Wednesday, December 29, 2010
An example of a corporate program which we all can support as a community during this Christmas season is Walmart's Fighting Hunger program. Walmart has identified two communities in our state (Ogden and Salt Lake) as needing help among many nationally and has committed to donating $1M to fighting hunger in the community garnishing the most Facebook votes by Dec 31st and $100K to each of the next five communities.
The contest has been fun to track and participate in. Both Utah communities were far down in the rankings and have gradually moved up. Ogden/Clearfield is now in 6th place which just barely qualifies for the $100K if no other community posts a late surge to overtake (quite possible, to be sure) while Salt Lake City is in the #2 position. A large last-minute push these next couple of days could be what SLC needs to get the $1M.
Part of the Nacilbupera mission is a call to action. With less time than it took to read this entry, you could help fight hunger in Utah. I encourage you to so do.
+++ Update 12/30 6pm:
With less than 24 hours left to go, Salt Lake has taken first place by a narrow margin for the first time over Fresno in the contest while Ogden has settled in for a solid 4th. The amount of interest in the contest has surged with tallies of both first and second place exceeding the entire populations of their respective counties. Wow.
Monday, December 20, 2010
The bill appropriates $1.6B (link to Sen Coburn's astute dissection of the bill) granting the FDA expansive new powers to regulate food and farming activities 90% of which is unfunded debt spending. (So, what happened anyways to the Democrat-touted PAYGO this Democratic Congress passed and Obama signed earlier this year?)
It becomes a "Constitutional mess" because the Senate goofed on their normal get-around-the-Constitution ways. Alexander Bolton of TheHill.com had a revealing article (if you read between the lines) entitled In Sunday-evening surprise, Senate passes food-safety legislation (emphasis & hyperlink mine below):
The Senate passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act on Nov. 30 by a vote of
73-25. But the bill was later invalidated by a technical objection because it was a revenue-raising measure that did not originate in the House — Senate staff had failed to substitute the food-safety language into a House-originated bill.
The term "technical objection" was Bolton's euphemism for saying that the bill was offered and subsequently passed in direct violation to specific, easy-to-understand US Constitutional language explaining that the bill was supposed to originate in the House, not the Senate (Article 1 Section 7 Clause 1):
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills
Bolton's final phrase about the failure of Senate staff masked a weak attempt in hiding accountability. You see, it is sadly customary now that when the Senate wants to originate an appropriations bill, they simply completely gut a House bill already passed; for example, Obamacare was passed in this manner. By blaming "Senate staff" rather than the bill's Sponsor--none other than Democrat Dick Durbin (IL)--Bolton attempted to diffuse the blame to the unnamed staff perpetrators.
In theory, it should be an easy act to declare this bill unconstitutional because it so plainly violates the First Article of the Constitution and could warrant blue-slipping by the House (h/t LaughterandLiberty.com). Whether anyone will rise to do so whether in the House--or if signed into law by the POTUS, by the SCOTUS--remains to be seen.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Hatch Opposes His Own Earmarks in Omnibus Bill; Obama, Democrats, Bennett, Hatch All Fail Utah (Update)
Senate Democrats overwhelmingly support the spending. A few RINOs have voiced support including Bob Bennett who is on his last month as Utah's Senator and is ending his reign by showing his true, liberal Democratic colors: (The Hill.com, emphasis mine)
After still not listening to Utah's desire for us to actually follow the Constitution and decimate the deficit, all I can say to Bennett that since I can do no more to get you any sooner out of office, may God hold you accountable for the country and the lives you are destroying.
“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked
if he would support the package.
Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn’t affect his vote.
“It will be tough for some, but not for me,” he said.
Hatch meanwhile is doing the doublespeak. While is denouncing the Omnibus on Fox News2 his own earmark requests have been stuffed into the bill. That's the problem, and he hasn't owned up to it either. As I reported in my last blog entry: Hatch Proposes UTOPIA Bailout Earmark for 2 Towns, Hatch proposed a $1M bailout earmark for helping with the UTOPIA buildout for Perry City and Tremonton in a $132B appropriations bill which had yet to be voted on: S. 3606.
The proposed $1.1T Omnibus takes S. 3606 and adopts it in full or modified form (so sorry, like anybody else in Congress I haven't had time to read it all) and combines it with the other pending appropriation bills Congress has failed to address. If you compare p. 55 of S. 3606 which authorizes the money to p. 63 of the Omnibus, they read exactly the same: both grant the continuation of the $18M in grant money (the grant money was separately earmarked on p. 76 of Senate report 111-221).
I've only had time to identify these two earmarks by Hatch in this bill.
Obama has failed. Democrats have been derelict--as well as proposing thousands of earmarks themselves--Bennett has converted to the Democratic Party, and Hatch is saying one thing and doing another. Utah: we've got a big problem on our hands. It's time to raise the alarm that Scrooge is about to steal another Christmas.
++++ Update 12/16 8am:
(h/t) Political Cornflakes Hatch has apparently stripped out his [other] earmark requests in the Omnibus due to his moratorium support (TPM). Still remains viable for Perry and Tremonton to get the money Hatch asked for.
More importantly Hatch's website has been scrubbed of his earmark requests. I half suspected this might happen so I downloaded copies before and am happy to repost the documents or email any interested parties. Naughty, naughty Hatch. Trying to cover up your wrongdoings before it gets out of the blogosphere into broadcast media.
At least Hatch is shrewd enough not to ignore lowly blogger Nacilbupera.
1 Not to mention lame-duck Democrats attempt at passing a START treaty, a federal land grab, and a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and others I am missing...
2 While the denunciations are good, they're probably more aimed at kicking off his 2012 re-election bid than to seriously attack spending. Case in point: Hatch's vote today to extend unfunded unemployment benefits and pork spending for a weak 2-year deferment of tax increases.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
From Hatch's website Hatch proposed for FY 2011 $272K in help for Tremonton while Perry City gets $750K. That's $250 of redistribution of wealth from the hardworking taxpayers of America to every man, woman, child, and babe in Perry for a fiber optic system that only a handful of residents will use.
The earmark is contained as part of a $18M undistributed grant [taxpayer] money [I think of it as unspent money against a credit card limit as we have no money] found on page 55 of the $132B S. 3606 which has not been voted on in the Senate; the Democrats having voted to leave town October [Utah's Matheson to blame here] in hopes of campaigning to save their political lives leaving Congress to run under a "continuing resolution" fiasco. The specifics of the earmark are found on page 76 of Senate report 111-221 (pdf version), under the section "DISTANCE LEARNING, TELEMEDICINE, AND BROADBAND PROGRAM LOANS AND GRANTS" where the "Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies" [Wow. Maybe we could acronym it the A.S.A.R.D.F.D.A.R.A.!!!] lead by Sen Kohl (D-WI) recommended its expenditure alongside a bunch of other pork from other states, many having Senate representation on the subcommittee.
Unfortunately this $1M bailout is only one bite of the porkulous hog Hatch has proposed for FY 2011. The website WashingtonWatch.com lists 13 pages of earmarks numbering in the hundreds Hatch has proposed. The website is interactive and one can sound off by voting for or against individual earmarks and leaving comments.
