Opinionated @ CFE

Where I Stand 2012: Federal Offices


Each election, I share who I’m voting for and why. Here are my picks for federal races this cycle.

US President: Gary Johnson

To say that this presidential election cycle has been disgusting would be an understatement. There’s been a constant clown car parade of candidates with whom I have not just disagreements on the issues, but find to be simply disagreeable.


Why You Should Choose Dan Liljenquist for US Senate


I write a post daily from now until the state convention about why I think Orrin Hatch has no business being in the US Senate. Tearing down someone you don’t like it really easy, though, and it does nothing to highlight who is a better choice. In many cases, we say “yeah, he sucks, but what other choice do we really have?” In the US Senate race, that choice is clear: former state senator Dan Liljenquist.

Some of the biggest problems facing us as a country are fiscal. All too many Republicans and Democrats are ignoring structural problems in our entitlement systems, instead doubling down on tax cuts and/or deficit spending in the vain hope that it will create enough economic activity to plug the gap without making difficult choices. These elected officials are ignoring reality, kicking the can down the road so that future generations can pay the price for their imprudence.

Dan Liljenquist has a proven record as someone who can tackle these needed reforms. He touched the third rail of politics, entitlements, not once, but twice and lived to tell the tale. The state of Utah now stands to save many billions of dollars in retirement and Medicaid costs. These same reforms are now being implemented in dozens of other states that now look to Utah as a legislative model. Many legislators wouldn’t accomplish in three decades what Dan did in three years.

“But what about seniority”, many will cry. I say the seniority system is nearing its end. Freshmen like Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, and Rand Paul managed to be heard immediately, leading Harry Reid to remark that he had never seen new senators wield such immense influence. Dan has already proved he has the mettle to start working on day one on very serious problems. Despite being new in the Utah State Senate and being told that there’s no way he can propose major legislation, he did the legwork anyway and came out on top, passing arguably some of the most significant legislation of the past decade. Someone who can so effectively sell their good ideas is as valuable on day one as they are many years down the road.

It’s also important to have a senator whose power will not depend on which party is in power. Party power comes and goes. The only way to wield influence in those “off” years is to be a consensus-builder, something Dan has a proven record of. In addition to taking input from within his party and from the minority party, he also reached out directly to those affected by the legislative changes to see how he could win their support. In the end, what started as a controversial change in retirement for state employees became a universally-acclaimed landmark piece of legislation earning Dan the coveted Legislator of the Year award.

A legislator who can build consensus around badly-needed reforms without bench-warming first is something we desperately need right now. Waiting won’t make it better. To borrow Dan’s campaign slogan, it’s time.

Mike Lee Channels Orrin Hatch’s Tech-Ignorant Ways


I’ve gone on the record saying that I think Mike Lee is a poser, someone who was at the right place at the right time saying the right things to get elected to the US Senate to replace “Bailout Bob” Bennett. I’ve doubted his sincerity from the moment the candidate nobody had heard of started a series of “lectures on the constitution” ahead of his official announcement. Just yesterday, he announced via Twitter and Facebook that he plans to take on Google in anti-trust hearings. The reasoning behind this shows a dangerous lack of understanding about both free markets and technology.


Where I Stand 2010: Federal Offices


Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time studying each candidate and, if needed, attempting to contact them to get answers to specific questions. I would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. Here are my picks for the federal offices.

U.S. Senate: Like many Utahns, I wasn’t very happy with Bob Bennett. Unlike many Utahns, I’m not terribly happy with the choices placed before me. Every day, Mike Lee is looking more and more like a panderer that said what needed to be said to get his way into office. I have no doubts that within a couple of terms (if we hold out that long), he’ll be Bennett with better PR.

I’d like to like Sam Granato, but his campaign has, quite frankly, been insulting. He spent months not posting any issues on his website and is running on a “Mike is a loony” platform. Charging along with a textbook case of negative campaigning is not the way to go. Had the Democrats actually nominated Christopher Stout, I would have considered voting for him.

I can’t say that I think too highly of Scott Bradley either. He has about the same platform as Mike Lee, but without the phoniness. Unfortunately, most of his “positions” are rambling and say very little about how he wants to achieve his vision.

In this election, I plan on voting None of the Above. I truly do not feel that any candidate deserves my support at the ballot box. (I’m open to creative write-in suggestions if you have a good one.)

U.S. House of Representatives #2: I’m going to say what most people already know: Jim Matheson is a spineless coward. He thought he pulled off an artful dodge by not voting for the health care “reform” bill before Congress, but we all know that had it come down to needing his vote, he would have given it. Then he spends all of his time dodging angry constituents from both sides, refusing to actually face the consequences for his decisions. I’m sorry, Jim, but you can’t get away with that in any elected position.

While I agree with a large part of Morgan Philpot’s campaign platform, his highly partisan “Matheson is Pelosi” attitude is very off-putting. I don’t feel like that will be very productive, nor do I feel like he’s putting forward much message of his own. I agree much more with Randall Hinton’s platform and have found his positions to be both logical and well-worded. Unsurprisingly, Randall Hinton has my support as the best choice in this race.

Next installment: state races.

A 17th Amendment Reality Check


There have been a lot of waves made lately over candidates who want to overturn the 17th Amendment and return the selection of US Senators to the various legislatures. Certainly, I believe the system of appointed Senators made a lot of sense. It allowed states to directly have a say in the affairs of the national government, contained the power of the political elites to a single house of Congress, and created a much more deliberative body that would act as a check on popular sentiment. All that said, I don’t think the genie can be put back in the bottle quite that easily.

The biggest roadblock is Congress itself. Senators would be essentially asked to vote against their own re-election prospects. Any Senator not on good terms with the legislature of their home state could find themselves quickly out of a job. You then still need 38 state legislatures to sign off on repealing the amendment to get it to go into effect. All of this would need to happen in the midst of citizens likely protesting moving a previously elected position to an appointed one.

Even if a repeal of the 17th Amendment passed, there is nothing to restrict a legislature from retaining a de facto system of direct election anyway. Just a few years before the ratification of the amendment, 29 states allowed some form of popular vote for senators. There’s no reason to believe that most, if not all, states won’t pass statutes to preserve the status quo.

In short, even if a repeal of the 17th Amendment was probable (which it isn’t), it isn’t likely to even change anything. It’s nice to theorize about rolling it back, but taking a hard-line policy position on it as a candidate amounts to so much grandstanding.

Sam, It's Time to Get Down to Brass Tacks


I spend a considerable amount of time each election cycle researching candidates to figure out who would best represent me. I can usually find a wealth of information on most candiates, but there are a few who are information black holes. There’s no campaign literature, no website, and no time taken to respond to questions mailed from the major papers. It’s almost like they didn’t really want to run in the first place.

I’m finding that the current lead for US Senate from the Democrats, Sam Granato, has taken frustrating to an entirely brand new level. Despite dozens of YouTube videos and considerable press releases, I couldn’t name even three positions he holds. He hasn’t even bothered to put up a basic website on his domain, having left it parked at GoDaddy for months. The only thing we’re getting is a big pile of empty fluff, meaningless platitudes with no position statements. Worse yet, complaining about the problem only gets a snide remark that you should get behind the horse without knowing what you’re getting into.

C’mon, Sam. Running an “I Like Ike” type of campaign is insulting our intelligence. Take the whole 30 minutes to grab a free copy of WordPress with some cheap hosting and put up some campaign planks. Or nab a free account from Blogger and redirect your domain. Stop acting like you’re entitled to our support because Shurtleff is loony, Bennett is out-of-touch, and nobody else has stepped forward.

The GOP's Senate Nomination Hijinks (or, Mark Shurtleff Learned to Speak Crazy)


As Attorney General, I think Mark Shurtleff has done an exemplary job. In fact, the only blunder of his I can see is failing to take action against Free “Capitalist” Rick Koerber based on evidence collected against him by the Department of Commerce. Unfortunately, this experience as a legal eagle hasn’t translated well into running for other elective office. In fact, his actions make him look like a political novice rather than a seasoned vet.

Honestly, Shurtleff’s actions smell a bit too much like pandering. He’s managed to very quickly attach himself to the TEA Party crowd, popping off quotes from Ronald Reagan at every opportunity (the irony being that Reagan greatly increased the national debt, but I digress). He takes every opportunity to slam Sen. Bob Bennett, his incumbent opposition, at every turn even when his slams don’t make a lick of sense. The fervor is not unlike that of a new convert to a cause, but that’s don’t make it any less obnoxious or annoying.

It seems that this is a problem with all of the people vying for the Republican nomination. They’re all talking up how they’re the “real conservative” in the race (whatever that means) and denouncing Bob Bennett for, well, anything he does that isn’t conservative by their incredibly narrow definition. These same people would likely call me a liberal or socialist over a few points of minutiae despite that we likely agree on at least 90% of the issues. That small and loud group seeking to purge heresy from the party is a primary reason why the Republican Party is in as bad a shape as it is.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one wise to how loony this all sounds. I still think Bob Bennett is due for retirement from public office, but we sure can do a lot better than the current crop.

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