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November 30, 2005

Recognize Anyone?

"A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more," says John over at Americablog after quoting a NYTimes editorial about President Bush's ridiculous speech on Iraq today.  Here's what John quoted from the NYT:

Americans have been clamoring for believable goals in Iraq, but Mr. Bush stuck to his notion of staying until "total victory." His strategy document defines that as an Iraq that "has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency"; is "peaceful, united, stable, democratic and secure"; and is a partner in the war on terror, an integral part of the international community, and "an engine for regional economic growth and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region."

That may be the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, who saw the hand writing on the wall. Mr. Bush hates comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead.

Then John says the piece above about reality and Richard Nixon and goes on to a reference in the NYTimes article that he had to chase down:

Ok, I had to go look up Belshazzar, and here's what I found. This is a hoot:

Pathetically, Belshazzar was a hollow man. His life was based on a series of bad assumptions about himself. He had a facade of royalty, a name and title that he held on to for dear life. He threw parties that suggested regal authority, he issued commands, spoke of gods, and used religious implements as articles of ridicule and dishonor. He acted as if he were someone important and substantial, but he was none of those things. He was a man who imagined that because he sat on a great throne, he was a great person. He imagined that because thick walls surrounded him, he was safe from harm. He imagined that because he spoke with bravado when drunk, he was brave. But none of those things were true.

Gee, sound like anybody you know?

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 30, 2005 at 10:20 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This Song Goes Out to Shaula

The Democrats are capable of organizing a good ground campaign. They did it it New Jersey this year and impacted the margin of Corzine's win. They were organized; they had the technology; they worked with labor and concentrated on the turnout using sophisticated canvassing techniques. 

Yesterday I was having coffee with my friend, Shaula, and the new West Coast Emily's List contact, Anne Moses.  Shaula had been a Democratic PCO in Seattle and worked really hard to clean up the voter's list in her precinct only to have nothing take on the master list.  Ever. I can't think of one person I know who worked on any of the 2004 election campaigns in this state who doesn't have these kind of stories (except possibly the Murray folks).  We compared stories about the "uncoordinated campaign" and had our state stories confirmed as nothing out of the ordinary for Democrats at the state level across the country by Anne.

So I was happy to find this report in my files as I was roaming through my "files that might become stories one day".  It came in from a diarist named Paleo from New Jersey right after the election. Here are the highlights:

As the old saying goes, elections come down to turnout, turnout, turnout.  Good turnout operations are often the difference between winning and losing, as witnessed by Ohio in 2004, Georgia in 2002, and Michigan in 2000.  The turnout operation run by Democrats and labor on Tuesday in New Jersey may or may not have been responsible for Corzine's win, but it certainly was responsbile for the margin.  Not every state has such an influential labor presence, but some of the methods used in New Jersey can be emulated elsewhere.

"The party put 7,800 union members and 12,000 paid and volunteer workers on the streets of New Jersey on Election Day, according to a senior Democratic Party operative who asked not to be named. The soldiers were assigned to follow up on sophisticated canvassing that the Democrats had been conducting since early June.

The effort became something of an inside joke in the campaign. Early in the evening at Corzine's election night party, the DJ repeatedly spun the Doobie Brothers track "Takin' It to the Streets."

The effort was financed by the Democratic Party and run cooperatively with the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and the Corzine campaign.

Democrats took a 20-year voting history of all 6,310 voting precincts in the state, supplied by the National Committee for an Effective Congress, and cross-referenced it with their own polling and other data.

It was costly, but precise.

The Democrats sent canvassers out armed with Palm Pilots that had individual data and scripts for every voter who answered the door. The information was so precise, the canvasser knew without asking what the voter's top issue was."

Howard Dean rocks!

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 30, 2005 at 09:41 AM in National and International Politics, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Finkbeiner Steps Down as Senate Minority Leader

Bill Finkbeiner (R-Kirkland) stepped down as Senate Minority Leader today.   "The Fink" is a rare bird in Washington state politics: a moderate Republican who represents a very swingy district.   His official reason "wants to spend more time with family."   Your call: is this a euphemism for:

A) "I have half a conscience and I'm sick and tired of the self-destructive wingnut leadership of the Republican party in this state."

B) "I'm smart (for a Republican) and ambitious, and I know need to tack towards the center in order to hold my seat in a blue-trending district.  Distancing myself from the wingnuts helps."

C) Being the minority leader is a heck of a lot less fun than actually having power.

D) All of the above

E) None of the above

Bonus:  Which wingnut will be tapped to be his successor?  Will they have any hope of being effective, or will they just be Chris Vance's drooling monkey?

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 29, 2005 at 10:29 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Creative Response to Republican Lies

The DNC has come up with a very creative response to the Republican smears on our Democratic veteran leaders. Based on requests that the Democrats really go after Jean Schmidt for her attack on Jack Murtha on the House floor, the DNC has committed to "putting up a 'Shame on You' billboard in the home district of any Republican who attacks a veteran's service in order to score political points."  Here's what the DNC says about it:

It happened to Vietnam veterans John McCain, Max Cleland, and John Kerry, and now to a man who served in Korea and Vietnam, Jack Murtha. We cannot let this continue -- we need to send a strong message that this kind of attack will not be tolerated.

<snip>

The time has come to stop this kind of dirty political smearing once and for all. America's veterans deserve better treatment, and the American people deserve a more honest debate about our national security.

And yes, the first billboard goes up in Jean Schmidt's district in the town of Portsmouth, Ohio.  It will say:

Shame on You, Jean Schmidt: Stop Attacking Veterans. Keep Your Eye on the Ball -- We Need a Real Plan for Iraq.

Naturally the DNC would like some money to help in this campaign. Consider contributing if you are not already signed up to contribute monthly via the Democracy Bonds project which is a major support for Howard Dean and allows him to run the DNC for us rather than for the big donors. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 29, 2005 at 12:09 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2005

Tomlinson Witchhunt Linked to Traitorgate?

"Right-wing partisans like Tomlinson have always attacked aggressive reporting as liberal." So says Bill Moyers about former Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. Now that the CPB Inspector General's report has concluded that Tomlinson violated the law in his attempts to "re-balance" public broadcasting, Moyers is talking.  In the interview today with Broadcasting & Cable, Moyers responds to the question of whether or not his show, NOW, was biased:

We were biased, all right—in favor of uncovering the news that powerful people wanted to keep hidden: conflicts of interest at the Department of Interior, secret meetings between Vice President Cheney and the oil industry, backdoor shenanigans by lobbyists at the FCC, corruption in Congress, neglect of wounded veterans returning from Iraq, Pentagon cost overruns, the manipulation of intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq.

We were way ahead of the news curve on these stories, and the administration turned its hit men loose on us.

I've heard Moyers in the past say that the only thing that the right-wing hates more than liberals is the truth.  And clearly Moyers' commitment to telling the truth is what brought the hounds after him.

I am also wondering if Tomlinson was chosen by Karl Rove to be Chairman of the CPB as a part of the great Traitorgate/Wilson/Rove scandal.  The evidence is so far circumstantial but compelling to those of us who are never surprised by the lengths to which Karl Rove will go.

Let's look at what we know: Moyers interviewed Joe Wilson on the eve of the Iraq invasion in February of 2003.  Wilson clearly thought that disarmament could be achieved by what he called "muscular disarmament and coercive inspections" rather than all-out war.  He also states quite clearly that he believes that Bush would not be satisfied with disarmament; he said that Bush "wants a dead Hussein." 

Later, in a response to a question by Moyers about why Bush wants the war, Wilson lets a very big cat out of the bag.  He says, "it's far more about re-growing the political map of the Middle East."  He then went on to talk about Richard Perle and a study called “Clean Break” that Perle did for the Likud Israeli government in the mid-90's about securing Israeli security through changing Mid-East regimes starting with Iraq and moving on to Syria and Iran. This study is just now starting to surface in the liberal blogosphere and it is quite controversial, implying as it does that the neo-con agenda that has been forced on the U.S. was linked closely to the Likud agenda. 

So, with this appearance on NOW with Bill Moyers on Feb. 28, 2003, Joe Wilson arrives on the White House radar screen.  Tomlinson was appointed as chairman of the CPB Board by President Bush in September 2003, about the right time-lag to get anything done in Washington.  His primary target during his two-year reign at CPB was Bill Moyers. Lastly, there are a large number of emails between Tomlinson and Karl Rove before and at the beginning of Tomlinson's reign that the still Republican-dominated CPB Board will not release. 

I'm betting that we will see that Tomlinson's appointment to the Chairmanship of the CPB Board and the subsequent attacks on Moyers and the liberal bias of PBS was done as a direct result of Moyers' interview of Joe Wilson before the war. 

Cross-posted as a DailyKos Diary

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 28, 2005 at 02:26 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2005

Norm Dicks Joins Murtha in Questioning War

Norm Dicks is our Democratic Congressman from the 6th CD, which includes the entire Olympia Peninsula and Bremerton. Dicks is a good friend of Jack Murtha and has often stood with him as a staunch defender of the military. Like Murtha, Dicks is rethinking his stand on the Iraq War.  The Seattle Times has an article today which discusses Dicks' path from  supporter of the war to someone who says he was wrong to support it.

In October 2002, Dicks voted loudly and proudly to back President Bush in a future deployment of U.S. troops to Iraq — one of two Washington state Democratic House members to do so. Adam Smith, whose district includes Fort Lewis, was the other.

Dicks thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and wouldn't hesitate to use them against the United States.

<snip>

Dicks now says it was all a mistake — his vote, the invasion, and the way the United States is waging the war.

Dicks, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says he's particularly angry about the intelligence that supported going to war.

Without the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), he said, he would "absolutely not" have voted for the war.

The Bush administration has accused some members of Congress of rewriting history by claiming the president misled Americans about the reasons for going to war. Congress, the administration says, saw the same intelligence and agreed Iraq was a threat.

But Dicks says the intelligence was "doctored." And he says the White House didn't plan for and deploy enough troops for the growing insurgency.

"A lot of us relied on [former CIA director] George Tenet. We had many meetings with the White House and CIA, and they did not tell us there was a dispute between the CIA, Commerce or the Pentagon on the WMDs," he said.

He and Murtha tended to give the military, the CIA and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Dicks says. But he now says he and his colleagues should have pressed much harder for answers.

There is a lot of healing that needs to occur within the Democratic Party on the issue of the Iraq war.  An honest assessment of how the country was misled is a good place to start.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 25, 2005 at 09:42 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Disgusting and sleazy: Right-wingers start PAC to try to pack Washington state courts

According to the Seattle PI, right-wing nutjobs, led by Slade "Skeletor" Gorton, have formed a new PAC to elect right-wing judges.   The problem: our judicial races are supposedly non-partisan.  Oh, and we don't have any campaign finance limits on judical races.

This is an absolutely cynical, disgusting, shamless attempt to politicize our judicial system and pack our courts with right-wing ideologues.  But I guess that's about par for the course for the Republican party these days.

What should we do about it?  First, we should shine the light on these scumbags.  Kudos to the PI for breaking the story. 

Second, we need to push for tough campaign finance laws in judicial races.  A bill was proposed last year, but failed.  Every progressive organization in the state (and any responsible conservatives, if such thing exist) should band together behind a push for a "indepedent judges" bill in the 2006 legislative session.

Third, we need to start marshalling forces to defend those who will be attacked by this PAC, and to defeat its cut-out candidates.  If they want war, then war they shall have.

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 25, 2005 at 11:21 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Table Talk, Jack Murtha and Supporting the Troops

I love getting together with my family for many reasons but one is that we talk politics and talk about how things are going, as I think most families do.  That's why this will be a particularly interesting Thanksgiving.  (And don't you wish you could have a quick peek into Thanksgiving at the Bush household this year when 43 is reputed not to be talking with 41 because 41's friends are saying such awful things about this presidency.)  Many people expect that the President's poll numbers will drop again after this time largely because of these larger family talks.  This will make it even harder for the Republicans to hold together once the Congressfolk come back from listening to their constituents.

Which brings us to Jack Murtha.  Every family that talks politics will be talking about the turning point that this Pennsylvania Congressman has precipitated in our thinking about the war.  We will be talking about how the Republicans appear to be as clueless about the image they are projecting now as they were during the Terri Shiavo episode and the fact that the swift-boating tactics they’ve used so effectively in the past are not working against Representative Murtha and it scares them.  Digby seems to have nailed the reason:   

It's interesting because it's not like others haven't been saying this stuff. He's just one congressman from Pennsylvania. Why all the drama? I think it's because he symbolizes a particular constituent --- the war hawk who recognizes that we aren't winning and that the "war" is, in fact, unwinnable. They are suddenly sweating and agitated because they know that if they are losing guys like him, they are losing the whole enchilada.

And John at AmericaBlog wonders aloud about why the Republicans respond the way they do.  This is what he comes up with:

I admit, I'm simply stupified that the Republicans can be so calloused about our service members. It's becoming increasingly clear that the Republicans don't care about our troops. To them, our soldiers are props in one big propaganda war. That's all. So it doesn't matter if our troops are dying. It doesn't matter if the war was a mistake. It doesn't matter if we're losing. They simply don't care. The war was THEIR mistake and politically they can't admit a mistake.

Just for a little fun in this, here's Horsey's take on Murtha.

Which brings me to this point: one of the things we do as a family is think about where we will put some Christmas money as a family.  We always do something local; that's important. And we've already been giving a lot to UNICEF as a result of Pakistan.  I'm going to suggest that we do something to support our troops this year.  Just as I was thinking about where to find out more on how to do this, Wes Clark thoughtfully sent an email suggesting support to the soldiers over there and sent a link on how to do that. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 23, 2005 at 10:33 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Senators Take on Voter Intimidation

State Senators Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle and Karen Keiser of Des Moines, both Democrats, will be introducing legislation to regulate voter challenges and impose fines for unsubstantiated charges. The legislation is in response to the ridiculous challenges made by the King County GOP vice chairman, Lori Sotelo. From a press release sent out by Kohl-Welles:

“It’s just bad public policy to allow the sending of material that calls into question the legitimacy of someone’s vote two weeks before an election, let alone a few days before,” Kohl-Welles said. “If there are problems, they should be addressed in a manner that doesn’t intimidate or impede a registered voter from voting.”

Kohl-Welles said the bill would set a deadline for challenges before absentee ballots are mailed out. Any voter registered 60 days prior to an election would have to be challenged at least 45 days before the election. Any voter registered for less than 60 days, or who moved less than 60 days prior to an election, could be challenged up to 10 days before the election. This would give enough time for legitimate challenges to be made while also allowing voters who have made errors time to update their registrations. Challenges could also be lodged immediately following the election.

"Those who have filed challenges that are not upheld should face possible sanction because challenging a citizen's right to vote is not a frivolous act,” said Keiser.

Hurrah for common sense. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 23, 2005 at 12:28 AM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

Re-connecting, Serving, Finding a New Calling

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece on the African American-Kenyan Women’s Interconnect (AAKEWO) “cultural reconnection mission” and promised I would have an opportunity soon to find out more from my friend, LueRachelle Brim-Atkins, one of the women involved in the mission.  A couple days ago I sat down with LueRachelle and talked with her about how she came to be involved with this project, some of what they do and what it means to her. 

LueRachelle first went on a reconnection trip in 2003, the second time the group of Seattle women had gone to Kenya. 

Initially the trips were about recovering a deep connection with one of the cultures of their ancestral homeland, a culture they were torn from generations ago.  And they were about exploring the great cities and forests and lakes of Africa and building relationships with Kenyan women and relaxing with Kenyan counterparts who were becoming friends

After a while they came to be about serving.  LueRachelle said that she comes from a family where “lives are lived in service to others.”  She feels like it’s just what she is supposed to do.  When she came back from her 2003 trip, her first, she knew she was called to work on projects to help the lives of women and girls in Kenya.  And so she has.  She is in awe of the hold it has on her life and the amount of energy she and so many other women put into this mission.  She says it is like having a full time job, doing whatever she and the other, mostly professional women hold as jobs and then also working full time on this project.  “It literally consumes some portion of my day, everyday.”  And she is deeply committed.  LueRachelle says that there are “very few things I’m as clear about.” 

The first group of seven African-American women from the Seattle area went to Kenya in 2000. I loved hearing about the way this all came about and then reading about it in a great article that the Seattle Times did on this group last spring:

The idea behind AAKEWO can be traced back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Marcia Tate-Arunga, a Seattle native, was living in her husband's homeland of Kenya and noticed a growing sense of activism among women.

In 1997, Arunga's sister-in-law, Phelgona Okundi, ran for a seat in Kenya's Parliament, and although her election bid was unsuccessful, it energized her supporters, particularly women, boosting their involvement in social and community projects.

The following year, Arunga, who had moved back to the U.S., invited Okundi to visit her in Seattle and held an afternoon tea in Renton to meet a half-dozen African-American women from various occupations.

As the women listened to Okundi, emotional bonds began to form, and the event stretched into the evening, then the night.

"We didn't go away, so she [Arunga] started feeding us," said Benita R. Horn, 58, a human-resources consultant. "We went past tea time and through dinner. ... We sat in a big circle and each woman shared who she was, where she grew up, her family, her experience, her education, her career — how she got to be who she was that day."

Out of the discussion, an idea was formed: The women would travel as a group to Kenya, Seven women went on the first trip in the spring of 2000. With varying casts of participants, other trips were made in 2003 and last year. The group plans to return to Kenya every year this decade.
Okundi, co-founder of the group with Arunga, died in a car accident in 2003, a month before the American women's second visit. Her spirit, Arunga said, lives on in the group's projects and dedication.

Each of the group's trips has been to Kenya, building on Arunga's ties there. Her husband, David, remains in Kenya as the personal assistant to the Minister of Roads and Public Works.

The group, which has grown since that first trip, has gone back three times and has another three trips planned for next year.  They are deeply immersed in several different villages, institutions and projects, working always with their partners, the Kenyan women who work so hard to make life work for the people around them, particularly for the children.  As a result, they formed a non-profit organization—African American Kenyan Women’s Interconnect (AAKEWO) which is fund-raising arm of their organization.

LueRachelle describes some of the many projects the group either has worked on or would like to work on.  First she clarifies that they only take on projects that Kenyans are already working on; they don’t initiate projects, rather they add onto existing projects and take their direction from people who are already working in the communities. 

There is an orphanage in Kisumu, a city of about 185,000, that the group supports.  The group has helped the orphanage with books and toys, a septic system, water storage, bathrooms, showers solar lighting, two cows, a calf and 200 chicks.

One of the women who volunteers at the orphanage is married to a minister who works with homeless children who live on the streets of Kisumu. LueRachelle iwould eventually like to work on a  project to build a village for those homeless children to provide them a place to live and a place to go to school.  Right now her group is  raising funds to build a dormitory for girls at the village school where they have bought text books and built a kitchen.  The boys at the school have a dormitory but girls must walk to and from school regardless of the weather.

That is how it builds.

AAKEWO has also contributed to scholarships for girls at the Ombogo Girls Academy, an institution striving to educate future leaders of Kenya, most of who have lost either one parent or both to AIDS.   

Another potential project came as a result of a discussion they had when they met with staff and teachers at the University of Masemo.  One of the professors told them that there were girls who miss school during their menstrual periods because they had no sanitary products and the boys laughed at them.  Missing 2-3 days each month makes it much harder for these young women to keep up with their studies. 

This trip, the women in the group will add sanitary products to their luggage to help a little, along with the pencils and paper and other school supplies they typically carry over with them.

Now, LueRachelle wants to provide sanitary supplies as well as biology lessons/HIV/AIDS education to students and their families in selected rural schools and then measure the results over several years to see if this will make a difference in the graduation rates for girls. She is writing a funding proposal for this and hopes to make it a reality.   

Did I mention that this is a calling for LueRachelle and her friends?  If you would like to learn more, check out their website. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 22, 2005 at 01:50 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Progresive Campaign Photographer Seeks Colleagues

A friend of Evergreen Politics from Canada is looking to connect with friends down here in the USA.

I am interested in making contact with photographers who have worked on progressive election campaigns in the United States. Basically, I would like to share information with photographers who are working day-to-day during the actual campaign, and seeing how their work is integrated into an overall communications strategy. I am one of the few photographers in Canada that is working on civic, provincial (state) and federal level progressive campaigns. My name is Joshua Berson and I can be contacted at bersonphoto@telus.net

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 22, 2005 at 12:28 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

Bill Moyers - Always the Best

In a lovely homage to "The Texas Observer", the truth-telling Texas newspaper, on their 50th anniversery, Bill Moyers talks about the money-above all culture of Texas, the governor they foisted on the rest of the country, current dangers and the need for muck-raking journalists to come out and be heard once again.  He quotes the lead editorial, written by Ronnie Dugger, from fofty years ago.

We will have a good time and we hope you do. We will twit the self-important and honor the truly important. We will lay the bark to the dignity of any public man any time we see fit. Telling the whole truth is not an exercise to be limited to children before they reach the age of reason. It is the indispensable requirement for an effective democracy. If the press and the politicians lie to the people, or hide those parts of the truth which trouble the conscience or offend a friend, how can the people’s falsely-based decisions be trusted? Here in the Southwest there is room for a great truth-telling newspaper, its editor free, its editorials cast in a liberal and reasonable frame of mind, its dedication Thoreau’s ‘The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth.

And Moyers wishes, as we all will after reading this, that The Texas Observer could be cloned and the clone dropped down in Washington D.C to cover the national scene.  You get a sense of what they might be able to write from what Moyers himself says about our situation now:

Hurricane Katrina uncovered what the progressive advocate Robert Borosage calls the “catastrophic conservatism” of the long right-wing crusade to denigrate government, ‘starve the beast,’ scorn its purposes and malign its officials. We are seeing the results of an economic policy focused on top-end tax cuts and deregulations to reward private investors, as opposed to public investments in the country’s vital infrastructure. On the day that Katrina struck the coast, the census bureau reported that last year, one million people had been added to the 36 million Americans living in poverty. A few weeks earlier, the Labor Department had reported that while incomes had grown impressively last year, the gains had gone mostly to the top—the people with stocks and bonds and income other than wages. But the 80 million people who live paycheck to paycheck barely stayed even. It took a natural disaster to expose the stunning inequality and poverty produced when people are written off and shoved to the margins. And to remind us, as Borosage writes, of the dearth of basic investment in the boring but essential public works vital to civilization—schools, public transport, water systems, public health, and yes, wetlands and trees.

We are seeing now the results of systemic and spectacular corruption and cronyism and the triumph of a social ideal—the “You get yours/I’ll get mine” mentality—that is diametrically opposed to the ethic of shared sacrifice and responsibility.

These are just snatches of the whole of his piece.  It's long but well worth the read.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 21, 2005 at 11:53 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2005

Powell Aide Claims VP Cheney Guided Torture

Col. Larry Wilkerson, top State Department official under Colin Powell, said that “Vice President Dick Cheney provided the "philosophical guidance" and "flexibility" that led to the torture of detainees in U.S. facilities” on CNN today:  And more:

"There's no question in my mind that we did. There's no question in my mind that we may be still doing it," Wilkerson said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"There's no question in my mind where the philosophical guidance and the flexibility in order to do so originated -- in the vice president of the United States' office," he said. "His implementer in this case was [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department."

At another point in the interview, Wilkerson said "the vice president had to cover this in order for it to happen and in order for Secretary Rumsfeld to feel as though he had freedom of action."

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 20, 2005 at 10:42 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday Evening at the 36th

Last Thurday evening, the thundering 36th LD, a robust Democratic Club that encompasses Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard and part of Belltown, held its annual auction and fundraiser at the Pacific Science Center.  Between 150 and 175 people were in attendance.  Jeanne Kohl-Welles, 36th LD Senator, and Helen Sommers and Mary Lou Dickerson, Representatives, were all present as well.  Kohl-Welles emceed the event which included food and drink, a silent auction and a panel of politicos talking about the impact of the last election and what Democrats need to be doing next.

The panel included Pam Eakes, currently working on Howard Dean’s staff in the other Washington; Eric Liu, DEMOS Board Member; Jeannie Kohl-Welles; James Kelly, President of the Urban League; Helen Sommers; Edie Gilliss, Political Director of the Progressive Majority; and Christian Sinderman, political consultant. 

Here’s a quick run-down of what each of them said:

Christian Sinderman: This was a good election for incumbents and for Democrats.  There were few upsets; with few exceptions, incumbents won.  He added that there was a nice win for the environment in Snohomish County with Dave Somers’ win over Jeff Sax. Best were the big wins in the defeats of initiatives 912 and 330. 

Edie Gilliss: She added that it was a good year for progressives.  She said we retained the Whatcom County Council for progressives and won back the Councils in both Snohomish County and Clark County.  She said the Republicans had thought they might make inroads but didn’t.  In the next year we have great opportunities to take back more seats in the suburban crescent.

Helen Sommers: She said it’s been an incredible few weeks on the national scene with the indictment against Libby and the wins in Virginia and New Jersey.  She talked about how Bush’s attitude of being right all the time doesn’t seem to be playing out with the public very well.  She then talked about the events in this state and how well we did bringing together labor and business to defeat 912.  She and Mary Lou were very active in working against 912 in our district, including raising money for wonderful lawn signs.

James Kelly: He talked about how the legislature and governor provided leadership for the Transportation bill this spring.  Then with Hurricane Katrina, it became clear how important it was to address our infrastructure.  Because of the leadership out of Olympia, the voters decided not to support rolling back the Transportation bill.

Senator Kohl-Welles: There were other groups that helped defeat 912 and Dave Ross on KIRO radio did a good job of laying out the facts every chance he got.  She said that having 912 on the ballot was more about embarrassing Chris Gregoire than it was about transportation.  Then the Republicans tried to intimidate the voters.  She also talked about the importance of next year’s elections, especially in the Senate which traditionally changes back and forth between the two parties.  But next year, they are hoping to pick up 1-3 seats which should make passing the Civil Rights bill easier.  It is really important to reelect Democrats and keep and expand that majority.

Eric Liu: He said that Jeannie Kohl-Welles exemplifies a kind of leadership that doesn’t glorify the self.  Her leadership is not about her. He then said that the defeat of 912 was not only about transportation or Gregoire.  The people were sending a basic message that we believe in government.  They affirmed the purpose of government.  There are certain things we can’t do alone – develop good transportation, create jobs, provide adequate healthcare.  People are hungry for leadership that sends that message.  It’s what we yearn for and it’s up to us to start telling that story.   

Pam Eakes: She said she came across the country to bring a message from Governor Dean to one of his favorite places – Seattle and the state of Washington.  He has only been in office 9 months and this was his first challenge.  She talked about the national wins and said that Tim Kaine’s victory in Virginia meant that the politics of Karl Rove is toast.  His opponent’s attack ads backfired, as did bringing in President Bush to campaign.  President Bush put it over the top for the Democrats. 

Then she shared a few highlights.  Blacks turned out in high numbers, perhaps as a result of Bush’s treatment of blacks in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  In New Jersey, Democrats expected to win but not by the numbers that we did.  She mentioned the defeat of Schwartznegger’s initiatives in California and then said that her favorite was the defeat of the incumbent mayor in St. Paul, a Democrat who had supported Bush last year. 

She also said that the defeat of 912 made national news and that there was a big gender gap in the voting for and against 912.  Women really came out against 912.  She went on to say that the DNC is optimistic about 2008.  At the DNC, Governor Dean has put together a great team and a great program.  The DNC is paying for 4 staffers in each state.  They are training them, giving them benefits, and consequentially planning to keep them in these roles and to raise the level of professionalism.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 20, 2005 at 10:00 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

KUOW Kicks Ass – And the Downside

Michael Hood over at blatherwatch.com has a post about KUOW, it’s popularity and the unintended consequences of that popularity on the rise of right-wing talk radio in the Northwest. 

He highlights the good news that KUOW is the most popular talk radio station in Seattle.  Normally commercial and non-commercial radio shows don’t get compared so we don’t see this.  Michael reports the number-crunching that Bill Virgin of the PI did for his “Radio Beat” column where he “found that not only was KUOW the highest rated talk station, it was the #2 in the whole market (second only to the mighty country music format KMPS).”

So what could possibly be the downside you ask?  As did I.  Michael lays it out very well:

One of the reasons that right-wing talk has become so powerful in the Northwest, is that so many of us liberals are escaping the crassness of the commercial-strewn AM stations and tuning in to the nuanced and intellectually satisfying NPR.

Meanwhile many other folks, apolitical or non-aligned, and trapped in their cars, have become politicized by the repetitive drumbeat of conservative talk. While we're getting the finer points, others are having partisan polemic literally pounded daily into their brains at the cellular level.

It's a big problem for Air America or other liberal AM talk. The commercials, the tone of voice, and unmitigated bias of AM talk is a turn-off to the on-the-other-hand crowd. Nuance is cool intellectually but Sean Hannity, Kirby Wilbur, John Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, et al, not only deliver punchy intense entertainment, but also turn listeners into passionate partisans. They have perfected- written the book on- making political rhetoric a popular entertainment medium.

NPR doesn't try to do that, but while they get big numbers in Seattle, their listeners are kept naive about the reality of local partisan politics.

~~They have, through salacious repetition, helped poison the minds of people against politicians, government and government process. While skepticism about government is good, the total distrust is unwarranted and problematic to the Republic.      
~~The extreme anti-tax I-912 was conceived by two talk hosts who used their shows to accomplish the amazing feat of getting it on the ballot in record time. It took a huge effort and millions of dollars to defeat the regressive measure.
~~Tim Eyman and his monkey-wrenching tax revolt initiatives would be nowhere without Seattle talk radio. Neither would the anti-affirmative I-200. Or the one-size-fits-all justice of "3-Strikes You're Out."
~~The attempt to unseat Christine Gregoire, though a failure in court, was a tremendous political success for Republicans. They succeeded, through talk radio, and triangulation with blogs, in convincing citizens that a) the King County Elections Dep't committed fraud and b) that Christine Gregoire had something to do with it. They put her numbers in the tank, a place from which she is only now recovering.

During all of this, we progressives in Seattle were listening to KUOW, considering all things and were amazed when the fruits of the talk radio conservative activists fell from the tree.

Who needs to address this is the Democratic Party, who incredibly blows off AM talk radio. They should, like the Republicans, recruit and groom young people to get into broadcasting; and take the medium seriously- they're getting their ass-kicked. The talk radio listeners are, for the most part, the swing voters--they can be won over.

I admit that it was only two weeks ago that I started listening to Thom Hartmann on Air America here (1090 AM KPTK) and that was only because he had asked me to comment on the elections in this state for him and so I wanted to get a sense of  his style.  He was very good.  The trouble of course is that it’s hard to wade through all the commercials and AM radio nonsense to get his words of wisdom.  I agree with Michael.  As Democrats, we need to figure this out.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 19, 2005 at 10:54 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Charmed by Schweitzer

Joel Connelly had a nice story on Montana Governor Schweitzer yesterday.  From the tone of the article, Connelly has clearly been smitten by Schweitzer’s smarts and charisma, as have I.  As have the good folks of Montana who give their new governor, who’s not even been in office a year yet, a 68% approval rating.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

A sky-high dreamer from the Big Sky State, Gov. Brian Schweitzer aims to make Montana government a lobbyist-free zone and to "create the new energy center of the world."

Montana has gotten its fill of lobbyists, or "manure piled around government," in Schweitzer's words. Lobbyists were behind an energy deregulation bill that allowed Wall Street to strip Montana Power of $2.7 billion in power assets, leaving the company bankrupt and its investors out in the cold.

Schweitzer believes it's time for Montana to protect its natural beauty, take charge of its enormous coal reserves, and -- the man dreams big dreams -- try to wean American from its dependence on Middle East oil.

"It isn't U.S. senators, the secretary of defense or the secretary of energy who go to funerals when bodies come back from Iraq. It's governors," he said. "I recommit myself, at every funeral, to energy independence.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 19, 2005 at 10:21 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

Ben Wants to be the KCGOP’s “database expert”

My friend Ben generally talks technology rather than politics although he stays up on politics pretty well.  But he brought the two together in this post at his techie blog on the Republican voter disenfrancisement project. I've lifted the rest from what he wrote so put quotes around it all:

Ok, I’ll take a break from pure technology discussion to talk about a place where technology and politics intersect. First a short recap: A few days before our last general election, the King County GOP issued voter challenges, significant portion of which turned out to be blatant mistakes, and another good portion turned out to be situations the GOP simply hadn’t accounted for.

A great partisan recap can be found here.

Now, the reason why this interests me enough to actually write about is that a lot of the GOP’s woes in regard to this case have to do with the fact that they simply did not do their due diligence when it came to querying their list of King County voters. (An aside: please note I did not call it a “Voter Database”. It’s a list. Stefan Sharkansky has what he calls “Voter Database”, but which I call a little searchable spreadsheet.

In King County (and elsewhere, I presume), you can only register to vote using your place of residence. So, the King County GOP, gets a list of all of the addresses of UPS Stores, Mailboxes Etc.s and other mailbox service places, and cross-references it with the list of voter’s addresses, most likely using a simple “=” operatory to compare the two lists. So, in about one second I’m going to write all of the technical information anybody will need to do the same querying as the GOP:

SELECT *
FROM my_tiny_little_voter_list AS vl
INNER JOIN mailbox_addresses AS ma ON ma.address_1 = vl.addl AND ma.zip = vl.zip
ORDER BY vl.last_name

That’s it! Now take the results of that and disenfrachise every row.

The sheer ineptitude of whatever “database expert” they have running the show over there boggles my mind.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 18, 2005 at 02:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Tipping Point – Democrats Stand with the American People

"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," said Congressman John Murtha, Democrat from western Pennsylvania, yesterday in an emotional press conference.  With John Murtha’s stand yesterday on the need for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq in the next six months, the Democrats have swung pretty convincingly into the same column as the American people.  It’s been coming for the last few weeks or so but Murtha’s strong and surprising stance tipped that balance, I believe, and provides the Democrats an opportunity to come together once and for all and stand against this war.

First there were the known progressives who were always against the war calling out to end it: Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Robert Byrd, our own Jim McDermott.  Then one by one, some powerful Democratic Senators admitted they were wrong, said they were misled, and demanded a full accounting of how the war came to be.  First up was actually the maverick Republican Vietnam Vet, Chuck Hagel back on Aug. 21st but he has never been joined by any other Republican that I'm aware of.  On the Democratic side, it started with Dick Gephardt, while visiting here in Seattle on Oct. 11th.  Others began piling on: Patrick Leahy on Oct. 25th, John Kerry on Oct. 26th, Jay Rockefeller on Nov. 6th, John Edwards on Nov. 13th.  And the big dog – Bill Clinton – weighed in on Nov. 16th.  Dianne Feinstein came close.  Wes Clark has always been against the war; he just thinks the withdrawal has to be carefully thought out. 

But all these folks are the usual suspects.  We believe them. Heck we were ahead of them, and clearly mainstream American has started believing something similar.  But the Republicans, outside of Bush and Cheney and their never-say-die supporters have to consider it seriously when it comes from someone like John Murtha.  Here’s the background on Murtha from an article in yesterday’s New York Times:

After serving in the Marines in the early 1950's, he re-enlisted in 1966, at the age of 34, and served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, according to The Almanac of American Politics. When he won his House seat in a special election in February 1974 he became the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress.

Murtha worked his way to his stand on pulling out our troops by talking to the guys doing the fighting.  He visited our wounded soldiers at Bethesda and Walter Reed weekly and talked to them about the mission.  Here’s what he came to as a result of those visits:

"What demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace," he said.

"Our troops have become the primary target for the insurgency," Mr. Murtha said. Insurgents, he said, "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." He went on to say that, before the Iraqi elections in December, the country's people and its emerging government "must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy."

"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free," he said. "Free from United States occupation."

Predictably, the Republican leaders came after him with a vengeance.  Kerry called it the “swift-boating of Murtha” and demanded it stop.  Cheney was the worst.  But it looks like Murtha can take care of himself.  Here’s what he said in response to Cheney: "I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said, referring to Cheney’s refusal to go to Vietnam.

Here’s Murtha’s speech in full.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 18, 2005 at 01:52 PM in National and International Politics, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

Tape of "Life After the Monorail" Forum

A few days ago, I put up a notice about a forum on Life After the Monorail sponsored by the Sierra Club.  Here's a comment I got on it from an attendee, Kermit:

The Sierra Club Monorail forum was awesome. Even though this was a busy night for other Seattle events over 90 people attended.

For folks that couldn't attend the forum and want to see it from the comfort of their living room it will be aired on the Seattle Channel 21 at 9pm on Friday, November 18.

More info on the website is: http://www.seattlechannel.org.

We'll put more up on the forum as we get it.  In the meantime, if you get a chance to see the tape, do so. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 17, 2005 at 10:38 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

A Bishop Responds to Pat Robertson

John Shelby Spong, a retired progressive Episcopalian Bishop, has been one of the church’s most progressive writers and thinkers.  He is the author of several books, including Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism : A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, and Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile. 

A Diarist at DailyKos, matthewc, puts up an email that Bishop Spong sent out in response to a question from a producer at Fox News about Pat Robertson’s proclamation that the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania should be concerned about God sending them a disaster now that they voted out the School Board that decided to ban intelligent design from the science room.  Here’s the first paragraph of his letter on the subject:

Pat Robertson has said so many silly and ridiculous things that I wonder why anyone would pay much attention to him on any subject.

Bishop Spong goes on to talk about Robertson’s many previous, ridiculous proclamations such as saying that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated.  Then he says:


I want to make only two points about this issue. First, I wonder who, other than Pat himself, designated Pat Robertson to be God's spokesperson? How dare Pat assume that the God revealed in the Jesus I serve is filled with all of Pat's peculiar prejudices. Why does he not understand that God is God and Pat Robertson is not? Why does he not see that when he tells the world with an unashamed certainty what God thinks and what God will do, he is only revealing what he thinks and what he would do if he had God's power? Pat needs to understand that he is acting out the very meaning of idolatry. He has confused God with himself.

And:

I, as a Christian, am embarrassed by the public face that Pat Robertson puts on the religious tradition to which my life is dedicated.

And ends with:

It is an even greater pity that the news media think that his continued utterances are worthy of any public attention at all.

Yeah!

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 16, 2005 at 08:19 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Democratic Independence

Not only are Independents starting to vote a lot like Democrats but Democrats are starting to act a lot more like Independents.  Chris Bowers has a post over at mydd.com about a very pleasing phenomenon.  He begins by mentioning what he has called the upcoming Indycrat Realignment, which he wrote about a week ago (and I also commented on at the time), talking about the Independents swinging firmly over to the Democrats column if Democrats can close the deal with them in the next year or two:

If we are indeed going to have an Indycrat realignment in 2006, it is going to be at least partially because of growing Democratic independence from traditional sources of power in Washington: lobbyists and big donors.

He goes on to talk about Dean freeing the Democrats from the grasp of the large donors and corporations because he has tapped into smaller donor money from the likes of us.  And about Pelosi’s ability to then blow off the lobbyists and focus on doing the peoples’ work rather than spending all that time groveling for money.  Bowers makes the connection and asks that the Democrats get the word out:

Is it any wonder why Democrats are doing so well among Independents these days? You have one party, Republicans, trying to suck up as much as possible to the rich, to large corporations, and to lobbyists. You have another party, Democrats, trying instead to appeal to small donors and build a nationwide grassroots movement independent of powerful, wealthy interests. You tell me who is going to appeal more to people who feel shut out of the system. You tell me which is a better way for American politics to operate. Democrats should broadcast these developments as far and as wide as they can. Amidst the Republican culture of corruption, this is good government at work. This will appeal to what I once deemed the "non-ideological reformers" as much as any issue or platform position ever could. We need to get the word out. Democrats are taking their party back.

It’s a great situation for Democrats to be in.  Read the entire post

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 16, 2005 at 04:25 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

Democratic Plans – Senator Ron Wyden’s New Tax Reform Plan

Last Sunday, Tim Russert hammered Howard Dean again on the Democrats lack of plans.  Dean said we’d have them.  They’d start showing up next year.  He didn’t even need to say that there wasn’t much point in putting out plans when the Republicans were doing such a great job of shooting themselves in the feet this fall.  It was pretty obvious that there is no point in getting in their way when they are getting such bad press all on their own.

One such plan was announced at a press conference on Oct. 27th and no one noticed - Oregon Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden’s “Fair Flat Tax Act of 2005”.  It seems quite good and will be great to pull out next spring when it is time for Democrats to show they have the ideas and plans to move this country ahead. 

I was on a phone conference last week, organized by Kari Chisholm of Blue Oregon, to hear about this plan. It made a lot of sense to me as a starting point for a Democratic plan. I was all set to write up my notes when I found that a DailyKos diarist, Scoonie, had done a great job writing it up this last Sunday on DailyKos.  Here’s the essence of what he says about it:

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has come up with a plan to reform the tax system in a way that truly reflects Democratic values. He calls it the "Fair Flat Tax Act of 2005". It succeeds in addressing four core tax ideas that Democrats and other reasonable people can agree on:

1)    a simpler, more efficient tax system
2)    a more progressive tax system
3)    a tax system that doesn't reward wealth over work
4)    a cut in taxes for the middle and lower class

Senator Wyden's plan eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) while downsizing the Form 1040/Schedule A to one page (30 total lines). The various itemized deductions of the current Schedule A are pared down to deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The plan lowers the number of marginal tax brackets down to three, with rates of 15%, 25%, and 35%. The standard deduction available to all taxpayers is increased while the Earned Income Credit (EIC) for low-wage workers is maintained.   

He continues in the diary with more details and you can find the entire plan at Senator Wyden’s website. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 15, 2005 at 06:18 PM in National and International Politics, Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Life after the Monorail vote - Forum this Evening

The Sierra Club is hosting a forum this evening on the future of transit in Seattle at REI downtown at 7:30.  Too bad this is such a crowded evening for political events - what with the Forum on Blogging at the 43rd LD meeting, the Wal-Mart Movie, and Drinking Liberally just to name three others. 

However, a panel of local folks who care pastionately about our transit system will be discussing:   

· What will become of Seattle's monorail dream following the monorail's defeat at the polls this week?

· What should regional leaders do about the motor-vehicle excise tax we've been paying to build the monorail?

· Should the state Legislature dissolve the tax, or should Seattle ask that the money be funneled into a local transit authority that could fund future transit projects?

Panelists:

Tim Ceis- Seattle Deputy Mayor
Nick Licata - Seattle City Councilmember
Richard Conlin - Seattle City Councilmember
Josh Feit - Columnist at The Stranger
Ken Jacobsen - State Senator from the 46th District
Ed Murray - State Representative from the 43rd District, (invited)

WHEN: Tuesday, November 15, 7:30pm

WHERE: Seattle Flagship REI, 222 Yale Ave N

This forum is free and open to the public.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 15, 2005 at 02:48 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Harry Reid’s End of Year Memo

The man who is actually setting the agenda for this country now reviews his plans for the next period of time with the Democratic Senators.  Kos has the entire letter.  Here’s a few of the juiciest bits from Senator Reid’s memo:

President Bush and his Republican party are collapsing across a wide front. Voters doubt their integrity, oppose their policies, abhor their performance and differ with their priorities. And, last week's Democratic victories confirm what we already knew - the American people want honest government and leaders who share their priorities. Over the next several weeks, we will have tremendous opportunities to reinforce with the American people that Democrats are committed to addressing the priorities of the people, while Republicans have spent the last year enacting the agenda of special interests and the radical right.

<snip>

We can't stop now. It's incredibly important that we take this message home during the upcoming recess and focus on the many missed opportunities in the Republican Congress over the last year to address America's priorities, and begin to lay out a real agenda of reform that will set the nation in a new direction.

He reminds the Senators of the President’s failed leadership and falling poll numbers across the board.  He says, “President Bush has squandered the reputation for honesty and integrity that has been his source of personal strength since September 11th.”  And highlights this:

Only 29% of voters believe President Bush has the same priorities for the country as they do, while 65% say their priorities are different from those of the President. Similarly, 24% believe their concerns are shared by Republicans in Congress but 58% say they are focused on different concerns.

Then he takes on the Republican leadership:

The corruption and ethical problems in the White House and Republican leadership as well as the growing influence of the right wing has caused serious fractures in the normally unified Republican Party unlike anything we've seen in decades. Senator Danforth's warnings several months ago about the influence of the right wing in the Republican Party and the impending consequences fell on deaf airs. From using the floors of Congress to violate the privacy of Terri Schaivo's family in a very difficult and painful time, to passing an immoral budget that slashes funding for Americans most in need, to nominating and confirming right wing judges determined to rollback individual rights and freedoms, the President and the Republican Congress have governed from the right, leaving the rest of America behind. Today, moderates in the Republican Party are expressing concern about the influence of the right wing and what it means for the Party's future.

And, after the fold, on what it means in terms of opportunity for the Democrats:

These fractures stand in stark contrast with Democrats who are standing together on the issues and holding the President accountable for his failed policies.

<snip>

Through everyone's hard work and discipline, we have sent a very clear message to the American people: Democrats will fight to clean up and reform Washington and put the priorities of working families - affordable health care, energy independence, and real security - ahead of the special interests that have taken over the Republican party.
       
On every issue facing American families today, voters are turning to Democrats for leadership.  According to a recent NBC/WSJ poll, Democrats have their biggest advantage in over a decade on the gas prices (+28), environment (+39), health care (+26), Social Security (+22), the economy (+14), the deficit (+19), education (+19), and trade (+10).

It is particularly striking that Democrats have cut deeply into Republican leads on their core issues. For example, for the first time in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll, more people trust Democrats than Republicans to deal with Iraq (+3) and taxes (+10). The Republican lead on the war on terror has been cut in half, from 18 points in December 2004 to 9 points today. And Republicans' advantage on maintaining a strong national defense is at its lowest level ever in this poll.

Reid goes on to reiterate the advantages that this shift in attitude on the part of the voters gives Democrats running for the Senate in 2006:

The opportunity for our Party and our country could hardly be greater. We have benefited from two things: 1) the Republican implosion as a result of five years of rubberstamping the President's special interest agenda and 2) Democratic unity in holding the President accountable and fighting for America's priorities. As a result, Democrats now enjoy greater public trust and confidence across a wide range of issues.

And finally, a unified message for the Senators to take back to the state and build on during the recess. During recess, each member of the caucus will be asked to do two things:

First, each Senator should put together "Time for Reform...Together, America Can Do Better" town halls, speeches, or events to carry home the simple message that Democrats will deliver an honest and open government as good as its people.  America should be leading the world, but instead we have the most damaged presidency since Watergate, a tarnished White House and a Republican Congress focused on their problems not America's problems: High gas prices, stagnant economy, rising number of uninsured, endless and costly war in Iraq, etc.

Second, with the help of Democratic governors, a series of regional "Energy Independence Summits" will take place across the country. These summits will serve as fact finding missions on the real life impact of the Administration's failure to act to make America energy independent and help consumers make ends meet.  Governors, Senators, members of Congress and Democratic leaders across the country will begin to lay out the meaning of real reform that will secure America and lower gas prices.

Give ‘Em Hell Harry.  We couldn’t be happier with your leadership.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 15, 2005 at 09:51 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

Democrats Kick Off 50 State Strategy

The Dems are taking a page out of the MoveOn.org playbook and arranging meetings around the country tomorrow night (Nov. 15th) to help folks get organized in their neighborhoods to take this country back. 

Folks will open up their homes to their friends and neighbors for a night of planning and action. Hosts of these National Organizing Kickoff meetings will have materials to run a briefing on our party-building efforts, the political landscape in your state and opportunities to take action locally.

You can take part.  Check out this DNC site for information. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 14, 2005 at 08:37 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

Privatizing our public lands

How'd you like mining companies buying up chunks of our national parks for real estate speculation?  Because that's exactly what would happen under a new bill that that House Repulbicans are attempting to sneak through the budget process.  As the PI reports:

More than 50,000 acres of old mining claims in Washington -- including some inside Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades national parks -- could be converted to private land under legislation expected to pass the U.S. House next week.

The proposal also would open up millions of acres in Washington's national forests -- and more than 350 million acres across the West -- to be newly privatized under a revision of the 1872 Mining Law tucked into a 184-page budget bill.

Mining companies getting the opportunity to take our public lands for free.  I can't even begin to count the ways in which this is a terrible idea.

Unfortuantely, our state's lone "moderate" Republican representative, Dave Reichert, seems to think this is just fine.

"There are other parts of the bill we're going to work on, but you can only do so much," said Mike Shields, Reichert's chief of staff. "There are some things that Dave likes about the bill. He's going to vote for it."

Looks like Dave's cynically decided the giving enviros a nod by voting against drilling in the Arctic Refuge was enough, and that he'd better get back in line with the most extreme elements of his party.

Hypocrite.  Coward.


Posted by Jon Stahl on November 13, 2005 at 08:38 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 11, 2005

End Game on Bush's Approval: Realignment

Chris Bowers talks about the implications of Bush's falling poll numbers over at mydd.com.  He lists the seven approval polls on Bush so far in November.  The mean is 37.1 approve and 57.7 disapprove, the second lowest approval of any President in 25 years. The lowest was Bush's father in 1992. 

His conclusion is that our goal is not impeachment or resignation.  It is realignment.

Bush's disapproval is so high, and his position as the face of the Republican Party is so assured, that it is now possible to envision a vast national realignment away from the Republican Party based primarily on backlash against Bush-ism (aka, contemporary conservatism). Bush Sr.'s extended period of disapproval at this level led to the Perot and 1994 realignment, which helped us greatly in 1992 but on which we utterly failed to capitalize in 1994. Carter's extended period of disapproval led to the 1980 realignment, which saw Republicans sweep the senate and the White House, as well as the first serious defections of Dixiecrats from the Democratic Party. Johnson's extended struggles from 1966-1968 also led to a realignment in 1968.

Bush's approval is now low enough for a realignment to take place in 2006 and 2008. A realignment is far more important to Democrats and progressives than Bush's impeachment or resignation could ever be. This is a generational event and, considering the timing of previous realignments, 1968, 1980 and 1992-4, the timing also suggests that the opportunity is ripe.

He goes on to say that the realignment will come from the Independents who are already polling far closer to the Democrats than to the Republicans.  He calls it the Indycrat realignment.

This is it. This is our chance--our once in a generation window. If we keep Bush's approval low, results like we saw for Paul Hackett on August 2nd and across the country on November 8th will become the norm. Apart from withdrawal, I'm not even sure we need a major platform adjustment or roll-out. People pretty much already know what we stand for. As long as they grow convinced that Bushism doesn't work, they will come over to our side.

We probably won't get another chance like this for at least another decade, so we have to make it count. There are 1089 days between now and November 4th, 2008, the day of the next Presidential election. Make it happen.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 11, 2005 at 10:24 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Al Gore on Global Warming

The Rolling Stone has a great article detailing what Al Gore has been traveling around the country saying about our real big problem, global warming, and the ramifications for all of us of standing by and doing nothing. 

I tried to get into hear Gore talk about this in Portland a couple of months ago but the lines were so long, we were turned away.  So I’ve been looking for a concise piece on it.  And it’s fiery to boot.  Here is the beginning:

It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly and wisely. "Global warming" is the name it was given a long time ago. But it should be understood for what it is: a planetary emergency that now threatens human civilization on multiple fronts. Stronger hurricanes and typhoons represent only one of many new dangers as we begin what someone has called "a nature hike through the Book of Revelation."

After he runs through the changes in weather that should deeply alarm us, he sums up:

All of these are symptoms of a deeper crisis: the "Category 5" collision between our civilization -- as we currently pursue it -- and the Earth's environment. Sixty years ago, Winston Churchill wrote about another kind of gathering storm. When Neville Chamberlain tried to wish that threat away with appeasement, Churchill said, "This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste, of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year -- unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we rise again and take our stand for freedom."

And the call to act and more after the fold:

To those who say this problem is too difficult, I say that we have accepted and met such challenges in the past. We declared our liberty, and then won it. We designed a country that respected and safeguarded the freedom of individuals. We abolished slavery. We gave women the right to vote. We took on Jim Crow and segregation. We cured fearsome diseases, landed on the moon, won two wars simultaneously -- in the Pacific and in Europe. We brought down communism, we defeated apartheid. We have even solved a global environmental crisis before: the hole in the stratospheric ozone layer.

There’s more, including a wonderful quote by Winston Churchill on doing nothing:

In the 1930s, Winston Churchill also wrote of those leaders who refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.”

Even while we are rightly focused on reclaiming our country and taking back Congress, it's important to look farther ahead as well.  Thanks Al.  I only wish . . .

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 11, 2005 at 09:53 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Cracks in Republican Solidarity – in both Washingtons

How quickly they recognized the difficulties they are in!  As a result of Tuesday’s clear Democratic election wins in New Jersey and Virginia and tons of local wins all over the country, moderate Republican Senators and Representatives are bailing on Bush and Cheney and the Republican leaders carrying water for them in Congress.

The Washington Post has an article this morning about the Republicans' inability to get their budget passed yesterday.  Here’s a piece of it:

 
House Republican leaders were forced to abruptly pull their $54 billion budget-cutting bill off the House floor yesterday, amid growing dissension in Republican ranks over spending priorities, taxes, oil exploration and the reach of government.

A battle between House Republican conservatives and moderates over energy policy and federal anti-poverty and education programs left GOP leaders without enough votes to pass a budget measure they had framed as one of the most important pieces of legislation in years. Across the Capitol, a moderate GOP revolt in the Senate Finance Committee forced Republicans to postpone action on a bill to extend some of President Bush's most contentious tax cuts.

How bad is it?  Here’s what Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, says: "After Tuesday's election, it's 'Why are we following these guys?  They’re taking us off the cliff.’”

Joel Connelly in an article at the PI echoes the WAPO at the national level, reminds us of Schwartznegger’s humiliation in California, praises Senator Cantwell for her firm stands on preserving the Sound, and adds this at the local level:

In this Washington, the Republican right tried to carry on the 2004 gubernatorial election. It backed an initiative to roll back the $8.5 billion transportation package that Gov. Christine Gregoire helped engineer.

So-called mainstream Republicans did not follow the party line. They realized, as GOP state Chairman Chris Vance did not, that the ability to govern is the acid test of politics. Repairing the state's infrastructure took priority over political intrigue.

I-912 lost, the first major defeat suffered by the state's tax revolt movement.

We may be seeing the beginning of the end for the right-wing of the Republican Party across the country.  It’s about time.  The Democrats seem ready to step up to take responsibility and moderate Republicans seem like they might possibly be ready to try to grab hold of the reins of their party again.  They could always join us if they cannot pry the reins out of the cold dead hands of the folks who aren’t ready to see what is happening yet.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 11, 2005 at 09:29 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2005

African American-Kenyan Women’s Interconnect

My friend LueRachelle Brim-Atkins is part of a local group of women who travel to Kenya regularly as part of a “cultural reconnection mission”.   The group, called AAKEWO, African American-Kenyan Women’s Interconnect, go to Africa to build relationships, talk with their African sisters in Kenya and, as they say on their website, “repair the disconnect caused when ancestors of today’s African-Americans were taken from their homes and families to work as slaves in America.” 

They go as women and focus on building relationships with women because “women generally take on the role of custodians of the culture and serve to transmit culture to their families and to the next generation.”  A bit more from their website:

Past cultural reconnection missions have ventured to the international metropolitan center of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya; as well as the ancient trading town of Mombasa, at the edge of the Indian Ocean. We have spent time in Western Kenya at the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest fresh water lake in the world and the majestic Kakamega rain forest in the interior of the country.  We have explored the ancestral homelands in small rural villages rich with history and culture. Along the way to our destinations we have viewed some of the natural breath-taking sights of Kenya, such as the Great Rift Valley, Kit Mikai Stone formations, and of course, wild life adventures in internationally acclaimed animal safari parks. We have also had plenty of time to relax and shop at various stops along the way.

There was also a great write-up in the Seattle Times about these women and their missions prior to a trip they made this spring.

I have heard about this cultural reconnection mission twice through LueRachelle and her friends and thought I might want to share the beauty of this project.  I was prompted to do so now by an invitation I received this week to go to a Holiday Bazaar and look at and buy hand-made cards and other handicrafts that the women involved in AAKEWO will offer for sale this Saturday, November 12, 10:00 - 5:00 at the First AME Holiday Bazaar.  Address is 1522 14th Avenue, Seattle, the Leona B. Jones Fellowship Hall. You are welcome to come do some holiday shopping as well.  Proceeds will benefit their projects in Kenya, which include providing books for a school library, showers for an orphanage as well as scholarships, water tanks and solar-energy technology.

I'll be sharing more about this mission in an interview with LueRachelle sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 10, 2005 at 10:24 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 09, 2005

Cronyism and Corruption at the Department of Natural Resources

The Seattle PI reports that DNR official Pat McElroy tried to cut a backroom deal with the timber industry on spotted owl protection rules.

An internal timber industry memorandum obtained by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer outlines how Pat McElroy, chairman of the Forest Practices Board, agreed to eliminate a key DNR staff recommendation to be considered today.

The memo also suggests that McElroy had planned to alter his agency's recommendations without telling others involved in the talks, such as environmentalists and tribal leaders.

Pathetic.  We deserve less corrupt public servants than this.  But I guess it's hard to expect ethical dealings from DNR staff when their boss, Doug Sutherland, is beholden to the timber companies who financed his election bid last year. 


Posted by Jon Stahl on November 9, 2005 at 09:59 PM in The Politics of Business | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Election Wrap-up and the Emergence of the Progressive Noise Machine

Good wrap-up of the implications of our election here by Brian over at Washblog.  He does a good run around the field and ends here:

The repubs will have to go back to the drawing board, as the I-912 backfire has now set up the Democrats in Olympia with some of that political 'capital' we hear about. The 2006 legislative session could be a great one.

I was on the Portland progressive station, KPOJ 620, this morning talking with Thom Hartmann, who does a local show there before the national one later in the morning on Air America.  They wanted someone to do an analysis of what happened in Washington State so I did the honors.

We talked about the emergence of the progressive blogs, the lessened impact of right-wing radio and the arrival of progressive radio as contributing factors in our wins up here and around the nation. Collectively we made sure that people had the facts and in doing so, we had an impact the defeats of Dave Irons, Jeff Sax and Initiative 912. 

I think we can start calling it the emergence of the Progressive Noise Machine.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 9, 2005 at 10:34 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

My Favorite Piece of Sanity

We had lots of sanity restored to the public arena last night.  Two Democratic governorships, including the one in Virginia which has been pretty close.  All of Arnold's initiatives defeated.  The defeat of 912, the election of Ron Sims in King County and Dave Somers in Snohomish. 

But my favorite sane action was in Dover, PA, where as Kos put it, "Intelligent designers on Dover school board were swept out en masse by the city's voters. Eight sane Dems swept out eight crazy fundamentalists."

Kos linked to the blog, Panda's Thumb which had this headline: "Apparent End of the Dover School Board's Reign of Error".  The testimony on the case had closed just a few days ago in the
Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board case and it looked like the School Board was going to be able to institute loony "science" standards similar to those that Kansas recently okayed.  The New York Times has an article on the community and the election as well.

However, we didn't do so well in Kansas, although the idiocy came from the School Board not directly from the voters.  From the NYT, "The fiercely split Kansas Board of Education voted 6 to 4 on Tuesday to adopt new science standards that are the most far-reaching in the nation in challenging Darwin's theory of evolution in the classroom."

The rulings recommend that evolution teaching be countered by the teaching of "Intelligent Design" and in the process, redefined science itself, saying it did not have to be "explicitly limited to natural explanations".  And they, led by our own Discovery Institute, will be trying to do the same in other places around the country.

In the meantime, Kos, in the same post as above, asks us to keep our eyes on the prize:

But I have to say, while this beats the losing we've experienced the last couple of years, this is still quite unsatisfying. Let's call it the appetizer.

2006 is the real target. We've got the momentum and a Republican Party reeling from its inability to govern. We can't let them regain their balance. We've got to keep them on the defensive, take advantage of every opening they provide to score additional points.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 9, 2005 at 08:38 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 08, 2005

Election Wrapup

A few before-bed thoughts on our elections today:

Statewide, things went pretty well.  Smoking ban passed -- in every county.  Gas tax repeal (and talk radio wingnuts) defeated.  (Congrats to Andrew and all the folks who worked hard to get the word out about I-912.)  All the other stupid stuff went down.  Audits passed, but it probably won't mean much. 

Here in Seattle/King County, more of a mixed bag.  Sims seems to have won pretty handily.  All the incumbents on the Seattle City Council won, that's too bad, I was hoping that Pelz would take McIver out.  Monorail is dead, no suprise, but I'm sad.  (Yeah, Ben, I know.  You think I'm crazy.)  Biggest disappointment, though, is Lawrence Molloy's loss of his Port Commission seat.  He was just about the only voice of sanity on that important but obscure body.   

Your cheers and jeers here.

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 8, 2005 at 11:15 PM in Ballot Initiatives, Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Doofus DoD Reverses Itself - Will Pay Bonuses to Guardsmen

After lobbying by legistlators, the governor and our Congressfolk, the Defense Department has decided to reverse itself and pay the bonuses it promised to the 15 or so Washington State National Guardsmen when they re-enlisted for six years, including time in Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan.  I guess. Article in the PI.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 8, 2005 at 07:54 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2005

How Do They Sleep at Night?

Dirty campaign tactics in Snohomish County Council race!  Dave Somers, whose interview I just put up yesterday reports today that the 5th District, the only one with a competitive race, is being deluged with smear literature directed at him.  Dave Somers is a straight arrow kind of guy, a Fisheries biologist.  He is running to take back the seat he lost four years ago to Jeff Sax, his Republican opponent.  In a last minute attempt to prevent Somers from retaking this seat, Sax has mailed out and distributed at least six different last-minute pieces containing lies and more lies.  They’ve also slapped “GAY endorsed” all over every large Somers sign in the district.
   
Last minute campaign lies and voter disenfranchisement on the part of Republicans are nothing new.  Check out this post on DailyKos about the King County Republican tactics to keep Democrats at home. We saw it in the national campaign last year.  It’s what they learn to do in their College Republican training grounds.  But this is a County Council race.  The amount and cost of these is breath-taking for a down-ticket race.
 
Some campaigns simply have too much money.  Jeff Sax is a darling of developers and is being amply rewarded for his unflinching support of developers and his tear down of any growth management regulations or even any infrastructure support of the developments he champions.  The Washington Conservation Voter co-sponsored site, JeffSaxFacts, lists 39 major contributions from local developers and development associations.

Back to the last minute lies on the literature Sax sent out with all that developer money. . .  Dave Somers reports some of what Sax says and Somers’ refutations:

Back to the last minute lies on the literature Sax sent out with all that developer money. . .  Dave Somers reports some of what Sax says and Somers’ refutations:

On a mailer labeled “There is a big reason why Dave Somers keeps hiding from his record”, along with a photo of a man with a box over his head, are the following claims:

  • Dave Somers underfunded the Sheriff’s department by 35 Deputies and allowed our community to become a haven for meth labs & drug dealers
  • In his four years on the council, Dave Somers didn’t raise mitigation fees, but did raiser property fees . . . again, and again, and again.
  • No surprise since Dave is paid by the Tulalip Tribes – the county’s largest developer and the only one that doesn’t pay property taxes

The truth, as Dave calls it:

  • We added 36 new deputies and 45 total NEW positions. My record is vastly better than Jeff’s on funding for the Sheriff and the criminal justice programs.
  • Sax claims the council added 40 new deputies during his time there – the real number is 21. The total number of NEW positions (deputies and others) at the Department is 4 under Jeff Sax given they eliminated other positions
  • Jeff claims meth is a priority but he blocked the creation of a meth strike team in 2003 because it was proposed by then county executive, Bob Drewel
  • Jeff claims he raised road mitigation fees 50%. It actually was 30% and didn’t even cover inflation.
  • Jeff claims credit for building a new jail with no new taxes – we created that project my last year and I personally signed all the bonds for the project as Chair of the Council. Jeff didn’t even have to get out of bed for the new jail to be built. He is taking credit for something our Council did.
  • Jeff’s flier says in four years on Council, Dave Somers didn’t get one major road project underway. That is not true – we got River Road and 132nd St. SE underway.
  • They keep saying I work for the Tulalip Tribes. I do not and have not worked for them directly since 1998. I did a contract job for them in 2002-3 but have done nothing for them since. I am proud of my work for the Tribes however anyway, but they are trying to stir up the anti-Indian crowd.

And that is only one of the six new flyers.  Our democracy does not function well under the pressure of last-minute lies.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 6, 2005 at 06:57 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Smoking Ban Good For Your Love Life

Maybe the best reason to vote for I-912 I-901 [Can't you get anything right? - Ed.]  isn't about worker's health, or freedom, or anything so high-minded.  Perhaps it's just about sex.  The UK's Guardian Observer reports:

...in Ireland - where a complete ban on smoking in bars, pubs and restaurants has been in place for over a year - having a quick drag has replaced speed dating as the best way to spice up your love life.

That's right -- requiring smokers to poison their lungs outside has led to a huge boom in casual pick-ups.  And a new word: "smirting." (That's smoking + flirting.)

The downside is that it might be increasing the amount of casual social smoking.  But that's OK with me -- by making people go outside to smoke, it makes it easy for the people like me who don't want to inhale second-hand smoke (or flirt with women who smoke) don't have to.  Everybody wins.  My lungs stay clean.  And smokers apparently get laid more.

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 6, 2005 at 01:25 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

November 05, 2005

Interview with Dave Somers – Snohomish County Council Candidate

The District 5 race for the Snohomish County Council, the only competitive race of the three for the Council this year, is proving to be a classic pro-development vs. managed growth race.  Dave Somers, the Democrat, is running to regain the seat he lost four years ago to Jeff Sax, an erratic Republican.   

The Seattle Times, in an endorsement of Somers, pretty much sums it up:

District 5 runs from Snohomish beyond Index, along Highway 2, and is sizzling with development. Development interests have helped push Republican incumbent Jeff Sax past $210,000 in contributions.

Democrat Somers, a fisheries scientist and land-use analyst, can return rationality and gravitas to district representation. Sax only lurches from one political pratfall to another; he is unfocused and unpredictable. His deliberate leak of legal details from a recent executive session was the last straw. Somers is the qualified, mature choice in this race.

The Everett Herald, a close follower of the Snohomish County Council, says that the Council, “led by Gary Nelson, John Koster and Jeff Sax, has undertaken an outrageous and irresponsible agenda of handing over county land to sprawl developers in clear violation of state laws designed to protect existing communities and taxpayers from the high costs of sprawl.” 

The race is pretty cut and dry and terribly important.  When Sax defeated Somers four years ago, the Council swung to a 3-2 Republican majority.  If Somers can pull off this rematch win, the Democrats will again have a 3-2 edge and the issues about how to grow without wholesale damage to the quality of life of the existing residents can resume. From another Seattle Times article, this quote about Sax and the need to defeat him:

"He's primarily backed by developers who feel they largely have a de facto vote on the council by Jeff [Sax]," said Zach Silk, field director for the Washington Conservation Voters, which endorses Somers. "[Sax] plays a rubber-stamp role for what they're looking for."

Washington Conservation Voters has even taken the unusual move of co-sponsored an interesting site that clarifies just how bad Somers’ opponent is.
 
The interview with Dave Somers is after the fold.

Interview with Dave Somers, Candidate for 5th District, Snohomish County Council

Q: This must be interesting for you, having this do-over.  You lost this seat to Jeff Sax four years ago and are trying to take it back.  I would guess it was difficult to watch someone who is so different from you take your place on the Council.

DS:  It has been difficult watching Jeff.  I think he fundamentally doesn’t believe in government.  On land use he seems to do whatever the developers want.  When I was on the council I had a sense of really wanting to protect the land, manage growth, and keep the natural environment in good shape.  I really wanted us to avoid becoming like the Los Angeles area with its uncontrolled growth.

When Jeff came on the Council it tipped the balance and they undid so many things.  It was difficult.  My background is in natural resources.  I’m a fisheries biologist.  When I was on the Council I enjoyed broadening my understanding of other issues and getting into transportation, criminal justice, parks, and other issues.  It was a rewarding experience.  There are so many aspects of county government.  I’m a problem solver; I like to jump in and see if I can help resolve issues.

Now there is not a strong voice to argue the other way on unrestrained growth.  I was successful in steering things in a positive direction.  I thought about challenging Jeff for 4 years.  I’m glad I did it.

Q: If you are elected again, that is likely to change the Council back to a 3-2 Democratic majority.  What do you foresee happening?

DS:  It will tip it back Democratic on the growth issues. There are still a couple of pro-developer people on the Council but it certainly will be better.  But at least with me there, the issues will get raised again.  I don’t think that critical development-related issues are getting a fair hearing now. 

Q: When you get out and talk to the voters, as I hear you do a lot, what do you hear?

DS:  For the public, the single biggest issue is traffic and growth and the taxes that go with it.  This wasn’t the case four years ago.  The traffic is so bad out here.  The council seems so bent on expanding out into the rural areas.  For example, the Monroe School district needs 3 more elementary schools and they just finished building a high school.  That’s fine but it works better if the growth is more measured.  People want more reasoned growth.  This was not such a big issue four years ago.  It has become one.

Q: How is the Council addressing those issues now?

DS: The Council is looking at lowering the road standards so there can be more growth.

Q: How would you characterize Jeff Sax, your opponent in this race?

DS: Jeff is trying to make himself look like the planned, reasonable growth guy.  He’s changed his positions on several issues in the last six months to make it look like he is reasonable on these issues because he knows that is what the voters want.  He had been for the planning community development at Lake Roesinger but is against it now.  He has proposed inflation escalation as part of the mitigation fees for developers.  When he took office he was dead set against all mitigation fees, against the Growth Management Act, against protecting endangered species.  He’s trying to look like he’s for those things now.

He’s a property rights type guy.  He want to get government out of the picture altogether.  It doesn’t fit with this area.

Jeff also has a track record of missteps.  He had a reputation going into the last campaign as someone who shoots first and asks questions later.  He’s lived up to it.  He didn’t have much experience and he didn’t feel as if he had to play by the same rules others do.  The recent leaking of documents is a good example. 

Q: How would you characterize the campaign so far?

The issues that have been raised in media about growth and development have been the issues I’ve been hearing about.  There is going to be a lot of growth.  I have a vision that we can work with that growth, develop urban pockets while preserving farm land and forests. 

Mostly I feel like the campaign has been positive, been good.  The public has been receptive to my candidacy. 

Unfortunately, there have been no big public events, like forums or debates.  It’s also difficult to get voters out when there are no big national or state races.  The Farm Bureau had a meeting and there were maybe 50 people.  The Everett Herald had a coffee and, again, there were perhaps 50 people there.  That means that the campaign mostly involves direct mail and media and as much doorbelling as I can do. 

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 5, 2005 at 03:43 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2005

Breaking Rank With Norm Stamper

In These Times has a really interesting interview with ex-Seattle police cheif Norm Stamper, who presided over the disastrous breakdown of law and order during the 1999 WTO protests, retired to a cabin in the San Juans, and wrote a book, entitled "Breaking Rank."

The surprise is that it turns out that Norm's a raging progressive.  Pro drug legalization, anti police violence, concerned about racism and homophobia on the force.

But wait, there's more.

[Stamper:] If I get an opportunity in a second edition, I have a list of about 100 things I would change in the book. At the top of the list is my conclusion about WTO: We started it.

[In These Times:] “We?”

[Stamper:] The police department. We started it on Tuesday morning. We had had skirmishes, and some problems before that, but the real problems started on Tuesday.

We blew it on Tuesday morning when we gassed non-violent demonstrators.

Wow.

 

 

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 4, 2005 at 11:55 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interview with Geni Hawkins - Candidate for King County Council from the 7th

When people talk about Geni Hawkins and her candidacy for the King County 7th District, they inevitably describe her as “a breathe of fresh air”.  After interviewing her and researching what has been written by her on her website and by others in endorsing her, I think I understand what people mean when they say that. 

Geni is a true grassroots candidate, the kind we haven’t encountered for awhile but the kind we hope to encounter over and over into the future.  She ran for this seat, which encompasses the small cities of Auburn and Federal Way and both industrial and rural areas around them, because no one else was running on the Democratic side and she thought she had a lot to offer.  She thought that Pete von Reichbauer, her Republican opponent and a career politician, who has been on the Council since 1993 should be opposed.

She had done a lot of volunteering in the community, she cared deeply about what happened to individual people but she had not been an office-holder.  Since starting to run, she has been doorbelling, meeting her potential constituents, listening, and coming to understand the issues that affect her south King County area.  She is now knowldegable and focused on the issues that concern these voters and committed to representing her future constituent and making a difference on the Council.

When asked to characterize the differences between herself and von Reichbauer, she has a compelling answer.  She says that the incumbent is a career politician, who's never really been an ordinary working citizen.  Her district is filled with working citizens, many of whom have come to this country as adults and speak other languages.  Geni says that von Reichbauer “came from well-to-do circumstances and, as such, has less understanding of the difficulties faced by the working poor.”  She herself was “brought up in the housing projects, youngest of 13 children.  I understand the obstacles faced by someone who cannot afford health care, for whom owning a house is not possible, for whom mass transit is essential to allow them to get to the workplace.”

Geni also brings a great deal of expertise in an area much needed by the Council – information technology.  She has worked in the field for 25 years and knows how to ask the questions to really understand and analyze systems, something that this Council could make good use of.

The other thing that really struck me about Geni is how much she brings to the central issue affecting all of us in the I-5 corridor – growth and growth management.  Unlike many of the other politicians on both sides, she does not see that this needs to be as a polarizing issue.  She is for smart growth and is convinced that it is possible to manage growth in such a way that it does not diminish the quality of life for the folks involved.  I think she brings an ability to bring people together to find common cause, a wonderful and needed trait. 

The interview is after the fold.  Noemie over at Washblog has written about Geni and also written about her opponent, Pete von Reichbauer, and the troubles he has caused Democrats in the past.  Both are good reads and very instructive.  For those of you in her district who are still undecided, check out her website as well.  The more I read, the more I believe that she would be a great Councilmember. 

Interview with Geni Hawkins, candidate for King County Council from the 7th District

1) What prompted you to run for King County Council?

Initially, it was because no one filed to run against the incumbent, and I think it makes voters feel disenfranchised when there's no one on the ballot who represents their beliefs and their values.  The last thing we want is voters disengaged from the process because there's "no point to voting."  However, the more I've learned about the district, the issues, and the work done by the Council, the more this race has become about actually running because I very much want to work on the issues the County Council deals with.

2) What do you bring to the table?

Among other things, I'm a 25-year information technology professional.  I think the Council needs someone with a high-tech background to help determine how best to allocate the millions of dollars the Council spends on technology issues every year and oversee such projects to make sure every dollar is spent wisely and responsibly.  I have extensive training in systems analysis, which means I understand how to go about studying a process, finding the problem areas, and designing solutions to resolve those problems, rather than trying to force a predetermined solution to fit without understanding the systems involved.  I have experience in both private sector (20 years at Boeing) and public sector (I work for the Highline School District) employment, and have worked at companies of all sizes.  I think my experience suits me admirably for the County Council, particularly with regards to overseeing any potential technological elections solutions.

3) What have you learned from talking to voters during this time?

A large population of the district feels very frustrated that the County Council's focus has been too Seattle-centric, and the needs of the suburban and rural citizen have taken a back seat.  There's a great deal of misinformation about some of the more controversial initiatives and legislation, such as I-912 or the Critical Areas Ordinance.  There's a strong feeling that the Council is too often imposing mandates top-down and unilaterally, without adequate input from the citizens or the communities.

4) What is unique about the 7th district?

We're the true suburban district; there's a portion of the district that's rural, but the majority of the district revolves around two small suburban cities, Auburn and Federal Way.  We have a very high population of citizens for whom English is not their native language, a large number of elderly and working poor.  We're the southernmost district in King County, and our transportation needs are very different from those of the urban districts; a large percentage of our district's working people don't commute to downtown Seattle but to other suburbs, and these commuters haven't been well-served by many of the mass-transit solutions which have revolved around a hub-and-spoke model with Seattle as the center.  We have large warehouse distribution bases in the district, with efficient transportation being key to allowing those industries to continue to operate profitably.  We have several communities within the district that are split between King and Pierce counties, and those communities often feel their needs are not adequately addressed.

5) How would you characterize the differences between you and Pete von Reichbauer?

The incumbent is a career politician, who's never really been an ordinary working citizen.  He came from well-to-do circumstances and, as such, has less understanding of the difficulties faced by the working poor.  I was brought up in the housing projects, youngest of 13 children.  I understand the obstacles faced by someone who cannot afford health care, for whom owning a house is not possible, for whom mass transit is essential to allow them to get to the workplace.  As the wife of a small business owner, I understand the needs of small business - who provide most of our jobs - for regulatory reform and tax fairness.  I'm also someone who will work for equal economic justice and opportunity for all citizens, regardless of their race, class, orientation, age, gender, or other factors.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 4, 2005 at 10:37 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2005

Wind at Our Back

For the last four years it’s felt like there was a ferocious wind in the collective face of us, the people in this nation who identify as very blue – the progressive Democratic base.  It seemed as if the forces of anti-democracy were in the ascendency.  And our Democratic leaders were still walking around in their individual little circles, seemingly unable to come together and provide an alternative to the forces in array against us.

There were moments when the wind was stalled and we were able to be quiet and thoughtful for a moment.  Sometimes we could see the chance of a better collective self and a more courageous and caring and thoughtful nation.  I remember the months right after 9/11 when it felt like there was such raw humanness, such connection with each as a people and with other peoples around the world.  Everybody slowed down and  there was such hope that a terrible tragedy like that might wake people up and bring the country together.  More hope when later Colleen Rowley spoke up about the poor communications and procedures in the FBI and her attempts to warn the country of what she surmised had occurred. 

A bit of unity during the war in Afghanistan and the initial recovery of the people of that country.  Yes, we seem to be doing something useful here and it’s not too bloody for us.  Then there was unity of a sort on the eve of the war with Iraq when people took to the streets in solidarity against it. 

Still we went to war with Iraq - such idiocy.  And again as the war dragged on and then when the photos of the prisoner abuse at  Abu Graibe came out. 

Yet the press and the national conversation still didn’t tip over into sustained truth-telling.

I look at this last week and feel a wind at our back for a change.  We are at another moment when truth is being revealed and this time, it looks like it will continue.  There’s been a breeze at our back for awhile, hard to tell really when it started.  Bush’s poll numbers going down.  More people noticing that something really was not working in this government.  And those pictures and stories of Iraq, there are not nearly as many as there used to be; people don’t like them, but the pictures, the stories snuck in, a minute here, a minute there.  This war is terrible.  And why are we there again?  And what does it mean for how we interact with the rest of the world and for our future economic well-being?   Then came the pictures of the effects of hurricane Katrina and stark, visual images of the faces of human beings whom we rarely spend time with but people whose raw humanness was in our living rooms.  Next we start to hear stories of corruption on a scale we can’t begin to remember, and the indictment against Tom Delay and the separate indictment of Scooter Libby. 

And it may not stop there.  For the first time we see the Bush Administration’s inability to move forward without pitching and swaying.   

Aw, the wind is at our back feels good; we should have a few moments to notice how much nicer it is to have the media doing their jobs to unearth truths, connecting the dots of corruption and hypocrisy and have the Democratic leadership pulling off wins on the Republicans.   That’s nice.  It would be nicer still if we had more of a common vision, us and the Republicans, but that doesn’t seem very possible right now.  So we will try to communicate our vision better so that some of those folks who don’t pay as much attention as we do, will see what we have become, and will help us swing around this ship of state to a more tenable position.         

With the wind at our back comes hope.  Can we manage to bring enough Americans along to take back Congress in 2006 or at least slow them way down in 2006 and get Congress back by 2008.  Can we use these new tools in the world to speed up the process?   Can we sustain a time of truth-telling?

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2005 at 09:47 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Emergency Response Forum Hosted by LWV

Concerned about how to prepare for a possible pandemic?  The League of Women Voters is hosting a forum this evening - 7:30 at the First Baptist Church at Harvard and Seneca downtown - on emergency responses.  Here's a flyer with more information: Download lwv_forum_on_preparedness.doc 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 3, 2005 at 09:29 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 02, 2005

Dean Building the DNC, Winning Confidence

I've had several people ask me how I think Howard Dean is doing at the DNC lately because they haven't heard from him.  I always say that he is doing the real work of building our party.  There's a post today over at The Carpetbagger confirming just that.  They quote from a subscription-only article at Roll Call which says that Dean appears to be gaining the confidence of Congressional Democrats:

Even Dean's one-time detractors on Capitol Hill are giving the former Vermont governor unexpected praise, saying he's growing smarter about his role and toning down his sometimes incendiary remarks. They add that Dean has done what previous DNC chairmen failed to do: spend time mobilizing Democratic voters, building networks and relationships, and looking beyond the White House for Democratic opportunities.

<snip>

"We're all pleasantly surprised by how well the DNC has been doing at reaching out to people — not just the blue states — but all across the country and we can see it getting better and stronger," said [one senior Senate staffer]. "I think the party is coordinated like it hasn't been in a long time."

The Carpetbagger adds "There were a lot of people predicting disaster if Dean became DNC chairman. It's good to see that they were wrong."  I thought he'd be good all along and I'm very glad to see that seems to be the case.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 2, 2005 at 05:55 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I-912 Support Slipping

It appears that all of our efforts to oppose sore loser Republican talk show wingnuts and their wacky anti-roads initiative, I-912, are starting to show results, and it looks like our timing is right on.  The Seattle PI reports on a SurveyUSA robo-poll that shows voters waking up and smelling the coffee:

Now: 
Oppose I-912: 50
Support I-912: 44

Three weeks ago:
Oppose I-912: 42
Support I-912: 50

MOE 3.7%

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 2, 2005 at 07:05 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 01, 2005

If You Want Me To Tell You How To Vote

... I would be happy to share the "official" Evergreen Politics endorsement list with you.  Actually, I haven't checked in with Lynn, so maybe this is the "semi-official" endorsement list.  Whatever, the fact is that a bunch of people seem to want to know where I stand on things come election time.  The rundown's below the fold.

Ballot Initiatives

I-900: Tim Eyman's Redudant Performance Audits -- NO
Performance audits are a fine idea.  We passed them into law this year.  We don't need Tim Eyman rewriting a perfectly good law just to suit his one major donor.

I-901: Clean Indoor Air aka "Drinking Without Stinking -- YES

Workplaces should be non-smoking, and that includes bars and restaurants, where thousands of hard-working people and their lungs work.  They shouldn't have to risk cancer from secondhand smoke just to earn a living.  PS, it's good for the economy.

I-912: aka The "Fuck You Democrats" Initiative aka "Let's Let Right Wing Talk Show Wingnuts Destroy Our Transportation System" -- A BIG FAT NO
Duh, duh, and duh. 

I-330: Limiting Access To The Judicial System For Victims of Malpractice - NO
The insurance industry would like you to take away your constitutional right to day in court if you are the victim of malpractice.  Don't let them.

I-336: Revenge of the Lawyers - YES
The world doesn't end if this doesn't pass, since it's most a response by the legal community to I-330.  But it does have some decent ideas in it, like shining more daylight on bad healthcare providers.

County Races

County Executive - Ron Sims
Hey, he's not a serial bully and abuser.  Plus, he's a damn fine politician -- one of Washington's best, in fact.  He's right up there with Chris Gregoire in the "making wingnuts apoplectic" category, and he's way more charismatic to boot.

King County Council
 Hell, the Northwest Progressive Institute has a great rundown, I'm just gonna crib it wholesale.

Seattle Port Commission

I know what you're thinking... "Yawn."  But the Port is incredibly important -- it has huge power over both the environmental and economic health of the entire Puget Sound area, and electing Port Commissioners is pretty much the only way to hold it accountable.

Also, 2005 marks a historic opportunity to finish the task of building a progressive majority on the Port Commission for the first time ever.  We got a bunch of good people elected in 2003, now's the time to complete the takeover and get the Port working in the public interest again.

The people who will make that happen are:

Lawrence Molloy -- he's a progressive incumbent who deserves another term

Lloyd Hara -- running for an open seat, he's considerably more progressive than his opponent.

Jack Jolley - He's running hard to take out business-funded incumbent Pat Davis.

Seattle Mayor

Greg Nickels is gonna win in a walk, but I'm voting for challenger Al Runte. It's a protest vote.  Greg, I love your work on climate change, but you're just too much in the pocket of Paul Allen to earn my vote this time.

Seattle City Council

I'm voting for:

Richard Conlin
Jan Drago
Nick Licata
Dwight Pelz

The first three are the worthwhile incumbents.  Dwight's a strong progressive who's taking on Richard McIver, who is disappointingly ineffective.

Monorail

Proposition #1 -- YES
Build the goddamn thing.  We've voted for it four times, and traffic isn't getting any better.   I'm tired of watching this city's elites subject the people of this city to endless revotes until we vote they way they want.

Proposition #2 -- YES

Let's elect a majority of the monorail board in order to make sure it's accountable.

If you're still thirsting for more hot endorsement action, check out the Northwest Progressive Institute's Election News and Information section. They've got actually-serious arguments in favor of most of the stuff I spout off about above.  But they're not as funny as me. ;-)

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 1, 2005 at 10:00 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Online Community Political Conference - YearlyKos

The DailyKos folks are planning an actual, in-person political conference next year in Las Vegas on June 8th-11th.  This is likely to be an amazing event with an enormous impact on the political landscape of this country.  Armando at DailyKos said, just yesterday, that DailyKos is averaging a million hits a day.  People are paying attention to what is being said.  They will pay attention to what comes out of this conference.

Here’s what I would call a mission statement from a posting a few weeks ago on DailyKos:

YearlyKos.org will provide a platform where individuals, organizations, and institutions with common values can collaborate to change the direction in which this country is going. We want to take the voices of the many (and we are many) and harness that energy so that we are heard.  So that we are more than a cash machine to those who share our values and want our votes.

And you can be part of this – just by signing up now and paying a nominal, early-bird fee.  Go to the YearlyKos website, poke around, talk, listen and work with others.  Help plan the YearlyKos convention and register to attend.
 
The development of the conference will also be unique.  Any of us can participate in suggesting topics, volunteering to help, obtaining funding from corporations, and spreading the word.  As it gets closer, the organization of the conference topics will become an amazing discussion board for important issues critical to rebuilding this country.


YearlyKos will bring individuals, institutions, organizations, candidates to the netroots. We won't just bring them to a convention, we'll bring them into the process of building the convention.  We'll invite everyone to collaborate to build the convention agenda in the Think Tank and to reach out to the community in which the convention is to be held in the LAB Las Vegas.  YearlyKos will give velocity to our beliefs, heft to our voice. And we'll leave organization and a common voice in our wake, infrastructure, and the building blocks for a future in which we are not discounted.
 

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 1, 2005 at 09:35 AM in National and International Politics, Policy, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Brick Through Irons' Window

Intrepid blogger David "Goldy" Goldstein continues his pleasing habit of piling on David Irons, who clearly not only has an anger management problem, but a basic problem with telling the truth about his rather pathetic career history.  In this most recent installment, Goldy puts Irons' claim of "25 years of executive experience" under the microscope and finds that it's more like 2.5 years, and padded with daddy's money.

This isn't the kind of leadership our county needs. 

The good news is that Goldy's efforts to connect the dots that the mainstream media can't or won't bother to is having an effect.  As Darryl at Hominid Views reports, one week ago, the race was statistically tied. Now, according to King 5, Ron Sims is ahead 48-41, which is just outside the margin of error.  And that doesn't even take into account Goldy's latest bombshell.

The same King5 poll shows that Green Party Candidate Gentry Lange is polling 8 points.  Given how close this race still is, and how volatile the final days of an election can be, the right thing for him to do right now would be to drop out and throw his support to Sims, perhaps in return for a specific policy concession or two.  The last thing King County needs is its own mini Ralph Nader.

Posted by Jon Stahl on November 1, 2005 at 07:12 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack