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Extreme Budgeting

By on Oct 25, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

Sam Granato, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat, calls Mike Lee’s 40 percent budget cuts “irresponsible.” In a statement released yesterday, Granato responded to the blog I posted Friday, reporting that Mike Lee suggested 40 percent cuts to the federal budget. Granato, not surprisingly, characterized the 40 percent as … wait for it … “exreme.” In fact, Granato uses the “E” word multiple times in the news release. “That would destroy the economy for generations to come,” Granato said. “It’s ridiculously irresponsible.” In an article today, The Trib has their own take on the story, which involves a bit of (surprising) back-pedaling from Lee’s camp. But it’s only retreating from the number, not the concept. Granato, as I fully expected when I wrote the post Friday, uses it for some serious fear-mongering about the “total shutdown” of the federal government. Kudos to him. Lee has done a good job keeping a low profile during this campaign, avoiding the kinds of gaffes that other tea-party backed candidates have suffered. But this 40 percent is specific enough to (possibly) make some moderates realize how conservative Lee may actually be once in office. It also gives something tangible and new for Granato to latch onto in the waning days. At the same time, I feel it only fair to both parties to clarify a few things. Almost all of this is actually in my original post, so it’s simply reinforcement with “dots,” as they say in The Wire: Lee said 40 percent, and the somewhat small (and worshipful) crowd loved it. In the Trib article, Lee’s campaign manager, Boyd Matheson, says Lee could have said any number and they would have liked it. True. But he said 40 percent. And for the record, Matheson was not at the town hall. Lee was not giddy about shutting down the government, as Granato suggests. He is giddy about forcing Obama to choose between a balanced budget or a shutdown of the government, in other words, the political fight. (The Trib gets this right). To see how well this strategy has worked before, look at 1995. Lee did say “across the board” cuts would be needed, with only a couple of budgets—most notably, Social Security and defense—spared the 40 percent ax. He also didn’t suggest “starting a dialogue,” as Matheson says. He told the crowd he wanted to do it in the next budget, and he thought he might have the conservative backing to pull it off. Lee did clarify to me on Friday that the 40 percent was an estimate, but he also said it was in the range of what would be needed. And he never disputed that he said the number, or that he regretted saying it. Finally, remember that this is if Congress balanced the federal budget. So Matheson is actually right when he says it’s “to start a dialogue,” because the federal budget won’t get balanced anytime soon. At the same time, the balanced budget is one of Lee’s pet issues, and he even wants a Constitutional amendment, which would sort of make it difficult to get cute with numbers. So when he says it would take 40 percent to do it, he is putting himself in a position of either saying “Hell, yeah!” to cutting 40 percent or saying, “Uhh… maybe not” to a balanced budget. The wiggle room is that he could propose it happen over five years, like England is doing, but that would still be 40...

Mike Lee’s Massive Budget Cut

By on Oct 22, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

During a town hall meeting/conservative rally in Orem last night, Mike Lee harped on a familiar theme—balancing the budget—but also threw out a number that he thinks would be required to make it happen in the first year. Forty percent. That’s right, 40 percent cuts to the federal budget, almost across the board. In fact, there are only a few areas that he would support being spared, most notably Social Security and the defense budget, which he would “economize.” All other departments, however, would have to slash, burn or whatever else it would take to make the cuts. The 40 percent estimate was part of an answer to a question about how Republicans will handle the expiring Bush tax cuts and the spiraling debt, should they take over Congress. The questioner, who Lee called “bishop,” suggested that the current Congress was setting up the Republicans for failure by making them decide between the tax cuts and passing a budget. Lee said he’d “call their bluff” by first passing the tax cuts and forcing President Obama to sign them or veto them. Then, pass a balanced budget, which “would require about a 40 percent cut,” and force Obama to either sign it or shutdown the government. The prospect of such a showdown between Obama and Republicans, in fact, made Lee “giddy.” When asked about it Friday afternoon, Lee said that Thursday night was the first time he’d used the 40 percent figure. It also seems that it is the first time that number has been thrown around nationally, as well, although Matt Kibbe, with the conservative group Freedom Works, suggested in an Oct. 18 Wall Street Journal article that 20 percent cuts would be beneficial. Lee said the 40 percent wasn’t set in stone, but merely an estimate. Furthermore, it would depend on many shifting factors, especially the economy. But it’s probably close to what would need to happen. “It’s an example of the kind of aggressive approach we’d have to take,” he said. During the Thursday night meeting, however, he said that he thought the new Congress would have the guts to take such drastic measures because of the influx of conservatives, especially in the Senate. That would happen, in large part, because the current moderate Republicans would shift to the right. Significant cuts to the federal budget have become a discussion topic for voters in the past few days, Lee said, because of the planned cuts in Britain. But even those are “only” 19 percent, and include significant rollbacks in military...

Realtors Move Capitol

By on Oct 18, 2010 in Politics | 0 comments

Apparently, the Utah State Capitol has been relocated to Red Butte Garden. A new mailer from the National Association of Realtors urging people to vote early has a panoramic shot of the relocated Utah State Capitol building. It’s a nice spot, I suspect, considering it is right at the foothills of some verdant green mountains. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but my best guess is the east side of Salt Lake County, likely near the U. campus. (For PDF of the flyer, click here). Certainly, I have never seen the view to the west of the Capitol in its current location. The current view — at least, before the building was moved — is of the western half of Salt Lake County. It’s a view that offers some of the best sunsets you’ll see in Northern Utah, when the giant globe of fire is sinking behind the Great Salt Lake. There’s also houses and refineries. If there are foothills to be found, they are almost always brown. Personally, I like the current location, as I think most Utahns do. But if the National Association of Realtors feels that it needs to be moved, well … they have a lot of power. So let it be...

Hop & Bop: Winter Now

By on Oct 17, 2010 in Featured, Food & Drink, Music | 0 comments

Hop Fall is in the air, but during the past week, it’s been winter in my pint glass. Last weekend, friends from Washington brought us a 24-pack of Deschutes Jubelale, one of my favorite Christmas beers. It’s pretty typical of the winter seasonals–in so much as it is Deschutes, one of the best microbreweries in the country–although less spicy than some of the bolder holiday recipes. Chocolate notes and roasted malts dominate the flavor pallet, with underlying hints of cloves, cinnamon and black licorice. All of the flavors are subtle, and the sweetness is not overwhelming. Yes, it’s a heavy beer, but during the winter months that’s what people like. This week, I’ve also sampled a couple of other winter beers. During a trip to the Bayou Monday, I ordered the McTarnahan’s porter without realizing it was the Hum’Bugr holiday porter. I’ve only had Mac’s brews a few times, and have generally been underwhelmed.  The Hum’Bugr is a good porter, with an upfront sweetness that is closer to a milk stout. It finishes smooth, with the roasted malt flavors and hints of coffee coating the tongue nicely. Overall, it’s not the best porter around, and as far as being a “holiday” beer, it’s really more of a cold-weather beer because it lacks the expected spiciness. Finally, at both The Beer Hive and Bayou the 2009 Anchor Christmas Ale is being sold at a reduced price ($3 and $4, respectively). This is also not overly spicy, although there are definite cinnamon and cloves flavor. It is a beer defined by deep, roasted malts, especially chocolate malts. It’s not especially sweet, although it does have a lingering sweetness in the finish. These beers are limited in stock, because both places are expecting a delivery of the 2010 Anchor Christmas Ale in the next couple of weeks. So get them while you can, especially at those prices. Bop The Yellowjackets, who played at the Sheraton Saturday night, is a quartet of two personalities. First, there is the smooth jazz side, heavy on the smooth, with sax, piano and keyboard. Then there is the funk-bop side, driven by the exceptional drumming and bouncing bass. Really, it’s the funk-bop side that made the show Saturday memorable. Drummer William Kennedy is a dervish who pounded out many insane rhythms when the songs seemed to be built for a steady back-beat. But in every case, those rhythms elevated the songs and kept the band safely out of Kenny G territory. And really, this band bordered on sappy-smooth a lot of the time. More than once, the songs had my mind crafting the opening scene of a 1980s/90s love story in New York City. You know, panoramic shots of Manhattan zooming into street shots, where crowds of people are going every direction. Music that tells the viewer that the movie is going to be a little bit heartbreaking, somewhat sad, but in the end, everything will be fine. Overall, this isn’t a band I will ever seek out, live or on CD. But if I happen to see them again, I certainly wouldn’t be...

Six Pack on the Dashboard: 10/8

By on Oct 7, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

Above the Fold Ale: It’s the next big scandal to rock the gubernatorial race: Tailgate-Gate!— Yesterday, I rode to the gubernatorial debate at Utah Valley University with Peter Corroon’s campaign manager and future Utah governor, Donald Dunn, because I was scheduled to ride back with Corroon to interview him for our election previews. At Point of the Mountain, a Suburban came up on us in the HOV lane fast and, like a good Utah driver, rode our asses for a minute or two. As Dunn pointed out to me that it was Gov. Gary Herbert’s security detail, the Suburban whipped past us by crossing the double lines of the HOV lane. As they did this, I offered to flip the governor off, but Dunn declined. (For the record, that’s not a personal attack against Herbert, and I would flip off Corroon if Herbert’s people asked me). We did, however, keep the governor’s vehicle in sight (although we stayed, properly, in the HOV lane) until they exited at 800 South in Orem. I found this whole event funny, and tweeted it. However, since I don’t have a smart phone to monitor Twitter — I tweet remotely using a text message, very 2008 — I had no idea that my smart-ass little tweet caused a minor tweetstorm. The tweet went mildly viral, with a few of my Twitter followers commenting that this was further proof of Herbert’s arrogance. Even better, it apparently prompted a series of discussions among Herbert’s people, and an eventual clarification for me that, actually, the governor’s security detail are law enforcement and the double-line law (and other traffic laws) don’t apply to them. There may have also been another car that the detail was trying to shake, and that when they blew past us they had no idea who was in the car. Fine, good, thanks. Detail didn’t break any laws, and may have been protecting the governor. I understand that they have a job to do. However, I also stand by what I saw first-hand: The governor’s Suburban was being driven like basically every other Suburban in the state, loaded with people and driving like they are about to miss the Second Coming. What disappoints me is that people didn’t actually seem to seize much on my other tweets, which primarily focused on the bizarre fact the coffee is essentially a forbidden substance at UVU. Nobody in the student center — you know, where students hang out, eat, drink and so forth — actually serves coffee. (The 7-11 style espresso machine in Scoops N’ More doesn’t count.) That required a short hike to the library for a “Starbucks,” which was actually a combo deli/rice bowl/smoothie place that had self-serve Starbucks coffee. They also had a push-button espresso machine, but the only thing I saw people getting from that was the Only in Utah “Strawberry Steamer,” which is strawberry syrup and steamed milk. It’s the new Ovaltine, apparently. My point? I used to tell people to never go to Utah County without a flask of whiskey. But, the warning is now even more dire: Never, ever go to Utah County without caffeine, and try to avoid the governor’s security detail. Or better yet, all Suburbans. Political Pocket Rockets: Ahh, the debate. I actually had a whole post worked up in my head with an analysis of the debate, but that isn’t as fun. Here’s my semi-short analysis: Herbert did better controlling his temper (no slapping his knee or punching Rod Decker in the nose). He’s also building his entire campaign around his successes, which is probably smart unless voters actually start asking him what he is going to do, not what he has done. Corroon continues to hammer at the I-15 thing, and it has traction. But … he runs the risk of becoming a one-note candidate that grinds on people. He told me that he would love to talk about all of his plans, but people only ask about the campaign finance stuff. Well, why not put a campaign finance reform plan on your website, and emphasize there’s many other plans? Corroon has won a couple of rounds, but is still a ways behind. He needs something else to push into the single-digit range. Also, it was a college-centric crowd today, but the candidates barely focused on college issues, even with many questions about tuition increases. Those were simply reasons to talk about education generally. Also, neither candidate ever addressed things important to 20-somethings. Bonus Rockets: Mike Lee gets $$$ from Sen. Jim DeMint. Anonymous Republicans attack Herbert, plus Jason Williams take on The Side Track blog. James Evans escapes 2004, sues Batman and Robin (or, depending on your political perspective, Penguin and The Joker). Breaking: Matheson safe. Utah Beer: FLDS continue to flail away. NW Quadrant/Pleasantville continues to seem like a bad idea. Summit Co. sheriff’s race getting nasty. Leisure Time Lager: The U.S. Supreme Court tries to find a way, any way, to shut down the Westboro Loony Bin. Josh’s Java: Roy Halladay is a bad mofo. Also, go Giants! Weekly Weizen: Open Container has a new civility policy. Utah’s king of music parodies. The Devil Makes Three. The Six Pack on the Dashboard update is published most weekdays. To subscribe to an e-mail version, send a message to josh@joshloftin.com or tweet me @joshloftin. For an RSS feed of the Open Container and all...

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