Did Hatch not get the message as to what voters want? The $18M in its entirety should be cut from the bill. No pork-barrel earmarks. Slash spending and no bailouts. A fiscal conservative is supposed to do what I'm doing and identify pork and to try and stop it. I don't know what Hatch is fiscally, but away from the spotlight he's doing the opposite of what a fiscal conservative would do: adding to the pork when he should be cutting.
1 UTOPIA lists membership as 16 cities on their website. Wikipedia defines the additional 5 cities as "non-pledging."
+++++ Update 12/13 8pm
To my pleasant surprise, Holly on the Hill and Free UTOPIA! had wonderful write-ups on this story today. Holly pointed to the Hatch's press release statement:
"...I have always said I have an obligation as your Senator to make sure our state, our communities and our people get back the hard-earned tax dollars we contribute to the federal treasury." (emphasis mine)The problem with Hatch's press release is that it is the antithesis of fiscal conservatism and gives reason to why he is not acting like a fiscal conservative. From this statement I extract three egregious points:
(1) The "hard-earned tax dollars" are supposed to be paying for constitutionally-defined vital federal services such as national defense and the post office and flow one-way to the government to pay for these services. That one could "get back" the money means that constitutionally the government has no place in misappropriating private property in the first place.
(2) If Hatch indeed has authority to give back money to Utah, then he must accept that all other 534 members of Congress do as well. This results in protracted bickering among equals as to who gets what share of the pie and is resolved only by everyone getting everything which does further damage to the deficit.
(3) Hatch's statement thus defines him as a believer in "redistribution of wealth," a tenant of socialism. Hatch believes it is his job, indeed his "obligation" to take money the government has coerced from the people and decide who the winners and losers are in the state of Utah to receive back the distribution.
Contrast Hatch's press release with what a fiscal conservative such as myself would say regarding earmarks:
I have always said I have an obligation as your Senator to make sure our state, our communities and our people do not pay a single excessive dime of the hard-earned tax dollars we contribute beyond what is vitally necessary and Constitutionally permitted to the federal treasury.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Economist Pierre Rinfret projected the measure to have a severe inflationary effect on an already bumpy economy while Carter-administration pollster Pat Caddell showed the President the people wanted unions to have less, not greater power. The Senate, then with a 61 Democratic +1 Independent supermajority needed the help of moderate Democrats to stay in line with with the party in order to avoid being filibustered by the Republicans.
The filibuster endured several weeks and repeated failed attempts by Majority Leader Robert Byrd at cloture, but the last Democratic holdout--a Nebraskan Senator by the name of Ed Zorkinsky seemed on the verge of wavering just before a record-setting sixth cloture vote on a single bill (ten years later Byrd would later push the record to eight attempts in 1988). "Leading the Charge" describes the pressure on Zorinsky thus:
Hatch calls Zorinsky and says he must have his vote today. Zorinsky sounds haunted. Hatch guesses that Byrd worked him over last night, Zorinsky confirms it: "They promised me everything."Yet Zorinsky went on to stick to his convictions and became the deciding holdout vote against big government and big unions when 58 Senators had voted for filibuster-ending cloture and a 59th had announced on the floor his conversion. The bill was defeated and the filibuster held.
"Ed, you didn't give in did you?"
"No, but you can only count me as a mushy no," says Zorinsky, meaning he's still with Hatch--barely. "If I change my mind I'll call you." (p. 98)
When I read this story, I reflected on the contrast to the modern-day story of another Senator from Nebraska--Ben Nelson1--and the infamous "Cornhusker Kickback" he received in exchange for his vote a year ago this month for cloture on another economy-busting Democratic bill: Obamacare.
As 2012 elections slowly begin to roll around, I hope we will not forget the damage Ben Nelson did to our country through his vote and find someone better in Nebraska with Zorinsky-like toughness to vote for what is right.
1 Coincidentally, Nelson occupies the selfsame Class I seat previously held by Zorinsky
Monday, December 6, 2010
Now at this eleventh hour of the expiration and on the verge of a dramatically more fiscally-responsible Congress about to be sworn in in January, Democrats want to deal. Note that the desire for a deal comes after last week's class-warfare rejection votes to only extend tax cuts for the middle class. Yet still we haven't had an up-or-down straight vote on extending the tax cuts.
And with Pelosi and Reid controlling congress, we probably won't get one. Fine. Let the Democrats show We the People that they are willing to raise taxes on everyone in a recession rather than cut taxes for everyone. In January, we will get the GOP back in control of the House and will get the tax cuts extended retroactively. The GOP will win twice, both in December as the Dems let the tax cuts expire and in January when they save everyone from those hikes.
But what some--including Sen. Orrin Hatch--want to do is to cut a deal to extend unemployment benefits to get the tax cuts to remain in place 2 more years. Huh? What? Why? Unemployment has been extended already to a record 99 weeks and we want to extend it longer? NO WAY! If you've been unemployed 99 weeks you probably aren't doing what you need to do to find a job. Either you need to move, improve or update your skills, or lower your wage expectations. Michelle Malkin points to the tremendous burden on business these record-long UI extensions are having. Folks, 99 weeks is WAY beyond a "safety net" it IS redistribution of property, a dole, socialism, welfare, or whatever name you prefer.
The GOP should not be negotiating from weakness when in a month their numbers go up and they can negotiate from strength without having to add yet another entitlement program to the deficit. They should have an up-or-down vote on extending all the Bush-era tax cuts or no vote at all. What Congress has yet to understand is we want votes simple, one-topic bills not quagmired compromises.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
According to an article Wednesday by Daily Herald political reporter Joe Pyrah, the County plans to tap into reserves "to keep from raising taxes" as our county's debt load continues to pile up.
The Daily Herald itself courageously spoke up against the proposed pay hike in this morning's editorial:
Proposing a raise for government employees right now painfully highlights the element of coercion in taxes. Revenue for private business comes from customers who take money out of their pockets in a free market and spend it as they choose. By contrast, government just takes your money whether you agree to give or not. You have no choice.The Herald is right on the mark here with the "unethical" label, but even a step short of where I would take it: if you pass an irresponsible budget including pay increases when we can ill afford them, this is a de facto tax increase and unsound Republican government.
Raising the pay of government employees on the backs of taxpayers who are getting no raises thus borders on the unethical. We don't recall any of the candidates for county commission in the recent campaign loudly proclaiming that, if elected, their priority would be to raise the compensation of all government employees. That one probably wouldn't fly back then. So why does anybody think it flies now? It shouldn't.
A Herald reader/commentor self-identified as "grumpydad" brought to light the conflict of interest issue I have personally sensed as a county delegate myself regarding county delegates who are also county employees: this group overwhelmingly votes in favor of Commissioners who raise county employee pay.
Are these people crazy!!!!??? What planet are they living in to give raises on the backs of the taxpayers? They keep collecting more and more of our money, andPerhaps then it is more than coincidence then that Commissioner Ellertson--the next Commissioner up for reelection--is the outspoken supporter of such raises. What the Commissioners should be discussing instead is whether pay cuts are necessary for us to meet our financial obligations.
stack the party caucuses with County employees (mostly deputies) to guarantee that they can keep getting elected and the deputies get all their special favors and raises from the Commissioners. This is a total racket. [emphasis mine; ed. sp.]
With a final vote on the budget scheduled for Dec 14th, two days hence on Pearl Harbor Day Tuesday, December 7th, at 9am at the County Administration Building will mark the final opportunity for citizens (who aren't working at that time slot) to voice their opposition to these Utah County tax-increasing pay raises in the deficit budget.
