Thursday, September 30, 2010

Opposition Research

Nothing to ad to this, just a rare look into the world (industry?) of opposition research by election committees and campaigns.  Rothenberg Political Report:

In the field, the standard rule is to be discreet.

“Do not engage in any action or conversation that you would not want to read about on the front page of a major newspaper,” according to the “Ten Commandments of Opposition Research” listed on the third page of a “Field Research Guidebook” obtained from one of the committees.

If researching, instead of the research, becomes the story, “it says you’re not good at winning on the issues,” according to one party operative.

Eventually, all the research is compiled into a book, sometimes an actual binder with appropriate tabs, other times an electronic file that is passed on to candidates.

But “the book” is just the first step in the process.

“Just the list of votes does nothing,” according to one Democratic researcher. “The difference between good research and bad research is a comprehensive story.”

The goal is to develop a pattern, similar to what Democrats have tried all cycle to do in Louisiana by attempting to portray Sen. David Vitter (R) as anti-woman.

“If it looks like an isolated incident, then the candidate or committee will get push-back,” the researcher added. “It has to build into the narrative of who they are.”

Whether it’s in the hands of the committees or the candidates, the research is then often tested in polling. What is often construed as “push-polling” is actually just message testing to a small sample of voters. Getting the information out to more voters is another question.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet with the Governor (in 6 Easy Steps)

Facebook invitation in the inbox: Donate $1 to Gov. Herbert and get a meeting!

Apparently, the only way to get a meeting with Gov. Herbert is by donating to his campaign. A $50,000 contribution gets you special treatment by the Gov's Office but, $1 should still do the trick.
Please follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Mail $1.00 to 55 E Broadway Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Step 2: Call the Governor's Office and ask for a meeting. They can be reached at 801-538-1000. You might need to remind them that you're a donor.
Step 3: Meet Gov. Herbert about winning a $1 billion contract or anything else you desire.

Step 4: Invite others. Everyone should have some quality face time with Gov. Herbert.

Step 5: Inform us of your success!

Step 6: Vote.
Emphasis mine.  Because.

The question that many seem to missing in all of this -- and I keep repeating -- is that even if Herbert is being honest about the donations for contracts, and even if he's telling the truth about being out of the loop on the $13 million "hush money" for losing contractors asking questions about what sounds like an unethically conducted bid process, there still remains the question: How could a sitting governor, mid-legislative session, with the budget in the spotlight each and every day, somehow be unaware that a $13 million check was being cut?!

Herbert is either pulling our chain, or incompetent.  Neither is a quality anyone should look for in a Governor.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Herbert's Wash (KUED Debate)

Yesterday, Peter Corroon and Acting-Guv Gary Herbert sat down for a debate.  If you haven't seen it yet, do so here, or catch it on air Monday (KUED's Vote Utah series).

Overall it's what I expected.  Gary all hyperbole , quoting right from the Sutherland Institute newsletters (Government never ever ever creates jobs... except when it does, but ssssssh!), hitting all the buzz words, and on the defensive, Corroon sounding much more the capable executive  .Will Utahn's care?  Is the R all it takes?  We'll see.  But one part worth special note happens at about 20min in, when the two get down to the state economy and breaks for businesses.  It plays out a lil' like this:

Herbert touts a focus on bringing in new jobs, while discounting the tax breaks offered to get them here.

Why that's important?  Well, these businesses haven't brought a marginally significant number of jobs to the state as of yet.  ATK's potential 800 is potentially 800 over two decades, for example.  These "successes" Herbert is holding up for us to pretend are trophies of leadership aren't increasing the tax base on the individual level, and are simple corporate welfare to the companies they draw.  When it comes to their influence on the state's economy they are, at best, breaking even.  It's a wash.  Ta-da!  Leadership!

Corroon responds that the unlevel playing field policies like these create hurts local businesses, who can't compete with the larger companies getting all of the breaks.

