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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Follow the Democratic Rules Committee meeting online

If you're not at the ballpark today (like I am) or doing something else with your Saturday, the Democratic Party is streaming the Rules Committee meeting online. Kossack lollydee is also providing a highly entertaining liveblog of the proceedings.:
Update 25 - [Michigan Democratic Party Chair] Brewer is saying Uncommitted's voters should be given to Obama. He's seriously disenfranchising Uncommitted's loyal voters. There will be rioting in the streets.

Update 26 - Someone is saying something about Alice in Wonderland. Clinton and Obama voters are now united in searching around the room for the marijuana brownies.

Update 27 - Questioner now isn't thinking about Alice. He's clearly all about Dorothy.

Update 28 - How do people know when to applause? Are there cue cards for the Hillary and Obama folks? Does Ickes have a hand signal?

Update 29 - I need more coffee. Or maybe something stronger like whatever drug Brewer is on.

Update 30 - Brewer: Rulez don't apply! All UR DELEGATES R BELONG TO HILLARY!

Update 31- Ickes is on again. He is auditioning for the next Speed Racer movie. God, I hate that shirt.

Update 32 - A questioner is asking Brewer about what other state wide efforts were on the ballot. Nothing, of course, except the one where residents were pissed about that dude wanting to build that strip mall a block away from their neighborhood. I'm sure the Obama voters were riled about that. Back to exit polls. Does anyone take those seriously? I lied to one, once. I told them I had written in Kiefer Sutherland.

Update 33 - Levin is getting kudos now. The questioner better watch her step with the compliments or else Dean will be forced to assert his dominance by howling.

Update 34 - Levin is talking about Unity and he is also giving kudos to his friend Ghettofinger. I know that's not his name but I choose to believe it is and I do not accept your reality. Go Clinton!

Update 35 - He is talking about reason and going forward and unity. Flawed primary, yada, yada yada. Detroit's mayor was too busy text-porning his staffer to help us out.
Lots more on Daily Kos.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sam Reed's "Top Two" primary throws the door wide open to ballot mischief

Back when the United States Supreme Court erred in giving Secretary of State Sam Reed the okay to implement the horrendously designed "Top Two" primary, I predicted that confusion over the new scheme was imminent.

When voters approved the initiative that created "Top Two" in 2004, they thought they were restoring the old blanket primary.

That is what the Grange and Sam Reed told them. But in actuality, the new system does not resemble the blanket primary. It still tramples on the First Amendment rights of political parties (freedom of assembly) but it also limits voters' choices:
The "Top Two" system, as the name suggests, only advances the top two vote getting candidates to the general election.

It doesn't matter what party they are from.

So if two Democrats get the most votes, the general election will be a contest between two Democrats. Those Washingtonians who don't want to vote for a Democrat are completely out of luck. The reverse is true as well.

In Seattle, this means Republicans can't compete in the general election. And in most of Eastern Washington, it means Democrats can't compete, which is bad for our state. Democracy thrives on debate and an exchange of ideas.

As for minor parties, well... you can forget about them.
Today Reed's office released guidelines that he hopes candidates will follow when they begin filing for office this Monday.

In order to get around the Supreme Court's determination that a blanket primary forces a political party to associate with a person who have been nominated by people who have refused to affiliate with that party, Reed & Co. came up with a law that says nominations and partisan identification are now entirely symbolic and have no bearing on who goes to the general election.

Consequently, instead of requiring candidates to identify which party they belong to (if any), candidates are now supposed to submit a statement that reads: "Sam Reed (or Candidate X) prefers the Republican Party (or X Party)".

But here's the catch: That language is merely what Reed would like would-be officeholders to use. Thanks to "Top Two", candidates are free to submit any statement they like. So if I filed for office, I could submit a statement that says, "Andrew Villeneuve - prefers progressive Democrats".

Or: "Andrew Villeneuve - prefers ice cream." Or I could promote a business, for example: "Andrew Villeneuve - Eat at Joe's in Redmond".

I made a point of clarifying this with the Secretary of State's office. Here's what new Communications Director Dave Ammons told me:
Those adjectives are not forbidden in the law, so it looks like state and local election folks will be required to accept them.

Our regulations outlaw only obscenity or implying or stating that you have the party nod.
So, as long as you don't submit profanity or claim to be the nominee of a party, you can apparently say anything you like, limited to a few words.

Reed, again, wants candidates to say, "Prefers Democratic Party" or "Prefers Republican Party" - and honor the "spirit" of "Top Two".

Um, what?

Listen, Sam, you and your best pals at the Grange created this big mess. You've opened the floodgates to confusion, mischief, and trickery by turning the primary into the first act of a general election where people can use the descriptor to say almost anything they like about themselves.

You have destroyed the integrity of our primary, which is supposed to enable grassroots participation - allowing a greater number of Washingtonians to join in the selection of the party nominees.

And now you have the audacity to insist that candidates use your little workaround for supplying partisan cues so you can pretend to the people of Washington State that you're holding a good old blanket primary?

Well, here's a newsflash: You reap what you sow. You're the one who has made it easy for people to use the ballot to play games and promote their own businesses or interests. All because you and your friends at the Grange can't abide the horror of an open primary where voters democratically pick the nominees of the party they identify with. Almost every other state in the country holds a proper primary, but sadly, we don't anymore.

Since the primary is already a joke, it might as well be entertaining. We'll be watching in earnest to see how many humorous or satirical statements accompany candidate names in the days to come.

Republican Dave Reichert jokes about the death of Hillary Clinton

Not only is Dave Reichert an ineffective congressman, but he has a twisted sense of humor, as the Tacoma News Tribune's Niki Sullivan reports:
Right now, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is up. He repeated a joke I first heard him tell at the Pierce County Republicans’ Lincoln Day breakfast earlier this year. It involves an airplane that’s going to crash, one fewer parachute than passengers and, ultimately, Hillary Clinton dying.
It sounds, as David Goldstein observes, like an unoriginal, crass schoolyard joke I used to hear all the time from classmates when I was younger and attending elementary school. Here's a rendition of it, as transcribed by David:
A grandfather, a grandson, a wealthy man and [Despised Public Figure] are flying on a plane, when the pilot comes out and announces that the plane is about to crash, but that there are only four parachutes for the five of them.

“I’ve trained for too many years to die like this,” the pilot says, so he straps on the first parachute and jumps out of the plane. Next the wealthy man says, “I’m much too rich to die this young,” so he grabs the second parachute and jumps out of the plane. Then [Despised Public Figure] stands up and says “I’m [Despised Public Figure], and I’m much too important to die,” so he grabs the third parachute and jumps out of the plane.

Finally, the grandfather turns to his grandson and says, “I’m old; I’ve lived a long life. Here, you take the last parachute.” To which the grandson replies, “That’s okay grandpa, there’s a parachute for both of us… [Despised Public Figure] took my backpack!”
Some versions of it use celebrities, others politicians, and still others use athletes (for example, Alex Rodriguez, who was vilified for the contract he signed with the Texas Rangers). It's a fill-in-the-blank joke for kids which pokes fun at adults and doesn't leave much to the imagination. The punch line relies on the assumption that the adult in question is stupid.

Now, Reichert or anybody else can argue that Hillary Clinton is ambitious, or stubborn, or shameless, but she is certainly not dumb.

To her credit, she's exceptionally sharp and calculating in addition to being determined... and that has carried her a very long way.

Joking about the death of one of the two Democrats seeking the presidency, if not inappropriate, is certainly not classy, and is further evidence that Dave Reichert himself does not have good judgment.

Perhaps this is because he isn't truly invested in his job.

He doesn't work hard on Capitol Hill, his campaign is ambling or meandering along at a lazy pace, and he's frequently careless with his choice of words. Last cycle his campaign finished with a condescending, sexist TV ad.

Why is he even running for reelection? Is it because - as he has openly admitted in the past - his good friends told him to?

Darcy Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik notes:
When Congressman Reichert goes before nonpartisan audiences he likes to bemoan the loss of civility and lack of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. Apparently he does not really mean it, because when he gets before his fellow Republicans he takes a very different tone -- this is just the latest unfortunate example of that.
Reichert projects a nice image, but his campaign is almost entirely devoid of substance. He claims to think for himself, but time and again he just votes as instructed to by John Boehner and Roy Blunt.

Thankfully, voters in the 8th will have the opportunity this November to replace Dave Reichert with Darcy Burner, who is ready to provide the candor, openness, and sincerity that the position of United States Representative deserves.

The "Washington Two-Step?"

Anybody remember as far back as February 9th? I know, I know, that was years ago in internet time. Decades ago in media-story-enfatuation time.

For those with memories as hazy as mine, here's a refresher. February 9th was the date of the Washington State Democratic presidential caucuses. At the time, there was quite a lot of confusion over why the Democrats used a caucus while the Republicans use a primary, and whether Democrats had to vote in the primary too in order to be counted, et cetera. Many people expressed resentment over being dis-enfranchised because they had to work on saturdays, or were physically unable to attend. Everyone complained about the overcrowded venues.

As a result, a lot of people began to question the wisdom of selecting our state party's presidential candidate preference by means of a caucus. Wouldn't it be much easier, they all said, to use the primary? With the state trending towards mail-in ballots anyway, it seems an obvious conclusion.

But, like it or not, political parties have the right to select their candidates by whatever means they like. And, like it or not, Washington's Democratic State Party chairman, Dwight Pelz, loves the caucuses.

Dwight's political experience goes back to his days as an on-the-street community organizer. Coincidentally, much like Barack Obama. Dwight understands very well what it takes to get people involved in the process, and it's not easy. Which is why Dwight loves the caucus system. Love them or hate them, caucuses are a very effective party building tool.

Today, in what Dwight will certainly see as a vindication, Texas has released some data on the party building results of the caucus portion of Texas' unusual "two step" system. Again, if your memory is hazy, Texas holds a primary and a caucus, and selects half of its national convention delegates by each mechanism. Or something like that, anyway.

As usual, DailyKos (this time Kos himself) has the story.

As Markos points out, because of the caucus half of the "two step," the Texas Democratic Party now knows exactly which precincts across the state they're strongest and weakest in, they know where to allocate their resources as we move into the general election season, and they have hundreds of thousands of new voter contacts--names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses collected on caucus sign-in sheets. The Texas Democratic Party is well positioned to do what it needs to do to keep the state in play for November.

Nevertheless, all the criticisms of the caucus system are still valid: caucus do exclude people who for whatever reason can't dedicate several hours on a saturday to attending one. And certainly, if a state party does a poor job anticipating the turnout (as happened here this past February), the caucus experience really can turn into a miserable, hot, crowded, clastrophobic affair. Clearly, some balance must be found between the benefits of a caucus and its down-sides.

Dwight Pelz would do well, in considering changes to the Washington Democratic Party's process for 2012, to consider Kos' summarization of the situation:
Perhaps Texas DOES have the best idea -- a hybrid system that has both a primary, with the broader access it offers -- and a caucus for party-building purposes. Make the primary a mail-in ballot for maximum participation (like Oregon), and perhaps we'd be on to something.

"Scott McClellan On Countdown: Talks To Keith Olbermann About His New Book" (with video)

Huffington Post, with video:
On "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" Thursday Scott McClellan sat down for a nearly hour-long interview with the MSNBC host to discuss his new book, "What Happened". The wide-ranging interview covered everything from the CIA leak to Fox News to McClellan's critics to the possibility of military action in Iran.
McClellan talks about how he got "caught up in the Washington game." More video and full transcript here. Some earlier discussion from November 2007 on "Countdown" of McClellan's "outing of the Bush-Cheney gang" here.
McClellan's mother tells the Dallas Morning News he "tried to quit White House job earlier."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Myth of the Liberal Media is Dead

In the wake of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's book, with its dressing down of the media for "dropping the ball" with regard to coverage of the Iraq war, CNN's Jessica Yellin went on Anderson Cooper 360 last night and destroyed what little was left of the myth of the liberal media.
"The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings," Yellin said.

"And my own experience at the White House was that the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives — and I was not at this network at the time — but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president, I think over time...."
Journalists are supposed to report the news, not make the news. But corporate executives, as we've seen too many times in recent history, seem to only care about profit. And given that the Bush Administration has proven itself to be a subsidiary of corporate America, why bite the hand that feeds you if you're an executive of a news outlet?

Veep buzz for Patty

Skeptical Brother:
The second tier would be the Hillary people. Some of her peeps ain’t bad. Washington Senator Patty Murray comes to mind. With 16 years on the Hill, she is a senior member of the Senate and has the experience to aid and guide Obama like few others do. A solid progressive, she is also pragmatic and determined. She ain’t no great shakes in the speech-making department, but she can work on that. Her personal story is very interesting and inspirational and she would make a good addition.
Why didn't anyone around here think of this? It seems unlikely, but on paper at least, Patty looks pretty good as a potential running mate. Her early Senate vote against the Iraq war is on message, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Undecided Oregon superdelegate Wayne Kinney joins Team Obama

Chalk up another vote for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention! Oregon superdelegate Wayne Kinney, who represents Oregon on the Democratic National Committee, declared his support today for Obama.

Kinney lives in Bend (located in Deschutes County, in central Oregon) and released the following statement:
For the first time in 40 years, Oregon Democrats had a presidential primary that mattered. Presidential campaigns had offices in places that had never seen them before. It seemed as though you couldn’t turn around without seeing a candidate, or at least a member of the family. Turnout was the highest it’s ever been.

It’s going to be a really good year for Democrats. Oregon Democrats will be right in the thick of it.

We have Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton to thank for that. They have run hard in the longest, toughest presidential contest Democrats have ever seen. There is no other Democratic presidential primary contest that even compares with this one.

Sen. Obama wasn’t supposed to be able to get this far. One member of Congress from Illinois said that for Sen. Obama to win the nomination, he’d have to be perfect. He’s been pretty damned good. The fact that this nomination is still inches from being decided is a testament to the abilities of both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton.

While there are a few primaries left to go, it’s now over for Oregon.

Sen. Obama won our state by almost 18 points. He is very close to winning a majority of the delegates he needs to be our nominee for President.

But there should be more to my decision than that. After all, we automatic, “super” delegates are not automatons. We are not here to ratify. We’re expected to use our judgment.

Here’s mine: After watching Sen. Obama for more than a year, it’s clear that he offers an ability to lead and inspire that’s been sorely lacking in this country

Sen. Obama will win our nomination, and will be our President. It felt good to write that sentence.
Well, it hasn't happened yet, but with a unified Democratic juggernaught this fall, we have a historic opportunity to save our nation from the ruinious and wasteful course charted by the right wing and the Bush administration.

McClellan's book makes waves

The fallout today from Scott McClellan's upcoming new book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception has been quite entertaining. Bush surrogates, including Dana Perino and Karl Rove, have already reacted negatively, and the Republican Noise Machine is now on McClellan's case. As David Brock has attested, anyone who dares to break with the administration and its right wing backers is immediately attacked and isolated.

We have little sympathy for McClellan, however.

Our beloved Senior Managing Editor Keith Deshaies, who is no longer with us, put it best when he wrote about McClellan's mea culpa last November in one of his finest posts (Absolution by book deal):
Thanks to this administration — that you, Scott, helped to build and protect — a surplus has turned to a deficit, we have illegally and immorally attacked a disarmed nation at the expense of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of lives, and our reputation is in tatters. We have become the nation to avoid rather than emulate. Torture, once shunned, is now embraced.

China and Saudi Arabia, whose ideologies have been anathema to this country for so long, have financed our outrageous debt to the point where nobody even mentions the chaos they could cause merely by saying, “Pay up.”

It’s almost superfluous to say our economy isn’t in great shape, either. So, Scott, crow or confess — it’s too late. But I guess making a few more bucks on a heap of lies was probably part of the plan, too.
McClellan's book is due to be released on June 9th. Thanks in part to the White House's angry response, it is currently at the top of Amazon's bestseller list.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Robert Mak leaving KING5 News for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' office

Neil Modie recently retired from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, David Ammons left the Associated Press for the Secretary of State's office, and now Robert Mak, anchor of the weekly political show Upfront (on KING5) is jumping ship. What's happening to the political reporters in this state?
This is effective immediately as continuing his political reporting when he's leaving for a job in politics wouldn't be kosher.

It's another hit taken by local media programming.

We're hearing that the "overall mood at the station is very low. Newish news director, Mark Ginther is widely regarded as being clueless, and a number of long-time KING people are looking for other options.

They've had a hiring freeze in place for several months, and the word is that the big layoffs are coming very soon.
Michael Hood has the text of Mak's letter to his colleagues.

I've been interviewed by Robert Mak for Upfront before, and I have nothing but the greatest respect for him. He's a pro. We wish him luck in his new position - and we invite him to stop by Drinking Liberally sometime for some good conversation, now that he's a press flak instead of just press.

"Daschle Featured in New Obama South Dakota Ad" (video)

BarackObamadotcom, video (00:31):
Airing in South Dakota - featuring Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader.
There's another Daschle living right here in King County. While the headline refers to Tom Daschle, his brother, Steve Daschle, lives in Redmond and has worked in West Seattle as the Executive Director of Southwest Youth and Family services for many years.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: A time to remember and honor our fallen warriors

Today, on Memorial Day, we cherish the legacy of our nation's fallen warriors who have valiantly served and defended this nation.

We at the Northwest Progressive Institute commend all of the Democrats and Republicans who recently voted in support of Senator Webb's new GI Bill of Rights for those veterans who are still with us. And we recognize our own leaders here in Washington who, unlike George W. Bush, are truly concerned about the challenges facing veterans and their families:
Gov. Gregoire’s husband Mike served our nation as a Second Lieutenant during the Vietnam War. First Mike makes it his mission to work on veterans’ issues in our state.

"I want to personally thank the Governor’s Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee and the Veterans Legislative Coalition for the outstanding work they have done over the past three-and-a half years in helping the governor achieve results for veterans in Washington," said First Mike. "I also want to thank the Veterans Services Organization for the hard work they do on behalf of veterans. Washington is leading the country on veterans’ issues, but there is more work to be done."

Gov. Gregoire and First Mike were joined by around 50 veterans and supporters at the Tacoma VFW Post 10018, including speaker Command Sergeant Major Oria Berendt.

"The governor has accomplished more for vets in three-and-a-half years than what has happened in the past 25 years,” said Command Sergeant Major Berndt. "It’s been a pleasure working with her to make Washington a better place for all veterans."

As governor, Chris Gregoire has signed 47 pieces of legislation addressing veterans’ issues, from providing property tax exemptions to disabled veterans to giving tuition and fee waivers to family members of fully disabled veterans.

"Our governor is extremely pro-veteran," said Sergeant Major James A. (Tony) Woods (retired). "Gov. Gregoire helped veterans, like myself, by freezing property taxes for disabled veterans. She has also waived college tuition and fees for disabled veterans, their spouses and children."

With 672,000 veterans in the state, Washington is home to one of the largest populations of veterans in the United States.

"In promoting veterans rights, individuals can do much, but they need the support of our elected leaders," said Sergeant Major Maurice Sharp (retired).

"I know I stand with a governor who believes in her heart that veterans have a special place," said Skip Dreps, Outstanding Veteran of the Year in Washington State (2000). "Gov. Gregoire believes that if you serve your country or your state in military uniform, then your country and state owes you a debt they can never repay, but can try hard to ease the burden of battle and military service, especially for the widows and orphans of war. Her opponent this time, like last time, believes that veterans' benefits are welfare payments."
Unfortunately, not all of our elected officials are honoring veterans today.

Caskets of U.S. Soldiers

Sunday, May 25, 2008

State Auditor Brian Sonntag wasting resources picking on Sound Transit

Back in 2005, when Tim Eyman was pitching Initiative 900, NPI's Permanent Defense warned that the scheme (in addition to being redundant) would give the state auditor's office too much power. We were especially critical of the provision that allows municipal governments to be targeted for performance reviews at will.

Now that the state auditor has decided to force Sound Transit to undergo another audit, it's clear that the powers granted by Initiative 900 are being abused:

The work will begin after the Auditor's Office hires a consultant, [spokeswoman Mindy Chambers] said. The Auditor's Office has conducted 10 performance audits of public agencies since 2006, after a voter-approved initiative directed them to be performed.

They have included a $1.7 million audit of educational service districts and a $1.6 million audit of the state Transportation Department's congestion-management programs, also last year.
Only ten audits of public agencies have been conducted since 2006, and already Sound Transit is in for its second. What's up with that?

"We've had a lot of questions about the long-term financial viability, what's it going to take to sustain this over the long term, what's the ridership going to look like, what are the fares going to look like," said Mindy Chambers, a spokeswoman for the state Auditor's Office, adding that her office gets more questions about the Seattle-based agency "than pretty much anything else."
Mindy, have you guys even contemplated referring all of the people who contact your office about Sound Transit to...Sound Transit? Many of the questions you cited are easily answered without a state report card.

Indeed, Sound Transit's mission is to plan long term and improve mobility in Puget Sound by building a regional transportation system.

Undoubtedly Tim Eyman is thrilled, but this is ridiculous. Sound Transit is one of the best managed public agencies in the state, not to mention one of the most scrutinized. As the agency proudly notes on its website:

  • Sound Transit has received nine straight years of clean financial audits from the state of Washington (as opposed to performance audits, which are more complex and costly to conduct).
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) conducts quarterly reviews of the agency (Link light rail is partially funded by the United States).
  • Sound Transit contracts with a national accounting firm to conduct annual financial audits. In addition, peer reviews of project and financial controls are conducted on an ongoing basis.
  • A state performance audit, released in fall 2007, recognized the strides Sound Transit has made since its start in 1996 (this was Sonntag's first audit).
  • Regular independent audits conducted by Lloyd’s Registry Quality Assurance ensure that the agency complies with the terms of its ISO 14001 certification, international recognition of how ST manages its environmental program.
We long ago reached the point where further audits are just wasting resources. Seattle P-I reader husky fan cryptically observes what a fool's errand this all is:

When is there going to be a performance audit of the state auditor? It seems like he's wasting millions on these transportation related performance audits that are deeply flawed and chiefly designed to score political points and publicity for the state auditor.

Have any of these transportation audits by Brian Sonntag actually saved any money or made transportation any better? Or do they just keep him in the news at re-election time and keep the money flowing to the same consultants in his stable?
There's nothing wrong with oversight and accountability - those are the hallmarks of open government - but turning over management of our public agencies to private accountants is not a good idea. Sound Transit chief executive Joni Earl doesn't need hired investigators looking over her shoulder every other minute.

Furthermore, the reports produced by the state auditor cost money. This second audit of Sound Transit is projected to cost at least a million dollars. It's akin to the Legislature ordering the production of perennial studies about the same idea or issue as a result of its inability to actually pass a law.

Nobody seems to care much for that practice and Sonntag's obsession with transportation is equally unhelpful.

It's time for the Legislature to amend Initiative 900 and send a strong signal to the state auditor to direct his resources where they're actually needed and stop picking on agencies like Sound Transit that have repeatedly and consistently shown responsiveness to the public.

Toxic waste: the fatal flaw of nuclear power

I've long marveled at the inanity of "realists" like Seattle Times editorial page editor Jim Vesely, who foolishly believe we should turn to nuclear power to extract ourselves from dependence on foreign oil:
Bringing back nuclear power to the Pacific Northwest has been such a taboo subject in political circles that you would think the rivers would have to run dust-dry before the topic is accepted at wine parties in Magnolia.
Wine parties in Magnolia? Now there's a revealing reference. You've been to quite a few of those over the years, haven't you, Jim?

The reason the topic is "taboo" is because nobody has managed to come up with a good answer for the question of what to do about the toxic waste generated by nuclear fission. The general attitude since the dawn of the Atomic Age has been, Well, let's just leave that problem unresolved for now. Future generations can figure out a way to deal with it.

Until - and if - humankind comes up with an answer to the question of nuclear waste (and deals with the problem of nuclear proliferation, for that matter), it is completely irresponsible for us to even talk about constructing new nuclear facilities, whether for electrical generation or for military use.

Those who fought to stop the disaster that was WPPSS can undoubtedly remember what a mess we got ourselves into when we made the calculation that nuclear power was the future:
Planners expected that the demand for electricity in the Northwest would double every 10 years, beyond the capacity of hydropower.

WPPSS made plans for a nuclear plant at Hanford, called Plant 2, and in 1971 utilities signed up to share costs and benefits. Plant 1, also at Hanford and Plant 3 near Satsop, Grays Harbor County, Washington, were proposed the following year.

The costs of all these plants would be repaid through the sale of the power that they produced. WPPSS planned Plant 4 at Hanford and 5 at Satsop which would be "twinned" with 1 and 3.

In this way, system planners thought, the experience and resources from the first plants would benefit the twin plants.
In addition to having a growth at any cost mindset, the brilliant managers at WPPSS also demonstrated how easy it is to waste money.

They didn't know what they were doing and the people of Washington, who they were supposed to serve, paid the price.
Several factors combined to ruin construction schedules and to drive costs to three and four times the original estimates.

Inflation and design changes constantly plagued all the projects. Builders often got ahead of designers who modified their drawings to conform to what had been built.

Safety changes imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission increased costs too, but the biggest cause of delays and overruns was mismanagement of the process by the WPPSS. The directors and the managers of the system had no experience in nuclear engineering or in projects of this scale.

System managers were unable to develop a unified and comprehensive means of choosing, directing, and supervising contractors. One contractor, already shown to be incompetent, was retained for more work. In a well-publicized example, a pipe hanger was built and rebuilt 17 times. Quality control inspectors complained of inadequate work that went unaddressed.
And in the end:
In January 1982, the WPPSS board stopped construction on Plants 4 and 5 when total cost for all the plants was projected to exceed $24 billion. Because these plants generated no power and brought in no money, the system was forced to default on $2.25 billion in bonds.

This meant that the member utilities, and ultimately the rate payers, were obligated to pay back the borrowed money. In some small towns where unemployment due to the recession was already high, this amounted to more than $12,000 per customer.

The bond holders sued and the matter wound it way through courts for the next 13 years. Plants 1 and 3 were never finished either, but their costs were backed by the Bonneville Power Administration and the power it generated from the Columbia River Dams.
Whoops.

Unfortunately, some people are willing to forgo the lessons of history:
But times change, and so do the requirements of power. Nukes are the fact of electrical life in this state and others, often in the nonspoken world of, "they are there but we don't talk about them."
Requirements of power? Try requirements of people.

If we made conservation of electricity a priority, we'd have no problem sustaining ourselves with the power generated by facilities we've already got. Now there's a concept from the "nonspoken world". Why don't we spend more time talking about conservation? Is it because living more simply isn't sexy?

Conservation, coupled with the construction of renewable sources like wind farms and solar plants (which don't produce radioactive waste) are the answer to our energy needs. Before we conclude that we need more megawatts, we should invest in efficiency first...for our homes, factories, devices, businesses, and electric grid. But these possibilities are seemingly lost on development-centric minds like Vesely, who has the audacity to state this later in his column:
If America returns in full sunlight to nuclear power, which I think eventually it must, it has to do so with federal authority — perhaps a single design for all plants, perhaps with borrowed technology from the Europeans, the Canadians and the Japanese. To let such power stay idle is going to be too much waste for future generations.
Emphasis is mine.

"Too much waste for future generations"? That's supposed to be the consequence of not going nuclear with nuclear power!? As opposed to, gee, I don't know, further contaminating our environment with spent uranium and plutonium?

It's hard to find richer irony than this.

Does Vesely even understand the mess we've already got on our hands?
High level waste (HLW) is produced by nuclear reactors. It contains fission products and transuranic elements generated in the reactor core. It is highly radioactive and often thermally hot. LLW and ILW accounts for over 95% of the total radioactivity produced in the process of nuclear electricity generation.

The amount of HLW worldwide is currently increasing by about 12,000 metric tons every year, which is the equival to about 100 double-decker buses or a two-story structure built on top of a basketball court
And that doesn't include the higher volumes of low or intermediate levels of waste, which are also dangerous. The effects of toxic waste are still not entirely understood, though we have learned a lot over the past fifty years.

Given what we do know, it would be unwise, even immoral, to start building more nuclear facilities. It's impossible for us to guarantee that future accidents won't occur, no matter how many safety controls we build into our systems, because there is always a risk of a calamity due to human error.

If we don't rely on fission for electricity, we'll end up with far less toxic waste to deal with. And that's a good thing.

Jim Vesely is free to daydream, but it must be the policy of the United States of America to invest in safer, cheaper, cleaner, and more aesthetic alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear power - including conservation.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Redmond High School athletes show what sportsmanship is all about

Earlier today, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) finished putting on the 2008 Track & Field championships in Pasco, Washington. The meet, I've been told, by friends and family who were there, was notable for a memorable display of sportsmanship that took place following the conclusion of the Class 4A girls 3,200-meter title yesterday. Here's ESPN:
[Bellarmine Prep senior Nicole] Cochran, who is attending Harvard this fall, had crossed the finish line first with a personal-best time of 10 minutes, 36 seconds in Friday's meet. But minutes later, according to the News Tribune of Tacoma, meet officials notified Bellarmine Prep's coach, Matt Ellis, that Cochran was disqualified.

According to the News Tribune, officials ruled that Cochran had taken three consecutive steps on the inside line along the far curve on the next-to-last lap of the race, which is when she had made her move to take the lead and break free of the pack.

It is a violation that results in disqualification.
Following Cochran's disqualification, officials declared second-place finisher Andrea Nelson of Shadle Park High School in Spokane to be the winner, with a time of 10:40:04. What happened next made national news:
The awards ceremony took place, then Nelson got off the awards stand, walked over to Cochran, removed the first-place medal from around her neck and draped it over Cochran's.

"It's your medal," Nelson said to her, the Tri-City Herald reported. "You're the state champion."

The rest of the top eight finishers then held an impromptu ceremony of their own. Exchanging their medals -- Nelson received the second-place medal, Sarah Lord of Redmond High School took the third-place medal, and so on.
Devon McMahon, also of Redmond High School, wasn't mentioned in ESPN's story, but she finished after Sarah, and was the third to exchange medals, giving hers to Sarah and receiving Kate Stuart's (of Gig Harbor).

What Andrea, Sarah, Devon, and their peers chose to do on the field in Pasco yesterday was truly admirable. It's refreshing to know that our state and our region are home to so many classy and honorable athletes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Who do you think you are, Hillary Clinton?

From Keith Olbermann's Special Comment, aired minutes ago:
God knows, Senator, in this campaign, this nation has had to forgive you, early and often...

And despite your now traditional position of the offended victim, the nation has forgiven you.

We have forgiven you your insistence that there have been widespread calls for you to end your campaign, when such calls had been few. We have forgiven you your misspeaking about Martin Luther King's relative importance to the Civil Rights movement.

We have forgiven you your misspeaking about your under-fire landing in Bosnia.

We have forgiven you insisting Michigan's vote wouldn't count and then claiming those who would not count it were undemocratic.

We have forgiven you pledging to not campaign in Florida and thus disenfranchise voters there, and then claim those who stuck to those rules were as wrong as those who defended slavery or denied women the vote.

We have forgiven you the photos of Osama Bin Laden in an anti-Obama ad...

We have forgiven you fawning over the fairness of Fox News while they were still calling you a murderer.

We have forgiven you accepting Richard Mellon Scaife's endorsement and then laughing as you described his "deathbed conversion."

We have forgiven you quoting the electoral predictions of Boss Karl Rove.

We have forgiven you the 3 a.m. phone call commercial.

We have forgiven you President Clinton's disparaging comparison of the Obama candidacy to Jesse Jackson's.

We have forgiven you Geraldine Ferraro's national radio interview suggesting Obama would not still be in the race had he been a white man.

We have forgiven you the dozen changing metrics and the endless self-contradictions of your insistence that your nomination is mathematically probable rather than a statistical impossibility.

We have forgiven you your declaration of some primary states as counting and some as not.

We have forgiven you exploiting Jeremiah Wright in front of the editorial board of the lunatic-fringe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

We have forgiven you exploiting William Ayers in front of the debate on ABC.

We have forgiven you for boasting of your "support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans"...

We have even forgiven you repeatedly praising Senator McCain at Senator Obama's expense, and your own expense, and the Democratic ticket's expense.

But Senator, we cannot forgive you this.

"You know, my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."

We cannot forgive you this -- not because it is crass and low and unfeeling and brutal.

This is unforgivable, because this nation's deepest shame, its most enduring horror, its most terrifying legacy, is political assassination.
I'm sure that Clinton allies will come up with some excuse to brush away Clinton's repeated references to RFK's assassination, but as for me, my tolerance for Clinton's rhetoric and actions disappeared long ago. I will support her if she is the nominee... but that support will be unhappily given.
The politics of this nation is steeped enough in blood, Senator Clinton, you cannot and must not invoke that imagery! Anywhere! At any time!

And to not appreciate, immediately - to still not appreciate tonight - just what you have done... is to reveal an incomprehension of the America you seek to lead.

This, Senator, is too much.

Because a senator - a politician - a person - who can let hang in mid-air the prospect that she might just be sticking around in part, just in case the other guy gets shot - has no business being, and no capacity to be, the President of the United States.
Opportunistic, desperate, unprincipled, careless....those are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Hillary's 2008 campaign. What's really sad is that it didn't have to be this way.

The good person that is Hillary Clinton has been reduced to a vehement, cold, and calculating politician. Her desire - and the fervor of her allies - to capture the Democratic nomination (which they seem to feel entitled to) has overshadowed, even buried, all of her wonderful qualities.

I can't help but wish that her campaign had charted a different course.

John Kerry to be the keynote speaker at State Democratic Convention

The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee is slated to be the keynote speaker at the 2008 State Democratic Convention in Spokane, NPI has learned.

The state party is promising an exciting weekend in the Lilac City. Besides approving a platform and adopting resolutions, delegates will hear from statewide candidates such as Chris Gregoire, John Ladenburg, Peter Goldmark, and federal candidates such as Darcy Burner, Mark Mays, and George Fearing.

Additional delegates to the national convention in Denver will also be selected.

Thought For Today

If Barack Obama can sucessfully negotiate with the Clintons over their place in this campaign, maybe it would indicate that he could successfully negotiate with our foreign adversaries, as well!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain renounces Hagee after pastor's hateful remarks come to light

Well, well, well:
In the face of mounting controversy over headline-grabbing statements from the Rev. John Hagee, CNN has learned that presumptive Republican nominee John McCain decided Thursday to reject his endorsement.

McCain told CNN's Brian Todd that he rejected the endorsement after Todd brought to his attention Hagee's comments that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy.

"God says in Jeremiah 16: 'Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. ... Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them.' That would be the Jews. ... Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter," Hagee said, according to a transcript of his sermon.

In a statement to CNN on Thursday, McCain said "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Rev. Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."
Of course, before Talk2Action's Bruce Wilson unearthed this latest clip, McCain was happy to have the Texas theocon's support. Now McCain is trying to put as much distance as possible between himself and Hagee.

Years ago, John McCain denounced the religious right for peddling division and bigotry, and trying to instigate a culture war. Lately he's been kissing the rings of top fundamentalist leaders, seeking the endorsement of pastors like Hagee.

It's been said that power corrupts... McCain's courting of the theocons is convincing evidence he'll do whatever it takes to get into the White House.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Analyzing the Oregon Democratic presidential primary (map included!)

Most of the vote from yesterday's big primary in Oregon has now been counted, and while the outcome was a nearly double digit blowout for Barack Obama, there's more to the results than one simple narrative. Not all Oregonians voted for Barack Obama, but the state isn't split into rival urban Obama versus rural Clinton camps as some might have expected. The result is actually a complex patchwork.

There is one notable trend - the rural areas where Barack Obama spent time campaigning in gave him more votes (for example, in Pendleton and Bend, Oregon). This is very encouraging news because it means that Obama can win people over if he simply ventures off the beaten path.

Adding to what Kari Chrisholm has done with the Senate race, I've created a map of the Oregon presidential primary, showing the results by county. What's cool about this map is that it shows you the degree to which the candidate won.

The higher the percentage Obama or Clinton got, the darker the county is colored. The more competitive it was, the lighter the county is colored. Take a look:

Oregon Presidential Primary Election Results Map

No county went above seventy percent for Obama, although a couple of them came close. Multnomah, Lane, Benton, Hood River, and Deschutes went big for Barack. Clinton pulled in a huge victory in only one municipality, Morrow County. Everywhere else, it was Obama or Clinton by single digits.

In Wheeler, Baker, and Harney counties (out in the east), neither Clinton nor Obama broke the fifty percent ceiling. Apparently there were quite a few write-ins.

Major cities, including Portland (and suburbs), Salem, Eugene (and Springfield), Bend, Corvallis, and Medford all went for Barack Obama.

Clinton claimed southeast Oregon, while Obama took most of the southwest. Both candidates split the coast. Amusingly, the pattern of the coastal counties, looking north to south, was Obama, Clinton, Obama, Obama, Clinton, Clinton, Obama.

The Willamette Valley was all Obama, save for one rebel outpost - Linn County.

The candidates also divided central Oregon between them. Obama racked up a big victory in Deschutes, but Clinton took Crook County (no rhyme intended). Things might have gone differently in Crook County if Obama had detoured to Prineville from Bend, but of course, a candidate can't be everywhere.

With the Oregon primary over and done with, the entire Pacific Northwest is now united behind Barack Obama...and strongly so.

Our region has spoken with a definite and consistent voice. Our preference for the nomination could not be clearer: Washingtonian, Idahoan, and Oregonian Democrats want Barack Obama for President.

Agrarianism Makes A Comeback?

With the cost of oil rising to unprecedented heights, and the economy tanking, at least one farmer is finding relief in a return to the old ways.
High gas prices have driven a Warren County farmer and his sons to hitch a tractor rake to a pair of mules to gather hay from their fields.

[...]

"This fuel's so high, you can't afford it," he said. "We can feed these mules cheaper than we can buy fuel. That's the truth."
If you think this isn't a viable solution to the problem, you really should watch this film, and learn how Cuba has made this model work.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.
Which reminds me, when is the U.S. going to end its ridiculous blockade and economic sanctions against Cuba? The blockade hasn't worked for anyone, and clearly there are some lessons that can be learned from Fidel Castro's government.

Because freedom can't blog itself

Here's one to add to your RSS readers, folks, the ACLU's new blog.

I, for one, have been a big fan of the ACLU for many years now. There is nothing I can think of that is more honestly American than agressively defending the protections offered to all Americans by the Bill of Rights.

Yes, sometimes that means standing up for the rights of people with truly reprehensible attitudes--the bigots, the racists, and worse--when they are guilty of nothing more than expressing their own beliefs. But if the worst of us don't have these rights too, then these rights mean nothing.

It's worth saying again: there is nothing more American than fighting for the universal applicability of our rights to speak, assemble, protest, bear arms, be secure in our homes, and all the rest. Nothing. That's patriotism.

Thus I am often shocked that those who claim most loudly and stridently to be true patriots--right wingers--are the ones who slander the ACLU with the the most baseless labels and accusations. Calling it a "pinko commie" organization, equating the demand for Habeas Corpus rights for detained terrorism suspects with being terrorist sympathizers and enablers, and so on.

And you know what? For all I know, Hamdan and everybody else at Guantanamo may actually be guilty of participating in terrorist acts against the United States. Without a fair trial, how should I know? But those detainees still deserve to see a lawyer, to know the charges against them, and to have all the other rights of due process that honest Americans can be so proud of. So when the Military Commissions Act came along, you know the ACLU was right there to stand up and say "This isn't right. This isn't American."

It is, in fact, almost trivial to predict where the ACLU will stand on any issue: if one of the two sides amounts to a rehash of Orwell's classic line "all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others," then you can bet the ACLU will be on the side of those deemed to be 'less equal.' And I wouldn't have it any other way.

"A republic, madam, if you can keep it." Benjamin Franklin is widely believed to have said something like this to a woman who asked, after the Constitutional Convention, what sort of government the United States now had. The ACLU is all about keeping our republic. Keeping it true to the underlying values of freedom and fairness on which our republic was founded. That, my friends, is real patriotism.

The ACLU has a long track record of doing admirable work in this arena, with accomplishments almost too numerous to mention. Whether it's fighting bad drug policy, advocating for LGBT rights, shining light on abusive police practices, or yes, defending the Bill of Rights, the ACLU is there looking out for each and every one of us. I wish them every success with their new blog, and encourage NPI's readers to give the ACLU's blog a look. I know I will be, as I'm sure it will develop into an excellent primary resource for staying informed on the status of those rights which make us uniquely American.

"Oregon Exit Polls: Obama Handily Beat Hillary Among Whites, No-College, Less-Than-$50,000 Voters"

Greg Sargent (TPM):
The Oregon exit polls lend a bit more weight to the theory that Barack Obama's real problem is more with Appalachia than it is with working class whites in general, as the Hillary campaign has repeatedly suggested.

In Kentucky yesterday, Hillary slaughtered Obama among these voters. But the Oregon exits show a different story.

Obama beat Hillary by sizable margins among all ages of white voters except those 60 and older. And he beat Hillary among voters with no college degree, too -- and since the state is overwhelmingly white, these voters are the ones he's supposed to have trouble with.

Late Update: The exits also show that Obama also beat Hillary by seven points among voters making less than $50,000 (though she won among voters making between $15,000 and $30,000).

What's more, Obama also won among voters from a household with a union member. I've edited the above to make that point.

In Brief - May 21, 2008

Around the Northwest


Around the Nation

Around the World

This Day in History

  • 1881 - Clara Barton established the American Red Cross.
  • 1904 - FIFA, the international soccer federation, is founded.
  • 1991 - Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Novick asks supporters to help elect Merkley

A BlueOregon commenter, JamesX, offers this report on Novick's concession speech just minutes ago from Portland:
"The man stuck it to us." "Look at what they had to throw at us." "Our opponent mortgaged one of his houses." "The national powers that be spent hundreds of thousands of dollars." "This reminds me of the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

"We need to get behind Jeff Merkley for the United States Senate." (Whew, I was getting nervous for a minute!)

"Jeff ... will be a great United States Senator, and we're going to help him."

"I hope you'll all be proud of being part of this campaign." (Crowd: "NO-VICK! NO-VICK! NO-VICK! NO-VICK!")

"I look into this crowd and I don't see a coward or traitress among you."

At this point, KGW switched to Merkley's room.
Here's the text of Merkley's victory speech:
Tonight belongs to all Oregonians.

Tonight is our night because tonight we’ve stepped forward on the path to change America.

Tonight we took a bold step to send Gordon Smith and George Bush into retirement!

Tonight we’ve begun to take back our country from the lobbyists, the powerful special interests, and the politicians, like Gordon Smith, who serve at their beck and call.

The choice in this Senate election is crystal clear:

If you want to change Washington D.C. and set a new direction for America, then join our fight to deliver hope and opportunity to every single American.

If you want more of the same – an agenda scripted by the most powerful special interests – then Gordon Smith is your man.

Indeed, Gordon Smith’s special interest record is wildly out-of-sync with the interests of Oregonians.

Gordon Smith has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time.

When Bush wanted tax breaks for oil companies, Gordon Smith said “count me in.”

When Bush wanted to reward corporations that ship jobs overseas, Gordon Smith said “I’m there.”

When Bush wanted to spend our nation into more than 9 trillion dollars of debt, Gordon Smith said “I’m your man.”

And when George Bush chose to lead America into an unjust war that should never have been authorized and never have been waged, Gordon Smith said “let’s go.”

Gordon Smith has been a rubber stamp for George Bush, and Oregon is ready for change.

It is time for a senator who will fight for working men and women.

It is time for a senator who understands the struggles we face every day.

It is time for a senator who knows what it feels like for families to struggle to pay the mortgage; struggle to pay for child care; struggle with the cost of prescription drugs. It is time for a senator in touch with the lives of working Oregonians.

Oregon deserves a senator who will fight with Ron Wyden for affordable, universal
health care.

Oregon deserves a senator who will end the war in Iraq and do it now.

Oregon deserves a senator who will turn-back-the-clock on unfair trade deals and fight for good-paying jobs.

Oregon deserves a senator who will end our dependence on foreign oil and lead the fight against global warming.

And Oregon deserves a senator who will always... always... protect a woman’s right to choose.

Together, we can change the direction of our nation.

Together, we can build a path for every family to thrive!

Together, we can reject the failed policies of George Bush and Gordon Smith and elect a new senator who is ready to fight for change.

This has been a historic primary election. I want to thank Steve Novick, Candy Neville and the other fine Democrats in this race.

Together our campaigns inspired more Oregonians than ever before, and we did it because we agreed on a progressive vision for America.

Steve, Candy, and the others in this race took on the challenges of this campaign because they love their country and they believe in a brighter future. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

This race has made me a better candidate, ready to go toe-to-toe with Gordon Smith.

When we beat Gordon Smith in November – and we will – there is no doubt that Steve Novick and Candy Neville deserve some of the credit.

But I’ll tell you this. I wouldn’t be in this race without the love and support of my incredible family.

The hardest job in a campaign is being the candidate’s spouse, and Mary has shouldered that role with grace and humor – not to mention doing a hell of a job speaking to the issue of health care.

It is my son Jonathan, who told me last July that this campaign was the right thing to do because we needed to fight the battle to end the war, create affordable health care, and tackle global warming.

And it is Brynne who charmed us in the final ad of the campaign. It is clearly the Merkley family women, who have charisma in front of the camera! Mary, Jonathan, Brynne, you rock!

I also want to acknowledge my mother, Betty Merkley, who personally made hundreds of calls to voters.

And I’m joined tonight by my sister and her family—who have been great volunteers on the campaign as well!

Finally, this campaign has thrived because of our volunteers and supporters in this room and throughout the state.

So to the hundreds of 200 Oregonians who hosted House Parties; to the thousands of volunteers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, thank you, thank you, thank you. None of this would be possible without you.

This is our victory. This is our night. This is our time, together, to change America. So tonight, let’s celebrate and tomorrow let’s get back to work.

The winds of change are sweeping across Oregon and they’re about to sweep Gordon Smith out of the U.S. Senate.

These winds are about to sweep change and hope into the U.S. Senate.

I will carry the battle for our children, our workers, our families, and our planet to the U.S. Senate as Gordon Smith never ever has, and never ever will

Kudos to Steve for starting the healing process among Oregon Democrats.

Novick reportedly concedes, Oregon media call Senate race for Jeff Merkley

It looks like my prediction earlier this evening was on target. From BlueOregon:
9:55 UPDATE

KOIN called it for Jeff Merkley.

Steve Novick just called Jeff Merkley to concede... (from an anonymous tipster)
The Oregonian has also called the race for Jeff Merkley:
Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley slipped past political activist Steve Novick in a tight duel in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary Tuesday night as the two liberals battled for the right to challenge Sen. Gordon Smith in November.

Merkley was leading 45 percent to 41 percent in incomplete returns, with 66 percent of the vote reported. Four lesser-known candidates were splitting the rest of the Democratic vote.
KOIN's story (online version):
Merkley Beats Novick In Senate Contest

Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick slugged it out during the primary campaign, each struggling for the opportunity to run against Republican Gordon Smith in November.

After an initial Novick surge, Merkley pulled ahead and maintained a margin of several thousand votes. Polls earlier in the campaign had showed Novick with a small lead, but then Merkley poured on the heat, the money, and the advertising. You can view the latest returns online.

"Steve Novick clearly didn't have the money to compete in the ad war", said KOIN News 6 Political Analyst Jim Moore. "A quirky message may get you into the race, but it won't necessarily win it."
Congratulations to Jeff Merkley from all of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute. Now, on to November, and the defeat of Gordon Smith.

Prediction: Merkley will win Senate contest

It's early, but the way things are shaping up, I think we're likely to see Jeff Merkley emerge as the nominee for U.S. Senate in the Oregon Democratic primary. Looking at the county by county breakdown, we can see that Novick's strength is primarily flowing from one place...Multnomah County, which is urban Portland.

Merkley is running even with Novick in Washington and Clackamas counties, which are also part of the Portland metro area.

In Lane County (which contains Eugene) Merkley is winning outright. He has 51% of the vote there as of 8:45 PM. He has a similar percentage in Marion County, which contains most of Salem, the capital of Oregon and one of the largest cities.

But the most important factor is the rural Oregon counties, most of which are supposed to go big for Merkley. Hardly any of them have reported yet.

These counties are, for example, on the coast (Tillamook, Curry, etc.) in the Cascades (Hood River, Wheeler), on the Columbia Plateau (Baker, Umatilla), or in the Basin out in east Oregon (Malheur, Deschutes).

UPDATE: Some of the rural counties are now reporting their first numbers. Novick is running close behind in a few of them (and he's winning Clatsop, which contains Astoria, Seaside, and Cannon Beach), but in others, Merkley has a big lead. Merkley is doing very well in Jackson County, home to Medford, another of Oregon's biggest cities (it's the largest population center in Southwest Oregon). He's beating Novick there 48% to 34%.

UPDATE II: This Oregonian interactive map shows you the scope and depth of Merkley's appeal across the state. He's winning almost every part of Oregon except for the mouth of the Columbia and upstream to Portland. In Curry and Coos counties on the southern coast, he's crushing Novick by about twenty points.

Merkley has climbed ever so slowly over the last hour or so, but Multnomah County is due to report in in a few minutes (at 9:45 PM) and that should boost Novick somewhat. He's currently at 41%. Merkley has 45%.

First look at Oregon returns

Eight o'clock Pacific Time has come and gone, and all of the major traditional media outlets have made their projections official: Barack Obama is the winner in Oregon by a decisive margin. We're still waiting for numbers from the Oregon Secretary of State, and once we've got them, I'll update this post with takes on the other races.

UPDATE: With numbers changing rapidly, the contest between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick is very close.

Novick currently has the edge, but it's a small lead....46% to 43%. Over 180,000 ballots have been counted as of this first report.

Kurt Schrader is easily winning the Democratic primary in the 5th Congressional District. With very few ballots counted, he has 63% of the vote. Schrader is vying with Steve Marks to succeed Representative Darlene Hooley, who is retiring.

UPDATE II: Obama's lead in Oregon is huge. He has over sixty percent of the vote. Clinton is under forty percent. The exact numbers:

Hillary Clinton: 87,639 (38.20%)
Barack Obama: 140,582 (61.28%)

That's a double digit lead for Obama, which is what I expected.

UPDATE III: In the Attorney General's race, John Kroger is handily beating Greg Macpherson for the Democratic nomination, 56% to 43%.

UPDATE IV: The Oregon Secretary of State just updated their numbers. Jeff Merkley has retaken the lead in the Senate primary, and it's pretty slim. He leads Novick 45% to 43% as of 8:40 PM.

Why doesn't Appalachia like Obama?

As expected, Hillary Clinton is winning the Kentucky Democratic primary by a wide margin. Her apparent landslide victory there is reigniting discussions about Appalachia and Barack Obama. Since the beginning of March, when Clinton snapped her long losing streak, all of her key victories have come from Appalachia (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky).

Turn on cable television, and you'll hear pundits concluding that Barack Obama is losing ground with white voters. Or you'll hear Terry McAuliffe triumphantly claiming that voters are warming to Hillary Clinton's message and stances on the issues. Or you'll hear an unintelligent discussion about race.

However, the heart of the matter is far more complex (and thought-provoking) than the majority of talking heads have declared it to be.

NBC's Chuck Todd offered some of the best analysis I've seen earlier this afternoon (evening on the east coast) when he told Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews that the only tool needed to predict how the Democratic primaries will turn out is the United States Census. Wherever there's a significant black population (states in the Deep South, for instance) or very small black population (as in much of the West) Barack Obama tends to win, and win big.

But where the black population is in the middle - high single digits, or low double digits - Hillary Clinton has fared surprisingly well. And those states are concentrated in (surprise, surprise) Appalachia.

So what explains this phenomenon? Here's a guess that may explain it (again, with a hat tip to Chuck Todd), but before I elaborate, let me offer a disclaimer.

This has been a groundbreaking election cycle and an unprecedented presidential race. The political landscape is incredibly sophisticated, with many different factors influencing the election results. It's tough to decipher and analyze, because there are no neat and simple patterns.

Any theory an observer can offer is going to have its share of exceptions, some magnified by the length of this nominating contest. So please don't interpret this as a definitive, indisputable assessment of the situation.

With that said, let's get back to the question: what might explain this phenomenon?

First, we know that black voters are breaking strongly for Obama - as much as 80% or even 90% percent in many areas.

In the states where blacks comprise a significant percentage of the Democratic constituency, this means Obama has a strong and unwavering base of support, which, combined with other demographic groups, has put him over the top...not by enormous margins, but respectable ones.

Second, in states where the black population is a very small percentage of the Democratic constituency, Obama has also done extraordinarily well. Look at the Midwest or our home, the Pacific Northwest. The exception is the Southwest, where Hillary Clinton has enjoyed support from Latino voters.

A reasonable explanation for this is that states in regions like the West and New England don't have a long history of racial tensions between blacks and whites.

It's understandably easier for white voters in those states to be open-minded about Obama's candidacy for president. Yes, affluence and education are factors, but ultimately what it comes down to is geography.

The election results have borne this out.

Where there has historically been racial tension, fewer white Democrats have voted for Barack. And where he can't compensate for that with support from the black community, as in Appalachia, he has lost. In the case of West Virginia or Kentucky, which his campaign did not strongly contest, Obama lost big.

In the case of Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio, he did better, either because those states were closer to his home base in Illinois (where he is well known) or because he spent time campaigning there. Or both.

As DHinMI notes:
Beginning with Super Tuesday and then the Potomac primary, the pattern became clear: many counties of Appalachia have voted by margins of over 2 to 1, and sometimes even 9 to 1 for Hillary Clinton. It's inescapable that race is playing a factor in some voting everywhere, but that it's a much greater factor in Appalachia than anywhere else in America. Only in Appalachia has Hillary Clinton won huge margins. As I've written before, Obama does not appear to have a problem with white voters. However, Appalachia has a problem with Obama.
As a candidate, Obama has talked of nothing but equality, nondiscrimination, freedom, and opportunity. Those have all been values central to his campaign. Obama doesn't have a problem with uneasy white voters in Appalachia; rather, they have a problem with him. And that problem may be an unconscious one.

My guess is that this key group of white voters who are making the double digit difference for Hillary Clinton are simply uncomfortable voting for someone who isn't white for the highest office in the land.

Notice I used the word uncomfortable. These are Americans whose hearts and minds can be swayed. That's all the more reason for Obama to spend time in Appalachia building as many bridges as he can.

Primary election day in Oregon: Please vote

Primary election day in the Beaver State has finally arrived.

Oregon voters have until eight o'clock tonight to turn in their ballots. We urge all of our Oregon readers to do their civic duty and vote.

At stake in the primary is the presidential contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (Obama is expected to win easily) and the U.S. Senate race between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick. Also to be decided are the Democratic and Republican nominees in Oregon's 5th Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat Darlene Hooley, who is retiring. Kurt Schrader is expected to triumph over Steve Marks and become the standard bearer.

As to the Merkley-Novick contest, which unfortunately has been pretty bitter at times, it's harder to predict who will emerge the victor.

Turnout is anticipated to be very high:
An election-day voter stampede is expected to propel Oregon's highest primary turnout in 20 years, state officials projected Monday.

More than 800,000 voters cast ballots in the vote-by-mail election as of Monday, and elections officials predicted another 250,000 will drop off their ballots before today's 8 p.m. deadline.

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury estimates a turnout between 50 percent and 60 percent.
Oregon thankfully has an open primary, and not some ridiculous, arcane top-two system like what has been foolishly adopted in Washington. Beaver State voters must choose either the Democratic or Republican Party ballots.

NPI will provide live coverage of tonight's election results here on the Official Blog and at Pacific NW Portal beginning around 8 PM.

Senator Kennedy diagnosed with brain tumor

Earlier today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, which was the apparent cause of his seizure over the weekend.
They said tests conducted after the seizure showed a tumor in Kennedy's left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma, they said.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy

No details have been released by Senator Kennedy's doctors as to how advanced the cancer is, but the outlook is generally not good.
Average survival can range from less than a year for very advanced and aggressive types - such as glioblastomas - or to about five years for different types that are slower growing.
All of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute send our best wishes and prayers to the Kennedy family at this time.

UPDATE: Governor Gregoire has issued a statement:
I am very saddened to learn of Senator Kennedy’s illness. Since the time I entered public service, I have greatly admired Senator Kennedy and his half century of hard work serving all Americans in many arenas. I have worked with Senator Kennedy, and especially respect and admire his determination to give all Americans access to decent and affordable health care and educational opportunities.

My prayers go out to the Senator and his family. I know Senator Kennedy faces challenges and his doctors are determining the most effective treatment options. But Senator Kennedy is a fighter.
Well said, Governor.

"Democrats Observe A Fragile Cease-Fire"

Dan Balz (WaPo, page one-excerpt):
Sen. Barack Obama will return to Iowa tonight to celebrate another milestone in his long and sometimes bitter battle against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who shows no signs of dropping her effort to convince party leaders that she would be a stronger Democratic nominee for president.

But the reality is that both sides have declared an effective cease-fire as they prepare to bring the party together for a general-election campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
(snip)
Clinton's desire to finish the campaign in a way she is comfortable with may explain the pique with which her aides responded to reports -- overblown, according to Obama advisers -- that tonight's rally will become a victory party for the Illinois senator. Although the Democratic race appears headed for a predictable outcome, the next few weeks could determine how rapidly and fully the party comes back together. Clinton and Obama both have to play their parts carefully.

In Brief - May 20, 2008

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

Monday, May 19, 2008

About Oregon and Kentucky

Andrew Sullivan
Another nugget from that Patrick Healy story (NY Times). He describes Oregon as a "largely, white, affluent state", compared with Kentucky which is regarded as "working class". But when you look at the census data, the similarities are as striking as the differences. Male median income in Oregon: $41,536; Kentucky: $39,595; Female median income in Oregon: $32,390; Kentucky: $29,392. Oregon is slightly more prosperous than Kentucky, but its share of blue collar jobs is not far off Kentucky's.

"Defending Michelle: 'Lay off my wife'" (video)

Ben Smith has video of Obama on "Good Morning America" and an announcement about the Dwight Pelz endorsement. Smith comments
Sounds like the we're going to be spending a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest.
If Smith gets here on a Tuesday night, the first beer's on me at Drinking Liberally in Seattle, in spite of my complaints about his Billary love. If you're free on May 31st, you can throw back a few beers with Al Gore and Howard Dean in New York City.

In Brief - May 19, 2008

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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Massive Barack Obama rally in Portland, Oregon shatters records

Earlier this afternoon, in Portland, Oregon, more people gathered to hear Barack Obama speak than live in the city of Redmond, Washington:
The campaign, citing figures from Duane Bray, battalion chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, estimated that 75,000 people are watching him speak.

The scene suggests this is not an exaggeration. The sea of heads stretches for half a mile along the grassy embankment, while others watch from kayaks and power boats bobbing on the Willamette River. More hug the rails of the steel bridge that stretches across the water and crowds are even watching from jetties on the opposite shore.
Seventy five thousand people!

Massive Obama Rally
The Tribune's Washington Bureau has more:
The crowd covers the lawn here at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, from the streetside entry gates down to the Willamette River. Portland fire officials estimate 60,000 people are packed inside the park proper and another 10-15,000 are watching outside the gates. Spectators are lining the bridge behind Obama and watching, bikini-clad, from boats on the river.

The stump speech is Obama's standard riff - 30 minutes long and counting now, despite the sun beating down on the candidate. He's added a few Oregonian flourishes, drawing big cheers when he said the country can learn from Portland's commitment to mass transit and bicycle lanes. The biggest applause came when he denounced the Iraq war; Oregon is a hotbed of anti-war activism.
The major Oregon blogs don't have much (if any) live coverage, but if anyone posts an original recap, we'll excerpt it here.

Those who voted for I-695 have no right to complain about ferry problems

This morning, the Seattle Times has a big front page article about the sad state of Washington State Ferries, which many Puget Sound communities (such as Port Townsend) depend on for tourism, transportation, and their livelihood.

In recent years, ferry fares have skyrocketed, the quality of service has decreased, and aging vessels have been pulled off their runs for repairs.

The news lately has been almost exclusively bad for entrepreneurs in coastal towns, who rely on the Evergreen State's marine highways for business.

Port Townsend, in particular, relies significantly on tourism to support its local economy. Because Port Townsend is isolated geographically on the edge of the Olympic Peninsula, its ferry link to Whidbey Island is incredibly important.

That link has been missing ever since the state was forced to remove its Steel Electric Class ferries from service in 2007 due to corroded hulls. People are understandably upset...and making no secret of their frustration.
Shop owners pin a lot of their troubles on one state agency: "The ferry system let us down," said Teresa Verraes, owner of an art shop, Artisans on Taylor.

The agency had spent years pursuing a plan to replace the 80-year-old Steel Electric boats, but it collapsed in the face of community opposition. When the boats were pulled, the only immediate backup was a smaller, passenger-only ferry.
If people in communities like Port Townsend want to know who the real culprit behind our deteriorating ferry system is, they needn't look far.

Every voter who supported Tim Eyman's Initiative 695 back in 1999 is responsible for the crisis that we're dealing with today. That includes a majority of voters in Snohomish, Island, Pierce, and Kitsap counties.

Those individuals have no right to complain about disintegrating service, let alone blame the Department of Transportation for what's happening.

Distribution of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, 1999

We the people of Washington created this mess for ourselves. We said yes to wiping out the ferry capital construction fund and gutting almost a fourth of operating revenues almost a decade ago. The Legislature (foolishly) carried out our wishes after courts struck Tim Eyman's baby down as unconstitutional.

Opponents of Initiative 695 predicted then that its passage would have dire consequences, but those warnings were largely ignored.

Now the state ferry system is chronically underfunded. It's running out of money and could face a $1 billion shortfall over the next sixteen years.

Anti-government libertarians and critics of the ferry system will argue, of course, that the state has wasted money on terminal renovations to handle increased ridership that never materialized.

However, the big reason that ridership has declined instead of increasing (as projected) is because ferry fares have been going steadily up.

And why, again, have ferry fares gone steadily up?
People stopped riding for a number of reasons, including increased telecommuting and cuts in service. But a major factor is the sharp increase in fares. On the Seattle-to-Bainbridge Island route, for example, passenger fares have jumped 81 percent since 2000, from $3.70 to $6.70.

The agency boosted fares to help make up for millions of dollars lost when voters repealed the state car-tab tax by passing Initiative 695 in 1999. The tax had provided about 22 percent of the ferry system's operating revenue and about 77 percent of its capital budget.
The following point cannot be be emphasized enough: Tax cuts have serious consequences.

The decision to eliminate the MVET has cost the Evergreen State dearly.

Our ferries are part of the common wealth. Our taxes (our pooled resources) are what comprises the common wealth. When we drain revenue from our own public services, inevitably the quality of service we can expect will greatly decline.

The squabbling and finger pointing between state officials, lawmakers, and stakeholders is both predictable and senseless.

Mismanagement didn't cause all these problems. How is the state Department of Transportation supposed to thoughtfully prepare for the replacement of its fleet when there's no money available?

It's funny how this suddenly became important after there was an issue with the boats. Prevention is the best and most cost-effective way to solve a problem. Preventative measures can't be taken, however, if no one is willing to appropriate the funding required to plan and act in advance.

If we really want to address the problems plaguing our ferry system, there is a simple solution: Restore the motor vehicle excise tax. Set it at a reasonable level and implement a new fee schedule that's fair and progressive. Allocate the funds towards ferries, Amtrak Cascades, and transit in cities across the state, from Spokane to Vancouver to the Tri-Cities to Bellingham.

The cost of gasoline is bound to continue to go up, and we should respond by increasing the availability of transit and decreasing ferry fares (especially for pedestrians and bicyclists). Coupled with the construction of a light rail backbone in Puget Sound, these investments help get people out of their cars, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, lower carbon emissions, and decrease air pollution.

We can rectify the profound mistakes made at the end of the last decade. It'll take political courage to get us back on track, but we must act. We are already paying the price in this century for years of dithering and shortsightedness.

"Rival Camps Plan Inevitable Merger" ("gale-force pressure for Obama to choose a Clinton loyalist as a running mate")

WaPo (page one):
Top fundraisers for Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have begun private talks aimed at merging the two candidates' teams, not waiting for the Democratic nominating process to end before they start preparations for a hard-fought fall campaign.
Despite Obama's apparently insurmountable lead in delegates needed to claim the nomination, aides to both candidates are resigned to the idea that the Democratic contest will continue at least through June 3, when Montana and South Dakota will cast the final votes of the primary season.

But in small gatherings around Washington and in planning sessions for party unity events in New York and Boston in coming weeks, fundraisers and surrogates from both camps are discussing how they can put aside the vitriol of the past 18 months and move forward to ensure that the eventual nominee has the resources to defeat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in November.

Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia lawyer who has raised more than $1 million for Clinton's bid, said that while her supporters have not given up on their candidate, they recognize the need to start preparing for the general election.

"Only if we do this right, and see this through in the right way, will there be a chance for a full, rapid and largely complete unification of the party," Aronchick said.

Aronchick was one of about 35 Clinton and Obama insiders who attended a dinner last week in Washington aimed at what he characterized as helping the two sides "grope towards unity."

The gathering, held at the Ritz-Carlton residence of Jim Johnson and Maxine Isaacs, was a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at which former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin was honored. But the guests were well aware of the symbolism as they sipped cocktails and admired the views of the Potomac River and the Washington Monument. The event honoring a prominent Clinton supporter was held at the home of an Obama backer and co-hosted by another, former senator Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.).

"The people there had all picked sides," one attendee said. "There was a sense that there is an obligation to lead by example."

While there was little outright talk of how the primary campaign would end, guests confirmed that DNC Chairman Howard Dean set the tone with a speech in which he emphasized that despite the protracted nomination fight, he is already instituting a plan to combat McCain.

The message was clear, according to one attendee, who said, "You don't go anywhere anymore where there isn't a sense that this is over and this is about how people behave over the next month."

Even with the work in top levels of the party to broker a detente between Obama and Clinton donors, both sides acknowledge there is much still to be done.

Top fundraisers have invested not only their time and money but also their emotions in the primary battle. Major financial backers say the tensions have been particularly acute in recent weeks as frustrations have mounted in both camps.

Aronchick said that in his own discussions, he emphasized the need for the senator from Illinois to stop describing Clinton and her backers as representing the politics of the past.

"They need to understand how corrosive that has been among her supporters," Aronchick said. "For this to work, they need to correct any impression that he thinks we represent the old ways of doing things or Washington Beltway ways of doing things."

One top fundraiser for Obama, a veteran of several presidential campaigns who spoke about the private discussions on the condition of anonymity, said there are sensitivities among many of Obama's supporters, as well. The fundraiser said there is a high level of resentment that Clinton has continued to campaign, even though her chances of securing the nomination are remote. Many are unhappy about the idea of having to make room for members of Clinton's finance team, who had "picked the wrong candidate."

"There are people who are thinking, 'Hey, my guy won. Now I have to share the trophy?' " the Obama fundraiser said. "That's something we have to overcome."

Kirk Dornbush, a member of the Obama national finance team in Georgia, said that while there is no formal effort by the Obama campaign to recruit Clinton counterparts, "many of us have friendships with Clinton donors that predate the 2008 campaign and will last long after this race is over. Given this reality, it should not be surprising that we have received phone calls in the last few weeks" from individuals interested in crossing over.

Another major Obama fundraiser, granted anonymity to speak candidly, said that while no organized recruitment campaign was underway, "we have picked off some local people and are reaching out to the Clinton people we know individually."

That outreach has been complicated by leading voices in the Clinton campaign having made clear that any defection at this point would be regarded as a betrayal of the former first couple. "Some [Clinton] people have said, 'If you publicly defect, that's the end of our relationship,' " said the Obama fundraiser. "Like, if we live to be 170, we're never going to speak to each other again."

Clinton supporters interviewed for this article all said they think that the senator from New York remains a viable candidate. But several also said they see the wisdom of beginning the conversation about fundraising for the general election.

"We're all thinking about November," said Robert Zimmerman, a New York public relations expert who is a top Clinton fundraiser. "We are starting a dialogue together. I've made it clear [Obama backers] will be welcome to come on board. They've said the same to me."

Zimmerman, who is also a Democratic National Committeeman, said Dean has been a central figure in starting to bring the two camps together. Dean is organizing a May 31 fundraiser in Manhattan honoring Al Gore. The event is being chaired by Orin Kramer, one of Obama's top fundraisers, and by Maureen White, a longtime party fundraiser who has been assisting Clinton.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee announced that both campaigns had signed a "joint fundraising agreement" creating a fund in which donations to each candidate could be pooled with contributions to the party and then used during the general election.

Clinton's New England finance chairman, Steve Grossman, is also co-chairing an event with two top New England fundraisers for Obama, Alan Solomont and Barry White. The June 12 event in Boston is in honor of Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry's brother, Cameron Kerry, and will raise money for the National Jewish Democratic Council, but the invitation list includes top bundlers for both Clinton and Obama.

In addition to the fledgling attempts to merge the fundraising operations of Obama and Clinton, there is growing talk that the best -- and perhaps only -- way to truly mend the rift is for Obama to pick a top Clinton surrogate as his vice presidential nominee.

"There's gale-force pressure for Obama to choose a Clinton loyalist as a running mate to heal the party but avoid putting her and her formidable baggage on the ticket," said one Obama ally in Washington. "You hear the names [Ohio Gov. Ted] Strickland, [Indiana Sen. Evan] Bayh, and [retired general] Wes Clark almost constantly, and it's no secret that Jim Johnson and Tom Daschle are purveyors of that wisdom."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hot weather proves climate crisis is for real!

Now we finally know.

After so many years of argument between skeptical conservatives and knowledgeable progressives over the effect that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are having on our planet's climate, the question has been settled....by the recent high temperatures we've been having.

As John McCain would say, "My friends, the climate crisis is for real."

Thanks to right wing methodology (carefully pioneered by all-knowing pundits turned scientists like Stefan Sharkansky) all we have to do is step outside, feel the hot weather firsthand, and observe the rapidly melting snow pack to decisively conclude that global warming is a sure thing:
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport today, the temperature climbed to 90 degrees at 3:20 p.m., breaking the previous record of 85 set in 1956.

At Sea-Tac on Friday, temperatures hit 84 degrees, tying the 1985 record for hottest temperature on record for May 16. Two coastal towns, Quillayute and Hoquiam, hit record highs, too, with temperatures in the low 90s.
Our planet has a fever...and it's up to us to do something about it. Visit the Alliance for Climate Protection to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint.

LIVE from Edmonds: Ambassador Joe Wilson speaks, subcaucuses in progress

The subcaucuses are currently underway here at Edmonds Community College, with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama delegates faced with the difficult decision of who to elect to send to Denver to be a national delegate.

Not long ago, we heard from Ambassador Joe Wilson, who happens to be in Washington for part of the weekend, and was kind enough to come over to our congressional district caucus. We honored him with a standing ovation and listened as he explained the importance of ending Republican control of the White House.

What truly matters, the Ambassador told us, is electing a Democrat as President in 2008 - because America cannot afford a third Bush term courtesy of John McCain. The arrogance, the willful lawbreaking, and the disrespect for our Constitution have unfortunately become hallmarks of the executive branch under the GOP.

When you look at the combined group of people here who want to be delegates, both women and men, and for either Hillary or Barack...it numbers into the hundreds, and everyone who wants to run is entitled to speak for at least one minute. It'll take at least a few hours to get through everyone... but we'll make it.

UPDATE, 4:15 PM: The Clinton subcaucus has selected Deanna Dawson and Tom Ahearne as 1st Congressional District's national delegates for Hillary. The speechifying has just ended in the Obama subcaucus and the votes are being tallied now. I'll post another update after we know who the Obama delegates are.

UPDATE II, 5:15 PM: The Obama subcaucus has elected Jessica Beckett, Kendall Hamilton, Ronald Oshima, and Luis Moscoso as the 1st Congressional District's national delegates for Barack. Marsha Scutvick is our alternate.

LIVE from Edmonds: Taking care of business at the 1st Congressional District Caucus

Today, Washington Democrats are meeting across the Evergreen State to select delegates to the National Convention in Denver, nominate Democratic standard-bearers in congressional races, and choose Democratic presidential electors.

I'm at the 1st Congressional District caucus in Edmonds, where we're listening to speeches by Democrats hoping to have the honor of representing the people of Washington State in Olympia this December to vote for the next president of the United States (should Washington vote for the Democratic nominee).

It's a pretty full room, divided down the middle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama delegates. One side of the room is plastered with a sea of Clinton placards; the other side is adorned with colorful Barack Obama posters, a number of them handmade. (One says, WA Hearts/Loves Obama).

We've heard all the speeches from the oh, twenty five or so people who want to journey to Olympia this winter to cast the 1st Congressional District's vote for president. Now we have to elect two members of the Democratic Judicial Review Board (which according to our chair, hasn't met in twenty years).

Oddly enough, there are over half a dozen people who want the job, perhaps out of curiosity. The board, I'm told, has the authority to interpret the party's rules and bylaws when there is a dispute that can't be simply resolved.

Eventually, we'll split into subcaucuses to elect delegates and alternates to the
National Convention. The 1st Congressional District will elect six pledged delegates (three women and three men). Four of these will be pledged to Barack Obama and two will be pledged to Hillary Clinton.

"Obama Takes on President Bush and John McCain"

BarackObama.com, video (09:32):
Watertown, SD
May 16, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thank you!

What an extroadinary night it has been.

Less than two hours ago, our first-ever Spring Fundraising Gala (which will become an annual tradition, by the way!) came to a close. It was a fantastic success, and speaking on behalf of every one of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute, I want to say thank you...to everyone who came, who contributed, who supported our work. This event was in the works for a long time, and to have seen it come to fruition so spectacularly is immensely gratifying.

I'm going to be remembering this very fondly for a long time.

Several people have already told me they really enjoyed the food, the live music, and the caramel corn we gave out. I'm glad the flourishes turned out well. I was even more thrilled, however, with the main program.

Chip Hanauer and Major General Eaton gave very compelling addresses, and Darcy Burner was outstanding (as usual). She's really sharpened her skill as a public speaker, and when she gets to Congress, I can't wait to witness her eloquence on C-SPAN (I'll be setting the DVR to record all her speeches).

Mike West did a sueprb job tying everything together as Master of Ceremonies, and Don Mock and band kept the live jazz coming for much of the evening.

It made for a very pleasant, enjoyable atmosphere.

The Washington netroots community was strongly represented at the gala. We were honored to be joined by writers from Group News Blog, On the Road to 2008, HorsesAss, Evergreen Politics, MajorityRules, McCranium, and Washblog.

Peter Goldmark, our Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands, was also kind enough to grace us with his presence.

Tonight, we managed to raise a substantial amount of money to take this organization to the next level. More importantly, though, we learned a lot. Next year's Spring Fundraising Gala will build on everything we learned this first go-around, and it's our hope that it will come to be known as a can't miss event.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"The Amazing Money Machine"


Joshua Green (The Atlantic):
Obama is a gifted politician by anyone’s measure, but what distinguishes him from earlier insurgents is his ability to fully harness the excitement that his candidacy has created, in votes and in dollars. Three forces had to come together for this to happen: the effect of campaign-finance laws in broadening the number and types of people who fund the political process; the emergence of Northern California as one of the biggest sources of Democratic money; and the recognition by a few Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that the technology and business practices they had developed in their day jobs could have a transformative effect on national politics.
You can view the whole article here.

Spring gala just twenty four hours away

In a few minutes, we'll be exactly one day out from our first ever Spring Fundraising Gala. It's going to be a very exciting night...speakers include Chip Hanauer, Darcy Burner, Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) and yours truly, with Mike West as Master of Ceremonies and live music by Don Mock.

There'll be a tasty buffet and no host bar; menu choices include pasta, chicken, and beef, served with salad, rolls, garlic cheese bread, and/or vegetables.

It's a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Northwest Progressive Institute, meet our team in person, and enjoy the company of many neighbors, friends, and activists in the local netroots community.

Tickets are $60 (individual) or $90 (household). They may be purchased online to the right via Amazon Payments until tomorrow evening, or at the door. Students and low income families can get in for $20 - please contact us to request this special discount.

If you can't make it, please consider a donation. You can donate online, again using Amazon Payments to the right. Or you may send checks by U.S. Mail to:

Northwest Progressive Institute
Post Office Box 264
Redmond, WA 98073

Thanks to everyone who has supported our work so far...we hope to see you at Redmond Town Center tomorrow evening.

California Supreme Court overturns ban on marriage equality

In a 4-3 decision today, California's state Supreme Court ruled that current state marriage laws are unconstitutional, setting the stage for marriage equality to become a reality in the Golden State.

The decision by the Court, however, will not be the final word on the issue as right-wing groups have circulated petitions for a ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

It's interesting to note that the Court is dominated by Republicans. Even more so, Governor Schwarzenegger had this to say:
"I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling," he said in a statement. "Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling."[emphasis mine]
A copy of the full opinion can be found here.

"New Math for November"

Timothy Egan (NY Times, "Outpost" blog):
PORTLAND, Ore. — This state is known for many things — good wine, the imperial branding of the Nike swoosh, a political culture that produces contrarians of both parties — but ethnic diversity is not one of them. This state has an African-American population of less than 2 percent.
And yet on May 20, when voters here could finally end the Democratic presidential marathon by giving Senator Barack Obama an outright majority of pledged delegates, don’t expect to hear much about how a black man has broadened the playing field for his party by winning a heavily white state. Apparently, white people in Gore-Tex country don’t count as much as white people in Appalachia. Nor, if you look at Colorado, a Bush state that Obama won this year, do white people who sing “Rocky Mountain High” matter as much as white people who sing, “Almost heaven, West Virginia.”

It’s absurd, of course, to tout the implied superiority of “hard-working Americans, white Americans,” as Hillary Clinton said last week of her core supporters. And those other white Americans, in Iowa, Wisconsin, or here in Oregon — all heavy Obama supporters — are slackers? Not to mention black supporters.

In Oregon, in recent days, we’ve seen fresh themes for the general election presented by Obama and Senator John McCain — and they have very little to do with dated, tribal politics. The fruit trees in the Willamette Valley may be in full blossom, but in Oregon it’s November in May.

The map of counties that Hillary Clinton won big this year shows a broad swath of Appalachia and rural America, places where a Democrat is unlikely to prevail in the general election. The scab of racial animus can be thick in those counties, judging by exit polls of Clinton supporters who say they would never vote for a black man, and by anecdotal reporting.

The political math of the future lies with the new America — fast-growing communities in Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and elsewhere, where people are trying to step out of the cement shoes of race. Yes, race is still a factor there — it’s coded and complex — but not as raw as in other states. The transient nature of these places, where nearly everybody is from somewhere else, makes it difficult for old biases to harden.

McCain surely knows this, even if his party has yet to get the message. The speech that he gave here on climate change marked a big break with President Bush and the troglodyte wing of his party. Look for similar divorce announcements in coming months, even on race. In that speech, McCain envisioned a nightmare of runaway forest fires, heat waves stifling the cities, storms swamping the coasts, unless something is done. “The United States will lead,” he said, “and will lead with a different approach.” In every way, the speech was a slap at know-nothings like Rush Limbaugh, who tells his 20 million listeners almost every day that global warming is a massive hoax.

It is buried deep in the Republican family tree, but the environment used to be an issue that the party owned. And here in Oregon, the stunning ocean beaches are accessible to all, cities are livable and open space is plenty because of a sainted, long-ago Republican governor, Tom McCall.

Meanwhile, McCain’s party tried to hold onto a Republican Congressional seat in Mississippi this week by using racial scare-mongering from the Jim Crow era. There, a Democrat, Travis Childers, won a district that President Bush carried by 25 percentage points in 2004, the third red seat lost this year in special elections for the House. Republicans aimed for the deepest fears of white southerners by tying Childers to Obama’s nutty former preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

The preacher may be good ratings for Fox News. But as it happens, he’s not as much ballot box poison as is Bush. The president with the lowest approval ratings in 70 years is more damaging to McCain than Rev. Wright is to Obama, according to a recent Gallup poll. “By November,” said David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, “every voter will know McCain is offering a third Bush term.” That’s the election fight, in a nutshell.

Obama’s themes in Oregon were future-directed — new energy policy, new foreign policy, new thinking on race. It goes without saying that he needs to carry blue collar whites, as Democrats have usually done. But Obama can lose Ohio and West Virginia — both fell to Republicans in 2004 — and make up for it with Colorado and Virginia, a combined 22 electoral votes from Bush states now trending Democratic.

When Obama spoke in the central Oregon city of Bend, the crowd at Summit High School was nearly all-white, and as enthusiastic as any gathering of Beavers and Ducks on a Saturday afternoon. In the sea of white faces, there was one person who stood out — the woman who introduced Obama, Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was shot in the back in Mississippi in 1963.

It turns out she lives in Bend, one of the tomorrow communities that will decide this year’s election. The county that includes Bend has grown by 30 percent since 2000. It is full of independents, an Oregonian trait, and people like Mrs. Evers-Williams, who see something here they never saw in the place they left behind.
Thanks and praise to Mr. Egan who helps to counter the chatter about "white voters" and Obama from some political gossip columnists.

In Brief - May 15, 2008

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fifty State Strategy Pays Off

It was only just a short few years ago when Governor Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy was being laughed at by veteran Clinton insiders James Carville and Paul Begala, among others. Maybe it's because Dean wasn't Clinton insider Terry McAuliffe.

Here's Carville on November 15, 2006, after Democrats took control of the House and Senate:
He added, “I think he should be held accountable.” He added, “I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its competence.”
And here's Paul Begala (h/t to Markos) bloviating on what he hoped was Howard Dean's imminent demise.
BLITZER: Very quickly, is Howard Dean in trouble?

BEGALA: No. I think Candy's report was spot on.

He -- yes, he's in trouble, in that campaign managers, candidates, are really angry with him. He has raised $74 million and spent $64 million. He says it's a long-term strategy. But what he has spent it on, apparently, is just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose. That's not how you build a party. You win elections. That's how you build a party. [emphasis mine]
Let's look at the scoreboard. Since Howard Dean became chair of the DNC, Democrats have won majorities in the House and Senate, expanded on those majorities by winning special elections in districts they weren't expected (by conventional wisdom) to win, are poised to expand those majorities even more in 2008, and have a good shot at making history by electing an African-American man as President of the United States.

McAuliffe was a great fundraiser as chairman, but he's no Howard Dean. People-powered Howard has changed the political landscape, restored the power to the people, and showed us all that Democrats can win anywhere and everywhere.

Democrat Travis Childers winning Mississippi's 1st Congressional District last night shows that the 50 state strategy works. President Obama the Democratic Party would do well to keep Howard Dean as chair (NPI's position is that the decision is not Obama's to make).

BREAKING: Edwards to endorse Obama

Traditional news outlets are reporting that likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama will receive the endorsement of former rival John Edwards in just under an hour at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

All we can say is....it's about time. We've waited months to hear this:
Officials announced the news shortly after Mr. Obama landed here late this afternoon. The campaign has timed the announcement to coincide with the start of the major evening newscasts, which would have otherwise focused on Senator Hillary Clinton’s landslide victory in West Virginia, which raised new questions about Mr. Obama’s strength with white working class voters.

Mr. Obama’s campaign is hoping it will be taken as the start of a partywide coalescence around Mr. Obama as the Democratic nominee.

The endorsement ended months of speculation over Mr. Edwards’s preference in the Democratic nominating contest, during which he mostly stayed silent and close to home in Chapel Hill with his wife, Elizabeth.

But in recent days, Mr. Edwards had made his choice all but obvious, giving a series of television interviews hinting that he was close to endorsing Mr. Obama, who last week he called “clearly the nominee at this point.”

And it was little surprise to close observers of Mr. Edwards on the campaign trail in the past year, when he regularly attacked so-called establishment politicians like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and teamed with Mr. Obama against her in debates.
Earlier today, Barack Obama's campaign received the endorsement or NARAL Pro-Choice America, which came as a bitter disappointment to the Clinton campaign. Clinton allies are expressing great displeasure at the endorsement, such as Ellen Malcom of Emily's List, who has condemned NARAL's move:
I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Sen. Clinton . . . to not give her the courtesy to finish the final three weeks of the primary process...It certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them.
So what you're saying is that it is disrespectful for NARAL to make an endorsement at this point in the process. Come on! Any individual or organization is free to endorse a candidate whenever they want. You're one of Senator Clinton's earliest backers, so you clearly don't think it's disrespectful to take sides, especially early in the process. How can you complain about the NARAL endorsement?

Unlike you, they gave serious consideration to both candidates, and came to a decision through a vote.

What's done is done. Senator Clinton has fought hard for the nomination, but she has lost. She can be as determined as she wants - the math is just not in her favor.

"Hillary Has a Choice"

E.J. Dionne:
Hillary Clinton still has a lot to win this year, but not the presidency and not the vice presidency.
With Barack Obama having effectively secured the Democratic presidential nomination, it is hard for the Clinton camp to focus on her successes in this contest. But Clinton now possesses strengths she did not enjoy when the campaign began.

She is, more than ever before, her own person, having emerged decisively from the shadow of her husband. Indeed, she did far better when Bill Clinton played a supporting role than when he was out front, notably during the disastrous South Carolina primary. There is now a Hillary Clinton constituency in the Democratic Party distinct from the one the former president built.

Cartoonists and satirists mocked Hillary Clinton’s incarnation as a fighter for blue-collar voters. Yet those who know her well think the fighting Hillary is closer to her self-image—as someone who has had to overcome many blows in life—than the inevitable nominee who wove a web of entitlement around herself and ran on experience, much of which was derivative of her husband’s.

The Hillary Clinton of the late primaries dispelled this portrait, campaigning more on empathy than résumé, and more on the problems of today’s economy than on her husband’s economic achievements.

And Clinton did her party and Obama a favor by focusing on the Democrats’ potential weaknesses among blue-collar whites. This problem is not unique to Obama. Both Al Gore and John Kerry underperformed with these voters, particularly among males. That Obama has been pushed off his oratorical pedestal and encouraged to connect with disaffected whites will save him trouble in the fall. Clinton, widely seen as the champion of older, well-educated feminist women, could be remembered as the politician who brought the party back to its working-class roots.

Yet these achievements have come at a high cost for Clinton, and a $20-million debt may be the least of her troubles. To consolidate her gains while repairing the damage to her standing from a bitter contest, she will have to abandon efforts to block Obama’s nomination. She can keep fighting, or she can become a powerful figure in the Democratic Party. She cannot do both.

In particular, where Clinton was once a largely unifying force within her party (that, after all, was why her nomination had been seen as inevitable), she is now far more divisive. Polling by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that while Clinton enjoyed a 67-32 favorable-to-unfavorable ratio among Obama supporters in January, she is now viewed favorably by only 51 percent of Obama supporters and unfavorably by 46 percent.

Especially striking is the ground Clinton has lost among African-Americans, whom she once saw as a bulwark of her candidacy. In August 2007, Pew found that Clinton was viewed favorably by 86 percent of African-Americans, including 44 percent who viewed her very favorably. In its most recent survey, her favorability rating among African-Americans was down to 56 percent, including only 22 percent who viewed her very favorably.

For both Clintons, one of the most painful aspects of this campaign has been their alienation from so many black voters. Any moves that risk further divisions in the Democratic Party—Hillary Clinton’s comment last week about Obama’s weakness among voters who are “hardworking” and “white” didn’t help—will aggravate a problem she wants to go away.

So would an orchestrated campaign by Clinton supporters to push Obama hard to make her the vice presidential nominee. An aggressive “Clinton for vice president” campaign would simply reopen fights that are just ending and offer Obama two bad choices: either to look weak by capitulating to pressure from the defeated wing of the party or to look spiteful by refusing to take Clinton on.

On the other hand, choosing a Clinton supporter as a running mate—the obvious possibilities are Govs. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Ted Strickland of Ohio or Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana—could serve Obama’s interest while assuaging a certain sourness that lingers in the Clinton camp.

But the best antidote to this melancholy is for her supporters to see that the Hillary Clinton who has emerged from these primaries is a stronger and more independent figure than the candidate who once hoped she could parlay the past into the White House.
Her future depends on discovering a new role, even if it is not the one she had originally hoped to play.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Democratic Wave Begins to Form

In an ominous development for endangered Northwest Republican incumbents like Dave Reichert and Gordon Smith, a Democrat has won Mississippi's 1st Congressional District, a district that broke heavily Republican in 2004 for George W. Bush.

With 94% of the precincts reporting, Democrat Travis Childers is defeating Republican Greg Davis, 53%-47%, or 54029 votes for Childers to 47,361 votes for Davis.

Greg Davis even tarred and feathered Travis Childers, in this ad, with the dreaded "liberal" label for his endorsement by Barack Obama. It's the kind of ad that has worked in the past in a Republican district against a Democratic candidate. Not this time. Hope and change overcame business as usual.

This is the biggest news of the night. The pundits are falling all over themselves and can't say enough about how big this is for Democrats and how much trouble Republicans are in.

With a previous win for Democrats in Louisiana, the Democratic wave is forming and threatens to sweep Bush lackeys like Reichert and Smith out of office.

Update: Jonathan Singer at MyDD sums it up well.
1. I don't want to go so far as to say that this is the end of the Republican Party, because it's not. But this is as bad news as the GOP could possibly get at this point. They lost a district that leans 6 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in Illinois in March. They lost a district that leans 7 points more Republican than the nation as a whole earlier this month in Louisiana. Now they lost a district that leans 10 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in Mississippi. If they can't win in Mississippi's first congressional district, where can they win

2. The Republicans tried to make this election about two people: Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And despite running this type of campaign, they lost. While it is true that Childers distanced himself from his party (and implicitly from Obama), the fact is that the Obama/Wright smears simply DID NOT WORK. The Republicans are going to have to get a new game plan, and the establishment media are going to have to get a new meme. Sorry folks.

Hillary: "It ain't over until the lady in the pants suit says it's over"

Jonathan Alter (Newsweek):
Yogi Berra, meet the Clintons. "It ain't over till it's over" neatly defines their current philosophy on the presidential race. Forget the brilliant Berra ambiguity of the word "over." How about "it"? What is the game they're now playing?
The math is clear: Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president unless he's caught on tape taking cash from Tony Rezko or vacationing in Hawaii with Louis Farrakhan. But the only thing dependable about the Clintons is that they never quit. Hillary has more than enough delegates to hassle Obama with the threat that she'll go all the way to the Denver convention or otherwise jeopardize party unity if he doesn't seat Florida and Michigan exactly as she wants. And she may rally her millions of supporters to demand that Obama offer her the No. 2 slot. Don't put it past her.

Before getting to Hillary's game, let me introduce a new ace in the hole for Obama. For all the talk of numbers, there's one that will be most important for superdelegates: 1.5 million. That reflects the 1.5 million names of donors that the Obama campaign has on file. Because no contribution below $200 is publicly reported, the vast majority of those names are in Obama's exclusive possession, to be shared as he wishes. As Graham Richard, the longtime mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., explained it to me last week, it's all about the Benjamins. Local officials (that's who most superdelegates are) need the tens of thousands of Democratic donors on that list who come from their states. Their re-election depends on successful fund-raising. No Obama at the top of the ticket, no list. No list, and you may be back selling insurance after November.

Another hidden factor pushing superdelegates away from Hillary is "Florigan" or "Michida"—or whatever we should call these scofflaw states that moved up their primaries in defiance of party rules. Out of desperation, Hillary is putting all her chips on the injustice done to Floridians and Michiganders, even though she said early in the process that their votes "shouldn't count." Never mind the hypocrisy here. Never mind that Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe was the one who first insisted the rules be enforced. (When Michigan Sen. Carl Levin wanted to move up that state's primary in 2004, McAuliffe, then party chairman, screamed at him: "If I allow you to do that, the whole system collapses! The rules are the rules." This is from McAuliffe's own memoirs.) The problem for Hillary is that party officials in the other 48 states don't give a rat's patootie about seating Florida and Michigan. In fact, they're angry at those states for jumping the line, then whining about it. The whole imbroglio, says Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network, has been "instrumental" in driving superdelegates to Obama.

To keep that trickle of superdelegate commitments from turning into a flood, Hillary will likely continue the delightful and uplifting argument that she made to USA Today that she has a large and expanding base among "hardworking Americans, white Americans." This is code for "America isn't ready for a black man," but it's also unsubstantiated. Her share of white, working-class voters actually diminished considerably from Ohio and Pennsylvania to North Carolina and Indiana, largely because the more recent primary states are younger. It's "the granny gap," stupid. For all her claims of a broad coalition, Hillary's only reliable base is older white women with no college education. She obviously doesn't crush Obama among white voters more generally or she would already be the nominee.

With big wins in West Virginia and Kentucky, Hillary will likely hang on for at least a month. She can keep campaigning with a bare-bones, McCain '07-style operation and, despite some legal impediments, pay off debts with huge fund-raisers after the election. One key moment will come at the May 31 meeting of the rules committee of the Democratic Party, which is packed with Clintonites. She could likely manipulate the committee to push the Florigan question to the floor of the Denver convention in late August. That doesn't guarantee a floor fight, but the threat of one gives Hillary a weapon to use both in private and in public.

In private, negotiations will open between the Clinton and Obama forces. Even if Obama has reached the magic number of 2,025 delegates needed to nominate (Clinton is now claiming the real number is higher), the Clintonites will have plenty to talk about that relates to the management of the convention. And Hillary has the wily and heedless Harold Ickes on her side. In the past, Ickes has caused big problems for the eventual nominee, and in those days he held fewer cards than he does this year. In 1980, Jimmy Carter led Ted Kennedy by more than 700 delegates at the end of the primaries—but Ickes, representing Kennedy, created a series of procedural obstacles that turned that year's convention into a sour mess and helped doom Carter in the fall. In 1988, Michael Dukakis had sewn up the nomination but needed to deal with the complex question of what Jesse Jackson wanted. Ickes, representing Jackson, made Dukakis look weak, which softened him up for George H.W. Bush in the fall. Obama has said he would negotiate with Ahmadinejad, but he'd be smart not to extend the same courtesy to Ickes.

Publicly, Hillary may hint that she is interested in the vice presidency. This is what I've picked up from some of her friends in recent days. Even if she decides against it, keeping the option alive gives her political leverage through the spring and summer. Her legions of backers will clamor for Obama to name her, and he'll look bad if he excludes her from his shortlist. This could force him to name a running mate sooner than he would like. He could even get caught in a jam like John F. Kennedy's in 1960.
That year, JFK offered the vice presidency to Lyndon Johnson, who was the powerful Senate majority leader. Bobby Kennedy thought LBJ would say no, but he didn't. JFK and LBJ were forced into a shotgun marriage that left neither of them happy. Is something similar in store for 2008? It all depends, as Bill Clinton once testified, "on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

New Poll Shows Merkley Leading Democrats in Oregon Senate Race

A new Survey USA poll conducted for KATU in Portland shows that, one week before the Oregon primary, Jeff Merkley is leading his fellow Democrats in the race for the nomination to take on incumbent Senator Gordon Smith.

Merkley leads with 31%, followed by Steve Novick with 27% and Candy Neville with 11%. Though within the margin of error (+/- 4%), compared to and identical poll done by Survey USA 11 days ago, Merkley has risen 3 points and Novick is down 3 points. In essence, the race is a statistical tie going into the home stretch.

However, Survey USA notes that the Big Mo is with Merkley.
That said, momentum is with Merkley among a number of key groups: Among men, Novick had led by 10, today trails by 2. Among voters age 18 to 49, Novick had led by 5, today trails by 2. Among voters 50+, Novick and Merkley had tied; today, Merkley leads by 7. Merkley and Novick are effectively even in the greater Portland area. Merkley leads by 13 in the rest of the state. Among the 43% of voters who have already mailed their ballot, Merkley leads by 6; among those who are likely to return a ballot, Merkley leads by 3.
After spending last weekend in Portland and watching the TV ads for this race, one thing is for sure: Gordon Smith has his hands full.

Join Governor Gregoire for a BBQ

On May 29, join supporters of Governor Chris Gregoire for a barbecue in support of her re-election campaign.

The barbecue will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Women's Club of Olympia, 1002 Washington St. SE in Olympia.

This is a great opportunity to show your support for our Governor and to get an opportunity to talk with her in an informal setting.

To RSVP, please email Dayna Lurie at dlurie at chrisgregoire dot com or phone: (206) 382-2008.

"Does Obama have a coherent political ideology?" (video)

Bloggingheads.tv (video, 08:45):
Ari Melber (The Nation) "debates" Conn Carroll (Heritage Foundation). Their conversation lasted for an hour and you can get it in bits and pieces or the whole schmeer here.

In Brief - May 13, 2008

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

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski Loves John McCain

Taking a page out of the book of Senator Joe Lieberman (Party of One - CT), Oregon's Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski, was out on the campaign trail with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain today, pushing McCain's climate change plan.
Standing beside Oregon's Democratic governor Ted Kulongoski, McCain made a sharp break with President Bush and argued the U.S. should adopt mandatory curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and issue emissions credits to polluters that they can trade in order to spur technological innovation.

[...]

And McCain used the talk to bolster his bipartisan credentials, making a point of praising Kulongoski and saying he would help solve the climate crisis with the aid of leaders from both parties if elected president. "I will sit down with all the governors, whether they be Democrat or Republican, and work for the betterment of this nation," he said.
That can't make Hillary Clinton too happy. You see, Kulongoski endorsed Clinton back in December. Considering that Hillary has said she's staying in the race, and that she expects the party to be unified for the general election, this is a bonehead move by the Governor.

As for lame duck Governor Kulongoski, he gains nothing but the scorn of his fellow Democrats. What the Governor gives John McCain, however, is much more valuable: street credibility as he continues his sham of being a bipartisan, maverick type.

Let's hope Joe Lieberman didn't get a "Friends Fly Free" ticket to the GOP Convention. Can anyone say Joementum, party of two?

Update: Apparently, New Hampshire's Democratic Governor John Lynch has also attended a McCain campaign event.

"Obamacan" - Winner, Obama in 30 Seconds (video)

MoveOn.org, video (00:30):
"Obamacan," Grand Prize Winner, MoveOn.org's Obama in 30 Seconds Contest--by David Gaw and Lance Mungia
Monrovia, CA--Featuring John Weiler

In Brief - May 12, 2008

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

Sunday, May 11, 2008

NY Times: Washington State "clearly in play" in 2008 (Updated)

"Already, Obama and McCain Map Fall Strategies":
Both sides say the states clearly in play now include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Update: For the record, I don't agree with the quote.This is all part of the pre-election Kabuki theater ritual. The opposition said the same thing in 2004. Regarding McCain's big ticket fundraiser in Bellevue on Tuesday, Monday's Seattle P-I says
According to a Web site for the Bellevue event, the joint fundraising committee that organized it consists of the McCain presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Republican parties of Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin.
Thanks for stopping by, John!

Happy Mother's Day, 2008 (Updated)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Vote for Darcy Burner Today

Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund has a list of 10 strong House challengers, among them our very own Darcy Burner from the 8th Congressional District, who are competing to receive a $5000 check for their campaign from the PPF. Whoever has the most votes by 5pm CDT on May 14 (next Wednesday) is the winner.

This is where you come in. Darcy needs your vote to win this contest. Consider it a warm-up for the November election, a chance to practice voting. The best part is, even if you don't live in the 8th Congressional District, you can vote too. So even if your member of Congress is a good Democrat, go vote for Darcy Burner and help Washington's 8th Congressional District elect a good Democrat. And if you're from the Northwest, and your state isn't represented among the challengers, how about helping out a neighbor by voting for Darcy?

As of this post, Darcy is in fifth place, but not all that far out of first. So go vote for Darcy Burner today, and please encourage all of your friends, family, and co-workers to vote for Darcy too. Consider the $5000 from the Progressive Patriots Fund a nice downpayment on Dave Reichert's retirement, and a brighter Democratic future for all of us.

"Three Things to Watch for in Politics Today" (video)

Mark Halperin's PageCast, video (00:46).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Goldmark: End abuse of public lands

Earlier this week, Lands Commissioner candidate Peter Goldmark unveiled a dramatic visual showing the tremendous damage that can be caused through the complete mismanagement of our forests:

Destroyed Lewis County hillside
Photo courtesy of Peter Goldmark for Lands Commissioner

The particular image above shows an area in Lewis County that was damaged in last winter's devastating floods. Notice the line of trees that mark the boundary where the healthy hillside ends and the destroyed part begins. It's scenes like this that remind the candidate why he's running for office. As Peter explains:
Under the direction of the incumbent [Republican Doug Sutherland], agency personnel acted against state rules designed to balance harvest goals with protecting property, public safety, and our natural resources.

How much more damage will be caused in the next four years?

How many more of our neighbors will be made vulnerable?


Once elected, I will enforce the existing state rules written to protect our neighbors' homes, property and safety. It is critical that Washington voters elect a Lands Commissioner with a commitment to long-term sustainability-for school revenues, jobs, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and ecological protection.
Many people forget that the executive branch of Washington State is managed by several different elected officials - not just the Governor. The Governor is the leader with the highest profile, of course, but Chris Gregoire shares executive authority with several other people. They are:
  • Republican Rob McKenna, Attorney General (opposed by John Ladenburg)
  • Republican Sam Reed, Secretary of State
  • Democrat Brian Sonntag, State Auditor
  • Democrat Mike Murphy, State Treasurer (Jim McIntire wants to succeed him)
  • Democrat Mike Kreidler, Insurance Commissioner
  • Terry Bergeson, Superintendent of Public Instruction (nonpartisan office)
Finally, there's the Commissioner of Public Lands. The incumbent is Doug Sutherland, a Republican who is at the beck and call of the timber industry and other special interests.

The office of Lands Commissioner is an incredibly important and powerful position. It's not advisory - the Lands Commissioner directly manages the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) a huge division of the state government DNR is responsible for overseeing over 5.5 million acres of state forests, aquatic resources, wilderness, and agricultural lands. That's an astonishing 8,593.75 square miles - more than eight times the size of Rhode Island! In addition, DNR's biennial budget is approximately $400 million dollars. That means in four years (the length of one term of office) DNR spends close to $1 billion dollars - a huge amount of money.

Among DNR's many subdivisions are the state's largest fire department, which fights forest fires, and the geology & earth resources service, which regulates surface mine and metal mine reclamation, oil and gas drilling, gas storage, geothermal drilling, and underground fluids injection. DNR also has authority over state trust lands, which generate revenues that are used to pay school and university construction costs.

DNR's primary objective is supposed to be environmental protection. Unfortunately, under Sutherland, "caring for your natural resources" is merely a slogan and a public relations front, because Sutherland answers to his very good friends at Glacier Northwest (a subsidiary of Taiheyo Cement), Forest Capital Partners of Boston, Massachusetts, Sierra Pacific Industries of California, Bennett Lumber Products of Idaho, Plum Creek Timber Company of Montana, and many others, including Weyerhaeuser, the BIAW, the Realtors, and the Asphalt Paving Association in-state. All have previously contributed to Sutherland's campaign coffers, and all are deeply interested in affecting DNR's policies.

We have a choice this November between a member of the good ol' boys club and an honest environmental steward who respects the land and values our common wealth. Peter Goldmark is a lifelong Okanogan rancher, a longtime rural school board member, a former regent of Washington State University, and former Director of Agriculture who will bring incredible experience and wisdom to the Department of Natural Resources as Lands Commissioner.

Peter understands Washington, both East and West, and can be counted upon to ensure that DNR truly carries out its mission and serves the people of Washington State...not massive corporations who stand to profit from abuse of our public lands.

Two Reports on Obama in Oregon Today

Barack Obama and Peter DeFazio in Oregon today

"Obama Extends an Olive Branch Toward Clinton" (The Trail, WaPo's political blog):
WOODBURN, Ore. -- Even as Hillary Clinton continued to campaign against him, criticizing his health care plan, Barack Obama took another step this afternoon toward extending an olive branch toward her so that she could "feel good" about the outcome of a Democratic nominating process that his campaign hopes to soon bring to an orderly and amicable close.

Asked by a reporter during a stop at a Mexican restaurant here whether he would be willing to use his huge war chest to help Clinton retire her campaign debts, as some have suggested, Obama demurred.
"That's not a conversation that we've had because our working assumption right now is that we're in the middle of a race," he said, seeking as he did at an earlier stop in Beaverton to avoid seeming as if he is presuming victory.

But, he added, "Historically after a campaign is done and you want to unify the party, particularly when you've had a strong opponent, you want to make sure you're putting that opponent in a strong position so that they can work to win an election in November. So, obviously, I would want to have a broad range of discussions with Senator Clinton about how I could make her feel good about the process and have her on the team moving forward."

Obama said he was "gratified" by his nine additional superdelegate endorsements today, which by some counts put him over the top in that department, but his celebration was muted. "Our focus has always been on the pledged delegates and just getting the American people to vote for us, and we think that, ultimately, that should be the strongest measure of who's the nominee," he said. "But if superdelegates also feel that we're going to be a strong candidate, then I'm very pleased with that."

He was more eager to answer a question about the crisis in Burma, where the military junta is resisting humanitarian efforts to help the cyclone-stricken country.

"I've been following this every day with a mixture of heartache and frustration," he said. "The international community has to put significant pressure on the government there to open up and get international aid in with no strings attached. This is a humanitarian disaster and it's very important that the Bush administration immediately starts working with China, which probably has more influence than anyone on the government in Myanmar."

But Obama stopped short of criticizing the Bush administration. "I have not yet had a conversation with Condi Rice or anyone in the State Department, so I don't want to characterize what they have or have not been doing ... But I can't think of a more important foreign policy initiative for us to take a lead on than assuring that -- in addition to the hundred thousand that have already died -- that we don't start seeing a cholera outbreak and several thousand more who die."

"Economics 101: Obama vs. McCain" (Salon):
In Oregon on Friday, Barack Obama delivered a short speech on the economy. His remarks were notable not because he debuted any fresh proposals (he didn't) but for the explicit pains the Senator from Illinois took to distinguish his economic platform from John McCain's -- as opposed to that other candidate still running for President, whose name escapes my memory, possibly because Obama did not mention it a single time during his speech.
A taste:
John McCain wants to continue George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; I want to give a tax cut to working people. I admired Senator McCain when he said he could not "in good conscience" support the Bush tax cuts. But now, as the Republican nominee, he's fully embraced them. He wants to give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest Americans who don't need them and didn't ask for them while working people are struggling. And for all his talk about fiscal responsibility, he's proposed $400 billion in tax cuts without any word about how he'll pay for him. That's exactly the kind of attitude that has shifted the burden on to the middle class, and mortgaged our children's future on a mountain of debt.
Obama also slagged McCain's gas tax holiday proposal, health care position, and support of the war in Iraq -- noting he would use the money saved from ending the war to invest "in our roads and bridges and ports. And I want to invest in millions of green jobs, so that we finally develop renewable energy, end our addiction to oil, bring those gas prices down, and save our planet in the bargain."

Good luck on getting those gas prices, down, Senator, because, if we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times -- if we want to save the planet, we need higher gas prices, not lower.

Whatever. Again, there wasn't much new to see here, except that, when he concluded with the observation, "there will be real differences on the ballot in November," you could almost feel a fresh breeze wafting through the campaign.
After a long winter and spring of mostly imaginary differences blown up into all-consuming conflagrations, the battle-decks appear to finally be clearing, in preparation for a struggle in which it really won't be that hard to choose sides, however bitter you might be about who is emerging as the most likely person to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America.
UPDATE (from Ben Smith):
Carrie Budoff Brown reports that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign distanced itself tonight from some harsh remarks from Congressman Pete DeFazio about Sen. John McCain at a town hall meeting in Albany, Ore.

DeFazio, an Oregon superdelegate who endorsed Obama today and introduced him at the event, went on an extended critique of McCain, saying voters could not "underestimate the threat that John McCain poses in this election to our future." DeFazio said McCain's Straight Talk Express should be called the "trojan horse express."

And then, DeFazio raised the Keating Five, a 1980s savings and loan scandal in which McCain was implicated. The Senate Ethics Committee later concluded that McCain used "poor judgment" in the matter.
"John McCain has already told us he doesn’t know much about economics," DeFazio told the crowd of 3,000. "He says we need less regulation. Hello? Wall Street, mortgage meltdown, Bear Stears, taxpayer bailout, Enron. But I guess maybe for a guy who was up to his neck in the Keating Five, and savings and loan scandal, less regulation is better for his friends. No, that is not good for the American people."

The comment received only scattered applause. Obama did not make mention of the comment when he took the microphone a few minutes later.

After the event, Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki suggested in a statement that the Keating Five would not reemerge as an issue -- at least not from the campaign.

"There is more than enough space between Barack Obama and John McCain on the issues, whether it is tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans or a timeline for bringing our troops home, and that is where we will focus our campaign," Psaki said.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"CNN: Barack on foreign policy" (video)

Barack Obama was on CNN's "The Situation Room" video, (02:24) to counterpunch against McCain's remarks about his position on Hamas.

Update: On the domestic front, E.J. Dionne looks at the recent Congressional election in Louisiana and concludes
That the Obama link did not bring down Cazayoux in a district that voted 59 percent for George W. Bush in 2004 will help reassure Democratic superdelegates from Republican-leaning districts that they can live with Obama at the top of their party’s ticket.

A word about netroots infrastructure

I want to take a moment to thank all the friends and supporters of this organization who have purchased a ticket to our exciting Spring Fundraising Gala, now just eight days away, and ask those of you who have not to consider doing so now.

Strengthening the progressive movement, building a better Democratic Party, and advancing the common good is no small challenge. It is a daunting task - a task that will be made much easier if we invest in the infrastructure we need to catch up with the right wing. For forty years, conservatives have spent billions of dollars building top notch think tanks, a noise machine, a leadership pipeline, and voter mobilization networks to promote their ideas and win elections.

Their stunning success is evident today. Just look at the occupation of Iraq, and ask yourself...how is it that we have managed to spend such a colossal amount of money and resources there?

How is it that the Bush administration and its allies have been able to pressure a Democratic majority into writing checks to sustain this disastrous quagmire that has claimed the lives of over four thousand brave Americans?

Why is it that we can't invest even a little money in pursuing the development of renewable energy sources, or making our schools better, or working on any number of truly important priorities?

The answer is that the conservatives have laid the groundwork that supports their candidates, their ideas, and their policy directions...and we have not.

We have our interest groups, but they are narrowly focused on disparate issues, and only infrequently collaborating or looking at the big picture.

We could be addressing the climate crisis, and poverty, and terrorism, and countless other challenges, if we restored our common wealth and began using it wisely. But we can't truly do that until we help elected leaders, policymakers, the traditional media, and fellow Americans realize what the common wealth is and why it's important. We've forgotten because the right wing has reframed the discussion and focused it on taxes.

Instead of a conversation about the benefits of us collectively pooling our resources, we're always having a conversation about how much we individually pay and whether we are getting our money's worth.

If we want to change the conversation, an investment will be needed.

We're not going to be able to make much progress until we have ideas that resonate and a way to communicate those ideas to as many people as possible. And idea development requires infrastructure, or more specifically, idea factories like the Northwest Progressive Institute: year round operations that are always planning long term and working to build a progressive future.

As Dave Johnson of the Commonweal Institute has explained:
Progressive candidates, on the other hand, are generally on their own, starting from scratch for each election. Their general campaign begins in the late summer or fall, they have to decide what "issues" to run on, they have to develop a message from scratch, by themselves, and then they have to reach their voters from scratch. And they have to do all of this on their own in just a few months. No wonder conservatives, even with their awful "you're on your own" philosophy, have managed to do so well and gain so much traction.

This is why building up a national progressive advocacy infrastructure would leverage all of those campaign donations and help us build a sustainable progressive majority. A few dollars to progressive advocacy organizations on any given TODAY builds long-term support for every progressive candidate on any given TOMORROW. It provides leverage -- lowering the need for massive election-cycle funding.

The demise of Rockridge Institute demonstrates that the Democratic Party donor base hasn't yet gotten that message. Instead, masses of money have to be raised for candidates at the very last minute -- for example a million dollars in one minute, the day before the big Pennsylvania primary. And almost all of that money will just literally go up in the air to pay for TV ads that leave nothing behind to show for the money. They don't build the brand, they don't tell people about the benefits of progressive ideas, they don't help other candidates.
In particular, netroots infrastructure is important, because we can accomplish a lot even though we don't have the enormous financial resources that the right wing's institutions have. In other words, a little goes a long way.

We can't grow and become more effective without your help. We need to be able to pay the bills, develop new tools to help us reach more people, conduct research, and compensate our hardest working staff for their efforts.

As much as we'd like to work for free, we can't feed ourselves and pay the mortgage with just kind words of encouragement.

As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Help us ensure the Northwest Progressive Institute's future is bright. Join us for our spring fundraising gala a week from tomorrow. Learn about what we're doing, hear from some truly terrific speakers, and enjoy a delicious buffet with live jazz music. Tickets may be purchased online to your left on the sidebar for $60.

We are also offering two important discounts - a household ticket gets an entire family in for $90, and students or low income families are welcome for $20 (please contact us to receive this discount).

Thanks again for your support from all of us at NPI.

Representative Rick Larsen for Obama

The superdelegate score in Washington State just got more even:
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., on Thursday became the third member of Washington's congressional delegation to endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The no-holds-barred campaign leading up to the North Carolina and Indiana primaries showed that Obama is "tough and resilient," that he can "take a punch," and yet successfully deliver his message to the American people, said the four-term congressman from northwest Washington.
"Tuesday was a game-changer even though Obama didn't win both states," Larsen said.
Larsen joins Reps. Adam Smith and Brian Baird, D-Wash., in the Obama camp. Smith has chaired the Illinois senator's campaign. Gov. Christine Gregoire has also endorsed Obama.
Endorsers of Hillary Clinton in Washington State include Representative Jay Inslee, Ron Sims, and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, all of them superdelegates. It doesn't appear that any of them are going to change, although Cantwell, Murray, and Inslee have all hinted they will have no trouble happily supporting Barack Obama if he is the nominee.

"Obama's got a confident new strategy"

"Scott Olson / Getty Images-Barack Obama visits Bethlehem Brew Works in Pennsylvania last month. Although he isn’t the Democratic nominee, he will begin acting as if he is, his aides say, and may revisit the state and others that are considered important in the general contest."
LA Times:
Aides say that with a solid lead and a big win in North Carolina, he's ready to act like the de facto nominee. Barack Obama hasn't managed after months of political combat to force Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the presidential race, so he's about to try another approach: ignoring her.
Confident that he has built a near-impregnable lead, his campaign aides said Wednesday that Obama would begin shifting his focus toward the general election.

Obama still plans to campaign in states that remain on the primary calendar -- he is to appear in Oregon over the weekend -- but he may also start showing up in states that are considered important in the November contest: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. (All three have held their Democratic primaries.)

With Clinton's hopes of capturing the Democratic nomination dimming, Obama needs to prepare for the prospect of a general election matchup with the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, aides said.

"Everyone is eager to get on with this," said David Axelrod, the Obama campaign's lead strategist.

"We've got to multi-task here . . . Sen. McCain has basically run free for some time now," Axelrod added.

Clinton's campaign cast Obama's strategy as a show of hubris. Clinton has given no signal she is dropping out of the race after Tuesday's split results, when she lost decisively in North Carolina and won narrowly in Indiana.

Showing she still believes she can win, the New York senator hastily arranged a campaign stop Wednesday in West Virginia, which will hold its primary Tuesday. "We've seen the perils of saying 'mission accomplished' too early," said Phil Singer, a Clinton campaign spokesman.

The phrase "mission accomplished" was famously displayed on an aircraft carrier in 2003, when President Bush came aboard and declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.

Obama's pivot reflects a hardening belief in his camp that there are few realistic scenarios under which Clinton can capture the nomination. Because neither Obama nor Clinton ran away with the Democratic race, party insiders known as superdelegates are likely to be the ones to decide who will win.

Even when Obama was embarrassed by the furor over explosive remarks made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., superdelegates were still breaking for the Illinois senator at a healthy clip, campaign aides said. So they are confident Clinton won't reverse the trend.

What Obama is planning has a dual motive, some Democratic strategists say. Apart from pressuring McCain, Obama may want to rebut the argument that he has faltered in large swing states. By campaigning in those states, he can demonstrate to nervous superdelegates that he will compete aggressively against McCain.

"There's a certain cleverness in the strategy," said Peter Fenn, a Democratic strategist not aligned with either campaign, who says Obama is saying, " 'I can prove to everybody I can handle John McCain' -- which is of course about the only argument that Hillary Clinton has left in this."

Obama already devotes considerable time to McCain at his rallies. Before the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, there were moments when Clinton seemed an afterthought in contrast to the time Obama spent criticizing McCain.

As Obama begins acting like the de facto nominee, Clinton is giving no quarter. Her campaign said she wouldn't settle for anything less than the top job.

Harold M. Ickes, a top advisor to Clinton, said in an interview that the second spot on the ticket had no allure. He cited her election-night party Tuesday, when Clinton said she was moving "full speed on to the White House."

Ickes: "She meant the Oval Office, not the office down the hall."

Meanwhile, Dwight Pelz has a special event planned for John McCain's visit to Washington state next week.

In Brief - May 8, 2008

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Obama shows he can go the distance on long, dirty trail"

Joel Connelly (Seattle P-I):
Sen. Barack Obama has repeatedly failed to come up with a sprint finish to put Hillary Clinton away, but proved Tuesday night that he is a distance runner who can win on a muddy track.
With a big victory in North Carolina, Obama set to rest cable TV pundits' clichés that he was exhausted, reeling from his ex-minister's 15 minutes of fame, and that Clinton's gas tax gimmick and negative television ads would carry the day.

Even as Clinton fought to eke out a narrow win in Indiana, a top strategist in Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign was pronouncing the Democratic nomination race in Obama's favor.

"It's over," said Frank Greer, who lives in Seattle. "It's time for her to step aside, get on with uniting the party and defeating John McCain. ... After tonight, I think they (Bill and Hillary) will do a sober assessment of where they stand. I really don't think they want to be seen as destructive forces to the party."

Greer was one of the first prominent "Friends of Bill" to back Obama over Hillary Clinton. The more recent converts have included two former Clinton Cabinet secretaries, Bill Richardson and Robert Reich, and Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign manager, David Wilhelm.

Seattle political consultant Cathy Allen, a Clinton supporter, said the contest will go on, but acknowledged that opportunities for her candidate to win it are few and far between.

"Unfortunately, we don't have much choice in the Hillary camp, but prospects in parts of Oregon look good," Allen said.

Oregon and Kentucky will hold primaries May 20. Another Northwest state, Montana, will help wind up the primary season June 3.

The Pacific Northwest has been Obama country. The Illinois senator drew 17,000 people, with 3,000 more unable to get in, at a precaucus rally at KeyArena. A crowd of more than 14,000 turned out to hear him at Boise State, causing Obama to say he didn't know there were that many Democrats in Idaho.

A SurveyUSA today poll, released late last week, put Obama ahead of Clinton by a 51-39 margin in Oregon.

Oregon was once a key stop en route to the White House.

A group of Grants Pass businessmen calling themselves The Cavemen loved to dress up like the Flintstones and pose with stuffy candidates such as New York Gov. Tom Dewey. In 1968, Sen. Eugene McCarthy upset Bobby Kennedy, the first defeat for a member of the Kennedy family in 27 elections.

"There is an elitism about Oregon that makes me nervous about Hillary's prospects," Allen said Tuesday night.

She added, however, that the Beaver State has a lower per capita income, "higher appreciation of the environment" and a greater blue-collar work force than Washington -- factors that might favor Clinton.

Choose your metaphor, Barack Obama showed last night that he could run on a muddy track, and campaign through a media firestorm with minimal burns.

He had a "tough two weeks," Greer acknowledged last night. The candidate's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, resurfaced with race-laden, off-the-wall remarks. Obama was tripped up by his own words at a San Francisco fundraiser, saying that residents in hard-pressed manufacturing towns were "bitter" and hence found solace in guns and fundamentalism.

The Clinton campaign made common cause with an old adversary -- the right-wing Fox News Channel -- to fan the flames of the Wright controversy. Clinton went on "The O'Reilly Factor." Ex-Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe became a virtual pitchman for the network.

Hillary's heavies were still sowing doubts Tuesday.

"We don't know enough about Senator Obama yet: We don't need an October surprise, and (the chance of) an October surprise with Hillary is remote," said former White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes.

Obama has, however, shown he is a candidate who keeps his cool at all times. He has counterpunched rather than thrown sucker punches.

The counterpunching paid off Tuesday night.

Clinton's gimmick promise of a "moratorium" in the 18 cent-a-gallon federal gas tax did not lay down rubber for her campaign. The Obama campaign coolly ran TV spots listing Hillary supporters who opposed the moratorium: The top two names on the list were Washington's Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Clinton said early Tuesday that North Carolina stood to be a "game changer" in the race. "The entire country -- probably even a lot of the world -- is looking at what North Carolina decides," she told a rally.

When the votes were counted, however, she lost the Tarheel State by a 200,000-vote, 14-point margin.

Obama was able to do a little gracious gloating. "Today, what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.," he told cheering backers.

"We've seen that the American people aren't looking for more spin and more gimmicks, but honest answers about the challenges we face," Obama declared.

Hope he's right.

After 20 years of nastiness, it's high time a presidential election featured some appeal to the better angels of our nature. Then, too, John McCain has made straight talk his political definition.
If there was a post-graduate Institute for the Study of Pacific Northwest Progressive Politics, Professor Connelly would be its Dean. He does his own homework and he expects you to do the same. He is also a tough grader, so consider his report card carefully.

In Brief - May 7, 2008

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

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Where We Stand At The End of the Night

Senator Clinton has won a slim victory in Indiana this evening.

Here are the CNN numbers for Indiana, with 99% of the precincts reporting:
Clinton 638,274 - 51%
Obama 615,862 - 49%
The media narrative for much of the night has been that the contest for the Democratic nomination is over, and at least one Democratic Party ally is calling Obama the nominee.

Hillary Clinton has cancelled television morning show appearances for tomorrow and other public events, save for a fundraiser later in the day (which will presumably be needed to pay off some campaign debt).

Indiana Update - Obama Could Win

Despite the speeches tonight, Barack Obama congratulating Hillary Clinton on her in in Indiana, the results from Lake County (where the Obama stronghold of Gary is located) have yet to come in. And now, Mayor Rudy Clay, an Obama supporter, is optimistic that the results will be enough for Obama to pull out a win in Indiana.
As the fate of a nailbiter Indiana primary -- and possibly the course of the Democratic race -- hung on his city, Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said just now that it might take a while yet to finish counting the vote in Lake County, which includes Gary, and said tonight his city had turned out so overwhelmingly for Barack Obama that it might just be enough to close the gap with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Let me tell you, when all the votes are counted, when Gary comes in, I think you're looking at something for the world to see," Clay, an Obama supporter, said in a telephone interview from Obama's Gary headquarters. "I don't know what the numbers are yet, but Gary has absolutely produced in large numbers for Obama here."

While it's still too early to say whether or not Mayor Clay's info is correct, MSNBC's Chuck Todd reacted to this story by noting that Mayor Clay sounds like a guy who knows he's got the votes.

Barack Obama's Remarks From North Carolina

You can read the full text here.

You know, some were saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election. But today, what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, DC.

I want to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on her victory in the state of Indiana. And I want to thank the people of North Carolina for giving us a victory in a big state, a swing state, and a state where we will compete to win if I am the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

When this campaign began, Washington didn't give us much of a chance. But because you came out in the bitter cold, and knocked on doors, and enlisted your friends and neighbors in this cause; because you stood up to the cynics, and the doubters, and the nay-sayers when we were up and when we were down; because you still believe that this is our moment, and our time, for change – tonight we stand less than two hundred delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

While speaking with the confidence of someone on the brink of being his party's Presidential nominee, Obama offered words to unify the Democratic Party, and to go on offense against Senator John McCain. But what struck me about the speech was this comment, which shows that we, the People, truly have the power:
But ultimately, this race is not about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John McCain. This election is about you – the American people – and whether we will have a president and a party that can lead us toward a brighter future.
After eight long years, Barack Obama is returning our government to its rightful owners.

Obama Wins North Carolina, Closing in Indiana

CNN and other media outlets are reporting that Senator Barack Obama has handily won North Carolina, and is closing the gap on Senator Hillary Clinton in Indiana.
North Carolina (with 32% reporting)

Obama - 425, 701 59%
Clinton - 276,705 39%
Indiana (with 68% reporting)

Clinton - 444,679 53%
Obama - 395,243 47%
It's important to note that for much of the evening in Indiana, Obama was trailing by 12%, but in the last hour, as votes have started coming from more of the urban areas in he's cut the deficit in half. As of this post, though, no votes have been reported from Lake County, where the city of Gary, an Obama stronghold, is located. Look for Obama's cut further into Clinton's lead.

Update: MSNBC has reported that Lake County precincts remain open and results won't be reported before midnight Eastern, 9pm Pacific.

"Democrat Party Chief Accuses Republicans of 'Race-Baiting'"

Crosswalk:
Howard Dean, the head of the Democratic National Committee, says Republicans are race-baiting when they bring up Sen. Barack Obama's long-time pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Dean refused to discuss Wright: "I think we've spent enough time on Reverend Wright," he told Chris Wallace.
Pressed on how the Wright's controversial comments might affect Democrats in local races across the nation, Dean said that Republicans for the last 30 years have used race-baiting, hate and divisiveness in an attempt to win elections. "In 2006, the American people said no to that, and I think they're going to say no to that in 2008," Dean said.

Dean said the American people "are tired of the divisiveness of what the Republicans have done to them, and that's why the Republicans are in trouble, deep trouble."

"Governor, are you suggesting that bringing up Jeremiah Wright is race baiting, and hate and divisive?" Chris Wallace asked.

"Yeah, I am suggesting that kind of stuff," Dean responded. "I think when you start bringing up candidates that have nothing to do with the issue -- when you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that's race baiting, and that's exactly what it is, just like Willie Horton was race baiting so many years ago.

"I think we're going to...turn the page on this stuff. I tell you, you know, there's a lot of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on issues, but the biggest issue of all is we don't use this kind of stuff. We never have used this kind of stuff, and we're not going to start now."

Dean brushed aside a reminder that Obama himself said last week that Wright was a legitimate political issue.

"Well, he (Obama) can say whatever he wants. I'm going to say whatever I want. I'm not getting into Reverend Wright. He's caused enough trouble for our country over the last several weeks."

Dean said the American people want a united country: "For the first time in 30 years, they want us to stop hating each other. They want us to work together. And I think that's what the issue is. That's what our message is going to be. And we're not going to get into all this stuff about divisive figures. We're just not going to do it."

As of Monday, Obama was still taking questions about Jeremiah Wright. On "Fox Friends," Obama repeated that the Rev. Wright doesn't speak for him.

On NBC's "Today" show, Obama explained he didn't disown Wright at first, because no one should be defined by a few "snippets taken over the course of a number of years." Obama said he wanted to give the Rev. Wright an opportunity to explain his comments -- and to recognize that he had offended the American people.

"And he chose instead to amplify and become even more aggressive...and that indicated to me that he wasn't maybe the person I thought he was, and I thought it was very important to make sure that people were absolutely clear that those weren't the things I stood for."

NBC's Matt Lauer asked Obama if the Wright issue goes to a larger question about Obama's judgment. Obama responded that everyone has soneone in their lives who has disappointed them. Obama said he should be judged by what he's done. And he said he's "always been about bringing people together, not dividing them."

Wright has made a number of controversial statements over the years. He suggested that the 9/11 terror attacks were America's foreign policy "chickens coming home to roost," and that the U.S. government may have manufactured the AIDS virus as a way of committing genocide against blacks.

Dems appearing on Fox programs

On "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace asked Dean why high-profile Democrats are suddenly appearing on Fox New programs. Obama appeared on "Fox News Sunday" last week, Hillary Clinton was on Bill O'Reilly's show last week, and Howard Dean appeared on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday.

"We stayed off Fox for a long time because your news department is, in fact, biased," Dean said.

"And we need to communicate with people who are going to vote in the Democratic Party," Dean admitted. "Hundreds of thousands of Republicans have turned their back on their own party to vote in the Democratic primaries in the last six months.

"We owe it to...all the American people to reach out to those folks. This is not about Fox News. That's not why I'm here today. I'm out because I want to talk to your viewers directly about why this election is important and what we can offer the American people."
Amen Chairman Dean! Thank God it didn't work this time: "Obama" Candidate Wins that Louisiana Special Election."

Monday, May 5, 2008

John McCain Gets By With A Little Help From His Friends

If you've heard any speech John McCain has given, you'll know that he seems to have a lot of friends. Everywhere he goes, Senator McCain is constantly referring to "my friends" as he addresses the audience.

It seems that John may have forgotten to submit a statement for the Oregon voter's pamphlet for the state's upcoming primary, so his friends at the Democratic Party of Oregon kindly provided one for him. After all, what are friends for?

Economists Are Elitist Too

Hillary Clinton thinks economists are elitist, after 230 economists of varied political persuasions and backgrounds released a letter opposing Clinton's plan to suspend the gas tax.
"I’m not going to put my lot in with economists," she said on the "This Week" town hall. Clinton added that the tax holiday would work "if we actually did it right."

[...]

Later, she attacked "this mindset where elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans.
With the Clinton campaign, you're either for them or you don't matter. It started with dismissing caucus states (and activists and African-American voters), and moved on to trying to disenfranchise voters in Nevada, President Clinton demonizing young voters, and continued with each successive primary loss to Barack Obama.

230 leading experts on economic issues find your gas tax holiday proposal wanting and the best you can do is call them elitist? It's official: the Clintons have no shame and have officially left the reality-based community.

P-I's Connelly to Fox's Bill O'Reilly: "Apologize or shut up!"

The Pacific Northwest's senior political writer, Joel Connelly, has an excellent post up at Strange Bedfellows admonishing Fox Noise host Bill O'Reilly for unfairly attacking the Seattle Post-Intelligencer after it refused to circulate photos of "suspicious ferry passengers" last fall:
O'Reilly sent out an aspiring slayer of straw men, his producer Jesse Walters, to conduct an ambush interview with P-I publisher Roger Oglesby, outside the latter's Seattle home.
"Are you proud of that decision, sir? I mean, they still haven't found those guys," Walters sneered at Oglesby. A few moments later, Walters said the two men were "still on the loose."
On the loose? No crime was committed. No illegal act by the two men was ever alleged or attributed. No effort to sabotage Washington's marine highway was ever found.

The two men were identified and photographed by a fellow passenger for a simple reason: They looked Middle Eastern.

Should a newspaper --in a free country, proud of its history as a melting pot - be stereotyping people as "suspicious" by the pigment of their skin?

Well, the story has a predictable end. The FBI disclosed Monday that the two men came in from the cold, as it were, by visiting a U.S. embassy recently. They were European business consultants on a Seattle trip.
"It appears they were in the area for legitimate reasons," reported the FBI.
We are an international city. At least a quarter of Washington's jobs depend on exporting goods to other countries. We naturally need to entertain buyers, even - and especially, say, in the case of Saudi Arabians buying jets - people whose skin looks like the two guys on the ferry.

O'Reilly ought to apologize, like right now.
He ought to, but he won't. Bill O'Reilly never apologizes for anything, let alone get his facts straight in the first place. The "No Spin Zone" is as fine of a oxymoron as any I can think of.

O'Reilly treats everyone who doesn't agree with him like scum, which is typical of figures on the right wing. Strangely enough, he is so nasty and baseless that even fellow conservatives don't like him.

I remember O'Reilly came up in a conversation between myself and KVI's Kirby Wilbur back in 2005. I had just finished debating Tim Eyman about Initiative 900 on Kirby's show in the morning. Kirby had been broadcasting his show (and our debate) from a pancake house in Edmonds, and as his team packed up the equipment and prepared to leave, we got to talking about the Fox host.

I expressed my disgust at O'Reilly's delusion and obscene treatment of his on-air guests, and was surprised to hear Kirby and his KVI crew agree with my point of view as we walked out into the parking lot.

I've never forgotten that memorable exchange. But it just goes to show that being mean-spirited and uncompromising has its consequences. It's easy for me to hold Bill O'Reilly in contempt for his disgusting behavior and lack of professionalism. But it's also easy for me to respect those in the right wing who care about having a discussion with the other side...and not waging a "culture war".

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Obama-Clinton ticket: "an unthinkable thought"?

Andrew Sullivan makes the case
Very few people in Washington believe that Barack Obama can now be denied the Democratic nomination. Even after the past month, as Hillary Clinton has hung in there, as the scandal about Jeremiah Wright (Obama's firebrand cleric) scandal has battered the post-racial Obama brand, and as white Reagan Democrats have proven resistant to a new young black freshman senator, Obama has actually increased his number of delegates. Clinton simply cannot overcome the edge he built up in February and March, however cruel his April turned out to be. And the superdelegates — who will ultimately decide -- have also been slowly trending his way.
So why a Clinton on the ticket as veep?
And the raw truth is: Clinton's victories in Ohio and Pennsylvania and persistence in states such as North Carolina and Indiana, which vote this Tuesday, have kept Obama from closing the deal definitively. Worse: the demographics seem to be hardening into a difficult dynamic for him. White working-class women — crucial to Democratic marginal states — remain resistant to his charms. Hispanics are also iffier than they should be. Somehow, the Clintons' brutal assault on his brand, aided and abetted by conservative media outlets, such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, have managed to dent this unifier a little.
(snip)
The conservative white voters that Clinton has amazingly managed to attract could be combined with the massive infusion of new young votes, internet money, and African-American enthusiasm to create a potential tsunami in the election. Instead of having to pick between the first black president and the first woman president, the Democrats could offer voters both: the first black president and first female vice-president. Worries about Obama's relative youth and lack of Washington experience would be allayed by the presence of the Clintons. The toxicity of the Clinton baggage could be balanced by the hope Obama has inspired.

The Clintons could be deployed to shore up support in some of the Reagan Democrat states, while Obama wins over enough independents to carry the Mountain West and the upper Midwest. California, Ohio, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania could be secured.
On the other hand
They hate each other. Over this campaign, Obama's supporters, along with many others, have been taken aback by the raw, unprincipled bare-knuckle politics that the Clintons have unleashed against the greatest talent to emerge in national politics since Bill Clinton himself. Moreover, the core appeal of Obama has been that he isn't a Clinton; he hasn't capitulated to the zero-sum politics of Karl Rove, George W Bush's mastermind. His outreach to new and young and non-Democratic voters has been premised on an end to the kind of politics the Clintons represent. When I raised the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket on my blog last week, Obama-supporting readers were outraged and offended.
The vision
Remember Kennedy-Johnson? They too loathed each other and cast extremely different shadows in American public life. But Kennedy put Johnson on his ticket in order to achieve exactly what Obama needs to achieve now: bringing more conservative, practically-minded voters into his camp. There are other figures who could do this for Obama — most obviously, the anti-war Reagan Democrat senator Jim Webb from Virginia. Webb also neutralizes McCain's veteran appeal to heartland voters. And Webb has a tough campaigning streak as well.But the hard reality is that the Democratic party is deeply divided and Webb cannot bring the losing faction with him.

The Clinton dynasty has lost to the new pretender, but it hasn't been defeated in one fell swoop. Dynasties rarely are. The old guard also has enough clout and enough support to threaten Obama with considerable collateral damage — if it wants to — and that's the message it is now clearly sending.

The old political adage that you should keep your friends close but your enemies closer therefore seems appropriate.
The meta argument
I hesitate to propose this, but I do think it is now worth actively considering for the first time in this campaign. The test of a president is his ability to recognise his own weaknesses and adjust to them. If he can do that while strengthening his core message, and make his own election close to unstoppable, what would hold him back?
I remain a skeptic about this proposal, but if we are really going to talk to our external "competitors" on the world stage, relying on uniting around shared goals, it would follow logically (of course, naked politics is never entirely logical) that we would follow the same course inside our shores. Perhaps Sullivan has taken the "Audacity of Hope" to its natural conclusion.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lisa loves Mickey, Minnie, and Donald, but she is pissed at Disney!


Lisa Koperski lives in Seattle now, but she grew up in Southern California just miles from Disneyland. She tells me she has always enjoyed going to Disney theme parks and what Disney ostensibly represents – family values, humor and levity, a world of imagination and hope, and childish exuberance. She spent many a summers’ night watching Disneyland fireworks from her parents’ house when she was growing up and went to Disneyland more times than she can count as a child. That love for all-things-Disney has continued into her adulthood.

But recent events have changed these feelings. She says now that she has chosen to boycott Disney as a result of ABC News’ "horrid" moderation of the debate and the persistent and flagrant attempt by ABC and, by extension, its parent company, Disney, to inject itself into the 2008 presidential race. Like millions of Americans, Lisa says she was disgusted by the “yellow journalism” by George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson that was supposed to be a debate. Few real issues were discussed and instead the “debate” focused on “gotcha” moments that were clearly aimed primarily at only one of the presidential candidates, Barack Obama.

Now, rather than correct their pretty obvious political bias, Lisa feels ABC News has continued its promotion of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy by granting her free air-time on its station for a ”Townhall” that again George Stephanopoulos is involved in. This “Townhall” is scheduled to air on ABC, tomorrow, Sunday, May 4th. Lisa believes this is a "blatant disregard for journalistic integrity and Disney’s and ABC News’ complicit attempt to manipulate the outcome of the political race." Understandably,this has soured Lisa’s and, no doubt, millions of Americans view toward Disney and its subsidiaries (most notably, ABC News).

Lisa, like others, is saying “Hit them where it hurts - in the pocketbook”. Lisa tells me
Just like a child needs to learn to apologize and needs correction at times, Disney needs to apologize and correct its stance of biased journalism in order to regain the trust of millions of Disney-lovers like me. The question now is, how many other Americans are disgusted enough with the abuse by ABC News and Disney to distort the “free press” that they are willing to boycott Disney and ABC, and how will that affect Disney’s profits in future quarters?

If you are interested in getting involved in this boycott of ABC News and Disney, please go to "Demand for Apology from ABC News for their coverage of Democratic Debate on 4.16.2008." to add your name to the petition. Together, we can demonstrate our disdain for “yellow journalism” and show to Disney and ABC that we, the American people, are not going to put up with flagrantly biased political discourse anymore!
It's a long time until November. Enough time to send Disney-ABC a message about their need to be accountable to the public's interest in fair and professional coverage of our electoral process. Thanks Lisa, for your audacity and leadership. Yes We Can.

Obama: "Jefferson-Jackson Speech Highlights" (video)

nmeinzer, video (05:26):
Barack Obama's closing remarks in North Carolina (May 02, 2008).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

"No work at ports as longshore protests war"

Tacoma News Tribune:
More than 25,000 West Coast International Longshore and Warehouse workers, including many hundred in Tacoma, are taking a day off work today in protest of the war in Iraq.
May Day is traditionally a day to celebrate labor and workers’ rights.

Scott Mason, spokesman for Tacoma’s ILWU Local 23, said this morning that usually 200 to 300 dockworkers would be coming to work today. But instead four ships are waiting to be unloaded in the Port of Tacoma and the truck gates are quiet.

ILWU International President Bob McEllrath said the workers are “standing down on the job and standing up for America.”

“We’re supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq,” McEllrath said.

The protest doesn’t come as a surprise to longshore employers.

The union voted in February to stop work today in opposition of the war and made a request to the Pacific Maritime Association, the organization that represents terminal operators, stevedores and cargo carriers. The union’s contract allows for stop work meetings, with advance notice, though they usually occur during evening shifts. The PMA denied the request for a work stoppage during the day, typically the busiest hours for West Coast ports.

Some Tacoma longshore union members are headed to Seattle for anti-war events there. Others are staying in Tacoma for events scheduled for tonight.

The union plans to have workers available for the evening shift – which starts at 6 p.m. – to clear out the back log of cargo at the port.

“We will fill every job ordered,” Mason said. “Our job is to get ships in and out, but today we need to be getting those troops home.”
I don't see any coverage in the Seatte P-I but the Seattle Times did publish an AP story. For one day, at least, I feel like I'm living in a country with a politically engaged labor movement. H/t to Shaun.

Law Day

President Bush has declared today, May, 1, 2008 to be Law Day, U.S.A.
The right of ordinary men and women to determine their own future, protected by the rule of law, lies at the heart of America's founding principles.

[...]

The American legal system is central to protecting the rights and freedoms our Nation holds dear.
Ain't that rich?

He who has flagrantly disregarded the rule of law, gotten rid of the Constitutional protection of habeus corpus, wiretapped U.S. citizens without a warrant, and violated international law by approving of torture as a means of interrogation, has decided to declare a day of celebration for the law.

The real Dave Reichert

Is the tradional media finally seeing Congressman Dave Reichert for the contradictory Bush Administration rubber stamp that we in Washington know he is?

Politico, with an assist from Dan Kirkdorffer, makes the case that Reichert is not the biconceptual that he tries to portray.
It is a pattern. Many of his biconceptual or independent moves turn out to be pretty empty upon closer inspection.

In fact, Reichert has reversed his position on bills a whopping twenty five times this Congress. Why would a politician expose himself to charges that he was for a bill before he was against it?

According to an analysis of House procedure by local blogger Dan Kirkdorffer, Reichert often votes with Republicans on every procedural step for a bill, but if it is headed for passage anyway, he reverses himself on the final vote. The crass objective is to get credit from gullible reporters for backing some Democratic legislation.
Dan has been one of the loudest local voices debunking the myth that Do Nothin' Dave is a biconceptual, providing spot-on analysis on Reichert's votes. Goldy has also written a plethora of posts on Reichert's ineffectiveness and the myth of Sheriff Dave catching the Green River Killer. Now a national media outlet, Politico, is reporting on the real Dave Reichert.

The real question is: When will the Seattle media stop stroking this ineffective Congressman and recognize that Darcy Burner is the one providing true leadership with the Responsible Plan?

While taxpayer dollars are wasted paying a salary to a do-nothing Congressman, Darcy Burner is leading free of charge. Isn't it time the 8th Congressional District gets what it's paying for?

"TODAY exclusive: Obamas interviewed" (video)

MSNBC, video (07:42):
May 1: In an exclusive interview, Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, talk with TODAY's Meredith Vieira about his run for president and the very public split with their pastor.

In Brief - May 1, 2008

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