The bill--expected shortly to be signed into law by Michelle's husband--is clearly unconstitutional as it expands grasp of federal government into the domain of the states through funding of school lunches. Nowhere in our Constitution is the federal branch of government granted the right to meddle with our kids' education; indeed the 10th Amendment allows these non-enumerated powers to be reserved to the States:
S. 3307 was first passed in August by unanimous consent in the Senate rather than a floor vote. For Utah, this means that neither GOP Senators Hatch nor Bennett stood up to voice any objection to yet another unconstitutional power-grab by the federal government. While Bennett is scheduled in January to be replaced by Mike Lee ("I will not vote for a single piece of legislation that I can’t reconcile with the text and the original understanding of the U.S. Constitution," NBC quote / C-SPAN full video of speech), the consent vote certainly leaves Hatch open for just criticism as he prepares to run yet again in 2012.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Rep. John Kline (MN-02), Senior Republican on the House Committee on Education and Labor, took a courageous stance against S. 3307. One of the truths he points out in his widely-underreported Floor Statement was in debunking the myth that S. 3307 was "fully paid for" as touted by the media. While much of the money for S. 3307 comes from cuts in the Federal Food Stamp program, this was additional unused one-time monies coming from the Stimulus bill and will leave us long-term further indebted (emphasis mine below):
In his statement Rep. Kline further highlights that S. 3307:
...The majority claims this bill is “paid for.” They want us to believe we can grow government with no cost or consequences. But the American people know that is just not true.
More spending is more spending, whether or not those dollars are offset elsewhere in the massive federal budget. But one offset in this bill is particularly questionable.
The truth is, at least some portion of the billions in new program costs is deficit spending. This money was borrowed from our children and grandchildren in 2009 when it was put in the stimulus; that borrowed money is simply being redirected today.
This bill – with its so-called “pay for” – is merely a stalling tactic. It obscures
government expansion in the short-term so this bill can become law and its spending can become permanent. So here we stand, playing a shell game with the federal budget and hoping the American people do not notice that government continues to grow, spending continues to expand, and our children continue to fall deeper and deeper into debt.
- Nets opposition from local school leaders responsible for implementing these new requirements because of rigid mandates and higher costs
- Creates or expands 17 separate federal programs
- Implements dangerous federal price controls, as highlighted by the National Governors Association
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Those in favor of Prop 1 were organized and had political mailings, a website, endorsements, and yard signs; those wanting to keep their own money were clearly not organized. We must remedy this as voters and hold accountable officials who publicly signed their names as citizens supporting unnecessary tax increases. We must be ready to organize better to stop future attempts from our city council and to be ready to change city council members.
But for those of us feeling that something more than a simple 50% majority should be required to approve tax increases (which coincidentally includes many people who did favor Prop 1), help is on the way in the form of a proposed Constitutional Amendment. Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) announced a proposed Constitutional amendment to "require that any tax or fee increase on the state, city or county level would require two thirds majority vote in order to pass." (ABC4)
The proposed amendment will need to pass a 2/3rds vote through the legislature next year and then require voter approval as amendments A, B, C, and D did this past election.
This is a much-needed amendment, case in point: had this amendment been in place, Prop 1 would have fallen considerably short of the votes it needed and I wouldn't be forced to choke up $80 a year for the next 20 years. Provoans could have then sought a more fiscally responsible way to pay for their want. Those who wanted a rec center could have donated the money they used to fund their taxation efforts into a voluntary citizen donation fund to accrue money over time towards a day when we could build a rec center without raising taxes or forcing citizens to pay for services they do not need or want.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Utah to (finally!) get its 4th Federal Congressional District!
Ten years ago, we counted just 800 persons shy of getting a fourth seat for Utah in Congress; that seat went to North Carolina instead. A major court battle ensued because Utah wasn't allowed to factor in religious missionaries serving missions abroad whereas North Carolina was able to count its military and civil servants living abroad. This was obviously wrong, but Utah wasn't able to persuade the courts. The entire Utah Delegation wanted then to alter the Constitution by giving Washington, D.C. a Representative coupled with a 4th for Utah. Fortunately, this horrible idea (see 2006 wonderful DN opinion by former Rep. Jim Hansen) went nowhere and instead the 800 persons short has rectified itself by Utah's continued population explosion. Because of the addition of this fourth seat, Utahns can expect some significant boundary changes when we next vote in Federal elections in 2012.
Criticism of the 2000 Reapportionment
Utah's 3 Congressional Districts changed dramatically in 2001 and resulted in a fair amount of criticism. (See BYU Universe article for before and after maps.) Noble-thinking Republicans thought that it would be good to have all of Utah's Reps co-responsible for Utah's vast land and resource areas; partisan-thinking Republicans were hoping to create a district so Republican we would be able to rid ourselves of Matheson (actually getting rid of Matheson could be considered noble as well, but not to those who don't study Matheson sly votes). Whatever the motives were, the redistricting backfired.
The first way the 2001 Reapportionment backfired for the GOP is that liberal Matheson has successfully held the seat through the 5 Federal election cycles since reapportionment. Second, it has spawned an organization called Fair Boundaries which seeks to implement a non-elected oligarchy of 11 persons to manage reapportionment. This idea is yet another way of taking power out of the hands of We the People and our elected representatives; the promoted "cure" is worse than the problem. Third, Republicans lost the media war: an example of this is a 2001 Wall Street Journal editorial entitled "The Gerrymander Scandal" applying the word "scam" to Utah.
Witness the scam Republicans pulled off this year in Utah to defeat the state's Democratic Congressman, Jim Matheson. The state's GOP legislature carved up his urban Salt Lake City district and mixed city neighborhoods with 14 rural counties. The GOP plan moved 684,000 people from one district to another, while competing plans moved fewer than one-tenth as many.
Defense of the 2001 Reapportionment: Bad locally, not atypical nationallyNot that the WSJ is the conservative paper many perceive it to be--indeed it's widely-considered the most liberal--but Republicans were unable to come up with an effective counterargument making redistricting look like a gerrymandered attempt to remove Matheson (despite some in the legislature who I believe had good intentions.) Furthermore even the WSJ editorial admitted Utah's Congressional Districts were "not the worst." To name but a few of the numerous worse examples consider the likes of: Arizona 2nd California 23rd California 38th California 39th Florida 22nd Florida 23rd Illinois 17th Maryland 2nd Maryland 3rd Massachusetts 2nd North Carolina 12th New York 22nd New York 28th Tennessee 3rd Texas 19th Washington 1st and my all-time favorite: Illinois 4th. New Jersey is perhaps the worst overall gerrymandered state: not only do all 13 districts look like a bad jigsaw puzzle, but this gerrymandered outcome was a result of one of these "bipartisan districting commissions" (similar to the Utah Fair Boundaries proposal) put into the New Jersey State Constitution by voters in 1995 (see Rutgers 2010 redistricting study).
