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June 30, 2005

The "Leave My Child Alone" Movement

It's gotta be bad news for the Administration when the soccer moms start organizing.  Rebecca Romani has a post at Alternet describing the scene. 

It looked like any average parent meeting with a sprinkling of twenty-somethings and senior citizens, complete with pizza, fries and speakers. But for these people coming out to a pizza parlor on a weeknight, the main attraction was not the food but an earnest discussion of the presence of military recruiters on high school campuses and a little known document called the "opt-out" form.

The Main Street Moms Operation Blue (MMOB) has meetups scheduled all over the country.  My guess is this is going to be the achilles heel of the Administration's attempt to soft-pedal the war recruiting efforts and ultimately will force us as a nation to address the issue of how best to pull out of Iraq. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 30, 2005 at 09:04 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Doc Hastings Backs Down

The Raw Story has a copy of the letter Doc Hastings wrote that lays out his agreement to move forward in the investigation of Tom Delay.  Although Hastings sounds as though he had to slog through mud to get the Democrats to agree to such a reasonable proposal, the truth is quite the opposite.  They stood firm and Hastings finally had to back down from his desire to name his own chief of staff to the role of chief counsel/staff director for the Ethics Committee in order for any move to occur.  The Democrats see the move as a victory. They also recently forced the Republican majority to back down on new, looser ethics rules.  Perhaps now the committee can move on to investigations of the rampant corruption led by Delay and copied by many in the majority party although endless foot-dragging seems the more likely course of action.

The Carpetbagger adds:

Under the agreement, the committee will hire a chief counsel/staff director and four investigative lawyers. In addition, Hastings can bring over one of his staffers (Ed Cassidy, Hastings's 10-year chief of staff) but he will operate independently of the committee's investigative staff, staff director, and chief counsel.

Have you noticed how often Dems have won these fights over ethics? The GOP stacked the deck for Tom DeLay, the Dems raised hell, and Republicans backed down. The Ethics Committee was going to work under looser guidelines, Dems raised hell again, and Republicans backed down again. Now the Ethics Committee was going to have partisan staffers, prompting Dems to once again raise hell, and Republicans to give Dems what they want. Maybe this is an issue on which the GOP feels vulnerable?

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 30, 2005 at 08:46 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sensible concern from friends of the Monorail

It's really annoying to watch the forces of "can't do Seattle" pile on to the Monorail. While the Monorail's financing plans are less than ideal, those who criticize ought to offer constructive criticism, not shrill backbiting.

Which is why I admire Nick Licata and Tom Carr, two longtime monorail supporters, who took the time to write a letter to the Monorail expressing their concerns, but instead of whining "kill the Monorail" they suggest that the Monorail explore more radical options: putting the contract out for re-bid, raising taxes to improve the financing, etc.

Seattle needs modern public transit that won't get caught in traffic. Monorail is a good technology for a hilly, watery city. The people have voted for it four times. We need to find a way to make the numbers work. Our elected (and appointed) officials owe us no less.

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 30, 2005 at 06:49 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Congratulations, Bob Ferguson

I join the folks at Progressive Majority Washington in  congratulating King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson, who pulled off a surprise upset against Carolyn Edmonds last night at the King County nominating convention.  As Dean Neilsen observes:

Ferguson has shown that he is a relentless, door-to-door, grass-roots campaigner. He door-belled his way to beat Cynthia Sullivan for his current seat on the council, and out-organized Edmonds in the race to become the Democratic nominee for the 1st district.

I heard Bob and Carolyn on KUOW yesterday morning, and while Carolyn sounded like a typical Seattle-bland politican, Bob was sharp, insightful and unafraid to take strong stands.  I was particularly heartened to hear him speak out strongly on the issue of media consolidation, which I'm sure is on the minds of many of you blog-readers.

It's good to see the underdog progressives win.  It will be even better to see them not be the underdogs anymore.

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 29, 2005 at 08:51 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Interview with Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown

The least well known of the four magnificent women leaders of this state, Lisa Brown has just come off a successful legislative season, her first as Majority Leader.  Along with Governor Gregoire and Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, she sheparded through a rash of bills that have set this state on a path of responsible governance, reminiscent of the best Washington State has had in the past.    Lisa_brown_1

The Democrats have only a slim majority in the Senate, 26-23, which includes two rural Democrats who vote fairly conservatively.  Nevertheless, aside from the losses of two key bills – on gay rights and stem cell research – she was able to steer through an impressive agenda.  In talking with her, I hear a welcome focus on process – on how she works with her colleagues – that allows her to hold her caucus together and coordinate effectively with the House leadership and with the Governor. 

Brown talked particularly articulately about the issues that separate rural and urban voters, one of our biggest challenges as Democrats.  Senator Brown is the only Democratic Senator in Eastern Washington and there are only 3 Democratic Legislators from Eastern Washington in the House.  She says, “There is a real decline in people in Eastern Washington who identify as Democrats and environmental legislation, particularly land use and natural resource regulation, is at the crux of that decline.  This stems from the changing nature of the economy.  Rural Washington used to be a natural resource-based economy.  That is changing and the change brings a lot of dislocation for folks.”

Brown also shared her concern with the possibility of having the anti-gas tax initiative on the ballot and said that this is the place that the Democrats need assistance right now.  She said that she and other leaders worked very hard to get support from community leaders, business leaders and labor across all the cities and counties in Washington State for passage of the Transportation Bill.  The whole story about the importance of that bill and its support by such a wide group of people is not getting out.  Were that initiative to get on the ballot and pass, it would curtail not only needed spending on transportation projects but also spending in many other areas in the future.

Keep your eyes on Lisa Brown.  She’s already a force to be reckoned with.  We’re likely to be seeing a lot more from her over time in even more visible roles.   The interview is after the fold.   NWPT56

To read a post-session interview with Governor Chris Gregoire, click here.

Q:  What do you see as your biggest accomplishments in this Legislative Session?

LB: This was my first session as Majority Leader.  Given the narrowness of our majority, I was pleased that we held together as much as possible in order to pass our agenda.  Governor Gregoire, Speaker Frank Chopp and I met early together to establish an agenda.  We talked about what we thought success would be and we were able to work together to accomplish most of what we wanted.  In the Senate, we were able to keep most of the caucus together on most issues.  And we finished on time.  That is rare.

As Majority Leader, my job is to be the conductor of the orchestra rather than to work on my own agenda.  The role of the leader is to keep things moving as best they can.  I think members of the caucus felt like their voices were heard.  My freshman year, 1993, was the last year that we had both a Democratic governor and a majority in the legislature. This is the first time since then we’ve had the political line-up to get things done. 

Q: Agenda-wise, what do you see as the biggest accomplishments of the session?

LB: There were a couple of issues that had languished in previous sessions that I thought needed to be brought to the fore.  We were able to pass a landmark mental health bill that will improve the quality of treatment for people grappling to overcome mental illnesses and substance abuse problems.  It was a dramatic accomplishment to expand mental illness parity.  We made up for $82 million in federal funding cuts.

We also voted on civil rights legislation for the first time since my freshman year in the House.  It did not pass unfortunately but at least we brought it to a vote.

We also passed an Operating Budget and a Transportation Budget for the long-term. 

Going into this session, we were hopeful that we could get some good environmental legislation passed.  Previously bills had typically passed in the House but not in the Senate.  So that was a leadership priority.  The Democratic caucus was not unanimous on this.  It was significant that we received support from moderate Republicans and some rural Democrats so were able to pass bills adopting more rigorous auto emission standards and requiring that public buildings meet “green building” standards, both big wins.   

