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

Monthly Archives: October 2012

John Koster: “The rape thing” is not a valid reason for a woman to terminate a pregnancy

Another week, another insensitive and offensive comment about rape from a self-righteous male Republican who doesn’t believe in the right to privacy.

Following in the footsteps of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, our own local archconservative candidate for U.S. House – John Koster – has candidly stated his own extreme (and ignorant) views on reproductive rights and women’s health for the benefit of voters in the district he’d like to represent.

We’ve known for some time that Koster – who is running for Congress for the third time – doesn’t believe that women should have the freedom to make their own reproductive decisions. But in a secretly-recorded conversation with an activist from Fuse Washington, who recently attended one of his campaign fundraising events, Koster made it plainly clear he believes abortion should be illegal except if a woman’s life is in danger. What about pregnancies resulting from incest or rape?

As the transcript below shows, Koster believes women should not have the right to choose abortion in those circumstances.

QUESTIONER: Is there any time that you would agree with abortion?

JOHN KOSTER: Um…. When a mother’s life is in danger, I’m not going to make that decision.


JOHN KOSTER: You know, I know they go out and… incest is so rare, I mean, it’s so rare. But, uh… the rape thing, you know… I know a woman who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption, and she doesn’t regret it.  In fact, she’s a… she’s a big pro-life proponent. But on the rape thing, it’s like… how does, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s not… that’s a consequence of this crime… how does that make it better? You know what I mean?

QUESTIONER: But she has to live with the consequence of that crime.

JOHN KOSTER: Well, you know, crime has consequences. But how does it make it better by killing a child?

In other words, what Koster is saying is, the law should not give women who are raped any recourse if they decide they do not want to carry a pregnancy to term. Koster would have the federal government institute a total and complete ban on abortion, with only one exception: to save the life of a woman. Then, and only then, he would refrain from having government interfere. “The rape thing” (as he put it) is simply not a valid reason for a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

As far as Koster is concerned, blastocysts and fetuses are really human beings, so abortion is wrong and should be outlawed, no matter what the circumstances. He’s entitled to his beliefs, of course. We strongly disagree with his worldview, but we can respect it. What we cannot respect, however, is his desire to impose his worldview on everyone. If Koster and his ilk were to prevail, American women would not be free to make their own reproductive health decisions. Abortion would cease to be safe or legal. Pregnancy prevention and medically-accurate sex education would not be widely available, either.

Access to abortion is a matter of liberty. Advocates for women’s health talk often about choice, but women are not free to choose what’s right for them if there’s no clinic, hospital, or other facility nearby providing a full range of services. Without liberty, there is no choice. Koster is unapologetically anti-liberty; he wants his own personal views to be the law, and he’s not concerned about the consequences.

Koster’s Democratic opponent, Suzan DelBene, is currently running ads hammering Koster for his extreme views. The spot they’re running doesn’t feature the audio released today, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a new ad debut that does.

Amtrak partially restores some service in Northeast; but no trains to or from New York

Amtrak announced earlier today that it has begun to partially restore some service in the mid-Atlantic states, but it won’t be possible to travel to or from New York City by rail for at least several days due to badly flooded tunnels.

Here’s the advisory Amtrak released not long ago:

Amtrak will provide modified Northeast Regional service between Newark, N.J., and points south, on Wednesday, October 31, including restoring Virginia service to Lynchburg, Richmond and Newport News. Amtrak will also operate Keystone Service trains between Harrisburg, Penn., and Philadelphia, and modified Downeaster service trains between Boston and Portland, Maine, along with some overnight services to and from the Northeast.

However, as in the case of other tunnel owners and operators in New York City, Amtrak is removing water and making repairs to track, signal and power systems within its tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers. The amount of water intrusion into the tunnels is unprecedented – as was the storm itself – so a date for restoration of Amtrak service directly to/from New York Penn Station from either the north or south is not available at this time.

Therefore, there will be no Northeast Regional service between Newark and Boston and no Acela Express service for the length of the Northeast Corridor on Wednesday, October 31. Also, at Newark Penn Station, there will be no connecting service to New York City and no elevator or escalator service.  Service to the Newark Liberty Airport rail station is suspended due to a lack of connecting services.

Also canceled on Wednesday, October 31, is the Empire Service between New York City and Buffalo/Niagara Falls, the Adirondack to and from Montreal, Québec, Canada, and the Ethan Allen Express to and from Rutland, Vt., due to track damage south of Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y.

All of the MTA’s commuter trains are also out of operation. They won’t run tomorrow and they aren’t likely to run Thursday or Friday, either. Within New York City, only buses are running – no subway service is available.

Air travel remains disrupted, as well. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) are both set to reopen tomorrow with limited service, but LaGuardia (LGA) is still closed due to serious flooding.

Greyhound has resumed service between major cities in Maryland and Virginia, but is not serving New York, Atlantic City, or Mt. Laurel. There is also no service to Ocean City in Maryland. Peter Pan is resuming most of its service tomorrow, but there are some cancellations.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is operating its commuter trains, so rail travel into Rhode Island is available as far south as the Providence area.

New Jersey Transit remains almost completely shut down. Limited bus service in Camden County is resuming, but that’s it.

Walt Disney Company to acquire Lucasfilm, plans to make a new Star Wars trilogy

The Walt Disney Company, which is already the world’s largest media conglomerate (it owns ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Pixar, and a host of other properties) is about to get even biggerDeadline Hollywood Daily has the surprising news:

Disney has just confirmed that it has agreed to acquire George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd., and that includes rights to the Star Wars franchise that will now continue on. The companies have targeted a 2015 release for Star Wars: Episode 7, with Episode 8 and Episode 9 to follow as the the long-term plan is to release a new feature every two or three years. “The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith – and we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand”, Disney said. The deal also includes rights to the Indiana Jones franchise.

Disney will reportedly pay $4 .05 billion for Lucasfilm – slightly more than it paid for Marvel a few years ago, and less than it paid for Pixar Animation Studios.

The surprising deal is Disney CEO Bob Iger’s third major acquisition. Iger has turned around the company after several disappointing years under Michael Eisner, partly by buying Pixar and Marvel. Now Disney will control Lucasfilm.

It’s worth noting that Lucas has given his blessing, encouragement, and support to Disney’s plans to release more Star Wars movies. This is interesting because Lucas has previously said he did not plan to make any more Star Wars movies, and would not be handing off the franchise to anyone else, either.

But evidently, he has changed his mind.

“I’ve always believed that ‘Star Wars’ could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime,” the filmmaker said in a statement. “I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, ‘Star Wars’ will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.”

“Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products,” Lucas added. (Star Wars rides are already among the attractions at Disney theme parks like Disneyland and Walt Disney World).

This deal presumably means that Lucas’ relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is at an end. News Corporation’s Twentieth Century Fox has served as distributor for all six Star Wars movies to date, but Disney will no doubt distribute and market any future films going forward. Lucas always retained merchandising rights and creative control over the franchise, so Disney gains that as well.

There’s no question that Star Wars is a valuable property. From Disney’s perspective, there is a lot of money to be made by doing more movies. (And perhaps a live-action Star Wars television show, as well). In a roundtable discussion posted on, Lucas noted that he has said in the past he doesn’t want to do any more Star Wars films. But apparently, he is perfectly content to let others make them. Kathleen Kennedy will henceforth be the custodian of the Star Wars franchise, with Lucas serving as a creative consultant.

Many Star Wars fans reacted with dismay or incredulity.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! posted quigonschuel on TheForce.Net, a popular message board for fans of Star Wars.

“All over the UK news. OMG this is the weirdest horriblest thing ever. More to say later!” wrote UK Sullustian.

Obi Wanandonly struck a more optimistic tone.

“I agree, GL [George Lucas] had to hand it off to someone eventually, and they [Disney/Marvel] did knock one out of the park with ‘The Avengers.’ I am optimistic. On whether or not it will be a continuation of the original storyline, I’d think they would do a brand new thing (no Luke, Han, etc.) Then again, it might not even actually be “Episode VII”. It’s not like they have the script written already (I’m assuming) so it could conceivably be a standalone story arc in the SW [Star Wars] universe. I think it would be awesome if they did a trilogy in the Old Republic timeline, it would be fresh and new.”

“Now, I don’t like this. I mean, I really, really, really don’t like this. But please: Tell me how Disney can screw up the EU [Expanded Universe] continuity any worse than what George Lucas himself is doing with Clone Wars these days?” asked Hogne.

JediTheSkyisBlue added, “I have a bad feeling about this as well. I just don’t see how they can make a Ep [Episode] 7 without Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie. But I don’t want them to recast. And I also don’t want every few years there to be a new Star Wars. Until Star Wars is nothing but oh no they making another one of those type of movies.”

“I was so shocked by this my hands literally went numb for a second,” JediFireFly5 wrote. “Is GL [George Lucas] trying to kill us? I am thrilled and dismayed. Like if someone dear died and you accepted it and moved on then they are laive but of course not the same person anymore…”

The deal must survive regulatory scrutiny, but given Disney’s influence in the District of Columbia, getting the feds to sign off is probably just a formality.

President Obama to travel to New Jersey tomorrow, inspect damage with Chris Christie

President Barack Obama will travel to New Jersey tomorrow to inspect damage caused by Superstorm Sandy with Republican Governor Chris Christie.

The President will spend his time “talking with citizens who are recovering from the storm and thanking first responders who put their lives at risk to protect their communities”, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement a few minutes ago. Further details will be made available shortly.

Earlier today, Governor Christie had high praise for President Obama’s leadership during the storm. His effusive comments already have some Republicans fuming.

“The federal government response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally,” he told NBC’s The Today Show. “The president has been outstanding in this.”

“The folks at FEMA… have been excellent.”

He sounded similar notes on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “It’s been very good working with the president,” Christie told host Joe Scarborough. “He and his administration have been coordinating with us. It’s been wonderful.”

And on Twitter, Christie also had a message of thanks:

I want to thank the President personally for all his assistance as we recover from the storm.

GovChristie, 7:28 AM Eastern Time, October 30th, 2012

Asked by Fox whether Mitt Romney might come to New Jersey to do the same thing Obama will be doing, Christie retorted (in classic Christie fashion), “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”

In Columbus, Ohio, Vice President Joe Biden spoke briefly to the White House press pool about the storm response. Asked how Sandy would affect the election, Biden replied, “I don’t know. I honest to God don’t think people thought much about that at this point. It’s just mainly making sure people have electricity. Big cities like Newark, Manhattan, even parts of Philadelphia are without energy and could take some time to get electricity back, really serious problem.”

Asked to comment on what might happen to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) if Romney wins, Biden took a pass.

“No, look. I think FEMA is doing incredible job.  I wish you guys could have been on the phone with all of the governors. Uniformly they were incredibly grateful to [FEMA Administrator] Fugate and the president.”

“FEMA has been reorganized. It’s doing one helluva a job,” Biden added. “It prepositioned resources. The governors are all cooperating with one another. The mayors are cooperating. I’ve never in all my experience seen as much cooperation, and acknowledgement of that cooperation, from city, state, federal levels. So it’s working like it’s supposed to. And I’m really proud of our team, and I’m also proud of the way the governors have all stepped up with the mayors.”

“Hearing the mayor of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania, two different parties, talking about the cooperation. Hearing Christie talk about the cooperation he has with the mayor of Newark.”

“The key is, as cold as it is here, it’s cold as hell in some of these places where people don’t have any energy, don’t have any electricity. And it’s going to take a herculean effort. We even have the state of California trying to get cherry pickers.”

Biden also sidestepped a question about when the president might resume campaigning. (Leave it to the White House press pool to bring up politics).

“I’ve never seen a guy so focused,” Biden said. “The last conversation we had he said to the governors, look folks. I’m up late at night. If you don’t get immediate response from my folks, call me. Here’s my number.”

“So this is hands-on deal right now to get everything done.”

The morning after Sandy: Rescue, recovery efforts underway in New York, New Jersey

Last night, Hurricane Sandy – which is now being called Superstorm Sandy – made landfall in New Jersey, near Atlantic City. The worst hours have now passed, but as news broadcasts show, Sandy’s arrival was every bit as destructive as meteorologists and local officials had warned it could be.

Schools, airports, the New York Stock Exchange, public transportation, and many businesses remained shut for a second consecutive day as authorities tried to assess the damage and get help to stranded individuals. President Obama signed disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey last night, freeing up additional federal resources for storm response and recovery efforts.

The death toll from the storm currently stands at thirty-eight.

Seventeen people were killed in New York, five in Pennsylvania, four in New Jersey, three in Connecticut, and two each in Maryland and Virginia. One person was killed in West Virginia and one in North Carolina.

An overnight fire in New York’s Breezy Point neighborhood destroyed at least eighty homes, including a home belonging to Republican Congressman Bob Turner.

In Chelsea, the facade of a building crumbled to the street after having been subjected to the elements of the storm. In Midtown, the storm collapsed a crane boom being used to construct a new highrise building, One57.

A fallen tree in New York's Astoria neighborhood

A fallen tree in New York’s Astoria neighborhood (Photo: Exploring the Right Brain, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority published a lengthy advisory on its website warning it would take days for the city’s mass transit network to resume normal operations. Service will resume in stages, officials predicted.

The MTA’s statement:

Thousands of MTA workers have begun to fan out through the system to inspect and begin repair of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, a massively destructive storm of historic proportions.  In the period of a few hours, seven East River subway tubes, two Long Island Rail Road tubes linking Manhattan with Queens and two vehicular tunnels were inundated by a wall of water, along with one subway bridge, three subway yards and six bus depots. However, there are some early signs of recovery.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that five of the MTA’s seven bridges, the Robert F. Kennedy, Verrazano-Narrows, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Henry Hudson bridges, were fully inspected and reopened at noon. The two Rockaway bridges, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges bridges, and the Hugh L. Carey and Queens Midtown Tunnel remain closed.

The governor also announced partial restoration of bus service at 5 p.m. Buses will operate on a fare-free basis and on a Sunday schedule. A full schedule is expected for Wednesday. Rides will continue to be fare-free. “Our transportation system has never faced a disaster as devastating Hurricane Sandy, which has caused an unparalleled level of damage,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota after inspecting many of the hardest-hit areas.  “The challenge that we face now is one of assessment, inspection, repair, and restoration. This will not be a short process, but it will be one that puts safety as its major focus.”

The powerful storm affected service throughout the MTA service region.  Metro-North Railroad lost electric power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and east to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road sustained damage in its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in two East River tunnels.

Bridges and Tunnels also suffered major damage with flooding of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also taking on water.  Six bus depots situated in low-lying areas were also disabled by high water.  The MTA and its operating agencies have begun the lengthy process of assessment and repair.  Damage has been extremely heavy in downtown Manhattan where several subway lines converge.  The South Ferry station is filled track to ceiling with water as are several of the subway tunnels.

It is too early to say how long it will take to restore the system to full service. There is a separate process that must be followed for each division.  Bridges and Tunnels’ two Rockaway bridges did not suffer any major damage but remain closed due to flooding in the surrounding adjacent roadways and neighborhoods. Water remains in both the Queens Midtown and Hugh L. Carey tunnels. Once water levels subside, the water must be pumped out and the tunnels thoroughly inspected by engineers. Subway trains and buses must be inspected along with 5,600 buses, 6,200 subway cars, 600 miles of tracks and 468 subway stations.  Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road must take a close look at hundreds of miles of tracks, switches, railroad crossing and cars and locomotives.

At first light today, Metro-North dispatched diesel-power patrol trains on all three lines, Hudson, Harlem and New Haven, to inspect tracks and remove fallen trees along the way.  In Ossining, they encountered a 40-foot boat blocking the tracks. Carrying track workers with chain saws, signal maintainers and power department personnel, the trains made slow progress as they encountered numerous trees snapped and lying across the tracks and hung up in the overhead catenary wires that power the New Haven Line.

In some cases, the wires were torn town.  Elsewhere, heavy trees have crushed the third rails that power Hudson and Harlem line trains.  However, on a positive note, shops and yards in New Haven and Stamford appear to have been unscathed by the storm.

This is will be an exhaustive, time-consuming process with one goal: to restore safe and efficient service to 8.5 million daily MTA customers.  It must be noted, however, that this process could have taken much longer had we not taken the pre-emptive measure of suspending all service to safeguard our equipment and prepare facilities to the best of our ability.

Chairman Lhota added, “Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. Our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.”

All three of New York’s major airports remained closed on Tuesday, though Port Authority officials suggested JFK might reopen on Wednesday. Both JFK and LaGuardia saw flooding last night as Sandy came ashore. JetBlue’s corporate blog has posted pictures of some of the floodwaters at LaGuardia.

Broadway shows and performances were cancelled for Tuesday, but many theaters and concert halls announced that they would be open for business tomorrow.


Hurricane Sandy barrels towards East Coast, bringing commerce and travel to a halt

One of the most destructive storms ever to threaten the United States is hours away from slamming into the Atlantic seaboard, meteorologists are warning.

Hurricane Sandy, which has already killed dozens of people in the Carribbean, is projected to make landfall sometime tomorrow evening between the Chesapeake and the mouth of the Hudson River. The hurricane – or what’s left of it after it hits the mid-Atlantic states – is expected to collide with a couple of other weather systems as the week gets going, creating a monster tempest that meteorologists are dubbing “Frankenstorm” or “the Hur’easter”.

The latest outlook provided by the National Weather Service is pretty grim.




Coastal areas can expect to experience dangerous winds, heavy rainfall, and surf-related flooding. Areas further inland, like the Appalachian mountains, may see substantial snowfall accompanied by strong winds.

In an effort to save lives and property, governors up and down the coast have declared states of emergency, mobilized the National Guard, and instituted mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying areas.

Public transportation has already ground to a halt, stranding thousands.

New York’s MTA has stopped running  the city’s subways, buses, and commuter trains, while D.C. authorities have suspended Metro service. New Jersey Transit is also implementing a system-wide shutdown.

Airlines have already cancelled more than four thousand flights in and out of major airports like JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Dulles, Reagan National, and Baltimore/Washington. Amtrak, meanwhile, has cancelled all service in the Northeast Corridor, including its popular Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains.

Intercity bus service is also affected. Greyhound has announced it will not serve major cities such as Atlantic City, Baltimore, New York, Richmond, the District of Columbia, or Ocean City. Peter Pan has cancelled all of its service.

Schools in New York, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and other affected states will be closed as well. With public transportation shut down, many businesses are following suit. Restaurants across the region are closed and major employers are telling their workers to stay home.

FedEx and UPS are warning that their operations may be severely curtailed by the hurricane. The U.S. Postal Service is also warning of service disruptions.

The New York Stock Exchange will be completely closed for the first time since the September 11th attacks. NYSE Euronext, which runs the exchange, had initially planned to only close the trading floor, permitting electronic trading to take place. But now NYSE has decided not to open at all.

Insurance companies, meanwhile, are readying response teams and hoping the impact will be lighter than what has been foreast.

Authorities continue to plead with people who are in evacuation zones to get out.

“If you are reluctant [to evacuate], think about your loved ones, think about the emergency responders who will be unable to reach you when you make the panicked phone call to be rescued, think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive,” National Weather Service personnel in New Jersey warned.

What many people may not have heard – or may not understand – is that Sandy is not expected to weaken when it makes landfall.

Instead, it is projected to linger, thrashing the coast and causing immense damage to infrastructure and property.

NASA has been tracking Hurricane Sandy from space and has some sobering images. Take a look at the size of this storm. It’s huge:

Image of Hurricane Sandy on October 28th, 2012

NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of the massive Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 28 at 1302 UTC (9:02 a.m. EDT). The line of clouds from the Gulf of Mexico north are associated with the cold front that Sandy is merging with. Sandy’s western cloud edge is already over the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. (Photo and explanation: NASA GOES Project)

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was blunt in a press briefing earlier today about the severity and destructive power of the storm.

“This is the largest threat to human life this state has experienced in anyone’s lifetime,” he said. “This is not a joke. This is a real warning of possible death by drowning.”

“The last time we saw anything like this was never,” he added.

President Barack Obama has wasted little time in authorizing federal assistance. He has signed emergency disaster declarations for more than half a dozen states. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is serving as the administration’s point person.

Unlike Bush appointee Michael Brown, who resigned in disgrace after the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, Fugate has experience preparing for and responding to disasters. He used to run Florida’s equivalent of FEMA and is highly regarded.

“As conditions worsen along the Mid-Atlantic and other parts of the East Coast, residents need to listen to the direction of local officials,” Fugate said in a message to the American people. “This is a large storm and the potential impacts from wind, coastal flooding, inland flooding, rain and snow will affect many states.  If you’re on the coast, it’s time to act and follow evacuation orders. If you’re inland, now is the time to make final preparations.  Be ready for power outages and stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, medications, and other supplies.”

Tsunami warning issued for Pacific Northwest as East Coast prepares for “Frankenstorm”

It’s turning out to be a busy weekend for scientists at NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The National Weather Service has spent the last few days tracking Hurricane Sandy, which is now projected to make landfall somewhere along the mid-Atlantic, perhaps off the coast of Virginia or Delaware.

Hurricane Sandy is currently offshore of the Carolinas. At present, it is passing to the southeast of Charleston. It is not expected to make landfall there, but both states are seeing storm surges.

Meteorologists are concerned the hurricane could collide with an Arctic cold front heading westward, creating a mammoth “Frankenstorm” that could cause flooding, power outages, property damage, and risk to life and limb.

The U.S. Geological Survey is assisting with the hurricane tracking effort by deploying hundreds of sensors at key locations.

“In the hours and days before Irene made its epic sweep up the eastern seaboard last year, USGS deployed a record number of storm-surge sensors that yielded important new information on storm tides along some of the most populated coastline in the United States,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt in a press release. “Now with Sandy we have the opportunity to test and improve predictive models of coastal zone impact based on what we previously learned.”

The potential for significant travel disruptions and property damage are already causing TV networks to describe the event as a “once in a generation” storm. (Seems like we get one of those every year, but of course, the media loves to play up these kind of things. Storms are good for ratings.)

That’s not to say this storm is inconsequential. To the contrary: it could be very destructive and anyone in its path should prepare for the worst. It’s better to be safe than sorry. To that end, many mid-Atlantic governors are declaring states of emergency. Amtrak is cancelling trains and airlines are preparing to cancel flights. Southwest is offering its passengers the opportunity to rebook already, in advance of the storm’s anticipated arrival.

But the NWS, USGS and their partner agencies are now dealing with something else: the aftermath of a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the coast of British Columbia. The shallow-focus quake hit at 8:04 PM Pacific Time, one hundred and twenty-six miles south southwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte) Islands. The precise location of the epicenter was listed as 52.769° N 131.927° W.

Scientists at USGS have published a preliminary assessment of the quake.

This earthquake is likely associated with relative motion across the Queen Charlotte fault system offshore of British Columbia, Canada. Studies of tectonics in this region suggest plate motions are taken up by strike slip faulting parallel to the plate boundary, accompanied by lesser amounts of thrust motion to accommodate the oblique nature of the plate motion vector between the two plates with respect to the orientation of the main plate boundary fault structure. This oblique component of plate motion may involve either underthrusting of the western edge of the Pacific Plate beneath North America, or be taken up on crustal faults within the North America plate. The October 28th earthquake is consistent with either scenario.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning for British Columbia and Alaska, and a tsunami advisory for Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Here’s an explanation of the difference:




A tsunami warning has also been issued for Hawaii. Hawaii residents and visitors are urged to get off the beach and move to higher ground. The first tsunami wave is expected to reach the islands at 10:28 PM local time (Hawaii is several hours behind Pacific Time).

Here is a graphic representation of NOAA’s tsunami propagation forecast:

Tsunami Propagation Forecast

Tsunami Propagation Forecast prepared by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA).

As we approach Election Day, these events are a reminder that our federal government plays a crucial role in emergency preparedness. Were it not for agencies like the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, and the U.S. Geological Survey, we would not be in a position to safeguard lives and minimize damage. Unfortunately, the budget proposed by Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, would slash funding for agencies like NOAA’s National Weather Service.

That’s something all Americans should keep in mind when heading to the polls or sitting down at the kitchen table to vote.

Remembering Paul, Sheila, Marcia, Tom, Mary, and Will: The Wellstone legacy lives on

Ten years ago today, we lost one of the most principled and courageous progressive leaders who ever served our country in Congress: Paul Wellstone of Minnesota.

Senator Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, and three campaign aides were killed when the plane they had chartered to fly to Eveleth for a funeral crashed shortly after takeoff, leaving no survivors. The tragedy ended Senator Wellstone’s life and his reelection campaign, but not his spirit or good works.

Today, we pause to remember the Wellstones and celebrate their legacy.

Paul Wellstone was thought of by many progressives as the conscience of the Senate for a reason. He was not an opportunist or a tool of the Beltway establishment, like so many other politicians. He was progressive populist who believed that people and planet should come first. “My definition of community is we all do better when we all do better,” Wellstone once said in a speech to students graduating from Chisholm High School.

Wellstone was an authentic pragmatist: he recognized and appreciated the true meaning of politics. He was never confused about why he was involved. As he put it: “Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives.”

During his time in the U.S. Senate, Wellstone took many tough, courageous votes. He voted against the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 (he was only one of eight senators to do so) and against the resolution authorizing George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2002. In 1996, while running for reelection, he voted against Bill Clinton’s scheme to overhaul welfare. He was a senator who listened to his constituents and allowed his moral compass to guide his decision making.

Senator Wellstone won his first campaign in 1990. Using his grassroots organizing skills, he built a strong and effective campaign organization that galvanized people all over Minnesota. He was the only Democrat that year to unseat a Republican incumbent (Rudy Boschwitz). In 1996, Boschwitz challenged him to a rematch, but Wellstone won again, thanks to his people-powered campaign.

Senator Wellstone is no longer with us, but his sons Mark and David, along with former campaign staff, have kept his legacy alive through Wellstone Action, a nonprofit that trains progressives to work on issues, run for office, and successfully manage campaigns. Tens of thousands of progressive activists have been trained by Wellstone Action over the last few years, including yours truly (a proud graduate of Camp Wellstone Seattle 2005) and most of NPI’s other staff and board members. Wellstone Action teaches what Paul taught: successful political action requires good public policy, grassroots organizing, and effective electoral politics.

As Senator Wellstone said:

Policy provides direction and agenda for action; grassroots organizing builds a constituency to fight for change, and electoral politics is the main way we contest for power and hold decision makers accountable.

Electoral politics without grassroots organizing is a politics without a base. Grassroots organizing without electoral politics can be a marginal politics. Electoral politics and grassroots organizing without policy is a movement without a direction and without a head.

Many progressives are sharing their remembrances of Senator Wellstone today.

Senator Al Franken, who now holds Wellstone’s Senate seat, wrote a guest column for the Duluth News Tribune reflecting on some of the things he learned from Wellstone, and sharing memories of Wellstone’s campaigns. (The paper, meanwhile, has published a very nice collection of photos of Wellstone on the campaign trail). Here’s Senator Franken:

He had this way of closing out his speeches with an incredible gesticulating crescendo – three minutes of passion and enthusiasm that just kept rising until you thought he was going to explode. And it would always make the crowd happy. Not just excited, but happy to see him having so much fun talking about the things that motivated him.

What I liked most was that if Paul had to deliver a 10-minute speech, the crescendo would always start seven minutes in. If it was a 20-minute speech, it would start 17 minutes in. If it was a four-minute speech, he’d start peaking a minute into the thing. It was always great to watch.

Our own Senator Patty Murray, who served with Wellstone in the Senate, released a statement honoring his memory.

“I will always miss my friend Paul,” Murray said. “And while today is a reminder of that painful day a decade ago, it is much more about celebrating the legacy of a man whose passion and mission endure. Paul dedicated his life to changing the lives of those who had no one else to speak for them. And today, his efforts continue with his foundation, the work of his friends and colleagues, and the belief that the little guy can have a big voice when organized and empowered. Paul, his family, and all those lost ten years ago will remain in my thoughts and prayers. I continue to be inspired by the life and work of Paul Wellstone every single day.”

MinnPost has a rather excellent interview with Walter Mondale in which the former Democratic presidential nominee discusses the tumultuous aftermath of Wellstone’s death and his struggle to reintroduce himself to voters. (Mondale was drafted by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota to replace Wellstone on the ballot, at the request of Wellstone’s surviving sons).

And Minnesota Public Radio has a nice story about what has happened to Senator Wellstone’s former staff in the years since his death. (Many are doing great work in our nation’s capital for progressives like Keith Ellison and Tim Walz).

Besides Wellstone Action, there are many other buildings and programs that bear Wellstone’s name, notably Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary in St. Paul. These honors help ensure that the Wellstones are never forgotten.

We extend our profound thanks to Mark and David Wellstone and the team at Wellstone Action for carrying Paul and Sheila’s legacy forward.

Pacific NW Portal 5.3 (Depoe Bay) released

Seven years to the day after Pacific NW Portal 3.5 (“Gearhart”, also known as “Marine Green”) was released, we’re proud to announce that we have completed work on a new version of Pacific NW Portal: Version 5.3, codenamed Depoe Bay.

Depoe Bay is a maintenance release – the third in the Newport series. In other words, there aren’t any new major features… just bug fixes, updates to the index, and tweaks to functionality and branding to make things work better.

Like every prior release, Version 5.3 is named after an Oregon coastal town. Depoe Bay is located in Lincoln County (between Newport and Lincoln City) and is home to almost 1,500 people. It claims to have “the world’s smallest harbor”. It is one of only seven incorporated cities in Lincoln County.

Inn at Arch Rock

The Inn at Arch Rock in Depoe Bay, Oregon. (Photo: Tony Cyphert. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license).

This post constitutes our official changelog for Version 5.3. Please feel free to leave questions, suggestions for future versions, or other thoughts on Depoe Bay in the comment thread.

  • New slogan. Since it launched in 2005, Pacific NW Portal has generally used two slogans (News & Information for Progressives, Political News From Around the Region). As of this release, Pacific NW Portal has a new slogan: Cascadia’s news hub. It replaces both of the old ones. The new slogan appears on Pacific NW Portal’s nameplate and in page titles.
  • Updated nameplate. The nameplate has been restyled to reflect the new slogan, and the height of the nameplate has been increased slightly to create more “blue space” at the top of each page. (As a consequence, there is slightly more space around the navigation bar). The nameplate now depicts Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest point and the mountain closest to the Columbia River Gorge, which divides Oregon and Washington.
  • Feeds updated to include more Northwest writers who write for publications with a national scope. We’ve updated several of our feeds to ensure that the works of more writers based in the Pacific Northwest show up on the front page,NW Life (business news) and Breaking Now. We added or updated individual streams for the following authors:
    • Kirk Johnson of The New York Times
    • David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times
    • Kim Murphy of the Los Angeles Times
    • Bill Rigby of Reuters
    • David Neiwert of Crooks and Liars
    • Sara Robinson of AlterNet
    • Joan McCarter of Daily Kos (Joan’s posts were already indexed by our Daily Kos feed, but they now appear on Breaking Now as well)
  • Source feeds fixed. Several broken source feeds, like the Seattle Times’ Politics Northwest channel, have been removed and replaced so that the links are no longer broken. (Publications occasionally republish their feeds at a new location and don’t redirect the old feeds. We do our best to keep the source feeds as current as possible).
  • Enhanced greeting for the morning hours. Pacific NW Portal now displays a photo of sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier during the morning hours (Pacific Time) accompanied by the greeting “Good morning”.  The image is from NPI’s photo library and was taken last July.

Our thanks to everyone who continues to support Pacific NW Portal. Enjoy the new version!

Liveblogging the final presidential debate of 2012 from the great Pacific Northwest

Good afternoon, everyone. Tonight is debate night once again. In a few hours, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will sit down with Bob Schieffer of CBS’ Face the Nation for a debate centered on foreign policy at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. If the last debate is any indication, the discussion should be lively.

We’ll be sharing our observations and impressions here on The Advocate as the debate gets underway; updates will be also simulcast on our Twitter feed. We invite you to weigh in with your thoughts as well in the comments. Before the debate begins, here’s some analysis we think is worth reading:

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George McGovern: 1922-2012

It is with heavy hearts this morning that we say farewell to one of the most principled and committed progressive leaders of the twentieth century. George McGovern, who served the United States in the U.S. Senate for many years and nobly challenged scoundrel Richard Nixon for the presidency in 1972, has died at the age of ninety. His passing was not unexpected; his family announced just a few days ago that he had been placed in hospice care due to declining health.

At approximately 5:13 AM Central Time this morning, after having been unconscious for several days, McGovern’s life came to an end.

“We are blessed to know that our father lived a long, successful and productive life advocating for the hungry, being a progressive voice for millions and fighting for peace. He continued giving speeches, writing and advising all the way up to and past his 90th birthday, which he celebrated this summer,” McGovern’s children said in a statement released through spokesman Steve Hildebrand.

Condolences and tributes flowed in almost immediately.

“George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved,” said President Barack Obama. “He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe.  When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace. And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger. George was a statesman of great conscience and conviction, and Michelle and I share our thoughts and prayers with his family. ”

“Jill and I are profoundly saddened to hear about George McGovern’s passing. I was honored to serve with him, to know him, and to call him a friend,” added Vice President Joe Biden. “George believed deeply in public service. It defined him as a Senator and as a man. And he never stopped serving for his entire life – whether it was his courage in World War II, his time in Congress, or his fight to eliminate hunger at home and abroad.”

“Above all, George McGovern was a generous, kind, honorable man. He will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton, who organized Texas for McGovern in 1972, released a joint statement celebrating his life.

“We first met George while campaigning for him in 1972. Our friendship endured for forty years. As a war hero, distinguished professor, congressman, senator and ambassador, George always worked to advance the common good and help others realize their potential,” they said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi remembered McGovern (who served as JFK’s Food for Peace director) as a tireless champion for the hungry.

“George McGovern once said that after he had passed away, he wanted people to say, ‘He did the best he could to end hunger in this country and the world.’  Indeed, he did,” Pelosi said. “He was a humanitarian with a tactical touch, and he saved the lives of many at home and abroad.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed McGovern as a great patriot.

“Senator McGovern put principle over politics and stood up for what he believed in. He lived his values, dedicating his life to fighting the scourge of poverty here at home and around the world. The forces of social justice lost a great fighter today, and Senator McGovern will be sorely missed,” Reid said.

Many Republicans also spoke highly of McGovern. John McCain remembered McGovern as “a gentleman”, while the daughters of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon released a statement praising McGovern’s public service. And on CNN’s State of the Union, Newt Gingrich told host Candy Crowley that McGovern was “a great guy.

CANDY CROWLEY: Tomorrow night’s debate, the last before the election will focus solely on foreign policy. It is certain to include the specific, including the who knew what, when question surrounding the murders of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi to the big picture debate over America’s role in the global village. Joining me now for a preview debate, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson and former Speaker of House Newt Gingrich.

I want to get to that but I first want to get just your remembrances of Senator George McGovern who died today at the age of 90 because in — in some ways he played a pivotal role as a Democratic Candidate in 1972 in the midst of a war.

BILL RICHARDSON: He was a great statesman. I knew him quite well and I’m very saddened. I think he’ll be remembered, obviously for his stance on the war in Vietnam, for his bomber missions. But also, for his contributions on agriculture, on hunger.

And then the Democratic Party, he transformed the Party, the primary system, getting minorities involved. He was a gigantic figure and a classy god, good guy.

CANDY CROWLEY: You probably had absolutely nothing in common with Senator McGovern politically.

NEWT GINGRICH: No, George — George actually was a very complicated person. He had served as a bomber pilot in World War II, he was not a pacifist and his argument over Vietnam was about that particular war.

He was a citizen; I remember being with him at the U.S. Embassy in Rome for dinner one night and talking about he and Goldwater, I mean, he said, one of the nice things about losing badly enough is you don’t have lots of regrets about what one thing might you have changed.

And he had a very good sense of humor and he was a very down to earth guy who, later on in life, ran a small business, a bed and breakfast and wrote a great article on all the problems we had heaped up on small business through the regulations he had sponsored.

Just a great guy.

During his life, McGovern served as U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. He never lost his sense of humor, despite losing campaigns in 1960 (for U.S. Senate), 1972 (for the presidency), and 1980 (for reelection to the U.S. Senate).

He never remained silent when he thought he could lend his voice to an important cause. He had a sharp mind and the ability to think long-term, which is something we at NPI value very highly.

On September 1st, 1970, McGovern delivered a  speech against the undeclared war in Vietnam, which he opposed. He said:

There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.

Several decades later on February 13th, 2003 (Permanent Defense’s one-year anniversary), McGovern spoke to CNN’s Judy Woodruff, explaining why he was urging George W. Bush not to launch an invasion of Iraq. He said:

You know, I think most people would agree that had it not been for that 9/11 attack, we wouldn’t even be here talking about Saddam Hussein. The irony of that is that he had nothing to do with that attack. Iraq had nothing to do with it. This was Osama bin Laden’s work. He was the mastermind. He planned it – and his al Qaeda network, that little band of desert radical young men that he’s assembled.

So I don’t see the connect between that and this march to war in Iraq. I disagree with the president. I don’t think Iraq is a threat to the most mighty military power in the history of the world.

McGovern added:

I want to make one thing clear: I don’t enjoy criticizing the policies of my government. I love this country more than life itself. And that’s why I came here today, as I have other places: to try to plead with our leaders to not drop an American army into that Middle East tinderbox. The consequences of that are almost beyond imagination.

I remember after Winston Churchill tried to talk our leaders out of going into Vietnam, we said we have information that the Communists are doing this and doing that. He said, “The only thing certain about a war is that nothing is certain about a war.” I tremble at the consequences of putting an American army into that area. I think it’s going to inflame the whole Arab world, and doubtless many other countries. And that’s what we don’t need right now.

Emphasis is mine.

McGovern’s words were prescient then and sobering now. He saw the consequences of going into Iraq, and spoke out against the invasion loudly before it happened. And afterwards, as the occupation dragged on and the conflict consumed more lives and more money, he went before Congress to press for a withdrawal of American forces. Along with his commitment to feeding the hungry, it is his exemplary advocacy against costly wars that we will remember him for.

Rest in peace, Senator McGovern. Your voice and wisdom will be greatly missed.

Poll Watch: 2012 Washington Poll finds Obama, Inslee, and marriage equality ahead

Moments ago, KCTS9, in cooperation with the Center for Survey Research at the University of Washington, released the results of this year’s Washington Poll. The Washington Poll is a widely respected electoral survey directed by Dr. Matt Barreto, who serves as an associate professor at the UW in Seattle. It is conducted annually, and because its findings have historically correlated more strongly with actual election results, it is considered to be a very credible poll.

We at NPI are not overly fond of polling. Obsession with poll numbers has, in our view, distorted the traditional media’s coverahe pf politics and elections. Horse-race style coverage (in which the focus is on who’s winning and who’s losing) has become more predominant, displacing stories produced as a result of actual newsgathering (which admittedly costs more to do, but is consequently much more valuable).

Nevertheless, well-directed and thoughtfully conducted public opinion research deserves our attention, and the Washington Poll is certainly such a survey. Unlike other polls, it only comes out once a year, and it is conducted by live callers calling both mobile lines and landlines (as opposed to automated dialing software).

The 2012 Washington Poll was in the field beginning October 1st and ending two days ago (Tuesday, October 16th). Interviews generally were about a half hour in length. The samples are composed of seven hundred and eighty-two registered voters and six hundred and forty-four likely voters were interviewed. Margins of error for these samples are 3.5% and 3.9%, respectively.

Here’s a look at the results.

For president, the poll finds Barack Obama with a very comfortable lead. 51.8% of registered voters are certain or planning to vote for Obama, while only 41.3% are certain or planning to vote for Romney. The numbers are not so different for the sample of likely voters… 51.9% Obama, 42.9% Romney. Less than four percent of each group of respondents characterized themselves as undecided.

Obama’s lead in Puget Sound tops 60% according to the crosstabs, and he has an even stronger lead statewide among women voters (54.6% to Romney’s 37.9%) and young voters (57.3% to 34.1%).

The governor’s race is much closer. Jay Inslee has a narrow lead, but his lead is within the margin of error. Among registered voters, Inslee leads 47.9% to 44.7%. Among likely voters, Inslee leads 48.3% to 45.1%.

The breakdown shows that Inslee is ahead in Puget Sound, while McKenna is ahead everywhere else. McKenna has a slight edge among male voters but it is at a slight disadvantage with female voters. Republicans are slightly more likely to vote for McKenna (95.5%) than Democrats are to vote for Inslee (89.5%).

Inslee’s strongest supporters are young people. 55.6% of those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine are for Inslee, with only 36.4% for McKenna. McKenna, on the other hand, does not have a comfortable lead with the other age groups. He leads Inslee with each age group above thirty, but not by very much.

The U.S. Senate race looks like it will be a blowout. Maria Cantwell is way ahead, with 58.3% certain or leaning towards voting for her. Baumgartner’s share of the vote is only 34.8%. Among likely voters, Cantwell’s share drops to 57.7% and Baumgartner’s increases to 35.4%, but it’s not much of a difference. Cantwell is ahead in every area of the state except the east, where she and Baumgartner are roughly even. Young people are overwhelmingly in Cantwell’s corner (65.7% to Baumgartner’s 26.1%), but she leads with every age group.

The Washington Poll also looked at ballot measures. Respondents were asked about each of the three initiatives on the ballot, along with Referendum 74 (marriage equality).

The poll found that support for Tim Eyman’s I-1185 is only at 53.6%. Opposition stands at 31.2%. Considering how few resources have been put into the NO campaign, that’s a fairly encouraging result. Only 37.8% described themselves as certain they were voting for I-1185. An additional 13.3% described themselves as yes, but could change. A further 2.5% are undecided, but lean yes.

23.8% of respondents, meanwhile, are firmly opposed. 5.7% are opposed but could change their minds, and 1.7% lean no. 14.6% describe themselves as undecided. For an issue that’s been on the ballot before, most recently two years ago, that seems like a pretty high number of undecided voters. There is clearly an opportunity for progressives to bring the yes vote for I-1185 down in the final weeks of the campaign.

The numbers for likely voters are not much different, so I won’t go over them.

I-1240, the latest attempt to bring charter schools to Washington, appears to be in trouble. The total yes vote is below the fifty percent mark, which indicates that voters have doubts about the measure. Only 34.1% are certain yes. 30% are certain they’re voting no. 10.6% are planning to vote yes but could change their minds, and 7.3% are planning to vote no but could change. A further 2.8% and 1.9% are undecided but lean yes and no, respectively, while 12.6% are simply undecided.

As with I-1185, the numbers for likely voters are not much different, so I won’t go over them.

I-502, the initiative to legalize marijuana, has a respectable lead among registered voters (50.9% total yes, 40.8% total no). I-502’s overall lead among likely voters is not as impressive (47.1% total yes to 40.1% total no), but the percentage of likely voters who are firm nos (31.8%) is several percentage points lower than the sample of registered voters (35%), while the number of respondents who described themselves as certain to vote for I-502 was about the same.

The percentage of voters undecided also differed between the samples. 7.6% of registered voters say they’re undecided, but that rises to 11.7% for likely voters.

Finally, the Washington Poll looked at Referendum 74 (marriage equality). For Referendum 74, the results were adjusted to account for what Barreto and his team call “social desirability bias”. Here’s what they mean by that:

Ballot initiatives on marriage equality tend to over-report the margin of victory for those campaigns. The Washington Poll’s estimate of yes votes on Referendum 71 was within the margin of error, but we under estimated the percent of no votes.

To rectify this, we included two items on this year’s poll designed to measure social desirability bias.

The first question asked individuals if they lied on the survey; the second asked if any topics made them uncomfortable. Both groups of people in the Yes on 74 and the No on 74 camp reported lying at rates that did not differ from the sample average. Those who reported that they would not vote on the issue and those who were undecided reported lying at rates higher than the sample average.

This relationship remained statistically significant for those who were undecided even after running a logit model to control for religiosity, age, ideology and partisanship. Additionally, those who reported that they weren’t voting on the issue reported being more uncomfortable with the questions about lesbians and gay men.

A higher percentage of people in this group were more uncomfortable with these questions than those who voted reported voting no.

2.15% of those who said that they were voting for Referendum 74 said that they were uncomfortable with the questions about gay men and lesbians.

In light of these results, we adjusted the point estimate. The result is a conservative estimate of social desirability bias. We kept the Yes on 74 and No on 74 columns stable except for the yeses who reported discomfort on the sexual orientation question. We then moved the undecideds and those who reported that they would not vote on the issue into the No on 74 column because they reported lying more than those who were decided. This resulted in a point estimate of 52.9 to 46.6, a 6.3 point difference.

The adjusted results for Referendum 54 show the “Approve” side ahead, 52.9% to 46.6%.

Voters who live west of the Cascades are far more supportive of marriage equality than voters who live to the east, which is not surprising. A plurality of voters in every age group are supportive of marriage equality, but young voters – and voters approaching retirement – are far more enthusiastic than seniors and middle-age voters. Take a look:

Age groupApproveRejectUndecided
Age 18-29 (born late 1980s or 1990s)68.2%26.1%5.7%
Age 30-44 (born 1970s, 1980s)50.2%39.1%10.7%
Age 44-65 (born 1950s, 1960s)59.1%34.3%6.6%
Age 66+ (born before the fifties)48.6%41.5%9.9%

These results are remarkable. Look at which age groups are closest to one another. Voters born in the late 1980s or 1990s (Generation Y, the millennial generation) are very enthusiastic about marriage equality; that’s to be expected. But the age group they’re closest to on this fundamental question of civil rights is not the thirty to forty-four year olds. It’s the forty-four to sixty-five year olds – Washingtonians born in the fifties and sixties – who are nearest to them. A surprising 59.1% of voters in that age group are in the Approve column.

The most senior age group – those over sixty-six – divide somewhat along the same lines as the Generation X group, though there are slightly more people in the Reject column and slightly fewer in the Approve column.

These results suggest that Referendum 74 is on track to be approved in a few weeks. The divisive Reject campaign is kicking into high gear, but they have a tough hill to climb. Support for marriage equality has been steadily building over the years, driven by young people, who are clearly shifting public opinion in a healthy, progressive direction.

Liveblogging the final gubernatorial debate of 2012 between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna

Tonight really is debate night. We have one more debate of importance to get through before we’re off liveblogging duty: an hourlong discussion between the candidates for governor, presented by KING5 and Frank Blethen’s Seattle Times. As with the presidential debate, we’ll be following this one in real time, with updates simulcast on Twitter. Let’s get started!

UPDATE, 8:02 PM (Andrew): No opening statements for this debate. We’re going straight to questions. Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times is going first. What could you do to hold down tuition increases?

UPDATE, 8:07 PM (Andrew): Brunner has a follow-up. He asks the candidates if they can put more money into education if revenue assumptions don’t pan out.

UPDATE, 8:09 PM (Andrew): Gubernatorial candidates now talking about state and local property tax levies (which primarily fund schools).

UPDATE, 8:11 PM (Andrew): McKenna: Inslee has no plan for complying with the McCleary decisions.

UPDATE, 8:12 PM (Andrew): Inslee keeps saying we’ll generate revenue by putting people to work. You need to be more specific, Jay.

UPDATE, 8:13 PM (Andrew): Some crosstalk between Inslee and McKenna…

UPDATE, 8:13 PM (Patrick): McKenna says Inslee hasn’t read the property tax swap proposal to fund schools and then says the details haven’t been worked out yet.

UPDATE, 8:14 PM (Andrew): Oh, great. Susannah Frame is asking about “Waste on the Water”, KING5′s overhyped series of special reports alleging corruption and mismanagement at Washington State Ferries.

UPDATE, 8:16 PM (Patrick): Lean management may be good, but doesn’t precisely inspire passion. Washington State Ferries is important, but a large part of the state doesn’t border the water or regularly use the ferries.

UPDATE, 8:17 PM (Andrew): McKenna: The ferry system is part of the transportation system. Ferry farebox recovery is pretty high.

UPDATE, 8:18 PM (Andrew): McKenna says he’d fire David Moseley, who currently runs WSDOT, but makes it clear he expects David to resign first if he wins.

UPDATE, 8:19 PM (Andrew): Jim Brunner asks about closing tax loopholes. Can you name specific exemptions you would consider closing, and how much would it raise?

UPDATE, 8:20 PM (Andrew): Inslee has some examples of unnecessary and outdated tax loopholes ready. Way to go, Jay!

UPDATE, 8:20 PM (Patrick): Inslee is talking about closing unneeded tax loopholes. It is a continuing disappointment that neither candidate has a plan for raising revenue revenue, but Inslee definitely distinguished himself from McKenna in taking a stance to remove exemptions which do not serve the public interest.

UPDATE, 8:22 PM (Andrew): McKenna’s example isn’t really a tax loophole. He’s talking about out-of-state retailers being able to sell Washingtonians goods without having to collect sales tax. Many of those retailers have no presence in Washington – the state can’t fix that problem itself.

UPDATE, 8:24 PM (Andrew): Robert Mak asks about Jay Inslee about his proposed office of economic competitiveness.

UPDATE, 8:26 PM (Andrew): Rob, if it is so expensive and difficult to do business here, why are we considered one of the best states to do business? Been ranked in the top ten by Forbes for many years running!

UPDATE, 8:26 PM (Andrew): McKenna has a pensive look on the split screen.

UPDATE, 8:28 PM (Andrew): The questions tonight from the KING5/Seattle Times panel have been pretty good so far.

UPDATE, 8:29 PM (Andrew): Jay, you mean uncommon sense. Common sense does not exist. If it did, we would not talk about needing it.

UPDATE, 8:29 PM (Andrew): Oh no, they’re letting the candidates ask questions of each other…

UPDATE, 8:30 PM (Andrew): Rob McKenna’s question was ridiculous: Why do you think newspapers are endorsing me instead of you?

UPDATE, 8:30 PM (Patrick): Inslee is defending his proposal to help companies in the renewable energy sector, rebutting the oft-stated line by McKenna that he’s “picking winners and losers”. Inslee’s response is it would help out businesses that need it, and spur innovation.

UPDATE, 8:31 PM (Andrew): Jay is explaining that he has taken stances that weren’t necessarily popular with newspaper editorial boards at the time, but in hindsight proved to be spot-on.

UPDATE, 8:34 PM (Andrew): Inslee asks McKenna about his support for women’s reproductive rights.

UPDATE, 8:36 PM (Andrew): Rob, there’s no need to be petty. You are part of the political establishment in this state, just as Jay Inslee is. You have been AG for eight years.

UPDATE, 8:37 PM (Andrew): Jean Enersen moves the debate along.

UPDATE, 8:38 PM (Andrew): Ah good, a question about an issue that does not normally get covered. What would you do to maintain and improve access to water and address the state’s need for guest workers?

UPDATE, 8:39 PM (Andrew): Inslee says he understands the issues facing eastern Washington. And he would know… he used to represent places like Yakima, Chelan, and Selah.

UPDATE, 8:39 PM (Patrick): Inslee is talking about the need for bipartisanship on immigration, but cites the intractability of Republicans in trying to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive reform.

UPDATE, 8:40 PM (Andrew): McKenna’s retort: I have represented the entire state as Attorney General. (But he has not represented the entire state or even large swaths of it as a lawmaker).

UPDATE, 8:41 PM (Patrick): Inslee is talking about how changing the requirements for providing driver’s licenses would be counterproductive and costly. McKenna clearly disagrees, and says he supports putting more barriers in place for people who are undocumented.

UPDATE, 8:42 PM (Andrew): Inslee: We should not prevent immigrants not here legally from obtaining driver’s licenses.

UPDATE, 8:42 PM (Andrew): McKenna: Give undocumented immigrants permits to drive instead of licenses to drive.

UPDATE, 8:43 PM (Andrew): Question from Chris Ingalls: Does DSHS need an overhaul? What changes would you make?

UPDATE, 8:44 PM (Andrew): McKenna: DSHS needs new leadership.

UPDATE, 8:45 PM (Patrick): What can we do to strengthen and streamline our social safety net? That’s the topic the candidates are discussing now. Inslee is not surprisingly touting ‘lean management’ again. He’s suggesting private contractors could play a bigger role. Of course, the reason we have public services is because the private sector doesn’t excel at everything, contrary to what Republicans often claim. It is wrong to claim that everything worth doing can be done as a for-profit enterprise.

UPDATE, 8:47 PM (Andrew): McKenna calls Inslee’s last answer “spectacularly uninformed”.

UPDATE, 8:47 PM (Andrew): Next question is about tolls – potential tolling on I-90 and other roadways.

UPDATE, 8:49 PM (Andrew): McKenna: We will need tolls on the new Columbia River Crossing. HOT lanes are an option. Suggests I-90 express lanes could be turned into HOT lanes.

UPDATE, 8:50 PM (Andrew): Inslee: I will assemble transportation package to improve freight mobility and alternatives to driving. Says we should have light rail and public transportation. I fully support East Link light rail.

UPDATE, 8:51 PM (Andrew): Neither candidate has said if they support tolling I-90.

UPDATE, 8:51 PM (Patrick): The panelists are following up on the question of light rail, and just asked McKenna if he supports it. He says he does, but he is making it seem like building light rail is harder to accomplish than it actually is.

UPDATE, 8:51 PM (Andrew): McKenna: East Link technical problems are Sound Transit’s to solve. He implies he won’t interfere with the project. Riight.

UPDATE, 8:52 PM (Andrew): Inslee: We move forward on transportation, job creation, healthcare reform.

UPDATE, 8:53 PM (Andrew): Last question is about education, from Robert Mak. Do you have a plan to find money for schools if the economy does not bounce back? Good question.

UPDATE, 8:53 PM (Andrew): Inslee says we can find savings by implementing healthcare reform.

UPDATE, 8:53 PM (Patrick): As Andrew noted, the panelists are trying to pin down both candidates on whether they have a fallback position in the event economic growth doesn’t generate revenue to pay for existing services. but instead relying upon the economy to improve. Inslee talked about saving money on healthcare costs through the Affordable Care Act,. McKenna implies that he’s going to cut the social safety net if he has no other choice… in other words, he’ll rob Peter to pay Paul.

UPDATE, 8:54 PM (Andrew): McKenna clearly cannot wait to give his answer. Takes a deep breath.

UPDATE, 8:55 PM (Andrew): Rob, exactly what do you mean when you say we should prioritize funding for schools? Give us more than lip service to education.

UPDATE, 8:56 PM (Patrick): Inslee just corrected McKenna and stated that education funding actually went up 22% while he was in the Legislature before moving on to the rest of his closing statement. He’s trying to strike an upbeat tone.

UPDATE, 8:56 PM (Andrew): Inslee giving his closing statement. Cites his background. “We can be greater, I ask for the honor of your vote.”

UPDATE, 8:57 PM (Andrew): McKenna: Do you think we’ll be better off four years from now if we put the same people back in? Um, Rob, you’ve been part of the executive department of Washington for eight years. You are not an outsider.

UPDATE, 8:57 PM (Patrick): Rob McKenna is telling the camera that Washingtonians will be worse off under Jay Inslee, and referenced his endorsements again. He asks viewers “to join us”. That’s not the most original or positive note to end on. McKenna hasn’t really explained what he brings to our state capital that makes him the more qualified or prepared than Inslee to serve as the state’s chief executive. Yes, he’s been attorney general, but he thinks far more highly of himself than many of his constituents do.

UPDATE, 8:58 PM (Andrew): Oops. KING5 broadcast cut out before Jean Enersen was finished.

UPDATE, 8:59 PM (Andrew): Okay, we are done!

Liveblogging the second presidential debate of 2012 from the great Pacific Northwest

Good evening, everyone. Tonight, as we all know, is presidential debate night. In less than an hour, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take the stage at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York for a town hall or town meeting style debate. The discussion will be moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley ; questions will primarily come from voters selected to participate in the event by Gallup.

We’ll be sharing our observations and impressions here on The Advocate as the debate gets underway; updates will be also simulcast on our Twitter feed. We invite you to weigh in with your thoughts as well in the comments. Before the debate begins, here’s some analysis we think is worth reading:

Let us begin!

UPDATE, 5:44 PM: Fifteen minutes to go before the candidates take the stage in New York. C-SPAN is currently showing the pre-debate festivities; the moderator, Candy Crowley, is due to be introduced in a few minutes.

UPDATE, 6:04 PM: Romney gets first stab at the first question. “We have to make sure it’s easier for kids to afford college,” he says. How?

UPDATE, 6:05 PM: “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing…” By adopting Ryan’s budget?

UPDATE, 6:06 PM: President Obama, answering Jeremy’s question: “When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I bet on American workers.” Nice!

UPDATE, 6:08 PM: President Obama: “We’ve worked hard to ensure student loans are available for folks like you.” Obama administration made sure federal government is lending directly to students instead of helping banks make money.

UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Crowley asks the candidates: What can be done to help those who have been unemployed for a long time?

UPDATE, 6:09 PM: Romney cites his magical five point plan as evidence he deserves people’s votes.

UPDATE, 6:09 PM: Romney turns to address Obama: “You took Detroit bankrupt.”

UPDATE, 6:10 PM: Obama: “What Governor Romney said just isn’t true… Don’t take my word for it.”

UPDATE, 6:11 PM: Obama zings Romney: There is no five point plan, just a one point plan to allow the wealthy to play by a different set of rules than middle and low income families.

UPDATE, 6:11 PM: Romney tries to interrupt Crowley and fails. She’s no Lehrer…

UPDATE, 6:12 PM: Next question is about gas prices.

UPDATE, 6:13 PM: Obama: “We’ve doubled clean energy production.” Also cites victory on getting automakers to agree on higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles.

UPDATE, 6:13 PM: Obama: Romney’s plan is to let the oil companies write energy policy. Like Dick Cheney and Dubya did.

UPDATE, 6:14 PM: Romney claims oil production is down on federal land. Why is that a bad thing?

UPDATE, 6:15 PM: Mitt Romney just indicated he couldn’t care less about protecting endangered species.

UPDATE, 6:16 PM: Shorter Romney: Let’s drill more wells and blow up more mountains!

UPDATE, 6:17 PM: Obama zings Romney again, reminds us that Romney once stood in front of a coal plant in Massachusetts and said coal kills. Nice!

UPDATE, 6:18 PM: Obama interrupts Romney: Not true, Governor! They’re both standing now, arguing.

UPDATE, 6:19 PM: Romney not looking so hot…

UPDATE, 6:19 PM: A little moderation, Candy?

UPDATE, 6:21 PM: Thanks for that, Mitt Cheney… or should I say Dick Romney…

UPDATE, 6:21 PM: ZING! Obama: It’s conceivable gas prices could go down, if Romney’s policies cause the economy to go into freefall.

UPDATE, 6:22 PM: Obama attacks Romney for saying that wind-related jobs are “imaginary”. He’s on a roll.

UPDATE, 6:22 PM: Mitt, stop acting like being a jerk.

UPDATE, 6:23 PM: Obama: “Candy, I’m used to being interrupted.”

UPDATE, 6:24 PM: Romney: “I want to simplify the tax code.” How, Governor? What’s your plan?

UPDATE, 6:25 PM: Overheard on Twitter: Candy needs a gavel…

UPDATE, 6:27 PM: Romney: “I will not, under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by high income taxpayers.” Sorry, Governor, we don’t believe you.

UPDATE, 6:27 PM: Obama: “Four years ago, I said I would cut taxes for middle class families, and that’s what I’ve done.”

UPDATE, 6:28 PM: Obama: “If we’re serious about reducing the deficit… we’ve gotta make sure the wealthy do a little bit more [for our country].”

UPDATE, 6:29 PM: Obama: “Governor Romney has a different philosophy… I fundamentally disagree. I think what grows the economy is small businesses getting a tax credit for hiring veterans.”

UPDATE, 6:30 PM: Crowley, with the understatement of the night, to Romney: “Governor, I’m sure you’ve got a reply there.”

UPDATE, 6:32 PM: Romney’s five-point plan is unrealistic.

UPDATE, 6:33 PM: Obama is really hitting Romney hard right now. Romney’s just standing there taking it.

UPDATE, 6:33 PM: This is getting good!

UPDATE, 6:34 PM: Obama: “The math doesn’t add up.”

UPDATE, 6:35 PM: Romney, on his numbers: “Of course they add up.” Obama smiles…

UPDATE, 6:36 PM: Romney claims: “I know what it takes to balance budgets. I’ve done I all my life.”

UPDATE, 6:37 PM: Crowley: “I will get run out of town” [if I don’t take control].”

UPDATE, 6:37 PM: YES! Question about equal pay for equal work.

UPDATE, 6:38 PM: Obama: “The first bill I signed was something called Lily Ledbetter.”

UPDATE, 6:39 PM: Obama tells Fenton, audience that his administration has made Pell grants accessible to more youth. And indeed he has.

UPDATE, 6:40 PM: Romney describes paycheck fairness as “important topic.”

UPDATE, 6:41 PM: Did Romney just say binders full of women? That’s not going to replay well… hello new Internet meme!

UPDATE, 6:41 PM: Mitt, your time is up.

UPDATE, 6:42 PM: If Mitt Romney is such a good debater, why can’t he keep his answers within the time limits? He’s gone over by like thirty seconds again.

UPDATE, 6:44 PM: Obama: “That’s not the advocacy women need… There are millions of women across America who rely on Planned Parenthood.”

UPDATE, 6:44 PM: Strong finish by President Obama on that answer.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Next question for Romney: “What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush?”

UPDATE, 6:46 PM: Romney lamely tries to spin his opposition to access to contraceptives… what about his support for the Blunt Amendment?

UPDATE, 6:48 PM: Multimillionaire and vulture capitalist Romney claims he’ll be a champion for the little guy: “Our party has been focused on big business for too long.”

UPDATE, 6:49 PM: Obama: “Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing jobs to China.”

UPDATE, 6:52 PM: Obama cites some of the promises he’s kept. Occupation of Iraq ended, Patient Protection Act enacted. Restraints on Wall Street put into place. Auto industry pulled back from the brink.

UPDATE, 6:53 PM: Obama: “The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. The ones I haven’t… it’s not for a lack of trying.”

UPDATE, 6:54 PM: Obama: The choice in this election is whose promises are going to help you.

UPDATE, 6:56 PM: Mitt, the reason more people are on food stamps is because of income equality and a rise in poverty. Problems greatly exacerbated as a result of George W. Bush’s policies.

UPDATE, 6:58 PM: Question about immigration from Lorraine.

UPDATE, 6:58 PM: Romney trying to humanize himself…

UPDATE, 7:00 PM: Romney trying to make it sound like he supports the DREAM Act.

UPDATE, 7:01 PM: Obama: “I’ve done everything I can on my own to fix the system.” Notes he hasn’t gotten cooperation from Congress.

UPDATE, 7:03 PM: Obama notes that Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act. Also points out Romney praised Arizona’s draconian immigration law.

UPDATE, 7:05 PM: Hey Mitt: Presidents *don’t* file legislation!

UPDATE, 7:05 PM: Mitt Romney is really stumbling with this rebuttal.

UPDATE, 7:06 PM: Burst of crosstalk… President Obama is tired of Romney’s nonsense…

UPDATE, 7:07 PM: Obama gets a dig in at Romney on his pension: “It’s not as big as yours.”

UPDATE, 7:08 PM: Next question is about Libya.

UPDATE, 7:10 PM: Obama is explaining how he reacted to the attack on America’s consulate in Benghazi.

UPDATE, 7:11 PM: Obama: “I’m the one who has the greet the coffins when they come home.”

UPDATE, 7:16 PM: Obama: “Please proceed, Governor.” The President has had enough.

UPDATE, 7:16 PM: Big moment for Obama. Romney has really tripped himself up here. He just tried to claim the president did not characterize the attack on the consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack early on, when in fact, in Obama’s Rose Garden speech, he did. “Check the transcript,” the President told his opponent. Moderator Candy Crowley backs Obama up. Yay, real-time fact checking! Audience members are clapping.

UPDATE, 7:17 PM: Candy moving the debate along…

UPDATE, 7:17 PM: Nina Gonzalez: What has your administration done to limit the availability of assault weapons?

UPDATE, 7:19 PM: Obama: We have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. More enforcement needed.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM: Obama suggests we should reintroduce a ban on assault weapons. The NRA is going to pick up on that, no doubt.

UPDATE, 7:20 PM: Shorter Romney: Not interested in getting semiautomatic weapons off our streets.

UPDATE, 7:21 PM: Romney brings up “Fast and Furious”. Knew that was coming…

UPDATE, 7:22 PM: Crowley asks why Romney no longer supports an assault weapons ban.

UPDATE, 7:24 PM: Obama: Romney changed his position on the value of assault weapons ban because he wanted the NRA’s endorsement. Zing!

UPDATE, 7:26 PM: Carol Goldberg asks Mitt Romney, an outsourcing pioneer, about insourcing… bringing jobs back home to the United States.

UPDATE, 7:28 PM: Romney trots out his favorite catchphrase… “trickle-down government.”

UPDATE, 7:28 PM: Romney claims he’ll be strict with those we trade with. Yeah, right.

UPDATE, 7:29 PM: Mitt, where’s the evidence to support the claim that businesses aren’t hiring because of the Patient Protection Act?

UPDATE, 7:31 PM: Obama says he’d close loopholes that reward outsourcing. Romney’s policies would create jobs overseas,

UPDATE, 7:32 PM: Crowley asks Romney: How do we bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.A.?

UPDATE, 7:33 PM: Crowley goes to President Obama.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM: Obama shouldn’t have said that some jobs won’t come back. That didn’t do anything for him. The Republicans will put that phrase into television ads.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM: Romney lamely chants, government does not create jobs.

UPDATE, 7:34 PM: Softball question for Mitt, and he recognizes it.

UPDATE, 7:35 PM: Mitt: “I care about a hundred percent of the American people.” Oops. Why’d Romney open that door? Hope the President gets rebuttal time…

UPDATE, 7:36 PM: Romney is basically giving his closing statement.

UPDATE, 7:37 PM: The debate is running over. Good thing the major news networks scheduled post-debate “analysis” till 8 PM.

UPDATE, 7:38 PM: Obama hammers Romney for his forty-seven percent comments.

UPDATE, 7:39 PM: WOW, what a finish by President Obama! No closing statements, Obama finishes by asking for viewers’ votes.

FINAL THOUGHT, 7:40 PM: This debate goes to President Obama. He was superb. Absolutely superb.