Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How We Got Into This Mess.

The temptation to comment on World and National affairs is usually avoided here, as many other blogs are far more profound in their discussion of such issues. But the President's speech last night has made comment about the Iraq war, at the very least, created a need for a venting chamber before we all explode here at The Bar.

History, provided that it has a command on observable fact unlike the news media, will likely depict the Iraq War as a high-minded experiment that was always doomed by the insularity of its makers. Back in the giddy 90's an outfit called the Project for the New American Century had a grand idea - establish what is essentially a powerful American protectorate in the Middle East to keep MidEastern countries in line, ensure a dependable flow of crude, keep China from expanding its sphere of influence into South Asia, and give American business a century's worth of new contracts. It's easy to paint the architects of the war as amoral corporate plunderers but these folks most likely have convinced themselves that their actions will benefit mankind and offer economic prosperity as a byproduct. Like most great ideas, however, the plan to invade Iraq would ultimately wither under scrutiny (before its implementation), especially under that of the American public, which, inconveniently, elect the leaders who have command of the country's military. It's probably clear where I'm going with this and the baiting-and-switching of the American public will be relegated to an evil action committed by evil people. But just like how calling the terrorists "evil" is stupid and inneffective in understanding and thus, dealing with the terrorist threat, so is affixing the evil label to Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the PNAC crew. No, their actions in their eyes are morally defensible when undergirded by the right philosophy, in this case, the philosophy of Leo Strauss. The Straussian justification goes like this: most human beings, of which the American public is made up of, are weak. Too weak, in fact, to weigh the pros and cons of truly important matters like war. Therefore, their intellectual superiors must take it upon themselves to be the stewards of big-deal decision-making. If such decisions were left to Joe Citizen, he would most likely be blind to the nation's best interest and protect his own personal interest. That is why, before the war, Wolfowitz cited the WMD justification as the reason "we all could agree on." How could Joe Citizen oppose the war if his own survival was at stake?

In case you didn't notice, we just took a pretty funky route to arrive at our conclusion that the Iraq war is a good thing. Had our leaders had the benefit of peer review, we would have discovered that the insurgency would have the vigor to take out 1700 troops and counting, that oil revenues would not cover the costs of war, and that invading a sovereign MidEastern country and killing its innocent citizens would inflame Muslim public opinion and put the terrorist-making machine in overdrive. And, as a result, those of us who didn't get to make the decision to go to war will pay dearly.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Big shoes to fill.

How intriguing it was to see a headline about a Rocky-anointed successor. But Keith Christensen? I'll withhold comment until it's more clear what a Christensen Administration would look like. Also, at the risk of sounding like a tokenist, isn't about time that we had a female or minority (or both) Mayor?

The other prospects are less than exciting. Dave Buhler, Nancy Saxton? Another run by Frank Pignanelli? I know it may seem like Rocky's heart is in another place, but I don't see anyone worth taking the reigns yet.

Is there anybody out there?

Found this recently, the closest thing to a Utah blog I've found.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Take a Number, NSL

Davis County has no shortage of anti-Rocky shills, and Kay Briggs is no exception. But seriously, does he really think that the Mayor intends to do something with this parcel other than preserve it as open space? I mean this is Rocky, the most unabashed environmentalist - and therefore anti-family - figure in the state.

As with anything that has to do with Rocky but is none of the state's business, expect some sort of legislative intervention with this.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Props to Pandagon's observations on how Dems treat their young. I don't think that aspiring liberals necessarily expect walk-in closets and fitness centers, but some curbing of the begrudging attitude that established Dems often have when encountering fresh-faced world-changers would definitely be worth its weight in gold. I remember asking Donald Dunn about getting involved at a community event once and you woulda thought I was asking to borrow rent money or something. All I got was some half-hearted drivel about the difference between the Young Democrats and the Young Professional Democrats and a increasingly rapid pace (we were walking together at the time). Maybe their going for the "I'm too cool" strategy, like they're the velvet ropers at some new club.

Allow me to attempt a correlation here. The reason why folks like Howard Dean and Rocky Anderson are so popular among younger voters is because they embody inclusion, unpretentiousness, and open contempt for power-drunk conservatism. And guess what, you can actually go up to Rocky in the grocery store and shoot the breeze - no glances at the wristwatch, no canned talking points, no "this org does that, talk to them" - just a real guy talking about his real ideas and his real convictions. Believe me, I've done it and it was like 11 at night and he was buying detergent (he uses Tide with Bleach). I've attempted the same thing with Ralph Becker and I'll just say that it wasn't the same type of experience (I even dropped some names, but to no avail).

Establishment Dems, both National and State, would have us believe that Dean and Rocky are to be placed on the backshelf as political abberrations and not out on display. Do that and you'll be playing Republican Lite forever. When Frank Pignanelli says that the Democrats only option is to kowtow to Mormon sensibilities, he's saying that we should ignore the undercurrents of young and disenfranchised who make up like 40% of the population and are growing, growing, growing. Do you know how many people I know that cast their first vote ever cast it for Rocky? Do you know how many people live in apartment buildings and Sugarhouse bungalows and don't vote because they are so far removed from political goings-on that emulate the wispy Pignanelli strategies? People are angry here. They are sick of not being able to buy a bottle of wine on Sundays, they are sick of being told that they are not moral people, they are sick of "message" bills, they are sick of sales tax on food, they are sick of resources going to Eagle Mountain over Salt Lake City, they are sick of it all. Tap into this anger, man, and you've got a formidable political force. You'll knock the shit out of whackos like Chris Buttars and Gayle Ruzicka and faint-hearts like Dave Buhler and Pignanelli. We'll have something that resembles a two-party system here. We'll get real bills passed in the Lege and not waste our time on another unconstitutional abortion bill or porn czar. But if people like Pignanelli have their way, we will continue to evolve into the Party of Crazy-lite.

Alco-Steria!

"We feel that if we don't prohibit alcohol and close businesses on Sunday, it will harm our community. It will bring in more crime, more automobile accidents, more accidental injuries, more damage to property, more problems with our teenagers, because they're a high-risk population, and so we don't want to bring all those problems in."

And so goes the debate in Draper, Highland, Alpine, Cedar Hills, or wherever this is happening in the Ruzicka-belt.

What He Said

It seems that Utah's chief busybody, Gayle Ruzicka, is no longer satisfied with snooping into people's lives and pronouncing judgment on them. Now she claims the godlike power to decree reality, without bothering with that troublesome process of examining facts and making a logical interpretation of them, the process known as science. Gayle Ruzicka is so certain of her infallible insight that she demands it be taught to all public school children in the state and represented as science. For those of us who are not convinced that Gayle Ruzicka is the final authority on all matters legal, moral, religious and scientific, Utah's world-renowned fossils and blatantly obvious stratigraphy offer proof that life has changed over time, and that earlier life forms were strange and simple, gradually changing into the familiar, complex forms of the present day. Gayle Ruzicka and her minions would have us believe that Utah's fossils and landscapes are all part of an elaborate ruse perpetrated by God, just to test our faith in - Gayle Ruzicka and her minions. It is time for Utahns to stop paying attention to Gayle Ruzicka, and stop satisfying her lust for power over us.

Mark Novak
Salt Lake City

The Small Government Party

Remember the Republican Country Club that was Salt Lake County? A Grand Old Place for the people of the Grand Old Party where you always had a new SUV with a full tank and cushy jobs for you and your buddies, all paid for by Salt Lake County taxpayers? Unfortunately, Salt Lake County voters threw these guys out on their asses. What is a useless Republican flunkie like Greg Curtis supposed to do now? Well, when it comes to taxpayer dollars, Curtis always remembers to share the wealth. With his fellow Republican insiders, that is.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Dick the Cock, Chickenland's Happiest Rooster; A Children's Book

Feel-good legislation, especially that involving sex or porn, usually makes for bad public policy. Such is the case here, where the net is so big that artists, bookstores, and people who live in a post-Victorian society may be casualties in this State's War on Naughtiness. Everyone agrees that little kids shouldn't have ready access to Tracy Lord's nether regions, but seriously, are we doing this to protect the children or to demonstrate our righteousness to ourselves? And for a place where the marketplace ostensibly is king, don't ISP's have enough of an incentive to block images from the frenzied porn-crusading citizenry? Do you really think Eddie Elder's Quorum President or Ruth Ann Relief Society 2nd Counselor would hesitate to cut off an ISP that let their zitty-faced children look at zitless people with their clothes off (or people with their clothes off at zit-fetish sites)? Parents have plenty of constitutional tools already that will let them think that their kids don't look at or don't want to look at porn.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Surprise! Middle Class Folks Don't Want New Taxes.

A D-News poll finds that Utahns strongly oppose a new sales tax for services like health care, attorneys, and haircuts, so I guess we're going to have to wait for another dumb idea to offset a proposed phase-out of the gargantuan 5% corporate income tax. Meanwhile, Utahns overwhelmingly want the elimination of sales tax on unprepared food. I guess Corporations can't get a break (except for the gigantic ones in the Federal tax structure).

Buttar-Churning Windmills

Judging from today's public forum at the Trib, it does not look like Chris Buttars is getting any takers in his quixotic attempt to get Utahns to attach themselves to Kansas' laughingstock. Unfortunately for Buttars, we have a relatively high percentage of college grads here that do not jerk their knees against science and the hypothetical process. Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not lie in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Church, which means that for now, such as when we beat Mississippi in per-pupil funding, Utah will not be dead last in political credibility.

Jane Marquardt, We Hardly Knew Ye

So, it does not look like we're going to get our first lesbian City Councilor. That's too bad, because the 3rd council district (Aves, Capitol Hill) could use a lesbian City Councilor. You see, lesbians(and gay men) in the 3rd council district (and in other neighborhoods) could really use someone other than male, white, Mormon folks to represent them, and judging by Eric Jergensen's squeamishness to naughty words, it would seem that white, male, mormons probably do not value the same things that people who choose to live in Salt Lake City proper do.

But I can understand Jane's reluctance to put herself in the public eye. Who wants to become the lesbian City Councilor so that Heather May can write stupid drivel about the "unspoken lesbian/non-lesbian divide?" Who wants to take their happy, family-and-friend-filled lives only to have them shot down by Gayle Ruzicka's ignoramus-ray? Who wants to push for landscaped traffic medians only to have people question in their minds why lesbians are so fascinated with earthy causes like flora-laden roadways?

I wonder if Jane's decision-making process went a little like this: "Would I do more good in the world if I was a devoted companion and mother or if I was a novelty-freak that provided rhetorical fodder for Ruzicka and Chris Buttars?" Rather than steal thunder from Buttars' crusade against the evil science-teacher agenda, she probably opted for the family gal life. That's too bad, because I have heard that Jane's a warm, intelligent person who has alot to offer her community. Unfortunately, the current state of gay-plague hysteria will limit what she has to offer the world to her immediate family. Eric Jergensen will continue to amplify his role as Elder's Quorum President and be the best Salt Lake City Councilor that Davis County ever had.