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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NPI announces new special guest for 2008 Spring Fundraising Gala

A couple of days ago we revealed that the main program for our 2008 Spring Fundraising Gala would include Chip Hanauer, whose .376 career winning percentage is the best in hydroplane racing history, Darcy Burner, whose Responsible Plan to end the occupation of Iraq has been embraced by dozens of Democratic challengers running for Congress, and Seattle radio personality Mike West as Master of Ceremonies, with live music by legendary jazz guitarist Don Mock.

I am pleased...no, make that delighted...to announce this afternoon that a new special guest is joining our terrific lineup: Retired General Paul Eaton, who served in Iraq and led the creation of the Army’s Stryker brigades at Fort Lewis. General Eaton worked with Darcy Burner to put together the widely hailed Responsible Plan, and will join Darcy and Chip as one of our main speakers.

It's going to be a very memorable and exiting evening.

Attendees will also hear a short presentation about the work of the Northwest Progressive Institute by yours truly.

I'll be talking about the role of idea factories, the need to build netroots infrastructure that is invested in people powered politics, and what a tremendous difference a modest amount of seed money can make.

The gala starts at 7 PM at the Redmond Town Center Marriott - and we'd love to see you there. Tickets are $60 per person. You can buy a ticket online through Amazon Payments by clicking the button below.

This event is a terrific opportunity to enjoy a delicious buffet, hear enlightening speakers, meet fellow progressives, and learn more about the work of the Pacific Northwest's most innovative political strategy center.

While we aren't issuing any complimentary tickets for the event (except to the one lucky winner of our Official Blog naming contest) we are offering two important discounts to supporters.

First, if you have family living with you that you want to bring, you can buy a household ticket for the price of $90, good for four adults from the same residence. (Please note that children are welcome free, whether with an individual or a household ticket holder).

(Use this button to buy a household ticket).

Second, if you're a student, or you're on low/fixed income, you may purchase a ticket for only $20. [To receive this discount, please contact us at feedback (at) nwprogressive (dot) org and we'll make the arrangements with you.]

Buying a ticket today ensures you a spot at this exciting and groundbreaking gathering of the local netroots community and progressive movement.

We hope you'll join us!

Kirby Wilbur, local right wing launch initiative to decimate public services

On his KVI radio show this morning, right wing host Kirby Wilbur announced he's working with several Tim Eyman wannabes to qualify an initiative to the November ballot that would slash property taxes by 30%, which would result in unprecedented cuts to public services, including fire and police protection, libraries, parks, pools, and possibly schools (it appears the initiative applies to both state and local property taxes).

Initiative 1030 could singlehandedly destroy Washington State's economy and quality of life were it to take effect. (And that's why NPI's Permanent Defense will do everything possible to stop this horrible idea dead in its tracks).

We're talking about massive layoffs of public servants, neighborhoods with more drunk drivers and sex predators at large, the shuttering of countless civic institutions, drastically higher insurance rates due to the loss of police and fire protection, cities disincorporating...the list goes on and on. Municipalities will collapse, creating a terrible fiscal mess.

What Wilbur, sponsor Wayne Cannon, and their cronies are proposing is nothing less than an all out assault on the common wealth: the infrastructure and the public services that make our quality of life possible. Every family in Washington State is threatened by this incredibly dangerous initiative.

Wilbur and company claim the initiative will "save homes". This is a lie...literally. Just think of all the homes that will be destroyed by fire, for example, because first responders will be stretched too thin to provide proper protection.

And due to the colossal cuts in public services, everyone's insurance rates will go up, which means those financial savings promised by Wilbur and his cohorts will be nonexistent.

There is nothing to like about Initiative 1030. It's a grave threat to every community and every family in Washington State.

We've already begun mobilizing to fight this threat, launching a NO on I-1030 page at Permanent Defense which will be expanded in the weeks to come. We urge you to decline to sign...and warn your neighbors and friends about the incredible harm that Initiative 1030 would inflict on our state.

Ron Paul, Jeremiah Wright and The Corporate Media (with video)

Bob Cesca points out
If the corporate media had been as diligent about watchdogging President Bush as they have been about watchdogging Reverend Wright, it's very likely we wouldn't have invaded Iraq.

If the corporate media had spent as much time exposing the obvious flaws and grotesque inequalities of Reaganomics throughout the last 30 years as they've spent on Wright, we wouldn't necessarily be staring into the maw of another depression.

If the corporate media were as diligent about debunking the lies surrounding Iran's so-called nuclear program as they've been about Wright, there wouldn't be such a sense of inevitability in terms of attacking -- or entirely obliterating -- Iran.
He chides the media for "beating this nothing story to death." Cesca doesn't stop there. He goes on
The reality is that only one of the candidates is being attacked for their connections when, in fact, all three candidates have controversial and embarrassing relationships. The difference, as near as I can tell, is that only one candidate has an angry, shouting black connection. And -- bonus! -- there's videotape of this angry, shouting black man suggesting that America is partly to blame for the attacks of September 11!

Wait, wait. That claim sounds familiar. Who else besides, you know, the 9/11 Commission has claimed that American foreign policy in the Middle East was partly to blame for the September 11 attacks? In other words, who else has basically said -- and repeatedly so -- that America's "chickens have come home to roost"?
To answer the question, Cesca posts video (08:03) from Ron Paul being interviewed by Blitzer on CNN where he talks about American foreign policy in the Middle East and the September 11 attacks. Cesca then quotes Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan, Ronald Reagan, Joe Scarborough, Bob Novak and John McCain, who all praise Ron Paul lavishly. Tongue in cheek, he predicts
With the exception of President Reagan of course, I expect all of these Republicans politicians and pundits will step forward and declare their intentions to sever all ties to Congressman Paul, and to subsequently retract all praise for the Congressman.
He ends his critique of the media by decrying their "race-baiting spectacle," and their convenient blindness towards Pastor Hagee and as well as Senator Clinton's promise to "obliterate" Iran with nuclear weapons. He concludes with two questions, which also comprise the title of this commentary on The Huffington Post: "Have you no sense of decency at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

FINALLY: Wild Sky through Congress!

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Joel Connelly breaks the news that Congress has finally acted to set aside the beautiful Wild Sky wilderness for posterity:
Sen. Patty Murray has actually done a count of the days since maps were first unfurled, and activists first met in her Senate office, to talk about a different kind of wilderness in the Cascades.

After a gestation period of 3,405 days, Washington's newest wilderness area on Tuesday won overwhelming approval from the U.S. House of Representatives, and heads to President Bush's desk for his signature.

"I have learned so many of life's lessons with this bill," exclaimed Murray, D-Wash., who has championed the Wild Sky Wilderness Area.

The new 106,000-acre wilderness is located in the front range of the Cascades, north of the U.S. 2 Stevens Pass highway. It reaches from the north fork of the Skykomish River, a few hundred feet above sea level, to 6,200-foot summits of Mts. Merchant and Gunn above Index.
Dubya is expected to sign the bill, which means the legislative work is over. A precious area of the North Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound will soon be protected under federal law. It's a huge conservation victory.

We are very proud of our congressional Democrats who have tirelessly fought to make this happen. A special thanks goes to Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rick Larsen, and cheers to Representatives Jay Inslee, Norm Dicks, Brian Baird, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith and Senator Maria Cantwell.

We'll also thank Dave Reichert for his yes vote, although Darcy Burner's vote would have been an even more resounding yes.

Jeers to Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings, who voted against creating the Wild Sky wilderness. Both of you are an embarrassment to the State of Washington. Bush is going to sign it, so what is your problem? You couldn't fall in line and pretend to be conservationists?

Dunmire "tapped out", Eyman borrowing money to finance initiative drive

We have always wondered if there would come a point when Tim Eyman's money spigot would ever turn off - and it appears that it's just happened.

Eyman has just announced to his supporters and the press that he's been forced to take out a loan so that he can continue to pay the mercenaries at Roy Ruffino's Citizen Solutions to collect signatures for his 2008 initiative drive.
To: Amie Bennett, Hawthorne & Company
From: Tim Eyman, I-985 co-sponsor

RE: I-985's campaign report for April

As you can see in the email below, I'm securing a $250,000 line of credit from US Bank. As soon as it's up and running, I'll be borrowing that full amount and loaning it to the I-985 campaign (Jack & Mike Fagan both offered to help but it's much simpler this way).

As of March 31, we've raised $279,000 from supporters -- that's from 765 individual donations. We'll get more donations from everyone from now until July 3rd, the end of the signature drive. But the people who are being compensated to collect signatures are turning in an absolute avalanche of voter signatures right now. They have people blanketing the state and voters are literally lining up to sign petitions -- the initiative is very, very popular.

[Note: Tim Eyman says this about his initiatives every year, including the ones that have failed to qualify for the ballot, like I-807 in 2003, or I-864 in 2004. Both were "wildly popular". It's difficult to tell whether he's being truthful or not.]

So we've gotta have the funds now and this is the only way I know of to ensure we can pay the bills. Our regular supporters are certainly donating but during these tough economic times, it's really difficult for everyone. As you can see in our reports, Mike Dunmire has been contributing a lot but he recently emailed me -- because of charitable donations and other business obligations, we can't count on anything more from him in the foreseeable future.

Based on cost projections, we need an additional $290,000 so this $250,000 loan is critical to ensuring the success of I-985.

Please make sure that April's report for I-985 includes a $250,000 pledge from Tim Eyman for this upcoming loan. Let me know if there's anything more you need from me.

Regards, Tim Eyman
Well, well, well.

This development just proves what we've been saying for years. Tim Eyman has no grassroots base. If he did, he'd have enough volunteers to collect signatures and enough small donations to pay for-hire petitioners to gather whatever else is needed. Eyman's overdependence on Dunmire for funds is finally a weakness.

And he's unwilling to terminate the effort to buy his nuisance transportation initiative (that won't solve any problems) onto the ballot. He's in a quandary.

These days, a signature drive with almost one hundred percent of signatures bought and paid for requires about half a million dollars. Since Eyman doesn't have any volunteer army, he has to have money. Lots of it.

So he's secured a $250,000 line of credit - and he's going to borrow it all. What did he put up as collateral to get that loan? Answer: His house. Of course, most families don't have any assets beside their home that would be worth $250,000.

He's taken out a second mortgage on it, according to the e-mail that he sent to US Bank, which he copied in his message to his supporters, along with this plea:

At the end of his e-mail, Eyman says to his supporters:
I'm jumping off a big cliff -- please help catch me. As you can imagine, this is scary stuff -- but failure is simply not an option. This $250,000 loan will ensure I-985's success. PLEASE help retire this debt ASAP...
It's true that Eyman's year to year haul from his personal compensation fund has been pretty good (much of it has come from Dunmire), but he obviously doesn't have a big savings account, or he wouldn't need this loan.

We'll continue to have our eye on the Initiative 985 signature drive. It will be very interesting to see if Eyman can raise the money needed to pay back this loan.

What a shame - Michael Dunmire can't give him any more gold!

Gutter Politics

Stanley Fish writes in the New York Times today about "McCarthyism" and guilt by association as well as its political descendant, "Swiftboating." Since he's a law professor and former Dean at the University of Illinois, I'm going to assume he knows more about this stuff than I do. He's pretty rough on McCain but says Hillary hasn't said anything "wrong or inaccurate." However he does take her to task for something else:
the literature the Clinton campaign is passing around about Obama and Ayers cannot be explained away or rationalized. It features bold heads proclaiming that Ayers doesn’t regret his Weathermen activities (what does that have to do with Obama? Are we required to repudiate things acquaintances of our have not said?), that Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s senatorial campaign (do you take money only from people of whose every action you approve?), that Obama admired Ayers’s 1997 book on the juvenile justice system, that Ayers and Obama participated on a panel examining the role of intellectuals in public life. That subversive event was sponsored by The Center for Public Intellectuals, an organization that also sponsored an evening conversation (moderated by me) between those notorious radicals Richard Rorty and Judge Richard Posner (also a neighbor of Ayers’s; maybe the Federalist Society should expel him).

I don’t see any crimes or even misdemeanors in any of this. I do see civic activism and a concern for the welfare of children. The suggestion that something sinister was transpiring on those occasions is backed up by nothing except the four-alarm-bell typography that accompanies this list of entirely innocent, and even praiseworthy, actions.

As for Senator McCain, in 2004 he repudiated the Swiftboat attacks against fellow veteran John Kerry, but this time around he’s joining in, and if Obama gets the nomination, it seems that the Arizona senator will be playing the Ayers card. Of course, McCain knows a little about baseless accusations and innuendos, given his experience in South Carolina in 2000. And in case he has forgotten what it feels like, he may soon be reminded; for there’s a story abroad on the Internet that says that rather than being a heroic, tortured prisoner of war, McCain was a collaborator who traded information for a comfortable apartment serviced by maids who were really prostitutes. I don’t believe it for a second, just as I am sure that Senators McCain and Clinton don’t really believe that Obama condones setting bombs or supports a radical agenda that was pursued (as he has said) when he was eight years old.

The difference is that I feel a little dirty just for having repeated a scurrilous rumor even as I rejected it. Apparently Obama’s two opponents have no such qualms and are happily retailing, and wallowing in, the dirt.

In Brief - April 29, 2008

Around the Northwest
Around the Nation
Around the World
This Day in History
  • 1770 - British explorer Captain James Cook arrives at and names Botany Bay, Australia.
  • 1945 - Dachau is liberated by U.S. troops.
  • 1992 - The acquittal of 4 Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King sparks riots in Los Angeles.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Obama's Outreach To Republicans"

While some in the "traditional media"are focusing on Rev. Wright's speech and speculating about its impact, I want to go back to 1996, for this description of Obama's record of legislative accomplishments and how it might play out on the national level. Andrew Sullivan links to hilzoy for this post, pre-presidential primary campaign:
But I do follow legislation, at least on some issues, and I have been surprised by how often Senator Obama turns up, sponsoring or co-sponsoring really good legislation on some topic that isn't wildly sexy, but does matter. His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.

His legislation is often proposed with Republican co-sponsorship, which brings me to another point: he is bipartisan in a good way. According to me, bad bipartisanship is the kind practiced by Joe Lieberman. Bad bipartisans are so eager to establish credentials for moderation and reasonableness that they go out of their way to criticize their (supposed) ideological allies and praise their (supposed) opponents. They also compromise on principle, and when their opponents don't reciprocate, they compromise some more, until over time their positions become indistinguishable from those on the other side.

This isn't what Obama does. Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle. (This is especially true when one is in the minority party, especially in this Senate: the chances that Obama's bills will actually become law increase dramatically when he has Republican co-sponsors.)
You can go to Hilzoy's post for more details about Obama's legislative record. This is solid evidence of Obama's ability to produce the "change" we desperately need. The other candidate in the Democratic presidential primary cannot point to a comparable record of results.

NPI announces program for first ever Spring Fundraising Gala

Hey, it's me again.

I'm back on the blog this afternoon to share some exciting details with you about our Spring Fundraising Gala, coming up in a few weeks on May 16th at the Redmond Town Center Marriott. We are very fortunate to have a terrific host/support committee that includes local leaders such as Eric Oemig, Brian Weinstein, Roger Goodman, Dow Constantine, Suzie Sheary, and Gael Tarleton.

We deeply appreciate their enthusiasm and we're looking forward to putting on a great event that will be informative, inspiring, and just plain fun.

Our main program will include two very wonderful speakers and friends of the organization - Chip Hanauer, whose .376 career winning percentage is the best in hydroplane racing history, and Darcy Burner, whose Responsible Plan to end the occupation of Iraq has been endorsed by fifty four challengers for the U.S. House of Representatives, four candidates for U.S. Senate, and several retired U.S. military commanders, including Dr. Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense.

A short presentation about the work of the Northwest Progressive Institute will be given by yours truly. I'll be talking about the role of idea factories, the need to build netroots infrastructure that is invested in people powered politics, and what a tremendous difference a modest amount of seed money can make.

Our master of ceremonies will be Mike West, longtime host at The Mountain 103.7 (KMTT) who studied broadcasting at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, home of C89.5 FM (KNHC). Music will be provided by the legendary jazz guitarist Don Mock.

The gala starts at 7 PM at the Redmond Town Center Marriott - and we'd love to see you there. Tickets are $60 per person. You can buy a ticket online through Amazon Payments by clicking the button below.


This event is a terrific opportunity to enjoy a delicious buffet, hear enlightening speakers, meet fellow progressives, and learn more about the work of the Pacific Northwest's most innovative political strategy center.

While we aren't issuing any complimentary tickets for the event (except to the one lucky winner of our Official Blog naming contest) we are offering two important discounts to supporters.

First, if you have family living with you that you want to bring, you can buy a household ticket for the price of $90, good for four adults from the same residence. (Please note that children are welcome free, whether with an individual or a household ticket holder).


(Use this button to buy a household ticket).

Second, if you're a student, or you're on low/fixed income, you may purchase a ticket for only $20. [To receive this discount, please contact us at feedback (at) nwprogressive (dot) org and we'll make the arrangements with you.]

Buying a ticket today ensures you a spot at this exciting and groundbreaking gathering of the local netroots community and progressive movement.

We hope you'll join us!

Barack's List

So we've got Craigslist, Angie's List, EMILY's list, and now Barack's list. This article really tweaks me the wrong way, and is symbolic of what is wrong with politics.
Barack Obama's supporters are giving him more than just record amounts of cash. They also are providing personal information that may make his donor list the most powerful tool in U.S. politics.

Even if the Democratic presidential candidate doesn't succeed in his White House bid, this data will make Obama a power broker in the party for years to come. For the interest groups or Democratic candidates he chooses to sell it to, it would provide a gold mine of information and access to potential donors. [emphasis mine]

Excuse me, sell my info? Yes, that's right. All of us who have donated or signed up on Barack Obama's list should have read the fine print.

People who provide their information on line may not realize that the data they are posting at mybarackobama.com may have a long afterlife and find its way to other campaigns in future election cycles.

According to the Obama campaign's online privacy statement, it reserves the right to ``make personal information available to organizations with similar political viewpoints and objectives, in furtherance of our own political objectives.''

Truthfully, when I signed up, I didn't see the privacy statement though I could have taken some time to find it and read it in detail. But shouldn't a campaign have to explicitly spell out for you, in plain view, that when you donate, participate, sign up for updates, that your information can and will be sold to outside groups? Shouldn't you have a say in which groups your info goes to?

Lists that are built by campaigns should be used for that campaign's purposes. Gargantuan databases with voter preferences and demographics (commonly known as the voter file) should be the purview of the DNC or RNC, and only those who provide their info willingly should be in it.

My friend and former classmate Kari Chisholm addressed this issue last year on his Politics and Technology blog.

For starters, you've gotta keep your promises - whatever expectations you set with your subscribers. Usually, campaigns say things like "we won't give away, sell, rent, or trade your email address." Don't break that promise.

Next, even if you never made an explicit promise, you gotta ask: Is there an implied one? Would people be angry if the candidate gave their personal contact info to some organization they've never heard of? Probably...

After all, the friendly organization doesn't have an opt-in from those folks. When they email them, that's spam. And you'll be the one that made it happen.

The most important thing is to maintain that sense of trust and personal connection that she's built. The best way to do that, and still be helpful to your friends, is to send an email from the candidate to the audience - with a personal endorsement of the organization... and suggest that people sign up there.

I have to agree with Kari. While I may be inclined to support or join groups allied with Senator Obama's campaign, I'd prefer to be asked directly if I'd like to be involved and to opt-in.

And don't get me started on Hillary's claims of raising $10 million in 24 hours. Regardless of who you support, isn't it time for campaign finance reform?

[Update by Ken] Full Disclosure: I am a supporter of Barack Obama. I know NPI has endorsed Obama, but I wanted to make it clear that I'm personally supporting Obama, and this post is just meant as criticism of the campaign.

In Brief -April 28, 2008

Around the Northwest
Around the Nation
Around the World
This Day in History

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Hillary and her old enemies cuddle up for a kill"

Andrew Sullivan (London Times):
Last week was officially the moment that the race for the Democratic nomination slipped through the looking glass into surrealism. Here is a brief list of those people who are now actively supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy: Pat Buchanan, a charming man slightly to the right of Genghis Khan; Rush Limbaugh, the most voluble and incendiary of right-wing talk-show hosts; Richard Mellon Scaife, the media mogul who financed the virulently antiClinton crusades of the 1990s; and, if you read between the lines, even Karl Rove, the “architect” of the past decade or so of Republican dominance in electoral politics.
Am I hallucinating? I promise you I’m not. The merging of the forces that once persecuted the Clintons with the Clinton campaign itself has been a wonder to behold. Some on the once solidly anti-Clinton right have even been directly urging people to register as Democrats to vote for her.

Limbaugh began his pro-Clinton campaign when Ohio and Texas were at stake. Last Wednesday he claimed success in getting enough Republicans to vote for Clinton in Pennsylvania to keep her candidacy alive. Limbaugh calls his initiative Operation Chaos. “Were it not for Operation Chaos, [Barack] Obama could win this by winning the primary process. But he can’t now,” he bragged last week. Yes, this is the same Limbaugh who rose to fame hawking White-water and Lewinsky for eight years. Now he wants to save the couple he once wanted to impeach.

Or take Rove. In a brilliant opinion piece last week in The Wall Street Journal he insisted Obama could not win white ethnic voters in the autumn, and he even endorsed one of the Clinton campaign’s least persuasive arguments: that the votes in the Michigan and Florida primaries – deemed illegitimate by party bosses ahead of time because the states broke the rules by scheduling their primaries out of order – should be counted in the popular vote tally.

I don’t know anyone outside Clinton’s inner circle who actually believes that those states’ decision to violate the rules (and her choice to put her name on the illegitimate Michigan ballot) should now count retroactively in her favour. But Rove now does – and is clearly doing what he can to legitimise Clinton’s only chance of winning the nomination.

You have to pinch yourself as Buchanan – the former senior adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Rea-gan, and a man who clearly believes John McCain is a flaming liberal – all but endorses Clinton night after night on television. Buchanan’s rationale: “Obama cannot concede that the anger of white America – that its right to equal justice has been sacrificed to salve the consciences of guilt-besotted liberals – is a legitimate anger.”

Meanwhile we witnessed another surreal inversion. Last Tuesday night Terry McAuliffe, the Clintons’ money man, appeared on a network that many Democrats view as anathema and said: “Let me congratulate Fox [the TV network], because you were the first to call it for Hillary Clinton. Fair and balanced Fox: you beat them all.” Fox is now using the Clinton spokesman as part of an ad promo.

The icing on the cake was the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by Scaife, the man who bankrolled the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Hillary even sat down with Scaife for a fawning interview. His paper concluded: “Clinton’s decision to sit down with the Trib was courageous, given our long-standing criticism of her . . . Political courage is essential in a president. Clinton has demonstrated it; Obama has not. She has a real record. He doesn’t. She has experience of value to a president. He doesn’t.”

The Clintons are pragmatists, to put it kindly, when it comes to advancing their own interests and have long played the politics of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. It’s also indisputable that Obama gave them a gift with his unforced error about “bitter” Pennsylvania voters.

The shrewd and subtle invocation of racial tropes against Obama is also something that these Arkansan operators know well. One recalls that Bill Clinton interrupted his primary campaign in 1992 to return to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a mentally retarded black man. He was a master at bonding with African-Ameri-cans while signalling to white voters that he was also a Bubba underneath.

This time, after telling North Carolina voters last week that a black candidate doesn’t care about “people like you”, he has allowed Bubba to become the public face. His wife’s emergence in Pennsylvania as a tribune of the white working classes is part of the Clintons’, er, flexibility.

But what explains the Republicans’ sudden love for the Clintons is a little less obvious than the reasons for the Clintons’ sudden love for them. On paper, there is no actual policy difference to speak of between Obama and Hillary Clinton. Their one main disagreement is on healthcare mandates – and on that question, Obama is, if anything, slightly to Clinton’s right.

What’s going on, I think, is a classic bluff – as well as a simple desire to keep the Democrats’ agony going. Yes, Obama does have obvious problems winning over older and whiter voters in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. His recent sub-par performances have not helped. But in a hypothetical contest between McCain and Clinton, the very forces that help keep Clinton ahead among these voters in the primaries would aid McCain against Clinton in the general election. McCain’s a Scots-Irish Vietnam vet with an independent streak. He should beat her easily in this demographic.

If, however, Clinton becomes the nominee by wrestling superdelegates away from Obama at the convention (which, barring a catastrophe, is the only way she can do it), McCain’s advantages grow even more.

The Democrats led by Clinton would haemorrhage desperately needed black votes and young votes. All the new money, new votes and new enthusiasm that Obama has brought into his party would not just disappear; the new voters would be actively enraged, sit out the election or even vote for McCain.

For all these reasons, the Republicans know that Clinton is still one of their key assets. That’s why they have a sudden, new-found love for her. Obama scrambles politics in ways they do not fully understand yet, and profoundly fear. Endorsing Clinton’s attempt to redefine him as an elitist, leftist snob is win-win for them.

If Clinton prevails, they know how to beat her. If she loses, she will have legitimised a main Republican line of attack against Obama. It’s not that hard to understand. And it’s even more intelligible when you absorb a simple fact. Beneath the headlines about suicidal Democrats, there is a sobering reality for the Republicans in the current polling.

Even now – as the Democrats are tearing themselves apart – the polls are still showing that McCain and Obama are all but tied in the national vote. In a swing state such as Minne-sota, Obama actually has a 14-point lead over McCain, as of last Thursday.
The death match is now. And the Clintons and the Republicans need all the mutual support they can muster.
About the only thing I can add is that I don't think Billary & Co. will succeed in "killing" Obama.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bill Moyers & Jeremiah Wright (video)


PBS, transcript and video Pt. 1 (30:13)and Pt. 2 (22:39):

Bill Moyers interviews the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in his first broadcast interview with a journalist since he became embroiled in a controversy for his remarks and his relationship with Barack Obama. Wright, who retired in early 2008 as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Senator Obama is a member, has been at the center of controversy for comments he made during sermons, which surfaced in the press in March.

In Brief - April 25, 2008

Around the Northwest
Around the Nation
Around the World
This Day in History
  • 1792 - The guillotine was first used for capital punishment in France. Ironically, La Marseillaise (the French National Anthem) was also composed on this day.
  • 1898 - The United States declares war on Spain, in the aftermath of the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor.
  • Today is Arbor Day in the United States. Go plant a tree.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

The Wall Street Journal calls the race for the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama.

Other than ensuring the Greatest Show on Earth will continue, does it matter that Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama Tuesday in Pennsylvania by nine-plus points? Barack Obama is the nominee.

No matter how many kicks the rest of us find in such famously fun primary states as Indiana and South Dakota, it's going to be McCain versus Obama in 2008.

But unlike Chuck Todd's delegate math that led him to call the race for Obama, the WSJ went to the Serious Democrat card.
I believe the cement set around the Clinton coffin last Friday. The Obama campaign announced it had received the support of former Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma.

Both are what some of us nostalgically call Serious Democrats. They represent what the party was, but is no more: sensible on national security, spending and middle-class values. Obama receiving their imprimatur is like hands reaching out from the graves of FDR, JFK and LBJ to announce: "Enough is enough. This man is your nominee. Go forth and fight with the Republicans." Make no mistake: Superdelegates with sway took notice.
I suspect we'll be seeing more Clinton campaign obituaries in the coming days and weeks. Game and set have been called. This match is nearly over.

McCain Uses Taxpayer Money for Campaign Event

Via Natasha at MyDD, we learn that at a recent Florida fundraiser Senator John McCain utilized taxpayer money for campaign purposes. Specifically, Homewood City Jail inmates provided free labor, setting up tables and chairs.
The McCain campaign was charged $250 to use two rooms in the hall, which normally would book for $1,200 on a weeknight. The campaign also was given free labor from Homewood City Jail inmates to set up tables and chairs for the event, avoiding a $100 set-up fee, but did pay a standard $50 cleaning fee. [emphasis mine]
The reason I say taxpayer money was used for this event is that inmates don't just leave a jail to go do good deeds for a political campaign. Inmates require transportation, presumably from police officers who drive city-owned vehicles. Not only are the salaries of those officers being paid while they supervise the inmates who are working at this political function, but the transportation itself costs money (the vehicle that transported the inmates plus the fuel that operates the vehicle).

John McCain should immediately reimburse the city for all costs associated with his fundraiser, and whoever authorized the use of inmate labor should be immediately reprimanded for using city resources for a political fundraiser. That's against the law in most places, if not everywhere.

Still think John McCain is the poster boy for campaign finance reform and clean elections?

"Obama's Inclusion"

Andrew Sullivan:
A reader writes:

This morning I saw an excerpt from Obama's concession speech in Indiana where he said the following:

"Or this time, we can build on the movement we've started in this campaign – a movement that's united Democrats, Independents, and Republicans; a movement of young and old, rich and poor; white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American, gay and straight."

I have two comments about this:

First, I cannot recall a politician ever speaking after a loss, proclaiming that he wants to bring together gays and straights. That is amazing. Can you imagine Hillary ever saying anything like that to a national audience, especially after a defeat?

Second, the "gay and straight" portion is not included in the text of the speech on Obama's website. This means either 1) the campaign removed those words from the edited transcript or 2) (more likely) Obama's inclusion of "gay and straight" was impromptu. It wasn't included by the speech writers, but he included it at the spur of the moment. If this is true, how amazing it is that there is a politician who is willing to stand up for us gay Americans who have been ignored for so long. I hope Obama knows how much those three small words that he included in his speech mean to us.

I noticed it too. Unimaginable coming from a Clinton. And it will, of course, be regarded by the Steyn-Hewitt types as more evidence that Obama is an extreme communist terrorist. But it will be regarded by the next generation as more evidence that Obama is the candidate of the future. He is. Quite how far into the future is what we are finding out.

In Brief - April 24, 2008

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Bottom Line

Watch this video as MSNBC's Chuck Todd delivers his analysis that there is no mathematical possibility for Hillary Clinton to overcome Barack Obama's pledged delegate lead in the remaining primaries left to contest.

Short of coup by superdelegate, Hillary can't win.

Given the scorched-earth, negative general election campaign that Hillary has waged thus far, you have to wonder if the point of staying in the race is to damage Obama enough to ensure John McCain's victory, so she can come back in 4 years.

"Obama's across-the-board gains"

Markos:
One of the arguments the Clinton campaign is making to the supers, hoping they'll overturn the will of the voters, is that Obama can't win certain demographics. Yet looking at the exit poll numbers, it's clear that Obama has actually been making serious gains the past six weeks.

Obama's percent of the vote:

OH PA

60 and older 28 38
White 34 38
White men 39 44
White women 31 34
Less than $50K 42 46
No college 40 38
College 51 49
Catholic 36 31
Protestant 36 53

What was a 10.5% win in demographically friendly Ohio has become an 8.6% win in similar Pennsylvania, except the state was even less black and with a much smaller youth voter population (Pennsylvania's seniors accounted for 32 percent of the electorate, compared to 23 percent in Ohio).

And, those gains were made despite the Wright controversy as well as manufactured bullshit about "bitter" and flag pins and whatnot.

On top of that, Obama has had to run against Hillary Clinton, against former President of the United States Bill Clinton, and against John McCain and the entire GOP apparatus, which has trained its guns on Obama hoping to give Clinton a boost.

Yet he continues to gain among most of Clinton's best demographics, is still raising more money, leads comfortably in delegates, leads comfortably in the popular vote, leads in states won, leads in the national polls, and does better in the head-to-head matchups against McCain.So why should the supers spark an intra-party civil war by overturning the will of the electorate again?


Howie P.S.: E.J. Dionne looks at Obama's campaign through another lens
"The Two Obamas"-The result of the 2008 election may come down to how voters decide to define Barack Obama. Is he Adlai Stevenson or John F. Kennedy? Is he a detached former law review editor or a passionate agent of change? Is he an upscale reformer focused on process or a populist who will turn Washington and the country around?
Howie P.P.S.: I guess Hillary's threat to nuke Iran, and her subsequent backing off, make her a "fighter." But it sure doesn't look like "experience" to me.

In Brief - April 23, 2008

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"The Near-Triumph Of Rovism"

Andrew Sullivan:
It's worth recalling what this primary came to be about, because of a self-conscious decision by the Clintons to adopt the tactics and politics of the people who persecuted and hounded them in the 1990s. It was indeed in the end about smearing and labeling Obama as a far-left, atheist, elite, pansy Godless snob fraud. That was almost all it came to be about. It was the Clintons' core message and core belief. And if anywhere would have proved its salience, it would surely have been beleaguered and depressed central and western Pennsylvania; and it would surely have worked with white ethnic voters over 50.

It did work, it seems to me. It will work, to some extent. It's valid in the sense that Rove is not stupid. But it works less and less the younger the vote is; and it is obviously losing some of its divisive salience even among the older generation. It is fading as a tool. Used by Democrats, legitimized by Democrats, embraced by Democrats, the Rove-Atwater gambits have been paid the highest compliment by the Clintons these past few weeks. But a single digit win against a young black man in a polarized race suggests that this compliment was past its sell-by date. It was an act of desperation, and one last grab back to the past. It didn't quite do what it was supposed to do. Nearly, but not quite.

The past is receding; but the future has yet to be born. This is hard labor. Necessary labor. But the direction of this country is clear, it seems to me. And heartening.
Howie P.S.: Twenty minutes before he posted this, Sullivan painted a darker picture in another post, "The Worst Of All Worlds For The Dems":
Right now, the actual results suggest what I thought would be the worst possible result for the Democrats: a nine point win for Clinton. It doesn't change the race's dynamic or the math; but it will give Clinton just the tiniest sliver of an argument that she should not drop out.
(snip)
This is a fascinating result. It appears to me as the future struggling to overcome the past. On the process, I stick to my view that she needed double digits to have reason to stay in. Right now, she doesn't have it. But she won't leave. She will never leave. Ceding to someone younger is unthinkable to her. It's a form of death for her.

But here's what she does have: total shamelessness, and an absolute belief that she is the rightful nominee. Shamelessness: the appropriation of the message and even the words of her opponent; the portrayal of one of the most privileged and advantaged candidates in memory as an insurgent underdog; the eager embrace of the tactics - and message! - of the Rove right if it could help in any way; the picture of a candidate who saw a 20 - 25 point lead dissipate into single figures as a candidate for momentum. What sustains her is this deep, deep sense of entitlement and an absolute refusal to let the next generation take over. She will take this to the last day of the convention if necessary.

If Obama thinks he has a right to actually be nominated by the Clinton Democrats because he has won more votes, more states and more delegates, he is sadly mistaken. They will never let such a person win without a death struggle.
And that is where the Democrats are now headed.
Via Avi Zenilman posting on Ben Smith's Blog
The debate (on one superdelegate listserv) isn't about whether to endorse Obama or abandon him in the wake of tonight's loss; it's when and how superdelegates should reveal their preferences.

Worst. President. Ever.

President George W. Bush heads to new lows that even former President Richard Nixon couldn't reach.
President Bush has set a record he'd presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove.

To quote you, you're doing a heckuva job Mr. President. Fortunately for all Americans, the end of our nation's misery is now only 273 days away.

In Brief - April 22, 2008 (The Earth Day Edition)

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Monday, April 21, 2008

"Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Praises Farrakhan and N.O.I." (video)

PhilaTruth, with video (06:27):
This is the transcript (video) of former Mayor Ed Rendell, who is Governor of Pennsylvania and the state's most influential supporter of Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a packed audience at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church on April 14, 1997 at the rally: "A Solution To Heal The Racial Divide." The then mayor was the principal organizer of the rally that brought together diverse religious, political, and civic Philadelphia leaders with Nation of Islam leader, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as the keynote speaker.

NBA Commissioner David Stern on Key Arena

Watch this video clip from circa 1995, right after the remodel.

Then ponder this statement made last year, before Clay Bennett's ownership group was granted permission to move to Oklahoma City.
“The reason that this journey began was because KeyArena was not an adequate arena going forward and there were a lot of recommendations made for another arena ... but the tax revenues and the various contributions weren’t forthcoming,” Stern said while taking questions about an NBA relocation subcommittee’s recommendation to move the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

“I would say that as far as we know, the footprint of Key is at present time not viewed as adequate to support what’s necessary going forward.”
So what changed? Certainly the facility hasn't changed. But apparently, Stern's admiration for Key Arena did.

Rick Santorum Endorses John McCain?

Today, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum held his nose and, while not doing him any favors, endorsed Senator John McCain for President.
I've disagreed with him on immigration, global warming and federal protection of marriage. I've taken strong exception to his view that the federal government should fund embryonic stem-cell research.

[...]

Yes, I often wished McCain would have joined me on the Senate floor in debating Barbara Boxer on issues like the partial-birth-abortion ban.

[...]

Yes, I disagreed with McCain's opposition to President Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

[...]

And, yes, McCain has been a thorn in the side of many of us who supported important appropriations earmarks for our states.
Never mind that Santorum painted McCain as an unelectable liberal earlier in the primary season, when he was supporting Mitt Romney.

My favorite reason why Santorum says he's supporting McCain:
He's not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Now there's a ringing endorsement.

With friends like Rick Santorum, who needs enemies?

"Face The Nation's Bob Schieffer on Patriotism and Flag Pins" (video)

Video, (01:16). Bob's not too impressed with "signs and pins". The proof is how we act, not the "jewelry" we wear, he says. I like the way he says "jewelry".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Barack Obama on The Colbert Report: "Manufactured Political Distractions" (video)

Comedy Central, video (03:00):
Senator Barack Obama believes that the American people are tired of petty distractions.

McCain: "Better Off?" (video)

DemocraticVideo, video (00:38):
The first national television advertisement released by the Democratic National Committee.
This morning on ABC's "This Week", McCain gave us preview of his campaign agenda: "McCain questions Obama radical ties."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tickets are now on sale for our Spring Fundraising Gala

A few days ago I announced I was temporarily leaving the Official Blog to work on a few important projects, including two major upcoming events that we're hosting. I'm checking back in today to let you know that we have begun selling tickets to our May 16th spring fundraising gala online.

The gala starts at 7 PM at the Redmond Town Center Marriott.

We haven't revealed the program yet, nor have we begun sending out formal invitations (we'll be doing both within a few days) but if you're someone who appreciates our work enough to want to attend our event without knowing all the details, we encourage you to buy a ticket now. Tickets are $60 per person.


(Use this button to buy a ticket).

This event is a terrific opportunity to enjoy a delicious buffet, hear enlightening speakers, meet fellow progressives, and learn more about the work of the Pacific Northwest's most innovative political strategy center.

While we aren't issuing any complimentary tickets for the event (except to the one lucky winner of our Official Blog naming contest) we are offering two important discounts to supporters.

First, if you have family living with you that you want to bring, you can buy a household ticket for the price of $90, good for four adults from the same residence. (Please note that children are welcome free, whether with an individual or a household ticket holder).


(Use this button to buy a household ticket).

Second, if you're a student, or you're on low/fixed income, you may purchase a ticket for only $20. [To receive this discount, please contact us at feedback (at) nwprogressive (dot) org and we'll make the arrangements with you.]

I'll be back soon to disclose more information about our event.

Friday, April 18, 2008

In Brief - April 18, 2008

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South Side Priest Sticks Up For Jeremiah Wright (video)

UPDATE: FOX took this footage down but it was rescued by RatTube.
The Reverend Michael Louis Pfleger is a Roman Catholic priest and social activist in Chicago, Illinois.

He was "interviewed" in front of his church by 'Factor' producer Porter Berry on FOX Noise (video, 12:09). He has much to say about racism in America, Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Obama Meets Jay-Z in YouTube Mashup Slamming Clinton & Debate" (with video)

Ari Melber (The Nation):
Barack Obama is clearly taking that abysmal ABC News debate in stride. He told his supporters not to fret about all the "textbook Washington" drama on Thursday, recounting the superficial moderators and Hillary Clinton's attempts to "twist the knife" on trivial issues. Then Obama made pop cultural history, miming the rapper Jay-Z's iconic hand signal to "brush the dirt" off his shoulders. That popular youth gesture grew out of "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," a hit song in 2003. As Wikipedia explains, it refers to "getting enemies off your chest by brushing your shoulders off."

On Thursday night, YouTuber Bill3948 uploaded a one-minute mash-up of Jay-Z songs, Clinton attacks and Obama's inspired response. The sequence opens with clips of Clinton's cheap shots, accompanied by the Jay-Z ballad "Moment of Clarity," pivots to lowlights from the ABC debate, and then scores Obama's response with the original "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" track. While Obama brushes, graphics of Hillary, Bill and Charlie Gibson fly off his shoulders. Then he shakes off a kitchen sink -- a nod to Clinton's desperate strategy -- as Jay raps about hanging out "in the kitchen with soda."
Watch the video.

I'm brushing that dirt off right now.

In Brief - April 17, 2007

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The debate in Philadelphia

Apparently the American people don't care about substantive issues like war, health care, education, energy policy, or climate change.

At least that's what ABC News thinks about the American people. Last night there was another presidential candidate debate between Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, what should have been a serious discussion was turned into a rigged reality show-style presentation chock full of meaningless "gotcha" questions by the hapless moderators and producers at ABC the new FOX.

ABC Becomes the New Fox
(Graphic parody by NPI, some rights reserved, may be reproduced)

Instead of debating the issues of the day, Senators Obama and Clinton spent their time talking about gaffes, flag pins, and their associations with other people (see - guilt by association).
Then it was back to Obama to defend his slim association with a former '60s radical -- a question that came out of rightwing talk radio and Sean Hannity on TV, but delivered by former Bill Clinton aide Stephanopolous. This approach led to a claim that Clinton's husband pardoned two other '60s radicals. And so on.

More time was spent on all of this than segments on getting out of Iraq and keeping people from losing their homes and other key issues. Gibson only got excited when he complained about anyone daring to raise taxes on his capital gains.
At least for ABC, this debate wasn't about elevating political discourse or helping people to discern the differences between the two candidates,. It was about ratings and the corporate bottom line. In my estimation, the debate and its moderators failed on all accounts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

George Fearing Outraises Congressman Doc Hastings in Q1

When Buffalo Springfield sang, "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." they couldn't have been referring to Washington's 4th Congressional District. Or could they?

Over at McCranium.org, Jimmy has posted the big news that Democratic challenger George Fearing outraised incumbent Congressman Doc Hastings in the first quarter of 2008. While the outcome of quarter one is impressive, take a look at the following:

While the FEC report only shows donor’s of $200 or more, of the 37 donors to the Hastings campaign, just nine were individual donors… the rest were either business or PAC. Those donations accounted for nearly $31k of the $33k reported.

Of the 97 who gave to the Fearing Campaign during that same reporting period, all 97 were individual donors.
On one side you have a candidate bought and paid for by the special interests. On the other side you have the people-powered candidate.

It looks the change we're hearing about during this election cycle is starting to find its way to the people of the 4th Congressional District. If George Fearing can continue to string together great fundraising quarters, which will help him increase his name recognition in the district, then Congressman Dave Reichert might have some company on the endangered politicians list.

Would you buy a tunnel from this man?

The Seattle Times, a periodical I usually scorn for its pro-Republican slant, looks askance at Dino Rossi's new transportation "plan" in their story today:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi says he can solve Washington state's transportation problems with a tunnel, two bridges and $15 billion in taxpayer cash. His critics say that with a price tag like that, he'll need a little magic, too.
The "magic" part is necessary because Dino is proposing the state spend 40 percent of the state sales taxes on new and used vehicles for transportation projects — a total of $7.7 billion in 2007 dollars projected over the next 30 years, without saying "how he'd make up that loss in revenue, but he says he would not raise taxes or cut programs supporting education, nursing homes and the developmentally disabled."

If you want an "expert" reaction to the plan, here's a quote in the story from Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington state Transportation Center at the University of Washington::
Rossi's numbers are "completely divorced from reality...He lowballs almost all the estimates and never says where all the funds are going to come from. It's a political statement. It's complete silliness..." Hallenbeck said.
Heard enough? There's more:
The plan does not address public transit, which Rossi says should be dealt with on the local level.

In Brief - April 16, 2008

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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that states can lawfully use lethal injection as a means of carrying out the death penalty. The suit was brought by two Kentucky death row inmates who contended that lethal injection violated the Constitutional ban (8th Amendment) on cruel and unusual punishment. As I'm not a legal scholar, I'll defer on the analysis of the opinion to this informative post.

"Loose Lips and Democratic Ships"

E.J. Dionne conducts a graduate seminar in political science in his column yesterday in the Washington Post, drawing on "The Real Majority," a 1970 book by Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg:
They argued that when working-class voters cast ballots on the basis of economics, they backed Democrats; when they voted on "the social issue," meaning crime, race and values, they tilted Republican.

Scammon and Wattenberg's analysis was aimed at helping Democrats, but Richard Nixon rode it to victory in 1972. Republicans have been following this script ever since.

But then there are those two Obama words that shook the campaign: "cling" and "bitter." Really dumb word choices. The second paragraph, far less empathetic than the first, makes Obama sound like the author of an undergraduate paper, not a candidate for president.

At one level, who can blame Hillary Clinton for going after Obama's mistake? Her campaign looked set to collapse, if not in Pennsylvania then shortly thereafter. Of course she capitalized on his error by accusing him of being elitist.
Dionne goes on to mock Clinton's working-class credentials by citing her own "elite" biography and he bashes Clinton for "her blessing upon the crude stereotypes (about Al Gore and John Kerry) peddled relentlessly by Republican consultants." He concludes by chiding them both for "doing all they can to make it easy for Republicans to pretend one more time that they are the salt of the earth."

Don't get me wrong, I'm still an Obama-lover. But I can't really argue with his analysis. This morning, we can read "Democrats Willing to Let Battle Continue--Poll Shows Gains in Key Areas for Obama" on the WaPo's front page (excerpt):
Sen. Barack Obama holds a 10-point lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when Democrats are asked whom they would prefer to see emerge as the party's presidential nominee, but there is little public pressure to bring the long and increasingly heated contest to an end, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The fierce battle, however, appears to have taken a toll on the image of Clinton, who was once seen as the favorite. And Obama has widened his lead since early February on several key qualities that voters are looking for in a candidate and has narrowed sizable advantages for Clinton on others.

He now has a 2-to-1 edge on who is considered more electable in a general contest -- a major reversal from the last poll -- and has dramatically reduced a large Clinton lead on which of the two is the "stronger leader."

While Clinton retains a big edge over Obama on experience, public impressions of her have taken a sharply negative turn. Today, more Americans have an unfavorable view of her than at any time since The Post and ABC began asking the question, in 1992. Impressions of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, also have grown negative by a small margin.

In the new poll, 54 percent said they have an unfavorable view of Sen. Clinton, up from 40 percent a few days after she won the New Hampshire primary in early January. Her favorability rating has dropped among both Democrats and independents over the past three months, although her overall such rating among Democrats remains high. Nearly six in 10 independents now view her unfavorably.

Obama's favorability rating also has declined over the same period but remains, on balance, more positive than negative.

The findings come as the two contenders prepare to meet tonight in Philadelphia for their first debate in more than a month and their final direct encounter before Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary. The exchange will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time and will air on ABC News.
I'll watch, but I wonder how many potential viewers won't, turned off by the seemingly endless bickering in a primary campaign that feels like a movie "30 minutes too long."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bush Crime Watch for Tax Day 2008: "Obama would ask his AG to 'immediately review' potential of crimes in Bush White House"

During the primary season, before there were only two Democratic candidates left, I wondered if Barack Obama would take on the issue of the crimes ("war" and any others) of the Bush administration. I was afraid his desire for unity and healing would trump his longstanding devotion to our constitution and the rule of law. While his statement (below) doesn't commit him to the act of prosecution, it has opened the door and will now lead others to keep this topic in the public eye, should he succeed in November. Obama was interviewed yesterday by Will Bunch for his blog in The Philadelphia Daily News:
What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can't prejudge that because we don't have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve.

So this is an area where I would want to exercise judgment -- I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General -- having pursued, having looked at what's out there right now -- are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it's important-- one of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I've said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law -- and I think that's roughly how I would look at it.
I know the progressive blogosphere and others interested in the legal fabric of our country will be interested in how this plays out. On Tax Day 2008, I would be a lot happier if I knew my dollars were not funding cruel and criminal activities.

Darcy Burner continues torrid fundraising pace in first quarter

It's been a good month for Darcy Burner. After releasing her Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, to great accolades, Darcy is continuing to set the fundraising pace, not only against her opponent, Congressman Dave Reichert, but among challengers nationwide.

In a press release this morning, Darcy announced that she has raised more than $500,000 in the first quarter of 2008.
Burner will file documents with the Federal Elections Commission showing a total of $516,740 raised over the January to March quarter, putting her total raised over this election cycle at $1,374,866. After accounting for expenses, Burner reported $921,615 in the bank, up from $607,000 at the beginning of the year.

[...]

Since declaring her intention to seek a rematch with Congressman Reichert in mid-March of 2007, Burner outraised the incumbent for three consecutive quarters to close out 2007, despite President Bush hosting a $1,000 and $10,000 a head fundraiser for Congressman Reichert last August. Congressman Reichert's close ties to the Bushes was again demonstrated in February, when First Lady Laura Bush hosted a private, high dollar fundraiser for Congressman Reichert at a Medina mansion that raised about $90,000, according to recent FEC filings.
Emphasis is mine. It's important to note that while Congressman Dave Reichert pursues checks from the rich and famous, the beneficiaries of Bush Administration policy, 88% of Darcy's fundraising has come from individuals and not PACs or party committees. While Dave Reichert rubber stamps the Bush Administration and hobnobs with the elites, Darcy Burner is the people-powered candidate who is showing true leadership with her Responsible Plan.

It's not going to be easy to unseat Dave Reichert, but with Darcy Burner we have a committed candidate who is doing the work of the people even before she gets into office. Expect the Republicans to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Darcy (and they might throw that in too).

So while Darcy is reporting excellent fundraising numbers, we have to continue the momentum. So if you're one of those good people who didn't wait until today to file your taxes, and you already got your refund, please consider giving some of your spare change to Darcy Burner to help retire the Sheriff. Dave Reichert only cares about the rich people. Shouldn't we have someone who represents our interests?

In Brief - April 15, 2008 (The Tax Day Edition)

It's tax day, have you filed your taxes yet?

If you're an elected official in Washington, it also happens to be F-1 day. Have you filed your F-1 form with the PDC? For those who don't know, the F-1 is the annual financial disclosure form that elected officials must file with the PDC, listing their assets, sources of income, liabilities and any gifts accepted over $50 from lobbyists or others during the past year.

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This Day in History
  • 1912 - The RMS Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg.
  • 1947 - Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier, played his first Major League Baseball game.
  • 1989 - The death of former Chinese General Secretary Hu Yaobang started a chain reaction of events that led to the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How The Mighty Have Fallen

Poor Alberto Gonzales. The former Attorney General is finding out that life in Washington, D.C. can be cruel, much like the interrogation methods he ordered.

Alberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general, who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.

He has, through friends, put out inquiries, they said, and has not found any takers. What makes Mr. Gonzales’s case extraordinary is that former attorneys general, the government’s chief lawyer, are typically highly sought.

As former President Harry Truman once said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

And now, a break from our regularly scheduled programming...

As recent visitors to our home page have undoubtedly noticed, the Northwest Progressive Institute is preparing to host two exciting events later this season - our Spring Fundraising Gala, which will be held on May 16th in Redmond, and the 2008 NWroots Conference to be held the third weekend in June.

The planning for these events (and the demands posed by other exciting projects we're working hard on), have started to take a toll on our human resources, especially with the loss of our beloved colleague and Senior Managing Editor Keith Deshaies, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack earlier this month.

We've got so much to do at the moment that none of us have time to spare to do any significant posting. We're all volunteers until NPI gets more funding - so most of us can't give as much time to the organization as we wish we could.

We know that a dormant blog isn't much fun to read, and that's why we've asked a few terrific guest contributors to take over for the time being.

Effective immediately, all of NPI's staff are going on sabbatical. We'll still be around... we just won't be blogging.

Don't worry, we'll be back before too long, once we're not stretched so thin.

I'll be updating this post today and tomorrow with introductions to our guest contributors. We anticipate that you'll find their commentary and analysis intriguing and insightful. Please join us in giving them a warm welcome!

UPDATE: Our first guest contributor, Ken Camp, is a wonderful friend of the organization who was heavily involved in Governor Bill Richardson's presidential campaign earlier this election cycle. Ken's own blog, The View From the Left, is one of our favorites, and he writes authoritatively about state and national politics.

Ken has the freedom to write about any topic he deems to be blogworthy. We look forward to reading what he has to say.

UPDATE II: Our second guest contributor is Howie Martin, a longtime progressive writer from Seattle. Howie strongly supported in Howard Dean's bid for the White House in 2004 and was an early backer of Barack Obama this cycle (NPI has endorsed Barack Obama).

Howie frequently blogs at his own site, howieinseattle, and we're delighted that he'll be joining Ken at the helm of the Official Blog.

Stay tuned for more updates!