Good Job Senator Hatch

During my 2006 campaign, I criticized Senator Hatch for not having town-hall meetings. In the last year, I received two pathetic “telephone town-hall” calls from Representative Chaffetz and Senator Bennett. I think it takes a lot of courage for our elected public servants to come and “face the music” in front of their constituents who may angrily attack them personally. However, our democracy suffers when they don’t, instead remaining out of touch a couple thousand miles away. I continue to push for the use of the Internet to bring transparency and better communication to the process of government, but it is still refreshing to see someone doing it the old fashioned way, face to face.

Therefore, I congratulate Senator Hatch on holding a real town-hall meeting. Please keep it up Senator. I’ll be the first in line when you do one in Salt Lake County.

Representative Matheson and the Democratic Party

When I ran for Senate in 2006, Representative Jim Matheson was kind enough to meet with me more than once to offer help and advice. I met with him in both his Salt Lake City office and his Washington D.C. office. In one of those meetings he reflected upon the anger that some of Democratic party have for his conservative votes. He stated to me that he often votes this way to satisfy his conservative base, but when it comes to voting for helping the poor, he has always been there. I don’t know how how his vote against the House healthcare bill fits into that definition, but I won’t try to explain it for him either. Personally I think the healthcare bill is a bloated mess. Instead of 2000+ pages, it really only needs to be two words, “Single Payer”. I blame the Democrats for this failure due to the three “I”s – ignorance, incompetence, and influence. That is another journal entry altogether.

Nevertheless, Representative Matheson had the chance to help write the ACES bill in favor of Western renewable energies, but chose not to do so. His vote against the healthcare bill only exacerbated Democrats who have long hated his middle-of-the-road positions. As a result, a number of people, driven by Tim DeChristopher, have been pushing for me to run against Jim Matheson. Here is why I won’t.

  1. A Democrat who is more to the left than Jim Matheson could probably easily win a primary, maybe even settle this in convention, but in the end would lose the general election. I can think of no other county that exemplifies this more than Carbon County. This was traditionally a Democratic stronghold in Utah, but has gone Republican over the past decade. In 2006, Jim Matheson received 3,658 votes in Carbon County. In spite of canvassing Carbon County extensively and knocking on a few thousand doors, I received 2,255 votes. Conversely, Orrin Hatch rarely visits and received 2,408. I don’t see how deposing Jim Matheson would endear me to 1400+ people who otherwise voted for Senator Hatch.
  2. I don’t live in the 2nd Congressional District. There is is nothing legally preventing me from running to represent a district I don’t live in. Thanks to the Utah Legislature, I can cross all three of Utah’s congressional districts on my morning run, because I live in Salt Lake City. Representative Jason Chaffetz was able to oust Chris Cannon on the Republican side without living in the 3rd district. However for a Democrat, this would be fuel on the fire for the GOP challenger living in the district.
  3. In spite of Matheson’s votes, he is still warming a seat on the Democratic side of the aisle. 2010 is going to be Republicans trying to capitalize against President Obama’s agenda. Although I haven’t ruled out running in 2010, I don’t want to be contributing to the inevitable losses the Democratic party is going to face. If I was running instead of Matheson, the national GOP would pour resources into the race not because they care about Utah, but because they want their majority back.
  4. In 2006, the Deseret News ran a poll on favorability ratings of Utah politicians. Matheson came out #1, higher than then Governor Jon Huntsman. Having him in office is a good thing for other Utah Democrats trying to get elected.
  5. The Matheson family remains committed to Democratic causes and candidates here in Utah. I want to receive their help rather than their scorn when I run again.

One individual who asked me to run wanted my opinion as to whether it is a waste of time to try and oust Matheson. Being concerned and active with your government is never a waste of time. However, I think there are bigger fish to fry for Utah Democrats than one who still claims he is in our party.

Electroregeneration Society CRT Day

Saturday, September 19th, 9:00 AMThe Electroregeneration Society needs your help! Saturday, September 19th, we will be unloading a storage unit previously owned by Computers For Kids, a non-profit with a similar mission to ERGS. There are over 500 CRT monitors there! We will load them on a large 25′ truck and bring them to our warehouse at 555 S 400 W. In addition to moving these monitors, we are going to organize, stack, and store all of our monitors and do some reorganizing of our donated computer equipment. To thank you, you will receive lunch and the PC of your choice from our stock.

Meet at our warehouse, Saturday, September 19th, 9:00AM, 555 S 400 W, and caravan to the storage units at 5937 S 1650 W, or just go to the storage units and wait for our arrival. Bring water, gloves, and clothes that can get torn and dirty.

Bill Orton

Bill OrtonIn January of 2005, I had a meeting with Bill Orton. My campaign for U.S. Senate was in the exploratory stage, and I had heard through the grapevine that Bill was considering running. I had never met Bill before, but he worked nearby and came in to talk with me without even knowing what the subject was. We talked for over two hours that afternoon. He detailed how he had tried to negotiate with President Clinton and Bruce Babbitt before Grant Staircase Escalante was declared a National Park. They overrode his concerns and left him out of the process. He exclaimed to me the concern of his constituents, “If you’re a Democrat and your own President doesn’t listen to you, then what good are you?” He said, “And you know, they were right!” Bill Orton was the last Democrat to represent Utah’s third district. If President Clinton had listened to the Democratic congressman from the region in question, and made Utahns stakeholders in the process of creating a National Park, Bill Orton would have continued to be elected every time he ran.

I asked Bill why he considered himself a conservative Democrat instead of running as a Republican. “Because I couldn’t live with myself!” “I couldn’t get out of the shower each morning because I wouldn’t be able to get clean!” he laughed.

Bill told me that he was considering running for U.S. Senate, but the pains due to his back injury were preventing him from doing so. He told me that unless a miracle cure happened, he couldn’t do it. I waited until March before I realized that miracle wasn’t coming.

When it came time for the 2006 Democratic State Convention, it was necessary to select a party member to put forward my nomination. Bill Orton was my first choice and I was deeply humbled when he accepted. In spite of losing his written speech, he gave a fantastic, firey, and fluent oration that had the crowd cheering. He was a hard act to follow.

I ran into Bill a few times after the election. Last year, at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair he was especially proud of the work his son Will had done for his entry. It demonstrated the gravitational attraction between bowling balls and was far beyond what standard science fair entries cover. Bill beamed when he told me that a University physics professor had said that the entry was beyond the level of what his graduate students were capable of. It was apparent to me that Bill was a committed and loving father, even if it meant clearing out the garage for a month for a science fair experiment.

Bill Orton died this weekend in an accident at the age of 60. He was the very model of a Utah Democrat — honest, forthright, connected, and capable. He was my mentor and my friend. I will miss him.

Utah Senate and Nuclear Power

Today at 2:00PM, the Utah Senate Public Utilities Committee will consider a joint resolution expressing support for nuclear power in Utah. This is the letter I sent to Public Utilities Committee chair, Steve Urquhart.

Hello Steve, I’d like you to consider a few points in relation to nuclear power in Utah.

1) The Atlas Tailings Pile, left behind by the free market uranium mine, to be cleaned up by taxpayers, still hasn’t been cleaned up in Moab.
2) There isn’t a nuclear plant in operation today that exists without government subsidy. They receive government protection for operation, and according to the residents of Delta I talked to, their local government failed to protect the IPP in a staged attack.

As I see it, Aaron Tilton should be able to do the following before beginning construction of a nuclear power plant in Utah:

1) Pay for it by himself, with no government subsidy or protection forever, with the same rates I pay for water.
2) Guarantee safe waste storage and mine clean-up for 10,000 years with a trust that will last that long.
3) Guarantee safe working conditions, respirators, and lung-cancer treatment for the miners who will mine and refine his “clean” uranium.

It would be nice if he cleaned up Atlas too. Maybe SJR16 should express appreciation to the taxpayers who are going to clean it up.

Best Wishes,


2008 Elections

A number of people have asked whether I would be interested in running for Utah governor or congress this year. It is humbling to be considered. However, currently my commitment to my family, XMission, and the local organizations I sit on boards for does not lend the time required for a candidacy this year. In January I took on the role of chairing the Utah Heritage Foundation for two years and I feel strongly about seeing that role through. I am looking forward to the political possibilities presented in 2010.

Failure of Internet Censorship

HydraI wasn’t going to jump on the bandwagon, but watching this explode has been an interesting example of what happens when an organization thinks they can control what happens on the Internet. The Motion Picture Association of America has been sending DMCA take-down notices to sites that have been reposting a 16 byte code that unlocks the content on HD-DVD discs. Yes, you read right, they’re demanding that websites stop repeating what amounts to 16 consecutive numbers.

One of my favorite sites, Digg, complied with these notices, removing submitted stories containing the key, and as a result has had to deal with the fury of their users. As of this moment, every single story on the front page of Digg contains the key. These stories are being “Dugg” faster than anything I have ever seen before and are remaining prominent. This is not to mention the hundreds, maybe thousands of comments also containing the key.

Google counts the pages containing this code at 9,670 and climbing fast.

Like the prior attempt to censor the DVD decryption algorithm DeCSS, there are many artistic and humorous translations of the naughty code. Some of my favorites: A PNG image made from the color values of the code, T-Shirts in eBay auctions, the inevitable YTMND version, poetry and haiku.

Now I don’t condone theft of artistic works. Creators should be paid for their work. What I find amusing about this episode is that once again, someone somewhere believes you can pass a law and then everyone on the Internet will automatically fall in line. Not only is it foolish, it is doomed to fail spectacularly every time a heavy hand tries to enforce it.

Banning Open Wireless on KUER RadioWest

Here is a recording of the RadioWest program that I participated on this morning. I was asked in email to post links to some of the things I talked about.

Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee Membership.
Here are the classes that XMission provides at the Salt Lake City library on filtering and tools we make available to parents.
Here is how to use the filter XMission makes available to anyone using our network, including the free wireless locations, at no extra cost.
Here is a list of locations XMission provides free wireless Internet to.
DansGuardian is the open-source software we use to provide filtering. maintains the filters we use and contribute to.
According to this site, China is #1 in pornography revenue. Over double what the US revenues are. This for a country that has officially “banned” pornography.

Here We Go Again

Yet another attempt from the “small-government”, “free-market” Utah legislature to regulate the Internet with SB-236. Ignoring the advice of their own legal council over the ambition of Unspam’s CEO, Mathew Prince, whose past half-baked “Child Email Registry” has also cost Utahns’ tax dollars to defend, the “E-Trademark Registry” passed unanimously.

This attempt to ban competitive forms of keyword advertising is already receiving a goring on the Internet from a variety of sources. How does one gain access to the legislature to write questionable, expensive law to support your business plan and then get repeated access to the pulpit to preach about it? When was Mathew Prince elected to the Utah Senate?

I hope to ask him when we’re both on KCPW’s Midday Metro, Monday at 10:30 AM.


Here is the audio of the show.