Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Catching up on loose ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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