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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A vote for Dave Reichert is a vote for "staying the course" in Iraq

George W. Bush's theme of "stay the course" has been repeated so many times by the White House, its Congressional puppets, and right wing media that it has become ubiquitous. Even now, as Bush tries to reverse himself rhetorically and escape from his own theme or frame, he has admitted that it hasn't really changed.

The words have changed. The language is different. The policy is still the same.

Dave Reichert and George Bush

A policy that Dave Reichert adamantly supports. As Dave Reichert said three weeks ago in the Seattle Times sponsored debate with Darcy Burner:
We first have to remember that we were attacked....the United States of America was attacked. (Boos, jeering from audience) We have to win this war.

Mr. Baker said who was on this panel that the Iraqi government was capable of sustaining peace in war torn Iraq. And the plan is...and the plan has always been from day one: Strong government, strong economy. Strong infrastructure in place and a strong army and a strong police force.

Until that happens we need to stay in Iraq.

- Dave Reichert
A vote for Dave Reichert is a vote for staying the course in Iraq. A vote cast for Dave Reichert is a vote of support for the policies of George W. Bush.

A vote for Dave Reichert is a vote for a clueless Congresscritter who thinks Saddam Hussein was behind September 11th ("we were attacked!") and doesn't have a firm grasp of the issues.

Just look at his performance in the October 10th debate. When asked about Net Neutrality, this is what he said:
PANELIST RYAN BLETHEN: Where are you on network neutrality and what role should Congress play in regulating the Internet?

DAVE REICHERT: It should be an equal place for the people to come, an equal place for the companies to come. It should be the equal place for people to come when they Google... the biggest company doesn't come up but the company that the people have chosen as the most important site.
Clearly Dave Reichert doesn't know what he's talking about. Not only does he not understand what Net Neutrality is, but he doesn't understand Google's PageRank system either. He's all mixed up. Reichert was lucky that Darcy was asked to answer this question first, before he did.

Net Neutrality is all about preserving an open marketplace, not only for the exchange of goods and services, but the exchange of ideas. Net Neutrality is about preventing big Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast from becoming the ultimate gatekeepers, stifling innovation and freedom.

Net Neutrality is about protecting and preserving equal access to the Internet. It isn't about determining which sites should appear at the top of the results for a Google search.

Even more embarrassing was Reichert's answer on media consolidation:
PANELIST RYAN BLETHEN: Do you believe the FCC should push changes wanted by media conglomerates? If so, does Congress need to create laws that promote local and diverse ownership of the press and media?

DAVE REICHERT: That's an issue that I am not familiar with, and I will have to pass on that question.
That's right. Dave Reichert isn't even familiar with all the major issues in American politics today! He doesn't need to worry about being informed, though, because that's not his job. His job is to do what he's told.

Dave Reichert is desperately hoping to go back to Washington D.C. so he can continue taking orders from House Republican leadership. But the 8th District is a Democratic district. It passed over George W. Bush twice and supported Al Gore and John Kerry. It passed over George Nethercutt and voted for Patty Murray.

Why is it currently represented by a weak-minded stooge who does the bidding of the Bush White House and the corrupt, complicit House Republican leadership?
Sometimes the leadership comes to me and says, `Dave, we want you to vote a certain way.' Now, they know I can do that over here, that I have to do that over here. In other districts, that's not a problem, but here I have to be able to be very flexible in where I place my votes.

Because the big picture here is, keep this seat, keep the majority, keep the country moving forward with Republican ideals -- especially on the budget, on protecting our troops, on protecting this country. Right? Being responsible with taxpayer dollars. All of those things. That's the big picture. Not the vote I place on ANWR that you may not agree with, or the vote that I place on protecting salmon."

You have to... be ... flexible.

And so, when the leadership comes to me and says 'Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority, I...I do it.'

- Dave Reichert
In one week, voters have a chance to slam the door on "stay the course" and elect Darcy Burner to Congress. Darcy's priorities are clear: demand accountability from the administration on Iraq and other issues, work for fiscal responsibility, restore cuts to education funding, address the nation's health care crisis, and end the auctioning off of our public lands and natural resources while advocating legislation to reward investment in renewable energy.

We can't afford to stay the course any longer. Republican one party rule has been a disaster. It's time for change. It's time to send Darcy Burner to Congress.

Halloween GOP tricks

With one week until the election, the level of Republican thuggishness continues to escalate. There's so much of it that it's almost impossible to track anything but the worst examples:

You can view GOP thugs manhandling activist Mike Stark on behalf of Sen. George Allen in Virginia. (courtesy Daily Kos)

Then there are the corporate thugs who have blacklisted Air America. (courtesy Media Matters.)

And then there is White House spokes-thug Tony Snow, who thinks it's 2004. News flash: John Kerry isn't on any ballot this year.

None of it is going to work. The country wants a change, and no amount of coordinated lying is going to change the outcome at this point.

But be prepared. The media hates a blowout, and will do everything in its power to make things seem closer than they are.

Burner profiled in Journal

The King County Journal has a nice profile of Darcy Burner up today. (Cuteness alert:)
Henry was still up when Mom and Dad got home. "Who won?" he asked. "I did," Mom said.

"Good," he said. To Henry, that apparently meant the days and nights of Mom off running for Congress were over. He wondered whether tomorrow was a stay-at-home day.

Not quite yet, Mom said. To which Henry replied: "OK. Go beat Dave Reichert."
Republican attempts to portray Burner as unqualified are blowing up in their face. Moms can be in Congress, too. Just ask Patty Murray.

P-I slams I-920 again

Looks like the P-I is editorializing again about Initiative 920, the repeal of estate taxes on a relative few wealthy heirs.

Another No On I-920: The elite's inequity
The Seattle Times reported Sunday that Seattle developer Martin Selig has contributed nearly $1 million for the initiative campaign -- more than two-thirds of the money raised by the Committee to Abolish Washington State Estate Tax. Selig is in, let's just say, elite company -- people with multimillion-dollar estates. But he told The Times he's only looking out for the middle class.

Do you suppose this is the same middle class that will have to dig up new taxes worth at least $100 million to replace the estate tax funding public education (in an education funding system that's not exactly flush)?
The P-I wouldn't have to repeat itself if a certain newspaper company weren't being so downright obnoxious about the estate tax.

The fact that these newspaper owners and developers wish to deprive Washington students of education funding is lamentable.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yawn...is Frank Blethen done insulting us yet?

"Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."

- Yoda

A famous and oft-repeated line from the phenomenally successful Star Wars franchise, now ingrained American in popular culture, was Jedi Master Yoda's warning to Luke Skywalker about the Dark Side of the Force.

I couldn't help but remember that idea this morning as I read Frank Blethen's latest laughable editorial on the 8th District race between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert, in which the haughty owner and his editorial board demanded that Darcy Burner tell the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to stop airing an ad which includes a clip of Reichert admitting he gets his orders from House Republican leaders. (Watch it here).

The Times has become so one-sided and partisan Republican these last few weeks that it is hard to remember this was the same editorial board which endorsed John Kerry and Patty Murray two years ago, and which over the last few years has editorialized against the Bush administration on issues such as Iraq, Social Security, Arctic drilling, and media consolidation.

But evidently Frank Blethen has grown so impatient waiting for his permanent tax break...the repeal of the estate tax...that a candidate's position on that became the supreme and overruling qualification for federal office.

In its endorsement of Mike McGavick
, the Times editorial board finally admitted that the estate tax was a factor in its endorsement process (no mention of the estate tax could be found in the earlier published endorsements of Dave Reichert and Cathy McMorris) but insisted it wasn't a deciding factor.

That was a slight to every reader of the Seattle Times, because if you look carefully to discern what possible other significant justification the Times could have for endorsing Mike McGavick, you just can't find any.

The Seattle Times' endorsements so far this year have largely been a series of insults to the people of Seattle and the State of Washington. In a Democratic city, in a Democratic state, in an election year where voters have clearly indicated they prefer the Democrats, Frank Blethen saw fit to endorse only Republicans in the state's three major competitive races.

That's because Frank is too greedy and too self-driven to care about the larger regional community. He just wants his tax break.

But even though Times editorial page has become a joke, at least the Times newsroom and reporters such as Jonathan Martin and David Postman have not been subverted into the ownership's agenda. On Sunday, the Times ran a large headline at the top of its front page which read as follows:
Democratic win would strengthen state's clout
If the party wins control of the U.S. House, at least two veteran congressmen of the state would become chairmen of powerful subcommittees
A Democratic takeover of Congress is of course in the whole country's best interest, but Washington State stands to benefit greatly if it happens.

A House takeover seems more likely than a Senate takeover, but if Democrats did get the Senate, veteran Senator Patty Murray would become the chairwoman of one of the most powerful Appropriations subcommittees in the chamber.

We could certainly use some federal money here in Washington State to help tackle a number of imminent projects which are vital to our state's economic well being. The replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the State Route 520 floating bridge come to mind. Our public infrastructure is ailing, and federal help would be both welcome and wise.

Frank Blethen know this. He knows the state wins if Maria Cantwell, Darcy Burner, and Peter Goldmark win. But Frank's priority isn't broad prosperity for the region, it's his own affluence. That's what the GOP is about, so naturally a sizable chunk of the Republican agenda looks attractive to him.

Estate tax repeal dominates his thoughts.

Yet Blethen would have us all pretend that he really puts the community's interests first, and not his. He would have us believe the Seattle Times editorial page is a voice of moderation. Perhaps years ago such a defense could have reasonably weathered a fair amount of attack from critics, but it can't now.

The truth has become too obvious.

Frank Blethen is not being honest, and that's an insult not just to his newspaper's readers, but to the entire electorate of the Evergreen State.

Frank has made his decision, and it's too late to turn back. He's started down the dark path, and now he can only focus on meaningless controversies that hardly anybody cares about. He's aligned himself with the GOP, so his editorial board really can't address truly important topics like Iraq...because Blethen doesn't agree with the Republican Party's positions on those issues.

Today's hollow commentary looks as if it had been drafted by Reichert's communications team, not a panel of an intelligent, thoughtful editorial writers. David Goldstein has already deconstructed it with elegance...and though I could have published a similar, thorough critique this morning, I chose not to.

I don't consider Frank Blethen's viewpoint to be all that relevant, so I put writing on this joke of an editorial at the bottom of my to-do list for the day. I suspect that most of the Times' actual subscribers contentedly yawn through the opinion pages morning after morning on their way to the sports section or the comics, not even bothering to look at the latest Blethen follies.

Occasionally there's a nice guest column from a local writer in there, but much of it (besides the mostly incoherent ramblings of Blethen and his editorial board) is syndicated right wing nonsense from the likes of Charles Krauthammer.

Fortunately, the people of Puget Sound have a choice. If they like getting a newspaper, they can subscribe to the area's other major daily - the Seattle P-I, where they can get serious commentary and discourse as they flip through the end of the metropolitan or local news section.

And they can go online, where blogs and alternative media offer diverse analysis and commentary....not a boring, "we know what's best" establishment viewpoint.

So go ahead, Frank. Keep picking on Democrats, endorsing Republicans, and stripping apart the few shreds of credibility you have left. We'll pause to laugh at you every now and then as we continue to build a grassroots movement to return American political power to the people.

(Oh...and by the way, Frank, if Democrats win next week and I-920 loses...not an unlikely scenario... you can kiss goodbye to any possibility of getting that tax break for a long time).

NY Times profiles WA-08

Hey, didn't anyone spot a New York Times reporter in Bellevue? This district profile piece by Jodi Kantor is pretty interesting:

Liberal Republican Suburb Turns Furious With G.O.P.
BELLEVUE, Wash., Oct. 24 — The M.B.A.’s have had it. The engineers are fuming.

For as long as anyone here can remember, Bellevue has been a stronghold of socially liberal Republicanism. First, it was a prosperous Seattle bedroom community, then a technological boomtown, where employees of Microsoft and Internet start-ups consistently voted for fiscal restraint and hands-off government.

But now, voters here are accusing the party in power of overspending and overreaching — and when they do, they sound like people who write manifestos, not software code.

“I’m a mild-mannered guy,” Michael Mattison, a partner in a software venture development firm, said as he stabbed a piece of halibut in the sunlit dining room of a local bistro. “But we can no longer be subdued.”

Bellevue has been growing more Democratic for several years, thanks to an influx of liberal voters and a professional class that is changing teams. This year, Bellevue may send its first Democrat to Congress. Darcy Burner, who even supporters admit is inexperienced, may unseat Representative Dave Reichert, a well-liked, longtime public servant, simply because constituents want Democratic control of the House of Representatives.
Look, you don't want Microsoft engineers angry with you. They will take their pocket protectors and beat you silly, sheriff or no sheriff. You will be back to the "c" prompt like it's 1994 in no time.

Seriously, the piece is a good snapshot of why Burner may very well win the 8th District. Go take a look, if you wish.

Schram on the Street: No on I-933

One has to love this Ken Schram commentary about Initiative 933, the so-called property rights measure. (video link available at KOMO)

Schram says, in part:
First word that pops into my head about 933?

Disaster.

In a nutshell: If 933 passes, it forces the state to go along with just about anything a property owner wants, OR, pay the property owner for not being legally allowed to do it.

Estimated cost to taxpayers?

About $8 billion.

That's because if current laws don't allow the government to waive existing land-use restrictions and/or regulations, the government has no other choice but to change the law, or pay the landowner.

Did I mention that bill could be upwards of $8 billion?
Schram hit upon the key point: I-933 is inherently flawed because it would force local governments to pay huge claims even though they would be complying with state and federal law when enforcing land use and environmental laws.

Yeah, "disaster" about sums it up.

The War on Halloween

So I'm cooking dinner earlier this evening, and the phone rings. It was the automated calling system at my daughter's school calling with "an important message-please hold."
This is (your daughter's school) calling with an important reminder. No Halloween costumes are allowed at school for any reason. Thank you for your cooperation.
Yeah, I'm sure it's a "student safety issue." Or a "learning environment issue." I doubt the school district got tired of dealing with lunatic fundamentalists who turn off all their lights and hide in their bedrooms every Oct. 31. You never know when the forces of Satan, in the form of my daughter wearing a Winx Club costume, might burst throught their doors demanding human sacrifice.

Do Republicans have to ruin everything? They already made it impossible to listen to the ballgame on the radio with the TV on, thanks to their fear of nipples.

Poll Watch: SurveyUSA on statewide races

SurveyUSA has released new polling today on statewide races and ballot measures for KING5. As usual, we recommend a grain of salt with poll results. Just because a poll shows a victory does not guarantee a victory will happen.

Turnout is critical. Contributing is important. Volunteering is everything.

With that in mind, here's a recap of the poll:
  • Senator Cantwell, as in other recent polls (like Mason-Dixon and Elway) continues to enjoy sizable lead over Mike McGavick, 54% to 41%.
  • Initiative 920, the right wing estate tax repeal, appears to be falling further and further behind. Voters just aren't going for that millionaire tax break.
  • Initiative 933 and the state Supreme Court race between Susan Owens and Stephen Johnson are tight. A huge number of voters are undecided about who should be justice, according to the poll. Just last month, however, Owens made a strong showing in the primary. Meanwhile, the opposition to I-933 is much greater than it was before - voter education efforts would seem to be paying off.
A detailed breakdown and complete crosstabs are available here. Remember - your energy and efforts will make the difference in the end.

Poll Watch: Burner in tie, Goldmark close

The latest poll results from Constituent Dynamics' "Majority Watch" contain some encouraging news for a couple of Washington state Democratic candidates for the US House. Majority Watch has a handy clickable map that reveals all sorts of interesting information, for the poll junkies out there.

In hotly contested WA-08, Democratic challenger Darcy Burner remains in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Republican Dave Reichert. In polling done Oct. 24-26, Burner polls at 49% and Reichert comes in at 47%, within the margin of error of 3%.

The last Majority Watch poll, in early October, pegged Reichert at 48% and Burner at 45%, also within the margin of error.

Another close race is in WA-05, where Democrat Peter Goldmark is within 5 points of incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris. That polling was also done Oct. 24-26, and shows McMorris at 51% and Goldmark at 46%. The margin of error in that poll is also roughly 3%.

There was no previous Majority Watch poll in that race.

Momentum is the name of the game. If you live in either district, please consider volunteering to help, both of these races should be close.

Whether you're volunteering time, talents, or treasure, your help is needed in WA-08 and WA-05 - now.

Karl Rove has a massive...brain

It's almost Halloween and the so called "liberal media" is playing a fun game of "boo!" The Washington Post has decided that what's really important to Americans is how Karl Rove is viewed.

From the liberal, liberal, liberal Washington Post:
"I believe Karl Rove," (White House Chief of Staff Joshua B.) Bolten said in an interview in his West Wing office Friday. "Karl Rove, somewhere inside that massive brain of his, has figured out the political landscape more clearly than the entire collection of conventional-wisdom pundits and pollsters in the entire city of Washington."
And further down in the article:
The flip side of adulation is paranoia. Many Democrats are convinced Rove has some trick up his sleeve -- Osama bin Laden in the freezer, perhaps, ready for release just before Election Day -- that will save the Republicans from electoral disaster this fall.
Oh come now, liberal Washington Post reporter Michael Abromowitz. Bin Laden can't be in the freezer because he died of kidney failure and his body has never been found. Or he has one leg. Or something.

But back to the conversations regular voters are having over their ballots. Here's one I secretly taped.
stilwell: You're going to vote for Democrats, right?

mrs. stilwell: I was, but then I heard that Karl Rove says Republicans will keep control of Congress.
I think this Matt Stoller post sums up the deep fear Democratic activists have of Karl Rove and his Rovian turnout machine (go read the full post if you can:)
I'm in awe of the GOP GOTV machine. It's amazing. The Republicans have a tightly knit and centralized organization. When Karl Rove speaks, GOPers jump. The RNC, from their lair in the Virginia suburbs, control every action of every volunteer, in fact every word that comes out of every Republicans' mouth. This machine is beautiful, it is magnificent, it sweats perfume and gold. One of my friends had a fight with his wife, and the GOP GOTV machine came by with some pie and good advice. But it's not just nice. Don't make the GOP GOTV machine angry or Karl Rove will use his mutant powers to morph into a 1000 foot tall SwiftBoatzilla, and he'll have all the Democratic voters paralyzed on election day by using his control of the Matrix.
The media has bought into a myth; namely that Karl Rove is some kind of political genius. He's nothing of the sort. Rove is an old-school Nixonian political thug who will do anything to win. Nothing special about that.

Most of those guys got talk shows and book deals after they got out of prison, Rove just happened to be a little younger and is still in the game. And even if Rove is handed a crushing defeat, he'll just get a book deal and a spot on Faux News.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Republicans are lying about Darcy Burner's position on taxes

From the Executive Director: Natasha has a really good post at Pacific Views refuting the Republicans' lies about Darcy Burner's position on taxes, budgeting, and fiscal issues which she has kindly given us permission to reprint in its entirety here on the Official Blog. It's worth a close, careful read.

Republicans would like you to believe that Darcy Burner and the Democrats want to take money out of the hands of the average, middle class or lower income family.

They'd like you to believe that the Republican dominated 109th Congress, of which Dave Reichert is a loyal foot soldier, has made life better for most Americans. It would be choosing politeness over truth to describe this as anything other than a lie. Darcy Burner explains here who the Republicans are really worried about benefiting:
... On the tax side, I think we need to figure out a way to ease the burden on the middle class and poor. In real terms for most of those families at this point, their disposable income has gone down. The cost of housing is so much higher than it used to be, wages are stagnant. The average tax break for families in this country under the Bush tax cuts was all of $50 a year and the increase in health care costs alone has more than eaten that up. Much more. So families are worse off now than they used to be. The middle class and the poor are worse off than they used to be. But for people who make more than a million dollars a year in income, the Bush tax breaks were worth an average of more than $43,000 to them. I do think we need to take a look at ensuring that the very wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, while reducing the burden on the middle class and poor. ...
She also points out what Republicans do with the tax money they get:
... We know there are billions of dollars that have gone missing in Iraq. Billions. Probably tens of billions of dollars that have gone missing in Iraq. We could identify what they’ve been spent on and who’s pocketed them or what they’ve been used for, right? That is an enormous waste. The fourteen and a half billion dollars in tax subsidies to the big oil companies that the Congress voted into place last year, that are taking effect during a period in which the oil companies are making more in profits than any companies ever in the history of the planet, is a waste of taxpayer money. The no-bid contracts to Halliburton represent huge wastes of taxpayer money. And we say that we can’t afford to do critical things that we clearly ought to be doing. ...
Republicans like to focus on a couple, specific taxes to say that Democrats want to take more money overall, but they refuse to look at the big picture because it doesn't substantiate their claims. Congress has given themselves several raises over the decade that they've refused to raise the minimum wage.

As they've created an economy in which the cost of living goes up, tuition goes up, utility costs rise, fuel costs skyrocket, medical and insurance bills go through the roof. They raise the alarm that Democrats want to increase payroll taxes, never saying that what Democrats want to do about payroll taxes is discussed here by labor organizer Nathan Newman in the context of how to fund Social Security:
... But if any "solution" is needed, the simplest is the fairest. Currently, while a minimum wage worker pays 6.2% of his income into the social security trust fund -- $12.4% if you include the matching employers portion -- a CEO paid a $1 million dollars pays only 1% of his salary into the system. And Bill Gates pays nothing into the system from his billions in stock income. This all stems from the fact that wage income above a certain level -- $87,000 per year in 2003 -- is completely untaxed by social security. Eliminating this so-called "cap" would raise plenty of income to help out the system. Only 83% of all wages paid are subject to social security taxes, so this would increase annual social security revenues 20%, or roughly $100 billion per year, plenty This is hardly a radical idea-- the "cap" used to apply to the payroll taxes funding Medicare, but the 1993 tax bill removed the cap and now every dollar of wage income is taxed to help fund the Medicare system. There's no reason not to do the same for social security. A "New" Tax on the Wealthy?: Now, conservatives will scream that this is an additional tax on the wealthy, but in reality it would be applying the same tax already paid by poorer working families to everyone the same way. Every dollar earned, whether by a minimum wage worker or by a CEO, would be taxed the same 12.4% (6.2% of employee income, an additional 6.2% from the employer). ...
When conservatives wail about Democrats wanting to raise the payroll tax, what they're complaining about is that people who make more than $87,000 per year will have to pay the same tax as everyone else on every dollar they earn.

This 'radical' idea of extending the payroll tax to all income is shared by none other than investment magnate Warren Buffett, who also lays out the fact that "less than 2 percent of all estates pay any tax.

A couple million people die every year, 40,000 or so estates get taxed." Republicans have done a very good job of selectively omitting certain facts from their arguments to give the impression that payroll tax increases, like estate taxes, would affect the typical household in a big way.

It just isn't true. In fact, one of the most important recent tax cuts for Washington voters has been the sales tax exemption, which was championed and spearheaded by Washington Democrats, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Brian Baird.

It's an exemption that keeps more money in Washington State, more money in the hands of Washington families. But it wasn't a priority for the White House, and Republicans almost let it expire. Back to the big picture, Republicans also passed bankruptcy legislation that severely penalizes average citizens who fall on hard times, while making it as easy as ever for corporations to get out of onerous debt.

Though this article was written before the bill was passed finally into law, these are the tender mercies shown by Republicans towards their fellow Americans:
... About 50 percent of all families who are forced to file for bankruptcy do so as the result of medical expenses. And three quarters of those have health insurance. Another 40 percent have suffered a death in the family, lost their job, or gotten divorced, or suffered some combination of these factors and medical costs. Almost everyone who files for bankruptcy does so as a last resort. Sixty-one percent of those who do so have gone without medical care that they needed but could not afford. Fifty percent have failed to get prescriptions filled. A third have had their utilities shut off. Twenty-one percent have gone without food. Seven percent have moved their elderly parents to cheaper care facilities. ... This time around, the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down that amendment and numerous other amendments aimed at making this bill less than utterly disgusting. These included amendments to:
  • close off the trusts loophole for millionaires,
  • limit the homestead exemption,
  • create a minimum homestead exemption to save the homes of the elderly,
  • protect employees and retirees from corporate practices that deprive them of their earnings and retirement savings when a business files for bankruptcy,
  • discourage predatory lending practices,
  • exempt debtors from means testing if their financial problems were caused by identity theft,
  • limit the amount of interest that can be charged on any extension of credit to 30 percent,
  • preserve existing bankruptcy protections for individuals experiencing economic distress as caregivers to ill or disabled family members,
  • exempt debtors whose financial problems were caused by serious medical problems from means testing,
  • provide protection for medical debt homeowners,
  • require enhanced disclosure to consumers regarding the consequences of making only minimum required payments in the repayment of credit card debt, and for other purposes,
  • protect service members and veterans from means testing in bankruptcy, to disallow certain claims by lenders charging usurious interest rates to service members, and to allow service members to exempt property based on the law of the State of their premilitary residence.
Each of these amendments was proposed by a Democrat, and each was voted down by the Republican majority. Similar amendments were voted down in the House Judiciary Committee on March 16, including:
  • An amendment by John Conyers (D-MI) protecting military personnel from predatory payday lenders,
  • An amendment by Mel Watt (D-NC) exempting tuition costs from the expense calculation in the means test
  • An amendment by Adam Schiff (D-CA) protecting people whose bankruptcy is due to identity theft
  • An amendment by Howard Berman (D-CA) protecting bankruptcy filers who file due to medical crises
  • An amendment by Jerry Nadler (D-NY) which would make debts arising from civil rights violations non-dischargeable in bankruptcy
The Republicans would like to scare the very voters that they've pushed to the financial edge with the bogeyman of higher taxes. They'd like the public to forget the prosperity of the Clinton years, when government spent far more of the money it did have on programs that benefited the typical working family and the employment market was booming.

They would like the public to forget how much money they've wasted on no-bid contracts for friends of the administration. They'd like you to forget that, even as tuition has increased, they cut funding for student loans. They'd like you to forget what huge tax breaks they've given to wealthy corporations and individuals, while it's become for the typical American to hold on to the lifestyle they had just five or six years ago, let alone think about getting ahead.

And it isn't just your family; household debt has increased to new highs across the board as Americans struggle with a Republican economy and stagnant wages. When it comes time to vote, the Republicans hope you'll forget all this, or that you'll never have known in the first place. The oil companies that Rep. Dave Reichert voted to subsidize are banking on it.

Thanks again to Natasha for researching this issue and deconstructing the attacks.

Ethics committee to release nothing

Big surprise! Doc Hasting's "do nothing" ethics committee isn't even releasing an interim report. From The Washington Post:
The House ethics committee has all but wrapped up the investigative phase of its probe into the actions of former representative Mark Foley, informing key witnesses that they will not be summoned back for more questioning, lawyers in the case said yesterday.

But those lawyers indicated that the committee is unlikely to release its report on the Florida Republican -- or even an interim memo -- before the Nov. 7 elections.

---snip---

The Republican members of the investigative panel -- committee Chairman Doc Hastings (Wash.) and Rep. Judy Biggert (Ill.) -- did not dwell on the origins of the e-mails or on the leaks. Likewise, the Democratic members, Berman and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), did not press their party's charges that the Republicans covered up Foley's actions to protect his House seat.
The article is almost fawning in its praise for the ethics committee. I'm not so charitable, given how the committee was rendered utterly inoperable by the Republicans and is only now emerging from its slumber. Funny how a looming electoral disaster tends to get people off the dime.

I suppose the Democrats on the committee don't have much room to operate, and they might as well let the GOP keep digging their own grave. Still, it's somewhat maddening. The only people in the entire country who can't acknowledge what happened are the members of the committee.

The American people deserve to know what Dennis Hastert and House leadership knew about Foley's chasing of young men, and why they didn't do anything about it. The fact that Doc Hasting's ethics committee has chosen to be silent through election day speaks volumes.

It's also worth noting that Foley could leave rehab on or about Nov. 1, although it's not clear at this point what his plans are. It's hard to imagine Republicans want him anywhere near a television camera, but then again, as things get increasingly bleak for the GOP you never know what they'll pull.

Maybe they'll put him on Dancing With the Stars.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

US Ranks 53rd in Press Freedom

In a recent report from Reporters Without Borders, the United States was ranked 53rd in terms of its freedom of the press. Just prior to the '04 elections, we were languishing at 23 or 24 (also nothing to brag about in a democracy). How could we have fallen so precipitously in barely two years? As W might say, “It was hard work.”

The cowing of the mainstream media did not happen overnight, nor did it start with this administration. But after 9/11, there was a marked increase in the number of news outlets willing to shut up in the face of Presidential abuses of power.

And shut up they did. To be sure, even the most liberal pundits withheld criticism of the President for the first few months after those attacks. Whomever was in charge, we needed to stand behind him and recover as a nation.

But since then, here's a brief list, certainly not comprehensive, of what the government has perpetrated—and the mainstream media has allowed to slide—in the name of protecting us, and most poignantly, in the name of fear.

  • The PATRIOT Act. This was supposed to be temporary, giving the government expedited means of locating terrorists involved in the planning or execution of the then-recent attacks. Five years and two extensions later, the government can dig into medical records, bookstore receipts and other personal information to determine if you represent a threat to this country. Hear that? It's Orwell, giggling.

  • NSA wiretapping. W assured us this “requires a court order.” What he didn't say was that he had no intention of getting one, should he decide to listen to your phone calls. Mainstream media let this story die.

  • Oh yeah, that Iraq thing. We all saw Colin Powell's “presentation” of “definitive proof” that Iraq was still making chemical weapons in mobile labs, still had stockpiles of the stuff all over the place, and here's the aluminum tube that could be used as a centrifuge for making an atomic bomb. Lies. Every last bit of it. But no journalistic investigation convinced anybody otherwise, or even raised the issue.

  • Yellow cake uranium. This cost an undercover CIA agent her career as she was outed by her own government. Dick Armitage has been the face of blame for this event, but the matter is not closed, though the media clearly thinks it is.

  • Goodbye, habeas corpus. You (yes, you) can be declared an enemy combatant and jailed at the discretion of the President, just like any reputable South American junta. News? We heard more about Brad and Angelina's marriage/baby/insert obscure detail here.

Media consolidation, in combination with an administration that questions any sort of dissent as unpatriotic or terrorist-abetting, has had a chilling effect on the mainstream media in this country. There are fewer corporations owning more news outlets, which means more control over what you see and hear. News has become a product to sell, not information citizens have a right to know.

If a corporation that owns a news outlet sees reporting that is unfavorable to either the corporation or the government that allowed them that position, what are the odds that story will ever see the light of day?

When there is a one-party system in place, when checks and balances are not exercised in the internal workings of government as designed by our founders, it is the duty of the Fourth Estate to show the public what's going on. There are signs lately that this might be happening; Keith Olbermann comes to mind. Let's make sure he's not stranded out there.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More press coverage of the Obama rally

Barack Obama's visit and rally yesterday on behalf of Democratic candidates Maria Cantwell, Darcy Burner and others resulted in a fair amount of press coverage. Here's a quick round-up of some of that coverage, for your browsing pleasure: To our loyal readers - have an enjoyable weekend.

