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May 30, 2005

News from Up North: Were the Greens a "spoiler" party in BC?

Sometimes its good to look beyond the boundaries of the state, especially Up North to that foreign country just beyond Bellingham, where somethings are very different, and others surprisingly similar.  Yes, it's Canada, more specifically British Columbia, where they just had a pretty big election.

Going in, the Liberals [BC like is like Bizzaro World -- their Liberals are the Bad Guys! -Ed.] held 77 out of 79 seats in the provincial legislature.  On May 17th, thanks in large part to some strong campaign work by enviros, the NDP took back 34 seats, but failed to gain a majority.  The Green Party fielded a candidate in every race, and got 9% of the vote across the province.  Now, the obligatory question: Did the Greens Put the BC Liberals Back in Office?

It's an interesting discussion with some surprising to the "Did Nader Screw Progressives" conversation that happened post-2000. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 30, 2005 at 06:16 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We're watching. And listening.

Many a city-dweller has also noticed how cockroaches go scurrying about when you turn on the kitchen lights.   Well, it looks like the right-wing cockroaches in the corners of our radio dial (and some of the less-competent liberals too!) have got their knickers all up in a twist since blatherWatch has turned its spolight on 'em. As Michael Hood recently wrote:

Conservative talk radio, especially on the local level, gets away with murder.

[R]adio has no regular critics--never has had, as far as we know--despite that it has an audience larger than newspapers, and local TV.

Hell: movies, TV, sports, theater, print journalism have critics who insert the speculum and gaze into their tender vitals every day. Restaurateurs, in a  profitably marginal business have to worry about critics picking at their food and blaring the details to the world; their ruin perhaps hinging on a waiter’s bad day.

But radio? Nobody in the MSM looks at it unless a talk host or DJ molests a child, sleeps with the livestock or they slander the mayor and someone happens to hear about it.

Usually though, radio talkers can say anything they want and because liberals can’t stand listening to the acrimonious drivel, when the bullshit drops, most of the time it's like a tree falling in the forest.

Michael reports that the cockroaches don't appear like the sunshine.

BlatherWatch... has been getting some very nasty comments on-air from talk hosts and by email from radio folks who question our very existence.

They say we don’t qualify to criticize their industry because we’re not part of it. They accuse us of being talk radio wannabes, or closet conservatives or posers from TV, a land where, they believe, everyone looks down on them. (That tiny paranoia, of course, is fact-based.)

They frequently accuse blatherWatch of having personal vendettas against whomever we’ve got under the microscope at the moment.

Well, guess what -- too damn bad!  The blogosphere is watching (and listening) -- when we can stand it -- and we're gonna hold you accountable for your bullying and your bullshit.

You know, this reminds me of a project my friend Carl (not Ballard) proposed a while ago.  He pointed out that creating long-term archives of all the talk radio broadcasts in a given market is actually a pretty managable engineering project with today's modern computer technology.  This could allow a few interesting things to happen:

  1. Distributed, time-shifted citizen monitoring of broadcasts.  And because it's a recording, you can listen to it in double-time, allowing twice as much fun in half the time.
  2. The ability to positively prove that "they really did say that."
    Usually, only the station has recordings, and if someone says something
    outrageous on-air, it can be easy for them to simply deny having said
    it, knowing that it's unlikey they can be proven wrong.

  3. The ability to immediately circulate sound-clips of any outrageous soundbites.

Just something to think about.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 30, 2005 at 05:48 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 29, 2005

Bainbridge Graduate Institute: the country's first "green" business school

The Seattle Times has a nice feature story about Bainbridge Graduate Institute, the nation's first "green" business school.  A couple of my friends are among the 14 members of their second graudating class, and enrollment is skyrocketing.

The institute is the brainchild of the wealthy grandson of a famous conservationist following a midlife crisis. No question, the place is on the crunchy side, from its forest setting and group-sharing circles to organic meals and discussion of "human flourishing indicators."

But with enrollment in business schools declining, making business about something more than money taps into an unmet need, says Gifford Pinchot, BGI's chairman and founder.

"My sense is this could be a big thing in the future, but it's still at least five years away before it catches on," says Dan Poston, assistant dean for master's programs at the University of Washington's business school.

I'm a little skeptical that business can save the world, but it's good to see some smart people making an ambitious run at change-from-within.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 29, 2005 at 01:33 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2005

Kudos from the Sierra Club

I got a chance to talk with Larry Fahn, President of the Sierra Club, and Dan Becker, Director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming Program about their reactions to the Legislature's passage of the Clean Car Initiative (HB 1397) which required Washington State to adopt most of California's vehicle-emission standards, which are the toughest in the world.  He said that Washington State is proving that environmentalism is alive and well. 

Larry was in Kirkland when Governor Gregoire signed the bill a couple of weeks ago and said he was quite impressed with how quickly the Clean Car bill made it through the Legislature.  He also said it was quite innovative to see the environmental community working collaboratively with Governor Kulongoski of Oregon to increase the impact of the passage of the bill through executive fiat.  The three West Coast States alone make up nearly thirty percent of car sales in the United States. 

Dan Becker added that with the West Coast, Canada and the New England states all requiring clean cars - which are good for the environment, the economy and the car companies even (although they don't seem to acknowledge that) - we ar nearing a tipping point.  The car manufacturers will not find it economic to produce both clean and dirty cars at the same factories.  Of the Washington Legislature and Governor, he said, "They did a good job.  When we can't count on the President and the Congress to lead on environmental issues, it's wonderful that Washington was able to step to the fore."

For more on Larry's comments on environmental issues in the Northwest, see excerpts from his journal at the Sierra Club site. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 28, 2005 at 09:26 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thoughts on the Gates' Intellectual Dissonance

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a small house party for a non-profit in which Bill Gates Sr. (Bill's father) spoke against the abolishment of the estate tax. Gates Sr. is to be commended for coming out strongly and campaigning widely for preservation of the estate tax. The abolishment of the estate tax is one of the most greedy and damaging things that the Republican party (and Seattle Times' publisher Frank Blethen) has pursued under Bush.

At one point Gates Sr. said something to the extent of: if this country were a company, there are very few people who would invest in it. Essentially, he was saying that the way this country is bankrupting itself makes it a very poor investment.

In this week's Seattle Weekly, they reported that Bill Gates (his son) donated the maximum to the Bush campaign - and Microsoft in general gives a lot of money to both parties (a bit more to the GOP).

"Though the younger Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer last year each gave the Bush campaign $2,000 (and John Kerry nothing), and the company's political action committee gave 54 percent of its donations to Republicans ($5,000 to Bush, nothing to Kerry), the company says it backs candidates regardless of party."

It was just weird listening to Gates Sr. talk about the abolishment of the estate tax as if it was the only negative thing that the Republicans are doing. It seemed odd for him to be telling liberal Seattlites to lobby their legislative officials to preserve the estate tax that the party his son and his son's company have more and more heavily bankrolled over the five years. I wanted to say, "Tell them yourself."

And in fact, he could. Because the Seattle Weekly reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $100,000 to one of Tom Delay's children's charities. This clearly appears to be an attempt to buy access and favor to the GOP. According to Salon.com, many corporations gave money to Delay's "charities".

    Of the $7 million collected at these events since 2000, tax records for DeLay's   two charities show that only about $80,000 has been distributed to various groups   doing work to help children. Officials with DeLay's foundation said tax records   so far have shown little money being spent on kids because they have been saving   it for a major project that is now in progress.

I expect there are a number of non-profit foundation directors who would read this and be scratching their heads. It's pretty surprising that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would involve themselves in something like this - and not audit the project in which they are funding. In fact, recently the Gates Foundation pulled funding from schools that weren't meticulously implementing their project plans.

Ultimately, it's curious to me that Clinton's anti-trust pursuit of Microsoft probably pushed Gates - who I believe is socially moderate - to so heavily fund conservative Republican party interests - in the name of safe-guarding his company, Microsoft - which I think he has a tremendous personal and emotional attachment to keeping intact/whole.

So, while I admire Gates Sr. for taking a stand on the preservation of the estate tax - I'd like him to take more responsibility for being part of the system that believes purchasing access and influence is acceptable. If he doesn't like what the Republicans are doing to this country, than he should talk to his son first. And, if he really thinks the Republicans are just misguided on the lone issue of estate tax preservation - than he's really viewing the world quite narrowly and without understanding of many broad issues.

Gates Sr. has also campaigned in Washington state for state tax reform, while his son's company books billions of dollars of licensing revenue in Reno, Nevada to avoid $60 million a year in state taxes.



 

Posted by Jeff on May 28, 2005 at 12:20 AM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2005

More on Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Wow, I'm pretty stunned that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $100,000 to this faux-Delay Children's Charity. Talk about slutting your brand. I wonder if Gates plans to audit what the Delay Charity folks are planning to do with all that money. They'd never let a Northwest non-profit get away with this kind of crap.

   The New York Times reported this month that contributors to the DeLay Foundation   for Kids have included AT&T, the Corrections Corporation of America, Exxon   Mobil, Limited Brands, and the Southern Company, as well as Bill and Melinda   Gates, the Microsoft founder and his wife, and Michael Dell of Dell computers.   Tax records show some individual contributions have run up to $250,000. Individual   golf outings have raised well over $1 million, according to the IRS documents.

     At the charity fundraisers, contributors get to golf with DeLay at places   like Key Largo's Ocean Reef Club, described on its Web site as "a very   exclusive" 2,000-acre destination country club "known for its Caribbean   flair, unparalleled yachting and diving waters, exceptional club service, meetings   expertise and wide array of activities." It reportedly has a 4,000-foot   lighted private airstrip.

     Of the $7 million collected at these events since 2000, tax records for DeLay's   two charities show that only about $80,000 has been distributed to various groups   doing work to help children. Officials with DeLay's foundation said tax records   so far have shown little money being spent on kids because they have been saving   it for a major project that is now in progress.

Posted by Jeff on May 27, 2005 at 11:55 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is Microsoft planning to start paying more taxes?

One has to wonder if moving its software licensing revenue back to Washington will be the next big shoe to drop. While still wiping the ungodly egg off its faith from backtracking on the gay anti-discrimination bill, the Seattle Weekly reports online this week that Microsoft is giving christian lobbyist Ralph Reed the uninstall -  Microsoft Deletes Ralph Reed.

Still, I was most intrigued by this:

In 2003–04, Microsoft's PAC gave Tom DeLay a $10,000 campaign donation, and Ballmer added $2,000, while, IRS records show, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave DeLay's Foundation for Kids $100,000. Just coincidence, say the company and the foundation.

And people wonder why I struggle saying entirely great things about the Gates Foundation. This would be one reason.

But I get the sense that Microsoft seems to be realizing the bad press and customer ill-will isn't worth the trouble of perhaps even a $60 million annual tax savings. I do keep hearing from folks that the fact Microsoft is using Reno to legally dodge a large portion of state taxes is a common refrain in Olympia.

Stay tuned...

Posted by Jeff on May 27, 2005 at 01:49 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2005

A new group blog... by Oregon legislators!!!

Wow.  Today marks the launch of Oregon House Democrats: The Blog, a group blog by 27 (!) Oregon (State) House Democrats.  According to "blogfather" Kari Chisholm (founder of BlueOregon), this is the first-ever blog for an entire legislative caucus.

The 27 members of the Oregon House Democratic Caucus believe in an open government. Unfortunately, the rush of legislative business, as well as the limitations of space and time, prevents many people from communicating directly with legislators. This new blog enables any interested person to see the positions taken by House Democrats and to comment on them. It will provide the constant flow of information that legislators need to respond to constituents’ concerns.

The blog is just one facet of a multi-year Democratic campaign to retake the Oregon House.  Very smart.

Alright, Washington Democrats.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Sure, you're in the majority -- unlike your colleagues in Oregon.  You don't hafta run a blog to rebuild political power.  But surely, the Democratic caucuses in both the House and the Senate could benefit from a more intimate connection with the public, and a fiesty two-way flow of information.  Sure beats sending out press releases, right?

Hopefully in the coming weeks, Kari will tell us a bit more about how he sold the idea.
 

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 25, 2005 at 09:00 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Rights of (Corporate) Man

Fellow EP bloggerette Lynn Allen and Seattle Weekly Managing Editor Knute Berger attended this past weekend's Seattle Democracy School with me. This was the second Democracy School in Seattle.

I'm sure Lynn will be blogging about it soon, but seems like Knute got to print first: The Rights of (Corporate) Man.

The story he tells about the elected official who has to recuse himself under legal threat by a rock-quarry corporation is told on PBS' Now which you can download via torrent at CommonBits. Also, for more background you can watch/listen Richard Grossman and Thomas Linzey's lectures from Seattle this past February. And, if you're a real anti-corporate-domination geek, you can read the recent brief of the court decision from Pennsylvania alleging that no actual harm has been inflicted on the community which is about to be split apart by a huge concrete/asphalt/gravel mine.

Posted by Jeff on May 25, 2005 at 01:18 AM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

The Deal

Well, most of the Dems are spinning The Filibuster Deal as a win, and most of the Republican far-right are spinning it as a loss -- both, presumably, to fire up their bases.  But I have to say, I think I'm with Kayne who says:

This is a great deal for the Republican party, who now get to ramrod extremist judges through Congress under the euphamism of a "simple up or down vote." It gets even better, because they still may use the nuclear option when the Supreme Court seats open up. Both of these are facilitated due to the Republican majority in the Senate.

The good news, such as it is, is that the minority party (the Democrats) still retains the illusion of being able to block judicial nominations. Having the ability to do something and actually doing it are two vastly different things and produce different results.

It's hard to see how this is anything other than a short-term win for Democrats.  Genghis Khan would look pretty moderate next to Priscilla Owen and Janice Brown.  Unless it really damages Bill Frist's credibilty with his fascist overlords, and I think the "outrage" of the far right is just crocodile tears.  Remember, one of the "big lies" of the far right is to continually claim how "oppressed' they are even as they ram their theology down our throats. 

NWPT49

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 24, 2005 at 10:14 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Free Music

. . . in support of establishing the right of students to privacy from military recruiters.  The progressive organization, True Majority, founded by Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's, is giving away free downloads of the anti-war song "Twenty" by Grammy-Award winning Robert Cray.  It's about a young man who joins the Army after 9/11 to protect our country, is sent to Iraq where he discovers what the occupation of Iraq is really about, and is killed in action.

You'll have to join True Majority and you'll be asked to participate in the campaign regarding student rights.  No cost to join.  As a member, you'll get occasional e-mails on similar progressive topics.  Click here

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 24, 2005 at 07:38 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Daily Show GayWatch clip on Spokane Mayor Jim West

Spokane Mayor and top Republican Jim West made the Daily Show recently for his on-court fights against gay-rights while courting gays off-court.

Torrent available here at CommonBits. Other Daily Show clips here. I've written a how to guide for using BitTorrent to download files to help BitTorrent newbies get started.

Posted by Jeff on May 24, 2005 at 12:43 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2005

What is Here Now, Part II

Two years ago I went to the Holocaust Museum for the first time a day before I was due to attend an Emily’s List Conference in Washington D.C. It wasn’t until we got hungry that my friend, Alison, and I realized we’d been there for four hours. The entire experience was compelling. We saw the artifacts of the lives of the individuals and communities who would be swallowed up by the horror of the holocaust and went with them into the camps, saw their cells and their bones and the dolls and purses the littlest girls left behind.

