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.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The View From Cannon Beach

After weeks of working on projects for NPI, I've decided to take a rest and go on a relaxing vacation. But, like a good blogger, I brought my computer with me so I can check in and see what's happening in the news and what's happening around the regional progressive blogopshere.

I'm in Cannon Beach, which is one of my favorite places to relax. I like it because it's fairly laid back - quiet and serene, but also majestic.

Our extended family's beach house has a nearly unrivaled view of the scenery at Cannon Beach. See what I mean - here's a photo I took earlier this evening. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Cannon Beach

Last night, I attended the King County Democrats Honors Banquet, where I and fellow blogger David Goldstein were each honored with different awards for our work the previous year.

I think the fact that two of the recipients this year were bloggers says a lot about how important the Internet has become as medium for conveying information. Blogging is changing the face of the mass media - especially when it comes to accountability.

It's often been said that the traditional media acts a watchdog, sounding the alarm when the public is being taken for a ride by corporations, government officials, or some other special interest. But who is watching the traditional media and scrutinizing its reporting?

Bloggers are.

In this day and age bloggers are providing news, analysis, and investigative reports on just about anything, often being the first to break a story.

A fine example of the "digital muckraking" that's going on these days is an excellent piece by Noemie Maxwell at Washblog (Washington Farm Bureau misrepresents facts to support ballot initiative) which definitely deserves to be mentioned:
Washington Farm Bureau's President, Steve Appel, recently made public comments on the occasion of the kickoff for the land use initiative that organization has just filed.


In that kickoff speech, which is published on the website promoting the initiative, Mr. Appel tells about Bruce Ritter who owns a small amount of non-agricultural land (10 acres) and presents his case as an example of a property owner whose plight resembles that of thousands of others across the state who would be helped by the initiative.

This choice is a matter of some public interest. Why not a farmer? And why only one family?

Odder than this choice of a representative landowner, and more troubling, is the inaccuracy in Mr. Appels' statement about the Ritter property. Half of the assertions made by Mr. Appel are easily debunked. The other half are not substantiated and are, in fact, shown by the public record to almost certainly be untrue.
The Farm Bureau and its allies - the BIAW, the Realtors, and other special interests - are working very hard this year to destroy our state's growth management laws and create loopholes for developers via the initiative process.

As I wrote yesterday:
The initiative process itself has become a joke. If you have half a million dollars to spend you can buy your way onto the ballot - no matter what your issue or ideology is. Collecting signatures for a petition isn't much of an exercise in democracy these days - it's an economic activity. And many voters don't even know what they're signing.
The right wing assault on our state's quality of life, funded by special interests, is a threat to the sustainable future of Washington.

The regional progressive blogosphere will continue to work to expose the lies and distortions of groups like the Farm Bureau and individuals like Tim Eyman, who seem to be interested only in deceiving the electorate for their own benefit.

And we'll also be watching the region's traditional media outlets to make sure that they present these issues objectively - and not lend credibility to the falsifications of the Republican Noise Machine.

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