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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Briefly...National News

There's so much to blog on right now and so little time, but I'd like to point you towards a few stories of importance that don't concern the Pacific NW:

First, see this great editorial from the New York Times ripping Bush's ridiculous "Victory Plan", which the President unveiled today. The P-I editorial board shares a similar sentiment tomorrow.

Second, it's interesting to hear that Diebold would rather lose all of its voting machine business in North Carolina than open its source code to state election officials as required by law. See this Kos diary whch offers more details.

Third, another Kos diary details Rep. Murtha's appearance on MSNBC's Hardball. Murtha told host Chris Matthews that U.S. generals are informing him that preparing the Iraqi troops for a stable Iraq may take twenty five years.

We'll probably have more to say about Bush's "Victory Plan" tomorrow.

Phony EFF complaint against Locke dismissed

From The Olympian:
A state ethics board has dismissed a complaint against former Gov. Gary Locke over his solicitation of tens of thousands of dollars in corporate donations for the National Governor’s Association in 2003.

The ethics law usually forbids any solicitation and it puts a $50 limit on gifts.

Locke, who made about 30 fundraising phone calls and also sent letters on NGA stationery, was raising money to help defray costs of Washington’s role as host for the annual policy conference of the NGA, which was in Seattle that year.

The NGA helps the states craft national policy goals on education and other issues, but its Seattle meeting relied on at least $720,000 in donations from about 18 companies with about 155 state contracts, according to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, which filed its complaint last year.

In its ruling issued last week but released Tuesday to The Olympian, the state Executive Ethics Board found the complaint was “obviously unfounded or frivolous.”

“There is no evidence that Governor Locke granted contributors direct access to the governors during the only events that he could have controlled access to: the ‘unofficial’ social events,” the board’s formal written report stated.


It also found that contributors, including The Boeing Co., received “no special access” to the nation’s governors by virtue of giving to the NGA in 2003.
This is certainly a welcome development. Like Governor Locke, we are pleased that this phony complaint has been entirely tossed out. The EFF ought to think twice about merit before filing another ethics complaint.

An evening with Darcy Burner and Gov. Locke

There was a wonderfully nice reception this evening for Darcy Burner, who is running against Dave Reichert to represent the 8th Congressional District. Former Governor Gary Locke was the special guest of honor and did a fabulous job introducing Darcy. Governor Locke spoke about the importance of restoring a sense of optimism in America that the Bush administration has managed to take away.

He also underlined the importance of investing in quality education that will allow America to remain a world leader in the 21st century. Locke reminded us that we are moving into a new era, and we have an opportunity to put the United States back on the right track if we can bring about a change of leadership at the federal level.

Gov. Locke also reminded us of Dave Reichert's uncomfortably close ties to Tom Delay, and Reichert's dismal voting record.

For her part, Darcy talked about how vital it will be to win the 8th District because the 8th District represents one of the fifteen best opportunities around the country to take back the House of Representatives. In order to win back the House, she noted, we must defeat at least fifteen Republican incumbents.

Darcy also talked about why she's running: because our country is in serious trouble and we need to change direction. Darcy is running because she wants to ensure that we give the next generation a brighter future, that we offer quality education and healthcare to every American, and that we get leadership that will not leave any citizen behind or forgotten.

Learn more about Darcy's campaign by visiting her website.

Pacific NW Portal problems fixed

The feeds were having some trouble loading earlier today, but those problems have now been fixed. In fact, as a result of the fixes, Pacific Northwest Portal should now load faster and more reliably. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we hope the faster loading makes up for the annoyance.

Join Darcy Burner tonight

One of our supported candidates, Darcy Burner, who is running for the 8th District (to replace Reichert) is holding a reception tonight in Seattle. Governor Gary Locke will be the special guest of honor at the event.

If you're interested in coming by, Darcy's website has a page up with more details. The suggested minimum donation is $50. I'll be there to join in on all the excitement.

Maleng won't prosecute Sotelo

Thanks for flying the elephant above the Stars and Stripes at your office, Norm:
A day after the Republicans lost most of their challenges to ballots cast Nov. 8, the King County prosecutor said Tuesday he will move to disenfranchise voters who registered at private mailboxes as the GOP claimed.

"I hope we can remove the partisan bickering from this debate and see that it is not a Republican or Democrat issue," GOP Prosecutor Norm Maleng said.

That may be easier said than done. Democratic County Executive Ron Sims called on Maleng on Tuesday to investigate the lead GOP challenger for perjury in filing wrongful challenges. Maleng demurred.
Congratulations, Norm. You're now at the heart of the partisan bickering. You're going to carry on the GOP's "Voter Registration Integrity Project" and decline to prosecute Sotelo, who claimed on penalty of perjury that she had "personal knowledge" that the several thousand voters she challenged were registered at invalid addresses.

So, just because Sotelo withdrew 178 challenges (because she was forced to) means she was "acting in good faith"? Come on, Norm! You've got to be kidding! You're opening the door and inviting the King County GOP to continue harassing and intimidating voters. We're not the only ones who are unhappy, either:
County Executive Ron Sims, who joined other Democrats in urging Maleng to investigate possible perjury charges against Sotelo after the errors came to light, is "incredibly disappointed" the prosecutor won't investigate, said spokesman Sandeep Kaushik.

"There are no consequences for [filing unsubstantiated challenges] now," he said.

"It's just going to invite more of this kind of mischief in the future," added Metropolitan King County Councilman Larry Phillips, D-Seattle.
Indeed it is. It's a signal to Chris Vance, Michael Young, Sotelo, and their gang that they can go ahead and keep doing this. All King County voters should take notice: your voter registration and your rights could come under attack at any time by the Republicans. Democrats need to get ready to fight back and prevent disenfranchisement.

Pacific NW Portal Late November Update Part 2 Launched

As regular visitors to Pacific Northwest Portal are well aware, we consider our flagship website to be a continual work in progress. We're never content to let it stay just the way it is for too long. We know there's always room for improvement and expansion.

A week and a half ago, we released yet another update in our long (and never ending) series of updates to make the website even better. However, in the time since then, we've discovered we need to make more changes still. So, consider today's minor changes Part 2 of the Late November Update. These are the changes:

First, we have made a syndication change. We are pleased to welcome Middle Earth Journal to the Pacific Northwest Portal front page. It's replacing Basie, which has moved to the Expanded Oregon page (for now).

Second, we have updated the Blogs & Websites directory to include two more blogs, one from Washington and one from Idaho. This brings our grand total up to 212.

Third, we have introduced a new special section to help Northwest residents prepare for winter weather. This comprehensive section covers transportation (road conditions, traffic & commuting, rider alerts, etc.) current weather, snow and ice info, and home preparedness tips (such as how to prevent your pipes from freezing). We hope our readers find this information to be of assistance.

Get an overview of first set of changes (Late November Update Part 1) here.

Those are the changes - not very drastic, but another step forward in the evolution of the Pacific Northwest's online gateway for progressives.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Ted Rall Controversy

Orbusmax has posted this "exclusive" investigation into a cartoon drawn by Ted Rall, which was picked up by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's website. According to Mark Trahant (the P-I's editorial editor), the cartoon was never actually published in the newspaper. Trahant says the cartoon made it onto the website because every cartoon that Rall draws is automatically published onto the website via a feed.

After looking at the cartoon and reading what Orbusmax said, I'll agree that the cartoon he's complaining about is entirely tasteless. Furthermore, I think it's not only pointless, but it's pathetic. Is this the best Ted Rall can do? If so, how disappointing.

Editorial cartoonists are known to be provocative at times, but there's no merit to this cartoon. It seems to be an unnecessary and silly attack on our troops over in Iraq. Now, NPI is against the war. We believe it was a mistake to launch this preemptive conflict and we believe we need to leave Iraq quickly.

But while we're against the conflict, we see no reason to disparage our troops. It wasn't their decision to go into Iraq. They're just serving their country - they did volunteer for the military.

A few of them have acted dishonorably, and many of those instances have been well documented by the media. But most are serving with honor and conviction, and they don't deserve this.

Now, that I've said that, I want to make a couple of additional points.

First, it's worth keeping in mind that figures on the right also say and do outrageous things all the time. Ann Coulter's garbage is a perfect example of this (no need for me to repeat it here); and you can't forget about Pat Robertson and Bill O'Reiily, who are both liars and keep on making outrageous, indefensible statements.

I'd like to see more people on the right standing up and agreeing with those of us on the left when we point out something equally outrageous coming from somebody like Coulter or O'Reilly.

Now on to my second point. In his commentary on Rall, Orbusmax wrote the following:
Maybe the P-I is turning a corner and finally realizing what is causing their subscription numbers to plummet. As someone who wants to see a 2-major-newspaper-competition continue, I am hopeful.
Additionally, I saw this today (via Orbusmax) on an Oregon news website:
Eugene's stridently Bush-hating Register-Guard newspaper continues its vicious editorial attacks on the President of the United States and on American covert and military personnel who are engaged in the war on terror. That newspaper is losing readership, which may be the result of its editorial policies.
Assertions that newspapers are losing subscriptions because their editorials don't reflect a conservative stance are entirely ridiculous. I'm getting really, really, really tired of hearing it.

Seattle and Eugene, which are the respective cities served by the Post-Intelligencer and the Register-Guard, are known to be fairly liberal and progressive. These newspapers' circulation numbers are NOT declining because the papers aren't conservative enough. It's a myth. Orbusmax and Oregon News Online publisher Dennis M. Becklin are wrong.

Newspaper circulation is declining across the country: it's a general trend within the industry. Newspaper circulation is declining not because newspapers are not conservative enough, but because they're getting competition from television (to a lesser extent) and the Internet (to a greater extent). And that's not the only reason, either:
Industry analysts pointed to a number of factors continuing to drive down circulation.

For several years, more people, particularly young adults, have turned to the Internet for news. At the same time, newspapers are cutting back on less-profitable circulation.

A 2-year-old federal law against most telephone soliciting is continuing to hurt subscription numbers. As of 2004, the number of new subscribers from telemarketing fell to 30.9 percent, from 39.1 percent in 2002, said the Newspaper Association of America, a trade group.

Publishers are increasingly conservative in reporting circulation figures because of stricter reporting rules and increased caution after a circulation-misstatement scandal a year ago, said John Murray, circulation vice president for the association.

"The price of making a mistake went up dramatically in terms of visibility and notoriety," Murray said.
So there are several good reasons to explain the declining circulation of both the Times and the P-I (as well as the Register-Guard), but one of those reasons is not that newspapers need to change their editorial policies.

Go and read this article (the one I linked to above). You'll see that newspapers across the state and the country are suffering from the same trend. The P-I and the Register-Guard are not in unique situations.

Finally: Orbusmax and Becklin failed to take into account that while newspaper circulation may be declining, total readership is not necessarily declining:
Lee Rozen, who heads production of the P-I's Web site, said an all-time high of 1.7 million unique visitors visited the site in October, yielding a record 28.3 million pages viewed. For the six months ended Sept. 30, page views went up 13 percent, compared with the same period the year before.

[...]

In a survey this summer, 12 percent of regular P-I readers said they read it only online, Rozen said.

"I can say we're taking in more money from Internet ads than we're spending on personnel and equipment for the Web site," he said. "It's profitable."
An all time high, eh? The web site is profitable, you say? It seems the P-I's total readership may actually be growing, thanks to its web presence. This information authoritatively debunks the myth propagated by Orbusmax and Becklin. Moving to the right will do absolutely nothing to change circulation; in fact, it will probably just cause the decline to get worse by alienating loyal readers.

The people running both the P-I and the Register-Guard obviously are aware of all of this, but it's important that right wing myths be debunked whenever they are propagated.

Finkbeiner resigns as Senate minority leader

Via the AP:
Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner announced Tuesday that he would no longer lead the Senate Republican Caucus, opting for more time with his family and his graduate studies at the University of Washington.

Finkbeiner, of Kirkland, said that after starting his evening MBA program three months ago, he realized he was no longer able to dedicate the time necessary to being leader.

"It takes almost twice as much time to be leader as it does to do my Senate responsibilities," said Finkbeiner, who said he plans to seek re-election to his 45th District seat next year.

[...]

Finkbeiner said there could be an election as early as next week to replace him.

"It was a difficult decision," he said. "It was really a privilege to have this position. I enjoyed every minute of it."
Finkbeiner denies it, but you have to wonder whether he was forced out by peer pressure after all. A few of his colleagues certainly wanted him replaced. We certainly do not want him to continue representing the 45th District (where NPI is headquartered). The 45th should be represented by a Democrat.

True tax reform

"Reforming" taxes under Dubya has been like reforming the number of limbs on your body or reforming the number of apertures in your head. The budget, the economy, and the truth have been bludgeoned all out of shape by tax "reform" from the Republicans. Dubya and his compliant Congress have rammed through giveaways that have, to put it mildly, exacerbated the disparity between the rich and the rest of us.

With tax cuts, as with the War in Iraq, the rationale changes to fit the changing PR requirements. Originally it was "because it's your money" (and the government shouldn't be running surpluses with your money). Then the economic downturn of 2001 offered the chance to say, "to stimulate the economy." The design of the tax cuts did not follow that stated goal, since they were targeted to the rich and not to the middle or lower classes. And the effect certainly has not been a stimulated economy. See the Economic Policy Institute's "The Boom that Wasn't" at epi.org.

A real reform comes from the Progressive Policy Institute's tax man Paul Weinstein, Jr. See "Family Friendly Tax Reform" at ppionline.org. (I have some difficulties with PPI, the "Third Way" descendent of Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council, but they're right on track here.)

Progressive candidate alert: Weinstein's scheme is politically do-able. When the pendulum swings back this way, people will want to see real change. This is not extreme. It's a first step. And it's an object lesson on the differences between the political sides. It's simple. It's economically sound.

The PPI proposal would eliminate 68 tax breaks and replace them with four new tax incentives that would come in "above the line" and thus be available to substantially more taxpayers. The $436 billion in net new tax relief to American families would come from consolidating current breaks and cleaning up some of the bias in the code toward wealth and privilege. There's plenty more to be done to make taxes adequate, but this goes a long way to making it more fair.

The four basic elements are easy to understand: college, homes, families and pensions.

  1. A refundable college tax credit would provide up to $3,000 per year to students. This is more generous and simpler than the current system.
  2. The home mortgage deduction would move to the front page of the tax form. Currently only one-half of the 72 million homeowners itemize, and thus are able to take the credit.
  3. A family tax credit would replace three existing incentives and provide greater benefits to more families. Right now a taxpayer has to sift through more than 200 pages of instructions and other material to apply for the several different breaks.
  4. A universal pension would replace IRAs and the other 15 existing accounts with one simple, portable retirement account for all. It would even provide a $500 stake to get people into the UPs.
The tax code has been abused, not reformed by Republicans. Tax breaks during wartime, in itself, is a concept which demonstrates Dubya's Queen of Hearts mentality.We are on the cusp of going from a bell curve economy, with a strong middle class, to a barbell economy, with wealth at the top and poverty at the bottom and a middle class that is stressed, thin and unable to support the kind of society we have long taken for granted as our right. Weinstein has rooted out some of the most egregious giveaways to the rich and used them to pay for the net cost of real "reform" and "relief."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Good news for Greater Redmond

To be a good progressive means you put into practice the values that you preach, or advocate for. When it comes to shopping, this can be quite difficult, especially if your community is dominated by a Wal-Mart that has driven local and independent retailers out of business.

Here in Redmond (our home base of operations) the picture is certainly not that grim. We do not have a Wal-Mart. We do have a mecca of big box stores (Target, Mervyns, Fred Meyer, and Home Depot) at the end of Highway 520, but those stores have fortunately not destroyed the local shopping scene.

Chains and independent local retailers, for the most part, have coexisted pretty well in Redmond. When it comes to groceries, though, there are few options besides the major grocery stores (QFC, Safeway, and Fred Meyer). But that's about to change. Soon residents will have an even better option:
PCC Natural Markets to open new store
Eighth store coming to Redmond

PCC Natural Markets (PCC) is opening a new store in Redmond, Washington next spring.

The new store is expected to open in March or April and will be the eighth location for PCC, the largest consumer-owned natural foods retailer in the United States. It will be 23,000 square feet, a little larger than PCC’s Fremont store and virtually the same as PCC’s Issaquah store.

Construction is under way at the new store site at Avondale Road NE and NE 116th St. in Redmond. The new location is well positioned to serve shoppers from Redmond to Woodinville, and even from Duvall to Carnation to the east.

PCC Chief Executive Officer Tracy Wolpert says he’s delighted about expanding PCC’s natural food offering to this growing community and is very pleased about its promising location. He says, “It makes sense for PCC to be part of the significant growth projected for East King County, where we already enjoy strong sales of our natural product lines through our Kirkland and Issaquah stores.”

Chief Financial Officer Randy Lee says he’s confident this store will strengthen PCC economically and produce good, new job opportunities. Lee also believes that “Our move into the Redmond market will put us back in proximity to a large number of former PCC shoppers who migrated to the area from Seattle over the years.”

The site for the new store is being developed by Issaquah-based Langly Properties and will include two buildings: a seven-tenant structure to the north and the PCC building, shared with a smaller tenant, to the south.

PCC is engaging much of the same professional team that planned its highly successful Fremont store, which opened in June 2003, to oversee store design and interior improvements. This team includes Velocipede Architects, Freehold Group as project manager, and Woodman Construction as the general contractor. The new store will incorporate many eco-friendly features, making the shopping experience both pleasant and green.

