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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NPI Radio Alert

Just an advisory: I'll be on the Kirby Wilbur Show tomorrow at 6 AM to discuss Washington Defense and Initiative 912 with Kirby himself. Tune in if you can. A clip of my appearance will be posted here on the blog later tomorrow as well.

Wrapping Up Day Six

Day Six of the Washington State gubernatorial election challenge is over. We started a bit late today (9:30 AM) and ended early as well (4:35 PM). The trial resumes tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM.

David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org has become a regular on John Carlson's weekday KVI show, appearing along with local wingnut Stefan Sharkansky. He was on yet again today and we again have clips from the show that you can listen to.

NWPT48



Major highlights today included the testimony of state elections director Nick Handy. Handy testified that Dino Rossi has consistently made claims that were not based on facts in order to undermine the public’s confidence in Washington’s election system.

He also said he didn't give any credence to claims of fraud or ballot box stuffing, which the Republicans alleged in their opening statement on Day One.

The GOP has focused all its energy on King County but neglects to note that there were errors in twenty counties, not just King County.

And, of course, you can read all about Dale Foreman's outrageous cross examination antics in our earlier post today.

Moving on: this afternoon, Democrats called Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger to the stand to testify. David Postman of the Seattle Times reports on why his testimony was so critically important:
Terwilliger is explaining discrepancies -- which a Democratic attorney called "statistical quirks" -- between the number of votes counted in the election and the number of people shown as having voted.

Terwilliger said there are a number of reasons for such discrepancies. One, which he called a "mis-filing exercise," resulted in some voters being shown as having voted in the wrong precincts.

Democratic attorney Kevin Hamilton said, "It's still possible to lose track of absentee ballots after you receive them?"

Terwilliger said that because of human error it was still possible.
Last was John Pearson, the state's deputy elections director. Pearson was supposed to retire last summer, but he has been repeatedly called back to help during the last few months by the Secretary of State's office.

Pearson's testimony was similar to Handy's, although it was much, much shorter.

As usual, we have a full wrap up of what transpired today - and we're continuing to update our index of all Pacific Northwest Portal-affiliated blog posts about the trial.

The Long Emergency - An Intro to the Works of James Howard Kunstler

I found a very intriguing interview of one of America's leading social critics, James Howard Kunstler, in the online environmental magazine Grist.

In the interview, Kunstler offers profound and alarming insights on what he views as the impending collapse of our oil-driven, suburban lifestyle and the postindustrial economy itself.

He argues that because of our monolithic dependence on a now-shrinking global reservoir of fossil fuels, our economy, culture, and lifestyle are not only harmful to the environment but also deeply unsustainable and ultimately self-destructive.

Kunstler argues that the end of cheap oil is already upon us, and that we Americans are in for a rude awakening, a drastic readjustment of lifestyle comparable to the Black Plague of the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.

While some would deride Kunstler as an alarmist doomsayer, his observations are intriguing and insightful nonetheless. Apparently even a dramatic increase in the use of sustainable fuels would do little to forestall the devastation, saying:
"No combination of alternative fuels is going to allow us to run the U.S. the way we're running it or even a substantial fraction of it."
Most disturbing of all, Kunstler notes that:
"They are going to be living in a period of turbulence and political vicissitude. Industrial farming is going to fail by increments and we are going to have to grow more food closer to home. Agriculture is going to become much more central to the American way of life and economy and going to occupy a much larger percentage of jobs. The places that will be successful will be the smaller towns situated near viable agricultural land.

There is going to be this huge new class of people in America who I call the "formerly middle class" and they're going to be really ticked off and bewildered about why they were deprived of their entitlements to the American Dream. The easy motoring lifestyle will be unaffordable for the masses, so the 21st century is going to be much more about staying where you are and much less about being in motion all the time."
Are we really ready to endure such hardships?

Here is a link to the full interview with Grist Magazine.

I highly recommend the works of Mr. Kunstler. In addition to his upcoming book The Long Emergency, he also writes with acerbic wit about urban design and its influence on American culture.

Paramount to his writings is the belief that contemporary suburban design is in large part responsible for the impending catastrophe now looming over us.

Interested in learning more? Consult his other books, The Geography of Nowhere, Home from Nowhere, and The City in Mind, which offer some of the most incisive critiques of modern suburban design ever written. I personally have found him to be an excellent resource for information on planning and environmental policy.

Washington Post Confirms Identity of "Deep Throat"

Stunning news today from California and Washington D.C.:
The Washington Post today confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat," the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon.

The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee.

The three spoke after Felt's family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper's groundbreaking Watergate stories.

The Vanity Fair story said Felt had admitted his "historic, anonymous role" following years of denial.

In a statement today, Woodward and Bernstein said, "W. Mark Felt was 'Deep Throat' and helped us immeasurably in our Watergate coverage. However, as the record shows, many other sources and officials assisted us and other reporters for the hundreds of stories that were written in The Washington Post about Watergate."
After so many years of mystery, we finally know who the top-secret source behind Woodward and Bernstein's reporting really was. Considering Felt's position, it's not a surprise that he is indeed the mysterious "Deep Throat".

Felt should be commended for his role in bringing down Nixon and his crime-ridden administration. The "Deep Throat" story will remain an unforgettable part of 1970s history.

Midday Update: Foreman goes too far

It's been a charged morning inside the Chelan County courthouse, Archerhouse tells us. GOP attorney Dale Foreman has been cross examining Nick Handy, the state elections director under Secretary of State Sam Reed.

NWPT48



And Foreman has taken his questioning too far. It's clear that he wants to be in attack mode, like a dog sniffing out his prey, and in the process, he's crossed the line between what's appropriate and what is not.

While it's not a surprise that we can see the partisan anger bubbling up from inside Foreman, it's ridiculous that he can't seem to control himself. Take this first line:

Foreman: Aren't you a cheerleader for the state auditors?

Dale ForemanNot only is that question completely ridiculous, but it's an insult to Mr. Handy. Clearly, Foreman is seeking to mock Mr. Handy by asking him inappropriately phrased questions. This lack of respect, inside the courtroom, is astonishing and appalling.

In response to Handy's statement that he believes the Secretary of State has been fair and impartial throughout the entire process - and in an uncalled-for display of arrogance and anger, Foreman intoned:

Foreman: "HOW can you say that? How can you say that? You're under oath!"

The Court has recessed for lunch. When it reconvenes, Foreman will finish his cross examination of Handy. And hopefully, Democratic lawyer Jenny Durkan will have some followup for Handy so that Foreman will be properly rebutted.

If you're interested in more reports on this morning's developments, you can check out David Postman's dispatches for the Seattle Times.

If you want a thorough recap of what happened last week, you can find one on our Election Challenge Highlights page. This page is a thorough index of news stories, blogs, columns, and other material related to the trial.

ALSO: In an important development unrelated to the trial:
A former FBI official claims he was "Deep Throat," the long-anonymous source who leaked secrets about President Nixon's Watergate coverup to The Washington Post, his family said Tuesday...W. Mark Felt, 91, was second-in-command at the FBI in the early 1970s. His identity was revealed Tuesday by Vanity Fair magazine, and family members said they believe his account is true.
It's very interesting. Will the Washington Post reporters confirm the story upon Felt's death? We'll have to wait and see.

Week two of trial set to begin

The Court will be reconvening this morning at 9:30 AM for Week Two in the election contest trial. There are four days of trial left. There's been widespread speculation as to when the judge will rule, but this quote from Nick Handy shows there's a strong chance the judge will rule on Friday:
Whatever the judge rules, Handy said he expects it Friday, the expected last day of the trial. So far Bridges has made all his rulings from the bench.

NWPT48



“This guy is just on top of everything,” Handy said.
We'll be paying special attention on Friday as the trial wraps up - so stay tuned.

Once again, Archerhouse is doing a LIVE Trial Diary at Daily Kos, keeping you apprised to developments out of Wenatchee. We'll post more lengthy updates here as well. And Pacific NW Portal has also been updated with the latest news stories on the court case.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Election contest trial: the week ahead

Well, starting tomorrow, our brief respite from the myriad election contest trial will be over, and all eyes will be focused on the Chelan County courthouse once again. On Friday, the GOP rested its case and the Democrats began presenting theirs, beginning by bringing up ten county auditors to testify from the stand.

NWPT48



But in the next four days, we'll see a lot more from the defense as the GOP's claims and allegations are deconstructed and debunked.

I watched the trial every day last week, barely missing a beat. And I wasn't impressed by the GOP's presentation. After I heard Foreman's opening statement on Monday, I became convinced that this case is all about rhetoric and not about solid evidence.

Incompetence is not fraud. That's where a big problem lies: the GOP legal team seems unable to distinguish between the two concepts. They're getting the terms confused.

But even while Rossi's lawyers are mixing things up in court, they're making statements like these outside on the courthouse steps:
“If [Judge Bridges] says we have to show how individual voters voted, we lose,” Virginia-based Republican lawyer Mark Braden said Friday afternoon.
So Braden is basically saying that if Judge Bridges ultimately rejects "proportional deduction", the GOP is screwed.

The judge has allowed the GOP to make its proportional deduction presentation, but he only did that because he wants as much evidence as possible into the record to make it appeal-proof. He doesn't want the state Supreme Court, which doesn't consider new evidence, to send the case back to him. And that's just being smart.

On Friday, Danny Westneat penned a zinger of a column about the GOP'S confusion of fraud and incompetence (Shame on GOP for trial sham) in which he wrote:
That's it? That's all you've got?

After coming into court and saying government officials perpetrated "sinister fraud" to steal the 2004 governor's election, Republicans have finished backing up that claim in the trial in Wenatchee. Their fraud claim, supposedly based on statistical science, wouldn't earn a passing grade on the 10th-grade WASL.

GOP lawyer Dale Foreman told me earlier this week that when I saw the circumstantial evidence of fraud, there would be no doubt in my mind that "somebody was messing with the ballots."

Now that I've seen the evidence, there's no doubt in my mind Republicans ought to be ashamed of themselves.

They've shown plenty of evidence that this election was badly marred by mistakes. But they should retract their bogus fraud allegation, immediately and publicly.
Of course they won't retract anything. It'll be up to the Democrats this week to show how wrong the Republicans really are.

The trial kicks off again tomorrow at 9:30 AM. And once again, NPI member Archerhouse has volunteered to provide live updates for us on Daily Kos. Check in with us tomorrow morning to follow the link to his LIVE Trial Diary.

Government goes too far in eminent domain abuse case

We're almost always at complete odds with the radical "property rights" crowd, out to destroy growth management and the critical areas ordinance.

But in the case of Kelo v. New London, we're surprisingly in agreement with them.

The Kelo case is a unique and disturbing example of when government goes too far and abuses its power of eminent domain. The fight over eminent domain is not directly connected to the debate over growth management and the critical areas ordinance, though there are a few similar themes.

The basic idea behind eminent domain, as spelled out by the Constitution, is that government has the right to take private property for "public use", so long as the owner is compensated. The definition of "public use" is the central theme in the Kelo case. Here's a backgrounder from the Institute for Justice:
On July 19, 2004, the Institute for Justice petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear one of the most important property rights cases in the past 50 years.

Kelo v. New London puts the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court in the clearest possible terms: Does the U.S. Constitution allow the government to take property from one private party in order to give it to another private party because the new owner might produce more profit and more taxes for the City from the land?

The rights of all home and business owners hang in the balance.

In a 4-3 decision earlier this year, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that even if there is nothing wrong with your home, your business or even your neighborhood, the government can use eminent domain to take your land and give it to the developer for his private gain. This ruling is an invitation to disaster because every business generates more taxes than a home and every big business generates more taxes than a small one. If the ruling stands, any property can be taken through eminent domain.

The U.S. Constitution and every state constitution requires that private property only be taken for “public use,” such as a road or a public building, not for private economic gain. The use of eminent domain for the creation of tax revenue is the broadest and most dangerous expansion of eminent domain yet realized.

The time is ripe for the U.S. Supreme Court to once again review the constitutional limits on one of the most serious powers a government has at its disposal. The High Court has not considered an eminent domain case dealing with development since Berman v. Parker was decided 50 years ago. With the appeal of the Connecticut decision, the Court may consider whether the Constitution’s public use requirement means anything at all.
The full backgrounder can be read here. We believe that eminent domain is a power that should be used as sparingly as possible. If there is a way to avoid uprooting people from their homes and avoid the systematic deconstruction of neighborhoods, then that alternative should be embraced as often as possible by elected officials.

Governments should not seize citizens' property and then turn it around for someone else's private use. Using the power of eminent domain to aid developers is wrong. The city of New London and other local governments erred badly when they decided to abuse eminent domain. It's these kind of policies that destroy the balance between the rights of the region/community and the rights of individual citizens.

Celebrating Memorial Day

Memorial DayToday's the day when we honor our fallen soliders - those brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of this country. Those who fought and died in the name of freedom, liberty, equality, and opportunity. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your sacrifice and acknowledge that we, the people of the United States, are forever in your debt. Though this organization may oppose the policies of this administration, we stand firmly behind our troops who have willingly volunteered to serve their country.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Washington must resist the lure of Measure 37

The above blog title refers to a don't miss column in this morning's Sunday Seattle Times, written by Joseph W. Tovar, a city management and planning consultant who presently serves as director of special projects at the University of Washington's Northwest Center for Livable Communities.

Tovar writes about the peril of adopting a law similar to Measure 37:
Proposed laws such as Measure 37 are not needed to assure protection from "unconstitutional takings" because the Fifth Amendment already does that. What such state laws really aim to achieve is a dramatic lowering of the bar for when compensation must be paid. Rather than require payment only in situations when no reasonable economic use remains, such measures would instead require that government pay in all instances when any "reduction in value" occurs.

The number of instances in which zoning restrictions may result in some, but not all, reduction in value is astronomical. Strip malls or casinos would be more profitable for certain property owners than homes in many residentially zoned neighborhoods. Farmlands would have greater market value as subdivisions or industrial parks. Flood plains are attractive locations for car dealerships and truck stops. Building-height caps, billboard bans or construction setbacks from salmon-bearing streams would also "reduce the value" of properties when compared with the absence of such restrictions.

Although the language of Measure 37 states "government shall pay," in reality this means "taxpayers shall pay." In view of the scarcity of tax dollars for needed roads, parks, police, firefighters and libraries, laws such as Measure 37 present communities with a Hobson's choice. As is playing out now in Oregon, cash-strapped local governments would waive enforcement of regulations against claimants — regulations that would continue to apply to everyone else.
Tovar's column offers a history lesson and a warning. It also speculates on what the likelihood of a similar proposal in Washington State, and the ominious sign of a deceptive campaign in Oregon:
There was a startling disconnect between Oregonians' support for Measure 37 and their continuing strong support for their state's growth law. They did not grasp that Measure 37 essentially gutted local governments' ability to regulate land use in a predictable, fair and effective way. As the compensation claims continue to roll into city halls and county courthouses, waivers will be issued and the consequences of the voters' disconnect will become all too apparent.
The whole thing is worth reading. It's a brilliantly-worded commentary on the danger that our state faces from a similar attempt to subvert and destroy the Growth Management Act. "Property rights" advocates are good at making a lot of noise, but their interests lie in being able to do whatever they like. It is a mistake to listen to those kind of voices.

We must think instead of our communities, our region, and our future. Six million people live in Washington. Our state grows denser every day. We cannot afford to go backwards - we must move forwards. Any effort to install a law like Measure 37 must be resoundingly defeated.

French voters reject EU charter

The BBC reports on this breaking news:
French voters have rejected the European Union's proposed constitution in Sunday's referendum, President Jacques Chirac has said.

The vote could deal a fatal blow to the constitution, which needs to be ratified by all 25 members states.

Exit polls published just after voting ended put the "No" side at 55%.

Mr Chirac, who had campaigned hard for a "Yes", accepted the voters' "sovereign decision" - but said France would honour its European commitments.

In his short TV address, he added that the rejection created "a difficult context for the defence of our interests in Europe".
Since we're not French, it's hard to understand the implications of this vote. Nevertheless, we'll make an attempt. Here are some arguments for and against the EU constitution. First, Daily Kos user FrenchSocialist defends the No vote:
The Constitution would make it impossible for a leftist government to implement progressive policies, and that the Constitution would force every nation to conform to the right-wing agenda of a free unregulated laissez-faire market. The Constitution's vision of unity imposes a decidedly right-wing economic model through political force.
Now, Daily Kos user Jerome a Paris defends the Yes vote:
Not approving the Constitution will weaken the European institutions and set back by several years the emergence of Europe as a political power on the world stage. The US will be able to easily continue its policies of divide and rule in Europe, finding lackeys like Blair and Berlusconi today and others in the future.
So make up your own mind. Good or bad? You decide.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Fighting Initiative 912

On the eve of the trial's first day last Sunday, we announced the relaunch of Washington Defense, a project website we've had for a couple years which we are transforming into a campaign against Initiative 912.

We encourage you to take a look and spread the word about it.

Speaking of I-912, John Carlson mentioned yesterday on air that their anti-roads initiative has run into a little roadblock - or, shall we say, pothole.

I-912 was filed a couple of weeks ago (see Washington Defense for more details) but a concerned group of state leaders and citizens have recently challenged the current initiative ballot title and summary (written by the Attorney General's office) in court as allowed by state law to obtain better language.

The group includes former Governor Dan Evans, former Seattle mayor Wes Uhlman, and Rep. Shirley Hankins.

While the challenge to the ballot title isn't likely to hurt or delay the Initiative 912 campaign very much, it's welcome to see that this KVI-sponsored effort is being closely watched and monitored.

One more for the Idaho blogosphere

Note: Our new regular feature covering the Daily Show highlights does not appear again this week because the show was on hiatus.

The team behind Pacific Northwest Portal has discovered another progressive Idaho blog that's been missing from our Blogs & Websites directory. We're pleased to announce the inclusion of the Political Game in our directory.

We're always looking to expand our directory - so if you know of a progressive blog or website in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho that we don't have, please head over to our feedback page and let us know right away!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Wrapping Up Day Five

Day Five of the Washington State gubernatorial election challenge is over. We started a bit late today (9:30 AM) but also ended late as well (5:30 PM). The trial resumes next Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM.

David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org has become a regular on John Carlson's weekday KVI show, appearing along with local wingnut Stefan Sharkansky. He was on yet again today and we will again have a clip from the show that you can listen to - stay tuned.

NWPT48



So, recapping this afternoon (you can read the morning recap in our last post): the Democrats began presenting their case by calling ten different county auditors/elections administrators to the stand. The auditors were all pretty much asked the same questions.

As Jim Klockow notes:
Democrats have focused on the persistent discrepancies between voters credited with voting and actual ballots cast or that they don't go through the process of crediting voters in the way King County does.

...Democrats are clearly trying to prove that the problems that Republicans are focusing in King County happen in other counties of the state as well, including counties that went for Rossi.
This is the end of Week One. Week Two begins next Tuesday, and the Democrats will start off by calling more witnesses to the stand. We'll finish hearing from county auditors then.

As usual, we have a full wrap up of what transpired today - and we're continuing to update our index of all Pacific Northwest Portal-affiliated blog posts about the trial.

Trial at halfway mark

It's already past noon in Wenatchee, and the judge has finally recessed the court for an hour. This morning, the Republicans finally rested their case, and the Democrats asked the court to dismiss the election challenge entirely. The judge refused, as expected.

With the GOP done making its presentation, it's now the Democrats' turn to make their case in the trial. They'll start this afternoon and finish a week from today.

It's not clear when the judge will rule. He may do so on the last day of the trial, or he may wait until afterwards.

If you want a thorough recap of what happened this past week, you can find one on our Election Challenge Highlights page. This page is a thorough index of news stories, blogs, columns, and other material related to the trial.

I'd like to take a moment here to congratulate NPI member Archerhouse for his tireless work covering the trial for all of us in his LIVE Trial Diaries on Daily Kos. It takes a lot of work to watch a trial, digest it, and report it continuously.

I know many people appreciate what he's doing and thank him for providing such a useful service. It certainly allows me to forego doing the same thing here on this blog, thus we are able to complement each other's efforts.

You can check out his latest LIVE Trial Diary here.

Last day in first week of trial begins

The court just reconvened earlier at 9:30 AM. Today, the GOP will be wrapping up its case. They'll be seeking to admit more evidence into the record and we'll hear some last testimony from GOP witnesses. Then the Republicans will rest their case. The Democrats will seek to have the case dismissed entirely.

NWPT48



If Judge Bridges refuses (and he will) then Democrats will begin presenting their case, which will take up the remainder of the time in this trial.

And, once again, Archerhouse is doing a LIVE Trial Diary at Daily Kos, keeping you apprised to developments out of Wenatchee. We'll post more lengthy updates here as well. And Pacific NW Portal has also been updated with the latest news stories on the court case.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Wrapping Up Day Four

Day Four of the Washington State gubernatorial election challenge is over. We started a bit early today (8:30 AM) but also ended early as well (4:05 PM). The trial resumes tomorrow at 9:30 AM.

David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org is becoming a regular on John Carlson's weekday KVI show, appearing along with famed local wingnut Stefan Sharkansky. He was on yet again today and we again have a clip from the show that you can listen to.

NWPT48



We covered most of the day pretty well with our Noontime Briefing that we posted earlier. Because of the early ending today, there's not a lot to report that happened in the afternoon. UW Professor Anthony Gill did testify for the GOP. His testimony was basically a backup to everything Katz said - although Gill said under oath that he arrived at the same conclusions "independently".

One other important thing happened: the judge decided to postpone ruling on the outcome of the Frye hearing. This decision fits into a predictable pattern Judge Bridges has been adhering to since the beginning of this case. He wants to hear as much as he can so nobody can complain that they lost because their case wan't heard.

What this means is the GOP is going to proceed with the presentation of their case. The Frye hearing was still important, though, and the judge will make a decision - just not today. The Democrats will ask Bridges to dismiss the case entirely tomorrow. They know he won't do this, though, so they're ready to begin making their case the moment the GOP legal team rests.

Lawyers David Burman and Mark Braden were the go-to lawyers for today, with hardly any of the other lawyers making an appearance at the podium.

As usual, we have a full wrap up of what transpired today - and we're continuing to update our index of all Pacific Northwest Portal-affiliated blog posts about the trial.

Bolton temporarily blocked

We take a break from trial reporting to bring you this breaking news:
After hours of heated exchanges over President Bush's nominee for the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a Senate vote to cut off debate on John Bolton failed late Thursday.

The cloture vote would have paved the way for a final Senate vote on the controversial nominee.

Republicans needed 60 votes to cut off the debate, and the vote was 56-42.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said he wants a vote on the nomination to occur before the Memorial Day holiday.

NWPT45



After cloture, Bolton would need a simple majority to be confirmed by the Senate, which has 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one independent.

The debate on Bolton's nomination will now likely resume next month after senators return from their weeklong holiday break.
Very good! This is a smart move on the Democrats' part. It's not a true filibuster; the Dems are just holding off on cutting off the debate until the Bush Administration stops grandstanding and hands over the information they've requested on Bolton.

Also, we've heard that apparently, Democrats Landrieu (Louisiana) and Nelson (Nebraska) voted to cut off debate...we wish they would stick with the caucus.

Noon Briefing from Chelan County

The Chelan County Superior Court is once again on lunch break, so we're bringing you a noon briefing covering what's happened today.

Finally, the trial isn't boring any more. Since we're through Reed's deposition, as well as Huennekens' and Way's testimony, we finally got to the exciting part - the Frye Hearing. It began this morning after both sides had finished questioning Clark Bensen, a factual expert for the GOP who also works for Polidata.

NWPT48



The GOP called Professor Jonathon Katz to the stand. They'd barely gotten started when Democratic lawyer David Burman raised an objection, triggering the Frye Hearing. The Frye Hearing is a legal test to determine whether that the science the expert witnesses basing their case on is accepted, sound, and reliable.

So, basically, the Democrats were challenging the methodology and the analysis Katz has done. They did this in two main ways: (1) First, Burman conducted a lengthy cross examination of Katz, and (2) the Democrats brought up their own experts - Christopher Adolph and Mark Handcock - to explain why Katz' methodology is not sound science.

The methodology that Katz is presenting to the court is known as "proportional deduction" (other names have been proposed for it; Democrats call it "speculative attribution"). Based on geographical data, the Republicans want to sutract illegal votes based on the voting patterns of an individual precinct.

This approach is flawed because, as the Democrats clearly pointed out, it does not take into account any other information - particularly demographic information. Legal voters and illegal voters are simply not exactly alike.

Here's a few excerpts from David Postman's notes:
Democrats' expert witnesses have criticized the Republican theory of "proportional deduction" in part because the sample of illegal votes the GOP is using was hand-selected by Republicans; that is, it doesn't necessarily reflect the entire universe of illegal votes.
Especially since the Democrats have their own list of felon voters to use as backup in the case. Another excerpt:
Before the lunch break Burman asked Handcock about the one election case he has written about. It turns out that the Pennsylvania case involved proportional deduction, and Handcock said it had included a survey of voters and testimony from a number of the alleged illegal voters.
It's worth nothing that the GOP's case here didn't include a survey of voters or testimony. The GOP says felon voters cannot be trusted to tell the truth. Isn't that interesting? Another dispatch from Postman:
UW professor Christopher Adolph, the Democratic Party's expert witness, said that since 1950 scientists have been cautioned about "aggregation bias" and "ecological fallacy" that could skew results when using ecological inference.

He said one example is that the Republican theory assumes that the sample of alleged felons are exactly the same as the total group of voters in a given precinct. But, he said, the list of felons has a much higher percentage of males than the wider population.

The Republican method "is very badly flawed," Adolph said, because it "commits the ecological fallacy and assumes felons are just like everyone else."
Adolph, by the way, made an excellent presentation and was great on the stand. He was very cool under fire when questioned by Mark Braden, one of the GOP's lawyers. For never having testified in court before, he made a very good showing.

Archerhouse has thoroughly covered this morning's events in his LIVE Trial Diary. You can find more specific summaries about what transpired by following the link above.

Finally, we've got some background information for you on all of the factual and expert witnesses who have testified so far.

Clark Bensen
Clark Bensen, the GOP's factual witness, is a data analyst and attorney long active in politics at the local, state and national levels. He is a Republican, and according to his testimony, his political experience is "solely Republican". He founded Polidata, his own company, in 1974. The company undertakes the collection, analysis and dissemination of data related to the "art of politics".

>> Website: Clark Bensen, Polidata

Jonathan Katz
Jonathan N. Katz, the GOP's first expert witness, is a Professor of Political Science at the California Institute of Technology. He also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Social Sciences at Caltech. His research interests focus on American politics, political methodology (statistics applied to political science), and formal political theory.

>> Website: Jonathan Katz, CalTech

Christopher Adolph
Christopher Adolph, the Democrats' first expert witness, is an assistant professor in political science at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is also a core faculty member of the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (factsheet). He works in the fields of comparative political economy and political methodology.

>> Website: Christopher Adolph, University of Washington

Mark Handcock
Mark Handcock, the Democrats' second expert witness, is a Professor of Statistics and Sociology at the University of Washington. He recieved his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Chicago in 1989. His research involves methodological development, and is based largely on motivation from questions in the social sciences. His work focuses on the development of statistical models for the analysis of social network data, spatial processes and longitudinal data arising in labor economics.

>> Website: Mark Handcock, University of Washington

There you go. We'll post another update this evening with a full day's recap.

Trial back on early this morning

The court is reconvening at 8:30 AM this morning to continue hearing the gubernatorial election challenge. The Frye hearing is expected to take place today and or tomorrow, if necessary. This hearing will determine whether the judge will accept "proportional deduction", a central part of the Republicans' case.

NWPT48



Experts hired by the GOP will try to make the case to the judge that the science they're basing their case on is accepted, sound, and reliable. First, though, the Democrats will cross examine the GOP's factual witness, Clark Benson.

And, once again, Archerhouse is doing a LIVE Trial Diary at Daily Kos, keeping you apprised to developments out of Wenatchee. We'll post more lengthy updates here as well. And Pacific NW Portal has also been updated with the latest news stories on the court case.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wrapping Up Day Three

Day Three of the Washington State gubernatorial election challenge is complete.

Our own David Goldstein (Goldy) of HorsesAss.org was back on John Carlson's show yet again today, along with Stefan Sharkansky of (un)SoundPolitics. We recorded an audio clip of the show, which you can listen to here. You can also access yersterday's clip from the Audio Archive on that same page.

NWPT48



Highlights from today:

Nicole Way's testimony took up much of the day - including all of the morning. Way is the mail ballot supervisor for King County Elections and the GOP's "star witness". The GOP is hoping to use her testimony as a cornerstone of their case. David Postman reported on Judge Bridges' dealings with Way:
Judge John Bridges did his most extensive questioning of a witness yet, going column-by-column through a mail ballot summary and asking a King County supervisor how it was produced. The supervisor, Nicole Way, has already testified that one of the numbers on the report was fudged because the county had lost track of how many absenetee ballots had been returned to the county by voters.
If you're watching the trial, then you probably understand how boring it has been. No smoking gun has emerged for the GOP, and the testimony has revealed little that wasn't already in the depositions.

To put it simply, the trial is no news. And yet, the trial has a lot of significance. There's a reason why we're paying attention to it. It's important, but it is also boring. Things are likely to get more interesting tomorrow and Friday as well as next week when the courtroom debate heats up over the use of "proportional deduction" methodology.

The judge has said he'll hear this evidence. But he made it very clear earlier this month in the last pretrial hearing that he was going to hear it, not accept it outright. He may hear everything the Republicans have to say and then rule against them. Doing so helps insulate him from being overturned in an appeal.

Judge Bridges has been called an impartial judge by many people, and I would agree with that statement. The judge has, for the most part, been very fair, and has brought a degree of respectability to this election contest. But Judge Bridges is also a very smart judge.

And unlike [Pierce County Superior Court] Judge Stephanie Arend, who was overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court last December, Bridges is thinking ahead. Doing so allows him to keep the doors open as long as possible for both the Democrats and the Republicans to fan the flames of their arguments.

His strategy is to let each party make their presentation and then make up his own mind - which is what a good judge does. Ultimately, the judge will have to make a ruling. And Bridges simply has understood from the beginning that no matter how he rules, his decision will be appealed. So he is putting forth his best effort to make a solid decision.

A note to all you trial watchers out there: The court reconvenes tomorrow at 8:30 AM instead of 9:00 AM. If you haven't been watching the trial at all, you might want to consider tuning in during the next couple of days. Around the Seattle area, you can tune in on your cable television to Channel 23 (TVW). If you don't have TVW on your television, you can watch streaming video or audio here (both Windows Media and Real formats).

Tomorrow morning, the Democratic team will start cross examination of Clark Benson, the GOP's first "factual" witness. Then both sides hope Bridges will then hold the Frye Hearing on the Republicans' expert testimony.

The Frye Hearing will determine whether Bridges will accept the science of the "propotional deduction" methodology. If the GOP can proceed, it'll call its two expert witnesses - both professors - to lay out their case.

We have a full wrap up of what transpired today - and we're continuing to update our index of all Pacific Northwest Portal-affiliated blog posts about the trial.

UH-OH for White House: FBI memo reports Guantanamo guards flushing Koran

Breaking from Reuters:
WASHINGTON - An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

NWPT46



The release of the declassified document came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk.

The magazine retracted the article, which had triggered protests in Afghanistan in which 16 people died.

The newly released document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made days earlier by a detainee, whose name was redacted, in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also was withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the memo and a series of other FBI documents it obtained from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet," the FBI agent wrote.

"The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things," the FBI agent wrote.

The Pentagon stated last week it had received "no credible and specific allegations" that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo had put a Koran in the toilet.
This doesn't look good for the White House or the Pentagon. Now what are they going to say about this "false" story?

Lunchtime in Wenatchee

By now, both David Goldstein and I have become thoroughly bored watching this trial...I suspect NPI member Archerhouse, who is continuing to update his LIVE Trial Diaries with the latest information in the election challenge, is also weary.

NWPT48



The whole morning has pretty much been an attempt by the GOP to trick Nicole Way into contradicting herself...and to supply testimony the GOP hopes can be used to show fraud occurred in King County.

Democratic attorney Jenny Durkan is halfway through questioning Nicole Way in cross-examination. The court has recessed for lunch and is reconvening at 1:30 PM. So, at least we'll have a break until then.

Anyway, Archerhouse's reports are pretty detailed, if you want more specifics on what happened. He'll create another LIVE Trial Diary for this afternoon.

David Postman of the Seattle Times continues to send us his dispatches from the courthouse in Wenatchee as well. In fact, Postman is so bored, he's reporting on who's making courtroom appearances (apparently, Attorney General Rob McKenna is coming in this afternoon) and he was sketching out a brief bio of WA Republican power magnate Clyde Ballard.

Owen confirmed, Bolton debate begins

We take a break from trial reporting to bring you this wonderful news:
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed the first of President Bush's disputed judicial nominees, part of a truce between Democrats and Republicans that will allow the White House to get some of its most conservative choices on the federal bench.
By a largely party-line vote of 56 to 43, the Republican-led chamber confirmed Texan Priscilla Owen for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Great! Another right wing extremist on one of our appeals courts. We can only hope that the spotlight will be on Ms. Owen and that she will moderate some of her extreme views.

Debate is now underway on John Bolton...there is widespread speculation that some Republicans may vote against him. Whether there will enough GOP opposition remains to be seen....

Another day in the trial set to begin

The court will be reconvening at 9 AM this morning to continue hearing the gubernatorial election challenge. The GOP is expected to call more witnesses today, including Nicole Way, who is said to be a key witness in their charges of fraud.

The Frye hearing is also expected to take place today and or tomorrow. This hearing will determine whether the judge will accept "proportional deduction", a central part of the Republicans' case.

NWPT48



And, once again, Archerhouse is doing a LIVE Trial Diary at Daily Kos, keeping you apprised to developments out of Wenatchee, and we'll post more lengthy updates here as well. Pacific NW Portal has also been updated with the latest news stories on the court case.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Wrapping Up Day Two

Day Two of the Washington State gubernatorial election challenge is just about over, with about twenty minutes left today in court as of my writing this.

Our own David Goldstein (Goldy) of HorsesAss.org was back on John Carlson's show today, along with Stefan Sharkansky of (un)SoundPolitics. We recorded an audio clip from the show, which you can listen to here. You can also access yersterday's clip from the Audio Archive on that same page.

NWPT48



Major highlights from today:
Bridges...ruled that Republicans can introduce evidence of the 875 absentee ballots they say cannot be connected to any voter in King County.

Bridges said he doesn't think the allegation is new. There was a reference to the same problem, he said, in state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance's initial statement filed with the election contest petition.
That was from the Seattle Times' David Postman, who summed up the ruling nicely. As we've said before, this is not a surprise...and it shows the judge doesn't want to preclude evidence.

Chelan County Auditor Evelyn Arnolds was the first witness called by the GOP today, as we noted earlier in our Midday Trial Update.

Bill Huennekens, King County Elections Supervisor, has been on the stand for pretty much the rest of the day...and the GOP is trying to grill him as much as possible. Keep in mind that they're alleging fraud occurred in King County - it's the centerpiece of the case - so this was important testimony for them.

Maguire at several points in time tried to get Huennekens to contradict himself, although Kevin Hamilton, an attorney for the Democrats, raised an objection each time. Bridges sutained many of the objections, although he overruled the majority of them. As David Postman noted:
Democratic Party attorney Kevin Hamilton continually objected to the line of questioning, saying Huennekens' knowledge of the report was hearsay because he only learned it was false from talking to other staff members.
Postman also has some nice quotes from Democratic attorney Kevin Hamilton, who raised a strong counterpoint to Maguire's arguments during the cross examination.
Hamilton's goal is to show the county elections staff as dedicated public servants and to portray any errors in the election count as inevitable, given that 300,000 people voted at the county's polling places Nov. 2.

Hamilton: "Is it possible with 300,000 people showing up on one day, being managed by 3,000 poll workers, that everything would work perfectly without any paperwork errors at all?"

Huennekens: "I don't think it's conceivable for it to be absolutely perfect."

Hamilton: "Democracy is sometimes messy?"

Huennekens: "Sure, yeah."

Hamilton: "But you do your best to conduct the administration of the election in a fair and impartial manner?"

Huennekens: "Yes, I believe we do."
Bridges also noted that the Frye hearing, which will decide the whether proportional deduction for illegal votes is acceptable or not, will be Wednesday (tomorrow) and Thursday.

We'll post further updates as we get them.

We have a full wrap up of what transpired today - and we're continuing to update our index of all Pacific Northwest Portal-affiliated blog posts about the trial.

Midday trial update

We're halfway through Day Two of the gubernatorial election challenge trial. Archerhouse has been keeping us informed as to what's been going on at his LIVE Trial Diary. An AP report has also been posted from Wenatchee summarizing what happened this morning:

NWPT48


Judge [Bridges] ruled Tuesday that Republicans should be allowed to introduce evidence about King County's inability to match votes to voters...

The question is how far Bridges will let Republicans go with their claims. Democrats protested that the GOP unveiled the fraud allegations at the very last minute, with no evidence to back them up. Republican attorneys responded that they've been scrambling to gather evidence and were able to conduct some key depositions only a few days ago.

On Monday, Bridges agreed that fraud had never been part of the GOP's election contest petition, and said Republican lawyers couldn't use it as a basis for throwing out the election. But he left the door open for considering the evidence.

"The court does not believe there is a fraud causation element to this case, for whatever that's worth," Bridges said. "I am not saying that the evidence is not admissible."
Once again, Bridges is showing his evenhandedness and his foresight by not closing any doors prematurely.

Today the GOP legal team brought up Evelyn Arnolds, the Chelan County Auditor, to testify about elections procedures. The GOP is trying to show that other counties conducted the election differently than King County. The Democrats' Jenny Durkan provided strong counterpoints in her cross-examination.

Then the GOP called up Bill Huennekens. He'll likely be on the witness stand for much of the rest of the day. The GOP is on full attack mode with Huennekens - Maguire even asked the court if he could treat the King County elections supervisor as a hostile witness. King County deputy prosecuting attorney Don Porter objected, and Bridges subsequently denied Maguire's request. David Goldstein has joked that the Republicans are out to Kill Bill.

Archerhouse's reports are pretty detailed, if you want more specifics on what happened. He'll create another LIVE Trial Diary for this afternoon.

David Postman of the Seattle Times continues to send us his dispatches from the courthouse in Wenatchee as well.

David Goldstein is also providing similar updates for his readers at HorsesAss.org (Tuesday’s tedious election contest blog)

Trial resumes this morning

The court will be reconvening at 9 AM to continue hearing the gubernatorial election challenge. Judge Bridges is expected to rule today on a motion filed yesterday by the Democrats seeking to exclude new charges of fraud from the case.

The judge asked the GOP legal team to prepare a written response yesterday, which he will consider today.

NWPT48



Once again, Archerhouse is doing a LIVE Trial Diary at Daily Kos, keeping you apprised to developments out of Wenatchee, and we'll post more lengthy updates here as well. Pacific NW Portal has also been updated with the latest news stories on the court case.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wrapping Up Day One

Day One of the Washington State gubernatorial election challenge is just about over, with about a half an hour left today in court as of my writing this.

Our own David Goldstein (Goldy) of HorsesAss.org waded into enemy territory today with his nine minute appearance on John Carlson's KVI AM 570 show. We recorded an audio clip of the show, which you can listen to here.

NWPT48



It hasn't been an extremely eventful day, but the Seattle P-I is running a story entitled, "Setback for GOP in governor election trial" (by P-I reporter Gregory Roberts, with reporting from the AP):
Republicans suffered a major blow today to their late-developing strategy to claim fraud in the 2004 governor's race when a judge said that claim cannot stand as a key to their legal challenge of Democrat Christine Gregoire's 129-vote victory.

The decision by Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges was critical because a challenger most likely would need to establish fraud to get an election overturned simply because the number of illegal votes exceeds the margin of victory.

Without fraud, the challenger - in this case, GOP candidate Dino Rossi - faces the much more difficult burden of showing that the winner owes victory to improper votes.

Bridges' decision came in response to a Democratic motion challenging Republican attorneys' fraud allegations.

After Bridges' decision, Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane said the Republicans would still be able to present evidence of illegal votes.
It's an interesting take on today's events. The judge hasn't yet ruled on the Democrats' motion to have the fraud charge excluded (which they presented earlier today) because he wanted to give the GOP time to craft a response. He'll rule on the motion tomorrow. Bridges did agree with Democrats that fraud has not been an official part of the Republicans' claim. But he stopped short of excluding the evidence.

We have a full wrap up of what transpired today - and we're launching our index of all Pacific Northwest Portal-affiliated blog posts about the trial.

Filibuster Update

A deal has been reached. Senator McCain describes the details (courtesy Think Progress):
We’re here, 14 Republicans and Democrats, seven on each side, to announce that we have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate and pull the institution back from a precipice that would have had, in the view of all 14 of us, lasting impact, damaging impact on the institution.

I’m grateful for the efforts of Senator Frist and Senator Reid to come to an agreement on this issue. We appreciate very much their leadership. And we all appreciate each other’s involvement, but probably the two that I’d like to point out here that provided us with a beacon of where we should go is Senator Byrd, our distinguished senior Democrat leader, and Senator Warner who both were vital to this process.

You have before you the agreement and I won’t go in the details of it. But basically, all 14 of us have pledged to vote for cloture for the judicial nominees Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Priscilla Owen.

The signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on two judges, William Myers and Henry Saad. Future nominations will – the signatories will exercise their responsibilities and the nominees should only be filibusters under extraordinary circumstances.

And in light of this commitment and a continuing commitment, we will try to do everything in our power to prevent filibusters in the future.

This agreement is meant in the finest traditions of the Senate it was entered into: trust, respect and mutual desire to see the institution of the Senate function in ways that protect the rights of the minority.

So I’m very pleased to stand here with my other colleagues tonight and I believe that that good-will will prevail.

Nothing in this agreement prevents any individual senator from exercising his or her individual rights.

I would like to ask Senator Nelson and Senator Pryor, but I want to, again, thank my colleagues. And I believe that most Americans would like for us to work these issues out rather than pursue the procedure that we have just departed from, I hope.
We agree with Kos: this was the second best option. Sometimes you just have to settle for less. Frist isn't looking too good right now.

Moving into the afternoon

So the opening statements are over and done with: now, we move on to the real substance of this case. They'll discuss a motion from the Democrats (probably about burden of proof) and then move into the case itself.

Archerhouse is posting updates again this afternoon - he's started a new LIVE Trial Diary to cover the rest of the day.

NWPT48



Goldy also posted his thoughts on the GOP's opening statement earlier this morning (Courtroom update: observations on the GOP’s opening statement) as well as the Democrats' response (Courtroom update: the Dems strike back).

TJ from Also Also has also (no pun intended) chimed in with his morning recap: WA Gov: Day One, Morning Update.

David Postman continues to update his dispatch page from Wenatchee, providing new information.

The P-I and the Tacoma News Tribune are relying on the AP for updates, though their own reporters will probably write the articles for tomorrow's papers.

Live Trial Diary on Daily Kos...

One of our members (Kos username: archerhouse) is posting updates to a live trial diary on Daily Kos. You can go there to follow developments in the trial. We will update here as well, but more slowly than he will be updating, and with less detail, although we will offer more commentary on the overall progress of the trial.

NWPT48



Republican attorney Dale Foreman has a new claim he's whisked out of his sleeve:
"This is a case of election fraud," GOP attorney Dale Foreman said in his opening statement. "This election was stolen from the legal voters of this state by a bizarre combination of illegal voters and bungling bureaucrats."

Foreman surprised the court with a new claim, saying Republicans will prove that Democrats stole the election by stuffing the ballot box in Gregoire's two strongest precincts, and "losing" votes in two of Republican Dino Rossi's strongest precincts.

"The King County data shows partisan bias and not random error," Foreman said. "If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck."
Now Foreman is starting to sound like Stefan Sharkansky and his rag tag chorus over at UnSoundPolitics. Stolen election, indeed. They won't be able to prove their absurd claim of ballot box stuffing.

David Postman of the Seattle Times is publishing dispatches from the Chelan County courtoom:
[Democratic lawyer] Hamilton attacked the Republicans' fraud claim by saying the party has not tried to collect hard evidence of the allegations. He said Republicans have not deposed any polling place inspectors or observers about claims of ballot fraud. Nor have they done an independent count of ballots or envelopes in King County to answer questions about discrepancies in the count.
The Democrats are now making their opening statement at the time of this update.

GOP's hopes of prevailing in challenge are slim

It starts today.

The most anticipated event in the election challenge court case will begin this morning and last for almost two weeks: the trial.

Republicans will present evidence arguing that the election should be thrown out. Democrats will present evidence arguing that the results of the election should not be overturned. Numerous issues will come up during the next few days.

The trial will center on human and machine error in the slimmest of margins: the 0.07 percent of the vote that is being contested because felons or other illegal voters might have cast ballots.

The burden of proof is on the Republicans. They're the ones who complain of illegal votes, discrepancies, problems with reconciliation, and election workers who made mistakes in counting ballots. They're the ones who brazenly claim felon votes put Gregoire over the top. They're the ones who allege fraud but can't prove it.

This trial is not a contest Chris Vance can win by sending out press releases, holding press conferences, or bringing in big shots like Slade Gorton to verbally kick around King County's elections division.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges has gone to great lengths to be as evenhanded as he can. So far, the wingnut crowd has left Bridges alone. But if he makes a decision they don't like, just watch as they jump on the attack bandwagon.

But don't forget that it was the Republicans who went judge shopping in the first place. Hence Borders et al. vs. King County et al.

Based on what Judge Bridges has already said and ruled on, we see the likelihood of the GOP prevailing in this challenge to be very slim indeed. Judge Bridges' strategy so far has been not to close any doors prematurely, which has allowed the GOP to proceed along with this court case.

But in every hearing since the case began, the judge has sounded a cautious tone and paid careful attention to prior precedent. By keeping the doors open, the judge is building a wall around any appeal of his decision. That's why he's allowing the GOP to present its "statistical deduction" theory to the court.

We'll be closely tracking developments in the case here on this blog, and regularly updating the special sections on Pacific NW Portal. You may notice the home page has changed. We've added a special coverage section for the election challenge as well as a Filibuster Wire connecting you to the latest from Daily Kos, which will be following developments in the U.S. Senate very closely.

You can watch the trial on TVW (available to most cable subscribers) or stream it online at TVW's website.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

NO on Initiative 912: Washington Defense Relaunched

The Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) is relaunching Washington Defense into a campaign site to fight against Initiative 912 - the initiative to repeal the gas tax passed by the state Legislature back in April.

John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur's rhetoric has become rather tiresome. Their "No New Gas Tax" website is full of lies, and we've decided to set the record straight by giving our side a clear, visible online presence.

We have registered a new domain name for Washington Defense. You can access the site via this URL.

We will continue adding to the site and improving it as events unfold and we discover new information.

Going nonpartisan is a terrible idea

In Oregon, the state Senate recently passed SB 161 - a bill which would make all of the legislative positions nonpartisan. It would also make the Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and Attorney General all non-partisan positions as well.

Kevin from Preemptive Karma writes:
As a long-time Independent I am highly intrigued by this. Of course it came from the narrowly Dem-dominated Senate and now goes to the GOP-dominated House. So it's far from a done deal. I don't know whether Gov. Kulingoski has a position on it and if so what that position might be. But it's exciting that it's gotten this far. And I very much agree with what state Senator Atkinson said.
We strongly disagree with this bill. It's a terrible idea.

This law solves absolutely nothing. If anything, it makes it even harder for voters to figure out what a candidate stands for. When candidates identify themselves as a Democrat or as a Republican helps voters to understand what positions a candidate holds on certain issues.

It's a mistake to expect that voters will become more informed as a result of eliminating partisan identification. The last thing many people want to do is pay more attention to politics. A sweeping change like this would only irritate people who have come to depend on being able to identify who is a Democrat or a Republican.

Grants Pass Republican Jason Atkinson tells Oregon Public Broadcasting:
I think that this bill does two things: 1) it might start to heal the black eye that this body has with the rest of Oregon. And 2) it gives a great opportunity for the little guy to get back involved. Isn't that what we're all here for?
Well, Representative Atkinson, we think it does neither. In fact, we think it does the opposite. You can't just write off political parties and suddenly expect everything to get better. The conflicts will still be there. The only difference will be that everything is less open because all positions will be "nonpartisan".

Kevin from Preemptive Karma asks his audience in his blog: "Could it [SB 161] hurt Oregon?"

Our answer is yes, Kevin. We believe this bill will only do harm to Oregon.

No good can result from trying to axe political parties. As we note in our Special Report on the Top Two Primary:
Voters should bear in mind that political parties provide important services to the democratic process (and that's why all democracies have them).

Some of these services include organization, fundraising, candidate recruitment and training, and the development of stands on issues (a party platform) and the ability to help voters identify candidates with a particular set of positions.

If the parties wither away, other institutions will step in to fill the void.

Without party organizations, elections will degenerate into personality contests. Candidates who already have, or have the money to buy name recognition will enjoy a much greater advantage.

Incumbents, celebrity candidates, and wealthy individuals will become more powerful. And the media would be in an even stronger position to promote their favorite candidates.
Is that really what the voters of Oregon want? We don't think so.

Seattle Times: Toss out felon vote, Gregoire still wins

A Seattle Times exclusive investigation, released this morning, shows that taking out the votes of people the GOP and the Democrats have alleged are felons still results in a win for Christine Gregoire.

The Times' findings are a disaster for the Republicans' claims in the court case:
State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance responded to The Times' analysis by emphasizing the other elements of Rossi's case.

"I'm not disputing the factual things that you've found, but you've got to place it in the context of the case," Vance said. "The felons are just one aspect of the case."
Now, they're just "one aspect".

After all the huffing and puffing the GOP did over the felon vote, it turns out that we were right after all. Getting rid of felon votes does not hand the election to Dino Rossi - even using his own "proportional deduction" method.
It seems the GOP is still trying to go with its "total mess" argument, which is going to collapse in court like a house of cards.

It's highly unlikely the GOP can prevail in this court case. They will have to prove that illegal votes put Christine Gregoire in office. And they don't have any proof of fraud by election administrators or workers.

That isn't something they're going to be able to do. The entire court case seems to rest on top of the "proportional deduction" argument the GOP is making. But that argument will not win them their case.

This lawsuit never should have been filed in the first place. It's the last in a series of desperate maneuvers by the GOP to get Dino Rossi installed as governor. When this court case is over, we hope they quit for good and move on.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Top Two primary a divisive issue

Note: Our new regular feature covering the Daily Show highlights does not appear this week because the show was on hiatus.

The Top Two primary (see our report on why it's unsound for Washington State) remains a divisive issue here in Washington State. It seems a lot of Democrats and Republicans disagree with their party leadership and wish the parties weren't suing to toss out the system imposed by voters in November.

(By the way, you can read the legal brief filed by the Democrats in the case here).

Bloggers Tim Copeland of Blue Washington and Emmett O'Connell from Olympia Time disagree with the parties' lawsuits.

Emmett writes:
"I think the parties' lawsuit against the Top Two, or at least the Democratic Party's, is short sighted in terms of trying to grow our grassroots. The voters have already rejected the open primary option once for the Top Two. From the party leadership point of view, don't you think it would be worse if the voters eventually made all elections non-partisan? If we keep on fighting the voters, we'll eventually get there."
Voters rejected the open primary system because they're not used to having that kind of primary. The blanket primary had been in place for about 70 years.

The bottom line is that the state simply cannot violate the Constitution of the United States of America. If this "top-two" primary system violates the parties' freedom of association (and we agree with them that it does) then it has to go. The court will decide.

It doesn't matter whether a majority of the state's voters like that kind of outcome or not. It doesn't matter if the Grange likes it either. They can't set up a system that doesn't pass constitutional muster.

Most of the rest of the country uses open or closed primary systems without any problem. If they can do it, so can we. It will take some time to transition to an open primary system, but it's worth it.

We believe a proposal to make all elections nonpartisan would fail miserably. Almost all voters I've talked to who say they support the blanket primary and Top Two also say they don't support a proposal to make elections nonpartisan.

The main backlash from the new primary system came directly from the state Grange last year, not voters. As Goldy points out in his blog today, these morons were so stupid that they didn't even bother to refile their initiative proposal after the Legislature changed the law.

They wrote their initiative before the adoption of the open primary and didn't file a new initiative after the law had been changed. This means that the law still says voters have to vote on a partisan ballot. The only difference is that only the top two vote getters will move on...so one Democrat and one Republican.


Secretary of State Sam Reed doesn't care what the law says, though. He's going to try and hold a Louisiana style crossover primary anyway. We strongly disapprove of this arrogant decision.

With any luck, the federal court will get rid of the top two primary system and reinstate a proper open primary system that respects the rights of political parties.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Portal and Me

Frank Sennett from the Spokane Spokesman-Review has a column today in the paper's "Weekend" section about Pacific Northwest Portal, and also, me (Young progressive schools state's right's wing).

The column talks about the portal's founding, its mission, and also details my history of political involvement:
As he finishes 12th grade in Redmond, Villeneuve was excited to have his first newspaper op-ed piece published as well. His commentary, headlined "Eyman out to destroy representative democracy," appeared in Tuesday's Seattle P-I. The young author is identified in a tagline as "the chair of Permanent Defense." That's the group he formed way back in junior high.

Next came the Northwest Progressive Institute, the "volunteer think tank" Villeneuve created in 2003 during his summer break. Most of the institute's work – including the blog portal – has been conducted online. But the group plans to help "progressive candidates and campaigns win elections" in other ways "as more and more people express an interest in our organization," its founder says.
It's true that I became politically active in ninth grade as a freshman. After years of being frustrated by Tim Eyman initiatives, I founded Permanent Defense.

I later realized that Permanent Defense couldn't encompass all the issues I wanted to talk and think about. Something larger, more grand was needed. In August of 2003 I founded this website and this organization - the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI).

NPI has slowly but steadily grown since its founding. I'm proud of what we have been able to achieve with NPI and I'm delighted that so many people are now involved.

We are approaching our two-year anniversary this August, and I think it's already safe to say that 2004-2005 has been ten times more successful than our first year was. We remain committed to our mission and our vision for making this country a better place.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

GOP sues to invalidate Top Two

The state Republican Party has filed a lawsuit in federal court against nine auditors and elections managers in Washington State, seeking to invalidate the "Top Two" primary system and have the open primary system (the "Montana" system) reinstated.

We applaud this move and sincerely hope this lawsuit, which will soon be joined by the Democrats, and likely the Libertarians as well, will succeed.

The "Top Two" system is fundamentally flawed and unsound. It should be permanently abolished.

Many voters consider themselves to be politically independent and hate the idea of not being able to cross over on the primary ballot. But they shouldn't have that privilege. That's what the general election is for.

The idea behind a primary is to decide which candidates will represent the different political parties in the general election. So it only makes sense that Republicans should nominate their candidate and Democrats should nominate theirs.

In much of the country, the system used for decades and decades was the caucus and convention system, which limited citizen involvement. The advent of primaries allowed voters to become involved in the selection of a party's candidate.

But political parties still have their rights under the First Amendment (freedom of association). That is why most of the country has a primary system in which the voter can only vote on one party's ballot. In some states, voters actually have to register with a political party before they can vote.

Our state's parties aren't asking for that. They're just asking for a primary in which the voter is only allowed to vote on one party's ballot. The voter is not required to register and can pick any party's ballot that they wish at the time of the election. This is the open primary system.

This is the best solution for Washington State. We hope the unfair "Top Two" system is quickly repealed and the open primary system is reinstated by the court.

White House Press Corps Show Some Backbone

The diaries at Daily Kos just keep on improving...getting better and better all the time. Today, Kos user Magorn tells us about Scott McClellan's bad day yesterday.

We start out with a question from early in in the press conference:
Q: With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not telling them. I'm saying that we would encourage them to help --

Q You're pressuring them.
That was Terry Moran of ABC News. Of course, it gets better:
Q Let me follow up on that. What -- you said that -- what specifically are you asking Newsweek to do? I mean, to follow up on Terry's question, are you saying they should write a story? Are you going that far? How else can Newsweek, you know, satisfy you here? [Must...resist...Jeff Gannon joke....]
And that was Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times.

Yes, Elisabeth Bumiller, the infamous author of the White House Letter. A recurring puff piece on George W. Bush, that's so slurpy, its a wonder she doesn't wear a blue dress when writing them.

But not yesterday. Yesterday she was the Pit bull of the briefing room. She wanted specifics!

McClellan tried to give a vague, but faintly indignant non-answer:
McCLELLAN: -- because of this report. I think Newsweek is going to be in the best position to determine how to achieve that.
And there are ways that I pointed out that they can help repair the damage. One way is to point out what the policies and practices of our United States military are. Our United States military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care...

[Holy Koran Batman!, McClellan better hope Dr. Dobbie and his dominionist pals don't hear him talking like that]-
But that wasn't good enough for Ms. Bumiller:
Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?

[and just to leave McClellan no wiggle room]

Q Are you asking them to write a story?
McClellan struggled to respond, but he was cut off:
MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military -

Q You've already said what you're -- I know what -- how it ends.
There's a lot more that happened during this press conference, but you can continue reading about it in Magorn's diary at Daily Kos.

At last, the Press Corps have shown they have the ability to hammer McClellan. Maybe they have some backbone after all. Or perhaps it is because Newsweek, a fellow media source, is under attack and reporters are rallying to defend one of their own.

Whatever the reason, it's good to see the pressure's on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Yoda Bushisms

In the spirit of Star Wars: Episode II (Revenge of the Sith) here are some Yoda Bushisms (some taken from Daily Kos, some we invented). Just for fun:

Intelligence, you have not.

The very Republic is threatened, if involved the NeoCons are.

Master Rove, more to say have you?

See through you, we can.

Frist is the path to the dark side, Frist leads to anger, Frist leads
to hate. Hates leads to suffering of those who are with us not.

Decided, the NeoCon is. Trained, the army won't be.

Troubled, he is. Wrapped in shadows and lies.

Poland, you forgot.

Limits to freedom, there ought to be.

Weapons of mass destruction, I'm looking for.

On it bring !!!!

Believe, or do not believe. There is no think.

Coexist peacefully, human being and fish, they can.

On the march, democracy is.

Military size matters not. Look in Iraq at us. Judge us by our size, do
you?

Wars make one indeed great.

Ready are you? What know you of ready.gov?

Yes, a patriot's strength flows from the Almighty. But beware of the
elitist liberals.

Blind we are, if creation of this clone Osama we could not see.

"Mentioned did I, that quit drinking alcohol I did in 1986. Know this, many of you do. The right decision it was, so make it I did."

"Resourceful our enemies are, and so are we. Stop they will never, and go to great lengths they will to destroy our people and country. Neither will we."

Catching up on loose ends

I've been so busy for the past few days that I haven't had time to blog on a number of important topics that I wished to cover.

So here we go, catching up on a number of loose ends:

Mayor Greg Nickels' coalition of cities that have pledged to meet the goals set out by the Kyoto Protocol continues to grow. This from the Guardian UK:
Mayors from across the US are signing up to an initiative to get American cities to meet the US's Kyoto environmental target which George Bush repudiated: cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 7% by 2010.

The response has astounded the scheme's founder, Seattle's mayor, Greg Nickels, who persuaded eight other mayors to write on March 30 to 400 colleagues across the country.

Dozens of cities have since contacted his office with the total reaching 134 in 35 states yesterday.
Mayor Nickels should be applauded for his leadership on this issue. If Bush will not lead, then it is up to others to do so, and Mayor Nickels is one of many individuals to step forward.

The next news item: The Seattle Times reported today on the Republican caucuses, which began yesterday. As many of you know, both the Democratic and the Republican parties have vowed to circumvent the awful "Top Two" system with their own caucuses and conventions:
GOP loyalists, many still smarting from voter approval of a new "top two" primary last fall, trooped to precinct caucuses across the county last night to begin picking the only candidates they say will be entitled to wear the Republican label this fall.
Secretary of State Sam Reed says the primary will still take place. But the parties are suing to knock out the Top Two primary system, and many candidates say they will abide by their party's decision at the caucus/convention and not file in the primary.

You can read our report on why the Top Two primary system is unsound for Washington State here.

Next: Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag has launched a webpage about performance audits, following the signing of HB 1064 into law by Governor Christine Gregoire. Learn about the legislation and about how performance audits will help our state government.

You can also apply to be on the citizens' oversight board if you're interested.

Next: The P-I ran a story yesterday about tax exemptions (and it wasn't the only story that ran yesterday either). We would have liked to see more revenue brought in through the repeal of unneeded tax exemptions, but the Legislature wasn't up to it, unfortunately. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation's Jason Mercier, whom we normally disagree with on almost everything, has a good quote in the story:
Jason Mercier, a budget analyst at the conservative think tank Evergreen Freedom Foundation [which is actually more libertarian], said the state should review all the exemptions and, in a perfect world, revoke them.

"From our perspective, you shouldn't have any tax exemptions at all. The state should have a uniformly low tax rate that allows businesses to prosper or fail based on the free-market system, and not corporate welfare," he said. "The answer is not to pick and choose the state's winners and losers based on the power of a firm's lobbyist, but to treat everybody equally with a uniformly low rate."
If we do have tax exemptions, there should be VERY good reasons for having them. And right now, there are not very good reasons for having most of these exemptions.

In future sessions, we hope the Legislature has the courage to address tax exemptions and repeal many of them so our tax system is fairer and more just.

Next: The countdown to the detonation of the GOP's "nuclear option" (a term coined by the Republicans) continues:
Concluding the time had come to act, the Republican-controlled Senate began debating one of President Bush's most contested judicial nominations Wednesday in a showdown that could lead to a historic decision over whether the White House can place like-minded judges on the federal bench over the objection of minority Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., rebuffed last-minute Democratic attempts to avoid that showdown, pushing Texas judge Priscilla Owen's nomination toward confirmation despite Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's efforts.
But, as Hunter from Daily Kos notes:
Just scanning through all that should convince you of the mess that will be made, if the Republican party goes through with the nuclear option. It really is, from the standpoint of the gears and levers that make up the American style of government, just that "nuclear".

The Republican Party has managed to turn even the most basic foundations of American government on their head, simply to force complete compliance with their agenda. It's not about majority vs. minority status. It's about the removal of essential, long-standing authorities of the legislative branch in deference to a very small handful of party ideologues.

I say again, Frist: it's not going to happen. You're not going to win this one. If you shut down the rules of the Senate, the Senate will shut down on you. And for good reason.
Well put. But it seems Frist is determined to go ahead. Hopefully, enough moderate Republicans will realize they can't do this, and they'll decline to lend their support to break the rule.

Lastly, Revenge of the Sith opens tonight - or tomorrow - at midnight. The movie currently is enjoying an 84% approval rate on Rotton Tomatoes, qualifying it for a Certified Fresh seal. Read more about how Revenge of the Sith questions Bush policies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Push Back on the White House Newsweek Scam

U.S. Congressman John Conyers has posted a diary at Daily Kos with his letter to Scott McClellan, demanding that the White House and the Pentagon stop intimidating the press corps. Conyers wrote in part:
Mr. McClellan, the American people have grown tired of the venomous partisanship and lack of candor on the part of this Administration. When taken to task for wrongdoing, a pattern has emerged of this Administration viciously attacking its accusers. The cornerstone of our democracy is an open and accountable government, and the American people deserve answers - not distractions -- today.
Get the facts on the Newsweek story. Newsweek did not make a mistake. This is deliberate attempt to use this magazine as a scapegoat for Administration policies that have gone awry and tarnished our image.

Scott McClellan should resign immediately. The garbage he's spewing out is complete and utter nonsense.

Read my column in the Seattle P-I

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Tim Eyman's successful penetration of the state's op-ed pages in "Tim's multi-paper column spree".

Today, yours truly is delivering a response to one of those

NWPHTT47

columns.

In my column this morning, "Eyman out to destroy representative democracy", I talk about Eyman's history of crafting poorly written initiatives that wipe out large portions of funding for our public services - both local and statewide.

I also bring up the issue of home rule, which was a major theme in the NO on I-776 campaign, which I worked on as the Chair of Permanent Defense back in 2002. Here's the bottom line:
The initiative process -- and direct democracy -- is nothing today like what its founders envisioned it to be. Special interests have hijacked the process for their own political gain, bypassing the citizen-elected Legislature and public input, to craft poorly written, self-serving proposals designed to appeal to voters' pocketbooks while downplaying the consequences. Eyman is no exception.
Today, Permanent Defense is a major part of the Northwest Progressive Institute, and continues its mission of fighting Eyman, working for real tax reform, and promoting the value of public services.

I remain at its helm today, continuing my original activism against Tim Eyman, though I have expanded my focus with the founding of NPI in August 2003.

I'm pleased to represent the voices of thousands of Eyman opponents statewide who are disgusted with initiatives that have wiped out untold billions in funding for public services.

With your help, we will remain vigorously opposed to Eyman and his campaign to destroy representative democracy.

Please read the column and pass it along to all of your friends.

Monday, May 16, 2005

NPI launches new Calendar feature

We've launched a new Calendar feature that allows you to look at the calendar of events for the entire month. You may already know that we have a Calendar RSS feed on our main page. This feature uses the RSS feed to build an actual calendar so you can see what events are planned for that month.

There are events on the calendar from across the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Find Democratic Party events, Democracy for America events, Meetups, parties, rallies, protests, meetings, and other functions you might be interested in attending.

Take a look at the new Calendar of Events feature here.

Newsweek collapses under pressure

Recently, Newsweek Magazine printed the following report:
"May 9 - Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash."
Since that report has been printed, there has been an international outcry among Muslims for an American apology.

The right wing media machine has descended, blaming the Newsweek report for riots in Afghanistan, Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia. Even a UK newspaper headlined Newsweek's guilt for the global riots.

Under tremendous pressure, Newsweek caved:
Newsweek magazine backed away Sunday from a report that U.S. interrogators desecrated copies of the Quran [at] Guantanamo ...

The White House is getting into the act too:
"It's puzzling that while Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refused to retract the story," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "I think there's a certain journalistic standard that should be met and in this instance it was not."

"The report has had serious consequences," McClellan said. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."
McClellan can't be serious?

Oh, but he is....

There are major problems with the blame-Newsweek tack, as Daily Kos diarist SusanHu points out:

  1. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, in a U.S. State Dept.-issued press release on May 12, said the Newsweek story isn't a chief cause of the riots: " [H]e has been told that the Jalalabad, Afghanistan, rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else."
  2. I've found four reports -- with more easily found -- to back up Newsweek's sources on the desecration of Korans belonging to Guantanamo detainees. The four instances I found:
    1. From The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 20, 2005:
      Lawyers allege abuse of 12 at Guantanamo
      By Frank Davies
      Inquirer Washington Bureau

      [.......................]

      Some detainees complained of religious humiliation, saying guards had defaced their copies of the Koran and, in one case, had thrown it in a toilet, said Kristine Huskey [an attorney in Washington, D.C.], who interviewed clients late last month. Others said that pills were hidden in their food and that people came to their cells claiming to be their attorneys, to gain information.

      "All have been physically abused, and, however you define the term, the treatment of these men crossed the line," [attorney Tom] Wilner said. "There was torture, make no mistake about it." ...
    2. From the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, NY and linked as a footnote in a Human Rights Watch report:
      72.They were never given prayer mats and initially they didn't get a Koran. When the Korans were provided, they were kicked and thrown about by the guards and on occasion thrown in the buckets used for the toilets. This kept happening. When it happened it was always said to be an accident but it was a recurrent theme.
    3. From the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, NY and linked as a footnote in a Human Rights Watch report:
      74. Asif says that `it was impossible to pray because initially we did not know the direction to pray, but also given that we couldn't move and the harassment from the guards, it was simply not feasible. The behaviour of the guards towards our religious practices as well as the Koran was also, in my view, designed to cause us as much distress as possible. They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it. It is clear to me that the conditions in our cells and our general treatment were designed by the officers in charge of the interrogation process to "soften us up"'.
    4. From the Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, NY and linked as a footnote in a Human Rights Watch report:
      Statement of Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed, "Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay," released publicly on August 4, 2004, para. 72, 74, available online at:
      http://www.ccr- ny.org/v2/reports/docs/
      Gitmo=compositestatementFINAL23july04.pdf,
      accessed on August 19, 2004. The disrespect of the Koran by guards at Camp X-Ray was one of the factors prompting a hunger strike. Ibid., para. 111-117.
    5. There are more. This should suffice for now.
Newsweek has good sources for its allegations, but has backed off because it finds itself in a dicey, ill-founded public relations nightmare. Newsweek has foresaken journalism to save what it perceives as its own hide.

Juan Cole has also posted an excellent blog about this story: Guantanamo Controversies - The Bible and the Koran. Cole writes, in part:
As a professional historian, I would say we still do not have enough to be sure that the Koran desecration incident took place. We have enough to consider it plausible. Anyway, the important thing politically is that some Muslims have found it plausible, and their outrage cannot be effectively dealt with by simple denial. That is why I say that Bush should just come out and say we can't be sure that it happened, but if it did it was an excess, and he apologizes if it did happen, and will make sure it doesn't happen again (if it did).
We concur with Juan Cole on this issue entirely. The administration should launch a thorough, independent, investigation to determine what happened instead of jumping on Newsweek and denying this ever happened (but, of course, that's not going to happen).

Newsweek needs to be able to stick up for itself and defend its reporting. Otherwise, it shouldn't have published that material. But it's very clear that Newsweek's report was not isolated.

Seattle Times editorial gets it wrong

The Seattle Times has an editorial today that commends the state Legislature and Christine Gregoire for passing and signing performance audit legislation into law.

The editorial also says initiative profiteer Tim Eyman should take credit for the legislation's passage:
This editorial is intended to praise Sonntag for his perseverance and the Legislature for its wisdom in creating the audits. But, candidly, part of the credit for the breakthrough has to go to initiative king Tim Eyman and the threat of his own, overreaching performance-audit proposal.
What?

Where the heck has the Seattle Times editorial board been the last few years? Eyman is a complete newcomer to this issue. The state House of Representatives has passed this legislation before. It was the GOP-controlled Senate that prevented the legislation from making it to the Governor's office.

Eyman is 0 for 4 in his last four attempts to pass an initiative into law in Washington State, yet the Times editorial board still seems to believe Eyman can bully state lawmakers around with the threat of an initiative.

They're wrong. The difference this year was a state Senate controlled by Democrats and a new Democratic governor who was willing to sign the legislation. That is what made the difference, not Tim Eyman.

Recently, I noted that a number of newspapers around the state (including the Times) were falling over themselves in handing Eyman column after column within a one week period.

Why do they give him this preferential treatment? How long is it going to take before the media realizes Eyman has been discredited? He's an admitted liar and a failure, and now he is tied to the special interests.

Initiative 900's only real source of funding is Woodinville millionaire Michael Dunmire, who has pumped hundreds of thousands into Eyman's PAC.

Eyman's cadre of supporters is dwindling, his initiative factory sputtering. The only thing keeping it alive is special interest money.

Why can't the Times editorial board see this? Are they blind? Are they asleep?

Doing the audit initiative wasn't even Eyman's idea. It was Dunmire's. The reason Eyman did it is because Dunmire was a millionaire who could give Eyman the funds he needed to get on the ballot.

The Times could certainly use a shot of reality, because this editorial gets it all wrong.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Revenge of the Sith questions Bush policies

Take a look at this story from the AP about the upcoming Star Wars finale Revenge of the Sith and its plot:
Cannes [Film Festival] audiences made blunt comparisons between "Revenge of the Sith" - the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering - to President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.

Two lines from the movie especially resonated:

"This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause," bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi.

"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin - soon to become villain Darth Vader - tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The line echoes Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

"That quote is almost a perfect citation of Bush," said Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker. "Plus, you've got a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war."

Though the plot was written years ago, "the anti-Bush diatribe is clearly there," Engle said.
Indeed.

George Lucas didn't create Revenge of the Sith as an attack on the Bush administration. Yet Revenge of the Sith, which is in part a movie about the downfall of democracy, has very interesting references to our current political age:
Lucas said he patterned his story after historical transformations from freedom to fascism, never figuring when he started his prequel trilogy in the late 1990s that current events might parallel his space fantasy.

"As you go through history, I didn't think it was going to get quite this close. So it's just one of those recurring things," Lucas said at a Cannes news conference. "I hope this doesn't come true in our country.

"Maybe the film will waken people to the situation," Lucas joked.
Clearly, George Lucas is not a supporter of the Bush Administration or the war in Iraq:
Lucas never mentioned the president by name but was eager to speak his mind on U.S. policy in Iraq, careful again to note that he created the story long before the Bush-led occupation there.

"When I wrote it, Iraq didn't exist," Lucas said, laughing.

"We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. ... The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."

The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three "Star Wars" movies, so the themes percolated out of the Vietnam War and the Nixon-Watergate era, he said.
Good for Lucas. Revenge of the Sith is a chilling reminder that we can lose democracy even with the consent of the electorate. It's up to us to fight to ensure that never does happen to the United States of America.

Red Family, Blue Family

Red Family, Blue Family is an essay about the different mindsets of conservatavism and liberalism. It is a must read for any liberal who has found themselves wondering how half of the country has lost its sanity.

Rather than taking the viewpoint that many have taken and saying, "We're right and they're crazy," this essay shows why we think they are crazy and why they think we are crazy. It's all about paradigm.

By using the information presented in this essay, liberals can catch a glimpse of where the opposition is coming from, and how we can present our case to them without being labeled as lunatics.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Daily Show Highlights May 9th-12th

Those of you who don't have cable television or weren't around to watch The Daily Show this last week missed some fun shows. However, our friends at Dem Bloggers have a number of great clips from the show that you can watch from your computer (you'll need Windows Media Player to watch).

We may end up making this a regular Saturday feature, so don't be surprised to see this again in the future.

Be sure to catch the Thursday show clip, which includes a piece on Mayor Jim West.

UPDATE: We've recieved feedback via e-mail and in the comment thread that we should, in fact, make this a regular feature. So from now on, expect to see The Daily Show Highlights every Saturday here on the blog, except for weeks when the show is on hiatus.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Assaulting the new gas tax

Over at KVI, John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur have whipped themselves up into a frenzy into their campaign to take out the gas tax just passed by the Washington State Legislature.

Carlson and Wilbur, of course, think the gas tax is just a big waste. They complain that the funding the tax provides won't be enough to do anything at all.

Carlson and Wilbur need to take their blinders off. How, exactly, do they expect us to create an efficient transportation system without more revenue? The 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct are in danger of collapsing in an earthquake and need to be replaced. Transit service needs to expanded as more people move into the region. Roads need to be repaired and maintained.

We can't do any of this without any money. Supporters of Carlson and Wilbur's "no new gas tax" initiative are also supporters of longer commutes, increased gridlock, and deteoriating roads.

The reality is that we simply lack the money to do what it takes to build a functional transportation system without this increase. Thanks to Tim Eyman's car tab initiatives (I-695, I-776) major sources of funding have been lost. And now, Carlson and Wilbur are once again trying to prevent any progress from being made.

Their lack of vision is their greatest weakness. They obviously do not care about the health and future of this region. All they can see is the short term, with dollar signs blinking in their eyes and their hands firmly clasping their pocketbooks.

It's the same problem facing solar energy. Once you get past the initial startup cost, you have free electricity for a very long time. But it doesn't seem economical to people because the cost of starting to them is too high.

Years down the road, when we replace the viaduct and the floating bridge, extend light rail to the Eastside, and build a functional transportation infrastructure, this gas tax increase will seem well worth it. That is, if we successfully make it past Carlson and Wilbur's short-sightedness.

Obtuse Triangle - Are We Forgetting Clinton's Legacy?

There's nothing more interesting than an intra-partisan debate, like watching a libertarian anarchistic worshipper of the free-market debate a faux-populist demagogue of the religious right. And in the end they are both still considered "Republicans."

It's always telling to analyze just which issues unite them and, more importantly, which divide them into warring factions and how those factional divisions can be used against them.

Unfortunately, according to an intriguing article in The New Republic, Democrats are guilty of similar factional strife, as Andrei Cherny explains. On one side are the passionate and fiery progressive voices like those often seen on Northwest Progressive Institute, The Nation, Mother Jones, and MoveOn.org.

These political thinkers are resolutely left of center and representative of urban concerns, desire a more active federal government to promote the general welfare, and are usually critical of the excesses of unregulated capitalism.

Often the harshest critics of Clintonian triangulation, these progressives often felt that issues such as public housing, job creation, worker rights, welfare assistance, healthcare, peace, and the environment were too fundamental to be shrouded in "family values" veneer.

On the opposing end of the Democratic spectrum are what I will call the "Clintonistas." These Democrats believed strongly in triangulation - a strategy taht involved taking various rhetorical and policy points from both left and right and creating a new political fusion that would best suit a "post-industrial America."

These Democrats often wholeheartedly endorsed the free-market rhetoric that seemed so monolithic in the late 1990s and accepted privatization and deregulation as divine providence. While these Democrats did favor Clinton's welfare reform, his 100,000 cops on the street, and his free trade policy, they also endorsed universal healthcare, gays in the military, and his remarkable environmental policy.

Stating that America's "two great dominant strands of political thought" --conservatism and progressivism -- both had important value, he went on to say:
"It seemed to me that, in 1992, we needed to be [both] more conservative in things like erasing the deficit, and paying down the debt, and preventing crime, and punishing criminals, and protecting and supporting families, and enforcing things like child support laws, and reforming the military to meet the new challenges of the twenty-first century."

"And we needed to be more progressive in creating good jobs, reducing poverty, increasing the quality of public education, opening the doors of college to all, increasing access to health care ... and working for peace across the world and peace in America across all the lines that divide us."
As the article demonstrates, these two factions were often and continue to be at odds over fundamental economic issues: Should Democrats continue FDR's legacy of government action in defense of the common man, or should a more "post-industrial" policy be crafted for a period in which "the era of big government is over."

A common progressive critique of Clintonism goes as follows:

[Clinton] gave credence to those commentators who had always dismissed his policies as the political equivalent of a menu in an old-fashioned Chinese restaurant: one issue from a conservative Column A and another from a more liberal Column B.

He bolstered the viewpoint of those on both sides of the political divide--stuck in ideological gang warfare -- who always claimed that matters like crime or national security or fiscal responsibility were issues that conservatives owned, and that Democrats who acted on them were straying onto Republican turf.

Most of all, he reinforced the notion that his presidency did not have a guiding compass.
To further summarize, the author argues that Democrats and progressives today berate Clintonism at their peril.

The article then continues and reasons that Clinton's success was not due to his Southern charm and telegenic wit but rather his authentic and highly articulate, globalised worldview.

The author also presents an interesting economic reform proposal for the 21st century and issues a challenge for progressives to implement it.

Finally, the author discusses the importance of community values. Could that be the reason for the Democrats' current malaise?

So, progressives, what do you think? Do you agree that Bill Clinton was a visionary leader with a new vision of a postindustrial America, or rather was he a vacillating centrist motivated solely by polls and lacking any true political vision?

I know not many of you read the New Republic, so I figured this would be a good opportunity for an intellectual exchange of ideas. Feel free to post your ideas in the comment thread.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Follow the Bolton Hearing...

At Daily Kos, FleetAdmiralJ, in partnership, with catnip, has a series of "Live Bolton Hearing Diaries" that help explain what's going on in the Senate today. There have actually been six different diaries, as the comment threads continue to fill up:

Bolton Thread Episode I: The Phantom Recommendation
Bolton Thread Episode II: The Attack of the Lugar
Bolton Thread Episode III: Revenge of the Allen
Bolton Thread Episode IV: A New Hope
Bolton Thread Episode V: The Boxer Strikes Back
Bolton Thread Episode VI: Return of the Temper

"Return of the Temper" is the current diary thread. That's where you can get the latest information.

Ike's Warning For the GOP

Courtesy of David Sirota:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."


- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54

What a gem. If the GOP were wise, they would abandon their privatization plans. Of course, they won't, and that's fine. They're helping pave the way for Democrats' return to power in Washington, D.C.

Oh, and George W.? It seems Ike thinks you're stupid.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Discovery Institute's Attack on Evolution

In the heart of Seattle, the biggest progressive city in the Northwest, a shadow is lurking. It's the shadow of the Discovery Institute, an unsound conservative think tank with a mission to sabotage science.

NWPT44



Several bloggers have been talking about Discovery in recent days and it's involvement in what's going on in Kansas (keep reading down to see what that's all about), including the authors of WashBlog, ColumbianWatch, and Red State Rabble from Kansas.

The Discovery Institute has been active on other fronts: it backed the Iraq war, favors deregulation, and apparently wants to privatize transit systems. But Discovery's true goal is to see the fulfillment of a strategy it designed to slowly question and then destroy evolution.

First, a backgrounder on DI, courtesy of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:
Founded in 1991 by former Reagan administration official Bruce Chapman, the Seattle-based Institute has an operating budget of over $2 million. "Intelligent design" creationism has become such a central feature of the organization's work that it created a separate division, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, to devote all of its time to that cause.

The Institute enthusiastically endorses what law professor and ID champion Philip Johnson calls the "wedge" strategy. (See "Insidious Design," page 8.) The plan is straightforward: use intelligent design as a wedge to undermine evolution with scientific-sounding arguments and thereby advance a conservative religious-political agenda.

To promote the concept, the Institute works with 48 fellows, directors and advisors who are responsible for producing research, publishing texts and hosting conferences. The Institute team includes some of the biggest names in the ID movement. Johnson serves as an advisor, while Michael Behe, David Berlinski, William Dembski and Jonathan Wells are senior fellows. All of them have advanced degrees from respected universities, giving the group a level of credibility generally denied to fundamentalist creationists at the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis Ministry.
Legitimate scientists reject the validity of intelligent design concepts, however, and are unimpressed with Institute activists' credentials.
Discovery sees evolution as an evil truth that must be weeded out from educational curriculum. Unlike other fanatics or extremists, though, Discovery is dangerous because its people realize they can't accomplish their goals overnight.

If you watch the upcoming Star Wars movie Revenge of the Sith, you'll see how "Chancellor Palpatine" uses his influence as leader of the Senate to slowly destroy the Republic along with democracy. The analogy of George Lucas' latest adventure to what Discovery is doing is really no joke.

The religious right's ultimate goal is a theocracy: surprisingly similar to the ones we are trying to dismantle in the Middle East. Getting rid of evolution and sound science is the first step towards slowly subverting the population and bringing religious teachings into public schools.

Maybe you're in disbelief that this is really the Discovery Institute's agenda. Well, then take this quote from founder Bruce Chapman:

"The foremost thing is to demolish the Darwinist superstition. All our people can get along on that. What they don't agree on are the alternatives, such as the theory of design."

The paper produced by Discovery's CRSC division even outlines three phases for how to take down evolution. An excerpt from the paper:
The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points.
That is the so called "wedge" strategy. The three phases themselves are: Scientific Research, Writing, and Publicity (Phase I), Publicity and Opinion-Making (Phase II), Cultural Confrontation and Renewal (Phase III).

Phase III is divided into three parts itself: (1) Academic and Scientific Challenge Conferences; (2) Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training; and (3) Research Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities.

Of course, readers might be asking, why are we bringing this up right now? It's true that this secret, this so-called "wedge" strategy, has been out since 1999. What many people might not know is that a Kansas Board of Education subcommittee has been holding hearings on how evolution should be taught in public schools. The entire board plans to consider proposed changes by August in standards that determine how students are tested on science.

The Board is unfortunately dominated by theocrats, and the hearings are a way of basically putting evolution on trial and allowing the Discovery Institute to test out its wedge strategy.

In fact, some of the "experts" from DI are there now. The hearings, which are being dubbed the Scopes II Kansas Monkey Trial, or The Kansas Kangaroo Court, were purposely set up and rigged against evolution. The board seems to have plans to introduce "intelligent design" into Kansas schools soon:
The board asked a committee of educators last year to draft recommendations for changes in the science standards. Board members received two proposal, one with evolution-friendly standards and the other with intelligent design advocates' language, designed to expose students to more criticism of evolution.
Intelligent design is a threat to evolution because it's something that, unlike creationism, can be sold to dubious school board members who secretly wish creationism was taught in schools.

But make no mistake about it: intelligent design is just a slick repackaging of creationism. It's not science, it's a religious belief.

The United States Constitution makes clear that there must be a seperation of church and state. That seperation is what allows us all to freely practice whatever religion we choose, or to practice nothing at all. But to those who want a theocracy, the Constitution is in the way.

They'll ignore it for now, but sooner or later, our most important founding document will be under attack. It is already is, in many respects, with the proposed anti-gay marriage amendment.

We've never allowed theocrats and people like them to take over this country before. Each time there has been a threat like this, a huge coalition of people have united together to stand behind our finest traditional progressive values. We must continue to do so or risk losing America as we know it now.

Governor Gregoire signs performance audit legislation

The following is a press release issued by Permanent Defense today:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11TH, 2005

REDMOND - Today, in Olympia, Governor Christine Gregoire officially signed into law House Bill 1064, the landmark performance audit legislation long sought by state auditor Brian Sonntag and legislators who hope to improve accountability in government.

House Bill 1064 originally passed the state House of Representatives back in February. The Senate revised the bill and approved it on April 7th.

The revised bill authorizes the state auditor, in collaboration with a Citizen Oversight Board, to develop and implement a plan for performance audits of state government.

The Legislature found that the performance audit activities of the joint legislative audit and review committee (JLARC) should be supplemented by making fuller use of the state auditor's resources and capabilities.

Thanks to this morning’s signing in the Governor’s Conference Room, the state auditor will have the power to conduct performance audits of state agencies.

Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve said of the signing: “This is a clear win for Washington State taxpayers. The Governor and the state legislature have done their job and acted on this important issue.”

The signing of the legislation shows that ill-conceived Initiative 900 from Tim Eyman is not needed. And unlike House Bill 1064, Initiative 900 was not drafted with public input.

Initiative 900 overloads Washington State with audits. It requires every government agency and program in the state, including local governments, to be audited. The state auditor’s office says implementing I-900 would cost $90 million every two years.

The office also says the initiative will require the auditor’s office to expand four times its current size and will take a decade or longer to fully implement.

“Thanks to the Legislature’s action on this issue, and the Governor’s approval, Washington State can move forward,” Villeneuve added. “Initiative 900 doesn’t solve anything. Instead of fixing a problem, this initiative will only create new problems.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

One-On-One with Al Franken: The Interview

Yesterday, (as I mentioned in my prior post) I had the honor and privilege to attend a live broadcast of The Al Franken Show, put on by local affiliate 1090 AM, home of Seattle's Progressive Talk.

I had a chance to talk to Al during the press conference that followed the live broadcast and V.I.P. luncheon. I was one of three interviewers who asked him a series of questions. My interview is below, as well as highlights from some of the other interviews. Franken's answers are not exact, as I could not write down every word he said, but the text strongly reflects his response.

Andrew: What kind of impact do blogs have on your show and on talk radio as a medium?

Franken: Well, blogs are becoming a pretty important source of information. Our show gets some of its content from blogs - our research staff reads the blogs to find interesting stuff - but we don't trust everyone. We trust only reliable sources like Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, Atrios, or Daily Kos, and a few others. Unlike the other side's shows, we actually use real facts and figures, and we do thorough research. You can get a lot of misinformation from blogs - especially the other side's blogs.

Andrew: So you feel the other side has no respect for facts?

Franken: No, no, not at all. They're not concerned with the truth. They're only concerned with their message.

Andrew: Some Air America affiliates are creating their own local progressive talk shows - like Thom Hartmann in Portland. Do you support these kinds of efforts?

Franken: Absolutely. Local talk shows are very important. Developing good hosts is key - they can make a difference in local races, especially helping local candidates and talking about local issues. What we need to do is create a farm team for the next wave of people on liberal talk radio. Obviously, Thom Hartmann's not a farm team - but these local shows are where the talent comes from. Think of it as if you were having 56-57 labratories [the current number of Air America stations, including affiliates] for training the next generation of talk show hosts.

Andrew: When you first got started, things were kind of rocky at Air America. How did you get beyond those initial start-up difficulties?

Franken: Well, when we first got started, we didn't know that some of the financing we thought was there wasn't there. Things were kind of tough - we lost a couple stations, some executives resigned and people weren't getting paid. But the front office cared and believed in us, and there were some real heroes on the executive side. Eventually, people stepped forward to help out, and problems were resolved. We also had to endure some initial trashing by conservatives who didn't think our business model worked. They were cherry picking ratings to make us look like we weren't doing well. But clearly our busines model does work because we keep expanding, and Clear Channel, the company behind many of our affiliates, looked at our ratings and saw that yes, our business model worked. I believe our ratings have proved that liberal talk radio can be successful.

Andrew: Thank you for your time. It was great meeting with you.


--- End of interview ---

It only lasted a few minutes, but it was a great interview, and I certainly enjoyed it. Michael Hood of BlatherWatch also asked Al some questions, as did another reporter, and a representative from AM 1090.

Al talked about running for Senate in 2008 (against Norm Coleman) and moving his show back to Minnesota from New York (Franken's home is in Minnesota) and a number of other things.

He also talked about Air America's audience - 2.5 million people a month, counting unique individuals who are listening in each market (not something like the number of times people listen). The Air America internet stream is the fourth largest audio stream in the country in terms of audience, and the leader in talk radio streams.

When asked who would replace him if he ran for Senate, Franken said he didn't know, but mentioned people like his co-host Katherine Lanpher, as well as Sam Seder and Janene Garofolo, who he called good hosts.

Some quotes from the press conference:

"Democrats should not be seen as soft on national security." - on the topic of homeland defense

"How that woman became Secretary of State after that is beyond me." - talking about Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission in 2004

"Did Bush read it? Did Bush retain it? Is he just stupid?" - referring to the memo, Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S., which was part of the August 6th, 2001, presidential daily briefing that has since been made public.

"He just froze." - referring to Bush's initial response on 9/11, when Bush continued to read My Pet Goat instead of leaving immediately to take charge of the situation.

"It better be in its infancy. Maybe it's a toddler." - on the current state of liberal talk radio

"We've created a new format - which is liberal talk radio." - on Air America's success

"There's only a hundred percent to cover. You can't have six hundred percent of the market." - referring to conservatives who might say that Rush Limbaugh is on 600 stations, whereas Air America has only 56-57 stations and covers about 50-60% of the market

Franken also mentioned an interesting quote Michael Medved once told him. Medved apparently said that, "the market would have taken care of it" - in reference to 1964 civil rights legislation. Franken then quipped to Michael Hood (of BlatherWatch), "You go to Michael Medved and ask him when the market would have taken care of it - ask him what year."

All in all, it was a fantastic day, and it was great to personally talk to Franken, meet him, and shake his hand. He's delightfully funny and witty, and intellectually sharp. His show is outstanding and all of us at NPI hope his show continues to be successful.

Thanks for coming to visit Seattle, Al, and we hope you come back soon.

Portal Update: New Toolkit Section

As many of you know, we're always working to improve Pacific Northwest Portal, and today is just our latest update in a long (and apparently never-ending) series of updates to build you a better website.

Here's an overview of what we've changed:
  • Syndication Change. One of our original members of the syndicate, Chris Struble of BrightMind, is leaving Idaho. He's asked us to take his blog out of syndication, and we've obliged. We hope Chris stays in the Pacific Northwest so we can add his blog to either the Washington or Oregon columns when he settles into his new home. To replace BrightMind, though, we've selected The Unequivocal Notion, which has joined three of its peers on our main page representing Idaho.
  • Blogs & Websites Directory Update. Yes, we've added more blogs again. We're now at a hundred and twenty liberal/progressive blogs total. We removed a couple of blogs that have been ended by their authors and added another sixteen to our ranks. We also added a couple more links to the "websites" section of the directory - be sure to check this page out!
  • New Toolkit Section. The new Toolkit section is a revamp of the Business section. Now, it includes not just business news, but also traffic & weather together, all on the same page. Get weather conditions and forecast for your local area. Prepare for your commute with our handy traffic cameras, courtesy of state DOTs. The new Toolkit section is all about putting more information at your fingtertips. It's another reason why we are your news & information source for the Pacific Northwest.
  • Other Updates. We also gave the NW Media page a new look, and we updated the Highlights section - plus, we updated the Knowledge Base as well - so be sure to look those pages over.
We feel these changes once again represent significant progress in our never-ending challenge to build you a better website. Tell us what you think of the changes! Post a comment below or click here to contact us. Your feedback is important to us!

UPDATE: Please visit our Reccomended Diary on Daily Kos - Netroots At Work: Building A Regional Community of Progressive Bloggers.

Monday, May 09, 2005

LIVE from the Left Coast: The Al Franken Show in Seattle

I had the privilege of attending today's live broadcast of the Al Franken Show in Seattle, along with fellow bloggers David Goldstein (Goldy) of HorsesAss.org, and Michael Hood of BlatherWatch.

It was a great show - both informative and highly entertaining. My recap of the show is below - basically, a general overview of what happened.

The live broadcast was held at Seattle Town Hall, put on by our local Air America affiliate 1090 AM Seattle. There were about eight to nine hundred people in attendance and there were hardly any seats left when the show started.

Dan McDonald from Infinity Broadcasting came out first to introduce Al Franken, who recieved a loud, well-deserved standing ovation. After a hilarious opening monologue, Franken introduced us to his co-host Katherine Lanpher. Then they both sat down at the main table to begin the broadcast.

We were a very enthusiastic audience throughout the entire program, but we also had plenty of laughs. Franken's format is a generous blend of policy/issues talk and outright humor.

We started off talking about Seattle and the Puget Sound region. Franken joked that people get the impression that it rains a lot here because our tallest mountain is named Mount Rainier.

Franken, assisted by Katherine Lanpher, poked fun at Bill O'Reilly with hilarious clips cut directly from O'Reilly's show and patched together into a comic sketch. And they skewered John Bolton with a series of "taped conversations" Bolton supposedly had with people around him, including a waitress.

And they did an "Oy" segment in which Franken bemoaned the U.S. government's purchasing of inadequate, ineffective equipment to defend the homeland - as prompted by Lanpher.

Next, Franken brought on a series of guests. The first was my U.S. House Representative Jay Inslee. Jay talked first about the erosion of environmental protections - including the Roadless Rule - and then talked about energy independence and his efforts with Apollo PAC.

They also talked about corruption in the House and Tom Delay's influence in killing environmental legislation. Inslee explained that environmental legislation often does get through the House when it's put to the floor for a vote because enough moderate Republican representatives are willing to vote for it. But Delay usually prevents the legislation from ever reaching the floor, so it can't be voted upon.

Franken also brought up the issues of Social Security and the Republicans' threat to kill the filibuster for judicial nominees - the so called "nuclear option".

King County Executive Ron Sims came on next to talk about civil rights, gay rights, and healthcare. Sims mentioned that the state Legislature just managed to past a bill this last legislative session that renamed the county after Martin Luther King Jr. (Previously the county had been named after somebody else named King; apparently that guy was actually a slaveholder).

Franken also talked about Ron Sims' leadership in forming the Puget Sound Health Alliance. PSHA is a regional partnership of health care purchasers, plans, health care professionals and patients collaborating to improve quality and reduce costs in health care delivery across King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

Sims, Lanpher, and Franken also discussed gay rights, especially what has happened in recent days with Microsoft's decision to support Ed Murray's legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Earlier in the broadcast, Franken also decimated Spokane Mayor Jim West, who looks more like a hypocrite with each passing day since the relevation that he was using city computers to try and lure young gay men into city hall with special favors.

(West, by the way, is now taking a leave of absence from city hall to prepare his defense against numerous charges of molestation that supposed occured decades ago, according to several men who have come forward)

Lastly, Franken and Lanpher brought in Dan Savage from The Stranger, one of Seattle's alternative weekly papers. Savage has a reputation for being fairly forthright and open, and certainly isn't afraid to talk about sex. In fact, Franken introduced Savage in part as a sex columnist.

Savage discussed HB 1515 and Microsoft's shifting positions on the bill with Franken and Lanpher, as well as the scandal enveloping Jim West. It was a great conversation, all the better because Savage appears to be as good at cracking jokes as Franken is.

Maria Cantwell was supposed to appear but she couldn't make it. Hopefully, they will have her on the show at a future date.

The broadcast was about three hours long, with about three breaks per hour, each about five minutes long, so people had a chance to refill their water bottles or use the restroom. Attendees were also invited to go up front and take pictures of Franken and Lanpher during the commercial break (but not during the show).

Al Franken and Katherine Lanpher will be in Portland, Oregon tomorrow for another live broadcast. I know many of our fellow bloggers in Oregon will be attending - enjoy the show! In my next post, I'll talk about what happened after the show - including my one-on-one interview with Al Franken himself!

UPDATE: Kristin Dizon of the Seattle P-I hit everything I missed (including some of the best lines) with her wrap-up/recap of yesterday's live broadcast. Read "Fans of Al Franken's radio show welcome him to the left side of country".

John Bolton Nomination Update

Here's a new development in the unfolding John Bolton flap. It appears I may have been too hasty in declaring Bolton DOA about two weeks ago, as several Republicans who were formerly skeptical of the atrocious Bush nominee have now appeared to have withdrawn some of their concerns.

However, the reliable Democrat Joe Biden seems to have filled the leadership void, aggressively coming forward to demand documents from the Administration about Bolton's egregious conduct.

Only time will tell how this riveting story will develop. This story is taken from the Financial Times with links to another similar story in the New York Times. Read on:

A major new showdown is brewing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over John Bolton. With hearings approaching on May 12, senators investigating Bolton are deeply frustrated that requests for several relevant State Department and National Security Agency documents have been repeatedly denied.

According to the New York Times, minority members are now "threatening to abandon an agreement to move toward a swift vote on the nomination" if administration officials continue to obstruct access to the information.

The committee's ranking minority member, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), yesterday wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding documents that allegedly show Bolton "skewed intelligence and tried to remove analysts who refused to endorse his conclusions while serving as under-secretary of state for arms control."

Committee members are also interested in ten NSA intercepts requested by John Bolton, which included names of U.S. officials whose identities had been redacted from the transcripts and then queried by Bolton.

Those documents currently "sit on Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte's desk – with a recommendation for approval from the National Security Agency – waiting for the bureaucratic wheels of Negroponte's new operation to move."

It's easy...

Editor's Note: The following is a personal viewpoint and does not reflect NPI's official views.

For my very first actual post I'd like to simply post an opinion. You can say what you please about it, feel free to ponder it and pound the keyboard in frustration at my lunacy. But do not insult my intelligence or my grammar. Both are, as far as I'm concerned, flawless. And, additionally, they are immaterial.

I am not a conservative. I am an atheistic, bush-hating, flaming liberal, from an atheistic, bush-hating family, and I would prefer that stupid people--oops, let me rephrase that: people who are unqualified for their jobs-- didn't exist. But don't we all? Now that my position's firmly stated, let me play Dev - I mean Conservative's Advocate.

Many of us act as if there's no other right. How can people be free when they're stuck under a space-monkey president and his ultra-conservative cheerleading squad, forced to carry babies they might not want nor have asked for, stuck in a horribly polluted environment, thanks to our infamous environmental "laws" and mortifying every other culture in the world with our ignorant foreign policy? Exactly. We can't!

So why are there so many conservatives? Hmmm? The American citizens who make up over half the country can't all be loony. In fact, there are probably some of them who are downright decent people. Imagine.

Some of you might agree with me. And now I want you to know that I don't care how many enlightening discussions you've had with your conservative aunt Sally about your beliefs. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I like more than a friendly debate.

But here's the tricky part: when does a debate turn into an argument? It starts when neither side wants to give in; they are so firmly set in their beliefs that they will barely even pretend to listen to their similarly qualified opponents. Don't kid yourself, really. It happens.

This occurs, of course, on both sides of the political spectrum. But come on, guys! Are we really the good guys? Do we really know what's right for 2.9 million people? How can we, when we really only listen selectively? The conservatives are not monsters. They are simply conservative. And their beliefs count and should be recognized for what they are worth, not simply as those of power-hungry fiends. We get those on both sides, you know.

Maybe I'm missing a huge part of the main picture. If I am, would someone please point that out? I have seen those I trust and admire for their strong political beliefs squabble amongst themselves, each trying to out-argue the other. And I'm not meaning "argue" in a good sense. It's exceedingly embarrassing and frustrating to watch.

For the nine-some months that I have been politically active, I have heard remarkable arguments against conservatism. I do not love our president or his corrupt cabinet, but I feel a little bit cheated. It's easy to attack the weak points, everyone and everything has them. But the strong ones? It takes a truly educated person to weigh the scales either way and then make a decision.

Finally, as an additional disclaimer: This is a rant that I try to make sense of. It has its strong points and it has its weak points, just like Conservatism, just like Liberalism. I am proud to know that there are people who have actually thought about the ups and downs of both sides, very carefully, before choosing a standpoint. I'm simply encouraging more people to do the same, I hope.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Gregoire signs bill requiring cleaner vehicles

Happy news, courtesy of the Associated Press:
Gov. Christine Gregoire has signed a bill that will bring strict California car-emissions standards to Washington.

"It's a day of hope and positive change for the entire nation," said national Sierra Club President Larry Fahn, who attended the bill signing Friday.

The new emissions standards will start taking effect in 2009, and by 2016 all new cars, SUVs and light trucks sold in Washington will have to comply with the tougher standards.

California estimates that the new regulations will cut emissions in cars and light trucks by 25 percent and in larger trucks and SUVs by 18 percent.

"The technology is there, and if it's not there we just need to give it a little nudge," Gregoire said. "This is one of the single most important pieces of environmental legislation we've had in a long time. ... It's going to have direct benefits to the health of our children and our elderly."
This was one of the environmental priorities in the 2005 legislative session, and it's now made it into law. Congratulations to state lawmakers and Governor Gregoire for having the vision to look to the future of our environment and our health.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Democrats identify 743 felon votes

This excerpt from the Times article reveals the latest developments in the case:
Democrats said in court papers yesterday that they've identified 743 felons who voted illegally in the November election.

And in a separate filing in Chelan County Superior Court, Democrats said they've added two academic experts to their legal team to help show that those felons, as well as 946 submitted earlier by Republicans, are more likely to have voted for Republican Dino Rossi than Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire.

"We know for a fact that nonunion, blue-collar, Caucasian men vote very disproportionately Republican, and when you look at the felon population in the state of Washington, they are overwhelmingly nonunion, blue-collar, male Caucasians," said state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt.
In addition, the state Democrats have a nifty map which provides a visual showing 22 counties where Democrats claim Rossi concealed names of illegal voters (including felon voters) who would have benefited him under his own proportional reduction theory.

The Democrats found additional illegal votes in other counties, in precincts that also voted pro-Rossi. No surprise, of course.

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's Time to Stop Xenophobia Already

In a shocking turn of events, two Harlem area high school girls have been detained on suspicion that they were suicide bombers and, according to the US government, an imminent threat to the security of the United States.

Fortunately, one of the girls, an imigrant from Guinea named Adama Bah, was released and was allowed to return to her East Harlem high school without further hassle.

The other girl, a girl whose family is from Bangladesh, is still in a maximum security detention facility and is being given the option of returning to Bangladesh with her family.

If I ever thought the US justice system could sink no lower than it already has, I was horribly wrong. Adama's english teacher described her as:
A vibrant, popular teenager who wore jeans under her Islamic garb, ran for student body president, and hung out with the daughter of the PTA president, a Christian girl, when she was not baby-sitting for her younger brothers and sisters
Suicide bomber threat indeed. It seems that no one EXCEPT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT seemed to think she was a security risk.

But then again, everyone who isn't rich and white seems to suddenly be a threat in the eyes of the US government. She's only getting picked on because the federal government doesn't like non-Christians.

It becomes fairly obvious when you look at the fact that her parents run a Muslim trinket store, her father is in trouble for alleged immigration violations (probably also fabricated by the FBI), and she wears a traditional Muslim garb over her casual clothes.

I also feel sorry for the girl from Bangladesh, who seems to be not safe in this "land of the free" and "home of the brave."

So as long as there is no proof whatsoever that she was going to attempt a bombing attack on targets in the United States, she should be arrested forced to rot in a maximum security prison, which is designed for people like the Green River Killer, the Zodiac Killer, and Charles Manson, and not regular young men and women on the streets.

This is illegal and is a disgrace to what we stand for in the US constitution. This must never happen again, and those who have been affected must be compensated for their loss at the hands of an incompetent government.

We must stand up and eradicate the meanace the current administration is creating through their policies.

Microsoft announces support for gay rights

In a great victory, Microsoft has decided to change course and throw its support behind the gay civil rights legislation that died at the end of last session as HB 1515:
After being criticized for quietly dropping support for a state gay rights bill, Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer told employees Friday that management would publicly back such legislation in the future.
We predicted that Microsoft would realize its error and throw its support behind the bill weeks ago.

And it's partly thanks to pressure from us. We're having an effect:
Liberal bloggers called the company a corporate coward and posted rallying cries for their own boycott of Microsoft products. Gay rights groups said they'd keep pressuring Microsoft until the company once again came out in support of the bill. And a prominent gay rights group asked for repossession of a civil rights award it bestowed on Microsoft four years ago.
When our efforts make the AP news stories, we know we're having an effect. A boycott wasn't necessary, nor would it have achieved anything, and the "Powered by Bigotry" buttons were uncalled for.

We should be making the other side boycott Microsoft - and now we've done it. They've clearly committed to backing this legislation in the future. As far as we're concerned, the Rev. Ken Hutcherson can go buy himself an Apple or a Linux desktop computer. Go ahead and start your boycott. We dare you to.

Here's highlights from what Microsoft CEO Ballmer said:
Obviously, the Washington State legislative session has concluded for this year, but if legislation similar to HB 1515 is introduced in future sessions, we will support it.

This situation has also made me stop and think about how well we are living our values. I'm deeply encouraged by how many employees have sent me passionate emails about the broad respect for diversity they experience every day at Microsoft.

I also heard from some employees who underscored the importance of feeling that their personal values or religious beliefs are respected by others.

I'm adamant that we must do an even better job of pursuing diversity and mutual respect within Microsoft. I expect everyone at this company - particularly managers - to take a hard look at their personal commitment to diversity, and redouble that commitment.
This is very good news. Microsoft and Ballmer should be applauded for correcting course when they made a mistake.

Gay sex scandal hits Spokane

Hypocrite:
Spokane Mayor Jim West, who championed an anti-gay agenda during his tenure as one of the most powerful Republicans in the Legislature, yesterday admitted to using the trappings of his current office to entice what he thought was a young adult man but denied allegations that he molested two young boys more than 20 years ago.
Well, well. One of the staunchest anti-gay legislators has suddenly fallen out of the closet.

With a loud thud.

His history in the state Legislature speaks for itself:
In more than 20 years in the Legislature, West had initiated legislation to outlaw sexual contact between consenting teenagers; supported a bill that would have barred gays and lesbians from working for schools, day care centers and some state agencies; voted to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman; and, as Senate majority leader, allowed a bill that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians to die in committee without a hearing.
What happened to West is somewhat understandable. The GOP - and many religions - simply don't accept gays and lesbians. As Sen. Honeyford put it:
Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said from what he's read, "it's a pretty sad situation for Jim ... It will be very difficult for him, if these allegations are true."

Honeyford, a Republican leader in Olympia, said he and his party oppose issues such as gay marriage because, he said, homosexuality is immoral.

He said West "must have kept his personal life separate from his political life." If West is gay, Honeyford said, he would be at odds with GOP values.
It can be very difficult for people who are gay to live with that fact (and accept it) when their religion, or their party, or both, rejects such people and says "homosexuality is immoral". So West naturally tried his hardest to repress being gay.

And thus he stridently opposed rights for gays and lesbians as a state legislator. But he failed. Now that he has been outed, his political career is finished. The GOP is a party of discrimination. Gays and lesbians are simply not tolerated in the Republican Party, and as such, West will be politically homeless.

Make no mistake, molestation is simply intolerable. If the allegations are true (and it seems they might be) then West is a criminal. In any case, his activities in an online chatroom are wholly unacceptable. He should resign immediately and step down so that a new leader can take charge of Spokane.

It's not a crime to be gay. It is a crime to molest children and it is wrong to entice men into coming to the mayor's office through a gay chat room with special favors.

Labour victorious, but majority reduced

From the BBC:
Tony Blair has won his longed-for third election victory and secured his place in history.

But the prime minister must know that, for the first time, it was despite, rather than because of him.

The victory came on the back of the smallest winning share of the vote recorded.

And with a vastly reduced majority and both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats making significant advances at Labour's cost, the celebrations in Downing Street will be short.
The Tories (conservatives) and the Liberal Democrats have made significant gains on Labour.

The new totals are 355 seats for Labour (a loss of 37), 197 for the Conservatives (a gain of 33 seats) and 62 for the Liberal Democrats (a gain of 11 seats).

324 seats are needed to win and 627 of 646 seats are at this time declared.

For more on the British election, visit the BBC.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tim's multi-paper column spree

Both David Goldstein (Goldy) and I are appalled that Tim Eyman has managed to secure as much free publicity as he has in recent days.

He's played the state's op-ed pages like a fiddle. He has a column this morning in the Seattle Times and yesterday he had one in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Not to mention columns in the Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, and Wenatchee World (subscription required), all in recent days.

Eyman doesn't deserve any of this. He's accomplished nothing during the last two to three years, and yet he is treated by editorial page editors like royalty.

The state's op-ed pages can do better. Tim is less than a mediocre writer - he's a pitiful, lousy writer. His columns are nothing more than recycled talking points from his e-mails coupled with ranting and rambling at the courage of elected officials to do what it takes to tackle our state's toughest problems.

Tim would destroy all of that. If he gets his way, we'll be mired in deficits and stuck in gridlock for decades to come - not to mention our communities will deteoriate.

Unless he is refuted, people will buy his talk because the temptation to think only of one's pocketbook is simply too great. Unless people understand the profound consequences, they will be won over.

Tim has a gift for deception and salesmanship. He'll use that gift to the full extent possible. He's good at getting people to think only in their self-interest and forget about the needs and benefits of living in a community.

The newspaper editors that printed Tim's columns should be ashamed for falling over each other and giving Tim space to write column after column. Three of the papers even ran the same column - one of Tim's rehashed e-mails.

Why reward a paid politician like Tim with column after column when Eyman hasn't even achieved anything? He's 0 for 4 in his last four attempt to pass an initiative. Apparently, his failures haven't affected his media clout very much yet.

The op-ed pages of our newspapers are too valuable to waste on people like Tim. Newspaper editors should get some real local talent for their op-ed pages, or get guest commentary from local officials and state legislators.

While we're on this topic, I thought I'd share this advice from the Seattle Times Company for op-ed writers:
DON'T submit the same piece to different papers at the same time. Editors hate to see a piece on their desk appear in a nearby paper. As a general rule, ride one horse at a time.
Apparently, that isn't true because three different editors for three different newspapers each approved Tim's rehashed email as a column in their respective newspapers.

And then, after Tim had gotten four other columns in four other newspapers, the Times was willing to give him a fifth. It's absolutely ridiculous.

If Evergreen State newspapers are willing to so freely give Tim all this op-ed space, they should allow opponents - including us - the same amount of space for a response. Newspapers are known to pride themselves on allowing both sides of an issue to present their viewpoints and arguments.

If they won't do that, then the current state of Washington's newspapers is op-ed pages is very regrettable.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Highlights and more on yesterday's hearing

Those of you who find the many twists and turns in the gubernatorial race election challenge to be a bit confusing can take solace in the following simple highlights, courtesy of the Seattle Times' David Postman:

Highlights from the hearing:

NWPT43


  1. Republicans will be allowed to offer evidence showing how illegal votes might have affected the election by assigning those votes to Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi in the same proportion as the overall vote in any given neighborhood. Democrats will be able to challenge the scientific value of the evidence at a later hearing.
  2. Democrats will be allowed to introduce evidence of election errors and illegal votes that may have aided Rossi.
  3. Both sides will have to present "clear and convincing" evidence that a vote was cast by a felon.
  4. Bridges set out six standards for the evidence, similar to what Democrats had proposed: that the voter was convicted as an adult; was convicted of a felony; was not given a deferred sentence; has not had his or her voting rights restored; that they cast a ballot in the November election and voted for a gubernatorial candidate.
David Postman's article in the Times this morning is an excellent account of what unfolded yesterday in Chelan County if you want a more lengthy report. Kudos to Postman for such good reporting.

Also in Postman's article: an important quote from Judge Bridges on the ruling he made concerning statistical analysis:
"However, and this is an important however," Bridges told the attorneys, "the denial of this motion [the Democrats' motion to reject statistical analysis] should not be interpreted as a pretrial ruling adopting the statistical analysis methodology. So everyone understands that; that's the ruling of the court."
(all emphasis mine)

As we noted yesterday, this is merely a preservation of the status quo. Judge Bridges made clear that his ruling does not mean the automatic acceptance of this methodology. And so the Republican case now rests on the hearing about the expert testimony, known as a Frye hearing.

David Goldstein (Goldy) of HorsesAss.org also offers his take on yesterday's events, complete with an inside scoop from the courthouse.

We'll continue following this case and provide special coverage for the trial coming up in a couple of weeks.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Judge preserves the status quo

Chelan County Superior Court Judge Bridges has ruled on another set of motions this morning, mostly preserving the status quo, but handing Democrats an important set of victories. David Postman

NWPT43

of the Seattle Times has done an excellent job
reporting from the courthouse today. His article is excerpted below:
Bridges this morning said he would allow Republicans to offer statistical analysis to show how illegal voters cast ballots in the November governor's election.

In Chelan County Superior Court, Bridges denied a Democratic Party motion to exclude the evidence, saying he did not see anything in law or court precedent that would prohibit the use of expert testimony to show how illegal votes were cast.

But Bridges said he was not yet accepting the statistical analysis as valid for the trial set to begin May 23. He said the Republican evidence is subject to a separate hearing where Democrats can challenge its scientific value.
Bridges said he would allow the GOP to make its "proportional analysis" (or speculative attribution) presentation to the court. He did not say that he would accept that argument. So that ruling is merely a preservation of the status quo.

The GOP lost a crucial motion when the judge then ruled that he will allow the Democrats to present evidence of election errors that helped the GOP:

On another issue, Bridges sided with Democrats, saying he would allow them to introduce evidence of election errors that benefited Rossi. Republicans had made a motion to prohibit Democrats from introducing evidence of any of those "off-setting errors."
That is an important victory for the Democrats, since it allows them to counter the GOP's evidence at trial.

In another significant ruling:
In granting a Democratic motion, Bridges said that any party alleging illegal votes will have to produce in court a copy of the voter’s signature in a polling place book or on the envelope of an absentee or provisional ballot.

Bridges said crediting is a “post-election administrative exercise” and “does not bear upon the authenticity of election results.”
This only makes it harder to prove that felons actually voted. It also kills most of the GOP's "election mess" argument - the discrepancy between ballots counted and voters credited.

The judge also granted yet another Democratic motion:

Bridges said Republicans will have to present "clear and convincing" evidence that a felon voted, a higher standard than Republicans had hoped for.

Bridges also set out six standards, similar to what Democrats had proposed, that will have to be shown for the court to consider a vote illegally cast.
So while the big news of the day is that Bridges will hear out the GOP's proportional analysis argument in court, the Democrats have recieved a string of key victories that will all be important at the trial.

The status quo continues but a number of things were decided today. The main action will be at the trial, which will begin later this month.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tomorrow's hearing crucial

From the AP:
Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges scheduled Monday's daylong hearing in Wenatchee to settle a flurry of pretrial motions. His decisions will define the evidence and arguments the Democrats and Republicans can use during the two-week trial scheduled for May 23.
Tomorrow's hearing will indeed be very crucial. The hearing will decide what burden of proof Republicans will have to meet.

The GOP wants to use "proportional analysis" to subtract "illegal" votes from the total based on how the precinct voted. This approach is completely flawed, and we sincerely hope Judge Bridges rejects it.

As the AP story notes, though:
Democrats scornfully call it "speculative attribution," "proportional guessing," "random chance" and, from attorney Kevin Hamilton, "Californication" - because California courts have accepted this method in election challenges.
It is speculation. The felon population is completely different from the population as a whole. It is a mistake to use speculative attribution to determine what the election outcome would have been like if some votes hadn't been counted.

If the judge does allow "speculative attribution", Democrats say they are ready to play the GOP's game and prove them wrong at trial.

It's a lose-lose situation for the GOP. If they lose on "speculative attribution", Rossi's entire court case is dealt a significant legal blow. If the judge decides to allow it, Democrats have the evidence they need to counter what the GOP has come up with, so the GOP loses again.

We'll be following all the developments in the court case tomorrow.