Loser: Utah Sen. Mike Lee wanted to make a point about his displeasure over the way President Obama made some recent recess appointments, so he tried to organize an effort to block confirmation of every one of the president's other appointments. In the first test of this plan on Thursday, Lee got the support of exactly five other senators, as a United States district judge for the Southern District of California was confirmed, 90 to 6. The obstruction tactic was misguided from the start. We, too, have real concerns about Obama's "recess" appointments, which were done at a time the Senate was not actually in recess. But the majority of presidential appointments have bipartisan support and are not controversial. Blocking them would unnecessarily keep government from functioning properly.
Winner: Responding to lots of complaints and bad publicity, the Transportation Security Administration said this week it will start a new program designed to elevate common sense over tedious, sometimes ridiculous, security protocols. Under the new program, qualified travelers who agree to provide personal information about themselves will be give a special boarding pass allowing them to go through security without having to remove shoes, belts and other items of clothing. The program is scheduled to hit Salt Lake City by the end of March. It's a good idea, but we're still skeptical. To qualify, you must belong to certain airline frequent-flyer plans. Our guess is a lot of harmless grandmothers and 6-year-old kids on their way to Disneyland still might face a pat-down. Common sense can be an uncommonly difficult skill to master.
Loser: President Obama chimed in with his plan for deficit reduction this week — a budget proposal with a projected $1.3 trillion deficit, up slightly from this year's projection. He would raise taxes on the rich while also increasing spending on infrastructure projects. Not much of this matters, however, considering the nation has gone more than 1,000 days without Congress passing a budget.
Winner: Utah's high school students ranked 10th in the nation in terms of passing advance placement exams in 2011, according to the College Board. which released the information this week. Out of 18,508 Utah students who took 29,851 AP exams last year, 68 percent got a passing score, which was better than students did in 2010. The national average is a 58 percent passing rate. Only two other states in the West, California and Colorado, had a higher percentage of seniors passing at least one of the exams. In Utah, 20.7 percent of seniors could make that boast. Passing an AP exam means instantly earning college credit, giving students an important boost as they enter higher education.