Sunday, December 09, 2007

From the City Weekley

By UtahLiberator 12-06-07

Mike Rigidway is as offensive an individual as you will ever hope to meet. He is deliberately contrarian and so monomaniacally self-centered that you register on his radar only as ears. Ears to hear his obsessive/compulsive rants about "How are you today?" or "How's the weather?"

Mike does not speak except to continually praise his own perspective by diagnosing and analyzing his own perspective. You are ears and should be grateful to be in His presence. The problem with ideologues is that they are ultimately boring. Politics is people. Nutjobs like Rigidway don't even care if his petty tirades disrupt the natural flow of political discourse. He is a statue of congratulatory self-righteousness; a never-moving traffic stop.

He has no regard for anyone else. Basically, he has absolutely no understanding of politics. None whatsoever. He delights in being an impediment when progress is required. He gleefully obstructs the course of human events.If you have foolishly given him your home number, he may deign to call you at 3:00 AM, that you may glory in wonder at the glory of his thinking on whatever. Resistance is futile. I am the Bored. Mike has an unnatural focus on himself. The ever-corrupt Utah GOP, however, is justified in banning him. The party is a political body, Mike is an Ayatollah-wannabe. He's about as willing to negotiate, recognize that others might have a point or stake on an outcome as your average shark. Rigidway is an American Taliban.

I have no idea who Towner is but I can tell that in this duel, he, like all of us, is/are the offended party. If you read Ms. Biele's article you may discern that even she, the objective goddess, has problems with Imam Mike, pboh.

Some people advance principles by speaking forcefully for them. Rigidway offends by speaking selfishly about them. I don't care how big an arse Towner is, he's a better human being than his logorrhea-prone nemesis.

If you agree with Mike's alleged principles, find another leader. Someone who gets every door slammed in his face is never going to be able to help you advance any cause.

For those who missed this the first time around

Politics | Party Crasher: Messy legal case and blogging blowback lead GOP activist to form a new political party

By Katharine Biele
Posted 11/22/2007

That big tent of the Republicans was just a little too roomy for Mark Towner, whose case against political pertinacity has brought him to the supreme courts of cyberspace and Utah. In that order.

Towner, once a Republican insider who made runs at political office, has big-time beefs with Mike Ridgway, a conservative GOP gadfly, gnat and general pain in many people’s asses. So big were those beefs that Towner charged Ridgway with stalking him and his family at an April 2006 Salt Lake County Republican convention. A 3rd District judge agreed to an injunction, but Ridgway has claimed infringement of his First Amendment rights, and so the issue now rests in Utah’s high court.

This might be one of the messiest cases in Utah history, what with all the difficult personalities, cutthroat politics, layers of legal charges and, yes, the Internet. But leave the mess to the courts.

Towner’s case is just one of many that Ridgway is battling, although, for Towner, it’s the culmination of his disdain for both the Republican Party in general and Ridgway specifically.

“My frustration has been with Ridgway and the lack of response from the Republican Party,” says Towner, who quit the party and his state committee positions after the convention. It’s what forced him to take legal action “against this guy for his behavior since 2000,” Towner says.

Ridgway is widely known for a sharp and tireless tongue that gets him into trouble. He has spent time in jail on trespassing charges. Some say he likes to butt bodies; others say he just likes to get in your face.

At any rate, Ridgway has his trespassing case pending in Sandy City Court, where his public defender tried her damnedest to get him to plead no contest and pay a $150 fine. But Ridgway saw this as a kind of Larry Craig trap. Called a diversion plea, it would keep him out of jail until he broke the law again—and Ridgway won’t agree that he broke the law and believes that his friends in the GOP hierarchy will call the cops every time they see him.

Well, for sure, Enid Greene would. And she used to be so trusting. In a witness statement from the trespass incident, she says she’s been “physically and verbally” confronted by Ridgway, and she attached an e-mail from him to the police report that she considers abusive.

It was from the Book of Mormon and includes this little passage: “And I will come unto you, and if there be any among you that has a desire for freedom, yea, if there be even a spark of freedom remaining, behold I will stir up insurrections among you, even until those who have desires to usurp power and authority shall become extinct.”

While Ridgway says he focused on the freedom aspect of the passage and how his GOP detractors were acting like “king-men” in their greed for power, Greene appeared focused on passages about smiting people down with a sword.

Now, the state Supreme Court gets to deal with Ridgway on the Towner issue. And it’s not just a matter of whether Ridgway’s been hiding in Towner’s bushes. The injunction makes reference to electronic media, which both Towner and Ridgway employ by way of blogs and e-mail.

Towner says one of the questions to be resolved is whether he is being cyberstalked. “[Ridgeway is] pretty competent on computers. I couldn’t even go on my computer without this guy harassing me, and I have been slandered all over the Internet—Facebook, YouTube—OK, I’ve got thick skin,” Towner says.

And he needs a thick hide. One blogger facetiously posts, “Mark Towner Has No Morals and Eats Kittens!” Another says he clubs baby seals. And others question whether he knows “blogger ethics.” Say what?

Sure, Towner is waiting for the court to rule, but he’s not twiddling his thumbs. He’s already registered a new political party name—the Unaffiliated Party of Utah—because he’s just fed up with political machines. He’s gathering signatures to try the political party route.

“I’ve been enough of an insider to see how it’s handled, and the system can be gamed,” he says.

On this alone, he and Ridgway agree.

Great Article from Reach Upward, Scott Hinrichs

Posted here on The Spyglass with permission

The Surge and Fall of GOP Presidential Candidates

The media is making a huge deal out of Mike Huckabee’s surge in Iowa, where recent polls have him usurping the lead Mitt Romney has maintained for months. The spin is that Romney’s support is slipping because Protestant leaning Iowans will as a matter of faith support Huckabee, an erstwhile Baptist minister, over Romney, an erstwhile Mormon bishop and stake president.

While I do not doubt that the religions of these two men play some role in how Iowans are choosing how they will vote in next month’s caucuses, I do not believe that this is the most significant factor. It makes for salacious press, but there’s a bigger, more mundane story to be told.

Romney chose early on to make Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — the early primary states — the focus of his campaign. This was arguably a very risky approach. This used to be the standard model to follow. Lesser known candidates could get some recognition and bounce out of good performances in early primary states. But that worked well when the primary cycle was drawn out over many months. People in later primary states often waited to make up their minds or even pay attention to the race until they saw how the early primaries went. Candidates that performed well in early primaries were able to raise money that allowed them to campaign in the next round of states.

In next year’s highly compressed primary season, it is questionable how well this approach will work. There simply isn’t much time to raise funds and build good campaigns in other states between the Iowa caucuses on January 3 and Giga-Tuesday (or whatever they’re now calling it) on February 5. Rudy Giuliani is betting that good performance in January is not essential to good performance in February. His efforts in early primary states have been meager. He has spent most of his capital in the big states that will be voting on February 5. This too is a gamble. How well this will work is anybody’s guess.

Romney has spent more money than any other GOP candidate so far. And he has spent much of it in the early primary states. His campaign has argued all along that he is low in the polls because people don’t know who he is. By now Iowans know Romney as well as they’re going to. He isn’t falling in the polls. He just hit a plateau a few weeks ago and he is holding steady. Huckabee’s surging support has come from the vast numbers of heretofore uncommitted Iowans. What this means is that Iowans know Romney, but a lot of them want something different.

As for national polls, Romney has been holding steady for a long time now. His campaign has been betting that he would surge dramatically following the early primaries. While this might have been a fool’s hope to begin with, even that hope will vanish if Romney doesn’t perform well in those early primaries. Despite his modest standing in the polls, Romney has made lots of news because he has a strong campaign machine that knows how to cater to (sometimes lazy) reporters.

Many conservatives have long suggested that Giuliani’s lead would diminish as people got closer to actually voting. The trend seems to be going that way. Fred Thompson isn’t doing any better than he was when he was still unannounced. John McCain has gone through ups and downs, but his polling numbers are also pretty much in a holding pattern. The lower tier candidates are muddling around in the single digits.

Ron Paul has raised eyebrows with his fundraising, but he seems incapable of drawing much support from likely GOP primary voters. There is some truth to his supporters’ claims that the polls are skewed because much of Paul’s support is coming from people newly registering as Republicans to vote for him, so that they are underrepresented in polling that focuses on traditional GOP primary voters. But even correcting for this would not significantly raise Paul in the polls. His support is deep, but not broad. And broad support is what will be needed to prevail in next year’s GOP primaries.

Huckabee has surged in polls nationwide, despite the fact that his fundraising and spending has been only a fraction of what other “top-tier” candidates have raised and spent. One critic said that Huckabee’s TV spots look like they were filmed with the family video camera in somebody’s garage. And his surge is not limited to religious folks. To me, Huckabee’s policies seem like a strange mixture of conservatism, classical liberalism, populism and socialism. But Huckabee has something going for him that Romney never seems have captured and that Giuliani seems to have somewhat lost.

Whatever his policies, Mike Huckabee comes across as hopeful and positive. He performs well in debates and in public appearances. People come away from such experiences with a generally good feeling about him. For all of his magnificent assets, Romney does not seem to be able to accomplish this feat. Giuliani sometimes seems to exude positiveness, but he has seemed much less able to do so in recent weeks as he has engaged in a round of Mitt bashing. Romney goaded Giuliani into this, and Giuliani reacted. Some people have been turned off. While both Mitt and Rudy are using these tactics to distinguish themselves in the minds of voters, they have succeeded in allowing Huckabee to distinguish himself as the positive optimist among the GOP hoard of presidential candidates.

But don’t expect Huckabee’s surge to go unchallenged. As Byron York notes in this NRO article, Huckabee has his own Willie Horton problem, and it’s worse than Mitt’s. While the story hasn’t hit the national media circuit yet, don’t expect Huckabee’s challengers to leave it that way. This isn’t the only glop of mud they will sling at him. Even his name could be a challenge. As one acquaintance tells me, he can’t keep from giggling if he says “President Huckabee” out loud.

In the meantime, Romney has become convinced that too many GOP voters are holding his religion against him. He has decided to issue a major speech tomorrow morning on the role of faith in America. No doubt it will be a great speech. But that won’t stop it from being, as Jonah Goldberg suggests (here), a farce of JFK’s hallmark speech on religion and politics. Here again, Romney is attempting to achieve some positive product differentiation. He’s likely to achieve product differentiation, but I doubt it will work out in the way he wants.

We’re down to squeeze time now. The Iowa caucuses are 29 days away. Giga-Tuesday is less than a month after that. We will probably know by the time we go to bed on February 5 who the Democratic presidential nominee will be, but we may not know even by the next morning who the GOP nominee will be. The GOP field is quite broad. There may be, as Michael Barone suggests, a brokered agreement within a few weeks after the bulk of the primaries are complete. The candidates know that even if they don’t manage to break out into a significant lead, any votes they get can be used as bargaining chips if negotiations become necessary.

Like many other GOP voters, I find myself uncommitted to any candidate at present. I see pluses and minuses to all of them. Many conservatives want to vote for the next Ronald Reagan. But none of the GOP candidates seem to be the next Reagan. Bill Bennett is fond of making the salient point that at this time in the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan didn’t look like the next Ronald Reagan either. He grew into that as time went on.

While there are plenty of dour-minded conservatives, many reject the Pat Robertson view that America is headed irretrievably down the tubes. Many still have a very positive view of America, and they want leaders that reflect that attitude. Right now, Mike Huckabee seems to exhibit this kind of optimism. The other GOP candidates; not so much. Of course, things can change quickly in the current political climate. We’ll simply have to wait and see what develops over the next few weeks.

Can Oprah's Q carry Obama over Clinton?

Obama Headlines Chi-town

Posted: 08 Dec 2007 10:08 AM CST

CHICAGO -- Before hitting the trail today with Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama celebrated a hometown send-off of sorts at the city's historic -- and aging -- Riviera Theater last night. With tickets...

Where is the GOP Candidate?

The GOP Race is Still Up for Grabs

Posted: 09 Dec 2007 12:53 AM CST

The most intriguing aspect of the Republicans' road to the nomination for president is its unpredictability. It's a buckle-up race that won't be decided early or easy. About the only thing for...

Hillary Needs to Address the Attacks on Women

Hillary Needs to Address the Bill Issue

Posted: 09 Dec 2007 12:45 AM CST

The clearest account of what Bill Clinton would do in a future Democratic administration comes from Barack Obama, who told Time magazine that he would "in a second" offer the former president a job...

How about we just leave it in the dustbin?

Getting Past 'No Child'

Posted: 09 Dec 2007 12:41 AM CST

No Child Left Behind, supposedly an antidote to the "soft bigotry of low expectations," has instead spawned lowered standards. The law will eventually be reauthorized because doubling down on losing...

I Love you Mitt, but dude you got some splaining to do

Romney Makes It Hard to Trust Him

Posted: 09 Dec 2007 12:37 AM CST

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is in the weeds due to an overabundance of fertilizer, and it's giving his opponents - who aren't exactly showering him with rose petals, as it is - the chance to...

Romney Flunks Seminary

Romney Flunks a Religious Test

Posted: 09 Dec 2007 12:31 AM CST

Mitt Romney is worried about religious intolerance. He fears religious and nonreligious people will unite to punish him because of his Mormon faith. He thinks it would be much more in keeping with...

Will this kill Romney's Campaign?

Romney: Like Father, Like Son

Posted: 09 Dec 2007 12:30 AM CST

Forty-two years ago, when he was preparing to run for president, George Romney, the Republican governor of Michigan, told reporter Wallace Turner of the New York Times, "I am completely the product...

Rabbi's, Romney and the 'Golden Rule'

Sunday, December 09, 2007


"Get me my brother’s speech," Sen. Edward Kennedy said to me on the fall day in 1980 when I told him that the then-Cardinal in Boston was taking to his pulpit, and instructing the priests within his jurisdiction to do so, to tell their parishioners to vote against our friend Rep. Barney Frank because of his support for abortion rights.

I paused, if only for a minute. He had two famous brothers, who had given a lot of famous speeches. But given the context, the brother and the speech was pretty obvious: it had to be JFK's Houston Ministries speech-- the one where he so famously addressed the objections to a Catholic in the White House by affirming his belief in an America in which no Catholic priest and no Protestant minister and no Jewish rabbi ever tells his parishioners how to vote.

I found the speech, and drafted a statement about the need for separation between church and state, for the Church to stay out of the business of telling believers how to do their politics.

But even as I did, I knew it was a little more complicated than I was trying to make it seem. It was only the preceding spring, during the heat of Sen. Kennedy’s primary challenge to then-President Carter, that I had found myself on the ground in New Jersey, trying to figure out how to get Jews to vote for Kennedy.

The problem was that most of the leaders of the Jewish community, the civic leaders that is, were already with Carter by the time I got there, even though our polling told us that Jewish voters overwhelmingly favored Kennedy. But how would I get them to vote in a primary that many people considered irrelevant, given that Carter was all but assured of the votes he needed for the nomination?

That’s when I came up with my “rabbis strategy.” They might have the Federation crowd, but the rabbis were up for grabs. I didn’t need them to endorse Kennedy per se, which I knew many would be uncomfortable doing, at least from the pulpit on the Sabbath before the election; all I needed them to do was give sermons about the importance of voting.

No one has ever courted rabbis as assiduously as I did. I arranged a special reception for them, and their wives, with Senator and Mrs. Kennedy; I arranged VIP seating for them at a speech at the local temple; I put them on call lists for personal attention.

Every week before the election, I took long ads in the Jewish newspapers, quoting prominent rabbis on the Jewish tradition of civic engagement. “Jews read,” I remember explaining to my friends John Sasso and Jack Corrigan, who were doing New Jersey with me, and used to check in with me regularly about how I was doing with my rabbis.

Did I mention that we won New Jersey soundly, with a major turnout, and margin, in the Jewish community? Or that the Carter campaign later borrowed me to send me to Miami, in the hopes that I could work some of the same magic in Jewish-heavy Dade County? Rabbis stay out of politics? Not on my watch.

Of course, I was hardly the first to tap into the potential of religious leaders to influence politics. The civil rights movement in this country was based, in not insignificant part, in churches, black and white. Religious leaders had been deeply involved in the anti-war movement in the 1970's; churches have long served as sanctuaries for individuals seeking asylum; temples regularly offer up forums on the impact of upcoming elections on Israel’s security.

In my own experience, I’ll never forget the sight of every church bus in the state of Iowa on the cold and snowy roads that February in 1988 when Ralph Reed succeeded in organizing evangelicals into a political force; every church in the state, literally, scheduled suppers for caucus night, and all the voters then got on the waiting buses-- in the process giving birth to the “Christian Coalition” that allowed Pat Robertson to score a surprising second place finish ahead of the first George Bush.

I’m scheduled to speak next week at a major Convention of Reform Jews on the possible impact of the next election on issues before the United States Supreme Court, in the hopes of encouraging more congregations and Jewish organizations to involve themselves in forthcoming judicial nomination issues.

When Mitt Romney, his numbers falling in Iowa, pledges to keep his Mormonism out of the White House, of course he doesn’t really mean that. I have no doubt that his faith, like mine, plays an important part in his decision to devote his professional energies to the business of politics, as well as to the positions he takes and the values he holds dear.

Being Jewish isn’t irrelevant to my politics, and its influence certainly isn’t limited to where I stand on issues relating to the Middle East. My commitments to social justice and equality, my progressive values, my concern for the disadvantaged and the victims of discrimination, all find their routes in the lessons I learned as a child at Temple Israel in Swampscott, and in the family and tradition in which I was raised.

I’ll never forget my mother’s first words, upon hearing that John F. Kennedy had been shot. “Thank God it wasn’t a Jew.”

I understood.

It has always been a double-edged sword. I may not approach every issue, the way so many in the generation before me did, in terms of “what’s good for the Jews,” but I certainly bring my religious background to my politics and my religious loyalties to my judgments. So it can’t be right to say that religion is irrelevant to politics. Separation of church and state means that the government should not be picking and choosing among religions, should not be favoring the practice of religion over its rejection, should not be punishing non-believers, or making observance part of our civic culture.

But has there ever been a candidate who did not present himself, or herself, as a person of faith? Would we have confidence in them if they didn’t?

If they believed in a “religion” that many of us found offensive, can we really claim that it would have no bearing on our support of them?

The personal is political, and that applies to a person’s religion.

I was sitting at a dinner last year with some distinguished Southern Baptist educators, university leaders. I asked them if they would consider voting for Mitt Romney, expecting them either to say that they would, or at least that their reasons for saying "no" would have nothing to do with his Mormonism. There was a moment of silence, before one finally looked at me and said, quite simply, “No. He doesn’t believe in the Trinity.”

I did not point out what should have been obvious: neither do I. For me, at least, the only honest answer I can find is one that is, perhaps ironically, rooted in our religious tradition. It is the imperative of fairness, the mandate of consideration, the rule that we should treat others as we would have them treat us. It is because of my religion, in the end, that I think it is wrong to hold Mitt Romney’s against him.

It is not because religion has no place in politics, but because no message of the Judaeo-Christian tradition is stronger than the Golden Rule that I believe Gov. Romney should be judged based on his qualifications, and not his faith. And when I see all those rabbis next week, that’s what I plan to tell them.

Click here to link to Susan's new book, "Soulless. "

Susan Estrich is the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California. She was Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the first woman President of the Harvard Law Review. She is a columnist for Creators Syndicate and has written for USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

Estrich's books include the just published “Soulless,” “The Case for Hillary Clinton,” “How to Get Into Law School,” “Sex & Power,” “Real Rape,” “Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System” and "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women.”

She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel, in addition to writing the “Blue Streak” column for

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