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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Live from Benaroya Hall: President Clinton defends Congressman Jim McDermott

I'm now at Benaroya Hall's Taper Auditorium, listening to a fine music program emceed by Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann. We were treated to amazing performances by guitarist Stanley Jordan, the Garfield Alumni Jazz Quartet, and Children of the Revolution.

Updates begin here

After formal opening remarks from Thom Hartmann, Jim McDermott came onstage to what I can only describe as deafening applause and cheers. The auditorium felt incredibly alive as McDermott walked to the podium and began thanking the audience for showing up to take a stand for the First Amendment.

"After ten years of Republican rule America has empty pockets, empty gas tanks, and broken promises," Rep. McDermott said. "They ignore the Constitution, toss aside the Geneva Convention, out an undercover agent, look over your shoulder at the library, tap the phones in your home, pick your pocket at the pump, and keep sending special interests on tax holidays paid for by the American people."

After finishing with most of his remarks, McDermott quoted from President Clinton's inaugural address:
There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America.
Clinton's speech was very similiar to the one he gave at Cantwell's fundraiser, though there were a number of important differences. Seated from one of the top tiers in Benaroya's Taper Auditorium, I could see Clinton was not reading notes - he was speaking authoritatively and confidently off the top of his head.

Clinton Speaks At We The People

He discussed the same issues, and added a number of tidbits he didn't mention at the previous event. For example, ne noted that his Presidential Library is the first presidential library to receive LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Some of his remarks:

On the Republican mindset: "The most important thing is - if you look to the future, the 21st century, [then you realize] an ideology that condemns you to indefinite deficit spending....that's not very well suited to solve the kind of problems we've got. Their attitude is more tribal, ours is more communal."

"We need thinking, folks...I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality based world, and I like it here, thank you very much."

"Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It's a way of life in Washington, D.C."

"They just decide what they want and make up the facts as they go along. It may work for them, but it doesn't work for you."

On what Democrats stand for: "The Democrats are for a clear energy future, healthcare reform, raising the minimum wage, restoring the cuts in the college loan program, helping out the kids who lost money that went to my tax cut."

Concluding thoughts: "I believe they've run this old dog as long as they can, and it won't hunt no more!"

President Clinton rallies Cantwell supporters at gala banquet

President William Jefferson Clinton paid a long anticipated visit to the Evergreen State on Monday night, appearing at a gala banquet in Senator Maria Cantwell’s honor. The event, Celebrate Washington, recognized many outstanding Washingtonians and Senator Cantwell’s work putting the Evergreen State first.

Snohomish County Aaron Reardon kicked off the event by welcoming guests and asking all attendees present to observe a moment of silence for those killed and injured in the recent Jewish Federation shootings. Following the singing of the National Anthem, Reardon acknowledged Senator Cantwell’s outstanding work and launched the beautiful "Celebrate Washington" video, showcasing the state’s heritage and bright future.

"Our state is built on bold ideas and creative endeavors," stated Reardon, as he began introducing the evening’s honorees, which included:
Roger Knutzen, Rick and Darcey Small, Nicole Piasecki, LeRoy Nosbaum, John Plaza, Steve Reynolds. James Gore, Mark Groudine, Gerald Nepom, Stanley Barer, David Little, Paul G. Allen, James Allchin, Amit Kumar, Pearl Capoeman-Baller, Brian Cladoosby, Dennis Madsen, Orin Smith
"In Maria Cantwell, we have a Senator who stands up for Main Street, not K Street," Reardon declared. He spoke knowledgeably and confidently, a cheery smile on his face, as he railed against the Bush administration’s failed policies and touted Sen. Cantwell's successes.

"Because of her strength and her tenacity, they have made Maria their target in 2006," the Snohomish County Executive continued. I thought Reardon was elegant and polished in his remarks. He went on to introduce Carey Cantwell, who spoke proudly of her sister’s commitment to the people of Washington State. (Carey seemed unprepared, but spoke admirably considering she was likely asked to do so last minute).

Senator Cantwell then appeared in a sharp, radiant video message to supporters thanking them for being there and helping raise money for her reelection campaign. She told them to enjoy Clinton's speech.

Reardon then brought in Representative Jay Inslee, my representative, and a rousing speaker. "With Maria Cantwell, we’re going to start making the decisions next January in America," Inslee thundered. Many in the audience gave him a standing ovation.

"There’s many reasons I want to see Senator Cantwell continue to do her job," Inslee said, ticking off Cantwell's numerous legislative successes. And then, just before he had really gotten warmed up, he brought up Representative Norm Dicks to introduce the President. Dicks looked around and shouted, "This is a crowd!" (and it certainly was).

I didn't catch much of Dicks' speech because I went up to the front to snap photos of Clinton, who entered and went up on stage not four feet away from where I was positioned to take photos. Clinton received a staggeringly huge (and loud) standing ovation from the event attendees, who wouldn't sit down (despite his pleading) for over a minute.

Clinton Speaks At Celebrate Washington

Clinton's remarks were lengthy, but although he spoke for a long time, he did not mince words. He was razor sharp and harshly critical of the Bush administration.

Among his comments:

"Whatever your position was in the beginning, no Democrat is responsible. It is very important that this issue alone not be allowed to divide the Democrats."

Clinton also noted that the mission in Afghanistan is in trouble and has been largely forgotten.

"Everywhere I go in the world people are thinking about this [getting off of foreign oil]. Why are we resisting it? Why are we giving massive subsidies to the oil companies?"

On climate change: "The glaciers are melting, and if you put that with deforestation and erosion of topsoil, we are facing a serious international security crisis if we don't deal with this."

On the environment: "You must reelect Senator Maria Cantwell because she is our leader on this issue and we must lead."

On our nation's treasury: "Spending. These guys make me look like Scrooge. I always knew the Democrats were the fiscally responsible party, but they’ve removed all doubt."

On tax cuts for the wealthy: "We’re not cutting taxes. We’re deferring them and putting them on our kids."

On healthcare: "We spend 16% of our income on healthcare. No other rich country spends more than 11%...They want to increase the amount of personal risk on individuals and make it even worse."

On Republican ideology: "Their great value is to concentrate wealth and power."

On the K Street Project: "There are twice as many lobbyists in Washington D.C. today as there were when I left office."

And, in conclusion: "Because of all the things she’s done here – you have got a clear choice...You’ve got to reelect Maria Cantwell."

After Clinton's remarks, the Cantwell fundraiser ended, and people began streaming out of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. President Clinton is now scheduled to go to an event at the Triple Door to support the State Democratic Coordinated Campaign; then he will appear at "We the People" with Representative Jim McDermott.

BREAKING: Sierra Club endorses Darcy Burner in 8th District race

At a press conference today on Dave Reichert's home turf of Mercer Island, the Sierra Club announced its support of Darcy Burner's campaign to give the people of the 8th Congressional District a better representative.

Scott Otterson, the Polticial Chair of the Cascade Chapter, spoke on behalf of the Sierra Club in announcing the endorsement for Darcy:
There are two types of candidates we often see - those who think that problems such as global warming are too large to deal with so they choose to do nothing, and those who think there is no problem. "We are very excited to be endorsing Darcy Burner because she is one of the rare candidates who understands the problems, and also understands what it will take to solve them.
Darcy herself followed up by emphasizing the importance of the announcement.

"It is a great pleasure to be standing here today with an important new ally in my campaign for Congress," Darcy said. "We as a country have an enormous amount at stake when it comes to energy and conservation issues."

"My opponent has spent quite a bit of taxpayer money in the past couple of months trying to convince the voters in his district that on issues such as energy and the environment, he's on the side of the good guys," Darcy continued, holding up copies of Reichert's franked mailings.

"But this is the same Congressman who voted to pass an energy bill that gave away billions of dollars to oil companies that are already recording record profits. And this is the same Congressman who has voted for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge almost as many times as he's voted against it."

"We need strong leaders who can rise to the challenge of making these investments," Darcy concluded. "It is clear that George Bush, Dave Reichert, and the Republicans in Congress are not those leaders. But I will be."

Darcy's campaign continues to grow stronger with each passing day, raising money, recruiting volunteers, picking up new allies, and inspiring voters.

Congressional Dems show more unity on Iraq

This is good. Wish we'd see more of this from the House and Senate Democratic caucuses more frequently:
Dear Mr. President:

While the world has been focused on the crisis in the Middle East, Iraq has exploded in violence. Some 6,000 Iraqis were killed in May and June, and sectarian and insurgent violence continues to claim American and Iraqi lives at an alarming rate. In the face of this onslaught, one can only conclude that the Baghdad security plan you announced five weeks ago is in great jeopardy.

Despite the latest evidence that your Administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory, there has been virtually no diplomatic effort to resolve sectarian differences, no regional effort to establish a broader security framework, and no attempt to revive a struggling reconstruction effort. Instead, we learned of your plans to redeploy an additional 5,000 U.S. troops into an urban war zone in Baghdad. Far from implementing a comprehensive "Strategy for Victory" as you promised months ago, your Administration=' strategy appears to be one of trying to avoid defeat.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops and taxpayers continue to pay a high price as your Administration searches for a policy. Over 2,500 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and over 18,000 others have been wounded. The Iraq war has also strained our military and constrained our ability to deal with other challenges. Readiness levels for the Army are at lows not seen since Vietnam, as virtually no active Army non-deployed combat brigade is prepared to perform its wartime missions. American taxpayers have already contributed over $300 billion and each week we stay in Iraq adds nearly $3 billion more to our record budget deficit.

In the interests of American national security, our troops, and our taxpayers, the open-ended commitment in Iraq that you have embraced cannot and should not be sustained.

Rather, we continue to believe that it is time for Iraqis to step forward and take the lead for securing and governing their own country. This is the principle enshrined in the "United States Policy in Iraq Act" enacted last year. This law declares 2006 to be a year of "significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq." Regrettably, your policy seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

This legislation made clear that Iraqi political leaders must be informed that American patience, blood and treasure are not unlimited. We were disappointed that you did not convey this message to Prime Minister Maliki during his recent visit. Reducing the U.S. footprint in Iraq will not only give the Iraqis a greater incentive to take the lead for the security of their own nation, but will also allow U.S. forces to be able to respond to contingencies affecting the security of the United States elsewhere in the world.

We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel.

Additionally, every effort should be made to urge the Iraqis to take the steps necessary to achieve a broad-based and sustainable political settlement, including amending the constitution to achieve a fair sharing of power and resources. It is also essential to disarm the militias and ensure forces loyal to the national government. Finally, an international conference should be convened to persuade other governments to be more involved, and to secure the resources necessary to finance Iraq's reconstruction and rebuild its economy.

Mr. President, simply staying the course in Iraq is not working. We need to take a new direction. We believe these recommendations comprise an effective alternative to the current open-ended commitment which is not producing the progress in Iraq we would all like to see. Thank you for your careful consideration of these suggestions.

Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader
Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
Dick Durbin, Senate Assistant Democratic Leader
Steny Hoyer, House Minority Whip
Carl Levin, Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
Ike Skelton, Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
Joe Biden, Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Tom Lantos, Ranking Member, House International Relations Committee
Jay Rockefeller, Vice Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee
Jane Harman, Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee
Daniel Inouye, Ranking Member, Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
John Murtha, Ranking Member, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Via Atrios.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

President Clinton in town tomorrow

President Bill Clinton arrives tomorrow in Washington to campaign for Senator Maria Cantwell and raise money for Rep. Jim McDermott, who is locked in a protracted legal fight with House GOP leadership over his constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment rights.

Washington State Democrats appear ready to give the President a warm Evergreen State welcome, as I've heard reports that both events will be packed.

The events are taking place tomorrow evening. I am attending both, and will provide live coverage if I can tap into an Internet connection. Otherwise, I'll just post recaps of what I observe.

Software developer vows to fight MPAA

Wired Magazine has a very interesting story in its recently unveiled August issue which caught my attention. An excerpt:
Last November, Shawn Hogan received an unsettling call: A lawyer representing Universal Pictures and the Motion Picture Association of America informed the 30-year-old software developer that they were suing him for downloading Meet the Fockers over BitTorrent. Hogan was baffled. Not only does he deny the accusation, he says he already owned the film on DVD. The attorney said they would settle for $2,500. Hogan declined.

Now he’s embroiled in a surprisingly rare situation – a drawn-out legal fight with the MPAA. The organization and its music cousin, the Recording Industry Association of America, have filed thousands of similar lawsuits between them, but largely because of the legal costs few have been contested and none have gone to trial.

This has left several controversies unresolved, including the lawfulness of how the associations get access to ISP records and whether it’s possible to definitively tie a person to an IP address in the age of Wi-Fi.
Hogan was quoted by Wired as saying "they’re completely abusing the system....I would spend well into the millions on this [lawsuit]." The magazine titled its report "Shawn Hogan, Hero."

And though Hogan has tried to shrug that off, saying "I'm a pretty normal guy" he is a hero. The entertainment industry will continue trying to intimidate its customers - and abusing the U.S. legal system - until someone stands up and says "Enough! We're tired of being unfairly shafted by big corporations seeking big profits and we're not going to take it anymore!"

The difference between Hogan and others is that he has the financial resources to fight the entertainment industry in court. Hogan is refusing donations, wisely telling people who are eager to help to give their contribution to the Electronic Frontier Foundation instead.

(The EFF, which NPI strongly supports, is an organization that fights for Americans' freedoms in the digital world. They have long been on the frontlines fighting the entertainment industry).

The RIAA and the MPAA are out of control. Their lawyers have aggressively targeted people who don't even own computers. To the industry suits on Wall Street, it doesn't matter who you are or whether you even shared music or movies online.

Once they set their sights on you, they expect to see a settlement check from you. And of course, most of the Americans who have been targeted have settled, because they don't have the financial resources for a drawn out legal battle.

Shawn Hogan has refused to settle. That's why he is a hero. He's standing up on behalf of millions of other Americans, and we can't thank him enough for his willingness to take on these profit-driven shills in court.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gasbag Politics

In a last-ditch effort to make Dave Reichert seem somehow relevant, the Republican campaign spin machine moved in to give him his first semi-meaningful bill since he entered congress.

In the account, Dave Reichert had virtually complete command of the facts and twisted arms in the effort to push through his first major piece of legislation last week. In fact, that should read Dave Reichert had virtually complete command of his arms and twisted facts in his account of a very minor piece of legislation last week.

When HR 5852 becomes law, one more bureaucrat will be hired into the Department of Homeland Security, no doubt the son of a Republican fundraiser. Otherwise the federal action will be another study. The most significant thing it did was to withhold federal money unless the states jump through another hoop. The 21st Century Emergency Communications Act was more notable for its gasbag prose than its influence on anything of substance.

I know, when you hear grandiosity like the 21st Century Emergency Communications Act you grab for your wallet, like the states did last week for the Business Activity Simplification Act, which would have made life much less simple in some states, like ours, and easier only for the interstate corporations allowed to skate on their taxes. But Dave had an even better title for the bill on his website: The Reichert Emergency Communications Bill.

In fact, the bill was co-written by the ranking Democrat and basically scripted in four hearings the committee held. He is referred to as "Freshman Chairman" Reichert, although his chairmanship is of a minor subcommittee whose name is longer than its significance.

The website presentation gets points for nerve, like when the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security is quoted as saying "This bill will help save lives ... Without [Reichert] this important piece of legislation would not have been possible." Right. And this finger is holding up the moon. The bill passed the House 414-2, proving both that Dave was not needed and that the bill itself was politically insignificant.

Still, Reichert now gets to use active verbs, like "establishes" a position, "requires" an assessment, "facilitates" meetings, "elevates" importance (a very good example). Dave's previously authored bills ran to getting obscure truck parts into the country without tariffs, I believe, and did not require the gasbag ghost writers or even public notice. His previous press releases had to be satisfied with "touts," "congratulates," "applauds," and occasionally, I suppose, though I don't remember seeing it, "deplores." Not nearly on the level of "elevates."

Saturday at the Races

Washington's 4th District runs from Chelan down through Wenatchee, Ellensburg, on into the Yakima Valley, all the way to the Tri-Cities. It is currently represented by House Corruption Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. He has a formidable challenger in Democrat Richard Wright. (See our interview with Wright.) This seat is as ripe as an apple in October and ready for picking. Contributors and, particularly, volunteers can make a big difference here.

Hastings has not quit the other Washington, where he will no doubt remain even after his defeat, in the offices of one or another lobbying firm, to collect some of the vouchers he has accumulated. But he has begun to show signs of discomfort. His web site has been updated for the first time in two years.

His weekly letters back home studiously ignore the Iraq War or Hastings' role as Coverup in Chief to the most corrupt Congress of the past one hundred years. Immigration is also not present as an issue. He does mention the Ice Age, which has some association with the environment, I suppose. And he does try taxes, where his "responsible tax relief" is, as you might guess, code for the irresponsible tax giveaways to the wealthy that have lifted the burden of $7 trillion in new debt onto our and our children's' shoulders.

Symptomatic of Hastings contribution remains his role in holding the vote open on Medicare Part D long enough for billions in corporate profits to squeeze through. Completely descriptive of his integrity and moral force has been his chairmanship of the House Ethics Committee.

As Ethics Watchdog he has been a Lapdog. He kept the lights off Republican indecencies without major exception. Light has come in other windows, to be sure; Duke Cunningham is in jail; Hammer DeLay has resigned; DeLay and others are being actively prosecuted. A more complete accounting will arrive with a Democratic victory in November, should that blessed day ever arrive.

