dear Inflation Alarmists

Read this, and then either explain to me why inflation is something we're all extra worried about right now, or find something else to be concerny about.

If Mark Shurtleff was serious...

Or had any integrity of principle, he would be fighting for nullification.

As it appears even conservative scholars agree a law suit is a waste of time.

Why isn't he gunning for nullification, rather than chasing a doomed legal battle?  Well, he has no intention of actually making a difference here, he just wants conservatives to think he made a difference.  Mark Shurtleff still has sights on higher office, and he's got to convince you he's still got tea bagger in 'im.

I'd just like to remind our opportunistic AG that there are actually sanctions for filing frivolous law suits in his position.  And Carl Wimmer is on your side.  That's never a good sign.

Unfortunately -- we checked -- there are no sanctions for just being a moron.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Effects of Health Care Reform Legislation in Utah, by Congressional District

Via Mike Kruger, Education and Labor Committee, in the inbox:

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has prepared, for all 435 congressional districts, a district-level analysis of the impact of health care reform legislation. This analysis includes information on the impact of the legislation on families, small businesses, seniors in Medicare, health care providers, and the uninsured. Click here - http://go.usa.gov/lSN - for the districts in Utah.
Doing the clicking for you, the numbers given for Utah's Congressional Districts:

UT-1 (Bishop)
  • Improve Medicare for 88,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 76,000 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 16,600 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Protect 1,600 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
  • Allow 95,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
  • Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 19 community health centers.
  • Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $32 million annually.
UT-2 (Matheson)
  • Improve coverage for 589,000 residents with health insurance.
  • Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 184,000 families and 22,900 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
  • Improve Medicare for 106,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 68,500 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 15,300 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
UT-3 (Chaffetz)
  • Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 191,000 families and 19,500 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
  • Improve Medicare for 72,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 94,500 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 20,500 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Protect 1,400 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Corroon Campaign

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the day with the Peter Corroon for Governor campaign and their state wide campaign kick-off tour.  When I got the invitation, I said yes immediately, curious what they had planned for a lil' ol' blogger.  I assumed I'd be shuttled around to a few press events, given some face time with Corroon, fed food, laden with gifts of button and t-shirt, thanked, and sent on my merry way to say how great the campaign is, and why everyone should get involved.

And that's exactly what I'm going to say.  And I didn't even get a t-shirt!

See, they didn't just let me tag along to the organized events and speeches, they literally embedded me in the campaign for a day.  They took a Utah blogger -- with a reputation in many political circles for badgering, criticizing, constant emailing, and generally making trouble to get Democrats show a little fight in this state  --  and literally planted me in the middle of the campaign for the day.  There were no "you can't write about this" lectures or "plug your ears" moments.  They just let me in, and let me watch.  And yeah, I got gossip!

Things like a member of the finance team owns a leprechaun costume.  One member of the communications branch of the campaign chooses not to use a smart phone!  (I know!)  And Peter Corroon has an irrational, and paralyzing fear of the color Magenta... Yeah, I made that last one up because I know they will be reading this, wondering what I'll say about what I saw.  But the first two are completely true. 

I heard them prepare a rapid response to Herbert's (IMHO) ironic cheap shot -- ironic because he launched a thinly veiled and contrived accusation at Corroon to paint a picture of "bad campaigning," a tactic which is itself "bad campaigning" -- lobbed during his own filing speech, and I watched them recruit volunteers on the Frontrunner ride north from SLC to Ogden.  They gave interviews, changed speech phrasing, brainstormed, scheduled, re-scheduled, canceled, then re-scheduled again events, interviews, and fundraising opportunities with the typically hectic, break neck speed of a campaign in full swing.  But with all the opportunity that existed for something to go wrong, and with all the things outside of staff control that did go wrong, I saw something amazing that I haven't seen in a local campaign for a very long time.

They knew what they were doing, had the tools to do what they were doing, and had the skills to make what they were doing a flawless success.  They were late for nothing, missed no event, left no one behind (although I believe they threatened me with that at least once).  And at the events themselves, it wasn't only Peter rallying the crowd.  These same staffers would work the crowd like the most experienced of volunteer activists, then be back in the cars, seat belts on, phones to ears, papers... well, scattered everywhere.  And by the next event, they were prepared to do it again.

And most strikingly, each member I met of the Corroon campaign staff did all of this with the same sincerity, confidence, and professionalism the candidate himself displayed.  At all times.  They exhibited an obvious camaraderie with each other, and an ability to react as a team to the most unexpected twist.  And believe me, I tried to get them to slip up!  Not to be mean spirited, of course, but to see if what I was watching was for real.  Staffers were having so much fun, it was impossible not to get caught up in it.

So I could say a lot about Corroon's message, which I like (especially his: Air quality, water quality, quality of life! comment at one event), or what I learned from listening in and asking questions about his take on this or that issue.  But you can find that out from his website.  Or call the campaign and ask.  They'll answer.  What I'd really like to say to Utah readers here, from the experience:  If you want to be a part of something big, and organized, and real, and going places, get involved in this campaign.

Consider me excited.

Oh, and left edge of this picture?  Yeah... owns a leprechaun costume.

(I know!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spending the Day with Corroon Campaign Kick-Off Tour

I've been invited to join the Corroon campaign kick-off tour today, along with the Trib's Paul Rolly.  The tour starts in St. George and wraps at The Depot in SLC later tonight.

Tweeting via @thesidetrack feed. Pics and updates as long as the phone
battery holds out. (Long day!)

It's great to see the Corroon team reaching out to the online crowd. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Speaker Clark Should Resign

Holly on the Hill provides 9 well thought out reasons that Utah House Speaker Dave Clark should resign his leadership position in the body.  Reasons # 6, 7, and 8:

“We know a man of integrity, leadership, who is willing to give a helping hand to every member of this body,” he said. Addressing Garn directly, he continued: “You are an asset to the state of Utah. I ask that all of us share in honoring a man that we know has served honorably and capably in this body, and we’re proud to do so.” Even worse, he added “I hope you will remain with us.”  Clark then led the House in a standing ovation. Lapses #6 and #7. He should NEVER have praised him and NEVER EVER should have initiated a standing ovation.

Continuing to make matters worse, Speaker Clark sent out a message over the weekend accepting Garn’s resignation. You will notice there is not one word or expression of regret to Garn’s young victim (now grown).  He starts with “I am grateful to Representative Garn and his family for the time he spent in service to the State of Utah”. That and other statements like “Mistakes made many years ago should not detract from the good work the Representative has done during his time in the Utah House of Representatives” minimize the seriousness of the crime. To quote the Salt Lake Tribune from this weekend, this is much more than “just a mistake”. There are some things in life that will – and should – overshadow the “good” someone does in other arenas. Lapse #8.
 In his handling of this event, from start to finish, Speaker Dave Clark has exhibited not only a profound lack of judgment, but has placed his hopes that Garn could "weather the storm" above a simple respect for the legislative body itself, and the many hard-working representatives who... you know... didn't go hot-tubbing.

At the very least, Speaker Clark owes an apology to the entire body for his poor decision to handle the matter the way he did.  But, as Holly quotes from The Daily Herald, character does matter.

Both Garn and Speaker Clark have show a lack of character.  Garn has resigned.  Dave Clark should now remove himself from a leadership position.

UPDATE: Misty provides a personal reaction that really lends perspective to anyone arguing "compassion" for Garn.

CSPAN Launches Video Library

23 years of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...  Now on demand!

Tomorrow, C-Span will formally announce completion of the C-Span Video Library as “virtually every minute of its video archives,” covering 23 years of history, have been uploaded onto the Internet. “You can see if politicians are saying one thing today, and 15 years ago were saying another thing,” said C-Span founder Brian Lamb.
I'm of course mocking CSPAN's "dry" programming while watching the House Budget Committee's markup of the reconciliation bill. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Utah Legislature: "Tweet Up" @ Noon

High noon, today, in fact.  Capitol Cafeteria.

Holly @ Holly on the Hill suggested it (I think), and I seconded it (I think)... either way, it got planned.

Great opportunity for all the bloggers, tweeps, facebookers, and "misc." following the 2010 Legislative session to meet up, and match real faces to user ID's and "handles."

Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll all catch a glimpse of the oft spoken of, but rarely photographed North American Ric Cantrell.

See ya there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Really, WaPo? Really?

Washington Post's "Morning Headlines" email this morning...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Democrats Should Press Their Advantage

Democratic Strategist:

Right now, Obama's leadership on national security polls well, but imagine how much better it could be if Democrats were actually prepared to press their advantage home. What if the administration had well-briefed allies on the Hill ready to talk up the administration's approach whenever cable news gets interested in this issue? What if the chief of staff were bragging to friends in the press about how well his team is doing in closing a national-security gap with the GOP? Obama's willingness to challenge conventional wisdom about both the substance and politics of national security was part of what made him such an attractive presidential candidate. And in many ways, his administration has followed through on that promise. In political terms, however, the Democratic Party -- from the White House chief of staff on down -- is stuck in an unfortunate defensive crouch.
Play perpetual defense at the expense of offense isn't something that afflicts just the Obama administration.  This has been a tendency of Democrats for over a decade -- seeing a decline in frequency (NOTE THE TIMING!) in the messaging coming from the DNC, DCCC, DSCC, leadership, and candidates in 2006 and 2008.  Hey, weren't those big election win years for Democrats?  Well yes.  Yes they were.