About PCC Natural Markets
Headquartered in Seattle, WA, PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retailer, with annual sales of $89 million and an active membership of nearly 40,000. Founded in 1953 as a food-buying club and incorporated as Puget Consumer’s Co-op in 1961, the company has been doing business as PCC Natural Markets since 1998.
This is the best kind of news a community could ask for. Redmond progressives should be overjoyed.

Here's what the new store will look like:

New PCC Natural Market in Redmond

What makes PCC so great? How about these core reasons to start with:
  • It is a local, independent retailer.
  • It sells organic and wholesome food that provides good nourishment.
  • It is a cooperative - it's owned by its members.
  • It provides good jobs for the community.
  • It supports family farms.
The new PCC store is slated to open next spring. We'll definitely be there for its grand opening. If you live in the Seattle area and have never shopped at PCC, try it out. You'll feel good about where you're spending your money, and we think you'll agree: organic food tastes a lot better.

California Republican Randy Cunningham resigns from the U.S. House

Just in:
U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican, resigned on Monday after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for help in securing Defense Department contracts.

Cunningham, 63, an eight-term congressman and decorated Vietnam War veteran, had been under federal investigation for his ties to Washington-based defense contractor MZM Inc. since the summer.

"I am resigning from the House of Representatives because I've compromised the trust of my constituents," Cunningham said after the court hearing.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Randy. Our candidate to replace this corrupt Republican is Francine Busby.

UPDATE: Washington Post has some more information:
Eight Republican candidates were already running to replace Cunningham next year, while 2004 nominee Francine Busby is the lone Democrat running. With the race turning from an open seat to a special election, candidates who had either ruled a run out or not previously considered it may decide to join.

"Monorails never break down"...Oh, really?

Are monorails safe?

That's the question that one Seattle monorail advocacy website attempted to address with its frequently addressed questions section. For the record, here is what they wrote:
"Are monorails safe?"

Absolutely. Any transit system separated from cars and pedestrians is inherently safer than one that is not. Monorail systems have one of the best safety records of any transportation system -- cars, buses, light or heavy rail -- over its 100+ year history. Monorails don't derail, get in accidents, get stuck in traffic or break down, making them not only safer but also one of the most reliable and more rapid.
Oh really? Well, then, how do you explain this:

Seattle Monorail CollisionOf course, what you're looking at to your left (courtesy of the Seattle Times) is a picture of the Seattle Center Monorail's two recently refurbished trains, stuck together after an unfortunate side-on collision, which occurred last Saturday night. The two trains have remained stuck in place since then, drawing gawkers with cameras to take pictures of the sad spectacle.

I find it pretty ridiculous that a number of diehard monorail advocates insist that monorails "don't derail, get in accidents, or break down". I've seen that line on other pro-monorail websites, too. OK, maybe they don't get stuck in traffic, since they're suspended above ground. But the other claims? How can they say with absolute certainty that a monorail system is perfectly safe? The bottom line is, you can't say such things.

Now, I anticipate some monorail boosters will attack me, complaining that this monorail system is old and has a faulty design. But the bottom line is that most accidents happen as a result of human error or poor judgment. Seattle Center monorail officials acknowledge there was some kind of "communications problem".

How do we know there wouldn't have been, at some point or another, some kind of "communications problem" or other issue with the new Seattle monorail system (which now apparently won't get built at all)?

Just because monorail is suspended above traffic doesn't necessarily make it safer than light rail, for instance, which monorail boosters seem to recognize as the big rival to their system. Any transit system can have problems, but it seems that when monorail runs into problems, the whole line becomes inoperable for a while.

This is partly due to the challenge of running a transit system that's not at ground level. "Rising above it all" appears to have disadvantages as well as advanatages. Apparently, they're going to have to get a crane in to move these two trains.

Were this a ground level system such as light rail, I suspect a collision like this (say, with a car) could have been cleared much more quickly.

Additionally, you can't exactly walk away from a monorail. You have to climb down. They had to get fire trucks out to the scene to evacuate the people on the trains.

And furthermore...this isn't the first time this monorail system has had problems:
The last time the system went down was as the result of a 2004 Memorial Day weekend fire, the first in the Monorail's history.

While there were no major injuries, it caused 150 people on board to be trapped while the cars filled with smoke. An investigation later found the cause to be a series of malfunctions, beginning with a broken drive shaft.
The city spent $2.5 million in refurbishing the trains with new electrical systems and fire safety upgrades before the line went partially operational in mid-December.

[...]

In September 2002, the Monorail stalled twice in five days, a month before voters went to the polls to keep a new commuter monorail alive. In 1987, one of the trains hit a concrete emergency bumper and showered the streets below with glass. In 1971, a crash into another safety barrier injured 26 passengers -- some seriously.
Let's see that line again:
Monorails don't derail, get in accidents, get stuck in traffic or break down, making them not only safer but also one of the most reliable and more rapid
Sorry, but experience is showing us a different story. Monorails DO get in accidents, DO break down, and certainly can derail.

When it comes to reliability, I'd pick light rail over monorail any day. It's a tried and true technology. Just look at Portland's successful Tri-Met system. Monorail, on the other hand, hasn't been widely implemented. I'd rather our region build a transit system that's more dependable than build a system forcefully advocated by dreamy pioneers with grand visions in their heads.

Seattle voters admired that vision and supported a monorail four times. But when reality set in and the real costs of building the system surfaced, voters ended up dumping the project. In my view, that's probably for the best.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

King County not an anomaly when it comes to voter registrations

The P-I had an excellent article last Friday looking at how King County Elections handles voter registrations:
Although it has been the target of harsh Republican criticism, King County's credulous approach to voter registrations largely reflects the policy of the Secretary of State's Office and the practices of other counties' elections officials -- including some GOP auditors.

[...]

[King County Elections Director] Logan said it's not his responsibility to police voter registrations. "That's not contemplated in the laws," he said.

But there's no requirement that Logan undertake address reviews on his own initiative, elections officials at the state level and in other counties agree.

"There's nothing in state law that says (elections officials) must investigate any questionable registration," said Sheryl Moss, who trains county elections officials for Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who is the state's chief elections officer.

And in King County, with its more than 1 million registered voters, "It would be an impossible task without a huge, giant investigation crew to determine that every address is valid," Moss said.

Beyond that, Logan's role as hearing officer for challenges filed outside the 30-day window could raise questions of a conflict of interest should he also investigate the voters' claims on the registration forms, Moss said.
The article is a great read (follow the link to see it all). It's good information and great reporting from the Post-Intelligencer. It once again illustrates how phony the Republican attacks on King County elections are. Had Dino Rossi been the winner in last year's gubernatorial race, the party wouldn't be doing this right now.

They seem to be hoping they'll be able to win close elections in the future if they can mount a successful assault on the voter rolls in heavily Democratic leaning King County. Above all, the GOP wants to win and hold power. Nothing else appears to be important - not honesty, not accuracy, not fairness, and certainly not democracy.

Pied piper in a Santa suit

Watching the mall rassling, I am not understanding why it is important to the economy for people to spend themselves silly on Christmas. The retailer watch is at the top of the business page. How long are the lines? How much are people spending? Maybe this made sense back when things were made in America, but now it's toys from China, appliances from South Korea, cars from Japan, diamonds from who knows where. Long lines do not mean job strength in Washington, or even in North America.
Retailers are not the Main Street enterprises of a dozen years ago. They’re the WalMart big boxes, warehouses full of foreign merchandise and underpaid clerks. Putting down your credit card for an Asian product in one of these stores is the allegory of our times.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to close the trade doors. (As if.) But we can buy health care, clean air, sustainable transportation, education and security first, and then fill up our garages with exercycles later. Imagining for a moment we are all together on this, Americans are no worse off for the first purchase. (The problem, of course, is that public goods are bought with taxes, and we all know that taxes are not responsible financing mechanisms, but theft by fat bureaucrats who actually eat the money.)

Hidden in all this is the benefit to business. I'm not talking about the mega-corporations that dominate the Republican Right, but the real businesses. Think about it. You may want your George Foreman grill and not your K-12 education, but a business has got to see that its demand for domestic goods is better when we buy K-12 or mass transit first. These are jobs here now. Not to mention the benefit of the goods later.
The Chamber of Commerce has got to get its head out of the sand. They seem to get the idea whenever a military base is up for closure. Otherwise they're happy to be led to their deaths by the multinational corporate interests.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gov. Gregoire gives radio address

This morning, Governor Christine Gregoire delivered the the Democratic response to President Bush's weekly radio address. It was aired on stations across the nation, including affiliates of ABC, AP, C-SPAN, NBC/Mututal/Westwood One, NPR, UPI, USA, American Urban Radio Network, Armed Forces Radio Network and Standard News Radio.

Here is the text of the governor's address:
Good morning. This is Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire.

We Americans have much to be thankful for this holiday weekend. We are especially grateful for the courage and patriotism of American men and women serving away from home and overseas, who weren't able to be with their loved ones this Thanksgiving.

As a nation blessed with so many gifts, it is fitting that we also assist those among us who are in need. With record high energy prices, Democratic Governors across the country are helping those who can't afford to heat their homes. In Washington State, I have asked legislators for additional state funding for low-income home energy assistance to keep our neighbors warm.

In New Mexico, Governor Richardson called a special legislative session to help citizens deal with high energy costs, and they're now receiving rebate checks to help cover rising energy costs. Pennsylvania Governor Rendell announced an agreement to build the nation's first waste-coal-to-diesel plant - a project that will reduce energy bills for Pennsylvania's residents and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.

Democratic Governors are implementing strong, innovative energy policies in our states. We're controlling rising prices and reducing our use of foreign oil by embracing alternative energy sources. For our nation to keep pace with the energy demands of the coming century, we need a comprehensive energy policy - with commitments from the states and federal government.

Sadly, we simply can't rely on the Republican-controlled Congress to create a national energy policy that works.

President Bush and the Republican Congress have the wrong values and the wrong priorities. They continue to cut spending for programs Americans value and need the most.

They are cutting medical care to the most vulnerable. They are cutting education programs and they are putting the dream of a college education out of reach for many people.

Our American values are pretty basic. We want to know their families are safe, that we have access to health care, and that our children can get a good education that will allow them to pursue their career dreams.

But the President and the Republican Congress are out of touch with these values. They are abdicating their responsibility by cutting homelandsecurity, health care and education programs.

It doesn't stop there.

Here in Washington State, the President and Congress have shortchanged the cleanup of the federal government's Hanford nuclear reservation.

The cleanup is the largest in the nation and essential to protecting the environment and economy of the Northwest. But now the Administration is cutting vital funds and is in full retreat from its commitment to clean up the dangerously polluted site.

The Republicans also continue to ignore the dramatic increase in health care costs. In Washington State, I made sure this year that 40,000 children have insurance coverage, and I intend to cover every child by 2010.

Governor Minner of Delaware has launched the first-in-the-nation program to pay for cancer treatment for those who can't afford it. Thanks to Governor Vilsack's leadership, 94 percent of Iowa's children now have health care. And 10 days ago, Illinois became the only state in the nation to offer health care to every single child with the governor's "All Kids" program. These policies are making a real difference for Americans across the country. But we cannot do it alone.

American values are clear. We want a better education for our children, affordable health care, help with skyrocketing heating bills, and good jobs.

Democrats are working to meet those goals. Because we know that together, America can do better.

Thank you and God bless the United States.
Republicans are in control of the federal government, but they aren't providing leadership. Since they seem unable to govern, Democrats must step in and take the lead, even if it's not on the federal level.

GM's shutdowns abetted by Bush budgets

GM's announced shutdown of a dozen plants and layoff of tens of thousands of workers has set off intense handwringing and even more vilification of the corporate giant. Some of it is justified. Some of it is national policy. Universal health insurance would reduce stress on businesses by reducing the cost of benefit for workers, for example. More important is the value of the dollar.

"The de-industrialization of America" is a tag on the Reagan era, when half the auto industry was exported to Japan. It was not a happy time. Fingers were pointed in every direction. Councils on competitiveness were convened. Trade protection was demanded. Then, as now, the cost of the dollar was ignored because it was not understood.

When trade goods are translated through a high dollar, imports are cheaper and exports more expensive. Wal-Mart booms and Hundais rule. The dollar gets higher when the federal government does not balance its budget and has to offer a higher interest rate (price) for debt financing. It is higher, too, when other countries purposely maintain a weak currency.
Dubya's outlandish deficits are even bigger than Reagan's. Balance the budget by returning taxation to the rich. Then let's go to work on a sensible exchange rate system.

PS: Don't be surprised when the Chinese come in and buy up the neighborhood. What else are they going to do with dollars? The greenback doesn't spend good in China. We should be happy our debt isn't denominated in yuans. And notice that Boeing will continue to do well because its competition is in Europe. The dollar is weak against the euro.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Housing weakness portends economic bad times

The AP reports that mortgage lenders are seeing a slowdown in re-fi's and home buying. This is bad news for Washington's economy, as well as for the whole country. Residential construction, remodels, and attendant purchases have floated the economy for the past four years. Re-fi's have brought equity out of houses and into the consumption economy. It had to end. The question is, How hard will we fall?
The economy of Western Washington ought to be rising with its big exporters like Boeing, Microsoft and Paccar. Instead, we like the rest of the country, have been floating on the sea of red ink in residential construction and housing-related activities. (The red ink from the Feds, funneled into the pockets of the rich and into the war in Iraq, doesn't do much for the economy.)

The state's chief forecaster Chang Mook Sohn has been warning for some time that the improvement in the state's finances he projects depends on housing, and when it falls, it could take the state down with it.

Historical trends analysis developed by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (www.cepr.net) says the correction could be sharp. Baker was one of the few economists to call the stock market bubble bursting while others were blithely predicting the New Economy would carry us up to Dow 36,000. For the past several years he has predicted a similar bursting of the housing bubble.
When it happens it will kill the jobs picture here in Washington and will absolutely crunch the revenue situation for all levels of government. With the Rube Goldberg revenue archetecture we've got, and the general ignorance purveyed by the anti-tax right wing, the outcome is not pretty to contemplate.

As if we didn't have enough to worry about

Another threat coming next year:
The partisan, ideological wars over President Bush's nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court might have an echo here next year in elections for Washington state's highest courts.

For the first time in this state, a political action committee has been formed to help elect candidates to the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The Constitutional Law PAC has a right-of-center orientation.

The development alarms some court observers, who say an agenda-driven PAC for judicial elections could threaten the independence and impartiality of the state's judiciary, and that the emergence of one will lead to other, countervailing PACs.

Alex Hays, executive director of the new committee, said it is centrist. But its board is heavily sprinkled with well-known Republicans and ties to the state's politically aggressive home builders' lobby and other conservative organizations. It is promoting two potential, solidly conservative candidates for the Supreme Court in 2006.
Obviously, it's time for limits on contributions to judicial races. There was a bill introduced that would have imposed limits in the last legislative session, but it didn't pass. This time, that bill needs to be one of our highest priorities.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's what I'm thankful for: the Bill of Rights in our U.S. Constitution:
Amendment I
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.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Enjoy your time with friends and family - have a great day off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Great diary on the voter registration challenge hearings

Anonym has posted a diary to Daily Kos that was also crossposted to WashBlog with more details on the GOP's attempt to intimidate, suppress, and harass voters by challenging their registrations:
I've been posting these diaries to Kos because I believe that the underhanded and dishonest tactic being used by the King County GOP to disenfranchise voters is something other Democrats are likely going to have to deal with in the near future. For those of you who haven't been following since the beginning I would recommend reading this first.
Follow this link to read and recommend the diary.

NPI on holiday break

We'll be blogging very light throughout the holiday weekend as we take a break to celebrate Thanksgiving, especially tomorrow. We've wrapped up maintenance work on several different areas of the network, so we should be in solid shape for the next few days. To all our readers, have an enjoyable time with family/friends, rest comfortably, and do something fun.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What's the difference between 'overwhelming approval' and a 'narrow loss'?

A few days ago, Tim Eyman sent all of his supporters a fundraising letter to raise money for his "personal compensation fund". On the cover of the envelope were these words:

CONGRATULATIONS!
I-900's audits overwhelmingly approved
I-912's narrow loss still a huge victory

It's obvious that Tim is trying to spin his way out of a devastating defeat - but we still have to ask: since he gave us such a sharp contrast, what is the difference between overwhelming approval and a narrow loss?

The answer: 1.92 percentage points.

That is, in fact, the numerical difference between the percentage of voters who voted for I-900 and the percentage of voters who voted against I-912.

The irony of these claims should not be lost on the media. Since the difference between the passage of 900 and the failure of 912 is fairly miniscule, does that mean I-912 was overwhelmingly defeated or I-900 was narrowly passed?

The answer, of course, is fairly obvious.

The defeat of Initiative 912 is a landmark political event. It was a crushing, devastating defeat for its zealous proponents, who had confidently predicted victory. And no proponent was more cocky than Tim Eyman:
Same goes for I-912, the gas tax repeal initiative. Put a fork in it, it's done. It's going to be approved overwhelmingly in November. Why? Because we've beaten this coalition of opponents year after year after year in these same tax battles. Even opponents know it's over.
If you hadn't already guessed, that was Tim in his own words. He sent those comments to supporters on September 26th.

Tim is living so far into his own fantasy world that he keeps making absurd, silly statements. Take this sentence from his fundraising letter:

"Thank to the I-912 campaign, politicians know how furious the voters feel about unilateral, non-voter approved tax increases. You should be proud of I-912."

That's funny, Tim - by defeating Initiative 912, voters showed that they are pleased with the leadership from those "politicians" in Olympia. And now that Initiative 912 hs been defeated, the 2005 transportation package has officially become a voter-sanctioned tax increase.

A majority of Washingtonians clearly understood the message that it's time to invest in our infrastructure.

For propenents, the demise of Initiative 912 is not a victory. It is a huge embarrassment - especially for Tim Eyman, who couldn't imagine anything other than overwhelming passage of Initiative 912.

Now that Initiative 912 has been overhwhelmingly defeated, Eyman & Co. have gone into full spin mode, searching for ways to turn a bitter disappointment into some kind of triumph.

Over the weekend, Eyman had a column published in the Olympian in which he repeated the same ridiculous mantra he's feeding to his supporters. We've asked for equal space to offer a response to debunk Eyman's spin - and our Permanent Defense division will continue the fight to defend the 2005 transportation package from being gutted.

What a bunch of clumsy amateurs

WashBlog reports on the latest chapter in the GOP's voter registration challenges:
As I reported, at Thursday’s meeting the GOP used screenshots of Google searches as proof of new residences of the challenged voters (as pointed out here, the law clearly states that someone challenging a voter's right to vote must have the voter's new address – Sotelo and the GOP skipped this step when filing the challenges initially, and is now trying to make up for it after the fact). Apparently they read my post, and decided that a Google search isn’t enough to reach the burden of proof – but instead of actually doing their due diligence (which is the least someone can ask if their vote is being taken from them), they decided instead to change search engines. Brilliant!
An excellent read - follow the link to catch the whole thing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bush claims about prewar intelligence debunked

Saw this via Kos, and it should be echoed repeatedly to counter the GOP spin:
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D) -- he of the meticulous notetaking -- lays out what most Democrats knew about Saddam and Iraq before the vote to authorize force. Needless to say, assertions by the administration that Dems knew everything the administration knew are [simply ridiculous].

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda [...]

At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.
Note, that classified NIE was not available to every congressperson. Just to members of the Senate and House committees on intelligence.

Graham asked Tenet to produce an unclassified version of the NIE. But what the CIA produced was a propaganda piece absent any of the reservations or caveats presented in the classified edition of the document. The vast majority of senators and congressment, much less the American people, did not see the full classified document.

Hence, Bush's claims that congressional Democrats had access to the same intelligence that the administration had is [simply ridiculous].
In the past week President Bush has twice attacked Democrats for being hypocrites on the Iraq war. "[M]ore than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power," he said.

The president's attacks are outrageous. Yes, more than 100 Democrats voted to authorize him to take the nation to war. Most of them, though, like their Republican colleagues, did so in the legitimate belief that the president and his administration were truthful in their statements that Saddam Hussein was a gathering menace -- that if Hussein was not disarmed, the smoking gun would become a mushroom cloud.

The president has undermined trust. No longer will the members of Congress be entitled to accept his veracity. Caveat emptor has become the word. Every member of Congress is on his or her own to determine the truth.
Not just Congress, but the American people as well.
The administration wanted war with Iraq - period. It's good to see Graham debunking the old Bush talking point that members of Congress had access to the same information he did. Since the administration does not concern itself with the truth, it is impossible to take what they say at face value.

It's hard to believe, but Rumsfeld was back on the talk shows yesterday, with the tired, pathetic "we're making progress" nonsense. No wonder the public doesn't buy this garbage any more. They're tired of getting this:

Nothing to See Here

That's why Bush's approval ratings continue to sink - and why a majority of the American people now say they no longer trust him.

Sony gets itself into big trouble

From the AP:
AUSTIN, Texas -- Sony BMG Music Entertainment's troubles over anti-piracy technology on music CDs deepened Monday as Texas' attorney general and a California-based digital rights group said they were suing the music company under new state anti-spyware laws.

The Texas lawsuit said the so-called XCP technology that Sony BMG had quietly included on more than 50 CD titles leaves computers vulnerable to hackers. Sony BMG had added the technology to restrict to three the number of times a single disc could be copied, but agreed to recall the discs last week after a storm of criticism.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said Sony BMG needs to further publicize the recall and compensate consumers for costs associated with removing the software, an onerous process. It filed its suit Monday evening in California Superior Court in Los Angeles.
Sony's executives could care less about the millions of people who have purchased their faulty, spyware laden CDs and become victims of Sony's attempt to fight what it sees as piracy.

Several blogs are doing a great job covering developments related to this story, we urge you to check out Mark Russinovich's blog, as well as the Boycott Sony blog and Freedom to Tinker.

NPI launches new Economics section

Thanks to a lot of hard work from the NPI team and especially NPI Senior Economist Alan Harvey, we are finally ready to fill in one of the major holes in our central website: the Economic Policy section.

You will no longer see an "under construction" message when you visit that page. Instead, you'll get an overview of our economic philosophy and a look at several different schools of economic thought.

What are you waiting for? Follow this link to see this new section for yourself!

Pacific Northwest Portal Late November Update Launched

As regular visitors to Pacific Northwest Portal are well aware, we consider our flagship website to be a continual work in progress. We're never content to let it stay just the way it is for too long. We know there's always room for improvement and expansion.

Today, we're releasing yet another update in our long (and never ending) series of updates to make the website even better. While this update isn't as significant as prior ones (like last month's Marine Green launch) it is nevertheless another step forward in the evolution of Pacific Northwest Portal.

A quick overview of the changes:

We made a couple of improvements to the Feedback page. We adjusted the page display so it looks better in more browsers. We've also added a "How is it supposed to look" feature to the Knowledge Base. Now you can view a screenshot that we took of the Portal to see how the site is supposed to look when properly displayed. We hope this helps visitors who have display problems.

We also improved the Highlights page...we're now indexing more blogs and Daily Kos diarists. Additionally, we've updated our "NW Blogs of the Month" feature. The new NW Blogs of the month are: Peace Tree Farm, Choosing Hope, Fort Boise, and Another Damp Spot on the Earth. Click the link to learn more about this feature.

On the Resources page, we updated the Drinking Liberally map so it shows you where the existing chapters are. (The old one included some defunct chapters and did not include new ones).

We fixed the local newswires on the Expanded Washington and Oregon pages. Some of the wires were failing to load because the aggregator couldn't find any stories to aggregate. We believe we have resolved the bugs, and the newswires should now be loading properly.

And finally...by far, the biggest change is the update to our Regional Blogs directory. Eighteen new blogs have been added, bringing our grand total to 210 blogs listed in the directory. That's a lot of progressive bloggers! There are seven new blogs from Washington, seven from Oregon, two from Idaho, and two from Alaska.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Leave a comment in the thread, or go to our Feedback page to send us a message.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The dream of homegrown biodiesel

Read this great article from the AP about the dream of becoming more self-sufficient:
The dream is homegrown diesel, and Gov. Christine Gregoire is leading the effort to find out how Washington state can make it come true.

What will it take? Significant acreage in canola, an edible oilseed that grows well in the region but so far is used mostly as a rotator crop to break up the disease cycle in wheat fields. Most biodiesel comes from soybeans, which, unlike canola, must be irrigated in most of the state's farmland.

"There's only about 10,000 acres planted now in our state," said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, who's leading the effort in the Legislature. "It takes 44,000 acres of canola to get you 5 million gallons of biodiesel."

The state uses a billion gallons of diesel a year, worth between $2 billion and $3 billion. Replacing 20 percent of that fuel with biodiesel - the most common blend - would require 200 million gallons of pure vegetable fuel.

And at nearly $3 a gallon, that's not chicken feed.

But there are obstacles. Washington has plenty of small refineries, but before it can be refined into fuel, canola seed must be crushed and its oil extracted. At this point, the nearest crusher is in Great Falls, Mont.

"I think if we can get a crusher in, we can get farmers to plant canola," Dunshee said. The crusher would likely be in Spokane, Columbia or Lincoln counties. "I think if we finance a crusher that did 5 million gallons - I think initially we'd have to bring in Canadian canola until we got our farmers growing enough."
Governor Gregoire and state legislators should be commended for their efforts and their vision to make Washington State more self-sufficient and energy independent.

They're setting excellent priorities and mapping out sensible goals - just the kind of leadership we like to see. Homegrown biodiesel may be a dream now, but it's not too far out of reach to be pursued. We urge Olympia to keep up the good work and have a strong legislative session in 2006.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

This was then...the GOP double standard

Remember when, back during the days of the Clinton Presidency, American forces were involved in U.S. campaigns in Kosovo and Iraq? Listening to Republicans today, we hear that it's unpatriotic to criticize the war in Iraq. By opposing the war and favoring a withdrawal and a timeline for leaving, we're "playing partisan politics".

It's an absurd argument, but let's jump past that for a momemnt. Here's the icing on the cake: read these statements from Republicans who criticized President Clinton for directing U.S. forces into military campaigns abroad:
"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack [on Iraq] is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement. "After months of lies, the president has given millions of people around the world reason to doubt that he has sent Americans into battle for the right reasons."
- Rep. Dick Armey, former GOP Majority Leader

"It is obvious that they're (the Clinton White House) doing everything they can to postpone the vote on this impeachment in order to try to get whatever kind of leverage they can, and the American people ought to be as outraged as I am about it," Solomon said in an interview with CNN. Asked if he was accusing Clinton of playing with American lives for political expediency, Solomon said, "Whether he knows it or not, that's exactly what he's doing."
- Rep. Gerald Solomon (R - NY)

The foregoing review of the Clinton Administration's prevarications on Kosovo would not be complete without a brief look at one other possible factor in the deepening morass. Consider the following fictional situation: A president embroiled in a sex scandal that threatens to bring down his administration. He sees the only way out in distracting the nation and the world with a foreign military adventure. So, he orders his spin-doctors and media wizards to get to work. They survey the options, push a few buttons, and decide upon a suitable locale: Albania.
- Sen. Larry Craig, U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee

Paul Weyrich, a leading conservative activist, said Clinton's decision to bomb on the eve of the impeachment vote "is more of an impeachable offense than anything he is being charged with in Congress."

"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time. Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."
- former GOP Majority Leader Senator Trent Lott

"President Clinton is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
-Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it."
-Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/5/99

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"You think Vietnam was bad? Vietnam is nothing next to Kosovo."
-Tony Snow, Fox News 3/24/99

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
-Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly."
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)
Conservatives cannot deny it - these quotes are real.

Who's playing partisan politics? It's the GOP.

Where's the skepticism and cynicism towards Bush's actions abroad? It doesn't exist. It's difficult to find Republicans who don't wholeheartedly support the war.

How ironic is it all? Well, just take Santorum's quote...and replace Clinton's name:

"President Bush is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."

That's right - unjustified preemptive warfare does not make for a sound foreign policy. The Bush administration is destroying the fiscal health of this nation by wasting billions upon billions of dollars in the debacle that is the Iraq conflict.

The adminisration refuses to plan for a resolution to the conflict, which leaves us mired in Iraq for the forseeable future, until we get a change of leadership.

It is time to bring our troops home. We do not have to abandon Iraq completely, but we need to conceptualize a plan for leaving, and execute it! And if Bush will not lead, then the Congress must.

If we Democrats retake Congress in 2006, one of the things we must do is to refuse to put a single penny more into Iraq until Bush produces a withdrawal plan. And if he ultimately won't, the Congress should approve a budget that includes money for leaving but not continued operations, and force Bush to veto it.

The Republicans are good at campaigning and winning elections and terrible at governing. They are the party of double standards. They love to accuse us of "playing partisan politics", but oddly enough, that seems to be the only thing they're good at.

All we need to do is simply become better at telling voters what we stand for and show them that we share their priorities, and we'll get the sane governance America deserves.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Republicans try to swift-boat Rep. Murtha

Via Talking Points Memo:
Phony GOP Iraq withdrawal bill starts a bonfire this evening on the House floor. Check it out on C-SPAN if you have the chance.

Late Update: During the debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) came on the floor and read a letter purporting to be from a United States Marine which said something to the effect of "Please tell Murtha, cowards cut and run, Marines never do." The clear 'feel' of her statement was that she was calling him a coward. The House burst into yells and pandemonium.

[AP reports: Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that it was an uncalled for personal attack. "You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass. ]

Schmidt was forced to come back to the House floor and ask that her remarks be stricken from the record. This is the woman, remember, who barely beat Hackett just months ago -- quite an auspicious start.
The House is currently in recess. When members return, they will take up the phony withdrawal bill. You might be asking, "what's this all about?" Here's your answer:
Angered by what he saw as House Dems "applauding but then backing off" Murtha's statement on 11/17, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) rose this a.m. at the House GOP Conference and suggested that they call for a vote to force Dems to show "where they stand to the American people," according to his spokesperson Larry VanHoose. Hayworth's call was met with what VanHoose described as "enthusiastic applause" from the rank-and-file GOP.

Pushing aside votes on extending the tax cuts, reauthorizing the Patriot Act and a long-awaited measure on federal flood insurance, the GOP leadership has turned Hayworth's idea into a resolution and will bring it to floor of the House for a vote by 7 pm, according to senior GOP leadership sources.

The question now is what Leader Pelosi and her caucus will do. After keeping her Dems in line on both major fiscal votes on 11/17, does she stick them all in cabs and push them off to DCA, IAD and BWI? Or will some Dems from conservative or military-heavy districts insist on staying and casting their "nays?"

CNN is reporting that Dems are planning on having just Murtha debate the resolution, but it remains to be seen how and if the rest of the caucus votes.
It's all on C-SPAN, tune in if you want to watch what happens. The Republicans will sink to any depth to play as dirty as they can.

This is disgusting and repulsive to watch. Have they no shame? Have they no sense of deceny? How dare they question the patriotism and integrity of Rep. Murtha! Democrats need to stand up - these attacks and the Republicans who orchestrated them must be fought and harshly condemned.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another initiative threat looming in 2006

As if we didn't have enough right wing mischief to combat in 2006 already, there's this:
Opponents of a revamped state estate tax plan have announced an initiative campaign to abolish it.

The new estate tax on the wealthy, which replaced the century-old tax that the state Supreme Court struck down earlier this year, was part of a tax package signed into law this year by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Revenue from the tax hike is for an education legacy trust fund, created to boost higher education and to finance voter-approved Initiative 728 to reduce class sizes.

The estate tax applies to estates of $1.5 million and up until next year, when the threshold rises to $2 million.

[...]

Supporters of the estate tax say it's appropriate and fair and should be left in place, because the money is devoted to education, which helps make it possible for the next generation to create wealth.

"It benefits people. A good education system provides tremendous return on public investment," said Charles Hasse, president of the Washington Education Association. "Our state ultimately will be wealthier and have much larger estates at the end of their lives if we invest in schools."
We're now looking at a likely three pronged attack from the right wing next year: Eyman's assault on the rest of the transportation package, the Farm Bureau effort to destroy growth management, and this attempt to repeal an important revenue source for public education.

We will devote much of our energy and resources in 2006 to ensure that all these initiatives are defeated. Our first challenge will be to stop as many of them as possible from making the ballot.

Sony crosses the line - big time

If you haven't heard of the ongoing Sony-BMG "digital rights management" fiasco by now, you might want to tune in to what's going on. Here's a basic backgrounder of the story from BusinessWeek. And, surprise, surprise - this story started out on a blog:
On Oct. 31, blogger Mark Russinovich discovered a hidden program installed on his PC by a Sony (SNE) BMG music disc. The code was designed to prevent purchasers of the CD from copying it or converting it. But the program was disturbing for another reason -- in an apparent effort to prevent garden-variety hackers from circumventing the copy restrictions, Sony designed the program to surreptitiously bury itself deep within the Windows operating system, completely hidden from view.

Before long, software engineers were warning that the code -- known derisively in techie parlance as a rootkit -- could easily be co-opted by virus writers. The warning was all but an invitation, and soon enough the viruses began circulating.

Cyberlibertarians accused Sony of violating state and federal spyware laws, class actions were filed, and the issue exploded into the mainstream press.
The story has been cropping up just about everywhere. It's a huge public relations disaster for Sony - a disaster they certainly deserve. Sony's attempt to curb what it views as piracy was a complete betrayal of its customers' trust, and likely a breach of several U.S. and state laws.

There are several pending class action lawsuits (the first was filed on November 1st). More are likely to be filed soon. Also, it's rumored that the federal government will soon launch a formal investigation. Expect the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to start looking into this.

Click here to see a list of Sony CDs that have this malicious software on them. Due to significant public pressure, Sony is going to be recalling millions of these essentially contaminated CDs from the marketplace and store shelves around the country.

It's also halting production of new rootkit equipped CDs. Lastly, Sony will offer consumers that have purchased the spyware-laden CD’s the option of exchanging them for clean versions.

If you own a CD on the list and you've played it on your Windows PC, chances are the Sony rootkit has been installed to your system. Do NOT go to Sony to attempt to remove this malicious software. The patch they were offering just makes your security vulnerability worse. Click here to go to Microsoft's Windows Live site to scan your computer and get the malicious software removed.

