Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Current TV fires Keith Olbermann, announces that Eliot Spitzer will join its lineup

Current TV, the progressive cable network founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, announced minutes ago that it has fired Keith Olbermann, its best-known personality and chief news officer. As is often the case when media companies decide to part ways with a host, Olbermann’s dismissal is effective immediately – he won’t be given a chance to sign off or host a farewell show.

Current’s cofounders published a letter to viewers announcing their decision.

To the Viewers of Current:

We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet.  We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.

Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.

We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.

As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (“Full Court Press” at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (“Talking Liberally” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).

We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Gov. Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.

All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — the goal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voices are too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.

Sincerely,

Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
Current’s Founders

The New York Times, which broke the news of Olbermann’s ouster, reports that Current’s managers unanimously agreed that the network should fire him, indicating that the relationship had gone pretty far south.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that Olbermann has been fired. His tenure at each of the other major networks he has worked at (MSNBC, Fox Sports Net, ESPN) ended in acrimony after tension between Olbermann and his bosses boiled over. Olbermann’s last gig, with MSNBC, lasted over half a decade, but his partnership with Current has now ended after less than a year.

Though we don’t know what happened behind the scenes at Current that led to the falling-out between Olbermann and Current TV leadership, it’s probably safe to conclude that Gore, Hyatt, and their executive team found Olbermann difficult to work with, and ultimately concluded the souring relationship was irreparable.

Within an hour of the publication of the open letter above, Olbermann had begun lashing out at Current on Twitter, and vowing a retaliatory lawsuit.

In a series of tweets, he wrote:

I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.

Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.

It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain.

In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.

Several assertions in this statement strike us as odd.

First, Olbermann claims that “for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally.” But Olbermann’s deal with Current was only finalized in early February 2011.

If this claim is true, then it means Olbermann’s problems with Current began just about the millisecond the ink was dry on their contract – or not long after.

Olbermann is basically saying he never had a good relationship with Gore or Hyatt. Well, whose fault is that? It takes two to tango, but Olbermann has made a reputation for himself as being tough to work with. He’s been described as passionate onscreen and ill-tempered offscreen. He’s reportedly missed a lot of work lately, which precipitated his removal.

Second, Olbermann claims that he has “not [been] publicizing my complaints” with Current TV leadership. But that’s not true. Olbermann has talked on the record to entertainment industry reporters about his gripes with the network. Has Olbermann forgotten this story filed by The Hollywood Reporter?

Third, does Olbermann really expect us to believe he was ousted because Gore and Hyatt thought it would be more “economical” to get rid of him? Countdown was pulling in Current’s highest ratings. Earlier this month, Hyatt characterised Olbermann as “the big gun in our lineup” to the New York Times, and even described Current itself as “all on top of his shoulders”.

If Current thought they could depend on Olbermann, why would they axe him? Certainly not to save money. No competent network executive would sack its most valuable personality just to save a few bucks.

If Olbermann insisted on retaining control of the “Countdown” name and brand in the contract he signed with Current last year (MSNBC allowed him to take those marks with him when he left), it’s possible that the show will be continuing in some form on another network… though we wonder what television executive would want to take a chance on Olbermann now.

If Olbermann wants to continue to be a broadcaster, perhaps he should relaunch Countdown as an Internet television show. That way, he can be his own boss, and continue to discuss news, sports, and politics in his trademark style on his terms.

We remain excited about the future of Current TV even without Keith Olbermann. A network has to be bigger than one person or personality. To garner good ratings, it needs a compelling lineup. And Current has put together some good new shows, like The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. Time will tell if it can be competitive with more established news networks like MSNBC and CNN.

President Barack Obama names a great progressive, Jim Yong Kim, as America’s choice to head the World Bank

Heartening news from the Other Washington this morning: President Barack Obama has named Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim – a global health expert and a skilled progressive leader – as the United States’ choice to head the World Bank after Robert Zoellick steps down in June.

“Jim has spent more than two decades working to improve conditions in developing countries around the world,” said President Obama in a statement released by the White House. “The World Bank is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living around the globe, and Jim’s personal experience and years of service make him an ideal candidate for this job.”

At a press conference in the Rose Garden, standing alongside U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama introduced Kim and explained why he thinks the World Bank needs a new kind of leader:

Now, despite its name, the World Bank is more than just a bank. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living in some of the poorest countries on the planet. And in a world that is growing smaller and more connected every day, that’s a critical mission -– not just for those who are struggling, but for all of us.

When we reduce hunger in the world, or help a farmer recover from a flood or a drought, it strengthens the entire world economy.  When we put an end to a preventable disease, all of us are safer because of it.  When an entrepreneur can start a new business, it creates jobs in their country, but also opens up new markets for our country.  And ultimately, when a nation goes from poverty to prosperity, it makes the world stronger and more secure for everybody.

That’s why the World Bank is so important.  And that’s why the leader of the World Bank should have a deep understanding of both the role that development plays in the world, and the importance of creating conditions where assistance is no longer needed.

I believe that nobody is more qualified to carry out that mission than Dr. Jim Kim. It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency. And that’s why today, after a careful and thorough search, I am nominating Dr. Jim Kim to be the next president of the World Bank.

Emphasis is ours.

We strongly agree, and we thank President Obama for making this nomination. The world community will be well served with Dr. Kim at the helm of the World Bank.

Dr. Kim has spent years fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa and working to improve humanity’s defenses against infectious diseases. Prior to becoming president of Dartmouth College in 2009, Dr. Kim was involved with the college’s Center for Health Care Delivery Service (which he founded), as well as Partners in Health (which he helped launch) and the U.N.’s World Health Organization (where he served as the head of the Department of HIV/AIDS). He holds degrees from Brown and Harvard and belongs to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

Distinguished economist Jeffrey Sachs, who recruited himself for the job (and was nominated by several other countries) in the hopes of encouraging President Obama to pick someone like himself or Dr. Kim, said he was thrilled.

“Dr. Jim Kim is a superb nominee for the World Bank presidency,” Sachs said in a statement released to the press announcing that he was withdrawing his candidacy. “I congratulate the administration for nominating a world-class development leader for this position.”

