Defend the presumption of innocence

Sigh. It is a thankless task to defend the application of legal norms to Donald Trump without appearing to defend the man himself. But it is necessary. I shall just have to assume that my opinion of Mr. Trump is sufficiently well-known that I can run the risk. Curtis Haring tells us (Hatch Sums Up Our Broken Politics in One Comment) that Senator Orrin Hatch is a statesman – or would be if he agreed with Mr. Haring, that when it comes to controversies involving sexual abuse or the president,…

Protecting Utah’s small businesses against “Big Music”

Now here’s an issue that has me seriously conflicted. On the one hand, I hate background music. I hate it in restaurants; I hate it in supermarkets; I hate it at the dentist’s office. What’s more, I doubt that I am alone. I have yet to have a friend invite me to Olive Garden to listen to the music, and incidentally to pig out on breadsticks. On the other hand, I hate Big Music, the duopoly of ASCAP and BMI that licenses and controls all that background music, and so…

The perils of haste in tax reform

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was needed and timely. Combined with President Trump’s deregulation campaign, it has sparked business confidence, hiring, and wage growth. These were all badly needed after the stagnation of the Obama years. That said, the passage of a major piece of legislation of this kind is a messy process, and important details get left on the cutting room floor. In the case of the tax reform bill, one of those forgotten details was Section 199A. Most people have never heard of Section 199A,…

The Electoral Interstate Compact redivivus

The last time I wrote about a nefarious and unconstitutional plan to kill the Electoral College was five years ago. At the time, the Utah politico pushing this plan was Howard Stephenson, my own State Senator. Howard seems to have moved on (or at least quieted down on the subject) but his mantle has been taken up, according to a report in politico.com, by Curt Bramble, from Senate District 16, Utah and Wasatch Counties. In the interim, Donald Trump has been elected with a minority of the popular vote, but…

Daddy Long Legs

I am currently engaged in producing Daddy Long Legs for the Draper Arts Council, and the experience has caused me to look at the source of the play, which is the 1912 novel by Jean Webster. I also looked (again) at the 1955 movie starring Leslie Caron and Fred Astaire. The play I am engaged with is an Off-Broadway adaptation that is much closer to the original than is the flashy Astaire-Caron vehicle. In both versions, a young orphan girl (Jerusha Abbott in the original, Julie André in the movie)…

PUH-LEEEEESE!!

It’s a mercy John Curtis ran for Congress in the Third District. Otherwise, Tanner Ainge and Chris Herrod would have precious little to talk about. Neither of them seems at all interested in explaining exactly how they are going to accomplish their grandiose promises (which are in all essentials exactly like those of Jason Chaffetz, Mia Love, Mike Lee, Orrin Hatch, Chris Stewart, Rob Bishop, and every other elected official Utah has sent to Washington in the last 30 years). They seem to be more interested in protecting us from…

Why Utah’s new political party won’t matter

So Utah has a new political party: United Utah, or Utah United, or maybe Manchester United. As a political development, this one has no long-term significance, and cannot possible accomplish what its movers hope. Utahns (and indeed Americans in general) have a basic idea of what Republicans and Democrats believe. Those of us who identify with one or the other (and at the moment I do not) may not agree with all their fellow party members on every issue, but they have reached a broad consensus on most issues, enough…

Why Trump will be re-elected

About a year ago I wrote in this space that the rise of Donald Trump was an expression of revolt against the bien-pensants, that class of individuals who know so much better than we do what is good for us. Trump’s election was the culmination of that revolt. The failure of the bien-pensants to understand the revolt, as marked by their continued attack on Trump for believing the way the hoi polloi do and (or at least) speaking their language, simply validates his message, and will likely lead to his…

No “risk” in a vote for McMullin

A couple of days ago I wrote in this space that “Utah Should Risk a McMullin Vote.” This was an unfortunate headline, which I hereby retract. The plain fact is that, in Utah, there is no down-side risk to a vote for Evan McMullin for president and plenty of upsides. The earlier headline was a response to an earlier column by Jesse Harris that, because so little was known about Evan McMullin, it would be a mistake to give him any attention. Heavens! He might try to influence the political…

Utah should risk an Evan McMullin vote

Nationally, this presidential election is over: Donald Trump gets somewhere between 150 and 200 Electoral College votes (possibly fewer), and we get to endure four more years of Obama-Clintonism. It will be painful, but we will survive it. The task then becomes the reconstruction of a political party that can produce a center-right majority starting in 2020. Possibly that will be a Republican Party cleansed in one way or another; possibly it will be a new party made up of the remains of the Republican Party with some added pieces…