Why that's important?  He's right.

The biggest lesson Utah Republican voters can't seem to learn -- and Herbert is selling without question -- is the difference between leaders who are pro-corporation rather than pro-capitalism.  Someone should point out to Gary that that is also something you can find in a Sutherland Institute newsletter.  It's one of the biggest scams in our state: Republicans dancing around in sparkley costumes of limited government only to distract you from their propensity to roll over in a stiff breeze when it comes to a corporate handout.  Free market my left...

Perhaps someone can offer up a campaign contribution to get Gary to change up his talking points?

Also, to hear Gary Herbert talk about fighting radioactive waste, the man should be walking around in a cape.  Which has me wondering how the waste got here...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Words Not Mentioned in the GOP "Pledge"

Republicans rolled out their "Pledge" today, and not surprisingly, it's loaded with over the top teabagger rhetoric, and not so loaded with things like numbers, math, or anything that has even been in the same room with a hint of reality.  Reading through the reactions, it appears unlikely to have much effect on the elections.  It could be a first step to a Rep. Paul Ryan "privatize everything" style budget, but considering how fast the GOP ran away from that paper turd earlier this year, it's doubtful.  Boehner says privatization as a way to pay for the $4 trillion cost of items "pledged" is "on the table".  Good luck with that.

Worth noting though are the items not mentioned in the "pledge."  Via David Corn:

You can read it yourself. Or peruse the reviews: liberal Ezra Klein dissects its internal contradictions; tea partier Erick Erickson decries the "Pledge" as a sell-out of the tea party movement; Republican curmudgeon David Frum finds it retro and short on "modern" and "affirmative" ideas for governing during a recessionary year. But here's a short-cut for you. Below is a list of words and phrases and the number of times they are each mentioned in the 45-page "Pledge."

Wall Street: 0
Bank: 0
Finance: 0
Mortgage crisis: 0
Derivative: 0
Subprime: 0
Lobbying: 0
Lobbyist: 0
K Street: 0
Campaign finance: 0
Campaign contribution: 0
Campaign donation: 0
Disclosure: 0
Climate change: 0
Environment: 1 ("political environment")
Alternative energy: 0
Renewable: 0
Green: 0
Transportation: 0
Infrastructure: 0
Poverty: 0
Food: 0
Food safety: 0
Housing: 0
Internet: 0
Education: 0
College: 0
Reading: 0
Science: 0
Research: 0
Technology: 0
Bush administration: 0

That list is as telling as the actual contents.
If this is what passes as a "plan" for today's Republicans, they'd really better hope they make no electoral gains anytime soon. If someone (cough, Democrats!) were to actually hold them to this in policy discussions going forward, "in the woods" wouldn't begin to describe where voters would send them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mike Lee, Sharon Angle, Christine O'Donnell... Gary Herbert

The teabagger trifecta, Herbert's "hey look over there!" campaign, and the antics of the GOP nationwide illustrate what appears to be a cancer still eating the Republican Party.  Bob Aagard:

Republicanland must be a great place to live. I want to visit some day.

You see, in Republicanland, saying you opponent is trying to take away Seminary from the religious majority by adding 2 more required high school classes (in a 4-year span) is having a good, clean, issue-based discussion. Yet pointing out that there might be something wrong in accepting cash from and meeting privately with people who are seeking government contracts is wrong is hitting "below the belt."

In Republicanland, having the CEO say he doesn't know what's going on in his company means he can get a huge bonus on his way out the door. If the CEO is a Republican Governor, he's a great leader who deserves to keep his job. Who needs to know who's really running the state? In Republicanland, it doesn't matter.

In Republicanland, when you are running up large deficits, it's OK to sue and get sued by the feds. It's also a great time to give tax breaks to rich people. It's also a great idea to give tax breaks to rich people in times of plenty, too. Even if that puts you in deficits. Any other reason (except for war) for going into deficit spending is a bad idea. Even if it puts people to work or helps them buy food.
Snarky, yeah, but also a fairly accurate summation of the garbage we're hearing from the GOP (both local and national) the last few years, and let's not forget "horseshit" plans for Social Security, stoking the xenophobic fires against Mexicans and Muslims, and rewriting the Constitution for political gain.  Also, generally making things up to carpetbag their way into a lifetime career, at your expense.   And why are people being so mean as to the Acting-Guv, asking all these relevant questions of the practices of the office of CEO of the state?  Sniff.  Poor Lil' Gary!  Someone get him his smellin' salts.

All of this is something Republican voters can find reason to fight for?  You're satisfied with this?  Really?

It's not to say that there is something systematically wrong with Republican voters (the most you can really accuse many of them of is being willing to accept and even defend their party in it's current state, or the tea parties in their removal from reality), but there is definitely something rotten in the Republican Party.  It's worse than "No Ideas," which you can expect from a party shoved into the woods two cycles in a row, now trying to redefine itself.  No, what's really disgusting is the attitude lying at the core of the "voices" of the GOP, from House and RNC leadership, to local party representatives that voters are dumb enough to buy into what they're selling right now.

Here in Utah -- predictably, but still unfortunately -- voters will prove them right in most elections, but nation wide, I hope Republican voters will demand more from their party than they are getting the past decade.

Mike Lee, Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle's successful pandering to the nomination as a Senate candidates can serve as  poster children examples for those conservatives hoping to return the party to a reality based platform.  These two haven't been on speaking terms with the real world in what must be a long long time, yet somehow, they are "the future" the GOP (and tea baggn' delegates) offers conservative voters.  Gary Herbert's indignation (while he denies nothing brought to light of day), pretending to be innocently "unaware," while it seems the opposite is true... conservatives buy this stuff in Utah?  Again: Really?  When did all the various ways a person seeking office or re-election can play off of the gullibility of voters become an example of leadership?

From state to national, you guys aren't exactly demanding 110% from your choices and representatives... to say the least.  And before you get your knickers in a twist, the Democrats have been there.  It's part of the cycle.  But the only way you get out of it is to stop defending it, stop accepting it, and start demanding better.

When I listen to Lee, Angle, et al, I wish the GOP do take back the house this year.  Yeah, it would set our country back (way back) 2 years, but it would give people a chance to see exactly what kind of lunatics the Republicans are sending up. When I see people out defending Herbert in the event of recent weeks, and feigning offense over the questions Corroon has asked, it makes me think all voters in Utah need is an R... any R will do (obviously).  No one should be willing to accept so little from representatives of their state, regardless of party affiliation.

Just today, some fool invited me to a "Draft Carl Wimmer for Congress" page.  Seriously!  At least one person (eleven actually, looking at the "like" count on Facebook) thinks that Rep. Carl Wimmer (this Carl Wimmer) is leadership material.  Unbelievable!  I like Carl.  Nice guy.  But he thinks a lot of snow in his driveway is proof that climate change is a hoax.  This is the brightest bulb the UT GOP has?  Wow.

This crop is just craziness.  Plain and simple.

Friday, September 17, 2010

13 Million Dollar Questions

Evidently coming up with losing road constructions bids is a lucrative business in this state, who knew? It seems more than a little odd that a fiscally strapped state would be willing to offer up a 13 million dollar pay off to the losing bidder, so they must have had a good reason right? UDOT's version of a good reason is something along the lines of a hunch.

Bid records reviewed by The Salt Lake Tribune show the Selection Recommendation Committee, made up of UDOT managers and budget officials, found enough variances to ultimately swing the contract against Flatiron/Skanska/Zachry (FSZ) and in favor of Provo River Constructors by a single point.