Democrats nationally are still defending themselves against 30 plus years of Republicans doing a much better job of framing every issue -- from taxes and foreign policy to the Democratic Party itself.  They are in a position to shift those narratives, and play offense.  But the window of opportunity is closing.

In Utah, Democrats must play offense much of the time -- though it's still debatable offense must be ignored as often as it is... Ahem, Utah Democratic Senators! -- but nationally the party and the President still enjoy comfortable margins of public confidence on many issues.  Locally, we're missing opportunities to draw a connection with voters between Mike Noel's lack of education on several issues, Howard Stephenson's impracticality, and Carl Wimmer's near-secessionist caucus, and the Republican Party.  Nationally, Democrats miss an opportunity to stop using right-wing terminology and ideology to defend their own policy and agenda.  Locally, we're greatly outnumbered.  Nationally, there's no excuse for defense only strategy other than habit, and lack of vision.

They need to redefine the issues on Democratic Party terms, not defend their policy on Republican terms of past decades.  And to do so, their going to have to be a bit more gutsy in their approach.

When the Republicans campaign on "Repeal it" in a few months, Democrats should respond with "Hell yes we rammed it through!"  When Republicans campaign on "no taxes" in a few months, Democrats should remind everyone of crumbling infrastructures and underfunded, necessary agencies at the end of Bush's free-for-all.  And when Republicans campaign on bat-shit, tea party rhetoric, Democrats shouldn't be afraid to point out that the opposition has lost it's mind.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Church of the savvy

Seconding Balloon Juice:

Jay Rosen's series of posts on "The Church of the Savvy" are well worth worth reading.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hypocrisy: Mike Lee and the Constitutional Defenders! (TM) Silent on HB150

Anti-Fed "message lands bill" HB143 , rallying the tea part troops against those "evil Feds" (who are paying our bills right now)? 

Campaign fodder and proof of one's commitment to the Constitution.

Shurtleff's "We don't need no stinkin' warrants!" HB150, a blatant violation of the 4th amendment? 

Complete and total silence.  What Constitution?

All candidates running on the "defend the Constitution" meme in the Senate race for Bennett's seat proved today that their invocation of the Constitution applies only when politically convenient to do so.  So with Carl Wimmer and his Patrik Henree Kawkiss, and all other tea partiers state wide. 

Repeated advertisement of their excitement over the lands bill, the gun bill, the opt-out of health care bill -- you name it, contrasted with their complete absence of opinion on HB150, proves they are only interested in "defending the Constitution" when it scores political points.  So much for a little integrity of message, huh? 

I am sure Mike Lee was just too busy defending the Constitution somewhere else to notice.

Incidentally, HB150 saw no movement in Education Committee this morning (yeah, Education Committee), and now either has moved on to the UT state senate for a vote, or will be moving on soon -- depending on who you're reading -- as that decision is in the hands of Margaret "Screw the ATF!" Dayton, another Great Defender of the Constitution.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Corroon's Interactive Campaign

Nothing much to ad to this campaign email from Peter Corroon, other than I really like what I've seen from the campaign so far.  Aggressive, creative... saying relevant and timely things.  Generating their own buzz.  Hitting Herbert where Herbert deserves to be hit.  It's impressive.  The latest:

On March 17, 2010, I will officially kick off my statewide campaign. The day will conclude with a large event at The Depot in Salt Lake City. I invite you to reach out to your networks, invite your friends, and become an event co-host. All Co-Hosts will receive 10 tickets to give to friends and family, plus two VIP tickets for a private reception before the event.
What you need to do:
Contact Matt Lyon or Darrick McCasland at 801-953-0572 or by emailing campaign@votecorroon.com
Ask to become a Kickoff Co-Host
Find 10 of your friends to give between $10 and $20 dollars per month, or a one-time contribution of $25 - $100
Your goal will be to raise a minimum of $250 between you and your 10 friends
The campaign is also testing an online fundraising tool used by presidential campaigns in grassroots fundraising efforts. Co-hosts of the event will be the first to test drive the software on behalf of the campaign. Your input on this state-of-the-art tool will help the campaign determine how we can best use it in the days and months ahead. Thank you for your help.
Far too few Utah candidates recognize the importance (and benefit for their campaigns!) of creating an interactive environment between candidate and supporters.  Corroon's camp seems to realize that supporters aren't just ATM's you remember every time the coffers run dry.  They'll give, but you gotta give them something first.  In this case, it's not only access to the event, and VIP access to the candidate beforehand, it's a chance to be a part of testing new technology and fundraising tools.  

Good stuff.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Freed from Federal Shackles"

A poignant satirical send up of the "anti-Fed" rhetoric spewing from the 2010 legislative session.

A good general rule: whenever Rep. Carl Wimmer (R - Mars) is the front man of your "movement," you probably didn't think things through well enough.