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

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Washington State responds to Katrina

Governor Christine Gregoire has announced significant relief efforts to help the devastated Gulf Coast area:
"We are coordinating with state and federal officials around the country to offer immediate assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina," said Governor Gregoire.

"We already have state employees and volunteers on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi and we are now preparing to mobilize National Guard personnel, as necessary, for missions in the gulf coast region. We are readying up to 600 National Guard personnel, but that number could change significantly one way or the other depending on need."

Potential missions might include aviation, both helicopter andcargo/transport aircraft, tactical satellite-based communications systems and general-purpose logistical and humanitarian support. Washington's Air National Guard KC-135 tanker fleet of aircraft from Spokane could be configured and utilized to transport people and equipment.

This action is made possible by legislation requested by the governor during the last session. The new law authorizes the governor to mobilize the National Guard for natural disaster missions outside the state like this one.

Governor Gregoire believes a coordinated response by all states is vital when disaster strikes any one state.
Good for the Governor. It's good to see Washington State reaching out to aid our fellow Americans in the disaster zone.

The governor also extended her condolences and sympathies for the victims:
"On behalf of my family and the six million citizens of Washington, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the people of the gulf coast region whose communities have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina," said Gregoire.

"The scale of this disaster is simply overwhelming. The people of Washington state have a generous spirit and we will do all that we can, individually and collectively, to support the victims of the hurricane."

Gov. Gregoire encourages people in Washington state to help with the relief
effort as they are able. She cautions people, however, to make sure any donations are made to reputable organizations with a high percentage of funds going directly to services.

The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Northwest Medical Teams are among the many organizations participating in this effort with a proven history of delivering services directly to those most in need.
We must reach out to help those in need, especially those who have lost all they have. Pacific Northwest Portal, of course, continues to track Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina justs get worse, and worse, and...worse

A grim situation grows even more grim:
The Bush administration declared a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast on Wednesday in an effort to stop the spread of disease in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid and dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water and the conditions," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Wednesday after announcing the emergency.

"We are also erecting a network of up to 40 medical shelters," Leavitt said. "They will have the capacity, collectively, of 10,000 beds, and will be staffed by some 4,000 qualified medical personnel." (See the video report of what health assaults the city might face -- 2:18)

Leavitt said the declaration would simplify and speed the relief effort. (Health risks)

Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reportedly said Wednesday that the storm probably killed thousands of people in his battered and flood-stricken city.
There is flooding, there are fires, there are crumpled buildings, there is debris, there are dead peoples, gas leaks, levee breaks, disease, and destruction across the Gulf Coast.

We've put up links to the Red Cross and Mercy Corps on the Portal's front page so you can donate to help. The Red Cross has donations of $21 million so far but could use all the help they can get.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina likely the worst storm ever to hit U.S.

They're saying it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it's still terribly grim:
Deteriorating conditions in New Orleans will force authorities to evacuate the thousands of people who sought refuge at shelters in the city, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday.

"We're going to try to get those people relocated as soon as we possibly can get a plan together," she told reporters.

"A lot of people lost their lives, and we still don't have any idea [how many], because the focus continues to be on rescuing those who have survived," she said.

Elsewhere Tuesday along the Gulf Coast, authorities used boats and helicopters to reach residents stranded by Hurricane Katrina and search for survivors.

The storm ripped ashore in Louisiana Monday morning with winds topping 140 mph before scourging Mississippi and Alabama.
The storm is expected to cost over $20 billion, perhaps as much as $26 billion, which is more than the cost of 1992's Hurricane Andrew. Pacific Northwest Portal continues to provide special coverage of Katrina and its aftermath.

Evergreen State faces decision about investing in transportation

Several weeks ago, after I authored a successful diary on Daily Kos about conservative talk show host John Carlson reading another one of my diaries on air, I received a request to write about Initiative 912 and transportation here in Washington State from the people behind the national blog Unbossed.

In my post, which just went up today, I explore the history of the 2005 transportation package and Initiative 912. I also explain the initiative's cost and consequences, and delve into a number of other related issues.

Here's one of the major themes of the post:
Good communities and good public spaces go hand in hand with good transportation. We have to invest in both. We cannot continue to build our communities and transportation networks around the automobile. We have to build our infrastructure around people.
Interested in reading more? Follow this link to get started.

Pacific Northwest Portal Late August Update Launched

This morning, Pacific Northwest Portal launches its late August update, with a few small changes that continue to make the website even better.

The first and biggest change is the addition of our newest syndicate member, Hominid Views. Hominid Views joins eight other outstanding blogs on the Expanded Washington page. It replaces Blue Washington, which hasn't been meeting our criteria of staying updated at least once or twice a week.

The second change is the introduction of six new blogs into our Blogs & Websites directory. From Washington, we welcome McCranium.org, Open and Revolving, and T Powers. From Oregon, we welcome Land Use Watch, Josh Bezerin, and Oregon Sunrise.

The third change is new updated syndicate graphics. Syndicate members can display a "Pacific Northwest Portal Syndicated" graphic on their blog sidebars if they so choose. These graphics have been updated to match the rest of the site, which changed when Version 3.0 was launched.

As always, we welcome your feedback and input: tell us how we can do better, and we'll take your suggestions into consideration.

Monday, August 29, 2005

League of Conservation Voters endorses Maria Cantwell

The League of Conservation Voters today announced in a press release sent to the Northwest Progressive Institute that it was issuing an early endorsement of Maria Cantwell and planned a large grassroots effort in support of her reelection campaign:
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the political voice of the national environmental movement, today announced its endorsement of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for reelection to the U.S. Senate, citing her leadership in fighting for Washington families and standing up to corporate polluters and special interests. LCV also announced its plans to run an independent, grassroots campaign on behalf of Senator Cantwell. LCV's endorsement of Sen. Cantwell is the organization's first for the 2006 election among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

"LCV is proud to make its first endorsement of the 2006 election cycle for Senator Maria Cantwell," said LCV President Deb Callahan. "Senator Cantwell is one of our nation's strongest environmental leaders in Congress, fighting every day for the health, quality of life and pocketbooks of Washington families, willing to stand up to big corporate interests, and working tirelessly to protect our wild places for future generations. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to mounting an aggressive campaign to help reelect Senator Cantwell to the U.S. Senate."

Ms. Callahan also commented that LCV's particularly early endorsement of Sen. Cantwell is because of her exemplary environmental record and leadership on behalf of Washington families. Senator Cantwell earned a 100% rating on LCV's 2004 National Environmental Scorecard - one of only two senators who received a perfect score last year.
It's telling that Maria Cantwell is the League's first endorsement for the 2006 election year. Maria has been a strong champion and a fighter on key environmental and energy issues. She's led the fight to stop drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge twice, pushed for energy independence, and advocated for renewable energy. Along with Charles Schumer, she was the main force behind the defeat of Bush's 2003 energy bill.

The Leasgue will mobilize hundreds of volunteers for a statewide grassroots campaign that will include doorbelling, letter writing, and sending out literature.

Maria Cantwell is not the perfect candidate for U.S. Senator, but nobody's perfect. Her stance on the Iraq war isn't a particularly bright spot, but she's been outstanding in many other areas, and deserves the support of Evergeen State Democrats.

Those who are hoping to mount a primary challenge against her are clearly ignoring her fine leadership on important issues. NPI believes the number one priority is to strengthen and enlarge the Democratic caucus.

Mounting primary challenges against our own incumbents is a terrible idea. We can't afford to lose any more seats in the U.S. Senate.

Adhering to your beliefs is certainly admirable, but all the ideology in the world will make no difference if we continue to lose elections. Attacking our own incumbents is political suicide.

NPI strongly supports Maria Cantwell's reelection in 2006.

New Orleans escapes the worst of Katrina

The city was spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina, but it still got hit:
A weakening Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi Monday, but spared New Orleans the devastating direct hit that had been widely feared and that prompted the mandatory evacuation of the city.

Although its wind speed dropped as it made landfall shortly after 7 a.m. EDT, the hurricane still packed enough power to lash the coast with blinding rain, cause flooding and tear away about a third of the roof surface of the Superdome, a 65,000-seat stadium that was turned into a refuge of last resort for nearly 10,000 people who were unable to evacuate.

The worst damage was reported from farther east along the coast of Mississippi, where the storm damaged numerous buildings, flooded streets and heaved boats onto land.
Pacific Northwest Portal continues to provide special coverage of Hurricane Katrina. If you're interested in helping relief efforts, please donate to the Red Cross, which is amassing a volunteer force of half a million people.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina poised to destroy New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina is nearing the Louisiana coast, bringing with it a vast fury and power that has the potential to destroy the New Orleans metropolitan area:
Hurricane Katrina, one of the most powerful storms ever to threaten the United States, bore down on the Gulf Coast on Sunday, sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the approach of its 160-mile-an-hour winds and prompting a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, a city perilously below sea level.
There is a major concern about what the hurricane will leave behind:
When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.

Experts have warned for years that the levees and pumps that usually keep New Orleans dry have no chance against a direct hit by a Category 5 storm.

That's exactly what Katrina was as it churned toward the city. With top winds of 160 mph and the power to lift sea level by as much as 28 feet above normal, the storm threatened an environmental disaster of biblical proportions, one that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.
It's a massive environmental disaster just waiting to happen:
Experts have warned about New Orleans' vulnerability for years, chiefly because Louisiana has lost more than a million acres of coastal wetlands in the past seven decades. The vast patchwork of swamps and bayous south of the city serves as a buffer, partially absorbing the surge of water that a hurricane pushes ashore.

Experts have also warned that the ring of high levees around New Orleans, designed to protect the city from floodwaters coming down the Mississippi, will only make things worse in a powerful hurricane. Katrina is expected to push a 28-foot storm surge against the levees. Even if they hold, water will pour over their tops and begin filling the city as if it were a sinking canoe.

After the storm passes, the water will have nowhere to go.

In a few days, van Heerden predicts, emergency management officials are going to be wondering how to handle a giant stagnant pond contaminated with building debris, coffins, sewage and other hazardous materials.

"We're talking about an incredible environmental disaster," van Heerden said.

He puts much of the blame for New Orleans' dire situation on the very levee system that is designed to protect southern Louisiana from Mississippi River floods.

Before the levees were built, the river would top its banks during floods and wash through a maze of bayous and swamps, dropping fine-grained silt that nourished plants and kept the land just above sea level.

The levees "have literally starved our wetlands to death" by directing all of that precious silt out into the Gulf of Mexico, van Heerden said.
Pacific Northwest Portal continues to provide special coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and Daily Kos user DarkSyde also has an execllent diary.

It Could Happen to Us

As we announced last night, Pacific Northwest Portal's web team has launched a special coverage section to cover Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina has strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane - with wind gusts of 175 to 200 M.P.H. winds - and appears poised to slam right into New Orleans, Louisiana.

It's the 100, 200, or maybe even 500 year storm that scientists and meteorologists have long feared could wreak havoc and devastation on one of the biggest cities in the Southeast. The mayor of New Orleans has ordered mandatory evacuations for the entire city.

The city sits an average of five or six feet below sea level on the Mississippi River delta. Even if Katrina doesn't hit the city directly, the hurricane's force could overwhelm the levee system that normally protects the city from flooding, causing massive drestruction.

Giant waves over two dozen feet in height could slam into Lousisiana's coastline, smashing the levee system to pieces. The storm is likely to drop more than dozen inches of rain on New Orleans and the surrounding area.

New Orleans is facing the ultimate disaster scenario. As we follow the storm coverage, we have to pause and raise the question, "Could it happen to us?"

Now, the West Coast doesn't get hurricanes. And we're lucky not to be Tornado Alley, either. But we are unlucky enough to live in an earthquake zone. And Washington State, as well as the Northwest region, is no stranger to flooding, either.

A major earthquake could strike at any time. It's not a question of "will it happen" but where, and when.

Much of our transportation infrastructure isn't built to withstand earthquakes. There are bridges and other critical structures that have been around for decades that aren't up to current safety standards. Should an earthquake hit the state, many of those bridges could collapse, causing huge problems.

It's happened in California. We're bringing you the pictures every Thursday so you can see the devastation for yourself.

A big disaster could happen to us. Are we going to be prepared? Proponents of Initiative 912 don't want us to be. Instead, they want everybody to save just a few dollars every year - at the expense of our safety and future.

As they say, it's going to be up to the voters. What's more important? A few dollars saved - or a safer, better future for Washington State?

