Archive for July, 2010

Rangel just can’t stop

July 30, 2010

Since the ethics charges aren’t enough to keep Charlie Rangel busy, he is proposing a new bill. While the title of H.R. 5741 is fairly innocuous, the Universal National Service Act requires MANDATORY national military service.

The summary of the bill reads:

To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

The bill would apply to citizens and “every other person residing in the United States”, between the ages of 18 to 42 and require them to serve for two years.

According to the proposed bill, the national service obligation shall be performed either as a member of an active or reserve component of the uniformed services; or “in a civilian capacity” that, “promotes the national defense”.

Reading the bill further, the civilian component is only available to conscientious objectors who will then be assigned to noncombatant roles.

The provisions of this bill are subject to enactment on the orders of the President, in times of war.

Didn’t Miss A Paycheck

July 29, 2010

Today, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Dave Hansen, chair of the Utah Republican Party, has been on Senator Hatch’s payroll throughout his tenure as party chair. Hansen was Hatch’s campaign manager for the 2006 election. When Hansen ran for state party chair, one of the most frequently asked questions was “Are you staying on Hatch’s payroll?” He assured delegates that he would not be, that he would be taking a leave of absence during his tenure.

But, as FEC reports show, he didn’t miss a single paycheck. In January, 2009, Hansen received $10K from the Senator. From February 2009 through last month, Senator Hatch – obviously campaigning for 2012 – paid Dave Hansen $5000 a month for “campaign consulting”. To his credit, Hansen appears to be doing a good job, as Senator Hatch is remaking himself as a tea party conservative. (Whether the tea party is buying it remains to be seen.)

According to the Trib article, Hansen “calls the $60,000 “a bonus” for his past work as Hatch’s campaign manager. He has not worked for Hatch since becoming chairman, he says, though he has helped him on occasion and at least once represented the campaign in a news article.”

Congressman Chaffetz expressed his disappointment. “I’m just shocked that they would do this thinking nobody would notice. You don’t put a party official on your payroll. That is just not right. Orrin Hatch knows what he is doing. He has obviously stepped over an ethical line. It’s just infuriating.”

The claws came out as Hatch’s office responded that there is “nothing unethical with helping the party.”

“As chairman, Dave Hansen has worked really hard for everyone, including Congressman Chaffetz. The Congressman’s comments took an already thankless job and made it even more thankless,” Barney said. “Everyone understands Congressman Chaffetz’s motives, but it’s disappointing to see him making such an irresponsible statement.”

It’s not illegal. It doesn’t seem to have affected his work as party chair. It is certainly disappointing, however, to have the “neutral” party chair on the payroll of a sitting Senator who has already started his re-election campaign in a race that is likely to be hotly contested.

Charlie Rangel’s bad day

July 29, 2010

Rep Charlie Rangel (D-NY) had the list of ethics violations made public today.  There are 13 serious violations, in 4 major areas:

* Improperly using his letterhead, staff and franking privilege to solicit donations to the Charles B. Center for Public Policy at the City College of New York (yes, named for him);

* Using a rent-stabilized apartment in Harlem for his campaign office

* Failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report; and

* Failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

The charges came as lawyers for Rangel and the House ethics committee worked on a plea deal, but any deal between the lawyers will have little meaning if the committee members don’t approve it.

During today’s hearing, Rep Jo Bonner (R-AL) pointed out “Mr. Rangel was given multiple opportunities to settle this matter. Instead, he chose to move forward to the public trial phase.”

According The Hill:

Rangel, who earlier this week described the ethics panel’s actions against him as a “public lynching,” on Thursday told reporters he had nothing to say about a deal, but suggested he was not admitting to any corruption.

“Although this is not a good day for me, there’s no inference of corruption” he told reporters. “The idea of corruption and dishonesty has never been an issue” in the investigation, he said.

(I understand he even said it with a straight face.)

Many Democrats had urged Rangel to settle the case to avoid the prospect of televised hearings right before November, when the House flips to Republican control.  (Speaking of flipping the House, Utah’s 2nd Congressional district Rep, Jim Matheson, took money from Rangel and said recently he has no intention of paying it back – he  spent it.  He also said he had not heard any complaints from his constituents and that he would have to “withhold judgment” until he knew more.  Can you say “Congressman Philpot“?)

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended her caucus’s record on ethics. She said Democrats had implemented ”the toughest ethics reform in a generation” when they took over the House in 2006 and was proud of their efforts to “drain the swamp” of misbehavior in Congress.  Like Rangel, she said it with a straight face.

So in Charlie’s honor, here’s a little video clip:

Key parts of AZ law blocked

July 28, 2010

Due to go into effect tomorrow, the new Arizona immigration law has been the subject of 7 different lawsuits.  Just moments ago, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday against the implementation of parts of the law.  Judge Susan Bolton heard arguments from a number of groups including the US Justice Department and the ACLU. 

The judge has blocked a requirement that police must check the immigration status of detainees they reasonably suspect of being in the country illegally AND stopped the part of the law that makes it a crime for people to be in the state illegally.  A recent CNN poll shows 55% favor the Arizona law.

In all, Bolton struck down four sections of the law, the ones that opponents called the most controversial parts. Bolton said she was putting those sections on hold until the courts resolve the issues.

Read the ruling here.

Enough already!

July 28, 2010

Time to stop wasting time, and baby, time is money. If we as Americans want our federal government to frittering away their time and burning through our money, it’s time to insist they focus on substantive issues – like say the out-of-control deficit spending and a war with no clear objective – and stop piddling around with things like sports resolutions. Time for “we the people” to speak up as well and hold our elected officials accountable for the job we hired them to do – which in my book does not include honoring race tracks or baseball bats – or even national championship teams.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz is once again stepping out and speaking up.
“I don’t care if it’s a Democrat, I don’t care if it’s a Republican (who sponsors such legislation), if it’s in the world of sports, they get enough recognition,” Chaffetz said. “We’ve got important business. We have troops that are in harm’s way. We have not brought up a budget resolution to discuss the outrageous debt and deficit that we’re suffering through.”  He discussed his frustrations with Neil Cavuto.

Rock on, Congressman.  No doubt a number of your colleagues will follow your lead.

Chaffetz votes no on war funding

July 27, 2010

The long-delayed funding for the war in Afghanistan passed the US House of Representatives today.  One hundred and two House Democrats – 40% – voted against a bill that Obama has been strongly promoting. Isn’t it ironic? One of the most liberal presidents we’ve had and he’s out promoting war funding and “tax cuts”. Those 102 D’s are over triple the number who voted against the funding last year. In addition, 12 Republicans voted against the bill including our very own Jason Chaffetz. Voting FOR the bill were Reps Matheson and Bishop.

Appearing on the Rachel Maddow show Tuesday night, Congressman Chaffetz said: “I think there are…fundamental flaws to this. One is how we pay for it.” He continued: “This a good conservative position and i think a lot of [my colleagues] are very hesitant to be perceived as being anything but tough on the war on terror. We have been very successful over the last nine years and it’s hardly a cut and run strategy to say, hey – it’s time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. It’s the longest war in the history of the United States.”

With discussion on the House floor today, it was clear that Congressman Chaffetz was not alone. In addition to 11 other Republicans, Democrat after Democrat came forward not just to oppose the war, but to cut off funding for it.

“Wake up, America. The Wikileak-leaked documents gave us 92,000 reasons to end the war,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

“It is wrong to be borrowing money from China [and] laying off American police officers to train police officers in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.

Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass said: “It is a mistake to give the administration another blank check for the war.”

“There’s nowhere in the constitution that says that the president just gets to go and fight wars without the oversight of the Congress,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. “We are the Congress. It is our job to do our constitutional duty. It is not second-guessing. It is oversight. It is engaging in the process of governance.”

Opposition to the war came from some of the top Democrats in Congress, including appropriations chairman David Obey, D-Wis., who originally SPONSORED the bill and voted for it in March.

“I cannot look my constituents in the eye and say that this operation will hurt our enemies more than it hurts us,” Obey said during debate leading up to the vote. He also said that while he had an obligation as appropriations chair to let the bill be heard: “I also have the obligation to my conscience to indicate — by my individual vote — my profound skepticism that this action will accomplish much more than to serve as a recruiting incentive for those who most want to do us ill.”

The $59 billion in on-going funds passed the Senate last week. It now awaits the President’s signature.

Chaffetz bill to rein in spending

July 27, 2010

Utah’s favorite fiscal conservative, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, introduced a new bill today to prohibit the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) from funding non-federal projects.

The federal government annually spends roughly $850 million on three different archive programs. One authorized program within NHPRC currently spends $10 million per year on grants for state and local governments, universities, and other institutions to preserve and publish non-federal records. Chaffetz’ bill, HR 5865, would refocus NHPRC on its original mission of preserving federal records.

“I concur with White House budget director Peter Orszag when he said that federal agencies need to come up with more ambitious proposals to cut government spending,” said Chaffetz. “Federal dollars should be used for federal projects, yet the Democrats have introduced a bill to double the Archives grant program to $20 million per year for 5 years. Now is not the time for an expanded $100 million Archive grant program. We can’t afford it.”

Congressman Chaffetz continued, “In this time of massive debt, most Americans would be shocked to see where their money is being spent.”

Some examples of non-federal NHPRC funding:

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
$122,848 for ACLU Records Processing, 1960 – 1990

International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Newport, RI
$400,000 “invested” (Funding for this project came from NHPRC as well as other various federal entities)

ONE Archives, Los Angeles, CA
$194,860 to arrange, describe, preserve, and make public some 767 linear feet of materials constituting 99 archival or manuscript collections relating to efforts to obtain recognition and subsequently to establish rights for gay and lesbian Americans in the 20th century.

Stanford University, Stanford, CA
$93,393 to support the Archive of Recorded Sound effort to preserve in digital format 654 audio recordings of the Monterey Jazz Festival (1970-2001), create metadata to better describe and administer the recordings, and provide access copies on CDs and in MP3 formats.

Yale University, New Haven, CT
$38,021 to survey and accession university records and to develop a university-wide records program.

University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
$27,874 to support a 16-month project to arrange, describe, and make available 700 linear feet of records from the university’s Chancellor’s Office dating from 1936 to 1995.

Fund for Innovative TV, Chicago, IL
$65,900 to support the digitization of 361 videotapes that document life in Chicago during the past 35 years.

Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Austin, TX
$50,940 to establish a Library and Archives at the Goodwill Computer Museum

Paul Taylor Dance Foundation, New York, NY
$66,127 to process and create online finding aids for the backlog of records

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
$73,556 for a project to arrange and describe the records of Frances R. Grant and Robert Alexander

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
$139,435 to modernize its Archives and make archival resources available online

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, San Francisco, CA
$131,868 to preserve and make accessible 550 linear feet of GLBT records

$5.6 million to the University of Maryland to fund projects like the J. Franklin Jameson and the Development of Humanistic Scholarship in America, Papers of Carlos Montezuma, Carrollton Family Papers, and several others

$518,604 to the University of Pennsylvania to fund projects like producing a manual for anthropologists and archaeologists, history of nursing in the Middle Atlantic regions, arranging and publicizing the records of the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and several others.

$263,611 to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to fund projects like the Papers of Henry Bouquet, training in archival techniques for local historical societies, microfilming county and municipal government records, and several others.

$116,993 to New York University for the Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger.

Congressman Chaffetz continues to lead the way in reining in government spending. (But let’s be honest – his bill won’t pass. Darn. Maybe next January, after the House flips.)

Ideology smacks up against reality

July 26, 2010

Political IdeologyA belief system that explains and justifies a preferred economic and governmental order for society, offers strategies for its maintenance or attainment and helps give meaning to public events, personalities and policies.

Ideology can also be stated as the principles that guide one’s views. Generally speaking, there is an “ideological right” and an “ideological left” within politics – but much variation on both sides. For example, someone who considers themselves politically conservative might believe that the “war on drugs” should be dropped, claiming that it infringes on personal rights while other self-described conservatives believe there are moral boundaries that should not be crossed, including the use of harmful, illicit substances. Similarly, there are conservatives who argue we should pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP while others believe we should “finish the job”. The lists of differences goes on and on.

To some, ideology is very black and white – you are either with me or you’re against me. There is no room for differences of opinion, even if the fundamental principles are the same. Somehow, seeking real solutions and a willingness to work towards them – aka “pragmatism” – has somehow become bad. It’s “selling out“, we’re told, to work on making real changes if we have to do it incrementally. It’s all or nothing – and more often than not, we are left with nothing.

In reality, politics is a dance. It should be working together to find common ground and moving forward from there. It IS the art of compromise – but not the compromise of principle. Edmund Burke sagely pointed out: “All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.” The very founding of our country, from the Declaration of Independence, to the adoption of the Constitution, to the Bill of Rights was based on compromise. None of these documents sprang fully formed from the minds of their authors. They were haggled over, argued over, negotiated over until those founders arrived at the documents we have today. They WORKED together until they hammered out a new, appropriately balanced government.

It truly is possible to work with others and not compromise principle, but it seems that politics – and campaigning especially – has gotten SO ideologically “pure” that any attempt to talk about real solutions and working with real people is immediately assailed as selling out – no matter which side of the aisle you are on.

Senate candidate Mike Lee is finding that out right now. Campaigning on the Constitution and promising to uphold it at every turn, he said a couple of weeks ago that funding state transportation projects was not within that framework. According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, he expressed clear opposition:

“If a state wants to fund a system like that, I think that’s fine, but I don’t see that as a proper thing for the federal government to be doing,” particularly in light of the nation’s financial troubles, he said.

Lee, who has a big lead in recent polls, said he isn’t a transit opponent. He believes light rail and commuter rail could help Utah, especially as more people get on board.

“But if they will utilize it, there are other ways to pay for it other than funding from Congress,” he said, suggesting local governments carry the full load or seek private financing.

However, it appears that reality is starting to sink in and he is clarifying that his popular campaign stance of never voting for anything not specifically authorized by the Constitution is not set in stone. This weekend, the Deseret News reported that:

While Lee insists he’ll never compromise his principles, he said there may be times when he would support something that may not strictly pass his constitutionality test.

Like continued funding for ongoing mass transit projects, for example. While Lee said such projects shouldn’t be the work of the federal government unless they cross state lines, he could argue that stopping them midway would create serious problems.

“There may be some federal projects out there sometime which I never would have voted for at the onset, that I might have to consider,” he said, because not finishing them could create a public nuisance.

We start where we are and not where we wish we were,” Lee said.

Charlie Rangel and his (lack of) ethics

July 24, 2010

Rep Charlie Rangel, D-NY, is facing what many are calling the toughest fight of his 40-year career in the US House. Two years ago, he was forced to step down as the Chairman of the powerful “Ways and Means” committee for taking corporate-funded trips to the Caribbean. Now, after apparent ongoing ethics violations, Rangel will go through a trial process. The House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct announced Thursday that its investigative panel found Rangel had committed violations and immediately created a new panel to hear the charges.

The violations being investigated will not be revealed until next week, but according to MSNBC are likely to include:

* Rangel’s use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.
* His use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York City. The city’s rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one’s primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office, raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.
* Rangel’s failure to report income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his failure to report income from the lawmaker’s rental unit at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment assets.

Setting up a trial process is a step rarely taken. It was last used for in 2002 for an Ohio congressman, James Traficant, who was later convicted of racketeering.

At a news conference, the Harlem Rep said he “looks forward” to fighting the ethics charge. When Luke Russert, MSNBC reporter asked if he was worried he could lose his job, Rangel responded: “Well, you’re young, I guess you do need to make a name for yourself.”

“Basically, you know, it’s a dumb question and I’m not going to respond.… It doesn’t really sound like NBC asking these dumb questions. It just shows what happened to a channel that did have some respect.” After the video clip went viral, called Russert to apologize.

The New York Daily News reports that Rangel MUST continue fundraising and campaigning to pay his mounting legal debts – now topping $1.7 million.

Democrats are worried that the timing of Rangel’s trial in the fall will hurt re-election prospects across the country. USA Today reports that House minority leader John Boehner said it was “a sad reminder” of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “most glaring broken promise: to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington.” Even members of his own party are calling for his resignation. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) sent a statement to The Hill that read in part:

“It is regrettable, but Charlie Rangel needs to resign from his seat in Congress. This isn’t about being a Democrat or Republican, this is about preserving the public trust. Our nation is facing extraordinary challenges and we must be focused on building a sustainable economy that will allow our workers and businesses to flourish.”

Rangel remains confident he will be elected both in his primary race on September 14th and in the November election as well.

Best night evah!

July 22, 2010

For some serious fun (OK – is that an oxymoron?) and a chance to hang with the Guv, you have GOT to come see Jason Hewlett on July 28th. He is an entertainer extraordinaire and will be TOTALLY worth your time. He will be performing at a fundraiser for Governor Gary Herbert, hosted by Mark and Kimberly Haroldsen in Salt Lake. Totally worth it!

Here is an example of his work. My kids watched this clip, laughed hysterically, then spent an hour on YouTube watching more. I’ve seen him in person and he ROCKS. Oh, and the Governor is cool too.

Here are the details:
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mark & Kimberly Haroldsen
3638 Chateau Parc Cove
Salt Lake City, UT 84121



Please RSVP to Caroline Updike at 801.836.5322, or


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