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

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gordon Smith: Discrimination against gays and lesbians is okay

Back in the days when it was socially acceptable to deny work and housing to certain ethnic or racial groups, immigrants and Americans were forced to deal with politicians who turned their backs on the plight of people who simply wanted to live and work and build a life for themselves and their families.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s. Enter Republican Gordon Smith.

In 1996 during a very heated and intense run for the U.S. Senate against Ron Wyden, Smith came clean on his position allowing for discrimination against gays and lesbians:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Smith said Friday that he believes it is okay in some circumstances to discriminate against homosexuals.

At a news conference at his campaign headquarters, Smith was asked whether it was all right for a landlord to refuse to rent an apartment to a gay person simply because the person is gay.

"There may be circumstances where someone for religious reasons would not want to "rent to a gay person" and I would not want to compel them to do so", Smith said.
The fact that someone running for office to represent all Oregonians (and yes, we have gays and lesbians in Oregon [PDF - see page 5]) would hold these views is astonishing, especially after all we've been through as a society.

Apparently for Gordon Smith in the nineties, not all men and women were created equal.

It's entirely possible that Gordon Smith no longer holds the view that it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against individuals based solely on their sexual orientation. Last week, I put in a call to Lindsay Gilbride, spokesperson for the Smith campaign. I also sent her two emails, asking for clarification on Smith's current position on this matter.

Neither my call or my emails were returned/answered.

So for now, this is what we have on the record: Gordon Smith thinks it is okay to deny you housing if you're gay.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Poll Watch: Washington "just barely" a battleground state

Polls (which we at NPI don't care much for) always vary, both in what they report and in the track record for what they predict.

Strategies 360 shows Obama with an eight point lead over McCain in Washington state (47-39), though other polls have shown stronger leads.

McCain is also running far ahead of the Republicans in general, since as many as 61% had a negative opinion of President Bush in the same survey. McCain scores 44/46 for positive/negative. Obama did well in Washington's caucuses, but needs to consolidate the Clinton bloc here. His positive/negative ratio was 54/37.

Margin of error for the poll was 2.75%.

Darryl has more analysis at Hominid Views
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Friday, July 4, 2008

The Declaration of Independence

Posted for your reading pleasure on this Fourth of July, 2008, a beautiful document. Never have the emphasized sections (in bold) below seemed so important. The Bush administration has savaged our traditions, ignored the law, stomped all over our widely held values, destroyed our respect abroad and damaged our well being at home. It has depleted the common wealth, imposed a crushing debt on our children, and squandered our natural resources.

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


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

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

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

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

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

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oregon Update: It still sucks to be a Republican

It's been a wild and wooly week in Oregon politics. Two rather prominent stories outlining more problems for Republicans were front and center.

First, GOP Oregon House candidate Jeff Duyck (rhymes with "pike") is being forced to drop his candidacy for District 29 because he doesn't live in the district. The move isn't without a lot of controversy. Duyck has been voting in the district for seven years and election officials had told him previously that he lived there. But as it turns out, Duyck's property is bisected by the district boundary line. His home and other structures on the property are on the District 26 side of the line.

Duyck can appeal the decision, but its unlikely he'll succeed. The Secretary of State's office has no choice under Oregon law. A person running for office must live in the district at least a year before running.

While this definitely sucks for Duyck, who followed the rules as he knew them to be, it highlights more ineptitude by the Oregon Republican Party. Jeff Duyck is one of their top recruits. The people in charge of running their House races should known Duyck's property was at the edge of the district and going over the maps with a fine-toothed comb.

The other big news this week is decision by the Oregon Supreme Court to affirm a lower court decision against racketeer Bill Sizemore.

The court ruled in favor of two teachers unions and upheld a $2.5 million judgement won against Sizemore in 2002.

It's not clear yet if Sizemore is personally liable for the judgement.

Bill Sizemore is Oregon's version of Tim Eyman, Sizemore is just way more blatant about skirting the law. And in this rather prominent case, shattering it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rossi inappopriately used Aquasox mailing list to boost campaign

The Rossi campaign is either getting really desperate or really careless in its hunt for donors to pump up the Republican's campaign war chest.

Recently, Rossi, who holds a tiny ownership stake in the Everett Aquasox, used his connection to the minor league ballclub to obtain thousands of fan email addresses. He then sent out an invitation to a fundraising event to benefit him in violation of the Aquasox' privacy policy.