Obviously, the safer better future is more important. Look at what's happening to New Orleans. Imagine for a minute that Seattle sits on the Mississippi River Delta and New Orleans sits on the shores of Puget Sound. Would you want your city and region to be unprepared as Katrina comes your way?

We can't stop the disasters. But we can do our best to get ready.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Katrina Special Coverage Launched

The Pacific Northwest Portal team has launched a special coverage section for Hurricane Katrina. The special coverage section is meant as a test to try out technology for election day special coverage.

So, feel free to check in and get the latest updates on Hurricane Katrina.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Abuse victims apparently bent on destruction of the Catholic Church

Reading through the headlines today, I noticed this: "Bankruptcy judge rules parish assets available to victims".

Victims of abuse from Catholic clergy are suing dioceses across the country with the help of lawyers, hoping they'll force the church to pay up.

The legal crusades have been draining many dioceses' resources, and some dioceses are filing for bankruptcy protection in the hopes they can protect what assets they have left - such as individual parishes. But, unfortunately:
A federal bankruptcy judge ruled Friday that all the parish churches, parochial schools and other property of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane can be liquidated to pay victims of sexual abuse by priests.
All the parish churches can be liquidated to pay victims.

That's what this is coming down to. Shuttering individual parishes so that victims can collect a big payoff. Of course:
Lawyers for victims said church leaders must be punished for allowing pedophile priests to prey on children for so long.
The problem is they're not punishing Catholic leaders any more. They are punishing individual Catholics.

The closing of individual parishes could lead to the possible closing of entire dioceses. As parishes and dioceses fold, the Catholic Church itself will begin to collapse. Parish communities that have been around for decades will no longer be able to serve parishioners. They'll be sold off to pay off victims.

Many parish properties could end up in the hands of developers who will tear the churches down to build new homes, condominiums, apartments, or retail.

The victims have gone too far. Now they're the ones who are victimizing others. Why should individual Catholics be punished? Why should individual churchgoers, who have done nothing to harm the victims, lose their parish communities?

And it's not just parishes. Parochial schools - cemeteries - any properties the church has are apparently up for grabs.

It's not about church leaders any more. It's about bringing down the entire Catholic Church. Catholics everywhere should come together to figure out how to protect their individual parishes from being destroyed by lawyers for abused victims. Decentralizing the diocese, while preserving it, is probably the best way to go.

This crusade to squeeze every last penny out of the Catholic Church is regrettable and lamentable. It's too bad that all the victims and their lawyers can see are dollar signs.

Audio from Wednesday's Debate

HorsesAss.org blogger David Goldstein was on the John Carlson Show Wednesday debating Bruce Chapman, who heads the Discovery Institute.

(For those of you who don't know, the Discovery Institute is the leading proponent of "intelligent design". We've created an audio file with excerpts from his four-segment appearance.

The audio is heavily edited to exclude most of Mr. Chapman's ramblings, as we don't want to store a giant file on our servers. It includes excerpts from three of the four segments.

Listen to the clip by clicking here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Want THIS? Vote Yes I-912 (August 25th)

As we told you last week, we're starting a new feature on our blog - every week, we'll post a picture or illustration here reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 bridge, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and massive destruction.

A collapse is the future of unsturdy bridges and critical structures across Washington State if we don't act. An earthquake could strike at any time. It happened in California; it could happen here. The longer we wait, the greater our risk.

The photo to the left shows a collapsed section of the Antelope Valley Freeway.

The collapse occurred after an earthquake struck the Los Angeles area. Washington, like California, is prone to earthquakes.

This transportation package includes funding for bridge replacements and upgrades across the state of Washington - including these projects:
  1. Chelan County - US 2/Wenatchee River Bridge at the Tumwater Canyon. Replace the existing bridge with a new bridge designed to current standards ($10 million).
  2. Chelan County - US 2/Chiwaukum Creek west of Leavenworth. Replace the existing bridge with a new bridge designed to current standards ($7 million).
  3. Clallam and Jefferson Counties - Replacing the east half of the SR 104 Hood Canal Bridge with a new bridge designed to current standards ($162.1 million).
  4. Cowlitz County - Replace the Abernathy Bridge over the Grays River with a new bridge designed to current standards and realign Cameron Creek Road at the west end of the bridge ($15 million).
  5. Grays Harbor County - Replacing the existing US 101 W Fork Hoquiam River Bridge with a new bridge designed to current standards ($3 million).
  6. Grays Harbor County - Replacing the SR 109 Moclips River bridge north of Hoquiam. This existing bridge traps debris. The replacement of the bridge will eliminate the need for repetitive channel clearing of logs of other types of debris ($2.6 million).
  7. Island County - Replacing the SR 532 Gen Mark W Clark Memorial Bridge near Stanwood with a new bridge to meet current design standards for safety and capacity ($18 million).
  8. Lewis County - Replacing the SR 6 So. Fork Chehalis River Bridge with a new bridge designed to current standards ($6.7 million).
  9. Lewis County - Replacing the SR 6 Rock Creek Bridge with a new bridge designed to current standards ($6 million).
  10. Mason County - Replace the existing SR 3/Fairmont Ave to Goldsborough Creek Bridge with a new bridge to meet current design standards, reduce the chance of collisions and accommodate the increased capacity ($9.9 million).
  11. Spokane County - Replace the SR 290 bridge over the Spokane River with a new bridge designed to current standards ($34 million).
  12. Replacing the SR 542 Boulder Creek Bridge along the Mount Baker Highway with a new bridge designed to current standards ($5.2 million).
  13. Whitman County - Replacing the SR 195 Spring Flat Creek bridge in Colfax with a new bridge designed to current standards ($4 million).
  14. Replacing the SR 27 Pine Creek bridge east of Oakesdale with a new bridge designed to current stands and raising the roadway to mitigate periodic roadway flooding ($4 million).
  15. Yakima County - Replace the existing SR 241 Dry Creek bridge north of Sunnyside with a new bridge designed to current standards ($2 million).
  16. Yakima County - Replace the existing US 12 and Tieton River West crossing west of Naches with a new bridge designed to current standards ($600,000).
  17. Yakima County - Replace the existing UW 12 and Tieton River East crossing west of Naches with a new bridge desgined to current standards ($400,000).
I just pulled these seventeen projects off the WSDOT list of projects funded by the 2005 transportation package. And guess what? None of the above seventeen bridge replacement projects are in King County. Or Pierce or Snohomish Counties, for that matter.

The next time you hear someone say that the transportation package only benefits Seattle and or I-5, swat them in the face with this list of bridge replacement projects. This package benefits all of Washington State.

If you care about safe bridges and safe roadways, vote NO on Initiative 912.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yes on I-912 campaign tries to mock me and fails miserably

I just got a message from Aaron Schwitters, the coordinator for the Yes on Initiative 912 campaign (known as "No New Gas Tax") informing me that they've put some quotes from me up on their website under two different sections - "Hysteria" and "Outright Lies".

I took a look and was somewhat amused to find that they not only managed to misspell my name, but they got my age and title wrong. Not only that, but they didn't source all their quotes.

Aaron, Brett, and the rest of the gang leading the Yes on Initiative 912 campaign appear to be lousy amateurs when it comes to putting together a good website.

Here's one of the quotes attributed to me:
"Critics bemoan the lack of new pavement, but new pavement will not solve any of our existing transportation problems." - Andy Villenueve, 19, Executive Director, Washington Defense
Let's attack this step by step, shall we?

  1. There is no source for this quote which is attributed to me. Now, I have written a lot, and I don't even remember writing this. They should have linked to the place where the statement was made. If I made the statement, I probably did so right here on this blog.
  2. My first name is Andrew - not Andy. I don't like being called Andy. I told Aaron not to call me Andy and he did anyway. That's disrespectful. Where on our network do I call myself "Andy"? Nowhere!
  3. My last name was misspelled. It's V-I-L-L-E-N-E-U-V-E, not Villenueve. Can't these people bother to take the time to spell a name right?
  4. They got my age wrong. I'm not 19 years old - I'm 18. They could have asked me what my age was if they wanted to slap it onto these quotes, but they didn't. Instead, it appears they guessed and got it wrong. How careless. I'm older than I really am, I guess.
  5. Lastly, I am NOT the Executive Director of Washington Defense. I am, however, the Executive Director of the Northwest Progressive Institute. I am simply a co-chair of Washington Defense.
By the way, Aaron (and Brett, and the rest of you) - I find your claim that my statements are "outright lies" to be a giant lie itself.

It is true that Washington could end up losing federal funding if Initiative 912 passes. It's a very real scenario. Why should U.S. taxpayers pay for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct if Washington taxpayers won't?

And it is true that the increase is very modest - in fact, it's more like an adjustment to bring up to par with where we have been in the past.

It's also very true that new pavement will not solve any of our problems. New pavement does not solve congestion. And laying down new pavement does not address some of our most critical safety issues. Repaving the SR 520 bridge will not make it safer. The whole bridge needs to be replaced.

And how was it "hysterical" of me to say that "Citizens shouldn't use the initiative process to override well thought out legislative decisions."

That wasn't hysterical. Good legislative decisions do not need to be overturned through the initiative process.

On the "Who is Against Initiative 912 and Why" page, they say:
Our opponents are BIG business, BIG labor, BIG law firms and BIG government. They worked to keep you from having your say on this massive gas tax increase and now they are working hard to stop us from passing I-912.
That's funny - I don't see Washington Defense there. Guess what? Your opponents are also grassroots citizens who care about the future of the Evergeen State. That's a BIG oversight on your part.

On second thought...looking at the rest of this shoddy website, I'm not surprised. I don't have much confidence that they'll fix the mistakes they made with my name, age, and title, either.

They have a shoddy website...they're for a shoddy transportation infrastructure.

Finally: I dare John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur to read this blog post on air tomorrow.

American Legion turns its back on American values

The American Legion has apparently decided to go on the offensive against people who oppose the war in Iraq:
The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all “public protests” and “media events” against the war, constitutional protections be damned.

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."
Perhaps we should start calling them the Stalinist Legion now? Isn't this ironic? They claim to love this country, but "constitutional protections be damned".

Veterans, what did you fight in those wars for? To have an America where dissent is not tolerated? Is that what you fought for?

Does Thomas Cadmus know what the First Amendment says?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Cadmus would have us throw the First Amendment out the window. An end to "all public protests".

There's something wrong when a group like the American Legion turns its back on the most core American values that were embraced in the Bill of Rights passed by our Founders. The right to dissent is one of the most important rights we have in this country.

There is no excuse for ending peaceful public protests. That is simply wrong. How dare the American Legion decide that other Americans should not be able to excercise their constitutional rights!

The Legion should be ashamed of itself. This is incredily disrespectful and arrogant. I cannot say I respect them as an organization any longer.

They're clearly desperate to maintain public support for the war. In order to protect America, we're going to have destroy it.

Yet another reason to go out and join, or start, a public protest.

Shooting Down Intelligent Design

HorsesAss.org blogger David Goldstein will be on the John Carlson Show today:
I will be on the John Carlson Show, 570-KVI this afternoon at 3PM, opposite Bruce Chapman, the president of the Discovery Institute, the driving force behind so-called “intelligent design.”

A couple days ago I criticized the Gates Foundation for funding the institute to the tune of $1 million a year, including $50,000 of Mr. Chapman’s $141,000 salary. If Bill Gates doesn’t understand that he is giving money and credibility to an organized effort to undermine our nation’s basic science education, then he needs to be educated. If he does understand this, then it’s his customers, employees and stockholders who need to be educated.
We'll be listening, and we'll make an audio clip of David's appearance available afterwards.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

KCDCC Executive Board Endorsements Meeting

The King County Democratic Central Committee held an executive board meeting this evening at which endorsements were considered. The following are endorsements approved at this evening's meeting for the primary (and some for the general) election:

Nominating Convention Endorsements
The KCDCC voted to concur with the precinct committee officers' decisions in last June's nominating convention. Here again are the winners of the nominating convention held on June 28th:

  1. Ron Sims, King County Executive
  2. Bob Ferguson, 1st District (defeated Carolyn Edmonds)
  3. Larry Gossett, 2nd District (incumbent)
  4. No nominee chosen - 3rd District
  5. Larry Phillips, 4th District (incumbent, current Council Chair)
  6. Julia Patterson, 5th District (incumbent)
  7. No nominee chosen - 6th District
  8. Geni Hawkins, 7th District (challenger)
  9. Dow Constantine, 8th District (incumbent)
  10. Roger Larson, 9th District (challenger)
One note: Roger Larson dropped out of the 9th District race.

Acclamation Ballot Endorsements
The Acclamation Ballot consisted of one named candidate in every race that was believed to be uncontested in terms of party support, and candidates on the ballot had turned in a completed KCDCC questionnaire five days prior to the meeting.

The Acclamation Ballot was easily passed by the delegates. Those endorsed:

  1. NO on Initiative 912
  2. Shirley Gaunt-Smith, Position 9 (replacing Roger Larson)
  3. Lawrence Molloy, Port of Seattle, Position 1
  4. Thomas Carr, City of Seattle Attorney
  5. Nick Licata, Seattle City Council Position 6
  6. Sue Blazak, Burien City Council Position 1
  7. Joan McGuilton - Burien City Council Position 3
  8. Eric Benjamin, Mayor of Duvall
  9. Dan Hubbell, Newcastle City Council Position 5
  10. Cindy Rye, Shoreline City Council Position 5
  11. Helen Stanwell, Federal Way School Board
  12. Michael DeBell, Seattle Public School Board Position 4
Master Contested Ballot
The Master Contested Ballot consisted of all candidates known to have some party support. Candidates must have turned in a completed KCDCC questionnaire five days prior to the meeting in order to be considered.

The winners:

  1. No endorsement - King County Sheriff
  2. Peter Coates and Lloyd Hara, dual endorsement for Port of Seattle Position 3
  3. Jack Jolley, Port of Seattle Position 4
  4. Greg Nickels, Mayor of Seattle
  5. Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council Position 2
  6. Jan Drago, Seattle City Council Position 4
  7. Dwight Pelz, Seattle City Council Position 8
  8. Stephen Lamphear, Burien City Council Position 5
  9. Cheryl Chow, Seattle Public School Board Position 7
  10. No endorsement, Seattle Public School Board Position 5
  11. David Tracy, Federal Way Municipal Court
  12. Mychal Schwartz, Renton Municipal Court
  13. Cindi Laws, Seattle Popular Monorail Authority Position 8
  14. Cleve Stockmeyer, Seattle Popular Monorail Authority Position 9
  15. Hank Thomas, Mayor of Issaquah
So there you have it - the King County Democrats' Executive Board endorsements for the primary and general elections. (There will be another endorsement meeting for endorsements in the general election).

Robertson: U.S. should kill Chavez

Pat Robertson is an idiot:
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's vice president accused religious broadcaster Pat Robertson on Tuesday of making "terrorist statements" by suggesting that American agents assassinate President Hugo Chavez.

On Monday, Robertson said on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club": "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Sure, Pat! Let's have a policy where we go around and assassinate people we disagree with! Take control! That's what American imperialism is all about!

Unfortunately for Pat, the administration doesn't agree:
The U.S. government distanced itself from Robertson's comments.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, appearing at a Pentagon news conference, said when asked: "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called Robertson's remarks "inappropriate."

"This is not the policy of the United States government. We do not share his views," McCormack said.
Oh, darn. Now you really look stupid, Pat. So, do you believe assassinations are part of "God's plan" for forcing others to convert to fundamentalist Christianity? Is that you think it works, in your twisted mind?

Pat Robertson has been exposed for what he is. A stupid idiot.

Monday, August 22, 2005

NPI launches new blog template

Change has been in the air this summer when it comes to the look and user interface of our network.

In that spirit, we're debuting a new template for our blog today. It's more stylish and professional, though it keeps intact the colors, font family, and font size.

This new template is completely different from the old one in terms of CSS and HTML and has been rewritten from the ground up. Besides better code, here's an overview of the changes:

  • New title image. The blog is now properly titled "Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog" instead of just Northwest Progressive Institute. It appears as a graphic so that everyone sees it the same.
  • Main column width change. The main column has been slightly widened for those with lower resolutions (800x600 and 640x480). For users with higher resolutions, the main column will not appear as wide as it did before, although it will be centered on the page. The change means that the main column will stay at the same width no matter which resolution you're using.
  • Sidebar adjusted. The sidebar should not "break" again for any reason. For Firefox users (and possibly other users), the sidebar used to break in half when viewing in the 800x600 resolution. The bottom half would drop below the main column. This problem has been fixed.
  • New sidebar elements. The sidebar now includes "Previous Posts" and the Northwest's Latest 10, which also appears on the Portal's Highlights page. The Northwest's Latest 10 shows you the latest ten posts from Portal syndicate members.
  • Color change. The blog no longer has any orange. The colors have been reduced to three: dark blue, dark red, and turquoise. Links appear in turquoise but will change to red when you hover over them. This applies to all links except for permalink, comment, and trackback links, which are always dark red.
Like the changes? Hate the changes? Tell us what you think - leave a comment in the thread. There may be a glitch or two that crops up with the new template, but, we'll get it fixed if that's the case.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Irons makes his position public - No on Initiative 912

Thanks to pressure from the blogosphere, the Republican candidate for King County executive, David Irons, has publicly declared his position on Initiative 912: he's against the measure:
David Irons, King County councilman and Republican candidate for county executive, seems uncomfortably balanced on the razor's edge of the gas tax issue, teetering between the interests of the GOP's traditional business supporters and the passions of the anti-tax elements of his conservative constituent base.

David Goldstein's horsesass.org blog started the humming with claims that Irons earned the nod from the Alki Foundation by proclaiming opposition to Initiative 912, which would roll back the gas tax increase. Asked to clarify, Iron's campaign office responded with the following: "In principle, I believe all major tax increases should go to a vote of the people. Personally I am voting no on Initiative 912. This is not the package that I would have put together. I believe it should have done more to reduce congestion. That's why we need new leadership in King County that will advocate for more congestion relief."

So, I-912 -- essentially a vote of the people on a "major" tax increase -- is a good idea, but he's going to vote against it?

But will Irons, as a council member and executive candidate, actively campaign against I-912 to defend the billions of dollars in new gas tax-funded construction projects headed for Seattle and King County?

Irons -- through his campaign office -- says that the prepared statement "speaks for itself."

When mobility, traffic congestion and thousands of local jobs are at stake, we'd hope for stronger leadership.
(emphasis mine)

The position Irons is in is obvious. He's voting down Initiative 912 because he wants the backing of business. At the same time, his statement indicates displeasure with the transportation package - likely thrown in to appease Irons' conservative base which strongly favors Initiative 912.

So now we know. Irons is voting against Initiative 912. But, he'd still like to have it both ways. We need to make sure he can't have it both ways - by continuing to point out what his position is. He's voting against. It's something his conservative base needs to know.

West Coast embraces clean cars

The West Coast (or, the Left Coast) has decided to embrace new, stricter vehicle emission standards to reduce greenhouse gases:
Despite an effort by auto industry lobbyists to kill the move, two Pacific Northwest States - Oregon and Washington - are getting ready to adopt California's new vehicle emission standards to reduce greenhouse gases.

When that happens, California's newly implemented emissions standards - the toughest in the country - will be in effect along the entire West Coast from Canada to Mexico.
Hurray! This is splendid news. It means that the entire West Coast - a three state bloc - is taking action to curb emissions.

Automakers have put up a stink every single time there's been a new regulation proposed to make cars cleaner or safer: from catalytic converters to air bags and even seat belts, there have been howls from Detroit every single time some new regulation is proposed.

As James Carville sarcastically pointed out in his book, We're Right, They're Wrong:
COMMERCIAL MESSAGE: Here at the Major Motors plant in Smithville, Michigan, we know that someday one of these air bags just might save your life. That's why air bags are a standard safety feature in all our new models. Also, they're required. By a federal regulation. A regulation we fought like dogs to avert. But when we lost, we turned on a dime and immediately started featuring air bags in our commercials. Major Motors. We Roll With the Punches.
The bottom line is that the industry is only going to take half-hearted steps to produce cleaner cars. Their efforts are not good enough. We've got to pass new laws that raise the bar when it comes to emissions standards.

And it's spreading to other states:
While the movement has gained little traction in the Midwest and the South to date, it's gotten a huge boost with the three West Coast states unifying around the tough new California standards.

Sargent said other states, such as Pennsylvania, Illinois and North Carolina, also are starting to look at moving to the new California standards.

"Despite what the Bush folks say, more people are realizing that global warming is a problem that we need to begin to address," he said.
Sargent is absolutely right. Global warming is a big problem and it definitely needs to be addressed. And if the Bush administration won't do it (and we know they won't) then state goovernments must lead instead. Like California, Oregon, and Washington.

But, of course, automakers are still fighting like dogs to get rid of the new rules:
The auto industry is suing California over its new standards, saying the state lacks authority to implement such regulations and that the rules would eventually add $3,000 to the cost of a new car.
Let them sue. While their lawsuit is pending, more and more states should send a message to automakers by following California's lead: we want cleaner cars.

And, in fact, the West Coast clean cars bloc almost didn't happen:
Washington state lawmakers voted to bring the strict California car-emissions standards to their state. However, as part of a compromise, lawmakers made their bill contingent on Oregon adopting the same standards. Both states' regulations would take full effect in 2016.

Seeing an opportunity to kill the regulations in both states, auto industry lobbyists persuaded Oregon legislators to insert language into a state environmental agency budget forbidding the state from spending money to adopt or enforce California-style emission rules.
But that language is history:
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who has aligned himself with environmentalists in the past, says he will use his veto authority to delete that provision from the budget.

That will clear the way for the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt the new tailpipe emission rules for Oregon by the end of the year, Kulongoski said.

The stiffer requirements would mean new cars sold in the state would have to emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 20 percent fewer toxic pollutants and up to 20 percent fewer smog-causing pollutants than the established federal standards.
So, hurrah! The entire Left Coast will send a message that greenhouse gas emissions need to be curbed. Clean air and clean water should be important priorities for us as a nation. And regionally, we're taking a strong step forward to insist that automakers manufacture cleaner cars.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Daily Show Highlights End

We haven't been posting them for a few weeks, but as you probably suspected, we're no longer running highlights from the Daily Show every week here on the blog. Dem Bloggers used to be great with video clips, but no more.

Crooks and Liars still does video, and you can watch Daily Show clips via CommonBits (you'll need a BitTorrent client) or via Comedy Central's website.

The Daily Show, of course, is still as good as it ever was. We do have a new weekly feature, although it's seasonal: every Thursday, look for our new Initiative 912 Disaster Picture of the Week. It'll run till Election Day in November.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What are we voting for?

It seems our new Initiative 912 weekly feature that we just debuted yesterday is already a success: we're in the Snark Attack for tomorrow's P-I:
What are we voting for? The Northwestprogressive.org site is posting weekly pictures on the Web of "the future" if voters pass Initiative 912. This week's snap is a collapsed Alaskan Way Viaduct. "An earthquake could strike at any time," says the post. But at least we'll all be 3 cents ahead, right?

-- Mark Trahant
Thanks for the mention, Mark. Even though he didn't get our domain name right, we're still glad the media is paying attention to our blog.

And actually, northwestprogressive.org should now be operational, so P-I readers who type it in will be brought straight to our website. We figure the backup domain name might come in handy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Want THIS? Vote Yes I-912

We're starting a new feature on our blog - every week, we'll post a picture or illustration here reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and massive destruction.

This is the future of the Alaskan Way Viaduct if we don't act. An earthquake could strike at any time. It happened in California; it could happen here. And it will happen here unless we take that viaduct down. The longer we wait, the greater our risk.

Want the viaduct to collapse in the next disaster? Then VOTE YES ON INITIATIVE 912!

Deciding to fight the campaign against I-912

George Howland had a piece yesterday in the Seattle Weekly that came out yesterday about Initiative 912, which floated a worrisome thought: that business, labor, and environmental groups aren't sure there should even be a campaign against anti-roads Initiative 912.

Worrisome because it signals that the major interests won't be willing to put forward the resources necessary to defeat the initiative.

Howland says that Gregoire needs to play a key role in bringing major players together. That might be true, but the major players aren't going to win this campaign on their own. While Gregoire could be a unifying force for them, Howland doesn't talk in-depth about the one force that has the potential to defeat Initiative 912: the grassroots.

Howland went into the whole history of Tim Eyman's recent but not forgotten initiatives: I-695, I-722, I-747, and I-776. We are very familiar with that story, but we disagree that there's a "tax revolt". The writers at the Weekly have a very annoying history of accepting conservative stereotypes, messaging, and frames. That has got to change.

It is true that there are people out there who despise paying taxes. And it is true that they have been able to organize and put together initiative campaigns to stop tax increases or roll back taxes. These efforts succeed because it's easy to vote to give yourself a tax break and because opponents haven't done a good enough job convincing voters why they shouldn't.

If you look at Permanent Defense's research and view the results from the primary election a year ago, you'd see that an overwhelming majority of levies and ballot propositions to raise taxes for local public services passed across the state:
Out of a total of 132 levies and propositions on the primary ballot across the State of Washington, 100 passed on September 14th. That's an approval rate of 75%! There was an average of five levies and propositions per county (of the 24 who had any levies and propositions on their ballot).
There isn't a "tax revolt". That's conservative framing and George Howland shouldn't be accepting it. But it is true that voters are confused and not informed - especially when it comes to statewide taxes.

Voters tend to know the needs of their own local communities, but don't see "the big picture" that legislators see when they envision the future of the Evergreen State.

Many in Eastern Washington believe falsehoods about the gas tax - such as the idea that "all the money goes to Seattle or I-5." It doesn't help that these myths are purported and encouraged by proponents of the initiative effort.

As Howland notes, the package addresses problems across the state:
The new transportation taxes will pay for 274 projects around the state. The most important investments are in 30 structures that are at risk of collapse, including $2 billion for the Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle's waterfront and $500 million for the state Route 520 Evergreen Point Floating Bridge connecting Seattle and Bellevue. Next in importance are 106 safety projects to improve highways with high accident rates. The package also includes passenger rail transportation, environmental projects, freight mobility, and congestion relief. These are necessary investments in state infrastructure. That is why Republicans, Democrats, corporate execs, labor leaders, and environmentalists support them.
Yes, that's true. But again, the problem is, voters think about the cost to them and not the consequences of maintaining a solid infrastructure.

Reading through Howland's piece, I'm disgusted at how many times he uses the words "tax revolt" and "anti-tax fever." Why does George persist in helping conservatives with their message?

Howland encourages the governor to get involved and urge major players to fund a No campaign. Right now, the major business interests are doing polling and waiting for the results to come back before they do anything.

Howland writes:
Last week, another business alliance, including members of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Seattle Association, released a poll that focused on Seattle voters and the monorail debacle, but it had important implications for I-912. To defeat the measure, campaigners figure they need a "no" vote of around 70 percent in Seattle. There was fear among I-912 opponents that Seattle voters were so disgusted with the meltdown of the monorail that they would express their anger by voting in favor of repealing the gas tax. But the survey showed that while Seattle voters want to kill the monorail, they still support the statewide gas tax increase, 68 percent to 13 percent, with 19 percent undecided. Nationally renowned pollster Peter Hart, whose firm performed the survey, says this is very strong support. "The voters are willing to look ahead in such a progressive way on transportation," he says.
The campaign had better not count on Seattle to supply the no votes for Initiative 912. The rest of the state can easily outvote Seattle. The campaign needs to be statewide, not focused solely in one area.

Howland then gets into more discussion about what role the governor will play, with quotes from various consultants and business leaders about what Gregoire will do.

Then, he writes this:
There also is considerable debate about what kind of campaign to run against I-912. Some believe the current political environment means it should be a grassroots, decentralized, get-out-the-vote effort. Transportation Choices Coalition Executive Director Peter Hurley says, "People need to hear the message not from a TV advertisement but from their local chamber, their PTA, and their circle of friends." Hurley says it was a grassroots approach that helped defeat Eyman's anti-transit Initiative 745 in 2000. He's worried that the I-912 opponents will opt for a traditional television campaign. "If you do a paid media campaign, it looks like big money. People don't trust big government and big business."
Peter Hurley is right. Initiative 912 can be defeated with a statewide grassroots campaign. It can be done. A big paid media campaign will not work. It will not be enough. Flooding the airwaves and sending out lots of direct mail isn't going to change hearts and minds. What's needed is a grassroots effort where people across the state work to convince neighbors in their own communities to vote 912 down.

The governor can be part of the conversation, and bring major interests together. Paid media might help to win votes in urban areas. But history shows that paid media campaigns don't defeat initiatives to roll back taxes.

This time, there needs to be something else: a grassroots, on the ground effort to stop the initiative. Citizens who want safer roads need to get involved and take a stand. We'll be working to build such a grassroots effort. There needs to be a fight against Initiative 912.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Voter suppression tactics all too common

In my last post, I responded to Stefan Sharkansky, who is the lead writer for unsoundpolitics, the other side's biggest blog in the Northwest.

Stefan & Co. saw their traffic explode with their coverage of the state's gubernatorial election that dragged on and on, and was eventually contested by Republicans.

Since Christine Gregoire was declared the winner of the election (and probably even before then) the elections process has been of the most posted about topics on unsoundpolitics.

Granted, if your candidate loses a close election - make that a very close election - you might want to take a look at the process, too. But the folks at unsoundpolitics haven't tried to fairly scrutizine the process. They've attacked it, ridiculed it, laughed at it, condemned it, and attempted to characterize it as fraudulent.

Many on the other side have pointed fingers at Democrats and accused them of cheating and committing fraud to get Gregoire elected.

Of course, it's worth keeping in mind that all of their allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing were dismissed with prejudice in a court of law.

I'd like to turn the spotlight on another issue related to voting and the elections process: voter suppression.

I had vaguely heard about the problem of voter suppression before, but one of yesterday's PLAN panelists had a speech that jolted me and brought the problem to my full attention.

There have been concerted efforts locally around this country on the part of partisan Republicans who want to stop voters from participating in the process by tricking them, lying to them, and cheating them out of their vote.

Voter suppression is essentially any kind of scheme to prevent one or more (usually, it's more) eligible voters from casting the vote they are rightfully entitled to cast in an election.

We'd like to think that America is a model democratic system, but it isn't. Here, in the United States, there are people who will sink to any level to win...including trying to trick their fellow citizens out of their voting rights.

To give you an idea of some of the tactics of voter suppression, here's a report from the Center for Policy Alternatives:



Millions of Americans are discouraged or prevented from exercising their right to vote because of voter intimidation or suppression, or because of mistakes by election officials.

The 2000 presidential race exposed serious flaws in our nation’s election system. In the aftermath of that campaign, a series of studies found that as many as four million registered voters who wanted to vote were turned away or discouraged from voting. (1)

Even though some of the Election 2000 concerns have been fixed, widespread problems were reported in 2004. For example, just one of the volunteer election protection hotlines handled 125,000 calls in the fall of 2004—75,000 of them on Election Day. (2)

Voter intimidation tactics are employed across the nation.

Almost 40 years after enactment of the historic Voting Rights Act, many Americans are still subjected to threats and intimidation when they try to exercise their right to vote. For example:

  • In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, flyers were circulated under the banner “Milwaukee Black Voters League” which warned that: anyone who had voted earlier in the year was ineligible to vote in the presidential election; residents who had been convicted of any offense, as well as their families, were ineligible to vote; violation could result in ten years imprisonment and the voters’ children would be taken away. (3)
  • In Columbia, South Carolina, a fake letter purportedly from the NAACP threatened that voters with any outstanding parking tickets or unpaid child support would be arrested. (4)
  • In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, voters in African-American communities were systematically challenged by men carrying clipboards, driving a fleet of some 300 sedans with magnetic signs designed to look like law enforcement insignia. (5)
Voter suppression through lies and deceptions is even more common.

More widespread than outright intimidation is the use of tricks designed to fool Americans into staying home on Election Day. For example:
  • In Lake County, Ohio, a fake letter appearing to come from the Lake County Board of Elections was sent to newly-registered voters saying that voter registrations gathered by Democratic campaigns or the NAACP were illegal and those voters would not be allowed to vote. (6)
  • In Orlando, Florida, a first-time voter received a visit from a woman with a clipboard asking how she was going to vote. When the voter said she preferred Kerry, the visitor told the voter she didn’t need to go to the polls because her vote had been recorded on the clipboard. This same tactic was repeated across Florida. (7)
  • In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, a flyer designed to look like an official announcement from McCandless Township said that, because of the expected “immense voter turnout,” the election would be conducted over two days and that the county was requesting Republicans to vote on November 2, while Democrats should vote on November 3. (8)
  • In Franklin County, Ohio, phone callers claiming to be from the Board of Elections falsely informed voters that their precincts had changed, and that elections officials would come pick up any absentee ballots from their homes. (9)
The federal Voting Rights Act does not adequately protect voters. Voter intimidation is a federal crime under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But most violators are never punished because federal prosecutors are unable, or unwilling, to pursue these cases. Further, while federal law applies to intimidation, it does not prohibit willfully fraudulent voter suppression tactics. Federal law also does nothing to prevent mistakes by election officials.



End report excerpt. Click here to see the full report and endnotes for the above numbered sources.

If you were reading carefully above, you might have noted that most of the examples of voter suppression were in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio - the three big "battleground" states of 2004.

What does this signify? That some Republicans worked especially hard in competitive states to cheat and trick voters who were likely to vote Democratic out of casting their ballot.

Voter suppression and intimidation is outrageous and disgraceful. It is completely unacceptable that these kinds of activities could be going on in America.

The reaction at yesterday's PLAN kickoff was similar: legislators and attendees were shaking their heads and murmuring their disgust as the stories were read. Many laughed sadly when they heard about the particular story from Pennsylvania about Democrats being told to vote on Wednesday, November 3rd.

Once again, it shows some people will sink to any level to win. We need to mount a huge effort to fight back against voter intimidation and suppression. The Center for Policy Alternatives itself has a suggestion:
States can adopt the Voter Protection Act.
The Voter Protection Act combines the best practices of laws in California, Connecticut and Illinois. It employs three avenues to ensure that every eligible voter is allowed to vote:
  • Penalties for intimidation and suppression — Heavy penalties would be imposed for both voter intimidation and suppression. Most states currently prohibit voter intimidation but not fraudulent suppression. Many state voter intimidation laws also have inadequate penalties.
  • Voter’s Bill of Rights — Posting of a Voter’s Bill of Rights would be required at every polling place. Six states (CA, CT, FL, IN, MN, NV) currently have a Voter’s Bill of Rights.
  • Election Day manual — A book clearly setting out election rules would be available for both voters and officials at the polls. Illinois requires an election manual.
We know that we need election process reform in Washington - we need to move the date of the primary so it isn't in September and pass other meaningful reforms.

A "Voter Protection Act" for Washington State should be high on the list of meaningful reforms. If voter suppression can happen in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, or Ohio, it can happen anywhere, and it can happen here.

It'll be one of the major policy changes NPI advocates for in the years to come, until it becomes law.

Stefan decides to stop by

I was elated to discover that a very good friend of mine (and David Goldstein's as well), Stefan Sharkansky, was kind enough to stop by and leave a comment on my recent Irons post:
I support I-912, but I'm hardly its most ardent or most prominent supporter, so I'm not sure why I earned a mention in your lede. But thanks for the honor and for spelling my name correctly.

More to the point, you are incorrect. I am not "dismayed" by your plausible yet unconfirmed speculation that David Irons opposes I-912.
Well, what can I say? My guess is Stefan doesn't have much of a sense of humor...the comment about him and Tim being "dismayed" was made just for kicks. One of Stefan's biggest problems seems to be that he takes everything too seriously.

As for "the honor", Stefan was mentioned because he's a blogger. Stefan & Co. are our politically opposite counterparts in the blogosphere. And anyone familar with NPI knows that we pay particular attention to the fight against Tim Eyman.

Back to Stefan's comment:
First of all, I doubt that Irons' (or any other candidate's) position on I-912 would have much influence on that vote one way or the other. Second, I-912 is not my personal litmus test for the Executive's race, or for any other race.

Nice try at political analysis, though. Keep trying. In the meantime, I commend you on your site's readable font!
We never said that Irons' position would have much influence on the Initiative 912 vote. But as Goldy points out:
Irons' position on I-912 might have quite a bit of influence on his own race… which I can only assume is why Irons refuses to publicly state his position. Irons needs the fervent support of his conservative Republican base if he’s to have a snowball’s chance of coming close to Sims, and he’s not going to get that by opposing their anti-government initiative du jour.
We couldn't have put it any better.

Thanks for the compliment about our font, and don't worry - we'll continue analyzing politics. But we suspect you'll be needing more luck than us after that prediction you made in the outcome of the gubernatorial election contest trial. You will find that's a hard one to live down.

More From Yesterday

Yesterday, besides attending the PLAN kickoff, I also attended the annual Warren G. Magnuson awards put on by our state Democratic Party.

Democratic activists were honored for their work on behalf of the party, and the Governor's legal defense team was commended for their truly superhuman effort in defending Governor Christine Gregoire's gubernatorial victory last autumn.

We heard from Senator John Edwards (it was the second time I heard him speak yesterday) and Senator Maria Cantwell, who pledged to be tough with Bush's Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

Sadly, we didn't get to see Governor Christine Gregoire or Senator Patty Murray there. But pretty much everyone else did make an appearance!

Edwards' appearance in Seattle generated quite a bit of press. Alex Fryer of the Seattle Times had an article this morning:
In Seattle yesterday, Edwards addressed a public-policy coalition, a low-income housing group and a state Democratic banquet.

Today, the one-term senator is expected to speak to a union rally of security guards at Westlake Park.

The Seattle tour follows similar visits Edwards has made in recent weeks to Michigan, Maine and, of course, New Hampshire, which hosts the first presidential primary in 2008.

Edwards is director of the Center of Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an academic think tank.

He hit the road about six months ago to bring the issue to audiences across the country, he said yesterday.

[...]

in a speech to the Progressive Legislative Action Network at Pier 66 yesterday, Edwards said poverty would resonate louder if politicians did a better job of championing the poor, who are mostly working women with children.

"These are the people the American people would embrace if they just heard their stories," Edwards said.

As for the polls that indicate little interest in the topic, Edwards retorted: "That's our [Democrats'] job, isn't it? Our job is not to follow, it is to lead. Our job is to show the country where it needs to go."

Edwards said he had no idea whether poverty would become a major concern to voters next year, or in 2008.

And he said he didn't care.

"I work on poverty because I think it's the right thing to do. I don't think there's any way to predict what the leading issue will be in the next two to four years."
The Seattle Times wasn't alone. The P-I's Neil Modie had an article, too:
He [Edwards] spoke to the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle, addressed a kickoff luncheon of a newly formed national organization that will give policy research support to progressive state legislators, and keynoted the state Democratic Party's annual Warren G. Magnuson Awards ceremony.

He spoke later last night at a private, $1,000-a-head fund-raising reception in Medina for Sen. Maria Cantwell's 2006 re-election campaign. And today he addresses a Westlake Plaza rally at 2:30 p.m. in support of the Service Employees International Union's drive to unionize the security guard industry.

The goal of Edwards' One America, to strengthen the Democratic Party from the grass roots up, is nearly identical to the stated goal of Keeping America's Promise, Kerry's new PAC.

The Massachusetts senator and former presidential nominee comes to Seattle Friday to address the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. It is meeting during the National Conference of State Legislatures.
And yesterday's AP article was also picked up nationwide and locally - in the Olympian, and in some 39 other news outlets - including the Washington Post and Miami Herald.

A Google news search for "Progressive Legislative Action Network" turned up 93 results, mostly AP. That's pretty good coverage.

Yesterday I also forgot to mention that the Nation's John Nichols did a great piece on PLAN which you can read here. The article was being widely distributed yesterday at the conference.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Recap of the PLAN Kickoff

Today was a very busy, but also exciting, day.

As I blogged earlier, today was the kickoff for PLAN - the Progressive Legislative Action Network, a new organization that's going to provide the resources to state legislators to enact progressive policies on a local, state level.

PLAN's kickoff was this week here in Seattle because this week, the Emerald City is playing host to the NCSL, or the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State legislators from across the country have come to Seattle to participate in the conference, so it made good sense for the PLAN kickoff to be the same week and in the same place.

Having participated in the event and been there firthand, I have to say that I think the event was a resounding success.

One of our greatest challenges is putting together the kind of infrastructure we need to challenge conservatives. PLAN will help to meet this challenge in the coming years by working at a state level.

The event kicked off at midday with a luncheon and a welcome from PLAN's co-chairs, Steve Doherty and David Sirota. Both talked about what PLAN is and what PLAN will seek to accomplish in the long term future.

PLAN will provide progressive state legislators with model state legislation, crafting general policy proposals that can then be custom tailored to individual states.

PLAN will also offer a war room of policy specialists, a database of experts who can answer tough questions, and it will work with the grassroots on the issues.

There were at least 300 state legislators, guests, and other attendees there to hear the guest speakers and panels.

After the inital introduction, we heard from Montana's newly elected governor, Brian Schweitzer. Brian's speech was full of energy and optimism and he talked about all the successes of Montana's recent legislative session.

Schweitzer noted that the Montana state legislature (which is now controlled by Democrats) had, among other things, passed an expanded smoking ban, created a health insurance program to help small businesses, balanced the budget, and managed to keep a surplus of revenues.

"In Montana, we will have a government that commits to the least and the last," Schweitzer said proudly during his opening speech.

He also talked about renewable energy - wind and solar energy, as well as energy independence, mentioning the decades-old and under-utilized technology for converting coal into gas and diesel fuels with zero emissions.

He told attendees not to look in the rearview mirror, and proclaimed, "You are the future," saying that progressives will not be followers - they will be leaders.

Jackie Speier, who has done an admirable job of fighting the "Governator" in California, was the master of ceremonies and introduced everyone. She briefly mentioned George Lakoff and his widely read book, Don't Think of an Elephant, which she said helped inspire her to take a stand against Arnold.

She also introduced Senator John Edwards, who followed Schweitzer. Edwards was the keynote speaker for PLAN's kickoff.

Edwards delivered a rousing, post-campaign, stump-style speech that stressed the importance of fighting for traditional American values and addressing the huge poverty crisis that faces us both here and abroad.

"The American people want strength in leadership," Edwards said. He added that "Strength does not come from yesterday's poll or yesterday's focus group," a statement supporting Lakoff's assertions that you win on values, not picking "hot issues" that result from research.

Edwards said the American people wanted to know, "What will Democrats do? What will they fight for?" if elected to office. Like Schweitzer, he also made a point about leadership: "Our job is not to follow - our job is to lead."

And he noted that PLAN is laying the groundwork for progressives to win in the future.

I met John Edwards briefly after he finished his remarks and thanked him for coming to Washington State. His appearance was apparently newsworthy, as the AP has published an article about PLAN's kickoff:
Democrats can build the party's national strength by pushing their policies in statehouses around the country, 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards told a group of legislators Tuesday.

Edwards, speaking at a luncheon for a new liberal policy group, said voters will reward lawmakers who advocate a cornerstone of Democratic ideology: fighting poverty and standing up for the poor.

"We know what we believe. We know what we stand for. But the American people need to hear it from us," the former U.S. senator told a group of about 300 at a waterfront convention center.

Edwards' speech highlighted a program put on by the Progressive Leadership Action Network, a group that aims to rival the clout of established right-leaning think tanks such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Of course, the article had to express both points of view, so Washington State Republican Chair Chris Vance was asked what he thought:
Chris Vance, the Washington state Republican Party chairman, said Democrats' late attempt to counter ALEC's influence reveals their weakness.

"As usual, they are two steps behind. This whole situation is a perfect metaphor for what has happened in American politics - conservatives have become the party of ideas, the party on offense," Vance said.
Did you expect Vance to say anything else? Well, those days are coming to an end, Chris. Progressives are organizing and we're putting our money and ideas where our mouths are. We're the ones who will be playing offense and making our ideas and vision a reality.

We don't need thirty years to build up infrastructure for our side. We can do it in less time if we're smart and motivated. And that's just what we're doing.

After Edwards spoke, the first strategy session was held, entitled "Jobs, Wages, & Growth." We heard from Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta, who is building a key part of the infrastructure for our side to fight back.

Podesta served as moderator for the other panelists and gave the introductory speech. He was followed by Joel Rogers from the University of Wisconsin, who gave a wonderful presentation about how progressives can get America's economy off "the low road" and onto "the high road".

Rogers was witty, sharp, and concise in his presentation and had attendees laughing almost every five minutes at one of his quips or a funny image from his presentation.

And we heard from Andy Grossman, the director of Wal*Mart Watch, which is fighting to get Wal*Mart to change its bad business practices.

Brian Schweitzer also came back to speak again and told us a couple of good stories, one connected to Wal*Mart - about how the company is forcing companies in other industries (its suppliers) to do its bidding, or it won't do business with them.

After this panel discussion, we had a short break, followed by a second strategy session focusing on elections and ways to increase voter participation. Topics included Republican vote suppression tactics, registering people to vote, voter turnout, and the elections process.

Following the second strategy session, the conference wrapped up, and people began leaving. During the conference, I also got the opportunity to meet Brian Schweitzer and John Podesta, as well as nationally known bloggers like Bob Brigham, of Swing State Project and BlogPAC fame.

I spotted a number of other Washingtonians at the conference: my own state representative, Larry Springer, Representative Ross Hunter, Representative Jim McIntire, Senator Lisa Brown (the State Senate's Majority Leader), Dean Nielsen from Progressive Majority, and others.

Lynn Allen of Evergreen Politics also attended the conference with me. I think I can say with confidence that she also thoroughly enjoyed the PLAN kickoff.

This organization has tremendous value because of its great potential. It will surely become an invaluable asset to state legislators across the country, who will be able to depend on it for research, resources, advice, and other support.

We hope we'll be seeing PLAN grow bigger over the next few years.

NPI at the PLAN Conference

Today I joined fellow NW bloggers to attend the launch of the Progressive Legislative Action Network, or PLAN, which is a new effort to get progressive state legislators organized and equipped with the tools they need to become more effective.

As quoted from PLAN's website:
The Progressive Legislative Action Network's mission is to drive public policy debates and change the political landscape in the United States by focusing on attainable and progressive state level actions. It will do so by providing coordinated research support for a network of State legislators, their staff's and constituencies, in order to equip them with coherent logistical and strategic advocacy tools necessary for advancing key progressive economic and social policies.

If states are the "laboratories of democracy," they are also the most important breeding ground for progressive policies that serve the interests of America's middle class.
We have heard speeches so far from Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana, Senator John Edwards, and John Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress.

We've had one panel discussion so far focusing mainly on how progressives can get America to take "the high road" instead of "the low road" which we are currently taking. We've heard a lot about Wal*Mart and the damage they're doing to the American economy. We have another workshop/panel discussion ahead of us before this one day conference wraps up.

When I have more time I'll post a longer, more in depth recap of what PLAN is and what happened at the Bell Harbor Conference Center today. I'm also attending the Magnuson Awards tonight, and I'll be posting a recap of that tonight.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Irons makes his decision - he'll oppose Initiative 912

Much to Stefan Sharkansky and Tim Eyman's dismay, the Republican candidate for King County Executive, David Irons, has apparently decided he'll oppose Initiative 912.

How do we know this?

Rumors began swirling after the Alki Foundation last week issued its "recommendations" for 2005 races. For those of you who don't know, the Alki Foundation is an affiliate of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Its membership includes regional giants such as Microsoft and Boeing. One of its goals is to evaluate candidates to see who is the most business-friendly.

Four years ago, the Alki Foundation recommended Ron Sims for King County Executive. But this year, they went with David Irons.

The word is that David Irons, in order to earn the Alki Foundation's "recommendation", assured the board members he opposed Initiative 912.

Initiative 912 is a big deal to the regional business community, as evidenced by this quote from Joel Connelly's recent column on the Alki recommendations:
Alki refused to make a recommendation in the County Council contest in which two Republican incumbents, Steve Hammond and Reagan Dunn, are duking it out for their party's nomination.

The gasoline tax rollback was the reason.

"These gentlemen support Initiative 912. Transportation improvement is such a central issue to the business community that we decided to make no recommendation," [Randy] Pepple [CEO of Rockey Hill & Knowlton, as well as Alki's chairman] said.
If Initiative 912 is such a big deal to the business community that they won't recommend either of the Republicans in the King County 9th District race, then how did David Irons get their recommendation without assuring them he opposed Initiative 912?

Ron Sims has already come out against I-912 - and the Alki board members knew it. So how did Irons get the recommendation? It's simple. Irons must have told the Alki board members he opposes Initiative 912.

Fellow blogger David Goldstein has also blogged on the rumors:
While Irons has repeatedly refused to take a public position on I-912, my sources tell me that he has been much more talkative in private. This is a very important issue to Alki members, and to earn their endorsement Irons apparently told them what they wanted to hear.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Irons hasn’t been privately telling I-912 supporters what they want to hear, too.

Irons can easily settle any lingering doubts over where he stands on the initiative, simply by clearly stating his position the way Ron Sims did. Indeed, he must come clean. I-912 could have a huge impact on the economy of the county he wants to govern, so reporters owe it to their readers to keep Irons feet to the fire, by bluntly asking him where he stands, and at every opportunity.
There can be no rest for Irons until he publicly declares what his position is. He can't have it both ways. Republicans are always trying to have it both ways - when the business community and their conservative base disagree, high profile Republicans simply try to skirt the issue, as Dino Rossi did last year, as Irons is trying to do now, and as Mike McGavick will probably try to do next year.

Irons cannot be allowed to skirt the issue and not speak openly about it. The public needs to know what his position is. It appears that he's already made his decision - he'll oppose Initiative 912 - but he needs to declare that openly.
If he won't, the media must be aggressive in asking that question until Irons responds.

Senn wins court ruling

David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org has the following this morning::
King County Superior Court Judge Richard Jones has ruled that the $1.5 million in vicious attack ads run against Deborah Senn on the eve of the Democratic primary for Attorney General, constituted “express advocacy” by urging voters to vote against Senn. The court also held that the so-called Voter Education Committee (VEC) illegally failed to identify its funding source (the US Chamber of Commerce) and register as a political committee.

In upholding the regulatory actions of the Public Disclosure Commission, the judge soundly rejected the VEC’s claims that they had a First Amendment right to keep secret the corporate funding. The judge ruled that WA voters are entitled to truthful and accurate information in ads designed to influence the vote.
It sounds like good news and we're glad the judge ruled the way he did.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

NPI at Seattle's Rolling Thunder

The Northwest Progressive Institute had an official presence at Seattle Thunder today. We set up our booth in the hub of many others and handed out literature about fighting Initiative 912 and also using Pacific Northwest Portal.

David Goldstein was there with us and gave a great speech about "being LOUD" and getting heard in the media. One of his key messages: we need to support AM 1090, our local Air America affiliate, and urge 1090 to come up with local shows/programming.

Ed Begley Jr. was the keynote speaker and also gave a great speech, with an overall theme of "Live simply so that others can simply live." He talked a lot about environmental and safety policies that progressives have fought hard for that have worked (i.e. seat belts, air bags, and catalytic converters in cars).

Find out more about Seattle Thunder here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Lietta Ruger joins Cindy Sheehan in Crawford

The Pacific Northwest's own Lietta Ruger, a strong supporter of NPI and Pacific Northwest Portal, has gone to Texas to join Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside Bush's ranch in Texas:
The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who started a quiet roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch last weekend is drawing supporters from across the nation, including the Pacific Northwest.

NWPT61



Dozens of people have joined her in Crawford, Texas, while others have sent flowers and food. One activist called her "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement."

Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., says she was surprised at the response.

"Before my son was killed, I used to think that one person could not make a difference," she said Wednesday under a tent where she has slept since Saturday. "But one person that is surrounded and supported by millions of people can be heard."

Lietta Ruger is one of those supporters. The mother from Bay Center near Longview arrived Wednesday in Crawford.

"We're all Cindy Sheehan," said Ruger, who plans to stay at the makeshift encampment until Monday.

"When I left Seattle yesterday my 5-year-old grandson said, 'Grandma's going to talk to the president so Daddy doesn't have to go away again,' " said Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew have already served in Iraq.


About 30 people gathered at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle Wednesday evening to support Sheehan's demand to speak with Bush and to protest the war.

"This mother has called (Bush) on (his reason for going to war) and we need to support her," said protest organizer Judith Shattuck, a member of Progressive Democrats for America.
NPI stands with Lietta Ruger, Cindy Sheehan, and all those in Crawford demanding answers about the war in Iraq. The chickenhawks and the 101st Fighting Keyboardists are already trying to bring Cindy down with smears and hate-filled attacks. They're calling her a liar.

We have a message for them: You are in the minority. Support for the war in Iraq is vanishing. We will not give one inch. We want answers, we want accountability, we want this unjustified, immoral war to end.

You can get updates on what Lietta's up to at the blog she writes jointly with her husband, Arthur.

Horsey on Initiative 912

P-I editorial cartoonist David Horsey has drawn an excellent cartoon about where Initiative 912 takes us.

The imagery really couldn't be any better. Our state economy depends on a solid transportation infrastructure, and that's why the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and businesses like Boeing and Microsoft oppose Initiative 912.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Break

You may notice that the blog hasn't been updated for the past couple of days. NPI staff have been taking a break and spending a minimal amount of time on politics. The time we have been working has been spent on other projects, including our efforts to defeat Initiative 912 (more at Washington Defense).

We'll start updating this blog more regularly tomorrow.

We encourage you to go to the Seattle Thunder festival this weekend in Magnuson Park. The festival runs from 12 to 8. For the first five hours, NPI will have a table with information about the Portal and anti-912 efforts.

Next week will be an exciting one for this blog, so be sure to come often next week!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Stefan's new claims about military ballots shot down

Carla of Preemptive Karma has a post today refuting unsoundpolitics blogger Stefan Sharkansky's recent claims that military ballots weren't mailed out in time to the troops:
Stefan: I contacted both the Secretary of State's office and King County Records and Elections yesterday to give them an opportunity to respond to my findings. The Secretary of State's office responded today with evidence indicating that King County misled them last October. King County did not dispute my findings.

I contacted both the Secretary of State's office and King County Elections today to give them an opportunity to respond to your findings. My results were much different and infinitely more factual than yours, it appears.

Additionally and for future reference...just because someone doesn't call you back to "dispute your findings" doesn't make your findings correct. Brad Pitt has never contacted me to dispute my finding that he wants to put me up in a new home on the beach in Malibu. But I harbor no delusion that my "finding" is correct, either.
It's a superbly-authored, well deserved smackdown of Stefan's wild rantings and absurd claims about military ballots. Recommended.

Discovery lands safely

Good news:
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (Aug. 9) - Discovery and its crew of seven glided safely back to Earth on Tuesday, ending a riveting, at times agonizing, 14-day test of space shuttle safety that was shadowed by the ghosts of Columbia.

Discovery swooped through the predawn darkness and landed at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert at 5:11 a.m. PDT, concluding the conclusion of the first shuttle re-entry since Columbia's tragic return.

The detour to California came because thunderstorms prevented the shuttle from returning to its home base at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"Congratulations on a truly spectacular test flight," Mission Control said once Discovery came to a stop. "Welcome home, friends."

"We're happy to be back and we congratulate the whole team for a job well done," Commander Eileen Collins replied.
Congratulations to NASA for a safe mission.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Initiative 912 qualifies for ballot

As expected, Initiative 912 has qualified for the ballot. The Secretary of State made the announcement today. Washington Defense continues to organize and mobilize to fight the campaign to defeat the initiative.

The Secretary of State's press release:
According to elections officials, a check of petition signatures submitted in support of the proposal has shown that the measure meets constitutional requirements for a minimum of 224,880 valid voter signatures. The measure will appear on the November 8 General Election ballot.

Initiative 912 would repeal motor vehicle fuel tax increases of 3 cents in 2005 and 2006, 2 cents in 2007, and 1.5 cents per gallon in 2008, enacted in 2005 for transportation purposes. The official ballot summary on Initiative 912 reads, “This measure would repeal a motor vehicle fuel tax rate increase enacted by the 2005 session of the Legislature for state-wide transportation purposes. The 2005 enactment provides that the motor vehicle fuel tax rate would increase by three cents per gallon in July, 2005, by three cents per gallon more in 2006, by two cents per gallon more in 2007, and by one and one-half cents per gallon more in 2008.”

Sponsors of Initiative 912 submitted a total of 400,996 petition signatures to the Secretary of State. Election officials conducted a random sample of 12,224 signatures, of which 10,615 were valid signatures – 1,609 were determined invalid. Signatures are invalid if the signer is not a registered voter or if he or she signed more than once.

The petition was checked using the “random sample” process authorized by state law. Under the process, a statistically valid percentage of the signatures are selected at random and checked against voter registration records. A mathematical formula is then applied to the results to obtain a projected rate of invalidation.

Election officials examined 12,224 signatures (a 3 percent sample) on Initiative 912. From that inspection, it was determined that the measure had an invalidation rate of 13.94 percent.
To learn more about fighting I-912, visit Washington Defense

Rob Dolin wins race for Secretary of the Young Democrats

WashBlog has this:
Washington State's own young democrat, Rob Dolin, won the election for the YDA Secretary, in what sounds like an eventful vote. He was the only one from the Unity campaign to win an office. More info hopefully to come from some folks from Washington who went to the YDA Convention.
Congratulations on your win, Rob! From what we've heard, the vote was indeed eventful. It's good to have a representative from Washington State on the leadership team of the Young Democrats.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings Dies at 67

BREAKING from ABC:
ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings died today at his home in New York City. He was 67. On April 5, Jennings announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23, and his sister, Sarah Jennings.

"Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he'd lived a good life," his wife and children said in a statement.

In announcing Jennings' death to his ABC colleagues, News President David Westin wrote:

"For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him.

"As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he'd been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones. In the end, he was not.

"We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or captured in words alone. But for the moment, the finest tribute we can give is to continue to do the work he loved so much and inspired us to do."
Rest in peace, Mr. Jennings. We will miss your professionalism and respect for quality journalism.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Why Brian Maloney won't shut up

It's been almost two weeks now since wingnut blogger and former disgraced KVI/KIRO radio host Brian Maloney began posting to his blog, accusing the people at Air America Radio of being involved in a scandal whereby they "ripped off" poor children.

Since that first post days ago, Maloney has rarely put up a post that doesn't deal with attacking Air America Radio.

Maloney and fellow wingnuts Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and others are really excited because they think they're on to a story that will lead to the demise of Air America Radio, which they hope to see fall into an abyss and forever disappear.

The "scandal" involves about a half million dollars in government grant money for a Bronx Girls and Boy's Club (named Gloria Wise) alleged to have been invested in Progress Media by Charles Rosen - the leader of Gloria Wise.

He was talked into the loan by Progress Media's founding chairman and main investor Evan Cohen, who was also serving as the development director for Gloria Wise.

Looking at Cohen's history, it's obvious that he is not only a liar, but also a scammer, a con artist - and apparently, a Republican as well. His involvement with the network ceased in May of 2004 after a reorganization in which other investors bought out Cohen and formed a new entity, Piquant LLC.

(For a further history of Air America Radio and now defunct Progress Media, see this Wikipedia article)

Maloney and his fellow wingnuts have gotten excited recently because New York city investigators and now Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office are looking into the loan from Gloria Wise to the now defunct Progress Media, which was inappropriate and a misuse of the club's funds.

Maloney and his fellow wingnuts are trying to pin what happened directly onto Air America Radio and its current owner, Piquant LLC, hoping to bring the network crashing down because of what Evan Cohen did.

A week ago, Mahablog investigated what Maloney and his fellow wingnuts were doing in a post entitled, How to Fake News: A Primer.

The new owners of Air America say they are under no legal obligation to pay back funds to Gloria Wise, but have agreed to do so anyway.

The people who run Air America Radio now are good people, and they feel bad about what happened to Gloria Wise as a result of Evan Cohen's activities. Of course, wingnuts like Brian Maloney probably aren't familar with the concept of doing a good turn.

Piquant has a problem, however: because Gloria Wise has essentially collapsed, it needs to know where to send the money to.

City investigators have recommended that Piquant's payments be placed into an escrow account that no one could touch without their approval.

According to the New York Post, "the first payment of $50,000 was made yesterday, and it was deposited into an escrow account controlled by Air America's lawyer."

City investigators, according to the New York Post (a publication that doesn't enjoy a stellar reputation with us) are unhappy with this move.

It's unclear where this is going and what will happen next. However, we will be talking to Air America to get a better understanding of what is going on.

But we know better than to place any trust whatsoever in people like Maloney, Malkin, and Hewitt, whose mission seems to be "search and destroy". Search for anything that could make Air America look bad and then manipulate that information in an attempt to destroy the network.

Maloney isn't even trying to hide his agenda:
Many have asked that question in recent days, wondering if Franken & Co. could actually face real consequences. Not just legally, but in terms of public image, as they take self-inflicted beating after beating.

A fresh example of success from St. Louis, however, proves Air America's real fate may be in your hands.

Are you willing to see this through? It's going to take an ongoing, noisy, stubborn pressure campaign if there's any hope of seeing justice served at the liberal talk radio network.

[...]

Are you ready to keep up the pressure on Franken & Co.? It's a question for radio listeners, bloggers and industry professionals. At the moment, Air America's on the run, but wondering just how long they'll have to wait until conservatives let it blow over.

Air America's scandal story was slow to build and there is much more yet to be revealed. The question: will you help see it through?

Letting go means letting Franken's cabal win. Is that tolerable, given the severity of the circumstances?
The ultimate goal: no more Air America Radio.

Conservatives are giving Brian Maloney a lot of attention - attention that he's clearly enjoying. At the bottom of almost every post he makes, Brian writes this:
Your Amazon orders that originate with clicks here, help to support the Radio Equalizer's efforts. It doesn't matter what you buy as long as the first click came from here.
Brian Maloney is profiting from all the attention conservatives are giving him for attacking Air America Radio. Money, attention, power. That's why Brian Maloney won't shut up. He's enjoying and profiting from this.

Brian has no interest in truth, justice, or fairness...even if he and others claim they do, they don't. They want to see Air America shut down. It's a threat to them. They hate the fact that it even exists.

The Republican Noise Machine is filled with liars and people who blow stories out of proportion. Just read David Brock's books and you'll get an idea of what we're talking about.

We'll have more to say after we get a clearer understanding from Piquant.

We have faith in Piquant and Air America and believe their intentions to make up for what Evan and Charles did are genuine, even if they don't have to. Brian can keep blathering on, but he is not going to succeed in shutting down the Air America Radio network.

NOTE TO ORBUSMAX VISITORS AND CONSERVATIVES: NPI's comment threads are moderated and comments that we judge to be outside the limits of thoughtful discussion will be deleted. You are welcome to post your thoughts here and criticize us and/or Air America, but comments we judge to be inappropriate will be deleted. Any attempt to spam our threads will result in a ban on the commenter.

Rep. Dicks: I-912 will devastate the state’s transportation infrastructure

The Tacoma News Tribune ran an article yesterday which had a title in the form of a question: What if voters repeal gas tax?

Yeah, what if that happens? Wonder what the consequences would be!

How about a loss of transportation funding, a serious delay in fixing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and SR 520 floating bridge, the cancellation of dozens of road safety improvements across the state, and placing federal funding in jeopardy.

NWPT60



Rep. Norm Dicks expressed serious concern about Initiative 912:

Two senior Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation say millions of dollars in federal highway funding will be jeopardized if Washington voters repeal the recent gas tax increase.

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) was by far the most outspoken.

“I pray the people of Washington state don’t repeal it,” Dicks said, who was joined in his appeal by Sen. Patty Murray. “It will devastate the state’s transportation infrastructure.”
Well, that comment was certainly right on target. Dicks and Murray are right - approval of Initiative 912 would threaten Washington State's quality of life and destroy needed transportation funding.

Of course, initiative proponents would have you believe that there's no problem - Brett Bader called Murray and Dicks' pleas a "cheap political stunt."

You know what, Brett? You and your initiative are a cheap political stunt. Initiative 912 is all about cheapness - it's backed by people who think state government already has enough money to keep our roadways and infrastructure safe.

They're the ones who want us to scrape by on the cheap. The problem is, we can't even scrape by any more.

We can't afford to wait any longer. We have to make investments in the future now. Backers of Initiative 912 are against making any kind of investment, and what's more, they seem to want to go backwards. Beyond the status quo.

Of course, the News Tribune's Les Blumenthal found a lawmaker who disagrees with Dicks and Murray: Republican Rep. Dave Reichert:
Reichert said even if the gas tax repeal was approved, he would be “shocked” if the state couldn’t come up with the matching funds needed.

“They will find the money,” he said. “They won’t let $220 million slip through their fingers. They could hold a car wash.”
They could hold a car wash? Exactly which state is Reichert living in?

Yeah, that's right. The state of Washington should hold a car wash to raise money for road improvements. That'll work. While we're at it, why not pass a law forcing all other car wash businesses to go out of business so the state can have an exclusive monopoly to raise funds for road repairs. We'll make people who love clean, shiny cars foot the bill!

It seems all Reichert can offer is non-solutions. He says "they will find the money." Oh really? Will they? We don't think so, Dave. Apparently you've been spending too much time in D.C.

If you were being realistic, you'd know that we are just about out of funding options. Maybe you'd like to bring back the statewide MVET and hope Tim Eyman doesn't try and run his Grandson of 695 past voters.

The bottom line is that the anti-tax crowd doesn't want to pay for any transportation package, period. They want it repealed, and they'll capitalize on apathy in order to persuade fellow voters to side with them.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Responding to John Carlson

Written for the Daily Kos Community and readers of the NPI Official Blog

Yesterday, I posted a diary entitled, "Local Politics Matter: Netroots Prepares for Initiative Fight" which subsequently made it onto the Daily Kos Recommended List for a few hours.

The diary concerned our efforts to create a stronger, more empowered progressive community through Pacific Northwest Portal, a website which we created to tie the region together and provide reality based news and viewpoints.

But it mainly concerned an initiative that is apparently headed for Washington State's ballot this fall: Initiative 912, which repeals a big part of the recently enacted transportation package to fund improvements.

I learned yesterday that that a significant part of my diary was read on air by one of the talk show hosts I mentioned in it - John Carlson.

Carlson was apparently unhappy with what I said, and was sarcastically reading part of my diary live, on air, to his conservative audience.

He was railing against a "high powered, well financed campaign by the establishment to thwart the will of the people."

Continue reading this response at Daily Kos, and if you are a member, please recommend to the rest of the community...

UPDATE: The diary has received a tremendous response. It made it to the Recommended List and promptly went to the top spot. It's still up there - feel free to head over and leave a comment.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bob Novak Loses It Live On CNN

Media Matters reports:
CNN contributor and syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak stormed off CNN's set after using vulgar language during a live discussion with CNN contributor James Carville on the "Strategy Session" segment of the August 4 edition of CNN's Inside Politics.

While discussing Rep. Katherine Harris's (R-FL) plan to run for a Senate seat against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Novak told Carville, "Just let me finish what I'm going to say, James, please. I know you hate to hear me." Carville said to host Ed Henry, describing Novak: "He's gotta show these right-wingers that he's got backbone, you know. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show 'em you're tough."

Novak responded: "Well, I think that's bullshit, and I hate that." He then said to Henry, "Just let it go." As Henry asked Carville a question, Novak walked off the set.

After the segment ended, Henry apologized to viewers for Novak's leaving the set "a little early," adding: "I had told him in advance that we were going to ask him about the CIA leak case. He was not here for me to be able to ask him about that. Hopefully, we'll be able to ask him about that in the future."
Oh, dear. It seems the pressure has really gotten to Bob.

He shouldn't be allowed to get away with this - vulgarity on cable television? Where's the wingnut outrage when you need it?

It seems that CNN is taking action:

The Associated Press:
CNN suspended commentator Robert Novak indefinitely after he swore and walked off the set Thursday during a debate with Democratic operative James Carville.

The exchange during CNN's "Inside Politics" came during a discussion of Florida's Senate campaign. CNN correspondent Ed Henry noted when it was through that he had been about to ask Novak about his role in the investigation of the leak of a CIA officer's identity.

A CNN spokeswoman, Edie Emery, called Novak's behavior "inexcusable and unacceptable." Novak had apologized to CNN, and CNN was apologizing to viewers, she said.
CNN has suspended Mr. Novak indefinitely - and we think that's for the best. Definitely a good move. Mr. Novak should stay off the air where he belongs.

Uniting to Fight Initiative 912

I've posted a diary this morning about our efforts as bloggers to get together and defeat Initiative 912, and also noting the updates we've made to Pacific Northwest Portal.

You can see the diary here. If you're a Daily Kos user, please recommend it. Thanks for your support in our effort to keep Washington a good place to live and work.

Pacific NW Portal Early August Update Launches

It's only been two weeks since the relaunch of Pacific Northwest Portal and the debut of Version 3.0.

Snce that time, though, the Portal team has put together a small package of improvements that we're releasing as an update to the Portal. If you're familar with our history, you know that our bread and butter is frequent updates to our website.

So, without further grandstanding, here's an overview of the update we released today: (For anyone who is actually taking notes - we're now on Version 3.1, OK?)

  • New Air America Stations Graphic. At the top of every web page, there's a clean, soft, and and clearer listing of the major Air America affiliates in the Pacific Northwest. It used to just be text before...but now, it's a graphic.
  • Improved National News Wire. It moved too slowly, had duplicates, and was Associated Press only. No longer. The improved national news wire has been released - the first time we've changed it since last March. You'll notice news stories will move through much faster - and there should be no duplicate stories.
  • New Page Footers. The link tree has been improved...so you can access any Portal page from the footer link tree, including the utility that lets you easily set Pacific Northwest Portal as your homepage.
  • Syndicate Changes. We have rules for our syndicated blogs - and one of the most important is staying updated. Two bloggers in our Expanded Oregon section have let their blogs grow somewhat stagnant over the last few weeks...so those blogs have now moved solely to the directory. We are pleased to announce that Middle Earth Journal and The Grumpy Forester are joining the syndicate as their replacements.
  • Toolkit Page Revamped. This page has many of the most important changes in this update. The new Toolkit page has a new traffic camera for Boise and direct links to urban traffic maps for the Seattle, Portland, and Boise metro areas - so you can get a better understanding of your commute. We are proud to announce that we are now an officially approved partner of AccuWeather, Inc. - so we've revamped the "Weather Conditions" section of the page with a new, reliable live radar map and a weather forecast lookup by zip code, courtesy of AccuWeather.
  • Blogs & Websites Directory Update. Ten new blogs have been added, bringing our grand total to a hundred and sixty six blogs - hard to believe that we've gone from under fifty to begin with, to growing beyond three times that number, in just a few months.
  • Highlights Page Update. We brought it up to date with the times - you can find the latest highlights from around the region there.
  • Feedback Page Update. You'll notice it now has a graphic commemorating our win yesterday as the Seattle Weekly's "Best Local Website" for the 2005 Best of Seattle Contest.
That's essentially the extent of the changes - not a huge rollout, but we've done what we believe we need to do to keep this site in great shape. As always, we want to know what you think of the changes - send us your feedback.

Olympian, Bellingham Herald to get new owner

From the AP:
Gannett Co. announced Wednesday it is giving Knight Ridder Inc. three of its papers in Washington and Idaho in exchange for the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat and an undisclosed amount of cash.

Knight Ridder will take over The Idaho Statesman in Boise and two Washington state newspapers, The Olympian in the state capital and The Bellingham Herald.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory review, will close once that process is completed, probably the first week in September, the companies said in a news release.
What does this mean for the Northwest papers being acquired by Knight Ridder? Not a whole lot:
About 800 employees at the three Northwest newspapers learned about the divestiture during all-employee meetings Wednesday.

"They were told we were very sorry to see them go, but this was a strategic decision for us," said Tara Connell, Gannett vice president for corporate communications. "We loved them and are turning them over to a company with a great reputation that puts them in good hands."

Connell said the exchange made sense for both companies, with Gannett wanting to increase its presence in Florida by acquiring the Democrat and Knight-Ridder seeking a stronger presence in the Pacific Northwest.
Keep in mind also that Knight Ridder owns a 49.5% stake in the Seattle Times Co. Now they own two Washington papers outright - the Olympian and the Bellingham Herald. Though we're not inclined to think the situation will be too different. Gannett and Knight Ridder are fairly similar companies.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pacific Northwest Portal Wins Best of Seattle Award

Congratulations are in order to everyone who voted in the Seattle Weekly's "Best of Seattle" contest:

Best Local Web Site

When Seattleites are feeling, well, blue, they visit PACIFIC NORTHWEST PORTAL for regional news for progressives. You can also find links to political blogs and newsgroups — and drinking buddies for whenever Dubya next chooses to open his mouth. www.nwprogressive.org/portal.

We also won in other categories we campaiged for:

Best Local Blog

Your favorite Seattle-based blog is the one that gives "the straight poop on Washington politics and the press": David Goldstein's HORSESASS.ORG (see Best Activist/ Hell-Raiser). Sharing his liberal views on local politics and personalities, Goldy makes sure blue Seattleites have something to cheer or sneer about.

Best Activist/Hell-Raiser

Web pundit DAVID GOLDSTEIN made a name for himself as a staunch opponent of local initiative-monger Tim Eyman; that's also the campaign that inspired the name of his blog, HorsesAss.org (see Best Local Blog). Nowadays, Goldstein comments on anything and everything, including the recent Enumclaw horse-sex scandal. This is his second consecutive win in this category, so he gets to be the city's best smart-ass for another year. www.horsesass.org.

Best Local Cause

Maybe in the next few years, Seattle can figure out a way to END HOMELESSNESS. For now, the city's shelters, missions, and Tent City settlements will have to suffice. Another local cause on your minds: that damn monorail.

Best Fish Market

Yep, PIKE PLACE MARKET again, beating out second-placed . . . Tim Eyman? Anyhow, we're glad Pike Place won; who wouldn't want to purchase their feisty fish from the freshest of all franchises to take home to their fairest, finest, and most fabulous frying pan? First Avenue and Pike Street, 206-774-5249, www.pikeplacemarket.com.

Yeah...I wonder how Eyman came in second for fish market?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hacket just loses, but Democrats win

DavidNYC of Daily Kos:
There is no doubt about it - tonight's results represent a tidal wave in Ohio (and perhaps national) politics. In 2004, the Democrat running in OH-02 lost by 44 points. Tonight, the Democrat, Paul Hackett, lost by a mere 4 points - just 4,000 votes out of over 114,000 cast. That's one-eleventh the prior margin, and that's fighting against one of the most corrupt state Republican parties in the land.

Tonight's results exceeded my wildest expectations. Don't get me wrong - I would have been overjoyed had Hackett won. But I am still thrilled, and his tremendous showing in an incredibly red district should buoy the hopes of Democrats everywhere. Tomorrow, we can begin the important task of dissecting the Hackett campaign's operations in fine detail, to figure out what contributed most to its success - to see what results this extraordinary lab experiment yielded.

But tonight, we should celebrate an amazing, against-all-odds showing by a strong, fearless Democrat. We all owe our thanks to Paul Hackett and to all the people who joined in this effort.
And Armando:
New Ohio Democratic superstar Paul Hackett went into the lion's den of pure Red Southern Ohio and scared the pants off of the GOP losing by less than 4 points in the face of a NRCC promise to "bury him."

No spin - the GOP is on the run.

Congratulations to Southern Ohio Democrats, the Lefty blogs, especially Swing State Project, and Dems everywhere. We have delivered a lesson - Fighting Dems will win the day.

On to 2006, when we take back the Congress.
Well said - and right on target. We couldn't agree more. This is a great day for the Democratic Party. The fifty state strategy works: we must show up to win, and we must compete everywhere. This should have been a slam dunk for the GOP.

Instead, it was a nailbiter down to the very end.

Regardless of whether there was cheating by Republicans to steal the election - and we have no such evidence, so we won't make any such claims - Democrats still did a great job turning out the vote.

We can and we will take back the Congress in 2006. We are the party of America's finest traditional values.

BREAKING: Coverage of the OH-02 Special Election

Pacific Northwest Portal has been equipped with an automatic newsticker which is being updated by the Portal's web team, bringing you the latest in results from the Ohio 2nd Congressional District Special Election.

As of 6:25 PM PST, (9:25 PM EST) Hackett is in the lead.

Go Paul Hackett!

UPDATE:
The race is a dead heat. It looks like there is going to be an automatic recount. As of 7:02 PM PST, Hackett trails by only 870 votes. An incredibly Republican district was made competitive - and it ain't over yet.

Time for Paul Hackett

It's special election day in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District.

The district is holding a special election because former Rep. Portman was appointed by President Bush to be trade representative.

It's a heavily Republican district - but this race is different. This race is unique. Daily Kos' DavidNYC explains:
I first became aware that the Congressional seat in Ohio's second district was opening up back in March. At the time, I proposed we take the seat on a "trial run" - in other words, as one commenter helpfully put it, we could use this opportunity to do some political R&D. Even in losing, we could accomplish a lot, just by being aggressive and seeing what works and what doesn't. OH-02, in this view, should serve as our political research laboratory.

I suggested we test out two things in this lab: New campaign tactics and new messages. Until I get the full debriefing from Bob and Tim, I can't speak to #1 (though from afar, it does look like we've had a strong ground game). But as far as #2 goes - trying out new messages - I have some better insight into that. Back in March, I wholeheartedly agreed with commenters who said we should try to push the ethics/corruption/DeLay angle hard.

And indeed, we have. We had two great pieces of luck: We emerged from the primaries with a strong and upstanding Democrat in Paul Hackett and a corrupt, lying Republican in Jean Schmidt. As a result, playing up this storyline has worked perfectly: The Hackett campaign has mercilessly hammered Schmidt for her ethics problems, and the local media have taken notice. Schmidt even did us the favor of taking money straight from DeLay's PAC. It doesn't get better than that.

But how do we judge success? How do we know if the corruption angle really works? Well, as Tim notes below, the GOP has been winning this district by 50-point margins. If we get within 30 points, we'll know we've done something right. It will mean that our laboratory experiment truly has been a success, and that the national Democrats would do well to take notice. It'll mean that pushing the ethics angle really works, and that Congressional Dems seriously need to reconsider their refusal to file ethics complaints against Republicans.

(An aside: Some people have pointed out that Portman has had the advantages of incumbency, so his big recent margins need to be discounted. However, he won his very first election by a 70-29 margin. Others have observed that, after the 2000 redistricting, OH-02 became less Republican. Yes, that's true - but only by 2.6%, when looking at Bush v. Gore voting patterns.)

Along the way, of course, something quite unexpected happened. The blogosphere took notice and gave Hackett a huge pile of cash; his campaign caught fire; the Republicans got spooked and dumped in money they never expected to have to spend; brigades of grassroots volunteers came to the district to help Hackett; and the race garnered national attention. People, in short, began to feel that this race was actually winnable for the Dems.

And it may very well be. It goes without saying that I would be thrilled to no end if we pull off a major upset here. But I won't be disappointed if we do not. The ultimate measure of success here is not whether CNN puts a check-mark next to Paul Hackett's name tonight. As I've been saying since March, we can achieve a victory here even if we don't win outright.

And right now, I'm already feeling like we have.
We'll be watching what happens tonight.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Puget Sound Biz Journal gets it partly right on defeating I-912

Turns out the Seattle P-I and the Stranger aren't the only ones trying to give Initiative 912 opponents strategy advice. The Puget Sound Business Journal's Mike Flynn had a new editorial that appeared in last Friday's edition.

Mike did better than the Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly, but he seems to have the same ridiculous notion that shutting down the monorail project will help:
The first step is for business and civic leaders to insist that Mayor Greg Nickels and members of the Seattle City Council pull the plug on the Seattle Monorail Project. It has become the poster child for supporters of the initiative across the state who are using Seattle's inability to deal decisively with its financial disaster-in-the-making as proof that no one's looking out for the taxpayer.

[...]

If, in fact, the monorail gets killed, the move then needs to be trumpeted across the state as an example of the fact that government can be trusted to respect the taxpayer.
Hold it right there. Mike is saying that once we kill the monorail, we should "trumpet" its death? That means we are then making the monorail an issue in this campaign. We think that's pretty dumb advice.

Here's what we said back when Joel wrote his column:
Having Governor Christine Gregoire call for a shutdown of the monorail project is entirely ridiculous. The process is working by itself - having the governor jump in and call for its removal won't accomplish anything except please critics who just want to see the monorail go away.

People who live outside of Seattle aren't going to reject the gas tax because of the monorail. They're not paying for it, and they're not involved in the fiasco, either.
This is just an excuse to get the monorail project shut down faster from people who don't like it. Mike claims it's an essential step if opponents want to win. We strongly disagree.

Long before the monorail project got into trouble, the campaign to repeal the gas tax was already well underway. It started right after the House passed the package in April, and it kicked into high gear after the Governor signed it.

The monorail project should not be tied to the Initiative 912 campaign by either side. If proponents do it, we should call them on it and dismiss such a claim...pointing out that the statewide package is not connected with the Seattle Monorail Project, and that the process is working by itself.

Though we would discard the advice about the monorail project, we found Mike's other ideas to be on target:
...Business leaders need to recognize that there's sometimes a disconnect between their efforts and those of community groups, and that this disconnect could be fatal in efforts to defeat I-912. So business needs to seek to honestly enlist the aid of nonprofit organizations, community groups, and others outside the acknowledged "leadership" in order to connect more closely with the average voter.

Finally, as Enterprise Seattle CEO John Powers, calling on his Eastern Washington background, framed it, there needs to be a grassroots campaign that's individualized for every community around the state: In this campaign, it's critical that "moms in tennis shoes," rather than business leaders, are shown talking about the importance of the projects that gas-tax dollars will provide.
These two paragraphs offer good advice. A broad coalition of diverse interests should be built to fight the I-912 campaign. The coalition should be as inclusive as possible, and open to those who want to help defeat the initiative.

The campaign should be grassroots and community-focused. Just dumping money into TV ads isn't going to work because a majority of public sentiment is already against the package.

It's very easy for proponents to whip up such sentiments and capitalize on those kind of feelings. We need to campaign on a community and personal level to win.

Bolton installed as U.N. Ambassador

It was a recess appointment to be expected:
President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology.

NWPT59



[...]

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Bolton was a "seriously flawed and weakened candidate." He charged that Bush "chose to stonewall the Senate" by using a recess appointment.

[...]

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., sharply criticized the move.

"It's a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton's credibility at the U.N," Kennedy said."

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "The president has done a real disservice to our nation by appointing an individual who lacks to the credibility to further U.S. interests at the United Nations."

Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio also said he was disappointed.

"I am truly concerned that a recess appointment will only add to John Bolton's baggage and his lack of credibility with the United Nations," Voinovich said.
As far as we're concerned, Bolton has zero credibility, and his appointment shows again how arrogant the administration is. Bush has has a long history of nominating people who are simply unqualified for the positions he wants them to hold - this is just the latest example.

Harry Reid had more to say:
At a time when we need to reassert our diplomatic power in the world, President Bush has decided to send a seriously flawed and weakened candidate to the United Nations. It's an unnecessary result, and the latest abuse of power by the Bush White House.

The reason Bolton is being recess appointed is because the President chose to stonewall the Senate. Mr. Bolton could have had his up or down vote had President Bush given Senators the information they needed. Instead, Bolton arrives at the United Nations with a cloud hanging over his head.
So now who's stonewalling? The White House, of course. They're getting to be very good about not commenting on the status of ongoing matters. Kos has more:
Bush claims that Bolton will be a force for reform at the UN. Problem is, Bolton has been foisted upon the UN without any consensus in the Senate. He has only a shred of legal authority to the post, and no moral authority. His tenure is necessarily limited to a year.

So how can he effectively push for reform when the UN bureaucracy can simply run out the clock on him? And how will such delaying tactics blow back on the UN when Bolton couldn't even garner the support of his own countrymen in the U.S. Senate? And how could anyone take Bolton seriously given the number and severity of the allegations against him?

Bush thinks he's flashing the middle finger at Democrats, but in reality he's setting back his own cause for reform at the United Nations. As for U.S. diplomacy, it's yet another setback. But this administration has done nothing but give F.U.s to the world community for five years running. This is simply par for the course.
He's right on. Here's hoping Bolton is looked upon with disdain by the international community and not taken seriously.

Rep. Moeller, like us, is sick of EFF's whining

Stefan of unsoundpolitics yesterday posted an email that Representative Moeller, a Democrat from Vancouver, sent to Bob Williams, the leader of the Evergreen "Freedom" Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Olympia.

EFF has sparked our ire on a number of issues, particularly education, where it aims its propoganda at teachers - particularly through the U.S. Mail - trying to get them to quit the Washington Education Association.

We're sick of their whining. And apparently, Rep. Moeller is sick of it too. He tells it like it is to Bob Williams:
Sour grapes Mr. Williams! You are a Republican (or perhaps Libertarian). Your candidate [Dino Rossi] lost. End of story. People aren't being prosecuted because there was no fraud. You and the Republican party went venue shopping hoping you could find a sympathic ear in Eastern Washington for your pleas and what you got was an ear full. Why or why did I not hear you howls of protest of fraud, enhanced ballots, and illegal voting after the presidential election of 2000? Because you candidate won! Jesus, you are so transparent as to be comical. Move on Mr. Williams or better yet, just move.

Sincerely,

Representative Jim Moeller
49th Legislative District
P. O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7872
Stefan, of course, says this is "a dumb email from an elected official." Stefan says this because he doesn't like what Rep. Moeller wrote - because Rep. Moeller is a Democrat.

Imagine a role reversal - a Republican legislator writing to a director of a Democratic think tank, telling them to quit whining.

Stefan would praise that kind of letter.

We're Democrats, and we think Rep. Moeller got it right on. Additionally, we think Stefan's commentary was the latest in a series of Dumb Blog Posts from Half-Witted Republican Bloggers. So there.