NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Judge punishes Tim Eyman for egregiously violating Washington’s public disclosure laws

Dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er and failed guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Tim Eyman was final­ly held account­able today for his years of ille­gal and uneth­i­cal behav­ior, includ­ing egre­gious vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton State’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws.

Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge James Dixon ruled that the State of Wash­ing­ton had proven through clear and con­vinc­ing evi­dence that Eyman had repeat­ed­ly and fla­grant­ly run afoul of Wash­ing­ton’s Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act, cod­i­fied in the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton as Chap­ter 42.17A.

Eyman must pay a $2.6 mil­lion fine and is now pro­hib­it­ed from fly­ing solo as a do-every­thing offi­cer of a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, Judge Dixon decreed.

It’s the largest fine ever against an indi­vid­ual for pub­lic dis­clo­sure vio­la­tions in Wash­ing­ton State his­to­ry… and the cul­mi­na­tion of a case that began near­ly a decade ago in the sum­mer of 2012, when North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute mem­ber Sher­ry Bock­winkel filed a com­plaint against Eyman for run­ning a stealth ini­tia­tive cam­paign in vio­la­tion of the Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act.

Bock­winkel’s com­plaint was inves­ti­gat­ed for over two years by the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion, which ulti­mate­ly found that Eyman had com­mit­ted mul­ti­ple seri­ous vio­la­tions of the law. It was then turned over to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son. Fer­gu­son’s office con­tin­ued the inves­ti­ga­tion for a year and a half, then filed suit against Eyman near­ly four years ago.

Today, Fer­gu­son’s team won the relief it had been seek­ing, in what Fer­gu­son described as a total vic­to­ry for the peo­ple of the State of Washington.

Bob Ferguson playing chess at the Ravenna Community Center

Tim Eyman is no match for Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, a cham­pi­on chess play­er (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“After years of Tim Eyman’s deceit, obstruc­tion, and con­tempt of court, we took him to tri­al and held him account­able for receiv­ing and con­ceal­ing ille­gal kick-backs,” said Fer­gu­son in a state­ment released fol­low­ing the ruling.

“After twen­ty years of vio­lat­ing cam­paign finance laws, includ­ing two pre­vi­ous judg­ments against him, Eyman’s day of reck­on­ing has arrived.”

“Today’s rul­ing is clear — Eyman’s con­duct was ille­gal and inten­tion­al. Today’s his­toric cam­paign finance penal­ty – the largest in our state ever levied against an indi­vid­ual — is nec­es­sary to hold him account­able for some of the most egre­gious cam­paign finance vio­la­tions ever uncov­ered by the Wash­ing­ton Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion and the Wash­ing­ton State Attor­ney General’s Office.”

“Eyman is a repeat vio­la­tor of our state’s vot­er-approved cam­paign finance laws,’ not­ed Fer­gu­son. “On mul­ti­ple occa­sions, the state caught him ille­gal­ly and inten­tion­al­ly con­ceal­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions that end­ed up in his per­son­al bank account.”

“The last time Eyman admit­ted inten­tion­al­ly vio­lat­ing the law, he signed a legal­ly enforce­able agree­ment to nev­er again act as a trea­sur­er on any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. That extra­or­di­nary rem­e­dy proved unsuc­cess­ful at stop­ping Eyman’s ille­gal con­duct. Con­se­quent­ly, our office pur­sued the next log­i­cal step — a pro­hi­bi­tion on direct­ing the finances of any polit­i­cal committee.”

“Today the judge grant­ed that rem­e­dy. This will not pre­vent Eyman from con­ceiv­ing, draft­ing and pro­mot­ing ini­tia­tives. It will, how­ev­er, stop his prac­tice of direct­ing finan­cial kick­backs into his per­son­al bank account.”

Short­ly after Judge Dixon revealed his rul­ing, we released our own state­ment react­ing to the deci­sion, which is avail­able over on NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense.

We are elat­ed that this day has final­ly come. It was a long time in com­ing, to be sure, but it has arrived at last, and we are so hap­py that it has.

Much need­ed jus­tice has been served upon Tim Eyman. The pun­ish­ment need­ed to fit the crime, and it does. The deci­sion hand­ed down by Judge Dixon is no mere slap on the wrist. It is real and mean­ing­ful account­abil­i­ty. Over­due, but real.

Judge Dixon made it clear as he announced his find­ings of fact and con­clu­sions of law that his ver­dict is based on rock sol­id evi­dence and that he bears “no ill will” towards Eyman, even though Eyman has been in con­tempt for much of the dura­tion of the case due to his fail­ure to com­ply with dis­cov­ery orders.

You can watch Judge Dixon announce his deci­sion, slow­ly and method­i­cal­ly, by press­ing Play on the video below. Eyman is the fig­ure in red behind the table on the left. Mem­bers of Fer­gu­son’s legal team are seat­ed behind the oth­er table.

You can also read Judge Fer­gu­son’s writ­ten rul­ing below.

Judge Dixon’s judg­ment in State of Wash­ing­ton v. Tim Eyman

In addi­tion to impos­ing a big fine, as men­tioned, Judge Dixon also entered an injunc­tion that bars Eyman from con­tin­u­ing to uneth­i­cal­ly and immoral­ly oper­ate his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry the way he has for the last two decades.

The injunc­tion (from the final page of the deci­sion above) does not pro­hib­it Eyman from exer­cis­ing his First Amend­ment rights, but it does bar him from spend­ing and trans­fer­ring mon­ey of his own volition:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Defen­dant Eyman shall be, and here­by is per­ma­nent­ly enjoined from man­ag­ing, con­trol­ling, nego­ti­at­ing, or direct­ing finan­cial trans­ac­tions of any kind for any Com­mit­tee, as that term is defined by RCW 42.17A.005, in the future. With­out lim­it­ing the scope of this injunc­tion, Defen­dant Eyman shall at least com­ply with the following:

Clause #1

Defen­dant Eyman shall not be named in a state­ment of orga­ni­za­tion filed with the PDC as a trea­sur­er or deputy trea­sur­er for any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee and shall not act in such capac­i­ty even if not named.

Clause #2

Defen­dant Eyman shall not have any author­i­ty or respon­si­bil­i­ty for approv­ing dis­clo­sure state­ments for any polit­i­cal committee.

Clause #3

Defen­dant Eyman shall not be named in a state­ment of orga­ni­za­tion filed with the PDC as a per­son who may autho­rize expen­di­tures on behalf of any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee and shall not act in such capac­i­ty even if not named.

Clause #4

Defen­dant Eyman or any enti­ty he con­trols shall not be list­ed as an account hold­er on any bank­ing or oth­er account that holds polit­i­cal com­mit­tee funds; nor shall he or any enti­ty he con­trols oth­er­wise have access to such accounts, direct­ly or indirectly.

Clause #5

Defen­dant Eyman or any enti­ty he con­trols shall not accept or take pos­ses­sion in any man­ner any con­tri­bu­tions of any kind intend­ed to sup­port a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee (e.g., Defen­dant Eyman can­not per­son­al­ly take pos­ses­sion of a check from a donor to be deliv­ered to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee or intend­ed to be an in-kind contribution).

Clause #6

Defen­dant Eyman shall not have the author­i­ty to bind any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee as a speak­ing agent or oth­er­wise, with respect to expen­di­tures to be made by the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. Fur­ther, he shall not lead any per­son or enti­ty to believe that he has such authority.

Clause #7

Except­ing pay­ments from his per­son­al funds made as in-kind con­tri­bu­tions, Defen­dant Eyman shall not have any finan­cial deci­sion mak­ing author­i­ty for any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. He shall not nego­ti­ate the amounts of any expen­di­tures with out­side ven­dors or oth­ers for any polit­i­cal committee.

Clause #8

Defen­dant Eyman shall not approve or par­tic­i­pate in the deci­sion mak­ing for the approval of a trans­fer of funds from one polit­i­cal com­mit­tee to anoth­er or from a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee to him­self or any oth­er per­son or organization.

Clause #9

Defen­dant Eyman shall not direct­ly solic­it con­tri­bu­tions for him­self or his fam­i­ly to sup­port his polit­i­cal work with­out estab­lish­ing a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, which must prop­er­ly report the con­tri­bu­tions to the PDC in com­pli­ance with FCPA. Any con­tri­bu­tions must be made direct­ly to the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, not direct­ly to Defen­dant Eyman. Any con­tri­bu­tions made to the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, whether or not intend­ed to com­pen­sate Defen­dant Eyman, must be report­ed to the PDC as a polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion, and, if dis­bursed to Defen­dant Eyman, dis­bursed by the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee and report­ed as a polit­i­cal expen­di­ture. The deci­sion to make the expen­di­ture must be made inde­pen­dent of Defen­dant Eyman by the com­mit­tee and approved by the Com­mit­tee’s trea­sur­er, who must not be pure­ly min­is­te­r­i­al, and who must be some­one oth­er than Defen­dant Eyman.

Clause #10

If Defen­dant Eyman loans mon­ey to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, the terms of the loan must be in writ­ing signed by Defen­dant Eyman and an autho­rized mem­ber of the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, who can­not be Defen­dant Eyman. Said writ­ing must be signed before any funds are trans­ferred. The terms of the loan must be nego­ti­at­ed with the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, and Defen­dant Eyman can­not be involved on behalf of the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee in the approval of the loan, its tenns, or its repayment.

Clause #11

Defen­dant Eyman shall not direct or solic­it pay­ments from con­trib­u­tors direct­ly to cam­paign ven­dors. Any con­tri­bu­tions solicit­ed by Defen­dant Eyman must be made direct­ly to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, and the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee can then dis­trib­ute the mon­ey to cam­paign ven­dors as it choos­es so long as it is in accor­dance with this injunction.

Our hats are off to Judge Dixon for com­ing up with a thor­ough set of restric­tions to put a stop to Eyman’s finan­cial chi­canery. The pro­hi­bi­tions out­lined above will need to be enforced, as we don’t expect Eyman to abide by them, at least not ful­ly or indef­i­nite­ly. Eyman has appar­ent­ly real­ized he’ll just get into more trou­ble if he does­n’t start com­ply­ing, how­ev­er, and has indi­cat­ed to reporters that he intends to com­ply, even though he isn’t hap­py about doing so.

Eyman cir­cu­lat­ed fundrais­ing appeals ahead of Judge Dixon’s deci­sion that vio­late the terms set forth in the injunc­tion. He has­n’t post­ed a new pitch for mon­ey since leav­ing the court­room, most like­ly because he’s try­ing to fig­ure out how he can shake his elec­tron­ic tin cup with­out run­ning afoul of the injunction.

Eyman has stat­ed he plans to appeal Judge Dixon’s deci­sion. We expect­ed he would, and we hope Judge Dixon’s rul­ing is affirmed by the appel­late courts.

This day of reck­on­ing may have been over­due, but it’s nev­er­the­less wel­come. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s team has proved the val­ue of per­se­ver­ance, which Tim Eyman claims is his favorite val­ue. The peo­ple’s legal team are the last ones stand­ing. The con man sought by the state has been caught, and firm­ly dis­ci­plined. That is cause for cel­e­bra­tion across our great green land.

Monday, February 8th, 2021

As Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial begins, Republican senators seek to bail — despite being witnesses to the crime

The sec­ond impeach­ment tri­al of Don­ald J. Trump begins Tues­day in the U.S. Sen­ate cham­ber, briefly occu­pied in the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion that sought to block for­mal con­fir­ma­tion of Joe Biden and Kamala Har­ris’ Elec­toral Col­lege win.

Sen­a­tor Patrick Leahy, D‑Vermont, Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore, will be in the Sen­ate president’s chair where then-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence was sit­ting as the Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capi­tol. The chair was briefly occu­pied by the Q‑Anon “shaman,” horn wear­ing Jacob Chansley.

On a roll call list of sen­a­tors’ votes, the “Q Shaman” had left a message:

It’s only a mat­ter of time/Justice is com­ing.

Trump had want­ed his Vice Pres­i­dent to refuse accep­tance of elec­toral votes from sev­er­al states car­ried by Biden. “And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” he told a ral­ly ear­li­er on 1/06/2021. As the mob then marched on the Capi­tol, Trump was tweet­ing “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to pro­tect our Coun­try… USA demands the truth!”

The tweet is poten­tial evi­dence in Trump’s tri­al, giv­en that insur­rec­tion­ists chant­ed “Hang Pence” as they occu­pied Capi­tol hall­ways. An endur­ing image of the day is of a noose in the fore­ground with the great dome as backdrop.

“A lot of us believe that if ever there was a rea­son for our Found­ing Fathers to have the Arti­cles of Impeach­ment in the Con­sti­tu­tion, this was it,” Sen­a­tor Joe Machin III, D‑West Vir­ginia, remarked the oth­er day.

If a crime was com­mit­ted, the tri­al is being con­duct­ed at the crime scene, before wit­ness­es to the crime, how do you mount a defense?

We’ll wit­ness the first smoke screen on Tues­day, when Trump lawyers mount a so-called “con­sti­tu­tion­al defense.” The argu­ment: You can’t try the orange-haired one because he is no longer in office.

“The Con­sti­tu­tion does not give Con­gress the pow­er to impeach a pri­vate cit­i­zen: This charge is direct­ed at an indi­vid­ual who no longer holds pub­lic office,” the words of Manchin’s seat­mate from the Moun­taineer State, Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Shelly Moore Capito.

Non­sense, say con­sti­tu­tion­al experts, includ­ing nabobs from the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety. The pur­pose of the impeach­ment tri­al, if sen­a­tors agree to con­vict, is to pre­vent Trump ever again from seek­ing pub­lic office.

But the defense allows Repub­li­can sen­a­tors to ignore the evi­dence, like­ly in the form of pic­ture after pic­ture, show­ing stuff like a Con­fed­er­ate flag car­ried through Stat­u­ary Hall and such words as those of Louie Gohmert, R‑Texas: “You got­ta go to the streets and be as vio­lent as Antifa and BLM [Black Lives Matter].”

Equiv­a­lence is the next smoke screen, broad­ly deployed by the right and right-wing media. Try to equate the 1/06/2021 coup attempt with excess­es of the left. The back­drops of Rupert Mur­doch’s Fox are fre­quent­ly filled with pic­tures of glow­er­ing, men­ac­ing, disheveled young black men. They’ve late­ly been replaced by shots of Rep. Max­ine Waters, D‑California, and her advice to “get in the face” of Trump admin­is­tra­tion nabobs encoun­tered in restau­rants or airports.

Sure, Stephen Miller was giv­en a bad time at one restau­rant, while Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao chose to exit another.

Nobody was hurt or killed, how­ev­er, nor were the restau­rant crit­ics clad in body armor or pack­ing AR-15 assault rifles.

Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, con­jured out of thin air, are also being deployed.

Sen­a­tor Ron John­son, R‑Wisconsin on Sun­day tried to blame the U.S. Capi­tol attack on House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi. “Is it anoth­er diver­sion­ary oper­a­tion?” he asked. “Is this means to deflect away from poten­tial­ly what the Speak­er knew and when she knew it? I don’t know but I am suspicious.”

Of course, Repub­li­cans are claim­ing the impeach­ment tri­al will deep­en Amer­i­cans’ divi­sions. They were, of course, almost entire­ly silent over the past four years as Trump opened wounds in the body politic and then poured in the salt. Impeach­ment will “fur­ther divide this coun­try,” warns Sen­a­tor Josh Haw­ley, R‑Missouri, who gave a clenched fist to the mob as it stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Amer­i­ca’s wrong wing seems intent on cre­at­ing its own real­i­ty, or “alter­na­tive facts”, to quote Kellyanne Con­way. Words of Shake­speare come to find: “They whose guilt with­in their bosom lies, imag­ine every eye beholds their blame.”

The bosom of Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell is wor­thy of a close look. After all, wasn’t it McConnell who said in a floor speech: “The mob was fed lies. They were pro­voked by the Pres­i­dent and oth­er pow­er­ful people.”

McConnell nev­er acts on prin­ci­ple, so the speech stirred instant speculation.

The busi­ness wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty had used Trump to achieve a gar­gan­tu­an tax cut favor­ing the rich, and then put two hun­dred and forty-eight most­ly white, most­ly young judges on the fed­er­al bench.

Now, in dis­grace, was McConnell sig­nal­ing that Trump could be jettisoned?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is noth­ing like a pri­ma­ry chal­lenge to focus the mind.

Don­ald Trump, Jr., is already talk­ing about trav­el­ing to Wyoming next year to “pri­ma­ry” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Liz Cheney, a steely con­ser­v­a­tive who was one of ten House Repub­li­cans vot­ing to impeach Don­ald Trump.

He can keep com­ing west, for State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brad Klip­pert, R‑Kennewick is chal­leng­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house, R‑Washington. (New­house can­not be pri­maried, owing to Wash­ing­ton’s “Top Two” elec­tion system.)

On Mon­day, Steve Kor­nac­ki of MSNBC post­ed new poll fig­ures on the Big Board, show­ing that just nine per­cent of Repub­li­can vot­ers favor a sec­ond impeach­ment of Trump, with eighty-sev­en per­cent opposed.

Mar­jorie Tay­lor Green, QAnon-Geor­gia, for once spoke the truth last Thurs­day when she said: “The par­ty is his (Trump’s). It doesn’t belong to any­body else.”

Trump has trans­formed the base of the Repub­li­can Par­ty. It is no longer the polit­i­cal pre­serve of busi­ness and edu­cat­ed sub­ur­ban­ites. Its base now is white vot­ers with­out col­lege degrees, the evan­gel­i­cal right and rur­al voters.

It has become a hotbed of white suprema­cists, a vehi­cle for folks resent­ing a more diver­si­fied, more inclu­sive coun­try. They are angry.

Can Trump keep them angry, despite hav­ing been ban­ished from Twit­ter and deplat­formed from a host of oth­er ser­vices where he once went unchecked?

Repub­li­cans in Con­gress fear an affir­ma­tive answer. Hence, they are will­ing to deny an impeach­able offense with they wit­nessed, think­ing up excus­es as they go. Stature-speak­ing, they could hide in a field of stubble.

A few will break ranks and sup­port impeach­ment, includ­ing the very con­cerned Sen­a­tor Susan Collins, R‑Maine.

But we will see noth­ing like the 1950s Repub­li­can revolt against the thug­gery of Joseph McCarthy. The first to rise up in protest against McCarthy­ism in the Sen­ate was Sen­a­tor Mar­garet Chase Smith, R‑Maine.

She was fol­lowed by Sen­a­tor Ralph Flan­ders, R‑Vermont. The Sen­ate com­mit­tee which led to McCarthy’s cen­sure was chaired by Sen­a­tor Arthur Watkins, R‑Utah.

Twen­ty-three Repub­li­cans vot­ed to con­demn “Tail Gun­ner Joe”. Just five were with the Democ­rats last week on a pre­lim­i­nary impeach­ment motion.

There is not much we can do about the Senate’s vote beyond urg­ing Repub­li­can sen­a­tors to put coun­try ahead of par­ty, which they are very resis­tant to doing.

What we can do, how­ev­er, is watch the pre­sen­ta­tion of evi­dence and crys­tal­lize in our minds mem­o­ries of a right-wing coup that sought to over­turn an Amer­i­can elec­tion, and recom­mit to defend­ing gov­ern­ment by the people.

This repub­lic, it bears repeat­ing, is ours to keep… if we can keep it.

Sunday, February 7th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (February 1st-5th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 5th, 2021.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

REMOVING MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE FROM COMMITTEES: Vot­ing 230 for and 198 against, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Feb­ru­ary 4th removed Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene, R‑Georgia., from the Bud­get and Edu­ca­tion and Labor com­mit­tees as pun­ish­ment for her string of false, shock­ing and vio­lent pub­lic com­ments and Face­book post­ings in recent years, includ­ing her endorse­ment of calls for House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to be shot and for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hillary Clin­ton to be lynched.

Greene has claimed that an air­plane nev­er struck the Pen­ta­gon on Sep­tem­ber 11th, the Clin­tons were behind the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy, Jr., the Sandy Hook and Park­land school shoot­ings nev­er occurred and a Jew­ish-guid­ed laser beam caused Cal­i­for­nia wildfires.

She aligned her­self as recent­ly as July with the con­spir­a­cy cult Q‑Anon.

This vote to adopt H Res­o­lu­tion 72 left the first-term law­mak­er from Geor­gia’s 14th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict with no com­mit­tee assign­ments. The mea­sure was backed by all Democ­rats who vot­ed and eleven Republicans.

Jim McGov­ern, D‑Massachusetts, said:

“Con­gress­woman Greene says this res­o­lu­tion could set a prece­dent for the future. I hope it does because if this isn’t the bot­tom, then I don’t know what the hell is… Any­one who sug­gests putting a bul­let in the head of a mem­ber should­n’t sit on any com­mit­tee, peri­od. That’s the stan­dard we’re set­ting here today, and I’m bet­ting it’s a stan­dard the Amer­i­can peo­ple want us to uphold.”

Greene said:

“These were words of the past, and these things do not rep­re­sent me… If this Con­gress is to tol­er­ate mem­bers that con­done riots that have hurt Amer­i­can peo­ple, attacked police offi­cers, occu­pied fed­er­al prop­er­ty, burned busi­ness­es and cities, but yet wants to con­demn me and cru­ci­fy me in the pub­lic square for words that I said and I regret a few years ago, then I think we [have] a real big problem.”

A yes vote was to strip Greene of her com­mit­tee assignments.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

ADVANCING PLAN FOR BUDGET RECONCILIATION: Vot­ing 218 for and 212 against, the House on Feb­ru­ary 3rd adopt­ed a fis­cal 2021 bud­get res­o­lu­tion (H Con Res 11) that would allow Pres­i­dent Biden’s $1.9 tril­lion pack­age of COVID-19 relief mea­sures to pass the Sen­ate on a sim­ple major­i­ty vote in com­ing weeks.

The res­o­lu­tion trig­gers the “bud­get rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” process that pro­tects spec­i­fied mea­sures from fil­i­busters. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is used to expe­dite com­plex leg­is­la­tion that affects spend­ing and rev­enue lev­els and the nation­al debt.

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion can be used once per fis­cal year. The cur­rent fis­cal year began last Octo­ber 1st, and anoth­er bud­get res­o­lu­tion for fis­cal 2022 is due this spring.

John Yarmuth, D‑Kentucky, said:

“We will have sev­er­al weeks to reach a bipar­ti­san [COVID-19 relief] agree­ment. I hope we can. But this is Plan B. And we will pro­ceed with it because the Amer­i­can peo­ple can’t wait as long as the Repub­li­cans seem to be able to.”

Ben Cline, R‑Virginia, said farm­ers and small busi­ness­es are “suf­fer­ing,” but “what they don’t need is a $1.9 tril­lion package…of Demo­c­rat [sic] wish-list items that will crip­ple our econ­o­my, includ­ing a min­i­mum wage increase that would destroy 1.3 mil­lion jobs…”

A yes vote was to adopt the bud­get resolution.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strickland

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

EXPANDING FEDERALLY FUNDED APPRENTICESHIPS: Vot­ing 247 for and 173 against, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Feb­ru­ary 5th passed a bill (H.R. 447) that would autho­rize $3.5 bil­lion over five years to expand fed­er­al­ly fund­ed appren­tice­ship programs.

While the bill would pre­pare work­ers for employ­ment in tra­di­tion­al indus­tries such as man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­struc­tion, it also funds appren­tice­ships in spe­cial­ized fields includ­ing ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion, advanced health care and green ener­gy. In addi­tion, the bill would pro­mote work oppor­tu­ni­ties for per­sons with diverse back­grounds and crim­i­nal records tra­di­tion­al­ly left out of appren­tice­ship programs.

The bill drew Repub­li­can oppo­si­tion, in part, because it quashed Don­ald Trump’s Indus­try Rec­og­nized Appren­tice­ship Pro­grams (IRAPs), which receive fed­er­al fund­ing but oper­ate with few reg­u­la­tions and are unwel­com­ing to unions.

Andy Levin, D‑Michigan, said “at least sev­en mil­lion of the jobs lost dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic will not come back… We must use every tool we have to help work­ers find jobs and pre­pare for the high-qual­i­ty jobs and employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties of the future. The most suc­cess­ful of these tools, with­out ques­tion, is our reg­is­tered appren­tice­ship program.”

Vir­ginia Foxx, R‑North Car­oli­na, said the bill “favors grant fund­ing for enti­ties part­ner­ing with unions. Turn­ing the bil­l’s grant pro­gram into a union slush fund would also block count­less poten­tial par­tic­i­pants from access­ing grant mon­ey. Even worse, [the bill] will force job cre­ators to deal with over­ly pre­scrip­tive require­ments, addi­tion­al bureau­cra­cy and time-con­sum­ing paperwork.…”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (8): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 12 aye votes, 5 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

ADVANCING PLAN FOR BUDGET RECONCILIATION: Vot­ing 51 for and 50 against, the Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 5th adopt­ed a fis­cal 2021 bud­get res­o­lu­tion (S Con Res 5) under which Pres­i­dent Biden’s $1.9 tril­lion coro­n­avirus-relief bill could be passed by sim­ple major­i­ty vote in com­ing weeks.

Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris cast the tie-break­ing vote.

The res­o­lu­tion trig­gers the “bud­get rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” process that pro­tects spec­i­fied mea­sures from fil­i­busters. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is used to expe­dite com­plex leg­is­la­tion that affects spend­ing and rev­enue lev­els and the nation­al debt. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion can be used once per fis­cal year. The cur­rent fis­cal year began last Oct. 1, and anoth­er bud­get res­o­lu­tion for fis­cal 2022 is due this spring.

The Pacif­ic North­wet’s Ron Wyden, D‑Oregon, said “some sen­a­tors sug­gest that the bud­get res­o­lu­tion is bad for uni­ty. My answer to that is, the only place where big, bold eco­nom­ic relief is a divi­sive propo­si­tion is with­in the four walls of the U.S. Sen­ate… What you see in this bud­get res­o­lu­tion is exact­ly the kind of plan that Amer­i­cans vot­ed for and the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans support.”

Rob Port­man, R‑Ohio, said “try­ing to jam through this $1.9 tril­lion legislation…sets exact­ly the wrong tone for the coun­try and also for the admin­is­tra­tion. I think Pres­i­dent Biden has a real oppor­tu­ni­ty to help heal our coun­try — I real­ly do. By the way, I think he sin­cere­ly wants to. That is why I don’t under­stand this [rec­on­cil­i­a­tion] process.”

A yes vote was to advance the admin­is­tra­tion’s pan­dem­ic-relief legislation.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Vot­ing 56 for and 43 against, the Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 2nd con­firmed Ale­jan­dro N. May­orkas, six­ty-one, as Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­ri­ty. The son of a holo­caust sur­vivor and native of Cuba, he is the first Lati­no and immi­grant to hold the posi­tion. May­orkas was deputy DHS sec­re­tary and direc­tor of U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices under for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Richard Durbin, D‑Illinois, the Major­i­ty Whip, said all DHS sec­re­taries who served before the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, two Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans, have endorsed May­orkas for the post. “They said he is a man of integri­ty, expe­ri­ence and com­pas­sion and a proven leader… You would hard­ly believe that if you lis­tened to some of the things said” by Repub­li­can critics.

Minor­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, said May­orkas “did his best to turn U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices into an uneth­i­cal favor fac­to­ry” by politi­ciz­ing the EB‑5 Invest­ment Visa Pro­gram dur­ing the Barack Oba­ma pres­i­den­cy. The pro­gram enables qual­i­fied for­eign investors to obtain per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­den­cy by invest­ing heav­i­ly in the cre­ation of Amer­i­can jobs.

A yes vote was to con­firm Mayorkas.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING PETE BUTTIGIEG AS TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Vot­ing 86 for and 13 against, the Sen­ate on Feb­ru­ary 2nd approved the nom­i­na­tion of Pete Buttigieg, thir­ty-nine, as the next fed­er­al Sec­re­tary of Trans­porta­tion, mak­ing him the first open­ly gay per­son to be con­firmed to a Cab­i­net post in U.S. his­to­ry. The for­mer may­or of South Bend, Indi­ana, was a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2020.

The Pacif­ic North­west­’s Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, said Buttigieg “is the right choice for this job because he was may­or of South Bend. He dealt with infra­struc­ture where the rub­ber meets the road, man­ag­ing state, fed­er­al, and local resources to help build infra­struc­ture in his community.”

No sen­a­tor spoke against the nomination.

A yes vote was to con­firm Buttigieg.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will con­duct an impeach­ment tri­al for for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in the week of Feb­ru­ary 8th, while the House sched­ule was to be announced.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Civic Impulse, LLC. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2021 Civic Impulse, LLC. 

Monday, February 1st, 2021

Senate Republicans seek to devitalize COVID relief bill that will define Biden’s presidency

U.S. Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are once more try­ing the “Peanuts gam­bit” in seek­ing to block or vast­ly dimin­ish Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s pro­posed $1.9 tril­lion COVID-19 recov­ery pro­pos­al (dubbed The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan).

The gam­bit is named for a famous fea­ture in Charles M. Schulz’s beloved car­toon strip, in which Lucy set down a foot­ball in the hold­er posi­tion, only to jerk it up and send Char­lie Brown sprawl­ing as he sought to kick the ball.

The tac­tic was deployed to per­fec­tion dur­ing the Oba­ma years.

The goal this year is to make Biden sprawl, or become immersed in a drawn-out mess. As of this after­noon, a group of ten Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors were head­ed to the White House to pitch an alter­na­tive, impo­tent $618 bil­lion recov­ery plan.

It omits the $15-an-hour min­i­mum wage, aid to belea­guered state gov­ern­ments, and scales back the exten­sion of unem­ploy­ment benefits.

Repub­li­cans say they are offer­ing up uni­ty and bipar­ti­san­ship, flat­ter­ing Biden that this was the kind of deal he was able to cut dur­ing thir­ty-six years in the Sen­ate. With ten Repub­li­can votes, plus the Senate’s fifty Democ­rats, there would be a fil­i­buster proof Sen­ate major­i­ty for adopt­ing a new relief package.

So far, Biden and the Democ­rats aren’t going for it.

Press Sec­re­tary Jen Psa­ki made clear, in Monday’s White House brief­ing, that the meet­ing with Repub­li­cans is not a negotiation.

“What this meet­ing is not is a forum for the Pres­i­dent to make or accept an offer,” said Psa­ki. “The risk is not that it is too big, this pack­age. The risk is that it is too small. That remains (Biden’s) view.”

Bri­an Deese, direc­tor of the Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil, made the case Sun­day on CNN for a big recov­ery pack­age to treat a pan­dem­ic that has rav­aged the Amer­i­can econ­o­my and wors­ened income inequality.

“We’re in a unique cri­sis,” said Deese. “And the ele­ments of this (Biden) plan real­ly were designed and are designed to take on that cri­sis head on … We’re cer­tain­ly open to input from any­where where we can find a con­struc­tive idea to make this pack­age as effec­tive as pos­si­ble. But the Pres­i­dent is uncom­pro­mis­ing when it comes to the speed that we need to act to address this crisis.”

The Repub­li­cans’ offer may well be a gam­bit designed to get skin in the game. If the past offers any indi­ca­tion, how­ev­er, the process will get drawn out and urgency will be lost if Biden decides to try to do a deal with them.

Inevitably, we are sure to hear from Sen­ate Repub­li­cans that the econ­o­my is recov­er­ing so rapid­ly that no big aid pack­age is needed.

Joe Biden is a busy per­son these days, but hope­ful­ly he’s found time to read Pres­i­dent Obama’s mem­oir, “A Promised Land.” After all, he’s a major char­ac­ter in it. Beyond that, how­ev­er, in the book, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma fess­es up to hav­ing been snook­ered on key leg­is­la­tion dur­ing the ear­ly years of his presidency.

He trust­ed Senaor Max Bau­cus, inef­fec­tu­al chair of the Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee, to explore a health care com­pro­mise with Repub­li­cans. “We signed off on scores of changes they want­ed made in Bau­cus’ draft bill,” he writes.

“Time’s up, Max,” Oba­ma told the sen­a­tor after months of talks.

But Bau­cus want­ed to go on… and on… and on.

“A part of me want­ed to get up, grab Bau­cus by the shoul­ders, and shake him till he came to his sens­es,” Oba­ma recalls. “I decid­ed this wouldn’t work.”

Ulti­mate­ly, the Democ­rats had to essen­tial­ly go it alone.

They suf­fered a repeat per­for­mance after the House passed an cli­mate bill, with Washington’s then-Rep. Jay Inslee work­ing to line up votes from “Rust Belt” Democ­rats want­i­ng a soft land­ing for their smoke­stack industries.

In the Sen­ate, how­ev­er, envi­ron­ment cham­pi­on Sen. John Ker­ry tried to nego­ti­ate with the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s spine­less Sen­a­tor Lind­say Graham.

“Unless Lin­coln and Ted­dy Roo­sevelt are walk­ing through that door, , bud­dy, he’s all we’ve got,” chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told Obama.

The result was no bill.

The Amer­i­can Recov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act, the Oba­ma res­cue leg­is­la­tion, was a major achieve­ment, but small­er than the admin­is­tra­tion want­ed. (It helped pay for removal of two fish-destroy­ing dams on the Elwa Riv­er, mas­ter stream of the Olympic Penin­su­la.) Still, Oba­ma had to acqui­esce to a bill under $800 bil­lion “because any fig­ure high­er than that just seemed ‘too much’.”

The fact that Oba­ma was reach­ing out to Maine’s Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, work­ing in a “bipar­ti­san fash­ion”, was treat­ed by much of the horse race obsessed Belt­way press corps as sig­ni­fy­ing “Solomon­ic rea­son and wis­dom”, Oba­ma writes of the deal-making.

Aside from the votes of Collins, Snowe, and Pennsylvania’s then-Republcan Sen­a­tor Arlen Specter (who sub­se­quent­ly became a Demo­c­rat) the Recov­ery Act passed the House and Sen­ate on par­ty line votes. The Great Reces­sion was not enough to inspire bipar­ti­san­ship. Nor, appar­ent­ly, is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen­a­tor Collins is at it again, as an archi­tect of the inad­e­quate $618 bil­lion Repub­li­can relief pro­pos­al. Can Biden be lured into negotiating?

At the edges, prob­a­bly yes. But any larg­er con­ces­sion invites morass.

The Pres­i­dent would need to return to Con­gress for new exten­sions in unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits when pro­vi­sions in the Repub­li­can pro­pos­al run out.

By that time, with 2022 elec­tions loom­ing, it would be in Repub­li­cans’ polit­i­cal inter­ests to keep the econ­o­my in a hole.

“The Repub­li­cans’ offer is insuf­fi­cient,” recent­ly des­ig­nat­ed Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer said over the weekend.

Under rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, the Democ­rats need only fifty-plus-one Sen­ate votes to pass Biden’s larg­er recov­ery pack­age. Inde­pen­dent Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders told ABC’s “This Week” on Sun­day that the Democ­rats’ votes are there.

Sen­a­tor Rob Port­man, R‑Ohio, one of the ten Repub­li­cans spon­sor­ing the $618 bil­lion pack­age, argued Sun­day that Biden would be going back on the heal­ing mes­sage of his inau­gur­al address. After a pledge to reach out across the aisle to Repub­li­cans, “then the next day land­ing on our desks a $1.9 tril­lion COVID-19 pack­age, when only a month ago, we passed a $900 bil­lion COVID-19 pack­age that was entire­ly bipar­ti­san,” said an offend­ed Portman.

Words that can bring tears to your eyes — if you hap­pen to be a crocodile.

Sen­ate Repub­li­cans used rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to ram through the mas­sive Trump tax cut bill and tried rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to repeal the Patient Pro­tec­tion and Afford­able Care Act. The raw exer­cise of pow­er, cut­ting off health care to mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, was thwart­ed only by a thumbs-down from Sen­a­tor John McCain.

The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has just under a mil­lion Amer­i­cans fil­ing for unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits each week. The pan­dem­ic has desta­bi­lized the econ­o­my. The coun­try is at a point, com­pa­ra­ble to sev­er­al lows in the Great Depres­sion, where deci­sive­ness and big-scale think­ing are needed.

Joe Biden was elect­ed in Novem­ber to get grips on a cri­sis that was dis­as­trous­ly mis­han­dled by his pre­de­ces­sor. The actions tak­en in the first few months of his pres­i­den­cy are sure to define Biden’s legacy.

The forty-sixth Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States was for decades a fix­ture on Capi­tol Hill. He is now the elect­ed leader of a nation that is hurting.

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (January 25th-29th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 29th, 2021. (The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was in recess, and did not hold any record­ed votes.)

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

ALLOWING SECOND TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Vot­ing 55 for and 45 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 26th set aside an objec­tion by Rand Paul, R‑Kentucky, to the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the upcom­ing impeach­ment tri­al of for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Paul said the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides for impeach­ment of sit­ting offi­cials, but not for­mer office­hold­ers. Democ­rats point­ed to the prece­dent of Sec­re­tary of War William Belk­nap’s impeach­ment and con­vic­tion in 1876 despite his last-minute res­ig­na­tion in an effort to avoid those penalties.

They also not­ed con­sti­tu­tion­al lan­guage allow­ing impeached and con­vict­ed offi­cials to be dis­qual­i­fied from hold­ing future office. Five Repub­li­cans joined all of the Sen­ate’s Democ­rats and inde­pen­dents in vot­ing to table Paul’s point of order. The Repub­li­cans were Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkows­ki of Alas­ka, Mitt Rom­ney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebras­ka and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑New York, said:

“The the­o­ry that the impeach­ment of a for­mer offi­cial is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al is flat-out wrong by every frame of analy­sis: con­sti­tu­tion­al text, his­tor­i­cal prac­tice, prece­dent, and basic com­mon sense. It has been com­plete­ly debunked by con­sti­tu­tion­al schol­ars from all across the polit­i­cal spectrum.”

Paul argued:

“As of noon last Wednes­day, Don­ald Trump holds none of the posi­tions list­ed in the Con­sti­tu­tion. He is a pri­vate cit­i­zen… There­fore, I make a point of order that this pro­ceed­ing, which would try a pri­vate cit­i­zen and not a pres­i­dent, a vice pres­i­dent, or civ­il offi­cer, vio­lates the Con­sti­tu­tion and is not in order.”

A yes vote was to table a point of order so that the impeach­ment tri­al can begin.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jim Risch

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 1 not voting

CONFIRMING JANET YELLEN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Vot­ing 84 for and 15 against, the Sen­ate on Jan. 25 con­firmed Janet L. Yellen, sev­en­ty-four as the sev­en­ty-eight sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury and first woman to lead the depart­ment in its two hun­dred and thir­ty-two-year history.

She served on the Fed­er­al Reserve Board of Gov­er­nors between 1994–1997 and 2010–2018, and from 2014 to 2018 she was the first woman to chair the Fed, hav­ing been nom­i­nat­ed by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma. Dur­ing her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Yellen expressed sup­port for expand­ed eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus as a response to COVID-19 as well as a $15-per-hour min­i­mum wage, envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion and rais­ing tax­es on those mak­ing more than $400,000 per year.

Ron Wyden, D‑Oregon, said: “At the Fed­er­al Reserve Chair Yellen changed decades of con­ven­tion­al eco­nom­ic wis­dom that put too much focus on infla­tion and deficits. She was cor­rect that pol­i­cy mak­ers should focus more on wages, employ­ment, and inequal­i­ty and that the econ­o­my safe­ly could run a lit­tle hotter.”

Dan Sul­li­van, R‑Alaska, said: “I cer­tain­ly intend­ed to vote for Sec­re­tary Yellen, but I was a no vote.…Despite a long robust dis­cus­sion, it was very dif­fi­cult to get her to com­mit to being a strong advo­cate for a robust all-of-the-above ener­gy sec­tor for the U.S. economy.”

A yes vote was to con­firm Yellen.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jim Risch

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 1 nay vote

ENDING FILIBUSTER AGAINST MAYORKAS: Vot­ing 55 for and 42 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 28th defeat­ed a Repub­li­can fil­i­buster against the nom­i­na­tion of Ale­jan­dro May­orkas as Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, clear­ing the way for a Feb­ru­ary 1st final con­fir­ma­tion vote.

Josh Haw­ley, R‑Missouri., had blocked the nom­i­na­tion for eight days with argu­ments that May­orkas is soft on secur­ing the south­ern border.

Major­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer, D‑New York, said:

“Our gov­ern­ment recent­ly suf­fered an unprece­dent­ed cyber­at­tack. In the wake of Jan­u­ary 6th, the threat of vio­lence and domes­tic ter­ror­ism remains of great con­cern. But because of the tac­tics of some Repub­li­can mem­bers… [the] nom­i­na­tion is being need­less­ly stalled.”

Sen­a­tor Charles (Chuck) Grass­ley, R‑Iowa, con­tend­ed that May­orkas politi­cized the EB‑5 Invest­ment Visa Pro­gram while head­ing U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices between 2009–2013. Under that pro­gram, qual­i­fied for­eign investors can obtain per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dence by invest­ing at least $900,000 in enter­pris­es that cre­ate a spec­i­fied num­ber of new jobs.

A yes vote was to advance the nomination.

The State of IdahoVot­ing Nay (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo
The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will debate more of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s nom­i­nees and a $1.9 tril­lion COVID-19 relief pack­age in the week of Feb­ru­ary 1st, while the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ sched­ule was to be announced.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Civic Impulse, LLC. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2021 Civic Impulse, LLC. 

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Sarah Augustine chosen as Chair of the 2021 Washington State Redistricting Commission

And then there were five!

Today, at a short, busi­ness-focused meet­ing, the four vot­ing mem­bers of the 201 Wash­ing­ton State Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion ful­filled their respon­si­bil­i­ty to select a fifth non­vot­ing mem­ber to serve as the com­mis­sion’s Chair through the end of the redis­trict­ing process as the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion requires.

Sarah Augus­tine, the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Cen­ter of Yaki­ma and Kit­ti­tas Coun­ties, was the Com­mis­sion’s unan­i­mous choice for the job. She will pre­side at future meet­ings of the Com­mis­sion, whose four vot­ing mem­bers are Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mis­sion­ers April Sims and Brady Walkin­shaw and Repub­li­can Com­mis­sion­ers Joe Fain and Paul Graves.

“Sarah received a BA in Soci­ol­o­gy and Psy­chol­o­gy and an MA in Whole Sys­tems Design with an empha­sis in group con­flict trans­for­ma­tion,” her DRC biog­ra­phy says. “She is the co-founder of Suri­name Indige­nous Health Fund (SIHF), where she has advo­cat­ed for vul­ner­a­ble Indige­nous Peo­ples since 2004.”

“She has rep­re­sent­ed the inter­ests of Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty part­ners to their own gov­ern­ments, the Inter-Amer­i­can devel­op­ment bank, the Unit­ed Nations, the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States Inter-Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion on Human Rights, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion, and a host of oth­er inter­na­tion­al actors.”

“She employs shut­tle diplo­ma­cy and group deci­sion-mak­ing strate­gies to de-esca­late con­flict and estab­lish com­mon ground between com­mu­ni­ties and exter­nal inter­ests. In addi­tion to her work with SIHF, Sarah has worked as an orga­ni­za­tion­al con­sul­tant in strate­gic plan­ning, facil­i­ta­tion, and mediation.”

“Sarah, a senior medi­a­tor, has been a medi­a­tor for fif­teen years.”

The com­mis­sion­ers were all in agree­ment that Augustine’s back­ground and expe­ri­ence make her an extreme­ly suit­able can­di­date to serve as Chair.

“This [nom­i­na­tion] was a sug­ges­tion from one of our Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues… [I] had a con­ver­sa­tion, did a lit­tle bit of research and what I found, I was extra­or­di­nar­i­ly impressed with,” said Repub­li­can Com­mis­sion­er Joe Fain.

“The pub­lic has tasked us with not only draw­ing maps, but in cre­at­ing bound­aries in a fair and col­lab­o­ra­tive way that fos­ters trust in our gov­ern­ment and con­fi­dence in our elec­toral process… I have full faith and con­fi­dence that Sarah is sim­i­lar­ly com­mit­ted to this goal,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mis­sion­er April Sims.

“I had the good for­tune to spend some time talk­ing with Sarah yes­ter­day — hope­ful­ly, soon to be Com­mis­sion­er Augus­tine — and I was just extra­or­di­nar­i­ly impressed by the per­spec­tives she brings to this spe­cif­ic role,” con­curred Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mis­sion­er Brady Walkinshaw.

“I’m very excit­ed about Sarah Augus­tine serv­ing as our Chair as well,” said Repub­li­can Com­mis­sion­er Paul Graves. “We’re going to end up hav­ing an orga­ni­za­tion that is a state agency and hires eight or nine peo­ple. Her work run­ning the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Cen­ter in Yaki­ma and Kit­ti­tas Coun­ties shows she can do that, and — I have con­fi­dence! — do it well.”

Future meet­ings of the Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion will be sched­uled by Augus­tine in con­sul­ta­tion with the four vot­ing mem­bers, Graves noted.

Just before adjourn­ment, Com­mis­sion­er April Sims observed that the Com­mis­sion needs to move quick­ly on releas­ing a job descrip­tion for the posi­tion of exec­u­tive direc­tor so that it can begin seek­ing appli­cants for that role.

The Com­mis­sion then con­clud­ed its Jan­u­ary 30th meeting.

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

WaPo’s Marty Baron retires: An appreciation for one who confronted power with truth

Mar­tin Baron will retire from his post as exec­u­tive edi­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Post on Feb­ru­ary 28th. He has been with the paper for eight years, four of them with Don­ald Trump in the White House and mount­ing an insur­rec­tion to stay there.

“I have worked in jour­nal­ism with­out stop for near­ly forty-five years, lead­ing mag­nif­i­cent news staffs in Mia­mi, then Boston and now Wash­ing­ton, D.C. for twen­ty-one… The expe­ri­ence has been deeply mean­ing­ful, enriched by col­leagues who made me a bet­ter pro­fes­sion­al and a bet­ter per­son,” wrote Baron on Tues­day. “At age six­ty-six, I feel ready to move on,” he added.

The non-jour­nal­ist will remem­ber Baron, if at all, as the qui­et­ly insis­tent boss played by Liev Schreiber in the 2015 movie “Spot­light,” Oscar Best-Pic­ture win­ner for its depic­tion of the Boston Globe inves­ti­ga­tion into coverup of sex abuse in the Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Boston, then head­ed by pow­er­ful Car­di­nal Bernard Law..

“His depic­tion of me as a sto­ic, humor­less, some­what dour char­ac­ter that some pro­fes­sion­al col­leagues instant­ly rec­og­nized (“He nailed you”) and that my clos­est friends find not entire­ly famil­iar,” Baron joked in an essay writ­ten five year ago.

Mar­ty Baron was the anti-Ben Bradlee. The late Wash­ing­ton Post edi­tor was swash­buck­ling blue­bood, bud­dy of John F. Kennedy, sum­mer denizen of the Hamp­tons, a thrice-mar­ried social fix­ture. Theodore H. White cel­e­brat­ed Bradlee’s blood lines in his very bad book on Water­gate. Jason Robards won a best sup­port­ing actor Oscar for his por­tray­al of Bradlee in All the President’s Men.

In turn, Bradlee picked up some of Robards’ flour­ish­es from the movie.

Nev­er did Baron pick up the Bradlee line Run that baby.

Indeed, with the church sex abuse inves­ti­ga­tion, he held back when reporters had a damn­ing memo from an aux­il­iary bish­op to Car­di­nal Law.

He insist­ed that the real sto­ry was the sys­tem and cul­ture shut­tled “prob­lem priests” from one parish to anoth­er, where they kept abus­ing vul­ner­a­ble kids.

The Globe inves­ti­ga­tion sent rip­ples across the nation. It was cer­tain­ly felt in the Arch­dio­cese of Seat­tle and the Dio­cese of Spokane, where a priest-abuser caused two men to com­mit sui­cide. The Arch­dio­cese of Port­land, whose bish­op railed against the press, would declare bank­rupt­cy due to the cost of abuse settlements.

To this day, the cov­ers are still com­ing off one of America’s great cov­er-ups. With Baron as edi­tor, the Post has cov­ered a dev­as­tat­ing attor­ney general’s inves­ti­ga­tion of Penn­syl­va­nia dio­ce­ses, the fall of a bish­op in West Vir­ginia, and the lai­ciz­ing of for­mer Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Car­di­nal Theodore McCarrick.

The nation has need­ed its two great East Coast news­pa­pers, the New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post, dur­ing the past four years.

Nei­ther bent before the assaults of Don­ald Trump, his ref­er­ence to “fake news” and label­ing a free press “the ene­my of the peo­ple.” Both beefed up cov­er­age, wit­ness such sto­ries as the Post reveal­ing that Trump asked Georgia’s Sec­re­tary of State to “find” the exact num­ber of bal­lots to flip the state’s elec­toral votes.

He is a vil­lain to many, includ­ing pro­gres­sive activists in Seat­tle, but Ama­zon CEO Jeff Bezos stands as a res­cuer in the nation’s press dra­ma. For $253 mil­lion, he pur­chased a hurt­ing Wash­ing­ton Post from the Gra­ham fam­i­ly in 2013.

The Ama­zon boss con­tributed resources, but let his news­room report the news. Its staff has risen, under Baron, from 580 to about 1,000.

The coun­try has need­ed its truth-telling.

The “Wash­Post” now has about three mil­lion dig­i­tal sub­scribers, near­ly one mil­lion acquired in the past year. The New York Times has achieved sim­i­lar suc­cess, although derid­ed by Trump as “the fail­ing New York Times.”

The Post has won ten Pulitzer Prizes with Baron at the helm.

Marty Baron

Retir­ing Wash­ing­ton Post exec­u­tive edi­tor Mar­ty Baron (Pho­to: Álvaro Gar­cía Fuentes)

“In 2013, when our out­look was dire, we were giv­en a sec­ond change,” Baron wrote staff on Tues­day. “We took it, engi­neer­ing a turn­around with focus and cre­ativ­i­ty. Keep at it. Third chances are rare, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a field that sav­age­ly pun­ish­es com­pla­cen­cy and hubris.”

In a suc­cinct reflec­tion on the Trump years, he added: “Stand firm against cyn­i­cal, nev­er-end­ing assaults on objec­tive fact.”

Antic­i­pat­ing Baron’s retire­ment, some pun­dits have char­ac­ter­ized him as “the last” of the old time news­room journalists.

They must be proven wrong.

“Old time” edi­tors, the best ones, take after for­mi­da­ble tar­gets and con­front pow­er with truth. Car­di­nal Law was a prince of his church, con­fi­dante of Pope John Paul II – who lat­er found him a sinecure in Rome – and a pow­er­ful fig­ure in what WAS the most Catholic cor­ner of the country.

Intim­i­da­tion was Don­ald Trump’s sig­na­ture tac­tic, from his tweets to use of Rupert Mur­doch’s Fox cable chan­nel to bat­ter his opponents.

The press pen at Trump ral­lies was not a com­fort­able place to be.

Nor was the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6th.

I deeply regret that no Seat­tle tech­nol­o­gy zil­lion­aire came for­ward to buy my for­mer employ­er, the Seat­tle Post Intel­li­gencer, dur­ing its final months of print pro­duc­tion in 2009, when Hearst was try­ing to sell it.

News­pa­pers were los­ing mon­ey. Clas­si­fied ads had prac­ti­cal­ly dis­ap­peared. We had shed staff and painful­ly, e.g. the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. bureau.

The state­house press corps was shrinking.

Yet, in those ear­ly months of 2009, “old time” man­ag­ing edi­tor David McCum­ber was at the helm of the P‑I, while exec­u­tive edi­tor David Board­man ran the Times news­room. Inves­ti­ga­tions were in the blood of both men. Both knew to dri­ve and inspire. We had the best sort of media competition.

It was not to be. I watched col­leagues clean out their desks, and a vibrant news­room van­ish. We went online, where staff cuts, tech­ni­cal con­sid­er­a­tions and Seat­tle-blind San Fran­cis­co-based man­agers frus­trat­ed a quest­ing young staff.

The Mar­ty Barons of this world are essen­tial to an informed cit­i­zen­ry. As the Post put it in a mot­to adopt­ed under Baron, Democ­ra­cy dies in dark­ness.

I expect Mar­ty Baron will stay seri­ous and stay active.

Monday, January 25th, 2021

COVID-19 Update: Pacific Northwest mounts valiant effort to avoid wintertime virus spike

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.

Wash­ing­ton

Ear­li­er this month, on Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 8th, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee announced his Healthy Wash­ing­ton — Road to Recov­ery program.

As in pre­vi­ous iter­a­tions of deal­ing with the pan­dem­ic, the approach is region­al, with four met­rics and two phas­es used to deter­mine each region’s status.

To move for­ward from Phase 1 to Phase 2, a giv­en region must achieve and main­tain all of the following:

  • A decreas­ing trend in the four­­teen-day rate of new COVID-19 cas­es per 100K population
  • A decreas­ing trend in the four­­teen-day rate of new COVID-19 hos­pi­tal admis­sions per 100K population
  • An aver­age sev­en-day per­cent occu­pan­cy of ICU staffed beds less than 90
  • A sev­en-day per­cent pos­i­tiv­i­ty of COVID-19 tests less than 10%

In order to remain in Phase 2, a region must con­tin­ue meet­ing at least three of four metrics:

  • A decreas­ing or flat trend in four­­teen-day rate of new COVID-19 cas­es per 100K population
  • A decreas­ing or flat trend in four­­teen-day rate of new COVID-19 hos­pi­tal admis­sions per 100K population
  • An aver­age sev­en-day per­cent occu­pan­cy of ICU staffed beds less than 90%
  • A sev­en-day per­cent pos­i­tiv­i­ty of COVID-19 tests less than 10%

On Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, Gov­er­nor Inslee announced an update to the vac­cine dis­tri­b­u­tion pro­gram with a goal of 45,000 vac­ci­na­tions per day.

This effort will be led by the Wash­ing­ton State Vac­cine Com­mand and Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter, a new statewide pub­­lic-pri­­vate part­ner­ship to boost vac­cine dis­tri­b­u­tion efforts.  Two new changes include vac­ci­na­tions for Phase 1b, from those 70 and old­er to those 65 and old­er, and a require­ment that both 95% of all vac­cine allo­ca­tions be admin­is­tered with­in a week of receipt and that updates regard­ing usage and remain­ing avail­abil­i­ty of dosages must be sub­mit­ted to the state Depart­ment of Health with­in twen­­ty-four hours of administration.

While infra­struc­ture is being assem­bled or made avail­able through­out the state to pro­vide vac­ci­na­tions, there is stress regard­ing the avail­abil­i­ty of vac­ci­na­tion dosages, as shown with­in Yaki­ma Coun­ty and in a dis­cus­sion with Gov­er­nor Inslee regard­ing efforts in Spokane.

On Sat­ur­day, Jan­u­ary 23rd, the B117 vari­ant of COVID-19, also known as the “U.K. vari­ant,” was announced to have been found in two cas­es in Sno­homish Coun­ty, with a third announced as hav­ing been dis­cov­ered on Sun­day, Jan­u­ary 24th in Pierce County.

More cas­es are expect­ed to already exist with­in the state.

The “UK vari­ant” appears to be eas­i­er to trans­mit with a faster infec­tion rate, but their is no sub­stan­tive proof yet that it is more deadly.

Oregon

On Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 11th, a mem­ber of staff at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Port­land was found to be infect­ed with the “UK vari­ant” of COVID-19.

A sec­ond case was dis­cov­ered with­in Yamhill Coun­ty and announced to the pub­lic on Jan­u­ary 23rd.  The patient in the sec­ond case had no recent his­to­ry of trav­el out­side their imme­di­ate area.

Antic­i­pat­ing a new sup­ply of vac­cine around Sat­ur­day, Jan­u­ary 23rd, the state of Ore­gon had planned to give equal pri­or­i­ty to vac­ci­na­tion for both day­care and school employ­ees, and senior cit­i­zens over 65 years of age.

How­ev­er, upon dis­cov­ery that the new sup­ply effec­tive­ly did not exist to give to the state, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown, on Jan­u­ary 22nd, announced new plans to open eli­gi­bil­i­ty for vac­ci­na­tions to all edu­ca­tors Jan­u­ary 25th and to Senior cit­i­zens over 80 years of age on Feb­ru­ary 8th.

Gov­er­nor Brown believes that, with a very lim­it­ed sup­ply, vac­ci­nat­ing edu­ca­tors first would allow both schools and por­tions of the econ­o­my to open — that to vac­ci­nate seniors first would lead to not enough seniors being vac­ci­nat­ed, schools unopened because not enough teach­ers are vac­ci­nat­ed, and the econ­o­my, at best, mut­ed. As almost all oth­er states have decid­ed to vac­ci­nate seniors between very ear­ly and first in the process, this has led to some con­tro­ver­sy and a tense sit­u­a­tion at Gov­er­nor Brown’s press con­fer­ence on Jan­u­ary 22nd.

Idaho

On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 12th, a vac­ci­na­tion process cre­at­ed by the state of Ida­ho in mid-Decem­ber was clar­i­fied, and clar­i­fied again on Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 22nd.

As of Jan­u­ary 12th, over thir­ty thou­sand health­care work­ers and long-term care staff had been vaccinated.

On Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 22nd, Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle denounced the Ida­ho state Leg­is­la­ture, which vot­ed for and passed on to the state Sen­ate a res­o­lu­tion to end the emer­gency order in effect regard­ing Covid-19.

But this should­n’t be a sur­prise for Gov­er­nor Little.

Mem­bers of the Ida­ho state leg­is­la­ture, since the start of their 2021 leg­isla­tive ses­sion start­ing Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 11th, have been con­sid­er­ing putting for­ward pro­pos­als to remove local health dis­tricts’ abil­i­ty to cre­ate restric­tions due to a pub­lic health emer­gency and hand the author­i­ty over to coun­ty commissioners.

On Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 14th, mask man­dates were rolled back in mul­ti­ple east­ern Ida­ho coun­ties. On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 19th, for­mer Repub­li­can mem­ber of Con­gress Raul Labrador was vot­ed onto the Cen­tral Dis­trict Health Board by Ada Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­ers instead of an alter­nate can­di­date, an epi­demi­ol­o­gist and infec­tious dis­ease expert. This was done in spite of Labrador hav­ing recent­ly reg­is­tered to lob­by for three local health care groups with­in the state.

Final­ly, end­ing the emer­gency order has been known for months to be a desire of a group of Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors that on Octo­ber 1st, 2020, along­side Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Jan­ice McGeachin, ques­tioned the exis­tence of COVID-19 and declared that they would fol­low no state or local emer­gency orders regard­ing the pandemic.

British Colum­bia

On Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 7th, a peti­tion was filed with­in the Supreme Court of British Colum­bia seek­ing judi­cial review to over­turn exist­ing orders restrict­ing church ser­vices with­in the province dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, cit­ing a vio­la­tion of Canada’s Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms. The gen­er­al con­sen­sus of the pas­tors involved in the law­suit is that there isn’t jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to declare the pan­dem­ic a health emergency.

A four-phase immu­niza­tion pro­gram for the province is cur­rent­ly in effect. Den­tists and teach­ers are unhap­py that they are not pri­or­i­tized for vaccinations.

The British Colum­bia Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion is call­ing for the sus­pen­sion of the Foun­da­tion Skills Assess­ment this year, admin­is­tered to chil­dren in Grades Four through Sev­en, say­ing it adds a lay­er of stress to kids adjust­ing to COVID-19.

On Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 22nd, two Van­cou­ver res­i­dents were charged with vio­la­tion of the Yukon Civ­il Emer­gency Mea­sures Act for char­ter­ing a plane to the Yukon, pos­ing as local employ­ees, to receive vac­ci­na­tions ahead of sched­ule. The charges come with a max­i­mum fine of $500 and up to six months in jail.

On the same day, the provin­cial gov­ern­ment declared a total of six infec­tions from the “UK vari­ant” and three infec­tions from a South African vari­ant of COVID-19.

The hard, cold numbers (plus vaccinations)

Wash­ing­ton has had 303,491 cas­es and 4,196 attrib­ut­able deaths.

48th worst infec­tion rate among the 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

45th worst death rate among the 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

4,373,646 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 820,875
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 373,423 (45.49%)

Ore­gon has had 138,168 cas­es and 1,880 attrib­ut­able deaths.

49th worst infec­tion rate among the 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

48th worst death rate among the 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

3,043,792 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 479,325
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 216,928 (45.26%)

Ida­ho has had 159,506 cas­es and 1,669 attrib­ut­able deaths.

961,106 tests have been recorded.

15th worst infec­tion rate among the 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

38th worst death rate among the 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 178,175
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 73,372 (41.18%)

British Colum­bia has had 63,484 cas­es and 1,128 attrib­ut­able deaths.

1,636,665 tests have been recorded.

British Colum­bia has the fifth worst infec­tion rate among the thir­teen Cana­di­an provinces and ter­ri­to­ries per hun­dred thou­sand pop­u­la­tion. (If it were an Amer­i­can state, it would be fifty-sec­ond out of fifty-three.)

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the province: 144,550
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 110,566 (76.49%)

Monday, January 25th, 2021

Congratulations, KNHC! Seattle’s student-run C89.5 is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary

Half a cen­tu­ry. Five decades. Six hun­dred months. Close to 20,000 days.

How­ev­er you slice it, fifty years is a long time. And it’s an espe­cial­ly long time in the unpre­dictable, unsta­ble radio indus­try, where busi­ness mod­els are finicky and for­mat changes com­mon. Yet that’s how long stu­dent-run KNHC, based out of Seat­tle’s Nathan Hale High School, has been in con­tin­u­ous oper­a­tion.

Bet­ter known to its loy­al lis­ten­ers as C89.5 (89.5 FM is the sta­tion’s loca­tion on the good ‘ol radio dial, while the C stands for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions), KHNC is renowned around the globe as the world’s old­est remain­ing dance radio sta­tion. It broad­casts a mix of EDM (elec­tron­ic dance music) and relat­ed gen­res — from trance to house to indus­tri­al — with a bit of pop rock mixed in, com­mer­cial free.

The sta­tion was con­ceived towards the end of the 1960s and start­ed out as a low pow­er AM radio sta­tion. By the autumn of 1970, KHNC had applied for, and received, an FM con­struc­tion per­mit. It began broad­cast­ing over the FM band from Wedg­wood Hill on Jan­u­ary 25th, 1971: fifty years ago today.

Orig­i­nal­ly, C89.5 broad­cast at just ten watts. By the end of 1972, its pow­er had increased to 320 watts, and by the end of 1974, 1,500 watts.

Today, KNHC broad­casts at 8,500 watts from Enter­com’s back­up tow­er on Cougar Moun­tain in the Issaquah Alps. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple lis­ten to C89.5 over the air in the Seat­tle area. But the sta­tion is also avail­able around the world — and in high qual­i­ty, too — via Inter­net streaming.

Like NPR affil­i­ates KUOW and KNKX, and the UW’s KEXP, KNHC is a pub­lic radio sta­tion. It belongs to the peo­ple, and it is sus­tained through the sup­port of its lis­ten­ers. (I’m one of them: I’ve donat­ed to keep those turnta­bles spinning!)

How­ev­er, unlike those sta­tions, KHNC is run in part by high school stu­dents. It’s thus, in some respects, the radio equiv­a­lent of a teach­ing hospital.

That is unques­tion­ably part of its appeal. There’s noth­ing more sat­is­fy­ing as a lis­ten­er than to hear from young peo­ple learn­ing the craft in between enjoy­ing Seat­tle’s hottest music. Though the sta­tion does air pub­lic ser­vice announce­ments and spon­sor­ship mes­sages, almost all of what you’ll hear in a giv­en hour will be dance tracks — some­times beau­ti­ful­ly mixed by a DJ dur­ing one of the sta­tion’s shows, like dur­ing the 5 PM hour on week­days, known as the Dri­ve at Five.

Even the sta­tion’s sweep­ers reflect its quirky, whole­some, music-first personality.

“While they’re spin­ning the news, we’re spin­ning Seat­tle’s hottest music!” exults one. “Talk is over­rat­ed, so we’re going to leave this right here!” goes another.

I was in high school myself when I first dis­cov­ered C89.5. Since then, it has con­tin­u­ous­ly occu­pied the the fore­most posi­tion in my radio pre­sets. I only need to press “1” on my remote or con­sole in order to tune to the sta­tion when I am in lis­ten­ing range. (When trav­el­ing, I make use of the Inter­net stream.)

Pret­ty much every aspect of C89.5 meets my cri­te­ria for what goes into a beloved insti­tu­tion. As men­tioned, it’s not-for-prof­it. Pub­licly owned. Run by ded­i­cat­ed staff and stu­dents learn­ing about radio. And, of course, it plays the most upbeat, high ener­gy, dance­able tunes any­where on the radio dial.

It’s music you can work to — and work out to.

It’s music you can write to, too! Most of the posts I’ve filed over the years for this blog have been writ­ten with the help of C89.5. It’s arguably the clos­est thing that the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has to a soundtrack.

In recog­ni­tion of its excel­lent ser­vice to the peo­ple of the Pacif­ic North­west, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine have both hon­ored KHNC with state­ments and procla­ma­tions. We at NPI thank them for pay­ing trib­ute to one of Cas­ca­di­a’s finest institutions.

On behalf of our team, I’m hon­ored to present a trib­ute of our own: a list of fifty dance­able tunes that I know of because I heard them on C89.5.

Many of these are songs I’ve nev­er heard played on any oth­er radio sta­tion in Seat­tle. Even today, in the age of YouTube, Spo­ti­fy, Pan­do­ra, and the rest, KHNC is still a great way to hear sweet new music. Props to every­one who has helped keep this fan­tas­tic sta­tion on the air for five decades. Here’s to the next fifty!

Fifty great dance tunes heard on C89.5 FM Seattle

Note this list includes orig­i­nal songs as well as remix­es, span­ning a vari­ety of elec­tron­ic dance music sub­gen­res. Click a link to hear the song. Enjoy! 

  1. Iio: At The End
  2. Freema­sons fea­tur­ing Aman­da Wil­son: Love On My Mind
  3. Sun­f­reakz fea­tur­ing Andrea Brit­ton: Count­ing Down The Days
  4. Sim­ply Red: Sunrise
  5. The Shapeshifters (aka Shape UK): Lola’s Theme
  6. Tri­ton­al fea­tur­ing Phoebe Ryan: Now Or Never
  7. Eric Pry­dz: Generate
  8. David Guet­ta & Sia: Flames
  9. Glob­al Dee­jays: What A Feel­ing (Pop Radio Edit)
  10. One‑T + Cool‑T: The Mag­ic Key
  11. Black Rock fea­tur­ing Debra Andrew: Blue Water
  12. Sep­tem­ber: Satellites
  13. The Chainsmok­ers fea­tur­ing Emi­ly War­ren: Side Effects
  14. Roc Project fea­tur­ing Tina Are­na: Never
  15. Milky: Just The Way You Are
  16. Cozi: Sta­mi­na
  17. Jupiter Ris­ing: Electropop
  18. Edun: Put ‘Em Up
  19. Marly: You Nev­er Know
  20. Sophie Ellis-Bex­tor: Mixed Up World
  21. Sun­set Strip­pers: Falling Stars
  22. Star Pilots: In The Heat Of The Night
  23. Kylie Minogue: Red Blood­ed Woman
  24. Tami Chynn fea­tur­ing Akon: Frozen
  25. Tube & Berg­er fea­tur­ing Chrissie Hyn­de: Straight Ahead
  26. Eri­ka: I Don’t Know
  27. Plumb: In My Arms (Bron­leewe & Bose Radio Edit) 
  28. MGMT: Elec­tric Feel (Jus­tice Remix)
  29. Galleon: One Sign
  30. Lon­go & Wain­wright fea­tur­ing Craig Smart: One Life Stand
  31. Soli­taire: I Like Love
  32. Andain: Beau­ti­ful Things
  33. Deep­est Blue: Deep­est Blue
  34. Kygo fea­tur­ing Ella Hen­der­son: Here For You
  35. Zhu: Chas­ing Marrakech
  36. Mono Mind: I Found My Soul at Marvin­gate (Sofia Tunes Remix)
  37. Vice­tone fea­tur­ing Cozi Zuehls­dorff: Way Back
  38. The Night: Dif­fer­ent Story
  39. Krewella: Team
  40. Aly & AJ: Joan Of Arc On The Dance Floor
  41. Cas­ca­da: Evac­u­ate The Dancefloor
  42. Alexan­dra Stan: Mr. Saxobeat
  43. Era Istre­fi: Bonbon
  44. Armin van Buuren & Garib­ay fea­tur­ing Olaf Black­wood: I Need You
  45. Sam F fea­tur­ing Sophie Rose: Limitless
  46. Jonathan Peters fea­tur­ing Maya Azu­ce­na: Hap­py (Radio Edit)
  47. Hikaru Uta­da: Exo­dus ’04 (Josh Har­ris vs. The MPC Radio Edit)
  48. Wild­boyz fea­tur­ing Ameer­ah: The Sound Of Miss­ing You
  49. Krys­tal K: Let’s Get It Right (Radio Cut)
  50. Deadmau5 fea­tur­ing Chris James: The Veldt

Many of the songs above are now con­sid­ered classics/throwbacks, and C89.5 has two shows where you can hear them: Anthems (an hour­long spe­cial that airs at noon on week­days, host­ed by the delight­ful­ly tal­ent­ed Har­mo­ny Soleil) and Plan­et Dance (a three-hour music vault spec­tac­u­lar that airs on Thurs­day evenings with the sta­tion’s dynam­ic duo Mel & Matt). Both shows take lis­ten­er requests.

If you love dis­cov­er­ing amaz­ing­ly cool new music, C89.5 has a show for that too: Test Spin, with Gabriel Zus. That not-to-be-missed show cur­rent­ly airs Sat­ur­day nights at 7 PM. An encore pre­sen­ta­tion can be heard on Mon­day nights at 11 PM.

All times ref­er­enced above are Pacific.

There are many, many more C89.5 shows (like New Skool, Old School with the leg­endary DJ Trent Von or Noc­tur­nal Trans­mis­sion with the incom­pa­ra­ble DJ Tamm!) and you can explore them all here.

Con­grat­u­la­tions again, KNHC, and best wish­es from all of us at NPI!

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Book Review: When “A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear”, nobody wins (except the reader)

In his book, A Lib­er­tar­i­an Walks into a Bear, the jour­nal­ist Matthew Hon­goltz-Het­ling details the tur­bu­lent, in some ways trag­ic his­to­ry of the ambi­tious polit­i­cal project to turn a small, New Hamp­shire town into a free mar­ket, cap­i­tal­ist par­adise. In the process, he relates how those pur­su­ing the project ran into the com­pli­ca­tions caused by nature, the peo­ple already liv­ing there, and each other.

And I don’t have enough good things to say about it.

Book cover for "A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear"

A Lib­er­tar­i­an Walks Into A Bear: The Utopi­an Plot to Lib­er­ate An Amer­i­can Town (And Some Bears) by Matthew Hon­goltz-Het­ling (Hard­cov­er, PublicAffairs)

From the entry point of inter­view­ing a dis­abled vet­er­an about her trou­bles get­ting the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs to cov­er the expens­es of mak­ing her rur­al home actu­al­ly acces­si­ble to her, Hon­goltz-Het­ling felt the need to delve into U.S. his­to­ry, polit­i­cal extrem­ism, envi­ron­men­tal­ism, phi­los­o­phy, gov­ern­ment, class, par­a­sitism, reli­gion, and fire safety.

Across two hun­dred and fifty-three pages that often read as much like a nov­el as a work of non­fic­tion with its intrigue and fre­quent cred­i­ble threats of gun vio­lence, he paints a series of sur­pris­ing­ly sym­pa­thet­ic por­traits of fig­ures who it’s also clear most would not will­ing­ly share a com­mu­ni­ty with giv­en their strong polit­i­cal opin­ions on what oblig­a­tions, but most­ly lack there­of, mem­bers of a com­mu­ni­ty actu­al­ly owe one another.

Start­ing in 2004, sev­er­al hun­dred peo­ple from around the Unit­ed States—largely white, large­ly male but exceed­ing­ly diverse in their eccentricities—moved to the about 1,100-person city of Grafton, N.H., as part of the “Free Town Project.”

A small core had picked it specif­i­cal­ly think­ing the peo­ple there were already pre­dis­posed to “lib­er­ty” and anti-gov­ern­ment sen­ti­ment and would wel­come the changes brought by this unan­nounced influx.

Large­ly, this was not exist­ing res­i­dents’ feel­ings toward the new arrivals.

If you’re a read­er of the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, there won’t be a sur­prise in Hon­goltz-Het­ling’s descrip­tions chap­ter by chap­ter, per­son by per­son, of the cor­ro­sive, com­pound­ing effect had on soci­ety through a con­cert­ed effort to “keep tax­es low” by avoid­ing invest­ment in any pub­lic resources or services.

Even the roads wors­ened, but the town also refused to take own­er­ship of any new pub­lic spaces, such as an old church offered by the pre­vi­ous con­gre­ga­tion for free. They fre­quent­ly vot­ed down fund­ing for such needs as the vol­un­teer fire depart­ment, and there­fore reg­u­lar­ly had need of the resources of the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties which did fund their own depart­ments sufficiently.

One of the major points of divi­sion between local Lib­er­tar­i­ans was over fires.

One of the exist­ing res­i­dents —and, by most stan­dards, fringe polit­i­cal fig­ures —John Babi­arz had helped kick off every­thing by invit­ing out­side Lib­er­tar­i­ans to come take over the town, but he also was the Grafton Vol­un­teer Fire Chief and took fire safe­ty quite seriously.

This makes sense to the rest of us as fires are not a threat that can be pri­va­tized; actions on one’s own sov­er­eign prop­er­ty affects every­one around them as well. But this is also dan­ger­ous log­ic if nat­u­ral­ly extend­ed to, well, any oth­er sub­ject, so Babi­arz found him­self on the outs when he came to put out dan­ger­ous camp­fires dur­ing dry sea­sons, there­by rep­re­sent­ing the repres­sive gov­ern­ment jack­boot he claimed to oppose, or at least this is what he rep­re­sent­ed to even more extreme mem­bers of the community.

The book, sub­ti­tled, “The Utopi­an Plot To Lib­er­ate An Amer­i­can Town (And Some Bears)” does keep com­ing back to that prob­lem of over­ly famil­iar to the point of aggres­sive bears show­ing no real fear of peo­ple and even will­ing to invade iso­lat­ed peo­ple’s homes.

Like with fires — like with many things— the fun­da­men­tal assump­tion of those in the com­mu­ni­ty that “what I do with my prop­er­ty is my busi­ness” does not hold up against the real­i­ty that some peo­ple liv­ing in unzoned camps and no garbage col­lec­tion ser­vice will pro­vide a lot of food for bears; some peo­ple cov­er­ing their trash in cayenne pep­per to try to keep bears away; some string­ing up elec­tric fences; some shoot­ing at them; and at least one woman going out of her way to buy dough­nuts because she thought they looked awful­ly thin, is very con­fus­ing for the bears! The con­di­tions a per­son cre­ates on one “sov­er­eign” prop­er­ty does not stop mag­i­cal­ly at the bound­ary line of sovereignty.

All sorts of utopi­an projects run into chal­lenges, and per­haps it’s not fair to blame these Lib­er­tar­i­ans for not hav­ing fore­seen the trou­ble­some effects of incon­sis­tent bear poli­cies when they chose a location.

But if the last year of pan­dem­ic has taught us any­thing, it’s that this sort of polit­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion isn’t some­thing that’s just a weird quirk or harm­less bit of polite, abstract disagreement.

The phi­los­o­phy boils down to, “If I have the pow­er to do some­thing, I have the right to do it, and not only the right to do it, it is good for me to do so and an increase in lib­er­ty, regard­less of what impact there is on any­one else.”

It is a real danger.

We see it has a real cost, social­ly, pub­licly, uni­ver­sal­ly. The tyran­ny of this sort of “lib­er­ty” has meant many of us with what would be called “under­ly­ing con­di­tions” on our death cer­tifi­cates have in our homes for com­ing up on a year.

“You can’t tell me I have to wear a mask”, or close my busi­ness, or not trav­el, or get vac­ci­nat­ed. Or tell me not to bring my gun any­way I want to defend myself with it, even when I’m insti­gat­ing con­fronta­tions and tak­ing umbrage at per­ceived slights.

Mul­ti­ple times, the author relates how he is implic­it­ly and explic­it­ly threat­ened by the peo­ple he’s inter­view­ing, usu­al­ly for just being a jour­nal­ist, ask­ing ques­tions. Yeah, strict con­sti­tu­tion­al­ists respect the First Amend­ment, but what does it say in the Sec­ond about the right to bear arms…

In a piv­otal chap­ter, just before he tells the sto­ry of how, in 2012 after many threat­en­ing could-have-beens, a bear actu­al­ly came to attack a mid­dle-aged, sin­gle woman inside her own rur­al home, near­ly killing her among that would-be Lib­er­tar­i­an utopia, Hon­goltz-Het­ling includes this short pas­sage from the Bible:

While Elisha was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, say­ing, “Go up, you bald­head! Go up, you bald­head!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.

2 Kings 2:23–24

This sto­ry is one of the most infa­mous pas­sages in the entire­ty of the Hebrew and Chris­t­ian scrip­tures, and deserved­ly so.

Tra­di­tion­al­ly, Jew­ish com­menters have char­ac­ter­ized the prophet Elisha’s behav­ior in neg­a­tive terms, drunk with his new­found pow­er, left alone after his mas­ter Eli­jah went up to heav­en in a char­i­ot but new­ly blessed with a dou­ble por­tion of Eli­jah’s spir­it. For ear­ly rab­bis, the debate was not over whether it was OK to use mirac­u­lous pow­ers to mur­der dozens of young lads (it was not); the debate was over how many mir­a­cles were includ­ed as described; was it just the bears or the appear­ance of a for­est, too? The relat­ed phrase “nei­ther bears nor for­est” (lo dubim ve lo ya’ar) even became idiomat­ic for some­thing that nev­er happened.

For some Chris­tians, par­tic­u­lar­ly white evan­gel­i­cals, the take­away from the sto­ry is quite dif­fer­ent. They tend to tie them­selves into knots to explain how actu­al­ly, the 42 dead lads might have been young men as old and as thirty.

And actu­al­ly,“bald­head” was a ter­ri­ble sort of insult, and mean­ing they were insult­ing Eli­jah and God, not Elisha. And any­way, they should­n’t have jeered a man as pow­er­ful as a prophet of God, so actu­al­ly,​ they had it coming.

Right-wing Lib­er­tar­i­ans are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly Protes­tant, but even when athe­ist or oth­er­wise reli­gious­ly unaf­fil­i­at­ed, cul­tur­al Protes­tantism predominates—Calvinism with­out any gods but Mam­mon superseding.

Fol­low­ing the attack, a gang of the Lib­er­tar­i­ans in Grafton even­tu­al­ly expressed their under­stand­ing of free­dom by ambush­ing mul­ti­ple hiber­nat­ing bears and blow­ing them away in a hail of gun­fire as they slept in their dens.

This was good, in their minds, because it was­n’t the gov­ern­ment, and they and their guns had the pow­er to do so. In the long run, it end­ed up not solv­ing the prob­lem but just hurt­ing a lot of peo­ple and ani­mals under the max­i­mal pur­suit of nar­row self­ish­ness, but whatever.

That’s the price of freedom.

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (January 18th-22nd)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 22nd, 2021.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

WAIVER FOR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Vot­ing 326 for and 78 against, the House on Jan­u­ary 21st approved a waiv­er (H.R. 335) allow­ing retired Army Gen­er­al Lloyd J. Austin III to serve as sec­re­tary of defense even though he has been out of uni­form for less than the sev­en-year hia­tus required by law in keep­ing with the Amer­i­can prin­ci­ple dat­ing to 1783 of civil­ian con­trol of the military.

Austin retired in April 2016.

House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi, D‑California, said: “In my con­ver­sa­tions [Austin] assured me he under­stands, respects and will uphold the crit­i­cal pri­or­i­ty of civil­ian con­trol of the mil­i­tary… In the face of the many threats both for­eign and domes­tic con­fronting our nation it is essen­tial that [he] be imme­di­ate­ly confirmed.”

Mike Gal­lagher, R‑Wisconsin, said: “I vot­ed in favor of the exemp­tion for [for­mer Defense] Sec­re­tary [James] Mat­tis… So it’s fair to ask, what has changed? Well, a lot has changed. First, per­haps most impor­tant­ly, the threat from Chi­na is far greater and we need a sec­re­tary with Indo-Pacif­ic Com­mand expe­ri­ence. The nom­i­nee has admit­ted he’s not expe­ri­enced in that regard.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simpson

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cliff Bentz

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (8): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Vot­ing Nay (2): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal and Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Newhouse

Cas­ca­dia total: 14 aye votes, 2 nay votes, 1 not voting

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress photo)

WAIVER FOR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Vot­ing 69 for and 27 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st joined the House (above) in grant­i­ng a waiv­er (H.R. 335) allow­ing retired Army Gen­er­al Lloyd J. Austin III to serve as sec­re­tary of defense even though sev­en years have not lapsed since his retire­ment as the law requires in keep­ing with the Amer­i­can prin­ci­ple dat­ing to 1783 of civil­ian con­trol of the mil­i­tary. Austin retired in April 2016. There was no debate on the bill.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell

Vot­ing Nay (1): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 3 aye votes, 3 nay votes

AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Vot­ing 84 for and 10 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 20th con­firmed Avril D. Haines, fifty-one, as direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, ele­vat­ing her as the first woman to lead the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. Cre­at­ed in response to Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks, her office is charged with over­see­ing six­teen U.S. civil­ian and mil­i­tary spy agencies.

An attor­ney and trained physi­cist, Haines was deputy direc­tor of the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency from 2013–2015, the first woman to hold that office, and before that a top aide to for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma on secu­ri­ty issues.

Chris Van Hollen, D‑Maryland, said:

“After a tumul­tuous four years and a pres­i­dent who rou­tine­ly scorned the work of our intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, it is crit­i­cal to restore pro­fes­sion­al lead­er­ship who will work with the admin­is­tra­tion and Con­gress, deliv­er hon­est assess­ments and speak truth to pow­er. Ms. Haines is the right woman for the job.”

No sen­a­tor spoke against the nominee.

A yes vote was to con­firm Haines.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jim Risch

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 5 aye votes, 1 not voting

LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Vot­ing 92 for and 2 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd con­firmed retired Army Gen­er­al Lloyd J. Austin III as sec­re­tary of defense. He is the first African-Amer­i­can to hold the posi­tion in its sev­en­ty-four-year his­to­ry. When Austin, six­ty-sev­en, retired from active duty in April 2016, he was leader of the Unit­ed States Cen­tral Command.

He was the last com­mand­ing gen­er­al in Iraq between 2010–2011 and direct­ed the draw­down of U.S. troops there.

Dan Sul­li­van, R‑Alaska, said: “We are liv­ing through… a pan­dem­ic, racial ten­sions, riots, tur­moil at the top of the Pen­ta­gon and ris­ing dan­gers from Chi­na, Rus­sia and Iran. Mr. Austin’s con­fir­ma­tion won’t solve all of these prob­lems, but it will help. He rep­re­sents the best of Amer­i­ca, a man of integri­ty, humil­i­ty and char­ac­ter and a wealth of rel­e­vant experience.”

No sen­a­tor spoke against the nominee.

A yes vote was to con­firm Austin.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Murray

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will vote on Biden admin­is­tra­tion nom­i­nees in the week of Jan­u­ary 25th, while the House will be in recess.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Civic Impulse, LLC. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

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Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

A spectacular fall to earth: Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette resigns in ignominy

On the day Pres­i­dent Biden took his oath of office in “the States”, Canada’s cer­e­mo­ni­al head of state was prepar­ing to resign after a blis­ter­ing gov­ern­ment-autho­rized review found she cre­at­ed a tox­ic work environment.

It was a dra­mat­ic fall to earth for Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al Julie Payette, a two-time Space Shut­tle astro­naut tapped for Canada’s top offi­cial (but apo­lit­i­cal) posi­tion in 2017 by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. Payette had already stirred con­tro­ver­sy for fre­quent absences from Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al offi­cial­ly rep­re­sents Queen Eliz­a­beth II in Cana­da. Each of the country’s ten provinces has a Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor who also rep­re­sents the queen, but at the provin­cial lev­el. The Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor for British Colum­bia resides at Gov­ern­ment House on a low hill in Victoria.

The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al is offi­cial­ly head of state. They call the win­ners of nation­al elec­tions to form a gov­ern­ment and swear in cab­i­net ministers.

If a gov­ern­ment los­es a con­fi­dence vote in the House of Com­mons, the Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al can ask an oppo­si­tion leader to try and form a gov­ern­ment. The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al is also tit­u­lar com­man­der of the country’s armed forces.

Why have such a posi­tion? A lot of Cana­di­ans are ask­ing that ques­tion right now. The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al is sup­posed to be a uni­fy­ing sym­bol, mir­ror­ing a role occu­pied by Queen Eliz­a­beth across the pond, as are Her Majesty’s vicere­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the provinces. (Dur­ing din­ners at Gov­ern­ment House in Vic­to­ria, the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor is piped in and out with all standing.)

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Cana­da, Julie Payette wasn’t prop­er­ly vet­ted for the job. Trudeau and his father, the late Prime Min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau, have acquired a rep­u­ta­tion for wing­ing it on appointments.

Some­times their choic­es work. The elder Trudeau tapped famed Van­cou­ver archi­tect Arthur Erick­sen to design Canada’s spec­tac­u­lar embassy on Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., with its sculp­ture by native artist Bill Reid in the foy­er. Then-Prime Min­is­ter Bri­an Mul­roney groused that his ambas­sador in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., had bet­ter digs than the Prime Minister’s office in Ottawa.

Payette need­ed back­ground checks. When appoint­ed in 2017, she was com­ing off a con­tentious divorce. She had been arrest­ed six years ear­li­er in assault charges against her then-hus­band. The charges were lat­er with­drawn. Payette fought unsuc­cess­ful­ly in court to keep records sealed from news organizations.

A week after her appoint­ment came news that Payette had been cleared for involve­ment in a 2011 car acci­dent in which a fifty-five-year-old woman was killed. Payette was then liv­ing in Mary­land as part of her astro­naut train­ing. The court not­ed that the deceased had pre-exist­ing med­ical con­di­tions and poor eyesight.

Payette came under crit­i­cism for her work eth­ic, break­ing the tra­di­tion that the Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al vis­its all ten provinces as well as Canada’s ter­ri­to­ries dur­ing their first year in office. She missed Man­i­to­ba, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

The worst news came last July, when the CBC report­ed that Payette, as Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al, was the Great White North’s boss-from-hell, harass­ing, belit­tling, and reduc­ing “some staff mem­bers to tears, caus­ing mul­ti­ple peo­ple to quit.”

Her exec­u­tive sec­re­tary, Assun­ta di Loren­zo, was accused of bul­ly­ing, and call­ing staff “incom­pe­tent” and “lazy”, along with Payette.

The end came at a meet­ing Wednes­day night with Trudeau. On Thurs­day, she announced: “For the good of our coun­try and of our demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, I have come to the con­clu­sion that a new Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al should be appointed.”

Gov­er­nors Gen­er­al of Cana­da were named by the Brits until 1952. Since then, the Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al is appoint­ed on rec­om­men­da­tion of the Prime Minister.

Over the years, the post has been held by sev­er­al now infa­mous figures.

Lord Stan­ley donat­ed the ini­tial cup, now known as the Stan­ley Cup, award­ed to the Nation­al Hock­ey League’s cham­pi­on. Tweedsmuir Provin­cial Park in British Colum­bia bears the name of John Buchan, the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, known for his nov­el “The 39 Steps”, which was made into a thriller by Alfred Hitchcock.

Lord Grey, a British noble­man, served as Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al from 1904 to 1911. He made a phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing trip across B.C.’s Pur­cell Moun­tains. One of the great back­coun­try hik­ing des­ti­na­tions in Cana­da, Earl Grey Pass, bears his name. A near­by peak is named Lady Grey.

Inclu­sive­ness has become a theme of Trudeau’s Lib­er­al Par­ty in nam­ing Gov­er­nors Gen­er­al in recent years. A Hong Kong-born broad­cast­er, Adri­enne Clark­son, became the first Chi­nese Cana­di­an Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al. She took great in the far north, under­tak­ing a trip to Ice­land, Nor­way and Russia.

The vice regal Clark­son was a regal pres­ence but immersed her­self in the job. She was suc­ceed­ed by Michaelle Jean, a Hait­ian-born French lan­guage broadcaster.

The next Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al will face challenges.

The Lib­er­al Par­ty of Trudeau has a minor­i­ty of seats in par­lia­ment. A no-con­fi­dence vote could pass in the House of Com­mons should all three oppo­si­tion par­ties vote for it. A new nation­al elec­tion could come lat­er this year.

Trudeau is a lit­tle chas­tened by the Julie Payette deba­cle, and is mak­ing state­ments that all employ­ees of the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da are enti­tled to a safe and abuse-free work­place regard­less of who they work for.

The oppo­si­tion Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty leader Erin O’Toole offered up con­struc­tive and under­stat­ed advice: “Con­sid­er­ing his (Trudeau’s) last appoint­ment and the minor­i­ty par­lia­ment, the Prime Min­is­ter should con­sult oppo­si­tion par­ties and reestab­lish the Vice Regal Appoint­ments Com­mis­sion.”

The Monar­chist League of Cana­da, in a state­ment, sug­gest­ed look­ing across the pond for inspi­ra­tion: “It is impor­tant to remem­ber that the Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al rep­re­sents the admired head of state, the Queen.”

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Read or watch the amazingly talented Amanda Gorman’s 2021 inaugural poem

Today, after Pres­i­dent Joe Biden deliv­ered his Inau­gur­al Address, Nation­al Youth Poet Lau­re­ate Aman­da Gor­man read a poem com­posed in hon­or of the occa­sion, which was, with­out ques­tion, one of the top high­lights of the inau­gur­al cer­e­monies. If you did not get a chance to watch or lis­ten to Gor­man’s stir­ring ren­di­tion of this beau­ti­ful com­po­si­tion, you can do so right now, right here.

You may also read the poem below. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Read or watch Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address

Today, just before high noon East­ern, Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the oath of office and became the forty-six Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of America.

After being sworn in, Biden deliv­ered his Inau­gur­al Address. If you weren’t able to watch or lis­ten to it when it was deliv­ered, we urge you to do so now. The tran­script of the speech is also enclosed below in case you’d pre­fer to read it.

In the tran­script, note that empha­sis (bold­face) is ours. Enjoy!

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