Monday, February 06, 2006

Corpse Regulations, etc. (An Interview With Utah Senatorial Hopeful, Pete Ashdown)

Lori: Hey. Thanks for agreeing to spread the word to my massive audience.

Pete: My pleasure

Lori: First of all, I want to know what your favorite thing about New York City is. Besides me.

: I like the varied architecture and the quantity too. In Utah we have small examples of great architecture, in New York you have thousands.
The same applies to food too.

Lori: How is it that you were able to enjoy the "Bodies" exhibit while my husband ran away in a cloud of nausea?

Pete: I don't know if I really enjoyed it that much. From a scientific perspective it seemed like it would be interesting to see. Then when I got in, it was a bit appalling to see the "artistic" portions of the exhibit. It also made me wonder if these people agreed to donate their bodies to science, but not to be on display.

Lori: Would you agree to be displayed in post-mortem cross-section if it were not artistic but purely scientific?

: Yeah, I've already told my wife that I want my body donated to science. However, I think I want strict rules on what kind of science. I read an equally appalling article in Harpers about the body trade which I would not want to contribute to. That and what happened to Alistair Cooke.
I understand that students do use cross-sections for study, which is OK by me.

: Ok. So do you think that this kind of exhibit could have originated in the US with the current rules regarding body-donation?
I guess i don't know much about the regulations here. I've always supposed a crowd of cute future-doctors would be crowded around my impressive circulatory system.

Pete: The rules dictate that there should be no profit generated from body trade, but according to Harpers, they get around that by equaling the expenses. I also question whether the public would allow that kind of thing. There was similar outrage over a photographer, in New York if I recall correctly, that took pictures of bodies in a morgue. He had things like little ladders going up to their ears and there was no identifying features, yet people were understandably angered because he did it without permission.

: I hope I don't get plasticized.

Pete: Cremation will ensure that. Gemstone is another option.

Lori: Whew. I guess I would like to be a diamond.
Moving along. My friend dug wonders how you feel about The Police. He says, "anybody who loved the police has to be outraged by what's happened to sting. sting went from the forefront of punk ska and became julio iglesias." (Forgive dug. He does not capitalize.)
So, how do you feel about Sting's career as of late?

Pete: I feel the same way. I had an early passion for Sting's music, but it was a cheap replacement for the fact that I never got to see The Police live. I was 15 and couldn't drive when they came to Salt Lake on "Ghost in the Machine". I told my older sister that I wanted to go, but I ended up being left behind. :(
I saw Sting four times (twice on "Blue Turtles") then stopped altogether around "Tepid Heart" or whatever he's been putting out for the past ten years.

Lori: I saw Sting in the "Three Penny Opera" in the late 80's in NYC. Not so good.

: I took Robin the last time I saw him and we were both disappointed with the show.

: Still. I think he's cute. I vote for the plasticization of Sting. Do you support that?

: Yes, that would be worthwhile, but only if it was artistically done.

: Next, my friend, keepyerbag says, "I'll vote for him just because he's not Orrin Hatch. He could be Michael Bolton's biggest fan and I'd vote for him just because he's not Orrin Hatch."

: Has it been indeed proven that you are not Orrin Hatch?

: There is a lot of sentiment like that I hear, but I'm trying to express new ideas instead of simply not being Orrin Hatch. Let me check my driver's license. Yes, I'm still not Orrin Hatch.

: Have you cut an album?
Orrin has.

: No, but I took honorary mention in an Orb remix contest.

Lori: I thought that was XDZebra, my favorite DJ.

Pete: If only I could get an endorsement from that great DJ.
Plastic bodies and multiple personalities, you should do this for a living.

Ok, my friend Mike, a postal worker in Australia, says you have his support if, you will "sponsor my plane ticket and green card."
How do you feel about immigration, legal and otherwise?

: I need to know if he's good at fixing houses first.
I think immigration is a necessary part of America, but it has been mostly uncontrolled for too long. I advocate for yearly limits and the use of technology in green-cards so they can't be counterfeited. I believe if you make a reasonable process for guest workers and students to go across the borders efficiently, then illegal immigration is a much less attractive.

Lori: Let's get back to what makes you different than Hatch? What are the major difs? What are your best new ideas?

: The major difference between not only me and Hatch, but the rest of the congress, is that I understand technology and have a good picture of what the future is going to bring. With tech becoming the underpinning of nearly everything we do, I think its a good idea to have someone in government who understands more about it than where the power button is. My best new idea is revitalizing democracy through modern communication. I believe this is where our government is headed and with all the recent scandal, it presents the apparent need for transparency and empowering citizens.
I have been very pleased with the results the Wiki on my website has garnered. What is important about that is the fact that the Internet is blind to race, creed, demographics, political party, and ability. It simply promotes good ideas.

: How do you feel about technology and privacy? Should technology be secretly used if it can interrupt oh, I don't know, terrorist plotting?

Pete: If it receives a proper court order first and the constitution is followed. Privacy is near and dear to my heart as I have treated my customer privacy at XMission as if it were my own. I find it problematic that by default companies can sell your information to other companies. I would like to see that reversed, where they have to ask for permission by default. Conversely though, I think that elected officials should have very little privacy in relation to their jobs. I've promised to post all my meeting schedules and who I'm taking phone calls from once elected.

: Ok. I'll enjoy knowing how often your wife calls you.

Pete: Maybe I can do graphs of top callers.

Lori: My friend Julie asks if you, "would have voted to filibuster the Alito nomination?. If (you) would have NOT joined with the 19 dems who were courageous enough to take a stand, then (you do) not get my vote. (Although, technically, I'm not registered in Utah.)"
She then promptly apologizes.
But what do you think?

: I wrote a press release on that very topic, which is here. The problem with the filibuster is that its obstructionist. I think the Democrats need to work harder on changing who is the majority rather than being roadblocks as the minority. I apologize to Julie.
I wouldn't have voted for Alito because I think he's got a loose grip on the balance of branches of government.

: What has been the biggest problem for the Dems? Or how can they stop being a minority?

Pete: I believe it is leadership. Can we look to anyone inside the Democratic party and say, "That individual is another FDR." Can we see anyone back to JFK and RFK who fit that mold? I think Obama is a good start, but we need more. Rather than waiting for Republicans to fail we should be presenting new visions for America.
I'd rather have a selection of Democrats for President that is hard to choose just one from, rather than the best of the worst.

Lori: Why are there so few choices?

: I think the major problem is the barrier to entry. Most people think you need to be a career politician, a millionaire, or have a good family name to run for congress. I wish there were hundreds of people running for this office and not just two. I'm trying to attack that barrier head on by not doing things the traditional way.
The fact that every Senate winner outspent every loser in 2004 is obscene to me. Especially when you're considering the $5 million minimum.

: Piles of money! What's your plan?

: In the same manner that people couldn't make feature films 30 years ago, but can do so now (don't you know something about that?), and international business can be launched tomorrow on eBay, I believe that technology is the great equalizer. In addition to traditional campaign methods such as speaking engagements and visiting towns throughout Utah, I am using the Internet as much as I can to spread the word and encourage others to do the same.

: But are many Utahns likely to vote for a Dem? I thought Utah was fairly Red (as in un-blue.) How can you reach out to those whose tradition is ultra-Right, ultra-conservative? And does the Internet reach much of rural Utah?

: The majority of Utah is independent leaning right. When I talk to people like that, they are more concerned with who the individual is than their party. They are impressed by my efforts in business and the community and the fact that I was actually born and raised here. I am encouraged by the fact that in 2004 when Utah went 70% Bush, it voted 43% for Scott Matheson in a race that was essentially nice Democrat against nice Republican. I don't think most Utahns would consider this race in that same light. As far as the ultra-conservatives go, I can appeal to them on my strong beliefs in regards to privacy and the constitution, but there are admittedly many people who I can not appeal to.

: Speaking of Utah and its traditions, my tenant, Jodi says, "I think the minds in Utah would like to know where you stand on this new HBO series about polygamy. I haven’t heard much about it, but you know’¡Ähow do you feel, Pete, about the stereotypes Utah folks are encumbered with? People think of us as liquor-fearing, multiple-wife having, and movie-theater-gay-movie-banning wack jobs. How can that ever change? Or should it?"

: I think that people shouldn't stress over those perceptions. I've always heard how nasty New Yorkers are, but everyone was really nice to me when I was there. Dan wrote that off as being in tourist areas. Maybe so, but outside perceptions are generally wrong. In high-school I used to talk about leaving Utah as soon as I could, but that was before I saw the rest of the world. I've seen a lot of it and I think we have something very nice here, in spite of the news-making oddities.
Lori: (Big Love)
Pete: Haven't seen it yet, although I enjoyed Rome and Carnivale. HBO makes good TV.
Bill Paxton eh? Is he going to say, "Game over man!" to his three wives?
Lori: Har. And Chloe Sevigny. She wears only "Imitation of Christ" designs when hoofing around NYC. Restructured thrift store clothing. $1,000's of dollars for it.
Not very polygamist.

Pete: And to think we used to get that for cheap.

: So, anyway. Regarding your personal/family life, Rocky, my financial advisor, asks, "I don't know Pete. I know of him and I have heard good things. Here is the burning question. Why would you want to tarnish an otherwise decent reputation by mixing it up with the good 'ole boy's network that is Utah politics? For goodness sake, Pete. You have a good, happy life. Don't mess with it."
Oh, and my mom says, "So, Pete, do you think it is possible to be in Washington and not become one of the crowd? to really be who you are?"
(She's kind of worried about you.)

: Complaining only went so far with me. I think its tremendously sad that people are not only unable to run for office but they're scared to as well. However, I've talked to a lot of past candidates who had their names dragged through the mud, but they still felt good about what they did.
To your Mom, that is a common concern. I think its possible to stay above it. Over the past decade, I was presented many offers to sell XMission. Although I would have seen short-term financial gain, it would have been lousy for my customers and my employees. Selling your business is an admirable thing to do, but I still weighed the consequences of how it affects other people. I think I can translate that trust well to my constituents and stay true to who I am. A large part of it is staying grounded to your roots. I plan to get an apartment in D.C. and keep my house in Utah and not the other way around.

: How does your family feel about your running for senator?

Pete: Robin has been supportive since I first started considering it. She does find it harder because I'm not at home as often as I used to be, but she believes in what I'm doing. Robin is also essential to me in this campaign because she is a better and more inclusive communicator than I am. I am very fortunate to have her. Madeleine and Henry have enjoyed the parades and events so far. My Dad has found a new project with this campaign. He's getting the family motorhome ready for me to use on tour and hand-painted an "Ashdown for Senate" sign that he has hanging on his truck. He tells me that he stays awake at night thinking about ways to promote the campaign. I am also very fortunate to have a great and inspirational father.

Lori: That's a nice family!

: Yes, and a nice baby who isn't too hard to deal with. :-)

: Ok. Rapid Fire time because I know you have a job. 1. Do you have a year's supply of food?

: 1. No

: 2. What's your favorite dessert?

Pete: 2. Baked Alaskan

: 3. What's your favorite Winter Olympic event?

: 3. Freestyle Snowboard

: 4. What will you give your wife for Valentine's Day?

: 4. That would spoil the surprise.

: 5. Can I have a tee-shirt?

: 5. If we get them printed, certainly. Until then: (these are sold at cost)

: 6. Who is your favorite musical group currently?

Pete: 6. Ulrich Schnauss except he's solo. I like the new "Mirror System" album.

: 7. Do you think "Avenue Q" would be a hit in SLC?

: 7. Yes, its hilarious.

: 8. Do you support same-sex unions?

: 8. I think the government should be out of the business of marriage. That means no ban or affirmation.

: 9. Do you believe that Lance Armstrong has retired?

Pete: 9. I think Lance is watching Michael Jordan.

: 10. What is your best feature?

: 10. Physical or emotional?

: Both.

: 10. Physical: high metabolism which burns anything I eat. Emotional: empathy

: Thanks, Pete. Thanks for making time for the Little People.
(Whoever they are.)

: Thanks for the interview Lori and thanks for the cot and good times in NYC.


Blogger Writermama said...

Great interview! Let's hope it helps.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Errorista said...

Awesome awesome awesome. You guys need to take this on the road!

When’s the Hatch interview? (Isn’t there a law about equal time on blogs?)

5:31 PM  
Anonymous BIG Mike said...

What a politician. He only directly answered about a quarter of the questions. But I'll bet he smiled the whole time.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous dug said...

i'm not satisfied with his position on sting. he saw post-police sting FOUR times?

and yet, i like him. i'm voting for him. in an outraged kind of way.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Pete Ashdown said...

Big Mike, I'm here for you buddy. Tell me what needs clarification and this "politician" will expound on it for you.

Dug, I was fortunate to see Stewart Copeland play with Sting at his first concert in Utah. That was like 2/3rd's Police, so in reality, I only saw Sting 3 1/3rd times.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous dug said...

pete, he may not have jumped the shark by the time you saw him with stewie, but he was filling the tank.

i saw him once post police, at the minnesota state fair. turns out, i didn't care that the russians loved their children too. i wanted my demolition man back.

oh the horror.

10:49 AM  
Blogger newbrooklyner said...

Julie, my blog can make or break a senator.

err, the Hatch interview is being cleaned up by my editors.

big mike, he did! He did smile the whole time! Furthermore, he kept kissing my babies!

dug, it's the Sting issues for me too. The whole, "I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien!" insistance seems suspicious. I think there's more to that story.

Pete, please be careful with big mike. Did I mention that he is big? And Australian? And a mail carrier?
At your own risk, Petey. At your own risk.

Dugagain, you just had to work the Minnesota State Fair in didn't you? You're so much cooler than all of us.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous BIG Mike said...

Pete, It was mostly sarcasm. I'm famous for it. And all my questions must be avoided by Australian politicians, unless that plane ticket and green card are in the mail. I trust Lori's judgement, you'd have my vote if you were in my state.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

As I'm reading more and more about Pete, I'm beginning to get a greater picture of the man and will actually consider voting for him in the months to come. I worry, though, that a good candidate (no matter how well qualified) will have a hard time convincing Utah voters to vote for him over Utah's favorite son, Senator Hatch. He might be the most difficult incumbent in the U.S. Senate to unseat. (But "Senator Ashdown" does have a nice ring to it!) Good luck to Pete.

12:43 AM  

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