More information is available from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Mark Russinovich, the independent researcher who first discovered Sony's dirty tricks. NPI recommends that you boycott Sony BMG in protest of this assault on consumer rights.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rail Expansion - Continuing an alliance with the business community

Alan Harvey is a new member of NPI. Alan is an economist and writer living in Tacoma, who has been involved with tax reform - in particular, an attempt to reform the the state's business and occupation tax. He'll be developing NPI's Economic Policy section and discussing why progressive economics work consistently, as well as why the current administration is taking us down the wrong path. We are pleased to welcome him aboard! - Andrew Villeneuve, Executive Director, Northwest Progressive Institute

The defeat of I-912 is a go-ahead for some of the most needed roads projects in the state. It is a victory for public investment won in cooperation with the region's business community. At least in transportation, regional businesses see the value of public goods. As progressives, we can build on this.

The Washington Transportation Commission just last week released an RFP for a study of how rail can contribute. If we can get past the entrenched interests of the big railroads, who would prefer to minimize capacity in order to maximize profits, ala oil refineries, this study could lead us to the next phase of transportation.

In the long term the economics of roads is impossible. Oil is a limited resource, and burning it creates dangerous climate change. The increase in automobiles projected for the next two decades will clog any number of lane miles, no matter how the cars are powered. And just the geographic surface area needed for roads and parking is enormous.

The nation’s heaviest road freight corridor is down I-5 between Seattle and Portland. Each semi causes up to 16,000 times as much damage to the roadway as a car. Shipping into Washington ports is stymied not by port facilities, but by the dearth of capacity on the main lines.

Rail is cheap. Rights-of-way are already extant. It is easier to maintain. The technology is advanced. Shifting freight onto rail can release capacity for auto traffic, increase the usable life or roads, and it gives us a place to go when the price of oil and oil’s pollution becomes to great. AND rail gives us baby boomers a way to travel when we get older. (Commuter rail is increasing ridership at 25 percent per year)

Rail also has benefits in terms of financing. It is easy to charge a toll. Bonding is practical, since the revenue stream is not a stream of taxes. The environmental, congestion, road maintenance and gas price concerns facing road-based transportation will make rail more valuable over time. Financing schemes to mirror these economics are sure to arise.

And voters like rail. There is an intuitive support for it. Opposition to roads projects arises not only from the anti-tax nuts, but from environmentalists and others who see the inevitable futility of roads-based transportation.

Almost as important, public expansion of rail can be a place for progressives and the business community to work together again. Corporate interests may dominate the federal government, but in the state, it is an anti-government Republican-led conservatism that is holding things up.

Regional and local businesses are not well served in their alliance with these reactionaries. And they are beginning to see it. Education is another area where business and progressive interests coincide. But transportation is a start.

End the assault on our rights: Tell Congress to vote NO on "Patriot" Act renewal

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:
The House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill to renew the USA "PATRIOT" Act. A Senate vote is expected before the week it out. Now is the time to call your senator and representatives and say "No!" to PATRIOT renewal.

The final conference process for PATRIOT reauthorization has gone very badly for those attempting to reform the bill. Growing concerns in the House, and key compromises agreed in the Senate have all been ignored. Indeed, the draft bill obtained by EFF actually makes some PATRIOT powers worse:

  • "National Security Letters", which the Washington Post reveals have been used to spy on tens of thousands of ordinary Americans, have been strengthened. New criminal penalties have been added for NSL recipients who try to speak about their experience.
  • The draft bill jettisons the four-year time limits on several PATRIOT powers,replacing them with longer, seven-year "sunset" clauses. All other PATRIOT powers that were set to expire this year will be renewed without any time limit.
  • Some politicians, confident that no one would dare vote against PATRIOT, have added their own irrelevant amendments: piggybacking other unpopular reforms onto this terrible bill.
This bill flouts the growing concern in Congress with the documented abuses of the prior version of the Patriot Act and the flawed process of PATRIOT reauthorization. They're growing restless on Capitol Hill: one more call could be enough to start a rebellion in both Houses.

Time is short: sources say the PATRIOT vote will be rushed through in the next few days. Please call your representative and senators now. Ask them vote "no" on the PATRIOT reauthorization act.
Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel for Legislative Strategy, had this to say about the new "Patriot" Act:
"The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

"Don't be fooled by some lawmakers spinning this bill as Patriot Act reform. It’s anything but. Lawmakers have let the administration take us from bad to worse. There's a reason why groups like the Chamber of Commerce, American Conservative Union and American Library Association have all come together for Patriot Act reform. The question is: Why haven’t lawmakers listened?"
Follow this link to take action. The ACLU has set up a special website where you can learn more about what the administration is trying to squeeze through Congress and how you can easily get in touch with your representative and senators.

Bader spinning away even after defeat

David Goldstein of HorsesAss has a really nice slam of I-912 proponent Brett Bader up right now:
Not much consolation for the anti-government folk, but at least Initiative 912 campaign manager Brett Bader gets a guest column in today’s Seattle Times.

[...]

The rest of his column is the usual bullshit. “Will WSDOT be able to rebuild trust with voters?” Bader asks, a particularly amusing query coming from a guy who has made a career out of destroying the public’s trust in WSDOT. And a high paying career at that; as of the last disclosure report, Bader’s consulting firm had received over $97,000, nearly one-third of all the campaign’s expenditures.

My question is, will Bader ever be able to rebuild trust with reporters, who by now must be awfully tired of the lazy spin he constantly tosses in their direction?
Follow the link to read the whole thing - David echoes my sentiments exactly.

Gregoire: FEMA to end funding for Katrina, Rita victims' housing

NPI member MountOlympus reports:
I just received word from Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire that FEMA is trying to end funding nationwide for interim housing for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

I am working on getting more details. Here's what the governor had to say:
Gov. Chris Gregoire today protested the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) directive to end funding nationwide for interim housing for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. There are about 5,000 evacuees living in counties throughout Washington State.

"This is devastating news to people who have already been through too much," said Gov. Gregoire. "As governor I must protest in the strongest terms."

The policy ends FEMA's hotel funding on Dec. 1. In addition, no new interim housing leases will be signed after that date. All interim housing leases for evacuees will end in March, according to the FEMA directive.

State and local authorities were not given any warning of this directive or consulted in advance about how to transition hotel residents to other public housing.

The federal government proposes to notify hotel residents by slipping flyers under their doors at night. About 200 families are in King County hotels alone. Washington authorities now have nine business days to get people into interim housing, or these evacuees could be homeless again, the governor said.

"This policy is a cruel injustice to evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Gov. Gregoire said. "We started Operation Evergreen to welcome displaced Gulf Coast residents to our state to help them begin to rebuild their lives. Washington residents have stepped forward to assist their fellow Americans. We will continue towards that goal."

The governor said: "Washington State will not let the federal government make these people homeless again. I ask local jurisdictions and the non-profit and faith-based community to join me in demanding the federal government reverse this policy."
Pretty pathetic. They're going to slip flyers under their doors at night letting these people know that FEMA is done caring about them. We'll see if any other state and local officials have anything to say about this.

UPDATE: Keith Olbermann is covering this story tonight, via a report from NBC reporter Lisa Myers. It's his "#4 story" tonight on MSNBC's Countdown, which airs at 5 PM and 9 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST).

UPDATE II: The Associated Press has picked up the story; the Oregonian's website has it here.

GOP voter challenges backfire

From this morning's Seattle Times:
More Republican mistakes are surfacing as King County elections officials prepare to decide whether to count ballots cast in last week's election by voters challenged by the GOP.

Most of the challenges appear to be valid. But some who have been challenged in error are howling.

On Monday the elections office announced the Canvassing Board would hold hearings Thursday on the first 48 challenges. Twelve of the 48 were withdrawn later that day by Lori Sotelo, the senior county Republican vice chairman. That's on top of 140 she withdrew days before the election and 76 duplicate names the elections office says it has discovered on the GOP's list.

A Seattle Times review has found more errors among the challenges, including:
  • Voters caught in the same kind of address mix-up that ensnared Weber and Christoffersen.
  • Voters who live in apartments or houses on the premises of the storage complexes they manage.
  • Voters who are registered at their home addresses, but have their ballots and other elections-office mail sent to private mailboxes.
The challenge to Raymond Doyle's registration was one of the 12 the GOP withdrew Monday, but he's still angry. "I want that woman in jail — I'm that upset about it," Doyle said of Sotelo, who signed each challenge.

Doyle lives and is registered to vote at the Kent storage complex he manages. While he usually isn't a party-line voter, he said, he voted against all Republican candidates Nov. 8.
The Republicans' last minute purge attempt has completely backfired. Not only did it make no difference in the election, but it angered many voters who would otherwise harbor no animosity towards the GOP.

Society has never been very fond of vigilantes. That's essentially what the King County GOP has become - a bunch of vigilantes trying to purge the rolls of invalid voters. Of course, the problem is that the King County GOP is careless, clueless, and clumsy. They didn't do their homework before filing these challenges.

What's more, they can't be trusted. The last thing we need is partisans trying to clean out the voter rolls.

The Republicans will argue that they're just trying to do good. If that's the case, why did they file all these challenges (many of which had no merit) right on the eve of the election? The challenges were timed perfectly; voters got their challenge letters just several days in advance of General Election Day.

Raymond Doyle isn't the only one who is angry:
In each letter, Logan also included a copy of the challenge itself, in which Sotelo attested "under penalty of perjury" that she had "personal knowledge" that the voter didn't reside at the address at which he or she is registered.

In numerous instances, she was wrong.

The GOP challenged the registration of Dennis Meyer, whose North Seattle home has the same house and street numbers as a storage complex in Burien. Meyer said Tuesday that it took him 30 minutes to vote at his polling place last week because of the confusion.

"It's been a darn imposition," he said. "They're [Republicans] not making any friends."
They certainly aren't. But here is an example of that carelessness and clumsiness I was just talking about:
Republicans also challenged the registrations of Harvey and Nancy Hart, who live at the Federal Way storage complex they manage. Harvey Hart said that when he received Logan's letter informing him of the challenge, his first reaction was, "Why vote anymore?"

He said he called the offices of the governor and secretary of state to express his displeasure. Almost all the storage complexes in King County have resident managers, he said.
If the GOP had investigated, they might have found this out. But they did not. They are a group of amateurs who also happen to be partisans. And their intentions are clearly suspect.

ChairmanVance claims "we will learn from this" and avoid making future mistakes. We don't want him to do any learning. The Republicans should stop trying to purge the voter rolls. Here is our warning: get out of the vigilante business, or there will be consequences.

We will not stand by idly while you attack our democracy and try to cheat law abiding citizens out of their constitutional right to vote.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Farm Bureau launches attack on growth management

Yesterday, the Washington State Farm Bureau, (which represents agricultural businesses) announced its plans to draw up an initiative that it hopes to qualify for the November 2006 ballot.

The initiative would be similiar to Oregon's Measure 37, which was recently overturned for violating the Oregon and United States constitutions.
[It] would require landowners to be compensated by governments if an action damages either the use or value of private property, or would require governments to waive regulations on that land.

[...]

Environmentalist and growth management groups said there didn’t appear to be many differences between the Oregon initiative [Measure 37] and the Washington proposal.

“The basic thrust of it is the same,” said Aaron Ostrom, executive director of Futurewise in Seattle. “What it does is create giant loopholes that developers will exploit. The bottom line is it’s good for irresponsible developers, and it’s bad for our quality of life.”
The Farm Bureau and its allies will do everything in their power to put up a huge false front on this issue. They'll make deceptive claims and set themselves up to look like victims of an unjust government attack.

They must not be allowed to get away with their scare tactics. We'll be working together with groups like Futurewise to put a stop to the Farm Bureau's attempt to decrease our quality of life:
We will not let such an initiative pass in Washington, and recent polling suggests that there is no groundswell of support for this initiative. Not only would the effects on our state be devastating and a win in Washington, following the win in Oregon, would give the "property rights" movement the confidence to push such initiatives all over the country.

The proponents of Measure 37 are already said to be speaking with "property rights" activists and conservative campaigners in Washington, Florida, Wisconsin and South Carolina about how to emulate their success.

The good news is that a similar measure was defeated in Washington in 1995. The No on Referendum 48 campaign repealed a law passed by Washington’s Republican-held Legislature that required government compensation for any regulation that limited property use.

The vote was 59 percent to 41 percent to repeal the law. Our campaign has the advantage of both the Referendum 48 and the Measure 37 campaigns to learn from.

Washingtonians have a history of saying NO to this over-reaching idea, and we’ll say NO to it again.
Throughout the next year, we're going to be posting often on this topic, and we'll be working especially hard to defeat this initiative - just as we fought Initiative 912 and won.

Rep. Adam Smith posts to Daily Kos

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) have coauthored a diary at Daily Kos, entitled "White House Iraq Group Must be Investigated". A snippet from their post:
Was the White House truthful with the American people and with Congress in making their case to go to war in Iraq? This is a critical question that demands a clear answer and it is long past time for the United States Congress to properly ask it and investigate the matter.

A group of top White House advisors, including Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the now-indicted former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, formed the White House Iraq Group(WHIG) in August 2002 with the task to make the case for going to war in Iraq and to convince Congress and the American public to support that policy.

It appears that the WHIG misled Congress and the American people about prewar intelligence. Americans must know whether their activities were an organized effort of deceit. Yet, this Congress has done nothing to examine this critically important matter.
Follow the link to read the whole thing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bill O'Reilly is a terrorist sympathizer

Thanks to the blogopshere, the world now has a new Google bomb: search for "terrorist sympathizer" on Google and click "I'm feeling lucky". You'll be redirected instantly to the official homepage of Bill O'Reilly, right wing shill and pathological liar.

Bob Brigham has a thread up on Kos where you can sign up to be on Bill O'Reilly's enemies list. According to the Center for American Progress, Bill said this on his show:
Some far left internet smear sites have launched a campaign to get me fired over my point of view. I believe they do this on a daily basis. This time the theme is O'Reilly is encouraging terrorist attacks. Unbelievably stupid. Not unusual with these guttersnipes.

[...]

I'm glad the smear sites made a big deal out of it. Now we can all know who was with the anti-military internet crowd. We'll post the names of all who support the smear merchants on billoreilly.com. So check with us.
If you're inclined to try and make it onto O'Reilly's Enemies List, feel free to head on over to Kos and sign up by leaving a comment in the thread.

VICTORY GETS BETTER: Whatcom and Skagit counties join NO on I-912 camp

The latest results from the Secretary of State are in - and shockingly, two new counties have joined the NO on I-912 camp!

Whatcom and Skagit counties today joined many of their Western Washington neighbors in saying NO to Initiative 912. The tally in those counties:

Whatcom County
Yes on I-912: (18034 votes) 49.7764%
NO on I-912: (18196 votes) 50.2236%

Skagit County
Yes on I-912: (14479 votes) 49.6349%
NO on I-912: (14692 votes) 50.3651%

In our pre-election analysis, we determined that both Skagit and Whatcom counties were part of a bloc known as "swing" counties. This bloc had a history of voting for anti-tax initiatives, but according to the statistical data we had, they were the counties most likely to fall into our camp if we did a good job of campaigning.

With Whatcom and Skagit in our camp, there are only two counties that we identified as part of the swing bloc that we didn't capture: Spokane and Garfield.

All the other counties in the swing bloc - Snohomish, Thurston, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, and now - Whatcom and Skagit - are voting NO on Initiative 912.

Additionally, we won a few counties that almost made it into the swing bloc but fell short of our cutoff mark, based on our statistical data. Those counties include Pierce, Clark, and Walla Walla.

The total vote percentage is on its way to 55% voting NO - a huge, huge victory.

Current statewide numbers:
Yes - 45.6454% (731,799 votes)
NO - 54.3546% (871,427 votes)

Additionally, we are winning all three counties we identified as strongholds - King, San Juan, and Whitman.

Thirteen of thirty nine counties, containing most of the state's population, are now voting against I-912. This is beyond incredible - it's simply unbelievable. A large coalition, working together and thinking creatively, has finally shut down the anti-tax zealots in a landmark victory.

Around the Blogosphere

There's a lot of different stories and interesting viewpoints out in the regional blogosphere right now. Here's a few that caught our attention:

Privatizing our public lands (Evergreen Politics)
How'd you like mining companies buying up chunks of our national parks for real estate speculation? Because that's exactly what would happen under a new bill that that House Repulbicans are attempting to sneak through the budget process.

Snide Justice (Hominid Views)
David Seago of the News Tribune assesses Washington Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson. Justice Jim Johnson, [whose seat on the bench was purchased by the BIAW] who was on the losing end of the court’s controversial “de facto parent” ruling earlier this month, is no Charles Dickens. Nor does he seem to know the meaning of “judicious,” at least in the dictionary sense of being “wise and careful.”

RNC Phone Jammer to go on Trial Dec 6th (CoolAqua)
Former RNC Official James Tobin will go on trial December 6th on charges that he jammed Democratic Phone banks during the 2002 election.

Shame on Wyden (Preemptive Karma)
During last week's Senate session, Senator Lindsay Graham put forth an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would eliminate habeus corpus for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. My Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, stood up with Graham in support of this amendment.

Also - this is not local, but via Kos, we learn this from Virginia:
Del. Bob McDonnell's (R) razor-thin margin over state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) in VA's AG race got even thinner over the weekend. With all of VA's 2426 precincts reporting, McDonnell now leads by a mere 446 votes -- out of 1,942,933 cast -- according to a 11/14 pm check of the State Bd of Elections website.
As Kos notes:
After the vote is certified, Deeds will likely ask for a recount. The GOP is confident the results will be upheld, and chances are they will. But who can forget the Washington governor's race last year? It ain't over until the last ballot is counted.
All too true. The last thing Deeds should do is roll over and die.

Upgraded Blog Template

We have finally upgraded our blog template once again. This new template is released as Version 3.1. There are no actual design changes (the look and feel has remained the same) but a number of important issues have been resolved.

The first is the layout of the heading and description. For those of you with 800x600 resolution, there weren't any problems with the heading layout. But for anyone with a higher resolution, the main content (the posts and the sidebar) appeared centered, while the heading did not.

This issue has been fixed. The display remains unchanged for those with 800x600 resolution, but for those with a higher resolution, the heading - the title and blog description - will be centered.

Also, there were a few problems with font display. There were a couple of CSS code errors which have been fixed. All of the text on this page should appear in the Tahoma font family.

Finally, we have added some new links to the blogroll and recategorized the blogroll itself.

While these changes are minor, they represent a step towards a more reliable and consistent display of our Official Blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

P-I takes aim at Rossi again for cowardice

In a brief snippet you'll find only in today's print edition of the Seattle Times/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the P-I editorial section had this brief clip chastising Rossi for his cowardice:
A lot of the energy that put the gas-tax repeal measure, Initiative 912, before voters came from frustrated Dino Rossi supporters, who wanted to exact revenge on Governor Christine Gregoire for her narrow victory over the Republican a year ago. What leadership did the piously positive Rossi provide when the constructive solution to transportation troubles faced repeal? He shut his mouth, effectively winking at the attempted kneecapping of Gregoire, and wrote a book titled: "Dino Rossi: Lessons in Leadership, Business, Politics, and Life." It's hyped as "a great holiday gift." For the hypocritically inclined?
Well said. We couldn't have put it any better. If Rossi runs for political office again, we won't be letting anyone forget about his cowardice on this important issue. We suspect the P-I editorial board won't be forgetting, either.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Invest in the Alaskan Way Tunnel

The future of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is one of the hottest regional topics right now - as it should be. With the defeat of Initiative 912, the funding allocated by the Legislature remains intact, and planning can move forward.

Mayor Greg Nickels has staked out a very firm position on the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct: it needs to be be replaced with a tunnel.

We agree, very strongly, with that position.

We fully understand and appreciate that the tunnel option is a billion dollars greater or perhaps more, then the viaduct rebuild option. But we think it's an investment that is worth making.

We look at these issues from more than just a financial perspective.

It's the same problem we have with solar energy. It's much more expensive to build a "green" home - a home that takes advantage of renewable energy sources like solar power. The startup cost is just higher.

But once you look beyond the startup cost, you see the benefits. Once your solar powered home is built, you have free electricity for years.

If there was no benefit to building a tunnel, we wouldn't advocate for the construction of a tunnel. But the fact is, there are many reasons to build a tunnel.

The number one reason to build a tunnel is not to create an unobstructed waterfront. It's public safety.

Let's start with earthquake safety:
Contary to what you might think, structural engineers agree that tunnels are one of the safest places to be during an earthquake because the tunnel moves with the earth. Tunnels are inherently strong – for example, no Seattle area tunnels were damaged during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. These include the I-90 tunnels (Mt. Baker and Mercer Island), Battery Street Tunnel, 3rd Avenue Bus Tunnel and the Burlington Northern Tunnel.

Another example is how well the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) tunnel fared during the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 [We've showed you pictures from this quake several times]. The system withstood the earthquake forces and resumed service within hours to serve as a key transportation “lifeline” during the time that the Bay Bridge and Cypress Freeway were shut down and undergoing extensive repairs. Similarly, the Los Angeles subway was back in service within 24 hours following the 1994 Northridge earthquake while nearby bridges were out of service for months.
We're going to keep repeating this excerpt for months to drive the point home. A tunnel is more expensive, but it is an investment in public safety. It will last longer and it will not break down if an earthquake strikes.

What about fire safety?
The new Alaskan Way Tunnel will be equipped with a state-of-the-art fire suppressant system which combats fire using non-toxic AFFF foam sprinklers. Additional fire safety features include an emergency air ventilation system, emergency access and exits, telephones and 24-hour surveillance by WSDOT traffic engineers and radio operators.
That sounds excellent. Not only will the tunnel be a safe place to be if an earthquake strikes, but it'll be protected from fires as well.

But that's not all:
Traffic Communications - Electronic message signs will be installed throughout the tunnel to keep travelers aware of traffic and safety situations ahead.

Full Shoulders, Lane Widths and Emergency Access - Stringent federal and state standards for roadway design require adequate sight-distances, shoulders for accidents or broken-down cars, adequate lane widths and emergency access. These same standards will apply to the new tunnel.
Simply put, the new Alaskan Way Tunnel will be exceptionally safe.

It's imperative that we replace the current crumbling viaduct with the safest alternative possible. The tunnel is the safest option.

Simply tearing the viaduct down and leaving nothing in its place is really not an option. Now, I've spoken out before against the idea of adding additional capacity because it does not solve congestion. But this project doesn't add new capacity. It just makes an existing arterial much, much safer.

If we take away the viaduct, we shift all the commercial traffic and all the buses that currently use the viaduct to Interstate 5 or city streets. It's better to have two arterials than just one. Would we support the creation of a third arterial? Of course not.

Other reasons for building a tunnel: Building a tunnel provides necessary access for freight and Seattle neighborhoods and takes advantage of a 100-year opportunity to open up Seattle's waterfront.

Opening up the waterfront would make Seattle a much more attractive destination for new businesses and tourists. That would help the regional economy.

Plus, we also get to tackle another problem: the tunnel replaces the viaduct; and along the central waterfront, the tunnel's west wall replaces the seawall.

Now, on to criticism of the tunnel. Wingnuts hate the tunnel option. In fact, hate isn't a strong enough word. They can't stand the idea, mostly because they grumble about the possibility of cost overrurns, delays, and other problems.

They assert it will become (using their words) a fiasco, boondoggle, or the next "Big Dig".

But WSDOT's record indicates that the project will be successful:
What experience does WSDOT have with building tunnels?

WSDOT has experience building tunnels. In the Puget Sound region, WSDOT constructed the I-90 Mount Baker Tunnel, a remarkable structure for both the material it was driven through (clay) and the form it took (twin bore). The tunnel ranks as the world's largest diameter soft earth tunnel. The tunnel’s inside diameter is 63 feet and allows for five through lanes plus pedestrian and bike lanes. This tunnel also has complete ventilation and life safety systems. The construction of the tunnel was completed on time and on budget in 1991.
I actually went on a tour of the Mount Baker Tunnel - back during the mid nineties, as a matter of fact, not long after it had opened. It is an extremely impressive structure, soundly engineered to the highest safety standards. I recall being amazed at hearing the engineers and WSDOT tour guides tell us how safe the tunnel was and how they'd want to be in it during an earthquake.

WSDOT has also recently constructed the I-90 Mercer Island Tunnel. Additionally, WSDOT has this to say about cost overruns:
What has been done to ensure the project does not go over budget?
Cost estimate ranges for the project have taken into account the hard costs (i.e., concrete, steel) scope, as well as the risks, cost of money, and schedule factors that will affect the ultimate cost of the project. Delays in obtaining funding to complete design and construction are major factors that could add to the cost. Each year of delay after 2009 adds $120M of inflation to the project cost.
A good reason to stay on the current timeline and move forward with viaduct replacement and tunnel construction.

Oh, and by the way, the Tunnel Alternative is expected to have noticeably lower noise levels in the central waterfront compared to today, making the area more pleasant for pedestrians, residents, and nearby businesses.

The tunnel has so many benefits, and the final hurdle is ultimately the cost. The Port of Seattle has just committed $200 million towards construction of the tunnel, but more money will be needed. Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis explains where additional funds may come from:
Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis is confident the city can come up with the extra money, and said it includes up to $300 million from city utilities for the relocation of utility lines, up to $200 million from the city’s own transportation fund, up to $250 million from the Army Corps of Engineers for replacing the seawall, and money from a regional tax package yet to be placed on the ballot.
That last part is very critical. The 2006 ballot will likely include a regional tax package which will have to provide the remaining funds required to construct a tunnel.

But David Goldstein of HorsesAss has thought up another idea: why not a "Special Taxing District" encompassing the surrounding neighborhoods. David argues that if local property owners will benefit from skyrocketing property values as a result of tunnel construction, they should help pay for the project.

We may not know where all the funding is coming from, but there is one thing we do know: we need to invest in the Alaskan Way Tunnel. It's safer, it's cleaner, it's more environmentally friendly, it allows us to tackle the seawall problem at the same time, and it will open up the waterfront.

(See this page where WSDOT answers more of your questions).

Impeachment talk is ridiculous

NPI will not be working for or supporting efforts to impeach President Bush. That's always been our position, but here is why:
All the "impeachment" talk seems to be silly for a couple of reasons. One, do we really want Cheney as president? Two, if not Cheney because of scandal, do we really want Dennis Hastert as president? Three, do we want to follow the example of Connecticut?

Connecticut had a corrupt, incompetent governor in John Rowland. Under investigation for his corruption, Rowland's approval ratings were in the dumps and he eventually resigned. Things looked great for the state Democratic Party at the time, with the state GOP in disarray. Then Republican Lt. Gov. Jodi Rell took the reigns of the state and began to clean house. She now has the highest approval rating of all governors in the country. She will have no serious opposition in 2006.

Impeachment would, at best, saddle us with Cheney or Hastert in the Oval Office, at worst, give Republicans an opportunity to clean house and redeem themselves. Screw that. Now's not the time to give them a lifeline. It's time to throw them the anvil. As Bowers notes:

Is Bush's resignation / impeachment our goal?

In a word, no. Now that we have passed 60% disapproval, there are no more numeric goals when it comes to Bush's disapproval. Sub-35 would be nice, but it is not necessary. The goal now is realignment. Bush's disapproval is so high, and his position as the face of the Republican Party is so assured, that it is now possible to envision a vast national realignment away from the Republican Party based primarily on backlash against Bush-ism (aka, contemporary conservatism). Bush Sr.'s extended period of disapproval at this level led to the Perot and 1994 realignment, which helped us greatly in 1992 but on which we utterly failed to capitalize in 1994. Carter's extended period of disapproval led to the 1980 realignment, which saw Republicans sweep the senate and the White House, as well as the first serious defections of Dixiecrats from the Democratic Party. Johnson's extended struggles from 1966-1968 also led to a realignment in 1968.

Bush's approval is now low enough for a realignment to take place in 2006 and 2008. A realignment is far more important to Democrats and progressives than Bush's impeachment or resignation could ever be. This is a generational event and, considering the timing of previous realignments, 1968, 1980 and 1992-4, the timing also suggests that the opportunity is ripe.
We have bigger fish to fry than getting even against Bush for his misdeeds. Bush has three years of radioactive lame duck-ness left in his term. The key isn't to replace him with another Republican. The key is to use his every day in office to drive him to the American public the cost we pay as a nation for electing Republicans to office.

And as far as legacies go, what would be worst -- destroying his own presidency or destroying his entire party? Let's make sure it's the latter.
We strongly agree with this analysis. The Republicans spent years trying to get rid of Clinton. They weakened him but failed to remove him.

Impeachment talk now is beyond ridiculous, because we control neither house of Congress. Even if we do retake Congress in 2006, we should focus our efforts on other things, like trying to roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy. Then in 2008, we must elect a Democrat as president.

Bush may deserve impeachment. But is that really what we want? Is that really we need? The answer is no.

Ted Stevens has a problem

In just a matter of a couple of days, Ted Stevens has become our least favorite senator (and beating Bill Frist is a hard thing to do).

You may have seen that television clip showing Stevens cutting off our own Senator, Maria Cantwell, who asked that executives from an oil company be sworn in before testifying. Stevens shut her down and let the executives off the hook.

Jon Stewart played the clip on The Daily Show and called Stevens a dick. Writing yesterday in the Seattle P-I, Joel Connelly was no kinder:
Of course, there's Alaska's temperamental, vengeful GOP Senator-for-life Ted Stevens.

Stevens has just introduced a bill to roll back federal protection of Puget Sound -- clearing the way for more tankers and refineries.

The old bastard shakes down our state's business interests for $250,000 in donations whenever he seeks another term. And this is what we get in return.

Evil deeds backfire. The bid to oil our waters may only put a tailwind behind the re-election of Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, and give her the title, "Defender of the Sound."
We called Ted Stevens a "total loser" on Wednesday for trying to mess with the health of Puget Sound. But it seems Stevens' real goal is just to piss off Maria Cantwell. Some form of revenge?

Stevens has a problem. A big problem. To put it figuratively, he sleeps with oil company executives. His loyalty to them was obviously on display this week.

The American people, and the citizens of Washington State, deserve better. Hopefully after 2006 they will get better with a Democratic takeover of Congress. It's certainly something we're working towards.

UPDATE: Read this letter Carl Ballard wrote to Ted Stevens.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans' Day

Some history, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Veterans Day, formerly called Armistice Day in commemoration of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I, is the anniversary of the ending of World War I. In the United States it is celebrated as a federal holiday on 11 November.

All major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.

Armistice Day was first commemorated by President Wilson in 1919, and many states made it a legal holiday. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 inviting all Americans to observe the day, and made it a legal holiday nationwide in 1938. The holiday has been observed annually on November 11 since that date - first as Armistice Day, later as Veterans Day - except for a brief period when it was celebrated on the fourth Monday of October.

Following World War II, the name of the holiday was changed (enacted 1 June 1954) to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has since evolved as a time for honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially due to competition with Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead.
If you know a veteran, please thank them for their service to our country.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Numbers Update: NO on I-912 lead grows

If you had any worries that Initiative 912 might make a comeback, you can rest easy. The new numbers for today are in - and our lead has increased.

Yes on I-912: 628,941 votes - 46.598%
NO on I-912: 720,776 53.402%

We'll see if we can climb above the 54% mark as more votes are counted.

Pierce and Whitman counties, which weren't initially in our column, but joined the NO camp late on Election Night, stayed there today. In fact, the NO percentage in those counties also grew.

Brett Bader is droning on and on about how the campaign failed because they lost King County by huge proportions and how they really lost by losing Snohomish.

But you know what, Brett? Snohomish and King aren't the only counties voting down I-912. What about Thurston, Kitsap, Jefferson, Island, and Walla Walla? What about Pierce and Clark? You've won all of those counties in the majority of the anti-tax battles. You lost them this time.

Look at the numbers. If you won Snohomish County, but lost the other counties you're losing right now, we bet you'd still be losing, although the vote would be very close. Snohomish didn't seal your defeat. What sealed your defeat was your stunning failure to win counties like Pierce and Clark. That was huge.

Common sense won out on Tuesday. Washington voters protected this significant investment in our future. We're definitely smiling about that.

Analysis of the win over I-912

I've posted a diary at Daily Kos about our huge victory against the right wing anti-tax zealots last Tuesday. In it, I talk about our strategy for defeating I-912, and what we've learned from battles against previous anti-tax ballot measures. I wrote it at the request of several Kossacks who wanted to know how we came up with this amazing victory.

Ted Stevens is a total loser

This idiot is a disgrace to the United States Senate and the state of Alaska. He's a complete sellout to oil companies. Now he's attacking Senator Cantwell and Washington State:
Sen. Ted Stevens, the powerful Republican from Alaska, has proposed a bill to expand a Washington state oil refinery and increase the number of oil tankers moving through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.

The legislation would overturn the so-called Magnuson Amendment, a law passed in 1977 to reduce the risk of oil spills in Washington waters by limiting the number of oil tankers that could dock in the Puget Sound region.

[...]

"Profits are at an all-time high for oil companies, but now they want to jeopardize the Puget Sound so they can ship more gasoline to foreign markets to make another buck," Cantwell said. "Well, they can't buy this senator, and these attempts won't get by me."
Stand firm, Maria, and we'll stand with you. Ted Stevens' office is going to hear from us about this. In fact, we're going to start bombarding his office regularly demanding he keep his oil slicked hands off Washington State.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bader concedes defeat: we win

At last, they have admitted their failure to the press:
Gas-tax foes on Wednesday conceded defeat of their once wildly popular initiative to roll back a $5.5 billion tax increase that will add nearly a dime to the price of every gallon of gasoline.

"We're very disappointed and wish the outcome had been different," Initiative 912 organizer Brett Bader told The Associated Press.
It is over. We are victorious.

Initiative 912 is defeated!

More from the AP:

The governor went to the Department of Transportation headquarters to celebrate.

"There is joy at WashDOT today," said Linda Mullen, spokeswoman for the department. After the celebration, officials quickly rolled up their sleeves to prepare for a major construction boom, she said.

The state will probably kick off the 16-year construction program by asking the state Finance Committee to sell about $90 million worth of bonds in mid-December. Early projects include an Interstate 90 bridge overpass in Moses Lake, cabled median barriers, a traffic signal in Belfair and an I-5 interchange in Everett.

[...]

House Transportation Chairman Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said lawmakers set the stage by passing a smart, balanced project list and by passing transportation reforms.

"We were bold. We were courageous and the voters respond to leadership," he said. "Then news stories showed the impact of failing to maintain the levees in New Orleans and showed us the I-90 (rockslide) problems. That really focused attention on safety issues."

Independent pollster Stuart Elway said the initiative began to lose steam as people got used to the "new normal" of high gas prices and as they saw the hurricane damage to the Gulf Coast and related it to natural disasters that are likely to befall Washington.

More and more, they decided it wasn't a smart time to "disinvest" in roads and bridges, he said.

[...]

A delighted Gregoire told The Associated Press she senses a sea change.

"I hope this is a sign that we're going to stop saying `no' to everything and start investing in our future," she said.
We are delighted as well! This is truly a tremendous victory. We worked hard to defeat this for months and we were rewarded. Time to kick back and celebrate.

Updated Results - I-912 still failing

Whitman County, which NPI's Washington Defense forecast as voting down the initiative, is now doing so. (Yesterday, Whitman voters were narrowly approving Initiative 912). 50.3% of voters there are now voting against I-912, hopefully that margin will hold.

The overall percentage has barely changed. It's still about 53% to 47%.

Counties currently voting down I-912 include King, San Juan, Island, Snohomish, Kitsap, Jefferson, Thurston, Clark, Whitman, and Walla Walla. All other counties were voting yes on Initiative 912, although in some populous counties such as Pierce and Whatcom, the initiative was barely passing.

UPDATE: King County has reported in. Now 65.12% against Initiative 912. Total percentage voting no increases to 52.9%, so about 53%. And shockingly, Pierce County is now defeating I-912, 50% to 49%.

Eyman was dead wrong on Initiative 912

Just released this through Permanent Defense:

Initiative 900, Tim Eyman's attempt to remain relevant, may have passed with broad support, but the real Eyman initiative - Initiative 912 - was being defeated by voters yesterday.

Tim Eyman did not sponsor Initiative 912. He was not involved in the signature drive and he didn't really go out and campaign for the initiative. But he associated himself with the initiative, and put his credibility on the line again with its fate.

Last Monday, Eyman wrote an e-mail to his supporters, which he copied to the media (as he always does) urging his supporters to vote against the "elitist" opponents of Initiative 912. He called it "your one-in-a-million chance to humble powerful."

It was actually voters' one-in-a-million chance to hurt themselves, but Washington's voters didn't do it. Instead, they voted Initiative 912 down.

Eyman and fellow I-912 proponents claim that the opposition was full of "elitists", but that is entirely ridiculous. Initiative 912 failed because of the huge grassroots effort that was put together to fight it. Voters in neighborhoods throughout the state talked to each other and realized what was at stake.

The advertising campaign and all the money spent may have drawn the most attention. But in the end, I-912 did not fail because of "elitist" opposition - it failed because of strong grassroots opposition.

Voters have said "NO" to Initiative 912. So what has happened to Eyman's credibility? It's taken another hit. He gleefully proclaimed that the harder we fought against I-912, the greater the backlash would be - in other words, a strong campaign against 912 would result in its overwhelming passage.

So where was that big backlash? It was nowhere to be found.

But it gets more embarrassing. In an e-mail dated September 26th, 2005, Eyman told his supporters and the media:

"Same goes for I-912, the gas tax repeal initiative. Put a fork in it, it's done. It's going to be approved overwhelmingly in November. Why? Because we've beaten this coalition of opponents (Big Business, Big Labor, politicians, and the press) year after year after year in these same tax battles. Even opponents know it's over."

Tim Eyman was dead wrong. Initiative 912 did not pass. It has failed. The real Eyman initiative on the ballot this fall - the initiative that actually repealed taxes - was defeated in a stunning victory.

Tim forgot one sizable group in the NO on I-912 coalition: the grassroots. Together with the business community, as well as labor and environmental groups, we have defeated Initiative 912. It's a landmark victory. Even I-912 proponents (including Eyman) know it's a landmark victory.

The election is over. Ballots are still being counted, but Initative 912 is finished. Eyman has no credibility. He is not a populist. He is merely a demogogue dependent on special interest money to keep his initiative factory in production. I-900 was a product of that very factory. It made the ballot thanks to roughly half a million dollars from Michael Dunmire.

In that same e-mail, Eyman also wrote:

"With I-912, inevitably approved this fall, voters will say NO to Queen Christine's underhanded effort to sneak through a multi-billion tax increase when the voters clearly opposed it. But of the $8.5 billion tax increase imposed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, I-912 only repeals $5.5 billion of it. "$30 Tabs, Round 3" fulfills I-912's mandate by repealing the remaining $3 billion tax increase. It finishes the job that I-912 started."

Eyman needs to get out of the political forecasting business. He's a failure when it comes to gauging what voters think.

Initiative 912 didn't start any job or create any mandate for the anti-tax zealots. Instead, its failure vindicated Governor Christine Gregoire and state legislators for their courageous work in passing the 2005 transportation package. The voters have spoken: they support new taxes to pay for safer, less congested roads. They want to invest in transportation infrastructure.

If Eyman respects the voters' decision, he'll drop his plans for his 2006 initiative to repeal the rest of the package and move on. If he doesn't, he will be exhibiting tremendous disrespect for the taxpayers of Washington State. He and his fellow anti-tax zealots gambled on the passage of Initiative 912 and lost. They demanded that voters have a say. Voters have had their say, and they've put their stamp of approval on Olympia's work.

The defeat of Initiative 912 is a watershed political event and a great victory. But Permanent Defense and its sister organization, Washington Defense, will continue to defend the 2005 transportation package until the attacks on it end.

It's time for people like Tim Eyman to acknowledge their defeat and stop acting like hypocrites. Twice the 2005 transportation package has been approved. Enough is enough. Voters have sent Tim Eyman this message: Leave this investment in our future alone. We'll be waiting to see if he listens, but we're not holding our breath.

Congratulations and thank you....

I want to take this moment to thank everyone else who joined me in working so hard to fight Initiative 912:

DAVID GOLDSTEIN and STEVE ZEMKE, who provided me with invaluable, indispensable advice and helped direct the course of Washington Defense.

GREG RODRIGUEZ, who has served as our Treasurer since August, for advising me on not only financial matters, but also on campaign strategy. He was also very helpful in getting our orange diamond signs for us. Thanks for volunteering to help us from the bottom of my heart, Greg.

DANIEL KIRKDORFFER of On the Road to 2008. Day after day, week after week, Dan joined me in pounding home the message on 912 that nobody else did. He was relentless in his coverage, especially hit outstanding "Focus..." series.

LYNN ALLEN, BRIAN MORAN, DARRYL, JIMMY and all the other progressive bloggers who helped fight the good fight against I-912. Many of our fellow bloggers came out to join me a couple weeks ago at our Alaskan Way Viaduct demonstration. My thanks to you for coming out in the cold to join me.

And thanks to our friends at Keep Washington Rolling, Identity Clark County, and all the other groups who came together to fight I-912. We all poured our time, money and energy into defeating this, and it paid off - big time.

I-912 loss saps right wing energy

Right wingers seemed pretty demoralized and downcast last night as the results continued to come in.

One commenter on unSoundPolitics called the election "a nightmare". Another commenter called for the removal of Chris Vance:
It's time to remove Chris Vance.

I'm sick of defeat after defeat. The guy needs to stand for something. We had a good opportunity in I-912 but he caved to big business, who despite their threats, wouldnt have done jack shit if the state party would have promoted a repeal of the gas tax.

Any thoughts on who could replace Vance? Diane Tebelius? Dino Rossi?
Funny, because the state GOP did endorse I-912. Ah, well. This loss is pretty hard on wingnuts. Doesn't seem like they're thinking straight.

Hindu at Sagebrush complained, "Here on the dry side of the state we can go to the pump knowing our hard-earned money will be happily spent by King County bureaucrats."

No - you can go the pump knowing your hard earned money will be spent on projects all over the state to keep you safer while you're on the road.

The double blow of a Sims victory and a I-912 loss is a total morale crusher for the right wing in Washington State. They placed their bets and lost.,

They smugly declared there would be a huge backlash against Christine Gregoire and Ron Sims - but they were wrong. There was no backlash. Sims cruised last night while I-912 flopped.

What does this mean? It means that voters AGREE with the Governor and state legislators. It means we have won one of the greatest victories of all time.

Time to go back to celebrating!

Holding out hope for an unbelievable victory

Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope; and the one unchangeable certanity is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.

- John Fitzgerald Kennedy


To many people, especially proponents, it may have seemed certain that voters would pass Initiative 912 and repeal a significant part of the 2005 transportation package. But voters are sending a different message: they're putting their seal of approval on the 2005 transportation package.

We vowed to fight Initiative 912 and drive it into the ground. We worked hard to explain to voters the consequences of passing Initiative 912. We talked about how important public safety is. We asked voters to "put safety first".

Finally, we held out hope. Hope that this year, people would take their eyes off their pocketbooks and look beyond into their community.

The one unchangeable certanity is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.

Last summer, when I-912 proponents turned in their truckload of signatures in record time, they boasted about how popular their initiative was. How it was going to pass overwhelmingly despite whatever opponents said or did. They made its passage seem a certainty.

They were wrong.

It's not just voters in King County that are voting Initiative 912 down. Snohomish is voting it down too, as are voters in Kitsap, Thurston, Jefferson, San Juan, Island, Clark, and Walla Walla counties. In other counties, such as Pierce and Whatcom, it's evenly split.

Our strategy worked - and it's still working. We won big in our strongholds - King and San Juan counties - and won over critical swing counties like Snohomish, Thurston, and Kitsap.

And we managed to avoid staggering margins in practically all of Eastern Washington counties. I just looked at the chart, and no county was approving I-912 by over 70%. It's all under that critical threshold.

Finally, we got a few surprises...Walla Walla voters coming out in opposition to 912, and the even splits in counties like Clark and Whatcom.

The NO vote continues to grow larger - it's even closer to 53% now. There are many absentees left to count, but many of them will be from counties that have obliterated Initiative 912 (such as King and Thurston).

There is little doubt at this point: we have won a huge victory. This is incredible. It's unbelievable.

I expect to hear proponents of 912 falling back on the excuse that they were outspent. Yes, they were. But they've claimed in the past that being outspent doesn't mean anything. Now, because they lost, it suddenly does?

Voters didn't defeat Initiative 912 because they saw an advertisement. This year, after a disaster of epic proportions on the Gulf Coast and heightened awareness of our crumbling infrastructure, a majority of voters decided they'd rather invest in the future of the state then buy an extra latte every month.

Taxpayers voted with their hearts and minds instead of thinking about dollar signs.

This vote speaks volumes. It is a crushing, devastating defeat for those who gleefully proclaimed that Olympia was going to pay for being bold and courageous.

Now, the joke is on them.

This victory would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of hundreds and thousands of volunteers who took it upon themselves to educate their fellow voters about the dangers of I-912.

We all worked hard to defeat I-912 because we had hope. Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope. We turned a significant challenge into a significant victory.

Governor Christine Gregoire and state legislators are vindicated. The people have spoken, and are still speaking. They have delivered a message: Safety First.

We can now breathe a sigh of relief, smile, and celebrate. It's good to be a Washingtonian today.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It seems we have won a great victory

We cannot be absolutely certain that Initiative 912 has been defeated - but we can be pretty sure. King County voters are defeating Initiative 912 in a landslide, and other surprise counties such as Snohomish, Kitsap, and Thurston are also voting it down. It's hard to see how the current margins could be reversed.

The results are still fairly close. But throughout the evening, we have slowly gained on 912 proponents. As I write this, we are almost at 53%.

If we hang on to the lead we currently have and go on to win this, we will have won one of the greatest victories in the history of Washington State politics. This victory is so massive that it's hard to get a sense of the scope of it.

It is incredibly difficult to fight anti-tax measures. It's difficult because you're trying to get voters to vote for the common interest of the whole state instead of voting for their own self-interest.

Tim Eyman and others predicted a landslide victory for I-912. They were dead wrong. They were overconfident and cocky. They did not think that voters might be tired of their "government is evil" message. They assumed their attacks on WSDOT would work.

The defeat of Initiative 912 is a crushing blow to John Carlson, Kirby Wilbur, Brett Bader, and others who naively assumed that voters hated Gov. Christine Gregoire and the state legislature for making this investment in the future.

They were wrong. Dead wrong.

We do not yet know the final result of this election. But we are optimistic. We believe we have won. We believe we have just handed the anti-tax zealots in Washington State their worst defeat ever.

I feel better than I have felt in a long time. I am simply delighted. All of this hard work - all of this time, energy, and money that we've used - has paid off enormously.

A huge thank you to everyone who worked against Initiative 912. This victory would not have been possible without you.

IT APPEARS WE ARE VICTORIOUS!!!!

INITIATIVE 912 NOW LOSING WITH 52.5% VOTING NO!!!!!!! RON SIMS WINS REELECTION, CRUSHES DAVID IRONS INTO THE GROUND!!!!

Gregoire speaks to NO on 912 forces

Gov. Gregoire has just spoken to the NO on 912 forces, thanking us all for running such a strong campaign, and commending state legislators for their courage in passing the package in the first place.

Ron Sims is winning....912 is losing....so far, it's a pretty good night. Monorail is totally done for. Port Commissioner races not looking so good. Jolley and Molloy are losing.

First round of results are in

912 is narrowly being defeated - hooray. 330 is losing, 900 is winning (as expected), 336 is losing, and 901 is winning (as expected).

We're winning in surprising places, like Thurston and Kitsap counties, and we're neck and neck in other key places like Piece and Clark.

We're winning our strongholds (like San Juan and King) by huge margins. And where we're losing, we're not losing big. It's close. Very close at this point.

UPDATE: Christine Gregoire has just introduced Ron Sims upstairs at the other party. She gave him a wonderful introduction; Sims was flattered. He's giving a rousing speech now. Sims is holding steady at 51% to Irons at 43%.

Initiative 912 is now failing

With initial reports in, King, Snohomish, Walla Walla, and Jefferson were defeating Initiative 912. The total vote is currently 51% NO on 912, 48% YES.

Polls are closed

It's 8:00 PM. Polls are closed. LIVE elections coverage about to begin.

NATIONAL: Dems retain governorships

Via Kos:
We've retained the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia. The numbers in Virginia are particularly exciting, as Kaine did better than the incredibly popular Warner. The state is trending our way.
Good news, to be sure. We prevailed in the major elections in the east. Bloomberg got reelected in NY, but that was to be expected. Also, voters in Texas approved a ban on gay marriage, but that's not unexpected either.

Endorsements for Snohomish County

This is not a complete list. Within the next couple of hours we will have a few additional endorsements to add to this list.
  • Snohomish County Council, 4th District: Dave Gossett
  • Snohomish County Council, 5th District: Dave Somers
  • Bothell City Council, Position #3: Del Spivey
  • Mayor of Lynnwood: Dan Gough
  • Lynnwood City Council Position #2: Mark Smith
  • Snohomish City Council Position #6: Liz Loomis
Endorsements for King County and ballot measures can be found by scrolling down to the next post.

Today is Election Day....Please Vote

Today is the Super Bowl of Politics and Civic Responsibility - General Election Day, 2005. If you're a registered voter and you haven't yet voted, please do so, whether you go to the polls or receive your ballot in the mail.

If you are not registered and you are eligible, you should register to vote immediately so you can vote in the next election. If you decide to vote by absentee, your ballot will always come to you. This is handy, especially during special elections when you might forget there is an election. Like a school board levy measure in a February special election.

As you know, NPI has been releasing its endorsements over the past few weeks. Here's our list of endorsements again so you know our positions:

Initiative 912 - A resounding NO
Gee, ya think? We've been campaigning against this from Day One. Since the end of July, posters to this blog had posted well over 100 posts against Initiative 912. That's an average of more than one post per day. So, like the P-I, we've essentially been doing a daily crusade against I-912 too - except ours was much longer. Just to remind you the consequences of passing 912, I'm reposting the links to our Disaster Picture of the Week series:

It's very simple: Just vote NO on I-912.

Our positions on the other initiatives:
  • Initiative 900 - NO
  • Initiative 901 - YES
  • Initiative 330 - NO
  • Initiative 336 - YES
Moving on to our endorsements for King County Executive and Council:
  • Executive: RON SIMS
  • 1st District: Bob Ferguson
  • 2nd District: Larry Gossett
  • 3rd District: No endorsement
  • 4th District: Larry Phillips
  • 5th District: Julia Patterson
  • 6th District: No endorsement
  • 7th District: Geni Hawkins
  • 8th District: Dow Constantine
  • 9th District: Shirley Gaunt Smith
For Port Commission, we endorse:
  • Position #1: Reelect LAWRENCE MOLLOY
  • Position #3: Elect LLOYD HARA
  • Position #4: Elect JACK JOLLEY
For King County Sheriff, we endorse Sue Rahr. We also endorse Susan Randolph Agid and Terry Jurado for reelection to the bench.

For Seattle municipal races, we endorse:
  • City of Seattle Mayor: Greg Nickels (with reservations)
  • Seattle City Council, Position #2: Richard Conlin
  • Seattle City Council, Position #4: Jan Drago
  • Seattle City Council, Position #6: Nick Licata
  • Seattle City Council, Position #8: Richard McIver or Dwight Pelz
  • Seattle Monorail Board, Position 8: Cleve Stockmeyer
  • Seattle Monorail Board, Position 9: Beth Goldberg
For Eastside municipal races, we endorse:
  • Bellevue City Council, Position #2: Vicki Orrico
  • Bellevue City Council, Position #4: John Albertson (with reservations)
  • Redmond City Council, Position #4: Kimberly Allen
  • Mayor of Issaquah: Hank Thomas
  • Sammamish City Council, Position #1: Kathleen Huckaby
We may have a few last minute endorsements to make today, and we'll release those as quickly as we can.

Monday, November 07, 2005

GOP shill Jeff Sax plays dirty

In a desperate attempt to derail the campaign of Snohomish progressive Dave Somers, Jeff Sax supporters are going around the county slapping "Gay Endorsed" stickers on Somers' yard signs. The Sax campaign has also mailed out and distributed at least six different last-minute pieces containing lies, lies...and more lies. Sax is a GOP shill who caters to developers and is pro-sprawl.

He's a sleazy creature, and a hypocrite. Sax is currently under criminal investigation for leaking confidential documents, not to mention the fact that he was caught building a house without a permit.

Snohomish County voters have an opportunity tomorrow to kick Sax out of office and bring Somers back to the council. Sax is an embarrassment to Snohomish County. He has to go. If you're a Snohomish resident, be sure to cast your ballot for Dave Somers. And tell ChairmanVance and his minions to knock it off by following this link.

Pacific NW Portal to provide special elections coverage tomorrow

Tomorrow evening, Pacific Northwest Portal will provide specal elections coverage LIVE as the results come in. We'll have results for all statewide ballot measures and important local races centrally located on our homepage, along with instant analysis and the mood from the election night parties.

This blog will also be part of the live coverage, but updates here will be less frequent. When something is posted here, it is also likely to be more lengthy.

All other NPI pages or sites (such as the Elections Center or Washington Defense) will direct you here and to the Portal to receive updates. It's just too difficult for us to simaltaneously update lots of different pages.

If you're not planning to head out to a party yourself tomorrow night, we strongly suggest you stay at home close to your computer and keep the Portal open in your browser. We'll also have links to election results from King County and the Secretary of State.

The special LIVE coverage begins tomorrow at 8 PM.

NPI endorsements for Eastside municipal races

NPI has released its endorsements for the 2005 general election for selected Eastside municipal races. For Bellevue City Council, we endorse John Albertson (with reservations) and Vicki Orrico, For Redmond City Council, we endorse Kimberly Allen. For mayor of Issaquah, we endorse Hank Thomas. And for Sammamish City Council, we endorse Kathleen Huckaby.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

NPI endorsements for Seattle municipal races

NPI has released its endorsements for the 2005 general election for Seattle municipal races. For mayor of Seattle, we endorse Greg Nickels. For city council, we endorse Jan Drago, Nick Licata, Richard Conlin, and both Dwight Pelz and Richard McIver.

For monorail board, we are endorsing Cleve Stockmeyer and Beth Goldberg.

Not a Nickels fan? Before you complain in our comment thread, read our reasoning first.

The story thus far: KCGOP's dirty tricks

I've posted a diary at Kos detailing the firestorm over the King County Republicans' latest series of dirty tricks:
King County is the latest setting for the newest series of Republican dirty tricks.

Using the 2004 gubernatorial election saga as an excuse, the Republicans have filed challenges to nearly 2,000 voter registrations within King County - Washington State's most populous county, and a Democratic stronghold.

Just days before this Tuesday's general election, thousands of voters have received letters in the mail informing them that their right to vote is being challenged by the Republican Party of King County. The story broke a few days ago and has been since covered extensively by the local media (more links below the jump).

It's an outrageous attempt to harass and intimidate King County voters from going to the polls or mailing in their absentee ballots. The Republicans are filing these challenges now in the hopes of influencing this year's race for King County Executive, which pits progressive Democrat Ron Sims (the incumbent) against Republican challenger David Irons.
Follow the link to read the whole thing.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

NPI endorsement for King County Sheriff

Today, we endorse Sue Rahr for King County Sheriff, as well Judges Terry Jurado (Renton Municipal Court) and Susan Randolph Agid (Court of Appeals) for reelection. Read more about those endorsements here.

I-912 supporters seem desperate to win

In recent weeks, I've been putting up dozens upon dozens of our orange and black "NO on 912" signs (pictured below) to get the message out about the importance of defeating Initiative 912.

NO on Initiative 912 Yard Sign Unfortunately, nearly half or about half of the signs I have put up have been taken down. What's interesting is that while our signs have mysteriously disappeared from the locations where they were well hammered into the ground, other campaign signs have stayed up.

Take 148th Avenue NE in Bellevue, for example. I put up three or four signs along that arterial last week. All of them have since vanished. They're nowhere to be seen. They're aren't lying on the median, either. They're just gone.

(And the one Yes on 912 sign I've seen on 148th Ave NE, which has been there for weeks, is still there, in the same spot).

And that's not the only location, either. Signs I've put up in downtown Redmond have disappeared as well. I've replaced some signs as many as four times. Darryl of Hominid Views reported to me that three signs he put up in Montlake - a very progressive area - were all taken down as well.

It is clearly apparent to me that supporters of Initiative 912 are taking down our yard signs in an attempt to stop us. I know, I know - I can't prove it. I haven't got the video footage of people removing our signs.

But why are other campaigns' signs still up? Why do our signs mysteriously vanish, but signs for other campaigns don't? Thinking logically, this is a reasonable conclusion to draw.

Our diamond-shaped yard signs, with their "Safety First" message, have drawn a very positive reaction from people who have seen them. Voters understand the simple message of transportation safety and appreciate it. I-912 supporters are clearly afraid that our signs have an effective message.

It's too bad for them that these signs have already appeared several times during local television newscasts, thanks to our Viaduct Hazard Demonstration. Thousands upon thousands of Washingtonians have now seen them.

If 912 supporters are taking down our yard signs, they must really be concerned that they won't win this fight. They're desperate to win. So much for their talk of this ballot measure passing by ten to fifteen percentage points.

I believe we stand a pretty good chance of defeating I-912. It'll be a close election, and we probably won't know until after Tuesday whether it passes or fails.

We're not done with our signs yet, either. We plan to continue utilizing them right through Election Day. And, unfortunately for I-912 proponents, the signs won't be by themselves. They'll be with the grassroots opposition to I-912.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Republicans make excuses for voter harassment

The Stranger has some new developments in the unfolding saga over the Republican Party's attempt to disenfranchise hundreds (if not thousands) of voters:
It turns out that Lacey and his neighbors were just a few among at least 140 King County voters who were wrongly challenged by Sotelo, who chairs the King County Republican Party’s “Voter Registration Integrity Project.” Sotelo could not be reached for comment on Friday morning, when The Stranger first reported the mistakes on our blog, but Chris Vance, chairman of the state Republican Party later confirmed for The Stranger that a serious mistake had been made.

“We are withdrawing those challenges today and apologizing to those folks,” he said. He added that it is “just coincidence” that a significant number of the wrongly challenged voters live in a strongly Democratic neighborhood.
Sure, ChairmanVance. That's what you want us to think, but we know you're lying through your teeth. Coincidence, indeed. You screwed up - worse than King County Elections ever has.

“If they were doing their jobs,” Vance said of King County election officials, “we wouldn’t have to do this.” But if that’s why Republicans undertook the project, how did they then come to do such an ineffectual job themselves?

“We’re off by less than 10 percent,” Vance said, establishing what appeared to be a lower standard of accuracy for his party than for the King County elections officials his party claims to be watch-dogging. “For having this done by volunteers and interns, this is very good work.”
Chris, do you realize how lame you sound? You sound like a total idiot. No one is buying your spin. It's pathetically laughable.

"We're off by less than ten percent", indeed. And "very good work"? Well, if you're an extremist Republican who believes in playing dirty, then yes, this would amount to "good work". For everybody else, it's an outrage.

Sims' office had an excellent reaction:
Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for Sims, said the fiasco, whose scope is still not clear because Republicans have not yet released a list of all their challenged voters, showed an embarrassing degree of amateurishness on the part of the Republicans.

“This is an unfortunate example of what happens when what is a serious issue, people’s right to vote, is hijacked for partisan advantage,” Kaushik said.
Absolutely. The Republicans are trying to milk the 2004 election controversy for all it's worth. They're using it as an excuse to start a purge of voter rolls to get rid of Democratic voters.

And voters don't like it - one bit:
He said county election workers had been flooded with calls in the last two days from angry King County residents who had received Republican-generated challenge letters, including one call from an elderly African-American woman who felt her letter was part of an effort to suppress her vote.
Well, I don't blame that woman in the least. This is voter suppression, intimidation, harassment, or however you want to put it. It's an attack on citizens' rights and it's completely unacceptable.

We're not the only ones who are angry and disgusted:
King County Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine today expressed outrage at the actions of the King County Republican Party in its blanket challenge of 1,944 King County voter registrations on the eve of a critical general election for countywide office.

"After a week of this kind of behavior on the part of King County Republicans, let's finally call it for what it is. This is not election reform, this is voter intimidation and voter suppression," said Councilmember Phillips, who is Council Chair. "Validly registered voters in King County should not be intimidated by this Republican dirty trick. The right to vote is a cornerstone of American democracy, and that right shouldn't be denied just because a citizen changed her name or lives in an apartment building."
And the councilmembers also have tips for those who received challenge letters from the Republicans:
Phillips and Constantine urged those voters whose registrations were challenged to take one of three actions:

1. Take advantage of emergency Saturday office hours set up tomorrow between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. by King County Elections to assist those who received the challenge letters to update their registration address.

2. If you can't get to the election office on Saturday you can and should still vote. Your ballot will be double-checked to make sure you are properly registered before it is counted.

3. Call the special hotline set up by King County Elections for voters to call for more information. That number is (206) 205-5686.

"The most important message to King County residents is vote," said Councilmember Phillips.
We agree completely. The most important thing is to vote.

Here's some handy files related to this story, courtesy of David Goldstein:

King County GOP engaging in voter harassment and intimidation

This is an outrage:
Meet Kathleen Dolan. Kathleen is a soft-spoken woman who has lived at the same address on Queen Anne since she bought her house in 1975. With the exception of six years spent teaching at universities in Tennesee and Pennsylvania, she's lived in this house for thirty years. The last time she lived elsewhere was in the late '80's. In all that time, she has always been registered to vote at one address: the home where she lives. But this week, she received a letter from King County Elections telling her that her right to vote was being challenged by the King County Republican party.

Lori D. Sotelo, Vice Chair of the King County GOP and Chair of the "Voter Registration Integrity Project", claims that she has "personal knowledge or belief" that Ms. Dolan doesn't live at her address. Lori Sotelo and Kathleen Dolan have not met, and do not live near each other (Ms. Sotelo resides peacefully ensconced on Mercer Island with all the other liberal elites). Yet, Ms. Sotelo claims to have personal knowledge of where Ms. Dolan actually lives! Not only that, she apparently has "personal knowledge" that 1,942 other King County voters don't live where they say they live. She's a very industrious and social person, this Lori Sotelo!

Except it isn't true. I spoke with Theresa Bushnell, a resident at the home of Barbara Taylor, both voters who have also been challenged by Ms. Sotelo. Ms. Taylor manages a storage warehouse, and her home is onsite, as many storage facilities require their managers to live on the property. Ms. Taylor has four registered voters in her home including Ms. Bushnell, and has lived and voted at this address for at least eleven years. They have not met, nor do they live near Lori Sotelo, yet again she claims "personal knowledge or belief" that these validly registered voters are not qualified to vote OR don't live where they say they do.
So, according to King County Elections, the King County Republican Party has made last minute challenges to over 1,900 voters. Many, if not most of those voters, are stunned and perplexed that their right to vote is being challenged.

Apparently, all of those people who are having their right to vote challenged will have their ballots set aside. Then they'll have to show up in person for an administrative hearing, likely causing them to miss time from work or other commitments. Many of course, won’t be able to attend the hearing.

Dan Savage of the Stranger put it quite well:
If this is real, this is an outrage. If the Rs of King County are knowingly, falsely challenging legit voter registrations in an effort to suppress Dem votes then they should be PUNISHED.
I am shaking in anger. HOW DARE THEY attempt to disenfranchise voters in Washington State! In King County! The Republicans have shown once again they will stoop to any level to win...even attempting to deny honest, law-abiding citizens their right to vote.

Citizens should be outraged at this underhanded maneuver.

Making A Difference

I've posted a diary at Daily Kos detailing last week's Viaduct Hazard Demonstration and the media coverage that followed. An excerpt:
What excites me the most isn't the media coverage. It's the chance to get out and do something. It's a refreshing change from typing blog post after blog post explaining why Initiative 912 is so harmful to Washington State.

We're a handful of activists, but what we're doing is making a real difference.

We were simply going out there and making a statement. We believe that there is no free lunch. Public services, including transportation, cost money.
Please follow the link, and recommend the diary if you're a Kossack.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Help Us Avoid THIS - Vote NO on I-912 (November 3rd Finale)

Help Fight Initiative 912: Donate to Washington Defense

For the last couple of months, we've been posting a picture or illustration here every week reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912. This is the finale of our series, as next Tuesday is Election Day. Here's this Thursday's Disaster Picture of the Week.

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 destruction.

We've decided to go out with a bang and put up more than one picture. Remember: the fate of this state is in the hands of you, the voter. Make a sensible decision - vote NO on 912.

Initiative 912 Disaster Pictures of the Week

Read about the response to the collapse of the Cypress Street collapse here.

Previous installments in our Disaster Picture of the Week series:
The risk CANNOT be overstated enough. Washington is susceptible to all kinds of disasters - earthquakes, lahars, storms, and tsunamis. No region of the state is safe.

We said this two weeks ago but it needs to repeated:
Initiative proponents (notably Brett Bader) have scoffed at our concerns and accused us of trying to scare voters. Well, guess what? The threat is real. Other urban areas have neglected to fix the problem, and look what's happened. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kobe have all been hit by devastating earthquakes within the last twenty years.

We had an earthquake recently too - the 2001 Nisqually quake - but we got lucky. That doesn't usually happen. We cannot simply hope that we'll get lucky again. We must act before disaster strikes and Seattle becomes the next New Orleans.
Protect this investment in our future. Put Public Safety First.

Vote NO on Initiative 912.

NO on 912: There is no free lunch

We've been having a friendly exchange with a conservative blog from Eastern Washington (Sagebrush) over Initiative 912. Yesterday I wrote a post entitled "Seattle P-I's Daily NO on 912 annoys initiative proponents".

Sagebrush writer Hindu yesterday posted a response to my comments. After reading that response, I have readied my reply to Hindu's reply.

Let's start with the first paragraph...no, wait make that the first sentence:
A Seattle website has taken issue with our sarcasm towards the PI's inane daily no on I-912.
That's funny. The last time I checked, the tagline at the top of our blog read:
Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.
Note to Hindu: Redmond is not part of Seattle. You have to cross or go around Lake Washington and pass through several other communities to get here. We are our own town with our own unique identity.

Perhaps there is a tendency to think that all progressives come from Seattle, but we can assure you that's not the case. Redmond and other communities have a strong progressive presence as well.

Redmond's current mayor is a progressive who has fought for environmental protection and adequate funding of public services to ensure a high quality of life of Redmond's residents.

There seems, however, to be some kind of crusade or campaign by local conservatives to drive a wedge between Seattle and the rest of Washington State. Conservative commenters who have stopped by here seem to think of "Seattle" as a dirty word - it's the home of that "evil liberalism".

A few conservatives who have dropped by have smugly told us our ideology is a "mental disease". Sorry - we must be pretty sick people for believing in freedom and the First Amendment.

Seattle and the rest of Washington State are not at odds with each other on everything, or even a majority of issues. There appears to be an attempt to create an artificial conflict, to create division. And why?

Is it because some conservatives think, perhaps, that Seattle controls the direction of Washington? That's a mistake, of course. Seattle has been outvoted by its fellow Washingtonians on many recent occasions. However, the rest of the state has also agreed with Seattle on many occasions as well.

The bottom line? We have our agreements and disagreements. But we're all one Evergreen State. Every region is interdependent. Every region has something to offer the others. There need not be an East vs. West, or urban vs. rural, conflict.

Back to Hindu's comments:
Apparently we Eastsiders, in addition to being poor spellers, should have more gratitude for the blessings King County bestows upon us. And a little more respect for the ferry system as well. From the Northwest Progressive Institute (providing much needed leftist ideology to the ultra-rightwing Pacific Northwest):
It's "truely" not that big of a deal to make a spelling mistake or typo. Everyone does it. Just lightening the mood.

We are serious, though, about urban areas subsidizing rural ones. Recently the Seattle Times noted in its guide to Initiative 912: "For years, King County drivers have paid more in gas taxes than the state put back into road projects in the county."

It is true the 2005 transportation package is weighted somewhat heavily towards urban areas, but that's fair. We helped you Washingtonians out in the rural areas - now it's your turn to help us. We are one state.
Nothing against ferries, we like them as much as the next guy. We just doubt Olympia needs 9 cents more a gallon to keep them afloat.
It seems you doubt government needs any money to operate at all. We keep hearing that government can do exactly what it's doing today with less money. All we have to do is cut the fat out of government.

If only that myth were true.

There is no free lunch. Services cost money. Ferry fleets and terminals don't last forever. They need to maintained, upgraded, and eventually, replaced. (It's also worth noting that the entire package does not go to the ferry system. In fact, the ferry system really doesn't receive a lot of money from the package).

Government is not wasting taxpayer money on all these extravagant expenses. Since we're talking about transportation, why don't we look at the Department of Transportation. The state DOT is bringing in practically all of its projects on time and under budget. Taxpayers can trust the state DOT to invest public money wisely.

In fact, DOT's record is so impressive that it convinced conservative Republicans from Eastern Washington (like Rep. Joyce Mulliken, R-Ephrata) to vote for the 2005 transportation package - and the gas tax increase.