But Hastings has been ever the loyal corporal in the Right Wing Army, doing what he is told, marching our soldiers in front of him into Iraq, deeper into Iraq, facilitating the feeding of the predatory corporations on his constituents, and generally making nice with the nasty.

The Democratic Party has chosen to soft pedal this race. Republicans attack their enemies with big dollars and smear. Tom DeLay was famous for it. Why the party establishment ignores this one is beyond me.

Hastings is the poster boy for what is wrong with Congress. When he finally has to defend himself in public, he'll be in plenty of trouble.

Wright, on the other hand, is a genuinely capable man and a genuinely good person. He has a lot of energy and a good plan. Right now he's organizing 600 volunteers for the next push. If you have phone skills, personality, experience, or just motivation, you could be a part of a major grass roots coup. Learn more and sign up to volunteer here.

Preparations will continue to fight Eyman's Initiative 917

Both Seattle dailies have articles this morning discussing yesterday's news that Tim Eyman's Initiative 917 failed to pass a random sample verification check. The Seattle Times asked the opposition, including NPI's Permanent Defense, how we're going to react - and here's what we said:
Mark Funk, manager for the anti-917 organization Keep Washington Rolling, said he will continue to prepare as if there will be a full campaign. Andrew Villeneuve, founder of the anti-Eyman group Permanent Defense, said activists might even ring doorbells and plant yard signs during the next few weeks of limbo.
As far as we're concerned, Initiative 917 has made the ballot. We're not going to be caught unprepared if it turns out that I-917 has just enough signatures to go before voters when the full count is completed.

If I-917 fails the full count, then we get a pre-Election Day victory over Tim Eyman. But we won't be counting our chickens until they're hatched.

Friday, July 28, 2006

TRAGIC: Innocent people killed, wounded in shootings at Seattle Jewish Federation

Breaking, tragic news:
At least five people were shot - one fatally - this afternoon at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle by a man a witness said was upset about "what was going on in Israel."

Police spokesman Rich Pruitt said there was one shooter, who was apprehended without incident outside the Jewish Federation Building located on the corner of Third Avenue and Virginia Street. Pruitt said there were at least two victims on the third floor of the building.

Police got reports of shots fired shortly before 4 p.m.

Early reports were that the victims were shot in the stomach.

The alleged shooter was taken away in a patrol car after being handcuffed on the sidewalk outside the building. Pruitt could not immediately say what motive the alleged gunman had.

One witness, who declined to give her name, said a man walked into the Jewish Federation building with a gun, said he was upset about what was going on in Israel, then opened fire. After the shootings, the man said to call 911, the witness said. The witness said the man identified himself as an American Muslim.
This is horrible, horrible news and we extend our strongest sympathies to the innocent victims who have suffered or died as a result of the revolting and disgusting actions of one or more misguided individuals.

Mike Webb out of control

blatherWatch has the details of Mike Webb's court appearance:
There was no one in the hallway but us when Webb and Larranaga came striding up. It happened fast- Nate started snapping away; Mike ran at him holding his briefcase in front of his face like a hoodlum on a perp walk in a tabloid black & white, swearing and yelling. Mike's poor lawyer, yelled ineffectively, "Mike, Mike!"

Wow.

Inside, the judge wasn't there yet and as Larranaga and Prosecutor Nancy Balin chatted, Webb turned around, shook his finger at us, made eye contact, and said in a voice low enough so only the two of us could hear, "Watch your back."
Mike Webb is so out of control that Michael Hood sought and received a restraining order for protection against the ex-radio host.

BREAKING: I-917 fails random sample check

The Secretary of State announced today that Tim Eyman's Initiative 917 has failed a random signature verification check of its signatures.

According to the Secretary of State, Eyman submited 266,006 petition signatures. 10,819 signatures (a 4% sample) were part of the random sample. Of these, 9,442 were valid signatures and 1,377 were determined invalid. (Signatures are invalid if the signer is not a registered voter or if he or she signed more than once. In addition, the number of duplicates found was 24, the Secretary of State said.)

This means the invalidation rate was 17.96% - too high for qualification.

Here's how the random sample process works:
A statistically valid percentage of signatures is selected at random and checked against voter registration records. A mathematical formula is then applied to the results to obtain a projected rate of invalidation. The invalidation rate includes the number of duplicates.
Election officials examined 10,819 (or a 4% sample) on I-917. From that inspection, it was determined that the measure had an invalidation rate, including duplicates, of 17.96%.

The Secretary of State will now do a complete check of every last signature submitted for I-917, which we've been told could take until the end of September.

Elections officials are reportedly going to try to have it finished before the end of August. Before the full count begins on I-917 they will first do random samples for the other three initiatives.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Partition Iraq

The history has already been written. Three years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the situation is still deteriorating. No matter how much happy talk and media management comes out of the White House spin room, it cannot paper over the continuing grisly debacle. The right wing religious nuts of America and the Middle East have come together to direct a combat of death squads and terrorist bombings, unemployment and desperation, a civil war in which the role of American troops is to serve as targets.

Bush flew into Iraq June 13 to announce a new emphasis on security in Baghdad. Five weeks later the White House announced another new emphasis on security in Baghdad. Shiite death squads reportedly operate out of offices in the new, democratic government.

US policy is focused on maintaining a foothold for Big Oil. Not a big rallying cry to the troops, so they don't mention it too much. The men and women in uniform get to make up their own rallying cries. Recognizing futility, many progressives call for withdrawal. After all, American forces seem to be making matters worse rather than better, and Iraqis will have to step up sooner or later. These suggestions become targets for the Rovian "cut and run" attack.

The US cannot leave with the police, armed forces and intelligence apparatus in the hands of one side of a civil war. The answer, not a good answer, but the only answer, is to segregate the parties -- the Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis. We can do it now, however messy it might be logistically, or we can let it happen after a bloodbath. Local communities need to control their own police, just as they need to become the locus of economic rebuilding. For heaven's sake, kick Halliburton, Bechtel and the others out and go to a Marshall Plan style program. Right now US dollars are going to US companies. Iraq and Iraqis are getting nothing but incompetence and worse.

And I do compromise with the devil on this one. That is, American troops ought to be redeployed to the bases within the country on the pretext of being close at hand should Iran invade or should a genocide break out. Making Iraq safe for democracy is a sham for the benefit of the boys in Mayberry. The men in the back rooms eat, drink and spit up oil and the strategic necessity of growing its supply from the Gulf. Get the GIs somewhere they can defend themselves.

Otherwise, a very loose federation of states, with provinces responsible for their own internal security, and security forces drawn from the communities in which they operate. Economic development coordination needs to be assigned to an independent authority, the UN or the Arab League, with legitimacy and credibility.

The Iraq invasion and occupation has failed. Continued failure is not going to give us any better options. Bush, of course, will never do this. I have no illusions. He is too busy denying the failure and drumming up distractions in the war on terror like the tragic Lebanon farce. But there is no alternative long term, and the sooner it happens, the better for all of us.

Another Johnson files in Owens' race

Our Executive Director has written extensively over the last few weeks about the BIAW's attempt to buy the state Supreme Court. Today, however, a monkey wrench was thrown into their plans.

One of the BIAW's two candidates is Republican State Senator Steven Johnson, who is running against incumbent Justice Susan Owens. Of the three incumbents facing reelection this year, Owens is the most vulnerable, having raised the smallest war chest and having voted for marriage equality in yesterday's decision on marriage equality (which she will come under attack from the theocons for).

The BIAW has been working hard through its Walking for Washington program to promote Johnson and Groen (their other candidate, who is challenging Gerry Alexander).

But Michael Johnson's entrance into the race (he officially filed less than two hours ago) creates a big problem for them.

Johnson, a Seattle attorney, shares his last name with the BIAW's candidate, and will doubtless draw votes from individuals who have been contacted by Walking for Washington and urged to support the BIAW's two candidate slate.

PDC records show a lot of donations to Victims Advocates (a trial lawyer PAC) from Michael L Johnson of Seattle (Attorney at Law). I'm guessing that's the same Michael Johnson (and it is - confirmed). Other than that it appears he has no history of political giving.

My guess that Johnson's entry into the race is a tactical maneuver to stymie the BIAW's efforts to take over the Supreme Court. Of course, I could be wrong and maybe he intends to run a serious campaign - but I doubt it. Usually if you want to mount a serious bid to win elected office, you start early. Really early.

Whether Johnson has filed on his own or did so at the urging of concerned citizens who want to protect the integrity of our judicial system is unclear to me. But we're happy to see that somebody is making things harder for the BIAW regardless.

UPDATE: Former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge agrees with me.

Ask John Edwards to help Darcy Burner

Darcy Burner needs your support today to let John Edwards know she has a huge base of grassroots (and netroots) support. Edwards' One America PAC will be throwing its weight behind a select number of candidates chosen by its supporters:

The tide is turning in Democrats' favor. We have a strong chance of winning back the House in the 2006 elections. I've been working hard, traveling the country, and have already raised more than $6.65 million for Democrats. I've attended fundraisers for strong congressional candidates in more than a dozen states this election cycle and I'm committed to helping as many candidates as possible before November. Now, I'm looking to the One America online community to tell me which competitive races should be my primary focus.

Today, I'm launching One America Votes. This fall, I will headline fundraisers for two Democrats running for the House who have been selected by our online community. You - the voters - can choose candidates in any of the districts targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC has targeted critical races where extra help can make a real difference in November. We need to hear from you by Friday, August 4th.
Please cast your vote for Darcy now.

In related news, Darcy officially filed to run for office today, declaring:
I firmly believe we need a representative in this district who will hold the Bush Administration accountable and take our country in a new direction. We need someone focused on the priorities of families here at home, not the special interests in D.C.
That's for sure. There are too few people in our nation's capitol who truly care about their constitutents. The 8th should be represented by someone who does. And that person is Darcy.

Reminder: Sirota at Town Hall Tonight

Progressive strategist and blogger David Sirota, whose blog helps anchor the Montana section of the Regional Blogs Directory, is in town today for a book event. (Sirota is the author of Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government - and How We Take It Back).

Here are the details:

Speech, Q&A, and Book Signing with David Sirota
Town Hall Seattle (1119 Eighth Avenue)
Thursday, July 27, 7:00 PM (Tonight)
Sponsored by the Elliott Bay Book Company (Call 206-624-6600 for more info)
The event is open to the media and the public. Bloggers are encouraged to come.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Latest corporate tax giveaway blocked

The House bill which would have eviscerated Washington's B&O was withdrawn just hours before it was to come to a vote Tuesday. The Business Activity Tax Simplification Act, so called, apparently, because it would have simplified many corporate taxes out of existence, would have hit Washington hard. Some estimates ran to $700 million.

The National Governors Association criticized the bill as a "federal corporate tax cut using state tax dollars." According to analysis done by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities' Michael Mazerov, it would have redefined the way business activity is defined, and bar states from taxing many kinds of businesses they currently tax, for example:
  • a television network would not be taxable in a state even if it has affiliate stations and local cable systems within the state that relay its programming;

  • a restaurant franchisor like Subway or Dunkin’ Donuts would not be taxable in a state, no matter how many franchises it has there; and

  • a bank would not be taxable within a state even if it hires independent contractors there to process mortgage loan applications.
“The bill is a recipe for extensive litigation between states and corporations,” Mazerov said, “because a number of the new rules that the bill would impose to limit state taxing authority are arbitrary, vaguely defined, or inconsistent.” For example, a state could tax a corporation that has a million dollars’ worth of inventory in the state, but it could not tax a corporation that has a million dollars’ worth of unfinished goods in the state that are being processed into finished goods by another firm.

It's over. This corporate raid couldn't stand an election season in full view.

BREAKING: State Supreme Court rules against marriage equality

In a highly anticipated ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court today ended months of speculation by political observers in issuing its decision in a landmark case, Andersen v. King County. The court upheld the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling against marriage equality. The decision was 5-4.

From the majority opinion, written by Justice Madsen:
The two cases before us require us to decide whether the legislature has the power to limit marriage in Washington State to opposite-sex couples. The state constitution and controlling case law compel us to answer "yes," and we therefore reverse the trial courts.

In reaching this conclusion, we have engaged in an exhaustive constitutional inquiry and have deferred to the legislative branch as required by our tri-partite form of government. Our decision accords with the substantial weight of authority from courts considering similar constitutional claims. We see no reason, however, why the legislature or the people acting through the initiative process would be foreclosed from extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Washington. It is important to note that the court's role is limited to determining the constitutionality of DOMA and that our decision is not based on an independent determination of what we believe the law should be.
Here's a nice excerpt from the dissenting opinion written by Justice Fairhurst:

Contrary to the plurality’s discussion, this case does not present the issue of whether allowing opposite-sex couples the right to marry is rationally related to the State’s supposed interests in encouraging procreation, marriage for relationships that result in children, and traditional child rearing… DOMA in no way affects the right of opposite-sex couples to marry—the only intent and effect of DOMA was to explicitly deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Therefore, the question we are called upon to ask and answer here, which the plurality fails to do, is how excluding committed same-sex couples from the rights of civil marriage furthers any of the interests that the State has put forth. Or, put another way, would giving same-sex couples the same right that opposite-sex couples enjoy injure the State’s interest in procreation and healthy child rearing?
Justices voting in the majority: Alexander, Madsen, Sanders, Johnson, Johnson. Voting in the minority were: Bridge, Owens, Fairhurst, Chambers. There are six opinions. One is the majority authored by Madsen; then there are two concurring opinions and three dissents, one of which was authored by Fairhurst.

No wonder the ruling took so long.

Governor Christine Gregoire's reaction? "First and foremost, I am asking for all Washingtonians to respect their fellow citizens. The Supreme Court has ruled and we must accept their decision whether we agree with it or not." She's scheduled a press conference for later today.

UPDATE: Gregoire has issued a more extensive statement. Excerpt:
As to my personal beliefs, Mike and I received the sacrament of marriage in the Catholic faith. State government provided us with certain rights and responsibilities, but the state did not marry us.

I believe the state should provide these same rights and responsibilities to all citizens. I also believe the sacrament of marriage is between two people and their faith; it is not the business of the state.
King County Executive Ron Sims reacted unhappily. "This is an unwise decision. To my mind, it is reminiscent of Plessy v. Ferguson. Separate but equal was once the law of the land too, but eventually Plessy was overturned. If the legislature does not make changes first, I firmly believe that a future court will take up this issue again. And on that day, a wiser and more enlightened generation will overturn this ruling."

AMERCIABlog reacts:
...this "legalize marriage" court strategy looks increasingly like a runaway train, out of our control and stealing all the oxygen from the good work that's been done over the past decade on job discrimination and so much more. You pick your battles strategically. (Well, you do if you want to win, and have any political sense.)

No one is saying we roll over and play dead. But I am saying that we only have so much time and so much money - we need to use those limited assets wisely. And blowing the entire wad on marriage strikes me as foolish and counterproductive. Someone in the community with some influence needs to stand up and say "enough already," and get our agenda back.
UPDATE: State Democratic Chair Dwight Pelz has weighed in:
Washington State Democrats are deeply disappointed with this morning’s Supreme Court decision. As stated in our platform, we believe:

That the state should not interfere with couples who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of civil marriage, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Defense of Marriage Act clearly constitutes such interference and blatantly discriminates against gay and lesbian Washingtonians.

While this decision constitutes a substantial disappointment, we are encouraged by Justice Alexander’s concurrence in which he states that nothing in the opinion “should be read as casting doubt on the right of the legislature or the people to broaden the marriage act or provide other forms of civil union if that is their will.

More than ever, Democrats will continue the fight and redouble our efforts to ensure all Washingtonians that choose to enter into committed relationships are able to share fully and equally in the same rights and responsibilities under the law.
There will be numerous press conferences and other events scheduled throughout the day in reaction to the ruling. I may post additional updates later.

Eyman subdued in latest email update

Time for another update on Tim Eyman's troubles with Initiative 917.

The right wing profiteer sent another (fundraising) email to his supporters late yesterday, in which he adopted a much more subdued tone. After getting whipped on conservative talk radio on Monday, Eyman has apparently realized that there are very few Washingtonians who agree with his absurd position. Even those on his side of the ideological divide.

Eyman did not accuse the Secretary of State's office of lying in his email update. Neither did he say anything further about I-917 petitions being "pilfered". Perhaps that's because Eyman was perfectly aware that he had turned in such a low number of signatures on July 7th and was just trying to throw up a smokescreen so it wouldn't be his fault.

It's a puzzle why he didn't collect a bigger cushion of signatures to ensure that I-917 qualified. He didn't get a big check from Dunmire in June and didn't spend much on paid signature gathering that month, either - though there is one expense to Citizen Solutions made on the last day of the month, close to $12,000.

Possibly what happened is that Eyman's signature count was off - by a lot - and he didn't realize it until it was too late. Not wanting to look like an idiot, he tried to create some kind of "proof" that he had 300,353 signatures by writing the figure down on a piece of paper, getting the Secretary of State's receptionist to stamp it, and then trying to use it to mislead the media. But if that was his gambit, he seems to have failed. Miserably.

In any case, Eyman's email basically contained the same information from my post last week (Eyman's Initiative 917 may be in limbo until the end of September).

We will apparently know this Friday whether Initiative 917 qualifies for the ballot by random sample - or doesn't, in which case, there will be a full count of each and every signature - which could, as I previously wrote, take until the end of September. Stay tuned to the Official Blog and Permanent Defense for updates.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In Brief - July 25th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • Curious about who has filed so far to run for office? The Secretary of State has a web page where you can track the candidate filings, sorted by office. (Local races aren't on it, just state and federal).
  • Thomas Friedman, the so called "free trade" expert, has been caught in an embarrassing slipup - he apparently doesn't know what CAFTA stands for.
  • A fight is brewing in the District of Columbia over the costly F/A-22 Raptor program. Follow the link to learn more from Think Progress.
  • Oil companies are soaking rich as the profits pour in. Why are they getting massive government subsidies again? Oh, that's right, because our country is run by a gang of corrupt Republicans with a failed conservative agenda.
  • Joel Connelly has an interesting column tomorrow morning about Peter Goldmark, who's running in the 5th Congressional District against incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris, and Steve Beren, who's running against Jim McDermott in the 7th.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Cantwell files for reelection, McGavick's corporate backers exposed

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell today filed her official declaration of candidacy with the Secretary of State's office. Filing week began yesterday and runs through this Friday, the official kickoff to the election season.

Said Senator Cantwell: "It has been an honor to represent our state and our Northwest values in the Senate for the past 5 and a half years. I respectfully ask the people of Washington to consider my candidacy for another Senate term. I look forward to putting the people of Washington state first for the rest of this year and for another six years."

Meanwhile, the Washington State Democrats today released a detailed overview of Mike McGavick's numerous corporate backers, demonstrating that the McGavick campaign is heavily bankrolled by right wing special interests. For example:
  • Insurance Industry: In addition to McGavick’s illegal $28 million golden parachute from his time as an insurance CEO, members of the insurance industry have shelled out more than $275,000—almost $65,000 in new FEC disclosures alone—directly to bankroll McGavick’s campaign. McGavick previously served as a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association, and his contributions from the insurance industry top all other special interest funders of his campaign.
  • Big Oil: McGavick, a big supporter of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, raked in another $8500 from the PACs of big oil – including another $4000 from ExxonMobil’s PAC ($5000 total to date), $2000 from BP’s PAC and $2500 from Conoco Phillips’s PAC.
  • Halliburton: McGavick accepted $1000 from Halliburton’s PAC, even as the company remains mired in scandal relating to abuse surrounding no-bid contracts Iraq and ties to veep Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force.
  • Social Security Privatizers: McGavick raked in another $4000 from the Financial Services Roundtable PAC, for a total of $5000 to date. The Roundtable is a group of approximately 100 CEOs of the largest financial services companies in the nation, who are at the forefront of the push for Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. The Roundtable has already hosted two separate fundraisers for McGavick.
  • Rx Money: Even as McGavick fails to support drug re-importation from Canada , he accepted $2000 from Pfizer’s PAC, and another $10,000 from the PAC of Express-Scripts, one of the largest prescription benefit managers (PBM) in the country. [FreedomWorks press release, 12/15/04 (via PR Newswire)]
  • Ted Stevens: McGavick took a $2000 personal check from his good friend Ted Stevens – who appears to be making good on his pledge to seek revenge against Maria Cantwell for standing up and successfully blocking oil drilling in Alaska. FEC records show that Senator Stevens doesn’t donate much personally to other candidates, and has never written a check of this size to someone challenging a colleague. [FEC.gov]
Simply put, Mike McGavick is a corporate con running for Congress. He's not independent. He's not moderate. He can spend as much money as he can raise slicking up his image, but it won't change the fact that M!ke marches in lockstep with George W. Bush.

The U.S. Senate doesn't need more rubber stamps for the administration. Republican one party rule has been a disaster for the United States of America.

The last thing Washingtonians are going to want to do is send someone to represent them who will reliably vote to create new problems and worsen existing ones. M!ke McGavick thinks he has a great chance of winning this year, but he underestimates Maria Cantwell at his peril. Cantwell will beat him, just as Patty Murray trounced George Nethercutt two years ago.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In Brief - July 24th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • Today was the first day of filing week. The AP's David Ammons reports on the action, including some of the candidates who have filed so far.
  • SLOG checks out the New York Times' 2006 Election Guide. The Times has rated the 8th District race between Dave Reichert and our own Darcy Burner as a "toss up" - one of only thirteen races in the country that they gave that designation.
  • Mike McGavick tries to avoid taking a position on right wing ballot measures (for example, Tim Eyman's R-65) but gets caught in a double standard.
  • The outrage over Diebold and its unreliable voting machines continues to grow.
  • Things are still bad in the Middle East, but instead of trying to broker a diplomatic solution to this crisis, the Bush administration appears to be signing a blank check for Israel. We can't wait for 2009 when this embarrassment will be out of office and we can begin cleaning up eight years of failed leadership.
  • Californians are using so much electricity that the threat of rolling blackouts is back. The summer heat wave is certainly making conservation difficult.
  • Speaking of heat, Republican James Inhofe today compared those of us who believe in global warming to Hitler's "Third Reich". Inhofe is a joke and a humiliation to the United States of America and the state of Oklahoma. The sooner he's out of the U.S. Senate, where he doesn't belong, the better.
Finally, here's an editorial cartoon from Washington's Andrew Wahl, which seems appropriate given the recent heat wave and the need for more Americans to pay attention to global warming:

Andrew Wahl

If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Initiative 917 On The Rocks: Permanent Defense launches special coverage section

Permanent Defense has launched a special section to follow the Initiative 917 saga and Tim Eyman's misfortunes. It includes a descriptive timeline, Q&A, and extensive references. You can check it out here.

David Postman has another post up on his Seattle Times blog with Michael Dunmire's reaction. Dunmire, not surprisingly, is siding with Eyman and apparently intends to keep bankrolling his efforts.

While we were compiling the special coverage section, we once again read that letter that Eyman sent to the Secretary of State's office on July 14th, where he writes:
The use of both sources to gather voter signatures requires that we keep extensive records in order to ensure (1) that the signature-gathering firm is paid correctly and (2) to ensure our outstanding volunteers are recognized for their contributions.

Our paid signature-gathering firm maintains its own contemporaneous records that detail the number of completed voter signature sheets, number of signatures and the individual responsible for gathering the voter signatures. Records measuring the efficiency of individuals and the effort in total are kept as input for management decisions.

Our Spokane administrative group on a weekly basis reconciles the paid signature gatherers' tally before funds are released to pay the invoice.

Our administrative office in Spokane maintains extensive contemporaneous weekly records as to the voter signature count for both voter signatures gathered by paid signature gatherers as well as voter signatures gathered by volunteers. Because of our procedures we are highly confident that our records are correct.

The voter signature count by the Secretary of State's office is totally inconsistent with our records and totally inconsistent with various historical measurements.
So that's Tim Eyman, insisting to the Secretary of State that he and his operation keep "contemporaneous records".

But we get a different impression today from Rich Roesler's reporting for the Spokesman-Review:
Despite this being a $422,000 effort, Eyman said no one at the campaign photocopied the petitions before turning them in. He never has, in a decade of doing initiatives, he said.

Nor, he said, did anyone keep a record of the number of petition pages turned in.

He said that Mike Fagan weighed the boxes of petitions at the Spokane office before they were taken to Olympia and submitted, but no one at the campaign kept a record of those weights. The weights were only written on the boxes that were turned in, Eyman said, and state election workers recycled the boxes.
Eyman would like us to believe that someone stole his petitions, that he keeps "contemporaneous records", and that he turned in 300,353 signatures.

Just like he wants us to believe we're the "4th highest taxed state in the nation" (not true) and just like he wanted us to believe, for the longest time, that he wasn't taking money from his contributors for his own personal use.

We can trust that Tim Eyman is a liar, but we can't trust Tim Eyman. He has a long and extensive track record of trying to deceive the press corps, the general public, and even his own supporters.

Eyman's multimillion dollar backer, Michael Dunmire, may agree with him, but it seems hardly anybody else does - even Eyman's fellow Republicans.

Another day, another I-917 development

It seems, as I wrote yesterday, that every day there's a new twist in the saga of Tim Eyman's troubles with Initiative 917.

Let's start off with the dustup over that receipt.

Today we learned from the Secretary of State (via Stefan Sharkansky, oddly enough) that Chris McGann erred in his article in Friday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer when he wrote this:
Handy said his office provided Eyman with a receipt for 265,809 signatures the day he filed them -- and that Eyman accepted the receipt.
I suspected when I read that article a second and a third time that this probably wasn't right. It doesn't make sense that the Secretary of State would give an initiative sponsor a receipt for hundreds of thousands of signatures without actually doing a count.

Of course, counting that many signatures takes a long time and can't be done in an hour or two in one afternoon.

Here's what procedure that the Secretary of State actually follows - and here's what actually happened (according to Nick Handy):
I was not present at the time, but my understanding is that Tim Eyman appeared at the Secretary of State's Office with a letter he had written indicating that he was submitting 300,353 signatures to the office.

At the front desk, he asked our receptionist to date stamp his letter as received. After she did this, he turned to the press and announced that the Office of Secretary of State had just acknowledged receipt of 300,353 signatures. Of course, we were just acknowledging receipt of a letter written by Tim Eyman claiming he was submitting 300,353 signatures. We had not counted teh (sic) pages or the signatures on his petitions at that time.

At that same time, we counted the pages (not the signatures) in either his presence or the presence of his team and issued a receipt to him indicating that on that day, July 7, he had submitted 2,716 pages (not signatures) to our office. Previously on June 29, he submitted 14,270 pages (not signatures) to our office. So, we issued receipts to him for 16,986 pages (not signatures) for this petition.

[...]

So, in summary, our office never issued a receipt to Mr. Eyman for 300,353 signatures.

An article in the media did later indicate that our office issued a receipt for "signatures" upon receiving the petitions and that was was not correct. I believe Joanie Nacke in our office called the reporter immediately to advise of the error.
Now that we've got established, let's go back to the 300,353 figure, which is Eyman's number. Eyman told what little press showed up on Friday July 7th that that was what he had turned in.

When the Secretary of State actually counted the signatures on the petitions, however, they reported finding far fewer signatures. The Secretary of State's number is 266,008.

Eyman has nothing to prove that he ever actually had 300,353 signatures.

Moving on, let's look at record keeping.

Rich Roesler at the Spokesman-Review reports that Eyman and his partners, the Fagans, apparently keep pretty lousy records:
Despite this being a $422,000 effort, Eyman said no one at the campaign photocopied the petitions before turning them in. He never has, in a decade of doing initiatives, he said.

Nor, he said, did anyone keep a record of the number of petition pages turned in.

He said that Mike Fagan weighed the boxes of petitions at the Spokane office before they were taken to Olympia and submitted, but no one at the campaign kept a record of those weights. The weights were only written on the boxes that were turned in, Eyman said, and state election workers recycled the boxes.
It's pretty hard to believe Eyman's trumped up assertion that someone at the Secretary of State's office "pilfered" petitions for Initiative 917.

Given Eyman's penchant for not telling the truth and what we're learning about his failure to keep good "administrative records" for his signature drives, it seems highly likely that the blame lies entirely with Eyman, who either made a big mistake or is just flat out lying (and maybe it's a combination of both).

UPDATE: John Carlson and Tim Eyman are sparring on KVI right now. A caller just told Eyman that he "sounds ridiculous". Tune in now to hear absolutely priceless talk radio: conservatives questioning Tim Eyman.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stefan uses our intellectual property to attack Darcy Burner

A couple of days ago, Stefan Sharkansky posted a brief entry on unSoundPolitics (entitled Axis of Evil II) which included one of the photos from our collection, used without our permission, with the caption "Darcy Burner gazing admiringly at her mentor, Baghdad Jim McDermott."

The photo, which was originally posted along with a writeup of a Darcy Burner for Congress campaign event in February, was removed while we were fixing an error with the page's HTML and CSS syntax.

(The photo remains available from our site, however).

Stefan describes the event in his post as a "Burner/McDermott mutual-admiration-fest", which is inaccurate. Actually, the event where the photo was taken was put on for Darcy by all of the Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation (Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott, and Adam Smith).

The point of the event was to show unified Democratic support for Darcy's campaign from her future colleagues and fellow caucus members in the U.S. House. And, of course, the event was also a fundraiser.

Of course, Stefan conveniently left out the five other Democratic congressmen from his short, snide entry. And his assertion that McDermott is Darcy's "mentor" is pretty ludicrous. McDermott had nothing to do with Darcy's decision to run for Congress. But he does wholeheartedly support her bid to represent the 8th District - as does every other loyal Washingtonian Democrat.

It's worth noting that by the end of January 2006 - the month before this fundraiser - the field of candidates was completely clear, leaving Darcy as the only Democrat in the race.

Darcy not only has the enthusiastic backing of the state's Democratic congressional delegation, but she also enjoys strong netroots and grassroots support from bloggers, activists, PCOs, and party Chairman Dwight Pelz. She has outraised Reichert twice. She is mounting an aggressive, grassroots driven field effort that will lead the campaign to victory.

As far as we're concerned, Stefan can wallow in his own irrelevance. But he does not have our permission to reprint photographs belonging to our organization and its members without asking.

Eyman attacks the Secretary of State

The saga of Tim Eyman's unexpected troubles with Initiative 917 continues to unfold. Today, Eyman released another statement to his supporters and the press, blasting the Secretary of State and refusing to accept responsibility for the lack of signatures submitted for I-917.

Eyman, who has reportedly scheduled a press conference for 7:50 AM tomorrow morning, was very defiant in his email, blaming elections officials. Here's part of what he wrote, complete with grammatical and mechanical errors. (I removed the other junk, like Eyman preaching about the people's right to initiatives or his faux boasting about how successful he is)
Were certain that we turned in 300,353 signatures for Initiative 917 by the July 7 deadline. The Secretary of State says different.

[...]

We have weekly reports showing our progress on signatures and we are certain of our count. Each box that we submitted to the Secretary of States office had the number of signatures and the weight of each box recorded on them. Weve asked the Secretary of State for the original boxes so we can do a comparison but they say the original boxes have been recycled.

As reported by the Seattle PI on Friday, Nick Handy, head of the elections division, claims that we were given a receipt on July 7 showing the signature count at 265,809 and that we accepted the receipt.

Thats not true. At the conclusion of our July 7 press conference, the head of their Capitol Building office stamped as received by the Secretary of State a receipt for 300,353 signatures on July 7, 2006. This was recorded and witnessed by KOMO 4 TVs Keith Eldridge and his cameraman.

Again, contrary to Nick Handys claim, the receipt we got on Friday, July 7 documented the count at 300,353, not 265,806. I have a copy of the receipt we were given showing 300,353. Nick Handy was untruthful; and the evidence hes asking people to accept, the receipt issued to us July 7 by the Secretary of States office and stamped July 7 by the Secretary of States office conclusively proves the count was 300,353.
OK, let's stop here for a moment. Eyman is saying he has this receipt from Friday July 7th which somehow proves the signature count was 300,353 signatures.

The 300,353 is Eyman's number. He says that's what he turned in and what his records show. But the Secretary of State's office has reported a much lower number - 266,008 signatures. This current number was established after a recount of all the signatures.

Chris McGann of the Seattle P-I reported this on Friday:
Handy said his office provided Eyman with a receipt for 265,809 signatures the day he filed them -- and that Eyman accepted the receipt.
So, according to the P-I's reporting, the Secretary of State says it gave Eyman a receipt for 265,809 signatures. Eyman claims he got a receipt acknowledging 300,353 signatures - and says he has a copy.

Given that Tim Eyman is an admitted liar, has taken his own supporters' money for personal use, continually attempts to deceive the public and the press with misleading statistics and false information, and refuses to acknowledge the consequences of his initiatives, we obviously can't and won't give him the benefit of the doubt.

We're dealing with someone who thinks it's funny, even hilarious, to goad the press corps into showing up at staged media events where it's implied beforehand that signatures are going to be turned in for a controversial statewide ballot measure - when, in reality, it's just a ploy for extra publicity.

Back to Eyman:
Nick Handys claim that the July 7 receipt showed 265,806 signatures is demonstrably false. Sam Reeds people shouldnt be making false statements to cover up what happened they should be investigating what happened to the missing 34,000 voter signatures.
Uh huh. It's so easy to blame the Secretary of State's office. I mean, Tim Eyman and his shady partners couldn't have made a mistake. It has to be the Secretary of State's office! One of those stinkin' bureaucrats musta pilfered 'em!

Or wait...maybe it wasn't the Secretary of State at all. State troopers guard the signatures. Maybe it was the Washington State Patrol! Or perhaps, more sinister, it was a secret agent of "Queen Christine's", trying to put Eyman out of business. (Republicans seem to blame her for everything anyway.)

What's in it for someone at the Secretary of State's office to risk their reputation...their career...the chance of imprisonment...to try and stop Tim Eyman from getting an initiative on the ballot?

The Secretary of State's elections office, of course, is probably used to being under fire by now. They were under constant attack during the gubernatorial election challenge last year, and ended up being vindicated in Chelan County Superior Court. Unlike Tim Eyman, the Secretary of State's office actually has integrity and tries its hardest to responsibly serve the people of Washington State.

In all of our dealings with them, they have been polite and courteous. They've done their best to answer our questions and respond to our comments.

There's one last thing Eyman wrote that is in need of debunking:
The whole reason the constitution requires a signature drive is to prove that theres voter support for the issue.
Yes, that was the original intent of that amendment to the constitution. Unfortunately, a successful signature drive is no longer proof that there is voter support for an issue. Anyone with half a million dollars can employ an army of paid mercenaries to go out and collect the signatures required to qualify something for the ballot - no matter one's issue or ideology.

Is Eyman once again trying to dupe the press corps - and his own supporters - in a desperate attempt to create a smokescreen and put the blame on somebody else? We'll just have to see what happens next.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Democracy does not belong to elitists

Recently, Chris Bowers wrote on MyDD about the establishment's hostility to Ned Lamont's challenge of DINO Joe Lieberman:
Too many of our elected officials, consultants, advocacy organizations, and staffers feel they are not accountable to anyone. They are particularly appalled when forced to confront plebian, outsider, progressive activists.

Not only is this a main reason why establishment candidates are starting to fall like flies to progressive movement candidates, it is a reason why Democratic candidates in general have had so little success against Republican candidates lately. If you believe you are entitled to your position, how can you possibly hope to wrest power from a group of people -- the conservative movement -- who wrested it from you through a series of driven, innovative political techniques during the past few decades?

If you don't like campaigns, then get out of politics. If you don't like innovations in politics, then step aside for the good of the party. If you can't handle a little competition, then you are simply going to sink to the bottom as political entrepreneurs rise to the top.
David Sirota sums up our reaction to the Beltway pundits who can't stand the idea that Joe Lieberman isn't entitled to his Senate seat:
[H]ere's a newsflash to the bitter naysayers in D.C. - this is still a democracy, whether that's good for your business, your careers and your relevance or not; whether you and your let-them-eat-cake friends like it or not.

You attack "bloggers" and the "netroots" as a monolith of lunacy and anger - but take a look in the mirror and you'll get a frightening glimpse of the people who really need anger management therapy. The more you keep freaking out like lunatics over the Lamont candidacy, the more you walk into your own stereotype as totally out of touch with the ideals this country was founded on.

The more you spew such acidic bile, the more you let everyone know that despite your billing as "experts" you have positively no understanding of the populist sentiment brewing all over America. In short, the more you throw your temper tantrums, the more you embarrass yourselves and provide a good comedy show for the rest of us.
Sirota's perspective is on the money. (He expands on this topic today in writing about the New York Times' review of his recently published book).

As most readers of the Official Blog know, the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) is and has always been a grassroots, volunteer driven organization.

We're netroots because we utilize the Internet - the most democratic medium ever invented - to communicate with fellow activists, opinionmakers, political observers, and the general public.

I myself been actively involved in politics for about four and a half years now, and I've definitely encountered my fair share of opposition from established, entrenched interests. Mostly Democratic leaning single issue groups, who seem to see me and NPI as an annoying nuisance - not help.

I'd describe it as this "how dare you" mentality.

It's not so much our presence on the Internet, but when we're approached by the local traditional media to share our perspective on something. Anything. Right wing initiatives, a major federal race, a Supreme Court decision.

That's what gets some of the people running these single issue interest groups mad. They feel like they have to have control at all costs. It's their issue or their fight - so get out of the way. Let the "professionals" deal with it.

I've been told several times by various people (none of them grassroots activists) that unless I take marching orders from the established players (basically, the political elite) I'm undermining the entire Democratic cause.

Sound familiar?

The Internet, as Markos and Jerome correctly pointed out in Crashing the Gate, is revolutionizing politics. NPI would not exist, and neither I nor the other members would likely be involved in politics, if it were not for this incredible medium. The Internet gives us the ability to organize and affect change, and pursue our own destiny - without needing to be wealthy or well connected.

I didn't jump into this for the heck of it, either. I became involved slowly over time because I saw that Tim Eyman's initiatives were threatening my community. Initiatives that the single issue groups, the political elite - the established players - failed to stop from passing.

It's true enough that many of Tim's initiatives (that have passed) have been invalidated by our court system.

But two (I-747 and I-776) have already had a devastating impact on our communities, and a third (I-695) has also been felt because the state legislature and then Gov. Locke decided to cave in to Eyman instead of attempting to find a solution that would have saved some transportation funding.

I wasn't willing to sit by idly and watch my quality of life start disappearing. I could not stand the thought of continuing to do nothing. So I did something. Four and a half years later, I'm doing a lot.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. It does not belong to corporations and it does not belong to an elite. Democracy belongs to the people - all the people.

This organization is fighting every day for healthy, vibrant communities and neighborhoods....for public services that strengthen and protect our quality of life.

This organization is fighting every day for a freer, safer, cleaner America. An America where all citizens are treated equally under the law and get the opportunities they deserve to be successful.

We have only just begun to reclaim our democracy from the hostile takeover that has ensnared our government. We're putting the "democratic" back in the Democratic Party and backing progressive candidates who embrace, not reject, people powered politics.

Whether the state and national political establishment likes it or not, the netroots is here to stay - and only getting stronger. Efforts by the "elite" to silence our voices are pointless.

A new era is dawning in America - an era which will see our country transformed into a stronger democracy. A nation that serves all of its people, not just a few.

Saturday at the Races

Darcy Burner is making Dave Reichert look like a fencepost, but she didn't get early media buys from the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) according to the Fix at the Washington Post. Nor did Washington's 8th District make it into the top 20 of seats most likely to change party.

Other lists are different. Burner does appear on other DCCC media target lists, according to the AP and appears on the DCCC'S "Red to Blue First Wave" (at the top, too, because her name begins with B)

The 20 most likely to change are listed at the bottom. A lot of the strength of candidates early on is gauged, sensibly enough, by how much money they raise. Democrats -- including Burner -- are doing well.

That's fine. But what does the money really mean? First, it means devoted partisans get more than one vote, and these folks may not represent the district at large. Second, it means we are going to see massive and negative media all over October. Third, it means that people who are getting paid off -- like Doc Hastings in Washington's 4th District -- show up ahead of legitimate contenders like his Democratic opponent Richard Wright.

Having family in South Dakota, I am familiar with the brain death that is caused by too much money in campaigns. When Thune ran against Daschle as part of the GOP's most blatant hit last election, yard signs in Rapid City were the size of billboards. The nightly news was a few minutes of weather and sports squeezed in between attack ads. Every day enough campaign literature arrived in your mailbox to paper a dog pound. It didn't lead to a very rational election.

Doc Hastings who sits (and looks) like a potato in Central Washington may not have to run any kind of campaign. By ignoring his opponent Richard Wright, Democrats are allowing Hastings not to run. Doc covered up the most corrupt Congress in modern history in his position as House Ethics Committee Chair. He held the door open for the disastrous Medicare Part D drug fiasco. Do elections hold people accountable? I continue to hope so. And can Doc really stand on the House Republicans' platform to criminalize immigration in the highly agricultural 4th? Not likely.

Is there any way to inoculate the electorate against too much money in politics? Probably not, at least not completely. But we'd better try. The Republic and its electorate can't make good choices based on 6 weeks of Shock and Awe leading up to its elections.

The Fix's top 20 and who gets them is below:

1. IA-01 D
2. CO-07 D
3. AZ-08 D
4. OH-18 D
5. PA-06 D
6. IN-09 D
7. CT-02 D
8. FL-22 D
9. CT-04 D
10. IN-08 D
11. NM-01 D
12. IA-03 R
13. KY-04 D
14. NC-11 D
15. IL-06 D
16. NY-24 D
17. PA-07 D
18. VT (at large) R
19. VA-02 D
20. IL-08 D

Friday, July 21, 2006

In Brief - July 21st, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • The Freeway Blogger has left his mark on Seattle.
  • Maria Cantwell will officially kick off her reelection effort for the U.S. Senate next month and begin campaigning full time.
  • The Democratic campaign committees are improving their fundraising - particularly the DSCC, which raked in $8.8 million in June - almost double the $4.8 million that its GOP counterpart brought in.
  • The Bush adminstration suffered an enormous defeat yesterday when a federal district court denied its motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) against AT&T, which alleges that the administration's NSA warrantless eavesdropping program (and AT&T's cooperation with it) is illegal. Glenn Greenwald has more.
  • Katherine Harris' U.S. Senate campaign in Florida is becoming a rolling comedy in Florida with constant personnel turnover, as staffers flee the campaign because they don't want to work for her.
  • Activist groups have filed lawsuits in at least nine states, trying to ban unreliable electronic voter machines which are prone to hacking and tampering, and don't leave a paper trail. Here's hoping they succeed in their efforts to improve the integrity of the elections process.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

P-I reports on Eyman's troubles

P-I reporter Chris McGann has an interesting article in this morning's paper about Tim Eyman's troubles with Initiative 917:
It looks as though Tim Eyman's much-touted [transportation cuts] initiative might not have enough signatures to make the November ballot.

[...]

This month, despite spending $336,000 on signature gathering for I-917 this year, Eyman filed just 266,008 signatures on the July 7 deadline, roughly 41,000 more than he needed to get the measure on the ballot.

That means his signature failure rate -- those signatures that are either duplicates or that are not from legal registered voters -- cannot exceed 15.4 percent. Eyman's track record indicates he is unlikely to make the cut.

Of the 14 signature drives Eyman has put his weight behind, he hasn't had a signature failure rate below 16 percent.

Washington Secretary of State Elections Director Nick Handy said the signature failure rate for Eyman's initiatives has ranged from 16.7 percent to 23 percent.
This is what we've been hearing, and despite the fact that the odds seem to be against Eyman, we're hardly giddy with excitement.

There's always the chance Initiative 917 makes the ballot after all - and if that happens, we have to ensure it is defeated.

McGann's editor said yesterday that Tim Eyman wouldn't return the P-I's phone calls, sending only a terse email. Not very surprising, of course. Eyman is apparently still clinging onto the position that the signatures he says he turned in that the Secretary of State doesn't have were somehow "pilfered".

McGann's article has some other interesting tidbits in it:
One aspect in particular does not bode well for Eyman: his reliance on paid signature gatherers.

Handy said there is a direct correlation between signature rejection rate and the use of paid signature gatherers -- the more signatures you pay for, the higher the rejection rate.
Gee, why could that be? Oh, maybe because the petitioner is just doing it to make a buck? They don't care who signs, so long as they get paid.

Volunteers are naturally going to be more interested in ensuring they get valid signatures from registered voters. They're investing in the campaign and don't want their efforts to be wasted.

McGann also quotes from University of Washington political communication professor John Gastil, who correctly notes several factors that are hurting interest and momentum for Eyman: initiative fatigue, the increasing cost of signature drives, and Eyman's shrinking base of donors (which has been getting smaller each year since he admitted taking campaign money for his own personal use).

McGann used the same word I put in my headline yesterday about I-917:
...the campaigns of opponents and supporters alike would be in limbo about how much money and energy to invest until the final weeks of the election.
That's for sure. It's a no-win situation. We don't want I-917 on the ballot. We'd rather it not have a shot at passage.

But since we don't know whether it will on the ballot until perhaps as late as the end of September - we have to prepare to fight it anyway. It's much better to be safe than sorry. If I-917 doesn't make it, then we'll have a pre-Election Day victory. It would be absolutely delightful to get an early triumph over at least one of the three right wing initiatives this year.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Want to meet David Sirota?

Progressive strategist and blogger David Sirota, whose blog helps anchor the Montana section of the Regional Blogs Directory, will be in town next week for a book event. (Sirota is the author of Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government - and How We Take It Back).

Here are the details for his event:

Speech, Q&A, and Book Signing with David Sirota
Town Hall Seattle (1119 Eighth Avenue)
Thursday, July 27, 7:00 PM
Sponsored by the Elliott Bay Book Company (Call 206-624-6600 for more info)
The event is open to the media and the public. Bloggers are encouraged to come.

In Brief - July 20th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • First, great news: according to a new Quinnipiac poll, Ned Lamont has surged ahead of DINO Joe Lieberman and now holds a razor-thin 51% to 47% lead among likely Democratic primary voters. The Political Wire has more.
  • John Edwards records a lively bookcast with Jimmy Carter.
  • Disappointing news in the fight against WalMart - a judge has struck down a Maryland law which would have forced the irreponsible retail giant to actually give its workers decent health care.
  • The P-I's Art Thiel has the best perspective on the sale of the Seattle SuperSonics to a group of Oklahoma investors that we've seen thus far.
  • Neil Modie reports on the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association Supreme Court candidate forum held yesterday, where the BIAW's effort to buy themselves two new spots on the court was the major issue on everyone's minds.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Eyman's Initiative 917 may be in limbo until the end of September

Washingtonians may not know whether Tim Eyman's Initiative 917 will be on the general election ballot until the end of September, NPI has learned.

The Secretary of State's office has told NPI that they will begin checking a random sample of signatures from I-917 petitions next week to determine if the initiative has enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Currently, 224,880 valid signatures are required for an initiative to make the ballot. Sponsors normally try to collect a cushion - a large number of extra signatures - because they know a certain percentage of their signatures will be duplicates or invalids.

I-917 is in potential jeopardy because Eyman turned in a small cushion. Eyman, an admitted liar and deceiver, says he turned in some 300,000 signatures. The Secretary of State's office, however, after counting and recounting Eyman's petitions, say they only have 266,006 signatures.

Eyman has been telling his supporters and the media that that number doesn't match his records - and the petitions containing the other signatures must have been "pilfered" - an idea that Secretary of State Sam Reed has laughed at and said is "ridiculous".

The Secretary of State tells NPI that they expect to be done with their random sample check around the beginning of next month. If the results of the sample show that I-917 has enough valid signatures, it will go on the ballot. If, however, the initiative fails the random sample, it will be set aside.

After the Secretary of State's office finishes a random sample of the other three initiatives, they will begin checking ALL of the signatures submitted for Initiative 917 - a process that could and probably will take weeks and months.

The Secretary of State's office estimated to us that it could take up until the end of September before a complete check is finished.

That's not only after the primary, but around the same time that absentee ballots will begin to go out.

There's another twist to this story which could possibly spell doom for I-917.

A new state law, which just took effect this year, mandates that every petition must contain this declaration:
I, . . . . . . . . . . . ., swear or affirm under penalty of law that I circulated this sheet of the foregoing petition, and that, to the best of my knowledge, every person who signed this sheet of the foregoing petition knowingly and without any compensation or promise of compensation willingly signed his or her true name and that the information provided therewith is true and correct. I further acknowledge that under chapter 29A.84 RCW, forgery of signatures on this petition constitutes a class C felony, and that offering any consideration or gratuity to any person to induce them to sign a petition is a gross misdemeanor, such violations being punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
State Attorney General Rob McKenna, at the request of one of NPI's state representatives, Republican Toby Nixon, has issued a twisted advisory opinion saying these declarations do not need to be signed by the petitioner - meaning unsigned petitions can be counted.

The Secretary of State's office has confirmed to NPI that they are following McKenna's opinion. The office has stated previously that there are some 3,000 I-917 petitions with unsigned declarations. If a court found that those petitions were invalid because they didn't have the petitioner's signature, I-917 would be history.

Even if that doesn't happen, I-917 is still in limbo - and we may not know its fate until the end of this September. We cannot afford to wait and see what happens. We must assume it will qualify and continue preparations to fight the initiative so we will not be caught off guard if it does make the ballot after all.

Eyman finally clues in his supporters

Tim Eyman has finally sent an email to his supporters, letting them know that the Secretary of State's office is saying he only turned in about 266,066 signatures:
The deadline for turning in voter signatures for Initiative 917 was Friday, July 7th. Thanks to the hard work and support of our thousands of supporters throughout the state, [you know, why not just say millions, Tim, since you love exaggerating] we succeeded at turning in 300,353 voter signatures for SaveOur30Tabs.com. Around 5 o'clock last Thursday, July 13th, we got a fax from the Secretary of State saying that their count showed 265,809. In response, we sent the following email:

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Eyman
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 3:43 AM
To: Tina Clarke [Secretary of State]
Cc: James Rigby [Attorney at Law]
Subject: Letter to Sec of State concerning I-917

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dear Tina,

I was extremely surprised to hear that the voter signature count for Initiative 917 by the Secretary of State's office was 265,809. Since the required number of voter signatures is 224,880, that count will likely be enough to qualify for the ballot, but there is less of a cushion than we would like; and certainly a cushion that is considerably smaller than our records indicate.

Your letter states that the number of petition sheets counted by your office is 16,986 and the voter signature count is 265,809. As you know, our volunteer voter signature efforts are supplemented with paid signature gatherers. The use of both sources to gather voter signatures requires that we keep extensive records in order to ensure (1) that the signature-gathering firm is paid correctly and (2) to ensure our outstanding volunteers are recognized for their contributions.

Our paid signature-gathering firm maintains its own contemporaneous records that detail the number of completed voter signature sheets, number of signatures and the individual responsible for gathering the voter signatures. Records measuring the efficiency of individuals and the effort in total are kept as input for management decisions.

Our Spokane administrative group on a weekly basis reconciles the paid signature gatherers' tally before funds are released to pay the invoice. Our administrative office in Spokane maintains extensive contemporaneous weekly records as to the voter signature count for both voter signatures gathered by paid signature gatherers as well as voter signatures gathered by volunteers. Because of our procedures we are highly confident that our records are correct. The voter signature count by the Secretary of State's office is totally inconsistent with our records and totally inconsistent with various historical measurements.

We request that a recount be made to confirm the original count made by the Secretary of State's office so that we know for certain if there really is a discrepancy.

Assuming the re-count is the same as the original count, we will compare your results to our records to determine when the missing voter signature sheets were pilfered.

Once we identify what occurred, actions need to be designed to prevent a reoccurrence.

I apologize for the work required to conduct a recount. However, gathering voter signatures to qualify an initiative is extremely difficult and the right to petition through the initiative process is the most fundamental of citizen rights and guaranteed by the state Constitution. [We've heard this lame speech from Tim before].

While it's likely I-917 will qualify based on your current voter signature count, [sure, Tim - whatever you say] it is imperative that we find out what happened to the missing voter signatures and petition sheets in order to protect the integrity of the initiative process. Safeguarding the citizen initiative process should be everyone's highest priority. [So important we should call the Legislature into special session to do something about it, Tim?]

Thank you for your assistance. Please let me know how your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Tim Eyman

CC: Jim Rigby, Attorney at Law

-- END --

The next day, they did a recount and the voter signature count changed, going from 265,809 to 266,006 after the recount.
Times chief political reporter David Postman says he talked to Sam Reed yesterday and was told Eyman was talking nonsense:
Secretary of State Sam Reed told me yesterday that any suggestion that petitions were lost or stolen while in state custody is "silly to the point of being a ridiculous accusation." Reed said that after his staff recounted Eyman's petitions, an additional 38 pages were found.

But Reed said the system of processing petitions is carefully controlled. Initiative sponsors and a state trooper observe the initial count of petitions. The petitions are then boxed up and taken under watch of the trooper to the state archives building. There they are kept behind locked doors — Reed's entry card won't get him in there even though it is a division within his office — and photographed. The petitions are then taken to the secretary of state's off-campus office where the checking of signatures takes place.
Initiative 917 only has 266,066 signatures. The likelihood of the initiative making the ballot is open to debate, but there's a good chance it will and a good chance it won't. We'll have to wait for news from the Secretary of State's office. In the meantime, preparations to fight the initiative this fall will continue.

In Brief - July 19th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • On the other side of the mountains, Peter Goldmark's campaign for Congress is picking up speed. Goldmark outraised his opponent, freshman Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris, by $84,700. While that's good news, Goldmark still has a tough challenge, and he won't be able to win unless his campaign can demonstrate its ability to cleverly innovate.
  • The U.S. Senate yesterday passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 by a vote of 63 to 37. Senators Murray, Cantwell (Washington) Wyden, and Smith (Oregon) voted for the bill, while Senators Craig and Crapo (Idaho) voted against it. Dubya has promised to veto the bill.
  • Senator Russ Feingold tells the DailyKos community that "the Administration's defense for illegal wiretapping is just plain gone" in a great diary.
  • ThinkProgress has the video of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales revealing in sworn testimony that Dubya personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an investigation of the warrantless eavesdropping program.
  • Duncan Black (a.k.a. Atrios) had an outstanding guest column in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, explaining why the progressive blogosphere wants to get rid of DINO Joe Lieberman.
  • David Sirota reports that House Democrats have discovered provisions in the controversial Oman Free Trade Agreement that would permit foreign ownership of U.S. ports and other key national security assets.
  • Notable theocon Ralph Reed, trounced by State Sen. Casey Cagle in Georgia’s Republican primary for lieutenant governor, conceded defeat last night.
  • Carl Ballard writes a must-read letter to Dori Monson.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Eyman gives Postman the cold shoulder

Seattle Times chief political reporter David Postman has a superb post today on his blog about Tim Eyman's duping of his own supporters:
Tim Eyman is misleading his supporters as he tries to raise money for himself and his initiative partners.

Last week the secretary of state's office said Eyman turned in 266,006 signatures for I-917, a car tax cutting measure. That's 34,347 fewer than he claimed he turned in earlier this month at the deadline for initiative petitions.

[...]

Maybe we should get to the bottom of it before Eyman takes money from supporters for what he claims is a successful petition drive.

His Web site repeatedly makes the claim that the initiative has qualified. And he says that means it's time for his supporters to reward him and his partners, the father/son team of Jack and Mike Fagan, for a job well done.
Eyman, who is once again shaking his electronic tin can and asking supporters for money for his "personal compensation fund" (Help Us Help Ourselves), neglected to say anything to them about the petition discrepancy.

That's so typical of Eyman, of course. He likes to leave his backers in the dark and not be open with them.

Eyman's only friends seem to be his greedy partners, the Fagans. Everyone else - his allies, his supporters, reporters, even Michael Dunmire - are just tools to be used, and abused in Eyman's pursuit of personal profit and fame:
Eyman would not talk to me, or apparently many other reporters, about I-917. He said by e-mail last night, "We're dealing exclusively with the Associated Press on this. We have nothing to add to what's already been reported by them."
How unsurprising.

Initiative 917 is still on thin ice. We're watching carefully to see what the Secretary of State's office says - and continuing preparations to fight it should it end up qualifying after all.

Seattle SuperSonics sold

A surprising development today:
The Seattle Sonics, the city's first major professional sports franchise, have been sold to an ownership group in Oklahoma City, sources close to the team say.

The National Basketball Association team has scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m today and wasn't commenting publicly before then. Mayor Greg Nickels planned to speak to reporters at 4 p.m.

The city plans to hold the Sonics to their lease, which expires in 2010, said Nickels' spokeswoman Marianne Bichsel.

The owners of the Sonics have said they've lost millions of dollars in recent years because their venue is too small and outdated and the lease terms are unfavorable.
Hard to say what will happen now: it seems we'll have to wait for the news conference later this afternoon.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Prediction Tuesday: The Guv's Touch

Early in her administration, Gov. Gregoire announced a drought emergency. It hasn't stopped raining since. Last session she put away nearly a billion dollars in reserves. Tax revenues keep climbing. If she'd say something dire about my paycheck I could probably retire.

The significant erosion I've predicted to set in before next March is not happening yet. It is not clear why. Even ChangMook Sohn, chief state forecaster, says "Recent economic news has been positive, but not nearly as good as this month's revenue numbers imply."

Construction is good for the state's coffers and for economic activity, and we're still getting push from that sector. Construction firms tend to be smaller and more independent, which overexposes them to the B&O tax. The real estate excise tax, obviously also connected to construction, was the biggest gainer in the latest report. Construction labor comes in under the retail sales tax.

But let's not overlook the state's notoriously regressive tax structure. We do better when low-paid people do better.

So, yes, I blame the immigrants. If they weren't so damned industrious, and if they'd just stop spending, the dreary days I predict would get here a lot sooner. Them and the minimum wage being at an almost reasonable level. Both these factors increase the multiplier, which is the same as saying you get more economic activity for the same dollar. More sizzle for the buck. But look out, the same dynamic works in reverse, and will exaggerate any decline.

Housing giveth and housing will taketh away. Mortgage rates go up, sales go down. Permits were down 54 percent in the first quarter, and stayed down in the second. Here's the cover of the June forecast.

Notice (by the dates at the bottom, which may be fuzzy) that the predicted peak is last quarter. The official forecast calls for a leveling off. I suggest a slide. Not a cliff, but a slope steep enough so we'd better be roped together. That's been my answer for six months and I'm sticking to it.

Still, if I asked nicely, do you think the Guv would issue an edict on gray hair?

BIAW's "Walking for Washington" program is well funded - and extensive

Last Thursday, I wrote about the "Walking for Washington" program the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) has set up to promote its slate of candidates for the State Supreme Court.

We've been doing more research on this program since then - and discovered that not only is it well funded, but very extensive. More extensive than we had previously thought.

Thus far this cycle, the "Walking for Washington" program has reported a total of $254,632.24 raised, with $173,717.18 spent.

Almost all of the program's expenditures to date have been to conservative activists across Washington State for "walkers, voter ID, lit drops" according to PDC reports. Neil Modie recently reported in the Seattle P-I that individuals working for the program were being paid $10 an hour.

So who's behind "Walking for Washington" (besides the BIAW, obviously)? The answer may surprise you. Here's the complete list of contributors to the program so far. Note that this list includes contributions from the 2004 election cycle, when the program first began.
  • WASHINGTON RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION PAC
  • BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF WASHINGTON (BIAW)
  • REALTORS PAC
  • WASHINGTON STATE FARM BUREAU PAC
  • NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INDUSTRIAL & OFFICE PROPERTIES WA CHAPTER PAC
  • UNITED FOR WASHINGTON
  • ASSOCIATION BUILDERS & CONTRACTORS PAC
  • INSURANCE & FINANCIAL ADVISORS PAC
  • NOTHWEST MARINE TRADE ASSOCIATION PAC
  • PHYSICIANS INSURANCE WASHINGTON MEDICAL PAC
  • WASHINGTON STATE FARM BUREAU PAC
  • DOCTORS NURSES & PATIENTS FOR A HEALTHY WASHINGTON
  • HOLLAND AMERICA LINE WESTOURS
  • WASHINGTON CONTRACT LOGGERS ASSOCIATION INC.
Notice that none of the contributions are from individuals. And if you look at the reports, you'll see all the contributions are high dollar. The smallest contribution is $500, while the largest is $60,000. Almost all of the groups on the above list have donated more than once.

The BIAW has donated over a dozen times (most of their contributions have been reported as in-kind; the BIAW, as I wrote in my last post about "Walking for Washington" runs the program).

All of the donors have something to gain from a state Supreme Court that is stacked with ideological, right wing judges. It's very ironic. The right loves to complain about "activist jduges" - when in fact that's just what they want.

They want a judicial system filled with people - their people - who put their ideology above the law. They want a state Supreme Court that will be consistent in striking down worker and environmental protections.

The BIAW and its donor allies (the corporate cons) are supplying the money, while the right wing churches, such as the Faith & Freedom Network (the theocons), are supplying the people.

This combination works incredibly well, because the corporate cons have deep pockets and the theocons have very committed, motivated followers who are eager to put in the long hours that a successful field effort requires.

It's not easy to be a field organizer, even if you're getting paid. But the right has people out there doing the work. A lot of people.

This last weekend, we learned that Walking for Washington has targeted NPI's neighborhood. Individuals working for the program are in Redmond doing voter targeting and literature drops.

Targeted voters are getting a two sided slim jim (a small flyer) featuring Steven Johnson on one side and John Groen on the other. (As I wrote last week, Johnson and Groen are the BIAW-backed candidates challenging incumbent Justices Susan Owens and Gerry Alexander).

FairPAC (now known as Citizens to Uphold the Constitution) needs to react - and fast. There's no time to lose. It's bad enough that Justices Owens and Alexander are behind in fundraising. This high tech, extensive, and well funded field effort makes it much, much worse.

UDPATE: David Postman reports the Governor is getting involved and will be helping to raise money for Justices Owens and Alexander. Good for her!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wise words from Lakoff

Yes, Don't Think of An Elephant has been widely read by activists and elected Democrats - but few in D.C. seem to have truly embraced George Lakoff's thinking and advice on reframing the debate:
Lakoff contends that Republicans not only have taken ownership of words, they also have skillfully succeeded in framing the debate. That has trapped Democrats into being reactive, implicitly buying into the GOP framework and almost dooming them to failure.

Consider the war in Iraq. Republicans have adroitly labeled Democratic calls for troop pullbacks as "cut and run." So how did Democrats respond? With John Kerry saying that the Bush strategy is "lie and die."

Instead, Lakoff says, Democrats must change the nature of the debate, starting by rejecting the premise that America is in fact at war. The war, he says, ended when President Bush said it did with his "Mission Accomplished" stunt on an aircraft carrier.

Now, Democrats should refer to the conflict as an occupation. They should say U.S. troops were not trained to be occupiers and that they were betrayed by administration policy, with the U.S. weakened as a result.

Lakoff makes a similar point about the "war on terror." Terrorism, he says, should be fought in the same way the government went after the Mafia.

Right or wrong, no prominent Democrat has adopted Lakoff's proposed framing. That hasn't stopped him from making the rounds in Washington, urging Democrats to take heed.

He is a one-man army for the counterintuitive. Democrats, he says, are an anti-intellectual party. It is Republicans, he says, who support conservative intellectuals with many think tanks and interest groups to promote a conservative agenda.

Republicans, he adds, actually control the media. They reinforce Bush's positions and use radio, television and the Internet to create an amen chorus before Democrats can even deliver a compelling sermon.

Democrats, he says, need to become framers.

Lakoff says the Democratic message needs to be something like this: Republicans oppress people when they can't eat the fish they catch because of water pollution, when kids get asthma because of bad air, when ranchers can't let cattle drink the water in the streams that run through their land, all because of lax regulation. And don't make the mistake of labeling yourself an environmentalist.
Lakoff is especially on target when he notes that Republicans control the media and support their intellectuals. Lakoff isn't the only one making these arguments, either. David Brock, who wrote The Republican Noise Machine and heads Media Matters, has elaborated very specifically in pointing out right wing media's corruptive influence on democracy.

Markos and Jerome argued the same in Crashing the Gate. While the progressive blogosphere is certainly helping to level the playing field between us and them, we have a long way to go. We are still way behind in infrastructure.

Perhaps one of the most important things needed is a progressive cable channel to offer political commentary and actual news. FOX is skewing the field rightwards, and that's a major problem.

Reframing is tough. Very tough. It's hard to keep Lakoff's advice in mind all the time. But the more we reframe, the more we refrain from allowing conservatives to control the debate, then the more successful we will be at getting our fellow Americans to agree with us.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

So what do you have to say now, Stefan?

As I gleefully skim over the numbers comparing Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert's second quarter fundraising totals, I can't help but wonder what unSoundPolitics' creator Stefan Sharkansky must be thinking right now. Is he shocked? Dismayed? Baffled? Frustrated? Filled with the realization that his candidate is in trouble?

Maybe it's all of the above.

Today we learned that Darcy Burner continued to outraise Dave Reichert and bested his fundraising team again - this time for the second quarter.

Dave Reichert's latest filings reveal that Darcy Burner outraised him by $20,000 and has narrowed his cash on hand lead to a mere $340,000 - despite a fundraising visit by President Bush (orchestrated by Karl Rove) in mid June.

Reichert reported that he raised $569,077 in the second quarter, compared to
Darcy's $590,561. Reichert has $1.11 million cash on hand and Darcy is
quickly catching up to him with $769,822 cash on hand.

Said Darcy, our hardworking candidate and the next Congresswoman from the 8th:
"This is an amazing demonstration of how ready people are for change. People are really stepping up and showing that President Bush and Reichert's friends in Washington, DC cannot buy this seat."
There can be absolutely no doubt about it: Dave Reichert is in trouble. Big, big, big trouble. Darcy Burner is making this race extremely competitive. And we aim to help her prove that the 8th is a Democratic distrist on Election Day this November.

Friday, July 14, 2006

BREAKING: I-917 short of signatures?

We've been hearing a few rumors over the last couple days that Initiative 917 is in trouble, signature wise, but today we finally got more substantive details.
Eyman had claimed to have turned in over 300,000 signatures, yet the Secretary of State’s office has only counted about 266,000. That means a rejection rate of about 15.5 percent or more would put I-917 under the required 224,880 signature threshold.

How likely is that? According to past performance, moderately damn. The SOS reports that statistical samples of last year’s initiatives showed rejection rates of 13, 16, 17, 19, and 26 percent. The office is preparing to do a statistical sample of I-917, and if it’s close they’ll have to verify every last signature. It may be weeks before we know the outcome.

Why would Eyman inflate his reported count by about 44,000 signatures when he knew that the SOS would eventually announce the real number? I can only think of two explanations: either he’s a pathological liar or mind-numbingly incompetent.

[...]

The SOS reports that about 3,000 of I-917’s petitions came back without signed declarations – that could account for as many as 60,000 signatures, more than enough to keep I-917 off the ballot if disqualified if a court overules McKenna’s opinion.
It's hard to know what's going on at this point - while it would be absolutely wonderful not to have to fight I-917 this November (that would bring us back to just 2 right wing initiatives - I-920 and I-933) at this point we're still expecting that I-917 will qualify.

UPDATE: The AP has released a story.
The state elections division on Friday announced that crews have begun checking petition signatures for four initiatives, beginning with Eyman's. Officials said Eyman turned in 266,006 signatures — far less than the 300,353 he told reporters he had submitted but more than the 224,880 required.

The measure can still make the ballot unless a large number of the signatures are duplicates or otherwise invalid. Typically, the spoilage rate is between 15 percent and 20 percent. Eyman could withstand having 15 percent thrown out, but not 20 percent.

"I wouldn't try to guess" whether he'll make the ballot, said elections official Tina Clarke. Last year, error rates ranged from 13 percent to 26 percent, she said.

Eyman submitted enough signatures to warrant random sampling, rather than name-by-name scrutiny. Using computer-generated numbers, crews are identifying 4 percent of Eyman's signatures, 10,640, to subject to a full signature check in late August.

[...]

Eyman, reached at his Mukilteo home, had no explanation for why the number was smaller than he announced and declined to speculate about his measure's making the ballot.

He later released an e-mail he had sent the elections division expressing shock at the big reduction. He asked the agency to doublecheck, and the final number released Friday was slightly higher than a previous count.

Eyman said some petition sheets may be missing. The state's count is "totally inconsistent with our records," he wrote.

"At this point, we will wait to see what the results are from their random samplng, and full count if necessary," he later told the AP in an e-mail.

"Nothing has changed about our certainty of our turn-in total. We're going to keep after them to get to the bottom of this," he said.

Pam Floyd of the elections division said, "We are confident of the numbers we reported. We don't know anything about any missing signatures."
What Eyman says doesn't matter. He is a proven, admitted liar who continually attempts to deceive the public and the press. If the Secretary of State's office says they only have 266,000 signatures, then that's what they have. If it turns out Eyman failed to submit enough valid signatures, then that's his fault and his problem.

It may be weeks before we know what happens to I-917. In the meantime, efforts to prepare to fight it this November will continue.

The Greed Initiatives

The Seattle P-I published an editorial cartoon from their Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, David Horsey, that aptly captures what all of this year's right wing initiatives have in common. I've been meaning to mention it but just haven't gotten around to it.

Click here to see "The Greed Initiatives" for yourself. It's Horsey at his finest.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

BIAW using "Walking for Washington" program to promote its slate of candidates

Yesterday, I wrote an extensive post about the BIAW's efforts to take over the State Supreme Court, giving a background of the BIAW and its abuse of the retro rebate system (the cash cow it gets all its money from).

Today, I read an alarming diary on Washblog written by a Democratic activist who had a personal experience with someone working as part of the BIAW's "Walking for Washington" program:
My wife was doorbelled Tuesday night 7/11 by an attractive young woman, a recent graduate from our daughter's high school who said she worked for "Walking for Washington". She was bearing a palm pilot.

[...]

They didn't want to talk to me, just my wife. (I'm already on the walking lists as a Democratic donor.)

She stated they are a "nonpartisan research group doing a survey, gathering information about Supreme Court candidates".

She asked:
  • Do you know who Steve Johnson is? My wife said yes.
  • Would you support him? My wife said no.
  • Do you know who John Groene is? My wife said no.
  • Out of these four issues, what is more important: gay marriage, criminal justice, property rights, abortion (pick two)? My wife picked gay rights and criminal justice.
  • Do you support legalizing gay marriage? My wife said yes.
She stated "All we ask is that everyone participate in the political process".

Walking home from the bus stop the next evening I saw another doorbeller who was not knocking but just dropping slim jims [brochures] at selected households.

After I turned a corner I went up on a neighbor's porch to see what he was dropping: a two-sided slim jim promoting John Groen for Supreme Court on one side and Steve Johnson for Supreme Court on the other.

We did not get one at my house, apparently because my wife gave an unfavorable response.

So, here's how it works in a nutshell: They send out a pretty information gatherer with a palm pilot the first day, and drop literature the second day to folks they've just identified (and while the names are still relatively fresh in the minds of their targets).
Here's more about the "Walking for Washington" program from the Seattle P-I:
A conservative Christian group that led the unsuccessful fight to block Washington's new gay rights law has teamed with the heavy-spending homebuilders' lobby to try to elect right-leaning candidates to the state Supreme Court.

The Faith & Freedom Network asked in an e-mail Wednesday for recruits who "want to help elect conservative judges to the Supreme Court and get paid to do it."

It said the network is "teaming with Walk for Washington to offer part-time paid positions; doorbelling, surveying & precinct canvassing" for $10 an hour continuing "through Election Day."

The Building Industry Association of Washington, or BIAW, which promotes a conservative, pro-property-rights, anti-regulation political agenda, is by far the biggest donor -- at least $121,048 so far this year -- to Walking for Washington. The program is run out of BIAW headquarters in Olympia by the builders' political director, Elliot Swaney.
What's clear is that the BIAW is attempting to bring allies on board in its effort to stack the state Supreme Court with ideologically tilted justices. The corporate cons are teaming up with the theocons.

This is not a threat that can be taken lightly.

The BIAW and its allies are using the "Walking for Washington" program to heavily promote their slate of candidates, which so far consist of Groen and Johnson. They are trying to erase the advantage of incumbency that Justices Alexander and Owen enjoy by raising more money and employing a high tech field effort for voter targeting.

FairPAC needs to organize to counter this threat - fast. The BIAW and its allies already have a head start, and the primary and general elections are approaching rapidly. There is simply too much at stake: the right wing cannot be allowed to buy control of the judicial branch.

Justices Alexander, Owens, and Chambers (as mentioned previously) are the incumbents running for reelection this year. You can follow the links to their websites to learn more about them. You can also contribute to their campaigns to help them fight back against the BIAW and its slate of candidates.

Wilsons sue administration officials

In other, major news today:
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby of revealing Plame's CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq.
SusanHu has posted a diary at Daily Kos with Ambassador Wilson's response to Robert Novak's distortions that is worth reading. The diary has also been updated with a response from Larry Johnson.

The Wilsons have a website with more information and a contribute page where you can support their legal trust fund.

Violence in Middle East escalates - Israel, Lebanon at the brink of war

Major, worrisome news today:
Israel Lebanon Conflict MapIsrael imposed a full naval blockade on Lebanon and put Beirut International Airport out of commission today as the crisis in the Middle East escalated rapidly following the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight others by the Shia militant group Hezbollah on Wednesday.

Hezbollah fired rockets deep into northern Israel today, with two rockets hitting the port of Haifa, sending thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters.

In a second day of Israeli attacks on Lebanon, Israeli warplanes also struck two Lebanese Army bases and Hezbollah’s Al Manar television station. According to Lebanese government figures, 53 Lebanese have died, including one family of 10 and another of seven in the village of Dweir. More than 103 have been wounded, the Lebanese said.
Here's Juan Cole's take on the recent outbreaks of violence:
I roundly condemn Hezbollah's criminal and stupid attack on Israel and escalation of a crisis that is already harming ordinary Palestinians on a massive scale.

Likewise, the Beirut airport is not in south Lebanon and for the Israelis to bomb it and neighborhoods in south Beirut is a disproportionate use of force. The Israelis are actually talking about causing "pain to the Lebanese." That is despicable.

This crisis will not leave the fabric of Lebanese politics untouched, and the danger of an unraveling is acute. And, it is clear that the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon has given an opening to Israeli hawks to invade Lebanese territory again. It will not be good for Israelis if Lebanon collapses into a failed state again.
One thing seems clear in the midst of all this violence: all parties involved share some of the blame for escalating tensions and committing acts of war. It will take courageous leadership, a lot of patience, and cooperation if peace is ever to come to the Middle East. Unfortunately, a peaceful resolution to all this conflict seems nowhere in sight.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In Brief - July 12th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • Rahm Emanuel, the Chairman of the DCCC, smacks down the Bush administration for its weak attempts to make itself look accountable and responsible. Rahm asks why taxpayers are paying over $100,000 for a 'White House Director of Lessons Learned'? Good question.
  • Team Cantwell reported on its 2nd Quarter fundraising success earlier today. More than $2 million was raised in the best quarter yet. The campaign now has over $6.4 million cash on hand. Total receipts top $11 million, and over half of Cantwell's more than 100,000 contributions are from Washington state donors. McGavick, meanwhile, announced that his campaign had raised $1.7 million. The ex-Safeco CEO has just over a million cash on hand.
  • David Postman also reported earlier today that disgraced former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be in Washington to stump for Dave Reichert and Doug Roulstone. In fact, Gingrich was actually invited to the Evergreen State by the Reichert campaign. Apparently, Reichert's handlers figure that the gloves are off now that Reichert has been photographed and videotaped next to Dubya and Karl Rove on the steps of Air Force One.
  • In other Reichert news, (his replacement and future Congresswoman) Darcy Burner blasted the ex-sheriff for voting against an increase in the federal minimum wage. Recently, a group of 25 House Republicans who consider themselves "moderate" sent a letter to their leader, John Boehner, requesting a vote to increase the federal minimum wage. Many of them are facing competitive challenges and wanted a symbolic vote that would provide them with cover - a yes vote they could tout to voters in their districts. Sixty-four Republicans voted yes and the measure passed 260-159. But Congressman Dave Reichert joined with other conservative Republicans and
    voted against the measure - even when he had nothing to lose and was free to "vote his consience."
  • Also, if you haven't seen the recent episode of Upfront with Robert Mak where Reichert admits on camera that he doesn't know what's in the franked mail sent out by his office, go watch it now.
  • The Seattle Times today printed an excellent guest column from the NO on I-933 campaign, whose authors go to great lengths to describe why Initiative 933 is such a threat to our sustainable future. Definitely worth a read.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Oh, and one last thing.

Why is unSoundPolitics writer Eric Earling stupidly jeering at the State Democratic Party for asking party activists to donate office supplies?

Earling writes:

It's funny how the state party can pay for TV ads but it can't pay for simple office supplies.
That has got to be one of the lamest posts I've ever read. What a dumb conclusion.

Apparently it did not occurr to Eric that party members can't donate television advertisements. On the other hand, office supplies certainly can be donated. And some people would prefer to donate supplies rather than money.

Why not craft a wish list of needed supplies and ask Democrats to contribute? Later, whatever is not donated can be purchased, if necessary. That's what the party is doing. It saves money and it gives people another way to contribute besides just being asked to write checks or swipe plastic.

BIAW hoping to pack State Supreme Court with handpicked candidates this fall

Have you ever heard of the Building Industry Association of Washington?

If you're a regular reader of the Official Blog, and or active in Washington State politics, you've doubtless heard of the BIAW and know of their reputation.

If you aren't familiar with the BIAW, here's a primer to explain who they are, what their agenda is, why they're a threat, and why they want to stack the state Supreme Court.

The BIAW is an association of homebuilders headquartered in Olympia, not far from the Capitol Campus. It has about eleven thousand members or so, and deep pockets (more on that in a few paragraphs).

Its leadership is comprised of people who are the very definition of corporate cons - the oldest Republican constituency group. Corporate cons, as Markos and Jerome noted in their book Crashing the Gate:
...seek to craft a government friendly to unfettered, unregulated capitalism, not to mention a government that provides generous subsidies and a steady stream of lucrative contracts to further line their pockets - codifying the culture of corruption into the nation's laws.
The BIAW is the most aggressive, and the most ideological, right wing lobby in the Evergreen State. They despise regulation - everything from environmental laws to ergonomics rules.

The BIAW has used the initiative process repeatedly to get voters to repeal worker and environmental protection legislation it opposes. For example, Initiative 841 in 2003.

They are also partisan Republicans. They heavily supported Dino Rossi for Governor in 2004, dumping millions into the race, and stooped to playing dirty tricks on voters last year on Rossi's behalf. The BIAW also sued earlier this year to stop Puget Sound orcas from being listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

But where do they get their money from?

The following is from an article in Eastside Weekly that ran way back in 1997. It explains how the BIAW operates, and how its financial trough works. Emphasis and whatever is in brackets is mine.
The irony at the heart of the BIAW is that an organization so virulently anti-government - and so vigorously supportive of free enterprise - should owe much of its power and success to a government run, monopoly business. Yet that is, in fact, the case.

The BIAW attracts much of its membership, and draws much of its money, from an alliance with the state workers' compensation insurance program. This program is, by the BIAW's own account, its No. 1 recruiting tool. It also provides [the] BIAW with a significant cash windfall [which is used to finance political activity].

Every employer has to carry workers' compensation insurance, which pays for the cost of workplace injuries. In most states, workers' comp coverage is sold by private companies, just like auto or health insurance. But in Washington, though, workers' comp is run by the state, through the Department of Labor and Industries, which collects the premiums and pays claims.

For companies in the dangerous business of home construction, workers' comp premiums can be one of their most noxious costs. Rates for roofers, for instance, are more than $5 per hour of work.

The BIAW offers a way to get some of this money back. Under the state's "retrospective rating" program, the group's members can get a refund if their claims over the course of the year turn out to be less than the premiums they paid. For a safe employer, this program can translate into hundreds, even thousands of dollars in refunds each year.

But the program creates some resentment for builders who aren't politically in tune with the BIAW's [leadership]. "It's a major scam," says Steve Fradkin, co-owner of Fradkin Mittendorf Fine Construction in Seattle. "We hate the fact that some of our Master Builders money goes to them." Fradkin complains that in order to have an opportunity for a refund from the state, he has to be part of a lobbying organization that sends "Craswell for Governor" brochures for him to stuff in his employees' paychecks.

[Ellen Craswell was the GOP nominee for Governor in 1996. An extremist, she lost in a landslide to Gary Locke, who went on to serve two terms before being succeeded by Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2004.]

(In fact, a builder can participate in the state's "retro" problem on their own but it's highly risky to do so. One year of heavy losses could wipe out a small business, defeating the whole purpose of insurance).

The BIAW charges a fairly low upfront fee - 1 percent of premiums - for managing the program. That money - almost $1 million a year - pays for about a dozen staffers who help manage the claims and provide safety training. But programs administrator Tom Kwieciak says, "We really don't even break even on the 1 percent."

So the BIAW pockets a sizable chunk of the workers' comp money as well. The BIAW keeps 10 percent of the state's refund, and gives another 10 percent to its 13 local affiliates.

[...]

Once expenses are covered, that represents a major contribution to the builders' political war chest.

By law, most of the BIAW's membership dues - which came to more than half a million dollars last year - cannot be used for lobbying and other political activities. But there are no rules governing the profit the BIAW makes from its [lucrative] workers' comp business. That can all be plowed into political action.
Also worth reading is this 2004 article from the Seattle Weekly's George Howland, who noted that many cities participate in the BIAW's "retro rebate" program, and are thus ironically helping to fill the coffers of the state's most powerful right wing group.

In the last few years the BIAW has become more focused on the State Supreme Court. The BIAW's leadership would like nothing more than to stack the court with ideologically tilted justices who will consistently vote to strike down worker and environmental protection laws.

And in fact, the BIAW would like to take over the lower courts as well. They want the state's judicial branch in their pocket, so they can employ endless lawsuits to thwart the Governor and the Legislature whenever one or the other (or both) are controlled by Democrats - as is currently the case.

In 2002, the BIAW fought unsuccessfully to get rid of Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst, who narrowly triumphed over the BIAW's candidate, lawyer Jim Johnson. (Johnson is notorious for helping draft initiatives for Tim Eyman, including Initiative 747, which he co-wrote with Rob McKenna, now the State Attorney General - and another BIAW stooge).

The BIAW backed Johnson again in 2004, when he ran against Mary Kay Becker, a Court of Appeals judge since her election in 1994. Becker raised just $157,000 in that race, while Johnson raised $539,000 - much of it provided by the BIAW.

This year, the BIAW is hoping to mount an even stronger assault. Together with its allies, it has created the "Constitutional Law PAC" with the hope of installing a slate of right wing justices.

So far, CLPAC is backing two major candidates - State Sen. Stephen L. Johnson, who is running against incumbent Justice Susan Owens, and John Groen, who is challenging incumbent Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. (The third incumbent justice, Tom Chambers, has not yet drawn a well funded challenger backed by CLPAC).

Both Groen and Johnson have been hard at work raising large war chests. The most recent reports, which just came in on Monday, are very worrisome (emphasis mine):
Buoyed by a flood of building-industry money just before new judicial campaign-finance limits became law, property-rights lawyer John Groen has gained a huge financial advantage in his effort to unseat Chief Justice Gerry Alexander of the state Supreme Court.

Public-disclosure reports filed by the candidates this week showed that Groen raised nearly four times as much money as Alexander -- $301,115 to $76,645 -- by the end of June.

For a state judicial campaign nearly four months before the general election, it is a gigantic campaign fund.

Nine of the donations to Groen came in sums ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 each, all less than a month before a new state law limiting judicial campaign contributions to $2,800 ($1,400 for the primary and $1,400 for the general election) took effect June 7.

His three biggest contributions -- of $25,000 each, from a home builder, a lumber-company president and a real estate investor -- all arrived five days preceding the new law. Six other contributors gave $5,000 each. Before June 7, there were no limits on contributions to judicial campaigns.

Groen, a Bellevue lawyer, has strong backing from the politically conservative, heavy-spending Building Industry Association of Washington, the builders' lobby with which he has been closely affiliated. He has represented building and development interests in litigation over land-use regulations and other regulatory laws.
Neil Modie's whole article is a must read, and gives more background on the BIAW's other candidate, former State Senator Steven Johsnon. Like Groen, Johnson has outraised Owens - his campaign reported contributions of $104,323 to Owens' $69,121 through June 30.

As the P-I reports, Groen and Johnson are both refusing to take part in the judicial candidate evaluation program of the King County Bar Association (and no surprise why, of course).

Steve Zemke has more about Groen's contributors here.

The BIAW cannot be allowed to succeed in packing the state Supreme Court with its own handpicked candidates - for obvious reasons. What's at stake this fall is the existence of Washington's independent, impartial judiciary.

The BIAW wants control of the court system. Not only do they need to be stopped before it's too late, but the Legislature needs to do something next session about the BIAW's abuse of the retro rebate system.

Fortunately, the Constitutional Law PAC has opposition. FairPAC has formed to try and protect the integrity of the Evergreen State's judicial branch. Most of the contributions so far have been from progressive interest groups, such as the WSLC, SEIU, WEA, NARAL, and the state trial lawyers' association. Other FairPAC supporters include Equal Rights Washington and Washington Conservation Voters.

(FairPAC, by the way, recently changed its name to Citizens to Uphold the Constitution. I find the new name confusing, which is why I used FairPAC in the above paragraph).

Unfortunately, judicial races have been languishing under the radar of the regional progressive blogosphere. While it absolutely important to help candidates like Darcy Burner, we cannot afford to ignore the Building Industry Association of Washington's scheme to stack our state's high court.

It's tempting to do a lot of blogging about the federal races - they are exciting, and we definitely do need to take back the Congress. But we also need to pay close attention to legislative races, right wing initiatives, and judicial elections.

We'll be posting much more regularly from now on about these three Supreme Court races, and any lower court races the BIAW tries to become involved in. It's our hope that the rest of the regional progressive blogosphere will do the same.

Justices Alexander, Owens, and Chambers (as mentioned previously) are the incumbents running for reelection this year. You can follow the links to their websites to learn more about them. You can also contribute to their campaigns to help them fight back against the BIAW and its slate of candidates.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

This book must be read. It is easy to read, like a spy novel. It is hard to read, like looking at a corpse.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins [Penguin 2006: paperback]

We are all dead if we do not realize that what seems to be ignorance, or myopia, or simple stupidity at the highest levels of our government is in reality intentional. The immense debt of the Third World, for example, was foisted upon them in the name of development, but for the purpose of Empire. The writer of this book John Perkins was one of the men who did it.

Knowing and understanding this removes the veil of good intentions and strips the pretense away from the predator culture. We all knew it was absurd, but this proves it beyond a doubt. It leaves Dick Cheney and the Bush Family and the Weinbergers and Shultzes and Bechtels and Halliburtons and Texacos on stage, naked and without their masks. Their posturing and pretensions become absurd, like a Japanese Nô Play performed in the nude, with pot bellies and tiny hangy down things bare to the world.

The predator corporations, the international banks, and the empire builders in government combined and colluded in one financial scheme after another. To what end? By demanding domination rather than dealing with other nations on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation, they have created a corruption no less dysfunctional than that of the Soviet Union's command economy.

The so-called free, open and efficient markets are not. We have alienated and enraged those with whom we need to partner. We have exploited and despoiled the resources we as a planet need to survive.

How much more effective and convincing this message is when displayed graphically, as in this book, then when summarized as in my polemic. Chilling, but motivating. In the extreme.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In Brief - July 11th, 2006 (WA Campaigns Edition)

Here is today's quick news digest, WA campaigns edition:
  • The Cantwell campaign yesterday launched its first TV ad, "First", which focuses on Maria Cantwell's work to protect the people and the environment of the Evergreen State. It's running in media markets across the state, and you can watch it for yourself here (Macromedia Flash required).
  • The state Democratic Party has also been busy. They've launched a new website, IsThisMikeOn.org, which has facts on McGavick and stories from voters, reports from people who've challenged McGavick, and ten questions that M!ke won't answer.
  • Markos notes Darcy Burner's recent fundraising success on his front page and urges readers to donate to Burner and other Netroots Endorsed candidates through ActBlue. Meanwhile, the campaign began publicizing its figures more widely today: $580,000 was raised in the last quarter, bringing the total raised to $1.1 million. The campaign has more than $750,000 cash on hand. The DCCC says this incredible accomplishment will put Burner in the top fundraising tier for Democratic House challengersnationwide. (And yes, Stefan, we know you're disappointed).
  • The Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court (Gerry Alexander) was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the annual 9th Circuit Judicial Conference yesterday in California. The Seattle Times reports that "Alexander is the first Washington state resident to win the American Inns of Court Ninth Circuit Professionalism Award, which goes to a lawyer or judge 'whose life and practice display sterling character and unquestioned integrity.'" (Read the whole article here). Alexander is being challenged by John Groen, who is backed by the BIAW and other right wing, Republican groups hoping to stack the Supreme Court in November with ideologically tilted justices.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

The Life Tax

The "Death Tax" is something that has concerned me for a couple of weeks now, and not only because the wealthy right and their chief spinmeister have again tied up our army with their squad in a made-for-media skirmish.

Although the "death tax" [properly known as the estate tax] is not a tax on death, but a tax on the fortunes of a select group of millionaires, it has achieved legitimacy under this title and has already performed its political purpose, whether or not it is rescinded by Congress. Meanwhile, the mammoth fiscal calamity that is the federal budget has been spared from serious attention, much less repair.

But I am a compassionate man, and I understand there is also a great anxiety among those few multimillionaires affected by the estate tax. It is really, at its root, a religious question.

These folks have elevated Materialism to such a level that they are convinced that they will live on in the form of their estate. Thus to tax it will actually harm their residual souls. It is a strange obverse interpretation of Jesus' "Where your fortune is, there will your heart be also."

You and I, of course, know that these estates will most likely be expended in drugs and profligacy within a few years, and that the destination of these multimillionaires is not to be transformed or absorbed into mansions or portfolios of stock.

Their fate, unfortunately, is one of three. One, in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim opinion, they pass straight into Hell. Two, in the Buddhist-Hindu school, they will return as a lower form of life; if they are lucky enough to be human, it will be as one of the many billions of people living lives of abject destitution, perhaps even the most wretched of all.

Or three, they will cease existence in any form and pass into the Atheists' vacuum of existence. This last, of course, would be best, since it means their accumulation was meaningless, not morally damning. Still, they should spend it while alive.

But this is not an attempt to steal a tenet of the New Church of Materialism. I am tolerant of all faiths. AND I have an answer to all problems. A win-win. The Life Tax.

Yes. The Life Tax.

Think of its title, just for a moment. I like its title. In fact, to justify its title completely, I propose we make it a tax not only on the living, but for the living. I am insisting here and now that one-tenth of its proceeds be set aside to eliminate hunger and give clean drinking water to every soul on the planet. Just one tenth would do it. A tithe, so to speak, on the Life Tax. But that is a minor point.

The Life Tax would tax these wealthy folks while they are alive! Neat, huh?

Sure it sounds like a simple reversal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but it's more than that. [The Bush tax cuts have indebted our nation for decades to come. I'm surprised nobody has pointed out that this debt was intentional, not just a give-away. As we have made foreign nations subservient to international banks, now we are doing ourselves the same favor. But I digress.]

As I say, the Life Tax is more than a reversal of the tax cuts for the rich. It would establish a top marginal tax rate of 90% for those making $1 million or more per year. This was the tax rate back when the economy was strong and before we needed corporate avarice to motivate us.

The Life Tax solves our problems. We can vote on a tax with an uplifting title. We can do something meaningful about the sinking ship of the nation's finances. We can, as I mentioned, eliminate hunger and thirst from the globe. And most importantly, it is my hope that the Life Tax will save rich Americans from having to worry about the estate tax.

Monday, July 10, 2006

NPI resumes podcasting

After a several month hiatus we are once again resuming our twice monthly podcast. Today, we're releasing the first episode for this month, focusing on maintaining a more sustainable lifestyle. The podcast presents over a dozen tips for living green and reducing our impact on the planet.

I have taken over as host for the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, or ideas for future episodes, send us a note.

If you want to subscribe to our Media RSS feed to be notified immediately when new podcasts are released, follow this link.

Members of NPI - Northwest Progressive Institute - Northwest Progressive Institute

If you are an iTunes user and want to subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, click the button above to do so directly.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In Brief - July 9th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:

  • Late last week, Ned Lamont and (Democrat in Name Only) Joe Lieberman had their first debate in Connecticut. While the consensus seems to be that nobody won the debate outright, Ned did manage to hold his own against the experienced and entrenched incumbent. Lamont's official blog and Lamontblog have extensive coverage.
  • Dave Reichert was supposed to appear on KUOW last Friday morning. But he chickened out (perhaps because the progressive blogosphere spread the word about his appearance?), so Darcy Burner filled in instead and fielded calls from Puget Sound area citizens.
  • Also on Friday, someone finally gave Ann Coulter the treatment she deserves. Coulter, who was supposed to appear on Adam Carolla's radio show, called in late and told Carolla arrogantly that she was "really tight on time". Carolla responded by saying "All right, well get lost" and then hung up on her mid-sentence. Crooks and Liars has the must-hear audio clip.
  • If you're in a humorous mood after listening to that clip, you might also want to check out this diary by Kossack Dood Abides, who has hilariously spoofed the "Pirates of the Carribbean 2" promotional posters.
  • Not Larry Sabato reports that Democrats are coming together in Virginia after a divisive primary fight between Jim Webb (the victor) and Harris Miller (who lost). Good to hear the party is uniting in other states, too.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Wilson Makes It Official

In a press conference today at Cantwell 2006 headquarters on Lake Union, Mark Wilson made his endorsement of Maria official:
"Senator Cantwell has time and again stood, face in the wind of adversity, and persevered for us and for our Northwest values.

My conviction is that supporting Senator Cantwell and helping her win this November is the surest way to winning for us all."
The campaign announced that Wilson will be hired to work for the campaign full time to reach out to the "peace and justice community" (as Wilson put it).

Cantwell and Wilson at Press Conference

Cantwell and Wilson fielded questions from several reporters who wanted to know how Wilson could go from being a major critic of Cantwell's to a major supporter. As I see it, it's really very simple: they came to a mutual understanding.

Wilson doesn't have to compromise his principles to support Cantwell - and neither do we. We oppose the administration's waging of an illegal war, its invasion of our privacy, and its underhanded attempts to roll back worker and environmental protections.

Maria doesn't always vote the way we'd like her to on the floor of the U.S. Senate, but a majority of the time, she does vote the progressive position. And she has been a tremendous fighter for the people of the Evergreen State. That's why we support her.

Seattle Times chief political reporter David Postman was also at the press conference - and wanted to know if Cantwell had changed her position on Iraq:
Cantwell was clear -- at least as clear as she could be in the very short time allowed for questions at what was billed as a "major campaign announcement" -- that she has not changed her position on Iraq. She said recent statements she has made and the recent Senate vote calling for troop withdrawal beginning this year have been "a reaffirmation for people of what I've been saying."
While what Senator Cantwell said is true, it's also true that her position on Iraq has been slowly evolving over the last few months and even years.

UPDATE: David Postman quotes me at his blog over at the Seattle Times and asks, "How can both those things be true?" Guess I should have been more in-depth.

What I meant is that there's never been this monumental shift in the way Cantwell views the war in Iraq. I think that's what she means - and that's how I interpret her - when she says her position has not changed.

I don't believe there's an activist, pundit, or politician out there whose views on the Iraq War have not evolved. I know mine certainly have.

I've always opposed the war (as has everyone in NPI) and I still do now - but as I've read, watched, and learned more about the neocons' reasons for going over there, my perspective has changed. New information, like the Downing Street Memo, has deepened my understanding of this quagmire.

And I believe the same is true of Senator Maria Cantwell. Her thinking, her viewpoint is undoubtedly quite a bit different from what it was back in 2002 when she voted to authorize the war. She can say her position hasn't changed - and that can be true - despite that it surely has changed since that vote.

There's just never been a monumental shift. And that is perhaps what frustrates many antiwar activists. They just want to Cantwell come out now and condemn the war loudly, declare her vote was a mistake, and support an immediate pullout.

She's not going to do that. But if activists are willing to be patient and continue to engage Sen. Cantwell - during and after the campaign, assuming she wins (and we're going to make that happen!) I believe they will be rewarded. The message has been getting through. It just needs to continue being sent.

END UPDATE

That's true of a lot of other Democrats who voted for the war authorization but are saying these days that they oppose giving the administration a blank check and support a transition plan to hand over control of Iraq to the Iraqis.

As Wilson told his supporters yesterday:
I have had a deep and personal one-on-one conversation with Senator Cantwell. I came away convinced we are on the same path when it comes to solving the crisis in Iraq and the potential crisis with Iran.

We agree there must be no permanent American military bases in Iraq.
It's worth remembering that the pressure on Democrats to give the administration the authorization to wage war in 2002 was absolutely tremendous.

Democrats were trapped in a hostile environment and presented with false information, included cherrypicked intelligence from the Bush administration which was extensively propped up by the traditional media during the prelude to the invasion. (For more on this, see Eric Boehlert's new book - Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over For Bush).

The right wing used its powerful political infrastructure to intimidate many Democrats into supporting the war authorization. Cooperation from the traditional media certainly helped to seal the deal.

Despite the antiwar movement's best efforts, and opposition from a number of top American military officials, the administration succeeded in getting Congressional approval for the invasion and then going ahead and invading Iraq with very little international support.

In the years since then, the traditional media has become much more critical of the administration, the progressive movement has built a much stronger infrastructure (in large part through the Netroots Revolution), and the American people have witnessed firsthand for themselves the failure of right wing, conservative policies.

Consequently, it's much easier today for Democrats in Congress to find their political courage and challenge the administration.

Progressives are sick and tired of the Republicans who have set and kept the United States of America on the road to ruin. We need to win back control of Congress in 2006 so that we can change our country's direction.

But just as importantly, we need to win so we can show the traditional media and the right wing that the progressive movement is a force to be reckoned with. We want Democrats in Washington D.C. to look to us for support and know that we've got their backs when they come under attack by the other side.

We won't win unless we unite and get our act together. Mark Wilson understands how important it is that we be victorious in the elections this year. That's why he's joined us in throwing his weight behind Team Cantwell. We strongly applaud his move and hope his supporters will follow suit.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

BREAKING: Mark Wilson To Endorse Senator Maria Cantwell Tomorrow

In a sign of Democratic unity, Mark Wilson will tomorrow officially endorse Maria Cantwell and announce his intention to campaign for the Senator full time, NPI has learned.

The news, which may come as a surprise to many in the state's political circles, is a great sign that the State Democratic Party is quite healthy going into the 2006 midterm elections. While we Democrats prize dissent and the freedom to speak our minds, we also know how important it is to be united.

We can't win and become the majority party in Washington D.C. if we are fractured and splintered. Mark Wilson knows that the Bush administration and its cronies in Congress are slowly wreaking havoc on this country.

It is absolutely critical in 2006 that we mount the strongest effort possible to win back control of the Congress. And we can't do that if we're not united.

Tomorrow's event with Cantwell and Wilson should also make it to clear to pundits and political observers that the effort to reelect Cantwell is alive and well.

In his most recent column, Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly voiced concerns about the strength of Maria's campaign, noting that her Republican opponent (M!ke McGav!ck) is criscrossing the state on a tour engaging Washingtonians. Connelly began and ended his column by asking the question: Where's Cantwell?

It's a simple question, and it has a simple answer.

Maria Cantwell is in the U.S. Senate fighting for the people of the Evergreen State. And when she isn't in D.C. working on our behalf on Capitol Hill, she's here at home, meeting with constituents and engaging citizens.

NPI closely tracks Maria Cantwell's work in the U.S. Senate, and we are constantly reminded every week of our Senator's dedication to Washingtonians. Here's a sampling of the recent headlines from her office, all from within the last three weeks:
Cantwell Visits Clinic for Drug-Addicted Newborns, Calls for Immediate Help for Children Found at Meth Sites - Calls on Senate to approve $40 million for children and families impacted by meth

Cantwell, Local Military Widows Call on Congress to Improve Benefits for Spouses of Soldiers Killed in Action

Murray, Cantwell Vow to Continue Bid to Save States Millions in Medicaid Red Tape

Cantwell Delivers Remarks on Senate Floor Following Win In Enron Fight

Cantwell Votes Against Telecommunications Bill Based on Consumer Concerns - Cantwell backed Net Neutrality Amendment Fails on 11-11 Vote

Cantwell Works to Give Yakima Area Greater Control Over Local Land and Facilities
Cantwell's track record of tirelessly toiling away for us in our nation's capital is clearly beyond dispute. And as it so happens, Democrats need not worry that Cantwell isn't interested in practicing retail politics here at home. She is.

She's so committed to it that she has visited every one of the state’s 39 counties every year of her term - even in 2001, long before she began her reelection campaign. Maria believes that the best way to earn the support and trust of voters is to be the best Senator she possibly can be.

In recent weeks she has marched in the Burien Family Days parade, met with the Washington State Nurses Association, participated in the Ethnic Heritage Council Naturalization Ceremony, visited Fort Lewis, attended receptions up and down the Puget Sound, and appeared at a Hispanic Roundtable.

That doesn't sound like a campaign stuck in first gear. That sounds like a Senator reaching out to our state's many diverse communities.

It's easy for Mike McGavick to drive around in a RV on a speaking tour, and spend extra time and money promoting that tour to the media. (He certainly can afford to). He does not hold any political office, and he's quite wealthy (Safeco even gave him a large going away gift of $28.2 million earlier this year for two months of "work").

Maria can't roll around in an RV full time like McGavick can. But that doesn't mean her reelection campaign isn't on solid ground. The campaign is a hum of activity these days, and its regularly updated website reflects that.

Today, besides revealing that Mark Wilson will be endorsing the campaign tomorrow, Senator Cantwell made this announcement:
"I’m pleased to announce that Dal LaMagna will be joining my re-election campaign as co-chair. Dal is a strong community leader committed to our shared Northwest values, and he will be a valuable part of our team as we work together to win this November."
Again, this doesn't sound like a campaign that's missing in action. This sounds like a campaign that's energized and working to ensure a Democratic victory for Senator Cantwell and her fellow Democrats this November.

UPDATE: Here's the full text of the email Mark Wilson sent to his supporters. I could hardly believe it when I read it, but it's absolutely outstanding. We're in complete agreement. Of course, we've always supported Sen. Cantwell, from the very beginning of her reelection campaign.

A couple excerpts:
My conviction is that supporting Senator Cantwell is the surest way to winning for us all.

[...]

It is time for the Washington State progressive, peace and justice democratic community to come together again as a family united, working for our common goals for a hopeful future with real meaning for everyone.

United our voice has resonance and is heard. Together we will win with Team Cantwell in 2006. I am excited about bringing our voices forward in this campaign. I am at your service.
I can hardly wait for tomorrow's press conference.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Initiative Deadline Passes

Today was the last day for initiative campaigns to submit petitions to the Secretary of State's office for qualification. Consequently, we now have a very clear picture of what statewide measures will be on the ballot this November. Here's an overview:

INITIATIVE 917. Why it's a threat | Download flyer
Sponsored by Tim Eyman and financed by his wealthy multimillionaire backer Michael Dunmire, I-917 would gut some $2.7 billion in statewide transportation funding approved by the Legislature last year.

INITIATIVE 920. Why it's a threat | Download flyer
Sponsored by Dennis Falk and financed by prolific Seattle developer Martin Selig, I-920 would wipe out the state's estate tax, which provides $200 million each biennium for the Education Legacy Trust to fund essential programs — like smaller class sizes and student financial aid.

INITIATIVE 933. Why it's a threat | Download flyer
Sponsored by the Farm Bureau and financed by a New York real estate mogul named Howard Rich, I-933 would destroy land use protections, wreak havoc on the planning process in Washington's communities, take away homeowners' rights, and effectively nullify the state's growth management act.

INITIATIVE 937. Why we support it | More information
Sponsored by a diverse coalition of progressive organizations and individuals, I-937 would guarantee that by 2020, 15% of the electricity from Washington’s largest utilities comes from plentiful and home-grown renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and help homeowners and businesses save on energy bills.

Ballot measures that didn't make it include Referendum 65, which would have asked voters to legalize discrimination, Initiative 921, which would have imposed mandatory life sentences for some first time sex offenders, and Initiative 946, which would have taken public benefits away from illegal immigrants.

We want to thank all of the activists who contributed to Permanent Defense's reporting system over the last few months. The system is being taken offline and will be evaluated and strengthened for redeployment next year. In the meantime, Permanent Defense has already begun mobilizing to oppose Initiative 917, Initiative 920, and Initiative 933.

We'll be adding news tools and resources soon to help activists in the fight against each of these dangerous right wing initiatives, so check the Official Blog or Permanent Defense's website regularly for updates.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Farm Bureau turns in signatures for I-933

As we expected, I-933 is headed for this November's ballot:
Backers of a controversial [snip] initiative [to end land use protections] today filed petitions bearing 315,000 signatures in support of the measure, almost guaranteeing it will appear on the November ballot.

To qualify, Initiative 933 needs the signatures of 224,880 registered voters by tomorrow. While the Secretary of State's office still must verify the petition signatures, the [snip] measure [to end land use protections] appears to have a much larger cushion than what's usually needed.
This is the last right wing initiative campaign to turn in signatures. It's time for progressives to beginpreparing for the fight ahead this fall. Defeating each of these initiatives is tough, but it's aboslutely necessary.

UPDATE [Andrew]: The Farm Bureau didn't get a free pass at the cameras when they arrived at the Capitol to turn in signatures. The Community Protection Coalition (of which NPI's Permanent Defense is a member) showed up in force to represent the opposition. In fact, our side outnumbered theirs!

Activists Gather to Oppose Initiative 933

And here's the coalition's united response to today's petition filing:
"It makes sense that an out-of-state real estate developer would back Initiative 933 - he won’t have to pay the extra taxes or sit in the traffic jams that will be caused by the irresponsible development from 933" said Barbara Seitle, with the League of Women Voters. "Voters have a right to know who is really behind this terrible idea."

Initiative 933 creates a "pay or waive" system that forces communities to decide whether to waive laws for certain people - or - force taxpayers to pay them to follow the same rules the rest of us do. By exempting certain people from the law, 933 would create gaping loopholes leading to irresponsible development and threatening Washington neighborhoods and farms.

"Initiative 933 will open up our neighborhoods and natural places to irresponsible development," said Len Barson from The Nature Conservancy. "Initiative 933 creates a loophole big enough to drive a bulldozer through." The Nature Conservancy has been helping to lead the effort to defeat Initiative 933 since March.

"Farming is a tough business and 933 will push the balance to impossible," said Steve Sakuma with Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland. "Initiative 933 places agriculture in Washington at a competitive disadvantage." Steve operates the Sakuma Brothers Farms which has been in business since 1937.

Before local communities are even forced to waive laws for special interests, it will cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars just to administer 933. That number quickly rises into the billions when you look at the potential costs of paying special interests to follow the same rules the rest of us do. 933 also mandates that taxpayers must pay for claimants' attorneys' fees.

Kelly Fox of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters said, "Taxpayers are forced to pay a premium to get emergency services to unplanned, irresponsible developments. Increasing rural demand for emergency services where staffing and resources are already sparse will put a strain on mostly volunteer fire stations and reduce response times." The Washington State Council of Fire Fighters joined the coalition to defeat 933 last week.

Initiative 933 is so extreme and costly to taxpayers that a diverse group of organizations including the League of Women Voters, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, The Nature Conservancy, Washington Tax Fairness Coalition, Washington State Labor Council, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters and individuals across Washington state have created a coalition to stop 933.
Permanent Defense will be working alongside these groups (and many others) throughout the next few months to stop Initiative 933 and its right wing, special interest backers in their tracks.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Darcy Burner surges again

David Postman commented this afternoon on the Darcy Burner campaign's 2nd quarter numbers over at his Seattle Times blog:
Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner has raised $1.1 million in her race against Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. In her filing to the Federal Election Commission due July 15 Burner will report $754,800 cash on hand, according to her campaign manager, Zach Silk. In the three months ending last week Burner raised $581,000.

[...]

With Burner's most lucrative quarter yet, Republicans will have to find a new spin to put on her fund raising success. Last quarter, Burner raised more than Reichert and, according to the King County Journal, GOP chairwoman Diane Tebelius said, "That's her early money. We'll see what happens after the early money comes in."
And now we've seen what's happened.

We've been saying this here on this blog for many months: Darcy Burner is an incredible candidate running a very strong, aggressive campaign against a weak incumbent who has demonstrated he shares the priorities of George W. Bush - not the priorities of 8th District voters.

That the campaign has such outstanding numbers to report for the second quarter will come as no surprise to anyone who is closely watching this race and this campaign. You can bet that the momentum behind Darcy Burner will only become stronger in the months ahead.

North Korea wants U.S. attention

Could it be any clearer that North Korea wants our attention?
United Nations Security Council members on Wednesday discussed a draft resolution proposed by Japan -- and backed by the United States and Britain -- that demands countries cut off any money or materials that could be used for North Korea's missile program, diplomats said.

[...]

North Korea fired seven missiles Wednesday, one long-range and five shorter-range missiles beginning shortly after 3:30 a.m. (2:30 p.m. Tuesday ET) and a seventh missile around 5:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m. ET) Wednesday.
Well, the missile firings appear to have achieved their intended effect: the U.S. and world news media are focusing on North Korea, as are the governments of nations like Japan, South Korea, and of course, ours.

The Bush administration has so far done a poor job of dealing with North Korea. The administration doesn't even appear to have a strategy for negotiating with Pyongyang beyond insisting on multilateral talks, which the North doesn't seem interested in.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I-937 should make the ballot

We won't have as many initiatives on the ballot this fall as the other side will, but at least we're going to have one:
Supporters of Initiative 937, which would mandate that Washington utilities generate 15 percent of electricity from wind, solar power and other renewable sources, say they've gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.

Backers of "Yes on I-937" say they'll turn in 320,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office on Thursday.
It's good to be able to support something that will move our state in a meaningful direction. However, while I-937 deserves to be strongly supported, we must also defeat the right wing initiatives that have qualified for the ballot. All are serious threats to our future that cannot be ignored.

The Declaration of Independence

Posted for your reading pleasure on this Fourth of July, 2006, a truly beautiful document:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

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

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

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

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

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 03, 2006

In Brief - July 3rd, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • So Joe Lieberman has announced his plans to run in the general election regardless of whether he wins the Democratic primary in Connecticut. Apparently he has lost faith in his ability to compete in the primary. Is it just my imagination, or does Joe have fewer and fewer friends these days? What a tool. David Sirota is asking activists to tell the DSCC not to put up with this nonsense.
  • The right wing bloggers who went nuts about Rumsfeld and Cheney's vacation homes being pictured in the New York Times Travel section are really starting to look like complete crackpots. Not only did a Rumsfeld spokesperson say the paper had permission to photograph the house, but now the Secret Service is coming out and saying the story is "not a threat".
  • Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens last week made a complete and utter fool of himself attempting to explain how the Internet works - and failing miserably. (Stevens was trying to make it clear why he voted against the Net Neutrality amendment). While Stevens is an expert at pork barrel politics and parliamentary procedure, he apparently knows nothing about technology. He should ask his esteemed colleague from the Evergreen State, Sen. Maria Cantwell, to enlighten him.
  • Tom Tomorrow has a new cartoon up at Salon which neatly captures right wing hatred of the traditional media, which they are constantly trying to portray as liberal (and biased). Media Matters' Paul Waldman says the right has declared war not just on the traditional media, but on the very notion of an independent press.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.

Our flag is a symbol of our freedom

Recently the Republicans who currently run the political establishment in Washington D.C. tried to ram through a Constitutional amendment to criminalize the desecration of the American flag.

I've read quite a few letters to the editor from angry conservatives decrying Senators Cantwell and Murray for voting against the amendment.

I say bravo to both of them for defending freedom of expression. Bravo to them for recognizing this amendment for what it really is: a midterm elections marketing ploy.

What is, perhaps most incredible, is that burning a flag is not an act of desecration at all. It is the recognized and proper way of disposing of the flag when it is no longer fit to be flown.
When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
It's especially laughable how the flag is not supposed to be used for advertising. Yet that's all the Republican Party uses it for.
The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used.
  1. The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  2. The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  3. The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
  4. The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  5. The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
  6. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
Our flag is a symbol of our freedom.

As Supreme Court Justice William Brennan once eloquently stated: "We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents."

It doesn't get any simpler than that.

I-933 Endangers Our Future

This is the fourth in a special, multiple part series on the threat that this year's crop of right wing ballot measures pose to the sustainable future of Washington State. A reminder that you can help the progressive movement take advantage of our First Amendment rights by reporting right wing signature gathering activity when you observe it occurring. And don't forget that you have every right to urge fellow voters not to sign a petition for a right wing ballot measure.

The national right wing effort to destroy land use and community protection regulations spread into Washington State late last year when the state Farm Bureau announced its plans to run its own Measure 37 clone in 2006.

Measure 37 was a statewide ballot measure passed by Oregonian voters in 2004. Put simply, the measure created a "pay or waive" system which allows landowners to demand compensation for any reduction in their land value. If the government (local or state) can't pay, the rules are waived.

The Washington chapter of the American Planning Association has done an excellent analysis of the Farm Bureau's proposal and warns of what will happen if I-933 (which is almost an exact clone of Measure 37) passes and takes effect:
The initiative proposes to lower that bar by inserting into Washington state law a new legal definition of "damage."

When an owner then claims that a regulation "damages" his property under this new definition, I-933 would compel a state or local government agency to choose between paying taxpayer dollars to enforce the law or else waiving the requirements of the law.

No notice would be given to adjacent property owners when an I-933 "damage claim" is asserted, nor would notice be required when the challenged rules are actually waived and protections removed. Even if such notice were given, neighboring property owners would have no way to defend their own interests other than hiring lawyers and filing lawsuits.

Although the language of I-933 states that the "agency shall pay," in reality this means "taxpayers shall pay." Under I-933, the choice facing our communities would be to either pay millions of taxpayer dollars or else waive the rules that protect residential neighborhoods from property devaluing intrusions and the laws that protect farms, forests, streams, and wetlands from being paved over by irresponsible development. In effect, I-933 asks us to surrender Washington’s very quality of life.
I-933 would create mayhem by stealthily wiping out our state's carefully crafted growth management laws. If it isn't defeated, it will have significant, immediate, and devastating consequences. Not just in Puget Sound, but statewide. I-933 means the end of growth management and careful urban or rural land use planning. For example:
Concerns about flooding would be magnified by the passage of I-933. By its terms, the exemptions in I-933 for flooding only apply to "structural standards in building or fire codes." No exemption is created for the flood plain requirements necessary to maintain eligibility for federal flood insurance. Washington state cities and counties could lose their eligibility to participate in such programs. This would mean flood plain property owners would not be compensated for flood damages and federally insured and regulated loans would not be available for properties in flood plains. If lenders are prohibited or discouraged from lending in Washington’s flood plains, properties in flood plains would be greatly reduced in value and difficult to sell.

[...]

The Puget Sound Action Team concluded that legislation like I-933 would hamper if not eliminate safeguards that protect the health of Puget Sound. Their analysis stated that the resulting loss of habitat and species critical to the food web "could result in partial or total ecosystem collapse," manifested as "dead zones" in Puget Sound, similar to that found in the Hood Canal. Threatened species like the Chinook salmon and orca are already having a difficult time surviving as part of Washington’s ecosystem – irresponsible development enabled by I-933 could very well push these species to endangered status and beyond to ultimate extinction.
While the state Farm Bureau is sponsoring the initiative, much of the financial resources contributed so far for the signature drive have come from out of state. The Illinois based "Americans for Limited Government" group has donated at least $200,000 to the Farm Bureau's political action committee.

The money trail, however, doesn't end at "Americans for Limited Government". The real sugar daddy is Howard Rich, a New York real estate mogul who chairs the organization. Rich isn't just rich; he's extremely rich.

His "Americans for Limited Government" and "Fund for Democracy" fronts have contributed some $2.4 million to right wing initiatives assaulting land use protections in California, Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma and now - Washington.

The "Fund for Democracy" also gave Missourians in Charge (a local right wing front group in the Show Me state) $1.36 million to put two separate initiatives on the Missouri ballot, including one which would require taxpayers to pay special interests to follow neighborhood land use rules.

Many of the efforts in other states, such as California or Montana, are being framed as homeowner protection campaigns. In fact, the Arizona campaign is actually calling itself the Home Owners Protection Effort - or, "HOPE". (And that kind of Orwellian deviousness sure brings back memories from 2003, when the Building Industry Association of Washington ran its "Workers Against Job Killing Rules" campaign to gut ergonomics regulations).

Not all of the proposals are the same, of course, but each one contains the same sinister "pay or waive" scheme designed to benefit special interests. That's why, as the APA concludes, it's un-American:
The "pay or waive" approach to land use regulation disconnects decision-making from the strong American tradition of open, inclusive, and accountable decision-making by representatives directly elected by the people.

[I-933] twists the concept of "fairness for all under the law" into a protection racket for the benefit of the aggressive and self-interested few.
There's absolutely no question that I-933 is a serious threat to our sustainable future. I-933 represents the exact opposite of progressive, traditional American values: fairness, equality, opportunity, and prosperity for all.

Initiative 933 is not about protecting your rights; it's about taking them away. It's about denying you a voice in your community's future. It's an underhandeded effort by special interests to get you to sell out without your knowing. That's why it's so dangerous.

The sponsors of I-933 have done, and are doing, everything they can to get Washingtonians to blindly support their efforts. I-933 will be marketed extensively as a "property fairness" or "homeowner protection" proposal, when in fact it lays waste to the concepts of fairness and protection.

I-933 hurts you, your family, and your neighbors. It's bad for all Washingtonians. It doesn't even deserve to be called public policy.

One major lie that you need to watch out for is any attempt by sponsors to claim that I-933 will stop eminent domain abuse. For the record, Initiative 933 has nothing to do with eminent domain. Absolutely nothing.

There's language in the first part of the initiative that mentions the subject, but that language was written in as a marketing gimmick. That's all it is.

The bottom line: I-933 includes no substantive provisions dealing with emiment domain.

If we want livable communities - clean air, clean water, green spaces, less sprawl, more carefully managed growth (and we do) - then we can't afford Initiative 933 and its "pay or waive" scheme.

We are staunchly opposed to outside, right wing special interests funneling money into our state to fund ballot measures that put an end to our way of life.

We have a moral responsibility to defeat proposals like Initiative 933, and keep our communities safe from greedy, careless developers and special interests. If you are approached to sign I-933, tell the petitioner you oppose this assault on our sustainable future - and report the incident to Permanent Defense.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Right wing bloggers go after reporters' families

Some of the nation's top right wing bloggers today urged their readers to go after the families of New York Times reporters and editors in response to an article in the newspaper's Travel section, which featured a town in Maryland where Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have vacation homes:
So, in the school of what's good for the goose is good for the gander, we are providing this link so YOU may help the blogosphere in locating the homes (perhaps with photos?) of the editors and reporters of the New York Times.

Let's start with the following New York Times reporters and editors: Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. , Bill Keller, Eric Lichtblau, and James Risen. Do you have an idea where they live?

Go hunt them down and do America a favor. Get their photo, street address, where their kids go to school, anything you can dig up, and send it to the link above. This is your chance to be famous - grab for the golden ring.
Sickening and unbelievable. Glenn Greenwald has more.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

In Brief - July 1st, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • As previously announced, Dennis Falk and several cohorts stopped by the Secretary of State's office in Olympia yesterday to drop off what they said were at least 300,000 signatures for Initiative 920, which would repeal the state's estate tax. The Committee to Protect Our Children's Legacy is already organizing for the long fight ahead.
  • The Supreme Court this past week largely OK'ed the Texas congressional redestricting scheme orchestrated by Tom Delay. Republicans shouldn't celebrate, though, because this decision sets the stage for Democrats to follow suit.
  • Markos explains why it's so ridiculous that Iowa and New Hampshire get to decide who the Democratic nominee will be. It's definitely time to make some changes and reform the process.
  • The Seattle P-I has a story about the Navy lawyer who beat Dubya in the recently ended Supreme Court battle over the illegal military tribunals that the administration was setting up to try Guantanamo detainees. Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift says the legal win has likely cost him his military career.
If you have something you'd like to add, leave a comment.