Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Republican political predators

Looks like we better hurry up and have that special session of the Legislature to deal with convicted felons getting their hands on guns.
The shooting suspect is being held at the King County Jail, under investigation of being a felon in possession of a firearm, assault and committing a crime while under DOC supervision. He served prison time for selling cocaine.
Or, you know, we could take a rational approach and listen to prosecutors and cops, the ones who deal with this stuff. But then that would be a public policy approach rather than a reactionary political approach.

I say we send out postcards to Republican districts warning voters their members are political predators who like to grandstand when terrible crimes happen.

Really, how low do you have to be to try to make hay out of a shocking murder? It's so patently obvious the state GOP (still) hopes to paint Democrats as soft on sex offenders that it offends every fiber of one's being. I've had a family member who was the victim of such a crime, and I don't need some two-bit, ethically challenged idiot from Lewis County telling me what needs to be done.

Why Frank Chopp does anything but simply shut these people down completely during session is utterly beyond me. They are horrible, nasty, unethical people who deserve contempt and nothing more.

Carrying pictures of Chairman Mao

A Daily Kos diary tips us off to the continued bizarre behavior of Republicans in my home state of Kansas. It seems they are forming a Loyalty Committee to punish Republicans who don't toe the line. From WIBW in Topeka:
The Kansas GOP Loyalty Committee, ready to start next January, will discipline Republican officers who publicly support -- or give money -- to Democratic candidates.

If an officer is found to have violated this new plan, they can be stripped of their office.

Democrats say you won't see them instituting such a policy -- they say staying away from what they call.. "political non-sense" is bringing more people to their party.

Republicans say they expect loyalty to stay in- house -- especially for 2008.

Republicans who are sanctioned by the Loyalty Committee can appeal the decision to the state committee.
If there's a poster child at the state level for GOP extremism, it's the Kansas Republican Party. Can you imagine belonging to such a party? This move seems certain to drive even more Kansans to the Democrats, pretty much ending the long legacy of "Lincoln Republicans" who traced their political lineage to the Civil War era.

I know it sounds odd, but there were actually progressive Kansas Republicans once upon a time. Now the GOP there is pretty much the same as everywhere else: dominated by creationists, anti-abortion nuts and inveterate racists. Lincoln would be appalled, frankly.

I'm glad we fled the place early in life, as soon as we had the financial means to do so. The lunacy that has engulfed our entire country for the last eight years was known as "high school" where I grew up.

My how the meek are inheriting the earth

So three to four years ago, you and I (and every other progressive) were essentially frozen out of American politics. Sure, we could work hard on individual campaigns, get some pats on the head, maybe those who were interested could get staff jobs, but overall an entire segment of American society had been shut out of the process.

A venal political and media elite had taken complete control of our democracy, and regular people were only beginning to fight back.

Looks like that has changed. From The San Francisco Chronicle via the P-I:
"These guys (the liberal political bloggers) have power now. They can change elections," said Michael Cornfield, adjunct professor in political management at George Washington University and author of "Politics Moves Online: Campaigning."

In last year's midterm elections, Cornfield pointed to how liberal online activists helped dump incumbent Republican senators in Virginia and Montana, and led the effort to defeat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut (although he won election as an independent).

Clinton's campaign, Cornfield said, "made the judgment that they can't get the nomination as long as the netroots oppose them. They don't want them to hate her; they just want detente with them."

The netroots have come a long way from the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when it was big news that bloggers were given media credentials.
Now, gloating for very long is a dangerous thing, but ahead of the YearlyKos Convention it's nice to recognize that things are moving a positive direction. As another source in the Chronicle article noted, conservatives haven't embraced the web like progressives have:
Most of the partisan political blogs that attract more than 1 million page views a week tend to be liberal, said Justin Abbott, vice president of Blogads, which places advertising on liberal and conservative blogs.

"Maybe it is because conservatives are still plugged into talk radio, and a lot are still using it as their primary source of news," said Bluey.
This presents quite a problem for the cons, since theirs is a top-down model that doesn't require very many people to much do original thinking. In other words, beyond the damage the occupation of Iraq and wide-spread corruption and incompetence have done to the conservative movement, it now faces the very real prospect of being mired in a kind of movement stasis. Astroturfing and advancing corporate or right wing agendas only works when enough citizens are not paying attention or have been fooled.

Call me an optimist, but there is some chance that the American people will not be fooled en masse by the conservative movement for some time to come. All one has to do is start ticking off names: George, Dick, Donald, Condi, Alberto, Brownie, Doug Feith, Wolfie, Josh, the two Johns (Ashcroft and Bolton.) We could go on, and on, but you get the idea. That's just in the Executive Branch.

Even the most lizard-brain, reactionary types will someday get bored and realize they've been sold a bill of goods. It's also dangerous to underestimate hippie-hatred, of course, but after about 30 years the intensity just can't be sustained. And since many in our movement either weren't born or viewed the Summer of Love from bicycles and tricycles, the hippie-hatred attacks start to become a pronounced non-sequitur. You kind of expect someone to demand we bomb Cambodia and mine Haiphong harbor. (Okay, attack Iran? Some things never change.)

The attacks on YearlyKos and the netroots by conservatives are a sure sign that the opposition is worried. But the strength of the progressive blogosphere is that it is comprised of thousands of individuals, each doing the best they can. So when Billo attacks, it starts to become even more ridiculous, given the wide-ranging and diverse nature of our ranks. In the old blog shorthand, the question becomes "why does Billo hate America?"

So as NPI prepares to send two representatives to Yearly Kos, give yourself a pat on the back, loyal readers, because without you the progressive blogosphere would be nothing.

PS: And Markos sends this secret hate message along: "The Sea Otter is full of fish." I repeat, "the Sea Otter is full of fish." Set your decoder ring to "10."

Dead zone returns to Oregon coast

Low oxygen levels are affecting the ocean off the central coast of Oregon once again. From Salem-News.com:
A team of Oregon State University scientists monitoring near-shore ocean conditions off Oregon says that oxygen levels in the lower water column have plummeted, thrusting the region into a hypoxic event for the sixth consecutive year.

Hypoxia can lead to significant marine die-offs, the researchers say, depending on the severity, duration and location of the low-oxygen zone.

Although conditions this summer have not yet duplicated the severity of the historic hypoxic event of 2006, the outlook for the remainder of the summer and early fall is uncertain.
My family happened to be vacationing at Yachats, south of Newport, during that event in 2006, and while the impact to shore visitors was not all that dramatic, there was a definite discoloration of the water and and a nasty foam that collected in tidepools. Of course, the big impact is not on those of us who vacation there but those who depend on the ocean for their living.

Is this related to climate change? One scientist quoted in a different article attributed to Seattle Times staff and the AP thinks so:
"It does, indeed, appear to be the new normal," said Jane Lubchenco, professor of marine biology at Oregon State University.

"The appearance of the low-oxygen water again is consistent with predictions of climate change. The fact that we are seeing six in a row now tells us that something pretty fundamental has changed about conditions off our coast."
Our family has been going to the Oregon coast for about 17 years now, and it's sad to contemplate that these hypoxic "dead zones" may become permanent.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Snippets from the O'Reilly tirade against Daily Kos and the YearlyKos Convention

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

- Mahatma Ghandi

If you were too busy taking care of your family, or working late on the job, or trying to take advantage of the nice weather, or even taking out the trash and cleaning the cat litter box, you probably missed Bill O'Reilly's temper tantrum broadcast over the Fox Noise Channel earlier tonight.

But if you had some time to kill while you were packing for YearlyKos, like we did, then you eagerly tuned in, just this one time, to witness the promised hysterics you were sure would unfold, right in front of your eyes.

We did more than watch, though. As O'Reilly spoke, we typed - and captured the rancor that gushed from his bloviating mouth.

All of the comments excerpted below refer to either Daily Kos, the YearlyKos Convention, or the Democratic Party leadership (congressional officeholders or presidential candidates). O'Reilly's words have been parsed and stripped down to make his harsh language clear.

Here, without the filler, is what Mr. Falafel, and his esteemed guests, have to say about us, our community, and our party:

O’Reilly: That hate site...intimidating the Democrats...far left bloggers...frightening most of the presidential candidates...the lead intimidators are MoveOn, Media Matters, and the vicious Daily Kos...these people savagely attack those who they disagree...smear targets....beyond shameful...very offensive...you might want to change the channel...haters these Kos people are...no political candidate should ever legitimize them...disgraceful exhibition...loons in the Senate...hate site...associating with haters...damage all the Democrats who show up at this Kos convention...most vile picture imaginable...

Lanny Davis: It’s disgusting...repulsed by it...a group of haters...a lot of these creeps don’t tell us who they are...

O’Reilly: this smear merchant [Markos], is inconsequential...he’s insignificant ...this website has intimidated the entire Democratic field with the exception of Joseph Biden...they are afraid of the DailyKos and MoveOn...we have been giving you, on a daily basis, the most vile based stuff....nothing different than the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan do...this is a disaster...these terrible people....

Former RNC spokeswoman Genevieve Wood: The American people is not where the Kos Convention is...

O’Reilly: They’re afraid of them...they’re afraid...they don’t want to get smeared by them...afraid of a website, how are they going to deal with al-Qaeda...

Lanny Davis: I would like to see....every single Democratic candidate denouncing this kind of hate filled rhetoric...

O’Reilly: It’s a hate group...it’s a hate group...hey look, there was some good stuff on the Nazi site...you know, give to the kids, give to the Aryan kids...come on, it’s a hate site! You know it! You wrote about it, Lanny! And now you’re chickening out!

Lanny: There’s been a lot of stuff leveled at me on the Daily Kos that was filled with hate...

Former RNC spokeswoman Genevieve Wood: We should not give them credibility by giving them top billing,..who you hang out, who you associate with, does say something about your character...

Later in the show....Mondays with Michelle & Kirsten....

O’Reilly: Far left intimidation tactics...aren’t you embarrassed...

Kirsten Powers [Democratic strategist, speaking from Nashville, Tennessee): No, we’re not as concerned with Daily Kos as you are, Bill.

O’Reilly: So all the hateful stuff on the website... lend credibility to a site that’s got these vile cartoons... the latest is they want me to choke to death...we just got off hate speech with Michelle....this is hate speech...that’s what they traffic in, everybody knows it...

Michelle Malkin: Look, the Kos site is a sewer from top to bottom...it starts with Kos, it goes through all of the diarists, many of them who are featured... these are ones who are handpicked as featured diarists...
Now, for your reading pleasure, we present a breakdown of the rhetoric used by Billo and his cohorts Michelle Malkin, Genevieve Wood, and Lanny Davis.

Scorecard: Venomometer
Key negative words used in the broadcast, sorted by number of instances
  • Ku Klux Klan: Used once
  • Frightening: Used once
  • Vicious: Used once
  • Savagely: Used once
  • Shameful: Used once
  • Disgraceful: Used once
  • Disaster: Used once
  • Terrible: Used once
  • Sewer: Used once
  • Disgusting: Used once
  • Loons: Used once
  • Damage: Used once
  • Creeps: Used once
  • Inconsequential: Used once
  • Insignificant: Used once
  • Nazis: Used twice
  • Vile: Used three times
  • Smear: Used three times
  • Intimidation: Used four times
  • Afraid: Used four times
But the winner? The world hate, used eleven times during the broadcast.

If Bill O'Reilly is so opposed to hate speech, why does he engage in it? Why does he defame and libel those he disagrees with? Because he wants to believe that his own thoughts and emotions are really not his, but rather, those of an entire community of Americans who happen to disagree with his twisted political worldview?

He had the gall to claim, during his broadcast, that "nobody pays attention" to "the right wing websites". "They don't go there, the Republican Party," O'Reilly insisted. Oh really? No Republicans visit FreeRepublic, or Little Green Footballs, or Powerline, or any of the other major right wing websites? Who does, then? Zombies?

Ironically, he then had right wing blogger Michelle Malkin on later in the program, giving her a chance to join the invective assault on Daily Kos. Does he expect us to believe that "nobody pays attention" to her? She's right wing, and not only is she online, but she is also on FOX, and on Bill's show, which is most certainly watched by the leaders, operatives, and candidates in the Republican Party.

O'Reilly's hypocrisy is so massively huge that it can only be compared to one other thing on Earth...his gargantuan, engorged (don't go there!) ego.

We are approaching a turning point.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

The growth of the netroots movement has been incredible. YearlyKos 2007 will be a demonstration of how strong and diverse this community has become as it has emerged into one of the most powerful political forces in America.

My how the mighty have fallen

Time Magazine's 2004 "Blog of the Year" rolls around on the ground, plaintively scraping up some thin justification for defending Alberto Gonzales. From Power Line, erstwhile experts on typewriters and other media plots:
Why then do we bother to defend him when we believe he's being unfairly attacked? First, Senate Democrats and their MSM helpers have no more right to level unfair charges against Gonzales than they did against John Roberts and Sam Alito, notwithstanding the greater merit of these two men. A smear is a smear. Second, it's important (and clearly legitimate) to expose smears by the likes of Leahy, Schumer, and Feingold (and in this case, unfortunately, Specter) in order to diminish their credibility when it comes to future battles in which they engage in similar conduct..
MSM helpers? Is that like Hamburger Helper or something? I know some of the press are salty sorts, but to put the blame for Gonzales on the press is stretching things. It's not like Dan Rather went up to Congress and couldn't remember anything that ever happened.

(Note to the Hamburger Helper people: please don't get mad at me, you can't hardly mention anything on the tubes these days without someone blowing a gasket over obscure references. It's just a play on words. Because "MSM helpers" is just so freaking stupid, ya know? I kind of imagine the big white oven mitt, singing the new hit song "MSM Helper, when you need to impeach someone....")

But the real reason to defend Gonzales is because Democrats are big meanies:
JOHN adds: I would add that the Democrats are bullies, and I don't like bullies.
That's priceless, coming from defenders of torture and staunch advocates of the well-oiled muscle as the only possible answer to most problems in the world. Now that they are getting their behinds whupped they want to play nice. There's nothing so delicious in politics as bitter irony, is there?

As I always say, you can't make this stuff up. People actually have to type it into their keyboard and hit "post." And remember, these folks are considered the smart ones on the conservative side. Of course, there's the down side that people who think like this have been installed all over our government, but we knew that.

One thing at a time, folks, and right now it's looking like that thing is the removal of Alberto Gonzales, either by resignation or impeachment. The Constitution needs to be restored, and ironically (imagine!) it needs to be restored to protect the rights of conservatives as much as anyone, seeing as they could wind up being in the political wilderness for a very, very long time.

Let's have a special session and pass gun control

Since House Republicans in Washington insist on trying make to political gains from horrific crimes by calling for a special session seemingly every ten minutes (or at least every summer, it seems,) Democrats should really just call a special session and pass gun control in light of this. From the P-I:
One man was wounded several times in the leg and four suspects were arrested Monday afternoon in a shooting that caused major disruption to downtown rush-hour traffic.

The shooting occurred at the corner of Third Avenue and Pine Street just after 4:30 p.m., blocking access to the busy bus stop at the Macy's Third Avenue entrance. Third Avenue was closed for several blocks during the investigation, and Second Avenue traffic was reduced to one lane.

The incident and ongoing investigation had downtown city streets snarled with backups. Taxicabs tried to skirt the standstills by inching into parking strips and buses were halted on Third Avenue, lined up for blocks like sticks against a logjam.
The Washington state GOP: mighty selective about the kinds of crimes they focus on.

Blogworthy, July 30th, 2007

Here's the latest edition of our occasional review feature touching on news and developments that we couldn't get around to writing about earlier, as well as items we have accidentally overlooked.

The FBI and IRS are searching Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' home, reports the Anchorage Daily News. The feds, while admitting to the search, won't identify what they're after or say if they found anything. Meanwhile, Alaska's lone Representative, Don Young, is now also facing criminal investigation, law enforcement officials confirmed a few days ago.

(That smell coming off the breeze blowing from the north is Alaska sleaze). We'll keep you posted on this GOP Culture of Corruption story.

Atrios is having some fun with Fox Noise's Hatemonger-in-Chief today, who continues to make a mockery of himself as he is reduced to highlighting random comments and images from within the liberal blogosphere. Billo's recent obsessiveness with netroots community has intensified in recent days. According to FOX Noise's website - and O'Sputtermouth himself last week - there is a big attack coming tonight on the Factor, aimed at Daily Kos and the YearlyKos Convention:
O’Reilly’s audience was warned to stop adjusting their Craftmatic beds and hold onto their dentures as the Great and Powerful warned "...on Monday you’ll be shocked!”

Apparently, Bill downloaded an image from Daily Kos. This image will show what a vile hate organization DKos is... an image so vile that it would make his audience pee their pants. Thank God most are more than prepared for the experience.

O’Reilly explained that he doesn’t hate the Daily Kos, adding, “We just believe they’re bad for the country and have proven our case beyond a reasonable doubt. On Monday, the final nail. But it is disturbing, so be forewarned.”
Haven't these people learned anything from that silly lawsuit against Al Franken? They are used to denigrating Democrats who whimper and don't fight back. Now they're steamed that we won't roll over and it's hilarious.

Justice John Roberts has been hospitalized after falling at his vacation home. We hope his recovery will be smooth and fast.

Best wishes to the Chief Justice and his family.

State Republicans today made a pointed effort to highlight their party's double standard as they called for a special session of the state Legislature to talk about toughening penalties for sex offenders. This, after national Republicans grumbled just a few days ago about political theater when Democrats insisted on having a discussion about ending the occupation of Iraq.

Who's engaging in theatrics now? This special session isn't going to happen, and they know it. (Let's face it: much of politics is theater - just ask Tim Eyman, the libertarian master of staged media circuses). House Republicans have previously embarrassed themselves in attempting to exploit citizens' emotions for political gain (remember those fake sex offender postcards?) No sooner does a tragedy occur than Republican leaders are getting together to scheme about taking advantage of it. They seem determined to remain the minority in the statehouse.

Finally, something fun and non political - for all you Harry Potter fans out there who have finished reading Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling has answered a plethora of fan questions about what happens next in a web chat. Warning: The transcript has spoilers aplenty, so don't click unless you want to know!

MSNBC: Inslee to sponsor Gonzales impeachment resolution

MSNBC just reported on-air that Rep. Jay Inslee, D-WA-01, will sponsor a resolution favoring the impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Still developing, but an interesting prospect indeed.

UPDATE: The outstanding team at ThinkProgress caught the report too:
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) is introducing legislation that would require the House Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives to begin an impeachment investigation into Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in the wake of his damaging testimony last week. The legislation reads:
Resolved: That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto Gonzales for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Crooks and Liars has the video from MSNBC. Inslee's office has not released a statement yet, to our knowledge, but we may hear something tomorrow, possibly a joint statement made by several representatives who are initiating these proceedings. The National Journal could not obtain any comment.

These are not articles of impeachment, but a formal call for the Judiciary Committee to investigate and initiate impeachment if there is evidence that Gonzales' actions were illegal (and given what we know so far, it is apparent that the Attorney General has broken the law).

We strongly applaud Inslee's action and thank him for his courageous leadership.

UPDATE II: We get the statement tonight:
Former prosecutors to file Gonzales impeachment resolution in House

WASHINGTON - A group of former prosecutors who now serve in the U.S. House of Representatives will file a resolution on Tuesday that would direct the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The measure's sponsor, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who prosecuted cases in Selah, Wash., from the late 1970's to the mid 1980's, will announce the introduction of the impeachment inquiry resolution at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. As of Monday evening, co-sponsors of the bill include U.S. Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Michael A. Arcuri (D-N.Y.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa).
There's your cosponsors. A huge thank you to all of them. We have a prepared copy of the resolution here in PDF format (it's about 30 KB, shouldn't freeze up your browser if your connection happens to be slow).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Port of Vancouver measure a tough call

So the Port of Vancouver wants more tax money to do port stuff, in this case to buy over 200 acres, clean it up and also to create more railroad infrastructure. Some people in town weren't happy about the port raising taxes without voters weighing in, as the port used an arcane bit of law called an Industrial Development District (IDD) levy. They get two tax measures without a public vote, and they had one left on the books from like the Eisenhower administration or something.

So some regular citizens got the measure on the ballot, as is their right by gathering signatures, and then decided not to raise money or wage a campaign. Which is kind of refreshing, in a way, that they didn't try to make a career out of it. They actually are letting the people decide.

But here's the funny part, thanks to a Columbian reporter:
Ghormley and Elliott, who are both registered as independent voters, said they entered the political arena with fairly open minds on the port tax, but through the process have decided to vote against the levy once they get their ballots.
Um, isn't everyone in Washington just "registered," since we don't register with parties here? I know, everyone makes mistakes, but that's a pretty basic fact about politics in this state.

As for the port's proposal, I'm undecided. Cleaning up land is good. More jobs are good. Using up highway transportation capacity is mixed. Not putting the issue on the ballot in the first place is probably a deal breaker for a lot of people in Clark County. Promises of jobs always seem to be overblown, and for some reason all the dedicated "free marketeers" come running like pigs to a trough when there's public money to be had.

So, like I said, I'm undecided, probably leaning towards no.

Darn tootin' I'm a partisan

It's a bit unfair to take short excerpts from Digby's Hullabaloo, but here she makes an important point about the increasing (and increasingly bogus) calls for bipartisanship:
"Bipartisanship" is only operative when the Democrats are in power. I don't recall hearing the commentariat scolding the Republicans for not being more accommodating to Democrats during their 12 year reign of terror, do you? I certainly don't recall a lot of garment rending over how the Republicans were isolating their moderates. My recollection was that everyone was cheering the GOP's responsiveness to its "traditional values, low tax, patriotic" base. You remember --- the Real Americans? Karl Rove was widely considered to be a genius.
Exactly. The same thing tends to happen at the state level sometimes, with dire warnings about "one party rule," with its sinister connotations of a dictatorial police state.

One party rule is actually how things get done. There's a difference between freely elected governments being controlled by one party and an authoritarian regime, of course.

Still, I would expect to hear continued blather from Republicans about how awful it is that Democrats run everything and are being mean to them. Frankly, during the Legislative session I was amazed at how accommodating Democrats were. But you know those crazy Democrats, actually believing that representative democracy is actually for democracy rather than a fun game for screwing people over.

One reason conservatives are being so crazy nasty (I know, it's hard to tell) right now is they're scared we'll give them the political treatment they deserve. With the 28% crowd working on becoming the 19% crowd, they have good reason to be nervous about next year. If a true realignment happens, the far right will be out of power for a generation or more, as it becomes more and more difficult to win as a Republican.

It's come at a fearsome cost in human misery, but there's been no better demonstration of conservative ideology than the last six and a half years. From the west coast energy crisis to the pathetic spectacle of Alberto Gonzales lying his head off to Congress, and all the horror in between, everything conservatives have touched has turned out badly. It's partly because the real world doesn't operate according to tidy aphorisms uttered by Ronald Reagan and partly because the conservative movement was so utterly and transparently populated by liars, crooks and morons, but it all adds up to failure.

As the GOP casts about for the inevitable "re-inventing itself" formula, here's one you'll probably never see: "America, we're sorry." It's far easier to blame the dirty hippies and the press than to take responsibility.

You can't forgive people who can't apologize, so yeah, I'm a partisan Democratic progressive, and I say "lump it" to anyone who wants to moan about partisanship. We have a Constitution to restore and a country to protect and build, and the people who are going to do that are Democrats. That doesn't mean all Democrats are always above reproach, but it does mean that I know which party will better represent all Americans.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Suburban bliss

Stepping outside just now to check the beef ribs on the barbeque, yard work behind me and neighborhood kids running through the sprinkler, I heard an ice cream truck playing "Look for the Union Label." Seriously. I grew up in the '70's, I know the tune, there was no mistaking it, even if it was played in that annoying calliope-type sound.
A song by Paula Green, music by Malcolm Dodds ©1975, UNITE
Union of Needltrades, Industrial and Textile Employees
(formerly International Ladies' Garment Workers'Union and other unions)

Look for the union label
when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse.

Remember somewhere our union's sewing,
our wages going to feed the kids, and run the house.

We work hard, but who's complaining?
Thanks to the I.L.G. we're paying our way!

So always look for the union label,
it says we're able to make it in the U.S.A.!
All is right with the world at this moment. Even the ice cream people are on our side. Surrender, cons and neo-cons, your political world is doomed.

Republicans afraid of teenagers with cameras

The GOP contenders for our nation's highest office are feeling skittish about participating in an unstaged debate format, observes David Postman:
Republican presidential candidates are not so sure they want to be part of September's CNN/YouTube debate. There are lots of theories floating around about why that is.
One of those theories - from SLOG - is that Republican candidates are afraid of facing the possibility that specific people may be able to address them publicly. Giuliani, for instance, is apparently scared that the New York firefighters may get an opportunity to embarrass him on national television.

TPM cites "liberal bias" as a constant "fear" (excuse) of the Republicans - and correctly, since reality is known to reinforce the progressive worldview, which is grounded by facts.

This bias nonsense, which the right wing has used for years, has been echoed by conservative blogs such as RedState, where claims that CNN, YouTube and the traditional media are all part of a liberal media machine abound. In fact, they have decided to insist that using any type of public medium will result in hostile coverage. I'll let you mull over that one a while.

Whatever the reason, it's clear that the GOP presidential wannabes don't understand the American people, especially youth. While the candidates' real reasons are avoiding the debate like the plague are somewhat murky, my theory is they are afraid someone will ask them if they are black enough.

The answer will be a resounding "No."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Exposing the bottled water sham

It's about time this happened:
The label on Aquafina water bottles will soon be changed to spell out that the drink comes from the same source as tap water, the brand's owner PepsiCo said today.

A group called Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring bottled water sellers to curb what it calls misleading marketing practices.

Aquafina is the single biggest bottled water brand, and its bottles are now labeled "P.W.S." The new labels will spell out "public water source."

"If this helps clarify the fact that the water originates from public sources, then it's a reasonable thing to do," PepsiCo spokeswoman Michelle Naughton said today.
Bottled water is basically tap water packaged in plastic. Drinking the water that comes out of your tap (especially here in the Northwest, which has an excellent system that is relatively clean and safe) is a healthier and more environmentally friendly practice. If you like your water chilled and further purified you can buy a BRITA or similar pitcher for your refrigerator.

Major Tom (Collins) to ground control...

According to the P-I, law enforcement will beef up patrols during SeaFair in order to catch people who have had too much to drink.

So if you see the Space Shuttle fly overhead during the event, call authorities immediately. Or stop drinking and have someone drive you home, whichever is appropriate.

Lining up to defeat Gordon Smith

Daily Kos has a front page post about a second Democratic candidate about to enter the race for the Oregon Senate seat currently held by Republican Gordon Smith. The new candidate is Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley, who will compete in the primary with activist Steve Novick.

Loaded Orygun has more details and scored a nice link from Kos. Well done! The effort to defeat Smith will certainly be a high priority for all northwest progressives next year. Kos had this to say:
Talking to people on the ground in Oregon, both candidates are highly regarded. This isn't a DLC vs. Reformer type race, and both these candidates have the potential to become people-powered candidates -- that is, lower-visibility candidates driven home by a mass popular movement. Merkley is seen as more "electable" because, well, he's been elected to office before. And his efforts to wrestle the House from Republican control last year is viewed with a mixture of gratitude and awe.

This will be a good primary and one in which, regardless the outcome, Democrats end up winners.
Quality candidates and a vulnerable, Bush-enabling incumbent. Who could ask for anything more?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Glenn Beck hearts John Birch

Glenn Beck thinks the John Birch Society is a-ok:
On his CNN Headline News show last night, host Glenn Beck hosted Sam Antonio, a national spokesperson for the John Birch Society, to discuss various “conspiracy theories” about immigration and border security, including the idea that “the Mexican government” has “a hold on our enforcement of laws here in America.” Beck told Antonio that he used to think the Society members were “a bunch of nuts,” but that they are now “starting to make more and more sense” to him.
Thank you, CNN Headline News, for putting a reactionary moron on the air every night. Tomorrow on Glenn Beck: The Skokie March: Hate fest or fun parade?

The level of stupidity on the right continues to astound. It's like they're so determined to prove they were correct about everything, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they will gladly continue on an ideological death spiral. Which, you know, is good for us, but it's still pretty weird. I honestly don't get it.

Back in the day Republicans were the practical, common sense ones, or so they said. Now they all try to top each other being crazy. (Well, the talkers do anyhow.)

Once you endorse the John Birch Society, where is there to go? I'm seeing Glenn Beck in a mass wedding performed by a certain owner of the Washington Times.

Hovde starts in on light rail

At first read today's Elizabeth Hovde column comes across as pretty reasonable. It's a technique she used to rely on more in her early days at The Columbian, when some readers thought she might even be a rare sensible Republican. Alas, a careful examination of her column shows nothing has changed. And it looks like Dina is ready to take on light rail.

Hovde has become pretty infamous around these parts for abusing her column to grind personal axes rather than address the broader needs of the community, and she gets off to a great start.
But now those Columbia River Crossing project folks are everywhere talking about a new Interstate 5 bridge, rapid transit in the form of buses or light rail and park-and-ride garages that could land in my west Vancouver neighborhood, playing host to more than 2,000 cars.
How horrible that mass transit might come to her area. I don't know exactly where Hovde lives, but to most people in Clark County if light rail might come in nearby, she lives awfully close to the urban core. You know, the one in which her publisher is building the gigantic new building.

But Dina is a good Northwesterner, and another thing she always seems to do is tout herself as a good human being.
I've always liked the idea of light rail. I have been a fan of alternative transportation and a mass-transit user since I was a teenager in Seattle commuting to and from jobs. I am a strong supporter of living near your work to minimize congestion and to encourage sustainability. Before I had kids, my husband and I often shared a vehicle to avoid the costs associated with operating two. For a few years, I biked to and from my job at The Columbian to avoid driving, taking C-Tran when the rain deterred me.
Well, good on her. Really. Living close to work, if possible, is smart.

The next thing in the Hovdian technique is to paint the opposition as less than good:
And many of the light-rail advocates I meet aren't commuters or are heavily dependent on their cars. Light rail seems to be a wish-list item - to be used by someone else.
Of course, she cites no evidence to back this claim up, because there isn't any. It's just a canard put out there by light rail opponents to foul the waters, like claiming that light rail is "100 year old technology," as if someone is proposing steam engines. It's so interesting how Hovde seeks to discredit pro-transit folks by trying to define them out of the discussion. Guess what: in a democracy, it's one person one vote, and you don't have to be an astronaut to have an opinion on NASA.

Later in the column we get to the real motive and purpose, which is to encourage people to stop the plans for mass transit by raising doubts about those sneaky engineers.
I've talked with transportation planners of various stripes. While they know that plenty of people commuting to Portland live along the I-5 corridor and that I-5 is the preferred route of travel for most commuters (as opposed to Interstate 205), they only have models to predict who will abandon their Hondas and Fords and Subarus to hop on a nifty rail car every morning.
How exactly would Hovde propose that engineers make predictions? Read The Columbian?

But the real reason to oppose light rail is because some loud mouth conservatives don't like it.
Having gotten to know this community over the past decade, I just don't see Clark County fitting into the model. The words "light rail" have always been fighting words here. And it really doesn't matter how people and politicians who live and work on this side of the river feel about light rail; officials need to know what those 60,000-plus commuters plan to do. If you're one of them, contact the Columbia River Crossing project and Vancouver City Council members...
Well, I would agree that people should contact government officials and let them know your opinion, because we don't have a paid editorialist on our side around here. Ever.

As for "fighting words," yeah, we progressives have to fight back against the 28% types who yell louder than everyone else.

As I've stated repeatedly on this blog, light rail is not a panacea, it's not perfect and frankly, I don't think I would support it for Clark County if it didn't already exist in Portland. But it does exist, and building a mile or two of track across a new bridge seems pretty sensible, especially since a mass transit component is considered a de facto requirement for federal funding. The only other option is "bus rapid transit," something Hovde doesn't even mention. If she's going to weigh in on the issue she should at least be intellectually honest about it.

UPI-Zogby poll: Iraq hurts our standing in world

Via Think Progress comes a blurb about a UPI-Zogby poll showing that a majority of Americans think the Iraq occupation has damaged our standing internationally. From Moonie-owned UPI:
Nearly 80 percent of participants in a UPI-Zogby International poll said the Iraq war has hurt the United States' standing the international community.

More than half -- 51.1 percent -- of the 7,562 U.S. residents who responded to the question strongly agreed with the statement, "The Iraq war has damaged the standing of the United States in the international community."

Another 25.4 percent said they somewhat agreed with the statement while 21.2 percent with somewhat disagreed (12.8 percent) or strongly disagreed (8.4 percent).
Admittedly, part of linking to polls is wish aspect one wishes to push. UPI also has a blurb featuring polling results showing Congress gets lower marks than George W. Bush on the war, attributed to strong dissatisfaction within the party over their inability to actually get something done about it. Which may be something of an unfair criticism, given the relatively short time Democrats have been in charge and the razor-thin margin in the Senate, not to mention the obstructionism displayed by the White House and Congressional Republicans.

Still, one broad-brush view to take away is that the people are still not happy with the Iraq occupation. A slight bump in Bush's approval numbers on the occupation doesn't really mean a lot at this point. A significant majority of 57% still give Bush a "poor" rating on Iraq, down from 59% last month, according to the UPI-Zogby poll. Not exactly a huge change in public opinion. If this were an election nobody would even be covering Bush any more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A reminder about our comments policy

There have been a number of recent attempts to post comments which are in violation of our year and a half old policy on leaving responses to posts. I have this week deleted a number of comments (all from right wing visitors) which personally demeaned me and contained unacceptable language.

I bring the subject up because of these attempts, and also because SLOG and HorsesAss have this week decided to actually create comment policies.

This blog constitutes part of NPI's presence in cyberspace. It's our house, so our rules apply. We don't tolerate hate speech, personal attacks, or trolling here. Period. Muck left in our comment threads will be cleaned out swiftly.

Some right wing visitors have complained about censorship. Let me explain something to you guys, using the words of Fox Noise hatemonger Bill O'Reilly:
BRADY: You know, there's no question DailyKos is clearly on the left. And one thing that comes up, especially with those open forums is you get a lot of lunatics come up. And I'm sure - I look at their site.

O'REILLY: You know, you - look, I have my own website. We don't - open forum is bull. All right? You can regulate what's on your website.
You see? "You can regulate what's on your own website." For once, in just that one emphasized phrase, O'Reilly actually makes sense.

And not only can we control the content of our own website, but, as responsible webmasters, we should. We believe in an open forum with limits, just as we believe in a capitalist economy with regulation.

DailyKos, incidentally, has its own mechanism for cleaning out garbage: the community enforced troll rating system, which is backed up by Markos, his technical administrators, and his team of editors.

Our comments policy has been in place since the beginning of 2006. It is as follows:

  • No profanity. We don't care what your political persuasion is - no profanity, please. There is no need for it. The right is trying to engage in a culture war. Their goals are to divide and disrupt. When swearing matches erupt, that's a victory for them.
  • Don't type in all caps. All caps is equivalent to shouting. Again, the right is trying to engage in a culture war. When shouting matches erupt, they win. Commenters who type in all caps will be first warned and then banned if they continue to comment in all caps.
  • Have something of value to say. We're going to be flexible with the definition of what we consider to be value. Value could be humor (including snark and satire), a polite correction, a personal viewpoint, new information, and so on. Value is a broad definition. For our policy, it covers everything that we don't consider trolling (or disruptive behavior). Comments that are totally off topic will not considered to qualify as having value.
Additionally, readers who choose to leave responses on our posts are expected to follow the guidelines of Online Integrity, which are mandatory for all of our contributors. These are:
  • Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online. This includes respect for the non-public nature of their personal contact information, the inviolability of their homes, and the safety of their families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted. The separateness of private persons’ professional lives should also be respected as much as is reasonable.
  • Public figures are entitled to respect for the non-public nature of their personal, non-professional contact information, and their privacy with regard to their homes and families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted.
  • Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases of criminal, misleading, or intentionally disruptive behavior.
  • Violations of these principles should be met with a lack of positive publicity and traffic.
Finally, when you comment, please use only one screen name or handle to identify yourself (use something appropriate - not "Thomas Jefferson" or "Darcy Burner Really Hates You") and refrain from posting the entirety of others' works when you say something. Your comment should be yours, not somebody else's. We will, as we have in the past, enforce our policy.

Please respect it and don't force us to delete what you write.

This contemptible presidency

The astounding arrogance of this administration continues apace. Congress appears to be losing patience. From MSNBC:
The contempt citations, issued against Josh Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, Mr Bush's former senior counsel, mark a significant escalation of a six- month tussle between the executive and legislative branches that could turn into a full-blown constitutional battle.
And it seems Alberto Gonzales may have been (surprise!) less than forthright in his testimony yesterday.
On Tuesday senators came close to accusing Alberto Gonzales, the embattled attorney-general and Bush loyalist, of perjury in the evasive testimony he gave over the sacking of the attorneys.

"There is no precedent for an administration to refuse its officials permission to testify to Congress; even Richard Nixon allowed it during the Watergate hearings," said Bruce Fein, a senior counsel in the Reagan administration.

"If Congress is denied the ability to oversee the executive then it is impotent. It has no choice but to respond."
Keith Olbermann was reporting on-air that there is "documentary evidence" that directly contradicts Gonzales' testimony yesterday about a briefing given to members of Congress. And the "p" word came up a lot in the broadcast, that being "perjury."

If the Bush administration is going to simply thumb its nose at the rule of law, then Congress may ultimately have no choice but to pass articles of impeachment against Gonzales and perhaps Cheney and Bush.

I've been fairly cool to the idea, given the closely divided Senate and the difficulty and turmoil involved in removing administration members by trial and conviction, but this is not a monarchy. Congress should stick to its guns and assert its lawful authority to oversee and review executive branch operations. "Executive authority" is not a license to be king.

Threatening comments on O'Reilly site draw Secret Service interest

AMERICAblog has been following some nasty comments left on Bill O'Reilly's web site that could be construed as threatening toward Hillary Clinton. For example, see this AMERICAblog post.

Lane Hudson at Huffington Post saw one of the AMERICAblog posts and decided to inform the appropriate authorities.
So, I did what a responsible person should do when they see something like this on a blog. I called the Secret Service to report it. This comment isn't about politics or defaming Senator Clinton. It outright states a threat to her life. It is unacceptable.

The Secret Service, who does an amazing job protecting their subjects, were very professional. The first person I spoke to transferred me to another person. Initially, she dismissed my comments. But, when I read her the comment and suggested that the person could be easily identified, she took me much more seriously. She called back minutes later, asking me to talk to someone else. That agent took the information and said that he would refer it to their Internet team.
Naturally, this is all in the context of O'Reilly's repeated attacks against Daily Kos, comparing it to the work of infamous fascist dictators.

It all starts to get a bit silly to the non-blog world, I'd imagine. Anyone who has ever ventured into the cesspools at Free Republic or Little Green Footballs knows these kinds of comments are a dime a dozen. But O'Reilly has made a serious tactical error by trying to take a few troll-rated comments from Daily Kos and claim they are representative, because now the right wing sites, including his, are fair game. Any serious journalist doing a story about the dust-up, if any are written, would have to consider what is posted on the right.

This is a very large country, and any political blog (and many other types of blogs) are going to have problems with people posting all sorts of nasty stuff. It's the nature of the beast.

It's been rather eye-opening to learn just how many people there are out there that think posting incredibly violent comments is appropriate. Sure, we throw some elbows around here, but I certainly draw the line way before threats of violence.

Most probably the threats on O'Reilly's site are just trash talk, but it's highly entertaining to see O'Reilly screw up this badly. He's way off his game, and doing our movement favors every day. Thanks, Bill-o.

Cheesey terrorist alert

From a Bloomberg article regarding weird stuff brought onto airplanes. Naturally, terrorism should be feared.
The document also describes a checked bag found Nov. 8 in Houston that contained a 9-volt battery, wires, pipes and a block of brown, claylike minerals. On Sept. 16, screeners in Baltimore discovered in a plastic bag in checked luggage with processed cheese taped to a second plastic bag holding a cellular telephone charger.
I suppose it's possible that some terrorists are conducting a "dry run" to probe our security, using cheese as a stand-in for explosives.

Or it's also possible that someone gets hungry late at night in hotel rooms and has a problem losing their cell phone charger, in which case the logical thing to do would be to tape the cheese to the charger. 'Cause a cheese lover ain't going to lose their cheese, now, are they?

It's also possible that terrorists are using clay to simulate explosives, and it's equally possible that artists may take some clay with them when they travel.

Yes, we will likely suffer a terrorist attack again. We support law enforcement and praise the hard working ones who are dedicated to protecting us, as opposed to the ones who would steal our cheese. The threat is real, and reasonable precautions should be taken.

Why people would be wrapping wires around stuff is beyond me, but since 28% of the population is known to be outright crazy, a figure which all recent polling backs up, a lot of this is likely just weirdness rather than terrorism.

Long before Sept. 11, 2001, I took some smoked salmon in a red cooler back to the Midwest, and found everyone was being extremely deferential to me. My wife had to explain to me I was carrying a cooler that was similar to those used to carry organs for transplants. I got some truly odd looks when I snuck a sample of the salmon.

Cheese is also funny, however you slice it. Hand sanitizer, on the other, um, hand, is not funny and it really, really stings if you get it in your eyes.

Idea Bankruptcy

Goldy catches a (Longview, WA.) Daily News article about Dino Rossi's last "Idea Bank" event, which is not a campaign, but a foundation that is seeking ideas. As Goldy notes, however, Rossi is pushing an idea that the people have already rejected by a wide margin at the polls. From TDN.com:
At Tuesday's forum, Rossi "primed the pump" with a couple of his own solutions to problems in Washington, including getting rid of the estate tax passed by Democrats in 2005. "It chases entrepreneurs out of our state," he said. "It is better to die in any other state of the union than in Washington."
Oy. It's so funny how Republicans often accuse progressives of being overly ideological, and here you have the main GOP non-candidate for governor pushing something that nobody cares about except a narrow range of very wealthy individuals and some ideological hacks. Rossi had to travel the state to come up with the Frank Blethen/Scott Campbell plan?

And the Idea Banks have been mostly, from what I can tell, GOP moan-fests featuring their stock complaints, namely that people not like them aren't being treated poorly enough.
One member of the audience said the state needed to cut all benefits for illegal immigrants and that the state should examine all tax returns of businesses, looking to see if the employees are legal.
And who, in the name of all that is holy, would pay for such a scheme? These are the same people who complain endlessly about government spending when it is used to invest in the common good, and then they want to turn around and use it for personal wish fulfillment. And hey, I know I would personally stand in ice water cutting fruit for 12 hours a day just to make sure I scammed the taxpayers.

A Rossi candidacy should be welcomed by Democrats. He's hobbled by having to play to the lunatic right base of the GOP, and since Gov. Chris Gregoire has done a fairly decent job, the voters are unlikely to seek a change.

Not saying it will happen, but it sure would be sweet to see her trounce Rossi. There's more than a reasonable chance that could happen, too, given the national political scene and a lack of serious state budget trouble.

Sure, Republicans are issuing dire warnings about an impending budget crisis, but those happen on a cyclical nature because of economic forces that are often far beyond the control of state government anyhow.

We could smooth the cycles out with a different tax system, but that will never happen, so we have to fund needed infrastructure and education system improvements when we can. An economic downturn could damage Gregoire's re-election chances, but that's always the case. Right now Rossi's non-candidacy is more of a legal curiosity than anything else.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Allen wrench of pain

Okay, Portland metro air travelers. Your worst fear has arrived. The Ikea store by PDX opens tomorrow. From The Columbian:
If you're flying out of Portland during this honeymoon period, get ready to run a gantlet.

"We are encouraging travelers to give themselves an extra 30 minutes," said Steve Johnson, airport spokesman.

IKEA shoppers are being asked to use arterial streets, primarily Northeast Alderwood Road and Northeast 82nd Avenue, to get to the store, and to leave the Airport Way exit for people trying to catch flights.
I don't have anything against Ikea. From what I understand, they offer both full and part time workers benefits and try to be "green" about stuff, like offering recycling of fluorescent light bulbs no matter the brand.

So compared to some U.S. retailers, they're probably okay.

But who are the people who camp out to buy self-assembly furniture? To each their own, I suppose, and if I were Swedish I would be glad to visit a store from my home country, but people used to camp out for Rolling Stones tickets, not home decor. It reminds me of the donut craze a few years back, with people driving 250 miles round trip to buy donuts. Nuts.

I'll admit I'm not a shopper, and frankly I can't stand most retail experiences, so the idea that a huge store full of stuff is a fun place to go is rather alien to me. Who knows, I'll probably check Ikea out at some point, but I'll definitely leave the tent and sleeping bag at home.

And what's up with putting the burden on air travelers?

Seems like some strict alternate routes should have been temporarily imposed if such huge crowds are expected, instead of this voluntary stuff. Like flying isn't enough of a pain in the neck already.

Vietnamization, redux

So how many Friedman Units (F.U.) will this take?
Against the background of the latest violence, the US ambassador, Ryan Crocker, began a second round of talks on Iraq with his Iranian counterpart.

Meanwhile, details of a classified campaign plan drawn up by Mr Crocker and General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, emerged in the New York Times.

The plan, covering a two-year period, does not explicitly address troop levels or withdrawal schedules. It anticipates a decline in American forces as the "surge" in troops runs its course later this year or in early 2008.

None the less, it assumes continued American involvement to train soldiers, act as partners with Iraqi forces and fight terrorist groups in Iraq, American officials told the Times.
It's utterly astounding the lengths to which this administration will go to avoid facing the reality of its failed Iraq occupation policy.

Bush is trying to limp the end of his reign, dump this mess on the next president and go build his library. Then the noise machine will proceed to blame the next president, because the next president could very well be a Democrat.

My crystal ball needs a needle because the old one was scratching the grooves on my records, but offhand I'd say we're just screwed. The occupation of Iraq must continue no matter the cost or result, so that our precious elites don't have to face the sickening errors they have made. They've been screwing the troops and the American people on this deal for so long they probably can't even recall what an actual democracy looks like.

A Democratic landslide next year, while some cause for hope, would be small consolation for an even worse situation in Iraq. Which is probably what we will face with the absurd choices being made in Washington, D.C. Sure, our troops do their jobs well and deserve praise and thanks, but that doesn't change internal Iraqi politics much at all.

F.U. forever!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Futurewise, SEIU 775 appeal I-960 decision to state Supreme Court

Regular readers of this blog will remember that just over a week ago our executive director liveblogged the Superior Court decision in Futurewise v. Reed, where Judge Catherine Shaffer refused to act to prevent I-960 from being certified for the ballot. Futurewise and SEIU 775, the plaintiffs in the case, have filed an emergency motion for accelerated review with the state Supreme Court because the Superior Court refused to actually consider the issues at hand:
The King County Superior Court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' case failed to properly consider the subject matter raised by Appellants. The Court refused to consider whether I-960's supermajority and voter approval requirements were within the scope of the initiative process.

If I-960 is beyond the scope of the initiative process, it serves the interest of the People, the initiative process, and the judiciary to so rule before the election. Should the measure gain approval of a majority of voters, post-election invalidation would likely cause some voters to feel that their voice was ignored or overruled, and the People disenfranchised, when in fact the measure should never have been placed before them for consideration.
We applaud our allies Futurewise and SEIU 775 for fighting to take this case to the next level. The way to defeat the destructive policies proposed by ideologues like Tim Eyman is to constantly fight back and not cede an inch. Eyman thinks he won a victory in court on June 13th, but this lawsuit is not dead yet.

We hope the Court will take this case and recognize the importance of setting a firm precedent for protecting our Constitution - the organic laws of this state approved by the people - from abuse of the initiative process.

The hidden costs of growth in Clark County

The Oregonian reports on the need for more courtroom space in Clark County. The article is mostly about a plan to create a temporary family law annex two blocks or so from the courthouse, which will free up space in the main building. But there are a couple of paragraphs that struck me as revealing about the costs of growth the public doesn't probably see much:
The state has approved the 10th position and agreed to pay half the judge's salary, which will be $140,000 as of Sept. 1. But with nowhere to put another judge, the court has yet to ask the county commissioners for the other half of the salary.

---snip---

A 2006 state study determined that Superior Court already lags by three positions what is needed for the county's population. That need will grow as the population and number of filings do.
Considering this is just one aspect of government services, that's pretty striking. Growth doesn't pay for itself, at least not how we do it.

Two things about growth management always struck me as absurd. There are traffic "concurrency" laws that allow six years to complete roads that serve new development, which is both "non-concurrent" and completely backwards. I've never understood how six years is considered a reasonable amount of time to fix things, as the inevitable result (at least in Clark County) seems to be that capacity is long gone by the time projects are completed.

Plus local governments are pretty much free to just gut the standards willy-nilly. I think they could set a level of service of zero miles per hour if they wished.

Also, there is no concurrency standard at all for public schools. We apparently value asphalt more than children. It's no big mystery how many public school students can be expected per housing unit. The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction requires school districts to use a well established formula for population projections, meaning city and county planners could use the same numbers. But we don't ensure that someone is going to pay for the classroom space before projects are approved.

It seems kind of nuts, or at least rather deficient given the incredibly detailed planning that occurs these days.

While the anti-tax climate has eased somewhat, thanks in part to years of Republican intransigence and neglect when it comes to infrastructure needs, it's always going to be tough for counties and cities. People "want the bad guys locked up," but sometimes they don't seem so willing to pay for it.

It's the perfect scam for the BIAW and Republicans. Build, build, build, tax, tax, tax, and then claim Democrats are at fault. Developers get rich and the rest of us get the bill. Your free market at work.

Still not ready to make debate

For the record, I don't care about a debate some 15 months before the election. And I really don't care if alleged citizen questions are screened and delivered by an internet video service. From ABC:
Candidates, too, are embracing the medium. A number of candidates have provided viewers with clips from town hall meetings. Sen. Hillary Clinton even filmed an Internet video, spoofing "The Sopranos" final TV episode. It was shot in a diner and featured her husband, Bill, and fried onion rings.

In Monday night's debate, the Democratic candidates will answer questions up-loaded from actual voters onto the YouTube Web site. Some of them are silly, such as a woman in a bathrobe singing a plea to the candidates to do something about telephone call center outsourcing.
Whatever. I need sunscreen and ice tea, and I'll need it next summer as well.

My complaint has nothing at all to do with partisanship. Presidential campaigns are absurdly long. Regular people may care, but they aren't going to live this campaign for 24 months or whatever.

So everyone enjoy the debate, I'll be mowing the lawn. It's all so predictable and meaningless. Personally, I prefer a light trim around the ears with some mousse and a light spritzing of spray...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Farfur dies, but television brainwashing continues in Middle East

Farfur, the Palestinian Mickey Mouse parody from the TV show "Tomorrow's Pioneers" - geared towards teaching Palestinian children how to kill Israelis was killed himself on July 13th, during the show (by a Jew, of course). He was replaced by Nahoul, Farfur's bumblebee cousin, and is taking over as martyr.

From the Jerusalem Post:
Farfur, the life-size Mickey Mouse lookalike, was killed in a recent episode, murdered off-screen by an Israeli interrogator infuriated by the mouse's heroic refusal to sell his homeland for lots of money to the Jews.

"Yes, our children friends, we lost our dearest friend, Farfur," the program's little girl host, Saraa, who must be all of 10, told her viewers sadly. "Farfur turned to a martyr while protecting his land. He turned into a martyr at the hands of the criminals and murderers. The murderers of the innocent children... You saw that the Jews let Farfur die as a martyr."
Regardless of your feelings towards the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, this stuff is pretty sick. If you've ever wondered why "solving the middle east conflict" has proved so difficult for the United States, maybe they should first look at what the countries are teaching their children.

(links to Farfur's history: here, here, here, and here)

To see how bad it has gotten, watch the original You-Tube video of Farfur. There is some controversy that it has been poorly translated, but I have spoken with some fellow bloggers that speak Arabic, and they said that while there are a few translation issues, the content is the same, and the words are equally creepy in Arabic.

Bill Kristol, monarchist

Conservative pundit Bill Kristol is a royalist jerk:
Today on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol attacked the Democratic presidential candidates for their decision to attend the YearlyKos blogger convention. He held it up as evidence that the presidential candidates have “gone left.”

“Every Democratic presidential nominee is going to the DailyKos convention,” said Kristol. “That’s the left-wing blogger who was not respectable three or four years ago. The Howard Dean kind of sponsor. Now the whole party is going to pay court to him and to left wing blogs.”
Imagine, Democratic candidates speaking to Democratic activists. How shocking.

As Think Progress and others have noted, the YearlyKos convention is independent of its blog namesake, and will be comprised of some 1,500 or so activists representing a wide range of viewpoints and backgrounds.

What's been going on with conservative attacks against Daily Kos and the convention is another case of conservative projection. Lacking much ability to understand those who are different from them, they seem to assume that since their own bloggers are generally borderline types with extreme views, then those who read and post on Daily Kos must be a mirror image of the conservative blog world.

As anyone who has ever read Daily Kos for more than five minutes will tell you, that simply isn't true. Falsehoods are rapidly exposed there, and over the line comments are quickly troll rated into oblivion. It's not perfect because no moderation system built by humans can be perfect, but it stands head and shoulders above most conservative sites in both the quality of discussion and the overall decorum.

While it's easy to guess that Bill Kristol is clueless, which he is, there's an arrogance there that is antithetical to democracy. Kristol has no moral standing to pass judgment on me (or you, or you or you out there in progressive blog-o-land.) None. Kristol is one of the pundits most responsible for the disastrous occupation of Iraq, and in most professions when you screw up in an historic fashion you get fired. For wingnut welfare recipients, they get lots of face time on Fox Noise.

As many, many blogs have pointed out, the American people are with us. The failed conservative movement is outside the mainstream, and for pundits like Kristol to keep trying to demonize progressive bloggers is ridiculous. But then, they can't really point to the positive record of accomplishment of the Cheney-Bush administration, can they?

It's true that there will be some issues where progressives will not, at first, succeed. There are powerful interests arrayed against meaningful health care reform, for example. But people like Kristol think we don't even have the right to be heard by candidates from our own party. In other words, Kristol doesn't seem to believe in democracy at all. He's a monarchist.

It's a futile question, but I can't resist: why is an arrogant fool like Bill Kristol even on the television? I'd be more interested to hear Britney Spears' and Lindsay Lohan's opinions. At least we know they're human and feel pain.

Kristol sits there in his tailored suits, blithely proclaiming who can be heard and who can't. He wouldn't last a minute in a real world situation; most city council candidates would clean the floor with him. But then Kristol wouldn't have the guts to actually put his name on a ballot anyway. History, if it remembers him, will place him as a footnote in the history of propaganda of this era.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Streetcar Sam talks transit

One Portland city commissioner sees lots of streetcars as part of the solution to transportation and environmental problems. From The Oregonian:
The Portland Streetcar, long considered a downtown transit and redevelopment tool, could reach disparate parts of the city under a vision described on Friday by City Commissioner Sam Adams in a speech to the Portland City Club. The commissioner oversees the Portland Office of Transportation, which is developing a 30-year rail transit plan for the city, with implications for the metro area.

"What would Portland look like if we implemented solutions to global warming and peak oil?" Adams said. "It would look a lot like Portland circa 1920, a time when the main means of motion were your feet, streetcars and bikes."

The rail transit vision for the region was just one factor in a wide-ranging speech on transportation that Adams portrayed as an overwhelmed, underfunded system with a dire backlog of delayed maintenance.

"Portland's streets are killing and injuring people despite the fact that we know how to make them safer," Adams said. "We have lacked adequate funds to implement safety solutions, to enforce traffic laws and educate road users."
The streetcar idea is interesting, in that you need a means to extend the transit system into districts not served by light rail.

Naturally, you can't come home from Costco on a trolley, at least not if you bought very much stuff. But we have to come to grips with the idea that it's okay to have transit to reduce automobile trips and give people choices. People will still have personal transportation, it will just be used less and more people will choose not to own cars.

It's not crazy to imagine renting a car once or twice a week for a few hours to do major grocery shopping or other errands requiring a car, and relying on transit the rest of the time, at least in the more urbanized areas. Suburbs are tougher due to their spread out nature, but buses can play a role there as well.

To change the focus slightly, and this is not a new point, but it still surprises me that ensuring our cities can still function fairly well if there is a petroleum crisis is hardly ever discussed as a national security issue. Those of us who are old enough to remember the fuel shortages in the 1970's can easily imagine it happening again.

Maybe we could have Rosie the Riveter type posters that say "Tell a a terrorist I'm taking the trolley."

At any rate, Portland has an edge on many cities with its light rail system, and even though everything about MAX is not perfect, the main thing about it is that it actually exists.

I don't know why some folks like to hate trains that people can ride, when so many seem to love trains that haul stuff. It's weird.

People will fly to Florida and joyfully ride a monorail to the Magic Kingdom for their vacation, but offer them something similar in their town and it's a socialist plot. Go figure.

Hey, maybe we should build a monorail! Well, okay, maybe not.

Romney holding "Obama, Osama" sign in photo

TMZ.com has a set of two photos of Mitt Romney standing next to a woman holding a sign in South Carolina that says, "No to Obama Osama and Chelsea's Moma (sic.)" In the second photo Romney is actually holding the sign.

I can appreciate the fact that candidates have to deal with all sorts of weirdos, cretins and poorly educated people who cannot spell simple words, especially on the GOP side, but that's pretty low. That's what passes for wit in South Carolina Republican circles I guess, which reveals the dangers of watching cars drive in a circle for hours in 100 degree heat.

(Liberal elitist alert! Yes, South Carolina Republicans, this incident confirms that I am better than you, especially at spelling. Now stop looking at this blog, you've been trying to decipher this post for over an hour. "Decipher," look it up in the dictionary. Oh never mind, it's propping up the washing machine on the porch anyhow.)

Imagine the press reaction if one of us went to a Romney event with a sign that disparaged the history of polygamy among Mormons. You'd be lucky not to be run over by the satellite trucks.

Iraq solution: better advertising

A story in The Washington Post regarding a $400,000 Rand Corporation study about "re-branding" the occupation of Iraq to make it more consumer friendly to Iraqis is one of the most asinine things I have seen lately.
In an urban insurgency, for example, civilians can help identify enemy infiltrators and otherwise assist U.S. forces. They are less likely to help, the study says, when they become "collateral damage" in U.S. attacks, have their doors broken down or are shot at checkpoints because they do not speak English. Cultural connections -- seeking out the local head man when entering a neighborhood, looking someone in the eye when offering a friendly wave -- are key.
Yep, people have a hard time helping you out when they are dead. Good lord.

But the article gets worse:
Wal-Mart's desired identity as a friendly shop where working-class customers can feel comfortable and find good value, for example, would be undercut if telephone operators and sales personnel had rude attitudes, or if the stores offered too much high-end merchandise. For the U.S. military and U.S. officials, understanding the target customer culture is equally critical.
Yes, the "target customer" is important in Iraq. And you can't make this stuff up.

Obviously what we need to do is stock Iraq with cheap Chinese plastic crud and have an old guy stand at the border going "How ya doing?" If anyone tries to join a union we can fly in some executives from Arkansas to have a little talk and rally with free cheesecake and muffins. That should do it.

It just gets more painful. Here Duane Schattle of the Joint Forces Command extols the value of a business oriented approach:
"We want to look at new concepts, new business practices, to see if there are things that we can learn," he said. Since his office was established after the U.S. military issued a new doctrine for urban warfare in 2002, "we've been collecting lessons learned from all over the world," he said. "Not just Iraq and Afghanistan, but places like the Philippines and South America. Wherever there have been fights, we went out and looked at them."
Okay, it's good that the Pentagon studies things, but if anyone seriously thinks that our woes in Iraq can be helped with better advertising, they are deluded. It's not that Pentagon types don't know their jobs, it's that the Bush administration eroded whatever chances we had after the initial invasion by sending political operatives to oversee Iraq instead of career military and diplomatic personnel.

The shorthand for that disaster, headed by Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer, became known in blog circles as "The Young Republican Office on the Tigris." Everything this administration has done domestically or internationally has been in the context of the attempted Rovian "permanent majority." From the Justice Department to the U.S. Supreme Court to Iraq, all they care about is holding power. If they could prove that a flat tax or a stock market scheme or some variant of health care deregulation worked in Iraq, that would teach those dirty hippie Democrats back home a thing or two. Sadly for all involved, especially Iraqis, the entire lunatic plan foundered on Republican ineptitude combined with cultural realities on the ground.

The analogies presented in the WaPo article are all wrong, and strike me as superficial. If Wal-Mart came to your house in the middle of the night, took your sons to prison and then rode through your neighborhood every morning in armored vehicles, exactly what kind of "branding" would it take to win you you over?

People don't like their country being occupied. We learned that during the Vietnam War. That is not to say, as conservatives like to suggest, that all progressives are against military force. But when deception followed by bad execution followed by administration stubbornness has a vast majority of the American people convinced that we need to start planning to exit, it's time for a change.

The Middle East is dangerous, but that's not an excuse for continuing a failed policy ad infinitum. Our Iraq policy may be hurting our ability to deal with places like Pakistan, which at last glance has not only harbored al-Qaeda but also has nuclear weapons and serious internal strife. The United States may possess awesome military power with dedicated service members, but every country has finite resources. We need to focus better.

Real leaders and real political movements adapt to changing circumstances. Whatever the tenuous justification originally was for invading Iraq, those who insist on never, ever changing that policy just to punish the "dirty hippies" in America are doing us a great disservice. If anyone can make a real case for how staying in Iraq is helping either us or the Iraqis, beyond the usual platitudes and useless World War II analogies, they should make it or admit that we need to start planning to leave.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Breasts -- the new sharks

Well, at least we've moved on from hairstyles to cleavage. Miss Laura at Daily Kos fills us in on the "boobs at The Washington Post:"
This story is so inappropriate on so many levels my mind can't stretch to encompass them all. The notion that the outfit the Post pictures Clinton wearing was worthy of a single sentence is a sign of the idiocy of the traditional media. The story that resulted from that notion is unconscionable and appalling, piling paragraph after paragraph onto the added burden women in the public eye already face.
You know, I really like Miss Laura's work at Dkos, but she really shouldn't, er, get her panties in such a bunch. So to speak.

Miss Laura clearly doesn't understand about the secret fantasy shared by every male conservative, brought to light in 1993 by the now-defunct Spy magazine. Click here to view that cover, and if you're a conservative, just look away, you can't handle it.

Meanwhile, Senator Clinton (oh yeah, she's in the Senate!) is fighting back after being attacked by Pentagon officials for making reasonable requests for information in the course of her duties as an elected official. From MSNBC:
The latest in the controversy over that Pentagon letter to Hillary Clinton... Clinton and John Kerry held a conference call with reporters this afternoon to announce legislation that requires the Pentagon to brief -- classified if necessary -- the Congress with contingency plans for redeploying troops from Iraq. Clinton said she was forced to draw up the legislation because she felt the issue was being politicized instead of receiving the answers from Secretary Gates she felt she deserved. In fact, she called Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman's response in the letter "offensive and totally inappropriate."

"I sent a serious letter on a matter of national security to the Secretary of Defense, and in return received a political response," she said. "I wrote yesterday to Secretary Gates renewing my call on the Bush Administration to immediately provide a redeployment strategy that will keep our brave men and women safe as they leave Iraq -- instead of adhering to a political strategy to attack those of us like Senator Kerry and myself who rightfully question their competence and preparedness after years of mistakes and misjudgments."
Why, the nerve of that woman. She should soften her image, maybe wear something more feminine. Oh, yeah, um, never mind.

Clinton rules, people, Clinton rules. You knew the '90's were the best time of your life, but you didn't know they were the rest of your life, did you?

Any day now they'll drag old Ken Starr back from California or wherever he went and we can start back where we left off. Someone call Newt and Sam Donaldson and it'll be a regular reunion.

This time around, I'm buying Apple at $9.25, I swear.

JetBlue strands itself in convention flap

Still catching up from vacation, I see that Bill O'Reilly has managed to cow JetBlue into removing its logo from the YearlyKos Convention site.

Seems Bill-o compared Daily Kos to the Nazi Party and the Klan, which is about par for the course for Bill-o and the rest of the psychotic right. They don't have much in the way of facts or accomplishments on their side, so this sort of thing is what they are left with. It's pathetic when you think about it.

I can't go to YearlyKos, but I would have if possible, and NPI is sending at least two staff members. To equate Daily Kos or the convention with genocidal maniacs may be good for ratings, but it's not journalism and it's not (ahem) civil. I know, politics ain't beanbag, but this appeal to lizard-brain conservatives has been going on for decades now, and look where it has led.

It's also pretty insulting to those whose families were affected by the horrific violence the Nazis and the Klan were responsible for.

O'Reilly is nothing more than a caricature, and as his overlord masters at Fox and the GOP continue to slip, so does he.

A more practical question is: who there is left for conservatives to hate on all the time? And for our conservative fellow citizens, we must ask, didn't your mothers tell you how tiring and corrosive hate is? You claim to love America and support the troops, but you spend all your time hating on people. This is not the way forward for our country or our region. In the end all you wind up with is more hate.

There needs to be a rapprochement in this country so that we can better face our common threats and challenges. But that won't happen in the current media climate. As long as the GOP encourages and supports its noise machine, progressives have every right and responsibility to fight this evil, corrupt and destructive ideology through every legal avenue possible. And if we have to throw some rhetorical elbows now and then, so be it.

Marginal tax rates can be debated; you call me a Nazi and you deserve an unprintable expletive in response. Nothing mysterious or duplicitous about that, and in fact making politics a miserable, unpleasant endeavor has been a hallmark of the GOP for a very long time now. Drive enough regular people out of the process and special interests and ideologues get to run things.

It would be easy to get all up in arms with JetBlue, but I long ago stopped worrying about companies that run cruddy businesses. I crossed JetBlue off my list when they became yet another airline that leaves its passengers stranded on planes in miserable conditions, with the stench of human waste filling the air.

Of course, that's better than putting human waste on the air, which is what Fox Noise does. Any way you look at it, it's all an unprintable expletive.

NPI releases sixteenth podcast

This morning we're pleased to announce the release of our our sixteenth podcast.

In this episode, I moderate a friendly debate between the two Democratic candidates running for the office King County Prosecutor in the August 21st, 2007 primary election, featuring reader submitted questions and introductions provided by both of the contenders - Bill Sherman and Keith Scully.

If you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, or ideas for future episodes, send us a note. If you want to subscribe to our Media RSS feed to be notified immediately when new podcasts are released, follow this link.

Members of NPI - Northwest Progressive Institute - Northwest Progressive Institute

If you are an iTunes user and want to subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, click the button above to do so directly.

Indoor market closure a setback in Vancouver?

The Columbian reports on a serious setback to the continuing efforts to turn downtown Vancouver into a truly thriving urban area:
Less than two years after the Vancouver Farmers Market jumped into the restaurant business with visions of a bustling indoor bazaar like Seattle’s Pike Place Market, its directors are giving up.

The nonprofit organization is more than $200,000 in debt and losing more almost every day.

The market this week told its vendors that the indoor space will close Sept. 30.
The popular outdoor market will remain, although that one isn't open all year. (Kind of hard to have an outdoor farmer's market here in January.)

I've come to have a mixed opinion of the redevelopment efforts in Vancouver. A lot of positive things have been accomplished over the years. In the early 1990's, the former brewery site sat like an industrial monolith over the whole area, and then the site sat for years as a rather clean pile of rubble.

While I tend to make fun of some political leaders' absolute faith in the free market, in this case the market is a continuing and serious challenge. While millions have been spent on some wonderful improvements, most notably Esther Short Park and the downtown Hilton, downtown Vancouver still, somehow, just doesn't seem to have the kind of traffic that would make things like an indoor farmer's market work.

The long standing criticism I have leveled at Vancouver is that while downtown investment is truly a worthy goal, it leaves the impression on the east side of the city that their needs are being ignored. It's kind of hard to care about the niceties of urban planning when your neighborhood is being afflicted by crime, traffic and school overcrowding.

It's also sadly amusing when the same political elite that extols the nearly magical wisdom of business folks continually turns around and subsidizes them. To overstate things, the free market is best when liberals have an idea, and subsidies are best when they wind up in the pocket of those magically wise business folks. (If you read The Columbian article, it says that the housing authority has been renting the space to the city for well below market rate.)

I'm certainly no expert at urban planning, but I do wonder if the days of big-ticket projects that receive public money are numbered in downtown Vancouver. If the idea is to provide the basic infrastructure and "seed money," people are going to start asking for results, not failures. It doesn't bode well for the mixed-use Riverwest project, which not only received special legislation but public subsidy in the form of the new main branch for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Some people might wonder why new, subsidized retail space is being built when the mystical magical free market doesn't want any more right now.

There's also an intangible that no government can really tackle: Vancouver just isn't that cool. There's potential; there are a handful of good restaurants and shops, but it is not in any way a destination district. There are sporadic attempts to breathe life into the arts and cultural scene, but they certainly don't seem to get the money brick and mortar does. There's more to a city than buildings.

Another huge factor will be what happens to the I-5 bridge. Years of construction could conceivably have an adverse impact, although if handled correctly, I suppose the obstacles of road construction could be used to encourage more folks to visit downtown. Combined with the planned closure and relocation of the much-loathed 7th Street Transit center, things could still look up down there.

One year after purchase of Sonics, Bennett still hoping for public subsidy

Republican Clay Bennett and his conservative cronies are working hard on re-opening talks about keeping the Sonics in Seattle.
Bennett, who is in Seattle today, said he asked for a meeting as soon as possible. Bennett has continually said city-owned KeyArena is inadequate for his teams, but this week, on the one-year anniversary of his purchase of the teams, he said he wants to talk.

It's time to "re-engage on this issue," Bennett said in a statement.
While Bennett portrays his efforts save the Sonics in Seattle as noble(ish), he is not in support of remodeling Key Arena, nor is he willing to put forth the money for a brand new stadium himself, and there have long been rumors of him moving the team to Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

In addition, he traded Ray Allen and let Rashard Lewis leave - in essence giving up on this year's team even though he wants to get Seattle fans excited about his proposals for a new stadium.

Are those the signs of a person trying to keep the NBA in Seattle? To hear Bennett talk, it sounds like the onus is on anybody but him:
Bennett spoke with the P-I before leaving town Thursday and indicated solutions must come from Seattle's political and business leaders.

"This is not Clay Bennett's decision," he said.

"It's a public policy decision for this marketplace. Is the NBA important? Is the NBA valued? Do the leadership and the systems in this community want to keep the NBA and WNBA?"
(Emphasis mine). And if Nickels & Co. don't act?
"I'm increasingly convinced that the economic viability of the team in Oklahoma City is better than it will be here," Bennett said. "It (would be) the only pro franchise in the state. There's enormous enthusiasm for the NBA. There's not the dilution of the broad entertainment activities in this marketplace.

"The Sonics would be an iconic event for Oklahoma City," he said. "It would get the focus and support of people statewide and become an important event not just for sports, but for social and economic development."
Nice to finally see what Clay Bennett is really thinking and feeling in print.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Toothfish lie bites noise machine

I see that while I was away with my family ignoring the inanity and insanity of the political world, the conservative world was abuzz with the alleged news that Al Gore served endangered fish at his daughter's wedding rehearsal dinner. Which, long story short, isn't true at all, as last I heard the groom's family does the rehearsal dinner and it turns out the fish was certified as legal.

As usual, conservative baloney gets inserted into the traditional corporate press thanks to dedicated right-wing liars. A science blogger called Deltoid does some journalism about the Chilean sea bass lie/smear against Gore:
I did a Factiva search and found that this was the first time that the Daily Telegraph had ever printed an opinion piece from the Humane Society International, so I called Rebecca Keeble and asked her about the genesis of the piece. It seems that the first she heard about the matter was when she was contacted by the Daily Telegraph, told that Gore had served Chilean sea bass, and was invited to write an opinion piece.

She didn't want to tell me who it was who commissioned the piece, but it's not hard to figure out. You see, the opinion editor of the Daily Telegraph is Gore-hater Tim Blair. He first blogged about the story here.

Then he contacted Keeble and put her opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph. Next he put up a post linking to Keeble's piece. Then it was picked by Glenn Reynolds and Matt Drudge who can be relied upon to run with any anti-Gore story they come across.

Once Drudge had linked it, Tapper knew it was OK for him to run with the story. And that's how it's done.
As Winston Churchill said, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on. Conservatives have adopted this as their default modus operandi from the top of the GOP to the bottom, and they think there is nothing wrong with it. Then when they get called on it, they whine a bit, talk about how tough things are, and start planning the next lie and the next smear.

I guess I don't know how to stop it. You can believe that in 2008 many GOP candidates and their supporters at all levels will continue to resort to all sorts of tricks, smears, innuendos, false complaints and anything else they think will help their sick cause, no matter how sleazy. The conundrum, as always, is how best to counter GOP sleaze. When you ponder how quickly and widely the Chilean sea bass lie was spread around the globe, it's fairly disheartening.

The thing is you never know what crazy allegation they will make and which one will stick, and which journalist will find merit in it. Bad things tend to happen in life and in government sometimes, and whether it's a murder or a corrupt state employee or a minor gaffe at a public function, the noise machine will be there to try to pin the blame on Democrats.

Which begs the question: what if someone threw a smear and nobody came? In other words, if there are entities out there that purport to operate in the public interest by delivering information, what exactly are those institutions doing about the tremendous problem of smear politics?

Whichever side one is one, very few people can argue with a straight face that smears are somehow in the public interest.

It must be considered, of course, that differentiating between a smear and a legitimate charge is not easy, especially in the heat of campaigns. We respect and admire journalists who do the hard slogging under deadline pressure to try to establish the facts, and if a Democrat deserves to be called out on something, then that's fine. But haircuts, menu selections and other minutiae rarely rise to the level of true importance, even if some bone-headed hack at ABC gets off on it.

Doing something about the problem of smears does not mean, in all cases, refusing to report things, although when it comes to Democratic hairstyling there better have been a fire in the salon or something. It might mean, though, refusing advertising or exposing the smears more thoroughly and more repeatedly.

What if the networks had devoted some one hour specials to exposing the Swift Boat Liars? Surely that would have been in the public interest. (Yes, I'm dreaming, but I've been away from the television and newspapers for literally days now.)

At any rate, there is a neat closure here in that the noise machine that made up so many falsehoods about Gore (internet, love story, etc.) now resorts to trying to ruin the wedding of his daughter.

I think that shows you what kind of perverse individuals inhabit the conservative blogosphere and the auxiliary sectors of the American press that enable it.

It didn't matter that it was a deliberate lie, and it didn't matter that it might affect a young woman's memory of her matrimony.

What mattered was putting a cheap hit on Al Gore, because a lot of Americans wouldn't mind seeing him set things right in January 2009. And that scares the cons, because Gore isn't playing their game any more.

Arrest made in death of Mike Webb

The Seattle Times reports the apprehension of a suspect in the slaying of former KIRO radio personality Mike Webb.

Seattle police have arrested a suspect in the slaying of former KIRO radio talk-show host Mike Webb, whose decomposing body was found inside his house June 28.

The 28-year-old man being held at the King County Jail for investigation of murder is Webb's former roommate.

The suspect was arrested Wednesday at Trolley Hill Park on Queen Anne Hill after officers were tipped to his location, Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz said during a news conference this afternoon.
Webb apparently befriended the suspect in November 2006. Shortly thereafter he moved into Webb's West Seattle home.

John McMullen, a longtime friend of Webb's, said that Webb had given the suspect a place to live while he worked through drug addiction recovery.

"Mike had been in recovery and he tried to help many in the gay and lesbian community as a sponsor," McMullen said.
The suspect has not been named as charges have not been filed.

Cheney Energy Task Force Members Outed

A White House insider has blown the whistle on Dick B. Cheney's Energy Task Force. It now appears that Cheney had good reason to keep his Energy Task Force a secret. The list of massive oil conglomerates and right wing think tanks that participated is wide and deep.
A confidential list prepared by the Bush administration shows that Cheney and his aides had already held at least 40 meetings with interest groups, most of them from energy-producing industries. By the time of the meeting with environmental groups, according to a former White House official who provided the list to The Washington Post, the initial draft of the task force was substantially complete and President Bush had been briefed on its progress.
The beginnings of Cheney's successful attempts at keeping his dealings in the dark started with his ability to keep quiet the membership of the task force. Aided by the courts, Cheney was able to hide the list from the public at a time when the nation was more focused on the aftermath of the events of 9-11.

This leak draws much needed sunlight upon one of the most infamous items on the already large list of questionable activities by one of the least popular vice presidents of all time.

Democratic congressional leaders to participate in YearlyKos 2007

This is really shaping up to be a blockbuster event:
YearlyKos Convention organizers announced today that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, and Sen. Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer will participate in a unique Ask the Leaders Forum to be held August 4 in Chicago.

The event—much like the YearlyKos Presidential Leadership Forum that will be held later that afternoon—empowers citizens to engage America's current Senate and House leadership in substantive discussion about hot topics such as Iraq.

Emanuel serves as House Democratic Caucus Chair; and Schumer, the Senior Senator from New York, is chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"We are proving that the best kind of democracy is flat," said YearlyKos Convention Executive Director Gina Cooper. "By decreasing the distance between citizens and their leaders, regular people are better able to affect the direction of our country. And these leaders are showing their commitment to regular people by being here."

The 8 a.m. panel will be moderated by Bob Geiger, who covers the Senate for the Huffington Post, AlterNet and other online publications and is considered by many to be the Progressive blogosphere's go-to guy on U.S. Senate activity.
Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, and Emanuel are the latest additions to a huge ensemble of Democratic leaders that are joining the largest ever gathering of the netroots. Also scheduled to speak are General Wesley Clark, Governor Howard Dean, and Senator Dick Durbin. Senators Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, and Governor Bill Richardson are all participating in the Presidential Leadership Forum to be held the same day.

I'm disappointed that I can't go myself, but NPI is sending a great group to YearlyKos, including our Executive Director and Events Coordinator. I can't wait to read their reports on the convention happenings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Infrastructure failure injures New Yorkers

A steam pipe explosion beneath a street near Grand Central Terminal in New York earlier today caused havoc in New York, scaring commuters who were on their way home from work and creating a mess:
Officials said that one person died and more than 30 were hurt, two of them critically. The city said that three firefighters and one police officer were among the injured.

The blast, near 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, raised fears of terrorism, but officials were quick to dismiss that possibility. “There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.
Emphasis is mine. Regrettable accidents like this could be prevented if we spent our money on actual needs - like maintaining and enhancing our infrastructure instead of launching preemptive attacks against other countries and overextending the military force that is supposed to protect the people of this country, not incite more angry feelings toward America by serving as the de facto police force in another nation whose people do not want us there.

Rodney Tom faces uphill battle in campaign for Democratic nomination

The P-I has an excellent story this morning about the Tom campaign kickoff and a subsequent announcement from Darcy Burner's campaign yesterday.

Here's a powerful excerpt from the beginning of the article:
If he wants to be the Democratic nominee to take on U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert in the 2008 election, state Sen. Rodney Tom might have to convince his party's rank and file that his past sins as a Republican are behind him.

For example, his campaign contributions to such Republicans as state Attorney General Rob McKenna, Secretary of State Sam Reed, Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, King County Councilman Reagan Dunn and Dino Rossi, the 2004 and likely 2008 candidate for governor.

And the money he gave Mainstream Republicans of Washington and the state Republican Party.

And some of the votes he took in the Democrat[ic]-controlled state House against a number of Democratic causes, including an oil spill prevention bill and a symbolic measure urging Congress to oppose the Bush administration's ill-fated plan to permit private Social Security accounts.

Tom, 43, supported those Republican views and candidates after being elected to the state House of Representatives as a Republican in 2002 and 2004, but before he switched parties and won election to the state Senate as a Democrat in 2006 by defeating a GOP incumbent.

As Tom announced his candidacy for Congress at a Renton news conference Tuesday, a national organization that backs progressive Democratic candidates announced its endorsement of Darcy Burner, his primary opponent, who also ran against Reichert in 2006. The 21st Century Democrats slammed Tom for some of his past actions as a Republican.
Two years ago, during the 2006 cycle, when Darcy Burner was beginning to put her campaign together, Rodney Tom was a Republican in the state House of Representatives. Less than eight months later, in the spring of 2006, Tom flipped parties and suddenly became a Democrat as Darcy was solidifying her support within the party and the progressive community.

Tom ran for state Senate last fall and won, completing his first legislative session as a Senator and a Democrat just last April.

And now, after having not held his current position for even a year, he is already seeking a higher office, spurred on by his friends in Olympia and key figures in the Democratic Party establishment.

The same establishment that assured Tom of its support last year when he was encouraged to run against incumbent Republican Luke Esser. The same establishment that ungratefully and shamefully displaced the progressive candidate who had already been recruited to run against Esser...Debi Golden.

Debi was asked to step aside and give Rodney a clear shot at Esser, which she ultimately did, to our regret. Some in the party may have forgotten that incident, but we have not, and it comes to mind at this moment as Tom and a sizable chunk of the Democratic establishment now seek to displace another progressive in pursuit of a different office...Darcy Burner.

At his announcement Tom brandished a sizable list of Democrats from the state Legislature who he says have endorsed him, including Sen. Brian Weinstein, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, Rep. Ross Hunter, Rep. Deb Eddy, Rep. Larry Springer, Rep. Roger Goodman, Rep. Judy Clibborn, Rep. Pat Sullivan, and Rep. Chris Hurst.

Tom also claimed the support of former party chair Karen Marchioro, currently one of Washington's delegates to the Democratic National Committee.

Som of Tom's allies, particularly Chris Hurst, have already made disparaging comments about Darcy in public, and asserted that she had her chance and does not deserve another opportunity despite the tremendous campaign she ran. We strongly disagree with that view.

Instead of focusing on the job he was elected to do last fall, Rodney Tom is now concentrating on his own political aspirations. What can we expect from Tom next session? Will he be working day in and day out to serve his constituents, the people of the 48th, or will he be distracted by his bid for federal office?

It's a legitimate question, and it's one that Tom needs to be asked.

We know that we have a proven, tough challenger for Dave Reichert in Darcy Burner, who demonstrated in 2006 her ability to put together a campaign with strong grassroots and netroots support. Darcy's campaign is already well off the ground, with impressive second quarter fundraising results.

Interestingly, Tom's campaign stumbled yesterday in claiming it had one key endorsement that it apparently didn't:
King County Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Sheary attended his campaign-kickoff announcement, and Tom -- erroneously -- claimed her endorsement, too.

He said later that support for him is obvious "when you've got the King County Democratic chair behind you," and added, "She is fully behind me."

Not so, Sheary said: "I have not endorsed anyone and will not. I was there only as a party leader because he had invited me. But I will stay neutral in the (primary) race."
Many candidates have gotten into trouble before for announcing that they had earned endorsements from individuals who had not actually awarded their support. A good campaign practice is to create an endorsement sheet that can be filled out and signed by individuals or authorized designees from groups. Rodney Tom's steering committee ought to get on that one right away.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rodney Tom announces bid for Congress

The race for the 8th Congressional District just got a little more interesting with the official announcement of Rodney Tom's candidacy:

State Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said Tuesday he will challenge former Microsoft manager Darcy Burner to be the Democratic candidate in Washington's 8th Congressional District.

The winner would face U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., in 2008. Reichert defeated Burner by a slim margin last year to win his second term.

Tom, a real estate agent and a former Republican, said he is just beginning his fundraising efforts. But he said his experience at the Legislature - he's been elected three times, including two stints in the House - sets him apart.
The event was held at Renton Technical College this morning and was attended by numerous activists and party regulars. Tom was flanked by 48th District Representative Deb Eddy and 45th District Representatives Larry Springer and Roger Goodman in addition to Richard Cole of the Redmond City Council.

Television and radio outlets were conspicuously absent from this important announcement, although writers for the Seattle Times and AP were in attendance.

About thirty to forty people were in the room to observe or show their support.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Live in the 6th County Council District? Vote for Brad Larssen this August

Thanks to Republican perennial candidate Richard Pope's last minute filing as a Democrat in the 6th King County Council District race, no true Democrat will be listed on the primary ballot this August. That's why longtime Democrat Brad Larssen, of NPI's home 45th legislative district, is mounting a write in campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Brad has already been endorsed by the 32nd, 34th, and 45th LD Democrats, the King County Democratic Central Committee, the Washington State Democrats Labor Caucus and the Carpenters (Locals 131 and 470).

Brad believes in the values we as progressives all care about. He'll work to protect and enhance our public services at the county level, including first responders and recreational facilities. He'll be a voice for maintaining and strengthening our transportation infrastructure, especially light rail and mass transit projects.

We can count on Brad to support smart growth policies and affordable housing for lower income residents. Brad stands for equality, opportunity, and prosperity.

His website has a visual depicting the instructions for writing in his name on the August 21st ballot. We urge you to visit Brad's website, and ask that you cast your vote for him if you live in the 6th County Council District. It's critically important that we send a real Democrat up against Jane Hague this November - not a shady character who keeps unsuccessfully running for office year after year.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

LIVE from Town Hall: Perfect Presidents or Perfect Politicians?

I'm liveblogging from Town Hall Seattle, where CBS radio executive David McDonald is introducing the talk radio hosts Thom Hartmann, Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Mike Malloy, Cenk Uygur, and Ben Mankiewicz. The six hosts represent three different networks: Air America, Jones, and Nova M Radio.

I can only liveblog for a little bit, because my computer battery won't last long. I'll follow up with more notes after the event, when I've found and plugged into a power source. 1090 is webcasting the event, so you can watch online here.

The applause here in Town Hall, especially for Stephanie and Thom, has been rather deafening, and the croud here is electrified.

The panelists of Perfect Presidents or Perfect Politicians

All the hosts are now seated, and Thom is kicking things off with a question about public financing. Ed Schultz thinks that it could move forward at the federal level when Democrats pick up seats in the U.S. Senate.

Mike Malloy wonders why we have to have presidential campaigns that need to raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars.

Stephanie Miller jokingly asked "wasn't the Republican debate like Lord of the Flies?" quipping that she was waiting to see who was going to throw a rock at Ron Paul. Ben Mankiewicz talked about his experience working at local news, noting that persuading corporate America not to oppose public financing would be difficult.

Thom Hartmann moved on to the presidential candidates themselves, asking the other hosts who they favored. Malloy answered first, asking "Who's got the sign?" He pointed out into the audience where a man was waving a green "Gore 08" sign. The attendees erupted into rousing cheers and applause. Besides Gore, Malloy said the only candidate he would feel comfortable voting for is Dennis Kucinich.

But he added, "The really qualified candidate is the one who won in 2000," referring again to Gore. Stephanie Miller cracked that we can pretend the last eight years just never happened, and said she'd take any of the candidates.

Of Bush and the the current administration, Ed Schultz observed that "this guy's lowered the bar" and jokingly remarked that "it's a good time to run".

The discussion then turned to impeachment, with Ben Mankiewicz and Ed Schultz bantering about the difficulty of getting Congress to move forward.

Schultz was adamant about the need for immediate action. "Take him to the woodshed, impeach him, and watch a groundswell come to the Democratic Party in 2008," he thundered. He was nearly drowned out as the audience roared its approval, many jumping to their feet and shouting as they clapped.

Cenk chimed in, pointing out that Gore had already won an election (having been at least the undisputed victor of the popular vote in 2000). "Who voted for Gore last time who thinks, I should have voted for Bush?" he concluded.

Miller then revealed that she liked Obama. "Between him and Rudy, it's fear versus hope," she said. Schultz noted that all the Democrats were focused on the issues that mattered, in contrast to the Republicans.

Thom Hartmann interrupted to conduct a brief, unscientific straw poll to discern the audience preferences of the Democratic field. He asked attendees to applaud for their favorite candidates. Here is a tabulation of the responses in the order that Hartmann polled:

Barack Obama: Significant enthusiasm (loud)
John Edwards: Strong enthusiasm (LOUD)
Al Gore: Extremely strong enthusiasm (VERY LOUD)
Bill Richardson: Significant enthusiasm (loud)
Dennis Kucinich: Strong enthusiasm (LOUD)
Joe Biden: Very little enthusiasm (scattered applause)
Hillary Clinton: Little enthusiasm (scattered applause)
Mike Gravel: Very little enthusiasm (scattered applause)

Gore, Kucinich, and Edwards were the standouts in the poll, trailed by Obama and Richardson. The other candidates did not elicit a comparable response. Gore, of course, is not a declared candidate, so of the declared candidates, Edwards was the apparent winner. It is worth noting that Hartmann told attendees they could "vote" more than once - so most people applauded for more than one candidate.

The forum next turned to healthcare. Stephanie Miller stated that "healthcare shouldn't be a for-profit industry...clearly it's broken."

Cenk Uygur tore into the right wing's "socialized medicine" frame. "You know, our police are socialized. Our firefighters are socialized. Why is that? Because this is life and death. You know what healthcare is? Life and death."

Schultz commented that Bush's cabal was "the most anti science administration in history." Ben Mankiewicz followed Schultz and emphasized the need to fight back against the inevitable right wing attacks.

"We cannot cower when the response comes," he declared.

Thom Hartmann brought up the topic of values. Cenk was the first to respond, asserting the important of reframing. Added Schultz, "They flat out lie. You have to call them on it all the time."

Mike Malloy voiced concern that the Democrats wouldn't stand up to the administration if Bush suddenly attacked Iran, and all the other hosts agreed.

Thom Hartmann moved on to Eisenhower's warning of a military industrial complex and asked "What do we do about the permanent war machine?" All the hosts concurred that it was a problem. There was a back and forth about whether Islamic extremists would still pose a threat to America if we pulled out of the Middle East. This ended with acknowledgment that the real problem was fundamentalism, whether it be Christian in origin, or Jewish, or Muslim, or any other religion.

Thom closed by asking about strategy. Cenk mocked the Republicans' love of presidential candidates who are from liberal Hollywood. We need candidates who are actually qualified for the job, he explained, instead of people who are simply good at acting as if they were president.

Ben warned about division within the progressive movement and the Democratic Party. At this critical time, he said, "we cannot afford to splinter."

Schultz argued that "we're living in the most selfish generation in America" which doesn't seem to realize the impact of the energy it uses, the waste it creates, and the reprecussions of excess. Nevertheless, "hope is a big part of this," he said.

Stephanie Miller closed by jumping up and shouting, "Gore Obama 2008" then making a serious point about "voting your better angels".

Thom had the last word. He opined that there were neither perfect presidents nor perfect politicians, but through a bottom up movement, we have the potential of countering top down failures within the party and within the country.

And that was it.

It was a fabulous event. I've sat in very few crowds that were as fired up as this one. The room was packed, it was hot (there were many jokes about that from the hosts - Town Hall doesn't have a good air conditioning system because of its age) but it didn't seem to matter how uncomfortable it was.

People were engaged. Nobody appeared subdued. There was outrage, there was passion, there was friendly conversation, and of course, humor.

I expected the warm welcome the hosts got. I didn't anticipate the appreciation that was showered on 1090 AM itself. I hope McDonald and his staff realize that they have built a loyal listener base that would gladly tune in to a live local show from Seattle. If they really want to invest in this format and this station, they need to take that step instead of ceding the market to 710 KIRO.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Last chance to register for YearlyKos

The latest edition of the YearlyKos Convention's Un-Newsletter, edited by yours truly, went out this morning. Here's a copy of what I wrote. If you're even remotely considering joining us, take the plunge and register now. You won't regret it.

The YearlyKos Convention team is pleased to welcome Senator Hillary Clinton to the second annual, historic gathering of the netroots in Chicago this August. Clinton joins Senators Edwards, Obama, Dodd, and Governor Bill Richardson as a participant in the first ever collaborative presidential forum with both a respected blogger(Joan McCarter of DailyKos) and a leading member of the traditional media (Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine) as moderators, with author and blogger Dr. Jeffrey Feldman facilitating questions from attendees.

This forum is the peak of a convention packed with informative discussions, social mixers, terrific speakers, and great entertainment. Whether you're a movie buff, a veteran strategist, or a newcomer to political activism, there's plenty to enjoy in the Windy City. Make the most of this opportunity to hear what all the leading Democrats running for President have to say. Meet like-minded patriots who are as enthusiastic about restoring America's greatness as you are, make new friends, and put faces to all those screen names you've grown familiar with.

Events that are this big require tremendous planning to put together. That's why we need to hear from you by midnight, Saturday, July 14th, Pacific Time. That's tomorrow. These last few hours represent your final window to register for this incredibly innovative and unique event. It's your last opportunity to be a part of an intimate, unscripted citizen dialogue with the Democratic leaders seeking your vote for election to the highest office in the land.

Still not sure about coming? Take a chance! Let YearlyKos dazzle your senses, enhance your knowledge, and recharge your passion for the future of our country.

LIVE from King County Superior Court: Judge refuses to block I-960 from ballot

The judge has granted the state's request to deny the plaintiffs' motion for judgment, and has signed an order for the defendant.

The court has gone into recess.

POSTSCRIPT: So that's over and done with. Before actually granting the state's motion, the judge explained the various reasons why she did not want to address the issues raised by the plaintiffs. At one point she even paused and clearly stated, "This is very limited review."

She did not address the constitutionality of the measure, noting that would, however, be appropriate for post-election review.

And while acknowledging that the scope issue was pertinent to the case, she basically sidestepped it. For example, she refused to look at the supermajority issue on the basis that a similiar requirement was approved years ago as part of Initiative 601 (and is now on the books, although the Legislature has not considered the law to be binding, and no court has considered its validity or constitutionality.)

So we didn't get the definitive ruling for or against the suit that I thought we would get from the Court. Restraint evidently weighed heavily on Judge Shaffer's consideration of the plaintiffs' request.

Futurewise and SEIU 775 could still appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, which might come out of summer recess to hear two other unrelated cases that also pertain to the 2007 general election this November.

Were the Court to take up the case, either in addition to the others or on its own, we could still see a ruling on the merits of the argument that coverrtly amending the Constitution by initiative is outside the scope of the process.

LIVE from King County Superior Court: Judge Catherine Shaffer hears oral argument in lawsuit to block I-960

I'm liveblogging from King County Superior Court, where Judge Catherine Shaffer is currently listening to oral argument in Futurewise and SEIU 775 v. Secretary of State Sam Reed. Knoll Lowney, the attorney for the plaintiffs, just presented, making use of visual displays to explain why Initiative 960 falls outside the scope of the initiative process.

If I-960 allowed to proceed to the ballot, Lowney explained, the initiative power could in the future be used to attempt to thwart minority protections or effectively remove the lawmaking role from the Legislature altogether. As he observed, such changes require a constitutional amendment. The initiative process was intended to be a safeguard for our representative democracy – not a replacement.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even is now presenting his arguments to the judge. (Even represents Secretary of State Sam Reed). The state notes that pre-election challenges are rare and that argues that I-960 does not fall within the criteria for striking an initiative before it is certified to go before the voters.

Judge Shaffer and Even are just having a short discussion about Goldstein v. Gregoire, and when Even noted that the initiative concerned "an individual present" (Eyman, who is here in the courtroom) Eyman started laughing quietly. Even referred to the measure as calling Eyman "a bad name".

UPDATE: Eyman just got up and went to the state's table, and was given a notepad and pen, apparently to write a note of some kind. Even has just finished his arguments. Knoll is now going to present rebuttal.

...Eyman just gave the notepad back to the state's counsel. Even is reading the note....Eyman has taken the notepad back and is now writing another note.

The judge is challenging Lowney on some of the referenced cases in his brief.

UPDATE II: Even just revealed what Eyman's note was about. He wanted to address the judge. The judge denied the request.

UPDATE III: Judge Shaffer says she is ready to rule....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stefan Sharkansky again resorts to personal vilification to demean NPI

Local Republican Stefan Sharkansky has over the last few years developed quite the reputation for trashing people in public on the group blog that he created and still administers - (unSoundPolitics).

From comparing King County Executive Ron Sims to an African dictator to sliming 8th Congressional District candidate Darcy Burner, Stefan's willingness to throw mud and attempt to discredit people seems to know no bounds.

The latest example came today when Stefan again attacked me (and my family by extension) as well as NPI:
Burner's most fervid supporter, Andrew Villeneuve, a teenager who still lives with his parents and calls himself the "Northwest Progessive [sic] Institute", writes that "We're confident the 8th District is ready for an authentic progressive". Curiously, Villeneuve and his parents live in the 1st district, not the 8th.
Stefan, if you cared about at least getting your facts correct, you would know that I'm twenty and a half years old - not a teenager - and you could have easily discerned from reading this blog that NPI is a team of people, not a single person. But then again, facts have never been important to you. You prefer myths, lies, and distortions.

(Also, you might want to check your spelling. I recall that you are a fan of correctly spelled words. Progressive has two Rs in it).

More importantly....what's really sickening is that you seem to enjoy snickering to your readers that I'm a young person...as if that somehow disqualifies me from political activism. I became involved in politics over five years ago, when I was just fifteen and a freshman in high school. I haven't regretted doing that.

What do you have against young people, Stefan? What is your vendetta? Or is it just that I'm progressive? It seems you can't stand what I'm doing. You rarely miss an opportunity to label me with a derogative term in addition to needlessly dragging my family, age, and place of residence into the discussion.

My age is irrelevant. It shouldn't matter. We're all equals. I am a citizen of this country and I have every right to exercise the Constitutional liberties guaranteed to me and every other American by our Founding Fathers - freedoms that our ancestors have fought to protect throughout our history.

What really troubles me, though, is the unfortunate precedent that this type of personal vilification reinforces. What incentive do young people have to become involved in civics if they will simply be attacked on account of their age for speaking out and making their opinions known?

Or daring to take the next step and using their First Amendment right of freedom of assembly to build an organization to further their cause? I may not be intimidated, but that's not going to be true of everyone else.

Most disgustingly of all, you sneer that I'm still living with my parents. That is such a petty, ridiculous insult. Do you realize how pathetic you sound when you write these things? It should make no difference to you where I live or with whom. You seem to derive pleasure from probing through the private lives of activists and public officials and then attempting to mock them on your blog. You have demonstrated time and again your eagerness to vindictively assault or even libel people who disagree with you.

Sadly, way too many of your commenters seem to think it's funny or amusing when you do it. Most of the Republicans I have met, though, are personally nice people, and I don't think the language of either you or your regular commenters is evidence that everyone on the right is so nasty.

I feel blessed to be part of a family that cares about me and supports my work. But my family life is none of your business. Do you understand?

And enough of this complete and utter hypocritical nonsense about not living in the 8th District. Curiously, you don't live in the 8th District, and that hasn't stopped you from supporting Dave Reichert or blogging about the race.

Which districts we live in are irrelevant. We're free to support candidates even if we can't vote for them. Given your support for Dave Reichert, I'd venture a guess that you understand this.

The last time you attacked me, I issued a private challenge to you which you ignored. I am reprinting the message I sent to you then, below, so that our readers can be aware of my efforts to change your behavior.
A few words of advice, Stefan: when you attempt to personally discredit people by bringing up their age, place of residence, etc. (personal information) you demonstrate only that you have little faith in your own arguments or points.

A blogger with integrity would not use their blog as a blunt instrument for personal vilification, as you do. I am not the first person you have attempted to demean or ridicule in an inappropriate fashion. But I would like to be the last.

I challenge you to begin abiding by the principles of Online Integrity (even though you have clearly not done so in the past). If you don't want people to think of you as a hack (and I suspect you don't, given that you have repeatedly tried to sell yourself as something of an investigative journalist to people), then stop acting like one.

The principles are as follows:
  • Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online. This includes respect for the non-public nature of their personal contact information, the inviolability of their homes, and the safety of their families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted. The separateness of private persons’ professional lives should also be respected as much as is reasonable.
  • Public figures are entitled to respect for the non-public nature of their personal, non-professional contact information, and their privacy with regard to their homes and families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted.
  • Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases of criminal, misleading, or intentionally disruptive behavior.
  • Violations of these principles should be met with a lack of positive publicity and traffic.
We at NPI (sorry, it really isn't a one person organization) believe in these principles. I personally agree with them.

As you may have heard, the Online Integrity project wasn't even started by someone on our side of the ideological fence. But it's a good idea. I'm not holding my breath in anticipation that you'll start behaving more ethically. Nonetheless, I am making this challenge. You really have nothing to lose by accepting and everything to gain. The choice is yours.
Since I issued this challenge, back on Monday, September 18th, 2006, Online Integrity's website has disappeared and the project has foundered somewhat. But the principles are still there, and make a great starting point or reference.

A number of bloggers who at the time said they wouldn't be signatories to the original project went out of their way to explain that they believe in the idea behind the principles and make an effort to respect the private lives of others. We at NPI have incorporated the principles into our mandatory guidelines which all contributors must follow.

To encourage a more respectful discourse, we also prohibit profanity.

Our adherence to and belief in the principles is the reason why months ago we stopped linking to (un)SoundPolitics, and why we will continue not to link there until Stefan changes his ways. As far as I'm concerned, the challenge still stands, and I look forward to the day when Stefan realizes he can argue his views without disrespecting the privacy of his fellow citizens.

How many more outrages do we have to put up with before this is over?

It's certainly no longer shocking, but it is tiring, and saddening:
The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a bill backed by U.S. House of Representatives Democrats that would slash subsidies paid to college student-loan companies such as Sallie Mae, Citigroup and Bank of America.

Expected to come up for a House floor vote on Wednesday, the House bill and a similar measure in the Senate have been attacked by the $85 billion student-loan industry, but championed by industry critics, including some student groups.
What's there to say? We might as well affix a huge banner to the front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue which reads, The Republican Party: Proudly Keeping America's Sons and Daughters in Debt Well After They Graduate From College.

If you believe in prosperity and equality - opportunity for every American regardless of income level, disability, ethnicity, gender, or any other criteria - you can forget about bringing up those issues with the Republicans in Washington, D.C. They don't care. They kneel to the banks and credit card companies.

This veto threat is actually No. 16 - the latest example in a growing list of progressive legislative proposals that Bush has promised to torpedo. (Dubya has already vetoed the Promoting Life-Saving Stem Cell Research Act - H.R. 3/S.5 and the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act.

Here is the complete list, courtesy of The Gavel:
THE PRESIDENT HAS THREATENED TO VETO...

The College Cost Reduction Act - H.R. 2669
This legislation provides the single largest increase in college aid since the GI bill in 1944. The Democratic-led Congress is committed to growing and strengthening America’s middle class, and will ensure that college is affordable for every qualified student who wants to attend. This legislation both expands educational opportunities for our nation’s young people, and is an investment in our workforce that will continue our economic leadership in the world.
Passed July 11, 2007

Homeland Security Appropriations - H.R. 2638
This legislation funds 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents, provides first responders with the equipment and training they need, and provides tougher aviation and port security.
Passed June 15, 2007

State-Foreign Operations Appropriations - H.R. 2764
This legislation supports our allies in the campaign against terrorism, including providing more than $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan; and promotes global stability by strengthening development assistance and addressing humanitarian crises such as the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and Darfur.
Passed June 22, 2007

Interior-Environment Appropriations - H.R. 2643
This legislation fully funds the Clean Water Fund that the President proposed cutting by 37 percent, makes improving our national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests a key priority, and boosts basic research on climate change by 53 percent.
Passed June 27, 2007

The Energy Price Gouging Act – H.R. 1252
This legislation will reduce the burden of rising gas prices on American families, providing immediate relief to consumers by giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of energy. It ensures the federal government has the tools it needs to adequately respond to energy emergencies and prohibit price gouging – with a priority on refineries and big oil companies.
Passed May 24, 2007

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act - H.R. 2264
This legislation enables the Department of Justice to take legal action against foreign nations for participating in oil cartels that drive up oil prices globally and in the United States. It does so by exempting OPEC and other nations from the provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act when acting in a commercial capacity; by making clear that the so-called “Act of State” doctrine does not prevent courts from ruling on antitrust charges brought against foreign governments; and by authorizing the Department of Justice to bring lawsuits in U.S. courts against cartel members.
Passed May 23, 2007

FY 2008 Defense Authorization Bill - H.R. 1585
This legislation will provide the necessary resources and authorities to quickly and efficiently reverse declining trends in training and equipment readiness, and will also provide our service members doing their duty overseas in multiple wars with the best gear and force protection possible. Under the bill, our troops will get better health care, better pay, and the benefits they have earned.
Passed May 17, 2007

FY 2008 Homeland Security Authorization - H.R. 1684
This legislation authorizes $39.8 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2008. Because the President has been submitting budgets that underfunded key homeland security priorities over the last few years, this bill is authorizing $2.1 billion more than the President requested.
Passed May 9, 2007

Hate Crimes Prevention Act – H.R. 1592
This legislation will provide new resources to help state and local law enforcement agencies prevent and prosecute hate crimes, and closes gaps in current federal hate crimes law.
Passed May 3, 2007

D.C. Voting Rights Act – H.R. 1905
This legislation will secure voting rights in the House for the District of Columbia, permanently expanding the U.S. House of Representatives from 435 to 437 seats. This provides a vote to the District of Columbia and a new, at-large seat through the 112th Congress to the state next entitled to increase its congressional representation (which, according to the Census, is Utah).
Passed April 19, 2007

Rail and Mass Transit Security Act - H.R. 1401
This legislation is designed to close the security gaps facing rail and mass transit and includes provisions on issues such as training, grants, security planning, research and development, and shipments of sensitive materials. Passed March 26, 2007

Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 - H.R. 1255
Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are supposed to be released to historians and the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration. In 2001, President George W. Bush issued an executive order which gave current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 nullifies the Bush executive order and establishes procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records.
Passed March 14, 2007

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007 - H.R. 985
This bill strengthens protections for federal whistleblowers to prevent retaliation against those who report wrongdoing, waste, fraud, or abuse to authorities.
Passed March 14, 2007

Reauthorizing Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund - H.R. 720
The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund is a vital program for state and local governments that addresses critical water infrastructure needs. This bill authorizes a total of $14 billion for the fund over the next four years, ensures clean water and fosters economic development in local communities by helping pay for building and improving wastewater treatment facilities.
Passed March 9, 2007

Employee Free Choice Act - H.R. 800
The Employee Free Choice Act will restore workers’ rights by removing obstacles that prevent workers from choosing whether or not they want to form or join a union.
Passed March 1, 2007

Requiring Medicare to Negotiate Lower Prescription Drug Prices - H.R. 4
This bill repeals the current provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices for those enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans and instead requires the Secretary to conduct such negotiations.
Passed January 12, 2007
Fortunately, in a year and a half, America will have an opportunity to elect a Democratic president who can put the common wealth ahead of the special interests. November 2008 cannot come quickly enough.

Blogworthy, July 12th, 2007

Here's the latest edition of our occasional review feature touching on news and developments that we couldn't get around to writing about previously, as well as items we have accidentally overlooked.

The P-I editorial board is calling on the U.S. Senate to ax the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger Jr., a right wing fundie who believes in waging war on science. We concur, and strongly urge Senators Cantwell, Murray, and Wyden to vote against Holsinger's nomination if it manages to come out of committee.

The PDC says it will investigate a complaint filed by the Democratic Party that Dino Rossi is abusing the status of his nonprofit (the "Forward Washington" Foundation) by acting like a candidate as he travels around the state talking to citizens. Rossi has said previously he won't make a formal decision about running until December.

A House Judiciary subcommittee has cleared the way for contempt proceedings against ex-White House counsel Harriet Miers after she loyally followed Dubya's orders and missed a hearing on the firings of federal prosecutors. Miers was part of the now infamous discussion to fire prosecutors, and according to released documents, at one point proposed firing all 93 U.S. Attorneys. Apparently Dubya wanted a brand new, complete set of partisan stooges to do his bidding. No wonder he doesn't want Miers to talk about it.

U.S. intelligence has just reconfirmed that our right wing national security policies are a failure. The Associated Press says that "a new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaida has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001." Gee, that couldn't possibly be because we preemptively invaded another country that did not pose a threat to us based on a pack of lies...and it couldn't be because we've declared an undeclared perpetual conflict against a noun, could it?

Ah, but it could:
...many of the government's own counterterrorism analysts say the Iraq war has fueled anti-Western militancy and served as a recruitment aid for bin Laden and like-minded Islamic extremists.
If we actually had a multifaceted strategy that emphasized protection of our country, a strategy to build and enhance international goodwill based on peace and diplomacy, and leaders who understand how to use our strength, we'd see our enemies weakening. But under the right wing approach of Bush and Cheney, things are only getting worse. The next time a wingnut dares to tell you America would be less safe with Democrats in charge, throw the news of this report in their face.

Hillary Clinton will be at YearlyKos 2007

I've always thought that she couldn't afford not to go. Peter Daou (her Internet director) made it official this morning in a diary:
In the comments (and elsewhere on dKos), several people have asked whether Hillary plans to attend YearlyKos. I'm happy to say that she'll be there.

I'm looking forward to being there as well - last year's was great and I'm sure this time around it'll be even better.
Hopefully she will also be participating in the Presidential Leadership Forum on Saturday night with Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and Dodd.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

America loses a great First Lady with the death of Lady Bird Johnson

Very sad news today:
Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady who championed conservation and worked tenaciously for the political career of her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson, died Wednesday, a family spokeswoman said. She was 94.

Johnson, who suffered a stroke in 2002 that affected her ability to speak, returned home late last month after a week at Seton Medical Center, where she'd been admitted for a low-grade fever.
Lady Bird was a fine American, a kind, caring patriot, and believer in Democratic values. She appreciated the United States' natural beauty, worked to help disadvantaged children, and left an impression on our nation's capitol. She will be greatly missed.

We extend our deepest condolences to the Johnson family and close friends.

The Johnson Library has put up a "final tribute" page which we urge you to visit.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement:
“With the death of Lady Bird Johnson, Texas has lost one of its favorite daughters, and our nation has lost one of its finest first ladies. Lady Bird Johnson was one of our nation’s greatest, and first, environmentalists – decades ahead of her time. She understood that beautifying the nation was about more than simple aesthetics, but also quality of life – in both urban and rural areas, and for both the rich and the poor.

Her support for civil rights helped to ensure that the 1960s were a time of great progress toward the ideal of equality on which our country was founded. Her impact in the fight against poverty and in support of early childhood education in America, through her support for initiatives such as Head Start, endures today.

I hope it is a comfort to the many people who loved her, especially her two daughters, Lynda Bird Robb and Luci Baines Johnson, that so many of us are grieving their loss and praying for them in this sad time.”
The Houston Chronicle has more reactions.

Hurst wisely decides against running, says Rodney Tom will challenge Darcy Burner

State Representative Christopher Hurst, who has told the traditional media he has been mulling a campaign for the 8th Congressional District as a Democrat, today said he won't run, but is sure that Rodney Tom will, according to Seattle Times chief political reporter David Postman. Hurst was quoted as saying:
"One of our very big concerns was I didn't want to run in a primary against Rodney and he didn't want a primary with me in it. We're both tenacious campaigners."
And the implication is that Darcy is not? Hurst wouldn't mind a primary with Darcy - but Rodney is too much of a challenge?

That's quite the insult. Darcy ran a formidable campaign in 2006 and had to contend with a massive Republican effort to trash, smear, and deflate her candidacy. Attack mailers, hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and TV ads, all chock full of lies. The GOP threw everything they could at her and barely squeaked out ahead in the end. The outcome was in doubt for days after Election Day.

But what does Hurst know? This is the same guy that thinks Tim Eyman's approach to taxes makes for great public policy. Earlier this year, Hurst tried to convince the House Democratic caucus to take up a bill he prime sponsored that aimed to reaffirm the draconian, poorly conceived limits imposed by Initiative 747, Eyman's 2001 moneymaking vehicle.

Fortunately, that did not happen, but it plainly illustrates that Hurst is at odds with the values of most Democrats. While Hurst has suggested that the party would have a better chance with a more biconceptual nominee, his main argument is apparently that Darcy already had her chance and couldn't pull it off.

So Hurst not only disavows core Democratic values, but he doesn't understand strategy either. As David Goldstein explains:
Burner, like the other second-tier Democratic challengers, was a sacrificial lamb in a grand strategy in which all of the first-tier and most of the third-tier Democrats won. She played an instrumental role in the Democrats taking control of Congress, drawing heavy Republican fire in a district the R’s hadn’t planned on seriously defending.
We're confident the 8th District is ready for an authentic progressive, and we know we have a stellar candidate in Darcy Burner - a smart, savvy campaigner who will stand up to the attacks from the right wing.

As for Rodney Tom, he is free to run if he wishes. He will discover that running for Congress is not the same as running for state legislature. He won't be able to defeat Darcy, but perhaps he will do her a favor in keeping her on top of her game.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Signing off for a rest

A few months ago, when we celebrated the three year anniversary of the Official Blog, I announced that I intended to take some time off to pursue other projects:
I will be quitting the blog entirely so I can better focus on other endeavors for NPI. (Also, I could use some rest). That means I won't be doing any posting.

It'll be an indefinite break (meaning I don't know how long it'll last) - but temporary - I promise I'll be back at some point.
I first planned on starting that break immediately, but circumstances changed and I ended up postponing it several times, continuing to post infrequently instead of stopping altogether to focus on the other projects I wanted to work on.

However, I feel the time is ripe to follow through and I have rescheduled my planned absence from the blog to begin this week (Saturday, to be more specific). I’ll be back in a month or so from now, maybe a little earlier.

However, I’m not the only one who will be signing off. Our hardworking Media & Communications Director, who most of our readers know simply as stilwell, will be temporarily gone as well – starting tomorrow - to enjoy a much deserved vacation with his family. After all, that’s what summer is for.

The two of us may be taking an opportunity to rest, but the blog itself won’t be going on hiatus. We’re confident that our team of contributors will do a fine job stepping up and keeping the commentary and analysis coming.

In addition, we’re pleased to welcome Seattle Port Commissioner Alec Fisken to the Official Blog. He’ll be guest posting occasionally in the weeks ahead about the issues and challenges facing the Port as well as his reelection campaign. We’re delighted to have him aboard, and we hope you are too.

Have a safe, fun, and happy July. We’ll see you soon.

Moore skewers CNN with facts

So the rap on Michael Moore has always been that he plays kind of loose with the facts. So that may account for why CNN thought it was okay to just make stuff up:
CNN: In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans on average.

THE TRUTH:

Just the opposite. The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5 years. It is 77.6 years in Cuba. (Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283.
Looks like Moore was ready for CNN and other critics this time.

The reason we're lucky to have a Michael Moore in this country is that it takes a lot of guts to advocate for the regular folks against the corporate oligarchy that runs everything, including health care. And it takes a lot of guts to make movies about them. Of course he will be slandered and ridiculed; it's what the noise machine does.

The righties love to hate on Moore because he doesn't back down, and in the middle school-mentality world inhabited by a lot of conservatives they seek reassurance by making fun of his weight and appearance. (Of course, say something about a heavy guy wearing a NASCAR ball cap and you're an elitist snob.)

Truthfully, I didn't like Bowling for Columbine, as I found the cartoon history kind of stupid, but I look forward to seeing Sicko. You can argue about whether Moore's style of film making sheds more light than heat sometimes, but it looks like he is ready to back his stuff up big time.

Plus it's just downright fun to see CNN eat it. They've been trying to emulate Fox Noise for some time now, and it's just pathetic.

Monday, July 09, 2007

O'Reilly and the pink pistol lesbians

Over at Orcinus, David Neiwert has the strange, strange tale of a Bill O'Reilly segment that claims there are gangs of pink pistol carrying lesbians roaming the streets of America. It's so bizarre you really owe it to yourself to go read the whole thing.

Naturally, nobody can find stuff (like police reports) that actually suggest anything remotely similar is happening, most likely because it's all baloney.

Clearly, the pressure is getting to Bill-o. But I guess if the free market demands feverish, lurid tales that have no basis in fact, that's what the free market will deliver. Just don't tell me Bill-o is a journalist or even worthy of air time on a national network.

He's a kook; the electronic equivalent of the National Enquirer. Anyone who believes a word that comes out of his mouth is, sad to say, seriously deluded. If you wouldn't base your politics on the National Enquirer you shouldn't base your politics on Bill O'Reilly.

Next week, Bill-o recounts how, on the anniversary of the Roswell crash, he was abducted by space aliens and um, probed. Now that would be something the free market could get behind. So to speak.

Ask your questions of the Democratic candidates for King County Prosecutor

The 2007 primary election, now in August for the first time in memory (instead of September) is only a few weeks away, and absentee ballots will drop even sooner. One of the most important contests in the primary, besides the competition for the offices of Port Commissioner, is the race for King County Prosecutor.

Two fine Democrats, Bill Sherman and Keith Scully, have filed and are running. To help us in our endorsement process, and to assist our readers in making a decision, we're hosting a friendly podcast debate between the two in a few days.

If you're undecided about which Democrat to vote for, this is your chance to ask a question of the candidates and learn more about the vision, values, and policy directions of each of the contenders.

You can submit questions through this Thursday, either publicly in the comment thread attached to this post, or privately through our contact form.

We'll try to ask as many reader-submitted questions as possible during the recording of the podcast. We will accept anonymous questions, but questions submitted by readers using their real names will be given first priority.

Feel free to ask away!

Excessive heat watch on Tuesday

From the National Weather Service in Portland:
840 AM PDT MON JUL 9 2007
...EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING...
AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING.
A STRONG RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE IN COMBINATION WITH OFFSHORE EAST WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR SO FAR ACROSS NEARLY ALL OF SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON AND NORTHWEST OREGON.
TEMPERATURES INLAND COULD BE CLOSE TO 100 DEGREES ON TUESDAY...WHILE TEMPERATURES AT THE COAST ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM THE 80S TO NEAR 90 DEGREES. AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH MEANS THAT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES...NEIGHBORS...THE ELDERLY AND THE INFIRM. AVOID STRENUOUS EXERCISE DURING THE HEAT OF THE DAY.
Here are links to the NWS pages for Seattle and Spokane. Note that if you go to a main NWS page for a given city, you can type in another city at the top left of the page.

White House holds breath and stamps feet

The White House is pouting. Well, actually it's White House counsel Fred Fielding. From The Hill:
Presidential counsel Fred Fielding on Monday accused the chairmen of the Senate and House judiciary committees of having already made up their minds to escalate a fight with the White House over access to documents and staffers.

In again denying Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) access to former White House counsel Harriet Miers and an aide to Karl Rove, Sara Taylor, Fielding took issue with the tone that congressional investigators struck in recent correspondence.

“We are troubled to read the letter’s charge that the president’s ‘assertion of executive privilege belies any good faith attempt to determine where privilege truly does and does and does not apply,’” Fielding said in response to a June 29 letter from Leahy and Conyers.

The White House counsel prefaced his response with “a note of concern over your letter’s tone and apparent direction in dealing with a situation of this gravity.”
It's the classic behavior of bullies everywhere, at every level of society. Republicans who once chortled and gurgled about how politics is a tough game, and gleefully ran around their 2004 convention with purple bandaids to mock John Kerry's war wounds, are now upset about "tone." Well, that's just too bad now, isn't it?

Congress needs to enforce its Constitutional rights as an equal branch of government, and if a few delicate flowers in the GOP get their feathers ruffled, so be it. Didn't they ever hear of karma? We didn't invent McCarthyist-Nixonian-Rovian politics, but I think we are catching on about how to deal with it.

Let the Bushies defend their actions in federal court. If it goes to the Supremes, well, we can guess which 5 justices would side with the administration, but at least the American people will see how badly these people have messed up our government.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Walden defends unfair conservative control of airwaves

In an article about the possible return of the Fairness Doctrine, The Oregonian has this bit from Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, a Republican who inherited some radio stations:
Among the five stations Walden owns is KACI, which airs conservative talk shows such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Reagan. While the stations offer some local, objective news reporting, they don't balance the conservative talkers with liberal shows.

Walden acknowledges the rightward slant of talk radio but attributes it to consumer demand.

"Is it more conservative than liberal? Yeah," Walden said. "Are there a lot more country-western stations than polka stations? Yeah. Listeners make these determinations. The marketplace decides."
Ah yes, the marketplace. That completely unfettered, absolutely pure abstraction that exists mostly in the fevered imaginations of ideologically pure Republicans.

If you want to be accurate about how talk radio really works, consider the corporate blacklists that decide who gets the advertising dollars. From Media Matters last October:
An internal ABC Radio Networks memo obtained by Media Matters for America, originally from a listener to The Peter B. Collins Show, indicates that nearly 100 ABC advertisers insist that their commercials be blacked out on Air America Radio affiliates. According to the memo, the advertisers insist that "NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming." Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy.
I'm no lawyer, but I bet during the New Deal that sort of thing would have been met with swift action by the Justice Department. Of course, we don't really have much of a Justice Department any more, so that's kind of out. But it sure is neat how conservatives get to claim the market supports their ideology while using corporate power to enforce it, making such a beautiful circle for them.

In the Oregonian article, Walden also tries to justify the complete imbalance on the public airwaves by pointing to satellite broadcasts and the internet as evidence that no change is needed. While it's true these new mediums have opened things up, it's also true that you can't surf the web while driving to work (or at least you really shouldn't.) And really, comparing the internet to AM radio is just facile. One is push and one is pull.

But the real issue is that the public airwaves belong to the public, and are licensed to companies like Walden's to act in the public interest. Why are the rest of us being forced to support political speech we disagree with? I thought that was a big no-no in the conservative pantheon of absolute principles, but I guess not so much when it plays in their favor.

Walden also complains about how horribly burdensome it was for radio stations to sort out how to put opposing views on the air, to which I must reply "cry me a river." Yes, it would be difficult to find someone to oppose Rush Limbaugh, as there would likely be over 10,000 applicants, but some things are worth the effort for the common good.

There's an old saw that goes "freedom of the press belongs to those with the presses," and it gets a little tiresome when legacy media owners like Walden think they deserve special treatment just for being born. Forget the Fairness Doctrine, if we wanted to stick it to people like Walden we would have a 100% estate tax on media properties, as after the first generation the quality of ownership almost always declines. I'd imagine our readers can think of a few examples in Washington state.

Clark may adopt rights transfers to save farms

It looks like there could be a silver lining in Clark County when it comes to the new growth plan:
Commissioners Steve Stuart and Marc Boldt have informally agreed to attempt to work out a deal where farmers can be paid to keep their land in agricultural production.

Developers would buy the development rights and use them to increase the density of urban projects. They would do that because larger projects are more profitable.

In addition to making property owners and developers happy, the rights transfer would solve a seemingly intractable dilemma for communities: It gives them a way to save agricultural land using little or no public funding.

In Washington, King, Snohomish and Thurston Counties have successfully made use of development rights transfers to protect areas critical to wildlife, open space, forest lands and agriculture.
While I've tried to follow the growth wars over the years, I'm certainly no expert. But at first glance it seems like a good idea to create incentives to keep some small farms in production. Fresh produce and fruit are wonderful things.

As our ideas about how we live our lives continue to evolve, having food sources close to population centers makes inherent sense on a lot of levels, transportation being the most obvious. But quality of product and having assurances that a product was grown locally also count.

It'll be interesting to see if this agreement is put into effect, and how well it works down the road.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New York Times says out of Iraq

The New York Times editorializes that it is time to plan to leave Iraq.
It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.
After that beginning the editorial goes on at some length about the various challenges we will face, from Turkey and the Kurds to Iran and the Shiite and Sunni populations. They even bring up the United Nations, noting how the Bush administration derided it.

With support eroding even in his own party, Bush needs to face reality. The American people long ago stopped supporting this disastrous occupation, and it's time to end the charade.

The good and bad of Live Earth

So the family has been catching parts of the Live Earth concert in between ordinary Saturday tasks, like going to the grocery store in a gasoline automobile and doing laundry using electrical appliances.

First, NPI has been a big fan of Al Gore, and I don't mean this post to be disrespectful. The very thought of a holographic Al Gore is at once so wonderful and wonderfully creepy and weird that you just have to chuckle.

That being said, the concert is being interspersed with short films that I find excessively simplistic, propagandistic and preachy. As wonderful as recycled paper towels are, we're not going to fix this with lifestyle stuff. Used French fry oil is not much of a long-term solution, folks.

Governments are going to have to take action, and the only acceptable way for that to happen is when democratically elected governments who represent the will of the citizens do so.

To be fair, there are a lot of people out there in the world who don't follow politics closely, and I suppose it can be argued that taking the issues to them via popular culture mediums is a good thing. It is a good thing, I guess, if it doesn't go too far.

We're not doing the cause any favors using propaganda techniques. I suppose the film makers are passionate about the cause, which is great, but in the realm of politics the artistic license has to yield sometimes to more practical matters, like being accurate.

I just saw a very snazzy short film that featured a man continuing to ignore the rising water in his home, until finally he emerges through the roof to find he's all alone in a vast sea. Not exactly subtle, and not exactly accurate. It may be fun for Hollywood and the info-tainment complex to flex its muscles in this manner, but it's going to open us up to a whole lot of valid criticism.

On the positive side, much of the music is fantastic and there is nothing hypocritical, in my book, about wealthy celebrities trying to generate publicity for the cause of doing something about global warming and other environmental issues. However much energy was consumed to do the concerts, I'm sure it was a drop in the bucket compared to what the war machine used today.

You can find television schedules and information for this evening at the Live Earth web site.

On the seventh hour of the seventh day

Apparently if you stand an egg on its end at exactly 7:07 AM today, 7/7/07, it will fall over. Just to be safe I'm in Las Vegas wagering ten dollars on red, then flying home on an old Boeing 707 chartered by a group of gambling numerologists. If we don't arrive at baggage carousel 7 we're all going to weep openly.

But I was born for good luck.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Conservative bloggers fail to stop Las Vegas gunman

Once again, conservative bloggers failed to stop a madman with a gun. This time it was in a Las Vegas casino:
When a gunman's first shots rang out above the bleeps and blings inside the New York-New York casino, tourists formed a human stampede, jumping over slot machines and knocking over chairs to escape.

Some didn't know if they would: "All I was thinking was that I could die right now," said Jade Jacobson of Deland, Fla.

Outside the casino, flip-flops lay scattered "like people were running out of their shoes," said tourist Larry Ramos of Lansing, Mich.

From a balcony, the gunman fired 16 shots at the casino floor, aiming randomly at families and gamblers as they fled. The gunfire didn't stop until he was tackled by off-duty military reservists, his semiautomatic handgun emptied.
No Insta-putz or Federalist Society member stopped this brutal assault, so I guess they just didn't have the guts to do anything.

Either that or their primitive ideas about how real life works are stupid. You make the call. Thank goodness for the military reservists.

Eyman submits signatures for I-960, Permanent Defense responds...

As expected, Tim Eyman showed up at the Secretary of State's office this morning to turn in what he says are 314,566 signatures for Initiative 960 - his plan to gut majority rule in Washington State. Naturally, since we can't take Tim Eyman at his word, we'll have to wait and see how many signatures the Secretary of State says they have. Last year, Eyman claimed he turned in more petitions than the Secretary of State's office actually received.

The Permanent Defense Journal has the press release we sent out this morning to traditional media outlets in response.

Hair today

Digby cuts to the heart of the matter, this time in the context of "hair stories" about Democrats:
I know the news media are annoyed by what they see as the bloggers' simplistic analysis of "the political narrative" and I'm sure that most of them do not cover a campaign with such things in mind. But in the daily rush of campaign coverage I think even many of the good ones fail to see how these "tips" and "research" are actually a form of campaign propaganda designed specifically to implant certain subliminal impressions and ideas about candidates which are not actually true, even if the details are factual. (If they are aware of it, then they are all guilty of journalistic malpractice for failing to reveal that in every story they write about these things.)

In keeping with the convoluted modern press definition of fairness they will say that it is up to the Democrats to feed them equally trivial nasty gossip that they can use to illustrate whatever caricatures they wish to convey about their rivals --- then everything will equal out in the end. Indeed, it is the Democrats' failure if they are not good at character assassination and they have no one to blame but themselves. ("Get better smear artists, Democrats, and we'll give you equal time --- but only if we can "verify" that your "tip" is factual. We do have scruples, after all.")
As always, you are heartily encouraged to go read the whole post.

It's all just become so obvious, that if we can continue to get the word out I think voters will start to question how all this works. The puerile will always be part of American politics, but I would gladly have a president who pays $10,000 for a haircut if she or he does a good job being president. As if the Beltway courtiers are so shocked that candidates would need to care about their appearance in an age dominated by mass media shallowness.

Still no word on Fred Thompson's makeup bill.

We blowed it up real good

Perhaps it's the onset of middle age making me even more uncontrollably cranky, but celebrating the Fourth of July seems to to be getting out of control. From The Seattle Times:
At Harborview Medical Center, the number treated for injuries nearly tripled, from 11 last year to 32 this year.

The injuries included minor burns, eye injuries and lost digits, said hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson.

Near Black Diamond, a 20-year-old man was hit with shrapnel and severely burned Wednesday, said Mountain View Fire and Rescue Chief Greg Smith.
It appeared the man was holding fireworks or a homemade explosive device when it blew up. He was taken to Harborview, where he was expected to recover, Smith said.

In Thurston County, a small cannon exploded during a family gathering Wednesday, flinging shrapnel more than 200 feet and fatally injuring an 8-year-old boy.
And from a reader feedback page at The News-Tribune:
“This was the worst 4th by far. The illegal fireworks were everywhere. No one dares go out of town here as we’re afraid our wood roofs will be caught on fire.”
Things weren't much calmer in Oregon, where they supposedly allow only much safer fireworks, a law that has been routinely flouted over the years. Despite a much publicized enforcement effort, the carnage was evident. From The Oregonian:
Efforts to crack down on illegal firecrackers, M-80s, bottle rockets and Roman candles netted tens of thousands of dollars' worth of contraband and fines, putting the damper on scores of front yard fetes from Oregon City to Gresham.

Still, there were casualties, from the death of a 4-year-old Springfield boy early Wednesday, killed when he set off a stash of fireworks in his father's bedroom closet, to a blaze started by an innocuous sparkler that caused $475,000 in damage to a home in Southwest Portland.
Fireworks weren't the only problem in Oregon:
The stretch of the Clackamas River between Barton and Carver parks became a floating free-for-all July Fourth as drunken, fighting crowds caused what police called "near-riot conditions," forcing authorities to close the popular recreation spot and herd between 4,000 and 5,000 people out of the parks.

Between the 90-degree heat and a steady tide of alcohol, the parks -- popular with growing legions of rafters, tubers and other river-lovers who put in at Barton Park and take a leisurely three-hour float to Carver downstream -- were overwhelmed with the largest and rowdiest gathering police had ever seen there.
I must confess, my opinion may be biased by our own holiday experience, where the failure of some parents to adequately supervise their children left the task to Mr. and Mrs. Stilwell and some other sentient parents. It's all fun and games until little Maggie puts a hot sparkler in her mouth, you know.

In Clark County, over the years there have been increased demands for better enforcement or an outright ban, but that most likely won't happen. Things seem less insane around here than in some years past.

The idyllic image of some barbeque and a few sparklers seems to have morphed into, as one Oregonian reporter alluded, a bacchanalian festival. We always do things bigger and better in the United States, and it's all fun and games until someone is screaming "Where's my finger?"

Anyhow, no easy answers, and since you can't outlaw stupidity I guess there will always be some nasty incidents. We enjoy the holiday, and our kids enjoy the fireworks like any other kids.

But I'm wondering about making sure we go to a professional display next year.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This Just In: Global Warming is For Real!

Using the Stefan Sharkansky® Adjusted Model™ for evaluating scientific evidence about climate change, we now have all the conclusive evidence we need to prove that global warming is for real.....it's a hot day!
West Sizzles As Temperatures Soar
By Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - A heat wave sizzling across the West showed little sign of letting up Thursday, with Las Vegas forecast to tie a record high and even northern Idaho expected to top 100 degrees.

"You can become dehydrated really quick before you know it. You step outside and, 'wow,'" said Charlie Schlott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.

In Las Vegas, the temperature reached 100 by 9 a.m., well on its way to the forecast record high for the day of 116, according to the National Weather Service. The mercury last reached 116 on the date in 1985.
On a serious note, if you're interested in taking action to save the planet before it's too late, learn more about how you can participate in Live Earth, the upcoming concert series planned to raise awareness about the climate crisis.

Olympian calls for withdrawal

The Olympian editorialized yesterday that enough is enough when it comes to Iraq:
On a day when Americans are supposed to wave the flag with honor and respect, many Americans are disheartened and embarrassed. They are fed up with an arrogant president and an ineffective Congress and their inability to extract this nation from the ill-conceived war that has alienated U.S. allies and unnecessarily sullied the reputation of this great nation.
As Editor and Publisher notes, The Olympian has a large military readership from nearby Ft. Lewis and McCord Air Force Base, and Ft. Lewis especially has seen a lot of casualties.

Hopefully editorials like this will help move us past the absurd talking points the GOP has put out in the past. Most Americans realize the disastrous occupation of Iraq needs to be brought to a close somehow.

That "somehow" is of course a sticking point. We're mired in a civil war that we helped create, but our presence doesn't appear to be achieving anything positive, to say the least. Whether one favors a pullback to Kuwait or a broader redeployment, matters which honest military and diplomatic thinkers can debate, it's clear that the first step is to find some political will to start the process.

Give me a head without hair

Obviously the only Democrat who is acceptable to the Beltway press corps would be a bald person. It's hair time again, and it starts to border on the ludicrous. The WaPo throws in one guilt paragraph:
While Democrats seem to get the most attention, Republicans have not been completely immune. Campaign aides to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the best-coiffed Republican candidate in the presidential race and the wealthiest of all the hopefuls, fretted in an internal document that his well-tended locks may be considered a negative. He has assured Massachusetts reporters that he spends no more than $50 for a trim.
Do I hear SuperCuts, anyone?

There better be an article about Fred Thompson's makeup tomorrow. You know, he's an actor. I bet he takes good care of his skin. That should be worth 1,500 words minimum.

Oh, it is going to be a long campaign. I'm not sure I can take a whole campaign of this. And the media wonders why people tend to hate them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Right wing anti-immigrant initiative appears destined for failure

Heartening news from the Yakima Herald Republic:
A massive last-ditch effort is being made to try to get an initiative to halt government benefits for undocumented immigrants on the ballot this fall, the prime sponsor says.

With fewer than half the signatures that likely will be needed on petitions for Initiative 966 to date, however, there is little chance the measure will go to a vote of the people, said Mathew S. Manweller, a political science professor and specialist in initiatives and direct democracy at Central Washington University.

"They're dead in the water," Manweller told the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Denying care to people, even if they're not in this country legally, is unacceptable public policy. It's how the right wing thinks, but that's not the American way or the American tradition. It's good to see that once again, this bad idea will bite the dust.

The Declaration of Independence

Posted for your reading pleasure on this Fourth of July, 2007, a beautiful document. Never have the emphasized sections (in bold) below seemed so important. The Bush administration has savaged our traditions, ignored the law, stomped all over our widely held values, destroyed our respect abroad and damaged our well being at home. It has depleted the common wealth, imposed a crushing debt on our children, and squandered our natural resources.

It has refused to plan for the future and has used the politics of fear to intimidate the American people into accepting unjust, unfair, un-American policies. It is, without a doubt, the most disastrous administration in all of our history, and the day that it is abolished will be a time for monumental celebration.


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.

We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Independence Day

It wouldn't be the 4th of July on a political blog without an historical quotation, so I've chosen one from Antifederalist 67, attributed most often to New York governor and later vice-president George Clinton, who wrote under the pen name "Cato."

Here Cato is discussing the dangers of too much power in the hands of the executive.
He is the generalissimo of the nation, and of course has the command and control of the army, navy and militia; he is the general conservator of the peace of the union-he may pardon all offenses, except in cases of impeachment, and the principal fountain of all offices and employments. Will not the exercise of these powers therefore tend either to the establishment of a vile and arbitrary aristocracy or monarchy? The safety of the people in a republic depends on the share or proportion they have in the government; but experience ought to teach you, that when a man is at the head of an elective government invested with great powers, and interested in his re-election, in what circle appointments will be made; by which means an imperfect aristocracy bordering on monarchy may be established.
The Antifederalists are largely forgotten, but they may have had a point or two. "Vile aristocracy" certainly describes the current Republican cabal that has been ensconced in Washington, D.C. for far too long. The Scooter Libby near-pardon is only the latest evidence, and I don't think the American people are going to forget it come next year.

Have a safe and happy holiday, I'll resume posting most likely on Thursday.

If any of the other fine members of our blog team care to chime in, they will. I leave you in their capable hands.

We hold these truths, eh, not so much

Joe Wilson isn't mincing any words. Via Editor and Publisher:
Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, tonight ripped President Bush's decision to commute the prison sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the CIA leak case.

Appearing in an audio interview on MSNBC's "Countdown," Wilson called the move the latest evidence that the administration is "corrupt to the core." He added that it meant that the president was now participating in the "obstruction of justice."

Wilson called on both the president and Libby's former boss, Vice President Cheney, to "come clean" on their roles in the leaking of his wife's name, now that Libby has been spared prison. He called the leaking of the name "treasonous."
You know, I don't really have a problem with Republicans being money grubbing, racist, jingoistic jerks, I just want them to follow the law like everyone else. So if they make sure not to chop fruit while standing in ice water without a green card, they can probably avoid doing time.

Let's remember what this was really about -- the disastrous, wrong-headed and foolish invasion of Iraq. Joe Wilson dissented, his wife was punished for his dissent, and now the government officials who did the punishing know they have nothing to fear, and that they can continue to lie with impunity. Doesn't really sound like democracy to me, it sounds like a tin-horn dictatorship.

Basically this is the Cheney administration daring anyone to hold them accountable in any way. Coming as it does right around Independence Day, the commutation is an affront to the Americans who have, over the centuries, fought for and when needed, died for, our liberties.

But I'm certain that the cable news outlets will have helicopters up this morning, following every move Scooter makes and whipping up some genuine outrage so that Bush has to reconsider. Worked in LA anyhow, but then again, that was an important case involving a DUI and a celebrity.

Let's look in (LIVE!) at some cable news at this hour....nope, it's still the adult diaper hour.

So as you celebrate this Fourth of July, please remember that all of us are created equal, it's just that some of us are more equal than others. It's always okay if you're a Republican, they've got your back. Laws are for the little people to follow.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scooting free

No man is above the law. Unless he's a Republican administration official:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush has commuted the prison term of former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who faced 30 months in prison after his March conviction on federal charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted in March of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to
investigators probing the 2003 disclosure of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity. A federal judge in Washington sentenced Libby to prison in June, and a federal appeals court rejected the ex-official’s bid to remain free while appealing his conviction earlier Monday.

In a written statement issued hours after that ruling, Bush called 30-month term “excessive.” But he also rejected calls for a pardon for Libby, and said the onetime adviser will still have to pay a $250,000 fine and remain on probation for two years.
Mark my words, it won't be long before the righties are all watching "Scooter and Friends" weekday mornings on Fox Noise. I guess it's justice. This is a country that let Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon walk around free men. Just don't sell someone a little pot and you'll probably steer clear of the slammer.

UPDATE: Speaker Pelosi says it well:
The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable.
Just another lie from Dubya.

The hardest working man in LD 49

Catching up on an article from the weekend, The Columbian reports that state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-49th District, will temporarily lead a non-profit mental health agency until a new director is found:
State Sen. Craig Pridemore will become interim director of Columbia River Mental Health Services following the resignation of Gregory Robinson, who has served as executive director of the nonprofit agency since 2004.

---snip---

Pridemore said he has long been an advocate for mental health and addiction services and hoped to gain a firsthand knowledge of the issues a community mental health center faces. "I think it's going to be a great challenge," he said. "I think it will be a great thing to do."
Olympia observers will recall that Pridemore worked pretty hard on the budget as vice-chair of Ways and Means. When I brought up the budget with him at the J-J Dinner last month, he just shook his head and grimaced.

Pridemore's experience in the Legislature should be a boon to the efforts to improve mental health care in southwest Washington. I haven't had a lot of steady contact with Pridemore over the years, mostly because I kind of went away from politics for a long time, but I do recall that when he decides to pursue something he generally goes at it full speed. Obviously, whatever insights he might gain can be taken back to the Legislature, so it's nice to see someone digging into a tough issue like this.

Car searches at Sea-Tac

Your car could be searched at Sea-Tac. From the P-I:
At SeaTac, police have set up cones to divert cars to be searched, Garson said. U.S. Air Marshals and police are picking the vehicles after brief visual inspections, she said.

The vehicles are then directed to the areas set off by cones so as not to interfere with traffic.

Garson said if there are delays, they are due more to the heavy volume of traffic than the inspections. The random searches are being done at peak times in the mornings and evenings when most travel is done in and out of the airport.
The difficulty in ascertaining the wisdom of this move by authorities is that we don't know what we don't know. We'd probably all like to think that this is not simply an over-reaction to events in Britain, and that our intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials truly believe this is necessary.

Of course, the Great Lotion Scare is not exactly a distant memory. That's why the Bush administration deserves condemnation for playing politics with terror so often.

That being said, the problem with making fun of every single threat is that someday, we are likely to suffer a bad terrorist attack again. Determined, capable terrorists could still do us harm. We want and need our many dedicated and skilled law enforcement officers to do their jobs, as it seems clear those folks are most likely to actually save us from an attack. Torture and rendition may be great fun for the wankosphere, but the border agent or deputy who notices something is probably a more valuable asset.

As pathetically incompetent as the plots in Britain appear, and as silly as the cable news networks are acting, sensible people support reasonable precautions.

And since we don't know what we don't know, we have to trust that the authorities are acting in good faith.

Leave for the airport early, drink some fluids and leave the lotion at home. We realize the lack of lotion may be problematic for conservative bloggers, but we all have to make sacrifices.

Iran launches English language station

Here's an interesting media item about the launch of an English-languauge news channel by Iran's state broadcaster. From the BBC:
Mr (Mohammad) Sarafraz said Press TV would offer an unbiased view, unlike al-Jazeera, which he said had supported the Taleban and the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Since the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001 the world's media had divided into two camps, he said.

On the one side was the perspective offered by Western media, while the other side was pro-Taleban and pro-al-Qaeda, Mr Sarafraz said.

He said Press TV wanted to deliver a different view of the security situation in Iraq, US military threats and the push for democracy in the Middle East.
Now, if we've all learned nothing else, it's to take all media reporting with a healthy dose of skepticism, but I find it interesting that the supposed purpose, according to the vice-president of Iranian state media, is partially to counter pro-Taliban bias, as well as Western media.

Shahab Mosavat, the host of a program called "Middle East Today" on the new channel, was asked by NPR about the new station's independence from the Iranian government, and he said he had more independence at Press TV than he did at the BBC, alluding to the relative freedom a start-up outfit might enjoy over a more mature organization. He also said Press TV will be state-funded rather than state controlled. (I'm paraphrasing from memory, as the transcript is not up yet, only the audio file.)

So I'm calling Comcast this morning to harangue some poor worker about getting the new channel. Just kidding, of course, but as the media landscape continues to rapidly evolve, one has to wonder whether the new station will live up to these bold promises. Since the American networks have largely abandoned international reporting, a lot of Americans might find it enlightening (or even, ahem, news) that the Iranians may not be huge fans of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

There's more than one side to every story, and in the case of the Middle East, there are often dozens of angles, so if Press TV really does wind up enjoying true journalistic independence, that would be a good thing.

We'll see. I haven't had the nerve to tune into the American cable networks this morning, as I'm fresh out of Depends.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

YearlyKos auction is back on

Online auction powerhouse eBay canceled the 2007 YearlyKos auction a few days ago due to a misunderstanding, but everything has been cleared up:
eBay contacted us Tuesday morning to let us know they had mistakenly accused us of Shill Bidding, and they have restored our account. They have refunded our listing fees, apologized for the error, and wished us luck with our fundraising efforts. As far as they can tell, it is an error that should not have occurred.

We will continue to work on a dialogue that has been opened with eBay, and see what we can do to make future auctions run smoothly, and in a manner that is more fitted to the community.
To participate and bid in the auction, follow this link.