Monday, November 24, 2008

The BCS, the Opponant Utah doesn't need.

Mike Sorensen at DesNews seems to believe the BCS needs to be upheld. He suggests that Utah should be rooting for a lower ranked BCS conference champion in whichever game it plays in. I assume this is because he holds to the BCS motto that non-BCS teams are inferior and they have no right and therefore deserve no possibility to compete for the national title. The BCS may very well sack Utah in this position again, but Utah shouldn't hope for this scenario.

In 2004, Utah was made to play Pitt (a team that should have been in the Armed Forces Bowl or the Poinsettia Bowl). Utah won that trip to the BCS soundly, but that win was highly discreditable by the BCS, elitist coaches and sports writers. In that sense Utah's 2004 BCS bust wasn't much of a bust in at all -- more like a toe in the door. Personally I think this is why the BCS gave Utah Pitt in 2004 -- a Utah win would be discreditable, and a Utah loss would solidify the BCS' legitimacy.

The BCS is like sports' apartheid. In order to defeat this discriminatory system, Utah, BSU, and other teams that get chances to play in the BCS need to defeat credible foes. Utah is to second highest ranked team in the polls. They should, if not play in the title game, at least be allowed a playoff with other teams (BSU should be included) in contention for the title game. Only by playing and defeating teams in higher echelons of the BCS can the BCS be truly busted.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The BCS, Utah v. BYU, Boise State & Utah are the only legitimate contenders to face Bama in the Title Game.

I'm waiting for the game to start. I am a loyal U fan (I attended SUU, and they haven't been worth watching) I've been U fan since my older brother was a BYU fan as a kid (although he ended up as a cheerleader at the U and switched alligiences). This game is really the only game I enjoy watching each year.

I didn't finish this till after the game. Go Utes! I am a longtime Ute fan and am excited that Utah is going back to the BCS. Given Texas Tech's loss and Alabama and BSU being the only other unbeaten teams, Utah has a powerful claim to go to the national title game (although we all know that the BCS overlords won't allow that to happen). Although the title game won't likely be in Utah's cards, at least they can put another crack in the BCS' legitimacy -- in that I hope BYU fans can take consolation.

The BCS was created to try and come up with an indisputable national champion. Instead we have an elitist system that shuts out college teams in smaller conferences, and by so doing the BCS denies legends. Some of the greatest sports legends are created when David is allowed to fight (and at times defeat) Goliath. When Goliath is the only one fighting the outcome is always certain -- Goliath wins. We have been establishing a national champion for the past decade based on mathematical certainties, probabilities, and some (I assume) brilliantly created actuarial models all of which deny the greatest and most unpredictable componant of athletics -- heart and spirit.

Pressure must be brought to bear on the powers that be in college sports to abolish the BCS system. The only way to bring that pressure is to bust the BCS, and I am grateful that Utah and Boise State are in a position of strentgh to challenge the BCS system's legitimacy. With a looming economic crisis that may rival the Great Depression, now would be an ideal time to fix this problem. During the Great Depression sporting events were one of the biggest outlets for Americans who were suffering and some of the greatest legends in sports were made. Seabiscuit, a race horse that had no business in big time horse racing, became legend by challenging Goliath and winning. Utah and Boise State should have a playoff to face Alabama in the national title game.

ALLOW CHAMPIONS TO BE MADE ON THE FIELD AND NOT IN COMPUTER MODELS!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Are we on the verge of Great Depression II?

This opinion piece was on CNN.com:

"Every time the economy and stock market turn down, financial historians get predictable calls from reporters. Could this be the start of another Great Depression? Could "it" possibly happen again? My stock answer has always been no.The Great Depression resulted from a series of economic and financial shocks -- the end of a housing bubble in 1926 and the end of a high-tech bubble in 1929 -- but also from truly breathtaking neglect and incompetence on the part of policymakers. It couldn't happen again precisely because policymakers know this history. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is a student of the Great Depression. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson remembers the mistakes of Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover's treasury secretary. We can be confident, I always answered, that there will not be another Great Depression because policymakers have read financial histories like mine. At least that was my line until recently. Now I have stopped taking reporters' calls

The first thing that made the Great Depression great, of course, was the Fed's failure to act. It basically stood by as the banking system and the economy collapsed around it. This time, in contrast, the Fed can hardly be criticized for inaction. Not only has it cut rates, but it has rolled out one new unprecedented initiative after another.

Unfortunately, it has reacted more than acted. First, it provided funds to the commercial banks. Then, it targeted broker-dealers. Now, it is desperately propping up the commercial paper market. All the while however, the problem has been infecting new parts of the financial system

One thing that restrained the Fed in the 1930s was the fear that rate cuts might cause capital to flee to other countries and the dollar to crash. The danger was that the same liquidity that the Fed poured in through the top of the bucket might just leak back out through these holes in the bottom.
There was a solution: coordinated rate cuts here and in Europe. Unfortunately, central bankers couldn't agree on what was needed. The result was further instability.

That central banks have learned this lesson of history and now see the need for coordinated action is at least one ground for hope. The problem is that they have already used their bullets.

U.S. Treasury bill rates have essentially fallen to zero, and the Fed's policy interest rates are only slightly above that level. Central banks are out of ammunition. This is no longer a problem they can solve by themselves.

What is needed now is Treasury action to address what has morphed into a global banking crisis. Between 1930 and 1933, not just the U.S. but also Europe and Latin America experienced rolling banking crises.
When Austria took desperate measures to prop up its banking system, its banking crisis only shifted to Germany. When Germany did the same, the crisis spread to the United States.

This was beggar-thy-neighbor policy at its worst. We have seen some disturbing evidence of the same in recent weeks, as when Ireland unilaterally guaranteed all bank deposits and thereby sucked funds out of the British banking system.

G7 leaders, when they meet in Washington at the end of this week, need to explain exactly how they will address this aspect of the problem. They need to commit money to recapitalizing their banking systems -- now, and not next week.

The U.K., which has just announced a $50 billion plan for bank recapitalization, has shown how this can be done in a matter of days. But a coordinated initiative will require the U.S. to put up a considerably larger sum.

My recommendation would be to abandon the idea of reverse auctions for toxic assets and instead use the $700 billion of the recently passed rescue plan for bank recapitalization. Although the Great Depression started in 1929, it took until 1933 for American leaders to grasp this nettle and recapitalize the banks. We can't afford to wait for years this time around.

A final thing that made the Great Depression such a catastrophe was that some of the worst shocks occurred right before the 1932 presidential election. There then followed an extended interregnum between the election and inauguration of the new president when no one was in charge.

The outgoing president, Hoover, asked his successor designate, Franklin Roosevelt, to cooperate with him on joint statements and policies, but FDR refused to do so. Meanwhile, the banking crisis deepened. Corporations failed.

The economy was allowed to spiral downward. It was this disaster that led us to amend the constitution to shorten the time between presidential election and inauguration from 4 to 2½ months.

The implication is clear. The two presidential candidates should be assembling their financial SWAT teams now. Paulson should promise that they will be invited into his office on November 5. This problem cannot wait until Inauguration Day."

Amen.

McCain -- Claims he will cut spending but than proposes to buy mortgages in order to write down over-valued mortgages

John McCain has derided Obama, and Democrats in general, as big spenders. However, no doubt in an attempt to seems like a friend to the middle-class, John McCain has just suggested that the Federal government buy $300B in over-valued mortgages in order to refinance and write-down those mortgages at current home values. Although I agree that under-valued homes is a great problem, (one that I actually face) I absolutely do not desire to see the Federal government buy 300B of mortgage receivables only to write off a meaty chunk of those receivables at the cost of the US taxpayers.

The reasons why this is bad policy are numerous. The biggest problem is that this proposal strongly contradicts John McCain's claims that he will keep US spending down. With this proposal John McCain (before being elected President) has taken national debt which has topped $10T, and slingshot it closer to $11T. People whose home values have declined, is a difficult problem. However, more government intervention is not the answer and the fact the he has suggested this certainly impeaches his conservative credentials.

There are many ideas that I would find much less objectionable and costly. For instance offering certain incentives to lenders who write down loans could be a positive means of helping out owners of devalued real estate - tax credits, consequences for home-owners that default on principle-decreased mortgages, or some sort of insurance on written-down mortgages that default might work.

I continue to be disappointed in John McCain, and his campaign. Evidenced by his continued use of negative campaigning, he seems to have few logical plans that will improve and lead our country. Unfortunately, I don't really see that Barack Obama is the great hope that he would like us to see. Obama has had many questionable social and political connections (not ignoring McCain and the Keating 5) he is highly inexperienced in political leadership, and I have no doubt that he will lead our government into several renewed Johnson-era war on poverty programs. However, of the two candidates Barack Obama seems like he is the most in-tune with the issues and the more likely of the two to come up with logical solutions to issues that we may face. I have little faith in either of the two. Due to that fact that neither of them would be making important decisions without their cabinet, it might be helpful if both of them made there cabinet nominations -- it would be easier to choose one of them if Warren Buffet had accepted a Treasury Secretary nomination.

Is Ron Paul still running?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Shame on you PETA!


This pisses me off.
Autism is something that leaves families affected by it full of questions and little answers. There are real scientists researching causes of autism, and hopefully they will continue to make some solid discoveries that may help decrease the number of individuals who have autism, and even cure this disorder.
What is not needed is an activist organization making broad generalizations from less than compelling scientific data in order to further their political agenda. These rat bastards can go to hell!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bailout Bill Fails

In a blow to Paulsen and the Bush administration, Congress voted down the 700 billion dollar bailout package. I'm not really sure how to feel about that -- on the one hand I'm glad that Congress saw that bailing out a corrupt Wall Street was a heavy-handed move against the American taxpayer, and on the other is the worry-wart wondering if Congress is about to propel us into Great Depression II.

For the most part I am willing to suck it up and accept a bailout of Wall Street, sure the large banks of America are to blame for this mess (bad government policies may have opened the door, but bad banking decisions shoved us through the door) if banks keep tanking it will make all of our lives far worse off. I think that this bailout needs to be a little more even handed to home-owners who are actually suffering from the sub-prime mortgage debacle. For example in markets of declining value, I would suggest allowing homeowners to go the Fed in situations where they have an un-refinancible mortgage. The only help for suffering homeowners that the bailout package provided (at least to my understanding) is to help homeowners keep their homes if they land in bankruptcy -- if banks can be bailed out of bad debts well before bankruptcy becomes an issue distressed homeowners should have the same opportunity.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Republicans may not have voted the package down because of its merits, but because of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). Apparently the Speaker gave a highly partisan address before the vote which angered allot of the Republican lawmakers. In her speech she laid blame for the crisis almost solely on the President and the Republican party. I hope you are thinking.....WHAT THE HELL! Basically, we may be hanging on the thread of the first depression in seven to eight decades and the reason our lawmakers fail to act is Partisanship. I would be fine with the package being voted down due to the bills poor conception, but voting it down because Ms. Pelosi offended the ego of the elephant party is unacceptable and an indictment of the collapsing two party system. I long for a system and leaders who are most concerned about the good of the nation and not the good of the party.

Maybe the time has come for some kind of abolishment of the two party system in elections, I'm not saying outlawing the Republican or Democratic parties, I'm arguing we end party affiliations for elected officials. I mean when we vote, there is no more R and D by the candidates names -- instead of the R & D, a synopsis of the ideals that each candidate supports and plans for how to make our nations and communities better. I guess I'm thinking of a political system kind of like Dr. Seuss's "The Sneetches," if you have never read it I suggest you go to your library and check it out -- it might be the best way to end the partisan bickering and bottlenecks that keep plaguing Washington.

Heaven Help our Leaders Grow Up!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Economy -- Where should the blame lie?

At Political Civility, Lyall is discussing the economy, government bailouts, and financial regulation. He infers that if elected Barack Obama will over increase regulation (somehow missing the past several hundred billion dollars the Bush administration has expended in market intervention) and Democrats will push more government intervention into the market, and that doing so will reek disastrous results. While I'm no fan of over-regulation, I'm even less a fan of the Treasury Department throwing cash at a banking industry that has proved incapable of making prudent lending decisions over the past decade.

In rebut to a comment blaming Republicans he points out theories that the subprime mortgage market was sparked by well-intended Carter/Clinton policies regarding the Carter-era Community Redevelopment Act, and therefore the blame for the current market woes falls (not wholly, but in part) with the Democrats. This was later brilliantly impeached by bekkieann who pointed out that it was lenders misuse of the deregulation provided by the CDA that has led to the current crisis:

"Clearly lenders took a concept intended to help low-income people and extended that concept to those who did not need that type of financing, and a lot of people got way in over their heads.
Do you know anyone who had/has an ARM? What income bracket are they in? I know some in my own income bracket. We are not poor.
Deregulation allowed lenders to perpetrate this financing scam on Americans who were eager to live beyond their means. "


In the current situation, increased regulation is warranted and deserved on a banking industry that failed to perform due diligence in lending practices for the past several years. Bailouts of the banking industry, without stringently increased lending regulations is an offense to the American taxpayer footing the bill. (For starters, make sure mortgage originators are qualified to evaluate a customer's ability to repay, objectives in obtaining financing, and matching proper mortgage products to their customers -- Stock brokers need to prove their competency in these respects and individuals suggesting mortgage products should be have these same demonstrable competencies.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Economy -- Who will take the lead?

The past few days have been unnerving to say the least. The size and number government bailouts that have happened over the last few months is incredible. One of the largest and once most stable investment banks has filed bankruptcy, AIG has become a US Government subsidiary, and other once rock solid financial institutions are teetering on the brink of collapse and to be honest I'm quite worried that a depression (I admit I'm being over dramatic) may be on the horizon. For me and many Americans this election is quickly becoming about one issue, which party will (if possible) avert economic catastrophe.

Our federal government has been feverishly trying to prop up failing financial institutions, and these bailouts have helped stabilize the disastrous effects of the subprime mortgage market collapse. However, with the latest 85 billion dollar bailout the question needs to be asked how much more can the nation expend on bailouts? It is an ominous sign that the Treasury Department is having to insert itself into the market on a regular basis just to keep the banking industry afloat. It appears that if the invisible hand was allowed to work without government interference, our economy would be in shambles.

Unfortunately, neither candidate for chief executive appears to have or be talking about how they will turn this around. Obama seems to get the severity of the situation better than McCain, while McCain has proposed a commission to solve the financial crisis while claiming that the fundamentals of the economy are strong (I don't blame McCain -- while his career background scores high on the bravery and heroism scale, his scholastic record isn't exactly stellar regarding subjects like economics or even mathematics)

I'm leaning towards Obama on ability to lead our nation out of imminent economic disaster. While the Republican mantra of tax cuts are good and great, they don't combine well with a federal government that is swimming in debt, fighting wars on two fronts, and (seemingly) propping up the entire nation's financial system. McCain's unsettling continued use of the "strong economic fundamentals"line isn't helping ease my concerns that he isn't the sharpest tack on the economy.

While in 2004 I was concerned about the best leader in the war on terror and Iraq, in 2008 staying the course is the least of my concerns.

Sarah Palin Baby Name Game

One of my biggest issues with Sarah Palin is her Child Naming Convention. Well now you can have an orginal Palin-esque name!

Mine is Slicer Mission Palin! I might use this one for child number 4 -- at least I'll suggest it for craps and giggles.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nice Try, But I Don't Think So

Obama has actually contended that he has more executive experience than Sarah Palin because of running his presidential campaign.

“Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years,”

McCain's campaign called the statement laughable, and I agree. While Obama's campaign has accumulated a large financial war chest, and he has been able to recruit a large following of volunteers, that is a far different story from running a state or the federal government. Sorry Obama, spending money on one massive program (your candidacy) doesn't hold a candle to the responsibility of funding the myriads of programs that states run without having to raise taxes or run deficits. The fact that Obama makes this comparison, might be quite revealing of just how naive and inexperienced Obama is.

You can spend money, that doesn't mean you can manage the Federal budget responsibly.

Palin -- Maybe I was a little harsh.

Okay, maybe my last post was a tad harsh regarding Sarah Palin as the VP pick. There is still one issue with which I'm not comfortable about her, (i.e. the ethics investigation underway in Alaska) but I think she may actually be the perfect addition to the McCain ticket. I've listened to some her recent campaign speeches and she seems quite eloquent but more importantly she seems more than pleasant, a wonderful contrast to her Democratic opponent the ever mouthy Sen. Biden. She has held executive office more than any of the candidates for President or VP, although in a small state it is executive experience nonetheless. It is true that she lacks foreign policy experience, but it should be noted that governors seldom do have extensive foreign policy experience and that lack of experience hasn't stopped the American voter from electing governors to the Presidency nor do I expect that it should stop voters from electing Mrs. Palin as VP.

While I assume the accusations in the her current ethics investigation will be found merit less, I do have concerns that it taints her image as a fighter of corruption and I'm sure that the Dem Duo will (if they feel necessary) use that against her. However as a whole, I think this is the only legitimate negative that overshadows Mrs. Palin's VP nomination. The biggest illegitimate issue I have with Mrs. Palin are the names of her children -- Track and Trig? Are those Biblical names, or European?

I think the upcoming debates (assuming there will be a VP debate) will be interesting to see how she handles Biden. My prediction (hope) is that Biden will try and monopolize the debate with verbose orations and shrill accusations trying to link McCain/Palin to Bush/Cheney, while Mrs Palin will focus on issues and pleasantly win the debate. While I'm cautiously optimistic regarding Mrs. Palin, she is a far more desirable VP than Senator Biden.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Buries Himself

I think McCain may have dashed his chances of winning with his VP pick. Who could McCain have chosen from? Lieberman, Romney, Huckabee, heavens even our own Jon Huntsman Jr. all of whom have more popularity and better political resumes. Who does he choose? An 18 month governor of Alaska whose only other experience is that of Mayor of Wasilla Alaska. Wait a minute, maybe I shouldn't dismiss it that soon what else is on her resume?

Alaska State High School Girls Basketball team championship team
Miss Wasilla (also Miss Congeniality)
1st Runner up in Miss Alaska pageant
BS in Journalism (Minor in Politics -- I assume Political Science) -- University of Idaho
Sports Broadcaster
Commercial Fishing with Husband

That's it! So, McCain chose a Soccer Mom (oh sorry a "Hockey" Mom). I'm sorry, what the He@# is he thinking? McCain's campaign has been using as one of its big negative campaign points that Obama lacks experience, and McCain proposes to put an individual with less than impressive education, work experience, and even political experience one heartbeat away from the presidency. At least Barack Obama has an impressive resume despite his lacking national political experience, and his political experience I would safely assume, with all due respect, blows her experience out of the water.

In a campaign that is this tight, I think his pick is either an indication of McCain's arrogance or desperation. The fact the she is a woman may sway some moderate women voters, although her position on abortion negates her ability to sway the feminist vote. It is true that BushI successfully ran with an unknown on his ticket, but McCain needs to remember George Sr. was riding the coattails of Ronald Reagan, the end of (what may soon be called) Cold War I, and a strong economy, Bush Sr. would have had to have been caught with a prostitute to have lost the 1988 election. McCain on the other hand is running from the coattails of Bush II, a possibly reignited cold war, high inflation, decreasing individual incomes, and a less that stellar economy -- he is hardly in the same position of BushI. McCain needed a heavyweight boxer and he chose a girls B-Ball player (no offense to Girls B-Ball)

It sounds as though Mrs. Palin has the record of a reformer in the great state of Alaska, she has the conservative views necessary to please the evangelicals, she appears to be somewhat of a maverick which fits well with McCain, and the fact that she is female may help sway more Hillary voters. However, unless Mrs. Palin turns out to be an extraordinarily eloquent orator and debater I have little hope that McCain will pull off a "W" come November.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stimulus Payments -- Rapid Refunds (RAL and RTs) Screwing the Poor Again

I know I said i wasn't going to write but getting a tad pissed off at the government is as good a reason as any.

I was expecting my stimulus check today in perfect timing to cover some of the myriad of bills I have incurred over the past year -- I was looking forward to the respite. Around 4pm I check my account to discover no check, and so I started to dig around the IRS website. They have brilliantly started a "Where's my Stimulus Check" program, and after entering all of my pertinent information I discover a horrible problem.

My former employer was a small tax firm, so needless to say we prepared a fair number of personal income tax returns. When I purchased my home (before I realized the necessity to move to SLC) my employer gave me a small loan to cover closing cost. While I was working for him he didn't try to collect at all, but when I quit he started pursuing repayment a little more anxiously. So when I filed my tax return I decided (per convenience) that I would have my anticipated refund transferred to my former employer via RT (refund transfer -- a regularly used means of ensuring payment in tax prep firms). The problem occurs due to the fact that the bank account on your return if you use an RT or RAL (rapid refund) is a one time use account, and the IRS therefore never receives your accurate account information and the user of the RT or RAL is left (likely unwittingly) waiting for a paper check that will come much later. (mid-July in my case) I don't think this was communicated in a very vigorous fashion to tax practitioner firms during the filing season -- when the info would have been most helpful.

I assume that my old company may be like many other tax firms in the nation -- unaware of this information when it mattered during the filing season. As a rule (at least as far as I have observed) the majority the people who use these services are the people that need help financially the most. In regards to RAL's especially, these individuals are often charged exorbitant banking fees, and many may currently have a shock when they discover how much longer they will have to wait for the much needed assistance promised from the stimulus package.

Oops, but really did anyone expect anything more from the IRS?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Start of a Blogging Sabbatical

It has been a while since I have written and I thought I would like to explain why.

The past few months have been rather trying. Earlier this month my wife and I finally learned why my son has been developmentally delayed. While we were grasping a straws trying to figure out what was wrong we consulted a Pediatric Geneticist at the U Med School who ordered a host of genetics test to rule out certain genetics disorders - one of those test involved the PTEN gene. It turns out that the PTEN gene is the culprit in all of this, my son has a disorder known as Bannayan Riley Rulvacaba Syndrome (BRRS). This particular disorder is rare (I'm not sure how rare, but if the genetics department at the U of U needed do some research before they could explain it to me and my wife it must be pretty rare). He then has been evaluated by developmental pediatricians and a pediatric psychiatrist, who have concluded that he is non-traditionally Autistic (meaning there is no clear guidance on how to help him) and has developed to the level of a 9 month old (at age 2). Needless to say it has been an emotional roller coaster.

With that I have found little passion for blogging, and I really don't plan on posting on a regular basis for an extended period of time. I probably ought to officially resign my membership in the Bloghive advisory board, so that another blogger who is actively blogging can provide a much more contribution to that group. I appreciated working with all of them.

As I learn more about special education funding, I am truly shocked how little state assistance is provided in Utah. My future blogging may focus heavily on that issue.

Until then, adieu......

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My First MotoQ Post

I purchased a new Moto-Q phone this weekend, and it is sweet. I thought I would try blogging with it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Super Dell: You So Crazy!

Hat tip Tom Grover

Superdell has, and I was praying he would, started a blog. In his inaugural post has describes his vision for his first fundraising event:

"Hello fans and curious others. Thanks for visiting. This is where you will be getting the inside story on all the latest. Fear not, my fundraising events will be worth their ticket if merely for entertainment value to the sceptics:). We are going to have some serious fun in Utah. I'm already working on my first event. I'm looking for acrobatic aircraft, base jumpers, powered skydiving pilots, helicopters, race cars, monster trucks, pyrotechnics and everything wild and imaginative you can come up with. If you have an awesome talent you would like to donate please let me know. I can assure you nobody will be falling asleep at any of my rallies.More to come..."

I think people will sure take Superdell serious with fundraisers like this. When I think of leadership I think fireworks, air shows, and monster truck rallies. Superdell you are a breath of fresh air to Utah politics!

It appears that he is at least honest in one respect -- he doesn't care or have any idea what the issues are in the upcoming election. Maybe he thinks that being Governor is like being prom king. I've got it! Somebody call MTV "Made" (it is show that usually takes undesirable teens and tries to help them become cheerleaders or prom queens) they could get Jesse Ventura to be his mentor and maybe with some luck they could turn him into a viable candidate. At least it would produce a bizarre hour of reality TV.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Moderation in Utah Politics

Some of the events of this past legislative session have made me reflect heavily on my party affiliation, and the ways that public policy decisions are (or should be) made. I have been officially affiliated with the Republican party since my 18th birthday, I was picked as a delegate to the state Republican convention that year (in that convention we started Merrill Cook on the road to his short jaunt in Congress). During the past 12 or more years I have drifted from politically apathetic to interested and somewhat between. My views have likewise varied -- I have been near the point of right wing extremism, and have drifted back to the center of the isle. This last session has made it very clear that we need to take a much harder look at the individuals we elect as our local legislative representatives.


One major problem that Utah Republicans have is their tendency to view public policy debates only through the lens of their own moral and religious views. While it is good to be moral and religious, using such a narrow lens to establish public policy may tend to produce harsh and punishing results for anyone whose moral scope falls outside that of the pious policy makers. The phrase "moderation in all things," and "(do not) run faster than you have strength" would be helpful in forming Utah policy towards social and moral issues. Do not let the morals of the masses create tyranny towards the (religious affiliation) minorities of this state.


Another issue Utahn's have is stereotyping politicians by party affiliations. My former employer related a story of going to dinner with a new member of their LDS ward, the conversation waxed political and to his disbelief he discovered that they were Democrats. "How can you be Mormon and Democrat?" has asked incredulously. Needless to say the discussion didn't harbor closer Christ-like relations among ward members. My employer's opinion is far to prevalent in our state. As a Mormon I find issues to which I can and cannot reconcile my religious beliefs per party platforms on both sides of the isle just as I can find fault with many politicians from both sides of the isle. The point is voters who stick solely to party lines waste their opportunity to have a say in the affairs of our government -- pure party line voters create regimes that stray from representative leadership to tyrannical rule.

I'm removing my Republican affiliation from my voting records, the likes of Buttars, Dayton, Utah Eagle Forum, and Ruzicka have become too much for me. I'm not ready to join the Democrats either, the likes of Billary and Pelosi and issues like abortion keep from going towards that party. I think I will best perform my civic duties by keeping myself unspoiled from the two national parties. We need to care less about whether a D or R is by the politicians name, and more about the character and qualifications of the individuals asking for our votes.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Buttar's Quoted on a White Supremacist's Blog

Hat-tip Salt Lake Crawler:

I hope fellow 10th State Senate District voters take note, Chris Buttars' gaffe is being fondly quoted by white supremacists. The Alaskan white supremacist blogger referred to Buttars as his "favorite" state senator while quoting the infamous "This baby is black" comment. The blogger was discussing his contempt for Jews and the US Holocaust Museum in the referenced post.

Buttars' comment may not have had racist intent, but the comment (and it appears the Senator) sure struck accord with racists. My guess is this disturbed fellow would be quite fond of Margaret Dayton as well. I think we all can be proud of the image that (some of) our state representatives are portraying of our state -- kudos Buttars, Dayton, and Utah Eagle Forum.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

HOLY CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Interesting........

Mortgage Crisis -- Bernake, and Negative Equity

I caught a few moments of a Ben Bernake Speech while I was walking out the door, he was discussing defaults and delinquency issues and the issue that many homeowners face of negative equity. The major question he was raising is what can be done about negative equity issues? So far banks have been very willing to grant homeowners in these situations interest rate drops, but they have been rather unwilling to drop principal. If I would have been able to finish the speech his tone was sounding as if he was suggesting that principal reductions and interest rate reductions may need to be used more aggressively in order to help homeowners in these situations.

Negative equity is an issue that is likely to affect many homeowners who bought in locations where home values reached overinflated levels of a few years ago.(i.e. California, Saint George UT, and Las Vegas NV)The solution to these problems are difficult, banks that simply forgive principal may find in a few years (if and when values rebound) that they have thrown significant investments away, and homeowners who were unlucky enough to have fallen into these traps find refinancing very difficult and selling without near catastrophic results impossible as well. Bernake seemed to be advocating for banks to reduce principal where needed to allow sub prime mortgage holders to refinance into a manageable loan.

Another idea which I thought about would be a "qualified" principal reduction, reduce principal currently based on a appraisal so the mortgage can be refinanced. After 5 years or so another appraisal would be required, and if the home's value has rebounded than the forgiven principal would be added back to the loan. If home values haven't rebounded than the forgiven principal would remain forgiven. The tax-ability of the forgiven principal should be suspended until the 5-year appraisal. There really is no easy answer to this problem other than to learn from what has happened and make necessary reforms. I believe the mortgage meltdown will likely turn into the mortgage industry's Enron, Enron gave the accounting industry SOX regulations, and I anticipate the mortgage industry will end up with similar regulations. (FYI NY state is already headed down this path)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

If Buttars' Faux Pax Created So Much Ire, I'm Surprised This Flew Under the Radar

The Trib had an article about Buttars getting back to work -- he is quietly trying not to say anything else that would raise the eyebrows of the public. One comment from Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem caught my attention regarding a bill to create a registry for minority-owned businesses that would help them compete for federal, state, and private contracts set aside for such businesses, a bill which she and Buttars both opposed.

"It seems like the white male is such a burden or frustration to society. I really have angst with the growing discrimination towards the white male family-oriented Christian male. I'm just really frustrated with that."

To me, that seems like a much more racially charged comment than Buttars "This baby's black" comment -- you can almost see the robes and pillow cases. Are you serious? Especially here in Utah, where in many parts of the state there is ne'er a minority to be found.

I agree that pursuing affirmative action policies likely isn't the best remedy -- unless there is a problem is bad enough. (i.e. documented cases where a minority was denied a bid for no discernable reason other than race) However, to suggest some kind of a problem with white, male, Christian business owners being discriminated against, here in Utah, is a blatantly exaggerated fabrication.

In a side note, Buttars wisely refused to comment on his opposition to the bill.

Chris Buttars is My State Senator

So I saw a post on The Bloghive about looking up Chris Buttars on Wikipedia, and so I looked him up on Wikipedia and discovered that my new home happens to be in his voting district. What fun!

I don't think I would be the man to run against him (Peace, anon.) although as I stated in a previous post I've thought about it. I guarantee that I will be volunteering to help who ever does run against Buttars -- Republican or Democrat. I don't think there should be anymore delay in Bro. Buttars' full-time church service on the fabulous streets of San Francisco or in the Big Easy -- The field is white and already to harvest.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Anyone Wonder Who Votes for Buttars

This comment was a follow-up from a comment that I deleted for being less than civil. I decided to give this comment top posting, because it demonstrates what kind of individual agrees with and supports the policy agenda and decisions of Chris Buttars:

"another free speech phoney. can't take the truth huh?

well, once more then: this is a concocted media circus created to punish buttars for opposing the fag marriage registry from the slcf.o.g. (fag occupation government).down with f.o.g., long live buttars."

I would bet that Chris Buttars really would be appalled if he realized his constituency is made up of KKK loving, gay bashing, cross burning individuals like the anon who came trolling to Green Jello -- he would be appalled. However, this is who Buttars attracts.


P.S. If your going to come trolling on my blog looking for a fight at least have the intestinal fortitude to post as you rather than as anonymous. What are your plans this weekend anon? Any cross burnings?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Romney to Endorse McCain......I Wonder

I just heard that Mitt Romney is planning to endorse John McCain. This change of events begs the question, "Is McCain possibly tapping Romney as his running mate?"

It could be a very wise decision given the fact that Romney has such a large bank account, and that he had such a strong following during his bid for the White House. At least regarding Utah, the move might heal the ill-feelings towards McCain harbored by many local Mormons. I would recant any and all predictions I had that Obama would carry Utah.

However, there may be a large downside, Southern Republicans thoroughly rejected Romney due to (speculation) his Mormon faith. Would Southern Republican's still reject the idea of a Mormon VP?

Very interesting.

Buttars' Statement Out of Context

Before I begin I would like to reiterate that I find Chris Buttars to be the very epitome of the Taliban in Utah. The man is an extremist to the utmost degree. However, I think everyone is mis-characterizing the man's supposed racist comment.

Most media outlets (and lets face it fellow Buttars-haters) have reported that he made a comment about black babies being dark and ugly. That isn't what was said, Buttars said "This BABY is black, I'll tell you. This is a dark and ugly thing." To me, he is simple using a common reference to a noun (the bill in question) as a baby. He didn't say "This is like a black baby" or that black babies are dark and ugly, he was opining on the (in his opinion) poor merits of the bill. While I agree that the phrasing was poor, if he would have simply said bill instead of baby this never would have been a story, everyone is getting up in arms about nothing.

This is just one more example of hyper-sensitivity in America.

On a side note I do think the man is terrible hindrance to civil political dialogue in Utah. If I end up moving 20 to 40 blocks north before his next time up for re-election I might seriously consider running against the man.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The State Senate's Attempt to Thwart Benefits for Domestic Partners

Okay, when the nefarious Rocky Andersen pushed the "domestic partners benefits" idea I viewed it as a proverbial "F#@* off" after Utah passed Amendment 3. However, I'm not so sure that the right is right in this matter either. The 1930's throwback Chris Buttars and a cast of bloated social conservatives are pushing to stop a SLC registry to help domestic partners qualify for health benefits. The Right's argument against the registry is that it is in opposition to the states ban on gay marriage, and that as Buttars says "This is nothing but an open checkbook ... (the) 'repugnant' registry attempts to define a class, and therefore, it don't fit." he went on to say, "Some people may disagree with me, but since America was born, marriage is the cornerstone." While I agree that marriage is a critical cornerstone in our society, I cannot accept that idea that monogamous individuals, in a fully committed relationship, cannot enjoy any legal rights of their commitment.

The simplest (and to me the most logical) way to solve this issue is to provide a contractual remedy to these individuals -- i.e. civil unions, or some other binding contractual agreement (I have a hard time with the semantics of calling gay unions as marriage) Individuals would have contractual obligations to one another, and they also could enjoy legal benefits of their union. However, we here in Utah said no to that idea based on true religious and moral objections (I regrettably voted for Amendment 3 for those very reasons). However, this has left those members of the population who are in committed but (for the purposes of Amendment 3) unaccepted committed relationships in a position of inequality with the straight unforgiving majority of this state. For this purpose, SLC's move to provide benefits between domestic partners is somewhat commendable. (To me, the term "domestic partners" is perhaps a bit too broad and might ultimately be too costly. The term domestic partners leaves me to wonder how many straight same-sex roommates will adopt a "Chuck & Larry" approach to benefits in SLC, not to mention the undue expense of allowing uncommitted same-sex couples the same benefits of married individuals. A hetero-sexual couple isn't willing to marry, than they shouldn't be accorded the benefits of those who are in marriages.)

I think the Senate (and more appropriately the Senator from WJ) should butt-out. If there should be any objection the city's domestic partner benefit plan, it should be due the over broad inclusion of all domestic partners -- although we all know the plan would stand no chance if it were in behalf of HOMOSEXUALS IN COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS exclusively.

The problem here in Utah is there should be a difference between religion and government. While I view homosexuality as a repugnant sin, I don't accept the idea that these individuals should be treated as unequal according to the law. Marriage should not be broken open to allow gay unions, but some sort of legal binding arrangement needs to introduced as an equalizer for Gay and Lesbian community.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney has bowed out!

CNN is reporting that Mitt Romney will suspend his campaign for the Republican nomination.

Where does that leave us here, in Utah? If Obama can pull off the nomination -- I think we may see a blue state come November (at least more than it has been in 4 decades). If Hillary wins the nomination, then a wacky third party candidate may stand to make a real solid showing here in Utah.

I have to find out more about Obama, but he seems to be an excellent individual. I guess I really have to see if I can support whatever his agenda may be as President, but given the red alternative for President this time around it may not be that difficult.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Utah Will Go To a Democrat in November -- Like it Really Matters

So for this Super Tuesday hasn't been kind for Mitt Romney. Although the night is young, I'm going to make a few predictions:

1. Mitt Romney will be finished tonight. (unless he soundly wins California)

2. If Romney does hang up the towel, and the race becomes a two man race between McCain and Huckabee. Utah will go to a Democrat in the general election for the first time since 1964 (if Obama can get the Democratic nomination)

So they aren't really bold predictions. With the acrimony both GOP candidates have produced in regards to Mormonism, if Obama gets the nomination he will have a very good chance at winning Utah in the general election.

I never was all that hyped on any of the GOP candidates, Romney was the candidate I found most electable (maybe for no other reason than a shared religion). With Romney likely going down, I am pinning my support to Obama.