His spokeswoman, Erin Trowbridge added: “Professor Sachs supports Dr Kim one hundred percent and with complete enthusiasm.”

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (one of America’s best progressive think tanks, which studies issues affecting the world community) described the nomination as historic and unprecedented.

“This is a huge step forward. If Kim becomes World Bank President, he’ll be the first qualified president in sixty-eight years,” Weisbrot said.  “Kim’s nomination is a victory for all the people, organizations, and governments that stood up to the Obama administration and demanded an open, merit-based process.”

The White House was reportedly considering nominating discredited economist Larry Summers – who advised President Obama on economic issues during his first two years in office – but apparently dropped that idea after encountering resistance from other countries, members of Congress, and NGOs.

The World Bank has never had a president who wasn’t either a political insider or a banker, so Kim’s nomination is indeed historic, and welcome. Already it is drawing praise from around the globe. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda had this to say after learning of Dr. Kim’s nomination:

I was delighted to learn that Jim Kim has been nominated for this post, as he is a true friend of Africa and well known for his decade of work to support us in developing an efficient health system in Rwanda. He’s not only a physician and a leader who knows what it takes to address poverty, but also a genuinely good person. President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Kim as President of the World Bank is a welcome one, and should resonate well with the many men and women who are working to transform lives around the world.

Kim is not guaranteed to become the next World Bank president. However, someone from the United States has always held the post, and Europe and Japan will likely back Dr. Kim’s nomination, thereby ensuring that the job goes to him.

At least one other credible candidate has been nominated: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who serves as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance. Iweala will likely make the short list of candidates that the World Bank’s board will choose from.

The board is expected to make a decision by April 21st.

Whatcom County residents gather to oppose proposed Cherry Point coal terminal

Residents of Whatcom County came out today to rally in opposition to the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point, weathering the wind and then hail as they voiced their forceful opposition to the project.

The rally was held before a pre-scoping meeting held to explain how the environmental impact statement of the proposal will take place.

A full house greeted the representatives from the Whatcom County, Department of Ecology, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Attorney General’s Office at Bellingham High School as they came to talk about the scoping process of the Gateway Pacific-Cherry Point coal terminal. The first three are co-leads for the scoping process in order to ease the process for the public and prevent the redundancies which would be created by making parralel reports under federal and state laws.

Scoping determines what will be the focus of the environmental impact statement, and the meeting explained how the public, other agencies, and tribes will continued to be engaged, how the public can get notified of the progress, as well as what sort of comments are useful in the scoping process (ways to mitigate adverse impacts, methods of analysis to be used, etc.).

The Cherry Point project would take coal mined from the Powder River Basin and ship it overseas. Coal would be transported through three other states, the Spokane metro area, the Columbia River Gorge, and Seattle metro area before ending up near Bellingham, in what would be the largest coal port in North America.

Explanation was also made at the meeting as to where final decision-making power for the project rests, and the environmental impact statement’s use in aiding the decision which will be made the Whatcom County Council.

The general sentiment in the audience illuminated the opposition against the proposed terminal at Cherry Point, and applause broke out at various points in the meeting after anti-coal statements were made during the question and answer portion of the meeting. It is clear that a majority of Bellingham’s residents are against the coal terminal, both through the audience and the large attendance at previous meetings regarding the coal terminal.

It looks like the Whatcom County Council will not make a decision for another two years, so councilmembers are sure to hear about this project, and the terminal will continue to be a hot regional issue for some time to come.

For more information on the proposed coal terminal, see Whatcom County’s project page and the Washington Department of Ecology’s project page.

U.S. Senate rejects the latest Republican plot to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling

Some good news for a change from the other Washington today: The U.S. Senate has resoundingly rejected the latest Republican plot to open the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain to oil drilling, defeating an amendment offered by Pat Roberts of Kansas intended to allow big oil companies like Shell or BP to begin despoiling one of our nation’s greatest national wonders.

The amendment, to Senate Bill 1813, needed sixty votes to pass; it received only forty-one, with fifty-seven senators voting no and two senators not voting.

Several Republicans joined most Democrats in voting no; three Democrats joined the remainder of the Republicans in voting yes.

The Republicans who voted against drilling were Scott Brown, Bob Corker, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Marco Rubio. Democrats who voted for drilling were Mark Begich (of Alaska), Claire McCaskill,and Joe Manchin.

Surprisingly, Big Oil’s favorite Democrat, Mary Landrieu, voted no on the amendment – perhaps she was lobbied to cast a sensible “no” vote by her good friend Maria Cantwell, who has been in the vanguard of fights to protect the Arctic Refuge in our nation’s capital.

The Pacific Northwest’s delegation voted as follows:

AYE on the amendment (for drilling): Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska); Mike Crapo, Jim Risch (Idaho)

NAY on the amendment (opposed to drilling): Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray (Washington); Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden (Oregon); Jon Tester, Max Baucus (Montana)

Senator Cantwell’s office has not yet issued a statement on the vote. We’ll be in touch with her staff tomorrow to get her reaction, and will update this post accordingly. We’ll also check in with our friends at the Alaska Wilderness League to see if they have any comment.

Last week, the Senate defeated another bad amendment aimed at allowing TransCanada to build its proposed Keystone XL pipeline without having to undergo environmental review and public scrutiny. That amendment, offered by John Hoeven, received the unanimous support of Senate Republicans, plus a handful of Democrats, but it still failed because it did not reach the sixty-vote threshold.

After Hoeven’s amendment failed, 350.org founder Bill McKibben congratulated the forty-two Senate Democrats who stood up to the oil industry and warned that the battle to stop Keystone XL is far from over.

“Today’s vote was a temporary victory and there’s no guarantee that it holds for the long run,” he said. “But given that this thing was a ‘no brainer’ a year ago, it’s pretty remarkable that people power was able to keep working, even in the oil-soaked Senate. We’re grateful to the Administration for denying the permit and for Senate leadership for holding the line.”

