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October 31, 2005

Pro-Monorail Campaign Needs Your $ Now

The folks at the scrappy "Transit Over Roads" campaign have put together a great pro-monorail TV commercial.  Now they need your help to get it on the air. 

If you care about getting Seattle a real in-city mass transit system that won't get stuck in our ever-worsening traffic, then crack open your wallet and send a few bucks their way.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 31, 2005 at 09:44 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2005

Local Control of Transportation Dollars?

In today's Seattle Times, Andrew Garber asks:  Could Central Sound keep money if gas tax is repealed?.  And the answer it appears, is that politicans are seriously thinking about it, albeit with sorrow (or is it crocodile tears?).

[House Majority Leader Lynn] Kessler does expect a push to let King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — which have historically helped subsidize road projects in rural areas — keep all the gas tax and other transportation-tax revenue generated in the three-county area. That would leave other regions to fend for themselves.

"Nobody wants to go this way," Kessler said, "but the more we look at our options, I'm not sure what other options we actually have."

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said dividing the state into regions is "a terrible policy, but the fact is that we have to begin to address the problems of the central Puget Sound or our businesses are going to go somewhere else."

Haugen said, "There's no doubt in my mind there is going to be a push to do this, a huge push."

Seriously, I'm thrilled to see that elected officials are finally talking seriously about options for a post I-912 world.  I'm especially pleased to see that the idea of local control over transportation dollars is finally getting some attention. 

It's just ridiculous to let unaccountable talk radio wingnuts and their drooling zombie listeners hold Puget Sound's economic future hostage.  I'd rather have these decisions made at the state level -- we are, after all, all in this together -- but it's crazy to let a few disaffected propagandists herd us all over the cliff. 

Plus, the delicious irony of hoisitng conservatives on their own petard of "local control" and "rugged independence" is just too much for me to bear.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 30, 2005 at 08:29 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2005

Irons is Not Environmentally Friendly

Environmentalists really don’t like David Irons.  In addition to what we already know about this guy, i.e. he has quite a temper, very few real qualifications and takes money from casino owners, he isn’t what you would call a steward of the land.  And he seems to be in the pocket of developers, not exactly the person one would trust to serve as County Executive.

Irons joined the County Council in 2000 representing the 12th District which includes Issaquah, Maple Valley, Covington, Black Diamond and most of Sammamish.  He lost his seat earlier this year as the Council went down to 9 districts from the present 13.  Hence his race for King County Executive.

When David Irons first ran for County Council, he described himself as “an unusual mix: a fiscal conservative who also is socially progressive; a small business owner who also is an environmentalist.”

Well, he’s an environmentalist like, well, maybe George Bush is an environmentalist – it works as long as it’s not too complicated.  Or maybe the way Dick Cheney is an environmentalist – as long as there’s no money for one of his friends to make.

Let’s take transportation.  In 2000 Irons voted to oppose efforts to increase taxes to support increased Metro operations in King County.  But he definitely supports more roads.  A Sierra Club informational sheet on him has this quote:

When discussing support of a Regional Transportation package for King, Pierce and Snohomish County, Irons said he believes roads have been under-funded compared to transit. "I didn't see funding for single-occupancy drivers in the Sound Transit plan. I didn't see funding for single-occupancy drivers in the monorail plan," he argued. Even if the regional package is weighted toward roads projects, he said transit is getting its share of public dollars.

We beg to differ.

Washington Conservation Voters has actually paid to put up a website devoted to Irons’ devotion to roads.  They tell us that in a recent radio ad, Irons touts the Kemper Freeman study that proposes a four-lane freeway through rural King County.  “The Kemper Freeman plan includes the controversial proposal to create a four-lane freeway that would cut through the heart of rural King County near Carnation and Duvall.” 

It’s a cool site. 

What I want to know is why Kemper Freeman Jr., Bellevue’s biggest developer, is proposing a new north-south 4-lane freeway that runs right past Snoqualmie Falls through some of most gorgeous and last remaining land in the county?  And what is his relationship to Irons, the biggest proponent of this freeway.

Well, let's follow the money.  The Seattle Times had an article about money flowing into the Republican party a couple of weeks ago.  From guess who?  For which race?  You connect the dots.  From the article:


The King County Republican Party is poised to give its nominee for county executive, David Irons, a boost with a get-out-the-vote campaign in the $300,000 range.

Eastside developers Kemper Freeman Jr. and Skip Rowley top the list of donors who made large party contributions in September.

Party officials say the money — which legally can't be used to help only one candidate — will promote Republicans running for the County Council and Irons, who is facing Democrat Ron Sims in the marquee race in the Nov. 8 election.

Rowley and Freeman are longtime contributors to Republican causes. "David Irons has a good chance of beating Ron Sims, so people need to go to the polls," Rowley said.

In place of money, the Sierra Club is using good old-fashioned grassroots campaigning to try to defeat Irons and elect Sims, a strong supporter of real environmentalism.  They have what looks to be a fun event Download are_you_a_clean_energy_supporter.doc in support of alternate transportation modes from bicycling to hybrids.  It starts at 9:30 AM on the Mercer Island lid and morphs into a Clean Future Parade. 

They are also looking for volunteers Download Volunteering.htm make phone calls and doorbell in support of Sims from now through the election.  This is an important race and worth some time and effort.

 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 27, 2005 at 01:21 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Democrats! Enough with the Mommy Meme - Go with Principle

Stirling Newberry offers advice to the Democrats - enough with being the "Mommy Party". He says reframe, take risks. He is concerned that "the Democratic establishment has been content to wait for an economic meltdown and hoped to capitalize". But it hasn't worked. In a post over at "Blogging for the President" he explains the problem:

The problem is that given a choice between two parents, people pick the one who brings home presents.

His solution:

The reframing has to be around a different view - a desexualized view - of politics. The Republicans are going to win the daddy-mommy wars, no matter how phrased. The Democrats, if they are going to win, have to invade, and recapture, the political capital that the Republicans are abandoning, namely, the rhetoric of principle.

He talks about why "Principle" is available to the Democrats now:

Part of the Republican advantage in their rise to power was the pretense of having deep core principles which could be relied upon.

But in power the Republicans have conducted an unseemly and unprincipled looting expedition. Their leaders are more corrupt than the Democrats they replaced, and very suddenly the rhetoric of principle has been replaced by the rhetoric of privilege and perogative - Miers withdrew to "avoid disclosure". Well, that's the story any way. The Republicans are now in favor of Perjury after having made lying a centerpiece of their attack on Clinton.

Newberry then nails why it is that "Principle" trumps "Values" as a meme:

A value is moral good that people want to consume. That is, it is something they want about the world that they are choose, but are unwilling to make trade offs for. It is, in short, a good that people are unwilling to pay the natural price of. The Republicans may value families, but they are unwilling to pay for them. One expects others to pay the cost, at least in part, for values.

A principle is a moral good which an individual is willing to personally bear the cost of. That is, if there is a negative consequence that falls only on the holder of the principle, then so be it. The language of values is the language of imposing - and it makes sense if there is the case of a free rider. But the language of principle is the language of virtue.

His conclusion is not so hopeful in the near-term but is hard to argue with unless there are a lot of changes in the next two years:

Thus the time has come for the Democrats to stop with the mommy meme, stop with the 135,294,312 point plans to fix the country - and focus on the recreation of the Democratic Party in a different image. This will be able to start in earnest after Hillary gets beaten by McCain in 2008, because only then will the boards be wiped clean.

For the rest of us, we just need to wait until the drunks hit bottom. This is going to have a huge cost, but since the public has been unwilling to participate in politics, it is a cost that we have accepted, and will be paying for a generation.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 27, 2005 at 08:40 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 26, 2005

The Great Unraveling Begins

Rumor has it that today’s the day for the first indictments.  The house of deceit, of arrogance, of corruption, of neocon “entitlement” to control of foreign policy is all about to come crashing down.  We finally see some real reporting starting to happen so it’s unlikely that the unraveling can be stopped now that it has started. 

Focusing just on the “Outing of Valerie Plame” aspects of the unraveling we have:

A Carpetbagger roundup of stories coming in over the last 12 hours.  Two tidbits:

* The fact that Fitzgerald is still exploring the fact that Plame's undercover identity was still very much a secret, Mark Kleiman says, suggests that the investigation is not limited to perjury/false statements/obstruction charges and may still focus on "some substantive offense about revealing secret information."

* The American public already seems to believe that the White House's conduct was problematic, at a minimum. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, about 40% believe some administration officials acted illegally in the matter, a similar percentage believe administration officials acted unethically, while only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical. For a scandal that's just now breaking in a big way, that's not a good starting point for the Bush White House.

This morning's Washington Post says that Libby will be first, no surprise there, but then adds:

The trail has often led to Cheney's office, which officials describe as ground zero in the effort to promote, execute and defend the Iraq war and the campaign to convince Americans and the world that Saddam Hussein had amassed a stockpile of the most dangerous kinds of weapons. According to the report in yesterday's Times, the investigation also led to Cheney himself.

Kevin Drum speculates about the importance of Fitzgerald’s probes into understanding the story about the uranium forgeries.  His theory about why the administration was panicked about what Wilson was saying:

Well, there was something the White House knew at that point that the rest of us didn't. They knew that not only were the Nigerien documents fake, but that they had been proven fake the previous year — though not by Wilson or the IAEA. At that time, everybody thought the timeline went like this: (1) Bush gives SOTU address in January 2003, (2) IAEA proves Nigerien documents are phony in March. That's bad, but not catastrophic. However, the real timeline, known to only a few, was this: (1) State Department determines Nigerien docs are phony in October 2002, (2) Bush mentions African uranium anyway in January SOTU address.

The irrepressible Jane Hamsher asks if we can possibly believe that W is not in this up to his eyeballs.  She looks at it from a psychological perspective.  Joe Wilson was the darling “preferred son” of the folks his father hung around with. Here, she’s speculating about the beginning of the attempt to get Wilson from W’s perspective:

So Poppys best friend Scowcroft (who's already on record for publicly calling Junior a fuckup) carries Wilson's article down to the White House and swats Junior over the head with it like a dog that had peed on the rug. Acting as a stand-in for his war veteran dad, holding Wilson up as a model of patriotism and bravery while laughing at Nintendo boy for launching a foolish war from the comfort of his Barcalounger.

Jesus tapdancing Christ. You think THAT didn't raise every hair on the back of Junior's neck?

And Arianna sums up the case and more importantly the reasons why it is so important to us as a country:

But what they were covering up was much more than the outing of Valerie Plame. They were covering up the way the White House had used lies and deception to lead us into a war that was reckless and unnecessary -- what Lt. Gen. William Odom, National Security Agency director under Reagan, has called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

The reason why Cheney, Rove, and Libby were so aggressive in attacking anyone who questioned their rationale for war is because, by the summer of 2003, it was becoming embarrassingly clear how wrong they had been about Iraq -- wrong about WMD, wrong about flowers thrown at our feet, wrong about the cost of the war. Had their incompetence not been so grotesquely manifest, there would have been no need for the attack on Wilson -- and the resulting coverup -- that has now landed them all in such legal hot water.

She ends with this:

I'm not saying that Plamegate is the same as Watergate. I'm saying it's worse. Much, much worse. No one died as a result of Watergate, but 2,000 American soldiers have now been killed and thousands more wounded to rid the world of an imminent threat that wasn't.
Could there be anything bigger?

After getting a fumbling cipher like George W. Bush elected president, the powers-behind-the-throne must have believed they were untouchable and could get away with anything -- including lying about WMD, outing a CIA agent, and, perhaps, lying to a special prosecutor.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 26, 2005 at 08:15 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

Vigil for our 2000 Dead, Iraq’s 30,000 Dead

Bring your candles.  Time to stand for peace.  Tomorrow at 6:00 or 6:30.  MoveOn can tell you where the vigils will be.  I’m going to Greenlake myself. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 25, 2005 at 10:28 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dave Niewert Speaking in Seattle Tonight

Author and reknown blog writer Dave Niewert will be speaking about his book, Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community tonight at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, in Seattle’s International District.  He will also be showing slides that he collected as part of his research.  He says on his blog, Orcinus, that he hopes the event will be attended by many of the folks who participated in making it.

From a review of the book at the Daily Yomiuri - Japan's largest English-language newspaper- comes this overview:

Strawberry Days is really three books in one: A detailed historical chronicle of the whos, whats, wheres, whens and hows of the internment and the events leading up to it; a series of personal anecdotes and emotional reminiscences from internees and those who knew them; and an insightful, well-reasoned analysis of why the internment happened and what its ramifications are.

The event is from 5:00 – 7:00 PM this evening, free, donations accepted.  The Wing Luke Museum is at 407 7th Avenue South, at the corner of Jackson. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 25, 2005 at 02:11 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 24, 2005

The Death of Rosa Parks

From the New York Times, a great tribute to a great lady.  Here’s a couple of paragraphs of the article:

Rosa Parks, a black seamstress whose refusal to relinquish her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., almost 50 years ago grew into a mythic event that helped touch off the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's, died yesterday in Detroit. She was 92 years old.

Her death was confirmed by Dennis W. Archer, the former mayor of Detroit.

For her act of defiance, Mrs. Parks was arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws and fined $10. In response, blacks in Montgomery boycotted the buses for nearly 13 months while mounting a successful Supreme Court challenge to the Jim Crow law that enforced their second-class status on the public bus system.

The events that began on that bus in the winter of 1955 captivated the nation and transformed a 26-year-old preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. into a major civil rights leader. It was Dr. King, the new pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, who was drafted to head the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization formed to direct the nascent civil rights struggle.

The entire article here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 24, 2005 at 09:03 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Continuing Saga of Mr. Floatie

Following up on last week's post about Mr. Floatie's bid for Mayor of Victoria:

Mr. Floatie's campaign got flushed last week when he was forced to withdraw from the race after being threatened with a lawsuit by the city of Victoria.

And, closer to home, the Seattle-PI's more than made up for snubbing Mr. Floatie in his recent column about Puget Sound's heroes and villians by devoting a third of today's column to our favorite pile of poo:

It would be a misnomer to label Victoria's Mr. Floatie as our region's most colorful civic activist: He is attired entirely in brown.

Mr. Floatie, really a young activist named James Skwarok, is a 6-foot-tall turd with a falsetto voice -- a character developed to protest the city's dumping of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The character's initial appearance came at a Victoria-Hillsdale district candidates' meeting in last May's British Columbia provincial election. Mr. Floatie followed up by recently filing to run for mayor of Victoria. The city promptly sued to keep his name off the ballot.

Mr. Floatie was ruled ineligible to run. But the joke is on the Capital Regional District, which has stonewalled action on sewage treatment for nearly 30 years. Mr. Floatie has focused nationwide media attention on Victoria's use of an international waterway as a public toilet.

Canadian politicians are now talking about getting off the pot. Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe promises to seek secondary sewage treatment money from the federal government. Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion recently suggested that all cities, including Victoria, move toward secondary treatment.

"I still intend to make appearances during the campaign," Skwarok said by phone.

Somebody ought to give this guy an award.

I'd like to think that my gentle chiding of Joel played some role in getting Mr. Floatie back on his agenda.  But it's probably not the case.  Ah well, let a guy dream.

Th

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 24, 2005 at 08:10 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Re-framing “Pro-Choice” Vs. The WSJ

Recently a good friend of mine, fiction writer Donna Gillespie, wrote an article on the urgent need for the Pro-Choice movement to change its name. On August 18, 2005, it was published in the Open Forum section of her daily newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, under the title, "What's in a Name?" About a month later she realized while doing a Google search of the article that it had come to the attention of Pro-Life extremists at none other than... the Wall Street Journal.

There is something fascinating about the WSJ's response.  Here is what she says about the discovery:

It highlights the usually neatly-camouflaged ruthlessness in the minds of some pro-lifers, (or as I call them, the "Advocates of Forced Birth") while mocking what I wrote in baffling ways, and leapfrogging the vital points the article raised.  For the first 24 hours I was a little queasy at the thought that so august and grand an institution as the Wall Street Journal actually took time from its busy schedule to stomp on me,  a lone Democrat with no affiliations. Then I decided maybe they'd done me a favor; after all, they quoted two paragraphs from my article, and the WSJ's circulation is, what, 50 times that of the SF Chronicle?

After the fold: Donna’s article from the Chronicle, and below that, the WSJ's response.

From: The San Francisco Chronicle
Open Forum
August 18, 2005

What's in a name?
By Donna Gillespie

It's time for the pro-choice movement to change its name. "Pro choice" is not a slogan to conjure a drumbeat summoning people to march for human rights. "Choice" brings up images of entitlement, of having the leisure to choose. You choose ice cream flavors. Or whether to buy the Prada shoes or the Hermes bag when you can't afford them both.

Those who selected this slogan were given the considerable burden of crafting a name that would stand up to the universal appeal of "Pro Life". What sentient creature could be against life? But summing up the reproductive rights moment with the term "Pro Choice" trivializes an issue of profound importance and opens the way to the accusation that pregnancies are terminated because a baby wouldn't fit with a woman's preferred lifestyle. How has this name hurt the abortion-rights movement without us realizing it, in underground ways, because it evokes the wrong images in the subconscious?

I worry every day that the side of justice, the view that embodies true compassion, is not getting as forceful a backing as it deserves because it selected a damaging name for itself. The noted linguist Suzette Haden Elgin, author of "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense," devotes a chapter to examining the psychology of slogans and how to create one that's useful for unifying people behind a cause. She cites as an example the failure of a 1976 initiative in California aimed at limiting smoking in public places. This proposed law chose as its slogan, "Clean Indoor Air." She holds that, though eminently sensible in intent, this law's case was hurt by a slogan that allowed hidden negative images to sneak in along with the positive, such as: "Hmm - just how clean is the air in my own house?" And: "Who's required to clean that air, anyway? Probably me." Though expected to pass easily, this early anti-smoking initiative was voted down. "When you choose a metaphor," says Elgin, "be sure you know what its presuppositions are." It's time we critically examine the baggage that comes with the slogan "pro-choice."

I propose we choose a name that resonates with our highest values.  "Equal Justice for Women." "Reproductive Rights for all Women".  "Reproductive justice for women." Or perhaps, "Full civil rights for women." Whatever term is settled on, we should be saying it with all the passion with which people once said, "Give me liberty or give me death." Yes, it's that kind of issue. The best answer, when anyone asks you if you're for "abortion on demand", is: "Certainly. I'm also for human rights on demand."

Conversely, those who believe in full human rights for women must stop allowing anti-abortion groups to disguise their intentions behind the label "Pro-Life." I propose that we start calling them what they are - Advocates of Forced Birth.

Let's face it: To force an unwilling woman to give birth is a barbarous act. This is the dark side of the anti-abortion movement that its proponents don't want the public to closely examine. At a recent anti-abortion march here in San Francisco, I saw a baffling placard proclaiming: "Women deserve better than abortion." What, exactly, would that "better" be? For the woman whose birth control has failed her to be put under house arrest for the first six months of her pregnancy, to assure that others' will is done and not hers? We should condemn this with the same righteous fury with which we condemn spousal abuse and rape.

Words are powerful shapers of thought. Over the years, the name "Pro Choice" has slowly eroded how the abortion rights movement is perceived.  More and more I hear its supporters explaining themselves, or even apologizing for their position, when they would not dream of apologizing for resisting a mugger or a housebreaker. The name we choose should evoke everyone's right to equality and freedom from tyranny. It would be a shame to lose the good fight over a name.

Please, it's time for those who believe in freedom and justice for women to rename themselves.

And the Wall Street Journal's take:

From: The Wall Street Journal
Opinion Page
August 18, 2005
James Taranto

No Justice, No Fetus

Regular readers know that abortion euphemisms are one of our pet peeves. So we got a laugh out of this piece by one Donna Gillespie in today's San Francisco Chronicle, proposing that those who oppose restrictions on the destruction of live human fetuses, conditional only on the consent of the mother, abandon the euphemism "pro-choice" in favor of a new one:

"Summing up the reproductive-rights movement with the term "pro-choice" trivializes an issue of profound importance and opens the way to the accusation that pregnancies are terminated because a baby wouldn't fit with a woman's preferred lifestyle. . . .

"I propose that we choose a name that resonates with our highest values: "Equal justice for women." "Reproductive rights for all women." "Reproductive justice for women." Or perhaps "full civil rights for women." Whatever term is settled on, it should be something that carries a moral force. We should be saying it with all the passion with which people once said, "Give me liberty or give me death." Yes, it's that kind of issue. The best answer, when anyone asks you if you're for "abortion on demand" is: 'Certainly. I'm also for human rights on demand.'"

(The Pro Choice Movement) would have to be out of their minds to follow this advice, for let's face it: Much support for legal abortion rests precisely on a crass appeal to self-interest. Which do you think resonates more with the average American: "Certainly. I'm also for human rights on demand"? Or, "If you (your girlfriend, your daughter) got pregnant, wouldn't you want (her) to 'get rid of it'?"

Donna’s response to the WSJ: 

Speaking of euphemisms...is there any euphemism in use by either side more egregious than "Pro Life"?  And I thought this part particularly stunning: "Much support for legal abortion rests precisely on a crass appeal to self-interest." Stunning, and scary. The mind that can twist a woman's natural desire to possess this most fundamental human right into a lapse into "self interest" could probably convince itself of anything that suits its desire. And considering that this accusation is coming from the most entitled group of individuals on earth - wealthy white American male Republicans - it felt a little like hearing King Louis the 14th telling the peasants to tighten their belts.

She would love to hear your comments!

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 24, 2005 at 11:08 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2005

Rainy Day Indictments Speculation

Vice President McCain?  President GHWBush, as in the father – again?  With Bill Clinton as V.P?  Speculation is rife these last few days about how far up the indictments will go and what the damage to this administration will be.  People ask, what does it mean that Fitzgerald put up a website on Friday?  Are we finally going to get the indictments - of whom, for what?

Clearly it is all speculation at this point.  For those of us who are as excited as we were right before last fall’s election, there is the obvious correlation.  The Democratic sweep predicted on the progressive blogosphere didn’t exactly happen as expected. 

The standard speculation, as evidenced in an article by David Cay Johnston of the NYTimes, has Fitzgerald and the Grand Jury sticking to the Plame outing and indicting Rove and Libby with some lesser administrative folks in their wake.

Even sticking only to the Plame case, some think that broader charges that will be raised:

Buzzflash reported late last week that there was a memo circulating that “Colin Powell spilled the beans on Cheney, and that Cheney's lawyer is negotiating with the U.S. Prosecutor's office.It goes on to say:

the investigation has focused mostly closely on vice president cheney and his staff, as well as us ambassador to the un (and former undersecretary of state for arms control) john bolton and his staff. we are told that eight indictments have already prepared, with the possibility of another ten. these indictments include senior white house staff, most notably vice president cheney's chief of staff scooter libby, fred flights (special assistant to john bolton), and--very surprisingly--national security adviser steve hadley. apparently, libby and hadley have both been told by their lawyers to expect indictments. the indictment of senior bush political advisor karl rove seems highly probable.

In this scenario, Cheney would be forced to step down.  It goes on to say that

it is worth noting that a parade of senior republican senators have evidently been privately pushing mccain to lobby to be cheney's replacement. senator lindsey graham (R-SC) has also been mentioned.

But what if the Grand Jury expands its investigation to the larger issue of lying to Congress and the American people about the reasons for going to war?  Sherlock Google, writing on a DailyKos Diary on Friday, reports on a letter to Fitzgerald from 40 Congressfolk, asking that the Grand Jury expand the investigation to the Niger uranium forgeries.

Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, writing on the Huffington Post, sketches out what might occur if the investigation is expanded to the highest levels.  In what he calls the worst case scenario

“the problems of scandal and polarization result in a meltdown of the W. Administration and a collapse of governance in Washington”.  Then he goes on to predict that the following would occur:

1. Vice President Cheney resigns-- and President Bush replaces him not with Condoleeza Rice, as the rumors in Washington speculate, but with his father, George H.W. Bush.

2. President Bush resigns, allowing his father to move up to the presidency.

3. Bush 41/44 chooses his best buddy and surrogate son Bill Clinton (42, that is) to be Vice President. Talk about a fusion White House. Talk about bringing us together. Talk about compassionate triangulation.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 23, 2005 at 04:16 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 22, 2005

Reclaiming those Penguins

Luc Jacquet, director of the lovely surprise hit, March of the Penguins earlier this year, is none to happy to have his movie shanghaied by the American right-wing religious folk as a parable about monogamy and creationism, according to the Sunday London Times.

The article reviews two of the reports from the right-wing on the film:

Michael Medved, a conservative film critic and radio host, concluded that the story of the emperor penguins’ journey “most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing”.

Another commentator, Andrew Coffin, wrote in the Christian publication World magazine that the complexity of the penguins’ lives was evidence of “intelligent design”, a theory developed for those who believe that life is too complex to have come about through random selection.

Jacquet suggests that the commentators have deliberately misread his film. 

“If you want an example of monogamy, penguins are not a good choice,” Luc Jacquet told The Times. “The divorce rate in emperor penguins is 80 to 90 per cent each year,” he said. “After they see the chick is OK, most of them divorce. They change every year.”

Mr Jacquet, who has never made a film for the cinema before, is concerned that his documentary has been hijacked. “It does annoy me to a certain degree,” he said. “For me there is no doubt about evolution. I am a scientist. The intelligent design theory is a step back to the thinking of 300 years ago. My film is not supposed to be interpreted in this way. Some scientists I know find the film interesting because it can be a good argument against intelligent design. People should not jump on these bandwagons.”

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 22, 2005 at 10:07 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It’s About Time – Business Rebels

The Boeing Company is making it’s displeasure over Initiative 912 known in the most obvious of ways.  As has been reported before, Boeing, like Microsoft and other large area companies, is contributing money to defeat 912.  Now, they are also planning on writing checks to support the Republican legislators who lined up with the Democrats and the Governor to support the Transportation bill that initially raised the gas-tax by 10 cents over three years to support much-needed infrastructure repair.  It was that Transportation bill that was the excuse for the campaign for Initiative 912 that calls for rolling back the gas-tax. 

An editorial in the PI this morning has the details.  They reported that Al Ralston, Boeing’s top Olympia lobbyist told attendees at a recent business leadership conference the following:

The Boeing Co. will not be writing campaign checks to the state Republican or Democratic parties, diverting money instead to defeat I-912. But he apparently made it clear that the company may give money to individual legislators (Republicans included) who voted for the gas-tax increase this spring.

As the PI editorial then noted: "The state Republican Party backs I-912. Boeing opposes it. All but the most clueless of Republican candidates will get the message."

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 22, 2005 at 09:43 AM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

Where Do the Republicans Get These Guys?

David Irons, running on the Republican ticket for King County Executive is toast.  Thanks to David Goldstein’s excellent research and writing over at his blog, we are hearing stories about the guy that make your toes curl.  Proving our collective point that the mainstream press does pay attention to the blogs, the PI picked up the story today.  It was reprinted on MSNBC.com and Goldy has done an interview with KIRO and been on The Kirby Wilbur Show on KVI. 

Yesterday Goldy wrote a long piece on the history of the Irons’ family feud and the allegations by Irons’ Mom that her son beat her many years ago and that the family is still split over his actions and his choice of political tactics. 

If this were but a single, isolated incident it still would be inexcusable, and in my opinion disqualify him from higher office. But the Irons’ family has many tales of David Jr.’s “violent temper” and his abusive, cuss-filled rages in which he would push his father and poke him in the chest, and occasionally fling objects in blind anger. In one such fit he threw a wrench at his nephew, Di’s son Chris, who afterwards went to his grandfather and refused to ever work with his uncle again. Even the hard-nosed crews who laid cable for the family business complained of working with David Jr., finding it unsettling to have the boss’s son indiscriminately toss obscenities and tools in their direction.

From Goldy’s interview with Janet Irons, the candidate’s mother, “David lies about all of us.”

According to family members, acquaintances and co-workers, David Jr. has lied to reporters, he’s lied to voters, he’s lied to his family, and he’s lied to the police.

Goldy goes back and reviews an incident right out of Karl Rove’s playbook from the 1998 primary race for King County Council that pitted Irons against incumbent Brian Derdowski. 

The night before the absentee ballots dropped for the primary election, Derdowski and Irons’ attended a candidate forum sponsored by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce . . . Much to his surprise, the first written question posed to Derdowski was “Are you under investigation by the FBI?”  As it turned out, Derdowski had been under investigation by the FBI during much of the campaign (he’s not sure for what), but the investigation had recently come to a close without indictment or comment. And so Derdowski truthfully answered “No.”

It was a setup. At this point, as Irons’ mother Janet describes it, notorious Eastside developer Skip Rowley exclaimed “We got him! We got him!” while gleefully wringing his hands. Irons immediately stood up and charged that Derdowski was indeed under investigation. An unusually heavy media presence in the audience (apparently tipped off that something would happen) hit the story strong the next day, and by the time the truth played its way through the press a week or so later, the damage had already been done. Derdowski lost the early absentee ballots big, and went on to lose the election.

Goldy goes back to get Derdowski’s thoughts on Irons today:

"I don’t have the professional experience to diagnose him as a ‘pathological liar’," Derdowski told me, "but there is a pattern of making false statements where David apparently doesn’t seem to know the difference. I find it chilling."

And his mother’s thoughts on her son’s desire to be King County Executive?

"I’m not proud of my son,” Janet sadly lamented about his political success, “because he didn’t do it the right way. I’m disappointed that he approaches the level he does, and that I didn’t do a better job raising him.”

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 21, 2005 at 09:43 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Big Scandals, Big Changes

Even for those of us who have followed the machinations of the Bush Administration closely over these last few years, the revelations of the last few weeks have been overwhelming.  I am in shock trying to absorb all this – to understand the totality of what has gone on while we’ve mostly been on the sidelines, the ramifications for the country and the world, and the opportunities and pitfalls for taking back our democracy.    

Did these guys have no soul, no sense of compassion or service?  We feared that they were just in it for the power and the ability to steer money to their friends. We feared they cared nothing for well-being of the vast majority of the people in the world or for our own people even or for our collective children’s burdens or for stewardship of the planet. 

But for me, this is worse than I could have imagined.  Did they really believe they could get away with all this?  Or did they not care what happened later as long as they got theirs now?  Here are the biggies:

1) The White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a group of high level government servants sitting around planning how to lie to the American people about something as important as taking us to war and then covering up their tracks afterwards.  They hijacked American foreign policy, committing us to actions that will impact American standing and power in the world for generations, without anything resembling the normal intra-agency or intra-party discussion.  They condoned unspeakable behavior that will likely damage both the very soldiers asked to be a part of it as well as those directly impacted.   

2) Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff running a concierge service for Congressmen (and -women?, we haven’t heard much about Congresswomen in this) – getting them tickets to events or luxurious overseas golf trips, money for their re-elections, whatever they wanted IF they voted correctly.  And what was correctly?  Was it really for any “cause”, ridiculous as we may have thought those causes were?  No.  It was simply to stay in power and funnel money to the highest bidder.  How else to understand their votes to steer gambling to their clients when even their own base of right-wing supporters were hollering to shut it all down? 

3) Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pretending his family/HCA stock was in a blind trust when it wasn’t and pulling illegal insider stock deals on top of that.

4) Massive money laundering operations designed to take money from big corporations and wealthy individuals and use it illegally for political campaigns that would keep these idiots in control.  That’s what the big scandals in Ohio and Texas and heaven knows where else are. 

This isn’t just a different philosophy of life or perspective on the world.  This isn’t like your welfare plan or forest plan would do a and b and mine would do c and d.  This is “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  So much damage has been done to this country in five short years, it is almost beyond my comprehension. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 20, 2005 at 10:17 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

Support for I-912 Eroding

According to komo news:

Pollster Stuart Elway has noted a steady erosion of support for I-912. The initiative to roll back the gas tax increase was once expected to pass easily.

A recent Elway poll showed it behind by 7 percentage points, although 11 percent remained undecided.

The poll was taken before initiative foes launched a media campaign that could outspend supporters 10-to-1.

Good news for those of us who like our highways non-crumbly.  Bad news for wingnut talk radio show hosts.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 18, 2005 at 10:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

The Plame Grand Jury Process

In this week when we may well get Grand Jury indictments of the President’s men as far up as Cheney, it’s useful to understand the Grand Jury process and its basis in the constitution.  A Diary by kant at Dailykos gives us a great primer on the role and independence of the Grand Jury and some insight into this particular Grand Jury investigating the outing of a CIA agent as 1) revenge for her husband’s truth-telling and 2) as a means of stopping further discussion of the deliberate campaign of misinformation that took us into the Iraq War.

It's also a nice reminder that this duty rests on more shoulders than just Patrick Fitzgerald's, the prosecutor.  He seems quite cool but he has company in the Grand Jury.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 17, 2005 at 09:14 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More of Connelly on 912

Beloved PI columnist Joel Connelly has a nice article this morning about the importance of defeating 912 for commuters and the economic health of western Washington.  He says, “Commuters are the unheard voice in the I-912 debate: Campaign spokespeople trade sound bites. The people enduring ever-longer commutes need to do their own thinking.”

He highlights the implications of passage of 912:

In 1968 and 1970, King County voters rejected a regional light rail system: The cost, then, was about $380 million. The next vote on light rail didn't come for another 25 years. We live with decisions we make.

In the same edition of the PI, an editorial urging a “NO” vote on 912 reminds us that passing 912 would still cost us $66 million in delays to transportation projects put on hold just from having the Initiative on the ballot in the first place.  Far better to reject 912 and get back to re-building our ancient infrastructure.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 17, 2005 at 09:09 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 16, 2005

Puget Sound's Toxic Avenger

Joel Connelly recently offered a nice roundup of "defenders and despoilers" of Puget Sound, in which he singled out heroes such as People for Puget Sound, the Bullitt Foundation, and Warren Magnuson.  And villains such as BP, Dixy Lee Ray [Dixy Lee? Hater of the environment? I'm shocked, shocked! -Ed.], and the city of Victoria, which still dumps untreated sewage directly into the sound.   No foolin'.

But Joel, whose perspective on environmental issues often seems a little more grouned in the historical than the cutting edge, overlooked one of today's most important  defenders of Puget Sound -- Mr. Floatie.

Yes, he's a life-sized turd.  He and his friends at POOP (People Opposed to Outfall Pollution) have been fighting for modern sewage treatment in Victoria.  Now he's running for mayor  No foolin'.

And it get even better.  The city of Victoria has just sued Mr. Floatie in order to try to toss him off the ballot.  Mr. Floatie will be in court on Tuesday, 10/18.  According to POOP:

Mr. Floatie plans to plead "guilty as charged" at the court case.   Claiming to be a harmless piece of poo, Mr. Floatie is baffled that the City of Victoria is going to this extreme to keep the issue of sewage treatment off the agenda. However, having no money and no pockets to put it in, even if he did have money, Mr. Floatie is not able to hire a lawyer to defend himself.

You just can't make this shit up.  (Feel free to make your own poop jokes in the comments.) 

P.S. Mr. Floatie is available for interviews.


Posted by Jon Stahl on October 16, 2005 at 09:00 PM in Candidate Races, Policy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 14, 2005

Chances Look Good For Smoking Ban

The Seattle Times reports that I-901 (aka "Drinking Without Stinking") is expected to pass easily: 

In a telephone survey late last month, independent pollster Stuart Elway found that 57 percent of registered voters supported the ban, and 37 percent opposed it, with a margin of error of 5 percentage points. Support for the measure "looks pretty solid," Elway said.

Yes on 901 has about a million bucks.  The opposition about $4500.  All the business interests that might have fought against the smoking ban chose to stay home.

Although it has fought previous proposals to ban smoking altogether, the Washington Restaurant Association is neutral on I-901, said Gene Vosberg, president of the industry group. While it saw "problems" with the measure, it decided not to help fund an opposition effort in part because I-901 sponsors assured the group that restaurateurs will not be responsible for monitoring compliance outside their businesses, Vosberg said.

Let's hope the polling data is reliable.  I'm looking forward to choosing from a larger range of nightlife options that threaten only my liver, not my lungs.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 14, 2005 at 06:45 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Cantwell to Lead Democratic Effort on Energy

Goldy has a nice post about Harry Reid asking Maria Cantwell to lead the Democrats efforts to attain energy independence.  Perfect person. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 14, 2005 at 04:38 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cronkite Calls for Midterm Democratic Convention

Scott Shields at mydd.com reports on an innovative idea in a letter published in the New York Times, written by Walter Cronkite, calling for a Midterm Democratic Convention next year.  He advocates a relatively inexpensive convention, with the same delegates who attended in 2004, that would establish the basic principles of the party and nationalize the issues for the public.   

Here's Cronkite:

The voting population would for the first time in many years have an unobstructed view of those principles that differentiate the Democratic Party from those of the Republican Party.

Back to Shields:

This really taps into something we've been discussing here quite a bit lately. The virtual collapse of the GOP is a tremendous windfall for the Democrats heading into the midterms. But without a solid platform and strong vision, the party will not be able to fully take advantage of the opportunity. I think those pieces are starting to fall into place, but this would really push us over the top.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 14, 2005 at 02:51 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Via-duct tape


The crew at BetterDonkey have produced a great little ad against I-912.  Go watch it and spread the love.

Seriously, it's great to see homegrown grassroots political agit-prop.  More, please!

Bake sale for the viaduct, anyone?

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 14, 2005 at 01:06 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 12, 2005

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 09, 2005 - October 15, 2005 Archives

Josh Marshall really nails it in his reaction to Bush's comments about Harriet Miers (i.e. his enthusiastic endorsement of her staunch Evangelical religious beliefs):

We are, needless to say, engaged in a vast, shambling and tragic occupation of Iraq, the nominal aim of which is to create a secular, rule-of-law-based democracy which would end the cycle of repression, fanaticism and violence which spilled onto America's shores four years ago.

At the same time, President Bush argues for Miers' confirmation neither on the basis of her 'judicial temperament' nor her judicial philosophy or ideology but because she is a staunch evangelical Christian.

The fact that many of the president's more theocratic supporters don't seem to believe him just adds a level of irony or entertainment for those of us still holding out for the Enlightenment tradition.

But doesn't the juxtaposition really show the game is up at some level?

Hey, Republicans -- please don't unravel too fast.  We need you to draw things out through the 2006 elections, so we can sweep your sorry asses out of office.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 12, 2005 at 10:59 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Good on ya, Ron

Ron Sims has rejected Southwest & Alaska's proposals to move to Boeing Field.  That was the right call. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 11, 2005 at 10:40 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Holding Faithless Democrats Accountable

In The Defectors, The American Prospect's Robert Kuttner and Asheesh Kapur Siddique highlight 15 faithless House Democrats who have the unfortunate habit of voting for Bush's core policy priorities: CAFTA, repealing the estate tax, reducing bankruptcy protections, and restricting access to the justice system through tort "reform."

Shamefully, two of their "Faithless Fifteen" are Washingtonians:

Brian Baird - Voted for: bankruptcy bill, estate-tax repeal, tort "reform"
Rick Larsen - Voted for: bankruptcy bill, estate-tax repeal, tort "reform"

Two more are Oregonians:

Darlene Hooley - Voted for: bankruptcy bill, estate-tax repeal
David Wu - Voted for: bankruptcy bill, tort "reform"

These are not folks representing "swing" districts -- they won 2004 races by margins that range from 9% (Hooley) to 30% (Larsen)

Both party leadership and local grassroots activists need to do a better job of holding leaders who break the faith accountable.  This needs to be done through a combination of inside baseball and local grassroots pressure. 

So far, I'm not seeing many signs of either.  Most local political activists are quick to fall into the "lesser of two evils" argument, in which any attempt to call faithless leaders on their betrayals gets tagged as "not being a team player." 

And let's not even get started on Maria Cantwell, who also voted for CAFTA, the bankruptcy bill and tort "reform" too.  Faithless. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 11, 2005 at 04:32 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Dean and the DNC - Creating a Democratic Message

ABC News has a great story about what Dean’s been up to. It starts out with Dean saying, ''What I'm trying to do is impose a system and run this place like a business.'' Here’s what Dean says about his goals:

 · Making Democrats the party of values, community and reform. Armed with extensive DNC polling, Dean is consulting with party leaders in Congress, mayors and governors to recast the public's image of Democrats with a unified message.

  · Improving the party's ''micro-targeting,'' the tactic of merging political information about voters with their consumer habits to figure out how to appeal to them.

  · Building a 50-state grass-roots organization, using the same Internet and community-        building tools that took Dean's presidential bid from obscurity to the front of the                pack before Iowa.

Dean also talks about his own legacy and how he intends to make use of what he learned. ''I tapped into a craving for community in a society where we're becoming increasingly isolated from ourselves,'' he said. More after the fold on message, micro-targeting and organizing.

 

Thanks to Tristero over at Digby’s Blog for doing the heavy lifting of selecting exerpts.

 

 


A look at Dean's approach: MESSAGE:

The DNC is getting outside help from private-sector consultants who specialize in creating and strengthening corporate images -- or ''brands.''

''The last time this party was branded was Lyndon Johnson,'' Dean said. ''We'd been in power so long that we didn't think we needed to do it.''

The lack of a message or brand makes it difficult for Democrats to capitalize on Bush's political slump and a series of GOP scandals. While the party is unified in accusing Republicans of creating a ''culture of corruption,'' Democrats still need to give voters a compelling alternative to GOP rule.

A March 23, 2005, memo by DNC pollster Cornell Belcher found that most voters view politics through a values-laden prism rather than through the economic framing traditionally used by Democrats.

On a list of issue choices, ''moral values'' ranked in the middle of the pack and well ahead of abortion and gay rights. That suggested to Belcher that moral values has a broader meaning for voters than do social wedge issues.

''When voters think about moral values, they may in large part be thinking about the strength, leadership and moral fortitude of the candidates ... rather than the candidates' positions on specific social wedge issues,'' Belcher wrote.

Dean's take on the polling is that Democrats must recast the values-and-morals debate.

''It's morally wrong that so many children live in poverty. It's morally wrong that we have so many working poor people who can't pull themselves out of poverty,'' he said.

He also believes that voters are more interested in a candidate's intangible leadership qualities than his positions on lists of issues.

''We have to appeal to people's hearts and not just their heads,'' he said.

A Sept. 26 memo by Belcher found that people are placing a greater emphasis on community and sacrifice for the greater good. Dean tries to appeal to this sense of higher purpose when he says, ''We can do better.''


MICRO-TARGETING:

The Bush campaign worked with consumer data-mining companies to place every battleground state voter into one of 20 to 30 ''clusters'' of like-minded people. The DNC's current system has eight to 16 clusters.

If the DNC can afford it, Dean's advisers hope to have 40 clusters in time for the next presidential race.

This personalization of politics harkens to pre-TV days when ward bosses and precinct captains, acting largely on instinct, tailored campaign messages to their friends and neighbors.


ORGANIZING:

Dean is putting four or five DNC staff members in every state with orders to organize every precinct. One of the organizers' first mandates is to conduct four major events a year, one or two of which are mainly social.

Dean learned from his own campaign that it is critical to form relationships that turn into small communities and build into networks of people who feel part of a bottom-up operation with a purpose larger than themselves.

It's a long-term investment that runs counter to the political culture in Washington that, in the last years of the 20th century, has valued multimillion-dollar TV buys over grass-roots organizing.

''You've got to recruit people. You've got to ask them to do something,'' Dean said. ''You have to treat them like a community.''

 

 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 11, 2005 at 02:20 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Since Sliced Bread

The SEIU is looking for fresh, new ideas for a better America.  Oh, yeah, and they are going to pay real money for the best 21 ideas.  And some people wonder whether organized labor is still relevant to the modern world.  Just as there are old Democrats and new Democrats, there are old Labor folks and new Labor folks.  On their new website, www.sinceslicedbread.com, they say,

We're looking for fresh, new ideas for a better America. Do you have a common-sense idea that will improve the day-to-day lives of everyday Americans? Or an opinion on how working families can succeed in the new global economy?

Here’s what they say about why they are doing this:

Our nation is in the midst of one of the largest economic shifts in history. Many working families are struggling as wages drop and affordable child care, quality health care, and a secure retirement fall out of reach. As part of SEIU’s ongoing efforts to help ensure that ordinary Americans benefit from today’s global economy, Since Sliced Bread aims to give voice to common-sense ideas that would improve jobs and communities.

The site is cool. The idea is great. Take a read and think about what idea you want to submit.  Deadline is December 5th.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 11, 2005 at 09:16 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 09, 2005

What I-912 is Really About

Andrew Garber's recent piece in the Seattle Times on I-912, Gas initiative message blurry, gives a lengthy tour of the history of various anti-tax, anti-government initiatives in Washington, before coming to a partially-true-but-woefully-incomplete conclusion.

Garber thinks that I-912 is mostly about Republican activists' desire for revenge against Governor Gregoire and Democrats.  (He's right.)  He also thinks its about conservatives' hatred for public transportation and HOV lanes.  (Which is probably true but totally illogical since most of the gas tax money goes for roads and HOV lanes do more to reduce congestion than simply adding more regular lanes.) 

Garber also links I-912 to national ultra-conservative "drown government in a bathtub" strategy:

The I-912 campaign has implications that go beyond Washington state, said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C. His group has churned out a steady stream of press releases endorsing the measure. He noted that Oklahoma voters rejected a nickel increase to their gas tax just last month.

If both Oklahoma and Washington reject tax increases, it sends a message to lawmakers that "we do not like your priorities. Knock it off," Norquist said. "I think it will lead to more government reform and fewer votes on tax increases."

And this, too, is true.

But what Garber completely overlooks is the fact that I-912 proponents are also violently against safer roads.  Because that's what most of the gas tax money they're trying to cut will pay for.  Vital safety projects like fixing the Viaduct and 520.  And dozens more highway safety projects all over the state.

While there's definitely an ideological component to the I-912 the media would do far better to focus on the real-world consequences should I-912 pass, rather than the political gamesmanship in play.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 9, 2005 at 08:17 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 07, 2005

Dodged a Bullet

Whew! No massive increase in the number of supertankers in the Sound. A bipartisan effort on the part of Washington’s Congressional delegation has caused the author of a House energy bill to delete a provision that would have lifted restrictions that severely limit the number of supertankers allowed in Puget Sound. An article in the PI this morning has the details. The protections were put in place at the urging of the late Senator Warren Magnuson. 

Aides to Magnuson said he believed it was more important to protect Puget Sound than to allow it to become the West Coast version of the heavily industrialized and polluted Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast.

Senator Cantwell told Speaker of the House Hastert that she would filibuster the bill if it came to the Senate with the tanker provision. “Lifting the restrictions, Cantwell wrote, ‘would expose Puget Sound waters to an unacceptably increased risk of future oil spills.’”

The bill is scheduled for a final House vote today where it is likely to pass although it faces trouble in the Senate. Congressman Jay Inslee, as well as most Democrats and some Republicans, say that the bill is so flawed that it should be defeated. 

 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 7, 2005 at 03:48 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Business Jumps in to Defeat 912

Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, which represents the state's largest private employers, has jumped into the battle to defeat Initiative 912.  In an article in today’s PI, he has some critical comments about the impact of the passage of 912:

Within five years, per-capita highway investment would sink to levels comparable to 2000, when Washington ranked second-lowest in the nation for per-person highway spending.  Such a distinction is unambiguous. . . . It says that we are not prepared to compete.

You would think, if we are investing in our future and for the sake of our economy, that we would be among the top states in terms of infrastructure investment.

Mullin also talks about the psychic impact of under-investing in our future:

If we can't address problems as obvious as this one, it's hard to make the case that Washington can credibly argue to employers that we are going to be able to solve the other problems.

While we are on the subject of 912, I want to point you again over to Dan at “On the Road to 2008” and his excellent series on the courageous Republican legislators who supported the Transportation bill last session and have come out against 912 and therefore against the Republican endorsement of 912.

As Governor Gregoire’s spokeswoman, Carol Andrews said in the same PI article, 

Transportation should rise above partisan politics.  It's unfortunate that some people want to play politics with Washington's economy and safety. For Chris Gregoire, this transportation package is not a political issue -- it's the key to sustaining and growing our economy, and it's vital to safety of all of Washington state.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 7, 2005 at 12:29 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2005

Who the Heck is Al Runte?

Al Runte, candidate for mayor of Seattle, still believes it is possible for a city to plan for the future and to get individuals and neighborhoods involved in the process of governance. He is an unlikely candidate, this former professor who is running for mayor against Greg Nickels. He hasn’t run for office before or served on city boards. Instead he’s been teaching and writing and thinking about how cities should work, about the lessons we can draw from European cities, about how to create a robust infrastructure that will take us through an upcoming time of scarcity.

I think Al got deeply angry that this beautiful city where he has lived for so many years doesn’t work well anymore and he wants to change that and he thinks he knows how to do that. It’s that simple. In interviewing him I felt a bit touched by the fairy dust of belief myself. Maybe we can take back our city on our way to reclaiming our democracy nationally and rebuilding our can-do attitude in this state.

The interview with Al Runte is below the fold.

Interview with Al Runte

What prompted you to make this run? 

AR: My neighbors have urged me to do this for years. They have said that a well-spoken and articulate person who wants to make government work as I do should go into politics.  They’ve said it’s good that I’m a writer and a thinker.  That’s what we need. 

I live in a wonderful neighborhood - Wedgewood. We know each other. We hang out and talk occasionally as we’re working in the garden or taking a walk.

I decided to run for mayor because of what wasn’t happening in my neighborhood that should have been. There were a couple of important issues that came up.  

First a letter went out from the Seattle Transportation Department about redoing streets after many years of neglect in the spring of 2003. They said we’re going to repave streets and update utilities. Mothing happened. Later, a part of the street collapsed on 35th Ave. N.E.near where I live. The city barricaded the hole and closed off one lane of the street, making traffic more difficult than before. I wrote to them, saying it needed to be fixed. They wrote back saying it would be fixed as part of a big project. Nothing happened. We found out it had been taken out of that big project. Instead they tried to fill it in but just didn’t wind up taking care of the problem at all. 

This is not the way to run a city. I had the same difficulty with the Police Department. There are only three cars for a very large portion of north Seattle. In discussing the issues with individual police officers, they knew we needed more police cars patrolling but that they weren’t getting support from the mayor or the police chief.

So, I finally decided to raise these issues by running for mayor. Government needs to have good people run. I jumped into the race in July. People said I should have started a year ago but here I am.

I’m glad I threw my hat in the ring. I’ve noticed that issues are getting raised more often in the city council now.

Speaking of the city council, why didn’t you run for city council first?

AR: People have asked me that. But that’s not where the need for leadership is.  It’s in the mayor’s office.

Why would the people of Seattle want to vote for you?

AR: Well, I’ll be a better mayor. I’ll listen to people; I’ll protect and nurture neighborhoods; I’ll deal with the issues of infrastructure, thorny as they may be. The current mayor wants to postpone these things. He wants the development plans that just leave Seattle with the issues of supporting that development afterwards. It’s nuts.

People say, “But developers won’t build these things if there are too many restrictions.” I say, “Good. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” People say we won’t have an economy if we don’t coddle them. Nonsense. What we have in Seattle is invaluable and irreplaceable. We have a population that is innovative, creative and environmentally thoughtful. Developers should be standing in line to build in Seattle. 

What we have in our city now is plutocracy. Nickels sounds more like Reagan with his trickle-down wealth idea. It’s not what any traditional progressive would do.

What makes you think you’d be better than Greg Nickels?

AR: I’m talking about administrative, not character. Nickels is not a bad man. This is about confidence and education. I’m a person who’s spent all my life with smart people. I would surround myself with people who make me think. I think Nickels surrounds himself with people just like him. He fired Jim Diers, who was the Director of Neighborhoods. People say that Jim was too talented; he would have stood up to Nickels’ in cutting neighborhoods budgets. Diers is the kind of person I’d want – highly educated, someone who would challenge me.

The mayor doesn’t even show up to neighborhood meetings. He stays away because he knows people are angry.

If I had to make a tough decision, I’d go to the neighborhoods and talk with the folks in the effected area about the issue and explain why I did what I did. I think a lot of people retreat from the job itself. I wouldn’t do that.

What are the Key Issues that Seattle has to deal with?

AR: The biggest issue that all American cities have to deal with is recognizing that cities are organic; they are constantly changing. Cities have to maintain themselves. For the past 20-25 years, Seattle has not built infrastructure.  The longer we wait, the harder it is to get it back. We have to start thinking like Europeans. We are in a time in history when we won’t have the money to keep doing it over and over again.  There are fewer natural resources; fuel costs are soaring. We have to face up to that. We are playing with fire here.

As a nation, we have let ourselves slide for a long time. There are lots of expenses ahead. Every man, woman and child owes the federal government $145, 000. We can’t afford to pay our share. There is no way that we can cover this. That figure was only about $65,000 when Clinton took office. That wasn’t good but it was manageable.

I know you’ve been out campaigning pretty consistently the last few months. What have you learned?

AR: The one word that describes people in Seattle’s neighborhoods is “angry”. People feel ignored, betrayed, walked away from. At a Phinney Ridge meeting on the zoo on Saturday, after listening to the folks at the meeting, I turned to a friend and said, “It’s lucky that these people don’t have tar and feathers.” People are sick and tired of the argument that we’ve had a terrible recession.

It’s nonsense; the budget of Seattle has gone up every year even in this recession. In 2003, the budget for the city was $651 million. In 2004 it went up to $665 million and then to $685 million in 2005. It will be about $698 million for 2006. So the budget has been increasing about 2-3% a year. But I calculated, using figures from the same general budget, that service to the neighborhoods, things like parks upkeep, street upkeep, library open times - has gone down 22%, adjusted for inflation, in the same four years.

The budget has been going up by 2-3% and services to the neighborhoods and the mayor has cut services to the neighborhoods by 2-3%. We did not lose revenue in city of Seattle, just in the neighborhoods.

What else should people in the city of Seattle know to make the decision to vote for you?

AR: If the public wants progressive cities, we have to insure that the people who benefit from the city pay their share. When people benefit and yet don’t pay much in the way of taxes, they are ignoring the real needs of the city. And so are we. For example, Paul Allen should pay his share. We’ve been made to feel embarrassed to ask these questions. Warren Buffett understands this. I admire that. Buffett knows that corporate welfare is not good for the community.

People at the top are not entitled to special consideration. I would run Seattle as a true progressive city. That might mean slowing down development for awhile. That’s okay. Seattle needs to hear that we need to recognize that just because we have a beautiful setting doesn’t mean we always do things the right way. We’ve made some mistakes.

Everything about the future is going to be about scarcity. We are going to have to live within our means. We need a good infrastructure and good plans in order to be ready. We saw what happened in
New Orleans when they let their infrastructure slide. We could get hit here with a pandemic flu epidemic. We need to have our infrastructure in good shape and we need to have plans in place.

What do you say to people who say you lack direct governmental experience?

AR: I don’t want a politicians’ experience. The professional politicians are trying to protect their sinecures. I’ve run many projects as part of a team. I’ve influenced the lives of students. I’ve written books, kept projects afloat over many years, gotten people involved and kept them involved.

A good mayor appoints good people and lets them do them the job. A good mayor provides leadership and puts plans in motion. We get ourselves in trouble leaving it to professional politicians. Citizens have a lot of talent. We need to put it to use.

Besides Nickels didn’t have any direct executive experience before he became mayor. And he totally ignored the day-to-day needs of the city.

Now the big question on everyone’s mind – What would you do about the monorail?

AR: I would have made sure that engineers make the designs, not politicians. I wouldn’t presume to do things I didn’t have expertise on.

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 3, 2005 at 11:15 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Unleashing Hell

BoeingadBoeing, Bell Helicopter and their ad agency developed this ad for its V-22 Osprey helicopter, which features US Marines descending into a mosque, then tried to backpedal.  But to no avail: the ad ran in the National Journal and also in the Armed Forces Journal. 

The Seattle Times has the scoop .

Boeing is claiming that someone at Bell approved the ad without authority.  Whatever.

How come nobody piles on Boeing and Bell -- or the National Journal -- for giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy?  Whatever happened to the White House's admonition that people ought to "watch what they do and say?"

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 3, 2005 at 07:43 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2005

Jonathan Alter on Corruption

The Mainstream Media is rising.  The modern day Republican Party is over.  Who would have thought it would be possible so quickly?  Newsweek takes after the corruption in a big way.  Jonathan Alter, in particular, is hot. They are going down.  And dig the new movie, called "Good Night, and Good Luck" on Ed Murrow and Senator Joe McCarthy that George Clooney is producing. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 2, 2005 at 05:21 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack