Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chris Cannon’s Disconnect Between Beliefs and Actions

One of the more entertaining conservative blogs in Utah belongs to congressman Chris Cannon. At the link below, you can observe what Chris Cannon believes, or atleast perceives he believes. In the spirit of “civility in public discourse”, I will address each of his stated beliefs with why there is a disconnect between those stated beliefs and the actions of Rep. Cannon.


I believe...

- The government that governs least, governs best

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am unaware of Congressman Cannon’s efforts to reduce the size of government and roll back laws on the books. I also have seen a total lack of effort on Chris Cannon’s part to inhibit the Bush Administration from eroding the freedoms American’s have traditionally enjoyed. If anything, I would suggest that Chris Cannon believes in “loyalty” to his party and his President. Though not stated in his beliefs, I perceive based upon observing Chris Cannon for over a decade, that belief in loyalty to party is what drives this man.

- That open government, transparency, and reducing the size of government are the only true cures for corruption

Nice words but exactly what has Chris Cannon done to reduce the size of government? Though elected in 1994, Chris Cannon really found himself in a position of influence after the 2000 election, a point where he had some seniority and represents a time which ushered in a Republican President. Since that time, the scope of governmental intrusion in one’s life has increased, the size of government has increased and so has the deficit.

- The Congress should never spend more than it takes in

Let’s talk statistics Rep. Cannon. In 2000, when seniority and a Republican executive came into power, the U.S. had three years of budget surpluses. Since that time, we have had deficits $158 Billion to a whopping $413 Billion. What proposals have we heard from Chris Cannon to address these deficits? Am I the only one hearing crickets chirp?

- Taking the fight to terrorists is the only way to keep America safe

That is all well and good, but what does supporting an unprovoked war in Iraq have to do with taking the fight to terrorists? It certainly was a nice recruitment tool for Al Qaeda. President Bush and enablers like Chris Cannon have done more for Al Qaeda than Osama bin Ladin has. They have turned virtually an entire region and religion against our government and has made the U.S. less safe now than ever before.

- Technology, innovation, and the market are always preferable to government intervention

I can’t really contest that Chris Cannon doesn’t believe this. But I would contend that “always” is an awfully absolute phrase to use. What if the government intervention uses innovation or new technology? The Center for Disease Control uses both of those things. Does that mean we should rely on the private sector to evaluate our nation’s health risks from infectious diseases? Where is the profit motive? This is one example. A blanket statement like Chris Cannon’s sounds more like a sound-bite than a, ahem, prescription.

- Amnesty means being allowed to stay in America without a penalty - I will NEVER support amnesty

It all depends on your definition of amnesty now doesn’t it. I’m allowed to stay in America without a penalty. Does this mean he wants me to leave? Why the need to state such a strong position here? Is it possible because past positions and votes bring into question Cannon’s opposition to “amnesty”? Would this have been on his blog three years ago? I’m guessing not. Just for the record, I’m not opposed to some sort of amnesty provision. I’m just pointing to the peculiarities of Cannon’s statement.

- Civility in our public discourse is a good lesson for our kids and a lost component of our dialogue

Nice to hear that civility is important to such a partisan Congressman. I’ll just let his record speak for itself on this one. On the other hand, perhaps being in the minority has caused Chris to turn over a new leaf (snicker).

- Federalism sometimes requires the federal government NOT to act, no matter how painful

Federalism is usually in the eye of the beholder. Would Chris Cannon support federal legislation that bans gay marriage? How about banning abortion? How about stem cell research? And to take exception to this notion, I would suggest that hiding behind “federalism” may be a shield for the failure of Congress to take some necessary actions. “Oh, we’d like to help, but federalism is so divinely inspired (atleast when We play that card) that it would be inappropriate to take action.”

So what does Chris Cannon believe? I’ve seen the sound-bites, but I’ve also seen him in action for over a decade. All of us fall short of our beliefs at times. Though some of these beliefs I disagree with, the bigger issue is whether we as citizens can rely upon his statements as being genuine and accurate. Let’s just say, I’m not convinced.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good Bye Old Friend- Sen. Ed Mayne

Sen. Ed Mayne will be missed by many. Eddie was unashamed to stand up for working men and women. He valued those whose hands got dirty and greasy and brought home paycheck and raised a family. If first met Eddie Mayne back in 1984 when he was the head of the AFL-CIO and I was involved in as a political volunteer on several levels. Eddie was a guy who could motivate others to put forward alot of effort on behalf of issues important to them such as worker's rights, benefits, health care and affordable housing. When he entered the Senate in the 1990's, Utah gained a much needed legislative advocate for working people and the issues important to them.

Convention will seem alot more sparse without such an animated and bigger than life character as Sen. Mayne. My heart goes out to Karen and family with sincere condolensces for their loss, and I think I speak for many Utahns that we are grateful that they shared Eddie's time and talents with the rest of us citizens.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Would this type of Academy qualify for public money under vouchers?


Terror high as it is nicknamed by conservative politicians, an Islamic academy which teaches jihad. Would oversight under the publicly rejected voucher law have prevented public funding of such an academy? This was one of the questions I posed during that debate. I still have never been really satisfied. On what basis would you provide vouchers for a Mormon academy and not an Islamic one?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kudos to Utah's Legislature

I generally have been rather critical of Utah's legislature. Most likely, this results from the fact that I have a minority opinion within the State of Utah and many of the actions of Utah's legislature is in disagreement with how I would do things if I were in charge. But, as an old-timer to observing the legislature and reviewing bills of interest, I would like to compliment the increasing transparency that exists with the legislature through their website and the ability to track a bill's status, it's amendments and it's substitutes with an ease that 15 years ago would have seemed preposterous.

The webite, located at: http://www.le.state.ut.us is extremely helpful if you are interested in a bill or would like to a little information on the sponsor(s) of a bill. So often, bills have conflicts of interest to a sponsor that is neither reported by Utah's weak and lazy press, nor acknowledged by the sponsor. This is my first year as a blogger, and I look forward to observing the legislative process and commenting on legislation of interest. We as citizens have far more tools today to hold legislators accountable than at any time in our history as a state, and I fully plan on taking advantage of it. I also compliment those legislators who blog, who open themselves to possible dispute and criticism. I may vehemently disagree with their opinions, but I appreciate them expressing them so I atleast know where they are coming from.

Also, another note about the legislative website. Accessing the Utah Code from that website is quite easy and helpful. Never before has Utah's laws been so accessible to the general public. For all the criticism of government that goes on, I also think it is important to note when government gets it right. The Utah Legislature's website gets it right.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Post Voucher-Vote Concerns and Optimism

So the ugly campaign is over. The lies and distortions will hopefully be but a fading memory. What I'm concerned about is retaliation by the legislature against public education and against teachers in particular. Reading Steve Urquhart's blog, I feel atleast some optimism that this issue will not result in a decimation of teacher salaries and benefits and to a decision to take money from schools and redirect them to other priorities.

We as citizens made a statement that I think was pretty loud and clear, that we value our public schools, and don't want our hard-earned tax dollars going to private schools. But I also hope that a concern for public education resonates with the public in general, to be willing to make a commitment to be a partner in the process, not just a bystander.

For those of us in the private sector, we can ask ourselves, does our local schools have needs that we can help meet? Can we partner with schools for mutual benefit? And to the public education establishment, we should also ask hard questions to ensure that we are getting our money's worth out of the heavy tax burden our child/heavy population demands.

The vote on Tuesday shows that to Utahns, public education matters. Let's back that opinion with commitment. Let's back that commitment with respect for the many teachers who deserve it. Let's look as objectively as possible at legislation that seeks to reform public education for the better. But let us also hold legislators accountable if their legislation appears punitive. Our children are too important to be pawns in a political struggle and I for one am committed to let legislators know, that I am watching. But I'm also encouraging as well. We all have a stake in having the best public education possible. We should all commit to help make that happen.