WA-05: Goldmark welcomes DCCC to the party!

In what I can only describe as a very welcome, but very down-to-the-wire decision, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today decided that Peter Goldmark's race for Washington's 5th district deserves the support of their "Red to Blue" program.

Welcome to the party, DCCC!

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're supporting Peter (as someone else commented a while back, if we can get Peter elected this cycle, he can probably hold the seat for life). I just can't help but wonder why it took them so long to clue into this wonderful candidate. And I can't help but wonder whether their support this late in the game will be enough to really make a difference.

Reichert's spokeswoman falsely boasts that her boss' website meets W3C standards

Today the Reichert campaign, through spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena, sent out a press release to local media outlets (which we obtained a copy of) proudly boasting that the Dave Reichert campaign website met the World Wide Web consortium's design and accessibility standards - and then further claiming that Darcy Burner's does not:
A survey of political sites by CNET News.com found that Congressman Dave Reichert's campaign website is one of only four belonging to Congressional incumbents' that meets the most stringent design and accessibility standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium.

The standards can aid those with visual disabilities and those using mobile devices. Washington State's Eighth Congressional District is one of the nation's most educated and tech savvy, and Congressman Reichert's campaign site aims to meet their high expectations.

Congressman Reichert's opponent, Darcy Burner, is a former Microsoft employee and software developer. Ironically, Darcy's site does not pass the 35 validation tests
It's not normally an issue that is significant in campaigns, but since Cadena and Reichert are making a big deal about it, we're going to have a little fun at their expense.

First, web accessibility and good design are important, but not meeting the W3C standards doesn't mean a website is awful. Whether or not Darcy Burner's site meet the standards is not as important as whether it appears correctly for most users in their browsers. Darcy's site, in our opinion, does meet that test - with flying colors.

Secondly, though Reichert's website does indeed past the HTML test (we ran it through the validator ourselves) it failed the CSS test. CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, is a language which describe the presentation of a document written in a markup language like HTML.

Basically, for those of you who aren't familiar with web design (Cadena would appear to fall into this category) a CSS document consists of rules that can be applied to a web page to determine everything from font size to background color.

Here's what the validator told us was wrong with Reichert's CSS:
Errors
URI : (Reichert website URI) site.css

* Line: 117 Context : A.menu IMG

Parse Error - opacity=100)
* Line: 117 Context : A.menu IMG

Property moz-opacity doesn't exist : 1.0
* Line: 117 Context : A.menu IMG

Property opacity doesn't exist : 1.0
* Line: 120 Context : A.menu:hover IMG

Parse Error - opacity=40)
* Line: 120 Context : A.menu:hover IMG

Property moz-opacity doesn't exist : 0.4
* Line: 120 Context : A.menu:hover IMG

Property opacity doesn't exist : 0.4
Oops. Had they been a little wiser, Kimberly & Co. might have run validation tests themselves. Instead, they relied on what CNET reported (CNET did test for valid HTML on congressional websites across the country).

So they sent out a press release boasting their site met W3C standards without actually checking to see that it met all the standards. If having valid HTML is so important, then having valid CSS must also be of great importance.

Look around the web and you'll notice most sites which display a "Valid HTML" button also display a "Valid CSS" button alongside. So for those who care about having valid code, having valid CSS is very important.

Then again, Reichert and his staff probably don't even know what Cascading Style Sheets even is - just as Reichert obviously doesn't know what Net Neutrality is. Their web developer must, of course, but whoever he or she is, they didn't write valid CSS for the site.

As long as we're having fun at Cadena and Reichert's expense, let's move on to web metrics. According to Alexa, Darcy Burner's website is more popular than Dave Reichert's (the lower the ranking, the better - i.e. Yahoo is Number One). The two sites are ranked thusly:
Dave Reichert for Congress - 2,827,765
Darcy Burner - 485,255
Alexa has been ridiculed by some for being inaccurate, but the huge gap here suggests that Darcy's website is at least more popular than Reichert's.

Also, Reichert's site isn't that original. There's the standard volunteer and contribute forms, the obligatory issue section, news and endorsements...but not much else. No podcast. No video clips. No blog. We couldn't find a listing of events, either.

The Republicans' Senate candidate, Mike McGavick, (to his credit) has a solid campaign website but unfortunately his candidacy is anything but solid. (I might add that Sen. Maria Cantwell has an even better, top-notch campaign site).

We can guess that when Cadena saw that CNET article, she immediately thought what a great press release it would make. Then she proceeded to glowingly heap praise on her boss' website without even bothering to run validation tests.

(If you pass an HTML validation test, by the way, you'll see a prompt from the W3C just below reminding you to run a validation test on your CSS).

So a memo to Reichert's communications staff: you'd better stick to the issues that matter instead of making grand but false boasts about your campaign website.

NBC taking orders from Tony Snow?

Oh, look, the corporate media bows down to the White House:
NBC is refusing to air an ad for the new Dixie Chicks documentary, “Shut Up & Sing.” Variety reports, “NBC’s commercial clearance department said in writing that it ‘cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.’
Another example of the so-called liberal media in action for you! So does this mean that NBC will reject any mean-spirited ads from Republicans on the grounds that they are "disparaging to the Democrats"?

Of course not.

Republicans using despicable scare tactics and false information to try and sway voters

Republicans are in serious trouble.

With support for their failed conservative agenda all but gone, GOP operatives and party leaders are hoping to minimize their losses by waging an outrageously deceptive campaign of fear targeting Democrats on all levels, from congressional to legislative.

The most popular angle of attack is the lie that Democratic candidates will vote to increase taxes by mammoth proportions. Nightmarish consequences are painted out in these ads. The implication is made that if a voter votes Democratic, they could lose their home or go bankrupt.

Here's an example from NPI's very own district, the 45th LD.

Yesterday we received and analyzed two pieces of direct mail: one from Toby Nixon claiming he's worked to keep taxes low and another from the state Republican Party claiming that Eric Oemig will vote to increase taxes.

Both mail pieces suspiciously arrived on the same day and are similarly themed, except one is an outrageous attack ad and the other is a silly puff piece.



The Republican mailer attacking Eric Oemig is a completely worthless piece of garbage. It crumbles apart once you reframe and take a look at the facts. The three claims that make up the ad are as follows:
Claim: Oemig promised to make it easier to raise property taxes
Oemig has endorsed proposals to remove homeowner protection against skyrocketing property taxes.
The Truth: The bill in question, cited by the Republicans (HJR 4205) would amend the Constitution to allow a simple majority of voters to pass a school levy. The bill does not increase taxes, nor does it remove homeowner protections. It simply prevents a minority of voters from defeating school levies because the levy in question did not receive a supermajority vote.

This is a common sense reform that restores majority rule with minority rights instead of minority rule. Oemig is to be commended for supporting it.
Claim: Oemig promised to increase state spending by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Oemig told special interest groups he would fund projects for massive increases in state spending, totaling over $500 million in one budget alone.
The Truth: Republicans don't even cite a source for this laughable claim. That's enough to dismiss it entirely. Eric Oemig believes in fiscal responsibility and he believes in making good investments. It's ridiculous to imagine that Democrats support raising taxes just for the heck of it. It doesn't make any sense. Yet that is what Republicans are trying to goad voters into believing.
Claim:Oemig said he would have voted for a $4 billion tax increase.
Oemig said he would have voted for a proposed $4 billion tax increase - one that both our state Representattives [sic] opposed.
The Truth: The bill that the state Republican Party cited as its source (ESSB 6103) is one of the bills which made up the 2005 Transportation Package, a broad set of projects designed to upgrade our state's road and transit infrastructure. Regardless of how Representatives Nixon and Springer voted on the bill, the fact remains that the package was sanctioned twice - once by the Legislature and again by voters.

This Republican attack is extraordinarily dishonest. They know that voters rejected Initiative 912 and they know that Oemig's position is consistent with what the majority of the electorate in the 45th wants, but they're willing to lie anyway. Their efforts to intimidate voters deserve harsh condemnation.

Republicans will say anything - if they think they can scare voters away from voting Democratic.

Curiously, yet another mail piece came yesterday from another Republican campaign which criticized Democratic Representative Larry Springer for voting against the 2005 Transportation Package. (Springer says he voted no because the package included very little money for State Route 520).

So there you have it. If Democrats vote in favor of increasing transportation funding to pay for vital investments in our infrastructure, they get attacked. If they vote no, for whatever reason, whatever their concerns, they get attacked.

What does this tell us?

It tells us very plainly that Republicans don't really care about lowering taxes (and if they did, they'd get rid of corporate subsidies). What they care about is winning, expanding, and maintaining power. And they'll say or do whatever if it helps them defeat their opponent. Any angle of attack will do, even if it's contradicting something else another Republican campaign is saying.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is employing the same tactics against Darcy Burner. But their attacks are phony and false. As Darcy herself noted:
I do NOT support raising taxes on working families. In fact, I think that the Bush policies which have shifted the tax burden onto the middle class are destructive. We need to relieve that pressure, while at the same time stopping the runaway debt Bush is burdening us with. I approach this the same way I have approached managing finances in my role as a businesswoman or in my household: balance the budget while making the best investments possible.

I find it unconscionable that the Bush administration wants to pile their debt onto our children, while slashing the investments in education, infrastructure, and technology development that would secure a better future for everyone. It is especially awful to do it in order to pad the nests of profitable corporations and the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Our current tax system places an unfair burden on middle class and working families – and the Bush administration and Republican Congress have made it worse. The President’s tax policies are bankrupting future generations for the short-term benefit of those who already get the most from this country.

Bush and his allies in Congress have riddled the tax code with new loopholes and subsidies that benefit special-interests and the very wealthy. By doing so, they have created a tax code that undermines the value of work and shifted more of the tax burden onto the middle class.

Under Bush, the middle-class share of the tax burden has risen while the wealthiest Americans’ share has dropped. The corporate picture is, in many cases, even worse, with companies like Exxon Mobil receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies – at the same time they post the largest quarterly profits of any company in the history of the planet.

I support real tax reform. The tax system must be changed to ease the burden on the middle class and small businesses and ensure that large corporations and the very wealthy pay their fair share. This must be done in conjunction with balancing the federal budget and making smart investments in our national priorities.
We can refute these lies and distortions if we take the time and have the patience to explain the truth to our family and friends...in our frame. Reframing is key. If we can change the frame, we can change the discourse...and we win.

Oregonian profiles Washington US Senate race

Mike McGavick comes off pretty well in this article in The Oregonian. Well, other than the fact that he is basically toast.
"We are in a blue state in a blue year, and the race is uphill," said Brett Bader, a GOP consultant who is not involved in the campaign. "I think he has closed it a bit, but you have to give a strong edge to (Cantwell). She's run a very safe incumbent-protection campaign in a good year for Democrats in a good state for them."
Even the "I'm a Dino Rossi moderate" stuff isn't working this year. Of course, we know that "moderates" like Rossi and McGavick are not, in fact, moderates, they only appear that way because the GOP was taken over by crazy people.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Darcy Burner completely destroys Reichert's cash advantage in final weeks

Conservatives like to warble about how Darcy Burner is a newcomer to politics. (Funny how Republicans deride "politicians," and then turn around and attack someone for wanting to get involved.)

They shouldn't be singing too much tonight, though, as Burner, who was supposedly too young and too green to compete, has now virtually tied Republican incumbent Dave Reichert in money raised. Less than one-thousand dollars separate the two candidates, a drop in the bucket in a big-time US House race.

Money isn't everything, of course, but in "conventional wisdom" terms it's one key measure of qualification, like it or not. Burner is fully competitive and then some.

Plus, let's face it, none of the people who spout conventional wisdom saw this coming. It's a mighty testament to not only Burner and her fortitude, but the inherent srength of people power.

Burner has has raised more money than Reichert in the first two and one-half weeks of October, Daniel Lathrop notes on Strange Bedfellows at the P-I. Also--
With the Democratic and Republican parties able to spend unlimited amounts on their own TV ads, the candidates' money is not what will determine the outcome of this brutal fight for partisan supremacy. Still, this is another sign that voters in this suburban Seattle district will have a lot of say in whether whether Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, or Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., is Speaker of the House come January.
Another piece worth reading from the P-I is yesterday's feature story on the race by reporters Chris McGann and Charles Pope. A snippet:
Like other Republicans, Reichert has been weighed down by events and policies far removed from his district -- Iraq, corruption, declining support for President Bush.

This year, voters are looking far beyond the candidates themselves, well aware that their choices could redirect the national agenda.
Another item to note as we move towards the end of this week is one Lynne at Evergreen Politics caught on Saturday. Despite all the GOP talk about senior issues, Reichert apparently blew off the AARP. Allen quotes from the AARP page about WA-08.
Question

Will you support or oppose allowing Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower prices for needed prescription drugs? Will you support or oppose imposing an annual limit on federal Medicare spending?

AARP Response

Medicare Part D is now helping millions of people in Medicare save money on their prescription drugs. But while those with Part D coverage are saving, the actual cost of prescription drugs continues to increase at a rate greater than general inflation. AARP believes that more must be done to bring down soaring drug costs and supports allowing Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower prescription drugs.

Proposals have been made in Congress to put an annual limit on how much money the federal government spends on the Medicare program. AARP opposes arbitrary limits on Medicare funding.

Candidate Response: Darcy Burner, Democrat

While it has reduced drug costs for many participants, taken overall, the Medicare Part D program is a disaster. It is too confusing, too expensive, too punitive for late subscribers, and it contains intolerable coverage gaps for some (the infamous "donut hole"). All of these problems must be corrected quickly, for the benefit of both users and taxpayers. The most logical first step is to allow Medicare to use its collective purchasing power to negotiate with manufacturers for more favorable pricing. This is just good business sense. I strongly oppose arbitrary spending limits on Medicare spending; such limits are unfair and unnecessary. Our focust must be on making this program far more efficient and weeeding out waste to drive down costs.

Candidate Response: Dave Reichert, Republican

Candidate did not respond to AARP questionnaire.
Hmmm. Ignoring seniors and the AARP, that's not smart. Maybe Reichert should so some investigating of AARP issues. When he doesn't want to take a stand, that's what he does, right?

Finally, as the GOP continues with their outdated attempts to scare voters into thinking Democrats want to raise taxes, it's worth noting what Burner herself had to say about the issue earlier this month. (Bold is ours.)
This week voters in the 8th district are seeing the first of what will be many advertisements from the Republican attack machine. They’ve begun by accusing me of wanting to raise taxes. Before they distort my views, let me set the record straight and make it clear where I stand.

First, I do NOT support raising taxes on working families. In fact, I think that the Bush policies which have shifted the tax burden onto the middle class are destructive. We need to relieve that pressure, while at the same time stopping the runaway debt Bush is burdening us with. I approach this the same way I have approached managing finances in my role as a businesswoman or in my household: balance the budget while making the best investments possible.

I find it unconscionable that the Bush administration wants to pile their debt onto our children, while slashing the investments in education, infrastructure, and technology development that would secure a better future for everyone. It is especially awful to do it in order to pad the nests of profitable corporations and the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Our current tax system places an unfair burden on middle class and working families – and the Bush administration and Republican Congress have made it worse. The President’s tax policies are bankrupting future generations for the short-term benefit of those who already get the most from this country.
You can visit Burner's web site for more information.

Network news coverage of Obama rally

Seattle's major network news stations all aired coverage of this morning's massive Democratic rally featuring Barack Obama during the leadoff segments of their newscasts. KOMO aired its report almost immediately after 5 PM, with KING and KIRO each respectively following suit shortly afterwards.

Pete of CoolAqua had expressed concern that KIRO TV was putting the number of attendees at only 500 people (which is incorrect) but in the five o'clock broadcast the correct figure was used by chief political reporter Essex Porter - two thousand plus attendees. The actual number was probably close to three thousand, as the gym was mostly standing room only and clearly filled with Democratic activists.

The reports from each station were surprisingly different - the footage and sound bites were certainly more diverse than you might expect. For example, KOMO's report included a clip from Obama's appearance on Northwest Afternoon where he discussed his political celebrity status.

CNN also sent a camera crew, but no word on when their report will air. If you have information to add, or want to post your take on the networks' coverage, please post a comment in the thread.

Reichert skipped Mercer Forum

Dave Reichert didn't show up at a forum on Mercer Island last Wednesday, according to this article from the Mercer Island Reporter.
Many voters came in hopes of seeing Reichert. Several members of the audience approached the microphone and addressed the absent Congressman anyway.

``Mr. Reichert, why aren't you here?'' one voter asked.

Contacted after the forum, Kimberly Cardena, a spokesperson for Mr. Reichert's campaign said: ``Congressman Reichert was at a previously scheduled dinner.''

One woman asked the former sheriff in absentia to explain how he thinks it was wrong of Congress to intervene in the life of Terry Schiavo when he doesn't fight the Republican party's wish to interfere with the private relationship of women and their doctors or allow pharmacists not to fill legal prescriptions. Her question was met with applause.
Did anyone get a photo of the empty chair? Just wonderin'.

LIVE from BCC: A roaring welcome

Senator Barack Obama, Senator Maria Cantwell, and (hopefully) future U.S. Representative Darcy Burner have arrived at Bellevue Community College to a roaring welcome from thousands of cheering Democrats.

Supporters at Democratic Rally for Maria Cantwell and Darcy Burner

Darcy gave a stump speech that was both solemn and stirring. Though I've heard this core theme from Darcy more times than I could count, I never tire of hearing it. It is a strong, refreshing message from a refreshing candidate.

"I am standing between two people who are incredible leaders," Darcy said as she spoke from the podium, flanked by Senators Cantwell and Obama. "I am honored to be up on stage [with them] because I believe they represent the best of what this country has to offer. Senator Cantwell has demonstrated over and over again what incredible leadership you can have, even in the minority, if you are smart and courageous."

"He has shown us....that it is possible to hope. I hope that you will join me in giving a warm welcome to Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Barack Obama."

Senator Cantwell then stepped forward to address the crowd. She looked as cheerful as I've ever seen her and was very enthusiastic.

"It doesn't get better than Bellevue Community College, because it is about the education....A great college education will provide a great opportunity for America tomorrow."

"Darcy said it best - if you want to change the course of America you need to change who's in charge of the agenda."

Cantwell reemphasized her support of troop withdrawal and her belief that universal health care is urgently needed. She drew great cheers when she declared that the Eastside's Get Out the Vote effort would be one of the best ever. "We have twelve days to get the message out," she said.

One of the biggest cheers came when she mentioned her successful Senate filibuster: "We're not, on our watch, going to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge," as she put it. Finally, she introduced Barack Obama. "When Barack Obama comes to Washington State, he knows that taking care of veterans and homeless veterans is a priority."

Senator Obama was the last of the three prime speakers to address the audience. He seemed awed by the sheer size of the rally. "What a crowd. I'm just excited to be back in Washington. Governor, thank you so much for welcoming us here.""

Obama in Front of Supporters at Democratic Rally for Maria Cantwell and Darcy Burner

He quickly reminded everyone of his local connections, noting "My mom was from Kansas. But she actually went to Mercer Island High School." He gave a long speech, which I would describe as more thoughtful than anything else. Some excerpts:
"To the two people who are standing beside me - I have had the great pleasure of working with Senator Cantwell over these last two years...Now you're lucky to send us another star in Darcy Burner. You know that she's prepared to do a great job in Congress."

"I have been traveling around the country for the last several weeks. There are close elections everywhere...I sense that there's a shift taking place.

"The nastiness, the slash and burn, the take no prisoners approach, the talking heads on cable...it's as if it's disconnected from reality."

"What I'm seeing now is a sense of seriousness of purpose."

"Everybody in this room is a patriot."

"There's that mood out there in the country. People are tired of the bickering, the negative campaigning, the name calling....they're looking for common ground."

"And so because the American people are a decent people, there's no reason why we can't have a decent government."

"We've gotta have a belief in better days ahead."
Obama also encouraged attendees to vote for Initiative 937 and ended his speech by urging everyone to have hope. He was practically mobbed as he left the stage, by reporters and activists, but he handled it all with a patience and a dignity that amazed me. Though surrounded, he calmly signed books, smiled for the cameras, and spoke to the party faithful. He was accompanied by Darcy and Maria.

At long last, the three of them finally made it outside the gym, with cameras and reporters forming a wide circle around as they climbed into hybrid Toyota Priuses to head off to their next function.

It was an outstanding, captivating, inspiring event, and it all took place right on my own college campus. It's hard not to believe anything is possible, and even as we look to a hopeful Democratic victory on November 7th, we also know that getting there requires giving all we've got to the cause.

LIVE from BCC: The Gov speaks!

Following Congressman Jay Inslee was our very own Governor Christine Gregoire, who was very warmly welcomed by the crowd of two thousand plus Democrats. The Gov is clearly in a fighting mood. Listening to hear speak is truly time well spent.

She echoed Congressmen Inslee and McDermott, focusing on GOTV, and emphasizing the strength of the Democratic ticket. Some excerpts from her speech:

"How does it sound to you...Congresswoman Darcy Burner?" (Loud cheers followed this one!) "She understands it's about our kids getting a decent opportunity... She understands it's about family wage jobs... She understands it's about standing up to the administration and saying 'we aren't going to take it anymore!'"

"We want someone to stand up and send a message - Northwest values are going to prevail in Washington D.C.

"You want to talk about backbone? Let's talk about the calcium in the backbone of Senator Maria Cantwell."

"I think the day has come. It's 1994 in reverse. We need Rodney Tom. We need Deb Eddy. We need Ross Hunter. We need to keep on moving forward."

Gregoire was on fire. She's just finishing her speech now and is introducing Darcy and Senators Obama and Cantwell. The signs are going up...the band is beginning to play a rousing high school marching song...the roar is reaching a feverish pitch.

Barack, Darcy, and Maria are walking up through the center aisle, shaking hands...the room is being lit up by hundreds of camera flashes. Gregoire is leading the cheering audience and clapping in time to the music.

They're at the stage entrance now...going up...the fun is about to begin.

LIVE from BCC: Inslee excites audience

We are now hearing from Congressman Jay Inslee, who represents the 1st Congressional District and is exciting the audience with his message of hope.

"The days of Republican fear are over," Inslee declared. "The days of Democratic hope are here." He added, to huge cheers, "We are never going to allow the power of fear to overcome the promise of liberty."

"We are going to make history in 12 days, you and I."

Inslee touted Initiative 937 and urged the audience to tell their neighbors to vote YES for renewable energy and clean future. He talked about the Apollo Energy proposal and There has been an iron triangle that we need to break - the triangle of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the oil companies."

Inslee also quipped, "We can't wait nineteen years for Dave Reichert to figure out global warming" and reminded the crowd that "we are the optimists."

LIVE from BCC: McDermott addresses crowd

Congressman Jim McDermott is currently addressing the large crowd here at Bellevue Community College and entertaining us all with some enjoyable anecdotes.

"Jay and I have been living in an absolutely rubber stamp Congress for the last six years," McDermott said. He is describing how the Republican Chairman of the House Ways & Means runs the committee - "like his own private fiefdom", to quote the Congressman directly.

"We've got an agenda," he added. "Just given us the gavels back." (to which the audience roared its agreement). He reminded everyone that there is still much work to do. "This is not over until it's over," he warned. "This is an election about changing direction in this country. [Our message] has substance."

McDermott discussed lack of health insurance extensively, and declared universal health care is not only possible, but absolutely necessary for America. "It's not a question of money," he said. "It's a question of political will."

LIVE from BCC: Rally kicks off

I'm here at the spacious gymnasium of Bellevue Community College, where a massive Democratic rally is just kicking off. The building is practically filled to capacity - thousands are here to listen to Barack Obama, Darcy Burner, and Maria Cantwell.

But that's not all - our all star lineup also includes Congressmen Jay Inslee and Jim McDermott, along with Governor Christine Gregoire. We'll be hearing from them shortly. Currently we are hearing from Rodney Tom, one of three legislative candidates from the 48th District to address us. We just heard from Deb Eddy and Ross Hunter, who are the district's House candidates.

Each of them talked about the need for change in Congress, and stressed the importance of electing Darcy Burner.

Volunteers and Democratic faithful are everywhere. The press is here in force. Additionally, all of the Seattle area television stations have sent camera crews.

More on the way shortly....

The war in Iraq is the issue

Casualties continue to mount in the war in Iraq. From Reuters:
BAGHDAD, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The military said on Thursday five more American troops were killed in Iraq, bringing the U.S. death toll for October to 96, as President George W. Bush sought to deflect mounting election-year pressure over the war.

With less than two weeks before Nov. 7 polls in which his Republican party risks losing control of Congress, Bush said on Wednesday American patience over Iraq had its limits but pledged not to put unbearable pressure on Iraqi leaders.
No sensible person believes, three and one-half years down the road, that Bush and the Republicans will actually come up with a different strategy for Iraq. Their election posturing is meaningless.

The war in Iraq is the issue. Marginal tax rates, estate taxes and Social Security are all important things to discuss, but in the end folks have to decide whether they want an administration continuing a failed war policy with little Congressional oversight.

If the administration were serious about a change in policy, Donald Rumsfeld would be gone. But Rummy is still there, throwing around aphorisms while he hollows out our military.

We need Congressional oversight, and there is only one way to get it: elect Democrats to Congress and take one of the chambers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Poll Watch: Elway forecasts look good

Local pollster Stuart Elway has new numbers out which appear positive and encouraging for Democrats and progressives. But don't take anything for granted.

Electoral victories do not happen by chance or on accident. They happen thanks to hard work. If we want to hand Republicans a bitter defeat they will never, ever forget then each of us needs to make a commitment and fulfill it.

Turnout is critical.

With that in mind, here are the latest numbers from Elway:

Initiative 933 (create land use mayhem and loopholes for developers):
42% of respondents indicated they would vote no (previously - 38% no)
38% of respondents indicated they would vote yes (previously - 47% yes)

A huge turnaround from the last poll. Voter education efforts appear to be working. Remember to urge your family and friends to vote NO on I-933.

Initiative 920 (repeal the estate tax - funds education):
50% of respondents indicated they would vote no (previously - 45% no)
32% of respondents indicated they would vote yes (previously - 38% yes)

Despite the efforts of Frank Blethen's cabal of anti-estate tax newspaper publishers, and despite the NFIB's blustering, the Yes on I-920 campaign is falling further behind. Perhaps that's because Washingtonians just aren't stupid enough to give multimillionaires a tax break at the expense of our children.

United States Senate
Maria Cantwell - 52% (previously 53%)
Mike McGavick - 34% (previously 35%)

The numbers remain pretty much the same as the last Elway poll, which was released at the beginning of the month. Together with the most recent Mason-Dixon poll, it seems a McGavick loss on November 7th is a likely scenario. Elway only polled in statewide races, so nothing to analyze in state legislative races or the competitive congressional races.

Elway has been off before. I remember a much touted Elway poll from late October 2002 that showed I-776 losing by what was considered a comfortable margin. The initiative passed instead, although narrowly. Polls are interesting, but what's actually meaningful is your activism and your involvement.

Howie Rich's ALG operated illegally

The prime financial backer of Initiative 933, the extremist attack on environmental and land use laws in Washington state, is being accused of doing business despite lacking the legal authority to operate for a large portion of 2006.

At Postman on Politics, the ever intrepid David Postman notices a report from The Center for Public Integrity about Americans for Limited Government. Dedicated observers will recall that ALG is chaired by Howie Rich, a wealthy New York developer.

ALG has been by far the largest financial contributor to Initiative 933, the radical right's attempt to destroy environmental and land use laws in our state. From the Center for Public Integrity's Takings Initiative's Accountability Project--
A Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that has been bankrolling takings initiatives in more than a half-dozen Western states — including all five with measures on the ballot this November 7 — continued to dispense millions of dollars even after its authority to do business had been revoked by Illinois authorities.

The tax-exempt organization, Americans for Limited Government, Inc., has given at least $2.5 million this year to groups pushing the ballot initiatives. But much of this activity came during a period when it had no legal standing to operate from Illinois, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White revoked the nonprofit’s certificate of authority to do business in the state on February 1, 2006, citing its failure to file an annual report as required by law. The organization’s authority to do business in the state was not reinstated until September 22.

“Upon the issuance of the certificate of revocation,” Illinois law says, “the authority of the corporation to conduct affairs in this state shall cease and such revoked corporation shall not thereafter conduct any affairs in this state.”

In the eight months that Americans for Limited Government operated illegally in Illinois:
  • It was the largest donor ($892,000) to the Arizona HomeOwners Protection Effort, which is backing Proposition 207.
  • It was the largest donor ($168,778) to People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL), which is backing Question 2 in Nevada.
  • It was the largest donor ($260,000) to the Property Fairness Coalition, which is backing Initiative 933 in Washington state.
  • It was the largest donor (more than $2 million) to America at its Best, a tax-exempt organization in Virginia that was the second-largest donor to both This House Is MY Home, the chief proponent of Proposition 2 in Idaho, and Missourians in Charge, which backed a failed takings in that state.
As Postman notes, ALG also gave another $100,000 to the Property Fairness Coalition this month, after they presumably became legal again.

Of course, the real suckers in all this are the members of the Washington Farm Bureau, who have allowed themselves to be used as cover for secretive out of state corporations. If the Farm Bureau had a shred of decency they would disavow ALG and Rich and demand the $260,000 in suspect funds be returned.

The revelation that ALG felt free to thumb its nose at even the most basic of disclosure requirements, ie a basic corporate annual report, should rank as a significant event in the campaign against I-933. There's a lot of noise out there at the moment, though, so hopefully reporters can continue to look into ALG and their methods.

Don't Washington voters deserve to know who is financing the initiatives they are voting on?

Robo-calls tied to NRCC in ID-01

Here's another clue about the Republican spoof robo-calls that are being used against Peter Goldmark's campaign in WA-05. From The National Journal's Technology Daily via Raw Story--
The article uses the example of Democrat Larry Grant, challenging Republican Bill Sali for the open Idaho 1st District seat. "Earlier this fall, complaints about automated calls swirled among potential voters who were receiving information about Grant by phone," writes Martinez.

"Some of the complaints were directed to Grant's office. Grant's campaign did not make the calls, though. The National Republican Congressional Committee has assumed responsibility for the robocalling operation, a move that the Grant campaign called a 'desperation measure' by the GOP."
It's not a secret that regular voters absolutely hate automated calls. One or two is not a big deal, but people in competitive districts and states tend to get slammed.

How pathetic is it that the NRCC has decided the best thing to do is pretend to be Democrats?

Automated calls have flown below the radar screen for too long. These kinds of tricks have no place in legitimate discourse, they exist only to confuse and anger voters. Hopefully there will be even more media attention on the calls in WA-05 in the coming days.

Rep. Clouseau-Reichert still "investigating" global warming

It's a sign of "the silly season," but when it comes to global climate change, Dave Reichert deserves to be laughed at. From The Seattle Times' Alex Fryer--
Most of the laughs from the crowd of about 100 students and alternative energy entrepreneurs at the Seattle University event came when Gore talked about Reichert's beliefs about global warming.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who introduced the speakers, said Reichert doesn't think climate change is caused by humans.
"Did he say that?" interrupted Gore, whose film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," grossed $23.7 million. "He's not sure it's caused by humans?"

"He's not convinced that it's caused by human beings," responded Nickels.

"C'mon! And this man is a United States congressman?" asked Gore. "You know, 15 percent of people believe the moon landing was staged on some movie lot and a somewhat smaller number still believe the Earth is flat. They get together on Saturday night and party with the global-warming deniers."

Reichert's campaign spokeswoman, Kimberly Cadena, declined to comment about Gore's remarks.

Reichert's Web site said the congressman "continues to investigate what causes global warming. Until he reaches a definitive conclusion, he will continue to pursue an environmental agenda that presupposes global warming is caused by man's activity, and support environmental legislation that seeks to counteract man's influence.
In a nutshell, this highlights the problems facing Reichert and many Republicans seeking re-election. As the ideological positions that support the fragile Republican coalition are undermined, candidates like Reichert have nowhere to go. Sticking with the hard core base is a losing proposition in a swing district this year, but abandoning the base is anathema in Karl Rove's play book.

So Reichert has to walk a tight rope on this and many other issues. Thus the "investigating" schtick. Get it? He was a sheriff, as if we didn't know.

It is indeed laughable. It brings to mind a mental image of Peter Sellers as Clouseau:
REPORTER: Congressman Clouseau-Reichert, did you know the vast majority of climate scientists believe that global warming is real?

CLOUSEAU-REICHERT: Yes, I kneuew that, beht I have recently rah-ceived a bimp in the polls.

REPORTER: Excuse me?

CLOUSEAU-REICHERT: A bimp you idiot!

REPORTER: I'm sorry, Congressman Clouseau-Reichert, I can't understand you.

CLOUSEAU-REICHERT: I won't stand here and be made a minkey of by swine reporters, I am an officer of the law who sol-ved one of the greatest cases of all times! Good day to you, gentlemen!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Join me at BCC this Thursday

NPI readers, members, and supporters are invited to join me at Bellevue Community College this Thursday for a huge rally in support of Maria Cantwell and Darcy Burner. Both candidates will be there, along with Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Television crews and reporters are expected to be there in force.

Doors are supposed to open at 9 AM. Bellevue Community College is located at 3000 Landerholm Circle SE in south Bellevue, WA. The Eastgate Park and Ride is also conveniently located next door. Get there early.

If you are planning on coming - DO NOT come in your car. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that it would be a very bad idea.

The rally coincides with the time of day when parking conditions are the worst on campus. Odds are there will be NO PARKING AVAILABLE anywhere near the vicinity of the gym by the time you arrive.

Take it from someone who studies there.

Don't waste your time competing with BCC's students for parking places. Take Metro or Sound Transit and save yourself the headache. Use Google Transit to plan your trip to the campus and find the best route. I suggest plugging in Eastgate Park and Ride as your destination.

The volume is expected to be so high that the Cantwell campaign is looking into leasing other parking lots outside of campus for the morning and providing a shuttle. But forget about that. Take the bus instead, relax, and enjoy yourself.

BCC administrators and campus security, at my urging and the urging of other faculty and students, are thankfully taking the parking crisis and disruption very seriously.

Flyers have been posted throughout campus and a systemwide email alert was sent out to all BCC students earlier today warning them of the event and the impending parking nightmare. Metro buses are being routed to just outside of campus (normally, they pass through the heart of it) and several BCC facilities are shutting down for the entire morning.

BCC students have also been invited to the rally, I might add - and I expect that the gym will fill up VERY quickly. So again, get there very early if you want to get in. Expect to be turned away if you do not.

Again, it's in the gym - that's "G" building on the campus map. There will in all likelihood be a lot of signage there that day too in case event attendees get lost. Here are walking directions if you're coming from Eastgate Park and Ride (which is where a lot of Sound Transit buses stop):
  1. From the Park and Ride, you want to enter the parking garage and go to the top level. User the connector to cross onto the bridge that goes over Interstate 90 and take a left (do not turn right and cross I-90!)
  2. You will come to an intersection. Turn right into campus. You'll see a large purple sign with the college logo welcoming you to BCC. Walk straight ahead after turning into campus.
  3. You should see a well marked crosswalk ahead. When you reach this crosswalk, turn to your left and cross over it.
  4. Follow the path into the heart of campus and continue walking straight through campus to get to the gym. You'll pass the construction on D building and the fountain by the Student Union building.
It's going to be very exciting to have one of the biggest political events of the fall come straight to me. I plan to be liveblogging the event on Thursday morning for those of you who can't make it, right here on the Official Blog.

Mozilla releases new version of Firefox following Microsoft's debut of IE 7

Coming on the heels of Microsoft's release of Internet Explorer 7 is Mozilla's long-awaited debut of Firefox 2.

Firefox, which has gained wide acclaim and support since its initial release, was the main factor behind Microsoft's redesign of Internet Explorer, a product which the company had allowed to grow stale and vulnerable to attack.

The newest version of Firefox contains many nifty features. Among them:
  • Visual Refresh: Firefox 2's theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability without altering the familiarity of the browsing experience.
  • Built-in phishing protection: Phishing Protection warns users when they encounter suspected Web forgeries, and offers to return the user to their home page. Phishing Protection is turned on by default, and works by checking sites against either a local or online list of known phishing sites. This list is automatically downloaded and regularly updated when the Phishing Protection feature is enabled.
  • Enhanced search capabilities: Search term suggestions will now appear as users type in the integrated search box when using the Google, Yahoo! or Answers.com search engines. A new search engine manager makes it easier to add, remove and re-order search engines, and users will be alerted when Firefox encounters a website that offers new search engines that the user may wish to install.
  • Improved tabbed browsing: By default, Firefox will open links in new tabs instead of new windows, and each tab will now have a close tab button. Power users who open more tabs than can fit in a single window will see arrows on the left and right side of the tab strip that let them scroll back and forth between their tabs. The History menu will keep a list of recently closed tabs, and a shortcut lets users quickly re-open an accidentally closed tab.
  • Resuming your browsing session: The Session Restore feature restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last user session. It will be activated automatically when installing an application update or extension, and users will be asked if they want to resume their previous session after a system crash.
  • Previewing and subscribing to Web feeds: Users can decide how to handle Web feeds (like this one), either subscribing to them via a Web service or in a standalone RSS reader, or adding them as Live Bookmarks. My Yahoo!, Bloglines and Google Reader come pre-loaded as Web service options, but users can add any Web service that handles RSS feeds.
  • Inline spell checking: A new built-in spell checker enables users to quickly check the spelling of text entered into Web forms (like this one) without having to use a separate application.
  • Live Titles: When a website offers a microsummary (a regularly updated summary of the most important information on a Web page), users can create a bookmark with a "Live Title". Compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, they provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and are regularly updated with the latest information. There are several websites that can be bookmarked with Live Titles, and even more add-ons to generate Live Titles for other popular websites.
  • Improved Add-ons manager: The new Add-ons manager improves the user interface for managing extensions and themes, combining them both in a single tool.
  • JavaScript 1.7: JavaScript 1.7 is a language update introducing several new features such as generators, iterators, array comprehensions, let expressions, and destructuring assignments. It also includes all the features of JavaScript 1.6.
  • Extended search plugin format: The Firefox search engine format now supports search engine plugins written in Sherlock and OpenSearch formats and allows search engines to provide search term suggestions.
  • Updates to the extension system: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions.
  • Client-side session and persistent storage: New support for storing structured data on the client side, to enable better handling of online transactions and improved performance when dealing with large amounts of data, such as documents and mailboxes. This is based on the WHATWG specification for client-side session and persistent storage.
  • SVG text: Support for the svg:textpath specification enables SVG text to follow a curve or shape.
  • New Windows installer: Based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, the new Windows installer resolves many long-standing issues.
We strongly recommend that readers try out the new version of Firefox (works on all major operating systems) and those who use Microsoft Windows should also get the latest version of Internet Explorer, which is a huge improvement over the previous version. (Note that only Windows XP users can install IE7. Previous versions are not supported).

IE7 has enhanced security, a sleeker interface which looks much like Firefox's, and unlike its predecessor, is not wedded to the operating system so deeply.

Download Firefox 2 at Mozilla's site and IE7 at Microsoft's.

Dotzauer scandal explodes into not much

Republicans are all tingly over a story about how Ron Dotzauer's ex-wife says one thing or another about their marriage.
A longtime friend and adviser to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is fighting the unsealing of his divorce case to hide his "bad behavior and possible illegal actions," his ex-wife has alleged in a court filing.
It's thin gruel for GOP supporters, who are staring an historic defeat in the face. So let's play our own version of the game "Simple Answers to Simple Questions," with apologies to Atrios.
Q: Why won't this revelation do any lasting harm to the Maria Cantwell campaign?

A: Because regular people don't care who she dated 15 years ago, and they really don't care what that guy's ex-wife says.
Thank you for playing. This has been another episode of "Simple Answers to Simple Questions."

The Real Dave Reichert

...Isn't independent, isn't moderate, doesn't think for himself. He does what he's told. After all - he's admitted as much:
Sometimes the leadership comes to me and says, `Dave, we want you to vote a certain way.' Now, they know I can do that over here, that I have to do that over here. In other districts, that's not a problem, but here I have to be able to be very flexible in where I place my votes.

Because the big picture here is, keep this seat, keep the majority, keep the country moving forward with Republican ideals -- especially on the budget, on protecting our troops, on protecting this country. Right? Being responsible with taxpayer dollars. All of those things. That's the big picture. Not the vote I place on ANWR that you may not agree with, or the vote that I place on protecting salmon."

You have to... be ... flexible.

And so, when the leadership comes to me and says 'Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority, I...I do it.'
Now Darcy Burner has a new ad out depicting the real Reichert. Watch it here.

NRCC views WA-08 as a toss-up, NRSC has conceded victory to the Democrats

Chris Bowers at MyDD has somehow managed to get a hold of a seemingly outdated spreadsheet with the NRSC's and NRCC's top defensive races. "Outdated", because, as Markos notes:
And if they're dropping money into races outside of their top 48 most endangered, you know they are in serious trouble.
The NRSC considers Mike McGavick's candidacy a lost cause, while the 8th is considered a "toss-up." by the NRCC That's not from established observer's power rankings. This is the National Republican Campaign Committee.

They have said Darcy's not a serious candidate. Local Republican activists have confidently told us more than once that Darcy is no serious threat and that Reichert will be reelected. They were wrong.

The fight for Washington's 8th is one of the hottest in the nation. It will come down to the wire in the end - and that's why your help is needed to give Darcy Burner the edge she needs. Volunteer or contribute now. If you've already done so, if you've maxed out, if you've already volunteered - recruit ten friends to do so.

Think about it - what does a Democratic House mean to you?

What does a stronger Democratic congressional delegation mean to you?

Are you sick of "stay the course"? (Still the Bush administration's policy even if they're using a new catchphrase).

Are you tired of massive deficits, giveaways to big corporations, threats to Social Security and Medicare, the auctioning off of our public lands and natural resources? Want to put a stop to global warming? Want a plan for briging our troops home from Iraq? Wish that Bush would be held accountable?

Then contribute to the cause. Make a financial donation or volunteer. Then ask your friends to do the same. If winning the House means something to you, don't let these last two weeks slip by without taking action.

Poll Watch: It's probably time Mike McGavick looked for a new job

Mason-Dixon has a new poll out (embargoed until this morning) which shows Senator Maria Cantwell with a convincing lead over Mike McGavick.

Now, I've stated this organization's philosophy on polls many times. First, we don't put that much stock in polls - they're interesting to look at, but not, we think, all that useful. Second, we like to say that volunteering and blogging (activism) is way more important and much cooler than crunching or analyzing poll numbers.

That's why, when we do talk about polls, we do it in a special feature called Poll Watch where we round up the latest ones - and then subsequently discount them (well, not completely, of course!)

For any Washington Republican who takes polls at face value, the Mason-Dixon numbers are extremely discouraging, even depressing. The poll, of likely voters, has Cantwell at 52% and McGavick at a stunning 37%. (3% prefer another candidate, 8% are undecided). The previous Mason-Dixon poll had Cantwell at 50% with McGavick at 40%.

The minor party candidates (the Libertarian - Guthrie, and the Green - Dixon, as well as the independent Adair) are clearly not making much of an impact in the race.

Margin of error is plus or minus four pecentage points. 625 "likely voters" were interviewed by telephone from October 17th through the 19th.

See the detailed breakdown, plus additional questions, here.

That McGavick has slipped back into the thirties shows his campaign is a sinking ship. Instead of becoming more competitive, the race is becoming less competitive. McGavick's theme of "civility" does not resonate with voters. His run around the issues, and his gimmicks, like calling for the resignation of Rumsfeld, have failed.

Mike! was already a lobbyist once. Perhaps that'll be his next job. Or maybe Safeco will rehire him as CEO and welcome him back with open arms. (That would certainly tell us something, wouldn't it?)

Meanwhile, the 8th District remains competitive. The latest SurveyUSA poll (445 likely voters, Reichert - 50%, Darcy - 47%, margin of error plus or minus 4.7 percent) shows Reichert with a tiny increase in the lead but it's still definitely within the margin of error. It's a very, very, very tight race - and your help could put Darcy over the top. So volunteer or contribute today.

Senator Cantwell supports our veterans

What a great idea:
Bob Geiger, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America took a look at 324 legislative votes in the last five years which affected American troops and veterans. Legislative proposals included veterans' benefits, healthcare, and medical research dedicated towards injured soldiers (head injuries, etc.) Based on these votes, IAVA calculated which senators and congressmen had a history of supporting the troops, and which didn't, and graded them on a curve.
And guess who's at the top of their chart, with an "A" grade?

Senator Maria Cantwell. Another reason to return her to the U.S. Senate!

Spoof robo-calls target Goldmark

Daily Kos blogger mcjoan had this diary last night detailing a robo-call dirty tricks campaign being waged against Democrat Peter Goldmark in WA-05. Mcjoan quotes a Goldmark press release--
The campaign of Democratic congressional challenger Peter Goldmark has been targeted over the weekend by an unknown harasser who is placing automated telephone calls purporting to be from the campaign office.

One of the calls was reportedly of an obscene nature. The Goldmark campaign has filed a police report and is turning over information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for further action.

Goldmark staff had ordered a single phone message to be delivered once to selected households in Eastern Washington on Friday evening between 6:49 p.m. and 7:17 p.m. Calls began coming in to the campaign office Saturday complaining about receiving the same message five or six times. One household reported receiving a call at 2 a.m. and another at 11:23 p.m....

"We are disappointed and disgusted," said Goldmark Campaign Manager Jeremiah Levine. "The sexually explicit harassment is an example of how sleaze in today's politics hurts regular folks. That's what Peter is running to change."
McJoan relays some more information--
The Goldmark campaign can of course prove that the calls didn't come from them--the company that delivered the legitimate Goldmark calls has the records for the calls they made and are willing to provide an affidavit.
A commenter pointed out other DailyKos diaries detailing similar smear campaigns in CA-04 and CA-50.

And so it begins in earnest. Republicans are so desperate to cling to power that they don't mind making the most obnoxious sorts of automated calls.

Robo-calls have traditionally been difficult to track down. Unethical firms will lie about their names on caller ID or simply not provide a number.

But technology is on our side. If you have an answering machine, caller ID and a computer, you can do some sleuthing and reporting of your own. If you're getting slammed with calls, let your machine answer them so you have a recording. If the message is outrageous enough, you can transcribe it and email it to campaign or local reporter. If you're handy with the computer, and have the right stuff, it's pretty easy to make an audio file such as an AIFF and ship it off to reporters. (I always ask permission before shipping large files. It's just common courtesy.)

You can also let us know.

One cool tool that can help you track down where calls are coming from is WhoCalled.us, a place where folks report annoying telemarketing and political calls by phone number and area code.

If area codes are reported, there is a handy tracking map. And I don't have to tell you about Google, right? Our readers know about that already.

If possible, the slime behind calls like this need to be exposed to the oxygen of publicity. Slime dies when exposed to fresh air.

The Oregonian opposes I-933

The Oregonian editorialized this morning that it opposes Initiative 933, the radical "land rights" initiative. Andrew had a nice post last month about the financial impacts of I-933.

Sensibly, The Oregonian also notes that as bad as Oregon's Measure 37 was, the initiative in Washington is even worse.
Measure 37 has spawned more than 2,000 claims in Oregon, requesting more than $3 billion in compensation. Those are big numbers, but I-933 would surely ring up much, much larger costs for the taxpayers who fund Washington's local and state governments. Washington is dealing with tremendous growth-management problems, and in significant ways I-933 is even more radical than the Oregon law.

For instance, unlike Measure 37, the Washington proposal makes no allowance to enforce federal laws like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. It also appears to establish a much larger, deeper pool of potential claimants. Further, the Oregon law gives property owners two years to make claims against an existing law, but I-933 sets no deadline. The Washington proposal also is written to force state and local agencies to pick up more of the legal fees and other administrative costs of applying the law.
Hopefully Washington voters will learn from the experience of our neighbor. Oregon has already been victimized by the extremist "property rights" movement, which is pretty much just a cover for wealthy individuals and corporations anyway. As The Oregonian concludes--
It's not worth it. Oregon's property-rights law hasn't led to a sweeping improvement in the fairness of the land-use system. Instead, it's picked new winners and losers, led to substantial legal and bureaucratic expenses, bitter fights among neighboring property owners and a confusing, chaotic system that can no longer ensure careful growth management.

I-933 would bring all this to Washington state.

We don't recommend it.
The result of I-933 passing would clearly be devastating to our state. But the wealthy corporate backers of I-933 don't care about communities nor the environment. To them, the rest of us are just another cost of doing business.

And shame on the Washington Farm Bureau for supporting this destructive initiative. The Farm Bureau doesn't like growth management, we get it. But I-933 is like using an atomic bomb to kill a fly. It's utterly disproportionate and irresponsible.

A vote to put America back on the right track

Oh, how I love absentee voting:
  1. I'm done already! Now I can volunteer for my favorite candidates GOTV efforts on election day without worrying about how I'm going to get myself to the polls.
  2. Guaranteed paper trail! With all that's been written about Diebold's degree of broken-ness and general evil, I find the paper trail comforting.
  3. Nobody looks at me funny when I take pictures of my ballot. :)


That's my vote for Darcy Burner over her useless waste-of-hairspray opponent. May it be the first in a very long series of similar votes!

P.S. Dave, perhaps if you hadn't voted to make my family less safe with your anti-consumer vote on the Nat'l Uniformity for Food Act, or if you had deigned to explain your vote like I asked you to, or if you had actually made any progress on 9/11 Commission recommendations in your subcommittee rather than stonewalling them, or if you hadn't voted against Habeas Corpus, or if you hadn't made so many damn votes antithetical to commonsense notions of supporting the rule of law, votes that run counter to what one would expect from a career law enforcer, then perhaps I'd have something nicer to call you than a useless waste of hairspray.
But you didn't, and I don't, and I'm just incredibly thankful to have a serious, committed, honest and honorable person to vote for instead of you.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Debate games happen

All this stuff about candidates and debate fairness (or the lack thereof) reminds me that this sort of thing has happened before in Washington, and ironically Joel Connelly was present then as well.

In 1992, I was a low-level campaign staff member for the Patty Murray campaign. (Field work, of course.) I wish I could remember all the details, but this pre-dates the explosion of the internet, so a half-hearted Google search doesn't reveal much.

There was some kind of forum or debate scheduled in Longview between Murray and the Republican candidate, Rod Chandler. The sponsor was the League of Women Voters. Joel Connelly had travelled south with the Murray campaign and was going to cover the debate/forum or whatever it was. There was a large and enthusiastic crowd assembled.

Shortly before the event, we found out that Murray would not be allowed to speak because Chandler had accepted an invitation from a different League chapter elsewhere in the state. Something about League rules or such. So it's not exactly new that Republicans will play games with debates, especially when they are losing.

The crowd, which included many Democrats, was displeased, but not as displeased as Connelly, if my memory serves me well.

Since he had travelled south with the campaign, he was now stuck in Longview, and his story was gone. I don't recall him doing much more than complaining bitterly, and I can certainly understand why.

But it fell to me to get him to the bus station, of all things. It was only a few blocks away, and although I offered him a ride, he decided to walk. And so Connelly walked off into the Longview night, alone and without his story.

So the moral of the story is: don't invite Joel Connelly to your debate, it's bad luck.

Owens says "No" to Sharkansky's stupid game

David Postman reports that Supreme Court justice Susan Owens, who is being challenged by BIAW-backed Stephen Johnson, is refusing to play Sharkansky's stupid game and be ambushed in a debate scheduled for tonight. The debate was to be sponsored by The Downtown Republican Club.

From Postman on Politics:
Originally Josh Feit of the Stranger had that role, but he was bumped after complaints from the campaign of Sen. Stephen Johnson, Owens' opponent. The Johnson camp was unhappy with what the Stranger had written about him, including an endorsement last week of Owens.

Owens' campaign issued a press release this afternoon saying the justice would not attend because Sharkansky has donated to Johnson's campaign, supported him on Sound Politics and "is an outspoken critic of Justice Owens and many of her colleagues."
According to Postman, the event will go ahead anyway. So whatever, I was stunned that Owens had agreed to a debate involving Sharkansky in the first place, and when Johnson/Sharkansky bumped Feit, it was clearly a set-up.

This is why we are so quick to call "baloney" on stuff. Because the insane right wing never stops with the baloney. They have to seek an advantage everywhere, all the time, no matter what. As usual, conservatives have soiled their own bed. Nice.

Then when they get called on it, they whine and whimper. Lord can they whimper.

Let's be clear about this: the event crashed and burned because of Johnson and Sharkansky, not Owens. If they had any integrity they would have replaced Sharkansky, and things would have stood even-up. So as the righties engage in predictable cries of "chicken," it's pretty clear which side needs not only a home field advantage but to own one of the refs.

It was a cheap, petty move to bump Feit, and now their event can and should be ignored by media outlets.

MORE--Feit weighs in late this afternoon at Slog, noting that Sharkansky is trying to spin the situation on his web site by leaving out crucial information.
What Stefan leaves out is this: The reason Owens got to choose a second moderator is because the original second moderator, me, was kicked off the panel—by the Johnson campaign. Owens had only agreed to the debate after Sharkansky and the Republican club told her I was one of the moderators, and would provide balance to Sharkansky.

When our Owens endorsement came out last week, Johnson’s camp threw a tantrum, and I was taken off the panel at his request.
Now before anyone gets all steamed up about how Demorats are angry about certain daily newspaper endorsements, that's not the point. The point is that Sharkansky is again being duplicitous. What, does he have to dress up in a gorilla costume before the media stops giving him any attention?

EVEN MORE Now the Johnson campaign is telling Postman that The Stranger was mean to him. (quotations denote where Postman is quoting from the Johnson campaign.)
Fawn Spady from Johnson's campaign says it wasn't that the Stranger endorsed Owens that led them to reject Feit. The PI endorsed Owens and Johnson would accept Connelly on the panel.

"The Stranger was unprofessional in the ed board meeting and used personal attacks verbally and in their pieces."
Johnson and Sharkansky will obviously say whatever they want to talk their way out of this embarassment. They tried to set Owens up, they got caught, and now they whine. And whine. And whine.

If I have to choose between the credibility of an alt weekly known for ribald and even graphic content, and the likes of Johnson and Sharkansky, the choice is pretty clear. The Stranger may scare me sometimes, but they weren't the ones who declared an "Orange Revolution" based on spreadhseet hokum. Does nobody in the daily print media remember the recount?

Sharkansky should never even been considered to host a serious debate. The fact that The Downtown Republican Club thinks Sharkansky is a serious figure only shows how far the GOP has fallen in this state.

Reichert, McGavick to appear with Thune

Desperation alert from the King County GOP calendar!

Events Calendar
Monday, October 23rd, 2006 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Change for Washington Rally with Senator John Thune
Bellevue High School Arcade – 10416 Wolverine Way, Bellevue
Special Guest – Senator John Thune (R-SD)
Join Mike McGavick, Congressman Dave Reichert and other local candidates on the road to victory!
John Thune? What, Rick Santorum wasn't available?

You'll recall that Thune secretly paid two bloggers in 2004 in his successful bid to unseat Tom Daschle. It's still the most blatant and underhanded surreptitious use of campaign cash to fuel Republican "astro-turf" blogs that I can recall.

More importantly, Thune has said he will vote for the draconian South Dakota abortion ban, despite his own personal support of rape and incest exceptions, which are not contained in the state law.

So not only is he willing to engage in dirty tricks, Thune is willing to vote any which way when it comes to women's rights in order to protect his political backside. Classy guy. And I think the key word here is "guy."

Why Reichert wants to appear with an anti-choice zealot when he is pushing his "moderate" credentials is something of a mystery. McGavick is probably happy to appear anywhere, the way his poll numbers are going.

That should play well in the suburbs: here's our two Republican guys from Washington with one of the people who best represents the takeover of the GOP by fundamentalist extremists.

Please, please, please tell me there will be video and photos. You know each of them could say more than one stupid or outrageous thing. If they're bringing in Thune, it's "red meat" time.

Kewl Kidz Kangaroo Kourt-Washington state version

Time for a blogger ethics panel, as Atrios might say. Seems something called The Washington News Council likes to hold kangaroo court proceedings because, um, they can. From The P-I.
The P-I raised questions about the council's impartiality because Hamer's wife, Mariana Parks, is state director for U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, the former sheriff who chose Rahr as his successor. Several members of the council have given money to Reichert's or Rahr's election campaigns, as well. Many of the articles called into question Reichert's performance as sheriff.

Hamer said six of 20 council members recused themselves. Hamer said he wasn't involved in the proceedings other than doing administrative work.
Do the members of the Washington News Council realize how ridiculous this makes them look? If the person most visibly associated with your media-watchdog organization is married to Dave Reichert's district director, what exactly are regular readers going to think? Are there transcripts of pillow talk or something?

Oh, no, none of this is political in the least and had nothing to do with Lewis Kamb's profile of Reichert. (And to be clear, while the dispute pre-dates the publication of Kamb's devasting article, henceforth to be known as "the Sheriff Hairspray article," the kangaroo court was held after the Sheriff Hairspray article was published.)

And then there is Frank Blethen, whose fingerprints are all over this.
Rahr and sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said they expressed concerns about the stories to P-I writers and editors but were not happy with the response. After several months of consideration and discussions with several people, including Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen, Rahr filed the complaint with the news council on July 28.

Blethen said he did not give Rahr the idea to file a complaint.

"I heard her out and expressed to her what my concerns had been about the news council, but also said to her, if she feels she's not being heard by the P-I, and her side is not being told, then that is precisely what the news council is set up for," Blethen said.

Rahr acknowledged she met with Blethen, but declined to discuss the substance of the conversation.
So Blethen didn't give Rahr the idea, but he did encourage her.

(whispering) Rosebud.

Owens-Johnson runoff is the last major judicial race to be decided

In their recent endorsement of Susan Owens to retain her seat in the WA Supreme Court, the Olympian pointed to Owens' experience and fairness on the bench, contrasting it to Stephen Johnson's record of partisan conservative voting during his years as a state senator in the 47th District.

Owens is the obvious and best choice for justice, and we urge readers to support her. But beware of propoganda - the BIAW has vowed to support Johnson as vigorously and profusely as it supported Judge Gerry Alexander's opponent during the September 19th elections.

The BIAW wants a court that serves the BIAW's interests.

Voters turned aside that attempt to buy the court; let's hope they do it again.

We endorsed Justice Owens for reelection back in August, and today we'd like to reemphasize that recommendation. Here again is a summary of our endorsements so far for federal and statewide office:
  • U.S. Senate: Maria Cantwell
  • U.S. House, 8th Congressional District: Darcy Burner
  • U.S. House, 4th Congressional District: Richard Wright
  • U.S. House, 5th Congressional District: Peter Goldmark
  • U.S. House, 1st Congressional District: Jay Inslee
  • U.S. House, 2nd Congressional District: Rick Larsen
  • U.S. House, 3rd Congressional District: Brian Baird
  • U.S. House, 6th Congressional District: Norm Dicks
  • U.S. House, 7th Congressional District: Jim McDermott
  • U.S. House, 9th Congressional District: Adam Smith
  • State Supreme Court: Susan Owens (previously endorsed in primary)
Justices Gerry Alexander and Tom Chambers were also previously endorsed in the primary, along with Judges Penoyar, Becker, and Quinn-Brintall, but they are unopposed in the general election, as their races were decided last month.

And a reminder that we have already released our positions for statewide intiatives on this November's ballot. Those positions are:
  • Initiative 920 - A resounding NO
  • Initiative 933 - A resounding NO
  • Initiative 937 - YES
See our 2006 ballot measures page for more information, including our rationale, the official description for each ballot measure, and links for additional information.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Frank Blethen seems bent on destroying the Seattle Times' credibility

The Seattle Times' march towards complete and utter irrelevance continued this week with the paper's endorsement of Mike McGavick for a U.S. Senate.

Many observers were confident the Times would endorse the incumbent, Senator Maria Cantwell. After all, to endorse her challenger would be an insult to the Democratic city and state where the Seattle Times calls home.

Seattle Times Endorses Mike McGavick
Above: This Associated Press photograph of Mike McGavick against a patriotic background - the American flag - appeared in the print edition of the Seattle Times at the top of the editorial, but not the online edition.

But we saw something else in last week's endorsements of Dave Reichert and Cathy McMorris - as I wrote in a post criticizing the Times for endorsing the latter:
Don't be surprised if the Times endorses Mike McGavick for Senate next Sunday, despite the fact that Seantor Cantwell is the incumbent. If the candidate is against the estate tax (and McGavick is), that's the only qualification that matters.

Besides, Mike! should have no trouble getting the Times editorial board to believe that he's a change agent instead of a rubber stamp. Why wouldn't the Times eagerly buy the faux moderate, independent candidacy he's been trying to sell?
The Seattle Times was not the only paper to endorse Mike McGavick. The Walla Walla Union Bulletin and the Yakima Herald Republic have followed suit, and that's not a coincidence - Frank Blethen owns them, too.

A sizable number of the state's other non-Blethen owned dailies have given encouraging endorsements to Senator Maria Cantwell: the Seattle P-I, the Tri-City Herald, the Olympian, the Tacoma News Tribune, even the Vancouver Columbian.

And the Portland Oregonian (which enjoys a sizable readership in SW Washington) has also endorsed Senator Cantwell for reelection.

Like the Times' endorsement of Reichert, its McGavick writeup is filled with little but nonsense. Repeatedly, throughout the editorial, the writer points out that the Times ownership agrees with Senator Cantwell on issues, but then says she's been "ineffective". More bizarre were passages like this:
Some see this election as a referendum on George W. Bush. If we did, we would be for a solid Democratic ticket. But like most Washington voters, we take our candidates one at a time.
Yes...you take your candidates "one at a time." That's why you endorsed a straight Republican ticket in a year when Republicans are extremely unpopular and already in control of every branch of the federal government.

There are three competitive races in Washington State. Two of those are House races where our Democratic challengers are making strong runs at freshman incumbent Republicans. The other is the U.S. Senate race, where the outcome seems more certain. Republicans don't seem to have much faith in McGavick - their national party committee isn't even buying any advertising to help him out.

Even the Times seems to admit that McGavick will likely lose...and they also finally admitted what's been shaping their endorsements:
Critics will note that McGavick supports the elimination of the federal estate tax, a cause for which The Seattle Times has campaigned many years. That is part of why we endorse him, but not most of it. We endorsed Cantwell six years ago, knowing her position on the estate tax, and could endorse her again.
In six years there have been many attempts to completely gut the estate tax, and despite some success, Republicans have just not managed to get it permanently repealed so their wealthy friends can enjoy a huge tax break.

This year, the estate tax is factoring heavily into Blethen's decision making. He's so anxious and desperate to see it repealed that he doesn't care about endorsing an all-Republican ticket in a year when the political climate suggests doing so would be foolish and unwise.

The Times has proclaimed that Congress is need of change, but their idea of change is more of the same. Stay the course, stand pat, maintain the status quo.

Send even more Republicans to Congress. In truth, Frank Blethen is making endorsements based on what he himself wants - not what's best for the community or the state. He is no better than the corporate media titans he so frequently criticizes in editorial after editorial.

Blethen and his editorial board must know that McGavick will be just another vote for the Bush agenda, but they endorsed him anyway. Here is what we're supposed to believe helped convince them he's independent:
To demonstrate his independence, McGavick has called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He also shows realistic thinking on a range of issues.
The pairing of these two sentences in the same paragraph is ironic. How realistic is it that Donald Rumsfeld is going to resign or be fired from the Bush administration? He has in fact already offered his resignation to Dubya, and Dubya has refused it.

But amazingly, the Times then had the gall to bizarrely criticize Cantwell for taking positions they deemed "not realistic":
Cantwell would have other countries pay for a multinational occupation, and have Turkey and Egypt send troops. That is wonderful but unreal.

[...]

Cantwell calls for energy independence through renewables like biodiesel and wind. We are for these ideas to the extent they are real, but we agree with McGavick that "when you study renewables you don't see big numbers relative to economic need."

[...]

On Social Security, Cantwell says the system should retain its mandatory, fixed-benefit structure. We agree — and McGavick does not — but we note that Cantwell proposes to make Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment more generous. Given Social Security's long-term deficit, that suggestion is unrealistic.
(Empahsis ours). Several times, the editorial board criticized Cantwell for positions that were unrealistic.

That's right, friends. Heeeeere's the Seattle Times....Grounded in Reality!

So Frank Blethen & Co. have a double standard - what else is new?

On the issue of media consolidation, the Seattle Times again dismisses Cantwell's record, saying that she "once again has not shown significant leadership to a very real problem" (and notice the use of the word real in that sentence).

But actually, this just isn't true. Cantwell has been a strong voice for media diversity and has taken a great interest in the issue. Just last June, her office issued several lengthy news releases outlining her position and her leadership role in specific detail.
  • Cantwell, like another great Democratic candidate, Darcy Burner, strongly supports Net Neutrality and has been a leader in the Senate fighting for it,
  • Cantwell offered an amendment to legislation before the Commerce Committee to help keep free voicemail service accessible to homeless Americans, whith the committee adopted,
  • Cantwell has worked with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to file a measure based on the senators' Local Community Radio Act (S.312). The legislation would greatly increase the affordability of low-power FM radio stations for community groups unable to obtain expensive full-power radio station licenses on very scarce broadcast spectrum.
  • Cantwell backed another amendment along with Senators Dorgan and Lott to require the FCC to move forward with proceedings regarding localism and minority media ownership before it proceeds with its broad rewrite of regulations.
Finally, Cantwell in 2004 joined with a bipartisan group of senators to oppose new FCC rules which would have allowed large media conglomerates to control a greater number of newspapers and radio and television stations.

This information is all publicly available. Senator Cantwell's positions and leadership role have not been a secret. And what's more, the Seattle Times knows it. They have editorialized on it. Why, just last July, they pointed it out:
Sen. Maria Cantwell has sent a letter to [FCC Chairman Kevin] Martin requesting a hearing in Washington. Our state is a logical location for hearings designed to gain a regional perspective outside the Beltway. It also makes sense to come to Washington because of Cantwell's previous opposition to rule changes and her seat on the Commerce Committee, which oversees communications issues.
(Emphasis below and above is ours) And then there's this, from another Seattle Times editorial, which is even more damning:
Special notice goes to this state's U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell. In June, the Democrat was one of three senators to sponsor an amendment to suspend the FCC rules. The amendment was dropped in conference, but it did put the Senate on the record as voting against the FCC.

"No one should be allowed to corner the marketplace for ideas," Cantwell said last week. That is exactly right.

The issue could come up again, either by the Supreme Court accepting the media moguls' appeal or by further FCC action.
That was from last year - Sunday, February 6th, 2005. "Special notice", eh?

So the Seattle Times is on record having praised Cantwell on its editorial page for being a leader on this issue, but in their endorsement of her opponent, they wrote:
Cantwell understands the issue, but once again has not shown significant leadership to a very real problem. We believe McGavick's independent mind would be useful in untying the knot of media consolidation.
Frank Blethen and his editorial board are nothing less than deceitful hypocrites. This, right here, is all we need to completely write them off.

This endorsement of Mike McGavick just doesn't make any sense at all until you remember that Cantwell has voted to oppose tax breaks for wealthy Americans (including repeal of the estate tax) and McGavick has declared he's for them.

Frank Blethen wants us to believe that the estate tax issue is only "part, not most" of why they endorsed McGavick. But he has not offered any meaningful justification to prove that that's the case. So we're inclined to believe the opposite is true. McGavick's position on the estate tax was mostly why the Times endorsed him, but not all of why.

It is the Times' criticisms of Senator Cantwell which are disappointing, not the Senator's record. Cantwell has been a true leader on issue after issue. She is not just the Senator who stopped Arctic drilling or Enron.

She shows an appreciation for delving into policy and listening to constituents. Even now, during the home stretch of the campaign, she is working for the people of this state. Some recent headlines:
  • Cantwell, Murray, Baird Ask Congressional Leadership to Make Sales Tax Deduction First Priority in November
  • Cantwell-Requested Report Confirms Recent Spokane Gas Prices Exceeded Seattle’s by Largest Margin in Last 57 Months
  • Cantwell Plan to Help Keep National Guard Equipped Signed Into Law
  • Cantwell Port Security Proposals Become Law - Cantwell provisions to invest in bomb detection R&D, improve ferry security, container inspection, and border security have all become law in recent days
  • Cantwell Calls on President to Back Large-Scale Investment in Alternative Energy Technologies - As president prepares 2008 budget, Cantwell and 23 other senators call for new direction in energy policy to break U.S. oil addiction
  • Cantwell Plan to Test Use of Unmanned Aircraft for Northern Border Patrol is Now Law
  • Congress OKs Cantwell Interoperable Communications Plan to Boost Security, Safety at 2010 Olympics
And all of those headlines are from just this month - October 2006!

Frank Blethen seems clearly bent on destroying the Seattle Times' credibility, and he's doing a fine job of it. His endorsements are indefensible, his rationale is ludicrious, and his criticisms of Democrats have been bizarre, false, and one-sided.

Frank wants his "family-owned" newspaper to be a monopoly, the only game in town, even though he claims to be against media consolidation. To that, we say no thanks. This organization hereby renews its pledge to fight and work for a region that has at least two daily newspapers and two editorial voices.

The Seattle Times may as well start editorializing daily on repeal of the estate tax, and only repeal of the estate tax - because that's all their owner really cares about.

Republican Taxes

In spite of the evidence, the Republican pretension that they are the party of low taxes and light government remains intact.

If you don't have a real issue, make one up, I guess.

By their incompetence alone they have created a government which is becoming more burdensome by the day, but it is not the damage of buffoonery I mean by "taxes." I am talking about real dollar payments by middle class Americans.

In some cases there are outright tax increases -- as with the loss of the sales tax deduction here in Washington. That's hundreds or thousands of dollars more you and I will owe on our federal returns next April. In other cases it is the paring back of government support, such as for child tax credits and college loan and grant supports.

Real tax hikes come in the form of deficits, too. These are taxes, just not this year. By borrowing from China, from wealthy America, and from its own social insurance funds to run the government, Bush, Inc., has effectively raised taxes on future America.

(We like to say "our children," but unless you're eighty years or older, those bonds are going to be paid back in your lifetime.)

Direct benefits to corporations through the tax code were instituted with the cuts in dividend and capital gains taxes.

These were extended last spring by Congressional action. As we've written here before, these were the highest priority of the Republican Congress. They were enacted in the spring because they couldn't stand the scrutiny of the election season. This is a direct shift of tax burden to Middle America.

But as big as these taxes are, most of the real dollars extracted by Republican legislation are paid to the corporate branch of the Party. Thus they escape attention. For Enron and Halliburton, Big Oil and Pharmaceuticals, government action has reached right into the pocket of Middle America and extracted the cash.

The hundreds of billions of dollars in excess Oil profits are taxes we pay to corporate America as a result of government (in)action.

These are taxes which result in nothing -- no schools, no roads, no police, no national defense. Considering the damage fossil fuels do to our health and environment, it is these payments which deserve the name "Death Tax."

The Great Enron Debacle was a huge tax on energy here in the West, a utility tax that drove some companies out of business and burdened households to the tune of thousands of dollars a year before the fraud was exposed. This was a direct result of corporations writing the regulations -- or in this case, the deregulations.

The Medicare Part D drug fiasco, which Central Washington's Doc Hastings played such a pivotal role in getting enacted, is a tax for the benefit of Big Pharmaceuticals.

By explicitly barring the government from using its market leverage, Congress ensured that hundreds of drugs are priced 10 to 70 percent above market value. This is shown in a recent study on the differential between Veterans Administration prices, but can also be gauged by looking at Canadian prices.

The difference is the tax.

Lastly, and most sadly, there is the tax of the Iraq War. The contribution of tens of thousands of Americans to our national future has already been lost, and every day we pay more in blood and treasure to this fiasco.

That sacrifice is trivialized by the Republicans' tax cuts for the rich. No sacrifice is expected on Wall Street or Park Avenue, even as we expect the ultimate sacrifice from these men and women.

The Oregonian endorses Cantwell

Too nice a day to be on the internets very much, but wanted to check in quickly and note that The Oregonian has endorsed Maria Cantwell. I'll tease you with the first sentence.
The Internet, recently explained Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens -- chairman of the committee that oversees it -- is not a dump truck; it's a series of tubes.
Also worth noting is this graph.
McGavick has been having some trouble explaining how individual Social Security accounts, which he supports, are different from privatization, which he opposes. But he has an interesting position on immigration, noting the vital need for openness to highly skilled immigrants, and has a good point in calling for less-poisonous partisan politics -- although unfortunately this Senate campaign hasn't reflected it.
No kidding. Guess the corporate media from another state has a better handle on the race than a certain Seattle "family owned" newspaper. As I've noted before, The Oregonian has a substantial readership in Clark County, so this endorsement is meaningful.

Enjoy the sunshine for a few more hours.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Seattle P-I endorses Darcy Burner in strongly worded editorial

Congratulations are in order to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for their sound logic and sound decision in the 8th Congressional District race:
This newspaper didn’t endorse Republican Dave Reichert for the 8th Congressional District House race two years ago because he then faced a bright, terribly well-informed Democrat whose votes we believed would better represent the district and serve the nation.

This time, Reichert faces an even more substantial Democratic challenger in Darcy Burner.

Nonetheless, we believe it’s only responsible to be able to first make a case for removing and incumbent, no matter how impressive the challenger.

Reichert is a man seemingly pulled into elective office, first when the King County sheriff’s position to which he had been appointed was changed to an elected office, and then when asked to run for Congress, largely on the strength of his fame in the Green River case.

Once in Washington, D.C., to his credit, Reichert bucked House leadership and President Bush on some controversial votes, including stem cell research and the disgraceful business of Terri Schiavo.

But Reichert has been on the wrong side of votes regarding minimum wage, tax cuts, Tom DeLay’s ethics and, most recently, detention and trial of foreign detainees.

Burner, a former Microsoft manager, is as informed in her views as she is forceful in delivering them. Frankly, at a P-I Editorial Board session, it was difficult to tell who was the incumbent because her answers carried weight.

From how to balance the federal budget (and how urgent it is to do so) to how crucial it is to reduce human contributions to global climate change to Congress’ role in Iraq war policy, Burner has the better grasp of the issues and the greater passion to deal with them.
The P-I is also endorsing Senator Maria Cantwell for reelection on Sunday, as well as Washington State's six incumbent Democratic congressmen. In those races the P-I has endorsed in, all of their positions correspond to ours...thus far.

This endorsement is obviously a very ringing recommendation of Burner, but unlike the Seattle Times' Kate Riley, the author of this editorial did not craft something excessively prejudiced. Reichert was given fair consideration by the P-I, whereas Darcy was not by the Times (and this is clearly evidenced in the editorial that appeared on their opinion pages).

Three years ago, this organization, through its Permanent Defense division, joined a multitude of other voices in stressing the importance of having more than one newspaper in the greater Seattle metropolitan area.

The owner of the Seattle Times (Frank Blethen) has not only proved this year that diversity of opinion is critically important, but he has actually argued for it, editorializing on many occasions against media consolidation and the elimination of voices. Yet he has also made it clear he wants to see the P-I shut down and has claimed the Seattle area market can only support one newspaper.

We believe that's called a double standard.

If Frank Blethen truly cared about the community, he would not work so hard to remove hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for our state schools, he would not be fighting to eliminate the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and he would not make poor editorial decisions that hurt the Times' crediblity.

Our region is very fortunate to have a choice in print media.

McGavick deplores and then uses meaningless rhetoric

I got a Mike McGavick mailer yesterday. Nice photos, glossy, real primo stuff.

When you open it up, on what would be page 3 if it was numbered, at the top you get the following statement (transcribed from the actual mailer:)
There is too much meaningless rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C. The people deserve to know what the candidates stand for.
Directly below that is a chart full of,um, meaningless rhetoric. You can't make this stuff up.

You know how the Republicans like to do it. They make a list of pet Republican issues, slant them in Republican-speak language, and then "compare" the candidates.

For example, in a mythical race for Comptroller of the Laundry Room, the issue might be "refuses to sort laundry by color." And Ralph Republican will be listed as "no" and Debbie Democrat will be listed as "yes." You get the idea. It's an old, cheap trick, but when your party has absolutely nothing going for it, I guess the GOP really has no choice.

Here is McGavick's laundry list of meaningless rhetoric. For simplicity I'll only list McGavick's alleged stance. (There are only two possible answers on this chart, one being "yes" and the other being "no.")
Drug testing for parents on welfare (YES)
Define marriage as between a man and a woman (YES)
Eliminate the death tax and the marriage penalty (YES)
Give Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants (NO)
Expand our domestic oil supply in Alaska (YES)
OK to burn the American flag (NO)
Notify parents if minor child seeks an abortion (YES)
Make English our national language (YES)
Hmmm. Where have I heard that claim about Social Security before? Oh yeah. Seattle Times reporter Alicia Mundy did a thorough job on Oct. 12 examining the claims and counter claims resulting from McGavick tee-vee ads in this vein.

Mundy reported there had been a vote on an amendment that would have taken away Social Security benefits from people who had earned them while here illegally, but later became legal. (Whew! Always with the amendments and the amendments to amendments. You don't think the GOP does that on purpose, do you?)

And to try to keep this this simple, the McGavick attacks are part of a larger GOP effort, according to Mundy's article.
The issue is driven partly by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington, D.C., which has encouraged GOP candidates to press it around the country.

Factcheck.org, a nonpartisan campaign-ad watchdog group, said 29 GOP candidates are now tagging Democrats with wanting to give benefits to illegal immigrants.
In plain English, what McGavick is claiming is at best a half-truth. Again from Mundy's Oct. 12 article:
McGavick is right that Cantwell's position would allow immigrants to collect Social Security based on taxes they paid while working illegally.

"It's like letting someone keep money they stole from a bank, as long as they pay the taxes on it," McGavick said.

However, Cantwell also is right in saying she doesn't advocate paying benefits to illegal immigrants. Under law, only legal immigrants can receive Social Security.
McGavick's claim in the mailer doesn't offer any information, just a flat claim that Cantwell wants to "give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens." So whether it's a full lie or a half lie, it's very deceptive.

In other words, it's meaningless rhetoric.

Don't herniate yourself on that ballot

With ballots out, King County voters should try to remember to affix 63 cents to mailed ballots because the ballot is too heavy.

The Post Office has agreed to deliver ballots that lack sufficient postage, according to the AP article, and the county will pay the postage due.
If no voters put the extra postage on the King County ballots, and all of the county's 595,000 absentee voters participated, the county's bill would be nearly $143,000.
Shouldn't the Post Office just deliver the ballots anyway? I know, I know. Operating costs, etc. But shouldn't each American citizen get one franked piece of mail per year for their ballot? We can start a new group, Citizens for a Citizens' Frank, or Franking for the People. (Frankly those are stupid names.)

Citizens for Franks! (And Beans?)

One method, though, might be to eliminate boring Congressional "newsletters," which are pretty much glorifed campaign pieces on both sides of the aisle. Dave Reichert's franking costs could more than cover the extra postage needed in King County.

Johnson axes The Stranger's Feit from debate

This little nugget yesterday from Josh Feit on Slog deserves some attention. Who’s Biased Now?
The Downtown Republican Club is sponsoring a debate on Monday between state Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens and her challenger, GOP state senator Stephen Johnson. (The debate, the only one between the two candidates, will be broadcast on TVW and the Seattle Channel).

I was asked to be the co-moderator of the debate along with conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky. After I agreed to be in the debate, however, I was told that the Johnson campaign would not participate.

The Downtown Republican Club caved, let Johnson call the shots, and I was ousted for Joel Connelly.
A commenter in that thread at Slog says it was all his fault and a misunderstanding. (If the commenter is really who he says he is, then he is the chair of a GOP district committee. The tone seems sincere, but you know how the internets are.)

Whatever the case may be, let's rewind this one for posterity. Sharkansky, who was reportedly fired by The Stranger for unprofessional conduct, is okay as a moderator but Feit isn't? A misunderstanding, sure. It's not like Sharkansky has ever done anything vindictive. Hey, if Johnson/Sharkansky get a pre-emptory challenge, then Owens should get one too. Just saying.

Bader's baseless complaint dismissed

The state Executive Ethics Board yesterday dismissed an over the top complaint filed by Republican political consultant Brett Bader against Washington State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald:
He was accused of using public resources to campaign against the initiative that would have repealed a gasoline tax. A state Web site showed highway projects that were on hold awaiting the fate of the initiative.

The board found only three minor violations it said were inadvertent.

MacDonald says he's pleased with the ruling because it acknowledge the department's efforts to inform the public about highway projects.
Bader, if you remember, was one of the driving hacks behind Initiative 912, which was largely propelled by KVI talk show hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur. Initiative 912 was soundly rejected by voters in November of 2005 after a hard fought campaign.

Nobody spends like the GOP

Listening to Mike McGavick attempt to apply the "big spender" brand to Maria Cantwell reminds us that the GOP is not about issues, it is about propaganda. Jumping up and down on the "big spender" hot button may impress the few remaining Americans who haven't learned to check the BS gauge, but the rest of us have learned, when Republicans talk, the facts generally run in the opposite direction.

"Big Spender" is a line borrowed from Karl Rove's focus groups. It has little connection to the sorry record of the past six years. The Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency. Spending has gone out of control. Combined with the tax cuts for the rich, you have the most profligate administration in history. All the Democrats can do is watch.

Here's the deficit chart again. The numbers include -- as they should -- borrowing from Social Security and Medicare funds.

Portraying Democrats as big spenders is dishonest and absurd after six years of the GOP's fiscal follies.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Have you heard Reichert in his own words?

The new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ad exposing Reichert as a loyal foot soldier in the House Republican caucus instead of the moderate independent he claims to be is getting wide coverage on local news broadcasts and is one of the top political clips on the Internet.

The ad, which is available from our Video Library and our multimedia stream on YouTube, has already been watched several thousand times. It was the fourteenth most watched video in YouTube's News & Blogs Category today, and it was also the ninetieth most watched video on all of YouTube. (It's great to be in the top one hundred!)

It's one of the DCCC's best ads - ever - and if you haven't seen it yet, you have to watch it now.

Reichert's campaign team has had the audacity to complain that the ad, which excerpts a speech Reichert gave to the Mainstream Republicans of Washington earlier this year, took his words out of context. That's just not true. The whole speech is littered with revealing remarks that show Reichert is just a foot soldier, not an independent thinker. Like this:
I know the leadership is already planning to protect me, right. They will develop a bill that increases money for education that I can vote on and say I do support teachers. Now that is the everyday strategic battle that you play in Washington D.C.

-Dave Reichert (Empahsis is ours)
Dave Reichert is just another vote for George W. Bush's agenda - the failed conservative agenda. The House of Representatives is already overflowing with rubber stamps, and it's long been in need of a grand clearing out. Voters in the 8th Congressional District have the opportunity this year to elect a Congresswoman who will put them and their families first - Darcy Burner.

NPI releases 2006 endorsements for federal and statewide office

The Northwest Progressive Institute is pleased today to officially release its endorsements for federal and statewide office. On our endorsements page you'll find our statement on each endorsement as well as a link to the website of each endorsed candidate. The special preface to the endorsements for federal office is worth reprinting here, and is as follows:
These are troubled times for the United States of America. As much of the rest of the world scorns or despises us for our poor decision making abroad (including the disastrous invasion of Iraq) and aversion to diplomacy, our own population is suffering at home. Families are struggling because Republicans in Washington D.C. are more interesting in rewarding their wealthy friends then giving every American an equal opportunity to succeed and do well. George W. Bush is ignoring our nation's most sacred text in his effort to take executive power to new heights. Republicans in Congress have offered no oversight, no accountability, and no interest in the public good during these last few years of one party rule.

There have been few occasions when our nation needed new leadership as badly as it does now. Washington, D.C. has become horribly polluted by a stinking mess that is Republican domination of all branches of government, including both houses of Congress.

A new direction is needed. But the agenda will not change, there will be no investigations, and no relief unless Republicans are swept out of power. It's time for a change, but change won't happen if the GOP remains the majority party. There's only one way to get out of this living nightmare, and that is to vote Democrat. If you remember nothing else about our endorsements for office, those two words will suffice to guide you in this historic election cycle.

Because virtually every Democratic and progressive organization strongly supports the party's nominees for federal office, we have omitted mentions of other notable endorsements.
And now, here's a summary of our endorsements:
  • U.S. Senate: Maria Cantwell
  • U.S. House, 8th Congressional District: Darcy Burner
  • U.S. House, 4th Congressional District: Richard Wright
  • U.S. House, 5th Congressional District: Peter Goldmark
  • U.S. House, 1st Congressional District: Jay Inslee
  • U.S. House, 2nd Congressional District: Rick Larsen
  • U.S. House, 3rd Congressional District: Brian Baird
  • U.S. House, 6th Congressional District: Norm Dicks
  • U.S. House, 7th Congressional District: Jim McDermott
  • U.S. House, 9th Congressional District: Adam Smith
  • State Supreme Court: Susan Owens (previously endorsed in primary)
Justices Gerry Alexander and Tom Chambers were also previously endorsed in the primary, along with Judges Penoyar, Becker, and Quinn-Brintall, but they are unopposed in the general election, as their races were decided last month.

And a reminder that we have already released our positions for statewide intiatives on this November's ballot. Those positions are:
  • Initiative 920 - A resounding NO
  • Initiative 933 - A resounding NO
  • Initiative 937 - YES
See our 2006 ballot measures page for more information, including our rationale, the official description for each ballot measure, and links for additional information.

Posting resumes

Our apologies for the lack of posting over the last day and a half. The company that hosts our network had a hardware failure and we temporarily lost the ability to publish new posts. (To be clear, this was not the result of heavy traffic or any kind of attack - it was an internal problem, and out of our control).

Everything seems to be working now. Our apologies to readers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Newspaper owners' shameless support of I-920 getting well-deserved criticism

In today's Wenatchee World, managing editor Gary Jasinek defends his newspaper and its donations to Initiative 920, the estate tax repeal.

You may recall that The Columbian's Lou Brancaccio also felt compelled to defend his paper, which I discussed in this post on Oct. 11.

As I reported in that post, The Seattle Times, Pioneer Newspapers, The Columbian and The Wenatchee World have all donated to a pro-920 campaign committee. The Wenatche paper did run this no on I-920 guest opinion, so duly noted. It's a well written piece by one John Sensensey, so go read it if you can.

Jasinek seemed almost perplexed that observers would even raise the issue of media fairness:
In Seattle-area newspapers, on the Web and in journalism listserves, the fact that The World’s owner and a few other family-owned papers in Washington had donated significant sums to the campaign caused a bit of a media flurry late last week.
Yeah, imagine that. People are talking about newspapers not just endorsing a terrible right-wing initiative, but actively funding it. But we get the "we're professionals so just trust us" argument:
Like most good newspapers, this one has a stout wall between its news report and its owners’ politics and personal views. In my nine years here, never has there been an attempt by the publisher to shape the news in accordance to his personal beliefs — other than as they pertain to good journalism and a complete news report.
Fair enough. I believe professional editors and reporters, in most cases, will behave in a professional manner.

Which isn't the point. Newspapers are institutions, too, not just random collections of ethical people. They wield enormous power still, especially in smaller communities.

But here's something to kick around: newspapers already get to "donate," if you will, to candidates and campaigns they support. They're called endorsement editorials, and newspapers are specifically exempted from Public Disclosure Commission regulations, as are all legitimate news organizations. Sales of newspapers are also exempt from the sales tax.

So what we have in the case of newspapers donating to a pro-920 committee is a case of "double donation." The newspapers get to make their old-style donation in the form of endorsement editorials, followed by actual cash donations by most of the newspapers involved.

The newspaper proponents of I-920 like to absurdly claim that the estate tax is a form of "double taxation." Maybe they should look in the mirror and ask why newspapers are entitled to donate off the books with editorials and again with cash or in-kind contributions.

Fortunately, there is one major newspaper in Washington State that isn't joining Frank Blethen's club, and that's the "family owned" Spokane Spokesman-Review:
In a state where, according to the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, the poor pay nearly five and a half times as big a share of their income in taxes as the well-to-do, a modest impact is a reasonable tradeoff for the improved ability to meet statewide needs. Voters should say no to I-920.
That's excellent advice.

GOP woes extend to legislative races

Today's headline in the Bellingham Herald mirrors the state of the Republican party nationwide: The GOP pulls its support for yet another candidate.

This time, it's in the 42nd District in Whatcom County.

Incumbent Kelli Linville's Republican challenger, Craig Mayberry, has actively stopped campaigning with the election less than three weeks away. The GOP is yanking its support after discovering he owes in excess of $200,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes.

One can only guess if this would have been overlooked pre-Tom DeLay, pre-Bob Ney, pre-Jack Abramoff, and the continuing Scandals du Jour that seems to be making them so paranoid lately. Instead of Deny, Defuse, Destroy, that old strategy has given way to Discover, Distance, and Drop: Discover any skeletons previously overlooked, put some distance between the party and the candidate (or incumbent), and drop the subject in the hopes the media won't pick it up.

Polls show neither the old nor new strategies are working. But progressives need to remain aggressive in pointing out that the "values" party, and the "fiscally responsible" party isn't the GOP and it certainly hasn't been in a long, long time.

The Columbian endorses Senator Cantwell

From Vancouver comes news that The Columbian has endorsed Cantwell. They were respectful to McGavick, which is fine. Here's some of the meat of the editorial:
Cantwell's environmental credentials are clearly superior to McGavick's. She has a lifetime voting record of 86 out of 100 on the League of Conservation Voters' scorecard. She opposed increased oil-tanker traffic in Puget Sound and was on the right side on the ANWR drilling issue, which she led. McGavick, on the other hand, agrees with the Bush administration that it should be opened up for oil exploration. He goes further and faults Cantwell for being "out front" in opposing the ANWR drilling because it antagonized the powerful and hot-headed Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the leading Senate booster of drilling on the refuge. McGavick must want her to sit demurely with her hands folded on her lap and keep her opposition as low-key as possible.

Cantwell's issues might not keep McGavick awake nights, but they're plenty important to Washingtonians. She has, for example, worked to restore methamphetamine-enforcement funds that had been dropped by the Bush administration. As Clark County residents and police know well, the Interstate 5 corridor is a virtual methamphetamine zone from Canada to Mexico.
So there you have it. Hard to say what impact this will have on votes in Clark County, especially given that this stands to be a strong Democratic year. Local wags were pretty tough on Gov. Christine Gregoire for not doing a better job in Clark County during her 2004 campaign, but this is a different year. Cantwell should win Clark County narrowly.

Clark County voters are probably feeling about the same as the rest of the country, namely frustrated and ready for a change in party control of Congress.

Vancouver and Clark County are now classic suburban swing areas. Republicans will still do well in the northern parts of the county, especially the 18th Legislative District, but that will be offset by the motivated Democratic voters in more urban areas.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

DCCC targets Reichert and McMorris in new round of advertising

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is stepping up its criticism of Dave Reichert and moving into the 5th District with ads criticizing Cathy McMorris. It's a bold move, and one that we strongly applaud.

We believe that every district should be competitive, and in both the 5th and the 8th Democrats are fielding top-tier candidates (Darcy Burner and Peter Goldmark) who are running aggressive grassroots campaigns and have proven their ability to top their Republican opponents in fundraising from quarter to quarter.

Next door in Idaho, Larry Grant is forcing the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to spend money attacking his candidacy because of the fear that he will defeat the GOP nominee, Bill Sali, who is disliked even in his own party.

I just watched the new DCCC's newest anti-Reichert ad (see it yourself here), which includes an amusing and amazing excerpt from one of Reichert's speeches earlier this year (before the Mainstream Republicans of Washington) which we have widely publicized:
Sometimes the leadership comes to me and says, `Dave, we want you to vote a certain way.' Now, they know I can do that over here, that I have to do that over here. In other districts, that's not a problem, but here I have to be able to be very flexible in where I place my votes.

Because the big picture here is, keep this seat, keep the majority, keep the country moving forward with Republican ideals -- especially on the budget, on protecting our troops, on protecting this country. Right? Being responsible with taxpayer dollars. All of those things. That's the big picture. Not the vote I place on ANWR that you may not agree with, or the vote that I place on protecting salmon."

You have to... be ... flexible.

And so, when the leadership comes to me and says 'Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority, I...I do it.'
After the ad excerpts the speech, the announcer then adds:
And when they told Dave Reichert to give billions to big oil, he did it. And a vote against cracking down on price gouging, he did it. Three times. Now we know why. Dave Reichert – another vote for Bush’s agenda.
Reichert's campaign is whining that the ad took Reichert's words out of context. To that, we say...that's one of the oldest defenses in the book. There's nothing out of context here. NPI's own state representative, Republican Toby Nixon, who was in the audience when Reichert made that speech, has admitted that it was "shocking". It certainly was, and it still is.

Unlike the NRCC's attacks on Darcy Burner (SHE'LL INCREASE YOUR TAXES!!! RUN!!!) this is fair criticism, and Reichert's campaign knows it.

The Stranger speaks

Seattle's "only newspaper," The Stranger, makes its endorsements. A few highlights:
For a freshman in the minority party, Cantwell's record of achievement is jaw dropping: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge filibuster; extending the federal tax deduction for Washington's regressive sales tax; protecting Snohomish ratepayers from Enron; keeping oil-tanker traffic out of the Puget Sound; extending low-income health-care coverage; passing identify-theft protection; and helping pass campaign-finance reform.

---snip---

Seattle prepster McGavick is a conservative hack—he came up through Slade Gorton's political machine, worked as an insurance-industry lobbyist, and at Safeco he used controversial tactics to bully minorities and low-income customers out of coverage.
The Election Control Board is on fire. Perhaps literally, you don't know what the heck goes on in that place. But they continue:
Vote for Darcy Burner.

Democrats need only 15 seats to take the majority in the House, and current polls are showing that Democrats may pick up more than that. If they do, the President's agenda will grind to a halt—no more right-wing wacko appointees to the Supreme Court, no more cake-walk declarations of preemptive war, no more failing to heed the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

---snip---

Burner's success so far is a clear sign of Reichert's vulnerability and the public's dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, but it's also a sign of Burner's own smarts. She's introduced herself with a compelling story that plays well in the suburbs (military family, Harvard grad, Microsoft mom) and has relentlessly linked "independent" Reichert to Bush and his congressional apparatchiks—not hard to do, given Reichert's "whatever-the-president-says" position on the Iraq war, his opposition to abortion, his late-blooming acceptance (like, two weeks ago) of the reality of global warming, and his support of the Bush tax cuts.
I could go on, but that would be wrong, and maybe illegal, and I am not going to get Dan Savage mad at me. He ain't naming nothin' after me, no way.

Seriously, just go read what the Election Control Board has to say.

The real competition in the 17th LD

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's capitol correspondent, Chris McGann, has a story this morning about how poor the GOP's chances are in state Legislative races.
In the House, Democrats hold a 56-42 majority. The GOP's only real shot at taking back control would be in the Senate, but they'd need to pick up two seats to undo their 23-26 minority status.

That isn't likely.
After discussing each party's prospects in the state senate, McGann goes on to talk about Speaker Frank Chopp's stated desire to achieve an "institutional majority" of 60 seats. At the end of the article, there is a list of "contested races" that includes a 17th LD House race in Vancouver between Democratic incumbent Deb Wallace and Republican challenger Paul Harris (no web site.)

Harris isn't mounting much of a campaign, if you check out this profile piece about the race from yesterday's Columbian. Not quite sure how that becomes a "hotly contested race." My crystal ball is still broken, but although Harris has some deep community roots it's hard to imagine him unseating a well-liked moderate Democrat in a Democratic year.

The real action, so to speak, is in the other race in the 17th LD, which comprises eastern Vancouver and parts of unincorporated Clark County.

That race drew some attention after the primary, when Democrat Pat Campbell defeated former city councilman Jack Burkman for the nomination. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, including a rather regrettable comment made by a local Democratic donor to Columbian columnist Gregg Herrington:
"I have not seen such a mass suicide since Jim Jones fed his flock poison Kool-Aid in Guyana," said David Nierenberg, an east county political activist, philanthropist and booster of schools and other civic causes. He said Democrats in the 17th, which is between I-205 and Camas, "tossed out a terrific candidate and a probable winner for the certainty of a loss in November."
My intent is not to pile on Nierenberg, who was piled on quite severely at the time anyhow, but to point out that Campbell could very well wind up beating Dunn.

Campbell has stuck to his method, which is to count on his name recognition from previous campaigns while steadfastly refusing to accept donations. He reportedly returned a $500 donation rather than change his ways.

Nobody who has been around politics very long can claim that newspaper endorsements decide elections. But it's worth noting The Columbian's endorsement of Campbell yesterday, which was extremely critical of Dunn.
"I showed up on time every day." That was Jim Dunn's response when asked to relate his proudest legislative accomplishment of the past two years. In an interview with The Columbian editorial board he repeatedly said, "That's a good question," when asked for examples to support his positions.

These are not the kinds of responses indicative of a sharp, effective, heads-up lawmaker who is persuasive when trying to influence legislation. Dunn's No. 1 issue, as usual, is a broad-brush complaint about government waste. But he has no specific examples. He didn't know how many state employees there are, but he said the number should be cut, via attrition, by 10 percent, except in police and schools.
Most importantly, neither Dunn nor Campbell are running campaigns as they are understood by political operatives today. Dunn is notoriously inactive, to put it nicely. He has raised around $16,000, according to The Columbian, in an era when Legislative races can cost upwards of $200,000. Campbell appears to have his web site and nothing else.

But Campbell may be a sharper cookie than some Democratic Party leaders thought. He also has a good sense of humor. A Vancouver-based political action committee that endorses anti-choice candidates has posted Campbell's responses to the LifePAC questionnaire, and the answers are fabulous. For instance (transcribed from the image file:)
13. Will you work to legislate substantially greater emphasis on abstinence education in Washington public schools?

No. Abstinence based education is generally the norm now and works to an extent. We need to supplement it with practical medical based education as well. After all, the Army I was in didn't address this area with just Character Guidance classes by Chaplain Roy. First Sergeant Snarley gave rather graphic supplemental demonstrations of how to equip a broom stick with a condom. I would guess that what First Sergeant Snarley explained to us had at least the same amount of effectiveness as what Pastor Roy counseled.
Oh, that's just priceless. It would have been great to be a fly on the wall when the LifePAC people read that!

Clark County is a unique if not dysfunctional media market, and the 17th District is on the east side, an area that exprienced a huge influx of newcomers in the last decade. Many of them work in Portland and never became all that aware of their new community. It's just as easy to subscribe to The Oregonian as The Columbian.

Since the tee-vee folks seem to only cover crimes, car wrecks and fires north of the Columbia River, there is something of an information vacuum here.

It's a situation that could allow Campbell to win despite spending virtually nothing. In many ways it's a more competitive race than the Wallace-Harris matchup for the other seat.

So it's kind of odd that the list of "contested races" at the end included the Wallace-Harris race and ignored the Campbell-Dunn race. Then again, given the dynamic of the race, and the high emphasis which is normally placed on candidates' fundraising, it is perhaps no surprise. Will Campbell be joining the House Democratic caucus come January? It's not an unlikely possibility.

Space Cowboy

In case US Middle East policy wasn't quite belligerent enough, the Bush Administration has asserted its right to blow you out of orbit if you obstruct American interests in space. It's a chicken-egg argument: Why would they assert the right to attack without the means to do so? Or why mention space at all as an American interest?

We're well aware that W wants to conquer Mars and militarize NASA, but this latest assertion brings speculation that pre-emptive strikes in sovereign desert nations might give way to cosmic body-checks in space. The arrogance, the hubris of such a policy is stunning, of course, but this is the President who just took us back to pre-Magna Carta England by signing the Military Commissions Act into law.

If this policy assertion weren't actually happening, it might provide comic relief to imagine Bush and Cheney in a bunker somewhere, swinging plastic light sabers in their black cloaks. All I can muster is a hollow chuckle, at best.

Another Owens Endorsement

The Tri-City Herald weighs in on the Owens-Johnson judicial race with a well-considered editorial.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Analysis: U.S. Senate Debate Broadcast

So in Seattle and environs, the big debate broadcast tonight is on KING-TV at 9pm. So most places around Western Washington will get to size up their candidates for US Senate (excepting, of course, Aaron Dixon, who was arrested trying to enter the KING building today.)

If you're somewhere that KING is not available, well, you're out of luck until TVW airs it Thursday night at 9:15. We know we're not actually part of the state in Clark County, Oregon, anyway. Maybe the cable access station will air a re-run of The vonHummer Hour or something.

I'll have to settle for Postman's live blogging. Or baseball.

UPDATE from the Executive Director: I'm watching the debate on KING5 and will update periodically with my observations and analysis.

Robert Mak asked the first question - who did each candidate vote for in 2004. The answer from each candidate, not surprisingly, was that they supported their party's nominee for the Presidency. For Cantwell, that meant Kerry, and for McGavick, that meant Bush, though McGavick tried gamely to then distance himself from the current unpopular occupant of the White House.

When the candidates were asked about North Korea, Senator Cantwell gave an outstanding response, outlining a very clear and practical strategy for handling the situation. But don't expect the administration to start bilaterial talks any time soon.

During the debate, the candidates were often shown all at once, even when they weren't speaking. The screen would be divided into three frames, with one half devoted to the candidate speaking and the other half also split into two showing the other two candidates.

When McGavick was not speaking, he was often shown with his head tilted away to the left of the camera, which made him look rather comical. If that wasn't amusing enough, McGavick could frequently be seen nodding, puckering his mouth, wiping his face, or patting his brow.

Guthrie, in contrast, stared down a lot and blinked his eyes, while Senator Cantwell generally looked straight on at the camera in a tight lipped smile when not speaking.

Some of the major topics covered were: Social Security, drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, healthcare, education and the Bush tax cuts. Cantwell was fairly eloquent and sharp, and she sounded cheerful and optimistic in her responses. Guthrie and McGavick seemed more edgy and somewhat agitated.

It was a memorable debate and a strong performance by Senator Maria Cantwell.

If you have a broadband connection you can watch the entire debate here on streaming video, courtesy of KING5. But be warned: the quality isn't that good. The Seattle Times also has a concise recap from correspondent Alex Fryer.

Nova M Radio Launches

For those of you who like to listen to AM 1090 and have missed Mike Malloy, here's a double dose of good news: A new liberal radio network, Nova M Radio, will begin broadcasting on October 30, and their first major hire is Mike Malloy. Who's starting it up? The Drobnys--same folks who brought you Air America.

Air America has always been plagued by financial problems, and that came to a head last week. Management seems to be the real problem there; they will probably be okay after their reorganization.

But let's welcome the new kids on the block. May they have a smooth startup and a long life. The Right has held the airwaves long enough. Congratulations to Nova M for taking another bite out of The Elephant.

Hutcherson spotting

Via echidne at Eschaton comes a Ken Hutcherson spotting courtesy of Ethics Daily.
Speakers didn't come out and say that evangelicals should vote for Republicans, but they touted a conservative social agenda opposing abortion, gay marriage and embryonic stem-cell research, while supporting the war on terrorism and President Bush.

"I am not an elephant, and no one is going to make a jackass out of me," said Ken Hutcherson, senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church near Seattle, Wash., the lone African-American on the program.
And I'm not a goldfish, but nobody is going to make a gecko out of me. Clearly the Hutch is losing it. But as echidne points out, the delicious part is at the end:
The event was originally scheduled in arena with tickets to be sold, but later was moved to a church and free admission. Monday's crowd was substantially smaller than a "Justice Sunday" event held two years ago in the same church.
Dwindling crowds and distancing from the Republicans. Nah, there's no discontent amongst evangelicals. Move along, people. Go to your homes, nothing to see here.

Baird throws Hastings a rope

When all else fails, kill something.
Sea lions are protected by federal law. But Republican Doc Hastings and Democrat Brian Baird said they will introduce a bill that would let officials from the two states, as well as American Indians, quickly obtain permits to kill a limited number of sea lions that are going after salmon in the Columbia.
Now, sea lion predation is a problem, and it seems to drive the fishing enthusiasts mad, probably because it's such an obvious and visible problem, unlike habitat destruction, dams themselves and variables in the ocean. Why worry about global climate change when we can chamber a cartridge?

Baird (WA-03) is developing a regrettable habit of co-sponsoring questionable legislation with righties, especially on environmental issues.

Baird and Oregon Republican Greg Walden co-sponsored salvage logging legislation late last year, which ultimately led to an unfortunate kerfuffle bewteen Baird and an Oregon State forestry graduate student.

And you have to question why Baird thinks it's a good idea now to throw a rope to Doc Hastings. I thought Hastings was going to "immediately" get to the bottom of the Foley page scandal. How nice of Baird to provide him a platform to change the subject. This really isn't complicated.

Hastings was starting to drown, and instead of throwing him an anchor, Baird throws him a rope. Baird is all but assured re-election, so why he thinks it important to co-sponsor legislation with Hastings this week is beyond me.

This is just so typical of what's wrong with so-called New Democrats. Schooled and tamed by years in the political wilderness, too many of them fool with small little battles on the margins. Which is fine for a party that wants to remain in the minority forever, not so good for a party poised to take control.

The weird thing is that the "Blue Dogs" and "New Democrats" are likely going to be outnumbered by progressives in the new Congress, so one would think co-sponsoring legislation with the embattled Republican chair of the doing-nothing Ethics Committee is a poor strategic move on Baird's part.

And make no mistake, the "kill something" bill won't do much at all about saving salmon. It will make some people think something useful is being done, namely killing a small number of sea lions, while more important issues get short shrift.

Now, I am always careful to point out that Baird had the guts to oppose the Iraq War resolution, which was not a trivial matter. He voted for the lunatic Schiavo legislation, which I still don't understand. And while I can appreciate the need for members in swing districts to have some lattitude, there really needs to be some party discipline as well.

Baird has been a decent member of Congress. Let's not forget that in 1996 he nearly defeated the odious Linda Smith, prompting Smith to launch a suicidal bid against Sen. Patty Murray two years later. He has had to battle the insane right wing relentlessly, both in his district and in Congress.

But times change. Democrats will most likely be a majority in the House. It will be interesting to see how centrists like Baird fare. Personally, I think he'll adapt and do quite well, once he figures out he doesn't need people like Walden and Hastings.

Well, that settles it - now we know

On Sunday, I wrote a lengthy commentary articulating this organization's candid disappointment with the Seattle Times for its ridiculous endorsement of Dave Reichert. Among my observations:
So the Times wants to see one party rule in Washington, D.C. ended, but in of the most competitive races in the country, they're endorsing the Republican. Clearly, sending new leadership to the U.S. House is not that important to Frank Blethen and Company.
The Times chose to embarrass itself further in another editorial today endorsing Cathy McMorris for reelection in Washington's 5th District.

The Times on Sunday claimed there is "compelling reason for change in Congress", but obviously they don't believe Congress actually needs to be changed.

The Times has yet to endorse a Democratic challenger for federal office, and they have already passed over two excellent ones - Darcy Burner (and, with this endorsement), Peter Goldmark.

The Times' position is clear: Endorse incumbents, keep the status quo. Keep Republicans in charge and keep one party rule alive in Washington, D.C.

If you read the Times' endorsement of McMorris, you'll notice a striking similiarity to the Reichert endorsement. It's not as long but it is drawn from the same template: praise the incumbent Republican freshman and point out any instance where he or she has supposedly stood up to the administration, then dismiss the Democrat and pile on more praise for the Republican.

This endorsement is a complete insult to the better candidate, Peter Goldmark, who has deep roots in the 5th and is a perfect fit for the district. There could not possibly be another Democrat who is this uniquely qualified to represent his or her fellow citizens in the United States Congress.

So why did the Seattle Times really endorse McMorris?

Oh...that's right, something about an estate tax. You see, it trumps every other issue - Iraq, global warming, Social Security privatization, even oversight of the administration. All huge concerns that the Times has editorialized on but doesn't really care about.

The Seattle Times is rapidly losing credibility and relevance with its readers and with the community. Its owner's delusional obsession with repealing the estate tax has turned the Times into a one-issue paper, and that's a shame.

Don't be surprised if the Times endorses Mike McGavick for Senate next Sunday, despite the fact that Seantor Cantwell is the incumbent. If the candidate is against the estate tax (and McGavick is), that's the only qualification that matters.

Besides, Mike! should have no trouble getting the Times editorial board to believe that he's a change agent instead of a rubber stamp. Why wouldn't the Times eagerly buy the faux moderate, independent candidacy he's been trying to sell?

You can send the Seattle Times a message by donating to Darcy and Peter's campaigns, or by volunteering to win. They may not want change, but we do.

Puget Sound's other major newspaper, fortunately, is displaying common sense. We were delighted to see that the Seattle P-I has endorsed Eric Oemig for State Senate in an editorial this morning. Eric, who wishes to represent NPI's home district, is an exceptionally qualified candidate running a high powered grassroots campaign. He recently authored a guest post for the Official Blog and we are pleased to support his candidacy.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman angered by McGavick's comments

It seems Mike McGavick tried to stretch the truth a little too far:
Mike McGavick, a Republican waging an uphill race for the Senate, called Monday for the replacement of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the creation of a bipartisan panel to propose new directions for the Iraq war. But the plan drew a quick response from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., who took issue with McGavick's implication that he supported it.

McGavick said he had talked about his ideas with Warner and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., on Monday following their recent criticism of the administration's handling of the war.

"Senators Warner and Hagel have articulated exactly what the American people are thinking that things are not getting better in Iraq and a course correction is needed," McGavick said in a statement released by his campaign.

But Warner quickly distanced himself from McGavick's proposal.

"In our conversation, I shared with Mr. McGavick my views on the challenges that remain in Iraq," Warner said in a statement released by his Senate office. "I did not expand my views beyond the parameters of my prior public comments on the issue.

"Secretary Rumsfeld did not come up in any way in our conversation."
(Emphasis mine). Oops. Mike McGavick, like his fellow Rubber Stamp Republican Dave Reichert, is desperately trying to camouflage himself as a moderate and independent, hoping to make himself more appealing to voters.

They're pursuing this strategy because they both know that if they admit they support George W. Bush's agenda, they will lose. Washingtonians are tired of hearing this joke of a president telling them that we have to stay in Iraq, that civil liberties have to be sacrificed in the name of safety, and that Social Security should be privatized - among other misguided policies.

Republicans in Congress will not hold Bush accountable. They haven't for six years and they won't for the next two if they control the House and the Senate after this November's elections. That is why it is so critical that voters sweep the GOP out of power this November and give Democrats an opportunity to clear out the corrupt mess that is polluting Washington, D.C.

ConocoPhillips settles with the feds

They decided it'd be better to pay up then fight a losing battle in court to duck responsibility for the disastrous Dalco oil spill:
In a settlement reached Monday with the U.S. Justice Department, ConocoPhillips will pay more than $2.3 million in costs and penalties for a 2004 incident that spilled more than 1,000 gallons of crude oil in Puget Sound's Dalco Passage.

The agreement with the company, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Polar Tankers, was reached following an extensive investigation by the U.S Coast Guard and the state Ecology Department following the Oct. 13, 2004 spill. The investigation found that the tanker Polar Texas released the oil as it took on ballast while departing Commencement Bay.

The spill went unnoticed until the following morning when the captain of a tug boat reported oil in the water south of Vashon and Maury islands. Although state law requires the offending vessel to report and participate in the cleanup, the Polar Texas did neither, the Coast Guard said yesterday in a press release.

The $2,233,293.94 in pollution removal costs under the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 represents 100 percent of all costs the federal government incurred during cleanup operations in Dalco Passage. The federal and state government's claims against ConocoPhillips for injuries to natural resources, however, have not been resolved and are not included in the total.

ConocoPhillips, however, also will pay an $80,000 civil penalty under the federal Clean Water Act. Last Friday, the state Ecology Department settled a $540,000 claim against the oil corporation under state law.
I wrote last Friday that Conoco should be on the hook for the entire cost of the cleanup, not just part of it, and that the company deserves to be fined (heavily) for the huge mess that it created. Taxpayers simply should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of mega conglomerates like ConocoPhillips.

Reichert is the best they have

MyDD has an interesting post up about the chairman of the NRCC:
Following reports that Reynolds knew of allegations that Mark Foley had made inappropriate advances on pages and former pages yet neglected to do anything about it, Reynolds released a disastrous television ad that likely only added fuel to the fire. Two recent polls, one from Zogby the other from RT Strategies, show Reynolds trailing his Democratic challenger, Jack Davis, by margins fo 15 points and 16 points, respectively.

And just last week, Reynolds no-showed on ABC's "This Week", a move that hardly instilled confidence. Now, Bob Novak (note the source and grab the appropriate grain of salt) is reporting that key Republicans are now effectively writing off Reynolds' chances at reelection.
I'll second the idea that a few grains, if not a box, of salt is in order when talking about Novak, but it's stunning that the head of the NRCC is in such deep trouble.

Still, having the head of the NRCC worried about his own re-election is priceless. As the crucial decisions are made about which races to continue to fund, a decision which is becoming more difficult by the day for Republicans, they'll likely face increasingly bad choices.

If you need proof, consider this. Dave Reichert, a freshman Congresscritter from a district that voted for John Kerry, is one of their best hopes. And he's facing a political newcomer in Darcy Burner who is not only unafraid, but willing to call him on the carpet for his support of the failed Iraq War policy and his other misdeeds.

So this lame, out of touch ex-Sheriff who mentions his "sheriffness" every ten seconds is the great hope of a continuing GOP majority? Ok then. Things must be damn tough around the country.

As things move along this week, with ballots being dropped, you can count on one thing: the tenor is going to get even more nasty in this race. The so called liberal media may try to claim both sides are responsible, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the most outrageous sort of negative ads coming from the GOP as they desperately try to cling to power

So everyone give a thought and a prayer, if you wish, to Darcy Burner. She's doing a fantastic job, and the pressure on her is immense. We all owe her a debt of gratitude. (Giving money isn't a bad idea, either!)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Darcy Burner debates a defensive Dave Reichert on KING5's Upfront

Dave Reichert and George W. Bush don't have a plan for getting out of Iraq, but Reichert interrupted Darcy Burner three times in their joint appearance on KING5's Upfront to snidely demand, "What's your plan? What's your plan? What's your plan?" while waving his hand in front of her.

Darcy had to stop talking and patiently ask Reichert to quit his rude behavior so she could finish responding to host Robert Mak's question.

You can watch the exchange here
.

And here's a nice snapshot of an angry Dave Reichert from last Tuesday's debate.

Reichert Grimaces

Earthquake strikes Hawaii

Hawaii residents got quite the jolt this morning:
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle issued a disaster declaration for the entire state about four hours after a strong earthquake rumbled throughout its Big Island at 7:07 a.m. (1:07 p.m. ET) Sunday.

There have been as many as 20 aftershocks, with the strongest recorded at 5.8, officials told CNN.

The quake knocked out power at many homes across the island chain and caused at least one landslide on a major roadway on the island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island, according to Hawaii's KITV. Officials said a state of emergency had been declared on the Big Island.

Authorities told KITV they have not received news of any fatalities from the strong quake, which was measured by the National Earthquake Information Center as 6.6 in magnitude.
We here in the Evergreen State know what it's like to have an earthquake. Washington had a magnitude 6.8 quake on February 28th, 2001 which caused significant damage throughout Seattle and the Puget Sound area. Hopefully Hawaii's recovery costs won't be too high.

The New York Times and the Honolulu Advertiser have more.

Seattle Times embarrasses itself in uncritical endorsement of Dave Reichert

Less than a week after it sponsored a lively debate between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert, the Seattle Times has published an endorsement of Dave Reichert that reads like it was ghostwritten by the cabal at unSoundPolitics.

This endorsement is both unsurprising in its selection and remarkably awful. Given the Times' well known positions on the nation's most pressing issues, its self-professed respect for the electorate, and Reichert's performance at last Tuesday's debate, it is curiously one sided and badly worded.

This editorial is, without a doubt, not worth the paper it's printed on. The Seattle Times has disgraced itself and its reputation with a nonsensical, shoddy piece of writing that does its readers no service. The Times is marginalizing itself and its owner, preoccupied with his hatred of the estate tax (both state and federal) doesn't seem to care.

Here's some specific examples of what we mean.
The Times recommends...Reichert in the 8th

While there is a compelling reason for change in Congress, the case to replace Congressman Dave Reichert in the 8th District has not been made.
So the Times wants to see one party rule in Washington, D.C. ended, but in of the most competitive races in the country, they're endorsing the Republican. Clearly, sending new leadership to the U.S. House is not that important to Frank Blethen and Company.
The Auburn Republican deserves reelection. The former King County sheriff has an impressive record of public service and has shown a conscience-driven independent streak that reflects his moderate district.
Try Democratic district, not moderate district. The 8th voted overwhelmingly two years ago to reelect Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. Half of the district's state legislative delegation in Olympia is Democratic. Al Gore won the district in 2000, and John Kerry won it handily in 2004. Polling has shown that Congress and this Congressman are unpopular with voters.

And isn't it funny that two years ago the Times said that Reichert was too conservative for the 8th District when they endorsed Dave Ross:
The demographic shifts in maturing Eastside cities make the district less reliably Republican than it has been historically. U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, who is retiring, endorses Republican Sheriff Dave Reichert to succeed her, yet he is far more conservative than she. That isn't so important in a sheriff, a job that Reichert does admirably, but it is incredibly so for a member of Congress representing such a moderate district.
And as for the claim that Reichert is independent and conscience-driven?
For starters, he refused to play along with his party on the atrocious Terri Schiavo spectacle. He also opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a key part of President Bush's energy policy.
Reichert is a weak-minded Congressman who is easily influenced by his handlers and GOP power figures. (What kind of independent gladly welcomes unpopular Republicans like Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Karl Rove to his district?)

Reichert only voted against the Republican majority on the Terri Schiavo bill after his advisors saw him getting an earful from voters at one of his rare public forums. He supported Arctic drilling before he entered Congress in early 2005, but purported to change his position after advisors saw polling data that showed voters were against Arctic drilling.

And though Reichert has voted against drilling, he has also voted for it, which signals that it is an illusion designed to get people like the members of the Seattle Times editorial board to buy into the idea that he is somehow independent.
Two years ago, The Times endorsed his opponent in a race to fill the open seat created by Rep. Jennifer Dunn's retirement. But Reichert has earned our endorsement this time.

He has matured in the job and his voting on complicated issues reflects that. His experience as a first responder has been a strength.

As a freshman, he received the rare responsibility of chairing a key homeland security subcommittee.
The Times' criteria for endorsing candidates for public office is certainly inconsistent and mysterious. Take a look at the Times' rationale for rejecting Reichert two years ago:
Ross opposes the war, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and individually managed Social Security accounts. He supports expansion of embryonic stem-cell research, limitations on assault weapons and a woman's right to choose.

Reichert differs with him on every point.
But when it comes to issues, there's only one issue that really seems to matter to the owner of the Seattle Times...and that's repeal of the estate tax, which Dave Reichert strongly supports.

Did the Times endorse Reichert just because of his position on the estate tax? We have no way of knowing for sure, but it's hard to imagine that it's not a factor. We can only assume the Seattle Times' endorsements are shaped by a candidate's position on the estate tax. The Times has done nothing to convince us otherwise.

The Times' other key issue is supposed to be media consolidation, which Frank Blethen & Co. have editorialized about on many occassions. Seattle Times editorial board member Ryan Blethen asked Reichert about media consolidation in Tuesday's debate, and Reichert responded:
Uh, that's an issue I'm not familiar with, and I'll have to pass on that question.
A sitting Congressman admitted in a public debate that he is "not familiar with" one of the most important issues to the newspaper of record in his home state, and that apparently is of no importance to said newspaper.

The Seattle Times completely ignored and conveniently overlooked Reichert's ignorance on an issue that they have identified as one of their top concerns.

It's also worth noting that Reichert won't be enjoying a subcommittee chairmanship come January if Democrats take back the U.S. House, which appears increasingly likely as more and more Republican-held districts are being strongly contested.

In any case, the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science, and Technology could use a better chair. Dave Reichert has been ineffective as a leader. He has put little effort into implementing the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission for strengthening (among many other things) first responder readiness.
Opponent Darcy Burner criticizes him for changing some positions, but Reichert shows a capacity for appreciating nuance and an appetite for seeking answers himself and making up his own mind. After initially opposing stem-cell research, he investigated the issue, visiting researchers at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He sought answers, found them and changed his position.
This is simply hilarious. Since when have weak-mindedness and voting both sides of an issue been traits worth glorifying?
He surprised many recently by saying he's not convinced about how much global warming is caused by human action. We are convinced it's a substantial contributing factor.
Right, so why are you endorsing him? Oh, wait, yeah, something about an estate tax repeal...
But Reichert says he's skeptical, so he's investigating. That's a better approach than adopting a ready-made ideology. He dared to be honest with the Sierra Club, whose endorsement he sought unsuccessfully.
So the fact that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, that it's already happening and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence means global warming is just part of a ready made ideology?

How ridiculous. The time for "investigations" is over. It's now time for action to reduce carbon emissions. We just can't afford a Congressman chairing a subcommittee with the word "science" in it who doesn't even believe in science.
That is Reichert's strength. He is not an ideologue like U.S. Rep Doc Hastings, the Pasco Republican who does the bidding of House Republican leadership.
Actually, that's not true, and the Times knows it. Reichert isn't independent. He isn't moderate. He is loyal to the House Republican leadership, and, like Doc Hastings, he does what they tell him to.

Why, he's admitted that in front of television cameras (launch audio clip here):
Sometimes the leadership comes to me and says, `Dave, we want you to vote a certain way.' Now, they know I can do that over here, that I have to do that over here. In other districts, that's not a problem, but here I have to be able to be very flexible in where I place my votes.

Because the big picture here is, keep this seat, keep the majority, keep the country moving forward with Republican ideals -- especially on the budget, on protecting our troops, on protecting this country. Right? Being responsible with taxpayer dollars. All of those things. That's the big picture. Not the vote I place on ANWR that you may not agree with, or the vote that I place on protecting salmon."

You have to... be ... flexible.

And so, when the leadership comes to me and says 'Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority, I...I do it.'
Exactly. He does what he's told. That's not independence, that's a rubber stamp and a vote for the failed Republican agenda.

Darcy Burner is running against a Congress and Congressman who do George W. Bush's bidding. That's why her message of change is so powerful. Darcy represents a fresh breeze of new ideas. She is a mother and a businesswoman, not a career politician. She understands the working families of the 8th District. She is smart, principled, and practical. She will make a great representative.

The rest of the Times' editorial is mostly a paraphrased and redacted version of the numerous and pathetic NRCC and Reichert attack ads that are running on television and appearing in mailboxes across the 8th District.

The Times had the audacity to criticize Darcy for running a "mean spirited campaign" when all she has done is tell the truth and hold Dave Reichert accountable. And amazingly, they did not level the same criticism of Reichert even though his only campaign ad to date (excluding his franked mail, of course) has been negative and completely untruthful.

This is an irresponsible editorial that is nothing more than a gift to the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Times' condemnations of Darcy Burner will now be used to fuel a Republican campaign of mass deception that is truly mean-spirited.

Whatever the Times' absurd reasoning for Reichert was, their endorsement isn't of much relevance. The Times did not endorse the winner in 2004, and there's an excellent possibility they will have picked the loser again this year.

Yakima Herald: we think McGavick is a McCain

OK, so you figured that The Yakima Herald-Republic would endorse Mike McGavick. It's not that bad of an editorial; they point out some nice things about Cantwell and are not mean-spirited in the least.

But one line really highlights just what kind of strange fictions take hold in media narratives, and how people regurgitate them without seeming to think them through:
Bottom line: We'd like to see a John McCain style of independent Republican going to the Senate from Washington state.
(Slapping forehead.) Oy.

John McCain is about as independent as my potted ficus.

McCain could have been independent and tried to stop the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. You know, not because he's a terrorist-coddler, but because it would have been the right thing for a patriot to do. But he didn't.

McCain could have forced a real debate about habeas corpus, instead of engaging in kabuki theater over the issue. And not because he's a terrorist-coddler concerned about the rights of terrorists, but because it's kind of hard to "spread democracy" when innocent taxi drivers and farmers wind up in a gulag-style system. Instead, McCain pretended to have a debate with the White House, then crowed as hundreds of years of Western legal thought were flushed down the toilet.

So editorial boards should spare readers the silliness of "Republican independence." There is no such thing. McGavick, even if he wanted to, won't be able to buck the top-down Rovian hierarchy of the Republican Party. If they won't listen to him now, why would they listen to him later?

MORE-- The (Tacoma) News-Tribune has endorsed Cantwell.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Darcy Burner, LIVE on DailyKos

Darcy Burner is liveblogging (or rather, live coommenting) on DailyKos right now in a frontpage thread started by our very own mcjoan. Follow this link to join the conversation and ask Darcy a question or leave a comment.

Friday, October 13, 2006

NRCC dumps half a million dollars into WA-08 to smear Darcy

We always knew this was coming, but it's kind of a shock just to see the numbers at last. Massive amounts of money have just been dropped into Washington's 8th District with the aim of slowing down Darcy Burner's aggressive grassroots campaign with tons and tons of mud.

First there's the direct mail...
MAJORITY COMMUNICATIONS INC.
274 MARCONI BLVD.
SUITE 260
COLUMBUS, Ohio 43215

Purpose of Expenditure: Mailing Service
This Committee OPPOSES The Following Candidate: DARCY BURNER FOR CONGRESS
Office Sought: House of Representatives
State is Washington in District 08
Date Expended = 10/13/2006
Person Completing Form: CHRISTOPHER J. WARD
Date Signed = 10/13/2006
Amount Expended = $25,586.91
Calendar YTD Per Election for Office Sought = $1305170.71
and then there's the television (and likely radio) advertising:
STRATEGIC MEDIA SERVICES
1023 31ST ST. NW
4TH FLOOR
WASHINGTON, DC 20007

Purpose of Expenditure: Issue Ad Placement
This Committee OPPOSES The Following Candidate: DARCY BURNER FOR CONGRESS
Office Sought: House of Representatives
State is Washington in District 08
Date Expended = 10/13/2006
Person Completing Form: CHRISTOPHER J. WARD
Date Signed = 10/13/2006
Amount Expended = $424,948.80
Calendar YTD Per Election for Office Sought = $1305170.71
That's roughly $50,000 short of half a million dollars. If you thought the attack ads were bad enough already, just wait until a few days from now. This is going to be an all out assault with no expense spared. Republicans are desperate and Dave Reichert is in serious, serious touble.

You can already see it an unSoundPolitics, where the volume of attacks on Darcy have increased dramatically as Stefan Sharkansky and his fellow hacks respond to direction from the Washington State GOP, which is incredibly nervous and worried about losing the 8th District.

In all, the NRCC sunk $9.3 million in independent expenditures into key races around the country today. 99% percent of it, unsurprisingly, was for negative advertising. The ad buy to smear Darcy was one of the largest expenditures made.

Darcy is going to need all the help she can get to fight these attacks. That means donating to her campaign as well as volunteering. Now is the time to make a difference. And now is the time to demonstrate to the NRCC that their fear and smear campaigns will not work.

25 Days Left: Volunteer to Win

It's easy to sit in front of a computer screen and survey the latest polls, surf the blogs, check e-mail, and pontificate on politics.

It's harder to get up from that screen and go to work to ensure a Democratic victory. What are you doing to help candidates like Maria Cantwell, Darcy Burner, and Peter Goldmark win?

What are you doing to defeat right-wing initiatives? What are you doing to help keep the state Legislature in Democratic hands?

Are you doorbelling? Leafleting? Phonebanking? Registering friends and family to vote? Are you volunteering?

Blogging is not enough. Going to social events like Drinking Liberally to have a good time and a good drink is not enough. That's why I'm volunteering. I have committed to helping get out the vote for Democrats on Election Day. I'll be knocking on doors, asking voters if they've gone to the polls or mailed in their absentee ballot. Other NPI members will be doing the same.

Have you committed? Are you volunteering?

If not, it's time to get involved. To sign-up to volunteer, call the State Democrats and the Coordinated Campaign at (206)-352-3963. Here's a list of the coordinated campaign offices throughout the state with additional phone numbers for contact:

AUBURN
240 Auburn Way S, Suite 1A
Auburn, WA 98002
253-333-2148

BELLEVUE
12443 Bel Red Road, Suite 310
Bellevue, WA 98005
425-454-2509

BELLINGHAM
215 W Holly Street, Suite B28
Bellingham, WA 98225
360-738-4681

EVERETT
2812 Lombard Avenue, Suite 106
Everett, WA 98201
425-259-2985

OLYMPIA
506 Columbia Street SW
Olympia, WA 98501
360-357-6274

SEATTLE
1848 Westlake Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98109
206-352-3963

SILVERDALE
3100 NW Bucklin Hill Rd. Suite 226
Silverdale, WA 98383
360-698-6856
SPOKANE
151 S Washington St
Spokane, WA 99201
509-838-1718

TACOMA
711 St. Helens Avenue, Suite 100
Tacoma, WA 98402
253-573-2841

TRI-CITIES
2634 W. Bruneau Pl.
Kennewick, WA 99336
509-735-3037

WENATCHEE
33 North Mission -- P.O. Box 1061
Wenatchee, Washington 98801
509-664-6621

VANCOUVER
1717 Broadway St.
Vancouver, WA 98663
360-695-0821

YAKIMA
1210 W. Lincoln Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902
509-453-0115

State fines ConocoPhillips for oil spill

Big oil companies have a habit of reaping mass profits and gouging American consumers while refusing to make amends for their messes. Fortunately, Washington State is forcing ConocoPhillips to pay for some of the environmental damage it caused:
ConocoPhillips will pay $540,000 to the state for a 1,000-gallon oil spill that marred 21 miles of Puget Sound shorelines in 2004, state officials announced Friday.

The fine is the largest the state Department of Ecology has ever issued for a spill in marine waters, and the maximum allowed under state law.

The Oct. 13, 2004, spill was first reported by a tugboat operator in Dalco Passage early the next morning. The oil sheen spread far south as the Tacoma Narrows and as far north as Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. Much of the residue was at the south ends of Vashon and Maury islands.

Cleanup costs exceeded $2.2 million in federal funds.

Investigators determined the oil matched Alaska crude that the tanker "Polar Texas" had delivered to a refinery at Tacoma.
Federal prosecutors are considering filing charges against ConocoPhillips to force it to pay for the entire cost of the cleanup - which it should. This irresponsible oil company needs to be held accountable for not taking ownership of a giant mess that it created. Why should taxpayers pay for Conoco's mistakes? They shouldn't.

Puget Sound is a fragile ecosystem that is in need of an immediate, wide-ranging cleanup. Conoco's mess certainly didn't help that effort. The longer we wait, the more it will cost later to get rid of the garbage which is polluting our waters.

Mike McGavick's Friends

Mike McGavick's campaign of "civility" is heavily financed by special interests. Here's an overview of who Mike McGavick's top friends are and how much they've contributed to support his bid to represent Safeco in the U.S. Senate. (Safeco? But of course!)
  • Contributions from PACs: more than $840,000
  • Contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, which is reaping huge profits under the Bush Medicare prescription drug plan: $25,000
  • Contributions from Schering Plough’s PAC, major prescription drug company which recently paid a $150 million fine for Medicaid fraud: $5,000
  • Contributions from Pfizer’s PAC: $5,000
  • Contributions from mining PACs: $12,500, including $4,500 from PACs of the National Mining Association, and a fundraiser hosted by the group
  • Contributions from BP, while the company is under investigation by the CFTC and other authorities for price gouging: $2,000
  • Contributions from ExxonMobil, while the company reaps record profits during times of record gas prices: $5,000
  • Contributions from ConocoPhillip, while the company reaps record profits during times of record gas prices: $2,500
  • Contributions from an Alaska fundraiser hosted by the chief backers of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge: tens of thousands
  • Contributions from executives of VECO, the Alaska oil services company under federal investigation for political corruption: $15,000
  • Contributions from minor oil companies: $9,500
  • Contributions from Halliburton, while the company is under investigation for fraudulent Iraq contracts: $1,000
  • Contributions from the finance and insurance industry: $170,000
  • Contributions from Financial Services Roundtable, a “chief fundraiser” for the Bush Social Security privatization plan: $5,000 and a fundraiser hosted by the group
  • Contribution from his own special interest committee, Michael Sean McGavick: $2 million
Washington State, and America for that matter, doesn't need another rubber stamp for George Bush and Wall Street in the U.S. Senate. There are already enough of those. What is needed is a voice and vote for accountability and oversight. Senator Maria Cantwell represents both.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

US House polling results - landslide in the making

Via Daily Kos comes this PDF file of polling results in US House races from Constituent Dynamics "Majority Watch."

Chris Bowers at MyDD calls it a "looming Democratic landslide." Yeah, yeah, don't count your chickens and all that, but in the fourth quarter would you rather be ahead or behind? It's pretty clear Democrats are poised to take the House.

And in WA-08, Darcy Burner (D) and incumbent Dave Reichert (R) are still tied. With a margin of error of 3 points, Reichert polled at 48% and Burner at 45% in polling done October 8th-10th. The last poll listed by Majority Watch, conducted Aug. 27-29, was also within the margin of error. That one had Burner at 49% and Reichert at 46%.

It's worth noting that this latest poll would have been completed before the Burner-Reichert debate aired last night, so how people view that debate may be critical. My own take is that Burner proved she belonged on the stage (and how!) but Reichert did okay as well, playing to his strengths. This thing will likely go down to the wire.

MORE -- Daily Kos now has a nice chart up, for the PDF-adverse.

Six for '06: Priorities for All Americans, Not Just the Privileged Few

Rahm Emanuel is in town today to support Darcy Burner's campaign and stress what Democrats are going to do if they become the majority party in Congress in the November 7th midterm elections.

Rahm appeared with Darcy Burner and Congressman Adam Smith this morning to discuss the Democrats' Six for 2006 plan, which is a simple set of values and priorities to make America a better country.

Democrats believe that America needs - and Americans deserve - a new direction that provides security, prosperity, and opportunity for all.
  • Real Security - At Home and Overseas
  • Prospertity - Better American Jobs, Better Pay
  • Opportunity - College Access For All
  • Energy Independence - Lower Gas Prices
  • Affordable Health Care - Life-Saving Science
  • Retirement Security And Dignity
Adam Smith spoke first about a Republican majority that is bankrupt of ideas, save one - the idea of clinging on to power - and described Darcy as perfect fit for her district. Emanuel praised Darcy's performance in Tuesday night's debate as well as her track record of fundraising success and the aggressive grassroots campaign she's put together.

Darcy was sharp and eloquent as usual, and talked about her campaign of change and her vision for a new Congress - one that works for the American people, not special interests.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Analysis of the first debate between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert

On the Internet, everyone is equal, and it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or who you are. You can have a voice and that voice can have an impact. The Internet as it exists right now has the potential to be one of the purest forms of democratic participation that the world has ever seen.

We have right here in the Pacific Northwest some incredible examples of that. There’s a young man who started a website called the Northwest Progressive Institute that has a real impact on local politics. He didn’t have any money when he started it.

It’s a website that he put up, with the help of his friends, and has put an enormous amount of work and effort into, that has had a real impact on local issues and local elections. And when he started that website, the young man in question, Andrew Villeneuve, was 17 years old. The Internet can be an incredible tool for giving everyone a voice in a way that we have never been able to do previously.


- Darcy Burner, our champion for Net Neutrality, October 10th, 2006, Seattle Times 8th District Congressional Debate

Last night's no-holds barred debate between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert was an event that was eagerly looked forward to by a great number of people both inside and outside the 8th Congressional District...so many, in fact, that the theater at the Meydenbauer Center where the debate was held was not large enough to accommodate all the people who showed up to watch it.

Less than ten minutes after the doors opened, the theater was filled to capacity.

Among those turned away included Representative Jay Inslee, a citizen who drove some fifty miles in anticipation of witnessing it in person, and most unfortunately, a significant number of students who had clearly been dropped off by their parents and were perhaps hoping to attend the debate to fulfill a school assignment.

There can be no doubt that people are fired up this year and hungry for change.

As I noted in the opening of my post, I was involved in this debate in more than just one way. I had anticipated being an audience member, but I did not anticipate actually becoming part of the debate itself. Yet that is exactly what happened.

My story, the story of how I became involved in politics, was used in response to a question about the regulation of the Internet and the policy of Net Neutrality. My story, and the story of NPI, is unusual - and unique.

I believe Darcy used it because she found it compelling and inspiring, and I'm truly honored to be thought of in that regard, as are the other members of the Northwest Progressive Institute. And though it is absolutely true that NPI began as nothing more than a website (and an idea), it is now an organization as well, and a team effort.

NPI itself is preceded by Permanent Defense, which I launched when I was fifteen. I launched Permanent Defense because I was sick of Tim Eyman's right wing initiatives decimating neighborhoods across the Evergreen State. Even in the City of Redmond, which is a prosperous community, the ill effects of shortsighted Eyman initiatives were being felt. And despite the harm that was being inflicted, it seemed that many citizens did not truly understand the danger that I knew I felt.

That was the beginning of my involvement.

The following year, NPI itself was founded, and the year after that, this blog was launched, and the year after that (last year) Pacific Northwest Portal was introduced. Darcy could have said I was 15, 16, 17, 18, or 19 and she would have been correct - each year I've worked to put together new projects to strengthen this organization and deepen its impact.

And of the projects and campaigns that I have worked on in my career in politics, I have to say that Darcy's candidacy stands out as an immediate highlight, even though she isn't done campaigning and the election is still to be decided. In my view, and in the view of all of NPI's members, Darcy Burner is already a winner.

She has helped to trailblaze a path that other candidates are following, and will follow. She is part of this revolution of people powered politics that is changing America. She is both a leader and a follower in this movement of equals.

In this first debate, she proved what a serious, tough candidate she is. I am very proud of her, and I know I'm not alone.

Though this was her first major debate, and although she is a challenger, she bested the incumbent with her incredible, captivating performance. She was cool, calm, and comfortable answering questions. She spoke authentically but not too forcefully. She wasn't perfect, but she was excellent.

Reichert, on the other hand, was uninspiring. He frequently stumbled in his comments, misjudged how much time he had left, thus cutting himself short, and wouldn't even answer all the questions. He had to consult his notes, and announce to the audience that he was doing so. At times he appeared angry and emotional, visibly shaken and off balance.

Darcy Burner emerged as the clear victor in a long and passionate debate which covered a very wide range of issues. I'm not going to go into everything that was spoken with a blow-by-blow account. But I do want to review the debate and mention specific occurrences that are key to the conclusions I've drawn.

Moderator James Vesely opened the debate by explaining the format and then calling on the panelists to begin asking questions.

KUOW Weekday host Steve Scher was first out of the gate with a question about Iraq, asking Reichert if he thought the President's strategy in Iraq was working, and if not, why should the architects of a policy that hasn't stopped the violence remain in power?

Reichert tried to distance himself from Bush by indicating he believed a change of course was necessary. "We don't need to stay the course," Reichert stated. "We need to be flexible."

Darcy, by contrast, was very clear in declaring the administration and Congress' policies in Iraq a failure, and declaring that a new direction is needed.

When Reichert was given the opportunity to follow up, he began by trying to link Iraq and September 11th together. "First, we have to remember we were attacked. The United States was attacked."

This drew loud condemnation and a chorus of boos from the audience, which had a visible effect on Reichert. He appeared agitated and frustrated, and he scowled. James Vesely then asked the candidates for their help in keeping their supporters quiet so the debate could go on.

Reichert paused, then looked down at his notes and began speaking again. But he misjudged the amount of time he had, and, in mid-sentence, checked himself, said his time was up, and apologized.
"Mr. Baker said, who was on this panel, said, 'the Iraqi government is capable of sustaining peace in war torn Iraq.' The plan is, the plan has always been from Day One, a strong government, a strong economy, a strong structure... infrastructure, in place, and a strong army and a strong police department and until that happens we need to stay in Iraq. The terrorists...my time is up. I'm sorry."

- Dave Reichert
It was amusing, but Reichert did at least have the sense not to walk off the stage and leave the debate.

The candidates were closer on the issue of immigration (at least in their words) though Darcy made her reasoning for her beliefs more evident than Reichert did.

Ryan Blethen asked Darcy about Net Neutrality, in which she clearly articulated her position and used myself and NPI as an example of the medium's equalizing nature. Reichert claimed that he supports net neutrality, but it appeared to me from his answer that he didn't even get the concept.

Times reporter Jonathan Martin asked about tax cuts, and Darcy responded by saying that hard work should be rewarded, not accumulated wealth. Expanding into financial policy in general, she denounced the huge deficits the Bush administration has created and called for real fiscal responsibility.

Vesely interrupted after Darcy's answer to request the panel start directing questions to Reichert, since the last three had been directed to Darcy.

Reichert, unsurprisingly, claimed the Bush tax cuts have resulted in lower unemployment, more jobs, and new businesses without actually citing any solid evidence to back up such claims.

Steve Scher asked Reichert about the fallout of the Foley scandal, and Reichert said he wanted justice. He praised Hastert for "referring the matter to the FBI". Darcy, in contrast, harshly criticized Hastert and the House Republican leadership and reminded the audience that Reichert did not join her in calling for the Speaker's resignation.

Kate Riley brought up the 9/11 Commission recommendations, and asked Reichert, "What have you left undone? What keeps you awake at night?" He had to refer to his notes and then began rambling about the issue, stumbling over the acronym FEMA. It was not an impressive response.

When it was Darcy's turn, she observed "You deliver results or you get fired. If this President and this Congress worked for Microsoft, they would have been fired." She then took Reichert to task for failing to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Ryan Blethen asked Reichert about the issue of media consolidation, wanting to know if Reichert believes the FCC should adopt rules wanted by mega conglomerates.

Reichert's response was surprising: he said he wasn't familiar with the issue and would have to pass.

I couldn't help but think silently to myself: so why is it that you're in Congress if you don't understand a key issue like media consolidation?

Darcy had no problem responding to the question and remarked that diverse voices are needed and a marketplace of ideas is important. She credited the Internet as a medium which is helping to prevent centralized control over the media landscape.

Jonathan Martin asked Darcy how she would pay for universal health care, and she responded by pointing out that the U.S. is spending more on healthcare than any other industrialized country. "We waste an enormous amount of money," she said, because the system is inefficient - for instance, those without health insurance have to get their care in an emergency room, and that's expensive.

Reichert claimed he was for affordable healthcare and then insisted that the Bush Medicare prescription drug plan has worked.

Other topics the panelists asked about included Social Security solvency, veterans' benefits, the R&D tax credit (which both candidates said they support), and Reichert's appearance with George W. Bush.

Darcy criticized Reichert for taking orders from House Republican leadership and only voting against the party when told (something Reichert has publicly admitted to).

Both candidates gave lengthy closing statements. Darcy gave a concise but rich description of her background and motivation for running for office. She talked about the need for a new direction and proudly declared,
"George Bush is taking the country in the wrong direction. This Congress and this Congressman will never stand up to him. But I will."
Reichert touted his law enforcement background and his appointment as a subcommittee chair. He was emotional and his voice was striking. He did not smile, nor did he appear to be at ease. At the end, though, he managed to insolently retort "At some point, Ms. Burner, you are going to have to come out from behind the bushes and recognize I am your opponent."

Questions from the audience followed, and they included previously untouched topics such as North Korea, the outsourcing of jobs, the minimum wage, whether it should be legal for pharmacists to decline to fill prescriptions based on their own moral judgment, educating funding, presidential signing statements, torture and the detainee bill, the Second Amendment/gun ownership, and campaign finance.

Each candidate was allowed to ask the other a question. Reichert asked Darcy about her record of community service. Darcy asked Reichert, in a lengthy question, how the people of the 8th could trust him when he's come out on both sides of various issues.

Reichert angrily defended himself from that accusation, of course. Darcy made it clear that she has been involved in her community.

The debate ended shortly thereafter. The candidates shook hands. Curiously, Reichert disappeared behind the curtains, where a small buffet had been set up, and conferred with his staff. Darcy proceeded to step down from the stage and began thanking supporters for attending the debate.

The moderator, James Vesely, was decent, but not, I thought, completely fair. He rebuked the audience at length for interrupting Reichert and tried to punish Darcy's supporters by giving Reichert more time (which didn't seem to help Reichert much at all). He also mispronounced Darcy's last name more than once, asking Ms. "Bruner" to respond to questions. (He corrected himself after a few audience members voiced their unhappiness by shouting "Burner!")

Besides watching the debate and a tape of the debate, I also listened to the broadcast of it on KUOW this evening, and the one thing that really stood out to me was that Reichert sounded better on the radio then he looked at the debate itself or in TVW's video broadcast.

Despite this, the stumbles and confusion were still evident even though there was no accompanying video. For her part, Darcy sounded great. Her words were sharp and clearly spoken, and her tone communicated confidence and poise.

If you'd like to watch or listen yourself, you can stream it from TVW's website.

Finally, some links to other debate coverage:
And, David Postman offers his thoughts, though he did not attend. If you've got links or want to share your own thoughts and or experiences, please post a comment.

Guiliani stumps for McGavick, Zig Ziglar

So former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani was in the Northwest this week to "stump for Republican candidates," including Mike McGavick.

Seems he probably got a hefty paycheck Monday as part of a motivational seminar in Portland.
The "Get Motivated!" business seminar took over the arena all day with motivational speakers and coaches. Crowds commuting to the event aggravated rush-hour snarls near downtown.

Headliners were former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who peppered his speech with anecdotes about the city's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
I had observed the full page ads for this event in The Oregonian some weeks ago, and I really didn't think it was of much note. If people want to spend their money to get all pumped up listening to Rudy and Colin, and as it turns out, motivational guru Zig Ziglar, more power to them.

But it seems Ziglar got a little carried away and revealed something of the true nature of these events.
The crowd roared when Zig Ziglar -- "America's #1 Motivator," event advertising says -- belittled the concept of evolution.

"I'm not a scientist or a prophet, but I'm going to predict that in 10 years' time, the theory of evolution will be just a bad joke that hung around too long," Ziglar said.
Yes, the best way to make money is to insult science and all those consumers who, you know, like the things that science creates.

Maybe Rudy and Colin aren't the moderates people say they are? Or maybe they just hang out with Ziglar for the paycheck.

NPI releases positions for 2006 initiatives

Today, NPI, (through its Smart Initiatives for Washington Alliance and Permanent Defense divisions) is releasing its official endorsements for 2006 statewide initiatives in Washington. Our positions, which will come as absolutely no surprise to our readers, are as follows:
  • Initiative 920 - A resounding NO
  • Initiative 933 - A resounding NO
  • Initiative 937 - YES
See our 2006 ballot measures page for more information, including our rationale, the official description for each ballot measure, and links for additional information.

Newspaper publishers, led by Frank Blethen, are putting money into Initiative 920

There's only one person in the world who's going to decide what I'm going to do and that's me...

--The character Charles Foster Kane, in Citizen Kane
I’m coming to understand more about how newspapers in this state have decided to throw in with conservative attempts to repeal the estate tax via Initiative 920, and it’s not a pretty picture.

I’m going to have to leave the relative merits of the estate tax debate aside in order to discuss the role of newspaper publishers in trying to repeal it, but a quick place to start learning is at the No on I-920 web site.

Many newspaper companies are giving directly to a campaign committee that supports I-920, an effort that has been in motion for many years.

The campaign committee receiving newspaper donations appears to have been set up to distance the newspaper publishers from an unseemly character associated with the main campaign.

The “newspaper campaign,” which goes by the unwieldy name “The Yes on 920 Campaign - Keeping Washington Business Alive,” has received donations from The Seattle Times, Pioneer Newspapers, The Columbian and The Wenatchee World, to the tune of at least $55,000 total.

As most people know, using the estate tax as a successful wedge issue is most often traced to Republican consultant Frank Luntz, who discovered that if the misleading term “death tax” is used, people will be more inclined turn against the estate tax.

Color me slow on the uptake, but a recent post and comments thread over at Postman on Politics provided me with an insight into what has been going on for a long time. Namely, that newspapers didn’t just wake up one day and decided to support I-920, but that the current effort has its roots in a long running effort by Frank Blethen, owner of the Seattle Times.

Times lobbyist Jill Mackie has long been involved in trying to repeal the estate tax, presumably at the state and federal level. According to Times chief political reporter David Postman, Mackie has been donating consulting time to help the pro-920 newspaper club. While the $1,000 in-kind donation doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s worth noting what Mackie’s role has been for Blethen in regards to the estate tax.

Mackie shows up on a site called DeathTax.com, which is wholly owned and operated by the Seattle Times Company. This from the “Death Tax Newsletter” in Sept. of 1999:
Most recently, Jill served as vice president/government affairs and human resources for the Pacific Lumber and Shipping Company in Seattle. Prior to that, she served as a government affairs representative for the company.

Jill has more than 10 years experience working with government and public affairs and holds a BA in Sociology from Seattle Pacific University where she minored in Business and English Literature.

I met Jill several years ago when her then boss, Bob Spence of Pacific Lumber, and Ted Natt approached me to work on death tax repeal.
So The Times’ lobbyist appears to be coordinating things and appears to have been doing so for a very long time. What that coordination involves right now is not clear. Astute media observers will note that Natt was the owner of the Longview Daily News for many years. Natt sold the paper just before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in Aug. of 1999.

But back to that post at Postman on Politics. Sandeep Kaushik, the former Stranger reporter who is currently the press spokesman for the No on 920 coalition, pointed out a number of items in the comments.

Too much to list here, but he quoted a passage from Wealth and Commonwealth, the book co-authored by William H. Gates, that details the history of estate taxes and defends the concept. (You know, William H. Gates, whose son founded that big software company up in Redmond? Can’t recall the name of it for some reason. Oh yeah….Microsoft.)

Normally I would be hesitant to quote a book secondhand, as it were, but since William H. Gates is featured on the front of the No on 920 coalition web site, I’m guessing Kaushik managed to quote him correctly. Here’s a passage from Gates’ book, according to Kaushik:
"Blethen deployed the Seattle Times and his other newspapers to advance the repeal agenda. He hired Jill Mackie as director of external affairs at the Times, whose top mandate was to lobby for repeal. Blethen newspapers have editorialized against the tax numerous times since 1997 and in favor of candidates who share their pro-repeal position. The Seattle Times staffed an poorly designed web site (DeathTax.com) that served as a hub of information and campaign activity.

One of the most important things that the Seattle Times did was to organize other independent newspapers. It sent out frequent newsletters and lobbying updates to the thirty members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association and organized at least one hundred other newspapers to join the repeal cause...

Starting in 1997, the Seattle Times convened annual "Death Tax Summits" in Washington, D.C., with co-sponsorship from the Newspaper Association of America, the US Chamber of Commerce, and various other groups supporting repeal of the estate tax. At these events, business owners could hear from “congressional champions” and lobby representatives, and later they could join a reception with 'those who work for repeal daily in Washington.' We wonder if they served free pizza..."
Kaushik goes on to comment, in so many words, that whether or not they served pizza, they were certainly serving falsehoods.

Here’s part of what Kaushik had to say:
Reading Gates Sr.'s book, we learn that the Times' lobbying operation has indeed developed some powerful anti-estate tax messages that have found their way into pro-repeal newspaper advertisements, fact sheets, and talking points.

That might be acceptable if it were not for the fact that these messages are "full of distortions and misinformation." For instance, the claim, disseminated widely by the Times, that "the IRS spends 65 cents for every dollar it collects from the [federal estate] tax."

Sounds damning, until you learn (if you ever do) that it is a completely false claim. As Gates points out, the federal estate tax generated $28 billion in revenue in 1999, at a time when the entire IRS budget - for all tax collection - was $8 billion.

Yet just last Friday I debated a representative of the Yes campaign on a Spokane radio show, and she claimed -- thank you, Jill Mackie -- that two-thirds of estate tax revenues are frittered away in administrative and collection costs. Let me repeat, that is not true. There is no large estate tax collection bureaucracy in Washington state (or for that matter at the federal level).
The newspaper donations have put newspaper editors and other employees somewhat on the defensive. Columbian editor Lou Brancaccio tried to defend what his newspaper is doing in his weekly “Press Talk” column, which was published the day before they endorsed I-920. From Brancaccio’s ”Press Talk” column:
Reporters are always faced with issues they must and do put aside. A donation to a cause, be it the estate tax issue or the anti-casino issue, isn't a player for covering a topic.

If you think it through, newspapers have always taken editorial stances on their Opinion pages on issues.

That kind of thing is simply standard operating procedure. And reporters have always been able to do their jobs covering a topic. An editorial stance, a donation or being part of a group doesn't change a reporter's need to be objective.
But Brancaccio’s reasoning won’t wash, at least when it comes to endorsement editorials, for a very simple reason. Newspaper owners are bidness guys, and they aren’t going to donate to a campaign only to have their own publication tell them they are wrong.

When this is over, I would like to see how many of the donating newspapers came out against I-920, because we can already guess the probable answer: none. Forgive me, because I can indeed be slow to understand things, but how can the public presume these endorsements to be anything but a form of paid advertising on behalf of I-920?

No newspaper editor whose publisher is giving money to the Yes on 920 campaign will be free to call for a “vote no” endorsement. The Seattle Times has already spoken, and it’s a good bet only a miniscule number of readers were fully aware of the intense involvement the Seattle Times Company, under the auspices of Frank Blethen, has engaged in.

Newsrooms are likely a different story. David Postman has, after all, had the integrity to report on his blog about all of this, although it would be nice to see more of that information in the newspaper. (It’s worth nothing that since I’m in Clark County, I rely exclusively on the on-line version of the The Times.)

Postman is quite emphatic that nobody is messing with him. Which I thoroughly believe.
In my 10 years at The Times not once has anyone even hinted at trying to influence coverage of this issue or any other because of the position of Frank Blethen or the Seattle Times Company. Blethen plays no role in the newsroom, either officially or unofficially and no one does his bidding there, either.
Postman has come under fire at times from both progressives and the right wing, and has generally held his fire except when his integrity it questioned.

My personal view is that Postman is willing to consider facts that many reporters won’t consider, and he’s willing to dig around to find links between things. In short, he’s a great reporter.

Part of what happens, I’m guessing, is that progressives are so outraged after years of abuse at the hands of Fox “News” Channel, the other cable outlets and rabid right radio that we tend to see any disagreement in terms of partisan actions. It’s a regrettable fact of the times we live in, but we should take care to distinguish between legitimate reporters and the likes of Michelle Malkin.

I can quite easily imagine that most professional reporters and editors will do a great job maintaining the “firewall” between the business and reporting side. But the newspaper donations on behalf of I-920 nonetheless create a public perception of bias that should worry editors and reporters.

In an age where most ordinary news consumers already have so many serious doubts about the media, it’s sad to see newspaper owners in our state take the public trust for granted.

It’s also worth trying to understand why the newspaper owners have created what amounts to their own campaign committee to support I-920. Darryl did a guest post at Horse’s Ass last month about Dennis Falk, the sponsor of I-920, (which NPI’s Executive Director covered back in June) in which Darryl points out this P-I story from June that gives a little information about the main backers of I-920. From the P-I story:
The two most generous contributors to the Initiative 920 campaign are downtown developer Martin Selig, who has donated $137,500 so far, and John N. Nordstrom, of the department store family, who has kicked in $50,000.
Ok, whatever. Rich guys wanting more money, par for the course I suppose. But this little nugget is a far different matter:
Besides decrying the damage the repeal would do to public education, critics have taken aim at I-920's sponsor, campaign manager and chairman, Dennis Falk, a former Seattle police officer and a longtime leader of the ultraconservative John Birch Society.

In 1978, Falk co-chaired Save Our Moral Ethics, an unsuccessful initiative campaign to repeal a Seattle law barring housing and employment discriminations against gays and lesbians.
So the genesis of the current initiative campaign can be traced to a far-right reactionary? No wonder the newspapers are trying to create distance.

MORE--The Yakima Herald endorsed I-920 on Monday. It's owned by the Seattle Times Company.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First thoughts on the debate

So, the first debate between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert (sponsored by the Seattle Times) is over, and I'd say it was a home run for Darcy. She was poised, she was sharp, and never, I thought, off balance. Reichert, meanwhile, wouldn't even answer all the questions.

Meydenbauer Center was packed, and a lot of people, (including, apparently Representative Jay Inslee) were turned away and not allowed inside!

Oddly enough, NPI was acknowledged during the debate - myself and the organization were mentioned in Darcy's response to a question about Net Neutrality. A nice surprise, to be sure, and we're very grateful for the shout-out.

As I have other business to take care of, I'm not going to post a long recap tonight, but I will be going through my notes to put together a more lengthy, thorough analysis which I'll publish tomorrow.

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Yesterday, I wrote about how Dave Reichert's campaign (and ostensibly his media consultant as well) created an ad that I said was "chock full of lies". In my post, I refuted the general theme of the ad, but didn't dig into the specific fabrications. I was hoping others would follow up, and indeed they have.

Darryl has a post at Hominid Views blasting Reichert & Co. for fabricating a quote from the Seattle Times (which was used in the ad - video here).
Just a few days ago the National Republican Congressional Committee released an anti-Burner ad that was both illogical and misinformed.

Now the Reichert campaign has released an ad in a similar vein. Here goes:
After weeks of Darcy Burner’s negative campaigning, the Seattle Times cried foul for falsely attacking Dave Reichert’s support of veterans.
The video cites this 9/24 article and quotes from the article, “Burner’s charges hurt by inaccuracies.”

The only problem is, that’s not what the article says! Nowhere does the article “cry foul” against Darcy. Instead, it reports that the Reichert campaign was “crying foul.”

In fact, the author, Jonathan Martin, doesn’t take a stand on who is correct and who is incorrect. What the article does say is, “[a]ds against both candidates contain inaccuracies” and prints pros and cons claimed by both campaigns. The print edition even sports the subtitle, “[c]laims by both sides are open to contention.”

The words “charges” and “hurt” don’t even appear in the article. You know, as in the quote “Burner’s charges hurt by ‘inaccuracies,’” a quote that they specifically attribute to the Seattle Times on 9/24/2006. The Seattle Times didn’t say any such thing.
Darryl goes on to respond and dissect other lies the Reichert campagin invented about Darcy (like the idea that she doesn't have the background or the experience to serve in a public office).

But this is certainly a big deal. This ad is beyond misleading. It is untruthful and shameless. Dave Reichert personally approved this ad to go on the air. It's now time for him to get a handle on his handlers and pull this ad.

Republicans say they believe in ethics and moral responsibility, but their actions are contradictory. Republicans clearly think the rules don't apply to them. That's why anyone can smell the stench of corruption coming out of both houses of Congress. America deserves better and the 8th District deserves better.

The Seattle Times has announced strict guidelines for the use of its materials in campaign advertising. They should let Dave Reichert know in short order that he has crossed an ethical boundary which shouldn't be crossed - and the paper should also demand the ad be pulled off the air.

UPDATE: David Postman reports that Reichert's campaign is "fixing" the ad.

WA-05: Peter's New Ad

Peter Goldmark's website has a new ad available for viewing. Presumably this ad is on TV, too, but I live on the other side of the Cascades so I'm unlikely to see it for myself on the tube.

Anyway, give it a look.

Taking a bit of a page out of Darcy Burner's playbook, the ad does hit an important issue: what it means to really support the troops, versus being a self-serving public servant. Darcy has been raising this issue for a while now, and of course it's good to see a unified message from two adjacent Democratic candidates.

However, I have to say that the ad leaves me a little flat. Unless Peter's internal pulse of the district indicates that this is a hard-hitting issue with WA-05 voters, this seems like a fairly soft issue to hit McMorris with. I mean, surely he can find something worse in her voting record than this?

Doing a whole ad with this as the focus reminds me of the anti-Burner mailers that have been showing up in my mailbox of late: Reichert's henchmen attacking Darcy on really small, fringe issues that honestly nobody cares about. I mean, when I get a mailer against Darcy that says "don't vote for her! She didn't vote in a bunch of local elections!", my reaction is to say "wow, if that's the worst they can dig up on her, then damn, she really must be a good candidate!" It's not exactly a resounding condemnation of her candidacy.

That's what this ad reminds me of. I know there's all sorts of rubber-stamp votes in McMorris' record that Goldmark could be making use of. To hit her on this particular issue leaves a "that's the best you can do?" taste in my mouth.

Don't get me wrong, though: I'm not saying that troop support is a fringe issue that nobody cares about. Of course we care about the troops. It's just that "Oh, Congress gave themselves a pay raise" is such an utterly to-be-expected occurance that again, it's not exactly a resounding condemnation.

Now, go chip in whatever you can so Peter can come back with an even better ad!

Democratic takeover of Congress not a sure thing - especially the Senate

Be optimistic, but realistic too:
While things look great for us right now, the election isn't right now. And if Republicans can do anything, it's close the deal. And quite frankly, we're not a sure thing anywhere.

We've got to pick up six seats for a majority, seven if we want to avoid a potential Lieberman blackmail situation (if he wins his race). We have to hold all of our own endangered seats (looking solid in MN, okay in MD, and iffy in NJ). Then, in the Republican-held competitive races left -- MO, MT, OH, PA, RI, TN, and VA -- all but one feature incumbents, always the hardest races to win. Incumbents rarely, rarely lose.
It's easy to look at signs, like the USAToday/Gallup poll, and start feeling more comfortable. That's a mistake. We can't live inside of a bubble. If we want control of the Congress - both houses - then we need to work for it. Hard.

That means doorbelling, phonebanking, leafleting. Volunteering. Blogging. Contributing money, if you can afford it. Registering your friends and family to vote. Everyone can do something.

Hope to be pleasantly surprised but expect to be disappointed. Expect we won't get control of either house of Congress, but hope for a blue tidal wave and a fresh breeze to clean out the District of Columbia. Don't expect Darcy or Peter to win but work incredibly hard to help them win.

It's easy to sit in front of a computer screen and pontificate. It's harder to muster up the energy to go out and make a difference. But if we want to win, then that's exactly what we need to do - be active offline as well as online.

Blaming the North Korean crisis on Clinton is convenient but ridiculous

Think Progress:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell lauded what is known as the Agreed Framework that the Clinton Administration signed with North Korea. “Lots of nuclear weapons were not made because of the Agreed Framework and the work of President Clinton and his team,” Powell said. Now, conservatives are faulting President Clinton for selling light water reactors to North Korea under the agreement, but in doing so, they overlook Donald Rumsfeld’s role in the deal.

Rumsfeld was the only American to sit on the board of a company which six years ago sold two light water reactors to North Korea. The Guardian reported in May 2003:
Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defense secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year.
Rumsfeld has never acknowledged that he knew the company was competing for the nuclear contract.
Oh, but surely he did know (the evidence suggests he did). So if right wing hacks are going to try to pin this all on Clinton (as they so often attempt to do) they better tar and feather Rumsfeld (figuratively) as well.

Monday, October 09, 2006

In Brief - October 9th, 2006

Here is today's extended news digest:
  • Since Keith Olbermann's amazing August 30th commentary slamming Donald Rumsfeld for his ridiculous interpretation of history, his audience has risen by 69 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research. A week ago, 834,000 Americans tuned in - more than double his average and higher than Keith's competitors at CNN (Nancy Grace and Paula Zahn).
  • And speaking of cable TV news, FOX's graphics people seem to be having trouble getting party affiliation right. Earlier, they incorrectly identified Mark Foley as a Democrat from Florida. Their latest mishap is hilarious: they identified incumbent Republican Lincoln Chafee, who trails badly in a USA Today poll, as a Democrat, while Chafee's Democratic challenger, Sheldon Whitehouse, was labeled a Republican.
  • The international community is not pleased with North Korea's announcement in which the totalitarian dictatorship claims it has successfully tested a nuclear weapon. China and Russia joined South Korea and most of NATO in harshly condemning the development, while expressing some doubt that North Korea actually has a functional nuclear weapon it can use. Meanwhile, the Bush administration was properly blasted by Democrats for mishandling the situation and refusing to sit down with North Korea for bilateral talks.
  • Bill Sali, the Republican nominee in Idaho's first district (who is facing off against Larry Grant) is such an awful candidate that other Idaho Republicans are openly trashing him and calling him a liar.
  • Michael Hood has a two part series on BlatherWatch today about Dave Reichert's record as King County Sheriff that is a must-read (Part One, Part Two). The series comes on the heels of the Seattle P-I's recently published reports by Lewis Kamb.
  • A new USA Today/Gallup poll has surprisingly devastating news for Republicans: voters are in a really bad mood. According to USAToday, which is owned by Gannett, Inc., "Democrats had a 23-point lead over Republicans in every group of people questioned — likely voters, registered voters and adults — on which party's House candidate would get their vote. That's double the lead Republicans had a month before they seized control of Congress in 1994 and the Democrats' largest advantage among registered voters since 1978." More information on the poll and complete results are here.
And finally, a third reminder that Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert will debate tomorrow evening at the Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue at 6:30 PM. Both will respond to questions from a panel of Seattle Times editorial writers and reporters (the Times is sponsoring the debate).

The debate will not be televised live. It will be replayed on TVW the next day (this Wednesday) at 7 PM, and the audio will be replayed on Puget Sound's KUOW just two hours later, also on Wednesday.

Darcy could use all the support she can get, so if you can spare a few hours, be sure to go. Admission is free and downtown Bellevue is well served by Metro and Sound Transit. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

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

Darcy Burner on Paula Zahn Now

I was watching CNN about an hour ago and was rather surprised to see a report about how the fallout from Foleygate could result in the religious right's followers staying home on election day.

CNN, surprisingly, had selected the Rev. Fuiten's Cedar Park Assembly of God as the megachurch from which to report from. CNN asked a few of the churchgoers if the Foley scandal would keep them from voting in November, and all of them said no.

I suspect that they could have been advised to say so by their leaders. And yes, that's speculation, but there was something about the way all of them spoke which indicated to me they'd received some instruction on what sound bites to give reporters.

In any case, I was even more surprised, midway through the report, to see a change of scenery: from inside Fuiten's church to inside Darcy Burner's campaign office in Bellevue, where the same CNN reporter was shown interviewing Darcy about her campaign. They only aired maybe half a minute of what was obviously a longer interview but it was a good clip.

During the interview they also showed the footage of Reichert climbing down Air Force One with George W. Bush - in semi slow motion.

This is, of course, another sign that this race is attracting national attention, and that Dave Reichert is extremely vulnerable.

Dave Reichert and the GOP: desperate hypocrites resort to desperate measures

Dave Reichert has finally released his first ad, but it's not what you might expect.

You might immediately think at first - is it a glowing profile of the incumbent? No.

Well then, surely it has to be a review of Patty Murray's accomplishments that Reichert's been trying to take credit for? Again the answer is no.

Maybe then it's a glimpse at the out of district law enforcement personnel who have so kindly given ex-Sheriff Dave their endorsement? No.

So then...what is it? Believe it or not, it's an attack ad!

That's right, Dave Reichert is so desperate that his first television ad, right out of the gate, is a broadside at Darcy Burner. There can no longer be any doubt. Reichert and the GOP are acknowledging with this ad that they are losing. They're desperate, and that's why they created an ad chock full of lies.

Here's the transcript of the audio (video available here):
Voice (female): After weeks of Darcy Burner’s negative campaigning, the Seattle Times cried foul for falsely attacking Dave Reichert’s support of veterans.

Voice (female): Now Burner’s in bigger trouble, pushing a tax plan that punishes millions.

Voice (female): Higher taxes on families. Taxes on marriage, on death.

Voice (female): Burner wants the job, but has no experience, no public service. Calling for taxes we can’t afford.

Voice (female): Dave Reichert’s keeping taxes low, with experience to back it up.

Music: upbeat, hopeful

Voice (Dave Reichert): I’m Dave Reichert and I approved this message.
Dave Reichert had the audacity to give his approval to the same lies that the NRCC is spewing about Darcy. There is no defense for Reichert now. He is fully complicit and just as guilty of the lying that his surrogates are doing.

There are pure scare tactics designed to intimidate voters. But this is nothing new. Republicans have been using fear as a weapon for years. "If you vote for the Democrats, America will be less safe. (Hint - you don't want another terrorist attack, do you?)" "If you vote for the Democrats, your taxes will go up."

Let's get the facts straight here: it is in fact the Republicans and Dave Reichert who cannot be trusted with our nation's finances. Republicans have doled out tax breaks to the rich, while giving next to nothing to middle and low income families. Republicans are creating taxes on future generations with their incredible deficit spending and fiscal mismanagement.

Republicans reward their corporate and special interest friends with big subsidies and giveaways. They let corporate lawyers write our laws and let corporate executives have at our natural resources and public lands.

The conservative agenda has been a disaster for America. Dave Reichert has been a disaster. We can't afford to have someone in Congress who only does what the House Republican leadership tells him to. The same leadership, remember, that is more interested in winning elections then locking up sex predators.

Dave Reichert and the GOP are lying, whining hypocrites. That they dare to accuse Darcy of "negative campaigning" is outrageous when they aren't even doing any positive campaigning.

I wrote on Saturday that Republican lies must not go unchallenged. It is crucial tthat we refute this nonsense everywhere. If you have friends or family in the 8th District, let them know that Dave Reichert and his GOP cronies are lying.

Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion

Such a deal had been rumored to be in the works, but it has indeed happened:
Google announced this afternoon that it would buy YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site, for stock that it valued at $1.65 billion.

Google beat out a number of other YouTube suitors, including Microsoft, Viacom, Yahoo and the News Corporation. By successfully negotiating the deal, Google has once again proved that it is the Internet’s dominant player.

Under the terms of the deal, YouTube will retain much of its identity and will keep its name and its office in San Bruno, Calif., more than 25 miles from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.

Chad Hurley, YouTube’s co-founder and chief executive, has repeatedly said he would prefer for his company to remain independent. Asked about such comments in a conference call with Wall Street analysts and investors held late this afternoon, Mr. Hurley said his company did want to stay independent, adding that “by working with Google, that’s still the case.”

Steve Chen, also a YouTube co-founder, said, “It is hard for me to imagine a better fit for two companies,” both in terms of technology and company culture.
No word yet on what will happen to Google Video. It seems likely, though, that Google Video and YouTube will merge, but YouTube will retain much of its independence even as a Google owned service.

UPDATE: This from Google's press release:
When the acquisition is complete, YouTube will retain its distinct brand identity, strengthening and complementing Google's own fast-growing video business. YouTube will continue to be based in San Bruno, CA, and all YouTube employees will remain with the company. With Google's technology, advertiser relationships and global reach, YouTube will continue to build on its success as one of the world's most popular services for video entertainment.
So Google Video stays for now, but we suspect that, at some point in the future, it will merge with YouTube. It really doesn't make long term practical sense for Google to have two different video services.

As time passes YouTube will become more tightly integrated with Google, just as other sites and services that Google snapped up have (i.e. Idealab's Picasa, Pyra Labs' Blogger, or Keyhole, whose software is now Google Earth).

Clark County government channel refuses to cover I-933 forum

Sometimes it’s truly astounding how insular Clark County is, and how far people will go to advance right wing agendas, even using taxpayer money to do so. The culprit this time is Clark-Vancouver Television (CVTV,) the government affairs cable station, which is showing a planner’s forum about Initiative 933, using a misleading title, while refusing to cover a forum sponsored by a “smart growth” group.

I’m flipping through the channels today, and I see a graphic on CVTV that says, “The Property Fairness Initiative I-933.” Turns out it’s a forum sponsored by “The American Planning Association’s Southwest Section,” according to CVTV.

Well, speaking of fairness, that doesn’t really seem like an apt way to describe Initiative 933. “Boondoggle” and “bogus” come to mind, but hey, if you’re the government channel you should be even handed, right?

If you check how I-933 will appear on the ballot, the word “fairness” does not appear, although it does appear in the text of the proposed law as a kind of propaganda. Always cute how the righties manage to do that.
Initiative Measure No. 933 concerns government regulation of private property.

This measure would require compensation when government regulation damages the use or value of private property, would forbid regulations that prohibit existing legal uses of private property, and would provide exceptions or payments.
Should this measure be enacted into law?
Now, the weird thing is that The American Planning Association is against I-933. So why CVTV puts up a misleading graphic like that for two hours or whatever is beyond me.

While the graphic stays up for most of the forum, and will doubtless be played repeatedly in the run-up to the election, CVTV is refusing to cover Friends of Clark County’s Oct. 23 forum about I-933. Friends is generally described as a”smart growth” sort of group. I’ve known some of their leaders in the past, and it’s a thoroughly non-partisan, non-profit group.

I spoke to Lora Caine, the president of Friends, and she confirms that CVTV will not cover their forum. According to Caine, the event will be recorded for Fort Vancouver Television, the public access channel, but FVTV is so underfunded that Friends will have to provide and train personnel to assist in production.

A pdf flier from Friends about their forum reveals that it will include not only “smart growth” types but even representatives from the BIAW and the Farm Bureau, so there is really no rational basis for CVTV’s decision to blackball Friends.

It’s not the first time CVTV has pulled a stunt like this.

This Sept. 29 Gregg Herrington column details how CVTV is playing favorites using taxpayer money. Basically, if you’re a development business you can televise your forums. If you’re regular old citizens, um, well, not so much.
The telecast of the May 24 pro-growth seminar was worthy of coverage on the public's channel, the county commissioners figured. They and the Vancouver City Council are the ultimate deciders in what CVTV does and does not cover. The fact Miller Nash picked the participants and organized the event was not a deal breaker for county commissioners. So what if a private business with an ax to grind and money to make gets air time on the public's TV station?

---snip---

Fast forward to this month. Members of the Friends of Clark County group are agonizing about why they can't get the same treatment Miller Nash got. Friends couldn't get CVTV to cover its Sept. 18 forum on the county's proposed changes in the "more realistic" urban growth plan. Commissioner Stuart wanted to let CVTV televise the event; Morris and Boldt nixed it.
Morris, an alleged Democrat, and Boldt, a Republican, can easily be described as pro-developer, so much so that they have scrapped a growth management plan from two years ago in order to allow for more development.

CVTV got into a small amount of hot water earlier this election season, when 17th District House candidate Pat Campbell demanded that CVTV re-tape his interview when it turned out the interviewer had donated to his primary opponent. That story seems to have fallen into The Columbian’s memory hole, but snippets of it survive at Democracy for Vancouver.

To go back to the Herrington article from Sept. 29, it’s worth noting that CVTV is supposedly formulating a policy about how decisions on what to air are made.
CVTV's policy on what non-government events and meetings it does and doesn't cover falls somewhere between loosey-goosey and nonexistent; it feeds suspicions of favoritism. Bill Barron, the county administrator, was candid Wednesday in saying that a formal CVTV policy is needed and that the situation "is unfortunate. There are no ulterior motives, I assure you."
In the meantime, we have an election coming up, so it would be nice if CVTV would stop playing games and cover the Friends forum. What are they afraid of?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

North Korea claims it has successfully tested a nuclear weapon

Some alarming breaking news tonight (Associated Press and CNN):
North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.

"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the our military and people," KCNA said.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, citing defense officials.

The Japanese government set up a task force in response to reports of the test, Kyodo News agency said Monday. Ministers and officials were urgently called to discuss the situation, the agency reported.

[...]

Late Sunday in Washington, the U.S. military told CNN it believed the report to be true, but was working to fully confirm it.

Senior U.S. officials said they also believed the test took place.
Here's what the BBC is reporting:
It said the underground test, done in defiance of international warnings, was a success and had not resulted in any leak of radiation.

A South Korean official said an explosion had been detected in the north-east of North Korea, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale.

North Korea said last week that it planned to test a nuclear weapon.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has called an emergency meeting of his government's National Security Council.

A South Korean official said that there had been a grave change in the security situation on the peninsula.
This is yet another development which indicates the Bush administration's strategy of engaging North Korea has been essentially a complete failure. Bush's team has sent conflicting signals in its dealings with North Korea - when it has dealt with North Korea. The real priority of those in power appears to exert American dominance over the Middle East so that a sure and plentiful supply of oil remains available to satisfy U.S. energy needs.

North Korea has been little more than an afterthought in this administration's foreign policy, and it shows.

Governor Gregoire considers supporting public financing for judicial races

Last week, the Associated Press reported an interesting primary postmortem development that caught our attention. I was going to comment on it several days ago, but this is election season, and items of interest can easily slip under the radar.

It seems that Governor Christine Gregoire is just as worried about the huge explosion of special interest independent expenditures in judicial races as we at NPI are. Following a Public Disclosure Commission report which outlined the enormous sums that were spent attacking or defending the candidates (especially the incumbents) the Governor made it known that she's looking for solutions:
"Candidly, I'm very concerned about the amount of money that is going into judicial races," Gregoire said. "Is there a different and better way? ... I don't think this is healthy for the citizenry or healthy at all for the court.

"I'd like to hold our court in the highest regard" but having the appearance of groups trying to "buy a seat" undermines public confidence in the judiciary, said the former three-term attorney general.

"Money shouldn't buy anything over there (at the Temple of Justice), so we're looking at ways in which we can help," she said.

Gregoire said she hasn't settled on a particular solution, and welcomed the Public Disclosure Commission's involvement and urged the Legislature to look at possible reforms, too. She said she's intrigued with public financing and talked last week with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano about the Arizona system. North Carolina also has public financing of court races.
We'd actually like to move to a system where judges are appointed by the governor and then subject to regular retention elections, but as Gregoire observed, that idea doesn't seem to have much popular support. So kudos to her for exploring other possible solutions that could address this problem.

More information about public election financing is available here.

The Governor also made clear last Monday that she opposes both of the right wing initiatives on the ballot this year, and endorsed Justice Susan Owens and Senator Maria Cantwell for reelection.

Next Washington is the Last Washington

The Governor's economic game plan is hard for a committed anti-corporatist to swallow. As our readers may know, the Guv is my favorite elected official.

Chris Gregoire is a leader, not a leaper in front of parades, not a facilitator, but one who determines what needs to be done and generates the energy and support to get it done. She's doing it in education. She's doing it in health care. In economic development, she needs to expand her sources.

As one who ascribes to corporations the authorship of the misery of billions and the frustration of most of the key public policies essential for a successful future, it is difficult for me to swallow the Governor's Next Washington project. (Check out the governor's prosperity page, too.)

This is the draft of Gregoire's economic game plan for the state. Marbled throughout it are all the elements of corporate capitalism which I hate so much.

It is embarrassing that the state and its governor are operating a deluxe welcome wagon for free agent corportions. Better we should take care of our citizens, including our current corporate citizens, through education, health care, transportation and disciplined regulation.

The Next Washington document came out ten days ago. I have not been able to get a critique together because Thomas Friedman's corporate bias has so thoroughly infected it.

The basics are also there, I admit. Number two is "Education is the single most important economic investment we can make."

The fact that there is no trade-off between economic development and enlightened environmental and social policy is explicit. But the absurdities are there, too, distilled in the conclusions (which does not match the manual of market capitalism, as usual) that states must compete for companies.

Corporations are the basic engines of prosperity. States and nations compete on the basis of cost as in cheap labor, on the basis of cost as in big tax giveaways, or on the basis of sophisticated public goods such as in an educated work force and sufficient infrastructure.

Of course, we hope to be in the last category, because we like education and sufficient infrastructure. But what happened to companies competing and states taking care of their citizens? That would be the situation right side up.

The Guv's Competitiveness Council document last spring was chaired by Alan Mullaly, or however you spell it, famous downsizer, outsourcer, tax code raider.

Once of Boeing, Mullaly is now downsizing, laying off and cutting everything except the earnings per share number at Ford. No wonder it concluded that corporations need welfare and the public needs to accept the harsh realities of the market.

It bothers me when the Guv says, as she often does, that when she goes to Beijing, she flies in on a Boeing jet, passes by a Microsoft office tower, and sits in a hotel across the street from a Starbucks, and it makes her proud.

Better she should reflect on the dozens of thousands of individuals in China benefitted by Washington's Universities. Those corporate logos don't represent five percent of the good that has come from Washington.

It is, in fact, by the education of people and by organization of our society through courts and regulatory agencies and by the facilitation of product movement via transportation systems that the state increases our common well-being. Those companies benefit from us and ride on our effort, not the other way around.

The role of corporations (at least if you look directly at how they act on the stage) seems to be to increase the benefit of stockholders and corporate managers wherever they live and whatever the cost to the rest of us.

Corporations adhere to this mission even if it means frustrating educated common sense. Nothing is more absurd, for example, than the current energy plan based on ever more extensive use of a shrinking resource that poisons the environment.

This is not the choice of anyone other than the corporate elite who muscled it in by way of their flunkies in the political process.

(Another parenthetical example is the dominance of public health care policy by corporate profiteers in the face of evidence and more evidence affirming that public health care systems are more efficient and less costly.)

By rediscovering and promoting the fundamental role of government in providing public goods which all can share -- irrespective of access to offices in Olympia -- the Guv will do far more to enhance economic development than she will be being the shill for corporate newcomers to our state.

Read the document. It's in discussion phase. Send your comments to:

Marc Baldwin
Executive Policy Advisor
Marc.Baldwin (at) Gov.WA.Gov.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

In Brief - October 7th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest, 8th District edition:
  • The Cook Political Report, which bills itself as "the insider's choice for election analysis" (because they're establishment) has upgraded Washington's 8th District to "Toss Up" from "Leans Republican", something we neglected to mention yesterday. No doubt the three recent polls which show Darcy in a tight heat against Dave Reichert had an impact on their decision.
  • CQPolitics notes that the NRCC reported spending $7.8 million just yesterday for an ongoing “independent expenditure” campaign. $23,781 of those funds were spent in Washington's 8th District on direct mailings attacking Darcy Burner.
  • Darcy Burner will be on the Seattle Times' website for a live Q&A this Wednesday morning at 11 AM to answer questions from voters. You can submit your question in advance here, if you're so inclined. Dave Reichert will be appearing the following Monday, (October 16th) for another live Q&A.
  • A second reminder that Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert will debate this Tuesday evening at the Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue at 6:30 PM. Both will respond to questions from a panel of Seattle Times editorial writers and reporters (the Times is sponsoring the debate). Darcy could use all the support she can get, so if you can spare a few hours, be sure to go. Admission is free and downtown Bellevue is well served by Metro and Sound Transit. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

GOP attacks against Darcy Burner filled with typical garbage and Orwellian rhetoric

Republicans are getting desperate.

With exactly a month to go before Election Day arrives (and even less time until absentee voting begins) the ferocity of Republican attacks (and lies!) is growing in intensity. The GOP is crumbling under the weight of its own corruption and failed conservative agenda. But its leaders and operatives have by no means given up.

They are now locked in a desperate struggle to stem the blue tidal wave that is approaching the shore on which they now sit, barricaded.

Republicans, frightened by the prospect of losing control of Congress, where they have been the majority party in both houses since the beginning of 2003, are so determined to cling on to the power they enjoy now that they are engaging in a campaign of lies and deceptions designed to dismay voters.

Palette of Republican Attack Ads
Above: A look at some of the direct mail the NRCC has been sending to voters urging them to "vote no" on Darcy Burner

Republican attacks against Darcy Burner are so libelous that it's almost funny. The typical distortions from past election cycles have been reproduced to misinform voters. Here's a sampling of what the GOP is saying (or quoting) about Darcy in its direct mail and television advertising:
Darcy Burner's Plan Would Raise Taxes On Hard Working Families and Small Businesses
Darcy Burner Wants To Take a Bite Out of Your Paycheck
Darcy Burner is Running a Negative Campaign
Darcy Burner Will RAISE TAXES. Now That's Not Progress!
And here's a bit of slick Orwellian lying for you:
Darcy Burner may want to give tax breaks to oil companies rather than helping hard working consumers who are being gouged at the pump
The outrageous thing about this, of course, is that the GOP is responsible for massive subsidies and giveaways to Big Oil. It has done absolutely nothing to protect consumers because it's in the pocket of special interests. The NRCC, which is responsible for the direct mail piece containing this lie, included a subscript stating the paragraph was a quote from KOMO AM's The Commentators. This was done supposedly so the NRCC could later claim, "hey, we didn't say that."

But that's a false defense. The NRCC is repeating a flat out lie to voters, and its operatives know that. Their intent is to mislead and deceive the electorate.

As for the claim that Darcy Burner would raise taxes, that's also an oft-repeated lie which is used around the country in district after district and state after state. It is nothing less than a giant fabrication.

Darcy's campaign has set up a Truth Watch to refute all the lies that are being repeated against her. Here are the GOP's early falsehoods debunked:
Claim #1: "Darcy Burner failed to vote in about half of the elections she was eligible to participate in from November 1998 to May 2006."

The Truth: This is a ploy to distract voters from the record that matters: Dave Reichert’s. Dave Reichert has voted with President Bush nearly 90% of the time. He voted in Congress to cut benefits for veterans, cut funding for student loans, and give billions in tax subsidies to oil and gas special interests. They even got their facts wrong: many of the missed votes listed on a recent mailer from the National Republican Congressional Committee are city elections in which Darcy was ineligible to vote because she resides outside city limits.

Claim #2: "Darcy Burner wants to take a bite of your paycheck… Darcy Burner proposed a tax increase by raising the amount of income that would be subjected to Social Security taxes."

The Truth: Social Security is a promise we’ve made to today’s workers for their retirement. Darcy is strongly committed to protecting and strengthening Social Security, and will fight against risky privatization schemes being pushed by President Bush. She believes modest reforms are needed and there are a wide range of options to consider and examine. Darcy is looking for reasonable reforms that can ensure Social Security’s solvency for generations to come, but she has not proposed or supported a tax on working families.

Claim #3: "Darcy Burner’s plan would raise taxes on hard-working Washington families and small businesses…"

The Truth: Working families are paying too much while large corporations and wealthy individuals are not paying their fair share. While Dave Reichert and the Republican leadership blocked attempts to renew important tax relief provisions that help average workers, Darcy would fight tirelessly to help families get the tax relief they need and deserve. This includes renewing tax breaks for college tuition, research and development conducted by small businesses, school supplies purchased by teachers, and the sales tax deduction for Washington families. You read more about Darcy’s thoughts on tax reform by clicking here.

Claim #4: "Darcy Burner may want to give tax breaks to oil companies."

The Truth: Darcy has never supported tax breaks to Big Oil. In fact, it was Dave Reichert who voted to give more than $14 billion in tax breaks to Big Oil. Darcy believes that we need to invest in new energy-efficiency programs and clean energy technologies that will create jobs right here in Washington State.
Voters are getting tired of the junk that's arriving in their mailboxes and flashing on their TVs. Republicans have repeated the "your taxes will be increased" mantra and other myths so many times that a sizable percentage of the electorate know they're being lied to as soon as they see it, hear it, or read it.

Republican lies must not go unchallenged. We will continue to closely monitor the negative attacks against Darcy Burner and deconstruct the mistruths that the GOP is attempting to spread.

Friday, October 06, 2006

In Brief - October 6th, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest:
  • Miss the first Goldmark/McMorris debate? A transcript is available here.
  • King County Elections has completed its recount in the NE Electoral Court race, and Frank V. LaSalata has prevailed over incumbent Mary Ann Ottinger for second place. LaSalata and Republican Party hack Richard Pope will face off in the general election.
  • The DCCC is taking Dave Reichert to task with its first accountability ad, the central theme of which is "Just Another Vote for George Bush's Agenda". Reichert's campaign is apparently feeling the pressure, and today, with Ken Melhman in town, released a hilarious press release entitled "Reichert Recognized for Boldly Defying Bush". Yeah, right!
  • In a column for the Washington Post, Michael Kinsley criticized Mike McGavick's TV ad campaign as pathetically ridiculous and even pointless.
  • Dennis Hastert and House Republicans are desperately hoping that their damage control efforts will quell the media furor that has erupted over Foleygate. But a House insider revealed today that Hastert's chief of staff confronted Foley about his inappropriate social contact with male pages well before the speaker said aides in his office took any action. These guys can't even get their made up stories straight.
  • Jon Tester's is hitting back at Conrad Burns for a hideous ad in which Burns attacked Tester for his opposition to the Patriot Act.
Finally, a reminder that Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert will debate this Tuesday evening at the Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue at 6:30 PM. Both will respond to questions from a panel of Seattle Times editorial writers and reporters (the Times is sponsoring the debate).

Darcy could use all the support she can get, so if you can spare a few hours, be sure to go. Admission is free and downtown Bellevue is well served by Metro and Sound Transit. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

Register ten people to vote

The 2006 midterm elections are fast approaching - as of tomorrow they will be just a month away. We will only win this election and take back the Congress if we have a strong turnout. Every progressive activist can make a difference by identifying at least ten friends or family members who don't vote and getting them registered. (We all know at least ten people who do not vote).

Tomorrow is the deadline for sending in your vote by mail registration, but the deadline for walk in registration isn't until October 23rd. Here are some details:
The deadline for registering or transferring your voter registration is 30 days before an election [that's tomorrow]. If you register by mail, your application must be postmarked by the 30-day cutoff or it will not become effective until after the election.

If you are not already registered to vote in Washington and you miss the 30-day deadline, you can register in person at your county elections department until 15 days before the election. Contact your County Auditor for assistance and information.

Registration Requirements

You must complete a voter registration form if you are registering for the first time in Washington or if you have moved to a new county. If you have moved within the same county, you may transfer your registration by completing a new form or contacting your County Auditor by mail, email, or phone. There is no registration by political party in Washington state.

To register to vote in the state of Washington, you must be:
  • A citizen of the United States
  • A legal resident of Washington State
  • At least 18 years old by election day
You may not register to vote if you are:
  • Presently denied your civil rights due to a felony conviction.
  • Judicially declared mentally incompetent and ineligible to vote.
If you meet the above criteria you can register by completing and mailing in a voter registration form.
You can fill out the mail in form here (Adobe PDF). To locate your county elections office, follow this link. It's time to take action.

Olbermann's brilliancy

Keith Olbermann has truly become the voice of the American people. His special commentaries, ringing with a fiery eloquence, are awe-inspiring and magnificent. They are like a great thunderstorm clearing the sky of a sleazy, thick haze which has permeated the air for far too long.

His latest, a harsh critique of Bush's lies about Democrats, is truly impressive
.

If you have cable or satellite, tune in to Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Make it a part of your evening. And share Keith's special commentaries with your friends and family. Nobody reframes the discourse like he does.

P-I story on Reichert: murderous sergeant kept on duty

The P-I's Lewis Kamb is reporting that Dave Reichert did not remove a sergeant from duty who was involved in a bizarre arson and murder case in 1996.

According to the newspaper, the case has never been reported and was discovered in an old lawsuit filed by the parents of the murder victim.
Dave Reichert knew for weeks in 1996 that a sergeant under his command was meddling in a felony arson investigation, but kept him on the job despite a policy that would have allowed Reichert to remove him, according to interviews and court documents.

It was a bizarre case. The sergeant, Matt Bachmeier, had burned down his own Renton home to collect insurance, then a month later implicated an innocent man before killing him.
This could be quite the bombshell. Reichert claims, in a written statement to the P-I, that he did nothing wrong.
"I was the precinct commander at the time that Bachmeier was a person of interest in an arson case of his own home. He was eventually arrested and charged and convicted and I testified at his trial. He is currently serving life in prison somewhere in the United States. Any idea that I should have shared information with the jurisdiction investigating the case is wrong and in fact had I gotten involved it could have jeopardized the case. That was the responsibility of others in my chain of command. I continually reported to my chain of command all action that was taken -- that was my duty; that was my job. Any further action that could be taken regarding his employment would be the responsibility of the chief and the sheriff, not mine."
But reporter Kamb has sourced a differing view.
Frank Adamson, who was then chief of criminal investigations, doesn't see it that way.

"By sharing information with Renton, I don't know how he could've created a problem in their case," Adamson said. "If he's knowledgeable of something that might be of value in (Renton's) case, I think he has a responsibility to pass it along."
In that same statement, Reichert claims the P-I is not treating him fairly.
"However, I have spoken with the authors of this series on the Sheriff's Office only once. When the first articles in the series ran, its authors came to me and requested an interview, which I granted, relating to discipline issues in the King County Sheriff's Office. They invited me to share my views and comments. After the article appeared, it appeared obvious that they weren't going to fairly present the views and comments of those they interviewed. It was clear they were pursuing an agenda and intended to mislead readers and this community.
It's clear that this is going to hit the Reichert campaign pretty hard. If you go read the entire Kamb story in the P-I you'll see that it's a pretty strange tale.

As the GOP tries to spin this one, let's keep in mind that Reichert has gotten a lot of mileage out of his role in the Green River case, and that the P-I has uncovered a case where Reichert's judgement as a law enforcement official seems shaky at best. Really, go read the Kamb article if you have time.

MORE Kamb's profile piece on Reichert also contains all sorts of interesting stuff. For example:
Mark Prothero, one of Ridgway's defense attorneys, saw a different side to the man he called "Sheriff Hairspray."

In the days before Ridgway pleaded guilty, Prothero observed then-secret meetings the lawman held with the killer. Decked out in his full sheriff's regalia, Reichert met with Ridgway, though little substantive emerged.

"It appeared to be a prolonged photo-op for Reichert's next political campaign," said Prothero, noting stills taken from police video later showed up in the press.

"Every single interview conducted with Gary Ridgway was videotaped. That was standard procedure," Reichert wrote Thursday.
(Props to Eli Sanders at Slog, who has a great post up about "The P-I's October Surprise.")

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The 45th's Rising Star: Eric Oemig

From the Executive Director: We're pleased today to showcase an exemplary progressive candidate for state legislature - Eric Oemig. We could write a lot about Eric's candidacy, having witnessed it since it began early this year, but we're actually going to let Eric tell you about himself and his campaign in this special guest post.

Washington State has a spending problem. We spend too much on overpriced band-aids, when we should be investing in real solutions.

We need new ideas, new leadership, and a different kind of politics.

I grew up in a rural midwestern American town. My mom taught public school and my father was a farmer; both were the first in their family to go to college. From them, I learned the values of hard work, education, responsibility, and leaving the world a better place than I found it. I played football, wrestled, and studied hard.

I worked my way through college, graduating with a degree in Computer Science. I came to Washington to work for Microsoft as a software engineer. Besides Microsoft, I worked as a money manager, helping small businesses, especially family farmers, figure out how to make their business profitable.

I have been active on the Eastside of King County – as a member of the Kirkland Library Board, Hopelink Executive Leadership Council, and the Eastside Gluten Intolerance Group (an organization supporting people and families with food allergies).

I also created and hosted a television program shown across King County , called "Moral Politics." The show brought people together to sensibly discuss the moral and economic impact of issues facing our community.

Eric Oemig for State Senate

My wife Mary and I married in 2005. Together we named our new son Cray after the first supercomputer. (Cray Research was another big influence in my life growing up. I named my son after a symbol of logic and reason.)

Three key places where we need smarter investment in Olympia are education, healthcare, and transportation.

Education

Education is opportunity. It is the most important tool we can provide to our children so they can earn their own success in life, be it starting their own business or realizing their own dream. When my son was born last year, that became even clearer to me.

Education is also a crucial investment in our economy and our competitiveness. Funding for education at all levels – from pre-school to higher education to life-long job training – must be treated as an investment, one that will produce long-term rewards.

Children who have quality preschool are twice as likely to graduate from high school. And for every one dollar we invest in quality preschools, we save fourteen dollars in later social costs. Education should be our highest funding priority.

When you have a program that makes our community better and saves money, you should invest in it, right? Unless you’re my opponent, who has repeatedly voted to cut education funding.

Now he wants to take away money meant for smaller classes and for more slots in higher education, by getting rid of the Education Legacy Trust.

Health Care

Most of us don’t wait for a crisis before we see a doctor. Unfortunately, many kids do have to wait, because their families don’t have health insurance. Their first appointment is in the most expensive clinic in the world: the emergency room.

That isn’t right for those kids or for their parents or for everyone else who has to pay for it.

We must heal our health care system, starting by ensuring that every child has access to quality health care, including prenatal and neonatal care.

We must spend our health care budget smarter on preventative care, rather than waiting until people show up in the emergency room. We must make sure big businesses live up to their responsibility to provide health care for their employees.

And we must follow the lead of other states that have lowered prescription drug costs, by negotiating bulk purchase discounts and reimporting drugs from Canada .

My opponent routinely votes against better health care. He voted against budgets that added more slots for children in the state basic health plan. He voted not to reimport less expensive drugs from Canada (and then received big campaign contributions from the drug companies that benefited). It’s sickening - literally.

Transportation

Traffic erodes our quality of life. Our transportation system must work for both people and businesses, including people with cars and without cars. We must eliminate the worst bottlenecks in our transportation system.

At the same time, we cannot just build our way out of congestion. Our transportation system must include smart investments in buses, light rail, carpools, and other real choices for moving around our region.

We are paying for congestion. I call it a "time tax." Ask any business owner how much he pays for his employees to sit in traffic. Or ask any of us what else we would rather do than be trapped behind the wheel. Lost wages or lost family time - we pay. Let’s spend our resources smarter and build solutions.

While we have been sitting in traffic, my opponent has been sitting in Olympia voting against investments in transportation.

He even voted against the 2005 Transportation Package, the plan that local voters overwhelmingly supported at the ballot box last year.

He keeps saying he supports transportation improvements, but he keeps voting against them. Our economy and our quality of life cannot afford such hypocrisy.

These are just three examples of where we can do better. On these and many other issues – biofuels, stem cells, environmental protection, safer communities, and more – we can invest smarter, save money, save time (time is money), and get better results.

So, how can you leverage your time and money to get the best results out of Olympia ?

You could try talking to 1,000 people about 1,000 issues. You could give $1,000 dollars to your favorite political group – that is, if you can afford it. You could call a politician 100 times about 100 different issues that he has already voted the wrong way on in the past.

Or, you can elect someone who will lead on all of the issues we care about.

Join my campaign!

I am working all day, every day to win this election, but I cannot do it alone. I have raised more money than my opponent – the political observers are truly astounded, because a new candidate is not supposed to out-raise a longtime incumbent.

But my opponent is getting big checks from big money interests (most recently, drug companies, builders, insurance companies, phone companies, HMOs, WalMart, and others), and will get more from his party.

You can help by volunteering or contributing. Visit my website, email volunteer (at) oemig (dot) com, or call (425) 968-8798 to get involved.

I hope to see you on the campaign trail. Thank you.

Goldmark / McMorris Debate

The Goldmark campaign has covered today's debate between Peter and Cathy McMorris here, at DKos.

I haven't had time to read and digest the whole thing, or see if either of them made any gaffes or scored any real zingers. If you find anything interesting in there, please post about it in the comments.

Hastert scared of "Mom"

Hey, Mr. Hastert: Halloween will be here before you know it. Boo!
He (Hastert) went on to suggest that operatives aligned with former President Bill Clinton knew about the allegations and were perhaps behind the disclosures in the closing weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections, but he offered no hard proof.
So the big, tough Republicans are scared of the puny old Democrats? But aren't the Democrats afraid of the Islamofascists? How can the big tough Republicans play "Daddy" and protect us if they're scared of "Mom?" Be sure to check under your bed for MoveOns, Hastert, they can rip your lungs out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I-933 would cost taxpayers billions

The NO on I-933 coalition (of which NPI's Permanent Defense is a member) has a concise new TV ad which aptly sums up the enormous cost and consequences of Initiative 933, the "pay or waive" scheme that creates loopholes for developers and destroys carefully crafted land use protections in community after community across Washington State.

You can watch the ad here in our video library.

Goldmark joins Burner, says Hastert must go

It's Cathy McMorris' turn to get a letter:
October 4, 2006

Dear Rep. McMorris:

I have been disturbed and outraged by the news coming from Congress this past week. I believe I must take action to express the growing concerns of voters in the Fifth Congressional District.

With this letter, I am officially asking you to take a public stand in calling for the resignation of House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Hastert has apparently not only failed to protect House pages from further abuse by a member of the House, he also failed to hold that member accountable for his actions. His apparent willingness to suppress potentially criminal activity among House members makes him unfit for leadership.

I believe it is your duty to speak out on this matter at once to help cleanse Congress of a cloud of deep distrust.

Sincerely,

Peter Goldmark
Dave Reichert has already admitted he does what the Republican leadership tells him to. McMorris has admitted the same - not openly in words as Reichert has, but through her actions. They and Doc Hastings are part of a corrupt Republican majority that preaches moral values but doesn't practice them.

It's time for new leadership and new blood in Congress.

Party on the Range

King County Republicans are so confident that Dave Reichert is going to be reelected this November, they're holding a Shootin' for Victory! party for him:
Wendnesday, October 4th, 6:00PM
At Wades Eastside Gun Range
13570 Bel-Red Rd. Bellevue, WA 98005

Join DAVE REICHERT at SHOOTIN FOR VICTORY! The Best Darn Event of 2006! The most fun youll have with your boots on! Wades Eastside Gun Range Wed. Oct. 4th. Join a posse of fun-minded Republicans & other folks for an evening of Shootin, BBQ, & Good Times! Instructors available for beginners.

Admission is $100.00, reservations are required. Contact the KCGOP at 425-990-0404
What's really interesting about this event, though, is where it's being held. Some interesting incidents have happened at Wade's Eastside Gun Range. Take this episode from 2000:
A woman rented a handgun at a gun range, exchanged it for a smaller weapon, then used it to shoot herself in the head -- the second fatal shooting at Wade's Gun Shop in six days.

[...]

Last week, a 49-year-old Issaquah man shot himself in the chest in the restroom after practicing on the range. Police have determined the two shooting deaths are not connected.
Then there was this in 1997:
He strolled in, rented gun in hand, took his position at a firing range, then began shooting. He loaded and unloaded. After firing dozens of rounds, the 27-year-old Seattle man fired a shot that hit his head and left him clinging to life....The man, whose name was not released, was found about 2:30 p.m. Another customer at Wade's Gun Shop discovered the body and summoned the staff, who called an ambulance and police.

[...]

Wade Gaughran, the owner of the firing range, refused to comment...In April, Michael Chumney, 24, was fatally wounded at the gun range, at 13570 N.E. Bellevue-Redmond Road, after a Kirkland woman lost control of the gun she was firing.

The .44-caliber revolver recoiled, and the next round struck Chumney, who was standing behind her.

Video cameras, however, failed to record that incident. Police said the shooting was accidental.

Earlier this year, another woman was shot in the thigh at the gun range during a gun-safety class.
Then, before that:
Bellevue Police are investigating the shooting of Michael Chumney at Wade's Eastside Gun Shop, 13570 N.E. Bellevue-Redmond Road, as an accident.

The shooter, a 30-year-old Kirkland woman, told police Chumney, a 24-year-old Redmond man, had lent her the powerful revolver he had rented at the range and then stood behind her as she tried it.

Police said the woman from Chumney's church group lost control of the revolver as it recoiled after her second shot. Chumney was hit in the neck at close range when the gun fired a third time.
And there was this lengthy article too (same shooting):
A Bellevue firing range where a man was shot and killed Monday was investigated last year for allegedly lax safety procedures, but police discovered no government agency had jurisdiction over the facility.

But last April, a customer was so upset with safety procedures that he contacted Bellevue Police. Mark Owen, who owns several guns and took safety courses as a child in Montana, said he went to Wade's because he was looking for a place to teach his own children.
Nothing against responsible gun ownership, but this doesn't sound like an establishment where responsibility and safety are Priority #1.

Draw your own conclusions from all of this. I'm just wondering who thought it was a good idea to hold a big political fundraiser at a gun range that has become somewhat notorious for unfortunate shooting accidents. Is this really the ideal venue for a Dave Reichert party?

What the...

From the totally ridiculous, "we will be greeted as liberators" department:
Congress has already paid for the victory parade
All that's left to do is win the wars

Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.

Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation's capital "for commemoration of success" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.

Now congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.
We're not going to be successful - not because of any failing on the part of our brave men and women in uniform, but because the conservative agenda and right wing dominance of our government has been an utter disaster.

Quite simply, Republicans can't govern. They can hold power (and enjoy doing so) but they cannot govern. They are also misusing our military by keeping hundreds of thousands of our troops in Iraq as near-permanent security forces.

That Republicans are setting aside money for a victory celebration is laughable. It's the kind of behavior that's reminiscient of when Dick Cheney stated that "we will be greeted as liberators" or last year, when he said the insurgency was in its "last throes" (which Donald Rumsfeld later clarified could mean oh, I don't know, a dozen years!)

Instead of setting aside money for an illusionary grand celebration, how about ensuring our troops have adequate body armor? Or making certain that we keep our promises to our veterans and get them the benefits they deserve?

This Congress isn't going to do it, so it's time to elect a new one. A Democratic Congress that will hold this reckless administration accountable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Darcy Burner calls for Hastert's resignation

And she writes Dave Reichert, requesting that he demand the same:
October 3, 2006

Congressman Dave Reichert
2737 78th Ave SE
Suite 202, Second Floor
Mercer Island, WA 98040

Dear Congressman Reichert,

I write to you today as a constituent and mother. We cannot compromise the safety of our children and the integrity of the House of Representatives, so we must set partisanship aside and stand together on principle.

The disgraceful acts committed by former Congressman Mark Foley are a black mark on the halls of the people's House. The inaction of the House leadership in addressing the issue only makes it worse.

Today you released a statement in support of an investigation of this matter. An investigation is called for, but insufficient. An investigation is certainly in order, so is the immediate resignation of those House leaders who knew about Mark Foley's grossly inappropriate communications with young pages.

Today the editorial board of the Washington Times called on Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to resign. The paper writes "Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away.... Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance."

Dennis Hastert's ineffective handling of this issue follows numerous other scandals that have plagued our Congress under his watch, including the indictment of former House Speaker Tom DeLay, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and the conviction of Rep. Duke Cunningham. There's no more room for excuses. We need a substantial change in the leadership of the House of Representatives.

I ask you to join me in calling for the resignation of Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Sincerely,

Darcy Burner
Reichert backers have claimed their man is a moderate, an independent, of sorts. If he really is, then he'll join Darcy Burner in calling for new leadership in the House - now. Not later, not after the elections, but now.

Cynical GOP - 1, Prediction Tuesday - 0

In a move as baffling as it is inane, the Republican Congress failed to extend the deductibility of state sales taxes, costing citizens of Washington hundreds and thousands of dollars per year. Prediction Tuesday guaranteed last spring this would not happen, then promised again a month ago. We were wrong.

Republicans had used their window under the arcane budget rules to extend tax cuts for capital gains and dividends for two years -- from 2008 to 2010. The obvious assumption was that the more popular tax breaks for college expenses and state sales taxes would come later.

Here's how it works. Budget rules allow some deficit expansion without the jeopardy of filibuster. Republicans used this to feed the rich their dividend and capital gains cuts out to 2010. Yes, not this year, not next year -- these were already taken care of -- but years into the future.

Then, instead of just putting up the popular and deserved tax deductions to pass on their merits, the GOP hitched them to still more top end giveaways -- the estate tax elimination -- and the minimum wage tomfoolery.

When that "Trifecta" didn't pass, Prediction Tuesday said the GOP would cave. They would not be so ethically corrupt or politically obtuse to so blatantly raid the federal budget for the rich and ignore the middle class, at least not in an election year.

We were wrong.

Congress recessed without extending the middle class tax breaks.

Wow.

The same Congress could well come back after the elections and make the changes. But that won't count. We were wrong. We admit it.

You might say this is payback for a Blue State. But Florida, Texas, and North Carolina are in the same boat -- sales tax and no state income tax. That's Bush, Bush and Frist.

Wow.

Cynically, ever so cynically, Republicans blame Democrats.

As if.

Doc Hastings comes up a loser for the second day in a row, as well. Sales tax deductibility was his only positive contribution. With it gone, and new attention as House "Ethics" Committee chairman (following the Foley page scandals), Doc is looking more and more vulnerable.

Poll Watch: Senator Cantwell leads McGavick, work to be done on I-933

Two new polls are out showing that Maria Cantwell is holding her lead over Mike McGavick. The first was done by Mason-Dixon Research and it put Cantwell at 50%, McGavick at 40%. (9% were undecided, 1% favor a minor party candidate). Here are some additional details:
Of those who think Iraq is issue Number 1, Cantwell's ahead by 2-1. That's a lower edge than Democrats in other states, probably because Cantwell voted to authorize the war and faced an anti-war challenge in a primary.

Nearly three out of five - 57 percent - disapprove of Bush's job performance. Disapprovers support Cantwell by 6-1. Those who approve of Bush's job performance support McGavick by a similar margin.
Even going by this poll, 2 to 1 is regardless still a big margin. Senator Cantwell's efforts to clarify her position on Iraq have greatly benefited her campaign and (for the most part) calmed the misguided furor coming from a small minority within the local Democratic Party and the progressive movement.

The other poll was conducted by local pollster Stuart Elway. 53% of respondents said they would "definitely or probably" vote for Cantwell. 35% said likewise of McGavick. 405 registered voters were surveyed late last month. (The margin of error was 5%). Some additional details:
The latest survey showed Cantwell had stronger support in her own party than McGavick did in his. Seventy-five percent of Democrats said they were definitely voting for Cantwell, while McGavick had 61 percent of Republicans saying they would definitely cast their ballots for him.
It's worth noting that, for whatever reason, Elway polls have tended to be further away from the results that other pollsters have found. This isn't a poll of "likely voters", in contrast to the Mason-Dixon poll, which had 625 respondents total, all of whom confirmed they were likely to vote in the November general election.

We can conclude from these two polls that the Senator is probably in a good position. But no race may be taken for granted. There are still several weeks left. Team Cantwell must work as hard as it can to convince as many voters as possible to return Maria to Washington, D.C.

Beautiful, radiant television ads are nice, but more emphasis should be put on field operations and word of mouth. The best weapon of persuasion in a candidate's arsenal are supporters asking their friends and family to vote Democrat.

Another poll worth mentioning concerns the battle to defeat Initiative 933, the horrific ballot measure that would create land use mayhem and loopholes for developers to exploit. Elway Research found that 47% of voters are inclined to definitely or probably vote for I-933 while 31% are similiarly opposed. A whopping 22% are undecided.

In our view this poll is off, and not necessarily by a little bit, either. This is based on what we've observed recently and past experience. (For instance, I can easily recall believing a much touted Elway poll that showed Initiative 776 losing not long before Election Day in 2002. I-776 ultimately passed, albeit narrowly.)

The breakdown is actually more interesting. If Elway is to be believed, support for I-933 is strongest in Eastern Washington and in Pierce and Kitsap counties.

The specific numbers are not what we're interested in, though. It's the overall trend - the bigger picture. A historical analysis of previous right wing ballot measures (including tax repeals) demonstrates that Pierce County is an important battleground.

Residents of Pierce have often voted for right wing initiatives in recent years, which means the No on I-933 campaign needs to strengthen its field efforts there as much as possible. Voter education works, as demonstrated last year when Pierce voters joined over a dozen other counties on both sides of the Cascades in voting NO on Initiative 912. Kitsap County is in the same boat.

If you're reading the Official Blog from outside of Seattle or urban King County, (where opposition to I-933 is strongest) understand that it is imperative you talk to your family and friends about the dangers of I-933, the "pay or waive" scheme that will create havoc in communities across the Evergreen State.

Monday, October 02, 2006

In Brief - October 2nd, 2006

Here is today's quick news digest (Mark Foley Edition):
  • ABC News correspondent Brian Ross reveals that Rep. Foley repeatedly sought meetings with the pages he was chatting with online (a federal crime). In one message, he even says "I would drive a few miles for a hot stud like you." The FBI is also opening an investigation. It's sick to think that just a few days ago this child molester was a Congressman.
  • The right wing Washington Times, of all editorial boards, calls for the resignation of Speaker Dennis Hastert over his mishandling of the Mark Foley scandal, which Haster kept under wraps for months.
  • It was confirmed today that NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds' (R-New York) chief of staff, Kirk Fordham (formerly the chief of staff for ex-Rep. Foley), attempted to get ABC to agree to a deal not to release the extremely damaging and inappropriate instant message conversations that Foley had with underage congressional pages.
  • It has also been confirmed that the Chairman of the Congressional Page Board knew about the Foley IM conversations but did not tell the other two committee memebrs (Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, and Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Michigan) - both of whom are naturally furious.
  • Tony Snow (and, apparently George W. Bush) think the Foley scandal is no big deal. Snow actually downplayed the scandal as "simply naughty emails". (This is actually incorrect - the messages are not emails, but instant message conversations - and there is a difference. Snow is an ignorant mouthpiece)
  • Josh Marshall discusses the implications the Foley scandal has on the upcoming midterm elections, which take place in just over a month.
  • USA Today analyzes Mark Foley's rapid fall from grace after the scandal that House Republicans tried to cover up was revealed.
  • Meanwhile, Matt Drudge has the best Republican response yet - he's blaming the pages. In Drudge's words "They are 16 and 17 year old beasts" and they're responsible. Now that's just appalling.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment in the thread.

Doc Hastings is a lump of coal

As Predator-gate continues to grow, it's worth pausing a moment to consider what might have been done to protect pages, had the Republican leadership cared to have a functioning system that deals with ethical (and thus by implication) legal issues in the U.S. House.

It's no secret that Doc Hastings, the Republican who represents Washington's 4th Congressional District, was placed into his spot as chair of the ethics committee in order to protect Tom Delay. Or so it seemed at the time, in early 2005.

Now that it's being reported a GOP staff member was warning pages to watch out for Mark Foley as early as 2001, it's time for Hastings to state what he knew. Just because he's an empty suit doesn't mean he gets a free pass.

Now, I have no reason to think Hastings knew about Foley, mainly because Hastings is a lump of coal. It's easy to believe that the real powers in the GOP don't tell him anything. Hasting's biography does play up his spot on the rules committee, though, so I suppose technically he could be considered part of House leadership, despite his lump-like lack of activity.

Even if Hastings knew nothing about Foley's actions, it does not excuse Hastings from moral culpability. Hastings has been a lump of coal on purpose; the sole intent of his chairmanship was to render the ethics committee powerless. And this is what you get--a Congress that is accountable to nobody. (Don't forget that it was the GOP that changed things so that members of the public are not allowed to file complaints with the ethics committee.)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to the ethics committee over the weekend demanding an investigation. The Republicans are claiming there will be an investigation, but it's hard to see how having a lump of coal investigate this is going to be very useful. CREW is also calling for an independent counsel, which makes sense.

Folks can start asking whether Hastings was aware of the allegations about Foley and proceed from there. It is a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

Citizens in Washington's 4th Congressional district deserve to know what their congresscritter knew, and when he knew it.

If he knew nothing, he should say so. And he should explain why he is a lump of coal, and how that benefits eastern Washington.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Preorder An Inconvenient Truth on DVD

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth will be released on DVD in less than two months (November 21st). You can preorder your own copy now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Here's some information about the DVD from Paramount Classics:
The DVD is packaged to make the smallest possible environmental footprint - it is made of 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, no excess materials, and absolutely no plastics. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this DVD will benefit the bipartisan climate effort, The Alliance for Climate Protection. Also included on the DVD are special features including:
  • 30-minute introduction by Mr. Gore, with updated information
  • "The Making of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH"
  • Music video by Melissa Etheridge: "I Need to Wake Up"
  • Commentary by Director Davis Guggenheim
  • Commentary by Producers Lawrence Bender, Laurie David, Lesley Chilcott and Scott Z. Burns
This is one DVD you'll definitely want in your collection.