Category Archives: the circus

my musings, rants and impressions of what we currently call politics with a particular slant toward the local fiasco in utah.


The big glaring sign attached to the shelf read:


I used to pay $7.49 for the coffee in question. Now it’s been marked down to…$9.99.

I guess saying it makes it so.


just sayin’…

“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary. And, that’s crazy. Do you think the millionaire ‘ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less?”

Ronald Wilson Reagan
6 June 1985
Northside High School, Atlanta, GA

pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

For a brief moment in time, it actually seemed like we were making progress in Utah where booze is concerned. In 2009 we got actual bars! Real, honest to goodness bars where you didn’t have to buy some weird annual or temporary membership to order a drink. It’s true that liquor is still limited to a 1 oz shot and wine to a 6 oz pour, but still…A BAR! And Jesus didn’t come down and smite us or anything, so yes, I considered this real progress.

Then Jon Huntsman had to run off to the far east to do the bidding for that Muslim guy from Kenya, and it all went to shit. The Legislature, left to their own devices by the new real estate agent turned governor, and guided by the “correct” Jesus decided we needed to reign in such unabashed sinning. Enter the return of the “Zion Curtain.” Basically, any new restaurant that opens with a liquor license (which are in short supply anyway…unless you happen to be opening a restaurant at the LDS Church owned “One True Mall”) must shield from view the area where drinks are actually poured or mixed. Most accomplish this with an opaque wall to protect innocent children and teetotalers from seeing ACTUAL ALCOHOL POURED INTO A GLASS! The horror! People sinning right before our eyes!

It’s almost laughable if it weren’t so bad for the prospects of business expansion in the state. Some chains begrudgingly go along. The Cheesecake Factory will open with it’s traditional centerpiece bar, but will stock it with unopened liquor bottles. So, diners and children will see the liquor; they just won’t see it poured.

Now comes the next phase of the Zion Curtain as a result of two bills passed in the last session. Beer only eateries (so, think of a pub that serves beer, but no wine or liquor…and 3.2% beer at that!) opening after March 2012 must employ the Curtain to hide the taps or even beer bottles being uncapped. Seriously, I’m not making this shit up. The requirement has already resulted in two chains putting expansion plans in Utah on hold in favor of new locations in Colorado and Montana. So much for the business friendly Utah Legislature, huh?

Now, the kicker. None of the legislators responsible for pushing and passing these bills knows why beer only establishments are included. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Senate President Michael Waddoups doesn’t know who included this provision or why. Comforting that he’s referring to legislation he voted in favor of passing.

I suppose since none of them seem to know why this provision in the law was included, we must assume it’s…a miracle. Jesus snuck it in there.


Does anyone else remember what an insult it was to “stick your butt out” at someone on the playground? I think Orrin Hatch does.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported on a group of DREAM Act supporters who tried to get ol’ Orrin’s ear at a recent open house he held. He wouldn’t see them, of course, and made sure there were plenty of police to keep things under control. Nevermind that Hatch introduced the DREAM Act legislation 10 years ago. This was when he was “for” it. Now he’s “against” it. Or, at least he wants it to appear that way through his re-election bid. Gotta keep the extreme base happy, after all.

What fascinates me more than Hatch’s lack of support for a bill he proposed is the recent exchange between him and Rep. Jason Chaffetz over immigration issues. Chaffetz is considered a likely challenger to Hatch in the 2012 election, although he hasn’t formerly declared it. Speaking about Hatch and immigration, Chaffetz said, “Look at the DREAM Act. I mean, he sponsored it. Then he said he wasn’t going to support it. Then it came up for a vote, and he missed the vote. So everybody’s offended.”

Now, here’s where Hatch responds with a logical defense of his changed position. A laundry list of his accomplishments and sponsored bills dealing with our immigration problem, right? Hatch responded, “I was fixing the border before he was ever elected.”

Right on, Orrin..wait. What? Really? In response to a perfectly legitimate point about his position on immigration, Hatch is going to pull out the ol’ Jack Palance “I shit bigger than Billy Crystal” line? The man who campaigned on and won his seat with “Time to send grandpa home” (referring to Frank Moss’ 18 year stint in the Senate) is really going to point out he’s old and crusty and has been around a long time?

Incidentally, I’m not sure what Hatch has been doing to fix the border, but as far as I can tell…it’s not working.

I can’t wait until next week when, in response to a question about his votes on fiscal policy, Hatch will pants Chaffetz in the Capitol Rotunda.

warm and fuzzy

At the most recent general conference of the LDS church, its leaders announced a drastic change with regard to student and young single adult (YSA) wards. Essentially any student wards not associated with an actual college campus (such as those at BYU) are to be dissolved along with all the current “singles” wards. These will be combined into new YSA wards that include both student and non-student singles. In UT, the 120 or so wards will be organized into new YSA stakes.

This is an effort to stem the loss of young members as they “ward hop” looking for a ward they like. In actuality (and this is from personal experience), most young adults do this in order to avoid callings and accountability. Ward hopping allows one the flexibility of attending church when he or she feels like it. As a result, they get to see how nice it is to avoid the drudgery and go inactive. The LDS church is hoping to stop that.

LDS apostle M. Russell Ballard recently spoke to a conference of young single adults about the change, telling them: “You have no option to bounce around. We know where you are. We’ve got our radar focused on you.”

Wow, what better way to truly feel like church attendance is of your own free will as an adult than to be told by some old white guy that you’re being watched?

it’s all jiggly

I was going to rant a little more about our liquor store situation, but decided since it’s Friday to save my breath. Instead, here is a letter I wrote to the Trib that didn’t get published:

Senate leader Michael Waddoups responded to the recent outcry against the potential closure of nine state liquor stores by pointing out the DABC is not being treated any differently than other state agencies with regard to budget cuts. As Waddoups put it: “They are not the favored stepchild.”

Waddoups’ equal treatment for all state agencies might be a valid approach if it weren’t for the fact the DABC is not like all other state agencies. I’m hard pressed to identify any agencies other than taxing authorities that generate profits of over $100 Million per year for the state. Treating this profit center the same as social and public service agencies makes about as much sense as comparing lime Jell-O with carrots to lime Jell-O without. I’m sure Waddoups would agree that is just plain ludicrous.

two for me, none for you

I suppose it’s no surprise that Utah politics mirror those at the national level. A lot of posturing and hot air to cover up the fact that our elected officials aren’t really doing anything to govern. Instead, they’re doing everything to protect their own interests and make things easier on themselves, their families and their friends.

Case in point from the 2011 Utah legislative session: healthcare for legislators. Utah legislators serve part time. During the year they meet for a 45 day scheduled session, as well as several special sessions during the rest of the year. When away from session they still have to deal with constituents, meetings, etc. I don’t know how much time our legislators actually spend working on the peoples’ business, but I’m going to be generous and say it’s 1040 hours per year, which is what a half time worker spends on the job. For their service, representatives and senators are paid between $15,000 and $35,000, which includes a per diem during sessions, as well as taxpayer funded healthcare. After 10 years of service (5 terms for representatives and 2.5 terms for senators) legislators and their spouses (excluding partners of GLBT legislators) receive taxpayer funded healthcare for life. Yes, you read that correctly; after 10 years of part time service, these folks and their husbands/wives get free healthcare for life.

Contrast that to  workers in the state liquor agency stores who can make as little as $18,000 working full time (most work part time and make much less) and need to complete 30 years of service to secure healthcare benefits in retirement and it becomes clear who our elected officials are looking out for.

Representative John Dougall, R-Highland took issue with this perk (or is it pork) when he included provisions in HB 331 to end 100% taxpayer funded healthcare for legislators. The bill proposed that legislators who retire before 2013 would receive the benefit; legislators retiring after 2013 would not. The bill passed committee and passed a vote on the House floor; however, it didn’t make it out of committee in the Senate and died. This “just for show” vote on the House floor should be a wake up call to all voters in Utah.

It’s clear our legislators are protecting their own interests while they ignore the needs of the “commoners” in our state by adding to the unemployment rolls and refusing federal unemployment extension funds in order to “motivate people to get back to work.”