 

Among many other exhibits, I was particularly taken with a relatively simple one about the events leading up to the Holocaust: a corridor with newspaper stories about the systematic dismantling of the rights of Communists, Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, handicapped and non-traditional church people. Laws were passed by the Reichstag starting right after Hitler was elected Chancellor in 1933 that curtailed peoples’ rights and it kept getting worse year after year.

 

The articles, categorized by year, were pasted on the wall. 

1933

  • Nazis "temporarily" suspend civil liberties for all citizens.

  • Jews are prohibited from working as civil servants, doctors in the National Health Service, and teachers in public high schools.

  • Trade unions are closed.

  • Books with ideas considered dangerous to Nazi beliefs are burned in public.

1934

  • The non-Jewish wife of a Jew is sentenced to four months in prison for “race-defilement”

1935

  • Jews are deprived of their citizenship and other basic rights.

  • The Nazis intensify the persecution of political dissidents and others considered "racially inferior" including "Gypsies," Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.

1936

  • Nazis boycott Jewish-owned businesses.

1938

  • On Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," Nazis terrorize Jews throughout Germany and Austria- 30,000 Jews are arrested, 91 are killed. Thousands of shops and businesses are looted and over 1000 synagogues are set on fire.

  • All Jewish children are expelled from public schools in Germany and Austria.

  • Nazis take control of Jewish-owned businesses.

1939

  • Hitler orders the systematic murder of the mentally and physically disabled in Germany and Austria.

  • Jews are required to wear armbands or yellow stars.

And so it went. I was fascinated and horrified by the systematic tightening of the repression and the lack of widespread resistance.

 

It was not until I was thinking about that particular exhibit two weeks later at home that I realized that every article on that wall had been in English. I thought I remembered that it was primarily articles out of the New York Times. So there were people in this country who had to have known what was going on. Those people who read the national newspapers had been reading these pieces. Why didn’t they talk about what was coming in Germany? It did not arise out of nowhere, just as the rise of the Taliban and the crushing of women’s rights in Afghanistan was out in the open for us to see. Hitler and the Nazis had been systematically decimating the rights of an enormous number of people. The violence against these folks was rising dramatically.

The next thought I had was “I read the New York Times everyday. What do I know now about what is happening in this country?”

It was not a hard question to answer.

I had just finished reading a book entitled, “Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential” and I knew. James Moore and Wayne Slater, the authors and veteran Texan journalists, have written about both the Texas political scene and the national presidential campaigns for decades. They watched and wrote about how Karl Rove worked for over twenty years prior to Bush’s election to upturn the political landscape in America and lay the groundwork for Bush’s presidency. He was instrumental is changing the face of Texas politics between the mid 80’s, when every statewide office was held by Democrats, and 2000, when every statewide office was held by Republicans.

Rove was the master of dirty tricks. He took any number of Texan politicians down by a masterful combination of brilliant strategy and excellent polling and analysis along with outright lies, shameless use of willing FBI conspirators, well-placed leaks to reliable reporters, whisper campaigns and far worse.  He took down the well-known, such as Ann Richards and Jim Hightower. He also took down a number of less-well known but rising stars in the Democratic pantheon in Texas. He mentored, groomed and ran campaigns for Kay Bailey Hutchison, Rick Perry, Priscilla Owens and many others in addition to George W. Bush.

He was working all the angles – cultivating business and using their contributions to finance campaigns to ensure the election of candidates favorable to business. Just like he’s doing now, with help from a lot of people he has since trained and collaborated with.

And that is what I thought of when I asked myself the question about what is happening right now in this country. Our rights are being constrained as a result of the tightening grip of big business paying to install the candidates who will then pass the legislation or make law from the bench that benefits big business.

Even two years ago I could not have foreseen how far Karl Rove and this folks would go. They have been breath-taking in their audacity. At the national level, minority rights are being trampled. At the local and national levels across the country, business has control of the laws that govern how business is done. This impinges greatly on the ability of communities to control the quality of the conditions that impact their health and welfare.

The other day, while trolling around the Internet, I came across something on Digby’s site that clarified the thinking I’d done two years earlier about what is happening to our country. It was a speech delivered by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia on the Senate floor on March 1st this year. The entire speech was awe-inspiring in its clarity. The excerpt that jumped out at me, though, related to how the legal system could be used systematically to deprive people of their rights. Here’s what he said:

“But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler’s dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that “Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact.” And he succeeded.

"Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal."


I’m not saying that Bush is going down the path that Hitler went down. Fascism can wear many coats. I am saying that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right or even that it’s based in the Constitution. That is hard to wrap our minds around but it is becoming increasingly truer and it is something we have to figure out what to do about before we lose even more of our rights.

 

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 23, 2005 at 10:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is Here Now

Incredible post at Dark Wraith about the impact that the war and the declining economic situation are having on people in a small college town.

Via Big Brass Blog.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 23, 2005 at 09:19 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bravo to NW Bloggers

Our progressive NW blogging community is tackling the trial in Wenachee with thoughtful gusto.  Best place to start is at the NW Portal, our aggregated site.  They have a temporary section up that highlights what the various bloggers are saying during the course of the trial as well as what we're hearing from the AP, The Seattle Times and the Seattle PI. 
In particular, check out NWProgressive, Goldy's site, TJ's site, which is being cross-posted at DailyKos, and On the Road to 2008.  It's a great team job. 
#48#

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 23, 2005 at 07:02 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lousy Ratings for the Judge at the Center of the Controversy

Just released by the Houston Bar Association, we get ratings on Priscilla Owen’s service on the Texas Supreme Court.  She was rated by 350 attorneys in one of the most conservative cities in the United States and she didn’t do well.

It's a pdf file and you have to scroll past four other judge ratings.  To sum up, her overall rating was 39.5% Outstanding, 15.2% Acceptable and a whopping 45.3% Poor.

Via Amanda at Pandagon and DEDSpace

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 23, 2005 at 04:10 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2005

Toss out "felon voters" and Gregoire STILL wins

The Seattle Times actually did some analysis of the Republican and Democratic "felon voter" lists, and finds that (surprise, surprise) Commandante Vance doesn't have a leg to stand on:

For months, state Republicans have insisted that hundreds of votes cast illegally by felons put Democrat Christine Gregoire in the governor's mansion.

But a Seattle Times analysis finds that even if those votes were disqualified, Gregoire would still prevail over GOP challenger Dino Rossi.

That finding undercuts what has been the most prominent element of the Republicans' case to overturn the election.

Like anyone's surprised.

NWPT48

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 22, 2005 at 03:12 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Give 'Em Hell Howard

Howard Dean was on Meet the Press this morning with Tim Russert.  He did a great job.  Here's the transcript if you missed it.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 22, 2005 at 08:09 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gregoire - No Meek and Mild Governor

David Ammons of the AP has a nice article in this morning's PI on Gregoire's record as governor ahead of the Rossi court challenge that starts tomorrow. 

NWPT48

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 22, 2005 at 06:48 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

The Cascade Agenda

Evergreen Politics ally Alex Steffen of WorldChanging considers "The Cascade Agenda", a 100-year plan from the Cascade Land Conservancy just released that presents idea for protecting natural systems around Puget Sound:

[T]he Cascade Agenda, is far from perfect, in my view: I question some of the political assumptions it makes, particularly the idea that compensating private landholders for not trashing the environment is a wise policy direction; and I find it far too linear in its scenaric thinking (the future is rarely anything like what we anticipate it to be, especially over such a long time frame), and far too based in present assumptions -- where, for example, is the neccessary grappling with the implications of climate change here?

But those are, in some ways, minor points. The major point, I think, that the debate changes when you ask these sorts of long-view questions. We here in the Seattle area now have at least a start towards a blueprint for treating our place as if we planned to stay.

What do you make of The Cascade Agenda?  Visionary plan, or hype?

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 21, 2005 at 03:54 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

The Big Picture

Words of wisdom from a diarist at DailyKos about why this "filibuster" issue is so important.  I've edited this down so go read the entire piece.

The real issue isn't abortion or gay marriage or religious nuts controlling the Republican Party.  And we better pull our heads out of our behinds and get the big picture or we risk losing a lot more than just the filibuster fight.

The battle over judges is about MONEY.  Greed.  Exploitive capitalism.  What all battles are over with the Cheneys and Roves and DeLays of the world. 

Rove and Cheney don't care about abortion.  And, I suspect, they don't care about the religious right, either, except as these zealots serve to further their own Rovian Republican goals. 

And those goals invariably revolve around doing favors for their corporate friends. That's what this filibuster fight is all about.  It is what every fight with the current regime is all about.

Rove and Cheney want to stack the courts with pro-corporatist judges.  Period.

 

That's our Big Picture.  The stiffing of the average Joe.  Because it applies to every issue, not just the filibuster or the inane non-issues of abortion and gay marriage. 

And that story is not about the religious right.  It's about you and you and you and you and you and me and everyone else not in the top 1% of income earners in this nation.

Priscilla Owens is one of the worst pro-corporate judges ever.  Karl Rove has been mentoring her for over a decade. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 19, 2005 at 08:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

As We Wait on the Sidelines

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has the clearest description of the coming Senate showdown I've seen.  He says:

As we wait on the sidelines for the seemingly inevitable chain reaction to take place on the senate floor, it is worth observing and considering the fact that every Republican senator certainly knows that the proposition they're about to attest to is quite simply a lie.  Perhaps they have so twisted their reasoning as to imagine it is a noble lie.  But it's a lie nonetheless.

It's a great post.  It ends with:

For all the chaos and storm caused by this debate, and all that is likely to follow it, don't forget that the all of this will be done by fifty Republican senators quite knowingly invoking a demonstrably false claim of constitutionality to achieve something they couldn't manage by following the rules.

This is about power; and, to them, the rules quite simply mean nothing.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 19, 2005 at 07:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

The Entire Galloway Testimony

Here's the entire George Galloway testimony.  Well worth the read.  One only wishes that the Senators who speak over this week, a week that is likely to go down in history, bring a similar courage and forthrightness to the Senate floor.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 18, 2005 at 10:11 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Back to the Sixties

Yesterday there was a little-noticed gathering in Washington D.C starting off the “I Will Not Kill” campaign to educate and support youth who do not wish to go into the military.  It was sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Center for Conscience and War and the Office of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-GA. 

From one of the organizers of the event, Ibrahim Ramey, coordinator of FOR's disarmament program:

The human right to say no to militarism and killing must be unconditionally supported for everyone. It is only when we refuse to kill that real peace and justice, in this nation and throughout the world, becomes a living possibility.

The group's Mission:

The “I Will Not Kill” campaign aims to educate high school and college age youth, especially youth of color, and youth in rural and impoverished white communities, and works to:

· raise awareness of resistance to war

· educate youth about the impacts of war

· oppose a future draft

· dismantle the selective service system and promote a culture of life

· promote conscientious objection to war as a positive alternative to violence and a way to strengthen and uplift communities and all of civil society

For a group of people determined to flush the sixties out of our national culture, the current GOP leaders are creating the very conditions to bring the best of the sixties back. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 18, 2005 at 11:23 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

Mayor Nickels Proposes EasyPass for Offramp Panhandling

As part of his campaign of initiatives to improves the quality of life for citizens in Seattle (not just Paul Allen), Mayor Nickels announced today his EasyPass Panhandling program to improve safety at city offramps.

"Homelessness is out of control in our city," says Nickels. "Every freeway offramp and busy intersection is occupied by homeless panhandlers - it's becoming a problem of traffic safety and flow."

To address these problems, Mayor Nickels is proposing a plan to outfit progressive drivers with EasyPass electronic barcodes. "Those who wish to give, can...without even a second glance at the homeless," says Nickels. With the program, guilt-ridden liberals will be able to keep their foot on the gas as they drive by each offramp knowing that the city is deducting a pre-determined amount of change from their credit card to give to the folks at each intersection.

Nickels glowed as he highlighted the ingenious use of Seattle's technological creativity to address its unseemly homelessness problem. The program is expected to go into operation before the upcoming elections.   

Posted by Jeff on May 17, 2005 at 11:35 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Newsweek Controversy

Watching Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek, talk about the “retraction” of the Quran abuse story at Guantanamo Bay, on the NewsHour, I was struck by how much he looked like a POW making a public statement with a gun pointed at his head.  And I don’t think the gun was being pointed by the folks at the NewsHour.

Although the story was spun as a “retraction”, Whitaker was very careful in his choice of words.  Under questioning by Jeffrey Brown of the NewsHour staff about the accuracy of the allegations by an unnamed Pentagon source that the incidents with the Quran were true, he said:

We went to the extraordinary lengths of actually showing the entire story to a separate high level Pentagon official.  They disputed other aspects of the story but did not dispute that.  After we published the story, we were not challenged on any aspect of it for 11 days until we heard on Friday night, 24 hours before our deadline from the Pentagon, that we had gotten it, had gotten it wrong.

It appears unlikely that the allegations were wrong.  Michael Isikoff is a highly reputable reporter of the old investigative journalist school.  He was famously the reporter who broke the story about Monica Lewinsky which is considered to be what laid the ground-work for the Clinton impeachment.

The information that his source in the Pentagon gave him had been available in the Muslim world for awhile.  Digby says in a great post yesterday:

It's not as if the Muslim world wasn't already well aware of this practice. Detainees have been released and they have talked. As far back as December 2003, when Vanity Fair published David Rose's expose of Guantanamo (sorry, not online), it was known that throughout the Muslim world, Gitmo was seen as an abomination. And it was known that practices in Guantanamo were creating more terrorism and more violence than they stopped.

And later:

This little item in Newsweak is a pretext for action against interrogation techniques that are already well known. Which is why the quasi retraction over the week-end is such a chickenshit display of cowardice on the part of Newsweak. This is old news to anybody who's been paying attention. The jihadists know it, those of us following the story know it and the government certainly knows it. The riots last week in Afghanistan and now around the world are orchestrated to gin up support and their followers are already pissed off enough about this stuff to get with the program quite easily.

As Whitaker said in the same interview with the Newshour, “For some reason at this particular time, ours was the match that lit a fire.”

The New York Times, in an article about Isikoff this morning, reports:

In discussing the article yesterday, Mr. Isikoff, who supplied the source for the article, said: "Whenever something like this happens, you've got to take stock and review what you did - how the story was handled. The big point that leaps out is the cultural one. Neither Newsweek nor the Pentagon foresaw that a reference to the desecration of the Koran was going to create the kind of response that it did. The Pentagon saw the item before it ran, and then they didn't move us off it for 11 days afterward. They were as caught off guard by the furor as we were. We obviously blame ourselves for not understanding the potential ramifications."

Aside from facing what must be immense pressure from the White House, who wants to be the spark that sets off religious wars between the U.S. and Islamist fundamentalists across the globe?

Those of us who foresaw that the war with Iraq was likely to fuel anti-American sentiment around the globe were probably more attuned when the international polls showed that to be the case. 

The International Herald Tribune reported in June of 2003 on a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center with more than 15,000 people in 20 countries and the Palestinian Authority in May of 2003. 

The poll found that 83 percent of Turks now have an unfavorable opinion of the United States, up from 55 percent last summer.  The swing was even sharper in Indonesia, where Islamist radicalism has been rising since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.  While 75 percent had a favorable opinion of the United States in 2000, 83 percent now have an unfavorable view.  Similar levels of animosity hold sway in the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, said that he had been surprised by the extent to which “the bottom has fallen out in the Muslim world.

And that was in mid-2003, nearly a year before the pictures from Abu Ghraib and the more recent reports about the Quran abuse at Guantanamo Bay. 

Our traditional allies are not too happy with our national policy either. The Economist reported in March of this year on a poll conducted for the Lowy Institute, a foreign-policy think-tank in Sydney.  It asked Australians to rank a list of 15 countries and regions by their “positive feelings”. 

America came eleventh, at 58%, just behind Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.  Only Indonesia, the Middle East, Iran and Iraq rated worse. . . The doubts about America did not stop there.  Among ten potential threats from the outside world, 57% of Australians believed American foreign policies were as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism.  While 72% of Australians saw the American alliance as important for their country’s security, more than two out of three thought Australia took too much notice of the United States in shaping its foreign policy.  Asked if Australia should support America in any conflict with China over Taiwan, 72% said no.

The issue is not the reporting from Newsweek.  The issue is the dreadful foreign policy conducted by the United States, a policy that will damage our relations with the rest of the world for generations to come.  NWPT46

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 17, 2005 at 11:15 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

Bush's Energy Bill Will Cut Washingtonians Out of Decisions About Our Dams

Correspondent Amy Souers Kober from American Rivers writes:

Of all the provisions of the massive, pork-filled Energy Bill, the section on hydropower has the potential to impact our heavily-dammed state -- and the Northwest at large -- really hard.

So, have you heard of it? Probably not, right?

The little-known "hydropower title" would cut the public and Indian tribes out of important decisions about our rivers, clean water, fish and wildlife. Fishermen, boaters, hikers, farmers, community groups, property owners, and tribes with sovereign treaty rights would essentially be silenced.

Right now, power companies that want to operate hydropower dams on public waterways must first agree to conditions that protect fish, wildlife, recreation, and other public values. The Energy Bill would allow power companies to wriggle out of this responsibility, giving them a new special right to appeal any conditions they don't like - leaving everyone else out of the decision process.

The Energy Bill bill has already passed the House and is being considered this week by the Senate.

In other words, yet another attempt by the Bush Administration to say "screw you" to the public while scratching the back of his energy industry buddies.  Only this one hits even closer to home than usual, and is more deeply buried in the fine print.

Late word is that Senator Cantwell is trying to bring the voice of the public back into the equation.  More information is at http://www.americanrivers.org/hydroreform.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 16, 2005 at 08:10 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Race and Health

Real Change reports this week that black and native American families have 2-3x higher rates of infant mortality in King County than others.

  Barkan suggests that institutionalized racism is, in part, increasing the stress placed on women of color — stress that suppresses the body’s immune system and results in pre-term delivery and other adverse birth outcomes.

While social support from close family and friends often buffers the impact of stress on pregnant women, the report found that African American women had “significantly lower levels of social support in comparison to white mothers.”
 

This slightly mirrors a trend that the New York Times is reporting on as well - class and health.

It doesn't help that some minority leaders have been moved to focus on the threats gays pose to society rather than the serious issues of race and class. Chuck Taylor had this to say in Seattle Weekly's Buzz this past week:

In a joint communiqué posted on the far-righteous Toward Tradition Web site, they write: "It is hard, if not impossible, to think of a society for whom rampant homosexuality was not a symptom of impending extinction." The reason for their invocation of such nonsense is the fact that "the senior rabbi of one of Seattle's largest Reform congregations attacked us in a local newspaper for our opposition to homosexual marriage." That would be Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai, in an op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer May 3, and "attacked" doesn't really do justice to his refined fusillade: "There is poignant irony in that this kind of hate speech emanates from a rabbi and an African American minister, leaders of historically powerless, minority communities who were oppressed, enslaved and attacked based upon a dehumanizing rationale similar to the one they wield against the gay community," wrote Weiner.  

Irony seems to kind a word. It's a pathetic tragedy that we should all be horrified by. 

Posted by Jeff on May 16, 2005 at 09:41 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

P.S.

Tom Friedman at the NYTimes had an opinion piece yesterday on the topic of how we fool ourselves as a nation if we think we are only competing with ourselves.  And his statistic to add to the collection from yesterday. 

On April 7, CNET News.com reported the following: "The University of Illinois tied for 17th place in the world finals of the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest. ..."  That's the lowest ranking for the top-performing U.S. school in the 29-year history of the competition. Shanghai Jiao Tong University of China took top honors this year, followed by Moscow State University and the St. Petersburg Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 14, 2005 at 08:21 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

The Myth of America – Reality Series, Part IV

In much of what I’ve been writing about in talking about the value of living in a reality-based world, I’ve portrayed the issue as being very different depending on whether we have blinders on or not. And it is.  And mostly I think that what sets the folks on the liberal side apart is that we have fewer blinders on.  Partly that’s because blinders tend to be brushed off when a Party is losing and we’ve been getting our butts kicked pretty regularly for the last 10 years.  Partly it’s because liberals have genuinely taken the time to notice what goes on for folks more than Republicans generally do and certainly more than the power hungry, corporate enablers that constitute the current crop of Republicans do.   

But when I think about our unquestioned assumptions about this country, I think we all have a pretty big set of blinders on.  We pretty much think that we're tops in everything from culture to sports to economy to governance.  In our case, we tend to think that the world has rightly taken a whack at us recently, in these last four years since Bush came into office.  And that is certainly true.  But statistics like these compiled by Michael Ventura and posted on the Information Clearing House don’t arise all of a sudden.   

Here are a couple examples.  According to an article in the Dec. 12, 2004 New York Times, the United States is 49th in the world in literacy.  According to a report on CNN on Dec. 10th, 2004, one-third of all U.S. children are born out of wedlock and one-half of all U.S. children will live in a one-parent house.

We were so raised on the idea that America is central to the world, that we are the best at damned near everything, and that we pretty much set the standards for the world.  If these statistics are true, and the sourcing would tell me they are, we are no where near that.  Then what are we?  Are we truly a nation losing our edge in the world?  Are we too self-absorbed and taken up with sports and the twinned arms of sexual exploitation and sexual repression and our “ownership society” to notice what the reality is?  Are we too busy squandering our money and national human resources on fighting a series of wars across the globe rather than building a society here that we can be proud of?

Difficult questions but ones that we probably need to address.  We have to see the reality in order to be able to think about what we want to do about it.  Here’s another statistic.  From Jeremy Rifkin’s new book, The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream,  “Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its workforce in the 1980s” or CNN’s nugget on Jan. 12, 2005, that the United States lost 1.3 million jobs to China in the last decade. 

Maybe the new Democratic Party can be the party of reality.  We can become courageous enough to take even our own blinders off and see what the world really looks like and talk about it and make some changes based on what is really going on out there. 

A hat tip to the irrepressible Jack Smith for sending these stats on to me.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 13, 2005 at 07:50 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Legislative Session Review for 36th LDers

Residents of the 36th LD (which includes Magnolia, Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge and parts of Ballard, Crown Hill, Belltown, Fremont, Greenwood, Lake Union, Loyal Heights and Sunset Hills) are invited to a meeting to discuss the recently completed legislative session with Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Representatives Helen Sommers and Mary Lou Dickerson.  It will be held Tuesday, May 24th, from 7-9 pm at the Nortwest Senior Center at 5429 32nd Ave. NW in Ballard. 

Call any of these elected officials for more information. 

     Senator Kohl-Welles:  360.786.7670 or 206.281.6854

     Representative Helen Sommers:  360.786.7814

     Representative Mary Lou Dickerson:  206.545.6513

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 13, 2005 at 07:35 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2005

Creationism/Intelligent Design - (Lack of) Reality Series, Part III

There is no part of the non-reality based world viewpoint that befuddles me more than the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as a scientific theory equal to the theory of evolution.  Commenting on the recently re-opened issue of teaching “intelligent design” sparked by the Kansas State School Board on MSN late last week, Ron Reagan summarized my feelings precisely.  He said,

The state of Kansas is poised to vacate the Age of Reason. If all goes according to brain-addled plan, the Kansas school board will soon vote to water down the state’s public school science curriculum, minimizing Darwinian evolution and giving credence to a half-baked, non-scientific notion variously called “creationism” or “intelligent design.”

We dealt with the issue recently on our show and I got a little steamed, as I’m prone to do when faced with shameless lies told at the expense of innocent children. Evolution, of course, has mountains of evidence on its side—the fossil record; genetics; observations of rapidly mutating species in nature in the lab, as well as some compelling new computer models. I challenged our creationist guest to provide similar evidence for his point of view. He couldn’t... because there isn’t any.

In liberal, highly-educated Seattle, we don’t often come in contact with folks who don’t believe in evolution.  But according to statistics, there are a lot of them out there.  Late last year, a Gallup poll reported that only 28 percent of Americans accept the theory of evolution and 48 % believe in creationism or its more “modern” version, “intelligent design, the belief that an intelligent being is responsible for the creation of the earth and its inhabitants . 

Teaching Evolution

And apparently teaching evolution has become harder out there.  CBS News reported last week that critics of evolution are providing students a list of “10 Questions to ask your biology teacher”, questions that take the teacher away from the teaching of the science of evolution.  Or, as John Wachholz, a biology teacher at Salina High School Central in Kansas, says, “When evolution comes up, students tune out: “They’ll put their heads on their desks and pretend they don’t hear a word you say.”  He says resistance has been getting stronger.  “I see the same thing I saw five years ago, except now students think they’re informed without having ever really read anything because it’s been discussed in the home and other places.  They’re more outspoken.”

Another teacher, Lisa Nimz of Skokie, Illinois, says, “In some ways I think civilization is at stake because it’s about how we view our world.”  She refers to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and says, “When there’s no empirical evidence, some very serious things can happen.  If we can’t look around at what is really there and try to put something logical and intelligent together from that without our fears getting in the way, then I think that we’re doomed.”

To Not Believe in Evolution

There are people in my family who don’t believe in evolution.  So, for 25 years I’ve had an opportunity to see the implications of that way of thinking.  If you don’t believe in evolution, you aren’t open to the basic concepts underlying the fields of geology, of biology, astronomy, and history at a bare minimum.  And, you get accustomed to avoiding much of the news of the culture or discounting it without reading about it.  You choose not to read much of “Time” magazine because you might run across an article about tectonic plate action in relationship to the tsunami or controversy over the remains of Kennewick Man or the discover of a dinosaur with vegetarian eating habits.  You don’t listen to NPR or watch much of the news. 

And, odds are, you don’t engage in conversation with people about a range of topics, including all of the above except maybe to disparage it.  There are many people at work or in your extended family that you have a very limited set of things you are likely to discuss.  You don’t want to catch the distain in people’s voices so you don’t share who you are with people.

You also don’t ask yourself a lot of questions or explore new ideas.  The habit of unquestioned belief carries over into other parts of your life and you are not likely to ask questions and stay open to your own answer.  You’re not likely to ask, “Are we right to be waging an unnecessary war against people of a different faith?” or “Do I want to have a sexual relationship before I am married?” or “I wonder if I’d like meditation?”

And it curtails what you can do in your life.  I have a young friend, the child of a friend from work, whom I’ve spent time with 2-3 times a year for 14 years or so.  I took her and her brother and a couple of other young people their age to ice skate or hike or just go have lunch over many years.  Mimi was always a curious, questioning youngster and I often told her that she had a scientific mind and would make a good scientist one day if she chose to go in that direction.  Then, one year in Junior High, she told me that she wasn’t enjoying science anymore.  She couldn’t put her heart into it anymore because she didn’t believe in evolution and she just couldn’t listen to what her teacher said anymore. 

A Fierce Belief – The Crux of the Resistance

It is hard for me to understand but I can tell that the belief in creationism is ferocious by the way that people defend it.  It is some kind of a linchpin in the belief system, something that the people who hold this belief are not willing to let go of, no matter how illogical or how much else they must ignore to keep their belief.  That is a powerful belief – but why?  There is no obvious inherent contradiction between Christianity and a belief in the scientific veracity of evolution.  I’m guessing, although I don’t have any facts or figures to back it up, that Jews have a stronger belief in evolution than most other folks.  And they’re the ones that wrote the Old Testament where word (considered myth in other cultures) about the creation was written down.

As I was trolling through the Internet researching this article, I found a couple of articles about scientific surveys done about belief systems by creationists, one conducted in the United States, the other in Australia.  The survey of 1535 people was conducted in Australia and reported in “Creation Magazine” in February, 2000. The results “revealed that belief in evolution is associated with moral permissiveness.”… “The survey showed that people who believed in evolution were more likely to be in favour of premarital sex than those who rejected Darwin’s theory.  Another issue which highlighted the contrast between the effect of evolutionary ideas and that of biblical principles was that Darwinians were reported to be ‘especially tolerant’ of abortion.”

The second rigorous survey conducted in the U.S.  (Don’t you dare tell us we’re unscientific!) was presented at a Conference on Creationism in 1998.  Here’s the Abstract:

Does what you believe about origins affect your worldview? Do origin assumptions provide a foundation upon which important moral questions are answered? Many creationists have advanced the idea that what one believes about creation and evolution affects his or her worldview. Empirical studies in this area are, however, lacking. By advancing a hypothesis that does not have empirical support, creationists are seen by some in the "mainstream" scientific community as extreme and unscientific [10].

This paper reports on a study involving the development and implementation of a survey of science teachers to ascertain the relationship between their belief in creation or evolution and their moral views. The research hypothesis, that there is a relationship between one’s origins belief and his or her moral view, is supported. The secondary hypothesis, that the more one believes in creation, the more positive his or her moral views, also is supported.

On the specific questions of intimacy, there also appears to be a relationship at the later stages in the expected direction. That is, the more the subject believes in creation, the less he or she is willing to morally accept sexual intercourse between two unmarried consenting people. Recommendations for further study are included along with the survey instrument.”

For me, it’s useful to understand that what we are fighting when we are asking that the science of evolution be taught in schools unimpeded by a countervailing notion of creation myth, is not logical, it’s emotional.  It’s not really about the accuracy of carbon-dating or the scientific evidence of fossils or mutating genes. 

It’s about what that kind of thinking will lead to – sex before marriage and a willingness to consider abortion.  I don’t know if it makes the struggle any easier but it might assist us in how we go about it.  It also makes it clear how deeply connected all of these social values issues are. 

For More Information

To read dispatches from the front, check out RedStateRabble, a blog written by Pat Hayes of Kansas on the Kansas State School Board proceedings.

To read about Seattle’s own Discovery Institute, the folks behind the propagation of the “intelligent design” idea, check out Andrew’s excellent piece up this morning over at NW Progressive or Brian’s very thoughtful piece over at Washblog from a couple of days ago.

To read an interesting article by a former believer in creationism who learned to ask questions, read a piece by Merle Hertzler, called “How Old is the Earth?”

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 12, 2005 at 08:33 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Paint the Town Blue"

Howard Dean is coming to town to talk about Democratic Party strategy and to give an overview of what the DNC is planning for 2006 and 2008.  And of course to raise money for the DNC.  He'll be here June 5th.  Click here for more info or to sign up.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 12, 2005 at 07:13 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Spiritual Progressives

The folks at the Rockridge Institute (home of framing guru George Lakoff) are hosting in intruiging online conference entitled "Spiritual Progressives: A Dialogue on Values and Building a Movement." Here's the pitch:

If spiritual progressives are to be organized as a political force in this country, the link between their religious and their political principles must be made clear. Many spiritual progressives have a hard time explicitly stating their theological views and linking them to their political views. Many have no idea of the long, distinguished history of liberal religion in America and of the way it has shaped the best parts of the American tradition. Many are not aware of the intimate link between child-rearing, religion and politics.

This dialogue will take up these and many more issues -- the issues that you want to raise.

Sounds pretty interesting -- it will be interesting to see if any interesting conversations emerge.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 11, 2005 at 09:26 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2nd Congressional District Strategy Session

This Saturday, May 14, the State Party and local Party organizations are sponsoring a session to talk strategy and grassroots mobilization.  All Party leaders, PCOs, and local activists are encouraged to attend.

Western Washington University, Arntzen Hall
Starts at 12:00 pm; ends at 4:00 pm.
For more information contact Jaxon at (206) 583-0664

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 11, 2005 at 07:24 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tom Delay's Pal-o-meter

How close are our Representatives to scandal-plagued Tom Delay?  The Public Campaign Action Fund provides info on how much money Delay’s PAC has provided to each U.S. Representative and how much they in turn have given to his Legal Defense Fund.  And we see how much loyalty that bought Delay in votes.

Here’s what we have for our folks in the House.  No surprises really.  We already knew that Reichert was on Delay’s Top Ten Re-election List.

Full Name

District

Party

$ From DeLay (ARMPAC)

$ to DeLay
(legal defense fund)

Vote %

Jay R Inslee

1

D

$0

$0

17.47%

Rick Larsen

2

D

$0

$0

19.04%

Brian Baird

3

D

$0

$0

16.82%

Doc Hastings

4

R

$5,930

$0

96.84%

Cathy McMorris

5

R

$5,000

$0

97.73%

Norm Dicks

6

D

$0

$0

21.24%

Jim McDermott

7

D

$0

$0

6.25%

Dave Reichert

8

R

$10,000

$0

95.24%

Adam Smith

9

D

$0

$0

25.69%

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 11, 2005 at 07:10 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

Winning in Eastern Washington

Blue Washington is starting what promises to be an interesting multi-part series on Winning in Eastern Washington in 2006 - and beyond.

They start with some goals:

The goals of Eastern Washington Democrats should include:

1. Raising the Eastern Washington Democratic vote to a 45%  share for the US Senate in 2006 and to 50%  share in the 2008 Governor’s race.    

2. Electing Democratic congressional candidates in the Fourth and Fifth Districts in 2006 and 2008.

3. Adding at least 3 net Democrat Senate Members and 6 net Democrat House members from Eastern Washington to the state legislature by 2008, better yet by 2006.

I'm not an astute enough observer of eastern Washington politics to say whether these are achievable, or if so, how to get it done.  But it's good to see the question being called.  Go on over and share your thoughts.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 10, 2005 at 10:58 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 09, 2005

A Different Mother's Day

Over on Vashon Island, some folks celebrated Mother's Day yesterday with a parade organized by "Mothers Acting Up", a group dedicated to social change.  They used the original Mother's Day Proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe, that we posted here yesterday, as their point of departure.  The PI has the article here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 9, 2005 at 09:21 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2005

The Sacred Feminine

Being that it’s Mother’s Day today, I wanted to talk about the sacred feminine and lack thereof from the beginning of time and into the present. 

Much of what I say will be essentially a book report.  The book is At the Root of this Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst, by Carol Lee Flinders.    When I first read this book a couple of years ago, it re-radicalized me around women’s issues.  The book also deals a lot with the power of women’s spiritual conviction (in the best sense) and the potential power that can unleash in a society.  I will not focus on that but if it calls to you, go read it.  It’s a wonderful book.     

Flinders reminds us of a time when women and goddesses and motherhood were sacred because we are all part of the great Mother.  Women were revered as the giver of life.  Women were generally the seers, the holders of the collective wisdom, the gateway to the sacred.  Young women were celebrated as they took their place in the community of women.

She talks about the slow shift from this female-centered nomadic hunter-gatherer life into horticulture and then into agriculture.  This is when the position of women began to weaken.  Kinship structures, often matrilineal, gave way to more hierarchical structure.  Physical strength and the ability to organize labor for larger community projects and then warfare became dominant.

With warfare came enslavement.  And Flinders, using research done by Gerda Lerner and others, says that this is the nub of the shift into dehumanization for women.  Because it was so much easier to run a farm with captured women.  Captured men were likely to be violent or go for daring getaways.  “Women were found to be a much simpler proposition – particularly once they had been raped.” (I have wondered in that appalled kind of way, why it is that rape is so common a weapon of war up until present time – in Bosnia, in Ruanda, Afghanistan.  What is it and why do we allow it to continue?)  Knowing that even if they managed to escape, their own men-folk would not welcome them back, they weren’t likely to try, and once they’d actually had children, their own motherhood kept them in place. . . . 

Flinders sees this enslavement as the root of what she calls the curious contempt for women and girls that is so pervasive in a male dominated culture where the central business of life is to build up power bases and then make your name either defending them or seizing other power bases. She assumes that women were always seen as suspect because they could “go over to the enemy”. 

So, this may seem a long ways from us in this society.  We don’t live in a place where woman are routinely enslaved or where war atrocities include rape.

Or do we?

Flinders was writing this book and living just outside Petaluma when the young woman, Polly Klaas, was kidnapped and then later found dead.  She weaves her experiences and the experiences of her family and community into the story.  She paints a picture of a culture that allows the continuum of male behavior to include behavior that preys on women, particularly young women on the verge of womanhood.  They are in this time of tremendous blossoming. I remember watching that incredible luminous time in a young girl’s life when I taught 8th and 9th grade.  This is a time that in an earlier culture or a more indigenous culture would have been a joyous ritual for both the girl and the entire community, a time of being brought into the sacred feminine.

As part of this discussion, the author talks about the impact of the Polly Klaas kidnapping and death on other young girls, especially girls that age.  They were gripped with fear.  The event and her proximity to it forced Flinders to see it as something not in isolation.  She asks, “How can we allow this to happen in this society?”  “How is it that we don’t put our resources to work as a culture to get to those young men who are going to grow up to become Richard Allen Davis’s and help them?  We know who they are.  We can identify them very early.”

This is so similar to what I’ve been asking myself as I grapple with the aftermath of 9/11.  Specifically, we knew in the mid-90’s that the Taliban in Afghanistan were making women’s lives a hell and we did not stop it or force the Taliban to change. People who treat women that way are not sane.  Period. I personally am convinced that if we based our domestic and foreign policy on what was good for women and children at home and around the world, we would have the only compass we needed.  We’d be asking,  “Why can’t we put the incredible resources we have as a country to preventing war?”  “How can we cut taxes while education and social welfare systems crumble?” 

Flinders goes on to talk extensively about the effect dehumanization has on young women, even those who do not directly suffer the pains of a Polly Klaus or an Elizabeth Smart.   She says and we know that the highly sexualized representations of young women in our society affect all women and particularly all young women. Young women play a critical double role in our materialistic society, first as a commodity, in those sexualized representations, and secondly as consumer, desperately buying and using those cosmetics, clothes, food and weight-loss programs, trying to become those young women in the ads on TV, in the films, in the eyes of the young men of their world.    

We can in the best of circumstances, with great amounts of love and privilege, help a few of our own young women through into womanhood safely.  But what of the larger need? How do we address this?  Flinders submits, and I agree, we do this by fostering a renewed emphasis on the sacred feminine.

Today is a good day to remember that.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 8, 2005 at 11:51 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The First Mother's Day Proclamation - for a Day of Peace

Julia Ward Howe, an early abolitionist, proclaimed Mother’s Day in 1870 as a day of peace.  The first actual Mother’s Day observance was held decades later in honor of the memory of Anna Reese Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia, who organized women during the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions and then to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. 

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm, disarm! The Sword of murder is not the balance of justice." Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

- Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 8, 2005 at 09:15 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 06, 2005

The Lack of Reality-Based Thinking Leads to Hypocrisy (Part II)

Events just hand you the material you’re looking for, don’t they?  Thanks to Jim West, we have a great illustration of what happens when people walk around with blinders on.  The blinders make them disconnected from themselves as well as disconnected with the reality for people outside (or even inside) the scope of their vision.  Just what I was starting to discuss yesterday in my post on the importance of being reality-based.

Thanks to Olyscoop for the inside story on the history of West’s political thuggery over the years and the legacy of anti-gay legislation and personal enmity it engendered.  Thanks to Goldy for a heartfelt look at the sad, personal consequences of West’s closeted life.  He says,

“Jim West is the poster child for the tragic consequences of a society that condones discrimination against gays: a man so ashamed of who he was that he assumed the mantel of his persecutors… a man so embarrassed by his own sexuality that even after being forced to admit to soliciting sex from young men, he still denies that he is gay.”

From what Olyscoop says, people of all political persuasions saw the lack of integrity in West.  He had such an enormous set of blinders on that he couldn’t see or accept who he was himself and, in his case, there were awful consequences.  If the old allegations of sexual abuse hold up, at least two young men were damaged.  And politically, he pushed a right-wing, anti-gay agenda from his powerful position as Majority Leader of the Senate, trying to push his narrow, mean-spirited view of the world on others. 

And, as the current Majority Leader, Senator Lisa Brown of Spokane, says in an article in this morning’s PI:   

"The public's trust is eroded when what elected officials advocate is different from how they conduct their own life."

It’s called hypocrisy. 

Jim West’s sad story provides a perfect example of how the personal is tied to the political.  The Religious Right and their spokespeople will try to tell us it’s an individual gone astray.  And it is.  But it is also more than that.  In a world where the reality of who people really are is honored, they don’t wind up hating themselves and taking that hate out on others.  It’s why the issue of gay rights is so important, just as women’s rights and eliminating racism is important.  People are to be honored for who they are. 

More to come.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 6, 2005 at 12:55 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 05, 2005

The Importance of Reality - Part I

Many of those of us in the liberal/left-wing blogosphere identify with being in the reality-based community.  Lots of folks mention it and a few put it in their blog banner.  See here or here or, for a slight variation, here.  I love what I associate with that characterization but I’ve never read any discourse of why that phrase - reality-based community - caught on.  So I decided I’d try my hand at describing my understanding of that phrase and invite others to do so as well.

I think that there’s an alignment happening in our political system that is new in my lifetime and, as yet, largely unnoticed.  It’s not precisely liberals and conservatives any more.  It’s more “people who are willing to look honestly at the world” and “those who wear pretty severe blinders”. 

Liberals aren't always getting hammered for being liberals.  They're getting hammered for pointing out the reality of the world.  Think Bill Moyers. 

Looking honestly at the world is looking at the reality of what actually is.  It’s putting our own preconceptions aside and noticing what really is going on.  And then, because we can really see those other human beings as human beings, it’s putting ourselves in the shoes of the other people in the picture and thinking about what might make their lives better. 

But people who wear blinders and don’t allow themselves to really see what is going on, but are ever so certain about what they see, can’t get to that second step.  They can’t get past “Abortion is bad” to “Holy cow, that woman has gotten into a difficult situation – how do we help her now AND how do we fix the situation so that there are fewer like her in the future?”  They can’t get past “This election was stolen” to “Man, that could have gone either way so let’s make certain we do everything possible to clean the elections up.”   

There used to be Republicans who could see what was happening to real people and who thought hard about how to make life better for real people.  In our state, we’ve had many - Governor Dan Evans, Secretary of State Ralph Munro, Slade Gordon in the earlier days, Sam Reed.  Nationally, there was Teddy Roosevelt and Nelson Rockefeller and Charles Percy and the list goes on. 

I used to tease my Dad before he died about how difficult it must be to be a moderate Republican in these days when the Party was swinging so far to the right – and this was 10 years ago.

But these new Republicans – Tom DeLay, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney on the national level and Ellen Craswell, Linda Smith, Randy Tate, the new Dino Rossi, and their allies in the rabid evangelical churches – Pat Robertson, James Dobson, our very own Ken Hutcherson are of another order.  They’re the people with the blinders.  They see the world in a manner that has very little regard for reality, for anything that doesn’t fit their narrow views. 

And the folks with the blinders on are after our institutions.  That’s where I get mad.

A Republican was recently appointed head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and he’s already brought in a slew of right-wing assistants.  The Kansas Board of Education is again debating whether to incorporate the teaching of “intelligent design” alongside evolution in their science courses.  The Federal government is making deals with private industry that are likely to push endangered species to extinction.  We don’t begin to get the real story of why we went into Iraq or what our military has done to prisoners over there. 

As Digby said on his national blog a couple of days ago,

The worst elements of our culture are on the rise. We have delivered massive government police power into the hands of authoritarian freaks whose followers are being told every day that liberals are a greater danger than terrorists are.

I’m going to be blogging in more detail on the importance of being based in reality and the threat to our democracy posed by the folks with the blinders on over the next few days.  Stay tuned. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 5, 2005 at 03:20 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2005

The So-Called Liberal Media

David and Andrew over at Northwest Progressive Institute are rightfully and eloquenty annoyed that Tim Eyman can still garner huge amounts of free media coverage, (five op-eds in three days!) even though he no longer appears to have much sway with the public.

Eyman doesn't deserve any of this. He's accomplished nothing during the last two to three years, and yet he is treated by editorial page editors like royalty.

The state's op-ed pages can do better. Tim is less than a mediocre writer - he's a pitiful, lousy writer. His columns are nothing more than recycled talking points from his e-mails coupled with ranting and rambling at the courage of elected officials to do what it takes to tackle our state's toughest problems.

The newspaper editors that printed Tim's columns should be ashamed for falling over each other and giving Tim space to write column after column. Three of the papers even ran the same column - one of Tim's rehashed e-mails.

While we're on this topic, I thought I'd share this advice from the Seattle Times Company for op-ed writers:

DON'T submit the same piece to different papers at the same time. Editors hate to see a piece on their desk appear in a nearby paper. As a general rule, ride one horse at a time.

Apparently, that isn't true because three different editors for three different newspapers each approved Tim's rehashed email as a column in their respective newspapers.

Well said, guys.  I look forward to reading your op-eds in print Real Soon Now.

Posted by Jon Stahl on May 4, 2005 at 09:04 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 02, 2005

Governor's Lawsuit Update

As usual,  Goldy has the analysis, if not the actual "scoop" on the Dino's futile lawsuit against the 2004 election.  On the other hand, the Republicans have burned through about $4 million, which ain't exactly chump change.



Posted by Jon Stahl on May 2, 2005 at 09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack