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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

In Brief - February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year. Today is the bonus day we get every four years. Isn't it lovely? One extra day of campaign ads and partisan bickering! I'm sure the Decider has scribbled out another signing statement noting that he doesn't have to observe it if he doesn't see the need. Well, only 8 months to go in that sad tale. Enjoy the last leap year in the Decider administration.

With that, here's a digest of today's news:

In the Pacific Northwest

  • Tolls may be the wave of the future in curbing carbon emissions, according to this article in the Seattle Times. Two bills set to impose tolls in heavily traveled roads in the Puget Sound region have passed the state House, and should pass the Senate soon.

  • While we're talking about roads, I-5 and I-90 will be worse than usual for the next four months, as road crews repair girders and improve HOV lanes.

  • Apparently, the Oregon GOP is in a world of hurt. They're in debt, the membership is splintering, and they're badly outnumbered by Democrats. Almost makes me feel sorry f-- ...nah.

Across the Nation

  • Obama tightens lead in TX, OH polling. As he has ahead of the past several primaries, Barack Obama has closed once formidable polling leads opened up by Hillary Clinton. Clinton, of course, is looking for huge wins in Texas and Ohio; looking at these latest numbers, margins will not be huge if she wins at all.

  • Boeing won't be the contractor of choice for the Air Force this time around. The deal Boeing just lost would have been worth about $40 billion, building air tankers (for in-flight refueling). Interesting that the government would choose Northrup Grumman for this deal—the frames for these planes will be built overseas, of course, by Airbus. Just to rub salt in the wound.

  • The stock market took another dive today, dropping 315 points on bad economic news and record-breaking ($103/barrel) oil prices. But don't worry: Our president is optimistic that we can avoid the recession we're already in.

Around the World

  • Turkish leaders are asking PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) rebels to lay down their arms and embrace Turkish rule as the Turkish military continues its incursion in Northern Iraq. After a week of fighting along the border, the PKK has lost 247 fighters and the Turks 27. Turkey is accusing Iraq of being lax in reining in the PKK; it could be argued that the Iraqi “government” is, well, kinda busy right now.

  • Following two months of brutal fighting in Kenya, opposition leaders shook hands on a power-sharing agreement that will hopefully end the violence in that African country. Details remain, and the peace is uneasy, but it's a start, and citizens seem optimistic.

  • Pakistan continues to unravel in the aftermath of presidential elections. Today at least 11 people were killed in a suicide bombing during a funeral for a police officer who was killed just hours before.

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

A huge round of applause for Nancy Pelosi

As expected, the Bush administration is refusing to refer the the House of Representatives' recent contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides (Harriet Meiers, Josh Bolten) to a federal grand jury.

We know the administration thinks it is above the law. But House Democrats are fortunately not backing down:
As promised, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she has given the Judiciary Committee authority to file a lawsuit against Bolten and Miers in federal court.

"The House shall do so promptly," she said in a statement.

"The department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers," Mukasey wrote Pelosi.

Pelosi shot back that the aides can expect a lawsuit.

"The American people demand that we uphold the law," Pelosi said. "As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that."
Bravo, Madam Speaker. This is just the kind of resolve the American people were looking for when they swept Democrats into the majority back in 2006. All of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute are proud of you today.

The Bush administration has never been interested in true cooperation. "Bipartisanship" to them means having Democrats cave or roll over so they can have their way. The only way to hold the administration accountable is through a show of force. Asking nicely doesn't work. Reminding Bush and his cronies about the Constitution doesn't work - they could care less about that old document.

If the administration insists on a showdown, their bluff must be called. Congress has to hold this corrupt, immoral, and lawless administration accountable. That is its job. The American people expect nothing less.

Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel releases 2007 year-end report

Sound Move, the ballot measure that authorized Sound Transit, included a provision for a Civilian Oversight Panel. This fifteen member board monitors Sound Transit's activities and releases a report each year chronicling successes and failures.

This year's review found Sound Transit to be the capable and professional organization that we at NPI know it to be. Below are some excerpts form the report.
...Sound Transit continued to demonstrate that it is a mature, effective organization with an accumulation of knowledge and skills that greatly benefit our region...

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel reopened on time to the public and to bus travel. Construction was very much in evidence at the airport. The Central Link Initial Segment is now 85% complete and on schedule to open for service in July 2009...

Ridership was up 27% on Sounder and 10% on ST Express, both exceeding expectations...

The Federal Transit Administration conducted one of its regular triennial reviews and 21 of 22 areas examined were found to be in good order. (The single area of deficiency was facilities maintenance which the agency has since strengthened with new staff and a new facilities maintenance plan.)
While the overall report gave Sound Transit high marks, the panel did reference several setbacks and challenges. These included: the failure of Proposition 1, the need for greater access to transit, and rising costs for operations and construction.

The latter are likely outside of the agency's control as rising fuel prices and a continued high level of construction projects around the world are making it more expensive to build and run transit projects.

The first two, however, can be helped by putting a new ballot measure before the voters in 2008. This year is shaping up to be a watershed moment for the progressive movement and the Sound Transit Board should take advantage of that by presenting to voters a new proposal to extend our Link light rail system.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Homeowner's Bill of Rights Update: SB 6385 leaves House Judiciary Committee

Good news this afternoon: According to our Legislative Advocacy bill tracker, the House Judiciary Committee has reported Senator Brian Weinstein's SB 6385 out of committee in executive session today with a do pass recommendation after amending the bill in committee.

We haven't analyzed the striking amendment yet (it passed, 7-4), but I'll update this post once we've taken a look at the revised bill passed by the Judiciary Committee. We do know that the greatest champion of the Homeowner's Bill of Rights in the House, Representative Brendan Williams, supported the striking amendment, so the changes are probably constructive.

UPDATE: Here's Senator Brian Weinstein's reaction (to NPI):
The House striker basically changed the bill to give homebuyers the same warranty rights as that condo buyers have enjoyed since 1990. It certainly is a vast improvement over current law. I support it.
The Olympian has more on the changes:
Substitute Senate Bill 6385 is modeled after a statutory warranty for purchases of condominiums that has been on the books since 1990. The warranty was amended in 2004-05 to counter concerns brought by builders and insurers. It gives builders a chance to fix errors before a suit is filed.

Representative Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, proposed the "condo amendment," which was given a hearing this week.

She changed it again Thursday to allow protections for up to 10 years for latent defects and water damage, but four years for other more easily discovered forms of damage.
SB 6385 is one of the Northwest Progressive Institute's top priorities this session. It allows Washingtonians to recover repair costs if their homes are damaged by negligent construction. NPI has strongly urged the House and Senate to send this important consumer protection legislation to Governor Chris Gregoire's desk.

The Judiciary Committee's action, one day before the February 29th bill cutoff, ensures SB 6385 moves forward to the next step in the legislative process.

The bill's fate is now up to House Speaker Frank Chopp. He has the power to either advance the Homeowner's Bill of Rights to the floor or stop it cold as he did with last year's version (unless the House Democratic caucus collectively overrules him, which happens very rarely).

Readers, at this moment your help is critically needed. Please ask your representatives to support the Homeowner's Bill of Rights. Call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and ask to be connected to your lawmakers. Or, find your representative using the legislative directory and send an e-mail.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oregon state senator announces he'll run to succeed Darlene Hooley in Congress

Several weeks ago, Representative Darlene Hooley of Oregon's 5th District announced (to our surprise) that she would "pursue different professional opportunities in 2009" and not seek reelection to Congress this year.

Her sudden retirement creates a second competitive federal race in Oregon this year (Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick, among a host of other Democrats, are vying for the right to take on incumbent Republican Senator Gordon Smith this fall). Fortunately, at least one seasoned Democrat has stepped forward:
State Sen. Kurt Schrader announced Monday that he'll run for retiring U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley's Congressional seat, becoming the first Democrat to jump into what's shaping up as a marquee race for both parties.

Schrader, who serves as the co-chair of the Legislature's powerful budget-writing committee, could have the Democratic field all to himself. His wife, Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader, was considering a run, but said she'll stand down for her husband.

And earlier Monday, another Democrat who had expressed interest in the race, former Monmouth mayor Paul Evans, took himself out of the running.

In contrast, a contested primary appears to be shaping up on the Republican side.

Already in the race is wealthy businessman Mike Erickson, who ran unsuccessfully against Hooley in 2006.

All but in is former Salem Rep. Kevin Mannix, known for his anti-crime ballot initiatives, who has high name recognition from several previous attempts at winning statewide office.

"If Schrader is the only serious candidate on the Democratic side, that's great news for him," said Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts. "A Republican primary battle could cause them to use up resources, and may leave some bad feelings."
Schrader represents several communities in the upper Willamette Valley, including rural Clackamas County, Canby, Gladstone, and Oregon City. He earned his B.A. at Cornell University and a B.S. from the University of Illinois, where he studied to be a veterinarian. He has served in Salem as a legislator since 1997, and has been involved with the City of Canby since the mid 1980s.

If anyone is going to challenge Schrader for the Democratic nomination, they're going to have to file soon - the deadline is March 11th. Oregon holds its 2008 primary election (including the presidential primary) on May 20th.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Burn Bush for Burner, the sequel

Let us take a brief stroll down recent-memory lane, shall we?

You'll all hopefully remember this past summer, when George W. Bush his own self showed up in our fair state, motorcaded to Bellevue and tied up traffic so he could headline a good old fashioned ten-thousand dollar a pop photo-op fund raiser for one of D.C.'s rock bottom least effective congressmen, WA-08's very own Dave Reichert.

And how could one forget Darcy Burner's inspired response: she held a grassroots based counter-fundraiser in conjunction with a webcast town hall meeting on Iraq (video) and--as if that wasn't enough--she put together a study group of people who know more about Iraq than 99% of us ever will and asked them to figure out a reasonable plan for what to do with this bloody mess we've created.

I know you'll recall how, after Reichert's campaign was forced to fess up to some accounting boo-boos and to return a hefty chunk of improper donations, Darcy's "Burn Bush for Burner" fund-raiser ended up out-raising Lazy Dave's. The sweet, sweet irony of that still gets me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Well, the Deciderer in Chief must have decided that I need more warm fuzzies, because First Lady Laura Bush is coming to town Wednesday to do another fund raiser for the Honorable Dave Reichert.

So it's time for Burn Bush for Burner, the sequel. This time Darcy is asking (video) for 250 people to step up and contribute to her campaign. You can do so on Darcy's website, of course, or here on her ActBlue page.

Yes, politicians ask us for money all the time, but please consider the circumstances. Not only is this a chance to support a genuine progressive candidate, but it's a chance to demonstrate in the only terms most politicians understand--money--that the people powered grassroots politics can beat $500 a plate "in-crowd" fundraisers every time.

Oh, and if you're concerned whether Darcy would be a more influential representative than our well coiffed ex-sherrif? Check this out: Darcy's Iraq study group is set to release its findings sometime in the next few weeks; well ahead of election day. Lookee there, Mr. Congressman, she's not even in office yet and she's already doing a better job than you are.

Homeowner's Bill of Rights in the House: Testimony on SB 6385

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a public hearing on SB 6385 - the only Homeowner's Bill of Rights legislation still alive in this biennium - tonight in the John L. O'Brien Building on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. The following is the text of my prepared testimony to the Committee.

Chair Lantz, Vice Chair Goodman, and Members of the Committee:

Good evening, and thank you for considering public input on the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights today. For the record, my name is Andrew Villeneuve. I am the executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a netroots powered strategy center working to advance the common good through ideas and action.

For over a year, our organization has been hearing from Washington families who have, through no fault of their own, lost their life’s savings, their health, their ability to finance their children’s college education, and their prosperity because there was a defect or problem with the workmanship of their home.

We’ve listened to the stories of households that have learned the hard way that insurance and warranties don’t cover builder carelessness.

We’ve emphasized with people who are unable to even attempt to seek the justice they deserve because Washington doesn’t allow its residents to hold contractors accountable for negligent construction in court.

Immediate action is needed to provide relief for already victimized families and prevent future tragedies from inflicting terrible harm.

A home is the most important investment the vast majority of individuals and families will ever make. Insisting on basic safeguards to ensure the building industry is responsible is hardly unreasonable.

Last session, legislation to protect homeowners made it through the Senate but was unfortunately killed in the House of Representatives. This session, the Senate has passed SB 6385, but it can’t reach the governor’s desk unless it also receives the approval of this chamber.

We understand that there may be concerns about the language of the bill that passed the Senate among members of the House. We recognize that there is room for improvement and would like to work with you to ensure that this legislation moves forward. Shelving this matter again or simply requiring a study of the problem would be a disservice to the people of Washington.

We affirm the Legislature should be thoughtful in writing law, but we also believe that deliberation must be balanced with urgency. If SB 6385 needs to be strengthened or clarified, then by all means, let’s amend it so we can take the first step towards a complete Homeowner’s Bill of Rights in 2008.

Thank you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

In Brief - February 25th, 2008

My neighbor just got back from a quick train trip to see her parents down state. While adding a little to her travel time, traveling by train instead of by car gained her both a nap and a stress-free trip, while not costing her much more than the price of a tank of gas. Plus, she got to reminisce about her younger days living in Europe where the train is the fastest way to get around. Here in America, joining the throngs on the highway on Friday night is the norm.

There's a better way.

Incidentally, thanks to the rising cost of fossil fuels worldwide, the oil industry is now profitably extracting oil from deposits in Canadian sand in the province of Alberta. It wasn't economical before, but times are changing: world oil supplies are rapidly being depleted and the price of a barrel is hovering around $100.

Is the marketplace adapting to the prospect of a world without oil? An article in Sunday's Seattle Times speculates that the auto industry is hiding its head in sand by offering American the large, powerful cars it wants instead of the energy-efficient cars that the world needs. Detroit has insisted for years that consumers aren't interested environmentally concious choices, but Japanese automakers such as Honda and Toyota have proved that that is complete nonsense.

Let's look at today's headlines:

In the Pacific Northwest
  • The State of Washington has had to trim its budget surplus figure from $1 billion to $750 million following new revenue forecasts that project less money coming in. The House votes on new the plan today.
  • Capitalizing on his familiar face, Eugene television news anchor Rick Dancer declared his candidacy for Oregon Secretary of State today. He quit his job as anchor of the KEZI 9 evening news on Sunday and is the first Republican to enter a race for statewide office this year.
  • If you have an interest in shipwrecks or just making discoveries, a trip to the Oregon coast this spring break may be just the thing. Wild winter storms have uncovered all sorts of oddities, from shipwrecks to "ghost forests".
Across the Nation
  • Ralph Nader has jumped into the presidential fray. The consumer crusader, frustrated by efforts to stifle his last presidential run in 2004, cites ballot access as the reason for entering the race. But if he thinks he was stifled last time, he ain't seen nothing yet. Democrats aren't interested in providing oxygen to a self-obsessed independent when control of the White House is so tantalizingly near.
  • John McCain's involvement in 2005's Gang of 14 has come back to haunt him. Some conservatives still lament the Senate deal the group brokered which allowed the continuation of filibusters to block judicial nominees. Conservatives see judicial appointments as a crucial presidential privilege.
  • Yet more on the presidential race...the progressive grassroots are spending $20 million to focus on Iraq war costs in their efforts to bring down John McCain's presidential campaign. The joint effort will highlight the connection between war spending and the troubled U.S. economy and includes groups such as, and John Edwards.
  • Don't put that For Sale sign out just yet. Prices for existing homes fell for the sixth straight month in January, while inventories increased. Unfortunately this doesn't help those at the very bottom of the income scale in the Seattle region. Habitat for Humanity could only help 15% of its huge number of applicants move into its volunteer-built homes last year.
Around the World
  • The United Nations World Food Program is cutting back on its aid of food due to huge increase in world food prices. Corn and wheat have grown particularly expensive, partially due to increased demand. Food surpluses from rich nations are down, contributing further to the problem.
  • The New York Philharmonic has arrived in North Korea in preparation for their concert on Tuesday in Pyongyang, which is being billed as "the most prominent cultural exchange between the U.S. and North Korea in the isolated country's history". Only good can come from an evening spent sharing a universal love of music.
  • America lost a valuable piece of equipment on Saturday when the B-2 stealth bomber Spirit of Kansas crashed in Guam after failing to take off. The crew of the aircraft made it out alive, but the $1.2 billion aircraft is a total loss. The crash - the most expensive in aviation history - leaves only twenty B-2 bombers operational. The U.S. Air Force has temporarily grounded the entire fleet and is investigating what happened.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jon Stewart delivers a classy and funny performance as host of 80th Oscars

Jon Stewart has really been shining tonight as the host of the 80th Annual Academy Awards. Though he didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the job, he's managed to keep us laughing and smiling throughout the ceremony, poking fun at the writers' strike, the grim tone of many of this year's nominated films, and current events, including the 2008 presidential race.

In a classy move, he also brought Marketa Irglova back out on stage following a commercial break. The co-winner for Best Original Song, she had the misfortune to be get cut off by the music just as she tried to start a quick acceptance speech.

UPDATE (Kathleen): Using servicemen and women to introduce the best Documentary Short movie was a nice touch and fitting in this year with multiple war-themed movie nominees. Armed conflict overseas continues a long tradition of providing great material for the cinema, but I think we would happily do without this theme at next year's awards ceremony, if that meant the troops were home from Iraq and watching the show at home with their families.

UPDATE (Jonathan): Haven't seen too much criticism of Jon Stewart yet, although Nikki Finke over at Deadline Hollywood Daily says:
Jon Stewart's monologue was better than the last time he hosted the show. Which isn't saying much. At least it was mercifully shorter. Problem is, halfway through this year's stand-up, he must have thought he was doing The Daily Show instead of doing the Academy Awards. It was obvious that the Hollywood audience was nervous, very nervous, when he launched into one political joke after another. The VIPs didn't laugh so much as politely titter. "Uh-oh," many of them clearly were thinking as Stewart ventured into The Danger Zone.
Oh, the horror! Jon ventured into politics! Oh dear! He's gone and done it now! Seriously, Nikki, what gives?

Jon's supposed to be entertaining a worldwide television audience, not just an elite confab of celebrities inside the Kodak Theater. Political satire and topical humor is what he's best at... and we want to hear it. We don't tune in to The Daily Show to laugh at carefully orchestrated, safely inoffensive humor.

UPDATE (Andrew): A few more of Stewart's gags:
"You know another way they could show respect for the writers? Maybe one day invite some of them to the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Don't worry. They won't mingle."

"Cate Blanchett is the woman who can't be stopped. She played Elizabeth. She played Bob Dylan. In No Country for Old Men she played the pitbull chasing Josh Brolin. Cate Blanchett, she is amazing. Right now, I Jon Stewart, am being played by Cate Blanchett."

"Whoever owns the Boeing 707 parked on La Brea Avenue, your landing lights are on [John Travolta runs on stage and rushes for the door]. "Don't worry, it's a hybrid".

"In case you're wondering what we do during the ad breaks. Mostly, we sit around and make catty remarks about what you're wearing at home."
The Times Online has a thorough wrap up of Stewart's gig. CinemaBlend also has great in depth Oscar coverage.

Liveblogging the 80th Academy Awards

The 80th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is just beginning at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California. Our favorite comedian, Jon Stewart, is once again hosting the show (he made his debut in 2006). We'll be taking a break from political analysis tonight to follow the show live and keep a running tally of the winners.

In an Oscar preview over at Daily Kos, Scout Finch reminds us that the entertainment industry is about more than just fashion and glamor:
Many of these stars aren't only terrific actors, they are also passionate Democratic and humanitarian activists. Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, and many others were trailblazers, using their high profile celebrity status to bring attention to countless issues such as civil rights, labor rights, the environment, and more. Their activism has inspired a new generation of Hollywood stars to get involved and make a difference. Today, we highlight and honor their activism and celebrate a new generation of blossoming activists.
Kicking off the ceremony now is Jon Stewart, who is presenting the opening monologue. How many seconds till the presidential race is mentioned?

UPDATE: That didn't take long. We were treated to a Hillary Clinton joke and a shout out to Barack Obama as well. A few of Stewart's quips:

"[Hollywood] was torn apart by a bitter writers' strike, but the fight is over...Tonight, welcome to the makeup sex."

"Does this town need a hug? What happened? `No Country For Old Men,' `Sweeney Todd,' `There Will Be Blood?' All I can say is, thank God for teen pregnancy...I think the country agrees."

"Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren't good."

"Oscar is eighty this year, which makes him automatically the frontrunner for the Republican nomination."

"Please enjoy an Oscar salute to...binoculars and periscopes!"

"Normally when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty."

On the many financially unsuccessful Iraq-themed movies: "If we stay the course, we can turn these movies around."
I imagine the same critics who panned Jon's 2006 performance will once again be disappointed by this year's ceremony.

Perhaps if they stopped trying to take measurements and simply enjoyed the show, they could give us a fairer assessment of the Oscars.

UPDATE (Kathleen): If you are like me, you wish you could just record this spectacle and fast forward to the Jon Stewart moments. Good timing by the writers; if the strike wasn't settled, Jon would have watched the Oscars on the couch with a bag of chips like the rest of us.

My pick for best original song was just performed perfectly by the stars of "Once". If you are not familiar with the soundtrack from "Once", I recommend checking it out. My family probably regrets the decision to buy it for me since it played non-stop in our home from Day One until Christmas when "Back to Black" entered the house and took its place.

Juno, the NPI staff favorite, has two more chances at an Oscar this evening. Having an upset winner tonight would be very entertaining.

UPDATE (Andrew): The montages tonight have been a lot of fun. We've had a few humorously themed ones (binoculars and periscopes, bee stings, etc.) but also many stirring introspectives, including a look back at all the previous winners for Best Picture, from Wings to the The Departed.

And Jon Stewart has just been terrific throughout - his one liners have actually gotten funnier since the opening monologue. Maybe the "professional" reviewers aren't laughing, but I am.

Here's a running list of the winners:
  • Achievement in Costume Design: Alexandra Byrne for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Best Animated Feature Film: Ratatouille (directed by Brad Bird of Pixar)
  • Achievement in Makeup: Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald for La Vie en Rose
  • Achievement in Visual Effects: Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood, The Golden Compass
  • Achievement in Art Direction: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
  • Best Animated Short Film: Peter and the Wolf
  • Best Live Action Short Film: Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: No Country for Old Men (by Joel & Ethan Coen)
  • Achievement in Sound Editing: Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing: Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Best Actress (Leading Role): Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
  • Achievement in Film Editing: Christopher Rouse, The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Production designer Robert F. Boyle
  • Best Foriegn Language Film: The Counterfeiters (from Austria)
  • Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Best Original Song): Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for Falling Slowly from Once
  • Achievement In Cinematography: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
  • Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Best Original Score): Dario Marianelli, Atonement
  • Best Documentary Short: Freeheld
  • Best Documentary Feature: Taxi to the Dark Side
  • Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno
  • Best Actor (Leading Role): Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
  • Achievement In Directing: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
  • Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Special Awards were handed out to these recipients:

Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificate)
  • To Christien Tinsley for the creation of the transfer techniques for creating and applying 2D and 3D makeup known as "Tinsley Transfers." These techniques allow quick and precisely repeatable application of 2D makeup such as tattoos, bruises and birthmarks, as well as 3D prosthetic appliances ranging in size from small wounds to entire torsos. They utilize self-adhesive material that features an unprecedented combination of tissue-thin edges, resilience, flexibility and water resistance, while requiring no dangerous solvents.
  • To Jörg Pöhler and Rüdiger Kleinke of OTTEC Technology GmbH for the design and development of the battery-operated series of fog machines known as "Tiny Foggers." The operating characteristics of this compact, well-engineered and remote-controllable package make possible a range of safe special effects that would be totally impractical with larger, more conventional fog units.
  • To Sebastian Cramer, for the invention and general design and Andreas Dasser, head of development at P&S Technik GmbH, for the mechanical design of the Skater Dolly and its family of products. This small, portable, camera-only dolly allows low lens positions, movement in restricted places and tight offset circular maneuvers with rapid set-up.
  • To Victor Gonzalez, Ignacio Vargas and Angel Tena for the creation of the RealFlow software application. RealFlow was the first widely adopted, commercially available, easy-to-use system for the simulation of realistic liquids in motion picture visual effects.
  • To Jonathan Cohen, Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, Dr. Jeroen Molemaker and Michael Kowalski for the development of the system of fluid dynamics tools at Rhythm & Hues. This system allows artists to create realistic animation of liquids and gases, using novel simulation techniques for accuracy and speed, as well as a unique scripting language for working with volumetric data.
  • To Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system. This system is used to create simulations of gaseous phenomena integrated into the widely available Maya tool suite, using an unconditionally stable semi-Lagrangian solver.
  • To Stephan Trojansky, Thomas Ganshorn and Oliver Pilarski for the development of the Flowline fluid effects system. Flowline is a flexible system that incorporates highly parallel computation, allowing rapid iteration and resulting in detailed, realistic fluid effects.
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaque)
  • To Dr. Doug Roble, Nafees Bin Zafar and Ryo Sakaguchi for the development of the fluid simulation system at Digital Domain. This influential and flexible production-proven system incorporates innovative algorithms and refined adaptations of published methods to achieve large-scale water effects.
  • To Nick Rasmussen, Ron Fedkiw and Frank Losasso Petterson for the development of the Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) fluid simulation system. This production-proven simulation system achieves large-scale water effects within ILM's Zeno framework. It includes integrating particle level sets, parallel computation, and tools that enable the artistic direction of the results.
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar® Statuette): To the Eastman Kodak Company for the development of photographic emulsion technologies incorporated into the Kodak Vision2 family of color negative films. These technologies are breakthroughs in film speed, grain and sharpness that have made a significant impact on the motion picture industry. The Vision 2 family allows wider use of high-speed color negative film, lower light levels on set and faster set-ups. Most importantly, Vision2 improves the overall picture quality in theatrical presentation.

Award of Commendation (Special Plaque): To Jonathan Erland in recognition of his leadership and efforts toward identifying and solving the problem of High-Speed Emulsion Stress Syndrome in motion picture film stock. By coordinating and conducting tests for and with the industry and by sharing results openly, Mr. Erland clearly demonstrated the value and effectiveness of independent research and industry-wide cooperation.

John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation (Medallion): To David S. Inglish, for his outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Gordon E. Sawyer Award (Oscar Statuette): To David A. Grafton, whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry

Also watching the Academy Awards tonight for NPI are Jonathan and Kathleen. They'll join me in posting updates throughout the evening.

Scott Kleeb is running for U.S. Senate

Breaking news: The Draft Scott Kleeb effort has finally succeeded!
I just got off the phone with Scott Kleeb, who is headed East on I-80 towards the fight of his political life: "I'm going to Lincoln tomorrow to file for the United States Senate," he told me. "It's just the first step in what's going to be a long and hard fought campaign, but I will be taking that first step tomorrow."

This is the first time Scott has confirmed the rumors of the imminent launch of his campaign. Kleeb enters a Democratic primary contested by industrialist and former Republican Tony Raimondo, a battle to determine which one of them will compete in a decidedly uphill campaign against former Gov. Mike Johanns in November.

Speculation about Scott's potential Senate bid has been running through the blogosphere ever since his near-loss to Adrian Smith in Nebraska's extremely Republican NE-03 last cycle and the subsequent formation, one year later, of, a grassroots effort that secured thousands of hours in volunteer pledges and captured the attention of local media.

In a wide-ranging interview with NNN, Scott explained his decision to run and offered his thoughts on the battles still to come:

"What was successful about our campaign last time was that it wasn't just about me, it was about getting people engaged again, getting people to take charge of their democracy." When he saw the success of DraftKleeb and the continued netroots excitement around a potential campaign "it showed me that what we built last time was for real... if I was going to run, I needed to know that there would be enough shoulders for me to stand on."
Scott is a heroic netroots candidate running for office in a very red state. You can learn about his candidacy and send a donation his way at his new website.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Brief - February 23rd, 2008

Although Hillary Clinton is staying in the race through March 4th (when Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas, and Ohio hold primaries - and by the way, you could join one of those phone-bank parties), it seems likely that Barack Obama is going to emerge from this long nominating season as the Democratic standard bearer. Given that Obama's theme is "change we can believe in", I wonder why no one in the Obama campaign seems to have thought of this slogan:

I'm just sayin'...

If anyone in the Obama campaign is reading this, please feel free to steal the idea and let someone with better graphic design skills than mine do something pretty with it. And now, on to the news!

In the Pacific Northwest

  • A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rattled parts of Idaho and Nevada not long after midnight on Thursday. No serious injuries have been reported, but some historic buildings in the town of Wells, Nevada (eleven miles from the quake's epicenter) have suffered heavy damage.
  • Starbucks, the caffeine darling of the Pacific Northwest, is cutting upwards of six hundred Seattle-area jobs. But consumers don't need to worry about a depletion of talent behind the counter -the company is eliminating corporate jobs, not laying off baristas.
  • A bright meteor seen streaking across Washington skies Tuesday failed to leave giant smoking crater as witnesses claimed it would. Meanwhile, Wednesday night's suddenly clear night skies gave way to a lovely total lunar eclipse. You can see, quite clearly in some of these pictures, the circular profile of the Earth's shadow on the moon; a key piece of evidence that led ancient Greek astronomers to deduce the Earth's spherical shape.
  • Washington Democratic Chair Dwight Pelz has issued a call to the party grassroots to provide input to the state's superdelegates.
Across the Nation
  • Heavy snow has hit the Northeast, dumping up to a foot of snow in places and forcing the cancellation of over a thousand flights.
  • The Los Angeles Times has published a story on the disturbing consequences of the Cold War among Navajo Indians. Some of the world's richest uranium deposits are located on Navajo land, and the mining companies who operated there up until late 1960s left behind a horribly contaminated environment, which is causing higher rates of cancer.
  • Former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham has died at the age of eighty six. The Mecham saga is a clear example of what is broken with our electoral process. I lived in Phoenix when Mecham was elected with one of the smallest victories anywhere (he won scarcely more than one third of the vote). Mecham survived a recall attempt but was soon out of office - he was impeached and convicted in the wake of a scandal that involved his auto dealership business. Had Arizona used instant runoff voting , either the Democrat or the independent would have been elected, saving Arizona a whole lot of trouble and national embarassment. It is interesting to speculate, in light of Mitt Romney's recent fame and Mecham's membership in the Mormon Church, whether church elders had their eye on a presidential campaign as far back as twenty years ago.
  • The National Science Foundation wants your input on the fourteen most important engineering challenges of the 21st century. What should be the top priority? Clean fusion power, cheap solar, large-scale carbon sequestration, or something else?
  • And, ScienceDebate 2008 invites the candidates to a debate on science and technology policy. All that's left now is for the candidates to show up. Given that science and technology is about the only thing that's going to save our collective bacon in the coming century, we hope they accept.
  • Get ready for the new five-dollar bill (Flash). All this new currency must drive vending machine manufacturers absolutely crazy...

Around the World

  • Abu Dhabi, which has the world's highest per-capita carbon footprint, is sinking $22 billion into the Masdar City project. When complete, Masdar City will be the world's first self-sufficient, zero-carbon-emitting city. BBC Radio's The World brings us this story, with additional background information from Wikipedia and official Masdar City website.
  • Serbs, unhappy with the U.S. Government's decision to recognize Kosovo as a newly independent nation, attacked and set fire to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade this week. According to the State Department, an unidentified body was discovered in an unused portion of a burned embassy building, but all embassy personnel are accounted for.
  • A twin-turboprop plane carrying forty six passengers is missing somewhere over northern Venezuela. The plane's destination was Caracas.
  • Tensions between the Turkish government and Iraqi Kurds remain high. Turkey has just embarked on a fifteen day military incursion into Iraq.

The Lighter Side

  • Take a look at this cool optical illusion: Contrast Asynchrony (Flash).
  • Check out these really amazing origami pieces. Well, I guess you would call them origami, although it's not at all the traditional kind.
  • Do you know the names of the ten longest bridges in the world?
  • Everything is cultural. Just when you'd gotten used to Farenheit vs. Celsius, month-day-year vs. day-month-year, and driving on the left vs. the right, now we learn that even the way people count their cash is cultural.

This Day in History

  • 1455: The Gutenberg Bible was published.
  • 1903: The United States signed a lease with Cuba granting America the rights to land on Guantanmo Bay in perpetuity.
  • 1982: The EPA announced it would buy the town of Times Beach, Missouri, which was hopelessly contaminated with dioxin. The Times Beach dioxin scare was one of two horrible environmental disasters (the other was Love Canal) that led to the establishment of the Superfund cleanup program.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Darcy Burner thanks House leadership for standing firm on FISA!

Our good friend Joan McCarter, one of Daily Kos' fine contributing editors, just posted this short video of Darcy Burner delivering a message of support and thanks to House Democrats who stood firm on FISA and refused to extend the FISA bill with immunity for telecom companies who went along with the Bush administration's immoral and illegal spying program.

Well said, Darcy. We couldn't have put it better ourselves!

Homeowner's Bill of Rights Update: SB 6385 scheduled for hearing in House

Our Legislative Advocacy bill tracker reports that Senator Weinstein's bill to allow allows Washingtonians to recover repair costs in court if their homes are damaged by negligent construction has just been scheduled for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

SB 6385 is one of the Northwest Progressive Institute's top priorities this session. Our Outreach & Advocacy Director, Rick Hegdahl, testified in support last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee (the Senate has passed SB 6385).

The House is where the Homeowner's Bill of Rights died last year, so it is imperative that we present a strong case for the legislation before the committee.

The hearing details (which are subject to change) are as follows:

Public Hearing on SB 6385
House Judiciary Committee
John L O'Brien Building, House Hearing Room A
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Members of the committee are as follows:
Patricia Lantz - Chair (D)
Roger Goodman - Vice Chair (D)
Jay Rodne - Ranking Minority Member (R)
Judy Warnick - Asst Ranking Minority Member (R)
John Ahern (R)
Dennis Flannigan (D)
Steve Kirby (D)
Jim Moeller (D)
Jamie Pedersen (D)
Charles Ross (R)
Brendan Williams (D)
If you can make the hearing, be there, even if you don't wish to testify. A packed room will show strong interest in the Homeowner's Bill of Rights.

Another chance to protect Maury Island

Remember last year's bill to protect Maury Island and Puget Sound from harmful development that failed to pass the state House?

There's a new version this year that just passed the Senate - and it needs your help to make it to the governor's desk:
Summary of Substitute Bill: The DNR [Department of Natural Resources] is prohibited from leasing any state-owned aquatic lands located within the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve until a Washington appellate court enters a judgment as to who owns the proper title to the sand, gravel, and rock resources located on identified parcels of Maury Island. The prohibition on leasing applies only to leases for industrial uses or for the transportation of materials from a surface mine or other mining operation.

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee must contract with an appropriate entity to review and analyze the conveyance documents from the original grant to the state and subsequent conveyance documents, for compliance with applicable statutory requirements in effect a the time of each sale for the use and the reservation of mineral rights and the title to sand and gravel.
Naturally, the suits at Glacier Northwest, a division of the Taiheiyo Cement conglomerate, don't like this bill at all. That's because they want to expand their operations and establish a bigger gravel mine on Maury Island - gouging out nearly ten percent of the land in the process! The mine itself would have a detrimental impact, but the ramifications could be even worse than that, considering that Taiheiyo and its subsidiaries have a dismal environmental record.

The state Senate's report on this year's bill (SB 6777) lists only Glacier lobbyists as persons testifying against protecting Maury Island:
CON: Steve Gano, Glacier Northwest; Peter Stoltz, Glacier Northwest; Steve Roos, Glacier Northwest.
Imagine that. It seems they're really the only ones who are against halting harmful and irresponsible industrial development.

In an editorial last year, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer concisely explained the stakes and the choice before the Washington State Legislature:
What would you miss more: Maury Island's Madrone trees, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and a reasonable supply of fresh water or an even larger gravel mine on the south end of the island?

The odds of anyone looking back 100 years from now and saying, "It's a crying shame we never expanded that sand and gravel mine," are slim. We can't say the same thing for further harming more of our region's natural beauty and the vital habitat it affords our plants and wildlife.
The Senate has acted. Now it is time for the House to take up this bill and vote on it. We have a supermajority, this is a critical piece of legislation, and Chris Gregoire is ready to sign it. It needs to go to the floor. Excuses from House Democratic leadership won't cut it.

Please contact your representatives today and urge their support for SB 6777. You can call the legislative hotline at 1.800.562.6000. Or, find your lawmakers using the legislative directory and send them an e-mail.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let Sound Transit know we want to vote on light rail this year!

Sound Transit is asking Puget Sound residents to fill out a survey on a possible transit only ballot measure that would be placed before voters this autumn. The survey is anonymous and only takes about 5 minutes to fill out.

This is a great opportunity to tell Sound Transit that we want to vote on expanding rapid transit this year, not at some time in the distant future. 2007's Proposition 1, which we supported, failed not because it contained too much transit, but because the combination with roads made it uncomfortably big and sophisticated.

2008 is shaping up to be a monumental year for Democrats and the progressive movement. Barack Obama's slogan "change we can believe in" is perhaps going to be the defining theme of this election cycle. Locally, deciding to break with the past and make a serious commitment to developing a regional rapid transit system is a refreshing change that could be very appealing to voters sick of gridlock.

If given the chance, residents and commuters throughout Puget Sound could put us back on track to getting out of traffic with a strong investment in light rail. We urge you to join us in requesting that Sound Transit give us that opportunity in 2008.

Thanks for making us popular

It seems that as of this morning (a first for our network) we managed to run over our monthly bandwidth limit, thanks to our many loyal readers and all the newcomers who have visited for the first time this month.

Consequently, since earlier this morning, anyone trying to access our website was greeted with the message:
Sorry, the site requested is currently unavailable
Due to high volume of traffic, this site is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.
We apologize for the unexpected downtime. Unfortunately our host did not give us any warning that we were about to exceed our monthly bandwidth - or we would have immediately purchased an emergency supply (which we just did) to keep NPI online. The problem has been resolved now, but we will be keeping a close eye on the meter to prevent this from happening again.

Thanks for your patience...and your support!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Howard Dean visits to support Darcy Burner

Howard Dean paid a visit in support of Darcy Burner's campaign for Washington's 8th district Congressional seat today, in a small gathering billed as "an intimate discussion of politics."

Compared to previous campaign events I've attended, "intimate" was certainly an apt description. Governor Dean was generous enough to give about an hour and a half of his time in a Q&A-focused event for about fifty supporters, moderated by Washington's state party chairman Dwight Pelz.

By way of introducing Democratic National Committee chairman and former Governor Howard Dean, Darcy spoke briefly at the beginning of the event. She laid a generous share of credit for her own entry into politics at Dean's feet, recounting how watching Dean advocate for grassroots, people-powered politics during his presidential bid, coupled with her perspective as a mother of a newborn son, propelled her into running for congress to give her son a world he could succeed in.

In one of her best moments, she reminded us of Howard Dean's message that, in her words, "people powered politics can change things. People powered politics matters." She'll get no arguments from me.

She also did great credit to Governor Dean by taking the time to call out Dean's tireless work to rebuild the infrastructure of the Democratic Party, through grassroots organizing, his 50 state strategy, and even prosaic party organizing tools such as VoteBuilder. All of which, she said, have been a huge benefit to her own campaign.

"Our government has been intentionally broken" by those currently in power, she said. It is up to us to fix it.

Governor Dean, when it was his turn to speak and answer questions, had his own share of bon mots:

On Senate Republicans -- "It's just crazy what these people will vote for."

On the lessons learned from the many unexpected congressional victories in 2006 -- "Two years ago the DNC wouldn't look at candidates like Darcy because they weren't 'insider' enough."

On the Bush administration's effect on 16 year olds who have never known any other president -- "What you've seen is not normal. What has been going on in the last eight years is not American."

On the Bush administration's disrespect for the constitution -- "At least Nixon knew he was doing the wrong thing. These guys are proud of it!"

While I don't want to recount every answer he had for every audience question--there were no unexpected bombshells--there is one answer that was intriguing enough to recount. When the question of impeachment came up, his answer was very much what we've heard from Congresswoman Pelosi, Senator Reid, and everyone else: it would take over the legislative agenda, there isn't enough time, etc. About what one would expect.

The intriguing part was when he followed the party-line answer with the suggestion that after Bush is out of office, America may need something like a Truth and Reconcilation Commission to investigate and address the violence done by the Bush administration to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the fabric of our civil society.

It was the first time I've heard anyone bring up such an idea, and to be honest I'm not sure what I think about it. Certainly the idea has an immediate appeal; if we can't have impeachment, at least we could have some formalized and authoritative recognition that Bush and his gang have been way, way out of line. At the same time it deeply saddens me that in less than two presidential terms America has been driven to a place where it needs such a thing.

What do you all think? I'd love to see some discussion of the idea in the comments.

I see your Imus, and I raise you an O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly.

If the name alone doesn't put you off your Pop-Tarts, perhaps his unconscious racism will.

Media Matters has recorded yet another instance of Bill being magnanimously generous to the African American community while uttering something so obliviously racist (not a typo, he's completely clueless), that I almost couldn't believe it until I had played it back a few times.

Remember how shocked he was when he had a nice dinner in a Black restaurant in New York, and he didn't get mugged, stabbed, or forced to perform involuntary Hip-Hop? Well, this was along those lines, but the overtones are actually sinister. I kept thinking, as I listened, “Is he stupid, ignorant, or vicious?”

Rhetorical choices, mostly. I can't read his mind, or what's left of it.

The clip is a conversation with a caller who claims to have inside information on how Michelle Obama really feels about this country—this comes on the heels of her pounced-upon comment that she for the first time in her adult life, felt “really proud” of her country.

As in, people really seem to grasp the significance of this election cycle, and I'm pleased by that. Anyway, the caller has a bit of an edge, an accusatory tone, and Bill “Independent Fair And Balanced Don't Block the Shot!” O'Reilly steps in and says—defender of fairness that he is—that they shouldn't start a “lynching party” until they really know how she (Obama) feels.

Bill was so busy positioning his ego in the Fair and Balanced glow of Faux News that his mental governor didn't block the racist effluent spewing from his piehole.

In one brilliant sentence he evoked the KKK, and the Thought Police from Orwell's 1984.

Once we have a good idea of what her opinion is, only then will we send some goons around to shut her up. Don't worry; I'll make that happen.


Yes, I'm aware that Fidel Castro stepped down yesterday, that the Navy just shot a satellite out of the sky, and that Hillary Clinton's campaign appears to be unraveling. We should be talking about news.

But if we leave racism unchecked and unacknowledged—even if it's from the deep recesses of an egomaniac's tortured psyche—we run the risk of having it burn slowly like an ember from a fireplace that ends up burning down the house.

Redmond’s new budget process

Though newly inaugurated Redmond Mayor John Marchione has only been in office for a few weeks, he is already changing the way City Hall does business.

One of his first acts was to introduce a new budgeting process Budgeting by Priorities is billed by the Public Strategies Group as a bottom-up method for determining the city’s spending allocations by conducting citizen focus groups to learn what people actually want from their city. PSG, which was hired by the city to manage the process, is due to present a draft of the focus group results to the City Council on February 28th.

For more information on the process, you can visit the city's website. Other cities that have used this process in the past include Spokane, Dallas, and Denver.

According to Jennifer Billig, a focus group facilitator with PSG, Marchione has wanted to see Redmond use this process for some time, but his predecessor, Rosemarie Ives, never tried it.

Declarations of respect for public input in city planning are hardly new, and must be taken with a grain of salt. Are they for real, or are they just empty P.R.? From what I can tell so far, Redmond’s process seems to be legit.

I first learned about the Budgeting by Priorities process when I was randomly called as part of the focus group selection process.

I attended an evening session held on February 11th, along with nine other Redmond citizens in a group that was balanced for age, gender, ethnicity, and geographic location. We were told that there were three other similar focus group sessions being conducted that night. We were asked for our goals for life in Redmond and how we would like to see progress on those goals graded, in order to determine the spending priorities for Redmond’s next budget.

The ten participants were each asked to provide five goals for Redmond, high level items such as “I want to feel safer” or “I wish there was more for my kids to do in the summertime,” rather than specific services the city could offer. We discussed ways the city could measure progress against those goals. The objectives our group came up with broke down into 7 categories:
  • Safety – People want to feel safer from crime, and want to feel safer on the streets and sidewalks with respect to accidents.
  • Transit & Traffic – People want fewer cars on the road. They want shorter trip times from their homes to common destinations such as churches and grocery stores. They want shorter wait times for pubic transit, and transit stops that are closer to their homes.
  • Road Maintenance – For the roads we do have, people want them to be well maintained. They want better snow plow and sand truck service on hilly residential streets.
  • Education – People want primary education that is close to home and of the highest quality. People want better data to help them know which schools will fit their kids best. People want fewer snow days and snow delay days due to road conditions. And of course, smaller class sizes.
  • Parks & Recreation – People want more ability to get around on foot and by bicycle with an expanded trail system. They want neighborhood parks to be clean and well maintained, and they want to know that money is being spent on parks and trails that people actually use.
  • Environment & Wildlife – people want to see undeveloped spaces preserved. They want to see urban watersheds protected by reducing the percentage of lot space that can be occupied by the footprint of a house. They want to see policies that promote access to locally produced food and an expanded farmer’s market. They want the city to be a pro-active leader on global warming by reducing the city’s CO2 emissions, being pro-active about securing Redmond’s water supply against the drier conditions that are expected to occur due to global warming.
  • Interpersonal Connectedness – People want more community events like Derby Days, more opportunities to interact with neighbors and the general Redmond population. They want a greater sense of connectedness with their neighbors and neighborhoods.
Three of those categories generated a lot of excitement among the participants in our group. First, transit and traffic was a huge issue with people.

There was a palpable sense that Redmond’s traffic issues have not just gotten bad, but have become intolerably bad in the worst cases like the SR-520 terminus at rush hour. They want action, and that they understand that more and wider roads won’t help; that we can’t “build our way out” of the mess.

People wanted mass transit both for trips from home to downtown Redmond, but also between Redmond and downtown Seattle. The support for improved mass transit was essentially unanimous.

Second, environmental and climate change issues were high on many people’s lists of important goals. The citizens of Redmond are absolutely clear on the reality and danger of climate change and they expect their city to do its utmost to help avert a serious climate crisis.

People like Redmond’s climate and environment, and they want to see the city government act to protect it. They’d like to see the city adopt regulations to promote local food availability because food that is produced locally has a lower carbon footprint than food shipped from around the world.

They want the city to convert its fleet vehicles to carbon-neutral fuels, and they want other alternative energy employed at city facilities where appropriate. Finally, they want regular status reports. They want the city to publish data on its annual CO2 emissions, with year-over-year comparisons, in much the same way that the city already publishes annual water-quality data.

Third, I was surprised by the prevalence of interpersonal connectedness issues among the participants’ goals.

The people in our focus group—myself included—recognized the car-centric nature of our city, and how that works to isolate us from our neighbors and communities. One participant in the group was a European immigrant, and contrasted what we have with the local neighborhood feel that you find in cities like Paris or Milan, where housing is intermixed with the types of businesses people need to interact with on a daily basis—grocers, barbers, restaurants, etc.

In those cities you can walk to most of your daily errands.

Redmond’s segregated model of putting housing on the outskirts and businesses in the central downtown means that almost no one in Redmond lives within walking distance of anything except, well, more houses. (The authors of Suburban Nation take great care to point out that modern suburbs are stupidly zoned into separate areas, which forces residents to drive every time they need to run errands).

On the whole, I was delighted to receive one of the random calls to participate in these focus groups.

They were a great chance to offer input into the city’s budget process, and a great opportunity to get a sense for how other citizens see our city and its future. NPI didn’t support Mayor Marchione’s candidacy last fall, but if he does truly listen and respond to the public's concerns we'll be the first ones to say we misjudged him.

I’ll be sure to follow this budget process and will blog it as it progresses.

Ten for ten: Hawaii is Obama territory

Last night's battle in Hawaii was was easily a blowout:
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama won a landslide victory in the state of his birth last night as an unprecedented turnout at the Hawaii Democratic caucus overwhelmed precinct volunteers and party officials.

With 100 percent of precincts counted, Obama had 28,347 votes, or 75.7 percent, to 8,835, or 23.6 percent, for U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Excitement about Obama, who graduated from Punahou School and represents Illinois, raised interest in last night's caucuses to record levels. Party officials had expected a larger-than-normal turnout and printed 17,000 ballots. It proved well short of the more than 37,000 votes cast and many precincts resorted to handing out scraps of paper to voters to write in their choice.

In comparison, the last caucus in 2004 had a total of nearly 4,000, which had been considered a strong turnout.
Ian Lind also did some liveblogging of the Hawaii caucuses.

Barack Obama hasn't lost a single contest since Super Tuesday ended. He's got the lead in delegates and the momentum; traditional media outlets are describing Hillary Clinton's campaign as "fading".

It's becoming very difficult for Howard Wolfson and Mark Penn to spin what's happening. The suggestion that the states Obama has already won somehow "don't matter" is laughable, and what's more, Obama is now winning over constituencies that had been going for Clinton.

If he locks up Ohio, Vermont, Texas, and Rhode Island in a couple of weeks, Clinton may see little choice but to throw in the towel.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Clinton, Obama trading lead in Washington State's presidential primary

It's still early and the numbers are coming in fast, but so far our presidential primary hasn't been a big rout for Barack Obama; in fact, Hillary Clinton has actually held the lead at least a couple of times since the first results were posted, although Barack Obama is currently ahead.

I didn't post earlier because I wanted to see things were going (I'd prefer not to be rewriting a headline every five minutes).

The raw data as of 8:40 PM:

Barack Obama: 179,559 votes (49.64%)
Hillary Clinton: 170,909 votes (47.25%)

Naturally, the first ballots to be counted were the first to be mailed in, and it looks like many of them came from voters who were already decided on Hillary Clinton when they received their ballots earlier this month.

It's close for now, but expect Barack Obama to widen his lead as the night goes on. He's already moved up several percentage points since I first began writing this post at around the bottom of of the hour.

The latest reports from King County are breaking strongly in Obama's favor.

Meanwhile, for the Republicans, John McCain is having no trouble putting Mike Huckabee away. McCain has more than twice as many votes (48% to 21%). Oddly enough, Mitt Romney is running almost equal with Huckabee at 20%.

Keep in mind, though, that Romney's strong showing is likely due to those early voters who didn't wait to make up their minds.

Obama wins Wisconsin comfortably

Another big disappointment for Hillary Clinton tonight:
Barack Obama won the Wisconsin primary Tuesday night, his ninth straight triumph over a fading Hillary Rodham Clinton in their epic struggle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama cut deeply into Clinton's political bedrock, splitting the support of white women almost evenly with the former first lady and running well among working class voters in a blue collar battleground, according to polling place interviews.

The economy and trade were key issues in the race, and seven in 10 voters said international trade has resulted in lost jobs in Wisconsin. Fewer than one in five said trade has created more jobs than it has lost.

McCain won the Republican primary, with ease, dispatching former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and edging closer to the 1,191 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination at the party convention in St. Paul, Minn. next summer.
With over a third of the votes tallied, Obama has 56% to Clinton's 43%. Hawaiians are also caucusing today, and then there's the results from our own presidential primary (with no Democratic delegates at stake) to watch.

The traditional media's attention seems to have shifted to the contests in Ohio and Texas already, which are coming up on March 4th. It's a good thing we held our caucuses just after Super Tuesday on February 9th; we can proudly say we were in the vanguard of the February Obama breakthrough.

The road less traveled

Hey, you know what we didn't cover this week? Here's a quick rundown:
  • The stupid plagiarism argument.
  • The stupid debate argument.
  • The idiotic bluster of traditional media pundits.
  • Whatever Chris Matthews said.
Instead, we'll keep you up to date on what's happening with the primaries, delegates, whatever self-serving, yet pointless initiative Tim Eyman excretes, and the results of our own delegate-free primary.

Sorry for the snark, but everybody with a pair of nostrils is hyperanalyzing every scrap of gristle that comes out of either campaign (Republican or Democrat), and we all should take a deep breath and let voters, well, VOTE.

Then some actual data may be available. Imagine that.

Don't forget to vote today

I'm going to let Sam Reed say this, because he's got all the enthusiasm for today's presidential primary, which we Democrats aren't using to allocate any delegates:
"There’s no better way for a candidate to demonstrate electability in Washington than to win next Tuesday’s primary," said Secretary of State Sam Reed. "At a critical time in their campaigns, these White House hopefuls are competing for the hearts and minds of our voters."


Washington voters need to sign their mail ballot return envelope whether or not they decide to vote in the February 19th Presidential Primary.

Due to 36 of the state’s 39 counties conducting their February special election in conjunction with the Presidential Primary, people voting only on their local issues do not need to mark a party oath, but are still required to sign their envelope.

Voters wishing to participate in the Presidential Primary do need to mark their party preference and sign their envelope.

It is important to note that voters who participated in last Saturday’s party caucuses are encouraged to also participate in next Tuesday’s Presidential Primary.

If voters do not want to mail their ballot, ballot drop-off locations are located in each county. Ballot drop-off locations will be open until 8:00 PM on February 19th. To find a drop-off location near you, please contact your county elections office.
Even if you caucused on February 9th, it's a good idea to a vote in today's presidential primary too. Voting is simply a good habit to maintain.

It took me all of three seconds to fill in the oval for Barack Obama and less than half a minute to seal my ballot and sign it.

Congratulations, Dave Niehaus!

My, oh, my...what a nice birthday gift:
Happy birthday, Dave Niehaus, you're headed for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Niehaus, a fixture in the Seattle Mariners' booth since they entered the American League as an expansion franchise in 1977, was named the 2008 winner of the Ford C. Frick Award Tuesday and will be honored at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies July 27 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The news came on Niehaus' 73rd birthday. It marked the second consecutive year that the award for major contributions to baseball broadcasting has been won by an announcer who has covered his club since its inception. Niehaus follows Denny Matthews, the broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals since their debut season of 1969.
Added the Mariners' front office:
"I have had the pleasure of listening to Dave since I arrived in Seattle in 1983," Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said in a statement from the team. "More importantly, it has been my good fortune to become good friends with Dave. There is no announcer more deserving of this honor than Dave. His integrity and love of the game is unquestioned. It's terrific that the rest of the country will now know what we have known in the Northwest for a long time: Dave has been a Hall of Famer his whole career."

During his 31 seasons with the Mariners, Niehaus has called 4,817 of their 4,899 games.
Dave Niehaus adds something special to broadcasts of Mariners games. Even when the team is losing, he manages to make tuning in worthwhile. We're thrilled that he'll be recognized as a Hall of Famer this year.

Monday, February 18, 2008

In Brief - February 18th, 2008

Last Wednesday I had an opportunity to hear Governor Gregoire address the Washington State PTA. As time ran out, a tall, ten-year-old girl in a floral dress raised her hand for one last question. If she wasn't so sweet and innocent looking, I might have suspected that she was a George Bush-style audience plant when she threw the governor a softball question, how she defines a great leader, and then thanked her for being one. Awwww.

The answer Gregoire gave her mesmerized the room and is good for food for thought in this presidential and gubernatorial election year.

According to the governor, a great leader does not focus on short-term fixes that help to get her reelected, but has a long-term vision which will allow her to accomplish big things. She is effective because she knows the best way to get things done. A great leader recognizes that the common wealth belongs to all of us and knows the efforts of many can accomplish much.

Gregoire is not afraid of difficult issues and makes decisions based on her core values, so that ultimately she can look herself in the mirror and her family in the eye and know that she didn't compromise on what is right for a quick political fix.

Does Gregoire live up to the ideals she holds? It is comforting to know that at the very least, she has a clear picture of the person she wants to be and has managed to energize and inspire one tall girl who could be tomorrow's great leader.

Let's take a look at today's headlines:

In the Pacific Northwest
  • Hoping to move bridge construction forward, a group of Eastside residents are pitching a new idea for the SR 520 Montlake interchange. On Tuesday the state Department of Transportation will show the new design to a mediation panel. The bridge replacement project has raised a number of environmental impact concerns.
  • Senator Patty Murray is crafting legislation to address military sexual assault. These attacks are an increasing problem and the military doesn't have an effective, systematic way to handle the cases.
  • Things don't look good for the Oregon GOP when conservatives start publicly begging for new blood and new ideas as found on the new Conservative Majority Party's website.
  • Readers, if you choose to take part in the largely symbolic primary tomorrow (and we hope you will), remember to check the box on your ballot or mail-in ballot envelope indicating your preferred party, and sign the oath promising that you did not caucus with the other party. Your largely symbolic vote will not count if you forget to do so.
Across the Nation
  • Uninsured Americans and those on Medicaid are more likely to have advanced forms of cancer when they are eventually diagnosed with the disease. A major factor in the delay is that these patients don't get routine screenings that could detect cancer when it is most treatable. Almost one in six Americans lack health insurance.
  • In an attempt to warm up tepid conservative support for John McCain, former president George Herbert Walker Bush endorsed him today and urged Mike Huckabee to step aside.
  • The New York Times ponders the "cult of personality" (a cult? they've got to be joking) surrounding Barack Obama and compares it to that of F.D.R. and, big surprise, J.F.K. (Will we someday be referring to Obama as B.H.O. instead?) The verdict: in the big, important presidential moments charisma has had a powerful effect, although experience too has its merits.
Around the World
  • Newly independent Kosovo has racked up the support of some powerful nations, including the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany and Italy, however Spain and several other E.U. nations are expressing concerns about setting a precedent by supporting its independence. Spain and Cyprus worry about reigniting separatist desires within their own borders.
  • In an absence of good education and jobs, Middle Eastern youth are turning to Islam for their identity and sparking a religious revival. The burgeoning population of youth is taking its elders and government along with it in its focus on religion. Once relatively secular, nations like Egypt, Jordan and Syria are now touting their Islamic values. This is further evidence that a good educational system is a necessity for a thriving democracy.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Caucuses should be improved, not ditched

The Seattle Bothell Times continues its all-out assault on the First Amendment rights of political parties today with another whining Joni Balter column that preaches to and scolds the Democrats and the Republicans:
In the future, we should get rid of the caucuses (held this year Feb. 9) and switch to the primary for all voters, all parties.

For one thing, local election officials have a better record tallying votes. The best proof that the caucus system is full of holes came with the premature announcement by Republicans that McCain had won, while Mike Huckabee was still too close for that call to be made.

Vote counting by the parties can be sketchy.
Newsflash to Joni: Vote counting by any human is prone to error...because all humans make mistakes.

The big problem with the Republican caucuses was that Luke Esser turned himself into a news anchor and projected a winner when he should have been neutral in the background - and some of the GOP's organizers either didn't understand how to run their caucus, or they deliberately rolled their neighbors (because they're Republicans, and winning at any cost is a natural Republican behavior).

A political party has the right to hold its own internal election if it so chooses. That is the party's right under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (it's called freedom of assembly, Joni). Writing that "we should get rid of the caucuses" is disingenuous. Only the parties can decide not to use the caucus system. Caucuses can't be outlawed by the people of Washington, either by initiative or through our representatives in the state Legislature.

Are you trying to tell us that you belong to the Democratic and Republican parties, Joni? Or more specifically, that you sit on the central committees of both and are able to cast a vote on these matters?
Caucuses are quaint gatherings that are unwelcoming to the military, the disabled and a variety of other voters who don't want to sit around with their neighbors and hash out the decision.
Caucuses are not "quaint". They are simply grassroots meetings of people talking about politics in a classroom, church, library, or home. And though many in the traditional media talk about caucuses being affairs for only an elite, that's not the case. Today's caucuses are not smoke filled back rooms where party bosses cut deals with each other.

Caucuses are open gatherings.

I don't know about the Republicans, but I do know that we Democrats allow the disabled, our brothers and sisters in uniform, and those observing a religious solemnity to vote by proxy at the caucus. That you failed to mention this in your column, Joni, is a disservice to readers who may not understand that we in the Democratic Party care about being inclusive.

Sure, caucuses can get chaotic. But that's what democracy is all about: hands on political participation. Things can get a little messy.

There was an effort to make attendees feel welcome, though. Speaking for fellow Democrats, I know that volunteer organizers invested hours learning how to run a good meeting. Those are valuable civic skills that are hard to pick up.

The caucuses provide a training ground for many people to learn the basics of facilitation. The experience can come in very handy later when the time comes to chair a PTA gathering or emcee an event.

Unlike many diehard primary advocates, who won't say the same for the primary, I'll admit the caucus has its share of drawbacks.

There is no perfect system for selecting a nominee. However, if we could find a way to strengthen our caucuses so they allow for greater and easier participation, we could enjoy the main advantage offered by the primary while preserving the exercise of our party's First Amendment right of assembly.

Primary advocates argue that caucuses exclude people, and it's true, but only to a certain extent. (Opinion makers and pundits like Joni Balter, of course, prefer the primary because it gives them more influence).

This may come as a shock to Joni and other primary advocates, but there are actually instances where the primary - yes, the primary! - disenfranchises people while the caucus does not.

First example: young people - people who will turn eighteen by November 4th but won't be of that age by the date of the presidential primary.

Because they can't register to vote, they can't participate in a primary. However, per Democratic Party rules, they can sign in and vote at the caucus. And a great many did on February 9th. It was a wonderful feeling for me last week to be approached by smiling and energetic high school seniors asking where their precinct was, or who could take the voter registration form they were filling out.

Most were empowered by Barack Obama.

They turned out and their voices were heard.

But if we used the primary to pick our delegates, and did not hold a caucus, those seventeen year olds would not be able to participate. They would not have a vote.

The primary also excludes people already of voting age who are inspired to participate last minute but aren't registered to vote.

Because we do not have same day voter registration in Washington, someone new to politics can't show up on primary day (our primary, proudly brought to us by Sam Reed, is this Tuesday) and vote for a candidate.

They have to register weeks in advance.

But, at the caucus, citizens are able to sign in, declare they are a Democrat, and vote there, because participants simply have to certify that they are or will be a registered voter by November 4th.

What about the people who can't attend a caucus, though? People who don't have a choice? Democratic students going to college out of state, Democrats hard at work at their jobs, Democrats who are sick or in the hospital - our party has to find a way to allow their voices to be heard too.

Improving the caucuses would make the Democratic Party more democratic. It's a worthy goal that we should get to work on immediately.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The superdelegate thing

Superdelegates must go.

This type of politics should be banned from our system of representative democracy. The Democratic party is currently tripping over the self-inflicted shortcomings of this complicated and undemocratic method of choosing a presidential nominee. Apart from the Byzantine rules and partisan jostling, the system makes a mockery of "one person, one vote."

The superdelegate system slyly says, “Well yeah, you can vote all you want, you poor dumb animals, but if we wealthy smart elite people don't approve of your choice, we'll just change it to suit our narrative.”

The masses can't be trusted with democracy.

And that's how we arrived at this point.

Superdelegates were created as a result of deals cut with Democratic party insiders in 1980. Prior to this, the McGovern Commission had determined that party bosses had unduly influenced the nomination of Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 elections. The Democrats were unable, as a result, to beat Richard Nixon.

By 1980, after Nixon/Ford, and Carter, the party elders decided to take their power back. As Gary Hart was challenging Walter Mondale for the presidency in 1984, he ran into an establishment buzzsaw that defeated him behind the scenes far more soundly than his narrow loss in the popular vote.

Again, the establishment candidate was trounced by a conservative in the general election. Thus began nearly 30 years of conservative rule, and a painful dissolution of the Constitution.

Does anybody remember this?

Right now there is a quiet movement of superdelegates who are asserting that they'll follow the will of the voters regarding the Democratic primary. This is a positive trend, but these people shouldn't be in this position to begin with.

Delegates, we get. If 100 people vote, 60 for A and 40 for B, and your group gets 10 delegates to a county convention, A gets 6 and B gets 4. We can live with that. We're sending representatives to vote our wishes. Representative democracy.

But superdelegates are appointed by dubious means: Favors, recognition, deals—the stuff of politics, the stuff of gambling, the stuff of cronyism. This is not how the system should work, and it should be exposed for what it is: Oligarchy. Power in the hands of a privileged few.

Call it anything but American.

We're looking with a great deal of concern at what might become of Michigan and Florida's votes. Both were electoral fiascoes this primary season; Florida still has bitter memories of the 2000 general election where so many people simply lost their votes. Michigan's party currently is in disarray, despite a strong governor. Arbitrary rules were imposed on these states' Democratic parties; the states resisted, and as a result, the national ruling body of the party punished them by not allowing their delegates to be seated at the national convention in August.

But nobody thought Obama and Clinton would have such a highly contested primary season. Depending on who's counting right now, only 70 or so superdelegates separate the candidates, but Senator Obama clearly has an edge in the popular vote. Now, every delegate counts, and Senator Clinton wants Florida and Michigan delegates counted in August.

The party has painted itself into a corner: Superdelegates could contravene the will of the people.

The only real solution, short-term, is to have a second vote in these states, either by caucus or primary, at the cost of the DNC. Having voters lose their voice because of party arcana obviously violates democratic principles. If both candidates had campaigned, and had their names on the ballots in both states, no one can argue that the results would have been different. Maybe Clinton does win, but certainly not by the margins encountered while running against “Uncommitted.” Or being told well ahead of time your votes won't count.

Simply admitting these votes as-is would be unfair, given the dynamics of the current situation. If there is another equitable way of expressing the will of Democratic voters Michigan and Florida, let's hear it.

But it must be settled soon. After that—as progressives, and as Americans—we must keep it fresh in our memories so we can devise a more equitable system for choosing our candidates. Every time we make mistakes like this, the black and white simplicity—and ruthlessness—of Republican conservatism becomes more and more appealing to people who simply want a say in how they're governed.

And at that point, we're back to square one.

In Brief - February 16, 2008

In Brief - February 16, 2008

After the hoopla of Clinton's and Obama's campaign visits before last Saturday's caucuses, this week certainly felt more placid. At least it did to me. Kind of makes me feel like saying "Well, it's been a quiet week around Lake Washington..." and then launching into story about a kid from my gradeschool days who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dog who had been hit and stunned by a car, then had to switch schools because he could never live it down. Except I don't actually know a kid like that.

But with this coming week hosting the Washington State primary, the annual state Democratic PCO training and crab feed, and the Democracy for America regional grassroots training next weekend, I'm sure it won't be long before I'm again missing the quiet times.

Around the Northwest:

  •, an organization that acts as a community watchdog over the software industry, has labeled Seattle-based RealNetworks RealPlayer 10.5 as badware. claims that RealNetworks poor explanation of its "message center" feature amounts to consumer deception. RealNetworks response, through a spokesman interviewed on KUOW's The Conversation, is pretty much "nuh-uh, our customers like that feature."

  • UW economist Theo Eicher finds that a major factor in Seattle area housing price increases--to the tune of $200,000 from 1989 to 2006--has been regulations. He cites the state's Growth Management Act as a prime culprit. So dump the regulations? Not so fast. Read the article to see what we get for that money.

  • Speaking of housing prices, have you got a few hundred Gs to spare? Why not attend the March 1st auction of seven luxury homes in Treasure Vally, Idaho.

  • A pair of investment con artists get busted in Idaho. Let that be a lesson to would-be investors: anybody offering you a 30% annual return is probably not on the up-and-up.

  • Oregon's sesquicentennial: T-364 days and counting

  • I've heard about politics making strange bedfellows, but never literally before...

Around the Nation:

  • New Mexico primary: still counting, with just the provisional ballots left. With, as of this writing, about 1000 votes separating Clinton and Obama, those ballots may well matter. On the other hand, New Mexico's primary result--and the results from the other 49 states--may not matter at all because...

  • ...of the Superdelegate Skirmish: should superdelegates vote however they like, or should they confirm the will of the primary voters? Rahm Emmanuel's brother Ari sounds off on his brother's responsibility, while David Sirota summarizes the issue nicely on DailyKos and plugs his book about it. Meanwhile, Democracy for America (with jumping on the bandwagon) are floating petitions demanding that superdelegates ratify the overall winner of the primary races. For my two cents, I have to agree with Ari and David on this one. And, making sure the issue has legs, the Superdelegate Transparency Project gives you one-stop shopping for all your superdelegate needs. Wow, for an issue we've really never heard talked about before, it sure is making waves this week.

  • New York's Attorney General is conducting an industry-wide investigation into health insurance fraud. Any state AG could have done this. I wish ours had, but I'm glad theirs is, because we're long past due for the health insurance industry to start taking some heat for the useless "deny everything" policies they sell.

Around the World:

  • Water, still in the news: this time, not a particular flood or drought, but instead a new book that casts light on the frighteningly harsh reality of the world's fresh water situation. Mark my words, water availability is going to be one of the most important problems to solve in our coming battle to undo the damage we've done to the earth's climate and environment. Frankly, I'm a heck of a lot more scared about future water availability than I am about terrorist attacks. Also, Author Maude Barlow will be in Seattle on April 14th as part of her book tour.

  • Wheat prices are at an all time high. Poor crops in India, Argentina, and the former Soviet Union for the past couple of years, combined with record high demand for wheat have combined to push short term wheat futures in excess of $10/bushel. In the U.S., wheat crops have been good over the same time span, creating a much-needed financial windfall for farmers. But for you and me, all it creates is higher prices on flour, bread, pie crust, and the thousands of other things we make from wheat.

  • Is the world entering a new "Anthropocene" geologic epoch? Seems pretty obvious to me that we are, but scientists being a cautious bunch about such matters, they're weighing the evidence as to whether mankind's activities have become a predominant geophysical force. On the other hand, given that we're busy leveling the Appalacian mountains in search of coal and building crazy palm-tree islands off the coast of Dubai, what's to debate?

  • Another step in the path towards eventually discovering life on other worlds: astronomers detect organic molecules in an extra-solar planet's atmosphere.

The Lighter Side:

  • Perfect for the Northwest: harvesting energy from falling raindrops!

  • 2008: The 50th anniversary of the LEGO (tm) brick. In timeline form.

  • Evolution of tech company logos. From Adobe to Xerox, watch how some familiar companies' representations of themselves have kept pace with the times--or failed to.

  • University of Copenhagen reports showing that a single person with a particular genetic mutation, some 6 to 10 thousand years ago, was the ancestor of everybody in the world who has blue eyes. I'm not sure I believe this, but it's interesting none the less.

This Day in History:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Training opportunities for progressives

Readers, if you'd like to hone your campaign skills, learn more about effective political organizing, and discover what a successful get out the vote effort takes, we urge you to sign up for one or both of the following training opportunities:

Democracy for America (DFA) Regional Grassroots Training:
The Darcy Burner for Congress campaign, the 8th CD Democrats and the Eastside DFA invite you to join with us in a national DFA grassroots training for activists, both new and experienced. Democracy for America training is known to be both excellent and fun. This is the first time in two years that DFA has conducted training in the Northwest and we expect folks from Oregon and Idaho as well as from all over Washington State to participate.

With this training, we want to develop grassroots organizers at every level from neighborhood leaders to campaign staff to lay the groundwork to elect a Democratic President and to elect Darcy Burner, Christine Gregoire, Peter Goldmark, George Fearing, Larry Larocco, and other Democrats up and down the ticket.
This multi-day training will be held on February 23rd and 24th in Kent. Participants are asked to contribute $60 to help offset the event costs. Signing up is easy - just head on over to Democracy for America's website.

Wellstone Action Advanced Campaign and Candidate School:
This intensive three-day training is designed for individuals with past electoral experience who want to take their poltical organizing skills to the next level and candidates who are currently running for office. Our trainers teach the fundamentals of winning campaigns, building the skills of a new generation of campaign managers and developing leaders and professionals for long-term involvement in the progressive movement.
The Advanced Campaign and Candidate School is coming to Seattle on April 25th, 2008. Those interested in attending should e-mail ben (at) wellstone (dot) org. Campaign managers should include a resume and indicate what race they are currently working on. Candidates should include background on your candidacy and a link to their campaign website.

Reichert denied Appropriations assignment

Poor Dave "I need a seat" Reichert is out of luck:
House Republican leaders agreed Wednesday night to tap Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner to fill a vacant post on the powerful Appropriations Committee, according to numerous GOP sources briefed on the decision.

The leaders are scheduled to gather with other members of the Republican Steering Committee in the Capitol suite of Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) at 3:30 Thursday afternoon to make the official selection.

If the committee follows through with leadership’s recommendation, as is typical, Bonner would be something of safe selection from the field that includes an anti-earmark crusader – Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake – two potentially vulnerable lawmakers – Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Washington Rep. Dave Reichert – and a member of the leadership – Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee.
This news is a major letdown for Reichert's struggling campaign, which was surpassed long ago in fundraising and momentum by Darcy Burner. There have been rumors that Reichert might decide not to run for a third term if he didn't get the Appropriations committee assignment...we'll see.

There simply doesn't seem to be much energy left in his tank for 2008, which makes it hard for him to compete against his highly motivated challenger.

Unlike Dave Reichert, Darcy Burner has a strong work ethic, and that's going to look mighty attractive to the voters of the 8th District in the fall.

BREAKING: Tim Eyman slammed with new public disclosure complaint

Our friend Steve Zemke over at MajorityRules Blog tells NPI that he has just filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission this morning against Tim Eyman for egregious violations of Washington State's campaign finance law.

Considering Eyman's long history of lying and breaking the rules, he had this latest complaint coming to him. Why can't he just follow the law like he's supposed to?
This morning MajorityRulesBlog filed an official compliant with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission regarding the lack of filing of campaign contributiuon and expenditure reports for Initiative 985.

In a phone call this morning I confirmed with the PDC that there was no error on their part - no reports have been received by them from Eyman besides a C1pc on initial formation of a committee entitled Reduce on January 3, 2008. has not updated this report with any additional information or reported any contributions or expenditures as of today, Feb 14, 2008. The deadline for filing Jan reports is Feb 10, 2008.

Yet they have sent mailings to people soliciting money, have a website up asking for money on behalf of which they secured on Dec. 18, 2007 , and are sending out e-mail asking for money.
NPI's Permanent Defense, founded six years ago to fight right wing initiatives and oppose Tim Eyman, can confirm that Eyman has sent out over a dozen e-mail appeals to supporters since the beginning of January asking for contributions to Initiative 985. Eyman said on February 4th that he was sending out petitions in the mail for the initiative.

Somebody had to pay for those petitions. Who was it?

The public has no way of finding out because Eyman and his associates aren't filing their reports like they're supposed to.

This isn't the first time Eyman & Co. have missed deadlines. Almost four years ago, in 2004, our friends David Goldstein and Kelly Fox (of the Washington State Firefighters) joined Steve in filing a complaint over Eyman's delinquent reporting. Eyman made excuses and the PDC excused Eyman, allowing him to escape without penalty even though the PDC agreed the law had been violated.

Eyman's excuse then? That their treasurer had been hospitalized.

What is it going to be this time? "Sorry, we fell behind. The truth is, we just don't care about following the rules. We think we're above everyone else."

That would be the honest answer.

Steve's complaint addresses the PDC's past tolerance, noting:
[I]t is clear that Mr. Eyman and his associates have a reputation for blatantly disregarding the public disclosure law of Washington State. It is an understatement to say that the Public Disclosure Commission has treated Mr. Eyman and his committees with extreme patience and lenience in dismissing many past complaints. This generosity has not deterred Mr. Eyman and his associates from continuing to break the law.
Steve is also calling for a full audit and investigation of Eyman and all his committees, including Voters Want More Choices and Help Us Help Taxpayers, which have transferred or pledged money to Eyman's ReduceCongestion PAC. While it's hard to see the PDC taking that step, given their willingness to let Eyman off the hook in the past, it's definitely time for a complete audit of Eyman's initiative factory.

In Brief - February 14th, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day! Today, show love for yourself, your significant other, your immediate and extended family, your town, city, state, and country. A brief history of Valentine's Day:

In North America and Europe, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The holiday is named after two early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Some of the valentine symbols include red roses, love knots, and love birds.
On to today's quick news digest!

In the Pacific Northwest

  • Oregon's House of Representatives voted along party lines yesterday to pass House Joint Resolution 100, which would amend the State Constitution to refer to Health Care as "a fundamental right" and that every legal resident should have "access to effective and affordable health care on a regular basis." It's time we put an end to the right vs. privilege argument at the federal level. It is our duty as progressives to ensure that the common wealth protects the general wellness of the American people.
  • The disaster that is Bush's FEMA has now turned its eye towards Indian Creek in Idaho. Downtown Caldwell had its big downtown revitalization plans stifled by FEMA when the agency decided that downtown Caldwell would be part of a flood plain. Why did they do this? Because they were using outdated maps of Indian Creek and not the updated maps sent in May. A FEMA representative said "We're not ignoring their information. We are going to look at it, but in the appeals process."
Across the Nation
  • Speaking of cluelessness at FEMA, remember the thousands of trailers that were purchased for Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees but never actually given to them? Well they may finally get put to use. FEMA might use them in Arkansas to house victims of the recent deadly tornadoes that swept the South. Unfortunately, the trailers that FEMA has been using are poisonous. Americans living in them (especially children) have been exposed to increased levels of hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Looks like the unused trailers need to be checked over before distribution.
  • Starbucks will start offering two hours of free wireless internet access, courtesy of AT&T this spring. This marks the break-up of their previous arrangment with T-Mobile, which required a one-time fee or subscription to access the internet wirelessly. Hooray, more free WI-FI!
  • My back has been bothering me for most of the last month. Apparently I'm not alone, as Americans seem to be spending record amounts of money treating their spinal troubles, mostly on drugs. If more money was spent on preventative care for the back and the rest of the body, coupled with a willingness among Americans to embrace an active lifestyle, the need for all of these drugs could potentially be greatly reduced.
Around the World
  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is joining other world leaders and going to Kenya to try and help strengthen the resolution talks taking place. Given Rice's abysmal diplomatic record, I fear that this will unite the conflicting parties around criticism of US foreign policies in Kenya, the African continent, and everywhere else and not around ending the conflict in Kenya.
  • As the Pentagon is looking to execute suspects, Britain has "completely exonerated" Lotfi Riossi, a man who (though never charged), was suspected by the United States government to have trained terrorist pilots. Riossi can now seek compensation from the British government for wrongful arrest and detention.
Today in Black History
  • Richard Allen, an enslaved African that purchased his own freedom and started the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in 1816, was born.
  • Fredrick Douglass, the revolutionary abolitionist, author, orator, and formerly enslaved African was born on this day in 1818.
  • Morehouse College, the men's college in Atlanta, GA that has produced great minds such as Martin Luther King, Jr., was organized on this day in Augusta, Georgia. The school later moved to its current location in Atlanta.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Haugen having trouble moving governance scheme out of Transportation Committee

A few weeks ago, in mid-January, we warned that a new version of last year's transportation governance monster, SSB 5803, was being introduced in the Senate by Transportation Committee Chair Mary Margaret Haugen. SB 6772, like its predecessor, attempts to create a super commission of transportation czars with authority over planning both highways and transit systems.

The big difference between the 2007 bill and this year's is that the vehicle being used is different. Whereas 5803 tried to engineer a new transportation agency with broad authority that would float on top of everything else we've got, Haugen's 6772 would simply change Sound Transit into Sound Transportation.

The old plan's major facet remains unchanged: setting up a new board of well paid politicians who will be elected from new, sprawling districts spanning King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. They would serve six year terms.

Governance proponents, including John Stanton, the Seattle Times, Republican legislators, Senator Haugen, and others claim that Sound Transit (or the Sound Transportation entity they wish to create) needs an elected board so it is accountable to the people. What they never admit in their arguments is that Sound Transit already has an elected board.

See for yourself. Here are the current members of the board:
  • Greg Nickels, Mayor of Seattle, Sound Transit Board Chair
  • Claudia Thomas, City Councilmember of Lakewood
  • Aaron Reardon, Snohomish County Executive
  • Julie Anderson, City Councilmember of Tacoma
  • Mary-Alyce Burleigh, City Councilmember of Kirkland
  • Fred Butler, Deputy City Council President of Issaquah
  • Richard Conlin, City Council President, of Seattle
  • Dow Constantine, King County Council Vice Chair
  • Deanna Dawson, City Councilmember of Edmonds
  • David Enslow, Mayor of Sumner
  • Paula Hammond, Secretary, State Department of Transportation
  • John Ladenburg, Pierce County Executive
  • John Marchione, Mayor of Redmond
  • Julia Patterson, King County Council Chair
  • Larry Phillips, King County Councilmember
  • Paul Roberts, City Councilmember of Everett
  • Ron Sims, King County Executive
  • Pete von Reichbauer, King County Councilmember
Which of these is not an elected official? Only one - Paula Hammond, who runs the Department of Transportation and answers to the governor.

The rest are all public servants - from across Puget Sound!

True, they are indirectly elected to the Sound Transit board, but there's a reason the agency has what is known as a federated system. (As you might suspect, federalism is a related idea. If you were sleeping in civic class, it's the governing model used to divide power in the United States of America).

Consider the advantages of having a federated board:
  • Diversity: A federated board ensures that all the people of the Sound Transit district are well represented. Urban, suburban, and unincorporated areas each have a voice on the eighteen member board.
  • Cities Represented: Under the federated board, local governments are represented at the table, especially cities. A third of Sound Transit's board members serve as mayors or on city councils.
  • Simplicity: Board members represent existing jurisdictions instead of sprawling districts that cross county lines. That eliminates confusion for voters, who already understand the concept of electing legislators and executives to run their respective city (if they live in one) and county.
  • Broad perspective: Because seventeen out of eighteen board members come directly from city and county government, they are always working on related issues such as land use and economic development back home, so their sole focus is not merely transportation. This broad perspective enables the board to make better informed decisions.
Contrast Sound Transit's federated board with the Seattle Port Commission, whose five members are directly elected by the people of King County. The Port is under investigation by the Department of Justice and is still recovering from the corrupt administration of ousted executive Mic Dinsmore. The Port Commission has seen significant turnover the last few election cycles.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit is earning top grades in audit after audit, receiving high bond ratings, and getting projects done on time and under budget. Just yesterday it became the sixth transit agency in the United States (and the first on the Left Coast) to be certified as compliant with rigorous international standards for promoting environmental sustainability.

So which model works better? A federated system with indirectly elected board members who are each responsible to a smaller group of constituents, or a less visible, directly elected board of politicians supposedly accountable to a larger group of voters? Recent history leads us to conclude a federated board is better, hands down. But if Mary Margaret Haugen's SB 6772 goes into effect, Sound Transit's effective federated board will be gutted and replaced with a new group of politicians who will be elected from a set of newly drawn subdistricts.

And remember, Haugen's proposal calls for the terms of office of these transportation czars to be six years!

If elections are so wonderful, as governance proponents say, why not require these guys to stand for election every year?

Answer: Because governance proponents want to be able to buy seats on the board and then give the board the authority to increase revenue for road building without a public vote. The six year terms are purposely intended to insulate the new board from the people it's supposed to be accountable to. How ironic.

The other key component of the hostile takeover plan is the provision that forcibly sticks responsbility for planning and building highways to Sound Transit like glue, unwisely cementing the failed roads and transit experiment in place for years.

Back in November 2007, shortly after the failure of Proposition 1, EMC Research and Moore Information asked voters why they voted against the measure down. The responses proved that the No campaign was successful in distorting the math: voters said the package was too expensive and lacked cost control.

But respondents also said the package was too big and too complex thanks to the coupling of Sound Transit 2 and RTID's Blueprint for Progress (the roads plan):
Another insight from the poll: voters didn't like Olympia's meddling - the forcible pairing of roads and transit together in one package. NPI was uncomfortable with the marriage beginning with the day the stealth legislation emerged out of the statehouse, and voters hate the idea.

By a whopping 72% to 23% margin, respondents say they prefer separate roads & transit measures - clear evidence that Sound Transit 2 should stand on its own in a future vote without being tied to any roads package.
The message from the electorate is clear: don't present a combined roads and transit package before us again. We want to consider them seperately.

Unfortunately, Senator Haugen isn't listening, because her bill (which has only a handful of cosponsors) welds roads and transit together tightly and permanently under the auspices of "Sound Transportation".

She also seems to be confused about where she lives. During the public hearing on SB 6772 last week, which Haugen scheduled for Super Tuesday, she attacked the idea of a federated board, complaining that her constituents don't know who their Sound Transit board members are. "It's a real concern that my citizens have. Who is my person?" Haugen told Sound Transit board member Claudia Thomas.

There is however, a very good reason why Haugen's constituents wouldn't know that information: none of them live in Sound Transit's taxing district.

Haugen must be imagining things.

Haugen is mistaken when she characterizes the federated system as invisible - as she did during the hearing. We suspect that the typical Puget Sound resident, if asked, would be able to correctly name more Sound Transit boardmembers than Port of Seattle commissioners.

That's because almost all of the agency's boardmembers serve in visible elected roles - as mayors, county executives, or councilmembers.

Since the hearing last week, Haugen has been preparing to move the bill out of committee, but she has been beset with problems. First, many of the Democrats on the committee are skeptical of the bill, including Vice Chair Ed Murray, the sponsor of last year's version (SSB 5803), who is now against a shakeup.

And second, the committee's Republicans (who favor SB 6772) have upstaged Haugen. On Monday, they demanded an early vote on SB 6772, which failed, and yesterday, they brought up the bill again, but an irritated Haugen simply moved the executive session along to another bill.

So SB 6772, amusingly, remains stuck in committee, surprising many observers who had anticipated it would be heading to the Senate floor. We hope the bill will stay in committee and die there. Washington State will not benefit from this counterproductive legislation.

What we need instead is meaningful and responsive leadership from Olympia.

It is time for the Legislature to stop passing the buck to local leaders in Puget Sound and acknowledge that the state is responsibile for building and properly maintaining Washington's highways, includng the ferry system. Money for highway resurfacing, maintenance, ferries, terminals, and associated costs needs to come from the state's treasury.

The Washington State Constitution clearly establishes this responsibility and requires that certain taxes be used for nothing else:

SECTION 40 HIGHWAY FUNDS. All fees collected by the State of Washington as license fees for motor vehicles and all excise taxes collected by the State of Washington on the sale, distribution or use of motor vehicle fuel and all other state revenue intended to be used for highway purposes, shall be paid into the state treasury and placed in a special fund to be used exclusively for highway purposes. Such highway purposes shall be construed to include the following:

(a) The necessary operating, engineering and legal expenses connected with the administration of public highways, county roads and city streets;

(b) The construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, county roads, bridges and city streets; including the cost and expense of (1) acquisition of rights-of-way, (2) installing, maintaining and operating traffic signs and signal lights, (3) policing by the state of public highways, (4) operation of movable span bridges, (5) operation of ferries which are a part of any public highway, county road, or city street;

(c) The payment or refunding of any obligation of the State of Washington, or any political subdivision thereof, for which any of the revenues described in section 1 may have been legally pledged prior to the effective date of this act;

(d) Refunds authorized by law for taxes paid on motor vehicle fuels;

(e) The cost of collection of any revenues described in this section:

Provided, That this section shall not be construed to include revenue from general or special taxes or excises not levied primarily for highway purposes, or apply to vehicle operator's license fees or any excise tax imposed on motor vehicles or the use thereof in lieu of a property tax thereon, or fees for certificates of ownership of motor vehicles.
To summarize, state highways are the responsibility of the state.

When I drive or take the bus to Seattle, I'm not riding along on Puget Sound Route 520; I'm on State Route 520.

It is Olympia's job to find the money to pay for improvements to (and upkeep of) our highways. This job should not be jettisoned or delegated.

It is also the Legislature's job to provide Puget Sound with the tools and the authority to allow for the construction and operation of a regional rapid transit network. This was why Sound Transit was created in the 1990s.

Legislators need to drop this governance nonsense, allow Sound Transit to tap revenue sources that are more palatable to voters than the sales tax (so it can fulfill its mission), and finish the work that was started in three years ago with the passage of the 2005 Transportation Package.

Senator Haugen's committee, and Representative Clibborn's committee, need to be talking about replacing the Evergreen Point bridge and Columbia River Crossing, cancelling the widening of Interstate 405 (which is not only pointless but unaffordable), looking at the challenges involved with demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, fixing our decaying ferry system, exploring ways to help other urban areas like Spokane and Clark County/Vancouver deal with growth and increased traffic, as well as providing help to Sound Transit - not wasting the people's time with ill-conceived governance schemes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Donna Edwards wins in Maryland!

Chalk up another huge victory for the netroots community: the people powered grassroots effort of Donna Edwards has defeated incumbent Democrat Al Wynn, the current officeholder in Maryland's 4th Congressional District:
It's official. Meet your new congresswoman from Maryland! Donna Edwards still has a general election to ratify the victory, but in this district, that's a done deal.

As I wrote time and time again, we don't have the money to buy off our politicians, and the bad Democrats know we're not about to start voting for Republicans. So the only way we can hold our caucus accountable is to send notice that we will primary them. And sure, they may survive such primaries. But sometimes they won't.

We'll be working this fall for "more" Democrats, but today we struck a blow on behalf of better Democrats.
At OpenLeft, Chris Bowers notes that the new Obama voters are breaking for Edwards:
Here is an exciting thought for progressives: the new primary voters who are coming out for Barack Obama are also going to result in a progressive defeat of an incumbent member of Congress in a primary. Al Wynn's numbers are stagnant from 2006, while Donna's have skyrocketed. There is massive movement building potential here.
The results as of this hour:

Edwards: 59% (36,010 votes)
Wynn: 36% (22,148 votes)

What a terrific night it has been for the progressive movement.

Pacific Northwest Democratic senators stand with Chris Dodd on telecom immunity

The United States Senate has once again abandoned the American people in favor of protecting corporations - in this case, the telcos:
The Senate rejected Democratic attempts Tuesday to scale back expansion of the government's powers to monitor phone calls and e-mails as part of its efforts to fight terrorism.

Senators also voted to immunize telecommunications companies from lawsuits for their role in aiding the government's warrantless wiretapping program.

The bill, comprised of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, now goes to the House for a potential showdown with the White House. The House version offers no protection for the telecom industry and more restrictions on the government's power. The president has threatened to veto the bill unless it is close to the Senate version.

FISA provides a framework for eavesdropping on communications by foreign agents operating within and outside the U.S. It typically forces the government to obtain a court order from a secret intelligence court before a wiretap can be put in place.
The Northwest Progressive Institute harshly condemns the Senate's vote to approve S. 2248 and thanks those Democratic senators who stood with Chris Dodd in opposing retroactive immunity for telcos.

We are proud of our Democratic senators in the Pacific Northwest for voting against this dangerous bill: Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Jon Tester of Montana.

We will remember their courage, and we will also remember the names of the Democrats who failed the American people:

Evan Bayh of Indiana
Max Baucus of Montana*
Thomas Carper of Delaware
Bob Casey of Pennsylvania*
Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Herb Kohl of Wisconsin
Claire McCaskill of Missouri
Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
Bill Nelson of Florida
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Ken Salazar of Colorado
James Webb of Virginia
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island*

* denotes senator who did vote for Chris Dodd's amendment to improve the bill

We're very, very disappointed to see some of the names on that list.

Obama rolls on, takes Maryland

The cable television networks are projecting that Barack Obama has easily won the Maryland Democratic primary, even though results have only barely begun to trickle in. Obama's triumph follows his rout of Hillary Clinton in Virginia, and he is also expected to win the District of Columbia tonight, sweeping the Potomac Primary (or Chesapeake Tuesday, as it has also been called).

Obama's victories tonight are vaulting him ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for delegates for the first time since Iowa. CNN has been keeping track of the numbers and is projecting tonight that Barack Obama has overtaken Hillary Clinton in the total delegate count, which includes superdelegates.

Speaking at a KeyArena-sized rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Obama thanked Democrats in Maryland and Virginia for their support and drew a comparison between himself and the likely Republican nominee, John McCain. "When I am the nominee, I will offer a clear choice," Obama confidently declared.

Wisconsin and Hawaii are the next states to hold nominating events. Obama is favored to win both, and the Clinton campaign is already looking beyond February to primaries on March 4th, hoping it will be able to halt Obama's momentum then.

Race and gender? Nope.

According to CNN exit polling in Virginia, Obama effectively split the white vote there, garnering 48% to Clinton's 51%. Along gender lines, surely Clinton had the advantage, though, right? Wrong: 58% of women voted for Obama compared to Clinton's 42%.

On issues such as the economy, the establishment Democrat definitely had the advantage, right? Wrong: People for whom our economy was a major concern voted 60% in favor of Obama.

So much for the spin machines and Beltway punditocracy.

After tonight, there will be a lull of a few weeks before contests in Hawaii and Wisconsin. The superdelegates have to be very, very nervous.

Obama wins Virginia

Major traditional media outlets have just begun projecting that Barack Obama has won the Virginia primary, one of three contests in the Chesapeake Bay region tonight.

Hillary Clinton had lowered expectations in the state by citing race and recent trends, but the streak that began on Saturday continues today, and that has to hurt.

Polls closed at 7:00 PM Eastern time, an hour ahead of the contests in D.C. and Maryland. Obama is also favored in those.

No official counts are currently available for Virginia, but the wire services and television networks are all making projections. Updates to follow.

UPDATE: With 8% of precincts reporting, Obama's lead is 67% to 37%. Granted, it's early, but if this margin holds, spinning low expectations in exchange for Texas and Ohio becomes much more difficult in the Clinton camp.

UPDATE II: And with 17% reporting, the gap closes a bit, 61% to 38%, but it doesn't look like any surprises are in store.

UPDATE III: On the Republican side, with 23% reporting, John McCain has a slight edge over Mike Huckabee, according to CNN, with the race too close to call. This, despite most polls heavily favoring Huckablee.

Also, polls scheduled to close at 8:00 PM in Maryland will now close at 9:30 Eastern, due to heavy snow and bad weather.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Huckabee campaign unhappy with Luke Esser, Washington Republicans

Last night Mike Huckabee's campaign issued this priceless press release, complaining the results of the Washington State GOP caucuses are "dubious":

Richmond, VA -- The Huckabee Presidential Campaign will be exploring all available legal options regarding the dubious final results for the state of Washington State Republican precinct caucuses, it was announced today. Campaign Chairman Ed Rollins issued the following statement:

"The Huckabee campaign is deeply disturbed by the obvious irregularities in the Washington State Republican precinct caucuses. It is very unfortunate that the Washington State Party Chairman, Luke Esser, chose to call the race for John McCain after only 87 percent of the vote was counted. According to CNN, the difference between Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee is a mere 242 votes, out of more than 12,000 votes counted-with another 1500 or so votes, apparently, not counted. That is an outrage.

"In other words, more than one in eight Evergreen State Republicans have been disenfranchised by the actions of their own party. This was an error in judgment by Mr. Esser. It was Mr. Esser's duty to oversee a fair vote-count process. Washington Republicans know, from bitter experience in the 2004 gubernatorial election, the terrible results that can come from bad ballot-counting.

"Frankly, I am disappointed in the way that Mr. Esser has handled this urgent matter. So I call upon Mr. Esser and his colleagues to cooperate fully with the Huckabee campaign-and all Republicans, everywhere, who care about honest and transparent vote-counting-to make sure that every vote is counted and that all Republicans in Washington have the chance to make their votes count. Attempts by our campaign to contact Mr. Esser have been unsuccessful. Our lawyers will be on the ground in Washington State soon, and we look forward to sitting down with Mr. Esser to evaluate this process, to see why the count took so long, and why the vote-counting was stopped prematurely.

"It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington State to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast.

"This is not about Mike Huckabee. This is not about Senator John McCain. This is about the failings of the Washington State Republican Party. All Republicans should unite to demand an honest accounting of the votes, so that Republicans can have full confidence in the results, and full confidence in the eventual Republican nominee. As I said, we are prepared to go to court, and we are also prepared to take our case all the way to the Republican National Convention in September.

"Our cause is just. We must reemphasize the sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner."
It gets even better, folks. Here's Huckabee on CNN this morning:
That is not what we do in American elections...

Maybe that's how they used to conduct it in the old Soviet Union, but you don't just throw people's votes out and say, "well, we're not going to bother counting them because we kind of think we know where this was going."
Emphasis is mine.

So Huckabee's out there comparing the GOP to Soviet Russia - hilarious! The Everett Herald has a story about this mentioning a Huckabee supporter - Kim Davis - who said she and others were disenfranchised by the caucus conveners:
In an interview, Davis said she "absolutely" thought McCain supporters rigged voting in her precinct because she and a Ron Paul supporter were denied a chance to run to be delegates.

"They didn't follow the process. No one got to talk. No one got to vote," she said.

"I felt like what they did was wrong," she said. "If they could do that to us, I wondered how many other places could that have happened."
The irony is delicious, isn't it?

Hardly a day has gone by since the 2004 gubernatorial election which hasn't featured whining from Republicans grumbling about the outcome of that contest, absurdly complaining that Gregoire's win was fixed by King County Executive Ron Sims or rabidly accusing Democrats of ballot stuffing and cheating.

We've also had to put up with Republicans making a big stink about "elections reform", calling for a complete overhaul of the King County Elections Division.

It turns out that Republicans don't have a clue about organizing elections, because they managed to botch their own caucuses, which they had complete control over!

What's more...according to Huckabee's campaign, the state party office isn't even returning their phone calls! If Republicans are this disconnected from each do they possibly expect to win in the general election?

The Huckabee campaign is not only disregarding the 11th Commandment (thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican) but they're prepared to go to court - to instigate a legal battle against the Washington State Republican Party!

Maybe Huckabee supporters should dress up in orange and picket the state GOP headquarters with "ReCaucus" signs!

This is an embarrassing spectacle, to be sure, and it's great entertainment for Democrats. Pass the popcorn...this drama could get fascinating!

In Brief - February 11th, 2008

Looking at John McCain's paunchy on television these past few days, I've been wondering what a direct, televised matchup between him and Barack Obama would look like. If you are not old enough to remember the Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960, but have heard about it, it might seem like an eerie deja vu.

Contrast Obama's smooth, warm skin tone with McCain's wrinkled visage, Obama's eloquent rhetoric and elegant delivery with McCain's stale, tired lines.

And if you consider their messages, the difference is stark, as shown in this YouTube video (McCain: Like hope, only different). I have faith that America will be voting for a Democrat this November.

Now let's take a look at the headlines:

In the Pacific Northwest
  • Joel Connelly has an enjoyable column this morning analyzing the results of the Washington State precinct caucuses (Obamania clobbers Clinton). Read it at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  • Our friends over at the 43rd State Blues are criticizing the appointment of Mike McGwartney, a board member of a major state employee health insurance provider, to the position of administration director. The plan is for him to work without pay, but that raises the question of how accountable he will be to the state.
  • Two leading biologists with different perspectives have affirmed their support of recent changes to Idaho's wolf management plan. The changes will allow more wolves to be killed under certain cirumstances.
Across the Nation
  • Six Guantanamo detainees who are accused of playing central roles in the September 11th terrorist attacks will finally have their day in court. Although they will be tried by a military commission, the accused will have all of the rights of U.S. soldiers accused of crimes. Prosecutors are seeking to have the detainees executed, thereby raising the international profile of the case.
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates is endorsing a pause in the reduction of American troops in Iraq. After the last of the troops involved in the escalation are removed in the summer, Gates wants an evaluation of the country's security before resuming troop reduction.
  • Yahoo is playing hard to get with Microsoft after rejecting its $44.6 billion takeover bid today. Microsoft is expected to raise its bid from $31 per share to at least $35 per share.
  • The New York Times reports that one in seven people living in the U.S. may be born outside the country by the year 2020 and that immigrants will account for 82 percent of the increase in the U.S. population. Yale law school professor Amy Chua offers five "tolerant but tough" suggestions on how to accomodate this influx while maintaining our stability and national identity.
Around the World
  • Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez , anegered by the actions of American oil giant ExxonMobil, has threatened to cut off oil exports to the United States. He has made the same threat before, but never followed through.
  • Just two days after two Picasso paintings were stolen near Zürich, Switzerland, four Impressionist materpieces were also stolen from a Zürich museum by desperate criminals. The theft is considered to be one of the biggest art heists in the last twenty years.
  • Negotiations are going well in Kenya between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga and a resolution to their election dispute may come about this week.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Why hasn't Tim Eyman moved out of state?

We ask because he doesn't seem to like it here:
Republican caucuses were well-attended, party officials said, though not nearly as packed as their Democratic counterparts.

In Lynnwood, nearly 500 Republicans jammed Silver Creek Community Church, sprawling out in a concrete-floored gym and into side rooms. Initiative guru [salesman] Tim Eyman exhorted the crowd to unify behind the party's eventual nominee — especially given Washington's Democratic leanings.

"There is no doubt that we have to work extra-hard in a wacko lefty state like Washington state to get our guys elected," Eyman said. "They've got the crazies in Seattle. We've got to come up with more sane people outside of Seattle to make up for them."
Apparently our state's political climate has got Tim Eyman feeling blue!

So what did the good people of Seattle do to earn this latest put down? Perhaps it was Barack Obama's huge KeyArena rally on Friday?

You know, Tim, if you don't like living in a place where progressives outnumber ultra right wing conservatives like yourself, you can always move out of the state. Better yet, leave the United States of America altogether. Consider relocating to a tax haven since you hate paying for public services so much.

NPI on KPOJ tomorrow morning

A quick programming note for readers: I'm scheduled to appear tomorrow morning on the KPOJ Morning Show with Thom Hartmann, Heidi Tauber, and Carl Wolfson to talk about how the Washington State caucuses went on Saturday.

Readers, you can tune in at 7 AM on your radio if you live in Clark County or the Portland metro area. If you don't, you can listen to the live stream online.

If you missed my caucus preview on KPOJ from last Friday, you can listen the clip in our Audio Archive. The phone signal reception wasn't the greatest, so my voice wasn't as clear and steady as I would have liked, but it was a very fun conversation. We covered my prediction for Saturday (Obama!) the governor's endorsement, the then-forthcoming KeyArena rally, and the state of the Republican Party in Washington (which I described as dismal).

(I'll be speaking from a corded landline telephone tomorrow, which should improve the quality of the interview.)

KPOJ's live and local progressive morning show has to be one of the most well-produced in the country. I listened to the rest of the hour after my segment was over, and was very impressed. It was so refreshing to hear that local focus, and it made me even hungrier for a David Goldstein morning show up here on AM 1090.

Obama captures Maine in another setback for Hillary Clinton

The weekend Obama rout continues:
Early returns in Maine showed Mr. Obama leading Mrs. Clinton 58 percent to 41 percent, and The Associated Press, CNN and NBC News called the race for Mr. Obama.

Voter turnout in Maine was reported to be high on Sunday afternoon, despite a snowstorm. The Portland Press Herald reported on its Web site that there were long lines in Portland, while a large crowd in Cape Elizabeth delayed the start of the caucus there by more than an hour.
So what is Hillary Clinton's camp going to say about today's defeat? They played the lowering expectations game for Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana (which held caucuses and a primary yesterday) but not in Maine:
Maine should be friendly territory for Obama. Its voters are staunchly anti-war, and caucuses, which rely heavily on grass-roots organizing, have proved to be Obama's strong suit. But Clinton campaign officials are optimistic.

Maine is "independent-minded and has strong female elected officials," including two GOP senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Clinton adviser Karen Hicks said. The candidate's domestic-policy proposals, including universal health coverage and middle-class tax cuts, are particularly well-suited for the region, Hicks said. "You have a lot of women working two jobs, working on their feet, with their hands."

Clinton's habit of outlining her proposals in precise detail makes for long speeches but delivers substance that appeals to women, her supporters say. "Women really do care about substance," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a Clinton backer. Likening politics to grocery shopping, Cantwell said, "Women want to hear the list."
Politics is like grocery shopping!? What an awful metaphor.

We know you're a policy wonk, Senator Cantwell, but you really need to brush up on your understanding of the political brain.

Science and research have proven that people do not "shop" for the ideal candidate using a laundry list or grocery list of issues and programs. George Lakoff and Drew Westen have documented this extensively.

Americans vote their identity. They vote for the candidate they feel they can trust. Authenticity matters.

Millions of Americans believe Barack Obama is authentic, trustworthy, and capable, which is why in the span of a few years he has made the leap from Illinois legislator to presidential candidate, with a stint in the United States Senate in between.

Obama has been criticized as being not ready to be president by many pundits, and if by experience, they mean familiarity with the D.C. cocktail party circuit, then they are correct, because that isn't the kind of experience Barack Obama has.

His background is rooted in the streets of Chicago, not the halls of power on Capitol Hill. As a community organizer, he has witnessed the plight of American families oppressed by poverty. That's precisely the experience our next president needs to have to effectively tackle America's daunting challenges.

People aren't drawn to a candidate because they can reel off a list of positions or pass a litmus test. When I ask Hillary Clinton supporters why they're supporting her, they don't gush over a shopping list of programs and proposals.

Certainly, substance comes up. Many Clinton supporters argue her plans are more realistic and concrete than Obama's. But they're not supporting Clinton because she has a list (think about it: anyone can have a list): rather, they believe Clinton has the ability to deliver, or execute, what she is promising.

In other words, they identify with and trust Clinton to be an effective president, someone they can depend on to quickly begin cleaning up the mess left behind by the Bush administration and the defunct Republican Congress.

And while Hillary Clinton is certainly a force to be reckoned with, so is Barack Obama. His campaign has a strong, powerful theme that is resonating deeply with progressives and biconceptuals alike. He is reshaping Democratic politics, reaching out to young people, and attracting independents to his side.

Obama's campaign has reached the point where it has the strength to match the Clinton machine. Unless Hillary is able to stem the tide of losses soon, Barack will overtake her and be on his way to the nomination.

Governor Gregoire on Daily Kos

Governor Chris Gregoire posted her first ever diary to Daily Kos this afternoon:
Something remarkable is happening. It’s happening all over the country, from Idaho to South Carolina, from Alabama to Iowa, and yesterday, I saw it happen here, first hand in my home state of Washington. Democrats showed up in record numbers to participate in the primary political system.

A short description of the reaction to my travels to two different caucus sites is simply, "Wow."

When I arrived at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, a town in Snohomish County, north of Seattle, the place was already overflowing with caucus goers. The huge crowd made it almost impossible to navigate to the three rooms needed to accommodate everyone. The cafeteria, gymnasium and athletic room were packed with energized Washingtonians. It was inspiring.
The Governor is responding to comments, so if you're part of the Daily Kos community, head on over to thank her for joining in the conversation online.

World watches Washington caucuses

Many articles have been written about the intense interest around the world in the United States presidential race, particularly the clash between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who both want the Democratic nomination.

On Friday, at the KeyArena rally for Obama, we met several friendly "Canadians for Obama" who traveled to Seattle to document history in the making. They were decked out in handmade T-shirts (which read "Canadians Like Obama Too").

The front page of Le Monde (France) offers compelling evidence that the world is closely watching every round in this record shattering nominating season. The third article down the page is about our caucuses!
Le sénateur Barack Obama, à la lutte avec Hillary Clinton pour décrocher la nomination démocrate en vue de l'élection présidentielle américaine de novembre, a remporté les trois consultations organisées, samedi 9 février, pour départager les rivaux démocrates. Selon des chaînes de télévision américaines, M. Obama a obtenu 68 % des voix dans l'Etat de Washington et dans le Nebraska où étaient organisés deux caucus. Il a également remporté les primaires de Louisiane avec 54 % des suffrages contre 38% pour sa rivale Hillary Clinton. 78 délégués étaient en jeu dans l'Etat de Washington, 56 en Louisiane et 24 dans le Nebraska. Ces délégués doivent être répartis à la proportionnelle.
I'm not a native speaker of French, but I know enough to be able to translate a news report myself without much difficulty. In English:
Senator Barack Obama, still fighting with Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination for the American presidential election in November, won three contests held on Saturday, February 9th, where voters had the chance to decide between the rival Democrats. According to American television networks, Mr. Obama won 68% of the vote in Washington State and in Nebraska, which held caucuses. He also won the primary in Louisiana against Hillary Clinton with 54% of the vote, to her 38%. 78 delegates were at stake in Washington State, 56 in Louisiana, and 24 in Nebraska. These delegates must be allocated by proportional representation.
From Germany:
Im Rennen um die Präsidentschaftskandidatur der US-Demokraten hat Barack Obama seine Konkurrentin Hillary Clinton in drei Staaten geschlagen. Beide liegen jetzt nahezu gleichauf.

Senator Barack Obama siegte am Samstag (09.02.2008) in den Staaten Louisiana, Nebraska und Washington sowie in dem US-Territorium Jungferninseln mit deutlichem Vorsprung.
I don't know German, so I won't try to translate that, but you get the idea.

The BBC also has a front page report on last night's Obama sweep, which is fortunately in English for those of you intrigued by an international perspective but not fluent in another language.

(Speaking of other languages - no pun intended - it's ridiculous that many conservatives who have never bothered to study another language make such a big deal about immigrants becoming proficient in English. Perhaps if they tried to learn a second language, they'd be less ignorant and more understanding).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Obama sweeps Washington, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Virgin Islands

What a day it has been!

Three more states and one U.S. territory have fallen into Barack Obama's column, in an incredibly lopsided sequel to Super Tuesday just a few days ago.

Washington, Nebraska, Louisiana, and the U.S. Virgin Islands each broke strongly for Obama, leaving a dejected Hillary Clinton campaign 0 for 4 in the first series of contests since February 5th. In Washington and Nebraska, Obama chalked up triple digit victories, winning 68% to Clinton's 31%. In Louisiana, his victory was still impressive, although not quite as wide (57% to 36%).

And in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Obama's 90% plus blowout win will likely mean zero delegates for Hillary Clinton.

Maine caucuses tomorrow, and "Chesapeake Tuesday" follows shortly thereafter (Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. will hold nominating events on the 12th). It is likely that Obama will come out ahead in all of those contests, gathering valuable delegates to his side and testing the endurance of the Clinton campaign, which is already in defensive mode.

The Clinton team is preparing to regroup in early March, when campaign officials believe they have a good chance of derailing the Obama Express.

But early March may be too late.

If Barack Obama continues to gain momentum, the victories Senator Clinton is counting on to save her campaign in early March could fail to materialize.

But even if Obama continues to win, it doesn't mean Clinton will give up. She has the edge in superdelegates, and until Obama neutralizes that advantage, she's unlikely to call it quits. We know that Hillary is willing to go the disance. As she said a year ago, "I'm in it to win."

The only problem is for her is so is Barack Obama...and oh yeah, the huge people powered army that's standing next to him.

Obama takes Washington and Nebraska; Clinton campaign tries to spin defeat

With over 70% of precincts reporting, the Washington Democratic Party shows a clear and commanding lead for Barack Obama across Washington State.

The results, as of 6:24 PM:

Obama: 67.2% (16,262 delegates)
Clinton: 31.6% (7,655 delegates)
Uncommitted: 1% (237 delegates(
Other: .18% (44 delegates)

Hillary Clinton hasn't captured a majority in any county except Douglas.

And in Nebraska, Obama is simply crushing Clinton with over 70% support. Louisiana is still coming in but it doesn't look good for Clinton there either.

The Clinton campaign, trying to make the routs less impressive, released this:
Tonight there are contests in three states that the Obama campaign has long predicted they would win by large margins. According to a spreadsheet that was obtained by Bloomberg News, the Obama campaign predicted big victories in Washington State, Nebraska and Louisiana.

The Obama campaign has dramatically outspent our campaign in these three states, saturating the airwaves with 30 and 60 second ads. The Obama campaign has spent $300,000 more in Louisiana on television ads, $190,000 more in Nebraska and $175,000 more in Washington.

Although the next several states that hold nominating contests this month are more favorable to the Obama campaign, we will continue to compete in them and hope to secure as many delegates as we can before the race turns to Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
Whatever Hillary's top advisors say, we know that her Washington campaign team desperately wanted to win here.

They secured three appearances from Clinton herself throughout the state - one in Seattle, one in Tacoma, one in Spokane - and robocalled heavily.

A fellow Democrat tells me that she got several robocalls from Clinton's campaign - including one taped by Ron Sims and another by Gary Locke. (NPI, by the way, has urged the Washington State Legislature to pass a law restricting robocalls, an idea which readers have expressed tremendous support for).

Clinton's Washington crew was in it to win. But tonight, running up against the people-powered Obama juggernaut, they lost.

First results are in: Obama easily winning Washington caucuses

The state Democratic Party is reporting the first results from the caucuses today. With 30% in, Obama is crushing Hillary Clinton 2 to 1 - 66% to her 31%. And it looks like Obama's lead may be growing.

So, just for the fun of it....

(Cue patriotic political theme music)

We have some breaking news just in for those of you who missed your caucus because you're camping out in the Cascade Mountains backcountry: The Northwest Progressive Institute is ready to project that Barack Obama is going to win the Washington state caucuses by an overwhelming margin.

Now, remember, you heard it here first!

(The traditional media, by the way, has begun projecting that Nebraska will also go for Barack Obama - his support there is equivalent to Washington's).

If Barack Obama sweeps Washington, Louisiana, and Nebraska tonight, it'll be a pretty bitter setback for Hillary Clinton.

Washington caucuses: A roundup

I'm going to use this post to aggregate caucus coverage from the regional traditional media and the netroots community (local and national).

UPDATE: Welcome fellow Daily Kos readers! Here's a quick compilation of our Live Inside the Washington Caucuses coverage:
Let's start off with a few reports from NPI readers:


Here in Madrona (central district edge, not gold coast) we had 98 votes for Obama and 16 for Clinton. Expected Obama victory, but amazing spread. I voted Obama, but am an equally strong Clinton supporter. I'll be very happy however it turns out.
Leland Bryant Ross:

I went to my caucus in Seattle's marginalized Eastlake neighborhood as one of the marginalized, to wit, a Gravel caucusgoer, the only one in my precinct; I switched to Obama before the delegate election. In our precinct our five delegates split 4 for Obama to one for Clinton; the actual sign-in at the vote was 84 Obama, 19 Clinton, three undecided. And from what I just saw on FoxNews (yikes!) it was the same story in the Palouse and in Lewis County. It sounds wonderful. All these kids finally get their chance to vote for John Kennedy! ;-)

I just got back from the caucus on Bel-Red road, and it does look like it's going to be Obama all the way. In my precinct, it was 70% Obama, 30% Clinton. Friends of mine in two other precincts say it went 4 to 0 Obama and 4 to 1 Obama. Let's hope this trend continues throughout the state!

Kirkland here. The community hall they booked for my precinct and its neighbors was also too small to hold everyone. They ended up having to move some of the precincts to another location. Enthusiasm on the Democratic side is extremely high this year.

In our precinct, Obama won over Hillary 3 to 1. Other precincts in the hall voted similarly.
Barb Levy:

I'm in the 36th district, and my precinct had 112 votes, which led to 7 delegates for Obama and 2 for Clinton. I look forward to being a delegate for Obama for my district on April 5th!
Now, here's a list of posts from other blogs in the local netroots community:

DailyKos diary entries:

Traditional media reports:
Feel free to share your caucus experience with us in the comments.

LIVE Inside the Washington Caucuses: Reporting in from the south end of Redmond

First, the bottom line: My precinct went 64% for Obama (and 36% for Clinton)) giving Clinton 2 delegates and Obama 3.

Now, the rest of the story. As is surely no surprise by now, the place was jam-packed. Yes, you guessed it: standing room only. Our caucus location served twenty different precincts, which was clearly too many for the size of the venue. Dwight Pelz, are you listening? Let's do better next time.

In Dwight's defense, of course, the room was probably booked well in advance of the Iowa/New Hampshire primary action, when we didn't know nationwide Democratic turnout was going to be so huge.

Things would still have been crowded in twice the space we had, though. Signing folks in took close to two hours, and was thorough chaos.

Other than that, things went as expected, so I won't comment on them except to call out two things that deserve mention.

First, the sign-in process was total chaos. I don't say that happily, as I was helping sign people in. But it was, in no small part because the King County Democratic party is seriously short on precinct committee officers (PCOs). I just took a quick count on the latest published list of PCOs, and only 46.7% of King County's precincts have a Democratic PCO.

For events like today's caucus, that means that the few PCOs who were there ended up handling the sign-in sheets for several precincts.

I had six separate precincts whose paperwork I was trying to deal with. That would have been fine under normal turnout conditions, but the blizzard of people quickly made a mockery of the concept of orderly lines and manageable meetings.

Consequently, sign-in took much longer than it needed to, and a lot of people forgot or didn't see that they were supposed to write down their preference on the sign-in sheet. That wouldn't have happened if there was a PCO there to give each person one-on-one attention while they were signing in.

So for anyone reading this post who lives in King County, please take a few minutes to see if your precinct has a designated PCO, and if not, sign up for the job. It's really not that much work.

Clearly, from the number of questions I fielded about whether the February 19th primary counts for anything, Washingtonians haven't gotten used to the fact that we don't have general election style primaries anymore.

And for Democratic voters, particularly, they may not be used to caucusing yet. I heard and saw several things today which makes me think that perhaps the Republican party is doing a better job allocating delegates. They're using both the primary and the caucus to allocate delegates.

Yes, there are advantages to the caucus, but let's not forget the limitations.

For example, knowing that the venue was going to be packed, and unable to score a babysitter in time, my wife ended up staying home with the kids rather than try to shepherd a toddler and a three year old in a situation where I wasn't going to be able to help at all. That is a disappointment for her, because it means she's disenfranchised. She has no other opportunity to have her primary preference counted for anything.

Another example: An elderly lady fought through the crowd to my sign-in table and told me that she had her 90 year old, wheelchair-bound mother with her, who was waiting elsewhere on the side of the room (I don't blame her.

There's no way she'd have been able to push a wheelchair through the mob to get her mother up to the sign-in table. I sent her back with a sheet for her mother to fill out, which she did and returned back to me.

So that story ends well, but clearly the effort of going to the caucus was enormous for that woman and her mother. I definitely support, at least in the abstract philosophical sense, what Dwight Pelz said on KUOW the other day: that it's probably a good thing for folks to get out and talk politics with their neighbors at least once every four years. But for some folks, that really is difficult.

This evening I was talking to a friend who lives in Magnolia, who for ordinary reasons of a hectic life, couldn't get to her caucus location on time.

She got there, and signed in, but it was after her precinct had already counted its votes. Disenfranchised.

She told me a third-hand story of an elderly neighbor who can't drive anymore, and had a similar experience because her taxi was late picking her up. She did everything right, but she still got there too late to have her vote counted.

Don't get me wrong. I like the caucus. But it just isn't practical for everyone, and the state Democratic party needs to find some solution for those people to have their voices heard too. I don't know if a half-and-half system is best or if we just need a better absentee process for the caucuses, but we need something.

The process I saw and participated in today simply doesn't work for everyone.

LIVE Inside the Washington Caucuses: Bellevue fired up and ready to go

Isn't it amazing how a place can come alive for a caucus?

Curious to see how the setup was coming along, I drove by Tillicum Middle School this morning around 10:30 AM to look around. A few Obama campaign signs were posted here and there but there were no volunteers to be seen.

Only two women setting up a table for the Hillary caucusgoers.

As I approached the entrance one asked if I were there to caucus for Hillary. I said "No, I'm here for Obama." I noticed a look of disappointment on the face of the other woman, and immediately said "You know, I'm a good Democrat and whoever is the candidate I'll support." That statement didn't seem to cheer them up, and I left to take care of a few errands.

As I returned and approached the school at about 12:30, I was glad to see parking was already at a premium and I finally found a spot in the driveway against the curb.

I walked up to the entrance where Obama supporters were handing out buttons and posters (of which two are now in my possession) joining the crwod streaming through the door and assembling at the tables.

I found my precinct and sat down with neighbors I hardly knew. I was happy to meet so many new friends, people I have lived near for the last decade.

By 1 PM there was a flood of people filling the room to capacity.

The organizer had to move about a quarter of the attendees out of the cafeteria and into the library and staff conference rooms.

I estimate at the peak there were upwards of 700 people, many of whom had never participated in politics beyond voting.

Veterans of the same caucus events from 2004 remember only 100 folks showing up.

As I wandered around the room filming, I was overcome with an overpowering sense of pride in my neighbors; many of whom left behind the comfort of their homes or the rigors of their jobs to take time to express their disgust for the Bush administration and their hope for the future.

I saw people coming together to take America back from the corrupt forces that have trod on our Constitution and squandered our respect abroad.

Twenty eight of us showed up for our precinct caucus. Twenty five of us signed in for Barack Obama, three for Clinton. Obama captured all three of our delegates.

The outcomes for the other precincts were equally lopsided 3-1, 4-1, or 5-1, Obama over Clinton.

I truly feel I am standing in the midst of a historical event in my life. It is an honor to be part of this great movement.

The most effective way to make a difference is to show up, and that's what hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are doing today.

LIVE Inside the Washington Caucuses: The Fighting 37-1838th

Like everywhere else, turnout was explosive at Washington Middle School, where I caucused - my precinct had 110 voters in attendance alone.

In 2004 only 400 people voted in this precinct in the general election, so it's a bit of an understatement to say that was turnout was big.

Dwight Pelz was in attendance helping coordinate things, and over all the entire process went very smoothly despite the fact that between all the precincts present there was well over a thousand people.

After our first round there was 88 votes for Obama, 11 for Clinton, and 7 uncommitted. Our precinct was allocated 8 delegates, and based on those number Obama would have gotten 6, and Clinton 2.

Some of the uncommitted then spoke along with supporters for Obama and Clinton. 5 of the uncommitted made up their minds, and they did so for Obama. A few latecomers also signed up during the debating; the final tally was 96 for Obama, 11 for Clinton, and 2 uncommitted. That shifted the vote enough to give Obama 7 and Clinton 1 - precisely the same outcome as in Andrew's Redmond precinct.

I decided to through my hat in the ring as a delegate. There were initially 9 of us going for the 7 Obama delegate slots.

We all gave 30 second speeches about why we wanted to be delegates. The highlight was an elderly black man who talked about how he fought in World War II, was very active in the civil rights movement, and never thought he would be here casting his vote for Obama for President. It was pretty moving and underscored just how incredible and inspiring Obama’s candidacy is.

A couple of the candidates decided to become alternates instead, so in the end there was no need for voting. I was not able to caucus in 2004 because I was out of the country, so this was my first experience with the process. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the 37th Legislative District Caucus in April!

LIVE Inside the Washington Caucuses: It looks like a massive rout for Barack Obama

The precinct caucuses are just wrapping up here on Education Hill in Redmond. Volunteers from the 45th District Democrats are putting away tables and chairs, paperwork is being collected, and equipment packed up.

If my precinct is any indication, this will be a massive rout for Barack Obama.

The final allocation in my precinct was one hundred Democrats signed in support of Obama, twenty for Clinton, and five uncommitted. No one signed in for any other candidate. (Other precincts at this area location are reporting similar percentages).

The best Clinton did in any of the precincts tallied so far here is a third.

In our precinct, we elected seven delegates to the legislative district caucus for Barack Obama and one for Hillary Clinton.

I have been hearing from friends that the margin for victory in Barack is other precincts is also very significant.

It was easy to imagine that turnout would be high. But envisioning it on a human level is much, much different. And that's the problem we ran up against today.

The state party is going to have to radically simplify and improve its process if future caucuses are to be run more smoothly.

LIVE Inside the Washington Caucuses: Madness

After convening my precinct's caucus nearly an hour ago, and screaming myself hoarse to the HUGE crowd of people gathered in my precinct, I think the appropriate word to describe turnout today is megagigantic-massive.

I was not prepared for this. None of the organizers at our area were.

We ran out of chairs.

We ran out of sign in sheets (had to send someone to the copier for more).

We ran out of pens.

We ran out of tables.

We are out of everything here except for people. It feels like practically the whole neighborhood is here. It's really amazing. We have young and old, black and white, gay and straight. So many people came that I had to turn myself around constantly just so that people could hear me speak.

I had to climb up on top of the table and shout. I felt like I was under siege as people peppered me with questions and pleas for more sign in forms.

We're just tallying the final sign in numbers now, so I've got to finish running the precinct caucus. But I will check back in after the proceedings have finished here with a more complete report.

UPDATE: Welcome Atrios readers! More coverage in this post.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The governor's courage

Prior to Barack Obama taking the stage this morning and blowing the doors off of KeyArena, local leaders took turns praising the Illinois senator. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels touted his affinity for green energy as a new economic model for the future. Congressman Adam Smith of Washington's 9th District further voiced his support for Obama, to much applause.

Governor Chris Gregoire Endorses Barack Obama at RallyBut Governor Gregoire's endorsement of Barack Obama today, just twenty four hours before the caucuses, was somewhat surprising and very courageous.

In a state where the two other top elected Democrats (Senators Cantwell and Murray) have endorsed Hillary Clinton, it would have been easy for her to opt to do the same. Instead, she chose a path that transcended gender and partisanship.

Her thoughtful and enthusiastic approach should be noted and appreciated by progressives throughout the state.

While onstage, explaining her endorsement, she said she did a lot of soul searching to reach her decision. A comment like that often sounds empty coming from a politician. At that moment, though, there wasn't a politician speaking; there was simply a woman who came to a heartfelt decision after some serious introspection, based on what she thought was best for our state and for our country.

And for that candor...that courage... we thank her.

Washington State caucuses tomorrow!

A reminder to all Evergreen State readers: You probably know that the Washington Democratic precinct caucuses begin tomorrow at 1 PM at thousands of locations across the state of Washington. But do your neighbors know?

The caucuses will begin in a little over eighteen hours. Consider taking some time this evening to call your neighbors and invite them to join you at the Democratic precinct caucuses tomorrow if they haven't already made plans to do so.

Fuse has a list of responses to many common "I can't go to the caucus" excuses.

You can look up your precinct caucus location at the state party's website. (A caution: the site is experiencing high traffic volume at the moment, so be patient and refresh the page if it doesn't load).

You can also use the Obama campaign's caucus locator, which we tested and are happy to report is working reliably. (The Obama campaign will ask you for a valid email address and telephone number in addition to your address.)

Here are some tips for first time caucusgoers:
  • Bring your voter registration card with you to the caucus so you can be seated quickly with your neighbors. If you can't find your voter registration card, write your precinct name on the back of a business card and put it in your wallet. Knowing your precinct will help expedite sign-in significantly.
  • Don't assume your precinct caucus is at your polling place. Precincts that are geographically close will meet together in groups (known as clusters, wards, or areas) at a central location.
  • Remember that you may caucus if you are seventeen now but will be eighteen by election day, or if you are a citizen not registered to vote.
  • Don't hesitate to bring your kids with you to the caucus. Children are welcome - remember, a caucus is simply a meeting of Democratic neighbors.
  • Come prepared to say something about your presidential preference (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or another candidate).
You can also read answers to many frequently asked questions about the caucuses, or watch this video introduction which explains how the caucuses work.

Traditional media how-to articles about the Washington caucuses:
Want to talk to a human? Call the Democratic Caucus Hotline at 206-583-4345.

LIVE from KeyArena: WOW! Obama welcome louder than booming thunder

I'm not sure any noise could have prepared us for the booming thunder that greeted Senator Barack Obama when he climbed the stairs to begin his rally address to the huge crowd assembled here at KeyArena.

It was so loud that it was impossible to hear anything else in those moments. I know my ears are still ringing and my head is still pounding.

It was simply incredible.

Senator Obama is speaking now, and I have to admit, it's really hard for me to type anything he's saying because he is a such a captivating leader. And the energy here is infectious. Contagious. Electric. You really have to be here to feel this, but it's such a great feeling. It's politics that makes you happy to be alive, happy to be involved, happy to be part of something that is bigger than one person.

As he began, Obama admired the turnout, declaring: "This crowd is as big as any crowd we've gotten anywhere in the country."

UPDATE (Jennifer): Here's a snaphsot of Obama speaking.

Barack Obama Addresses Rally

Somebody shouted "we love you" and Barack responded, smiling, "You know I love you back." That, naturally, elicited a resounding cheer.

Obama is touching on every major challenge facing us today - from healthcare to education to our environment to civil liberties to international affairs. He manages to be thorough, eloquent, and concise, all at the same time.

"Ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they are given the opportunity," Obama stated, urging the audience to believe.

"I am convinced that the American people are a decent people, a generous people, willing to work hard and sacrifice on behalf of future generations," Obama added.

LIVE from KeyArena: Warming up for Barack

It's just a few minutes until one o'clock here at KeyArena, and Mayor Greg Nickels has taken the stage to officially kick off this rally.

"It's a good thing I gave the fire chief the day off today," Nickels quipped, "because KeyArena holds 18,000 people and we are over capacity!" (This drew a loud cheer!) He told the crowd that Barack was shaking hands with the three thousand plus people outside who wanted to attend the rally but couldn't get in. That's a nice gesture on Senator Obama's part.

Representative Adam Smith followed, explaining why he supports Barack Obama's presidential campaign. "There's no question we need someone new in the White House. But we need more than that," Smith said. "We need someone who will fundamentally change the way we do business in Washington, D.C."

"He is the only candidate in this race who has the ability to deliver," Smith continued, concluding: "Thank you for being here, thank you for being part of something extroadinary!"

Mayor Nickels just introduced Governor Chris Gregoire, who was welcomed with a standing ovation. Gregoire was drowned with cheers and applause when she declared, "after much soul searching and debate" to endorse Barack Obama.

Touching on the challenges before the nation, Gregoire declared that a new direction for the nation (change we can believe in!) is imperative:

"I have come here because I believe we have a unique leader in America who can do just that. And his name is Barack Obama."

LIVE from KeyArena: Obama rally packs stadium

Well, the Northwest Progressive Institute team is in place at KeyArena here in Seattle where tens of thousands of people have turned out for Barack Obama's address. There are six of us here on the floor - two of us blogging, two of us shooting video, and two taking still images.

KeyArena is nearly packed to capacity. There's hardly a seat left in the place.

It's just astonishing how many people have shown up today. We've talked to dozens of people who are skipping school or work to be here. The crowd is exceptionally diverse - Washingtonians from all walks of life and all backgrounds are represented. The enthusiasm here is tremendous: when Barack Obama takes the stage, the roar from the crowd is going to be simply deafening.

The crowd has broken into several loud chants of "Obama!" already - Barack hasn't arrived yet, of course, but people here can hardly contain their excitement.

The festivities are just kicking off here. We'll keep the live reports coming throughout the next few hours, and we hope you'll join us for the ride.

UPDATE (Rick): Here's a photo from the floor - of the stage:

Massive turnout at Barack Obama rally in Seattle

UPDATE (Keith): Sitting behind the army of photographers, videographers, and the security detail, this is an impressive sight.

We're talking about Key Arena here — not a hotel ballroom, not a basement in a church. I’ve seen fewer people at Sonics games.

Every major traditional media outlet is here: The alphabet suit of the Big Four networks, the cable networks, and of course, the blogosphere, strategically tucked behind the main stage, blocking our view of whoever is speaking.

Praise be for the scoreboard. Andrew and I can get a clear view if we get up from our computers and walk around the riser, though.

The display above my head is blasting inspirational tones and showing clips of Obama speeches that are getting cheers from an already boisterous crowd.

One important thing binds together the audience: They believe. This movement, this man, this campaign, will be an historical event.

People in this arena right now may very well remember this the way they remember Rosa Parks, the first moonwalk, and the civil rights movement.

It's historic for a number of reasons. Yes, a black man or a woman will be a viable candidate for the presidency. That much is plain. But the undercurrents are what make this remarkable. Obama is popular.

I attended several rallies in the 2004 election cycle for John Kerry that at the time were well-populated — far ahead of previous elections. But not historic. There was still a lingering sense that Dean was really the choice, and a good segment of Democrats merely accepted Kerry as Better Than Bush, so they supported him.

This is different. Much different. If you're able to watch at home (Northwest Cable News should carry Obama's speech live), relish this moment.

Who knows when something like this will happen again?

BREAKING: Gregoire to appear at Obama's KeyArena rally, will endorse his candidacy

After several weeks of rumors, it appears that what I suggested just a bit ago on AM KPOJ in Portland is now true: sources tell us that Governor Chris Gregoire is endorsing the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama and is scheduled to appear at Obama's midday KeyArena rally in just a few hours.

(We'll be covering the rally live starting at kickoff; check back here for updated coverage of the event, which should be a lot of fun).

UPDATE: Gregoire's statement:
SEATTLE – Democrats in Washington state and across the country are fortunate to have the opportunity to select between two outstanding candidates, either of whom would be a great president. I have decided to endorse Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.

We must restore hope in America. We must put an end to politics of division - by gender, race, and faith. I know Washingtonians are tired of these divisions. They want us to tackle the tough challenges we face, and get result that make their lives better.

Barack Obama has a unique ability to reach across all the artificial divides and divisions to move our nation forward. At a time of great division in our country, we need a leader who will unite us. Barack Obama is that kind of leader.

I was inspired to pursue a career in public service by John F. Kennedy. His presidency heralded the arrival of a new generation of Americans to lead our nation. Like President Kennedy, Barack Obama is inspiring a new generation of young people to get involved. If elected, I believe he will lead us all – young and old, “blue and red” – to create a positive change in our communities, this nation and the world.
Gregoire's decision to back Obama puts her in good company; fellow Democratic governors Janet Napalitanto of Arizona and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas are also backing Obama. Representative Adam Smith of Washington's 9th District, meanwhile, is already a key figure in the local Obama effort, having signed on early.

The state's two other top Democrats - Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray - are backing Hillary Clinton, though neither is serving as a co chair to the campaign (Jay Inslee, Ron Sims, and Gary Locke are Clinton's Washington co-chairs). While Clinton recently picked up the endorsement of Representative Norm Dicks, Gregoire's decision to support Obama is huge because it gives him another high profile superdelegate from a state where Clinton has been snapping them up.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney drops presidential bid

CNN is reporting that Mitt Romney is about to announce his withdrawal from the Republican presidential race. We don't find that particularly surprising given McCain's performance on Super Tuesday; Romney is just too far behind in the delegate count to justify continuing his campaign.

And, while McCain is probably the most electable of the Republican candidates (and therefore will pose the most serious challenge to our eventual nominee) there is a silver lining to Romney's announcement.

If the Republican contest is effectively over (it seems unlikely that Huckabee will be able to overtake McCain), it means that the press will be forced to cover the Democratic race from here until Obama or Clinton comes out ahead...or until the convention. If our candidates are front and center, that is actually beneficial to the party, so long as Clinton and Obama don't resort to sleazy campaign tactics.

UPDATE (Andrew): So Mike Huckabee was right when he declared to his supporters on Super Tuesday - - if there's a two person race, he's in it:
John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday as chief rival Mitt Romney suspended his faltering presidential campaign. "I must now stand aside, for our party and our country," Romney told conservatives.

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
A surrender to terror, eh? Way to go out in the traditional right wing fearmongering style, Mitt. Flying the elephant above the Stars and Stripes as usual.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In Brief - February 7th, 2008

In the Pacific Northwest
  • The House in Idaho passed a bill that requires people not born in the U.S. to show that they are in this country legally before obtaining a driver's license. Democrats fear that the bill could make it harder for students and other legal immigrants to obtain the licenses, but this did not deter the Republican-led house from passing the bill onto the Senate.
  • Oregon's House Consumer Protection Committee voted to ban the sale of toys in the state of Oregon that had been previously recalled due to safety issues.
  • Microsoft made an unsolicited $44.6 million bid to purchase Yahoo!. Yahoo! has yet to respond to the bid, and is thought to be weighing its options.
Across the Nation
  • The tragic realities of global climate change are once again being revealed as 50+ people perish in tornadoes throughout the South on Tuesday.
  • The Black AIDS Institute, National Minority AIDS Council, NAACP, National Urban League, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Bar Association, American Medical Association and U.S. Conference of Mayors all believe that a 20-year-old federal ban on syringe exchanges funded by federal dollars is contributing to the AIDS epidemic in Black and Latino communities in America.
Around the World
  • Former Pakistani Prime Minister and slain Presidential candidate Benazhir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has ended their 40-day period of mourning and released her will, which names Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, as her political heir.
  • In another woeful yet consistent act as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk agreed that Poland will host U.S. missiles as part of our missile defense system. This deal not only angered the Russians, but is also thought to be a set up for preemptive action against Iran.
  • Speaking of Iran, they just opened their first space center. The Bush Administration of course seized the opportunity to condemn the rocket launch, saying that launching things into space takes the same kind of know-how to launch "ballistic" missiles. This is saber-rattling at its finest.
Today in Black History
  • Negro History Week, which was invented by Carter G. Woodson, was first observed on this day in 1926. This eventually grew into what we now celebrate as Black History Month.

Let's get Washington up to speed

Considering Washington's reputation as high tech state with so a significant ecommerce presence, it's easy to assume that we're at the forefront of high-speed Internet availability. Unfortunately, that's not the case: only half of Washington residents have access to broadband Internet.

Our broadband isn't the fastest around, either. We're 18th in download speeds and a mere 38th upload speeds compared to other states.

Improved availability of broadband is important for number of reasons. The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers and Communications Workers of America (Washtech/CWA) point out that widespread high speed Internet access results in a stronger economy, better health & safety services, and increased educational opportunities.

What is needed to increase the availability of broadband Internet access is a firm commitment at the state and local levels to require equal access, which would ensure a robust technology sector and create new opportunities for growth.

The High Speed Internet Initiative, based on an extremely successful plan implemented in Kentucky, aims to do this and more:
  • Creates a public/private partnership that includes providers, local and state governments, unions, non-profits and health, education and public safety organizations to work collaboratively to develop and lead a statewide internet deployment and adoption initiative, including developing local area planning teams to facilitate local planning.
  • Create and regularly update mapping of broadband services and identify gaps in service.
  • Create an inventory of existing high-speed Internet services and other baseline assessments necessary to inform a research driven broadband expansion strategy.
You can participate in the effort to pass this legislation by signing up at this site. Let's come together to bring Washington up to speed.

Barack Obama in Washington State: Seattle rally will be at KeyArena

Barack Obama's presidential campaign has finalized a time and a venue for his appearance this Friday in Washington State, NPI has learned.

The details for the Obama event are as follows:

Stand for Change Rally with Barack Obama
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, WA 98109
February 8th, 2008 | Doors Open: 11:00 AM

Notes: The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is encouraged. For security reasons, do not bring bags. No signs or banners permitted.

You can also sign up to volunteer for the Obama campaign on the RSVP form, and pledge to vote for Barack at the precinct caucuses this Saturday. There are less than seventy two hours to go until the 1 PM convening time on the 9th.

Michelle Obama is also set to visit Spokane before the precinct caucuses, but we haven't received confirmation of any details from the Obama campaign yet.

UPDATE: The Spokane rally information is as follows -

Rally with Michelle Obama
Fox Theater
1001 W. Sprague St
Spokane, WA 99201

February 8, 2008
Doors open: 3:00 PM | Event begins: 4:00 PM

As with the Seattle rally, don't bring bags or signs. RSVP requested.

Hillary Clinton arrives in Washington tomorrow, will appear at waterfront rally

In a last minute change of plans, Hillary Clinton will be paying a visit to the Evergreen State tomorrow, her campaign announced today. She is scheduled to speak at rally on the Seattle waterfront in the evening, beginning at 8 PM.

Details for the event are as follows:

Hillary Clinton: "Solutions for America" Rally
Thursday, February 7, 2008 at 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Pier 30
2431 E Marginal Way South
Seattle, WA 98134

Be prepared for big crowds and little or no nearby parking if you go.

Hillary is switching places with Bill, who was previously scheduled to appear in the Pacific Northwest on her behalf. The former president will now campaign in Maine instead of coming to Seattle. The change of plans affirms the sudden importance of Washington's Saturday 9th precinct caucuses, the first major contest following yesterday's coast to coast showdown.

Super Tuesday: How the states did fall

Last week, just for fun, I boldly predicted the outcome of the Democratic contest in each Super Tuesday state, relying not on polling or any other "scientific" data, but instinct. I drew on my observations, feelings, and inferences about what might happen. As it turned out, I came pretty close with my guesses.

Let's take a look at how I did:

I correctly predicted that Hillary Clinton would win California (with Barack not too far behind), New York, Arkansas, Tennessee, New Jersey, and American Samoa.

I also correctly predicted that Barack Obama would win Illinois, Utah, Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, and Kansas.

Finally, I correctly predicted Arizona would be a tossup - it went for Clinton, but it wasn't called immediately after the polls closed.

So which states did I get wrong?
  • Minnesota. It went for Obama, not Clinton.
  • Oklahoma. It went for Clinton, not Obama.
  • Alaska. It went for Obama, not Clinton.
  • Massachusetts. It went for Clinton, not Obama.
  • Delaware. It went for Obama, not Clinton.
(Lastly, I should point out that we don't know what the outcome will be in New Mexico yet. I predicted the state would go for Clinton, and she has a slim lead there, but Obama could easily overtake her. There are 16,000 caucus ballots left to be counted and Clinton's lead is a mere 210 votes).

Here's the map I created showing my predictions.

Note that the figure paired with each state is the total number of pledged delegates at stake (Democratic delegates only). Clinton and Obama will divide the total number of delegates in each state between them depending on how much support they receive in the primaries or caucuses.

Super Tuesday Predictions

Now, here's the map showing the results from the Democratic contests:

Super Tuesday Results

Finally, I was correct in predicting that Obama and Clinton would run roughly even on Super Tuesday in the delegate score. They did.

So, without paying attention to any scientific data, I was able to accurately guess the results of at least sixteen of the twenty two states holding nominating events on Super Tuesday (plus American Samoa, which makes seventeen. We can't forget about American Samoa!) Nearly three fourths, or 75%, of my predictions turned out to be true. Maybe I should have placed bets in Las Vegas...

Super Tuesday recap: Obama keeps pace with Clinton, Washington State is next

What a fun night!

After several hours of analyzing results, publishing updates, and crunching numbers, I have to admit I'm pretty weary of writing and editing graphics, though I'm certainly not tired of the presidential race, which is only becoming more exciting now that the action is moving to the Evergreen State.

I spent the evening with a significant contingent of our staff at NPI's impromptu elections nerve center in Bellevue, where we liveblogged, monitored the television networks' Super Tuesday coverage, and enjoyed refreshments together.

We were joined by Jesse Wendel of The Group News Blog and Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who mentions our party in his Wednesday column:
It's been a bad year for Washington, D.C., pundits.

They virtually nominated Hillary Clinton last fall, while writing John McCain's political obituary. They then put Obama on the road to victory, only to see Clinton come back in New Hampshire. McCain was put back onto a pedestal, only to fall short of expectations Tuesday night.

A Tuesday night Bellevue gathering of young bloggers from the Northwest Progressive Institute watched Chris Matthews pontificate on MSNBC, talking about "how female" the Democratic Party has become.

"You are a fool!" exclaimed Andrew Villeneuve, a leader of the group.

On some matters, people across the ideological spectrum can agree.
While the thirty, forty, and fifty year olds on our staff are flattered to be described as youthful, we're not all in the same age bracket, as Joel's column suggests. Yes, several of us are young, but not all of us are. Together, we're a very diverse team with different backgrounds and experiences - a fact I'm personally very proud of.

As for Chris Matthews...fool nicely sums him up as a host. I can't wait for the day MSNBC decides to show him the door. He doesn't add anything to their coverage - rather, he detracts from it by being obnoxious, silly, and annoying.

It was a relief to see Keith Olbermann paired with David Gregory for the South Carolina primary. Unfortunately, that change was only temporary because Matthews - or Tweety as he's known around the blogosphere - had a scheduling conflict. It's time for MSNBC to make him permanently unavailable by firing him.

Moving on to the actual results, there's one important conclusion we can make from last night's epic coast to coast showdown: enlarging the arena didn't change the closeness of the contest.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are emerging from Super Tuesday side by side, with Clinton carrying the Northeast and holding on to California, but losing the Rocky Mountain states and Midwest to Obama, who put together an impressive string of wins there. Obama also ably matched Clinton in the Southeast, capturing Alabama and Georgia (Clinton picked up Tennessee and Arkansas).

In a worrisome sign for Clinton, Obama's victories tended to be lopsided: eight states broke for Obama by sixty percent or more, with three of those above seventy percent (Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota). Clinton could only manage sixty percent or better in one state - Arkansas, where her husband served as governor.

Clinton's campaign also embarrassed itself by declaring victory in Missouri, which the Associated Press erroneously called for her just after 8 PM Pacific:
Southwest to Midwest, Clinton Picks Up Two More Toss Up States
Two more closely contested toss-up states have gone for Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama outspent Hillary by $300,000 in TV ads in Missouri. He also benefited from the endorsements of high-profile surrogates across the state such as Representatives Carnahan and Clay, and Senator McCaskill, all of whom actively campaigned for him and appeared in ads on his behalf.

Despite these challenges - and with the help of Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt - Hillary Clinton won this important toss-up state.
Except she didn't. Barack Obama is the actual winner of the popular vote in the Show Me State, and his late support certainly validates the time, talent, and treasure he spent in Missouri in pursuit of victory.

Clinton retains the lead in superdelegates (most of whom are governors, senators, or representatives) but Obama has a lot going for him, as Markos notes:
California is looking like it might head SUSA's way, so that'll be good news for Hillary. But the rest of the night is bleak. She didn't exceed expectations anywhere. She lost states she led big in just a few weeks ago. She's hurting for money. The calendar up ahead is tailor made for Obama. The momentum is there.
What Barack Obama managed to do last night was make it through the biggest test of his candidacy in fighting form. He won more states than Clinton, claimed a roughly equal number of delegates, and netted the key battleground of Missouri in the night's defining moment.

Obama is now poised to win in Washington State, where there is powerful enthusiasm for his campaign. But Hillary Clinton is a tough competitor. She isn't about to concede the Evergreen State.

That means this Saturday's Democratic caucuses could see not just record shattering attendance, but gigantic, astronomical, unheard-of turnout.

The state Democratic Party has worked hard to prepare for the precinct caucuses, but when the interest is as tremendous as it has the potential to be this year, it's difficult to truly be ready.

Two other states will hold nominating events on February 9th: Louisiana is holding its primary, while Nebraska will hold caucuses. Neither state offers as many delegates to Obama and Clinton as Washington does. Obama has already planned a visit to Seattle this Friday, and Bill Clinton is scheduled to arrive tomorrow for events on Thursday and Friday. Hillary will likely follow him in short order.

The next few days are going to be some of the most memorable times in Washington State politics. Relish the next seventy two hours, because we're unlikely to see a competition this historic again anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

California projected for Clinton

CNN and NBC are projecting California will go for Clinton. If the networks' numbers are accurate - 55/33 percent split for Clinton on about a million total votes - that projection seems likely to hold.

More interesting to us is that the Los Angeles Times is saying the outcome are "too close to call" and is reporting that polling places are staying open late to accommodate enormous voter turnout.

Final results from California can't be expected until quite late tonight, and possibly not until morning. I do hope California's elections officials get overtime.

As has been the case throughout this nominating season, the story behind the story is voter turnout. CNN's numbers, as of 9:30 this evening, are showing about 800,000 votes on the Republican side, breaking for McCain (although with three folks still in the Republican race, those results are a lot closer).

Since Iowa, the Democratic caucuses and primaries have been out-drawing their Republican counterparts: in some cases, by enormous margins.

California's roughly 10% turnout difference isn't much, but in other states the turnout difference has approached 2-to-1.

Given that recent presidential elections have been decided by a smaller percentage than that, the simple fact of voter motivation. General disgust with the right wing agenda could well overwhelm any specific issues or perceived differences between the candidates in the general election this November.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Colorado picks Obama and Romney

With 85% of the Democratic precincts reporting, Obama has clinched a win in the Colorado caucuses by a two to one margin over Hillary Clinton: Obama 66%, Clinton 33%. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is far ahead on the Republican side, with McCain coming in a distant second: Romney 60%, McCain 19%.

Obama was helped by good organization and to the attention he paid to the state recently, compared to the low profile Clinton maintained.

He drew a large crowd at the University of Denver last week and he opened up numerous offices across the state. Bill and Chelsea campaigned in Colorado as surrogates for Hillary, although with Bill Clinton's current negative image, that may have done her more harm than good.

Obama seems to fit the Colorado Democratic mold. From the Denver Post:
"He's that creative-society, nonpartisan, new-advocate-for-change Democrat that we like here," said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.
Apparently many states use the same mold, since Obama has won eleven states so far tonight. His outside-the-box image and battalions of energetic supporters are narrowing the delegate gap between him and Clinton.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Obama, Clinton trading lead in Missouri

Well, Missouri has turned into quite the contest tonight, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engaged in a fierce battle in the Show Me State primary.

The Associated Press is calling the state for Clinton, but the networks haven't followed suit yet. We're not sure why the AP has called Missouri for Clinton, because it looks from the latest count like Obama may win that state.
Republican John McCain pulled ahead with a narrow lead and Democrat Hillary Clinton kept a narrowing advantage in Missouri's presidential primary as the last votes were being reported.

The Associated Press called Clinton the winner in the Missouri Democratic race.

In Illinois, Democratic favorite son Barack Obama has a 2-1 lead over Clinton, and John McCain is leading the state's Republican contest.
On the Republican side, the outcome looks more solid. John McCain has been declared the winner in Missouri by the networks as well as the Associated Press.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal

UPDATE: HURRAH! With a smiling Claire McCaskill standing by, NBC News is projecting that Barack Obama will win the Missouri Democratic primary.

How embarrassing for the Associated Press.

BREAKING: Barack Obama coming to Washington State this Friday

Barack Obama's campaign has confirmed that the Illinois senator will be visiting Washington State this Friday in advance of the February 9th precinct caucuses, NPI has learned. We're not aware that any venue has been chosen yet, but we do know that Barack Obama will in fact be coming here to campaign in person.

Will Hillary Clinton follow suit? If we had to guess, the answer would be yes.

Governor Christine Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed recently wrote a letter to the presidential candidates, urging them to pay a visit to Washington. The text of that letter is as follows:
Dear Presidential Candidates:

We urge you to visit Washington, the second-largest state in the west, for our delegate-rich Feb. 9 caucuses and our voter-rich Feb. 19 Presidential Primary. Both will have a profound impact on the nomination of the country’s next chief executive.

Washington’s Democratic and Republican Political Party caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 9 and will be the next opportunity to accrue significant delegates after Feb. 5.

Washington’s Presidential Primary is slated for Feb. 19, two weeks after “Super Tuesday” and 10 days after our state’s political parties hold their precinct caucuses. No other state primaries are scheduled until March 4.

Given the strategic timing of Washington caucuses and primary, this is a great place to earn national attention and prove you can win in a culturally and ethnically diverse region.

While the majority of Washington voters cast their ballots by mail, most will hold onto them until the final week.

During a visit to Washington, you have a chance to address the fundamental issues of the Northwest that merit national attention and commitment. Our state is home to military, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and agriculture. We play a pivotal role in other defining national issues including international trade and the Bonneville Power Administration.

Washington is also the third-largest of the 25 states west of the Mississippi, with a sophisticated voting public that cares deeply about the future of this region and the path our nation will take to prepare for the future.

After “Super Tuesday,” many Washington voters will decide which presidential candidate is most deserving of the nomination. A personal visit to Washington will demonstrate your dedication to the west and to each and every American voter.

The State of Washington commends you for your momentous decision to run for President of the United States. Your courage to embrace the demands of a campaign for the presidency is remarkable, and is the foundation of this democracy.

Gov. Christine Gregoire
Secretary of State Sam Reed
As for the Republicans, don't be surprised if Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee also decide to show up in Washington. They're all in need of delegates, and a win in Washington would be a boost for any of them.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

California too close to call, Idaho goes to Obama, Arizona for Clinton

The polls have closed in the Golden State, and though Hillary Clinton and John McCain are leading in the early returns there, the race remains too close to call. Consequently, the networks aren't making any projections - though they are going over the exit polling very thoroughly.

Of the major ethnic groups (this is in California only), Hispanics and Asian Americans are going for Clinton, while whites and blacks are going for Obama.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama appears to be the winner of the Idaho caucuses (big surprise there) and Hillary Clinton is projected to win Arizona - likely thanks to support from women and Hispanic voters. The Idaho Democratic Party has results available on its website.

Just to the south, in Utah, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are the victors in that state's primary. Here's an overview of the results from the AP:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith played a big role in his primary victory in Utah, won 36 delegates in a winner-take-all sweep, while Barack Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary.

Romney had been expected to win Utah, where more than 60 percent of residents are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also won the GOP primary in Massachusetts, where he served as governor.

Obama, an Illinois senator, held a commanding lead with the state's Democratic primary voters. Utah Democrats split their delegates by the popular vote.

The Associated Press made its call based on surveys of voters as they left the polls.
On cable, CNN is currently dissecting the close contest in Missouri (for both Democrats and Republicans) by examining the vote in local jurisdictions.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Obama will likely win Minnesota caucuses

As of 7:45 PM, the networks have not yet called Minnesota for Barack Obama, but they probably will soon- 64% of caucusgoers there are supporting his candidacy. The Associated Press reports that turnout has been very high:
Minnesota officials said they expected the state's Super Tuesday caucuses to attract the most attention since the Vietnam era. They were right.

Thousands of caucusgoers, many of them first-timers, endured long lines to get into caucus sites to cast their presidential preference votes. And that was after many of them faced frustrating delays simply finding a place to park so they could go inside.

At Friendly Hills Middle School here, turnout was twice as heavy as in previous caucus years, said Larry Sachi, a longtime party activist in the district. The DFL and Republican parties both said they would extend the time allowed for voting beyond the 8 PM cutoff so anyone in line could vote.

"The process is working as well as possible, given the number of moving parts involved," Andrew O'Leary, executive director of the state DFL.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney is leading his rivals John McCain and Mike Huckabee with 39% in the GOP caucus. The Minnesota Secretary of State's website has caucus results available for all the political parties.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

What the delegate count looks like

From the Associated Press Worldstream earlier this evening, here's an overview of what the delegate count is looking like for both Democrats and Republicans:
McCain won 97 delegates in early voting Tuesday to 0 for Romney and 18 for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. A total of 1,023 delegates are up for grabs in 21 states.

Overall, McCain led with 199 delegates, to 93 for Romney and 61 for Huckabee. It takes 1,191 to win the nomination at next summer's convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Obama had 31 delegates in early voting Tuesday, while Clinton had 21. A total of 1,681 delegates are at stake in 22 states and American Samoa.

Overall, that gave Clinton 285 delegates, to 236 for Obama, with 2,025 delegates required to claim the nomination in Denver at next summer's convention.
These numbers, of course, are for pledged delegates, not superdelegates, which Hillary Clinton has collected more of than Barack Obama has.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Obama, Clinton leading among different demographic groups

Key demographic groups appear to be voting as expected on this very exciting Super Tuesday - although Clinton is losing ground among women and whites, whose support buoyed her results in earlier primaries. Here's MSNBC:
Early information from exit polls of voters in 16 states showed Clinton winning only a slight edge among women and white voters, both groups that she has won handily in earlier contests. Obama was collecting the overwhelming majority of support among black voters, while Clinton was gaining the votes of roughly 6 in 10 Hispanics.
More than half of those polled favored a candidate who would bring know the word! ...change. It's no surprise that Obama was the choice of these voters, while the quarter of voters who want experience chose the former first lady and two term senator, Hillary Clinton.

Among the voters who are looking for a candidate who cares about "people like them", Clinton beat out her charismatic competitor, the exit polling says. It seems like she has learned a thing or two from her sensitive spouse.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Obama takes Kansas

The caucuses aren't over yet, but it seems very likely Kansas will go for Obama:
Crowds jammed Democratic caucus sites across Kansas Tuesday night, reflecting keen interest in the tight race between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With 11 of the state’s 50 caucus sites reporting, Obama held a lead of 68.6 percent to 30.6 percent.

“The turnout has been unbelievable,” said Jenny Davidson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Democratic Party.

Lines stretched outside and sometimes around buildings hosting caucuses in Johnson County. At some sites, secondary locations were opened up to handle crowds that exceeded expectations despite bad weather in the area.

In Lawrence, a caucus was moved from Liberty Hall to the Douglas County Fairgrounds Community Building to accommodate the overflow.
Hillary Clinton's campaign sent out a news release earlier this evening boasting of its red state victories in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

They won't get Kansas, much for that message.

UPDATE: Obama now has North Dakota and Utah as well; the networks are projecting he will win those states. So much for Hillary's bragging. Both candidates are running even with six Super Tuesday states apiece.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Obama wins Delaware and Alabama; Clinton gets New Jersey

With 86% of the precincts reporting Delaware, Obama wins by a margin of 51% to 44%. In New Jersey, Clinton wins 57% to 41%.

In the South, Obama picks up Alabama also, 64% to 34% over Clinton.

Delegate counts remain close. But counting them precisely depends on how hard you squint, and who reports them. It's becoming increasingly clear that neither candidate will pull very far away from the other by the end of the evening.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Clinton wins Massachussetts and New York

CNN and NBC are projecting that Hillary Clinton will be the victor of the Massachusetts and the New York Democratic primaries. The percentages in this case might not tell the whole story, though. The ultimate distribution of delegates may be closer than the margin of victory in the popular vote.

This puts a lot of pressure on Obama to snag California to beef up his delegate count - and to be able to pick up some momentum.

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews is characterizing Clinton's Massachusetts win as a victory for Hillary over the Kennedy family - as if Obama wasn't her competitor!

The Democratic race remains a close one - and Super Tuesday seems unlikely to change anything. That will certainly put Washington's caucuses in the spotlight.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Arkansas goes to Clinton

With roughly 2% of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton will take the Arkansas primary, according to the talking heads at CNN.

Another home state win; each candidate seems to be able to hold ground.

On the Republican side, Huckabee will steal another one from Romney and McCain. It will be nice to see the Republicans drag this one out until their September convention. And of course, all the punditry in the televised media are harping on the religiosity of their candidates.

More to follow.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Obama and McCain take Illinois

Barack Obama and John McCain are projected to win the Illinois Democratic primary in VERY early results, according to CNN.

AP exit polls indicated that Obama secured 88% of the Black vote, which is about the only statistic available on the contest at this point.

Interesting: For Romney, winning Massachussets, it was a "home state advantage" according to CNN. With Obama, the Black vote wins. Wait, he represents Illinois, right? Isn't that a home state advantage? Yup, interesting coverage.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Media coverage

It's painful.

I'm watching Chris Matthews (the new, improved version) on MSNBC kill some time by interviewing Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and following that with another slightly more pathetic interview with Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois.

No new ground broken, no high pitched cackling or barking. Basically, an open floor for a Clinton supporter followed by an open floor for an Obama supporter. Followed by Keith Olbermann talking to an analyst (referring to McCain supporters as "McCaininites"--all kinds of new words coined tonight) who also hadn't said anything of value.

If this isn't an accidental endorsement of opposition to media consolidation, I don't know what is.

Clinton wins Oklahoma

CNN has called Oklahoma for Hillary Clinton, who was expected to handily win there. The polling had her up by almost 30 points.

Oklahoma has a total of 47 delegates; 25 are allotted proportionally based on the support each candidate receives in each of Oklahoma's 5 congressional district and 13 are allotted proportionally based on the support each candidate receives statewide.

The rest are superdelegates.

Remember that none of the Democratic primaries are winner takes all contests. So regardless of who the state is called for, the other candidate is sure to get delegates - perhaps even more than the winner of the popular vote.

It all depends on the rules.

Obama the winner in Georgia

Polls have closed in Georgia, and NBC/CNN are projecting Barack Obama as the winner. No surprise there, but it's a good psychological boost for Team Yes We Can.

Most of the rest of the states' polls will close at 8 p.m. Eastern time, so we'll have further updates beginning at that time.

And according to the blather of Joe Scarborough, most of the "Hispanish" voters in the West will be voting for Hillary with the same fervor as African American voters will vote for Obama. Yes, we screen the effluent of the traditional media so you won't have to. Keep checking the Official Blog for more election results throughout the evening. It's gonna be huge.

View maps, graphs, and additional Super Tuesday headlines at Pacific NW Portal.

Exit polling predicts big Obama victories

So the captivating figures going around Washington, D.C. at this moment are Super Tuesday exit polling numbers, which (if you take them seriously) indicate big victories are in store for Barack Obama tonight. The numbers:
Georgia: Obama 75, Clinton 26
Connecticut: Obama 52, Clinton 45
Illinois: Obama 70, Clinton 29
Alabama: Obama 60, Clinton - 37
Delaware Obama 56, Clinton 42
Massachusetts: Obama 50, Clinton 47
Missouri: Obama 50, Clinton 45
Tennessee: Clinton 52, Obama 41
New York: Clinton 56, Obama 42
New Jersey: Obama 52, Clinton 47
Arkansas: Clinton 71, Obama 26
Oklahoma: Clinton 61, Obama 30
Arizona: Obama 51, Clinton 45

1st wave:
New Mexico: Obama 52, Clinton 46
Utah: Obama 60, Clinton 40
California: Clinton 50, Obama 46
Over at OpenLeft, Tim Tagaris (formerly of the Chris Dodd campaign) has an important disclaimer about exit polling numbers:
These numbers often change dramatically from wave to wave. For example, the first exit poll #'s we got in Iowa showed Hillary in the lead. Over the course of the next few fifteen/thirty minute intervals, they shrunk and eventually showed a healthy Obama lead. If these are the first waves (or even the second), they don't mean all that much -- especially hours from polls actually being closed in some of these locations.
In other words...the above is for your amusement only, and is not, in any way, shape, or form, meant to be informative.

Mike Huckabee wins West Virginia

Surprised? Believe it or not, there are already results for the pundits to pontificate about on this epic Super Tuesday 2008:
Republican Mike Huckabee scored the first Super Tuesday victory, winning all 18 delegates at stake in West Virginia.

Mike Huckabee came from behind to win in the second round of voting at the West Virginia GOP convention.

The former Arkansas governor won with the support of 52 percent of the state's GOP convention delegates on the second round of balloting. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in second with 47 percent of the vote, and Sen. John McCain was backed by 1 percent of the delegates.

Romney was ahead in the first round of voting in Charleston but failed to get the majority needed to win.

It appeared as though supporters of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who placed a distant third on the first ballot, moved over to Huckabee, helping him to carry the day.
West Virginia reported early because its nominating event is a convention rather than a caucus or a primary.

(The Democratic Party in West Virginia is not holding a nominating event today, so the state isn't yielding any developments in the Obama/Clinton contest).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Open Letter to 710 KIRO: 500 signatories!

As of this afternoon, our Open Letter to 710 KIRO protesting the cancellation of The David Goldstein Show has been cosigned by over five hundred listeners from across the Pacific Northwest and the United States.

It's a great accomplishment, and we're very appreciative of all who have signed so far, but we're not finished yet. Our goal is to get to at least a thousand before we formally deliver our letter to KIRO's management.

If you haven't signed on to the letter yet, we urge you to do so now. Take a stand for quality live and local programming - and let KIRO know you're very upset with their decision to axe David's show. Remember that email verification is required, so don't forget to follow up from your inbox.

Here's a sampling of some of the comments posted to the open letter thus far:

"It is important that KIRO 710 remain heavily focused on local events. People from Washington expect to hear interesting commentary and news there.

Why cut off these stories and guests? People will just leave KIRO and find another, more illuminating station."

- Janet, La Conner

"It was bad enough when Ron Reagan lost his show. Dave Ross is the only remaining reason to listen occasionally.

Thanks a lot -- you just pushed me to KPTK full time."

- Joanne, Olympia

"Goldy's show was one of the few talk radio programs I listened to, and certainly the only weekend talk radio program I have ever tuned in to."

- John, Gig Harbor

"Sorry to tell you Rod, but my weekend listening will no longer include KIRO, and that was about the only time that I *was* listening. The continued deterioration of what was once a good radio station makes me sad."

- Andrew, Seattle

"It's Dave, then KPTK on weekdays. Now, it's back to KUOW on weekends. Conservative robotic thinking by conservative robotic management. We need diverse political analysis especially during an election year. Really, all the time. Of course, you don't care."

- Joanie, Seattle

"I find that I tune into KIRO less and less each week. Now that you have dumped Goldy and Styble, there isn't even a reason to keep the preset on my dial."

- Robert, Edmonds

"Now I will have reprogram the KIRO button in my car. David Goldstein was the only thing I listened to on your station. Good thing you are saving money, right?"

- Chinton, SW Washington

More progressive radio!

Bonneville International may have ungraciously booted David Goldstein off the air at Seattle's 710 KIRO, but fortunately, there's some good news for progressive radio in Washington State this week.

Folks in the Bellingham area will no longer have to find "good spots" to hear KPTK in Seattle while they're driving around town, because today marks the debut of a new local station featuring continuous progressive talk: KBAI 930 AM.

"The Bay" features the best of Air America and the Jones network: Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, and Rachael Maddow, plus local talent (Joe Teehan, currently the host of the Liberal Outpost on KGMI).

Think of that: an unpolluted island in a sea of conservative blather.

Let's keep them on the air!

In Brief - February 4th, 2008

Around Washington State this week, Democratic legislative district organizations are hustling to prepare for an organized, energized caucusa at a VFW hall or school cafeteria near you. It's no easy task, but good meetings need facilitation.

The people greeting you at the door and helping you decipher your caucus packet on Saturday are the folks who are committed to getting authentic Democrats elected and holding them to Democratic ideals once they're in office. If you've had enough of the Bush administration's right wing agenda, consider volunteering to help Darcy Burner or your local LD win this year.

NPI staff will be participating, chairing, and liveblogging from the Democratic precinct caucuses this Saturday. We hope to see you there!

In the Pacific Northwest
  • If you're feeling lucky in Oregon, skip the lottery and play for the big Just call the Oregon Department of Human Services to win. No purchase required. The odds of winning a slot in the state run Oregon Health Plan are 1 in 8, with 13,000 slots available from a pool of about 100,000 qualified applicants.
  • Yes, Boise can! About 10 percent of Boise's voting-age population turned out Saturday night to see Barak Obama at Boise State University. That's 14,000 people and three times the number who attended the state's 2004 Democratic caucuses. There's a light blue glow over Idaho this week.
  • Snoqualmie Pass reopened Sunday afternoon after the state's first-ever use of aerial blasting to prevent avalanches. More heavy snow is expected this week - which could cause more delays.
  • Parents hoping to recognize the math homework their children bring home will be disappointed by OSPI's revised math standards. While many teachers like the curriculum changes, fans of the extremely successful Singapore math won't see anything resembling that concept in Washington schools anytime soon.
Across the Nation
  • President Bush is setting a dubious record today, sending Congress the largest-ever budget proposal of $3.1 trillion. As you'd expect, the budget contains an increase in military spending, but freezes public investments here at home, like education and healthcare.
  • Joan is continuing her fantastic coverage of the FISA debate in Congress at Daily Kos and points this morning to objections from, of all places, Topeka, Kansas. Even citizens from red states are noticing the infringement upon our civil liberties.
  • Wondering who your favorite politician, actress or author has endorsed for the presidency? Then check out the fun, interactive graphic at the New York Times.
Across the World
  • Israel was hit by the first suicide bomber in more than a year today. The attacker sneaked into the country through the Egyptian border, which Defense Minister Ehud Barak says requires a fence for security.
  • Tensions are high in Malaysia between the government and its Indian citizens. Indians are one of Malaysia's three dominant ethnic groups and are increasingly riled by the government's preferential treatment of ethnic Malays.
  • A new idea from the U.N. climate conference in Bali aims to do what other efforts couldn't, save tropical rain forests. The new initiative would give landowners cash or carbon credits per unit of untouched forest. Deforestation is a big contributor to both climate change and the extinction of animal and plant species.
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Saturday, February 2, 2008

In Brief - February 2nd, 2008

Only twenty four hours are left before the Super Bowl kickoff. Odds are, it'll be a great game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants - the wild card Giants are hungry to prove themselves, while the Patriots would love to finish off the season undefeated. As they're saying in Arizona...who wants it more? We'll see.

In the Pacific Northwest
Across the Nation
  • Everything old is new again, part 1: Guess what? Ten years ago the Axis of Evil--er, sorry, the Project for the New American Century--tried to get Bill Clinton to invade Iraq. You have to read between the lines of PNAC's letter a little bit to see their aim, but it's pretty clear. Be sure to read the list of signatories to the letter, a veritable rogue's gallery of Bush administration string pullers and enablers.
  • Everything old is new again, part 2: Didn't we hear honest analysts saying that Sadaam and Bin Laden weren't allies of any sort before the war? I'm pretty sure we did... (Note that the link goes to a video.)
  • This item brought to you by the good folks at RedState: Commie pinko terrorist sympathizers undermine Ohio voting procedures. Okay, not really. I made that up. But how else do you think RedState would spin a story about the ACLU seeking to block use of unfair voting machines in the Buckeye State?
  • "The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control." Cryptography uber-expert Bruce Schneier gets it 100% right. If only National Intelligence Director Michael McConnel did, too. Click the link already.
  • The Story of Stuff is a really fabulous 20 minute Flash video showing the hidden costs of our material society. If this isn't the next Great Internet Meme, it should be. Watch it now before your friends e-mail you the link!
Finally, Barack Obama continues to pick up endorsements: Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, previously an Edwards supporter, has switched to Obama. Meanwhile, in a rapid move to gauge the sense of their 3.2 million members after Edwards' withdrawal, has polled their members for a preference. Obama won the vote with a decisive 70% supermajority. And, just for good measure, the Los Angeles Times has jumped on board too. Goooooo Obama!

CORRECTION: It turns out Mayor Nickels wasn't an Edwards supporter. He was hoping Al Gore would run for president, but when that didn't happen, he endorsed Barack Obama. Thanks for setting the record straight, Mr. Mayor. We regret the error.

Around the World
  • I know the stereotypical vision of the Japanese corporation is mandatory monotone suits and ties, all business all the time. One Japanese firm bucks that trend with some unusual time-off policies that might play well elsewhere in the world too.
  • Blizzards in China are destroying crops, interrupt transportation, and cause food shortages. The storms are already being compared to Hurricane Katrina.
  • Sixty years after Mahatma Gandhi's tragic assassination, the Great Soul's final ashes are spread at sea.
This Day in History
  • 1790: The U.S. Supreme Court convenes for the first time, in New York City. Once upon a time, if you recall your gradeschool history classes, NYC was the nation's capital...
  • 1861: Civil War deja vu: Texas secedes from the United States. Considering who they've saddled us with as president for 12 of the past 20 years, I have to wonder, did they ever really come back?
  • 1960: Four black students sit down to have lunch in Greensboro, North Carolina. I know I can be cynical about this stuff, but let's think about this for a second. Forty-eight years ago, these kids risked their lives to stand up for their civil rights. And five days ago, not so far away from Greensboro, a black man won the South Carolina primary in a 28-point landslide. I call that progress.
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Friday, February 1, 2008

Homeowner's Bill of Rights Update: SB 6385 passes the state Senate

Our Legislative Advocacy bill tracker reports that Senator Weinstein's bill to allow allows Washingtonians to recover repair costs in court if their homes are damaged by negligent construction has passed the state Senate with a vote of 27-20. It was mostly a party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

Voting Yea: Senators Berkey, Brown, Fairley, Franklin, Fraser, Hargrove, Hatfield, Hobbs, Kastama, Kauffman, Keiser, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Marr, McAuliffe, McDermott, Murray, Oemig, Pflug, Prentice, Pridemore, Regala, Rockefeller, Shin, Spanel, Tom, and Weinstein

Voting Nay: Senators Benton, Brandland, Carrell, Delvin, Haugen, Hewitt, Holmquist, Honeyford, Kilmer, King, McCaslin, Morton, Parlette, Rasmussen, Roach, Schoesler, Sheldon, Stevens, Swecker, and Zarelli

Excused: Senators Eide and Jacobsen

The bill now moves to the House, where it must overcome anticipated opposition from Speaker Frank Chopp. Readers, now is your chance to make a huge difference...please contact the Speaker and respectfully request that he allow SB 6385 to the floor for a vote. The best way to get in touch is to call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and ask to be connected to his office.

Our Outreach & Advocacy Director, Rick Hegdahl, explained why this legislation is desperately needed back in January when he testified before the Senate Consumer Protection & Housing Committee.

In Brief - February 1st, 2008

Since I was born in New Hampshire (relax, I've lived in Washington for 22 years), I'll dutifully drool in front of the TV for a few hours on Sunday in honor of the Patriots, who hope to cap a perfect season with a Super Bowl win.

Might be the thing to do, anyway; weather promises to be sloppy. Or you might go through some of the recent Republican debate videos and see how many times Mitt Romney can invoke the name of Reagan, or how often John McCain mentions “timetable.” Hm...the Super Bowl looks pretty good.

Now, on with today's quick news digest.

In the Pacific Northwest
  • KIRO continues to shoot itself in the foot with local programming reductions. In addition to lopping off David Goldstein (see Andrew's posts earlier this week), Carl Jeffers and Bryan Styble are also getting the ax. Ain't media consolidation great? Fewer voices! More generic content! Radio custard! Go KIRO!
  • Steve Duin's column in the Oregonian has some stern warnings for his readers: Polluters are accommodated in Beaverton. The Lakeside Reclamation Landfill, according to the Northwest Environmental Defense Council, is polluting the Tualitin River. According to the NEDC, local laws actually allow for this sort of behavior, and Duin is urging his readers to make some noise.
Across the Nation
  • The United States has killed the al Qaeda #3 guy - again. Pretty soon, the traditional media outlets will just start running these stories in the local police blotters, right next to car prowls, shoplifting and vandalism. The story always says the same thing, much like the Victory narratives in “1984.” You know, 'we killed one of their leaders, but we still need to live in abject fear of everybody who's different...'
  • Suicide rates for soldiers have increased to record levels, thanks to the occupation of Iraq. This highlights the fact that, although by pure statistics the body count of American service people has been low compared to, say, Vietnam, the devastation of lives and families remains absurdly high, and completely unacceptable.
  • On a more cheerful note, conservatives don't seem too thrilled with their choices for president this time around. Gee, why not? An inarticulate rich white guy more reminiscent of an aging Ken doll than an American voter, or the establishment senator who would gladly attack Iran and sink us deeper into debt in the process. Here's a quote from McCain's 96-year-old mom, about her son: “"I think holding their nose they're going to have to take him," she told C-SPAN recently.” Wow. Thanks, Mom.
Around the World
  • Hey, another scientific journal cites the climate crisis as a very real problem. Imagine that! Seems that droughts are influenced by increasingly low snowpacks in the mountains, which is brought on by human-induced greenhouse gases. But I'm sure an Exxon-sponsored scientist can prove them wrong.
  • Credit al Jazeera for letting us know about George Clooney's new position as U.N. peace envoy. He's been a huge influence in getting people to pay attention to the genocide still taking place in Darfur, so it should be at least a tiny bit noticeable in traditional media in the States, one would think. Nope. We learn about this from al Jazeera. Oh, yeah, People Magazine, too. Incredible. Britney Spears in rehab (again)? News! George Clooney, Messenger of Peace? Nah.
  • Damaged undersea cables in the Mediterranean have caused Internet outages across the Middle East and North Africa early Thursday (1/31) morning, with Egypt taking the brunt. It will probably “take days” to get the country up and running again. There is speculation that the culprit was an anchor dragging across the cable.
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