“The reason this fight has been so hard is because of the financial power of the fossil fuel industry, so that’s what we’re going after now,” McKibben added. “We’ve been playing defense for months, now we’ve got to quickly go on offense. Going forward, we’ll be working with the huge majorities of Americans who want to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. We’ve learned a lot, not all of it savory, about how the political process works, and we’re going to put that to use.”

We at NPI strongly believe that more drilling is not the answer to our energy security problem. That’s why we oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as risky onshore and offshore drilling schemes, especially in protected areas like the Arctic Refuge.

We need to be investing in renewable energy alternatives, developing a a smarter electric grid, and stepping up conservation – not perpetuating our fossil fuel addiction. Extracting and burning hydrocarbons worsens air quality, creates more pollution, and makes the climate crisis worse. We’ve known for a long time that fossil fuels are dirty and finite. Yet the industry that extracts and sells them continues to dictate our nation’s energy policy. It’s time for that to change.

Rick Santorum projected to win in Alabama, holding on to narrow lead in Mississippi

Rick Santorum is on a roll. Less than one hundred hours after decisively winning the Kansas Republican caucuses, he appears to have swept tonight’s contests in the Deep South, despite having to share the conservative vote with Newt Gingrich:

Rick Santorum scored a pair of primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi, according to network projections, bolstering his credibility as Mitt Romney’s top challenger and denying the former Massachusetts governor an opportunity to solidify his status as inevitable nominee.

“We did it again,” Santorum declared at an election night rally in Louisiana, saying his underdog campaign was about “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

The races were among the first high profile contests in which both Newt Gingrich and Santorum, who have alternated wildly between surges and collapses, were competitive at once.

Santorum’s twin victories tonight will unquestionably bolster his campaign in a big way. Up until just a few hours ago, Santorum has only been able to win in states from one region – the Midwest. (He gave Mitt Romney a run for his money in Michigan and Ohio, but couldn’t quite close with voters in either state). By winning in Mississippi and Alabama, he has managed to strengthen his own candidacy whilst simultaneously ruining Newt Gingrich’s plans for a comeback.

Gingrich needed to win in both Alabama and Mississippi tonight to keep his campaign alive. He didn’t. He can choose to stay in the race if he likes, but he won’t be able to compete with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. He might be able to cause enough trouble for Rick Santorum to ensure that Romney ends up getting the nomination, but he himself isn’t going to end up as the nominee.

As of around 8:30 PM Pacific; here were the results in Alabama’s Republican primary (twenty-two of sixty-seven counties completely reporting):

Michelle Bachmann
0.27% 1,178
Newt Gingrich
29.45% 127,692
Jon Huntsman
0.18% 765
Ron Paul
5.09% 22,084
Rick Perry
0.28% 1,226
Mitt Romney
29.26% 126,845
Rick Santorum
33.92% 147,059
Uncommitted
1.54% 6,676

And in Missisippi, as of 8:30 PM Pacific, with 1,800 of 1,889 precincts reporting:

Newt Gingrich
31% 86,068
Ron Paul
4% 12,160
Mitt Romney
30% 83,278
Rick Santorum
33% 90,386

Incidentally, in Mississippi, the political parties themselves run the primaries – meaning that Democratic and Republican activists serve as poll workers and election supervisors. However, the Magnolia State’s primaries are open, so voters may participate without having to register in advance as a member of a particular political party. Alabama also has an open primary.

Over at FreeRepublic, one of the Internet’s best-known right wing message boards, the mood seems to be celebratory. Here’s a sampling of the comments left in response to the news that Santorum is projected to win Alabama and Mississippi:

I’m a Newt supporter, but if this pans out, I really think Newt ought to put his support behind Santorum and we supporters can hope/expect Newt to get a good cabinet position to effect change once elected.

risen_feenix

Newt looks like an dolt standing next to his wife while she talks. No WAY can he win no matter what! He should endorse Santorum.

RightLady

Conventional wisdom had Rick showing up 2nd or 3rd tonight. Not anything like this. The D.C. Beltway types are very unhappy tonight.

LazloinPA

Newt REALLY needs to pick party over ego. He’s not polling well in any state that’s left. I am sure he feels he can win a brokered convention, and the chance of that is unlikely. Very unlikely as the GOP supports Mittens, and writes the rules. Newt knows this…

JohnD9207

Congrats Rick.

Looks like the two races wasn’t quite close enough for Rove, Boss Hogg and the GOPe [sic] to steal, like they did in Ohio.

It also appears that Newt’s Southern Strategy has failed. Even though he had tons of money from that Casino Owner.

tennmountainman

Judging by the comments excerpted above, it seems Rick Santorum has solidified his base of support and is starting to win over Newt Gingrich’s fans as well. Santorum really needs Gingrich to quit the race so that he can go head to head with Romney in the states that haven’t held their nominating events yet.

But Gingrich has given no indication that he is thinking about quitting. At least not yet. Maybe if his sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson decides to turn off Gingrich’s cash spigot, Gingrich will decide to throw in the towel. We’ll see.

Referendum 74 gets a new ballot title; right wing to launch anti-equality signature drive

A couple hours ago, following a lengthy hearing, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee ordered that Referendum 74, the right wing’s attempt to force a public vote on Washington’s new marriage equality law, be given a new ballot title, after considering challenges to the original ballot title written by the Attorney General’s office by both proponents and opponents of marriage equality.

The new ballot title is considerably better than the one drafted by the career attorneys who presently work for Rob McKenna. It uses more neutral language and is simpler to read. Because Judge McPhee’s order cannot be appealed, this ballot title is final and it is what voters will see in the fall if the right wing collects enough signatures to qualify Referendum 74 (they’ve got ninety days).

