Monday, October 28, 2013

Why I am endorcing Mike Simpson in the 2014 Republican primary

 File:Mike Simpson, official Congressional photo portrait.jpg

The 2014 House race will be an exciting one for the 2nd Congressional district in Idaho (Twin Falls, Idaho Falls).  Mike Simpson, who has been in office since 1999, is facing a real challenge in the Republican primary.  The Republican primary in Idaho is kind of like the NFC championship used to be in the 1990's, the team that won it was automatically going to win the Super Bowl.  I'm not sure who the Democratic candidate will be but I know he won't win.  

Bryan Smith is challenging Mike Simpson from the right with the support of the Club for Growth, a right wing anti-tax lobby.  In the current poisoned political culture there is understandably a high interest in a GOP challenger.  People are disappointed in the current state of the country and they are disappointed in the way business is done in Washington.  I am endorsing Mike Simpson because he is one of the few people who is actually interested in governing.  While this might not seem to be a ground breaking statement, it is unfortunately true for only a few members of the Republican party.  What is even more shocking is the public support radical politicians receive from the public who do not fully comprehend the dangers of a dysfunctional country.  

A prime example of this is the recent vote to fund the government.  This ended the 16 day partial government shutdown and avoided a default on US debt.  The consequence of a default by the US would have been detrimental to the US economy and to US interests around the world.  For details please read the following articles here, here, and here.  In addition to the short term economic impact (recession, loss of jobs, massive spike in interest rates including mortgages) there would be significant long term losses for the US.  Currently the US Dollar is the global reserve currency because US treasury bonds are safe and widely accepted.  This "exorbitant privilege" is worth about 3% of our GDP according to Barry Eichengreen.  He correctly warned us of this problem when he said "The only plausible scenario for a dollar crash is one in which we bring it upon ourselves". 

At this point you must be asking how someone in their right might could actually support policies that would drive the US into a short term depression while also wiping out 3% of our GDP in the long term.  Surprisingly, this is what 3/4ths of Idaho's elected officials decided to do.  Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, and Raul Labrador all voted no on H.R. 2775.  The bill was flawed and only kicked the can down the road, but is that a reason to welcome economic destruction to our country?  The bill does not solve our problems, but it did avoid a global crisis. 

Mike Simpson was the only one from Idaho to vote to pass the bill.  Though I have not alway supported everything Mike Simpson has voted for. When I haven't agreed I have written him to let him know.  He has kindly responded every time.  This critical vote shows that he is serious about governing the country.  He is more concerned about the lives of Idahoans than winning an abstract ideological crusade. Bryan Smith has called Mike Simpson a liberal who has forgotten conservative Idaho values. Mr. Smith, since when did defaulting on our national debt become a conservative Idaho value?  Since when did shutting down the government become a conservative Idaho value? Since when did ruining the good faith and credit of the USA become a conservative Idaho value?  Since when did sponsoring a depression and destroying the wealth of Idahoans become a conservative Idaho value?  You sir are the one who does not understand true conservative Idaho principles.  

For those looking for a rare conservative statesman in this unfortunate day of ideological crusaders I encourage you to endorse Mike Simpson for the Idaho 2nd district in the 2014 House of Representatives election.  If you do, you won't regret it.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Open letter to Dennis Lindsey

Dear Dennis Lindsey,

I would like to thank you for your vision and work as general manager of the Utah Jazz. You have correctly changed strategy from last year's compete and kind of develop, to this year's develop strategy.  This has been a good off season for you, but it is not complete.  I am asking you to make the trade for Jimmer Fredette right now.  Jimmer is what the team needs and what the fans need.  He will make the Jazz better, bring in more money, and will fit into the youth movement currently underway.  Please make the trade!

Last year the Jazz tried to compete while still developing their younger players.  The result was that they were not competitive and they were not able to develop their younger players as older veterans (Millsap, Jefferson, Randy Foye, and Mo Williams) took too many minutes away from players like Favors, Kanter, and Burks.  You let some good fan favorites walk (Millap, Mo Williams) to clear up cap space.  That cap space did two things.  It will enable the young players to get minutes and develop, and it enabled you to trade for some bad, overpriced players and a few first round draft picks.  Bad overpriced players are not a bad thing, we realize you had to meet the salary minimum for this year with expiring contracts, which enables you to spend money on Favors and Hayward next year. 

There is a fine line between developing and tanking, right now you are very close to tanking mode.  This is unacceptable to Jazz fans around the world.  For the Jazz, winning and competing has value.  The Jazz are too good to seriously compete for the worst team in the league (thank you Sixers).  So what value does tanking have for the Jazz?  The hope for a number 5 or 6 draft pick?  This is what the Kings and T-Wolves do every single year.  The Jazz should be lauded for their decision to give playing time to younger players and to collect future assets, but there is no reason to tank.  The Jazz players are young, but they are not rookies (except for Burke).  They are all primed for break out years.  The Jazz have real talent and potential for this year not next year.  One of the best developmental tools is to win!  Give these young Jazz players some playoff experience.  Tanking will tell them that they are expected to lose.

The prime problem the Jazz have is at the PG position.  We have good bigs and wings, but the PG position will cause us to lose many games.  Our super star rookie Burke is out with a broken finger and this leaves us in a world of hurt.  If you say that Scott Machado (0-6 yesterday against the Lakers) or 29 year old Lester Hudson is the answer I will scream.  Our team has a serious offensive problem, most of it coming from the lack of production at the PG position.  This is why you need to make a trade for Jimmer Fredette right now.

Jimmer Fredette is a great young offensive talent at the PG position.  He is great at shooting the 3 and creating his own shot.  The last 4 preseason games have highlighted the problem the Jazz have with scoring and shooting!  Jimmer would be able to step in and turn our weakest link into a strong link.  He easily fits into our long term plans as a 6th man spark plug off the bench when Burke eventually develops into a quality PG (at least that is what we are counting on).  It isn't a sure thing that Burks and Burke will develop into super star guards.  Bringing in a third option increases the chances of at least one of them developing. 

Jimmer would cost 2.7 million this year and 3.1 million next year, but he would bring in at least triple that in terms of revenue for the team.  Ticket sales would rise as would jersey sales.  Playoff revenue could also be accounted to what he would bring to the team. 

The casual reader would think, boy it would cost a lot to get such a young stud who would be a perfect fit.  Actually it would cost almost nothing.  1. His salary is reasonable both in terms of dollars and length.  This lets us keep our flexibility. 2. The assets to give up are very low.  The most we would have to give up is the 2017 first round pick, but 2nd rounders and cash might do it as well.  Jimmer has fallen out of the rotation for the Kings and his value to them and their future is extremely low.  3. Lower draft pick in the 2014 draft, because of the better record Jimmer would give to the Jazz.  If the Jazz were really serious about trying to get Wiggins, they would not have signed John Lucas III, instead they would have gone with Hudson and Machado only.  They also could have traded away Jermey Evans and some of their other non core players.  You see, pure tanking goes against everything the Jazz beleive in. 

Adding Jimmer Fredette would give the Jazz shooting and scoring from a position of need.  He not only would increase revenue significantly, he would increase the Jazz's ability to compete this year and for years to come.  Despite what you might think, the cost involved to get  him is insignificant, in terms of salary, assets, and lost opportunity.  I applaud your efforts to develop the young Jazz players, but warn you to not tank.  It would be an insult to the entire franchise.  Please trade for Jimmer Fredette. 

Matthew Crandall

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thoughts on US government shutdown

The US government shutdown highlights the democratic shortcomings in America’s political system.  Blame has been cast on many from fringe members of the Republican Party to America’s presidential system itself.  While things likely won’t get any better soon, some small changes can save American democracy in the long run.
Much more important than the economic impact from the  shutdown is what it means for American democracy.  There are two principles that deserve mention.  In a recent opinion piece inthe Washington Post, Anne Applebaum argued that the Republican party is endangering American democracy by refusing to fund the government because they do not like Obamacare.  Abblebaum mentions that Obamacare was passed by both bodies of Congress, signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court.  The Republicans are not only willing to shut down the government in an attempt to defund Obamacare, but are placing their opposition to Obamacare above the legitimacy of America’s democratic institutions and processes.  A related principle was highlighted by Matthew Yglesias in a recent article in Slate, where he highlights the work of the late political scientist Juan Linz.  Linz argues that the presidential system itself is flawed, that there is no democratic mechanism to resolve disputes between the legislative and presidential branches.  In this light, it is not the Republicans who are the problem but the system itself.  It is designed to breed conflict that is difficult to resolve. Linz focusses on the problems that Latin American countries have had with presidential systems and the good fortunes of parliamentary systems in Europe where the executive and legislative branches are unified in a coalition.  
Does the current crisis really mean a democracy deficit in America?  The answer is yes, but it won’t always have to be this way.  The current crisis could only be the tip of the iceberg.  While cooler heads prevailed and the default crisis was averted, it was only a temporary fix.  Bad precedent is being set on many levels.  
 Aside from tearing up the constitution and switching to a parliamentary system (which has its own shortcomings) what changes can be made to prevent this type of suicidal conflict between executive and legislative branches again?
Three small but significant reforms need to be implemented.  Limiting gerrymandering, eliminating caucuses, and having term limits will be enough to prevent suicidal conflicts between the executive and legislative branches in the future.  While many are dismayed at the Tea party Republicans, they should be reminded that their actions are rational.  They are doing what their constituents want them to do.  Many Republicans are forced into extreme measures because if they make pragmatic decisions they will lose a primary election to someone who is willing to take extreme measures.  Bob Bennett’s 2010 senate primary loss in Utah is an example of that.  This has happened in part, due to gerrymandering where congressional districts are drawn to maintain party power.  While the majority of America is very much purple, gerrymandering has turned congressional districts into bright red and bright blue districts where extreme candidates are able to come to power.  This is a problem that will never be completely solved, but if gerrymandering can be reduced the impact would be significant.  While gerrymandering is a problem, it is not as big a problem as some have claimed.  The USA is naturally divided into politically different districts.  Urban and rural districts are very different and gerrymandering will not change the effects of urban sprawl and urban decay.  This is why the next two items also need to be addressed.
Second, caucuses need to be eliminated.  A caucus is different from an open primary vote, in that members need to be physically present at the entire caucus to cast their vote.  This is in essence democracy by meeting.  This increases the amount of commitment for those wishing to participate.  In a caucus they have to plan on attending a multi hour meeting with a public vote where as a typical primary vote is just that, a vote which can take 5 min and be done in secret.  This means that party activists and extremists are more likely to participate than moderates.  In Utah where Bob Bennett was ousted for Mike Lee, it was a caucus system that enabled it.  
Third, term limits should be passed into law both at the senate and house levels.  Having some of the members not up for reelection would be healthy for the political climate.  Politicians who do not have to worry about reelection would then worry about what is best for the country and about being on the right side of history.  They would be more willing to take moderate stances as they would be buffered from interest groups, party leaders, and the sways of public opinion.
These changes are small, but will be difficult to implement.  Few politicians will be willing to support term limits, as it would mean their own exit from politics.  The caucus and primary system, along with the drawing of congressional districts is done at the state level and would have to have 50 states pass reforms, a rather unlikely feat.  A better solution would be to have the federal government take over these responsibilities, this would be hard to accomplish given the current political climate. 
America is in the midst of a serious crisis.  The democratic institutions have failed to ensure a functioning government for the second time in 20 years.  A default crisis is at hand.  The legitimacy of the legislative process has now been rejected by the Republican Party, a very worrisome precedent.  This has caused some to blame the Republican Party while others to blame the presidential system the US has.  In reality, the truth lies in the middle.  Fortunately, small but important changes can produce significant improvements in American democracy.  If America can reduce the impact of gerrymandering, eliminate caucuses, and pass term limits this will hopefully be the last time democracy fails in America. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Baby Crandall

This week Maris gave birth to our sweet new baby!  Because this is a public blog we won't be putting up pictures or details about our new baby.  Send us an email if you would like to see pictures and get an update.  Everything went well with giving birth, it is nice to live in a developed country.  Some of the hospitals may not look great on the outside, but they have all been fully remodeled on the inside.  I was really impressed by how nice it was.  It was nice and colorful, they had a nice hot tub too. 

 They aren't as epidural friendly as the US and only offer them if someone really wants one or if other methods don't really work.  Maris was a trooper and did it all with no pain killers.  Her goals before were to not have a c-section or an epidural.  Both completed!. It was a long process but she did great.  When they placed our beautiful baby in her arms it was such a beautiful moment, all the pain and hard work were forgotten and there was just a beautiful little baby in their place.

After giving birth we were able to get a family room, so we could be together.  This was the view out of our window.  As you can tell it is an amazing fall.  We had one of the best summers in years and now the best fall ever.  Beautiful sunny days and mild temperatures.  Since there hasn't been a deep freeze there are still lots of leaves on the trees.

I was really surprised at how beautiful our baby is!  You hope for a healthy baby, but if you can get a healthy and a beautiful baby then there is nothing else to even dream for.  When they were attending to Maris just after she gave birth, I got to hold our beautiful baby for a while. It was an amazing feeling.  It is really awesome to be a dad, and really awesome to have an addition to our family. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

No new temples, just good messages

It is conference weekend and three of the five sessions are now over.  They didn't announce any new temples, so the last blog entry was for naught, but there were some pretty good talks!  One of my favorites was President Uchtdorf.  He has a special gift to connect and inspire people.  I thought Elder Bednar's talk on tithing and church finances was very good too.  Elder Dube's talk on faith was also inspiring.  We have some wonderful brethren in our branch from Africa and they have a similar rock solid faith.  Of course I was also happy to hear Gifford Nielson talk about football.  As with every general conference, I feel a desire to be a better person and I feel happy to be a member of a church with inspired leaders.