I guess one could argue that Republicans did the same thing in a red state that Democrats did in blue states. This attitude was summarized by John Swallow who after participating in redistricting as a Utah State Legislator in 2001, then turned to make runs against Matheson in 2002 and 2004:
"People need to understand it's a political process that happens every ten years, and that in Utah, just like in Washington, majority rules." (BYU Universe)Recently-defeated Matheson opponent Morgan Philpot also voted for the redistricting in 2001 and came up with this ultra-partisan defense:
"[Democrat Minority Leader Ralph Becker's] appeal to fairness is nonsense. The fact of the matter is that's the nature of the game. Let's wake up." Philpot added that by their nature political parties "cannot seek fairness." (Ogden Standard-Examiner, October 2, 2001; emphases mine)
Although the 2001 redistricting wasn't an issue in the 2010 midterms, hopefully Philpot will use his political clout to retract this statement and support a fair redistricting by noble-minded elected Republicans in 2011. Calling fair reapportionment "nonsense" and "a game" is exactly the kind of partisanship that will turn people away from the Republican party. While I truely believe that Swallow or Philpot would have hands down done a much better job than Matheson has, perhaps bad karma struck thrice (twice Swallow, once Philpot) as voters with sufficient memories held out this against the GOP.
2001 State Reapportionment--particularly the House--a gerrymandered mess
While I consider the Federal reapportionment to be lightly gerrymandered, the state's alignment into State House Districts and State Senate Districts was awful. To this I defer to valid points raised by Fair Boundaries organization coupled with my own observations.
- House District 69: Grand County--population 8,000 was split in half down Main Street of Moab while carving up 4 other counties
- House Districts 67, 70: The confluence of slices of rural counties
- House District 8: Herniated into Ogden after squeezing through a 5-block gap
- House Districts 53: Even though Summit County was right at the 30K population mark needed for its own rep, liberal Park City was deemed by the Republican legislature to have to be cut in half. Some of 53 protruded into Wasatch county.
- House District 25: Combines Federal Heights area with a piece of Park City. Road travel between the two areas is impossible without crossing House District 28. Although connected by land, the two areas are essentially non-contiguous
- Senate District 24: Tooele County got split into 4 Senate Districts while not boasting enough population to justify even one.
- Senate Districts 13/27: Utah County took away land Tooele county when it had plenty of population with its own borders. Instead, SE Utah County got lumped into District 27 which extends clear the the SE corner of the state.
How to Conduct a Fair Reapportionment
While Utahns don't want a silly commission, we do want fair reapportionment. We don't want reapportionment to be based on racial profiling, incumbency, or political parties. We want to be grouped into logical, compact groups. We have a wonderful state division unit which divides us called the "county." County boundaries should be the foremost consideration when dividing any redistricting line. I suggest the following rules for Utah be adhered to (specifically written for divison of the four Federal Congressional Districts, but mostly applicable to any redistricting):
- Strike balance between keeping districts segregated (into urban and rural; more a Democratic tenant) and desegregated (all districts have both urban and rural; more a Republican tenant)
- If a county has reached the population threshold for representation (for Utah abt 2.8M divided into 4 districts or 700,000), that county merits strong consideration for a representative whose district lies completely within the county
- As much as possible, keep the full county intact as a voting unit.
- Keep county breakups to a minimum: that is, break into twos is better than breaking into threes.
- Don't string counties along like Texas 19th, keep county groups compact.
What the 2011 Federal Redistricting of Utah Map Should Look Like
I'm not here to draw maps, but here's an outline a basic idea from the application of these five rules to a Utah with 4 districts:
- Salt Lake County (SLC), with over 1M in population would have its own representative; it would also be the only county with its own representative confined within county lines.
- "Boomtown" Utah County with population currently (est) 560,000 will be on the verge of meriting its own representative by 2020 with a population of 727,000 (see 2008 Baseline Projections Summary, Utah Gov Office Plan & Projections). Of course, by 2020 it could be Utah at 3.6M in population is looking for a 5th Congressional District anyways. Thus for 2010, Utah County could prepare for 2020 by taking some of the population from the south end of SLC and be a compact district of its own without having to string or divide other counties.
- There would both northern and Dixie districts, considerably rural, to help balance out the two urban districts. The division between north and south would help keep the geography workable for a single representative.
- There would still be population in SLC to be absorbed by either the northern or Dixie district depending on exactly how the counties are allocated and how the SLC seat is drawn.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
While the GOP gained six seats in the Senate and lost none, there were also seven close races we lost: Buck in Colorado, Rossi in Washington, Angle in Nevada, Fiorina in California, McMahon in Connecticut, and Raese in West Virginia. Had we won these six races, the Senate would be in GOP hands. But good news lies just around the corner.
In 2012, 21 Democrats and the 2 Independents who caucus Democrat are up for reelection while only 10 Republicans are up. Presuming all 10 Republicans are holds like 2010, this gives us a chance to focus on the 23. Keep in mind all 23 voted for Obamacare, the failed stimulus, the 2000+ page Dodd Frank financial mess bill, and to confirm Elena Kagan to the SCOTUS1. Their records are all far-left liberal.
Vulnerable (+7 GOP pickups):
NEBRASKA: Ben Nelson ("cornhusker kickback")
MISSOURI: Claire McCaskill (won less than 50% of vote last election)
FLORIDA: Bill Nelson (Last month PPP had Nelson at 42% against a hypothetical Congressman Mack)
MONTANA: Jon Tester (won less than 50% of the vote last election)
OHIO: Sherrod Brown (June PPP has Brown's approval rating at just 38%)
VIRGINIA: Jim Webb (won less than 50% of vote last election)
NORTH DAKOTA: Kent Conrad (possible retirement?)
In Play (Up to 11 GOP pickups):
CONNECTICUT: Joe Lieberman (a strong GOP could win in a possible 3-way contest)
PENNSYLVANIA: Bob Casey, Jr. (could another Republican follow in Toomey's steps?)
MICHIGAN: Debbie Stabenow (a poll earlier this year had Gov Engler up 1% over Stabenow)
WISCONSIN: Herb Kohl (possible retirement)
NEW MEXICO: Jeff Bingaman (GOP Susana Martinez won decisively the governorship; is NM ready to go further red?)
WEST VIRGINIA: Joe Manchin (this race sure to be nationalized as a carryover from 2010)MINNESOTA: Amy Klobuchar (GOP picked up a seat in 2010 and almost won Gov. First Senate election since Democrat Franken stole election)
WASHINGTON: Maria Cantwell (WA was in play in 2010; will be again in 2012)
NEW JERSEY: Bob Menendez (NJ GOP picked up a congressional seat; Christie won statewide in 2009; can't rule out anything.)
HAWAII: Daniel Akaka (would theoretically reach 94 in office if re-elected--presuming he lives that long; Gov Lingle rumored to be mulling a run)
DELAWARE: Tom Carper (possible retirement: could Castle or O'Donnell get a second chance?)
Probably Not In Play (5):
CALIFORNIA: Dianne Feinstein
NEW YORK: Kirsten Gillibrand
RHODE ISLAND: Sheldon Whitehouse
MARYLAND: Ben Cardin
VERMONT: Bernie Sanders
1 Klobuchar didn't cast a vote but pushed for the nomination: "It's hard for me to understand how anyone could oppose her."
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
On their last poll for the 2nd District--released a day before early voting began--Dan Jones found with a 6% error margin Matheson to be beating Philpot by an astonishing 26 points! Yet Philpot ran a very close race tonight coming within 5 points of defeating Democrat Matheson. Keep in mind Philpot's narrow loss reversed increasing election victories including a Matheson's last 28 point victory in 2008. So how did Philpot move up 21 points in a single day before early voting? He didn't. Dan Jones was simply embarrassingly off.
And it isn't just this race Dan Jones got way off either: in Utah's other major race in the primary between Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater they showed Bridgewater with an 8 point lead with a margin of error of 4% just before voting. Lee won by 2 points.
With a track record like this, I really don't want to waste another minute reading another Dan Jones poll in my life.
Which brings me to Utah's biggest hero: the supporters of Morgan Philpot. From Alice Baker to people whose names you and I will never know--people stepped up to support a genuine patriot running in his first federal election. Morgan proved that Matheson is vulnerable and that while Morgan is a wonderful candidate, he isn't uniquely qualified to take down Matheson. Folks, we're just 24 short months away from getting rid of phantom Matheson and the lies he has used to get reelected.
So until victory in 2012, I took this snapshot earlier tonight on the New York Times election returns website with 65% reporting and Philpot in the lead to remind us all that together we can turn the 2nd District red.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Early 19th-century Presbyterian Minister Albert Barnes offered this interpretation of these verses in his "Notes on the Bible":
21. And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (KJV)
The idea here is, that they would live to consume; that is, to enjoy the productions of their own labor. Their property should not be wrested from them by injurious taxation, or by plunder; but they would be permitted long to possess it, until they should wear it out, or until it should be consumed. (emphasis mine)This idea that as citizens we should be able to keep the fruits of our labors was not lost upon our founders who viewed property rights as sacred.
Let us unite our voices in voting down property and income taxes. Let us vote for candidates who will continue the Bush tax cuts and slash budgets including transfer payments.
I've studied dozens of races across our nation and have yet to find a single race where the Democrat comes even close to the Republican in supporting fiscally soundness--and yes, WV Senate Republican Candidate John Raese beats Democrat Manchin hands down for fiscal conservatism! After Democrats voted en masse for stimuluses, Obamacare, Cap-n-tax, and financial regulation all the while producing nothing but an extended recession you can't go wrong in voting Republican this year.
One final point: these past two years we (the tea party and other ordinary citizens) have had tremendous energy in holding Republicans accountable to their promised fiscal conservatism. WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO AFTER THE ELECTION. This promised self-regulation of our party should give rise to Independents and open-minded Democrats to vote for the fiscally-conservative Republican. So let's unite and go start to turn this country around on Tuesday by voting out Democrats and voting in these fiscally-conservative Republicans at all levels of government!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The inspiring ad was reported by Holly on the Hill, SL Tribune, Rod Arquette Show, and by KSL the latter who I thought had the most thorough coverage of the story. It seems that although Alice is a citizen of above average import (being President of the prestigious, private Challenger School) it is clear she sought no recognition as such for the gift of tens of thousands of dollars in the form of radio ads to Morgan Philpot who hopes to join with other Republicans in restoring principle and fiscal responsibility to our country.
I regard this as a gift from Alice to us, the younger generations, that we might have hopes in growing up with a government that pays down its debts and balances it budgets. Alice could have bought another residence, travelled the world, or bequeathed the money to family or friends in a future inheritance. Instead she chose to perform a "random act of patriotism" in hopes of blessing us. I am indeed humbled.
In pondering the video, I thought to myself regardless of the actual vote count on Tuesday, we have won. We the people have won. We have won because people of all ages have awakened to the fact that their liberties have been destroyed and we are doing what we can to reverse course and return to our abandoned Constitution. We have won because we have monitored and held Matheson accountable for his votes and are now slowly reeling him in. I can't say yet if the time will be now or in a generation from now, but no matter how many times it takes, Matheson will be defeated. He will not stand. Alice has helped inspire us to move forward.
The odds are stacked so heavily against Philpot, neophyte to Federal elections. Heavy PAC and out-of-state money sustains namesake Matheson. And as the children of Israel pinned against the Red Sea, it will take a miracle for the seas to part for us to continue on to our divinely-appointed way. Yet we must go forward, polls not in our favor, and get our feet submersed before the miracle can happen. Are there enough Alices out there in the 2nd District who may not have money for a radio campaign, but will make a stand for our Republic and vote Philpot on Nov 2nd? I firmly believe there are more than plenty Utah Patriots out there to elect Philpot, IF the faith proceeds the miracle and the 2nd District as the Tolkein March of the Ents gets out and votes.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Amendment D: Creating a Legislative Ethics Commision
This creates a 5 person "independent" panel of "distinguished Utahns" (language in "Argument For" section) to review complaints of unethical legislative behavior. So, let me get this right, we are creating a non-elected oligarchy to pass judgement on the legislature? And what the fishwiskers makes someone a "distinguished Utahn"? This is an absurdity of an amendment.
Then I saw who was pushing this: David Clark, Speaker of the House. Oh. That makes sense now. The same guy who lead the standing ovation to Kevin Garn's hot tub-with-a-minor confession. (Holly on the Hill) Yep. This Amendment will decidedly vault Utah into a State of Enoch where distinguished panel members appointed by noble legislators will stand as 5 wise Solomons in executing perfect judgement. NOT!!!!
If there's one thing I've learned about a Republic is WE THE PEOPLE bear the burden of executing judgement and whenever we think to give up our power to someone else to do our job we suffer the consequences of their wrong decisions and encounter huge resistance in reigning back the power that is justly ours.
Chris Buttars, the sole Republican to have the wisdom to vote against this asp summed it up in the "Argument Against":
It's quite the shame more Republicans couldn't grasp the vision of Senator Buttars. I believe, if passed, this panel will permit or create far more unethical behavior than it will ever solve. This is the worst of the four proposed Amendments and gets a NO! vote from me.
The current process places you, the citizen, in full control of ethics violations. In fact, you ARE the ethics committee, because YOU decide whether a candidate is allowed to serve.
Do not use ethics legislation as a feel-good crutch when the real problem is that too many citizens fail to properly scrutinize before they vote.
There are no short cuts to running a proper democratic republic.
Amendment C: Specific Property Tax Exemptions
This Amendment provides some property tax exemptions for entities providing water and had no opposition. Here's my take: I can find no Federal Constitutional justification for Property Tax--that is, the governmental misappropriation of private property--so if we can give anyone any break on property tax let's do it and vote YES.
Amendment B: Eligibility for Legislative OfficeThe innocuous intent of this Amendment belies masking the debate on appropriate requirements for office. The Amendment seeks to normalize the requirements for office between elected and appointed officials. Fair enough so far.
Where I disagree is that it limits the citizens freedom to choose whomever they want to represent them. Having a 3-consecutive year citizenship in the state seems stringent in our mobile society. Suppose someone lived in Utah all their life, but moved away two years ago for a year for employment reasons. That person is ineligible for holding office. What if my citizen-legislator has to relocate across town and outside their district to care for an aging parent? They would not be able to serve.
If the citizens feel like someone is being a carpetbagger, then let the citizens have freedom through our competitive caucus system to elect someone else.
Until requirements are eased, there is no need for normalization which moves in the direction of stringency. We the People need fewer laws and more freedoms, so it's NO on B for me.
Amendment A: Further Definition of Utah's Secret Ballot
A bit of background: there is a growing national movement to do away with secret voting when it comes to forming a union (aka "card check"). I am strongly for keeping one's vote private when it comes to unionization because a public vote opens the door for intimidation and coercion of the workers in getting them to sign on to the union. It is easy to see through the fallacy of open union balloting by simply asking promoters to defend why then shouldn't all voting be public rather than secret?
Our Utah Constitution currently says that "all elections" should be by secret ballot so it seems like we should be protected from Federal intrusion into our state (IE feds: what part of "all elections" don't your understand?) and thus we shouldn't amend our Constitution whimsically.
The problem is we have seen the unchecked iron fist of the Federal government reach in and steal our lands we need to fund our schools, steal franchises from car dealers in our state, and force us into purchasing health insurance meeting their requirements. The 10th Amendment has been spit upon and "enumerated powers" has grown to a neverending Santa's list of wants.
If this small Amendment helps clarify our laws and keep the secret ballot for unionization we currently have--which I believe it does--then do I justify this Amendment with a YES vote.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
In yesterday's blog, I reported on the denying of WWE fans the right to vote if they wear WWE apparel. What I neglected to report on was the other simultaneous unravelings by Blumenthal.
The Hungry PAC-man
At the beginning of his race Blumenthal boasted in an MSNBC interview: "I've never taken PAC money and I have rejected all special interest money because I have stood strong and taken legal action against many of those special interests." Yet Daniela Altimari in a Hartford Courant article Friday attests Blumenthal's latest FEC filings prove the exact opposite:
Blumenthal's latest filings with the Federal Election Commission show he's taken thousands of dollars in PAC money to fund his U.S. Senate run in the third-quarter of 2010 alone. Among those opening up their checkbooks are political action committees representing air traffic controllers, steel workers, wine and beer wholesalers and rural letter carriers.Altimari continues naming names of PACs of all kinds including social, labor, insurance, and business PACs:
Someone ought to ask Blumenthal if there was any PAC contribution he turned down. At this point I'd rather put my trust in a Mexican coyote that this dishonest corruptible.
Most of the special interest money flowed from Washington, naturally....[including] a $1,370 donation this quarter from from the Planned Parenthood PAC, and $5,000 from NARAL Pro Choice America PAC....In addition to labor PACS, which were prominent on Blumenthal's donor list, he received money from the American Crystal Sugar PAC ($5,000), the New York Life Insurance PAC ($2,500) and the AFLAC PAC ($2,000)...
"Worst of WWE + women photos"
Perhaps the worst story of them all to break Friday was Ben Smith at the Politico who posted the following email from Blumenthal press staffer Marcy Stech to seven other Blumenthal aides and the State Democratic Party regarding trying to dig up misogynistic (or, women-hating; at least I spelled it right!) photos to hit "LM" (Linda McMahon):
Subject: Worst of WWE + women photos
Date:Fri, 22 Oct 2010 13:50:
From: [Marcy Stech]
To: Catherine Algeri, Pat McHugh, Brian Farnkoff, Dan Morrocco, Jon Donnenberg, Ty Matsdorf, Kate Hansen
Hey all — Grossman is looking for mysoginistic photos of women and WWE. Planned Parenthood wants to hit LM hard on it.What do we got?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
With the liberal Hartford Courant calling this email which points to coordination between the Blumenthal campaign and Planned Parenthood (a Blumenthal PAC contributor noted above) "at the very least embarrassing and at very the worst, potentially illegal" it is a wonder the Courant chose to endorse this candidate who engages in potentially illegal acts. Keep in mind Blumenthal is the Attorney General of Connecticut or the state's top legal cop. If anyone should be held to the highest standards, it is Blumenthal.
Blumenthal is an embarrassment. He has no idea how to create a job. He lies. And now he engages in potentially illegal acts to win campaigns? How could anyone in their right mind vote for this crook? Didn't Connecticut learn its lesson from Dodd that there is a major corruption problem with the Democratic Party in Connecticut?
Come on, Nutmeggers: you deserve better than Blumenthal. Heck, the whole country deserves better than Blumenthal.
Similar to Blumenthal's PAC fib, Barney Frank (Dodd's House Counterpart) admits to breaking his pledge not to take money from banks receiving TARP funds. (Boston Herald, h/t Quickwit)
Saturday, October 23, 2010
If the local officials feel [wearing WWE apparel] is becoming an issue, they can tell someone to cover that up or come back wearing something else.
Apparently for the unique reason that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon has his wife Linda running against Bysiewicz's ally Blumenthal2, that alone makes the wearing of WWE apparel a political advertisement for McMahon. And the uniqueness of singling out WWE apparel as opposed to purple SEIU tees or Obama "O"s as being a campaign statement is what I predict will get Bysiewicz into further trouble.
Vince appropriately stepped up and issued this rousing pro-WWE video:
At least in 2008, voter intimidation waited until the election day.
1 This is the same Susan Bysiewicz who tried to run in the AG seat being vacated by Blumenthal but in a 7-0 CT Supreme Court decision was stopped because she lacked the 10 years of law experience for the position. Bysiewicz had tried to claim her time as Sec of State.(Wikipedia) She is obviously no legal expert when it comes to law.
2Not only are Bysiewicz and Blumenthal allied by party, but the first thing Bysiewicz did when her lack of experience for the AG position came up was to seek a favorable opinion from Blumenthal. Blumenthal would pass the grenade to the courts without offering an opinion on whether or not Bysiewicz was qualified.
++++ Update 10/24 7pm:
The clip below from Newsy.com points to a Politico story which covered more of the drama:
"It may be a thing where an 18-year-old kid walks in with a Smackdown T-shirt. If the moderator determines it's no big deal, it's fine," Harris said. "Forty people walking in when the Connecticut candidate for Senate is associated with the company, and her husband is the CEO — it's a celebrity type of CEO, it's not just a run-of-the-mill CEO of a company. This a well-known ubiquitous company."Since when does poll worker's opinion surpass my right to vote? Are we a country of laws or are we subject to enforcement by arbitrary opinion? Does my right to vote cease to exist when I go to vote with likeminded individuals versus voting alone? Does my right to vote cease to exist if I'm a 40 year old wearing a WWE tee versus an 18 year old? Does my right to vote cease to exist if I'm wearing fatigues because a pro-military look might be viewed as a vote against Blumenthal who lied about his Vietnam service?
The executive branch of government--in this case the CT Sect of State--was designed to enforce established rules and laws--not interpret them through the eyes of thousands of differing poll worker's opinions. The situation in CT is totally out of control. Frankly, Bysiewicz should resign before she further embarrasses the Democratic Party and the whole state of Connecticut.
CT veteran journalist Don Pesci at Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes from a Blue State points out that really it is AG Blumenthal's responsibility to "put a quick stop to the abuse of the First Amendment by issuing one of his frequent advisories" and adds:
Someone surely will put the question [of wearing WWE apparel] to Blumenthal, hopefully before voters compelled to strip by poll watchers enter voting areas to exercise their franchise and their First Amendment rights in November.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
If we dig a bit deeper into the pie, we find more public funding. The CPB or Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds 10.1% of NPR. In turn, the CPB gets roughly 15% of its funding from federal governments and 25% from state and local governments (NPR funding report). That translates into 40% of CPB funding from the government. Forty percent of the 10.1% translates into an additional four percent of NPR's total pie coming from government sources.
But public funding doesn't stop there. Consider the "University" slice: certainly huge amounts of public money go to fund our public universities to directly provide education for its students. Since it is impossible to break down what percentage of "University" money is considered public, how about NPR simply returns the money back to the universities to help lower tuition or build buildings? There is certainly no need for one public entity to fund another.
Thus if NPR wants to completely public defund itself, NPR needs to eliminate:
5.8% in direct governmental funding
4.0% in governmental funding through CPB
13.6% in university funding
23.4% in total public funding
In an era of neverending waste, we call upon all levels of government to defund NPR and put it towards reducing debt.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
What the WSJ really means by a "60 Seat Majority" is of course a "Democratic 60 Seat Majority" as the tick is placed at the position to include 60 Democratic Senators. Noticeably absent was a corresponding "60 Seat Majority" tick drawn towards the blue side of the color band to represent the equivalent Republicans would need.
Democrats currently hold 57 seats plus 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats. No political reporter is talking about anything close to the Democrats retaining seats; the big question is whether the Republicans can stretch to the 50-seat halfway mark (or perhaps beyond) with consensus building around a projection of 7 or 8 GOP pickups.
The position of the "60 Seat Majority" tick demonstrates biased Democratic thought by the WSJ in terms of measuring the 2010 Senate elections up to a irrelevant 60-seat Democratic Majority.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Demonstrative of Carly's professional, but approachable character and business prowess is this impactful interview of Fiorina with CNBC:
Two take-home quotes from the video:
"Barabara Boxer believes every decision belongs in Washington and I think a lot of folks believe that people closest to the problems need to make the decision."
"The first thing that I will do is sit down with the Senior Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, and work on those things that we can do together to help bring relief to the people of California. And one of the first things we can do is get the water turned back on in our central valley and put people back to work."
Turning off the water for some trite minnow is an example of liberal policies wrecking havoc on the great California economy. Parts of the Central Valley once known as the "nation's salad bowl" have now become barren due to the lack of irrigation. Some of the hardest working legal immigrants in California have been devastated. If you can't figure out a way to save BOTH a minnow from annihilation and an economy from destruction, you don't deserve to be elected. It would be rather ironic if the minnow went extinct because hungry Californians caught it to use as fish-bait to feed hungry families on now-barren farms.
Thus the day of reckoning has arrived for the soon-to-be-septuagenarian Boxer to be held accountable for the devastation she has wrought upon California (not to mention the rest of the nation) for nearly three decades. How much longer does Boxer need in office to prove her unworthiness? Another six years? Twelve? Maybe some think she should just stay in office until like Byrd and Kennedy she just drops off. But I believe Californians deserve better. They deserve a change from 12%+ unemployment.
There remains no doubt in my mind that Carly have a measurable impact towards California economic prosperity while Boxer will continue to lead the once Golden State down the road of bankruptcy.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
"Phantom" Jim Matheson has been justifiably taking the heat for his lack of public appearances and contact. Bloggers with opposite political leanings have been justly taking note (Brian Halladay) (Glen Warchol).
Two months ago in a Salt Lake Tribune article by Matt Canham on this very issue, Matheson is recorded as countering the "phantom" label by asserting:
“I have been in front of the public all the time, with open questions, no script. Anyone can ask me any question they want”Contrast this bold assertion with Matheson's performance when someone actually saw the Congressman and approached him with some legitimate questions as seen in the video below:
Keep in mind it was this selfsame "Phantom" Matheson who was the deciding controversial vote for adjournment last month instead of a budget or retaining tax cuts specifically stated so he could "go out and be with their constituents and hear from them." (KSL)
Hmm....I'm beginning to wonder if Jim Matheson really exists at all. Maybe he's like a Remington Steele where Democrats just use his recognizable surname to hang on to political power while the Claudia Wrights of the party do all the work in communicating to the district.
In April, I did a groundbreaking post on Utah County elected officials & candidates and their attendance at the Tuesday Utah County Commission meetings. With early voting starting this Tuesday, a followup was needed, see chart below:
The two Republican Utah County Commissioner candidates, Doug Witney and Gary Anderson, both attended the meetings with appropriateness: Anderson attended all excepting a pair of excused absences, Witney attended several so that he can hit the ground running when he wins.
As for the two Democrat candidates for Commissioner? As of the last available online minutes, either has yet to attend a single meeting for the entire calendar year! Why even bother running for office if you're not going to at least try and be public and informed? (For any corrections please comment below or see our profile for email address.)
Join me in electing Witney and Anderson as Utah County Commissioners.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The music reminded me of the march of We the oppressed People of our great country by a federal government that won't mind our fiscal house of order and will not listen to the will of the people in letting go of power and reducing its intrusion into our lives. A government which controls, as Morgan aptly pointed out yesterday, 2/3rds of our great state and thus controlling the very resources we need to keep our state from raising taxes on its citizens and to be wealthy and prosperous. Morgan said yesterday that Emery County alone has the resources to provide the state with most of its electrical needs, but the citizens have no hope for jobs there because it is locked up in the hands of the Feds.
I posted below the video the lyrics as I found them expressive of the deeply heartfelt passion of tea partiers, concerned citizens, and patriots from both sides of the aisle rallying to restore the power back to the people and away from backroom dealing, deceit, unfathomable bills in length and complexity, and exposure to enormous quantities power for so long it has corrupted our officials. With elections upon us and early voting about to begin (Tuesday, October 19th in Utah), won't you "join in our crusade" and vote that we might again have "freedom in the garden of the Lord"? You can still register in person at your county's office through the 18th if you have been meaning to do so.
Do you hear the people sing?
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light
For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord
They will walk behind the ploughshare,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward!
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Not having much taste for the rumor mill, I thought I'd share one I heard: liberal Democrats are secretly planning to vote for Philpot because Matheson doesn't listen to them and they feel the only way to get him out is to lose this time and try a different candidate in 2012. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it would make a bit of sense. Matheson faced his first primary challenge this year as a Congressman, and there is plenty of bad vibes going around about how he would be long gone if he weren't the son of a former Governor. Maybe I shouldn't speculate, but I figured I'd let the reader decide their own filter level. At any rate, the Philpot "Phans" have their work cut out for them. No matter how much money Philpot raises--and like every non-incumbent out there he does need money if you need to ask--he will be outspent. Yet the fact the Phans were in droves during major football games alongside improved polling proved to me that Philpot has gained huge momentum. Should Philpot be able to continue the momentum for the next three weeks, not only will he win, but by a comfortable margin as the disgust level with Matheson's vote to adjourn--without budget nor attempt at tax cuts extension--is going off-the-charts. The folks are fired up and mad and want Matheson out in a bad way. Conversely should the folks start falling asleep again or have better things to do on November 2nd, Matheson will win by a comfortable margin. Because of the intensity level, I think big turnout favors Philpot. As far as coverage, the Salt Lake Tribune was the first to the internet although all major media were out covering the event. The AP also covered the event in advance sending stories to far away places like the Stamford Advocate (CT).
Friday, October 8, 2010
In this read, Nelson names 17 "ethical tensions"2 he experienced without further discussion or elaboration. Although Nelson uses the word "tensions" it seemed to me that the word "tensions" was understating the seriousness of these so-called "tensions" when considering the Congressional Oath of Office each Congressman is sworn to:
...support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,To me, this Oath means that every bill, every vote must be viewed with the underlying premise of "am I through my vote (actions) supporting and defending the US Constitution?" The resurgence of such a notion was evident in the recently-announced GOP "A Pledge to America" where on page 33 the authors promise:
foreign and domestic...
For too long, Congress has ignored the proper limits imposed by the ConstitutionSuch Constitutional underpinning will help provide a moral basis to ground the legislator through their ethical dilemmas and to help treat them with the seriousness imbued by the office itself.
on the federal government. Further, it has too often drafted unclear and muddled
laws, leaving to an unelected judiciary the power to interpret what the law means and by what authority the law stands. This lack of respect for the clear Constitutional limits and authorities has allowed Congress to create ineffective and costly programs that add to the massive deficit year after year.
We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the
specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.
What follows is a discussion of Nelson's 17 ethical tensions with my response (identified in maroon) immediately following each stated tension:
(1) The ethical tension of living and working in the political culture, which operates on the pervasive and dominant value of re‑election, while voting and working against those special interests who can best help you get re‑elected. ("You ought to be able to drink their wine, eat their food, take their contributions, look them in the face, and vote against them.")
This tension must be resisted by the politician who must treat every election as a privilege and focus on serving the constituency though noble policy irrespective of potential impacts on reelection. To ameliorate such tensions, the politician should examine if they should be "drinking the wine" offered in the first place. Serving but a sole term and returning to one's profession is far more noble than a career in politics; for America has sadly been witness to acid-like exposure-to-power corruption acting upon even the most noble of our Representatives.
(2) The ethical tension of voting against your own district, even the people who helped elect you, but for an issue that solves a statewide problem. (Policy by printout and parochialism.)
A basis of justification of voting against the district may be found in the Oath of Office above: sworn loyalty to the Constitution precedes loyalty to the district. Alternatively, politicians who feel government is best administered at the most local level possible--a theme derived from the Constitution--may find naturally that solving a local problem statewide is invasive.
(3) The ethical tension of voting for an issue you are against, either because you need that issue's supporters for your next vote (trading votes), or because you are a leader in your caucus, and the caucus members have decided they want this issue to pass. (lottery ‑ less latitude as you rise in leadership)
In theory, vote trading is not in and of itself evil, but rather the absconding of it is. If one were to engage in vote trading, they must be honest and open with their constituents; the potential embarrassment of such honesty provides an answer to whether one should vote trade. If votes were examined for their Constitutionality, votes most impactful to the nation would be found to be untradeable. Vote trading for leadership advancement or preservation is immoral as it promotes power over principle.
(4) The ethical tension of taking credit on the campaign trail for what you have done for your district, but not wanting your colleagues at the capitol to hear this because they already believe you have benefited your district at the expense of theirs and it can negatively impact your effectiveness to deliver again.
Loyalty to the people of the district must supersede loyalty to the party.
(5) The ethical tension of overusing the "I" pronoun, rather than the "we" pronoun when you work on an issue, pass a bill, chair a committee or give a legislative report.
If one is honest and wants to effectively gain influence with others they will give credit where it is due. Football coaching legend Bear Bryant is often quoted: "If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it."
(6) The ethical tension of working against good ideas because they are promoted by people of the minority party which is trying to take away your majority status.
One should never work against good ideas. People who push this corrupt philosophy are tyrants concerned about the preservation of power over principles which have made our nation great. Here's a great principle: great leaders sacrifice personal and party power for the good of the nation.
(7) The ethical tension of preserving human relationships while working against people because they are of the other party or on the other side of an issue.
True relationships remain even when the parties differ in opinion. One must always treat the opposing side with respect; yet if the opposition does not return the handshake of fellowship it speaks not to a personal ethical problem, but rather belies the relationship of a friend who is in truth a colleague.
(8) The ethical tension of telling your supporters all you know or have done on an issue, knowing that it will erode their support for you.
To lie, or not to lie that is the fundamental question posed here. A lie can be guised as a part-truth inasmuch as our courts have us sware: "to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god."
(9) The ethical tension of providing a quick budget fix, to get through the next election, knowing that you are compounding the long‑term fiscal problem of the state.
It is this very kind of common, unethical action that has placed our nation in financial jeopardy. Our latest 111th Congress went took this a step further and adjourned last month to go campaign leaving undone the Constitutional neglect of passing any budget.
(10) The ethical tension of characterizing an issue for the press in an objective manner, increasing the likelihood that you won't get quoted, or overstating it to get quoted.
Same response to this as (8) above: don't lie, don't misrepresent.
(11) The ethical tension of criticizing or not criticizing the press, even when you believe they deserve it, because you know they have more ink than you do.
Thank goodness for advent of the internet and modern media that makes it much easier to present the truth than to fret over yellow journalists. Always battle for truth and don't worry about the Goliaths in the media you have to face; it's OK if you lose an ink war, it's not OK if you lie.
(12) The ethical tension of operating by certain rules; for instance, seniority,when you know that other people could better chair the committees.
One is only given so much power in life (thank goodness!) A sole politician may not be able transform entrenched power, but one can make a difference and should speak up. Doing so in a professional way may draw others to your thinking that were to abashed to speak.
(13) The ethical tension of challenging your own leadership through a clandestine process of collaboration with the minority party.
Challenges should be open--for they are strongest when they are open. Under the rule of law as we have, when clandestine purposes are someday revealed as they always are, they ultimately weaken those who participated in them.
(14) The ethical tension of voting without adequate knowledge, having others vote for you, being intimidated to vote against what you believe is right, or using the vote to get even.
Elected Representatives must be servants who have bridled their human passions for revenge and corruption. Regarding "adequate knowledge," one shouldn't vote on a bill they haven't completely read and studied which--given the thousands of pages our bills often reach--puts adequate knowledge out of the hands of all but a few specialists. In Federalist #62 Madison aptly warned against this type of "voluminous" and "incoherent" law:
It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood...(15) The ethical tension of telling people what they want to hear, knowing that they won't find out that you acted and voted otherwise; or couching it in such a language that they will be led to believe you were on their side when, in fact, you were not.
This goes back again to (8) and (10) above: don't lie, don't misrepresent.
(16) The ethical tension of ripping the system and its process, when you are frustrated with it, knowing that your criticism plays into the hands of those who are anti‑government or those who are struggling to believe in democracy but are becoming despondent and disengaged.
The strength of our Republic lies in our freedom--and indeed responsibility--as both citizens and representatives to criticize our government when it has gone astray. As Franklin succinctly put it, we have a Republic "if [we] can keep it."
(17) The ethical tension of periodically asking yourself, "Why am I elected? Who am I serving?" and objectively measuring your answer against democratic ideals and goals and not just personal ambitions, and then asking your family the same question.
An elected Representative serves "We the People" through the Oath to uphold the Constitution. If the elected must periodically reflect on these questions, instead of having that ingrained into one's vision, it serves as a revealing symptom that the lust for power has already taken hold in the elected's heart. As one with a cancer, the elected should take immediate steps to eliminate the disease by rectifying their orientation and preventative actions to stop the disease. Like the awful mastectomy, the strong action including the possibility of immediate resignation should all be considered as options in preservation of the Oath and one's integrity.
1Although admittedly Nelson's paper is written from a Democratic or Progressive viewpoint, the bias is mostly innocuous and I will waive my minor objections in order to foster discussion and attention on Nelson's points rather than bias
2 Nelson names them only; I have numbered them for convenience sake.