In each case, the several variances the selection committee identified broke in favor of Provo River Constructors, which, UDOT Executive Director John Njord acknowledged, “looked bad” and prompted a $13 million settlement with FSZ, the second-place bidder
And I agree, it does "look bad" but does it look 13 million dollars bad? Not even if the state still had a rainy day fund (remember that?). It looks like we won't be getting any answers from the new home of our tax money, as with all good pay offs, it came with a don't tell anyone about this clause, and it sounds like that's really too bad.
Kent Scott, an attorney for Flatiron, said he could not comment on the settlement, due to a confidentiality agreement.

“I’d love to [talk]. … It’s fascinating,” Scott said, but he respected Njord’s request to stay quiet.
As they say in True Romance, something's rotten in Denmark with this one, but Herbert won't let that slow him down, he's holding a high stakes fundraiser this weekend. I suppose the campaign feels like they need some more corporate money to dig themselves out at this point.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Herbert in Two (of his own) Words

"Virtually unaware."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Political Wire:

Marc Ambinder: "Expect an uptick in Democratic enthusiasm and expect several significant races to tighten. People tend to make judgments through the lens of the last major event. If Democrats interpret last night to mean that radical Republicans are threatening to take control, they're going to be more receptive to the basic party message."

"The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O'Donnells." 
Pass the popcorn.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

EPA to Wyoming Residents Near Drilling Sites: Don't Drink Your Water


EPA scientists began investigating Pavillion's water in 2008 after residents complained about foul smells, illness and discolored water, and after state agencies declined to investigate. Last August the EPA found contaminants in a quarter of samples taken during the first stage of its investigation, and the agency announced it would continue with another round of samples -- the set being disclosed now.

In the meeting Tuesday, the agency shared results from tests of 23 wells, 19 of which supply drinking water to residents. It found low levels of hydrocarbon compounds -- various substances that make up oil -- in 89 percent of the drinking water wells it tested. Methane gas was detected in seven of the wells and was determined to have come from the gas reservoir being tapped for energy. Eleven of the wells contained low levels of the compound 2-butoxyethanol phosphate -- a compound associated with drilling processes but that is also used as a fire retardant and a plasticizer.

The scientists also found extremely high levels of benzene, a carcinogen, and other compounds in groundwater samples taken near old drilling disposal pits. Some of the samples were taken less than 200 yards from drinking water sources and scientists expressed concerns that the contaminated water was connected to drinking water wells by an underground aquifer.
The EPA recommended that residents "avoid drinking water" and use house fans and ventilation while showering to "avoid explosion."

Can't wait to see what Carl Wimmer has to say about this one.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sundance Institute Needs Your Help

Support independent film and artists:

From: Keri Putnam
Date: September 3, 2010
To: Jason Williams 
Subject: Take Part with Sundance Institute

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am happy to let you know that Sundance Institute has been selected by American Express and TakePart for an opportunity to receive $200,000 through the Members Project program. We are competing against other nonprofit organizations to receive the greatest number of votes in the Arts & Culture category during the contest period from August 30th - November 21st.

The competition is steep and we need your help. Please vote for Sundance Institute and help us raise these critical funds for our support of independent artists around the world. You may cast one vote per week. Past winners have cited weekly voting by their supporters as the key to taking home the cash prize.

Whether it's a window into the world of a teenage girl navigating the dangerous social terrain of the Ozark Mountains through Debra Granik's Dramatic Grand Prize winner Winter's Bone, or a journey with the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Trouble the Water, by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, the Institute supports the kind of original storytelling that allows each of us to see the world from new perspectives.

Please help us win by registering on the TakePart website here and voting for Sundance Institute every week. You only need to register once and then log in each week to vote. You can also sign up for our weekly email reminder here to make sure you don't forget.

We would love if you would spread the word to your family and friends through Facebook, Twitter and emails. The link to share for voting is and you can find us in the "Arts & Culture" category.

It will be all of us that make the difference. Many thanks for your votes and for your continued support.


Keri Putnam
Executive Director, Sundance Institute
8530 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor
Beverly Hills CA 90211