Monday, December 26, 2011

Vexed indeed

Don't Let Up!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Utah's own Abel Maldonado--Sheryl Allen

I think Utah may have found it's own Abel Maldonado. Sheryl Allen who appears in this KCPW radio program was a Republican representative in the Utah legislature. She did not run for re-election in 2010 but instead ran as a Republican Lt. Governor with Democrat Peter Corroon for Governor. Corroon did not support open primaries and predictably lost. In this program Allen indicates that just like the 17th amendment allows the people to directly elect US Senators, the voters now are plentifully informed and grown up enough to vote directly on who will appear on the general election ballot. podcast link 15DEC11

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Party to 1 million in Utah is No Party

Not to be confused with the party of no, the first bloc of Utah voters to amass 1 million voters will be the unaffiliated or as we prefer independent voters--no party or party of no thanks. On May 31 the independent voter total was 987,244. Today, October 21, 2011 the total is 998,069. Harold Camping may be predicting that the end of the world is today, but Microsoft Excel is telling me that independents will officially reach the 1 million mark at 8:22 am on December 13, 2011.

Independent voter growth was roughly twice that of republican voters during the period.

Snapshot of growth:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Corollary to or very essence of the independent movement?

People have been scoffing and eyeing the growing Occupy Wall Street movement with suspicion. The FBI has even jumped into the fray calling the movement a "Left Wing Extremist Group" which is utterly ludicrous considering who it is that carries guns and sprays unarmed ladies with pepper mace. I hadn't looked at Occupy Wall Street that closely until I re-listened to a radio interview on the KSL Nightside Project with Ryan Cain, an Occupy Wall Street SLC movement organizer.

For an interesting start, check out these excerpts of reactionary table talk lifted from a Facebook thread today:
...and exactly who is organizing all these people without telling them why they're protesting so they all have their own version of why they're protesting something they aren't sure about. I bet they're probably being paid to be there (by unions most likely) in the first place.

Progressives implement government policy that would obviously collapse the system and then blame free-market capitalism and tell their supporters to get arrested over it.

More to the point, many of them are union workers, so they support big money in lobbying government. I'm surprised they are out there themselves and not just having the union bosses and lawyers take Wall Street to court.

I find it satisfyingly ironic that the arch-entrepreneur Steve Jobs, one of the most successful corporatists and capitalists of this generation, sloughed off his mortal coil just as anti-corporatist and anti-capitalist radicals were trying to shut down Wall Street, blithley using their iPads and iPhones to coordinate their protests, while listening to Radiohead on their iPods.

But these superstitious reactions aren't limited just to conservatives. Earlier this year during the height of the Arab Spring and the subsequent embarrassment to the United States for arming and supporting Egypt's Mubarak, the State Department headed by one Hillary Clinton realized the relationships we had were those in dictator Mubarak's regime. And in a classic duopolistic moment, Clinton indicated she thought free and fair elections were being held too soon. After all Egypt had not yet had time to "form political parties" as if parties are relevant to free and fair elections.

And on and on. But as I mentioned at the beginning, KSL Nightside interviewed Occupy Wall Street SLC organizer Ryan Cain on Wednesday. Below is a partial transcript. Needless to say, I don't see anything backing up the conservative conspiracy theory that this is a Western socialist caliphate.

KSL Nightside Project 3rd hour, Wednesday October 5, 2011.
Alex Kirry: Ryan Cain joining us on the Nightside Project, thanks for coming in.

AK: What do you want to accomplish with the movement as a whole? And what do you want to accomplish tomorrow?

RC: Well, first of all there is a lot of misconceptions going on about what's going on and a lot of that can be attributed to outside groups that are trying to come in and steer it in the direction they want. One thing we want to address is this is definitely not a liberal answer to the tea party movement. That's not what it is. It is about everybody regardless of their political leanings or religious affiliations. We are all affected the same by the financial structure and the conflict of interest between the government and the corporations and I feel it is something we can all identify with whether you are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling on that mortgage payment or maybe your a little bit more better off or comfortable still your quality of life is diminishing and it's going away and I think everybody can see that.

Ethan Millard: So do you have a platform at this point, I mean with articulated points, grievances that you want addressed?

RC: That is something that we are all working on as a whole. Our primary focus is getting everybody on that common ground. One thing we would like to accomplish is get into discussion how legislature and laws work that allow these certain institutions to operate the way they do. Because, I mean the government is formed as far as having the people’s interests in mind, and we feel it has gone away from that and more how these corporation’s interests are in mind whether it is TARP funds, bailouts, quantitative easing We as a people are taking burden and getting none of the benefits.

AK: We are the 99, what is that? When people see that they say ok, for example I read one today 'Hey I’m in school I can barely pay my student loans. My particular field doesn't even have jobs. There is no way I will even get a job when I graduate. I'm the 99.' Then on the flip side, the criticism that it's getting is for example today, one of the critics of this was one of the presidential candidates he said 'look you've go to go out and get a job' the reason you are in the 99 or whatever.' He's saying this is a bash on capitalism. He's saying this is your fault.

RC: This isn't about capitalism at all. It's about how the capitalism in place right now is working. If it was just capitalism in its purest form, it wouldn't be so much as an issue. It's how it's being perverted. It's turned into a socialist movement for those who are in the elite top few--and that's the top 1%

EM: That's interesting, because a lot of people, primarily from the right are saying you guys are socialists, you guys are communists, and you just want free money. But you are saying that the system that the system has become a socialist system for the rich.

RC: Well exactly, I mean if you have a local small business that is struggling and they have to go out of business, they go out of business; whereas if a bank and these corporations that have a lot of responsibility and accountability that they are not letting themselves be accountable for. If they are bailed out, that is welfare for them. It's not capitalism anymore. It is socialism for those on the top.

EM: That is interesting because that exact argument that you articulated is what got Senator Bennett kicked out of office. He supported the bailout for those banks.

RC: Right and a lot of people have adverse reactions to that obviously. The way the fed operates is loaning money as a bank to our fed government who is giving it out again at interest.

EM: It occurs to me that you guys might have common ground; you said you are not a left answer to the tea party, but it occurs to me possibly you might have some common ground with the tea party.

RC: Anybody can identify with this I’m sure. If you just doing a little bit of digging your own research you can see how things operate.

EM: You just articulated 2 arguments, one about the bailout and one about the Federal Reserve that I hear from tea partiers all day long.

RC: Right, well the tea party has been infiltrated for lack of a better word, by those with their own motives. I mean the way it started out regardless of your feelings toward it, or whether or not you agree with it, I personally sympathize with them on certain things and other things I don't. The establishment as a whole has taken that over and turned it into it's own thing.

EM: Alright welcome back this is Nightside. We've got Ryan Cain in studio. He's one of the organizers of Occupy SLC; part of the larger Occupy Wall Street movement spreading across the nation. A lot of people texted this in and I kind of share this view point. I'm just going to clear the air with it. You can take this as not only a criticism but also some advice. And that is a lot of people including me are intensely annoyed there isn't a platform. All these people are coming together. Everybody is just waiting. There is a larger economic picture.

AK: everybody is ticked off guys are getting bailout money, look at the bonuses these guys are getting. Oh, we are mad, you aren't mad about it?

RC: the biggest message to take from this is to restore power to the American people. We have lost our power throughout the years in a sense. Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney mentioned it is our fault. In a sense it is.

EM: Herman Cain actually said that.
AK: let me ask you this Ryan while you are here. You say that what you want to see happen is to have power restored back to the American people. That's not going to feel very tangible, that kind of a goal. What do you want to see happen tomorrow?

RC: As far as tomorrow I mean we want a lot of awareness. We want people asking questions so we clear up these answers. This is a collaborative effort. There's no one leader. There are a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life that all have interests in these. For example we had the police department there asking questions how we operate and they've all been very supportive actually of the movement.

AK: Once you get to pioneer park, how long are you going to stay there?

RC: Indefinitely, our goal is just baby victories, small victories to continue to progress the movement. Whether or not we are actually in Pioneer Park, I believe this movement will continue to go. It is about changing the mindset. It is not about these silly wedge issues that we have between us. It is about finding one common goal that benefits everybody mutually.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Open letter to Representative Brad Wilson

The redistricting commission final recommendation is to split Syracuse across 4 House of Representative seats.
If you do not speak out substantially against this, you really should change your title of representative to something else. A fair redistricting process or outcome would not change the partisan makeup of the legislature. The only thing republicans can gain by gerrymandering in this fashion is to relinquish their integrity that is already in question.

The recommended state senate map is far from fair or perfect. But at least they had the good sense not to provoke any more organization of opposition in Syracuse.

I am serious Mr. Wilson. If you do not make a public statement in opposition to this and if you go ahead and vote to adopt it, I will call publicly for your resignation and investigate what must be done to initiate a recall. You simply cannot call yourself a representative if you do not take up this banner for your constituents. Your duty is to represent them, not your party.

This whole affair speaks to the veracity of George Washington's farewell address that dividing up into factions and parties and striving with words and suspicions one neighbor and community against another would unravel our beloved republic. Indeed it seems to be so. Make your mark on history and do right by your district. You will not have to live with the regret of having gone along with the crowd.

Randy Miller, President
Utah League of independent Voters
Syracuse, Utah

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 2011 conference

You Can Make a Difference!
The Utah League of independent Voters ( is hosting a conference!!
When: Saturday October 22nd 10:30 am - 1:30 pm
Where: Salt Lake County Library in Midvale
8041 South Wood St. (55 west)

We need YOU to get INVOLVED! We are building a grassroots network to make these initiatives a reality:
- Fair and Open Primary Elections
- Non-partisan redistricting
- People’s right to digital signatures
- Candidate support
- And More!!

This is your chance to rub shoulders with others who would also like to make a difference. Please invite friends or family that may also be interested. Space is limited though, so please RSVP 801-923-8761.
We hope to see you there!!!

For more information visit or
Facebook event link:

The Pitfalls of Party Loving Political Scientists

Reposted with author's permission.
Recently two well known political scientists Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann have chided columnists Matt Miller and Tom Friedman for calling for a third-party, or independent, candidate for president. The two scholars urge that the American people continue their co-dependent relationship with the two-party system. They acknowledge that this relationship is "dysfunctional," but only offer their "dismay" as to why it is that way.

Their sage advice is that an Independent presidential candidate is a bad idea; in their words, pure "Fuhgeddaboudit," which is a technical term for bull shit. But in sharing their wisdom, they completely disregard the contrary advice of our Founders.

As I show in Chapter Two of my recent book, Internet Voting Now!, among the most important original objectives of the Framers, or authors, of the US Constitution, was to fashion a government that could not be taken over by political parties. Generally, our nation's Founding Fathers abhorred political parties. They regularly referred to parties as "factions." They knew from their own experience that political parties put the party's self-interests, such as winning elections and obtaining privileged legislation, before the best interests of the people as a whole. Wary of such organizations, they sought to establish a system of government that would always strive to act in the best interests of the whole country.

John Marshall, who some say is the greatest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote, in a letter to his brother, that party politics are "despicable in the extreme... Nothing, I believe, more debases or pollutes the human mind than faction."

Another independent thinker, Thomas Jefferson, had a deep contempt for political parties. A friend once asked Jefferson if he considered himself a member of any political party. Jefferson replied, that "[I have] never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."

With amazing prescience John Adams wrote, "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties … This … is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

Hamilton was contemptuous of parties, in part, and like Jefferson, because they could corrode an individual's sense of civic morality. Hamilton wrote that a "spirit of faction" can drive individuals to do together that "for which they would blush in a private capacity."

Lets not forget the warning of our first president, who said in his Farewell speech that political parties could "become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government…"

As a nation we goofed. We have lost the way our Founders set for us. But instead of one faction dominating the whole, we have a two-party system, which is a malignant parasite on the body politic. Now, as Americans Elect comes along with a slim hope of breaking the grip that parasite has on the presidential election process, these two highly eurdite professors of political science come along with their "collective wisdom."

But instead of being wise, they ask the most pathetic question conceivable in light of our Constitution's original intentions; that is, "Even if an independent did prevail, how would he or she govern?"

The answer is that he or she would govern as the Constitution intended – without the interference of factions! Party loving political scientists have lost the capacity to see that the two-party system smears over the separation of powers originally intended by the Constitution's Framers. They take the smear – Party Government – as the summum bonum of American politics. But just those few quotes from the Founders should be enough to show how wrong they are. The highest good for American politics is not party government, it is Constitutional government, with a separation of powers rather than a smearing together of powers by private self-serving groups.

While Americans Elect is not free of flaws, at least they are making an effort to break off the co-dependent relationship between the American people and the two-party system. We Independents should reject the advice of party lovers, and give our full support to AE.

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Face Book:
Twitter: wjkno1
Internet Voting Explained on

Marshall,, page 410
Hamilton, Fed 15,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Letters to Senators #1

Senator Lee;

Good morning sir, my name is Kevin Nelson and I would like to take a moment of your time to address an issue that I personally take very important, voters rights. Sir, I find it very disingenuous that as an independent voter, my voice and the voice of many others in Utah and the rest of the nation I might add, are being marginalized by both the Democrat and Republican parties. I do not affiliate myself with either party as I personally feel that being relegated to one set party silences my voice within our governmental process.

Senator Lee, while I speak for myself concerning this issue I also realize that my voice is one in concert with many others within Utah, somewhere in the vicinity of 53% of our state's population, and within our nation, again somewhere in the vicinity of 40+% of our national population. That sir is a goodly number of our populace, who are being disenfranchised at both the state and federal level, with the introduction of state laws that limit the access to the ballot box of lawfully registered voters and citizens of the United States.

The United States is a Democratic Republic with wording in our founding documents that guarantee our voices will be heard at both the state and federal levels. That right, as guaranteed by our founding fathers in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, is under attack in the hopes of gaming the electoral process to silence the Independent Voter. That sir is patently wrong, and frankly in my personal opinion criminal.

Senator Lee, you have stated emphatically many times that you believe in and support our founding decrements and the intent of our founding fathers. I am asking, nay begging you, to please stand for the Citizens of the United States of America and nip this attempt by state governments to silence not only my voice, but the voices of myriads of other Citizens of the United States, in the bud.

The Revolution against the British Crown by my ancestors was because they had been denied equal and just representation by that self same British Crown. Yet today in the 21st century our very state governments, and by fiat our federal government, are once again trying to silence our voices. The saving grace is that today in America of the 21st century, we do not have to resort to the violence of the 17th century to have our voices heard.

That is where you sir, can be the voice of reason and understanding, for you are the voice of the people of Utah and the Nation, and as such I implore you on behalf of the citizen of Utah and our Nation to stand against those who would silence our voices at the ballot box.

Thank you for your time and efforts,

Kevin A. Nelson
Magna, UT

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fake Repeal

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

They Want Our Votes, But Do They Want To Listen To Us?

A National Conference Call for Independents
Monday, March 28th


A Campaign For Congressional Hearings into the Second Class Status of Independent Voters

Salit talk at conference

With Jackie Salit, President 
Monday, March 28th
Time: 8:30 pm EST
(5:30 pm PT, 6:30 pm MT, 7:30 pm CT)

For more information, contact Nancy Ross or Gwen Mandell at 800-288-3201 or email

Independents Appeal Idaho Ruling

Independent Voters Appeal U.S. District Court Decision Ruling Idaho’s Open Primary System Unconstitutional

New York, NY—Independents have taken an appeal from the decision of U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruling Idaho’s open primary system unconstitutional.
In August of 2008, a group of 11 independent Idaho voters and two organizations representing independents—the American Independent Movement of Idaho founded by Mitch Campbell of Twin Falls and the New York-based CUIP (d/b/a—a national association of independents—were granted the right to participate in the case as intervenors-defendants. As such, the independents have standing to appeal.

...partisan interests should not take precedence when it comes to participation in the democratic process...

“A third of Idaho voters have lost their right to vote in the state’s primaries as a result of this decision,” said Harry Kresky, general counsel for CUIP and co-counsel for the intervenors. “As a result of our intervention in the litigation, independents are able to take the necessary legal steps to protect their interests, regardless of what the State of Idaho decides to do in the courts or in the legislature in response to the decision.”
The notice of appeal was filed by attorney Gary Allen of Boise, who stated: "I look forward to representing independent voters' interests on the appeal. It is important for independents to have a voice in this matter. In Idaho, the Republican primary is often the only election that counts, and independents who wish to affiliate with the Republican Party for purposes of that primary should be able to do so. Partisan interests should not take precedence when it comes to participation in the democratic process.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


By Kim. Burningham,
Revised, March 19, 2011

An amazing arrogance of power is evidenced in the actions of some Utah legislators. That arrogance is exacerbated by a penchant for secrecy. Consider three points:
1. The dangers of an arrogance of power
J. William Fulbright, former chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his 1996 book, The Arrogance of Power, warned: “arrogance of power…has afflicted, weakened, and in some cases destroyed great nations in the past.”
Montesquieu, 18th Century French political thinker, in The Spirit of the Laws said, “Men entrusted with power tend to abuse it.”
Nineteenth century English historian, Lord Acton emphasized: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Perhaps the most dramatic indictment of abuse of power was recently called to my attention by a friend: it is found in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. We all know the famous lines of guilt uttered by Lady Macbeth, “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” But immediately after that well known expression of guilt by Lady Macbeth—she who egged her equivocating husband on to regicide, and she who haply washed her daggers in the blood of kings—apparently worried for a moment about her guilt. That guilt, however, she washed away with the acknowledgement: “What need we fear who knows it, when none call our power to accompt [account]?”
When people have power and especially when the exercise of that power is done in secrecy where accountability is negated, abuse runs arrogantly wild! Representative Kraig Powell has in the days since the Legislative session days talked specifically about the Legislature’s closed meetings where great power is wielded resulting in intimidation. He claims that the combination of the HB477 being introduced in a closed caucus, an expectation from House leadership to support it, the fear of retribution for opposing those in power, and rules applicable only at the end of the session, "seemed similar to blackmail."
As a former 15 year member of the House of Representatives in Utah, I have sat in such closed meetings, and I know that Representative Powell speaks the truth.
The arrogance of power exacerbated by secrecy is, in my opinion, a serious danger in Utah.
2. Political arrogance in the recent session of the Utah Legislature
In the Utah Legislature power has been amassed in one party. Of 75 representatives, Republicans hold 58 seats; of 29 senators, there are 22 Republicans. With such concentration, the Democratic minority only provides a hollow voice. Even if the Governor disagrees, the Legislature can be veto-proof. When the majority party decides to move in a particular direction, and if independent members do not feel they can raise questions, there is no stopping the majority. Our just-completed legislative session illustrates this abuse:
HB 477 (Restriction on Public Access to Government Records sponsored by Representative Dougall) reeked of arrogance and was largely advanced under the cloak of secrecy and speed. The bill was first publicly seen when it was introduced near the end of the session on the House floor March 1. In less than three days, committee hearings were held and votes taken in both the Senate and House. The decision was made. Only one Republican voted against the bill. This despite considerable public outcry and a poll which reported that 90% of the people thought the bill “would hurt the public’s ability to monitor the legislative process.” This bill which further shrouds legislative actions in secrecy raises the standard of evidence required to obtain GRAMA information, increases the cost to those in the public who are investigating, and prohibits certain types of messages from even being examined. True, after much public remonstration, the bill was recalled, but then the only significant change was to delay the effective date. Legislators and the Governor promised to talk about the public’s concerns after the decision had been made.
In connection with that bill, it is important to discuss Substitute SB 165 (Election Law Amendments sponsored by Senator Bramble). This bill which significantly reduces the public’s right to affect our laws by citizen initiatives and referenda suddenly appeared at the top of the House Reading calendar and was voted on immediately. Arrogantly, the bill was rushed for the signature of the Governor to become law before the public filed a referendum on HB477. A coincidence? If this bill applies to HB477, it would make reversing the bill by the referendum process much more difficult. SB165 raises the bar in terms of number of signatures required, prohibits gathering signatures electronically, and establishes other requirements that make it more likely that petitions originating with the citizens will be disqualified. Again, speed and lack of public scrutiny were utilized to reduce citizen oversight and increase legislative power!
Two other illustrations also raise alarm: In SB 44 (by Senator Dayton) the independent voice of the state tax commission and the constitutional revision commission is reduced. In HB 75 (by Representative Oda) the gun free-zone around the school is gone! According to Senator Lyle Hillyard, “you can walk on the sidewalk in front of a school carrying an AK-47.” Both passed despite public opposition, and in the case of HB75, a public poll which showed 60% favored keeping the buffer zone.
On the other hand, HB 146 (by Representative Janice Fisher) was not even considered! It would have prohibited dizzying conflicts of interest on the Utah Transit Authority’s board but was held in the Rules Committee. One wonders if the fact that House Majority Whip Greg Hughes is also Chairman of the Board of UTA played a role in the bill being sidelined.
The past legislative session provided evidence that the arrogance of power is rampant, and that speed and secrecy are used to cement that power!
3. Suggestions to produce better Legislative deliberation, reduce abuse of power, and increase openness.
If the arrogance of power I have described is to be checked, several alternatives are possible:
1. The electorate of the State should elect a more balanced representation. Hopefully, the events of the past week will arouse the electorate and help bring about this result.
2. A direct public primary instead of the current convention system should be implemented. This would likely reduce the power of extreme wings in either party, while increasing the power of the middle, more typical, citizens. This has already been done in many other states.
3. Elected representatives can pay more attention to the will of the majority of our citizens. In a day when public opinion is much more easily ascertained, it should be weighed more heavily.
4. The deliberation process should be open to public view. The Senate of the State of Utah almost always holds their caucuses in closed meeting. Whereas in recent years, House caucuses had become increasingly open, Speaker Lockhart this year reversed the trend in the Republican caucuses, and almost all caucuses are closed to the public. Representative Powell has indicated that he will work toward opening up the caucuses. Parenthetically I will tell you that many years ago when I served in the legislature, I sponsored for several years legislation to bring “sunshine” to the legislator’s caucus system. Currently it is exempted from Utah’s open meetings laws. I sincerely hope Representative Powell is more successful in this regard than I was.
5. To achieve greater transparency, helping both legislators and citizens understand the implications of the bills before the Legislature, ample time and opportunity for debate must be provided. Again, I note that Representative Kraig Powell has already begun the process of requiring this change. I believe it is critical.
6. HB 477 should be repealed, or at least significantly changed. In this regard, you should know that a group of citizens headed by Steve Maxfield have filed a referendum to reverse the action on 477. They will have a huge task to gain the required number of signatures in 40 days! One advantage is that referenda do not have the onerous requirement that the signature goal must be achieved in 26 of 29 senate districts. I urge all citizens to consider signing, and if convinced, help gather signatures from others.
7. SB 165 which makes initiatives and referenda more difficult to achieve should likewise be changed. Maxfield has filed an initiative to accomplish this action. For an initiative he has at least until next Spring to gain the necessary signatures. Keep your ears open for more information.
8. Individual members of the legislature can demonstrate more independence, showing less reliance on the party political machine. Some of our dedicated public servants already demonstrate this admirable quality. Encourage them! Re-elect independent minded legislators, and use your franchise to remove legislators who are more interested in power than in open, democratic decision making.
9. Finally, the ethics initiative advanced by Utahns for Ethical Government should appear on the 2012 ballot, and the public should vote for it. Among other ethical guidelines, passage will establish campaign contribution limits, prohibit Legislative leaders from buying leadership positions, and stop legislators from also serving as lobbyists,
Let me take you back to Fulbright once again. When legislators follow the political machine, Utahns continue to be the victims of what Fulbright referred to as “a kind of dizziness or giddiness inspired by the possession of great power.”
He warns that an “excess of pride [is] born of power,” and that “power has a way of undermining judgment, of planting delusions of grandeur in the minds of otherwise sensible people.”
Unbridled arrogance, he said, may end up “destroying the very thing you are trying to defend.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carl Wimmer speaks on HB477

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Wrong Way Party Express

The Idaho Establishment Speaks

If you haven't heard, a federal judge sided with the Idaho GOP in declaring a 38 year old law which made Idaho primary elections mostly open was declared unconstitutional earlier this month.

Closed Captioning:
Salem, Mass 1692
Sarah Good, thou hast been accused of being a witch

Boise, Idaho 2011
Sarah Good, thou hast been accused of being a crossover voter

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just coincidence or manufactured spin?

I received an email in my inbox last week from House
District 15 Representative Brad Wilson which looks curiously similar to an
article by Brad Dee (R), Ogden that was published in the Standard Examiner

The mashup (Brad Wilson in Bold, Brad Dee in red and my
comments [in square brackets and italicized]):

Brad Wilson:

Dear Neighbors,

One of the questions I'm often asked by constituents and in particular school children, is how I decide which bills to vote for and which bills to vote against. It can be a somewhat complicated question to answer. Nearly 1,000 bills are filed for consideration each session. Obviously this number represents a lot of issues covering a wide variety of topics that affect many people.

Brad Dee:

The Legislature considers nearly 1,000 bills every year in the short timeframe of 45 days. I employ a range of strategies to help me get a sense of how the communities I represent feel about the issues of the day. Obviously not everyone is united on a course of action, so one of the most important factors I consider when casting a vote is the feedback from my pre-session legislative surveys.

Brad Wilson:

The ancient Greeks had a system of democracy where every male citizen had the opportunity to cast votes for himself in the assembly. Our system is a set up to be a representative republic where we select one person to speak and vote on behalf of a set number of people. This system has its challenges. Whereas an ancient Greek male citizen had only his own views to consider when voting, your legislators must weigh the views of tens of thousands when casting ballots.

Due to the large number of bills and the complexity of some issues, legislators employ a wide range of strategies when deciding how to vote. One that my colleagues and I use is to send out a survey to constituents asking questions about the hot issues expected to come before the Legislature.
We forecast what we think will be the most pressing issues. For instance in our survey this year, I asked for feedback on budget items, liquor licenses, and immigration reform just to name a few items. Obviously I received a wide variety of responses, but the surveys show how the majority of our constituents feel on a particular issue and can guide my vote on specific bills.

Brad Dee:

The Legislature considers nearly 1,000 bills every year in the short timeframe of 45 days. I employ a range of strategies to help me get a sense of how the communities I represent feel about the issues of the day. Obviously not everyone is united on a course of action, so one of the most important factors I consider when casting a vote is the feedback from my pre-session legislative surveys. Each year, before the session begins, I compile a list of questions on the hot topics that are expected to come before the Legislature and ask my constituents to let me know what they think. This year I asked about topics ranging from possible budget cuts to liquor licenses to immigration reform.

[1. It is unlikely that a majority of House District 15
responded, 2. responses are very unlikely to be a representative sample and 3.
if you can't tell here, it was a statewide push poll--my biggest topics of
concern are nowhere within this 'survey'.]

Brad Wilson:

Another tool we use when deciding how to vote is our campaign platform and issues that might have been debated during the campaign.
While campaigning, we talk about our views and the issues we will and will not
support if elected. A winning candidate can reasonably assume that he or she
won because the majority of the voters agreed with his or her views on public
policy and that platform can then serve as a measuring stick on how to vote.

[73% of Utahns polled support non-partisan redistricting
and the legislature will not even discuss the concept. 78% of Utahns support
direct non-partisan school board elections but a bill to make them partisan
elections is likely to pass. Meanwhile the governor pre-screens who will be on
the ballot for school board. It is a misnomre to 'reasonably assume that he or
she won because the majority of voters agreed with his or her views'. The
lesser of two evils is the more likely explanation.]

During the session, I do my best to communicate with you and let you know what issues are coming up that will affect our communities. I get a lot of emails and phone calls from people that want us to vote for or against a certain issue and those contacts, particularly from our own constituents, are very persuasive. Sometimes, however, an issue will come up where the constituency is evenly divided or the issue hits so quickly that there isn't time for feedback. [Or the Eagle Forum has me
under duress]
Sometimes the facts change with an amendment to a bill or
issues come up that make it reasonable to vote differently than we might
otherwise have done. In those cases, legislators have to rely on their
instincts for what is the best policy call.

[Duly noted, and he is better at being responsive than his predecessors.]

[In a sneaky little bender, this showed up a little out of order at the top of Dee’s op ed].

Brad Dee:

During the session, I often get e-mails and calls from constituents urging me to vote this way or that way on a particular issue. Sometimes I even get feedback from folks after the fact that think I voted on the wrong side of an issue and wonder what on earth I could possibly have been thinking! The considerations that go into a vote are many and varied, but the most important consideration is you.

Brad Wilson:

I take very seriously the charge to represent you and reflect the values and beliefs of our community. Don't be afraid to reach out and let me know how you feel about the issues of the day. I can't represent you well if I don't know your views.

Brad Dee:

We take our charge very seriously to represent you and to reflect the values and beliefs of our communities. Don't be afraid to reach out and let your legislators know how you feel about the
issues of the day. We can't represent you if we don't know your views.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Distraction or means to an end?

The panel discussion at the independent voter conference in New York earlier this month entertained the concept that independents could and should get involved in ideologically-determined "issue-based" organizing, such as education or healthcare, the deficit, the national budget. I think...not so much. The dysfunction or paralysis of some of these programs and policies can serve as a means for addressing the root cause of our policy woes--our too narrow and too elite political process.
Case in point: if your net worth has plummeted in the last few years due to the financial meltdown then ask yourself why haven't we enacted any serious financial regulations? What have we done to prevent this from happening again and why hasn't anybody gone to jail?

The answer is we haven't done a thing to prevent it from happening again (officially). We haven't enacted any real reforms to insist on some basic honesty on Wall Street. Why?

That is a complex answer all bundled up in the two-party system and our persistent backroom methods of selecting candidates or more particularly the process by which candidates are paid to line up behind policy created in smoke filled backrooms. We haven't got a prayer of addressing policy and ideological reforms until the process can be addressed.

link to Rolling Stone article:

Thanks for some editing by Nancy Hanks over at The Hankster

There are exactly 2 Ways (not really)

I ran across this video on the blog by Damon Eris. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Buttars paranoid view of Utah Teachers

Chris Buttars made this dissertation at the Eagle Forum:


Which prompted me to make this political cartoon. What will these wingnuts (legislators) say next?

Monday, January 17, 2011


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Partisan Hostility Toward independents