Aquasox co-owner Tom Hoban, with whom Rossi also owns a 1.4 acre commercial property in Mill Creek worth upwards of $5.25 million, helped the campaign get access to the team's mailing list. After the e-mail blast became public, Rossi's spokeswoman Jill Strait suggested that Rossi had no knowledge of Hoban's activities and in addition, told the Everett Herald that the Dino Rossi fundraiser was "not a partisan event."

Yet Hoban took the stage right after Rossi at a "Campaign Kickoff Luncheon" last December, to solicit money and to reveal his scheme to use the baseball team to boost Rossi's gubernatorial bid.

Washington State Democrats say Rossi is using a front group to build donor lists, not to mention violating the privacy of thousands of baseball fans. As their spokesperson Kelly Steele pointed out: "After 8 years of deception and lies from George Bush, the last thing Washingtonians need is Bush Republican like Dino Rossi – who has now been caught in a bald-faced lie – in the governor’s mansion."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sonics moving to Oklahoma City

Say goodbye to the Seattle Sonics, if you haven't already. Tomorrow, they'll be on their way to Oklahoma City.

The City of Seattle and Sonics owner Clay Bennett (known as Professional Basketball Club LLC in court proceedings) came to a settlement prior to Judge Marsha Pechman's decision that was to have been issued at 4 p.m. today. The details are as follows:

The city of Seattle will be paid $45 million in exchange for letting the Seattle SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City this year as part of last-minute settlement announced this afternoon.

Sonics owner Clay Bennett would have to pay the city an additional $30 million in five years if the city is unable to secure another NBA team, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said.

Nickels said the NBA agreed that a renovated Key Arena would be suitable to support a new team. However, the mayor said the state Legislature must pass a funding bill next year to help pay for a renovation.
The Sonics name, history and presumably colors will remain in Seattle.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, continuing his efforts to extort solicit public funds for a new arena, issued this statement:
“We are pleased that the Sonics and the City of Seattle have settled their litigation. While the decision has been made to relocate the Sonics to Oklahoma City, the NBA continues to regard Seattle as a first-class NBA city that is capable of serving as home for another NBA team. In order for this to occur, a state-of-the-art NBA arena must be funded and constructed in the Seattle area, a subject that has been extensively debated -- but not ultimately acted upon -- by local political and business leaders over the past four years. We are pleased that the City remains committed to addressing this fundamental requirement for the return of NBA basketball to Seattle and we hope that other elected officials critical to a solution will support the City’s efforts.

“We understand that City, County, and State officials are currently discussing a plan to substantially re-build KeyArena for the sum of $300 million. If this funding were authorized, we believe KeyArena could properly be renovated into a facility that meets NBA standards relating to revenue generation, fan amenities, team facilities, and the like. Assuming the funding can be committed, the league is willing to work with the City on the design and construction of the rebuild to facilitate this result. Under these circumstances, if an opportunity arose in the future for an NBA team to be located in Seattle, we would support that team playing its home games in a re-built KeyArena, if it wished. However, given the lead times associated with any franchise acquisition or relocation and with a construction project as complex as a KeyArena renovation, authorization of the public funding needs to occur by the end of 2009 in order for there to be any chance for the NBA to return to Seattle within the next five years.

“We are pleased that Steve Ballmer has expressed the continuing willingness of his group, Seattle Center Investors, managed by Seattle developer Matt Griffin, to be a part of the solution for returning NBA basketball to Seattle. The NBA will keep SCI and the City informed if opportunities arise in the next five years for franchise sale, relocation and/or expansion. Under the circumstances outlined above, the NBA would be happy to return to the City of Seattle.”[emphasis mine]
Since all that's left of the Sonics is memories, here is David Stern back in 1995 waxing poetic about the renovated Key Arena.

Full disclosure - 2 points:

1. As a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Raiders (and Lakers too. I'm from L.A.), I'm familiar with teams leaving the big city for other locations. It hasn't been the end of the world for L.A. (though the NFL still hasn't returned), and that's because there are 2 professional baseball teams, 2 basketball teams, a hockey team, 2 Major League Soccer teams, a WNBA franchise and many other opportunities, not to mention my USC Trojan football team that probably could have beat the Miami Dolphins last year. In addition, with no local teams, there are no blackout issues and so more football can be watched on the television on Sunday, than could be watched with 2 hometown teams. Seattle also has other professional sports and entertainment, and this won't be the end of the world, though personally I hope the NBA does return to Seattle so I can take my kids to a game.