You don't have to take our word for it...take hers:
What persuaded her, Mulliken said, was the state's performance with the money raised from the nickel tax that lawmakers approved two years ago, despite her opposition. It paid for a westbound truck lane on Interstate 90 in her district, and the project came in $300,000 under budget and 30 days ahead of schedule.

"I said to the regional manager, 'If the public puts on enough pressure you can come in under budget and early,' " she said.
Reacting to our warning about the consequences of Initiative 912, Hindu wrote:
That'll teach us. We better jump off the I-912 wagon while we still have passable roads!

Maybe it's King County who should worry - how do you think all those coffee beans and apples get to the Westside ... Monorails?

[...]

Mariners probably want a Monorail directly to safes Field. Less congestion when all the fans leave after the 5th inning.
912 proponents have continued to drag the Seattle Monorail project into this as a campaign tactic. The problem for them is that the monorail is irrelevant to this debate. It has nothing to do with the 2005 transportation package or the gas tax. Seattle voters will decide the future of the monorail project themselves.

If a majority of Eastern Washington is not interested in maintaining safe roads, fine. We are, and we'll keep our dollars here so we can do just that. Your infrastructure is going to rot and crumble away if you ignore the problems. Will you raise taxes on yourselves to finance your own road improvements? We doubt it.

Finally, addressing your closing comments:
It's always carpool lanes isn't it?

Bottom line:

To alleviate Seattle-Tacoma corridor congestion, Westside politicians believe we need to pay higher taxes to change our behavior.

Is driving your car to work that evil?
First, let's talk about HOV lanes. There are other reasons for building HOV lanes besides encouraging people to carpool, although that is a good reason. Consider that buses need to be able to get through traffic in order to meet their schedules. HOV lanes help keep our mass transit system functioning and on time. HOV lanes might as well be bus lanes, except they're open to any vehicle carrying multiple passengers, which is even better.

DOT doesn't build lots of new general purpose lanes in urban areas because new lanes do nothing to relieve congestion. In fact, new pavement and more lanes just makes congestion worse.

To transportation engineers, it's known as the induced traffic phenomenon. Here's an aphorism that explains it more clearly: "Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt." It just doesn't work.

I found this comment to be very puzzling:
To alleviate Seattle-Tacoma corridor congestion, Westside politicians believe we need to pay higher taxes to change our behavior.
Why don't you get this? Why is it that proponents of Initiative 912 simply do not get this? They seem to ignore it entirely. This package isn't about congestion or changing driving behavior.

It's two simple words: PUBLIC SAFETY. Leaders in Olympia are rightly concerned about public safety. It's not just a Seattle-Tacoma area problem, either. It's a statewide problem.

This package finances 274 projects (241 wholly, the rest partially) to improve public safety across Washington State. Every region of the state has an unsafe bridge, intersection, or stretch of roadway that needs maintenance, repairs, upgrades, or even replacement.

Washingtonians' lives are at stake. Public and private property is at stake. We can make an investment now at a low cost or we can pay a lot more later when a disaster wipes our crumbling infrastructure out.

The risk cannot be emphasized enough. Let Hurricane Katrina and what happened in New Orleans be a sobering lesson to all of us. A failure to invest in basic infrastructure can result in tremendous consequences.

Every region of Washington State benefits from this package. Every single Washingtonian taxpayer benefits from this package. That's just not arguable. It doesn't matter whether you live next door to a project or not.

We need to put safety first. We need to invest in our own future. We need to vote NO on Initiative 912.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anti-tax zealots defeated in Colorado

Great news from Colorado! In a defeat for Grover Norquist and his allies, Colorado voters yesterday passed Referendum C, repealing TABOR (the "Taxpayers Bill of Rights"):
Colorado residents have voted to suspend their Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, the strictest government spending limit in the nation, and give up more than $3 billion in tax refunds to help the state bounce back from a recession.

Fiscal conservatives were dismayed at the outcome Tuesday night and worried about its impact on other states considering similar spending limits.

But supporters said Colorado couldn't afford to vote no, not with higher education, health care and transportation already suffering from millions of dollars in budget cuts.
Colorado's ProgressNow had this to say:
"Governor Owens deserves a lion-share of the credit for standing up against the extreme right-wing and working so hard for a better future for Colorado," stated Michael Huttner, Executive Director of ProgressNow.org. "We applaud Governor Owens along with Speaker Romanoff and Senator Fitz-Gerald for their leadership."

The voters of Colorado sent a strong message to Grover Norquist and his far-right followers to stop mucking around in their business.

"The people of Colorado have spoken and their message is clear: Grover, keep your hands off our state," noted Huttner.
A bit of background: Colorado's TABOR law was spearheaded by a man named Douglas Bruce, who is Colorado's version of Tim Eyman (Washington) and Bill Sizemore (Oregon). Bruce is also in cahoots with Grover Norquist on the national level.

What is TABOR? Here's some background from the Denver Post:
TABOR curbs the power of elected officials to raise taxes and sets strict limits for spending increases by tying them to population growth and inflation.

TABOR is the pinnacle of fiscal conservatism, the gold standard for controlling government growth and the national model for the tax-limit movement.
Colorado's TABOR law is (now, of course, it's was)somewhat similar to Washington's Initiative 601, which state lawmakers scrapped this year in order to make stronger investments in education and transportation. TABOR was much more restrictive than I-601, however.

Conservatives in Colorado reacted bitterly to the news:
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is "as good as dead" in Colorado, state Rep. Joe Stengel told conservative state leaders from across the country this afternoon.

Stengel said Colorado voters delivered the fatal blow Tuesday when they approved Referendum C, which would let state government keep and spend an estimated $3.7 billion instead of refunding it to taxpayers over five years, and would prevent the state’s allowable spending base from falling with a recession, as it did in 2001.

Stengel, the House minority leader, was talking to more than 40 conservative leaders on a noontime conference call today. The call was supposed to offer advice to those leaders on how to pass their own versions of TABOR.

"I think we now have become a blue state, frankly,’’ Stengel said during the phone meeting arranged by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform. However, some of those leaders implored Colorado conservatives to avoid painting the Ref C victory as the end of TABOR.

"Please be considerate of the other states," said Mary Adams of Maine, who is spearheading that state’s drive to get its own TABOR. "We now need for you folks not to crumble."
How ironic. The "leading state" in this backwards, restrictive movement just voted to largely wipe TABOR out of the constitution.

The fight's not over, but this is a great victory. We can only hope that next week, Washington State will enjoy a similar victory with the defeat of Initiative 912.

Seattle P-I's Daily NO on 912 annoys initiative proponents

Ever since the Seattle Post-Intelligencer started its "Daily NO on 912" editorial series, proponents of Initiative 912 have bitterly grumbled about the amount of editorial space the P-i is using to attack the initiative.

The P-I should be applauded for this editorial series. It's one of the best ideas they've ever come up with.

But it's really got proponents annoyed. Here's a reaction from the Sagebrush blog:
Go back a decade and consider the cost of public transportation. The walk-on ferry fare was as little as $2.10. A Metro bus ride was 85 cents.

A couple of years later the state's voters rebelled and passed Initiative 695, which slashed some $750 million from the state's tax receipts.

Consider what we as a region lost: Buses and ferries (indeed, most state services) were stripped of crucial funding. Yet somebody had to pay: The same bus run is $1.50 (peak times); the ferry fare is $6.10.
So if we don't keep giving the state more and more money mass transit fares might go up? NOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

This is truely frightening. The thought of higher ferry fares is weighing heavy on our minds here in eastern Washington. Maybe the PI is right! Maybe it is worth the high gas taxes. We wouldn't want to deprive Bainbridge Islanders of enough change for a tall decaf on their ferry ride.
First of all, you might want to correct that spelling mistake. Your rant will "truely" be more interesting without the extra e.

Now, as to your remarks. The gas tax has nothing to do with mass transit. It funds only roads and ferries. What the P-I was talking about was the fact that we've been cutting transportation funding over the last few years - and that has had a negative effect on people who use mass transit. (The people who tend to use mass transit the most, by the way, are those who cannot afford to purchase their own vehicles).

The sneering apathy on display here is saddening.

The ferry system is a crucial part of our state's transportation infrastructure. It doesn't just carry people across the Sound to work or home. It carries tourists who are visiting Washington State and it carries trucks and other commercial vehicles transporting goods.

It is an important lifeline for Washington State. The ferry system ultimately serves all of Washington State, even though not every community has its own ferry dock. Every region of our state is interconnected with the other regions.

We've been dumping money into Eastern Washington for years to subsidize the transportation infrastructure over there - and to see people like this blogger whining and jeering about subsidizing ferries and mass transit over here is itself annoying.

Make no mistake, if I-912 passes, Eastern Washington will pay, and pay dearly. It's going to pay because its subsidies from the West are going to end.

Seattle area legislators already have the legislation ready to keep the gas tax money in the county where it's raised. They have it drafted. It's ready to be dropped when the session starts. And it's gaining support.

This means that dense urban counties such as King will end up with plenty of money to invest in new, safe infrastructure, while Eastern Washington will get shafted. Eastern Washingtonians support I-912 at their own peril.

This is about public safety. If a majority of Eastern Washingtonians aren't interested in investing in safe roads, then they can watch their infrastructure fall to pieces and rot. It's their choice. The I-912 vote is going to be very telling.

We'd prefer a different resolution: the defeat of Initiative 912 and the preservation of 274 critical public safety and traffic congestion projects across the state.

Proponents of Initiative 912 can mock the Post-Intelligencer, make fun of mass transit, and chuckle about high ferry fares for Bainbridge Islanders all they want. In the end, they are ignoring reality, common sense, and the public safety crisis we face.

If you are concerned about the future of Washington State, vote NO on Initiative 912.

NO on I-912: Pay no attention to polling

There's supposedly good news for opponents of Initiative 912 in this morning's paper:
The multimillion-dollar ad campaign to defeat Initiative 912 appears to be helping shape public opinion about the new 9.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase.

A Survey USA poll conducted for KING/5 showed support for repealing the tax had fallen to 44 percent with the election just one week away. That's down from 50 percent three weeks ago.

Likewise, those who supported the tax approved by state lawmakers earlier this year (and said they would vote against the initiative) increased to 50 percent compared to 42 percent on Oct. 11.
If you're involved in the fight to defeat Initiative 912, you might breathe a sigh of relief after reading this article. But you shouldn't do that. Don't even bother trying to dissect the polling. Concentrate on the task at hand.

There are still six days until November 8th, when we learn how the vote will turn out. One thing I certainly learned working on my first initiative campaign was not to trust polling. In 2002, every bit of polling data we had showed Tim Eyman's Initiative 776 being defeated...but it passed, albeit narrowly (and we think in part because Referendum 51 was also on the ballot that year. None of the polls accounted for any influence R-51 might have on the I-776 vote).

Of course, proponents of 912 dismissed the poll because it didn't show them winning:
Brett Bader, spokesman for I-912, said he did not believe the poll was accurate. "When it comes to ballot measures, polls like this one are often wrong," he said. "We're not seeing any erosion among our supporters."
Polls may not be able to accurately forecast how election results will turn out, but what's interesting is that proponents aren't doing much of anything these days. Their enthusiasm seems to have petered out, and they don't have much of a financial reserve to tap.

On the other hand, grassroots opposition to Initiative 912 has swelled. Numerous groups, many local, have sprung up to join Washington Defense and Keep Washington Rolling in the fight against Initiative 912. All kinds of groups are working together to distribute materials, coordinate phonebanks, and talk to voters.

There is a powerful motivation to act to ensure that we protect this investment in our future. Proponents of 912 seem to remain confident it will pass - and it will, if recent history is any indicator. But attitudes are changing. Recent devleopments have clearly shown what will happen if we don't maintain, repair, and replace our infrastructure.

We have six days left. Join us and do whatever you're able to do to defeat Initiative 912.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Democrats With Spines

Reaction from [our side of] the blogosphere to the brilliant manuever by Senator Reid today has been huge. It's a pleasant surprise, getting all manner of responses from "It's about time" to "Give 'em hell, Harry!"

Senator Frist was on TV whining about how he hadn't been consulted and this was a slap in the face, and complaining that Democrats had "hijacked" the Senate. Oh, please. Bill Frist and his cohorts has slapped the American people in the face many times. Reid had the right to do what he did. If Republicans actually cared about minority rights, this would not have been necessary.

The bottom line is this: Republicans are for bipartisanship when it benefits them. To Republicans, bipartisanship means that they lead and Democrats get told what to do. They just expect Democrats to roll over and die on command.

When Democrats stand up and say "NO", they get attacked for being partisan. When Cantwell voted against John Roberts, ChairmanVance of the WSRP sent out a press release attacking Cantwell for playing partisan politics. He does it at every opportunity. "ChairmanVance" is one to talk!

Well today, Senator Reid sent notice: it's time for the stonewalling, the dithering, and the phony excuses to end. The Republicans are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people.

There does not appear to be any interest in getting to the bottom of how we ended up in the quagmire that is Iraq.

Congress has a constitutional role to play. There needs to be oversight of the executive branch. It doesn't seem that the current Republican leadership in Congress is interested in investigating the abuse of power that is going on in the White House.

Since Bill Frist & Co. have refused to act, Senator Reid stood up and demanded answers. Senator Reid's actions were courageous, inspiring, and reassuring. Democrats can thank Sen. Reid, Sen. Durbin, and the Senate caucus by visiting this special contribution page where you can make a financial donation and send a personal message of thanks.

Crooks and Liars has some good video as well. I'll be posting some reactions from around the blogosphere here shortly, especially bloggers in our region.

Democrats force Senate into closed session

Finally....Democrats with spines:
Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, questioning intelligence that President Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq and accusing Republicans of ignoring the issue.

"They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why," Democratic leader Harry Reid said.

Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt.
Kos has a nice reaction to this development:
Cue in lots of hystrionics from Frist and company. Republicans whined that this was a violation of Senate tradition. This coming from the gang that wants to eliminate the judicial filibuster. Frist whined that he wasn't consulted. As though Democrats have had a seat at the table in this Congress. They want to play hardball? Fine. Reid sent notice that he can play that game as well.

Frist whined, "Senator Daschle never did anything like this." Damn right. A new sheriff is in town.

Now, this is more than a temporary stunt. The Democratic leadership has promised to call a special session in the Senate every single day until Republicans alllow for a real investigation.

So let's see what we have here --

Democrats showing leadership and fight. Very nice. Democrats creating a media narrative around Republican stonewalling of a real investigation into pre-war intelligence. Also very nice. Republicans getting a taste of things to come if they initiate the nuclear option? Very crafty.
All we have to say is:

HURRAY! Democrats standing up for accountability and responsibility! We commend Senator Reid for his outstanding leadership. He has our firm support in this endeavor.
Democrats should keep this up until we get answers. The Republicans are obstructing the American people from finding out the truth.

Help stop drilling in the Arctic Refuge

An important message from John Kerry about stopping drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge:
It's now or never if we want to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the White House and Republican leaders in Congress are stacking the odds against us. They're using underhanded procedural tactics to sneak through legislation to destroy the Arctic Refuge. The vote will occur this week in the Senate and next week in the House of Representatives.

We need your help to spread the truth about what's happening. We will fight this to the end, however long the odds, to show them that America won't stand for their misplaced priorities.

Despite years of control in Washington, George Bush and the Republican leadership have been unable to secure support for opening the Refuge to oil drilling.

Why? Because of you. Thanks to the incredible grassroots work that you've done year after year, we have been able to hold elected officials accountable on this issue and it has driven the Republicans crazy.

During the debate on the Arctic Refuge last spring, Republican leaders were so upset about our email and the work of more than 425,000 concerned members of the johnkerry.com community that they literally complained about it during the debate on the Senate floor.

We must have been doing something right and we need to do so again.

Please call or write to your congressman or congresswoman and ask them to say no to drilling.

These votes will decide the fate of the Refuge. It's no time to be sitting on the sidelines. We have to make our voice heard in this debate on Capitol Hill, and if we lose the vote there, we have to make sure we don't lose the debate across America.

[...]

We need to get the truth out about how Republicans are hijacking the legislative process to destroy Alaska's wildlife refuge.

Led by my friend Maria Cantwell of Washington in the Senate and my friend and fellow Massachusetts legislator Ed Markey in the House, we have established a strong bi-partisan coalition in the House and Senate to try to stop this underhanded maneuver.

We need your help to get the message out. Please call your Members of Congress and let the facts speak for themselves.

  • Drilling in the Arctic Refuge can't make even a small dent in meeting America's energy needs. U.S. Geological Survey scientists estimate that there is very likely only enough oil to supply America's needs for six months. And oil companies admit that even that won't be available for at least 10 years.
  • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's 19 million acres comprise one of the last places on earth where an intact expanse of arctic and sub arctic land remains protected.
  • An irreplaceable natural treasure, the Arctic Refuge is home to caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, golden eagles, snow geese and more. Millions of other birds use the Arctic Refuge to nest and as a critical staging area on their migratory journeys.
  • The Arctic Refuge supports more than wildlife. For a thousand generations, the Gwich'in people of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada have depended on it and lived in harmony with it. To them, the Arctic Coastal Plain is sacred ground.
  • Oil companies are experiencing windfall profits while Americans struggle at the pump. They don't need any more giveaways from the Republican Party, especially ones that put our environment behind special interests.
    It's time this Administration acknowledged we can't drill our way to energy independence. We have to invent our way there.
We cannot allow the Refuge to be exploited by greedy Republicans. Take action today and urge your seantors and representative not to vote for drilling.