Q: Say more about this split.

LB: This is where a breakdown between rural and urban voters shows up and is one of our biggest challenges as Democrats.  I am the only Democratic Senator in Eastern Washington and there are only 4 Democrats from Eastern Washington and we are all from the Spokane area.  There is a real decline in people in Eastern Washington who identify as Democrats and environmental legislation, particularly land use and natural resource regulation, is at the crux of that decline.  This stems from the changing nature of the economy.  Rural Washington used to be natural resource-based economy.  That is changing and the change brings a lot of dislocation for folks.  This is at the core of the differences between rural and urban voters

Q: What were your biggest disappointments?

LB: The loss of the Civil Rights legislation, the bill that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, was a huge loss.  It fell just one vote short, although at least we were able to bring it up for a vote. 

Also, other than reinstating the estate tax, we were not able to make much headway on addressing Washington’s structural tax issues.  This was a big disappointment. 

Q: What can you and we do better as Democratic leaders and as your committed supporters in this State?

LB: We have to be able to do a better job of telling our story.  We grapple with the issue of communication.  For example, the state is now faced with the possibility of this anti-tax initiative.  We worked very hard to get support from community leaders, business leaders and labor across all the cities and counties in Washington State for passage of the Transportation Bill.  The whole story about the importance of that bill and its support by such a wide group of people is not getting out.  It is being characterized as a ten cent tax increase when we were very careful to phase in the additional taxes, a few cents at a time over several years. 

Were that initiative to get on the ballot and pass, it would curtail not only needed spending on transportation projects but also spending in many other areas in the future.

Also, individual legislators spend a lot of time working on legislation.  They don’t have much time to get their stories out.

Q: What’s next?  What do you want to focus on next year?

LB: First off, education.  We have a study going on regarding financing of the schools.  It will be a challenge over the next couple of years to find a formula for financing education.  Over time we want to revamp and attract new sources of funding.  I just returned from a Trade Mission to Europe, my first, where we met with governmental and business leaders.  We came back with an even clearer understanding of the importance of an educated work force.  And, of course, education is our paramount duty as defined in the State Constitution.

We also have to grapple with the whole issue of the tax structure and how to support economic development in a global economy. We get pressure from business leaders in the state to decrease the cost of doing business here.  We have higher costs than other states because our wages are higher than some other places, we have a family leave act, and our regulations are stronger.  There is always a pressure to go to the lowest common denominator and we have to address that. 

Q: What would you like to see in terms of increased citizen involvement and communication?

LB: At this time, people often get their information and form their views based on limited sources.  So they don’t see the whole story, as in the anti-tax initiative I mentioned before.  There is a lot of skepticism of people in power, which is positive on the one hand but also limited.  A lot of people on the street think that politicians waste their money.  They ask only, “What’s in it for me?”  This attitude makes it hard to govern well for the longer term.  I don’t have answers, just questions. 

I think the right question is “How do we talk to people?”  There is a wide-spread awareness that this needs addressing.  Legislators struggle with the votes they take, not because they think their vote is wrong but because they are not sure their constituents will understand the vote.  There is a disconnect here.

Thank you.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 27, 2005 at 08:43 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 26, 2005

Monorail: Build it and pay for it -- it's still a good deal

The wires are buzzin' with talk of the monorail and its finances.  Unlike my EP co-conspirator Jeff, I think the monorail is a pretty good idea. Not that it's been implemented perfectly.  No public works project is.  At $2.1 billion, the price tag is only 10% over the initial estimates -- pretty good for a massive public works project. Sure, they cut a few corners -- again, about par for the course. Sound Transit is moving ahead strongly despite huge cost overruns and "value engineering." What is really disappointing is the fact that monorail revenues are coming in under budget, most likely because of car tab tax cheats. That's forcing us to stretch out the monorail's debt payments, ballooning the interest costs. That's not good.

But let's step back and take a long-term view. Over the next fifty years, does anyone really believe that building more roads and driving more cars is the way to go? Where will the oil come from? In the long run, the only way we're gonna keep any semblance of quality-of-life in an age of scarce, expensive oil is with fast, efficient public transit. And for large parts of the city, monorail technology is the only viable answer. It will have to be augmented with light rail, with a vastly expanded bus system (as Jeff suggests) (including bus rapid transit), and with much, much better bike and pedestrian routes. 

Bottom line? We need to build the monorail -- sooner rather than later. And if it's gonna cost $2.1 billion rather than $1.75 billion, then we should just raise the car tab tax to cover it, rather than stretch out the payments. We can afford it. We can't afford not to. I'm more than happy to invest my tax dollars in public transportation, because I know it's an investment in the long-term health and wealth of my community. The vituperation being spewed at the monorail from many directions is just short-sighted. I hope we're wise enough to "rise above it all." NWPT55

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 26, 2005 at 06:03 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

It's All Over Now, Baby Bush

I think we’ll look back at this month as the end of Bush’s credibility in this country.  I’ve thought this before, and when it didn’t happen as a result of the release of the tapes from Abu Graib prison, I was amazed.  But the public seems to be on to them now. 

According to a string of polls, Bush’s popularity is tanking.  But the news yesterday, posted by Jerome over at mydd.com, is particularly devastating for the Administration.  According to a new poll by the American Research Group, Bush is losing the Independents.


              Approve       Disapprove

Republicans    84            12

Independents   17            75

Democrats      18            77

This poll was taken prior to the news of women being targeted and dying in Iraq, to additional news of a draft looming on the horizon, to the news of the possibility of the Chinese takeover of a major U.S. oil company, to Rove’s ridiculous outburst on the Democrats response to 9/11.   It’s hard to imagine now but the polls in a few weeks may make these look good. 

But even if the American public is waking up to the reality of the awful consequences of the policies and actions of this Administration and this Congress, there is still a lot of damage they can do.  It is up to those of us committed to rebuilding our democracy to see to it that the public at large understands the need to rein in these folks and minimize further damage. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 26, 2005 at 08:52 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 25, 2005

Krugman Nails It

Paul Krugman says, “Leading the nation wrongfully into war strikes at the heart of democracy.”  In his New York Times opinion piece published yesterday, he goes on:

It would have been an unprecedented abuse of power even if the war hadn't turned into a military and moral quagmire. And we won't be able to get out of that quagmire until we face up to the reality of how we got in.

Krugman argues that “it's crucial that those responsible for the war be held to account.”  He says:

The United States will soon have to start reducing force levels in Iraq, or risk seeing the volunteer Army collapse. Yet the administration and its supporters have effectively prevented any adult discussion of the need to get out. . . . The good news is that the public seems ready to hear that message - readier than the media are to deliver it. Major media organizations still act as if only a small, left-wing fringe believes that we were misled into war, but that "fringe" now comprises much if not most of the population.

It’s hard to imagine that we could have a real accounting of how we got into this war and what we can do now in the present climate.  And yet . . . I just spent several days with a group of women, many of whom had teenage sons and daughters.  The increasing possibility of a draft was quite galvanizing to them.  Perhaps that’s the angle the Democrats can take on this prior to the 2006 election – suggesting to the American people that we need an accounting prior to any discussion of a draft.   Might work. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 25, 2005 at 08:41 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

$11 billion is a lot of bus service

I like to boil down our civic issues ... I love the idea of a monorail but $11 billion for a single line? $11 billion would buy a lot of bus service.

just fyi - I boil the viaduct issue down similarly - since construction will close the viaduct for seven years, I ask: "If we can live without it for seven years, why can't we live without it?"

I'm not completely up to speed on the Monorail issue myself but I wonder if its time for the board and Joel Horn to step down and have some new people come in to review whether this project needs to be killed or redesigned. It would be a shame to send it back to voters again...but the lack of transparency the monorail leadership has shown is very disappointing.

Posted by Jeff on June 24, 2005 at 03:43 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pro-Democracy American Outrage

Well, it's been a couple of weeks and I've heard scant a word of Republican freedom loving outrage over Microsoft's censorship of words such as democracy, freedom and protest from Chinese blogging services.

I mean - aren't our Fort Lewis soldiers over in Iraq fighting for democracy, freedom and free speech while one of our own corporations is doing its best to tow the anti-democracy line in China - one of our biggest trading partners.

Where's the outrage?

And have you good liberals told your friends at Microsoft how disgusted you are with this yet? Shouldn't you? I mean if you're disgusted at them pulling their support for gay rights in Washington - shouldn't this sicken you as much?

Perhaps Microsoft is just seeking understanding with the Chinese communist dictatorship/cult?

Posted by Jeff on June 24, 2005 at 07:53 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Three Courageous Young Women

While I deplore the conditions that require this kind of courage, I applaud the amazing grit and spirit of three women around the world standing up for themselves and other women. 

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is one of the few national writers to consistently focus on the plight of women around the world.  He has visited, interviewed and written about the amazing Mukhtaran Bibi, an illiterate peasant woman in Pakistani who was gang-raped three years ago under orders of the village council in retribution for something a relative of hers had done (or maybe not really even done) to someone of a higher social standing.  After bringing charges against her attackers, something never done in Pakistan, she used the compensation money and international donations that came in as a result of the publicity generated to start an elementary school in the village which she then herself attended to learn to read.  There’s much more.  And, as Kristof notes, the Pakistani government is so embarrassed for Pakistan to be seen in the light of the world for the way it treats women that it has not allowed Bibi to visit the U.S. this month to speak. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a young Russian woman, Alexandra Ivannikova, was raped in December by a “gypsy” cab driver.  In defending herself, she pulled out a small knife she had in her purse to protect herself since she’d been raped once before and was determined not to submit to such a thing again.  After cutting him in the leg and flagging down a police car, she returned to the car to find that the driver was dead.  The knife had struck the femoral artery and the man had bled to death.  Much to her amazement, Ivannikova was arrested and tried for murder and blamed for provoking the rape by being out alone at night.  Despite her ordeals, Ivannikova has no regrets.  “I know that I didn’t have a choice,” she said.  “This isn’t just about me anymore, it’s about everybody, about women not being afraid to defend themselves.”

And here is this country PBS reports on a young woman, Shelby Knox, struggling with school and church authorities to have comprehensive sex education taught in the high schools of Lubbock, Texas.  In a short clip on NOW on Friday evening, David Brancaccio interviewed this articulate and poised young woman who joined the Lubbock Youth Commission at age 15, four years ago, and came to understand that Lubbock was near the top of the state in incidences of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  The Youth Commission began advocating for proper sex education in the high schools but ran up against both school and church authorities who continue to prevent anything other than abstinence from being taught and seem impervious to the hardships that sexual ignorance has wrought on the young people of Lubbock.  Now a sophomore at the University of Texas in Austin, Shelby is continuing her campaign.  An award-winning documentary, The Education of Shelby Knox, will be shown this evening on Point-of-View on KCET at 10:00.

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 21, 2005 at 08:35 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dean Speaks for Me

A Diary over at DKos is collected on-line signatures supporting Howard Dean for delivery to Democratic leaders speaking out against Dean.  Here to sign.

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 21, 2005 at 07:48 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Devolution of the Starbucks Logo

BoingBoing has a link to the apparent politically incorrect origins of the Starbucks logo.

Posted by Jeff on June 20, 2005 at 06:50 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OurDocuments.gov - 100 Milestone Documents via BitTorrent

I've put a BitTorrent up of the hi-res PDFs of the 100 Milestone Documents at Our Documents. It seemed like the American thing to do.

Link to BitTorrent of OurDocuments

The documents included are:
Document File Names and Numbers
1. Lee Resolution (1776)
2. Declaration of Independence (1776)
3. Articles of Confederation (1777)
4. Treaty of Alliance with France (1778)
5. Original Design of the Great Seal of the United States (1782)
6. Treaty of Paris (1783)
7. Virginia Plan (1787)
8. Northwest Ordinance (1787)
9. Constitution of the United States (1787)
"10. Federalist Papers, No. 10 & No. 51 (1787-1788)"

and more...

Posted by Jeff on June 20, 2005 at 01:02 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Lame Duck and an Out-of-Control Dog Pack

Today’s New York Times has an article summing up President Bush’s irrelevancy, which I think is what his entire presidency would have been like except for 9/11 occurring on his watch. 

Irrelevancy is not always a bad thing in a President but in this case, because of the gang he brought with him and his apparent need to outshine his father, the nation as a whole will suffer for generations.

The Carpetbagger Report asked a question yesterday of its readership – “Who is the worst member of the Bush cabinet?”  In the comments, the responses appear to be favoring Rumsfield although there was plenty of competition – Ashcroft, Rice, Paige, Gonzalez.  The general sense was that Cheney would have won had the question been broadened to include anyone in the administration. But in the comments by PW was a particularly astute observation on the lot of them I’d like to pass on:

I've seen — several times, in fact — cases where neighborhood dogs, individually loved by their owners, less well trained than they should have been but well fed and loved, dogs who have never behaved in a vicious manner, run off together and do something utterly awful. The first time I witnessed this was in Europe where the dogs killed a baby sitting in its stroller. You can imagine the horror and grief, including the horror and grief on the part of the dogs' owners. And disbelief.

I keep feeling I'm witnessing something similar in our government. As with the dogs, it has to do with both a missing piece of socialization combined with pack mentality. I think we have to face the fact that Cheney has been described as sweet and humorous, Ashcroft a loyal and kind friend, Gonzales as a trustworthy, decent human being… and on and on. Where they stop being decent human beings is the point at which they become members of a truly dangerous pack.

Our leaders are sociopaths enabled, one might say, by their owners, the people who voted for them. We let them run unattended and are now wondering what the hell has happened. We're the owners of the dogs in that pack. Some Americans love Cheney and Ashcroft. Some Americans also have pit bulls and love watching them savage other dogs in the world's park. Sociopaths? You'd better believe it! As for the rest of us, we've gotten used to government taking care of itself and us. Elected officials? We just have them; we don't take responsibility for them. Unfortunately, they'll be replaced by another set one of these days and it won't be a whole lot different from this bunch unless we teach them some ground rules and keep watch over them. The guys who love to encourage viciousness in pit bulls and presidents? I don't know what to do about them.

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 20, 2005 at 10:15 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

Groundspring's AdvocacyNow is now ActionStudio's eAdvocacy

I'd like to put in a plug for one of my projects. As some of you know, I left Groundspring in April and they've since ceased operations of AdvocacyNow. I've been allowed to pick up the pieces and am now hosting AdvocacyNow again at ActionStudio as eAdvocacy.

As eAdvocacy is relevant to a number of your organizations, I thought I'd put in a short plug here:

eAdvocacy is ActionStudio's email and fax letter writing/campaign service for connecting your organization's members with their elected officials and critical decision makers.

eAdvocacy can help organizations have a greater impact on policy and legislation in federal, state or local arenas.

If you would like more information, please visit our revamped Web site:

Posted by Jeff on June 14, 2005 at 12:14 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

Howard and "Hillary Rules"

Ed Kilgore has a post over at the new tpmcafe on Howard Dean that makes a lot of sense to me.  He says:

Dean took on the often thankless job of party chairman, building on the aspects of his 2004 candidacy that virtually all Democats appreciated: small-dollar fundraising, and grass-roots efforts to expand the ranks of party activists.  For all my differences of opinion with Dean's 2004 campaign, his self-sacrificing choice afterwards earned my respect, and my loyalty.

He adds:

The media's tendency to distort and then hype Dean's rhetoric is predictable and unavoidable.  In a NewDonkey post congratulating the Doctor on his victory in the DNC chair race, I observed that he would be playing by "Hillary Rules," which means exceptional and unavoidable scrutiny of every single word he says.   

Kevin Drum, in building onto what Kilgore said, says:

But Ed, that's a feature, not a bug! I don't want Dean to go over a cliff with this kind of stuff, but his reputation as a straight shooter allows him to say things that other people are only thinking, and his role as party chairman forces the press to pay attention. This is a good thing.

Initially, of course, it doesn't look that way, but guess what happens after the initial firestorm has died out? With news hook in hand, reporters will get to work. Does James Dobson control the agenda of the Republican party? Are Republicans overwhelmingly white? Do party leaders work against the interests of the working class? This is exactly where we'd like the focus to be: on our issues, not theirs. After all, the answers to these questions are inevitably going to be bad for the Republican party.

We in the netroots asked him to do this job with a pretty clear sense that he was the only one who could rebuild the Party in a way that would move us to a place where we could win again.  I stand behind him and applaud him. 


Posted by Lynn Allen on June 11, 2005 at 10:09 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Republican Lands Commissioner Giving Away Precious Resources to Corporations

vergI received this from the Preserve Our Islands mailing list - the folks trying to stop the massive gravel mine from destroying Maury Island off Vashon Island.

Apparently, our Republican lands commissioners wants to hand over 40 acres of idyllic state park lands to the Glacier corporation so they can mine it too.

Add this to the list of mythbusters under the category - there is no difference between republicans and democrats.

Dear POI Supporters!

                         WE NEED EMAILS, LETTERS OR FAXES -  ASAP!!

Adjacent to Glacier's proposed mine site, Washington State owns 40 acres (Parcel #2922039004) that is managed by the Department of Natural Resources.  These State lands were to be transferred to King County to be preserved in perpetuity.  However, Commissioner Doug Sutherland has proposed selling that property to Glacier NW, presumably to be mined.

The Dept. Of Natural Resources has also proposed a lease to King County. The lease is totally inadequate for several reasons:

    * It is not a permanent transfer.
    * It does not guarantee the land's existence as undeveloped property.

We need polite but firm letters to Mr. Sutherland stating:

   1. This parcel should be preserved, not mined.
   2. This property is located directly above the Dockton Water aquifer recharge area and the potential for undesired consequences is real.
   3. The Glacier deal is opposed by the State Legislature, King County, Preserve Our Islands and the citizens of Vashon/Maury.
   4. The DNR should work with King County for the PERMANENT land transfer.
   5. This parcel has historic usage for hikers, bikers and horsepeople.
   6. It is an idyllic piece of property that has the potential to benefit all citizens of Washington, not just one foreign-owned corporation.

Send your letters. emails and faxes to:

Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland
Dept. of Natural Resources
PO Box 47001
Olympia, WA 98504-7001
Fax: 360-902-1775
Email: cpl@wadnr.gov

(Please copy Preserve Our Islands at President@PreserveOurIslands.org so we can keep a count.)

Please help our Island by expressing your concern to Mr. Sutherland.

Thank you,

JW Turner, President
Preserve Our Islands

Posted by Jeff on June 11, 2005 at 01:09 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inslee, Smith and Larsen introduce "New Apollo" clean energy legislation

According to the helpful press release I got from Jay Inslee's office, he and fellow Washington Reps. Rick Larsen and Adam Smith are three of the fourteen founding co-sponors of the New Apollo Energy Act, which was introduced in Congress on Thursday. 

Like any energy legislation, the bill is long and complex. Inslee's press release touts the following bullet points:

Clean Energy: New Apollo provides $49 billion in government loan guarantees for the construction of clean-energy generation facilities that will produce power from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, oceans, coal with carbon-sequestration technology, and other sources.  The legislation also commits $10.5 billion to research-and-development and investment tax credits for clean energy-producing operations.  In addition, it includes a 10-year extension of the current tax credit for electricity generated from clean sources.

Oil Savings: The boosts for clean energy and efficiency will make it possible to meet New Apollo's call for notable reductions in daily domestic oil consumption -- cuts of 600,000 barrels a day by 2010, 1,700,000 barrels by 2015, and 3,000,000 barrels by 2020.  These numbers are estimates of the amount of oil the United States would soon be importing daily from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the entire Middle East, respectively, without a change in current policy.

Fuel Efficiency: The best way to generate energy is to not waste it, so New Apollo includes incentives for American consumers to drive fuel-efficient vehicles, including tax credits for the purchase of hybrid, alternative-fuel, low-emission advanced diesel, and fuel-cell vehicles. It also provides $11.5 billion in tax credits for the automotive and aerospace industries to develop new fuel efficient automobiles and planes, retool existing plants, and construct new plants to manufacture energy efficient vehicles.

Global Warming and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: New Apollo enacts a proposal similar to the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act by capping our emissions of greenhouse gases while allowing companies to purchase and trade credits among themselves to ensure the most cost-effective reductions, and funding research to help industries make the shift to cleaner operations. The bill targets one of the biggest greenhouse-gas offenders -- coal -- by providing $7 billion in loan guarantees for the development of clean coal power plants.

Clean Energy Jobs:  New Apollo will close the existing technology gap with foreign competitors by investing billions of dollars in new federal research into advanced clean technologies, and creating a government-funded risk pool to help struggling start-up clean-energy companies commercialize their products.  One study by the Apollo Alliance has found that a substantial federal commitment to clean energy could yield up to 3.3 million jobs nationally.

Renewable Portfolio:  New Apollo contains a Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring all utilities, by 2021, to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

Energy Transmission:  New Apollo creates national net-metering and interconnection standards that allow homeowners who generate clean energy to reduce their energy bills by feeding surplus electricity back into the grid.  New Apollo additionally increases regulatory oversight of energy trading markets, which was a problem during Enron's manipulation of the West Coast energy crisis.

Does not increase the deficit: New Apollo is revenue neutral, and pays for its provisions by closing abusive corporate tax shelters and loopholes, and through auctioning off some of the allowances under the carbon dioxide trading program. 

Obviously, it will be a cold day in Saudi Arabia hell before Bush, Cheney and the oil industry lobbyists that own them get behind something as intelligent and responsible as New Apollo.  But at least the alternative is on the table.  It will be interesting to see if Inslee et al. are able to win support from the true conservatives, who, after all, might actually be in favor of... conserving things.

Jay's got an op-ed at Grist discussing the bill with some comment and discussion by his legislative assistant.

And for a lighter take on the topic of energy, check out Jon Stewart's recent bit on high gas prices.

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 11, 2005 at 12:40 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2005

On Rebalancing the Rights of Corporations and Communities

Three weeks ago, I attended Richard Grossman's "Democracy School", a mind-altering weekend program sponsored here in Seattle by Jeff Reifman, a co-blogger on this site, and Dean Ritz, that addres the most basic issues of democracy.

I promised Jeff I would write about what I learned. It’s a long post and one that takes a while to get our minds around because it contradicts so much of what we’ve been told about America over the years.

Richard Grossman works with colleagues out of central Pennsylvania, most notably attorney Thomas Linzey. They have been doing a remarkable combination of 1) in-depth analysis of the trend toward greater legal rights for corporations at the expense of individuals and communities and 2) on-the-ground support of rural, mostly Republican, townspeople who are combating health-destroying encroachments of corporate ventures into their communities and the subsequent curtailing of their rights as citizens to combat these corporate intrusions. By grounding the people they work with in the basic underlying legal and constitutional principles at stake, Richard and Thomas are providing these folks with the tools to enable them to broaden their issue focus and address the threat to our basic democratic process rather than just the presenting issues of an encroaching pig farm or limestone quarry.

In the process, by sharing their thinking and their experiences in these “Democracy Schools”, Grossman and his colleagues are assisting people around the country to better understand the forces we are up against and to prepare people to reframe the conversation about rights in this country. 

This issue would be a good candidate for becoming the underlying rights issue that progressives coalesce around in the next few years. It has the potential of engaging Independents and Moderate Republicans in a way that single issues seem unable to do. 

Understanding the Problem

Richard and his early collaborators, all of whom were involved for years doing various environmental, labor and/or community activism, came to understand that they were getting badly beaten time and again. Their organizing failed to protect their communities or the natural world.

They came to realize that the power of law was on the side of the corporations and that the State was doing the heavy lifting of enforcing these laws that favored corporations. The regulatory agencies that have been set in place, presumably to safeguard the people in issues related to air, water, toxic chemicals, etc., had the effect of making people assume that these issues were being taken care of and that the system was working. In fact all the environmental and community organizing was only modifying slightly the behaviors of the corporations. 

Occasionally an issue would break through and become what looked like a publicly supported winner for the organizers. We discussed the abolition of slavery, the Clean Air and Clean Water bills of the early 1970’s and the health and safety concerns that led to the curtailing of cigarette smoking in the 1990’s as examples. These issues, however, were few and far between and often wound up being watered down under the persistent nibbling away at laws and regulations by the ever-vigilant corporate attorneys (not to mention the wholesale giveaways of the past four and a half years).

To add insult to injury, taxpayers were subsidizing the corporate response to legal challenges. All expenses related to addressing regulatory lawsuits brought up by citizen groups were tax deductible.

It was time to reframe the understanding of the problem. Richard and gang went back to look at the Constitution and then at the laws put in place since then.

Constitutional Safeguards and Community Control

The founding fathers understood very well the corrosive effects of large corporations and did their best to safeguard the citizens of this new country from the power not just of the king but of the large chartered companies. The crown had chartered the East India Company, the Hudson’s Bay Company and some of the American colonies in order to have control over the profits from property and commerce. Many colonial writers of the time lamented the power of the corporations. Thomas Earle wrote, “Chartered privileges are a burthen, under which the people of Britain, and other European nations, groan in misery.”

The U.S. Constitution does not mention corporations. The revolutionary forefathers did not give governors or judges the authority to charter corporations. They gave legislators that authority and for the first hundred years or so, the state legislators held firm control over that right, granted few charters, and denied charters when the communities opposed the corporation’s prospective business projects. They also held business owners liable for “harms and injuries”, often revoking charters as needed to reign in the corporations. As Grossman and a colleague, Frank Adams, state in a small pamphlet they wrote called “Taking Care of Business: Citizenship and the Charter of Incorporation”, communities held firmly onto their rights to monitor their environment. 

Towns routinely promoted agriculture and manufacture. They subsidized farmers, public warehouses and municipal markets, protected watersheds and discouraged over-planting. 

Most states still have the right in their constitutions to dissolve corporations which are not meeting their obligations. Initially the states refused to grant protection to directors and stockholders from liability or debts or harms caused by the corporations they led. 

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the need of the Union army for infrastructure and war materials to fight the Civil War, the corporations became wealthier. They used that wealth to bribe elected and appointed officials and pry loose authority over the laws governing corporations. The workers and the citizens fought back and for a time were successful in controlling the size and terms of corporate charters and in maintaining control over the right to revoke charters - but not for long.

Judge-Made Law and the Erosion of Community and Individual Rights

Within a couple of decades of the end of the Civil War, the wealth and power of the big corporations became too much for the people, acting through their legislators, to hold back. Judges began reinterpreting the U.S. Constitution and “finding” rights for corporations, including the right of eminent domain, the right to contract, due process, and the idea that corporations were “natural persons”. The courts took over the regulatory process, formerly with the legislators. Again from Grossman and Adams,

Using the 14th Amendment, which had been added to the Constitution to protect freed slave, the justices (Supreme Court) struck down hundreds more local, state and federal laws enacted to protect people from corporate harms. The high court ruled that elected legislators had been taking corporate property “without due process of law”.  

Justice Hugo Black commented:

Of the cases in this court in which the 14th Amendment was applied during the first fifty years after its adoption, less than one half of one percent invoked it in protection of the Negro race, and more than fifty percent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.

The result of the last hundred and twenty-five years of judge-made law has been that it has become increasingly difficult to hold corporations accountable or to “pierce the corporate veil” and hold the individual officers and stockholders accountable. In has however become increasingly difficult for labor unions to organize or for workers to defend their human rights while at work. 

The Current Situation in Pennsylvania

In the last decade, people in the small rural townships of south central Pennsylvania have seen first-hand the results of the tipping of the balance of rights in favor of the corporations. The large hog farm owners came into the area, looking for a place that was poor and had good access to highways. These hog farms are nasty, smelly places that dump untold amounts of sewage into the underground watersheds. These folks had never been activists but they checked out other states that had hog farms and decided they didn’t want them in their counties. Those townships that thought they could just say, “We don’t want these factory farms here”, found that it was not that simple. Individual County supervisors and Township Councils were threatened with costly lawsuits by the corporations’ law firms. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supported the factory farms. 

Some of the townships caved under the pressure. Others persisted and banded together. Under the tutelage of the folks in Grossman’s and Linzey’s organizations, the folks in some of the townships began to see the issue in terms of their rights vs. the corporations’ rights. Two townships passed ordinances eliminating Personhood Privileges from corporations. Thomas Linzey has said, “If corporations can veto local decisions, we can’t get to democracy.” Many of these first-time, small-town activists were starting to see the same thing.

In a related development, 10% of the townships in Pennsylvania passed ordinances banning waste products from the East Coast cities from being dumped on farms without testing for toxic chemicals, a process that increased the cost for the sludge-dumping companies past the point of profitability. Not willing to deal with the townships individually, the companies got together and went to the Pennsylvania legislature and passed a bill in 2001 forbidding townships from passing such ordinances. When it looked like it wouldn’t pass in the Pennsylvania House, the bill got attached to a “Megan’s Law” bill and passed. The Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, wanted to sign it but there was so much pressure from a coalition of the townships, labor and some conservation organizations, that he vetoed it. The bill or one like it is coming up again this summer and may well pass. If the bill is passed, it will nullify 70 existing ordinances in the various townships. 

Framing the Argument

Richard and Thomas and their associates talk about the struggle for legal authority.  What does it mean to forbid townships to pass ordinances disallowing damaging corporate intrusions? 

An associate, Virginia Rasmussen, writing in their newsletter, “By What Authority”, says:

We’re catching on that the language and strategy, actions and arenas that frame our work determine its outcome. If we seek democratic outcomes, we must frame activism in the people’s sovereign authority to rule.

Richard and Thomas and company are starting to get some national publicity. A case about a quarry that developers wanted to build in St. Thomas Township near the elementary school has been documented by the producers of NOW on PBS in February, 2005. A few articles have been written in national publications. The organization has put up a website.

My Personal Reaction

It was a joy to be at “Democracy School”. It is not often that so many lightbulbs go off in such a short period of time for me and others around me all at once. It is energizing to sit at a table with 15 people and discuss such meaty issues and hear people muse about how this thinking affects the particular project they are currently working on or the activism that has driven their lives. 

Since the weekend I attended, I’ve found that much of what I think politically I see through this new prism. I’m pleased to be able to share my thoughts and interested in hearing your responses. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 10, 2005 at 10:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Liberal Blogosphere Overtakes Cable TV News

Chris Bowers over at mmdd.com has done a comparison of viewers of cable news and readers of liberal blogsites and found that:

fifty-seven liberal blogs combined have already equaled, if not surpassed, the three cable news networks combined as a source of news among Americans under 55. Without any doubt, the blogosphere in general now far surpasses the three cable news networks as a source for news among Americans under 55.

He had not expected it for another year.  We - writers, commenters and readers - are changing the way news is reported and taken in.  We don't know yet how it will change the actual face of politics.  We had an ingling last year but next year will be interesting indeed. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 10, 2005 at 07:17 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

The Whole Shebang

Andrew and his gang of tech-heroes at NW Progressive have gathered together all of the blog posts and newspaper articles of the last two weeks related to the Chelan County court case.  It is an amazing compendium of writing about the case as it was happening and after Judge Bridges stated his very clear and convincing verdict.  Here it is. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 8, 2005 at 12:50 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2005

Values and Principles of Sustainabilty

My friends over at Northwest Environment Watch are wrestling with the Values and Principles of Sustainability.

And they need your help.

Northwest Environment Watch (NEW) is trying to articulate—both for internal guidance and to anchor its public communications—the fundamentals of sustainability. By "fundamentals," we mean a brief list of values and principles that NEW and its supporters believe in, that capture the central messages we want to share with others, and that we hope to move up the public agenda together.

Why now?

NEW has always emphasized certain principles (such as “make prices tell the truth”) but has never explicitly listed them. We’ve also never tried to develop the best, most-resonant framing and wording for those principles. That’s what we’re trying to do now. It’s an iterative process that will run through most of 2005. We've already been through eight rounds of feedback from staff, board, peer reviewers, and select others.

Now it's your turn--as a member of the public, a NEW supporter, or a user of our online resources--to comment (and to see what others are saying). We'll accept comments until September 1, 2005. In September, we'll revise the fundamentals, after reflecting on your comments. Then we'll take this revised form through a formal focus group process, ensuring that we listen closely to those who are not already on-board with NEW's work.

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 7, 2005 at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We Deserve An Apology

David Goldstein eloquently gives voice to what many of us are feeling about Rossi's final flip of the finger to the people of Washington state.  And he's absolutely right to call for an apology from Dino Rossi -- and Chris Vance, too I might add -- for dragging the people of Washington through a frivolous and mean-spirited lawsuit designed to score political points among the Republican base.

As a Democrat, I am offended by the assumption that I am somehow less moral, less ethical, less honest and less capable than my Republican counterparts. I resent the oft-repeated notion that Democrats are more likely to cheat, and that we cannot win elections without doing so. I am in fact angry that Republicans would accuse Democrats in a court of law, of “stealing” an election… without even bothering to present any direct evidence to support their claim.

The [election] contest statute is intended to remedy those rare elections where it is clear that the wrong candidate was declared the winner. It is not intended to be used merely as a vehicle for running a six-month PR campaign designed to extract a political price from the opposition for crimes they did not commit.

Yes, the Republicans had every right to pursue an election contest, but in dismissing their claims “with prejudice,” Judge Bridges made it clear that it was a right the Republicans cynically abused. Dino Rossi owes Christine Gregoire, Democratic voters, and the people of Washington an apology.


Posted by Jon Stahl on June 7, 2005 at 12:53 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 06, 2005

Interview with Governor Gregoire

Thanks to a sane ruling today by Judge Bridges and a blinding flash of the obvious on the part of Dino Rossi, Washington State will remain blue for the duration of the Legislative term and likely for three to seven more years – time enough to build on the agenda that Democrats have laid out and begun to accomplish in these last five months. 

National Democrats have been talking about how important it is to take a stand and put out a positive plan of our own, not just complain about what the Bush Administration is doing wrong.  In Washington State, our Democratic Legislature and Democratic Governor, working together, were able to lay out their agenda and get a tremendous amount of it done for the first time in a dozen years.

Despite a consistently negative campaign since last fall and the threat of this court case, Governor Gregoire has taken risks, led on the issues, shown her collaborative chops and done an all-around great job.  She is imminently practical and focused like a laser on the issues that matter to the working people of Washington State.  She has brought back a sense of paying attention to the long-term interests of the citizens of this state, historically a Northwest value, but something we haven’t had consistently in a long time. 

If you think who the governor is doesn’t matter, David Sirota tells us what some of the Republican governors have been up to: 

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R), for example, just vetoed a package of pro-worker bills.  Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) all rescinded collective bargaining rights for their state workers. And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is waging a full scale assault on unions.

Our successful state agenda is clearly worrisome for the Republicans.  It’s no accident that Vice President Cheney is in town today fundraising for Representative Reichert; it gives him time to confer with the Rossi folks about what comes next.   

I interviewed Chris Gregoire last Friday, before the ruling, about how she feels about what she has accomplished in her time as Governor.  The interview is after the fold but I want to highlight her response to a question about what she would ask of us as citizens of this state.  She said:

We have beaten ourselves up in the last four years with the recession and the increased fear and the divisions across the country.  It is time for us to turn a corner and come together, put our differences behind us and focus on the future.  We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have now to create a vision and become great.  We don’t want to mirror Washington D.C.  We can seize this time and do it our way and in the process be proud of ourselves and prosper as well.

Interview with Governor Chris Gregoire

Q: What are you proudest of accomplishing in this Legislative session?

CG:  This was the most prolific and productive legislative session in recent memory.  It was a real partnership, the best in history. 

We fully funded the education budget.  We invested in the K-12 system by providing a dedicated source of income to meet the requirements of Initiative 728 and provide a lower ratio of teachers to students.  We provided $29 million for Special Education and created new slots for students to attend our colleges.

We reversed cuts from the previous budget in healthcare funding for children, covering a total of 40,000 children that would not have been covered and making provisions to cover the remaining 100,000 youngsters not now covered by insurance by the year 2010. 

We passed Transportation bills that will improve the quality of life for our citizens and provide good-paying jobs and give a boost to the overall economy.

Q: What are you proudest of doing outside the Legislative process?

CG:  Despite only ten days notice before the Legislative session began, I’ve filled the State Cabinet with the most diverse group of people we’ve ever had – people from both the public and private sectors, from out-of-state as well as in-state, people of color, and women.  These people are the face of this state.  We just had a retreat this last weekend and complemented each other quite well. 

Now we get to show the state that we are able to work together, that we are accountable and that we will get the work done.  We are cutting 1000 middle managers from the payroll.  We are inspiring, respecting and appreciating our work force.  I’ve also appointed 333 people to State Boards and Commissions.

And today, I am headed off to an Education Summit where we begin looking at how to get the biggest bang for our bucks in pre-K -12 and on into higher education.  On very short notice, 500 people are coming together to share with me what they think we need to do.  We will be addressing the achievement gap, opening up doors, and thinking about how we work together for the betterment of all our students. 

In the field of health care, we are giving people access to insurance who have not had it before.  We are thinking ahead to long-term care, aware that many folks don’t plan ahead and won’t be ready.  We want to see to it that people will have choices. 

With the establishment of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, we are positioning Washington State to be the leader in the country if not the world in this critical area of finding cures for Parkinson’s and other diseases. 

On the environmental front, we’ve grappled with the drought situation and brought water to parched sections of Eastern Washington.  We are ready for any fires that might occur.

We’ve also established a Washington State Academy of Sciences that will enable us to make decisions based on science about what is right for our state, meaning the quality of our lives will get better.

Q:  What has been disappointing?

CG: Although I’ve not allowed it to distract me, I have been disappointed that the election contest has dragged on. 

What I’ve liked least is attending the funerals of the soldiers who’ve served in Afghanistan and Iraq.  A couple of weeks ago I attended a “Welcome Home” event for members of the 81st Brigade, a National Guard unit from Washington who’d been serving in Iraq.  The very next week I was at the funeral of one of the Guardsmen who’d stayed behind.

Q:  What would like us as citizens to do differently?

CG:  We have beaten ourselves up in the last four years with the recession and the increased fear and the divisions across the country.  It is time for us to turn a corner and come together, put our differences behind us and focus on the future.  We need to take advantage of the opportunity we have now to create a vision and become great.  We don’t want to mirror Washington D.C.  We can seize this time and do it our way and in the process be proud of ourselves and prosper as well.

Thank you. 


Posted by Lynn Allen on June 6, 2005 at 10:28 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Fat Lady Sings. Aria Awfully Pleasing.

Yup, it's over.  As media outlets both major and upstart are reporting, Chelan County Superior Court Judge Johh Bridges dismissed Dino Rossi's quixotic election contest lawsuit "with prejudice."  And Dino held a news conference to announce that he isn't going to appeal.  [Boy, is it cold in here or what? -Ed.]

And so Dino slinks off to plot his next move.  But leave it to Dino McSleazebag to take a parting shot at the court system.  As declined to appeal, but refused to actually concede, he blamed the "political makeup" of the State Supreme Court.  Which is nonpartisan, elected by the people, and didn't have any role in this case, you dumbass. 

Look for Republicans to figure out a way to start making judicial races more nakedly partisan in order to avenge themselves on the courts.

A final thought to ponder: After blowing millions of dollars on an futile and embarrasing crusade, what's Chris Vance's half-life now? 


Posted by Jon Stahl on June 6, 2005 at 08:46 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Take Back America Conference

Last week, there was a national progressive conference in Washington D.C. called the “Take Back America” Conference.  I didn’t hear about it until I was already overbooked for this time period or I would have attended.  The conference brought thousands of progressive activists, thinkers, leaders and bloggers together.  They are focused on building an infrastructure for the progressive majority, uniting sometimes disparate constituencies and training organizers.  Hooray for the organizers.  I know Progressive Majority had a part but don't know who else.

For others who missed the main event and didn’t catch it on C-Span, there is a great web-site up.  You can find videos of the primary speakers – Bill Moyers, John Edwards, Arianna Huffington, Howard Dean – and many more.  There are also pdf files up for several of the speakers.  In addition, there are links to blog coverage from some of our best progressive bloggers who attended as well as links to print and TV coverage.

It is inspiring to watch and/or read about what these folks had to say.  This is our future.  If we are to take back our country, it will be as a result of what we envision and do together.  Here are a few gems gleaned from the papers available on the site.

From "wild" Bill Moyers, who has come out of retirement to help us regain our democracy, on Washington D.C:

This is an occupied town, a company town – a wholly owned subsidiary of the powerful and privileged who have hired the influence industry to run it for them.

And, Moyers on what we can do:

So what do you do?  What do you do?  Well, progressives have to be like the Irishman who was walking down the street and saw a brawl and said, “Is this a private fight or can anybody get in it?”  Well, you’ve got to go home and jump in.  You’ve got to tell the truth about the other side.  You’ve got to fight the corruption of the system.  But don’t stop with reporting how bad they are.  It’s not enough to say how bad they are.  Show us a new vision of globalization with a conscience.  Stand up for working and middle class people and those in the middle and those who can’t stand alone.  Don’t be cowed, intimidated, or frightened.  You may be on the losing side of the moment, but you’re on the right side and the winning side of history.

And from John Edwards (who tells us that his wife, Elizabeth, is doing great) on the biggest difference between the parties:

Now, the truth of the matter is that the Republicans value one thing, and one thing alone: wealth.  And they want to make sure that those who have it, keep it.  You got it.  And it shows in absolutely everything they do.  Trying to shift the tax burden away from wealth and on to work, on to the backs of working people.

And on what Democrats stand for:

We’re going to let the Republicans stand with their friends on Wall Street, big insurance companies, big drug companies, big HMO’s, Halliburton.  And I’ll tell you who we’re going to stand with.  We’re going to stand with the teachers, with the nurses, with the factory workers, with the tech workers and with the small business owners.  We’re going to stand with every American who needs a voice, and without us has no voice.  It is what the Democratic Party is about; it is what the Democratic Party has always been about.

And from Howard Dean on what the Democratic Party needs to do and what is stands for:

First of all, the first change is, you have seen the last 18-state campaign for the presidency.  We’re going to be in all 50 states.  As we raise money, we are investing that in state parties.  The Democratic Party is going to be the grass roots party.  We’re going to have Democrats in every single precinct, including those in Kansas, western Nebraska and Mississippi. 

We need to get rid of the culture of corruption and abuse of power in Washington.  And we will do that.  We need to be the party of reform, campaign finance and election reform.  Real campaign finance reform. . . . We stand for all that is right with America.  We stand for honest government that is transparent.  We will insist that the money that working people have earned be set aside so that they someday will get it, and it won’t be used in a leveraged buyout or a bankruptcy. . . . The one thing that we have to do as a Democratic Party is not be afraid to be different than the Republicans.  Stand up for what we believe!  Stand up for what we believe!  And if you stand up for what you believe, vote by vote, precinct by precinct, election by election, year by year, we will take this country back for the people who built it.

Reading this stuff makes me puddle up.  I love to see the good guys fighting back and rousing people to take their part in this great democratic experiment we call the United States.  I think we should think about having something similar locally. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 6, 2005 at 10:33 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 02, 2005

Parallels Between Nixon and Bush

Bob Herbert states the obvious well in his opinion piece at the NYTimes today. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 2, 2005 at 07:44 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Wonderful Molly Ivins Post

From Molly Ivins at Alternet, we get a glimpse into what is important in Texas politics.  A wonderful read and a warning.

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 2, 2005 at 07:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2005

Foolproof American Voices Premium Ticket Packages

As a member of the advisory board of Foolproof Performing Arts, I'm
encouraging folks to purchase one of their premium ticket packages for
the upcoming season. Foolproof has brought everyone from Bill Clinton
to David Sedaris to George Lakoff to Spike Lee to Seattle over the
past few years - and they deserve our support.

There are three premium ticket packages available for purchase until
June 30. They are described below with the preliminary event schedule
and in the attachment. The upcoming season already includes David
Sedaris, Ron Reagan, Mike Wallace, William Kristol, Doris Kearns
Goodwin, The Capitol Steps, Paula Poundstone, Janeane Garofalo et al.

The greatest benefits are preferred seating at every American Voices
performance - no matter how many get added - and admission to pre/post
show speaker receptions/dinners. Even if you can't make every event -
the tickets make great gifts for friends. I hope you'll consider it.

To place your order, email foolproof@foolproof.org or call 206.325.3554.

Please forward this to your friends and colleagues.

The package options and schedule of events are listed below:



PLATINUM – $10,000 ($5,000 tax-deductible)
•    Two admissions to Annual Cabinet dinner with guest speaker
•    Four Preferred Gold Circle seats to every American Voices
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•    Two VIP Admissions to every pre/post show speaker reception and dinner
•    Seating with speaker of choice at pre-Forum dinners
•    Advance notice on all American Voices presentations
•    Members only discount on regularly priced single tickets
•    Special entrance to all events
•    Two backstage passes to every presentation
•    American Voices poster signed by all speakers
•    Program recognition
•    On-line recognition

GOLD – $5,000 ($2,500 tax-deductible)
•    One admission to Annual Cabinet dinner with guest speaker
•    Two Gold Circle seats to every American Voices presentation
•    Two VIP Admissions to every pre/post show speaker reception and dinner
•    Seating with speaker at pre-Forum dinners
•    Advance notice on all American Voices presentations
•    Members only discount on regularly priced single tickets
•    Special entrance to all events
•    American Voices poster signed by all speakers
•    Program recognition
•    On-line recognition

SILVER – $2,500 ($1,250 TAX-DEDUCTIBLE)
•    One Gold Circle seat to every American Voices presentation
•    One VIP Admission to every pre/post show speaker reception and dinner
•    Preferred seating at pre-Forum dinners
•    Advance notice on all American Voices presentations
•    Members only discount on regularly priced single tickets
•    Special entrance to all events
•    American Voices poster signed by all speakers
•    Program recognition
•    On-line recognition

Benefits good for 12 months –  August 2005 – July 2006

Can't make every show?  You will be able to gift any unused tickets to
friends, family, local organizations or school.

2005/2005 season
                                    (Additional shows to be announced)

8/3/05        Barney Frank                 Public Address       
Benaroya Hall                                        Private Reception
       Founders Room

9/9/05        Mainstream or Extreme:            Public Forum      
Meany Hall                    the Future of the GOP            Private
Dinner        Grand Hyatt
        Ron Reagan moderates
Ralph Munro – David Frum
        Patrick Guerriero – John Carlson

TBA        Janeane Garofalo            Public Performance    Paramount
Private Reception        Paramount Lobby

TBA        Christie Todd Whitman            Public Address        Town Hall   
                            Private Reception        Location TBA

9/26/05        Jonathan Kozol                Public Address        Town Hall
                            Private Reception        Town Hall

10/7/05        It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature:     Public Forum 
     Town Hall
The Future of Environmentalism        Private Reception        Location TBA

TBA        Mike Wallace                Public Address        Town Hall   
                            Private Reception        Location TBA

TBA        Barbara Ehrenreich            Public Address        Town Hall   
                            Private Reception        Location TBA

TBA        William Kristol                 Public Interview        Town Hall
        Interviewed by Michael Medved        Private Reception      
Location TBA

10/23/05        Paula Poundstone            Public Performance    Location TBA
                            Private Reception   

11/6/05        The Capitol Steps            Public Performance    McCaw Hall

11/13/05        Wangari Maathai            Public Address      
Paramount Theatre

TBA        Doris Kearns Goodwin            Public Address        Town Hall   
                            Private Reception        Location TBA

2/5/06        Paul Rusesabagina            Public Address        Town Hall
                            Private Reception        Location TBA

February    Strong Women:                Public Forum        Meany Hall   
        The Success of Title IX &        Private Reception        Location TBA
        The Changing Face of Sport

March        Jeff Bridges                Public Interview        Town Hall
Toward Ending Hunger             Private Reception        Location TBA

4/24/06        David Sedaris                Public Performance    Paramount

May        Women of Substance:            Public Forum        Location TBA
        Size, Fitness and Self-Esteem         Private Dinner        Location TBA
  in a Land Obsessed with Thin

Posted by Jeff on June 1, 2005 at 07:45 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

One way to show respect for Seattle's homeless

I’d like to ask you to consider making a donation to Real Change News. They are in the middle of an important transition in which their current pledge drive is critical. This is an unusual situation – and I’d like to explain why I think we should step in and support them.

Real Change is a community newspaper written by professional journalists, activists, volunteers and the homeless – sold by the homeless. The homeless vendors who sell Real Change keep 65 cents for every issue they sell. Most importantly though, the act of selling Real Change helps keep the homelessness problem in Seattle from becoming invisible to us.

Sure, we see the homeless at freeway offramps and on street corners – but when do any of us actually do very much about this? When do we ask our politicians to do something about this? For me, the act of buying the paper and a brief exchange with the vendors helps remind me of the reality of Seattle’s homelessness problem. It makes a personal connection for me and helps me see the problem firsthand. It’s a way for me to impart a small piece of goodwill to someone less fortunate than me – someone who has likely had many more difficult challenges than me. And, it reminds me that it’s up to me to take some personal responsibility in seeing that things change.

Earlier this year, Real Change began publishing weekly rather than every other week – so that vendors would have a fresh newspaper to sell more often. The change has made a big difference in their ability to sell the paper effectively. Customers can now get fresh news every week. However, the shift has been hard on the organization – it hasn’t hit all of its circulation goals – and needs a cash infusion.

This is where we come in. Real Change is trying to raise $60,000 by June 30 to help it make it through the end of the year as they re-organize and re-focus to strengthen the financial side of the business.

There are several ways you can help:

1)    Make a cash donation online. Double your giving power: get your employer to match your gift as well.

2)    Buy advertising for your business or non-profit in Real Change. Email adsales@realchangenews.org or call 206-441-3247 x202 for more information.

3)    Make an in-kind donation

4)    Buy the paper regularly from vendors

You can donate online here or find more information:

Thank you for your time and consideration.


p.s. if you prefer to volunteer, check out http://realchangenews.org/volunteer.html or consider volunteering for the University Young Adult Shelter which always needs new volunteers during the summer when the UW students are away. Email yashelter@yahoo.com for information on that program.

Posted by Jeff on June 1, 2005 at 06:25 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

State turned a vital corner on path to clean energy

K.C. Golden from Climate Solutions has a wonderful op-ed in the Seattle P-I that celebrates the passage of the Clean Cars bill, but really it's about the much broader political and social context of energy policy.  It's optimistic, forward-looking and inspiring -- and it's one of the best pieces of op-ed writing I've seen in a while.  You really should read the whole thing, but I'll quote a couple of choice bits just to tempt you.

Yes, the conservationists won. And so did farmers, who will get trucks that do more work for less money. So did businesses, which will enjoy lower costs and fewer air quality restrictions. Asthma-sufferers won. Car enthusiasts won. Arguably, even the U.S. auto industry won: Stronger emission standards might help them deliver better technology and regain their competitive edge.

"We all won" may not be the story the news media like. But it's the true story about clean cars.

And K.C. concludes with a great sound bite about the need to move beyond the traditional political dialectic:

The transition from an obsolete fossil fuel economy to a thriving clean energy economy is our generation's defining challenge, our greatest opportunity.

But we cannot rise to this challenge if we stay stuck in the well-worn ruts of political identity -- east vs. west; left vs. right; Republican vs. Democrat; environment vs. economy. We're going to miss the boat if the only story we've got is "us versus them."

It's a familiar story, this battle among special interests. But it's useless. It enriches political consultants and it spices up talk radio, but it gets us nowhere and we can't afford to go nowhere. We've got a fossil fuel age to end and a new, clean energy economy to build. We need a much richer, more constructive story -- a story that multiplies, not divides.

Kinda reminds me of the old slogan of the German Greens: "Neither right nor left but out in front." 

Posted by Jon Stahl on June 1, 2005 at 12:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack