Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some honest thoughts about the gay marriage controversy

Because I'm sure the world can not go on without me voicing my opinion...

Mostly I just need to get it off my chest, so I hope you'll excuse my less than perfect expression.

I loved this article written by the Deseret News about President Packer's talk because it acknowledges the complexity of the issue, and expresses love for LGBT people without compromising on our doctrine.

A Call for Civility Following President Packer's Address

I also appreciated the church's statement in response to the petition by the Human Rights Campaign

Official statement from Mormon church in response to petition from gay rights group

Some of the points made have been mentioned on the church's website for quite some time but perhaps haven't been publicized much to the general membership of the church, and I'm glad to hear them stated so clearly.

Such as, "This church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society's leaders often seemed disinclined to help. Our parents, our young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness towards those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions to others properly reflect Jesus Christ's second great commandment — to love one another."

Also, "Further, while the church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment."

Finally, "The church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. The church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other. It's not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the church's teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other church members including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God."

I've felt a little conflicted about this issue because I personally believe that there is at least some biological basis to same sex attraction, partly based on this study. I also think that there are environmental and social factors that come into play. I don't believe that biology forces someone with same sex attraction to act on that attraction, but it makes me feel compassionately toward those who struggle with this. I also think it's sometimes a struggle for single members, divorced members, or married members who are tempted to commit adultery to obey the law of chastity, but it is possible.

Of course there will always be those who think gay marriage is an acceptable alternative form of marriage, and the church will probably always disagree with them, hopefully we can do so with civility. But I hope that members of the church will take this statement to heart and treat those who have same-sex attraction with love and respect. And when we hear another church member say something demeaning we can speak up and point out the difference between the orientation and the action.

As far as Elder Packer's talk goes, I felt uneasy about one small part of it which was later changed. Even if he hadn't changed it I would still defend his right to say it. We don't expect our leaders to be infallible and one leader expressing his opinion on something that I thoughtfully disagree with is not going to destroy my faith in and loyalty to the church. Nothing else that he said was any different than what the church has been saying for years. I might have phrased some things differently, but it's ridiculous to expect someone born in the 1920's to use the same words that someone born in the 1980's might choose. To attack an 86-year old man, obviously in poor health, for stating his moral objections to homosexuality is mean-spirited. If you have a problem with the church's doctrine, fine, but leave the man alone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sen. Wyden on bipartisanship

An op-ed piece originally published in the Washington Post, republished by the Salt Lake Tribune.
Wyden, of course, is the co-sponsor with Bennett of the "infamous" Wyden-Bennett health care plan that played a large role in Bennett's defeat. I really enjoyed it, and it made me mourn the loss of Senator Bennett all over again.

Here are some highlights:

In fact, some in my party will undoubtedly criticize me for writing kind words about my friend Sen. Bob Bennett, just as some in Bob's party thought that his working with a Democrat was sufficient grounds for losing his seat in the U.S. Senate. In other words, many of the most committed activists believe that the only way for Republicans to win legislatively is for Democrats to lose, and vice versa...

I still think I had a pretty good idea for health reform -- despite its rejection by significant Democratic and Republican leaders -- but so did Bob Bennett. I was on the Senate floor three years ago when Bob walked across the center aisle to tell me he was willing to work with me on health reform. I had been meeting with him and other Senate colleagues for many weeks to talk about the Healthy Americans Act and what I believed was a historic opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together on an important issue...

While I'll let others debate what became of the Wyden-Bennett health-reform bill, our effort married the best, most principled ideas that both parties had been promoting for decades. Like most Democrats, my fundamental principle was guaranteeing quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans. Like most Republicans, Bob felt strongly that market forces be used to promote expanded consumer choice and competition. Our legislation did both. As long as I would help Bob achieve his marketplace principles and avoid bigger government, Bob said he could back me on getting everyone insured...

Bob Bennett is one of the most conservative men I have ever known, but he is also one of the best. Even in defeat, he told me that he doesn't for one minute regret working with me to try to do something important for the country, which is why I consider his loss so tragic. The country needs more senators who think like Bob Bennett, not fewer.

While it may be tempting to read the recent elections as a rejection of principled bipartisanship, polling shows that the majority of the American people are sick of the status quo, and the status quo is a Washington obsessed with legislating as though Congress' sole function is to play a wholly partisan, zero-sum game. The American people want us to put our nation ahead of party allegiances. They want us to do more than devise ways to gain and maintain power. They want us to be constructive with that power...

The regrettable irony of what transpired in Utah's Republican convention is that a small number of hyperpartisan activists have just ensured that Utah's contribution to the Senate will be less bipartisanship and more of the status quo in Washington. If that is the change that partisans are offering the nation, let's make certain the American public understands.

Allow electronic signatures on petitions

It's 2010 now, and I say it's time to start recognizing e-signatures on petitions as long as it can be reasonably proven that the person signing the signature is the person they claim to be. The idea of using the last four digits of a person's driver's license as verification sounds fine to me. Why not make it easier for people to participate in the political process?

From the Deseret News' Aaron Falk, this article about the legal fight in Utah about the issue.

Farley Anderson wants to see his name on the ballot come November, despite Lt. Gov. Greg Bell's decision to reject a petition that included 40 e-signatures.

Along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, Anderson will get his chance to argue his case before the Utah Supreme Court next week.

"Every person who participated in the electronic process thought about the issues, of their own fruition participated," Anderson said Monday. "It's far more empowering than when a petition is simply thrust in the face of someone. A lot of people will sign simply to get you out of their face. This way, people are actually casting a valid vote for something they believed in."

The high court will hear Anderson's arguments June 2.

The court's ruling could impact the efforts of the Utahns for Ethical Government citizen petition seeking legislative ethics reform. The UEG effort would likely need to count electronic signatures to meet the 95,000-signature requirement to get its initiative on the ballot, officials said, but Bell has rejected electronic signatures for both initiative and candidate petitions.

UEG attorney Alan Smith said he expects the group to file a friend of the court brief in the case.

Anderson, from the small Cache Valley town of Paradise, collected 960 signatures on paper but would need at least 40 of the signatures he collected electronically to also be counted for his name to appear on the ballot.

County clerks in Salt Lake, Washington, Kane and Sanpete counties verified the signatures. County clerks check the signatures by verifying the names on the petitions are registered voters and that there are no duplicates.

Bell, who is also the state's election officer, ruled the signatures invalid.

"They're required to submit to us 1,000 certified and executed and acknowledged signatures," said Mark Thomas, a spokesman for Bell. "We don't believe they have met that."

Anderson, a self-described "guinea pig" candidate for the electronic cause, said his online petitions used the additional security of asking for the last four digits of the signer's driver's license number.

As a matter of law, a signature should hold the same weight, regardless if it is collected on paper or online, said the ACLU in Utah's legal director, Darcy Goddard.

"Under the common law … a signature is any mark that the signing party intends to be her signature," she said.

ACLU attorneys said state laws regarding petitions put additional burdens on unaffiliated candidates and prevent equal opportunities at the ballot.

"Access to the ballot and governmental process should be free and equal and available to all, not those who are powerful, not those who are affiliated with political parties," said Brent V. Manning, who represents Anderson.

Obama's Fake Facebook Feed

Political junkies - you'll love this site on Slate.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Utah GOP Convention

I haven't had time to post much lately, but these are my impressions of the convention.

The Good:

It was fun to be around so many other people who care about politics. When we were in the convention room for the voting all the delegates were seated by county. It was inspiring to hear each of the counties called by name and to hear all of the delegates from that county cheer.

The voting was VERY organized. I don't know who the voting coordinator was, but I would definitely vote for her if she was running for office.

The Bad:

While I was wandering around listening to the candidates before the convention was called to order, I saw someone standing outside of Tim Bridgewater's booth shaking hands with people as they walked by. What was remarkable to me is that he was dressed in a suit and tie with a missionary name tag on. I don't know if he was not actually a missionary but was wearing an old name tag, or if he was a missionary and was at the convention for some reason. Either way, TOTALLY inappropriate.

I was sad that Bob Bennett lost, of course, since I was supporting him. I was going to vote for Tim Bridgewater as my second choice, but when he started ranting about socialism in his final speech just like all the others candidates had done, I left. Not much difference between one far-right candidate and another far-right candidate.

The Ugly:

I sat next to a lady who was a nice grandmotherly type. Then I started talking to her and I couldn't believe the conversation we had. Someone mentioned Mitt Romney in one of the speeches and she said, "I like Mitt Romney, but he's never going to be elected president because other Republicans don't like him." So far, I pretty much agreed with her. Then she went on, "They won't let Mitt Romney be president, but they'll elect a MOO-slim who wasn't even born in this country with no second thoughts about it. Can you believe it? A MOO-slim... he's not even a citizen..." I didn't want to start a fight or anything so my first instinct was to just smile and nod and then change the subject, but I just can't stand to listen to such crazy things without responding somehow. So I said, "Oh, are you talking about President Obama?" "Yes, Obama's a MOO-slim, didn't you hear about that big scandal?" "Where did you hear that, Rush Limbaugh?" hopefully with enough scorn in my voice to signal that I'm not a fan. "Well, no Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity..." I'm sure she could probably see the look of disapproval on my face. So she continued, "He's very accurate, he fact-checks everything he says. There's a midwife from Kenya who saw him born, she talked about it and then she disappeared. Doesn't that sound suspicious, she says Obama was born in Kenya and then she disappears?" The whole time she was talking I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I realized it was pointless to argue about something she was obviously convinced of, so I just muttered, "Well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about that" and we moved on to other topics. But I still feel angry when I think about it. Not so much angry at her, I think she is well-meaning enough. I'm angry at the people in the media like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity who tell people half-truths to get ratings. They take people's fears and prejudices and twist them for their own political (and monetary) interests. It makes me sick that these people are taking over my party.

Now, the Democrats also have their conspiracy theories, like the 9/11 truthers. But I'm talking about the Republicans here, so we'll stick to the paranoia in my own floundering party. Do we really want a group of people in charge of the Utah Republican party who are getting all their information from Glenn Beck and friends and accepting it as the gospel truth? I know I don't.
Are all the clear-thinking people in the Republican party going to just sit back and let it happen? We'll see. A moderate Democrat seems to be a lot closer to my political views than these Obama-is-a-socialist-don't-even-talk-to-democrats-let's-do-nuclear-testing-in-Utah Republicans.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Now I'm getting depressed

From an Opinion column in the New York Times today

"The combined message that has been sent over the past two weeks is that there is entirely too much bipartisan cooperation going on in Washington and voters want to see an end to it."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mike Lee donated $500 to Sen. Bennett's campaign

A blog pointing out that Lee donated to Bennett's campaign a full three weeks after Bennett passed TARP. Strange, because now one of the pillars of Lee's campaign is the unconstitutionality of that very bill. Hmmm, maybe he's a politician, just like everyone else running. He also points out the general silliness of the I-hate-Bennett crowd in thinking that someone else will go in there and "restore" the Constitution. Really, Mike Lee seems like a nice guy, and I like his parents, but I think people have a fantasy about what will happen if he's elected that's not going to come true.

Article in Washington Post about Utah Senate Race

The Trial of Bob Bennett

In fact, Bennett looks likely to lose primary. And the main example of his perfidy? Cooperating with a Democratic senator to develop a market-driven universal health-care proposal that would've covered every American with private insurance and abolished Medicaid.

Bennett isn't a liberal. He's not even a moderate. But he's a legislator: He's willing to work with the other side to get things done. And he's paying for it now.

The result of this isn't just that Bob Bennett might lose his seat. It's that other legislators will stop legislating. It's that all Bennett's friends will see what happened to their old colleague and go pale. It's that compromise will become too dangerous to seriously contemplate, and so the possibility for compromise will become even more remote.

Yep, we're probably going to elect some one to go to Washington and grandstand for six years. Lame.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

America's Center-Right Core

A synopsis of former Senator Norm Coleman's speech to students at Harvard.

Big Government vs. Small Government

A great article by David Brooks in the New York Times. Thanks Julie!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Presidential Campaign Slogans

This website lists presidential campaign slogans since 1840. My favorites are Lincoln - "Vote Yourself a Farm"; Coolidge - "Keep Cool with Coolidge"; Barry Goldwater - "In Your Heart You Know He's Right"; Carter - "Not Just Peanuts."

Do political partisans get their facts wrong on purpose?

Article from SmartMoney

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Utah and the Tea Party

An article about the political dynamics in Utah this year by my favorite political duo at the Deseret News.

Tea Party Takeover

Tea Party claims to have taken over Utah GOP

After going to a Bob Bennett campaign event last night, I think this is probably true. Which is really unfortunate for Utah. I came away with the impression that the people at the meeting were so ANGRY, and nothing Bennett could say was going to placate them. These were the issues that took up most of the time at the meeting.

1. People were questioning the constitutionality of Congress having any role in the banking system. I think Bennett did a great job answering this question by pointing out that even among the original writers of the Constitution there was disagreement about the constitutionality of a national banking system, but eventually a majority of them were in favor of it. It seemed to me that the people holding up their little Constitution booklets have a very simplistic understanding of the Constitution. Of course the Constitution is incredibly important, and I think it's obvious to most people that Bennett respects the Constitution and tries to follow it in his voting record. But I think the original writers of the Constitution understood that the Constitution wasn't going to be enough to govern a country all by itself. Which is why they set up a system where people could amend the constitution of a large majority of legislators and states were in favor of it. And they set up the Supreme Court to judge the constitutionality of laws that would come out of Congress. Just because someone doesn't interpret the Constitution in the same way you might doesn't mean that they are a traitor to the Constitution.

2. People were complaining that Senator Bennett didn't even read the bills that he was voting on. I really appreciated Senator Bennett's forthrightness in admitting that no, he doesn't read the bills in their entirety, and no, he's not going to promise to read every bill that he has to vote on in the future. That doesn't mean that he won't understand what's in the bill, but he doesn't have the time to read every single bill. People were still really upset and didn't seem to grasp the physical impossibility of a single person reading every word of every bill. They argued that they read all the way through their mortgage and that's only affecting them, so Senator Bennett should absolutely be reading all of these bills that affect the entire country. These numbers are from a few years ago, but there's an analysis here of how many pages that would actually be. In the 19995-1996 session the average bill was 19.1 pages long, and I'm sure they've grown since then. In 2005-2006 there were 10,670 bills introduced and 2,674 passed. I think anyone who knows anything about an organization knows that the leader shouldn't be doing the grunt work that can be done by somebody else, but should be focusing on building consensus and listening to their constituents and all the other activities that a U.S. Senator is involved in. Yes, the system is probably broken, bills are too long, staffers can add things to bills without the senator knowing about it, but I don't think we should be taking that out on Bob Bennett. And insisting that he read every word of the bill is ridiculous.

People are so frustrated with government, which is understandable, but if they think kicking out Bob Bennett and electing one of the other candidates is going to make things better they are in for a big surprise. Of course Mike Lee or Cherilyn Eagar can promise to go in there and repeal ObamaCare and "take back our country" and everything else, but the truth is that they are only one senator in a legislative body of 100. Anything they accomplish has to be done through building consensus with other senators and knowing the ins and outs of the legislative process.
And the only candidate in a good position to do that is Bob Bennett. He has spent years working his way up to senior positions in different committees so he can influence the process. If we kick him out, we get someone who's on the very bottom of some obscure sub-committees. Most of the time they'll be talking to an empty room, most senators just make their statement and leave, and our new senator from Utah will be speaking last. It will take us years before we get back to the point where Utah has the political influence it has right now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why Rush Limbaugh is bad for the Republican party

An article in Newsweek written by a conservative concerned about the influence of Rush Limbaugh and others like him on the Republican party.

See, this is what makes me crazy

This is a little old, but a good reminder.

Why democrats are fighting for a republican health care plan

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm sorry, but Obama is not a socialist, I don't think you know what that word means

An article from Rick Moran at The Moderate Voice explains this perfectly:

I detest conservatives throwing around the words “socialism” and “Marxism” when it comes to Obama as much as I get angry when idiot liberals toss around the word “fascist” when describing conservatives. I’m sorry but this is ignorant. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge of what socialism and communism represent as well as an ignorance of simple definitions. Obama will not set up a government agency to plan the economy. He will not as president, require businesses to meet targets for production. He will not outlaw profit. He will not put workers in charge of companies (unless it is negotiated between unions and management. It is not unheard of in this country and the practice may become more common in these perilous economic times.).

An Obama presidency will have more regulation, more “oversight,” more interference from government agencies, more paperwork for business, less business creation, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities. It will be friendlier to unions, more protectionist, and will require higher taxes from corporations (who then will simply pass the tax bill on to us, their customers). But government won’t run the economy. And calling Obama a “socialist” simply ignores all of the above and substitutes irrationalism (or ignorance) for the reality of what an Obama presidency actually represents; a lurch to the left that will be detrimental to the economy, bad for business, but basically allow market forces to continue to dominate our economy.

Listen, I'm a Republican for a reason, I'm for fiscal restraint and family values. And I know that calling Obama a socialist might help in local elections this year. But if the Republican party nominates a candidate who constantly refers to the president as a socialist, the great middle of America is going to know that that Republican candidate is ignorant, and they're going to vote for the Democrat. Please, for the future of the party, stop with the inflammatory rhetoric.

The Right's Unjust War Against Sen. Robert Bennett

A nice article about how Bob Bennett is getting caught in a turf battle between Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, a group closely associated with the Tea Party movement. I understand that Bennett is really unpopular right now among republicans, and anti-incumbent sentiment is high in general, but I hope that people will really think about the different options and what's best for Utah. Bob Bennett really is conservative, it's only the political landscape in Utah that makes him appear less conservative. If it were any other year I don't think any of the other challengers would be taken seriously, but because of the well-funded anti-Bob-Bennett movement they might actually have a chance. If they take the place of Bennett Utah will have even less political clout for the next several years, I hope my fellow delegates will think about that when they get their several daily robocalls against Bennett.

Doesn't it seem odd that neither group has actually endorsed any of the challengers? Don't you think that if there was someone who was clearly qualified for the job, Club for Growth would have endorsed them instead of splitting votes between 3 or 4 different candidates? Doesn't that scare you a little bit?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Utah GOP Nominating Caucus

I've been elected as a state delegate for our precinct, which is basically the University Village. If you have any questions you'd like me to ask the candidates, leave a comment. I will ask them and report back on this blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shed your intimidated silence and declare your conscience

"It is time that the great center of our people, those who reject the violence and unreasonableness of both the extreme right and the extreme left ... shed their intimidated silence and declared their consciences."

There's a great article in the Deseret News today titled, "It's time for unaffiliated voters to get rid of polarized politics" http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700018469/Its-time-for-unaffiliated-voters-to-get-rid-of-polarized-politics.html?pg=1

Kathleen Parker points out that independents are now a full 40% of the electorate but we're still largely ignored in state and national politics.

One line I particularly loved is, "Why have we given the loudest voices so much power when their numbers are so few?" It seems to me that the people who believe so strongly in a political ideology that they are completely unwilling to compromise are the same people who throw civility to the wind and attack others who don't believe in them.

From the article:
Centrists — who may be broadly defined as fiscally conservative, socially libertarian-ish — have been relatively quiet as "patriots" have made threats, building armies of "hunters" to bring down RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) and DINOs (Democrats in Name Only), or creating online "Leper Colonies" to post the names of those who, for example, dared speak out against Sarah Palin. The latter was the creation of Erick Erickson, founder of RedState.com, recently hired as a CNN commentator and famous for calling retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat-xxxxing child molester," among other similarly trenchant observations.
I would guess that most people in my precinct feel like I do, we're mostly younger college students who feel alienated by the partisanship and irrationality of politics. I would also guess that the vast majority of us won't be attending our caucuses because we're so turned off by it all. So I can go and speak my point of view or even try to be elected a delegate, but if I'm honest about my political views I'm certain I'll be booed off the stage by all the other people attending the caucus, the majority of whom are going to be die-hard conservatives. So that's my dilemma, I don't feel like I have a place in the Republican party, and my social views are too conservative for me to feel comfortable actively supporting the Democratic party. But if I do nothing I'll be presented two choices at the polls, one chosen by hard-core Republicans in their caucuses and primaries, and one chosen by hard-core Democrats in their caucuses and primaries.

Is it better to abandon both politically parties and try to start something different, or to choose the lesser of two evils and try to work from within for change?

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Earlier this month the Utah legislature passed a bill, SB275, that would change the rules for citizen initiative petitions.  It will most likely be signed by the governor and immediately become law.  This bill is obviously aimed at the citizen initiatives for ethics reform and the Fair Boundaries initiative, both of which the Utah Republican party is strongly opposed to.  The new bill would allow the state Republican Party to see the names of those who signed petitions after they are turned in on April 15th, and they would then have until May 15th to contact people and lobby them to remove their signatures from the petitions.

I'm not a user of strong language so all I will say is that this is a piece of garbage bill.  As a citizen, regardless of how I feel about the ethics or redistricting initiatives, I am frustrated and insulted by it.  Firstly, it's extremely unfair to have a deadline for one side of an issue to collect signatures that is a month earlier than the deadline for the other side to remove signatures.  Secondly, this opens up all the people who signed these petitions to a month of harassment from the Republican party trying to get people to change their votes.  I don't like the ethics bill, but I am in favor of the Fair Boundaries initiative.  Man, oh man, if I get a call I'll give them a piece of my mind.

My objection to this, as a usually-more-Republican-than-Democrat citizen, was expressed beautifully by Derek Staffanson on his blog:

One of the central traits of conservatism is a healthy skepticism of government. It is the very nature of government to seek to protect and expand its power, conservative theory correctly asserts. Government should therefore be viewed cautiously. It should be structured in such a way as to minimize the potential for any given government entities to abuse government power, and to subject government entities to accountability.
Except, these conservative government officials seem to believe, when it comes to them. We should just trust them, because they are above reproach. To consider any checks to potential abuse is to insult their integrity.
Just as they did when they attempted to install the school voucher system against the wishes of the citizens of Utah, these Republican legislative leaders show a disregard for the democratic process and their status as representatives of the people.
No system of districting can be perfect. But it is reasonable to try to create a check on the power of the legislature and their incumbents with an independent commission. On such an important issue—and one in which the legislature has such a clear conflict of interest—the public should be able to decide.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Caucuses are in 11 days!

Well, the phone's been ringing off the hook at our place from all the campaigns calling to get delegates to go to caucuses.  So, it's about time to figure out who of the candidates is the most in line with my own moderate views.  Here's some information for anyone else trying to sort everything out.

Republicans running for the Senate seat

Bob Bennett - incumbent senator

Mike Lee - constitutional attorney

Cherilyn Eagar - businesswoman

Sorry, but Cherilyn is out for me, doing a tour with Joe the Plumber is a red flag in my book.

James Russell Williams - small business owner - dropped out of the race Feb. 25th

Merrill Cook - former U.S. representative
As far as I can tell he doesn't have a website, someone correct me if I'm wrong
Says he was "tea party" before there was a Tea Party - out

Tim Bridgewater - former congressional candidate

Democrats running for the Senate seat:

Sam Granato - businessman and CEO

Christopher Stout - accountant

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Public Debt

There's a very informative graphic from the New York Times about the public debt.  It's found at http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/11/23/business/20091123_RATES2_graphic.html  It shows the historical debt as a percentage of GDP, and a graph of when the public debt is coming due and at what percent interest.  It's nice to get a real picture of what's going on instead of a bunch of partisan spin.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Utah Precinct Caucuses

Precinct Caucuses are March 23rd
Here's the link to Salt Lake County Republican caucus locations, meetings are at 7:00 pm
And here are the Salt Lake County Democratic caucus locations, meetings are at 6:30 pm

Political News From Utah

From Salt Lake Tribune:

GOP's Armey backs Lee, scolds Bennett 

Hatch: Tea Party movement threatening to tear GOP apart

Supreme Court ruling could rain money on races 

From Deseret News

Utah Legislature: GOP senators ready to move on ethics reform package 




Utah Fair Boundaries

Or, at least it should... If you live in Utah please consider signing the Fair Boundaries petition that is going around. You can find a full copy of the initiative here. It's been endorsed by the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune, with KSL also supporting the general idea. I especially like the idea that political boundaries would be drawn by an eleven-member independent commission who would follow anti-gerrymandering standards and keep local communities intact. If you look at maps of legislative districts in Utah right now it's pretty obvious that many of the lines are being drawn to further someone's own political career rather than to fairly represent Utah's communities. They need to collect 94,522 signatures of registered Utah voters by next April to get the initiative on the ballot in November 2010. Go get 'em, voters!

Mormons and Civility - yes, even in politics

I loved, loved, loved this post in the newsroom of lds.org.  As I was reading it the words "Glenn Beck" kept coming to mind...  Is it just me?  I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but here are some points particularly related to the subject of this blog.  Emphasis is mine.

A healthy democracy maintains equilibrium through diverse means, including a patchwork of competing interests and an effective system of governmental checks. Nevertheless, this order ultimately relies on the integrity of the people. Speaking at general conference, a semiannual worldwide gathering of the Church, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asserted: “In the end, it is only an internal moral compass in each individual that can effectively deal with the root causes as well as the symptoms of societal decay.” Likewise, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton emphasized that the virtues of fidelity, charity, generosity, humility and responsibility “form the foundation of a Christian life and are the outward manifestation of the inner man.” Thus, moral virtues blend into civic virtues. The seriousness of our common challenges calls for an equally serious engagement with reasonable ideas and solutions. What we need is rigorous debate, not rancorous altercations.
Similarly, the Book of Mormon tells a sober story of civilizational decline in which various peoples repeat the cycle of prosperity, pride and fall. In almost every case, the seeds of decay begin with the violation of the simple rules of civility. Cooperation, humility and empathy gradually give way to contention, strife and malice.
The need for civility is perhaps most relevant in the realm of partisan politics. As the Church operates in countries around the world, it embraces the richness of pluralism. Thus, the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies.
Furthermore, the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. As the Church begins to rise in prominence and its members achieve a higher public profile, a diversity of voices and opinions naturally follows. Some may even mistake these voices as being authoritative or representative of the Church. However, individual members think and speak for themselves. Only the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles speak for the whole Church..
Latter-day Saint ethical life requires members to treat their neighbors with respect, regardless of the situation. Behavior in a religious setting should be consistent with behavior in a secular setting. The Church hopes that our democratic system will facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing. In his inaugural press conference President Monson emphasized the importance of cooperation in civic endeavors: “We have a responsibility to be active in the communities where we live, all Latter-day Saints, and to work cooperatively with other churches and organizations. My objective there is ... that we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute for it the strength of people working together.”

Proud to Be a Centrist

On Monday, TIME published an article entitled, "Republicans Must Embrace the Vital Center" by David Frum.  He places the blame for the decline of moderate Republicans squarely on the shoulder of moderate Republicans.  If we want a voice in the Republican party we have to work for it as much as the conservatives have worked for theirs.  I agree.
"Moderate Republicans sometimes blame conservatives for edging them out of public life. But politics is a competitive business. If the conservatives bring more voters, more dollars and more intensity to the table, well, of course they get the bigger chair. They've earned it. The fault is with the moderates themselves. The moderate tendency still exists in the GOP. It expresses itself in quiet dealmaking in the halls of the Senate, in pragmatic decision-making in state capitals. But when challenged, the moderate tendency goes mute.
Who'll speak up for Utah Senator Robert Bennett, chief co-sponsor of the Wyden-Bennett health proposal that was the best hope for truly market-oriented health care reform? Bennett now faces a serious nomination challenge. Once the excitement of Massachusetts subsides, who'll champion the non-CPAC-style Senators on the ballot in 2010: Mark Kirk from Illinois or Rob Portman from Ohio?...

If moderates are to flourish, they need an infrastructure to support them. The Democrats worked hard in the 1980s and '90s to showcase their centrist governors. They invented superdelegates to balance the left-wing activists who had saddled them with unelectable presidential candidates. They altered their primary schedule to enhance the clout of must-win states in the West and border South.
Republicans can learn from these examples. But first they have to say it loud and say it proud: The time has come to restore the center to the center-right coalition. Maybe it's even time to start a new convention so the centrists can meet face to face at least once a year, just as their conservative colleagues do. CenPAC, anyone?"

How to Make Legislatures Less Partisan

Here's a summary of a report published by the Public Policy Institute of California titled "Redistricting Reform: Can It Reduce Partisanship?" Interestingly, they found that there was no difference in the partisanship of votes by legislators serving in California before and after redistricting reform.  I still support redistricting reform for other reasons, but it seems that redistricting reform alone may not be able to reduce partisanship.

They suggest better ways to get bipartisan legislators elected:

1) Hold open primaries

2) Pass campaign finance reform

3) Mobilize moderates

The report also gave some reasons for the demise of bipartisanship in our government.  The obvious one being that people who vote tend to have stronger views on politics and elect more partisan representatives.  Also, candidates who appeal to passionate, single-issue activists are more likely to be able to raise the money and volunteer support needed to win a campaign.  Interest groups put more pressure on candidates than they have in the past.  And people who run for office may have more partisan views to begin with, while moderates may be less likely to view political service as a noble pursuit.

Take home message:  If you're a moderate, even if you don't like the candidates available: vote!  Get involved in politics at a local level and go to your caucuses where you can have more of an influence.  Support campaign finance reform and getting special interest money out of politics.  And join with other moderates to let politicians know you're out there and you're paying attention.

Welcome to My Blog

I'm starting this blog with the hope of having a place to share ideas and news about politics from a moderate perspective.  I'll cover national politics as well as local Utah politics and maybe find some like-minded people out there.  I'm a married Mormon woman in her early thirties with a moderate political view but a more conservative than average social view.  I've been an observer of politics for years, and feel that a lot of the people around me are much less extreme than the people representing us in our state and national governments.  Maybe together we can figure out how to wield our influence as moderates a little better than we have so far.  Even if you don't agree with me on everything you're welcome here.