Here is a comparison of the original ballot title and the new, final ballot title:

New Ballot Title
Old Ballot Title
Statement of Subject: The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. Statement of Subject: The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.]
Concise Description: This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony. Concise Description: This bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, modify existing domestic-partnership laws, allow clergy to refuse to solemnize or recognize marriages and religious organizations to refuse to accommodate marriage celebrations.
Ballot Measure Summary: This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. Ballot Measure Summary: The bill would redefine marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry, apply marriage eligibility requirements without regard to gender, and specify that laws using gender-specific terms like “husband” and “wife” include same-sex spouses. Clergy could refuse to solemnize or recognize any marriages. Religious organizations and religiously affiliated educational institutions could refuse to accommodate weddings. The measure would not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement. Domestic partnerships for seniors would be preserved.

Gone is the odious “redefine marriage” phrasing, and gone is the clunky sentence structure present in the original ballot title.

The new title is more objective and straightforward, which is a good thing.

“We had serious concerns about the ballot title that the Attorney General’s staff drafted and proposed,” Washington United for Marriage said in a statement released after the decision was handed down.

“Although the Attorney General has publicly announced his opposition to marriage for same-sex couples, as Attorney General his first responsibility in ballot measure elections is to make sure ballot language is balanced and neutral.”

“Those opposed to civil marriage equality brought in Tea Party attorneys to argue for language that was even more inappropriate. The League of Women Voters and PFLAG made a strong argument that the court need to remove prejudicial language, explain the law, and make the title easier to understand. We have a lot of respect for the voters of Washington and are grateful the Court helped to make sure the ballot language is fair.”

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee also praised the ruling.

“I applaud the Judge’s decision to remove Rob McKenna’s politically charged language from the ballot title. It’s unfortunate that it took a judge to stop Rob McKenna from playing politics with marriage. Washington is a forward-thinking, fair-minded state. Granting equality to all will bring fairness to the state of Washington. I believe this is a value worth fighting for.”

Now that the ballot title has been finalized, opponents of marriage equality can begin printing referendum petitions for circulation. Signature gathering could begin in a matter of days. We’ll be keeping a close watch on what’s going on.

If you observe signature gathering taking place for Referendum 74, we ask that you let us know using Permanent Defense’s reporting tool. This will allow us to better track what opponents of marriage equality are doing and saying in their attempt to overturn this historic civil rights advance in Washington State.

Twitter buys Tumblr rival Posterous

Posterous, a startup that competes with Tumblr in the microblogging space, has agreed to sell itself to Twitter for an undisclosed sum, the companies jointly announced today. Launched in May 2008, Posterous’ service is known for its ease-of-use; it bills its platform as the easiest and best way to blog by email.

“Today we are welcoming a very talented group from Posterous to Twitter,” the microblogging giant said in an announcement. “This team has built an innovative product that makes sharing across the web and mobile devices simple—a goal we share. Posterous engineers, product managers and others will join our teams working on several key initiatives that will make Twitter even better.”

“The opportunities in front of Twitter are exciting, and we couldn’t be happier about bringing our team’s expertise to a product that reaches hundreds of millions of users around the globe,” Posterous’ team said in a blog post. “Plus, the people at Twitter are genuinely nice folks who share our vision for making sharing simpler.”

They stressed that Posterous’ service would continue to operate.

“Posterous Spaces will remain up and running without disruption. We’ll give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service. For users who would like to back up their content or move to another service, we’ll share clear instructions for doing so in the coming weeks.”

Many Posterous users left comments in response to the post expressing skepticism or outright opposition to the deal.

“Don’t like the sound of this at all,” wrote Mark Zahn.

“Twitter ruined TweetDeck. Better not happen to Posterous. I just spent a ton of time moving everything I had from Tumblr.”

Randal Matheney was even more blunt. “Not good. Not at all. Twitter will be the death of Posterous. You had a good thing going and now you’ve ruined it.”

“This may sound odd because it’s a free platform but I feel slightly betrayed by all this,” agreed Ian Cummings.

“I am happy for the Posterous guys, they get new stuff to play with and I don’t begrudge them that, but I have an emotional investment in my blogging platform. I don’t blog much and it’s only for family, but it took me a long time to start and Posterous got me going. It’s great to use and now it’s just going to disappear and I’m left to sort out the mess. This is the sort of thing that keep people away from startups and going to Blogger or WordPress cos they’re going to be around in 5 years time. Anyway, good luck guys, and thanks for all the fish.”

A Seattle-based web developer, Eric S., was less harsh.

“Don’t like. I really liked the Posterous platform before the SPACES model emerged, and I thought the mobile services available for iPhone was a good direction for the platform. I have even considered purchasing the third-party iPad app Blogsy which supports blogging for Posterous, but I’m less likely to do so now. Thanks for offering the service while it lasted, and best of luck to all of you.”

Others struck a more hopeful tone.

“What’s all this pessimistic talk about Twitter ruining Posterous?” asked Francois Guite. “I say let it be the other way around and hope you guys will improve Twitter. Congrats on your work and many thanks for the great service.”

Hundreds of user Posterous users, meanwhile, reacted positively to the news by “liking” the announcement.

But those users who are unhappy have well-founded concerns. Twitter has made it clear that the acquisition was about securing quality talent, not adding Posterous Spaces to its product portfolio. Spaces will undoubtedly continue to operate for at least a few more months. But then what? If the Posterous team is focused on improving Twitter’s service, who will be left to develop Posterous?

Nobody, and that will probably result in Posterous’ demise. History tells us that startups that get bought up by bigger companies for talent tend to either go downhill or get shut down. For instance:

  • Gowalla, which Facebook bought back in December, just announced that it would cease operations a couple of days ago. Users will be able to download their data for a limited time.
  • Jaiku, a microblogging service similar to Twitter, was purchased by Google in late 2007 and subsequently neglected. It was shut down earlier this year.
  • Going, a hyperlocal news network, was shut down by AOL around a year ago, less than two years after AOL closed a deal to buy it.
  • GeoCities, bought by Yahoo during the dot-com boom, was unceremoniously dismantled and destroyed in late 2010 after Yahoo decided it couldn’t be bothered to keep it online.
  • Delicious almost got shut down after Yahoo decided to dispose of it, but a buyer for the service was found, so Delicious continues to operate.

An “acquisition FAQ” posted by Posterous all but confirms that Spaces will ultimately be going the way of the dinosaur, once Twitter decides to pull the plug. It contains questions like “How can I backup or export the content of my Space(s)?”, “What happens to my content if I don’t do anything to my Posterous account?” and “I bought a custom domain from Posterous – what happens to it?”.

When Posterous closes down, it will hardly be the first blogging platform to set its users adrift. For example, Google alienated a number of longtime Blogger users when it decided to discontinue FTP publishing a couple of years ago. (We used to publish The Advocate this way, but now we have our own WordPress installation, which is totally under our control. We couldn’t be happier).

And Microsoft pulled the rug out from under its users when it discontinued MSN Spaces (later Windows Live Spaces) – though it did provide Spaces users with the ability to transfer their blogs to WordPress.com, Automattic’s hosted WordPress service, for a limited period of time.

We actually considered using Posterous to power our microblog, In Brief, before we launched it in 2009, but we ultimately went with Tumblr, which has experienced phenomenal growth since we began using it back in 2009.

However, our experience with Tumblr hasn’t been that great. Tumblr simply hasn’t improved its service to the extent we were hoping it would. We plan to move In Brief over to WordPress as soon as WordPress has better microblogging support, which will hopefully be the case with the next release, or the one after that.

NPI’s Gael Tarleton announces that she will be a candidate for state House in the 36th LD

I have some exciting news to share this afternoon: After having spent several days contemplating a campaign for state House with family and friends, our President, Gael Tarleton, has decided to run for the position being vacated by Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, who recently announced her retirement from the Legislature after many years of service to the people of Washington.

Along with Reuven Carlyle and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Dickerson represents the 36th LD, one of the most Democratic districts in the state, which is comprised of several Seattle neighborhoods, including Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Fremont, and Belltown.

Gael is officially announcing her candidacy today, though she has spent the last couple of days raising money to get it started. She already has $20,000 in cash and commitments after just forty-eight hours of fundraising. Undoubtedly that number will be much higher by the time this week is over.

Her campaign has just issued a press release announcing her candidacy. In it, Gael explains that she is running because she thinks the Legislature needs to be doing a better job of advancing important policy directions like economic security, environmental protection, education, and healthcare.

And like the rest of us here at NPI, Gael is a believer in that timeless Hopi saying, We are the ones we have been waiting for.

“We need to carry the accomplishments and legacy of Representative Dickerson forward,” she says. “I have a proven track record of protecting and creating jobs, fighting for women and minority-owned businesses, protecting the environment and championing Washington’s higher-education community.”

Gael has previously run for office twice, both times for the same county-wide position (Seattle Port Commissioner). In 2007, she defeated incumbent Bob Edwards to become the third woman ever elected to the Port Commission. She sought a second term just last year and won in a landslide, with nearly sixty percent of the vote. A few weeks ago, at the commission’s first meeting following the new year, her colleagues tapped her to serve as Port Commission President for 2012.

Besides serving as NPI’s President and as President of the Port Commission, Gael is a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. For the past eight years, she has also worked as a strategic advisor for the University of Washington’s Institute for National Security Education and Research. She is a co-founder of the U.W.’s Citizen Roundtable on Politics and Democracy, which is trying to reignite interest in civics.

She holds two degrees from Georgetown University: a B.S. from its School of Foreign Service, and an M.A. in government and national security studies.

As longtime readers and supporters know, NPI is not a political action committee and does not engage in any electioneering in contests for public office. So as an organization, we will have no involvement in Gael’s campaign.

However, we wish her the best as she undertakes this journey.

Washington is currently grappling with some enormous structural problems that are only going to get worse in the months and years ahead. Perhaps the biggest challenge the Legislature needs to address (but hasn’t) is our broken, regressive tax system, which isn’t bringing in enough revenue to pay for the essential public services Washingtionians want and need.

Unfortunately, the Legislature itself seems to be broken, which explains why little to no progress has been made in the years since NPI was founded. Before headway can be made in addressing our state’s problems, the Legislature as an institution will need to be reformed. Fortunately, Gael has some experience in that area, having helped end Mic Dinsmore’s era of corruption at the Port of Seattle.

But I’m guessing that she will find reforming the Legislature to be a much more difficult challenge. Governing a state is one of the hardest jobs there is. But Gael’s real job, if elected, won’t be governing. It will be making our plan of government work for us again. Because that’s what is standing in the way of us getting the moral budgets and economic security we deserve.

Super Tuesday: Who’s winning where

Tonight – as readers of the NPI Advocate are no doubt aware – is Super Tuesday, traditionally the biggest (though not necessarily the most pivotal) night of the presidential nominating season, when more delegates are at stake than at any other point leading up to the national party conventions at the end of summer.

It’s been an entertaining evening so far, with some predictable moments (like Newt Gingrich’s victory in Georgia) but also the suspense of a close race in Ohio between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

More than a dozen states in every region of the country are up for grabs in tonight’s set of contests (though most are not winner-take-all). Each of the Republican candidates has at least one state in his win column, with the notable exception of Ron Paul, who hasn’t won anywhere yet.

Here is a breakdown of who is winning where.

Mitt Romney Super Tuesday Win ColumnFirst, let’s take a look at the states Mitt Romney has won, or is likely to win.

As we can see from the graphic to the left, he’s done well in New England and the Rocky Mountain West. He’s also winning easily in The Old Dominion (Virginia), though neither Rick Santorum nor Newt Gingrich were on the ballot there. And he appears to be on the cusp of a very narrow victory in Ohio, the Buckeye State, where Rick Santorum had hoped to pull off an upset.

So, not a bad night for Romney.

However, Romney is not doing so well in the South or the Midwest. There, his rivals have captured some important states.

Let’s take a look at Rick Santorum’s win column.

Rick Santorum Super Tuesday Win ColumnSo far, it consists of North Dakota (which some pundits thought Ron Paul might win), Oklahoma, and Tennessee. It’s possible that Santorum will be able to pick up one more state before the night is over – Alaska, where the Republican caucuses are already underway.

Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, has prevailed in his home state of Georgia, but that’s the only place where he is winning tonight. The Georgia win might keep his campaign alive for a while, but it won’t secure the Republican nomination for him. Both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have won three times as many states as Gingrich has. Even if Gingrich were to pick up a few more states in the south, it still wouldn’t net him the delegates he needs to get the nomination in Tampa.

As Talking Points Memo (TPM) notes, the only really close contest tonight has turned out to be Ohio, where Rick Santorum is still trying to catch up with Mitt Romney after relinquishing a slight lead he held for most of the evening.

After steadying his ship with a must-win victory in Michigan’s primary last week, Mitt Romney is in choppy waters in Ohio, narrowly leading Rick Santorum with over 90% of the vote in. A loss here would revive talk that Romney may be too damaged to lead the party in the general election despite an apparent burst of momentum in the polls in recent days.

[...]

But the big question is about narrative: will tonight be enough to put an end to a long primary slog that just about everyone agrees is hurting Romney who will, unless something incredible happens, be the Republican opponent for Obama in the fall? Romney, whose general poll numbers are at almost historically toxic levels for a frontrunning candidate, needs this primary to end — fast.

Santorum has arguably met or surpassed the Super Tuesday expectations that pundits and his own operatives laid out for his candidacy. He wasn’t on the ballot in Virginia, Massachusetts, or Vermont, so he didn’t have a chance there. He is running almost even with Mitt Romney in Ohio, and he captured three states outright, continuing his winning streak in the middle of the country.

But he still has a steep hill to climb. His biggest problem is that Newt Gingrich remains in the race. Had Gingrich quit prior to Super Tuesday, Santorum might have picked up Georgia, which would have been a nice boost for his campaign, and he’d be well-positioned to take Alabama, the next state on the calendar. Instead, he’s going to have to fight Gingrich on Gingrich’s home turf.

If Gingrich’s goal was to deny Mitt Romney the Republican nomination, he would have quit the race by now. But he foolishly thinks he can become the frontrunner once again if he stays in. Barring some truly improbable turn of events, that simply isn’t going to happen. The only thing Gingrich is going to accomplish by remaining a candidate will be to deny Rick Santorum the opportunity to pull even with Romney nationally – and thus give Romney the nomination.

Rush Limbaugh loses another station and more than a dozen more national advertisers

Let’s keep the pressure on! Another station has just canceled Rush:

AM 1420 WBEC [Pittsfield, Massachusetts]  releases statement regarding the removal of Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves

Due to the inappropriate remarks made by Rush Limbaugh regarding Sandra Fluke, the management of AM 1420 WBEC has made the decision to remove the Rush Limbaugh Show from the programming line-up effective March 5th. Rush Limbaugh ‘s comments do not reflect the viewpoints of the station management and we apologize to anyone who may have been offended by his remarks. While we understand the controversial nature of talk radio and encourage political discourse, we believe there are ways to do that without exceeding the bounds of civility. Rush’s defamatory and disparaging remarks about Ms. Fluke clearly violated the standards we have set for our stations and left us no choice but to remove him from our airwaves.

Meanwhile, a program manager at a different station in Vermont has acknowledged that management there is weighing whether to drop Rush or keep him in their lineup. And advertisers continue to flee Rush’s three hours of hate as well:

The steady stream of advertisers fleeing Rush Limbaugh’s radio show continued on Monday and Tuesday, as a barrage of new companies announced they would no longer run commercials on the program in the wake of Limbaugh’s offensive comments about Sandra Fluke.

Even though Limbaugh has apologized for calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage of birth control, advertisers are still moving towards the exits.

ThinkProgress has been keeping a tally of how many companies have announced they will not be advertising during Rush’s show, and it now stands at thirty-five. The list includes Sleep Number, The Sleep Train, Quicken Loans, Legal Zoom, Citrix, Carbonite, ProFlowers, Tax Resolution, AOL, Bonobos, Sears, Allstate Insurance, Sensa, Bare Escentuals, Vitacost, Hadeed Carpet, Thompson Creek Windows, PolyCom, Service Magic, AccuQuote Life Insurance, Geico, John Deere, Stamps.com, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Bethesda Sedation Dentistry, Cascades Dental, Philadelphia Orchestra, Goodwill Industries, Heart & Body Extract, Netflix, Downeast Energy, Capitol One, JCPenney, Matrix Direct, and Reputation Rhino.

Limbaugh, backed by his biggest corporate supporter, Clear Channel Communications, continues to strike a defiant tone. Yesterday, he continued to try to deflect criticism of his hateful comments, incredulously suggesting that we progressives are to blame for his potty mouth.

(Nice try , Rush, but nobody’s buying that).

Those who have tried to defend Rush’s comments are having a hard time doing so. Actress Patricia Heaton deleted her Twitter account after coming under fire for repeating conservative pundits’ attacks on Sandra Fluke. She issued a mea culpa yesterday, claiming that she meant no offense.

There is no question that Rush’s hate speech is like toxic waste when it comes to the quality of our political discourse. Limbaugh may have the right to speak his mind, but he does not have the right to monopolize the public airwaves for the purposes of slandering other citizens. His “show” deserves to be canceled.

Hawaii radio station cancels Rush Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated three hours of hate

Let’s hope that they’re just the first of many:

New West Broadcasting announced today that it is discontinuing the Rush Limbaugh program on KPUA AM 670 in Hilo, Hawaii effective immediately.

Chris Leonard, President and General Manager of New West released the following statement this morning:

“We have always encouraged spirited discussion about national and local issues on KPUA and from time to time those discussions may be deemed by some to be objectionable. We are strong believers in the First Amendment and have recognized Mr. Limbaugh’s right to express opinions that often times differ from our own, but it has never been our goal to allow our station to be used for personal attacks and intolerance. The most recent incident has crossed a line of decency and a standard that we expect of programming on KPUA whether it is locally produced or a syndicated program like the Rush Limbaugh Show.”

“While much of the national debate regarding this issue is now being framed in political terms, the decision for us is one of decency and responsibility. Regardless of one’s political views on the issue being discussed, we feel the delivery was degrading and the continued comments over several days to be egregious. As a result, we are discontinuing the Rush Limbaugh program on KPUA effective immediately.”

Limbaugh has also lost nearly a dozen national advertisers so far as a result of the vicious slander he broadcasted last week against Georgetown student Sandra Fluke: ProFlowers, AOLQuicken LoansSleep Train MattressesSleep NumberLegalZoomCarboniteCitrixBonobos and Sears.

As Media Matters has documented, Rush’s smearing of Sandra last week was hardly the first time he has subjected someone he disagreed with to degrading commentary. Limbaugh’s crude sexism has polluted America’s airwaves on a great many occasions prior to last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Long ago, Rush Limbaugh turned his show into a three-hour version of the “Two Minute Hate” depicted in George Orwell’s 1984. It is not a civil discussion of the issues. It’s not comedy. It’s just regularly-broadcast verbal abuse. There’s simply no place for such malevolence in a healthy democracy.

If you’re interested in seeing Rush Limbaugh taken off the air in Seattle, consider doing as David Goldstein has suggested: contact the companies that advertise locally on Rush’s show, which is broadcast on KTTH, one of Bonneville International’s Seattle stations, and ask them to stop supporting Rush’s hate speech. Seven other companies already have.

Mitt Romney winning Washington Republican precinct caucuses by comfortable margin

Chalk up another victory for Mitt Romney. With more than sixty percent of the votes counted, the former Massachusetts governor is handily winning Washington’s Republican precinct caucuses, besting Rick Santorum and his two other remaining other rivals by a comfortable margin. Here are the current results:

Washington Republican precinct caucuses
Mitt Romney: 36.7% (11,294 votes)
Ron Paul: 24.5% (7,535 votes)
Rick Santorum: 24.4% (7,523 votes)
Newt Gingrich: 11.3% (3,473 votes)

Paul and Santorum remain nearly tied for second place. Paul has maintained a tiny-to-slight edge for much of the evening, but that could go away as votes from more Santorum-friendly counties are tallied and reported.

So far, Romney is winning King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Thurston, Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Cowlitz, Clark, Wahkiakum, Yakima, Kittitas, Grant, Adams, Garfield, Walla Walla, Benton, and Franklin counties.

Ron Paul is winning Pend Oreille, Ferry, Stevens, Okanogan, Whitman, Asotin, Klickitat, Skamania, and Pacific counties.

Rick Santorum has just three counties in his corner: Whatcom, Lincoln, and Columbia, though he is coming in second in many of the populous counties that Romney is winning (like Pierce and Kitsap).

Spokane, Skagit, Douglas, and Chelan have yet to report any results at all.

In a statement, Mitt Romney thanked Washington Republicans for their support. (He is no longer in the Evergreen State, having returned to the eastern timezone following yesterday morning’s rally in Bellevue).

“I’m heartened to have won the Washington caucuses, and I thank the voters for their support,” Romney said.

“I congratulate my fellow Republicans on a campaign well waged. We may differ from one another in background and experience. But we are united in our love of this country, and in our belief that with proper leadership America can do much better. The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House. They want a conservative businessman who understands the private sector and knows how to get the federal government out of the way so that the economy can once again grow vigorously.”

“With the support of Washington’s voters, I look forward with optimism to the primaries and caucuses to come.”

Second-place finisher Ron Paul, meanwhile, is holding a caucus results party in downtown Seattle at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Paul’s campaign had hoped for a victory in Washington so they could finally say that they had a state in their win column, but alas, they aren’t getting one.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM: Skagit, Spokane, and Douglas have finally reported some results. The former two are breaking for Romney and the latter is going for Santorum. Still nothing from Chelan County yet.

Washington Republican precinct caucuses
76.8% reporting (5213/6785)
Mitt Romney: 36.2% (14,971 votes)
Ron Paul: 25.1% (10,358 votes)
Rick Santorum: 24.4% (10,105 votes)
Newt Gingrich: 10.8% (4,476 votes)

Democrats speak out following Republican takeover of Washington State Senate

As we reported earlier this evening, the Washington State Senate Republicans, acting in concert with three Democrats in Name Only (Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom, and Tim Sheldon) have seized control of the floor of the Legislature’s upper chamber, effectively turning the remainder of the Senate Democratic caucus into the minority party with a week left to go in the 2012 regular session.

On Facebook, on Twitter, and through their offices, many Democratic senators are speaking out in opposition to the takeover and the newly-minted Republican majority’s attempt to ram through a budget that has not received any public hearings or scrutiny. What follows is a collection of the statements they’ve shared with us over the last few hours.

Senator Sharon Nelson (D-34th District):

Tonight I am saddened that three Democrats, Senators Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom, and Tim Sheldon assisted the Republicans in taking over the Senate floor. While the Republicans may be celebrating, I am going through a budget which they just brought out of the back room. While the Democrats provided an additional $38.7 million to K-12 education, this Republican budget cuts K-12 by $44 million. While the Democrats’ budget added funds to higher education, the Republicans cut higher education by $30.4 million. Plus, the poor and working families sustain a $311 million cut — 4 times the cuts in the Democrats’ budget. This is a budget for the top one percent and I can understand why they kept it in a back room until now.

Senator Kevin Ranker (D-40th District):

I am deeply disappointed by the decision of Senate Republicans to circumvent our state’s formerly transparent budgeting process to pass a budget that devastates our state’s safety net and our K-12 and higher education system.

Tonight, I believe personal agendas and right-wing ideologies outweighed the need for a 21st century education system that prepares our children for a global economy, comprehensive healthcare and critical environmental protections.

Whereas the Democratic budget makes no cuts to K-12 and higher education, the Republicans’ budget slashes K-12 education by $44 million and higher education by $30 million.

Their proposal further devastates women’s health by slashing funds to maternity support services and family planning, services that Washingtonians want and need.

It significantly weakens our state’s environmental and ecological commitment to our future by sweeping funds intended for clean-up of toxic waste sites and eliminating over 1,000 associated jobs.

This budget was crafted in secret and is nearly 300 pages long. At this late hour, the public has not had a chance to view this budget, much less understand the severity of its cuts

I find today’s action to constitute an absolute disservice to the public.

Senator Nick Harper (D-38th District):

There is a budget being debated this evening without ever having had a public hearing. An amendment that was proposed, which I spoke in favor of, would have restored funding to our Disability Lifeline Health program. This program offers health care to over 12,000 people, many of whom have severe mental illness. The amendment failed. This budget will make our communities significantly less safe by dramatically increasing our crime rates and denying our most vulnerable Washingtonians the services they desperately need and deserve.

Senator Craig Pridemore (D-49th District):

Jim Kastama and Rodney Tom have taken over the Senate in order to pass the Republican agenda for the State of Washington. Should be an interesting evening/weekend.

Senator David Frockt (D-46th District):

The Republicans who have hijacked the budget tonight on the Senate floor (with the help of a few Dems) have rejected every amendment we have offered except one that I just got them to take back – the one to restore their cut to funding to the College Success Foundation for scholarships for disadvantaged kids. Small victory, in an otherwise outrageous evening of stunts, shenanigans and bad policy…

Senator Regala (D-27th District):

When I came to the Legislature in 1995, I was unfamiliar with many of the processes by which bills became the laws of our state. I had my ideas of course, but little familiarity with the body that I had joined. In spite of that, I was excited to be a part of the process and eager to make a positive contribution.

At one of my first committee hearings, I received a shock that I have not forgotten. The committee chairman, from the opposite party, asked for my vote on a lengthy water policy bill that I had just been handed. No explanation of what it did and no opportunity to read/review it. My ignorance of the facts, intent and effects of that bill did not matter. I was being asked to vote for a bill I had no knowledge of.

You can imagine the shock and sadness that I felt and my disillusion with the process I had become a part of. Since that time, I have striven to be knowledgeable of every piece of legislation I cast a vote for, whether in support or opposition.

This is my final year in the State Legislature and I had hoped it would end with my never having to feel that way again. You can imagine my sadness and disappointment at the actions of Senate Republicans and three members of my own party, which plunged the entire Senate into a state of partisan chaos. Once again, I was being asked to vote on a bill on which I had no knowledge.

This time, it is not a narrowly focused policy bill moving through committee, but a 233 page budget amendment that will cut services critical to the lives and livelihoods of thousands of our states residents. The shame and anger I feel at today’s display of the partisan acts that has gripped our country is overwhelming.

In closing, I can only promise, as I did before, to not cast a vote for a document that I do not understand or have knowledge of. It is our responsibility as lawmakers for the State of Washington to pass legislation that is in the best interests of our state.

In my remaining days as a Senator, however many they may be, I pledge to continue to fight for our state and to ensure that any bill which passes off the Senate floor is done so with the process and procedure that I have always believed in.

As of this hour, the Senate is still in session in the Legislative Building in Olympia, with Democrats offering amendment after amendment to the Republican majority’s budget proposal. Nearly all of the amendments they have offered have been rejected by a vote of twenty-five to twenty-four.

The Republican takeover of the Senate all but guarantees that there will need to be a thirty-day special session called to continue working on a supplemental operating budget. House Democrats have made it plainly clear that the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal will be dead on arrival in the House, and Governor Chris Gregoire – whose signature is needed to enact any budget – has also strongly condemned it.

Neither Rodney Tom nor Tim Sheldon will be facing voters this year, as both were reelected in 2010 to four year terms. Jim Kastama, on the other hand, will be on the ballot, whether he chooses to remain in the race for Secretary of State, or runs again for Senate. (His term expires at the end of 2012).

Sheldon already had a reputation as a Republican who calls himself a Democrat. (He endorsed and supported George W. Bush back in 2004). He could probably win election in his somewhat conservative district as a Republican. Kastama and Tom, on the other hand, represent more progressive districts, and have campaigned for office on Democratic values and principles.

If, like us, you are appalled by what they have done earlier this evening – and what they are still doing at this very hour – then let them know:

Jim Kastama
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7648
District Office: (253) 840-4701
By E-Mail: Jim.Kastama@leg.wa.gov
PO Box 40425
Olympia, WA 98504-0425
Rodney Tom
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7694
By e-mail: Rodney.Tom@leg.wa.gov
PO Box 40448
Olympia, WA 98504-0448

House Speaker Frank Chopp blasts Senate Republicans for “abuse of power”

Washington State House Speaker Frank Chopp, who represents Seattl’s 43rd Legislative District along with Jamie Pedersen, has just issued a statement blasting Senate Republicans and their three collaborators (who call themselves Democrats) for hijacking the Legislature’s upper chamber and advancing their own backroom budget to the floor for immediate adoption. Here is what he has to say:

The Senate Republicans have exercised the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in the Legislature. It says something about them that the minute they gained power, they abused it.

They immediately moved to run over the minority on the floor by denying them the right to even see the budget bill before asking them to vote on it.

They immediately turned their backs on the rights of the people by dismissing all calls for public testimony. Yes, the party that regularly decries the lack of transparency in the legislature cut the public out of the process completely.

As for their budget proposal, from what little we’ve heard, it shreds the safety net, eliminates state food assistance, housing and medical care for the disabled, and continues the Republican war on women by eliminating family planning grants.

Governor Chris Gregoire has not issued a formal statement on the coup on the Senate, but in conversations with reporters she made it clear she, too, was disgusted. “I am chagrined that they’re over there right now working on something I’ve never seen, the members have never seen — members on both parties have never seen, and they’re going to take a vote tonight?” she told the press outside of Speaker Chopp’s office. “This is not how we do business in Washington State.”

In a few hours, assuming that Senators Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom, and Tim Sheldon continue to vote alongside their fellow conservative Republicans, the Senate will be on the verge of passing a destructive budget that destroys vital public services under the Orwellian cloak of sustainability.

But House Democrats, capably led by Speaker Chopp, are making it clear they consider the Senate Republicans’ proposal a nonstarter.

If that be the case, then there will be no agreement on any budget any time soon, let alone before the regular session is due to end next Thursday.