2. I am a staffer at the state Senate, and I have strong opinions about the issue of public funding and the way this whole situation with the Sonics has gone down. But I won't be expressing those thoughts here due to conflict of interest (real or perceived). My opinions as expressed on this blog are mine and are not necessarily representative of the Senator I work for.

HelpDarcy.com

Last night, we launched a website where you can leave messages of support for Darcy Burner and her family following the tragic fire that destroyed their Ames Lake home. We'll be placing comments on a message board that we'll give to Darcy thanking her for all she's done and encouraging her to keep doing.

HelpDarcy.com also features a photo repository so you can upload any pictures you have of Darcy, Mike, and Henry to replace the memories that went up in smoke (images are not displayed publicly, but will be given to the family).

Earlier this evening, Darcy issued a statement letting supporters know more about her situation and her plans. Here's the full text of the update.

After the fire that destroyed our home yesterday, Mike, Henry and I spent last night together at the home of close family friends in Redmond. For all of those who have been asking, thank you again for your expressions of concern.

Considering the circumstances, we are holding up well. I am particularly relieved to see that my son Henry seems to be fine this morning.

He has been playing with Bruce Wayne, our golden retriever, who miraculously survived the fire inside the house. This whole ordeal has reminded me once again of the importance of what really matters in life: family and friends.

Last night Mike and I have begun the long process of restoring what we have lost. I bought a new pair of glasses, and we visited the Value Village in Redmond to buy some clothes.

Mike and I are working on replacing our driver’s licenses, credit cards and other critical items that were lost in the fire.

We intend to rebuild our Ames Lake home, which thankfully was insured. For the next few weeks we will stay with friends while we secure longer-term accommodations to cover the period our house is being rebuilt, a process that may take up to a year.

Regarding my campaign, it will continue. Anyone who knows me also knows that I do not give up easily, and am certainly not going to give up now.

I am going to cancel my schedule through the end of this week as I spend time with my family and we work to get our lives back in order.

It will take a few weeks at least to deal with all the issues, but I expect to return to a limited campaign schedule sometime next week. We’ll play it by ear from there. In the interim, my campaign staff will continue their work, so please feel free to contact them if you have any thoughts or questions.

I again want to thank the first responders who dealt with the fire yesterday. They did a remarkable job, and I remain grateful for all that they do. For all those that have called to ask if they can offer financial and other assistance to us, know that we are going to be fine. If you would like to do something to help, let me again suggest a contribution to either your local humane society or animal shelter in memory of our cat, Charlotte, who did not survive the fire, or to the Washington State Council of Firefighters Benevolent Fund.

To all those who are reaching out, I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

Darcy is taking some time off from campaigning to rebuild her life, which means she won't be fundraising. This is where we come in.

Darcy has always been there for us, on all of the important fights that matter, FISA included. Now we can return the favor and keep her campaign going strong by collectively donating to her campaign.

That's what people powered politics is all about.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Darcy Burner's home destroyed by fire

As if there wasn't enough bad news in the world these days, we just learned that Darcy Burner's home was destroyed in a fire this morning.

Thankfully, she and her family are safe and unharmed.

KOMO News and Belo's Northwest Cable News have the story.

So far there is no information on what may have caused the fire. All we know is that the Darcy and Mike's son Henry was woken by the smoke sometime this morning and alerted the rest of the family.

Good job, Henry. We're proud of you.

My thoughts and those of all NPI staff are with the Burner family today. NPI will be happy to coordinate any offers of help or assistance that our readers wish to make. Please leave them in the comments. Thank you.

UPDATE, Andrew: At this time, origin of the fire is thought to be a lamp that shorted, but we will know more after fire investigators complete their report. It does not appear the fire was intentionally set by anyone, spokesman Sandeep Kaushik tells NPI. He's at the scene.

UPDATE II, Jason: Darcy and her family really have lost everything except each other - and us. We've heard from the Burner campaign that they're putting together a list of things that Darcy and her family need, so we can coordinate any offers of help that NPI readers make with that list.

Please, folks, it's hard enough running for Congress to give each and every one of us a better country to live in without also having to contend with having your home ripped out from under you. Let's all give what we can.

UPDATE III, Andrew: Readers, if you have photos of Darcy, Mike, and Hnery, please send the originals to feedback (at) nwprogressive (dot) org now as an attachment. We'll collect them and give them to the Burner family.

Darcy may have some photos stored offsite, but a lot of the family's recorded memories went up in smoke this morning when the house burned.

The P-I and Times each have detailed stories on the fire.

UPDATE IV, Andrew: Here is Dave Reichert's statement on the fire, graciously provided to NPI by Reichert's campaign office:
After learning of the fire at the Burner's home this morning, I was relieved to hear that Darcy, Mike and Henry were safe.

While the loss of a home is tragic, family and loved ones are irreplaceable. My thoughts and prayers are with them as they work through their loss. At times like these we are reminded that nothing is more important than family and loved ones.
Good to see the Congressman express his sympathies.

Jeff Merkley: Oregon grown; Netroots fueled!

Oregonians have the opportunity to elect a true progressive Oregon leader to the U.S. Senate: Jeff Merkley! Oregonians are desperately in need of a progressive to fill this seat. Our current representation is a sorely lacking empty-suit who doesn't understand Oregon and apparently doesn't care to.

Jeff's deep Oregon roots, incredible world experiences and foreign policy background give him skills and perspective that an empty-suit like Gordon Smith doesn't have.

Jeff Merkley is the most progressive Senate challenger in a competitive race in the nation.

Progressives have been incredibly frustrated with Congress over the last couple of years. After having been handed the majority in both chambers, it was expected that Democrats would push through on issues important to progressive voters. But instead, we've watched time and again as Democrats lost their way.

Jeff Merkley is not just a great progressive. He's a progressive leader. As Oregon's House Speaker on 2007, Merkley led the most productive and progressive legislative session in a generation, with a razor thin majority. Because of Jeff's incredible leadership, the Oregon House passed the entire Roadmap for Oregon's Future: a highly progressive plan for Oregon's workers, education, health care and the environment. Jeff helped bring Republicans on board with the vast majority of this legislation--and created bipartisanship not seen in the Oregon House for years.

Had Jeff been Senator for Oregon, his votes would have been vastly different than Gordon Smith on the weighty issues facing our nation:

The Senate votes that still haunt us today

FISA

In February of 2008, the Senate voted to pass the updated FISA bill which granted retroactive immunity for telecom. 19 Democrats voted for the bill. Senate Democrats like Chris Dodd led an effort to strip immunity from the bill. Unfortunately without more support from his Democratic colleagues, Dodd lost the battle in the Senate. Merkley's opponent Gordon Smith voted in favor of the FISA bill.

Jeff would have voted BLUE

Jeff Merkley would have stood next to Dodd in support of the FISA filibuster in the Senate. Merkley is adamantly opposed to illegal surveillance and immunity for telecom. Jeff spoke out on the blogs and urged his supporters to sign on to a petition in support of a FISA filibuster.

Mukasey

During confirmation hearings in October of 2007, Michael Mukasey refused to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture. The Senate confirmed him anyway, with six Democrats crossing party lines to confirm the nomination. Merkley's opponent Gordon Smith voted to confirm Michael Mukasey.

Jeff would have voted BLUE

Jeff Merkley opposed confirmation of Michael Mukasey and would have voted against him. Would it have made a difference? No one can know for sure. However, having another strong voice against such a confirmation, especially one with the national security experience Jeff has, would have been valuable to our country and the constitution.

Reid/Feingold Amendment to End the Iraq War

Back in 2007, Reid and Feingold pushed an amendment forward that would have redeployed troops within 120 days of enactment and cut funding for the war. 18 Democrats voted against the bill as well as Merkley's opponent Gordon Smith.

Jeff would have voted BLUE

Jeff Merkley would have stood alongside Reid and Feingold and would have done everything in his power to end the Iraq War. It's also worth noting that Merkley is opposed to leaving a single base in Iraq and wants all American contractors to leave the country. Merkley believes that Iraqis should be the ones rebuilding their own country and that Congress needs to investigate war profiteering.

Employee Free Choice Act

Back in 2007, the Democrats were finally united behind passing a bill making it easier for workers to form a union. The problem was that Republicans were also united in an effort to block the bill. Republican Gordon Smith voted to block the bill from hitting the Senate floor.

Jeff would have voted BLUE

As House Speaker, Jeff championed the card check and pushed it through the Oregon House. He also passed a resolution urging the Senate to do the same. Jeff has pledged to personally take up the Employee Choice Act if he's elected to the Senate.


This week, Merkley is one of the Top Ten candidates on ActBlue, largely fueled by the "Who Fuels Jeff Merkley's Campaign--You!" effort, which includes the video below: